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Endless Path : Infinite Cosmos Chapter 671



Though he had put it off for a few days, primarily as a result of his daughters being born, Vahn eventually made due on his promise to give the girls their [Pactio]s. As awkward as it may have been, the entire thing turned into a relatively big event where they all got together in the clearing, located within the illusory forest. Other than the participants themselves, there were several goddesses present since many of them were curious about such a unique form of contract magic, as it seemed to make use of laws they were entirely unaware of. For entities that had existed for hundreds of millions of years, they weren't the type of people to simply miss out on something new and exciting.

Loki, carrying a closed-eyes Erika in her arms, had already returned to her natural appearance and had a look of intrigue on her face. Even till this day, Erika had never once opened her eyes so Loki had eventually opened the slit-like lids to see what color they were. Unlike her own, Erika seemed to inherit Vahn's eye color, making them a pristine aquamarine. This had made Loki strangely happy and she had been teasing him about it ever since, often saying things like, "She has your nose..." or "She has your eyes...". The most notable change, however, was the fact that Loki seemed to have calmed down a fair amount and currently had a much more stable aura than in the past. It may be a temporary change, but she said her own Divinity seemed to have weakened in influence for the time being, though the presence and power of the Divinity was still there.

As for his other two daughters, Vana and Ina, the former always seemed full of energy, even making an effort to look around while producing adorable baby sounds that always made everyone present smile. Ina, unlike her elder twin, was relatively quiet and seemed far less interested in the world and instead seemed fond of a few select individuals. She allowed people to hold her, but would often make a small frown unless it was Hephaestus, Juno, Mona, and, somewhat strangely, Haruhime.

It had become apparent that his children, including their guardians, could see and interact with Shirohime. Ina seemed fond of the small fox and its counterpart, though not nearly so much as she was of her 'favorite person', Vahn himself. If he was present in the room, Ina would make small pouting sounds and wriggle about in the arms of whoever was holding her until they eventually passed her over to Vahn. She always saved her biggest and brightest smiles for him, earning a few exasperated looks from Hephaestus. Even Vahn was surprised that, after just a few days of being born, his second daughter's Affinity had actually reached 99 points, still listing him as her (Favorite Person). He was somewhat curious if there would be any kind of quest update when she hit 100 but didn't really mind it too much since it wouldn't really change how he felt about any of his daughters. To Vahn, they were all perfect little angels that he needed to protect, regardless of what life, fate, or karma, might throw his way...

After passing the sleeping Ina back to Hephaestus, leaving her to hold both of their daughters in her arms, Vahn finished creating the large magic ward for [Pactio] in just three seconds. All the girls were already waiting at the side, having decided their order by drawing lots. Though they had initially thought about making the ceremony a private affair, the various discussions that had been going on within the Manor ended up changing things to make it more of an event instead. It all started when Loki and Hephaestus both mentioned they were interested in observing, leading Hestia and Anubis wanting to do the same. Thus, Naaza, Chloe, Aki, Lunoire, Milan, Lili, Ryuu, Syr, Tsubaki, Riveria, Preasia, Emiru, Maemi, Arnya, Eina, and, after a bit of cross-talk, Shizune were all waiting patiently at the side. As for everyone else, including Haruhime, Mikoto, Fenrir, Terra, and, after hearing about the event from her sister, Risna, they were all observing the proceedings from the side with a very low-energy Tina, who had suffered a critical hit at being the only one 'left out'.

Being the first up, Naaza had a light blush on her face and nervously played with a few strands of her hair as she walked into the circle where Vahn was waiting with a smile. Though they had kissed plentily in the past, this was the first time she would be doing so in front of an 'audience' of more than twenty people. Naaza was more than a little nervous but, after Vahn reached out at patted her head, most of her nerves strangely faded away. With the evolution of his [Petting], Vahn had become 'especially effective' against all the Beast-Human girls. If not for the fact that he spent the majority of his time 'hovering' around the maternity ward, it may have even ranked up with how fond he was of using the unique Development Ability...

