Endless Path : Infinite Cosmos Chapter 2031 | einlion
Though he was tempted to return home and just relax, Vahn could sense that Laev-tan wished to stay in the Shukai state for a while longer. He also wanted to give Fenrir a chance to absorb some of the energy from the ongoing storm, so, taking advantage of his domain's extended range, Vahn guided as much of the energy as he could towards her location.
Ever since Pram had attained Tier 4, Fenrir had been feeling increased pressure to breakthrough herself. Consuming the energy of the 134th Floor wouldn't really help with this, but, so long as her opponent lacked a comprehensive understanding of the Laws, she could easily battle against Gods with limited or constrained Authority.
When everything was said and done, a wry smile had developed across Vahn's face as he caressed Fenrir's somewhat bulbous belly. She could consume billions of calories without putting on a single gram of weight, but, when it came to consuming tremendous volumes of energy, it took her body a while to process it. During those moments, the energy in her body would disperse into her fur, and, as a result, she would glow a different color depending on the purity, element, and composition of the energy she had absorbed.
At the present moment, Fenrir's fur had become a fiery white with a hint of gold. This was the result of a tremendous amount of Yang Elemental Energy, one of the few types Fenrir genuinely struggled with processing. Thus, while he could have used the magic circle on her body, Vahn decided to help her digest by caressing her belly and uttering a few teasing remarks...
"I know I've been wanting you to put on weight ever since we were living in the Hearth Manor, but this is a little ridiculous..."
As she was lying on her back, Fenrir twisted her entire body, emulating a head-tilt as she released a canine-esque whine. She was perfectly capable of speaking in her wolf transformation, but, knowing how weak he was to her puppy-like appearance, she didn't hesitate to full advantage of her species' inherent cuteness.
"You clever little minx..."
Punctuating his words, Vahn fell face-first into Fenrir's belly, disappearing into her inordinately thick underfur. It was still possible to see him if you were standing nearby or behind, but, from any other point of view, he had basically vanished into the tall grass that was Fenrir's exceptionally warm belly fur, nuzzling and tickling without mercy...
Since it would take her a while to process an entire Floor's worth of energy, Vahn helped Fenrir to compress it into a semi-solid mass reminiscent of a monster core. This would allow her to absorb it at her leisure, and, so long as it persisted within her body, she wouldn't have to worry about feeling hungry.
Though she had effectively gained full control over her hunger pangs and urges, Fenrir's [Insatiable Hunger] wasn't considered an 'unrestricted' Innate without reason. It had no Grade to speak of, so, if her emotional state became even slightly chaotic, her hunger would return with a vengeance. The only actual change between now and her more youthful counterpart was that she could ignore and outright suppress the hunger using sheer force of will.
If she were willing, Vahn could have Fenrir ingest a crystalized version of him, and, much like how he had once powered Scathach, she would benefit from the excess energy that naturally radiated from his body. The only reason he didn't do this was that Fenrir, in adherence with his teachings, wanted to master herself and her Innates without assistance. She had taken every lesson he ever taught her to heart, and, while it sometimes concerned him, Fenrir's heartfelt desire to remain a 'good girl' was one of the things that gave Vahn strength...
As that thought crossed his mind, an affectionate smile developed across Vahn's face as he stared down at the inordinately beautiful woman curled up in his arms. She had come a long way from the emaciated young woman who made him apprehensive at the mere thought of starting an intimate relationship. Now, even if she were to stand next to a Goddess such as Ishtar, she wouldn't lose out in charm. This might be conjecture based on pure bias, but, when it came to love, even Gods could be blind...
Undoubtedly sensing his thoughts, Fenrir opened her eyes to reveal glacial-blue irises that starkly contracted her usual crimson reds. Then, with an uncharacteristically cheeky smile on her face, she teased, "No matter how much you love me, I'll always love you more~"
Amused by the rather bold proclamation, Vahn allowed a light-hearted laugh to emanate from his throat before hugging the lovable girl a little tighter and saying, "Challenge accepted..."
Several days after the 'climactic' battle between Vahn and Jahad, the seal preventing access to the 134th Floor naturally faded away. Shortly thereafter, members of the 1st Army Corps, commanded by Adori Jahad, ventured into the scene. When they first saw the devastation wrought by the battle, shock and awe overwhelmed even the strongest of Rankers within the group.
Everything the group had come to associate with the Empire's eternal reign had been erased. It wasn't just buildings like the Imperial Palace either. Even natural landmarks and monuments had been wiped from existence. They would later come to learn that the elevation of the entire Floor had descended by more than 3km in some places.
When the common residents of the Tower heard about these things, the most common reaction among them was utter disbelief. They didn't doubt that the fight between Jahad had shaken the very foundation of the 134th Floor, but it was impossible for them to imagine everything above a 3km depth simply being erased. It was a level of destruction beyond human comprehension, and, even with images showing the devastation first-hand, their minds simply refused to process it as anything more than fantasy.
