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Seeing the gathered members of the Hermes Familia, many of which looked like they were immediately about to jump out and begin questioning him, Vahn chose to make things clear by holding up his hand and saying, "Please, remain quiet for the time being and everything will be explained shortly..." With these words, the group suddenly found themselves unable to say anything and, with a few exceptions, most of those gathered realized that Vahn had already finalized the contracts. From this point, until the duration of a year had come to an end, this boy before them now controlled their life and death...
Though he had experience with such a phenomenon because of his ability to subordinate others, Vahn was still slightly awed by how a few words of his had silenced the entire room. He was even tempted, with a large number of girls present, to make them perform a pirouette together, just to see what it would look like. Fortunately, the more than twenty other males kept him from doing anything he might regret later so Vahn casually smiled towards them, confusing them greatly. When he saw one of them have an aura that flared up with pink, Vahn felt his brain dull slightly so he turned to address the larger group, saying, "As Pot and Elilly have likely already informed you, I have just purchased the entire Hermes Familia for the next year..."
Vahn left out the fact that he had purchased the complete contracts of some of them, but that was something he could bring up later on when he had a clear plan to resolve their matters. There were many amongst those gathered before him that he took a great deal of pity on and, though he couldn't personally liberate all of them, he would do his best to at least prepare them to purchase their own freedom in the future. For the time being, their services were required by the Alliance and, by the time his ownership was coming to an end, Vahn would outright give them the money to buy their freedom, if they desired it. The only reason he chose not to was that their contracts actually made them unable to accept bribes, gifts, or take out loans in order to purchase their freedom. There was nothing that prevented him from giving them a bonus while they were in his employ, however, so Vahn intended to exploit that little loophole for those that genuinely sought a better life for themselves...
Since he had everyone's attention, Vahn decided to use this moment to clarify some things and, seeing the 'fervent' look some of the girls were giving him, it was better he get it out of the way now. Though there were undoubtedly a few girls he was interested in, a part of him had already come to rely on Lili for such things and he would try to avoid a situation where he felt guilted into allowing them to position themselves at his side. If they wanted to be someone like Aisha, who was content only receiving his affections while leading her own life, that was one thing. He just wanted to avoid having numerous girls with a lot of emotional baggage entering into the Manor, especially since there were so many children running about, with even more on the way...
Though it made him feel a little guilty to see them almost immediately become melancholic, Vahn still hardened his heart and explained, "So as not to mislead any of you, know that it isn't my intention to have you do anything that would compromise your integrity, demean, shame, or defame you. It is entirely my intention to have you work in the capacity of your specialties, not exploit you for my own needs and whims. Though I cannot deny that there are those among you that I may favor in the future, I will always act in consideration of your character and background. By the time this year comes to an end, it is my intention to reward those who have worked hard with the freedom they desire...to this, I will solemnly swear, lest my blessing becomes a curse and my power be stripped from my body...!"
With his final words, golden chains emerged from the void and, for what felt like the hundredth time, Vahn had a vow imprinted on the surface of his soul. He knew he could void the vows if he truly wanted, as there was nothing within the records that could influence his soul directly, but that wasn't something he was willing to do. It might be something he exploits to get an advantage against his enemies in the future, but Vahn didn't want to become someone a.s.sociated with breaking his promises, especially if he had treated them seriously enough to make a vow.
If not for the fact they were currently unable to speak, as Vahn had asked them to be quiet, many of the members of the Hermes Familia would have had a lot to say. Even so, there were a few that were communicating with small hand signs and signals, some keying in on the fact that Vahn had effectively admitted there were some in their ranks he might 'favor' in the future. Though their freedom was a tantalizing prospect, many of the members of the Hermes Familia were actually satisfied with the relative freedom they already had.
With few exceptions, they all had outgoing personalities, loved to gamble, and enjoyed living their lives to the fullest when possible. Though they certainly had to do some disreputable acts, it was still better than being an actual slave or prost.i.tute. If they could manage to leave an impression on Vahn, someone who could just waltz in and purchase their entire Familia on a whim, they believed they would be able to live an unrestrained lifestyle in the future. It didn't really have to be said that Vahn was a handsome boy, but he was also the representative of the most powerful force in the world while also possessing the strongest individual might within the City. He was a 'jackpot' for any sensible woman who desired more out of life than the lot they had been given, especially those that had been born as expendable slaves...
