Endless Path : Infinite Cosmos Chapter 1455
Seeing the sleeping Tamamo, curled up atop her cushioned throne with a contented smile on her face, Vahn turned to Artoria, earning a small sigh from her when he remarked, "She is pretty cute, isn't she?"
Though she knew Vahn was only speaking his mind, Artoria gave him a slightly pointed look as she answered, "You really have a thing for women who possess animalistic features, don't you? You'll be wanting her to stay in the Menagerie, then?"
While the thought was somewhat tempting, Vahn shook his head in response to Artoria's question, saying, "As I told Amaterasu, that would be setting a dangerous precedent. I can empathize with her tragic past, sure, but-:
Before Vahn was able to finish, Artoria released another sig, saying, "You don't need to try and come up with an excuse. I can't speak for all of us, but we understand your nature and the unique form of your love. We understand our responsibility regarding that Divinity of yours, so, as long as you never lose sight of what is important, I don't think any of us mind if you have other lovers. Rather, it seems like a lot of trouble could be avoided if we just allowed you to love freely..."
Vahn found himself at a complete loss for words in response to Artoria's. His first instinct was to feel guilty, blaming himself for his licentious ways, but, preempting his guilt, Artoria added, "There is no need to feel guilty. You are not simply an Emperor, but a Dragon God whose influence will only grow with the passage of time. We understand the nature of Dragons, so, if it will help you grow stronger, we all decided to support you. You'll never be able to relax until you possess enough power to rule over everything so we will continue to push your forward until you achieve your goals."
Though he still felt a tinge of guilt, Vahn couldn't help but laugh in response to Artoria's words, his jubilation impossible to contain. Truthfully, he felt it was impossible to pass through the Nasuverse without expanding his harem further. It might have been possible if he restrained himself more early on, but, now that he was trying to conquer the world and pave a way forward for every race, a lot of things would be simplified if he could act freely.
While it might be considered egotistical by some, Vahn was certain he could satisfy virtually every woman, regardless of their origin and tier. It was something he had become unnaturally good at, so, with the Nasuverse having an inordinate number of powerful female figures, forging bonds to lay a stronger foundation would make things much easier in the future. He hadn't verbalized it to anyone, but he fully intended to subsume the entire World in the future, taking it with him when he travels to other Records.
Azathoth was capable of sustaining a Universe inside itself and, after observing and interacting with it for a long period of time, Vahn had garnered some insights into how he could achieve something similar. In the end, it came down to the fact that the Soul was vast and infinite, completely without limits or boundaries. Manifesting a Realm seemed to involve extending a piece of your Soul into an object or a location, allowing the world within to reflect a fraction of the endless space that existed within the Soul.
Vahn was still far from reaching Tier 5, but, more so than anything else, he was confident in the durability of his Soul. He had become one with The Path, the source of all energy within the Tier System. In a way, this meant that everything in existence was already a part of him, but, the most important takeaway, at least for the time being, was that sealing things within his Soul wasn't even a difficult feat to achieve. He had already sealed Eva's Memory Fragment, so, while it would put a bit of strain on him, Vahn was certain he could one day seal a planet. The fact Azathoth could contain an entire Universe also indicated that, in the distant future, he would be able to do the same...
As this thought crossed his mind, followed by a powerful conviction to never leave behind any of the people he cared about, Vahn caressed the side of Artoria's face. This caused her to swallow adorably before closing her eyes and slightly parting her lips, an open invitation that caused Vahn's heart to palpitate just as madly now as it had during their first kiss...
After waiting for nearly an hour, Tamamo began to stretch her body in a manner reminiscent of a cat before finally raising her head to meet the gazes of Vahn and Artoria. Her vulpine ears twitched, and, seemingly confused, she tilted her head to the side, asking, "Are you my Husband...?"
Unlike before, the current Tamamo only had a single, somewhat stubby, vulpine tail. The nine flame-like tails from before had been the result of Amaterasu manifesting herself through Tamamo's body, greatly increasing her power in exchange for overtaxing her magic circuits.
Though he would have denied her claim an hour prior, Vahn smiled in response to Tamamo's inquiry, answering, "That is up to you, Tamamo. Do you wish to become my bride?"
Seemingly confused by his words, Tamamo's ears twitched adorably as she said, "I had a long dream. I don't remember everything that happened, but it was a terribly sad dream. It became happy toward the end, though. I dreamt that a bright like broke through the darkness, bringing warmth to my cold and tired body. It told me that, when I awoke, I would find the man that would become my Husband. Is that not you...?"
Going by Tamamo's words, Vahn was certain that Amaterasu had done something to her memories. He would have Merlin look into it later, but, for the time being, he adopted a gentle smile, extending his hand to stroke Tamamo's head and ears as he explained, "My name is Vahn Aldrnari Mason, the Sage Dragon Emperor of the Aldrnari Empire. Though you are not my first bride, I would be happy to have you, Tamamo-no-Mae."
Though she still seemed a little confused, Tamamo giggled happily in response to his caress. Then, surprising him somewhat, she pounced on him from her seated position, hugging his body tightly as she chimed, "My husband is an Emperor, how lucky...! Make sure you pamper me lots, okay, Ten'n-sama~! I may be quite beautiful, but I require a lot of upkeep, ufufufu~."
Vahn was a little taken aback by Tamamo's words, but, rather than rebuke her, he just laughed in a light-hearted manner before extricating himself from her grasp and saying, "There are many things you will have to learn about the Empire. For now, the most important thing to keep in mind is that I seek harmony amongst my various lovers. This beautiful young woman here is my Empress, Artoria Aldrnar Pendragon. She, and many others, will help teach you everything you need to know..."