After she had calmed down a fair amount, Vahn shared a relatively tame kiss with Naaza as the ward activated, shrouding both their bodies in light before her [Pactio] card came into existence, named 'Spiritus Pharmacopola'. It floated around a bit before disappearing into her chest, causing Naaza's clothing to 'burst' as her unique 'raiment' replaced it. Vahn was a little surprised with her outfit, and it made him feel a little dull in a part of his mind since she looked a lot like one of the researchers from his previous life.

Naaza's raiment took on the form of a white blouse, a straight black skirt that nearly reached her knees, a white lab coat, a pair of brown loafers, and square-rimmed glasses. Even her hairstyle had changed, pulled up into an ornate bun on the back of her head that was held together by two pen-like objects. Of course, the most notable thing for everyone else present, was the fact that Naaza had a large bandolier-like pouch that was full of a variety of vials containing strange liquids. What asked about them, Naaza explained that she could apparently convert her magical energy to create a variety of different compounds that could temporarily boost an ally's parameters or debuff an enemy's. It was a surprisingly powerful support [Pactio] since it didn't seem to take much of Naaza's magic power to actually fill one of the vials...

As there wasn't much time to investigate each individual [Pactio] in detail, Naaza gave Vahn a contented hug before stepping off to the side, making way for the smiling Chloe to walk into the circle. She had a very intrigued look in her eyes as she playfully said, "Nyahaha, I wonder what kind of outfit I'll get~nya?" Then, without waiting for the ward to activate, Chloe gave Vahn a quick kiss before laughing as she stepped away. Vahn gave her a wry smile, deciding he needed to 'pamper' her a bit later since she seemed to be wanting his attention. For now, however, he did his duty by drawing the [Pactio] circle once again. When he was done, they shared a second kiss, considerably less tame than Naaza's as her card, 'Umbra Princeps', came into existence.

Chloe's Umbra Princeps took on the form of a misty-black substance, very similar to what was produced by Fafnir when it was using [Shadow Walk]. Her outfit itself couldn't be seen since the shadowy mist covered every part of her body, even extending to her pointed ears and covering her beautiful green eyes. It wasn't until Chloe reached up, pulling down a part around her face, that they were able to see her form again. The Ministra Magi had an intuitive understanding of their own [Pactio] so Chloe explained that her raiment and artifact seemed to be one object, much like Haruhime's.

When asked about the effects, Chloe laughed in a mischevious manner before 'diving' into Vahn's shadow. He found his muscles tense up, making it very difficult to move as his own shadow began coiling around his legs and slowly pulling him into the 'pool' below until Chloe eventually popped back out, freeing him from what she called 'Shadow Possession'. Her actual ability allowed her to move through shadows, much like Fafnir, but also allowed her to manipulate her own shadow, and the shadow of others. As a quick demonstration, she formed the shadowy substance around her body into a variety of different shapes, many of which looked like bladed weapons...

After Chloe was satisfied with her mischief, she made way for Aki, sending the pregnant Cat Person a playful laugh while apologizing for the wait. Aki didn't seem to mind, holding her pregnant belly as she walked into the ward, which Vahn had already re-established. They spent a few seconds just hugging each other before Aki herself initiated the kiss, enjoying the warm light flowing around her body as her card, 'Reciproca Imperium', popped into existence. Since she didn't want to try using it while she was pregnant, Aki just accepted the copy of her card from Vahn while he looked over the image shown on the front. It showed Aki, in her normal state, wearing a black battledress with several arrow-like motifs covering it. Her artifact, which she was still able to summon safely, took on the form of two gloves which allowed her to reverse the force of anything she touched. It was an incredibly powerful offensive and defensive artifact if used by a skilled weilder and Aki seemed happy to have obtained such versatile ability.

