Endless Path : Infinite Cosmos Chapter 2066 | einlion
After waiting for Black Rabbit to calm down, Vahn headed towards the bastille-like estate located at the back of the forest.
Though the No Names had fallen from grace, the amount of territory they owned was a testament to how much power they must have wielded in the past. Most Communities only owned a relatively small plot of land, barely enough to sustain themselves. The No Names, however, owned thousands of acres, and, based on the vast expanse of tilled yet barren land, they must have provided food for tens of thousands of people in the past.
Noticing the serious look on Vahn's face as he studied their surroundings, a melancholic expression returned to Black Rabbit's as she explained, "After the Demon Lord's assault two years ago, most of the surrounding plantations have become barren and lifeless. Lily's presence has allowed the forests around the manor to recover, but her spiritual power is too low to sustain the entire estate..."
Raising his brows, Vahn was about to ask what Black Rabbit was talking about when Sarina beat him to the punch, asking, "That girl has the power to revitalize the land? She didn't seem all that special to me..."
Hearing Vahn utter her name in a disproving tone, a nervous smile developed across Sarina's face as she issued an awkward chuckle.
A stark contrast to Vahn's reaction, Black Rabbit adopted a friendly smile as she enthusiastically explained, "Lily is an amazing young girl. She and her mother descend from the White Fox, one of the Heralds of Ukanomitama. They possess the ability to enrich farmland, drastically improving the quality and quantity of agricultural goods. You see, Ukanomitama is a Goddess that presides over rice and agriculture. She shares an origin with the Great Goddess Inari, one of the most powerful Agricultural Deities in the East Side."
Hearing that her 'rival' was the descendant of a Goddess, Sarina's expression became somewhat bitter. She had yet to learn about her own lineage, so, from her perspective, Lily had been given an unfair advantage despite the relatively dire circumstances that had been forced upon her. (A/N: Cut her some slack guys. She is literally 10. Show me a child that is capable of thinking rationally and I'll show you a hundred adults that aren't xD...)
Humming in acknowledgment, Vahn's mind began to buzz as Sis helped him organize the lineage of every Eastern God and Goddess he had researched. This included a fair amount of information pertaining to Ukanomitama, as, despite the name not ringing in bells, she was actually relatively famous in classical Japanese mythos as one of Susanoo's many children.
"I see...she did come across as a rather diligent young lady. Once we've finished speaking with Jin, I'll see what I can do about increasing her spiritual power. It's actually one of the things I'm best at."
Blinking in surprise, Black Rabbit looked towards Vahn with a somewhat troubled expression on her face as she advised, "Just be careful not to take it too far. Lily is similar to me in the regard that she matures based on the amount of spiritual power she has developed. She already acts as the Leader of the Senior Group and the Den Mother for the younger children. I'm afraid she'll overwork herself if she suddenly matures into an adult..."
Hearing Black Rabbit mention the possibility of her 'rival' maturing, Sarina also chimed in to say, "I agree with Black Rabbit. Children should remain children..."
Realizing what she was saying, Sarina's words trailed off as Vahn looked down at her with a slightly amused expression on his face. In the next moment, however, his expression relaxed as he said, "No worries. Even if she were to sprout all nine of her tails, I can seal her development and regulate it so that she grows alongside the rest of the children. I'm not going to place an undue burden on a ten-year-old girl."
Exhaling a relieved sigh, a very subtle blush developed across Black Rabbit's face as she averted her eyes by looking ahead. She hadn't mentioned it, but Ukanomitama's relation to Inari meant she was also a Fertility Deity. Lily's mother had also been one of the most beautiful women in the entire East Side, so, while it was a little selfish of her, Black Rabbit would rather Lily spend the next two to three hundred years maturing. After all, she had to wait until she was 210-years-old to reach this stage of her development. It wouldn't be fair if Lily got to skip ahead...
Though he noticed the threads of green in Sarina's and Black Rabbit's auras, Vahn didn't pay them any mind. Instead, he fixed his gaze on the young boy who had emerged from the manor to greet them. He possessed an immature, almost girlish face, and, though his eyes gleamed with a glimmer of intelligence, there was an atmosphere of 'defeat' that permeated his entire existence. As for his actual appearance, he had large blue eyes, unkempt teal hair, and an outfit that screamed 'Magus'.
Taking notice of the young boy shortly after Vahn, Black Rabbit's face beamed as she began waving her arms, shouting, "Master Jin, Black Rabbit has returned~!"
Adopting a smile that was equal parts sincere and forced, the green-haired youth maintained a poised and dignified bearing as he replied, "Welcome home, Black Rabbit. I see you've brought guests. Please, come inside. We don't have much, but I'll prepare a batch of our finest tea." in a delicate tone of voice
Though there was still a considerable distance between them, Jin's voice carried as if he were only a few meters away. This was made possible due to his tremendous magical power, a volume so great that, had they been back in the Negimaverse, he could have easily passed as an Archmage.
Using a sound transmission technique of his own, Vahn smiled as he said, "No need. I brought tea and snacks with me. I've also prepared a meal for all the other children so let's try and wrap things up quickly."
