Endless Path : Infinite Cosmos Chapter 2065 | einlion
According to Black Rabbit, the only times she needed to sleep was during the New Moon and when she had exhausted herself. Even then, she could always draw energy from the Little Garden's Central Network in a pinch.
Simply put, whenever Black Rabbit got flustered, most, if not all of her physical exhaustion would simply fade away. Vahn suspected this was the real reason Shiroyasha teased her. It provided Black Rabbit with additional energy, and, more importantly, helped to distract her from the grim reality of supporting a Community of 122 children on her own.
Fortunately, that would no longer be the case from here onward. The more Vahn learned about her situation, the more he wanted to help her. This was undoubtedly what Shiroyasha had been aiming for when she summoned him but he didn't particularly mind. Rather, he had always enjoyed teasing certain kinds of women and Black Rabbit was easily among the most teasable girls he had ever met. She was also unbelievably adorable, so, even without the mischievous demoness attempting to play matchmaker, the odds of him helping her were close to 100%. Her being the sole surviving member of her race practically made their encounter fated...
With Black Rabbit not requiring sleep, Vahn spent the better part of four hours learning more about her situation and teasing her. It was only when he detected Nono rousing from her slumber that he gave the pink-haired maiden a break, saying, "Nono just woke up. Mind helping her and Sarina get ready while I work on breakfast?"
Though she was a little caught off guard by the sudden change in topic, Black Rabbit returned an assuring smile as she happily replied, "Leave it to me!"
Returning a smile of his own, Vahn briefly caressed Black Rabbit's hair before seeing her off at the door. Then, using the kitchen Nadeshiko had begrudgingly allowed him to use the previous night, he separated into three different versions of himself in order to prepare enough food for more than a hundred people. This prompted Shiroyasha to immediately appear, a teasing smile on her face as she mused, "If Black Rabbit learns you can divide yourself into multiple bodies, her head is going to explode."
Without losing focus on the task at hand, Vahn casually replied, "I don't intend to keep secrets from her. If she is going to become one of my women, a bit of transparency is to be expected. Besides, it wouldn't be the first time one of my women made such a request..."
Grinning mischievously, Shiroyasha found herself, once again, wishing she could peer into Vahn's mind. She had spied on him quite a bit while he was traipsing through the Tower but the nature of his existence made it hard to keep track of him when he wanted to remain hidden. Thus, unlike the vast majority of people she had taken an interest in, Vahn had innumerable secrets and experiences she was wholly unaware of...
Though he could sense Shiroyasha watching him like a cat eyeing a group of mice, Vahn did his best to ignore her as he skillfully prepared a veritable mountain of pancakes, eggs, sausages, and rice. He wanted to make enough for all the children in Black Rabbit's Community so he really didn't have time to deal with her right now. It was a lot harder to manipulate space-time within the Little Garden, and, due to the restrictions preventing her from showing a bias towards specific individuals and Communities, he couldn't rely on Shiroyasha to do it for him.
Fortunately, Shiroyasha seemed to understand his intentions, so, after her initial remark, she simply dangled her feet from the counter while watching him prepare plate after plate of food. Observing people was one of her favorite pastimes, and, at times, she would even watch the same person from the moment of their birth to their inevitable end. He just so happened to be the individual she was most interested in at the present moment, so, even if he was sleeping or staring off into the sunset, she would be paying close attention to his every action...
Thanks to his additional vessels, Vahn was able to continue cooking even as Black Rabbit appearing in the dining room alongside a fully awake Nono and a very sleepy-looking Sarina. The latter wasn't a morning person, so, despite having slept for more than nine hours, she was still dragging her feet up until the moment she noticed Vahn's presence. After that, she immediately perked up, a smile on her face as she happily exclaimed, "Good morning, Vahn~!"
Restraining a chuckle, Vahn returned a smile of his own as he set down the food and replied, "Good morning, Sarina, Nono. Did the two of you get a good night's rest?"
Nodding her head enthusiastically, Sarina answered, "The futons here are super comfortable and the bath was amazing! You really should have joined us. Nono and I could have washed your back."
Not expecting Sarina to include Nono's name in her antics, Vahn raised his brows slightly as he looked between the two ten-year-olds. He noticed a fire blazing in the former's eyes while the latter, noticing his gaze, immediately blushed as she averted her gaze.
("Sarina must feel pretty threatened if she's coordinating with Nono...")
(*Of course. She would need to be blind not to see how you look at Black Rabbit. Your expressions aren't exactly subtle when you see a woman you fancy. If I didn't know you had a soft spot for Cat People, I might have grown out my ears and become a rabbit...*)
Imagining Sis with rabbit ears, every other thought in Vahn's mind momentarily faded away. This caused a profound silence in the deepest recesses of his mind until Sis chimed in to remark, (*Oh my...*) in an ostensibly teasing tone.
To the surprise of all the girls present, a discernibly flustered expression developed across Vahn's face until he concealed it behind a wry smile. This caused a few major misunderstandings to occur, and, though he attempted to recover by saying, "The sentiment is appreciated but I can easily wash my own back..." the damage had already been done. Sarina believed his reaction was the result of her suggestion, and, despite being the perpetrator, Sis made things worse by giggling amusedly in the back of his mind...