Once Aki had joined the crowd of observers, Lunoire entered into the ward, showing her characteristic gentle smile with a hint of expectation in her eyes. All of the girls had been interested in what form their own [Pactio]s would take so, after seeing what Naaza, Chloe, and Aki had gotten, Lunoire was very excited and quickly initiated a kiss with Vahn. When the card came out, she almost ended the kiss early in an attempt to grab it but instead found her focus wavering as she fell deeper into the kiss. Lunoire hadn't realized how much she missed contact with Vahn and suddenly found it harder to part from him than she had expected. It wasn't until Vahn slowly pulled away from her, showing a gentle and understanding smile on his face that Lunoire returned to her senses...

Lunoire's [Pactio], Mons Taurus, took on a form nobody had expected, almost causing Lunoire to 'regret' obtaining it before the 'knowledge' of her artifact and its uses embedded themselves into her mind. She was currently wearing what looked like a one-piece pajama-like outfit that was similar in appearance to a golden cow. There were even small horns and droopy ears connected to the hood section of the one-piece outfit. Though it was adorable, it didn't exactly inspire confidence in the user, nor did it have any intimidation factor towards enemies. However, when Lunoire claimed she could make the outfit harder than Adamantine and that it multiplied her strength in increments of ten, the more experienced Adventurer's all swallowed nervously. Each multiplier took a progressively greater amount of magic power, something Lunoire was currently lacking, but it was an utterly terrifying offensive ability...

Milan was next to receive her [Pactio], showing a great deal of excitement on her face as she grabbed Vahn's cheeks and gave him a very passionate and loving kiss. At this point, everyone was getting progressively more excited and, much like Lunoire, Milan had missed Vahn a great deal over the last few weeks. It wasn't until she could practically feel the awkwardness of the atmosphere on her skin that Milan finally pulled away, showing a blush on her mature face as she sent an apologetic look to everyone giving her wry smiles. Fortunately, tensions eased when Milan used her [Pactio], taking on the appearance of a female gladiator wearing a mix of black and white leathers with pristine metallic plating covering her vitals.

When Milan pulled out her artifact, which took on the form of a massive circular shield, Vahn flipped the card in his hand, reading 'Provocator Scutum' on the front. Milan went on to explain the use of her [Pactio], which seemed to enhance her defenses greatly while allowing her to forcefully 'pull' attacks towards her shield. Anything contacting the mirror-like surface seemed to be completely absorbed, allowing Milan to store the energy of the attack in the 39 small runes circling the shield. At any point, she could release the stored energy in the form of a powerful counterattack that would send out a wave of neutral energy in a directed shockwave towards her enemies. Though it seemed like a decided 'broken' ability, Milan said she could only activate the defensive aspects of the shield every three seconds and there was a cooldown depending on the strength of the counter...

Lili was up next, entering the ward before Milan had even stepped out of it. Things had been going very well for her lately so Lili almost always had a smile on her face, a far cry from her past self who always had a fake smile or spent her time brooding. Not only had her strength been increasing in strides, but now she would be able to 'functionally' shorten the amount of time she would have to wait before finally entering a permanant relationship with Vahn. Now, she would even be able to explosively increase her own strength once again and would even be learning magic from Vahn...Lili was so happy that it felt like all the pain and suffering she experienced in her past had been 'worth' it...

Vahn had to kneel down to kiss Lili, somewhat that always made him feel a little awkward about, but she didn't seem bothered by the fact and practically leaped into his arms. Since it seemed to be the trend, Lili gave an almost 'greedy' kiss that lasted much longer than the duration of the [Pactio] ceremony itself. Though she didn't completely get her fill of 'Vahnobtainium', Lili eventually pulled away and 'snatched' up her card, immediately activating the transformation without even checking the name. When the light faded away, Lili's smile became even bigger as she pumped her fist victoriously and gave Vahn an excited hug.

