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Chapter 539 – Garden Party
Syr was observing Riveria’s reaction with an almost humorous expression as the edges of her lips curled up slightly at the ends. She had a mild propensity to tease others so getting a rise out of Riveria made her heart flutter a bit since the elegant High Elf was typically very composed. This was, however, something that was important to bring up and it was especially so as the event with Alosrin was fresh on everyone’s mind. Syr had been watching Vahn’s progress with the other girls and he knew things between him and Riveria would ‘stall’ if there wasn’t an inciting incident. Though it was possible Vahn would do something himself, Syr heard about the plans for the upcoming expedition and the other things Vahn was working on. If they didn’t get closer in the near future, Syr could imagine the matter could end up falling to the wayside for several months, most likely around the time Lefiya reached maturity…
Eina had also been somewhat worried about the relations.h.i.+p between Vahn and Riveria while even Ryuu had some small concerns. The fact that Riveria was a High Elf was a bit of a sensitive subject for all the girls with Elven heritage because, even if they didn’t grow up in the forest, there was an almost instinctual reverence for those that were closer to their origins. Riveria was also Aina’s, Eina’s mother, best friend and they had been together for more than fifty years. Eina herself had often received kindness from Riveria when she was growing up, something that would have earned her the ire of other Elves and High-Elves. As a result, Eina had a lot of respect for Riveria and had actually been more concerned about Riveria’s marriage with Vahn than her own.
Because of her status as a High Elf, it would cause a major stir if Riveria didn’t get married before she lost her purity, but that was also something that was ambiguous right now. Because they were so focused on bringing about change in the future, holding onto such traditions may not necessarily be the best idea since it made High Elves seem as if they were some kind of superior ent.i.ty. While they certainly were special, if viewed through a certain lens, they couldn’t be considered truly superior beings because they didn’t actually have many accomplishments throughout history.
Other than turtling up within the Western Forest and building a Kingdom, there are no historical feats a.s.sociated with High Elves at all. Even the thing they were most proud of, their magic, wasn’t actually something they ‘should’ take pride in because it was oftentimes much weaker than the magic spells obtained from the Falna. Because of this, though there weren’t many, the High Elves had swallowed their pride in the past and invited a few G.o.ds into their mix just to stay relevant in the world. This was one of the reasons their ‘reputation’ had taken a major hit in recent centuries because G.o.ds were very social by nature and rumors spread around rather quickly in Heaven…
After a few minutes, Riveria recovered a bit and raised her head to look around at everyone present, each ‘patiently’ waiting for her words. The moment she saw Vahn, however, Riveria felt a bit of frustration and even showed an ‘angry’ expression as she said, “Vahn, sit down.” He had previously been grooming Terra, so Vahn was almost ‘hiding’ behind her wings right now after the relatively awkward conversation had been started by Syr. She wasn’t the type to make such faux pas, so Vahn knew there was an underlying ‘scheme’ taking place here. After the event with Alosrin, Vahn had been thinking about how to get closer with Riveria in the future but it looked like his ‘pa.s.sive’ actions weren’t acceptable in the mind of Syr.
Instead of letting it bother him, however, Vahn took a deep breath to relax before showing as confident a smile as he could manage and sat down, not across from, but next to Riveria. Her expression didn’t change, but Vahn could feel the tension radiating from her body as her aura flickered about chaotically along the edges. Riveria eventually released a sigh and said in a plain tone, “We have already…confessed…our feelings for each other, so you shouldn’t be too surprised that things will have to…develop further in the future. I’m not good at things like this…” Riveria’s struggles increased the more she tried to speak since it was difficult for her to ‘rationalize’ such things.
Vahn smiled comfortingly before reaching out and grasping Riveria’s hand with his own, saying, “Riveria, you don’t have to overthink it to such an extent…sometimes emotions are difficult to rationalize and the only thing you can do is simply ‘experience’ them. I know roughly what you want to say, so I’ll be the one to make the ‘compromise’ here and come up with a solution…how about this, once I complete the procedure for fixing the Elven fertility issue, then we’ll consider moving forward from there. Until then, I’ll let you think of how you want things to progress, including if you’re willing to marry me…just know that, I think it would be a blessing to marry a beautiful and capable woman like you. As I said in the past, I will do my best learn the best way to show my love for you…even if it takes a bit of time.”