Vahn was gauging the reactions of every member and made a mental note of who he would have to watch out for in the future. Though it was almost impossible to avoid them outright, as his petting habit had developed almost to the point of compulsion, but he could avoid any serious developments. An easy way was to simply guilt himself into remembering girls like Sylphia, Tina, and, to a lesser extent, girls like Rufina and, to a much lesser extent, Shakti. Though she would probably try to beat him to a pulp if she learned about it, Vahn decided to use Shakti as a 'shield' against girls he didn't directly take an interest in...(A/N: Wow, rude...)
While looking around, Vahn also set eyes on the people he was somewhat interested in and wanted to help out over the next year. There were Reid and Tallow, the Chienthrope and Pallum duo he had met in the past. Though they had caused a few problems for him, they were also victims of a rather traumatic event. Since he had children of his own, even though Tallow wasn't a child, Vahn had a soft spot for Pallums. He could still remember her tear-stained face as she desperately tried to protect Reid, even when she was almost completely naked...
Other than the duo he had already met, Vahn would help Elilly overcome her self-conscious mentality, as it was somewhat cruel that she was judged for something she had no control over. Her liberation clause was also something he could resolve relatively easily, as it pertained to one of the well-known slave breeders back in the Iron Hills. Vahn would seek a reckoning from them in the future and, as long as the man was still alive, he didn't mind leaving the cur for Elilly to deal with...
As for her counterpart, not that they were actually a duo, Vahn decided he would help Pot buy her freedom in the future. He couldn't really give her a bunch of children, as he already had more than his fair share of problems dealing with his own Pallum lover, but it wouldn't be difficult to potentially find her a spouse. Since her brother, Pock, aspired to be strong like Finn, and they would both be acting within the scope of the Loki Familia in the future, Vahn figured Finn might actually take a liking to her personally. Finn now had five children of his own, even though he had only gotten two of his lovers pregnant, but it wasn't as though he was too old to add more girls to the rather 'fierce' group surrounding him. As long as they took a liking to Pot, it ultimately may not even be up to Finn if he wanted to accept her...
Other persons of interest were another Pallum, Meryl Tear, an adorable girl with fluffy purple hair, blue eyes, and clothes that identified her as a rare Pallum Mage. There was also her mute protector, a man by the name of Dodon who had been tortured and exiled by his tribe, now wearing clothes that completely covered his body. His liberation clause, instead of revenge against his tribe, was actually to free Meryl by making her own dream come true. Since she had a rare talent as a Mage, it was her dream to become someone like Riveria, who could inspire her entire race to great aspirations...
Wrapping up the people he was interested in, though almost everyone before him had troubled pasts that qualified them for happier lives, was a peculiar Chienthrope named Lulune Louie. She was the first Chienthrope Vahn had ever seen who had light brown ears coming out of the side of her head instead of the top. Though this alone wasn't that peculiar, it was the fact that her s.h.a.ggy hair was black, contrasting the color of her ears completely. At the same time, she had bronzed skin, golden eyes, and was garbed in the attire of a Thief with red shorts with, matching red boots, a red jacket, and a crimson scarf. Completing her outfit, she also wore black gloves, a black belt and a black shirt beneath her jacket. All of these things, including her long and s.h.a.ggy brown tail, were enough to make her stand out greatly. However, the thing that truly caught Vahn's attention, though her file didn't mention anything about it, was the fact that Lulune was a demiG.o.ddess...
Seeing Vahn looking towards her, Lulune felt like an electrical current ran through her body, causing her tail and ears to perk up as she tried to hide behind the nearby Dodon. She didn't mind if Vahn wanted to do anything to her, in fact, she was somewhat hopeful for the chance. However, something about his gaze made her heart flutter in a different way than she expected, almost like he had suddenly become very interested in her all of a sudden. She hoped that, at the very least, he didn't want to make her do something embarra.s.sing in front of everyone else...!