Surprised by Vahn's ability to communicate over long distances, Jin's eyes widened as he asked, "Is the gentleman a fellow Magus? I don't recognize your technique."
Adopting an even broader smile, Vahn took another step forward. This time, however, his figure vanished from his previous location before appearing right in front of Jin as he said, "You'll come to find that there are infinitely more things you're unaware of than things you believe you know. Don't worry. I intend to help you with that."
Ruffling the bewildered boy's hair, Vahn waited for Black Rabbit, Sarina, and Nono to catch up before gesturing towards the latter two and saying, "These two adorable young ladies are Sarina and Nono. Respectively, they are the Sub-Leader and Adjutant of my Community, Sage Dragon's Hearth. As for me? My name is Vahn. Vahn Aldrnari Mason. Some refer to me as the Sage Dragon Emperor. Others refer to me as the Godhand. You, my young compatriot, may simply refer to me as Vahn."
Though he was more than a little confused, Jin understood from Vahn's introduction that he wasn't a simple Magus. His spatial movement technique was also unlike anything he had ever seen before, almost as if it were a purely physical technique rather than a magical one. This would make sense if it was a Gift, but, thanks to the Authority granted to him as the Leader of the No Name Community, Jin could tell it was something executed by Vahn directly. He just didn't understand how.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Vahn. My name is Jin. Jin Russell. Though present circumstances might lead you to believe otherwise, I am the proud Leader of the No Names. Since you have allowed me to refer to you without honorifics, it would be my honor if you call me by my given name."
Nodding in approval, Vahn retracted his hand from Jin's head, saying, "You're a very polite young man. It's no wonder the No Names have been able to persevere these last two years. You have the potential to become a great Leader in the future, Jin."
Though he didn't fully understand why, Jin felt a mixture of relief and pride to hear Vahn say he had potential. He got the impression that the man in front of him was immensely powerful, so much so that he couldn't even begin to wrap his head around it. As for how he knew this? It was largely due to his Gift, [The Wisdom of Solomon]. It was one of three Gifts he possessed, and, though it wasn't a very high rank, it drastically improved his analytical and comprehension abilities.
"Thank you, Vahn. Though I have yet to do anything deserving of such praise, I greatly appreciate it."
Seemingly disagreeing with this statement, Black Rabbit adopted a somewhat stressed look on her face as she shouted, "That isn't true! Master Jin is someone that everyone in the Community relies upon! Without you and Lily, Black Rabbit would have never been able to hold things together on her own!"
Chuckling in response to Black Rabbit's words, a somewhat bashful smile developed across Jin's face as he rubbed the back of his head and said, "Your words are greatly appreciated, Black Rabbit. However, it is all of us working together that has allowed our Community to come this far. You and Lily, especially, have done-"
Before Jin could continue, Vahn ruffled the boy's hair a second time as he said, "You talk too much. As someone guilty of the same behavior in the past, take it from me when I say it is better to just go with the flow when it comes to things like this. Speeches are only useful when you're trying to inspire confidence in people you don't closely associate with. When it comes to the people you're supposed to care about, it's okay to be honest. If you keep bottling everything up, you'll eventually explode..."
Staring up at Vahn, Jin was tempted to ask him to stop messing up his hair. Instead, he adopted his characteristic smile, answering, "Thank you for the advice, Vahn. I will be sure to reflect upon it."
Furrowing his brows, the thought of creating a Template of Tsubaki briefly crossed Vahn's mind as he retracted his hand from the boy's head and said, "I'm sure you will. Now, how about we all head inside. We have a few things to discuss and I don't want to keep the children waiting."
Since it was the second time Vahn was emphasizing not wanting to make the children wait, Jin offered a courteous smile as he suggested, "Why don't we eat first? Unless it is a matter of grave importance, there is no reason we can't discuss it later. Please, come with me. I'll show you where the children generally take their meals."
Returning a smile of his own, Vahn gestured for Jin to lead the way before following behind the teal-haired youth in silence. He was honestly impressed by the young man's bearing. Unfortunately for Jin, it was impossible for him to conceal the 'truth'. Vahn could sense the mental duress the boy was under, and, though he kept it concealed, likely with the use of a Mind Innate, he was only a few setbacks from a complete breakdown.
Truth be told, Vahn saw a lot of himself in the teal-haired youth. Jin was forcing himself to bear a burden no one his age should be expected to bear. The only thing that kept him going was the expectations of others and his heartfelt desire to be someone they could rely on. This was actually very commendable, but, without a reliable Mentor to guide him, it was only a matter of time before he brought himself and everyone who relied upon him to ruin...
(*At least he has fate working in his favor. Even without your help, I imagine he would be fine. Now that you're here, he'll be much more than that...*)
Nodding his head in affirmation, a smile developed across Vahn's face as he mused, "Indeed..." in an expectant tone that caused Black Rabbit's ears to twitch...
(A/N: Alternate Titles: 'When Sarina does it, it's annoying. When Black Rabbit does it, it's cute','Vahn be like, "Boy..." in his best Kratos impression','By the time the Problem Children arrive, Jin is going to be more OP than Nagi in his prime xD...')
https://bit.ly/2XBzAYu <-(p.atreon link)
Discord Invite: https://discord.gg/Jwa8PKh