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Endless Path : Infinite Cosmos Chapter 670



Over the course of the next few days, Vahn had the opportunity to experience that raising children wasn't exactly easy. Because of the accelerated growth rates of the Vanir, they needed to eat every two hours, typically like clockwork. Vana ate a fair amount more than both Ina and Erika, but she also showed the highest amount of energy compared to the other two. Also, since they were constantly eating, this meant the girls were also constantly producing small amounts of waste to accompany their meal plan. Vahn had been asked to help out, so as to familiarize himself with the process, meaning he had changed nearly thirty diapers over the course of a few short days.

This didn't mean Vahn wasn't happy, however, as every moment he spent with his daughters felt like a true blessing. Just being in the same room as them made him feel like his body had endless energy and he often had to be 'forced' away by the teasing of Loki, Hephaestus, Juno, Epona, and Tsubaki. Mona never said too much but showed a tired smile on her face most of the time since she had constantly been tending to the girls both day and night. It was fortunate that Juno and Epona actually produced milk, allowing them to relieve her so she could actually get adequate sleep, while the other expectant mothers also helped out a bit.

When he wasn't spending time with his newborn daughters, Vahn had been guiding all the younger girls in their magical training and planning his next course of action with Minerva and Fortuna. They had counseled him about the best course of action to take in regards to his interactions with the Rakia and Elven Kingdoms. As it stood, almost anything he did against the Rakia Kingdom would be used as a justification for them to rally forces and try a more meaningful attack. This was an opportunity to get them to overextend but relied on Vahn being willing to fight against an army and potentially claim many lives. The problem with this was the fact that many of the people fighting on the frontlines were being forced into service, making them relatively innocent in the grand scheme of things...

Under the guidance of the two goddesses, Vahn eventually settled on a median between two extremes, allowing the Rakia Kingdom to move their forces the vast distance between the Kingdom and the City while eliminating their supply lines and damaging the terrain. If they didn't have enough resources to continue the campaign, they would inevitably be forced to retreat under the constant harassment of various smaller mercenary troupes and the scouts from the Elven Forest. There was a chance they could detour to the south, trying to sweep through the Plains area where the food was produced, but this would guarantee their Kingdom was wiped off the map. It had been hundreds of years since anyone even tried to cause harm to the food production region of the Continent, as doing so would earn you the ire of every single country while simultaneously be cutting off your own potential resources. As foolish as Ares might be, he knew better than to draw the attention of all the forces on the Continent simultaneously...

As for the Elven Kingdom, they were much trickier to deal with than the Rakia Kingdom since most of their issues were internal. Vahn didn't have the power and authority to 'force' change within the Kingdom without acting like a tyrant, meaning the only plausible course of action was to continue pressuring them until the Elven Kingdom either attacked or gave up. There was a very high chance they would tear themselves apart from the inside, but the ones most damaged by this course of action would be the so-called Nobles. The Sage Council had been consolidating their forces around the western front while keeping their Elites in reserve. As for those that had already aligned with the High Priestess faction, which included the majority of the most powerful High Elves and influential Elven families, they were just tiding over until things came to a head.

With Riveria as a mediator, they had reached out to the High Priestess Faction, offering aid and the creation of an emergency teleportation 'formation' to allow them to escape during an emergency. Strangely, though they had been fairly amicable in the past, the High Priestess Faction seemed intent to continue forward without their assistance. Riveria had been confused and frustrated when she learned how 'obstinant' the faction had suddenly become, complaining to Vahn almost every time he had gone to check up on her. Before this sudden change, Riveria had a very good relationship with many of the senior members of the High Priestess Faction, so it was upsetting for her to suddenly get the cold shoulder.

Unable to do much about the situation in the Elven Kingdom, other than help refugees that were trying to flee the internal struggles, Vahn had no choice but to wait and see how things developed. He decided that, even if the High Priestess Faction didn't directly ask for help, he would still go to their aid if news of an emergency situation reached them from the borders of the Western Forests. With Fafnir, he could close the distance between Orario and the Elven Kingdom in less than an hour, though Terra would potentially be able to get him there in an instant...

Terra, after returning from the Dungeon, had spent the majority of her time expanding her dominion to encompass the entirety of the Manor. She had also modified the structure of her 'formation', enhancing several parts of it with wards that she had learned through studying with Eva. Everything above ground had now become an 'inviolable' space for her since one of the first things she had implemented was a massive assortment of wards that enhanced the defensive barrier around the Manor. Now, unless someone was near Level 7, or had a special Innate that allowed them to penetrate such barriers, there was almost no chance of the Manor suffering a direct attack. Even the underground, especially the underground, had been completely barred off for anyone that Terra herself didn't allow free passage...