Noticing Lulune's strange reaction, Vahn resisted the urge to produce a wry smile and said, "I can a.s.sure you that you won't be forced to do anything too dangerous, but know that you also will be at the behest of Loki for the next year. I paid twice the amount for joint-ownership and she will be the person directing you in most circ.u.mstances. At the same time, however, both of us will be working to help fulfill your liberation clauses so please don't mistake the situation and think I'm trying to abandon any of you. As I'm sure many of you are aware, I'm proactively trying to avoid a situation where I arbitrarily accept women into my life, even if many of you are very beautiful. Please, consider your happiness in a setting that doesn't include trying to use the Alliance as a means to elevate your status and give you an easy life. Just like the girls that currently reside in the Manor, you need to be willing to work hard for your dreams if you want to become happy. Even the youngest person in the Manor, Tina, only thirteen years old, has managed to reach Level 5...please keep that in mind..."
Since they couldn't disclose the information he releases to them, Vahn didn't mind elevating Tina's status a bit while also making his point clear to everyone gathered. As expected, his words shocked most of the Hermes Familia members to the core, including Asfi herself. She was only around the middle of Level 4, even though she was twenty-two, so it was a big impact to hear that a thirteen-year-old girl was Level 5. Though it wasn't unheard of, as Tiona, Tione, and Ais had all achieved the feat, they were considered exceptions, not the standard...
Pot, having previously a.s.sociated with Vahn, had enough confidence to raise her hand like a child wanting to ask a question. Vahn nodded toward her, allowing her to excitedly ask, "This Tina girl, what race is she? Will you help us become stronger too~!?" Vahn furrowed his brows slightly when he heard Pot ask about Tina's race but, considering that she was a Pallum, it wasn't that surprising that she was curious. Without concealing the matter, Vahn clearly stated, "Tina is a Cat Person who started training around two years ago. Like the other girls in the Manor, she has worked hard to become strong in an incredibly short period of time. As for each of you, it will ultimately depend on the efforts you make, your character, and the level of trust I can confidently place in you. By the end of this year, the majority of you will likely have earned your freedom, but only a handful of you would be privy to extra benefits within the Alliance. I have always tried to reward hard work and merits directly. Don't expect me to simply help you increase your power if you intend to use it to exploit others or selfishly pursue your own interests..."
Pulling out a scroll, Vahn tossed it to the surprised Elilly and said, "Since I've already seen that Elilly's character is commendable, I have no problem giving her a reward that she would greatly appreciate. That scroll details a special technique that, if you practice seriously, will allow you to slowly shape your body however you like. Even if you wanted to be the size of a Pallum, though it would take several years of effort, it wouldn't be impossible." Though she had been confused at why Vahn would suddenly give her a scroll, Elilly's eyes became rounded like saucers when she heard his explanation. The scroll in her hands suddenly felt like it was made of fragile gla.s.s that also weighed a thousand kilograms...
Seeing how happy Elilly was after her shock had faded, Vahn produced a genuine smile and explained, "It's actually thanks to Elilly that I had decided to purchase the Hermes Familia today. If possible, please extend your kindness and grat.i.tude towards her in the future. At the same time, you can bear witness to her transformation and decide for yourselves what kind of future you want to pursue. Those that are willing to work hard, I promise that you will have my support, even after you have earned your freedom. The Alliance could always benefit from having capable people within its ranks and, even if you don't wish to join a Familia, there are a variety of positions within the Civilian Sector that you could fill."
Elilly felt like Vahn was trying to give her a heart attack, saying and doing so many surprising things that impacted her heart and mind like a hammer. She even began to wonder if, by some strange machination of fate, Vahn had come to like her. Though it didn't seem possible, the kind smile he showed, combined with his supportive words and gestures, made Elilly suddenly feel like a bashful maiden once again. She was one of the older members of the Hermes Familia, with no real intention of ever leaving it in the future, but that might very well change now. Even if he didn't currently like her, Elilly felt like the scroll in her hands could become the key to unlocking Vahn's heart and finding a place for herself within...