No group was affected more by this sentiment than the loyalists of the Jahad Empire. In their mind, it was simply impossible that their King could be defeated. The absence of a body caused the more desperate among them to claim he was still alive, recovering, or even trapped by Vahn. This led to a substantial group of people demanding that the Imperial Army conduct rescue operations, but, due to the measures Jahad had taken place prior to his death, they were unable to gain any momentum.
It was a secret to most but Jahad had been meeting with his most trusted Ministers and Advisors in the months leading up to his demise. He had also reached out to each of his former comrades, not just the Leaders of the Ten Great Families, but all of the people who had accompanied them during their ascent up the Tower. This had caught many of them by surprise, as, ever since the Great War, a considerable number of Jahad's former allies had gone into hiding. The fact he could contact them showed that he had been keeping tabs on them for thousands of years, so, while a handful refused to even hear him out, others seriously considered their former friend's words.
Though a transcript of the discussion wouldn't become public until several years later, the contents included, first and foremost, an apology. While he hadn't regretted his decision to become King, it would be an understatement to claim that Jahad hadn't felt remorse over the events leading up to, and following, The Great War. He had originally wanted to create a utopian Kingdom where he and his friends could rule together. He had never imagined things would develop to the point where he would need to order the execution of people who had served alongside him for thousands of years.
Simply put, Jahad's only regret was that he hadn't been able to share his wealth and power with the people he cared about. This was the true reason he had never started a family, as, prior to The Great War, he had genuinely considered his friends to be his family. When they betrayed him, he felt such an overwhelming sense of shame that he even formed a contract with Headon to prevent him from producing a genuine heir. It wasn't that his blood was too powerful to be passed down to others. If that were the case, the Princess of Jahad would have never existed. No. The truth of the matter was that he had cursed himself to remain alone, a solitary King bearing a burden he had hoped to share with others.
While these revelations only served to incense the majority of people who felt betrayed by Jahad, a handful felt genuine empathy and remorse. After all, they had originally followed Jahad, not out of respect for his overwhelming power, but his character. His charisma had been so infectious that he had been able to convert countless enemies, people who had once wanted nothing more than to see his head on a pike, into allies. Even the Leader of the Arie Family, Arie Hon, was no exception to this, as, prior to his ten consecutive defeats, he and Jahad had been mortal enemies.
Recalling the man Jahad was, not the King he had come to be, several legendary figures made the decision to come out of hiding. A few of them harbored thoughts of revenge against the Ten Great Families. As for the rest, they had chosen to either honor Jahad's request or, in response to the final part of his message...
'The way forward should have never been closed. It is the right of every resident within the Tower to aim for its summit. On the eve of my death, the way forward will be open. For many of you, it might be too late to say this, but, for those with the resolve to face the future with their heads held high, I pray that you find glory, prosperity, and excitement in the adventure to come. Go forth and witness a world I could only imagine in my dreams...' -Excerpt from 'A Prideful King's Confession'.
Understanding that things would only become increasingly complex if he were to appear too soon, Vahn decided to wait until some semblance of peace and stability had been restored. He knew that people like Tu Perie Tperie, Ha Yurin, and even Adori Jahad were attempting to contact him, but, for the time being, Vahn was content with letting speculation regarding his own fate run rampant.
The conclusion Vahn had reached after his most recent awakening was that, despite his apparent disregard, he had placed too much emphasis on the Tower and its affairs. When he first started out, he had every intention of just going with the flow and orchestrating a situation where the peoples of the Tower could solve their own problems. He wanted to empower people like Baam, Khun, and other members of Team Wolf Pack so that they could eventually overcome the existing system and introduce change in a gradual, more natural, manner.
With Baam's inordinately powerful fate, it wasn't an exaggeration to say that he would eventually come out on top. There was no way of knowing what kind of person he would become, but, after observing the developments within his Actualized Worlds, Vahn could certain that he would remain a force for 'good' until the very end. The [Child of Destiny] Innate might apply to heroes and villains in equal measure, but, so long as someone like Jahad bore the antagonistic variant, Baam was fated to develop in a manner that either reflected or foiled the former King's.
Explained simply, Vahn didn't actually have to interfere with the 'stories' he found himself a part of. He could sit still, literally doing nothing, and, at least from the perspective of the 'world', he would still be the single most important existence in the entire Record. He was a variable that allowed for dynamic change in a world that, prior to his arrival, had a fixed past, present, and future. Thus, while he was free to take any action he so desires, there was nothing necessitating he be the one to solve everything. Rather, so long as he communicated his intentions with the world, it would readily make changes at his behest...
"It looks like Headon is going to be receiving an early present..."
(A/N: Alternate Titles: 'There is always time for *mofu* *mofu* (UwU)...','Picture billions of surprised Pikachu faces...(O o O)...','Immeasurable power and authority...')
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