Presently, Vahn had more respect and intrigue for Riveria than actual love, a trait she shared toward him as well. They were closer to colleagues than romantically interested in each other, but Riveria also considered Vahn the closest male companion she had and, after thinking about it for a fair amount of time, she couldn’t actually think of anyone else she would rather spend her remaining centuries with. Living with Vahn and continuing her research, becoming the Headmaster of the school they would build, forging a better path for her people amongst the other races of the world, these were things she could only do because of him. Even if it was just out of obligation, Riveria felt like she ‘needed’ to be with Vahn, and it was this understanding that made her realize that this ‘need’ was something that went beyond her rationalization of things…
Hearing Vahn’s words, Riveria knew he truly was ‘compromising’ with her because, if she let down her defenses a bit and opened up to him, she was certain he would be able to breach through and deeply root himself into her heart before she even realized what happened. However, she had a fear that this would be the case and this was one of the reasons why she didn’t want him to use her [Hearts Desire]. She didn’t like the feeling of being ‘exposed’ and couldn’t imagine opening herself up to him completely before they were able to make their shared ambitions a reality. Riveria didn’t want to truly ‘betray’ her people by ‘wasting’ several years of her life in the pursuit of love. Ever since she had been betrothed to Alosrin in the past, she had created powerful mental blocks in her mind because she believed she would one day have to marry that idiot out of obligation…yet another thing Vahn had ‘freed’ her from…
Looking into Vahn’s gentle aquamarine eyes caused Riveria to feel like there was a small gap in her heart that he was trying to squeeze into. She released a small sigh before nodding her head and saying, “Very well, Vahn, we’ll go along with that then. I’ll handle all the important preparations from my end while you work on your research. However, I don’t want you ignoring your other projects just to…prioritize…” Riveria found herself at a loss for words because she couldn’t vocalize words like having Vahn prioritize trying to get closer to her. It felt like she was inadvertently ‘inciting’ him to put in the effort, even though her words were contrary to that suggestion. Seeing the ‘resolute’ look in his eyes actually scared her a bit and she felt pressured to make her own preparations even sooner or she might get caught unprepared by the ‘stupidly capable’ boy…
As she had expected, Vahn’s mind was racing and he was trying to visualize the most ‘efficient’ way to complete his current projects without compromising their quality. He was currently working on the prototype armor for the girls while also trying to develop a method to preserve his blood in crystal form while having it exposed to the air. All of his attempts thus far had ended in failure, so Vahn’s next plan was to instead to core out a gemstone and fill it with his blood, essentially turning it into a blood-gem. This would keep it from being exposed to the air, while potentially enabling it to preserve itself properly since the ‘container’ would also be magically conducive. Vahn knew such gems wouldn’t be ‘permanant’ solutions, as bits of his energy would likely disperse over time, but it was still a step in the right direction.
After he completed those two projects, Vahn expected that it wouldn’t actually take that long to complete the band since he had already happened upon several things that would make it easier. Just earlier, Vahn discovered that he could use Terra’s blood to pa.s.sively absorb natural energy and feed it into a larger formation. He could also do something similar with the stems of her feathers, which could strengthen the core parts of the formation. The only thing he would need to do is find a way to catalyze that process so that the intake was much higher, something he believed he could use his own blood as a medium for. After that, the only thing he needed to figure out was a method to make the body of the person ‘absorb’ the mana as there were actually very few people that could absorb it naturally.
One of the things that set High Elves apart was that they could absorb the energies of nature better than Elves and Half-Elves. Their close proximity to the Sacred Trees meant their fertility was marginally higher as well, though not nearly to the point where it was ‘acceptable’. It wasn’t uncommon for a couple to spend more than a decade simply trying to conceive a single child, which meant it was very difficult for them to increase their population reliably. There was also the fact that, after giving birth once, it was almost impossible for a High Elf female to have a second child because their own bodies vital energy would be drained as a result of the first pregnancy. The biggest factor behind why the Elven Kingdom was Patriarchal in nature was simply because the men often lived much longer than the women.
Vahn wanted to find a solution to all of these problems, but he wouldn’t actively implement them at the Elven Kingdom until they fixed some of their policies and proactively worked alongside the other races instead of propagating their negative ideology. He would rather accept the refugees from the Elven Kingdom that wanted to escape such bigotry than empower fools that invested more time in simply ‘living’ than making progress. If necessary, Vahn would build his own Elven Kingdom on the 50th Floor since there would be a ‘sacred tree’ there to nourish them over time. Many Elves, other than those that tended to the trees, weren’t even allowed to be near the Sacred Trees, so it would be inarguably better for them to reside there than stay in a place where the faced having their lives ruined by rampant and egotistical High Elves.
After organizing his thoughts, which had actually only taken several seconds, Vahn smiled to Riveria and said, “I won’t compromise my work ethic, Riveria, but you can be sure I’ll work even harder in the future. Just thinking about the day we can together makes my blood boil a little…hahaha~.” Seeing that Riveria’s face had started to turn ruddy, Vahn couldn’t help but laugh as he held her slightly trembling hand with his own. He didn’t know what was going through her mind, but a blus.h.i.+ng Elf, especially a High Elf, was something that tickled his fancy a great deal. There were very few situations where he could actually get away with ’embarra.s.sing’ her, so Vahn wanted to enjoy this rare opportunity…
Hearing Vahn’s words made Riveria feel like the small gap in her heart was widened marginally, but seeing him laugh in amus.e.m.e.nt made her blood pressure rise a bit. Though it made her face flush a little more, it wasn’t simply due to her embarra.s.sment this time as she gripped her staff with her right hand. She saw Vahn’s expression freeze as he tried to pull his hand away, only to find that her grip had turned into a vice. This made her embarra.s.sment fade a little, causing a ‘cold’ smile to appear on her face as she said, “I believe I promised to allow you to get closer to my staff the last time we were alone…I wouldn’t want to be called a liar~.” Though she didn’t strike forward with too much strength, Riveria smacked the top of Vahn’s head with her [Magna Alfs] hard enough to make an audible thud.