Watching Elilly's aura suddenly flare up, as a resolute light began burning in her eyes, Vahn felt a cold sweat on his back but didn't break his smile. Instead, he considered if there was anything else he needed to say right now and, believing he had said more than enough for them to mull over for the rest of the day, decided to wrap things up by saying, "For now, don't take any missions and just talk amongst yourselves about these new developments. Try to contact those that are currently on missions and inform them of the changes and I'll try to give you a more concrete idea of what you should expect in a few days. The Traveler's Inn is included in the provisions for purchasing the Familia, so you can stay here for the time being. Loki may stop by to discuss things with you and, unless you feel as though your life is maliciously endangered by her orders, you will listen to her."
With his final words, Vahn dismissed everyone but, before she could go too far, he called out to Lulune, causing the girl's tail and ears to go rigid. Though this type of action was very adorable, to the point he had an urge to pet her into oblivion, Vahn controlled himself and went into a side room with the nervous Chienthrope and Asfi. The moment he closed the door behind them, Vahn was surprised when Lulune suddenly said, "I never thought I would ever have to do it with the Captain in the same room...haaaa, today is such a strange day!"
Before her words had even finished, Lulune had deftly removed her red jacket and had started to lift her black shirt, which had only covered the upper half of her torso. Like many of the Beast People he had met, Lulune wore a shirt that exposed her stomach and her shorts weren't much longer than the length of a hand. This not only made it easy for her to move around, but the clothes themselves could be removed in a very short period of time. As a result, Lulune had already lifted her shirt, revealing the fact that she hadn't even been wearing a bra.
Though he was briefly distracted by her slightly pale pink rosebuds, which stood out against the backdrop of her bronzed skin, Vahn quickly said, "Lulune, that isn't why I called you into this room. Please, wear your..." Just as Vahn was going to tell Lulune to wear her clothing, he remembered that he did actually want to check her Status Board. As a demiG.o.ddess, she should have at least three Innates and he was more than a little curious to see what they were. This hesitation resulted in the strange situation where Lulune, with her arms above her head in mid-motion of removing her shirt, was staring at him with a confused expression.
Resisting the urge to sight, Vahn clarified, "You can remove your shirt, but please don't misunderstand that I'm intending to do anything uncouth towards you. I actually have the ability to check the Status of others and, though you may not be aware of it yourself, there are a few unique things about your heritage that I can confirm by checking your status. When I'm finished, you can put your clothes back on without worrying that I'm going to ask you to do anything selfishly..."
While he was speaking, Lulune had already finished removing her shirt and, once he was done, immediately said, "You're too serious, Vahn. If you want to f.u.c.k, I don't really mind it, you know? You seem like a good guy, much better than some of the ones I've met. You don't need to make excuses if you want to see my body." As if to emphasize this, Lulune brought her arms together and squeezed her almost nonexistent b.r.e.a.s.t.s together. She didn't seem to believe his words at all and, as he hadn't formed them as an 'order', Lulune genuinely believed he was just p.u.s.s.yfooting around the matter.
Realizing this, Vahn released a genuine sigh this time and said, "Asfi, pull over a chair for Lulune to sit down on. Lulune, turn around with your back facing me so I can check your Status. For the time being, please remain quiet and see for yourself the truth of the situation." Unable to refuse his words, Lulune remained quiet and sat down in the chair that Asfi had provided. She felt a little awkward and hoped she didn't offend him, especially when a magical light shone from her backside as Vahn traced his finger along her spine, sending a shiver through her body at the same time.
Name: Lulune Louie
Race: Chienthrope, G.o.d(sealed)
Skills: [Thief G.o.d's Blessing:Innate:H], [Pickpocket:A], [Featherfoot:B], [Silent Strike:B], [Double Thrust:D]
Magic: [Reaper's Death Gaze:Innate:(sealed)], [Red Owl:F]
Development Abilities: [Noctourne's Avatar:Innate:(sealed)], [Abnormal Resistance:C], [Escape:D]
Use: Allows the user to strike without generating any discernable sounds.
Use: Allows the user to issue forth two strikes in a very short period of time.
Use: Controls red shifting to not only obscure the user but make it difficult for opponents to discern distance and attack trajectories.
Chant: b.l.o.o.d.y Baron~!
Use: Allows the user to greatly increase their speed when running away from danger.
(A/N: Alternate t.i.tles: 'Everyone wants to hit the Jackpot (O,...,O)~!','Dodon, stay strong friend...','Lulune is a bit of a ditz...?')
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