As if only just now noticing Artoria's presence, Tamamo cocked her head to the side, causing her ears to flop somewhat adorably as she lightly issued a light 'hmm'. Then, seemingly having made a decision, she nodded her head a few times before saying, "Since you arrived before me, I will not hold a grudge against you. Please, teach me well. I want to become a proper bride so that I can make my husband happy~."
Artoria hadn't missed the fact that Tamamo said the words 'my husband', so, while she had a smile on her face, she made a mental note to discuss the vulpine woman's behavior with Fenrir, Rin, and Luvia. Though it was only a matter of time before Tamamo realized the futility of trying to become something like Vahn's favorite, it was best they curb any problematic habits she might have early on.
In response to Tamamo's words, Artoria gave a curt nod, saying, "Much has changed since the time you originally manifested. I, along with many others, will help to guide you properly. In the end, your own efforts will determine your position within the Inner Sanctum. Vahn doesn't go out of his way to play favorites so believe me when I say you should avoid causing trouble."
Though she listened attentively, Tamamo didn't really take Artoria's words to heart. She didn't mind if her husband had multiple wives, as this was only natural. The only thing that mattered to her was being the closest person to him, not out of a desire for greater power, but as a matter of personal pride. Thus, while she didn't intend to cause any trouble, there was nothing Artoria could do to stop her from trying to make Vahn love her even more.
Seeing through Tamamo's intentions, Artoria just took a slightly deeper breath through her nose before looking toward Vahn and asking, "Will we be returning to the Ivory Castle or moving to deal with Jason?"
Understanding why Artoria mentioned returning to the castle, Vahn eyed the predominately white wedding Kimono that Tamamo was wearing. Amaterasu had likely been anticipating his arrival after the previous visit by Shirou, dressing her Bunrei up in preparation for this particular development. It would also make things a lot easier in the future if he 'dealt' with Tamamo before she had the chance to cause any trouble. He knew the effect he had on women, so, while her true nature wouldn't really change, she would measure her future actions with more consideration.
Since moments like this were the most suitable for using his ability to read the Flow of Fate, Vahn fell into deep thought for a moment before answering, "The longer we ignore Jason, the more harm he will cause to his surroundings. Even if he is harming people that don't really exist, it's not something I can ignore. We will deal with him before returning to the Ivory Castle. Afterward, I will meet with the remaining Heroes to discuss their replacement members before we return to Avalon. Though this has taken less time than originally anticipated, I've grown somewhat weary of this virtual space."
Though she had actually enjoyed being able to spend a considerable amount of alone time with Vahn, Artoria was also in agreement with his words. They both had a lot going on back in Avalon, so, while the last few days had been rather pleasant, it was time for them to return to their other duties. Thus, despite wanting to accompany him everywhere he went, she said, "I will accompany Tamamo to the Ivory Castle. While you deal with Jason, I will educate her on the unwritten rules of the Inner Sanctum. When you are finished, we will be awaiting your arrival..."
Vahn was somewhat surprised by Artoria's words, his brows perking up slightly as he asked, "Are you certain?"
Without showing any visible hesitation, Artoria nodded her head, explaining, "I'm aware of Jason's history with the original Medea. That makes him your personal enemy, not the enemy of the Empire. I intend to remain at your side into perpetuity, but that does not mean I will interfere with personal matters. You will be able to act with fewer inhibitions if I am not around...from what I know of that man's history, he deserves everything coming to him."
Hearing Artoria's words, Vahn was tempted to laugh, but, as it was a matter concerning life and death, it didn't really seem appropriate. Rather, while Jason certainly deserved punishment, it wasn't necessarily his right to met it out. If he took things too far, he would end up accumulating negative karma on behalf of someone who, in the end, wasn't even worth the effort to torment. He couldn't let Medea get involved with this matter, so, unless something unexpected occurred, Vahn intended to deal with Jason swiftly, and, even if he didn't deserve it, cleanly.
Though plans rarely survived contact with the enemy, Vahn gave a small nod, both in response to his thoughts and Artoria's intentions. Then, after removing his hand from Tamamo's head, much to the lamentation of the happy fox, he said, "I'll escort the two of you back. Those shadows outside won't be happy that Tamamo is leaving so we'll have to cut a path through. I can break the barrier outside without too much trouble, but I feel it would be a waste to destroy this place completely..."
Artoria was slightly surprised by Vahn's words, but, being the entity sealed within, Tamamo balled her hands into fists, excited exclaiming, "Alright! I'm totally gonna cut loose and teach those meanies a lesson!"
This time, Vahn didn't try to stop his laughter, ruffling Tamamo's hair as he said, "Sure, feel free to go wild. Just try to avoid damaging the surroundings and dirtying your kimono. It would be a shame to ruin your wedding dress before it can fulfill its purpose..."
Hearing Vahn's words, realization donned upon Tamamo's face, followed by a somewhat silly smile as she mused, "Right, right~? Don't worry, Ten'n-sama, I'll make sure my dress remains pristine and untouched until you get the chance to mess it up, ufufufu~."
With her words finished, Tamamo manifested a large mirror from thin air, its edges adorned with eight circular rings while its interior, rather than reflecting a clear image, displayed a scene shrouded in mist, similar to water vapor rising from ice. The surrounding temperature even dropped several degrees, a rather curious phenomenon considering Tamamo was the Bunrei of a Sun Goddess...
(A/N: Alternate Titles: 'Vahn's infinite blessings...','Kimono-waifu secured?','Jason is fucked')
(A/N: I'll be out for much of the morning so there may not be another chapter until late in the afternoon. Make sure you're all properly taking care of yourself during these trying times. I know it isn't easy, but I believe we can all make it through this if we stay vigilant...!)
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