One of the bigger changes with Terra was the fact that she was very open about the changes in their relationship while simultaneously being very secretive about what she had learned from Eva. Other than Vahn, Fenrir, and Fafnir, Terra kept her knowledge a secret and only gave advice when some of the girls came to her in order to ask questions. The rest of her time was spent resting on her perch, sunbathing and absorbing large amounts of energy, completely in the buff. She kept the egg at her side, nestled against the base of her perch as it reflected the sunlight off its emerald green scales. Vahn had offered to awaken it, as he was the only one with the key to breaking through Eva's spell, but Terra refused on the grounds that he was already distracted with other things.

Unlike the Vanir, there wouldn't be any accelerated growth for his child with Terra, meaning it could actually take dozens, if not hundreds, of years for it to reach maturity. Though Terra and Fafnir had been something of an exception, this was only because their bodies had been adapting to the changes brought about by their 'evolution'. Terra herself hadn't changed at all, even after nearly 150 years, while Fafnir's size was still growing, even though it had functionally eternal life. Thus, Terra had decided to wait until she had finished creating a sub-space orb with enough of a time dilation effect to teach and raise their child to the point it could, at the very least, defend itself.

Though her affinity with Space wasn't nearly as good as Eva's, or even Vahn's, Terra had a lot of knowledge in regards to the subjects and had been entrusted with the secret of imbuing laws into a medium to create a sub-space. To change the laws and make them apply to a physical body was very taxing, requiring a large amount of magical power and incredibly rare resources provided by the system shop, but Terra could still pull it off. Her restriction was modifying the passage of time to equate to seven days for every one day that passed, but it was still adequate. Fortunately, she could make use of Vahn's 'peculiarities' to create Spirit-Time Orbs, which was the same as Eva's original orb.

Spirit-Time Orbs required the Mage to create a faux-persona, referred to as a memory fragment, that regulated the laws within the space with a much greater degree of influence compared to a Sub-Space Orb. Since the latter applied to the physical body, there were much greater restrictions on the user compared to the rather lenient restrictions in a Spirit-Time Orb. Terra could influence the time dilation to reach ten hours for every minute that passed, allowing the user to stay inside for up to 100 hours every day. With Vahn being able to actually bring physical objects into a Spirit-Time Orb, he could 'break' many of the limitations that applied to them, something Terra found fascinating and intended to take full advantage of...

After a fair amount of discussion, as Vahn found himself lacking the time he wanted to spend with all the girls, it was decided that they would create several different kinds of orbs, as Vahn was learning from Terra how to actually form them. Terra would create two primary orbs, one Sub-Space, and one Spirit-Time, with the goal of allowing the girls the opportunity to train their physical bodies while she would make personal use of the Spirit-Time orb for her own research and raising her child. As for Vahn, he would be creating several different types of Spirit-Time orbs for a variety of purposes, many geared towards teaching specific skills.

There would also be three 'reward' orbs, which had been put forth as a recommendation by Loki and 'approved' by the girls in the Manor. These orbs would have three different 'programs', with varying intensities that would allow the girls to exchange their accumulated points for private recreational time with Vahn's memory fragment. It wouldn't affect their physical bodies, but their spirit would actually be tempered through the interactions, even if they ultimately decided to do something a bit risque with the Tier 3 memory fragment. Since Vahn could also 'download' the memories from the orbs, he would be able to know what was going on inside, though it was suggested that he didn't pry into things unless someone was acting strangely...

So that nobody got in the habit of trying to overuse the orbs, it was decided that they would have access restrictions of one-week placed on them, meaning they could only be used up to four times a month at most. Vahn would also be spending a fair amount of time accompanying the girls' physical bodies within the Sub-Space Orb, as he would also be conducting his own training and research. After all, if he had an extra 100 hours each day, not only for his own research but to spend with the girls, that was a boon he had no intention of missing out on.

As for the what kind of restrictions would be placed on the orb's use, Loki had actually concluded that only 25% of the time in the orb, essentially around one day, should be used for 'work'. If anything, Vahn already spent too much time on his projects and tending to the various obligations he had fallen into, thus making the orb the perfect solution to give him time to relax. If he entered with all the girls, he wouldn't have the same issue as with Eva's orb since he would always be able to seek out other people if he was feeling lonely. This also allowed them to monitor him without becoming overly reliant on using the Spirit-Time Orbs for their interactions with Vahn...

Unable to refute Loki's claims, though there would certainly be 'exceptions' made depending on what was happening outside the orb, Vahn accepted the terms. It would take several weeks to create a single orb, so they had plenty of time to think about what changes to make later on. However, just knowing they would have a place where they could essentially spend three extra days with Vah, almost everyone in the Manor was very excited. The only exceptions, though they didn't really mind it, were the goddesses. Because of how the orbs functioned, they wouldn't actually be able to enter the orbs since their actual bodies and souls were still in Heaven. If they could detach their spirit to enter the Spirit-Time Orb, it was very likely their body would dissipate and they would be returned to Heaven. As for the Sub-Space Orb, it didn't have nearly as much risk but none of them were willing to find out the truth of the matter since they had no desire to be barred from the mortal world for a few decades.