Lili's [Pactio], Simia Regina, took on a form similar to her previous Adventurer's outfit. She had a tight top that didn't extend past her ribs, made up of a strange tanned cloth that extended down her arms, much like the [Nezha Lady's Toga] she often used. As for the bottoms, she had tight black spats with a pair of shorts made of the same tanned material as her top. The edges of her shorts, collar, and sleeves, were all covered in white fur and there was a small monkey-like tail poking out of her backside. It didn't serve any purpose, other than aesthetics, so Lili got rid of it before growing a real tail in its place, making her entire appearance look adorable. The reason why she had been so happy, other than the information that entered her head, was because Lili knew Vahn would like the outfit since he seemed to have a 'weakness' for cute things...

When Lili had finally calmed down a bit, she pulled out her artifact and explained the details of her [Pactio] to everyone present. Her outfit didn't provide any defensive capabilities, other than the basic ones provided by the [Pactio] itself, but allowed her to have enhanced senses in natural environments with greatly increased agility. Lili had already been very flexible, but she now felt like her body would be able to contort even easier, without feeling some of the discomfort she would have to deal with when doing some of her more 'daring' maneuvers. As for her artifact, it took on the form of a crimson red staff with golden bands attached to it. It had the quality of being indestructible and being able to change both its size and weight at her whim. Lili demonstrated it by placing one end in the ground and causing the staff to extend nearly 20m in an instant, vaulting her into the sky as she performed a few flips before landing on her feet with a smile.

After receiving Vahn's praise, Lili eventually moved to join the rest of the girls at the side, not bothering to return to her normal form just yet. Ryuu moved to replace her, breaking the trend of sharing a passionate kiss with Vahn and instead settling on something far tamer. Though she was more expressive than in the past, Ryuu still wasn't fond of public displays of affection. She had opened up to most of the girls in the Manor but didn't want to do anything 'shameless' unless they were alone...or at least in a small group.

Ryuu's [Pactio], Meteoron Imber, took on the form of a dark-blue cowl that glimmered with small star-like lights. The rest of her outfit looked relatively casual but gave the feeling of a hunter even to the untrained observer. She had a sleeveless black tunic with glistening white buttons around the collar, a pair of pristine white shorts, dark-blue stockings with a similar starry pattern as her cowl, and small white boots that matched the color of her shorts and the vambraces on her arms. As for her artifact, Ryuu strangely ended up with a bow that seemed to be made of an inordinately beautiful crystal. Though they didn't match any of the constellations he had seen, there were several linked star-like lights within the interior of the bow, giving Ryuu a very ethereal look when everything was taken into consideration...

When asked about her artifact, Ryuu explained that it functioned as both a bow and a magical staff since it was able to enhance other spells and magic. As for the active component of the artifact, Ryuu was able to channel a strange form of energy Vahn had never seen before, forming it into an arrow that made the hair stand up on the back of his neck. It was a very pure and pristine energy that seemed like it could pierce through anything, making his [Magia Erebea] infused cells 'writhe' about somewhat uncomfortably. According to Sis, though she didn't really know why she could tell what kind of energy it was, it was comprised of 'Star Energy', making use of one of the higher-tiered laws of the world. It had a powerful suppressive effect on anything comprised of negative energy and, even though Vahn's [Magia Erebea] was a purified form, he still felt itchy just being in the presence of the indescribably beautiful arrow...

(A/N: Alternate Titles: 'Poor Hephaestus, relegated to Ina's 'Second Favorite Person'...','You get a kiss, you get a kiss, EVERYONE gets a kiss~!...except for Tina (UwU)...','Everything Has a Weakness')

(A/N: I didn't expect the [Pactio] chapters to take so long so I had to split it into two parts, at the very least. Though I'll probably be very tired when work ends today, as I have to stay a little late, I'll try to get out part two this evening. If not, I'll post two or more tomorrow before increasing the release rate to the normal amount starting at the weekly reset. Thanks for being patient with me during this week, but know it puts me in a much better financial situation for continued writing in the future :P)

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