After a hearty yet awkward breakfast, Vahn, Sarina, and Nono followed Black Rabbit to the outskirts of a surprisingly expansive yet ravaged territory. It was easily several thousand acres, and, though the land had been made infertile via powerful magics, even an untrained eye could tell the region was once prosperous due to the neatly arranged ruins that, even now, emitted a homely yet sullen aura.
Adopting an expression that reflected the landscape perfectly, Black Rabbit's ears drooped as she explained, "This is the destroyed land of the No Names...not that long ago, this place was a vibrant region where everyone could smile happily. Now-"
Before Black Rabbit could finish, Vahn plopped his hand down atop her head, saying, "That's in the past. From now on, we only look forward. Let's go."
Without waiting for the befuddled rabbit's response, Vahn made his way towards the fortress-like estate in the distance. It resembled a castle town surrounded by bricked walls, but, instead of an actual castle, there was a bastille-like mansion situated in the middle of a verdant forest, the only greenery left in the region. This was, very clearly, where the remaining members of the No Name Community were located, so, without minding his surroundings in the slightest, Vahn maintained a calm and confident look as he walked towards it.
Staring at Vahn's departing figure, the roots of Black Rabbit's hair began to turn pink until Sarina suddenly grabbed her hand, saying, "Come on. We don't want to fall behind." with an encouraging smile on her face.
Surprised by the young girl's sudden friendliness, Black Rabbit's expression became even more befuddled as she intoned a confused, "Eh? Um...okay...?"
Giggling in response to Black Rabbit's reaction, Sarina began to pull her along as Nono followed closely behind with a smile on her face. She actually felt comfortable in the ravaged landscape as the befouled terrain reminded her of home. After all, she had been raised in a desert community so the feeling of infertile soil beneath her bare feet was surprisingly refreshing...
Though it took a bit of time due to him slowing his pace so that the girls could keep up, it wasn't long before Vahn reached the outer walls of the estate. Around the same time, he encountered a remarkably adorable girl with two-toned blonde-black hair and vulpine features that included two large ears and two inordinately fluffy tails.
The moment she laid eyes upon Vahn, the vulpine girl immediately spread her arms in a protective posture, shielding the even younger children behind her as she cautiously inquired, "Who are you? Why have you come here?"
Having learned quite a bit about her Community from Black Rabbit, Vahn's expression morphed into a smile as he said, "You must be Lily." before stepping to the side so that the young kitsune could see the trio following in his wake. This caused her ears to twitch adorably, and, though she didn't immediately drop her guard, she returned a smile and asked, "Have you come to join our Community?"
Shaking his head, Vahn waited until Black Rabbit, Sarina, and Nono caught up before explaining, "I belong to a recently formed Community known as Sage Dragon's Hearth. Our mission statement is to help people so we've come here at the behest of Shiroyasha and Black Rabbit to do just that. If it isn't too much trouble, do you mind gathering up all the other children for me? I've prepared a big breakfast to celebrate our first meeting."
Turning her attention to Black Rabbit, Lily waited until the former nodded her head before smiling even more radiantly as she answered, "I'll have everyone gathered within the next ten minutes. For now, please head towards the estate and meet with Jin. I'm sure he would want to speak with you."
Returning a smile of his own, Vahn casually extended his hand to caress Lily's head. This caught the petite kitsune by surprise, her body tensing up for a brief moment before promptly relaxing due to the influence of his petting laws. Shortly after that, the tails protruding from her lower back began to waggle as the smile on her face became progressively more radiant.
Clearing her throat rather loudly, Black Rabbit garnered Vahn's attention before suggesting, "We should hurry and meet with Master Jin. He has been under a lot of pressure ever since he became the Leader of our Community. I'd like to give him the good news as quickly as possible."
Noticing the slightly envious looks in both Black Rabbit's and Sarina's eyes, a wry smile developed across Vahn's face as he reluctantly retracted his hand from Lily's head. He knew his headpats could be addicting, but he hadn't expected that even Black Rabbit would exhibit envy. She was well aware of his rather expansive harem so it was a little silly for her to be jealous of someone who was clearly beneath his strike zone. As for Sarina, well, she and Lily were nearly the same age. He would actually be more surprised if she wasn't a little jealous...
Though she felt strangely saddened by the sudden lack of Vahn's hand atop her head, Lily quickly recovered as she turned towards the other children, clapping her hands before exclaiming, "Alright! I'm sure that everyone heard Vahn-san's words. Let's hurry and gather everyone so we can enjoy a meal together~!"
Responding to Lily's remark, the group of children, primarily clothed in simple garments or tattered rags, exclaimed, "Haaaaaaaai~!" with varying degrees of excitement on their heartbreakingly young and gaunt faces. A few of them were even presenting signs of malnourishment, yet, in spite of this, they were able to exhibit natural smiles as they quickly dispersed to spread the good news to their friends and family...
Unable to conceal the affection in his gaze as he watched the children scamper away, Vahn turned towards Black Rabbit, his voice becoming deep yet velvety as he stated, "They really are amazing..." in a heartfelt tone that caused the aforementioned rabbit's hair to instantaneously turn bright pink.
(A/N: Alternate Titles: 'The power of fate...','Nono is a bit of an oddball...','Calm down, Vahn. At this rate, Black Rabbit's brain and heart are going to explode xD...')
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