To compensate for the goddesses inability to enter the orbs, most of the time Vahn spent in reality, especially during the evenings, would be spent with them. This also extended to all the pregnant women as well, as one of the first things that had been decided during the discussion was to never use the orbs to 'accelerate' a pregnancy. Though the variable pregnancies of goddesses could be explained away as a result of the peculiarities of the Vanir and the influence of Divinity, it would become very obvious something was going on if mortals began having children much faster than normal. The orbs, though some may be used for special classes in the School, would become one of the most closely guarded secrets of the Alliance.

The orbs were far too easily exploitable so it wasn't a good idea to ever circulate them amongst mortals. One of the examples Loki had given, which caused a shudder to pass through almost the entire room, was slavers using the orbs to 'breed' stock. Another one had been people using orbs with more lenient restrictions, as it was possible to make a sub-space that functioned at a 1:1 ratio without any limitations, to store people they had kidnapped. If you could keep thousands of people within the space of a single drawer, there were no ends to the means by which it could be misused.

Fortunately, there was a restriction that Sub-Space Orbs required being 'anchored' to the world itself, often making use of leylines and larger formations to supplement their energy requirements. Moving an orb would destabilize the space, destroying any structures that had been built inside while forcibly ejecting any people, assuming that function had been 'programmed' into it. If it hadn't been, anyone inside would cease to exist when the space collapsed, making it an easy way to hide evidence of wrongdoing...

When they were talking about the restrictions, Vahn couldn't help but think about the Heavenly City from the Divination, wondering if it was possible to 'anchor' an orb to such a colossal structure. After all, planets were often just objects floating through space, meaning the only 'real' restriction was the amount of energy feeding into, and stabilizing, the orbs. He intended to try and create modified orbs in the future but, for the time being, decided to agree to all the rules and restrictions that had been put forth by the collective group. They would talk about it again when the rest of the girls returned from the Expedition, as it was unfair to make decisions without their input, but they weren't likely to oppose the decisions that were made...

The only real points of contention had come from the presence of Lili, Tina, and Shizune, as Hestia had proposed making the Sub-Space Orbs off-limits to anyone that had yet to reach adulthood. Mortals already had relatively short lives and she didn't think it was healthy for 'children' to essentially shorten their lifespans by potentially spending 80% of their life within a Sub-Space Orb. After all, just using it for a year would make Tina's age chronologically closer to seventeen years old. As an extreme case, this would mean the Vanir could actually reach physical maturity in less than a year...

Ultimately, it was decided that Lili would be able to make free use of the orb, as she was almost an adult and had already lived a very trying life, while restrictions would be placed on Tina and Shizune. The later would have far more freedom in the orbs use, as she was already mentally an adult, while Tina would only be allowed to access the orb once a week, at least for the time being. To pacify her, Vahn promised he would spend a lot of his time in the 'real' world playing with and teaching her, at least when he wasn't looking after his own daughters and spending time with the various expectant mothers. He also promised that, by the time the orbs were functional, he would give her a flame seed so she could potentially keep up with Shizune's accelerated growth by increasing her parameters much faster than the small Kitsune.

Shizune had initially been happy to have relatively free access to the orb but, after hearing all the concessions Vahn made for Tina, she began to feel like she had missed out on a golden opportunity. Vahn would obviously be spending the majority of his time with the other girls in the orb so, unless she managed to convince Tina to let her 'play' with them, she wouldn't have that much time with him herself. Fortunately, while Tina was denied access to them, Shizune had been given leniency to use the Tier 1 and Tier 2 Spirit-Time Orbs. This meant, as long as she saved up enough points, she would be able to get some 'benefits' from the memory fragments of Vahn. Though she wouldn't be able to do anything 'adult', for the time being, it was better than nothing...

(A/N: Alternate Titles: 'Endless Poop : Infinite Diapers','Haaaaaaax','Tina, lucky or unlucky? Only time will tell (OwO)~!)

(A/N: The previous chapter was technically the end of Volume 14, so the next 2-3 chapters will be intermission chapters explaining and wrapping up some loose ends. Pactio chapter should be next and, as I felt it would be kind of funny, I decided to do a 'perspective' chapter of some of the side characters on Friday. There were actually a number of people that had different reactions to Vahn's aura when he thought about protecting his daughter, some which would be interesting to read. Saturday will be the start of Volume 15 and, by the start of the new week, I'll be back to around 100-120k words per week (UwU)~!)


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