Vahn hadn’t made any attempt to defend himself, knowing that it would only stir up Riveria even more, so his vision blackened for a moment when she struck him. The top of his head began to radiate with a painful pulse as he rubbed the b.u.mp with both hands, saying, “This is domestic violence…how can you bully your future hus-” Though he knew it would rile her up, Vahn couldn’t help but use this rare opportunity to tease Riveria a bit because he knew she wouldn’t back down after making her earlier decision. This time, instead of eating the staff, Vahn jumped back with [Shundo] because the second strike looked a little too painful to bear.
Riveria’s face had an incredibly rare ‘pouting’ expression as her mouth shrunk into a small frown and there was a healthy blush on her face. She breathed heavily through her nose and looked like she was contemplating blasting Vahn with her magic. However, Syr’s laughter and subsequent words caused her mind to blank when she said, “I hear it’s good for married couples to argue every now and then~. It’s good to see that your relations.h.i.+p has already developed to such an extent, fufufu~” Vahn used the opportunity when Riveria was stunned to take on a serious expression and say, “Sorry, Riveria…I know you don’t like being teased, so I’ll behave from now on. I have preparations to make for tomorrow, so I’ll excuse myself for the time being. Ah, and this is for everyone, don’t forget that I’ll be doing salon treatments tomorrow when I return from the Dungeon. Make sure to stop by as I’ll be taking requests on a first come first served basis~!”
Terra’s wings flicked about as she asked, “Master, does that mean I can come as well~? I’ve never experienced Master’s salon treament…it seems very interesting~?” Vahn smiled and said, “As I said, it’ll be based on a first come, first served basis. If you want to partic.i.p.ate, Terra, I won’t deny you the opportunity. Now, I really should get going…” At the end of his words, Vahn disappeared from sight with [Shundo] because he had seen Riveria was coming back to her senses. Her aura still contained a fair amount of anger and indignation, so he wanted to let her cool down a bit. Though he didn’t mind letting people vent on him, Vahn wasn’t too fond of violence and he didn’t want it to become a habit of being hit in front of the other girls. He didn’t care much for hierarchies, but Vahn knew he needed to consider his image properly if he wanted to keep the ‘balance’ within the Manor in the future…
Seeing that Vahn had ‘run away’, Riveria furrowed her brows slightly before releasing a heavy sigh and sitting in her chair once again. She looked to the smiling Syr and said, “You can be rather devious at times, Syr…” As if she completely agreed with Riveria’s words, Syr nodded her head in affirmation and said, “It is my duty to ensure that everything progresses smoothly and there are no underlying issues left to fester within the group. I’m certain that you also understand how important it is to resolve such things expediently, Riveria.” Riveria sat in silence for a short while before nodding her head and looking toward Ryuu and Terra, saying, “Please don’t think lesser of me for my earlier display. As I said, I’m not good at things like this…”
Ryuu had been almost statuesque since earlier and had been standing with Terra at the side during the earlier ‘confrontation’. She was surprised to see a High Elf like Riveria brought to the point of blus.h.i.+ng by Vahn, but not so much so that she couldn’t believe it had happened. There was a mirror in Vahn’s room and Ryuu had seen her own facial expressions on occasion when they were together. Since she considered herself to lack expression, almost to the point where she was considered ‘cold’ by others, Ryuu knew how easily Vahn could break down the walls of a girls heart. There was also the fact that Syr usually incited her on and Ryuu now understood why Syr had asked her to come to drink tea with Riveria today. She had inadvertently become a ‘witness’ for the events and one of the anchors keeping Riveria from las.h.i.+ng out completely or trying to sweep aside the matter.
Terra didn’t really mind Riveria’s behavior at all because she was very aware of the ‘tensions’ between Riveria and her Master. She didn’t really understand why Riveria ‘played’ around and wasn’t honest with her emotions when it was very clear that she treated Vahn as if he were very important. Even during the event yesterday, Riveria showed absolutely no inhibitions when she was calling her Master as Master, even seeming to enjoy the rise she got out of that disgusting idiot who foolishly tried to contend against her Master. However, Terra didn’t want to stress the issue since it really wasn’t that important to her so, just as Riveria was doing, she played the same game and simply smiled as she said, “I believe you are a capable and knowledgable woman, Riveria, so I wouldn’t think lesser of you over something like this. In fact, it makes me a feel a little closer to you knowing you have such bouts of ‘pa.s.sion’~.”
(A/N: Alternate t.i.tles: ‘Countdown Begins…’,’Blus.h.i.+ng Beauties o3o~!’,’Terra’s Disposition : Learning to ‘play’ human?’)
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