Fortunately, even if he was tasked with eating all the food on the table, Vahn wouldn't have any issues. His body could process a functionally infinite amount of food, o allowing him to consume hundreds of kilograms without even gaining a single himself. This was due to his ability to convert anything he ate into a micron of Source Energy, marginally increasing his reserves based on the amount of mana, or Divine Energy, contained within.
After watching Vahn engorge himself with the massive bowl of rice she had prepared for him, Benienma gave a contented nod before making her way around the table, serving tea and filling everyone's plates in sequence. Everyone got a slightly smaller portion of rice than him, but, when you considered even the smallest portion was nearly 3kg, it was quite a bit more than a 'normal' person could eat.
It was fortunate that none of them even remotely fit the description of what could be considered normal. Even Artoria, despite the fact she always weighted precisely 42kg, could put away nearly half her body weight in a single sitting. It wasn't uncommon for her to have several plates stacked together whenever they ate meals, the result of her gluttonous nature and the fact that the food served at the castle was always delicious.
Since he didn't have to worry about Artoria finishing her portions, Vahn cast a curious gaze upon Musashi, finding her shoveling away large portions of rice using a pair of engraved chopsticks she had seemingly pulled out of thin air. Upon noticing his gaze, she made a show of half-turning her body, a 'warning' look in her eyes that seemed to convey, 'I'm not going to share'.
With an amused smile on his face, Vahn shook his head in response to her silent statement before pulling out a porcelain gourd vase. It had an ivory white base set with an ornate lapis lazuli pattern depicting a fox entangled by flowers. It was quite the artistic container, but, compared to the rich sake contained within, the immaculate porcelain gourd held no value.
As a 'connoisseur' of various alcohols, Musashi's instincts were stirred the moment Vahn pulled out the gourd. Before she could ask for a cup, however, he squinted his eyes toward her in what appeared to be a playful manner, throwing her own words, "I'm not going to share." back at her.
Though it was quite obvious, Vahn never intended to eat Musashi's food. He also knew she had just been messing with him, but, when it came to teasing people, he held an absolute advantage against all but a select few individuals. Thus, before Musashi could recover from her shock, he let the porcelain gourd float gently across the table, saying, "As this is our first meeting, consider this a greeting gift. Though it may be a trifling thing, I hope you'll accept it."
Since Raikou seemed to be a practitioner of Shinto Buddhism, meaning she didn't partake of alcohol, Vahn sent the gift towards the eagerly anticipating Shuten. This was basically his way of bribing the somewhat troublesome Yokai, as, not only was the sake of the highest quality, it was specially chosen due to the nourishing effect it had on Oni.
As someone who had even accepted a gift of poisoned sake, despite knowing it was poisoned, Shuten happily embraced the porcelain gourd with a drunken smile on her face as she mused, "I will graciously accept your gift. Tell me, Ten'nō-sama, what kind of alcohol is contained within this charming vessel~?"
Even without removing the cork, Shuten could already tell that the sake contained within was of the highest quality she would ever have the chance to sample. It even seemed to greatly exceed the quality of her Providential Oni Poison Sake, losing out only due to the sentimental value held by the latter.
While ignoring the bitter look he was receiving from Musashi, Vahn explained, "This is a special type of sake known as [Inari's Grace]. As the name suggests, it is a product of the Patron Goddess of Sake, Inari Ōkami. What makes this one unique, however, is that it belongs to the Inari Ōkami of a different world, giving it special qualities you'll not find elsewhere."
As she listened to Vahn's words, Shuten deftly removed the porcelain bottle's cork, ignoring the worried look on Ibaraki's face as she unhesitantly drank directly from the container. Though this was considered improper, especially considering she always had a sake cup on hand, the latter was 'tainted' by her usual blend. Since she couldn't resist the allure of new sake, procuring a new cup would require effort she wasn't willing to spare...
After sampling little more than a sip of the aromatic wine, Shuten felt like she had suddenly been transported to a different world, a place where she lay naked amidst a field of flowers as the warm rays of the sun kissed every inch of her body. It was a very pleasant sensation, causing her body to gradually heat up as a fluttery feeling spread her mind and body, intoxicating her in a way she was rarely able to experience.
Back in 'reality', Shuten's face had melted into a euphoric expression, a ruddy blush coloring her cheeks that gradually extended toward her neck, along her pointed ears, and up her horns. All of this was from a single sip of the potent sake, a type of alcohol that was better suited to the palates of Gods, rather than demons or humans. It was comparable to the Soma that had been produced by the God of the same name back in Danmachi, albeit infused with qualities that made it suitable for an Oni to ingest...
After several seconds had passed, Shuten spontaneously erupted into a drunken giggle while tightly hugging the container of sake in her bosom. This caused some of its contents to spill out onto her body, spreading the fragrance of sake through the entire room in a manner similar to the pheromone attack she had released earlier. As a result, everyone, excluding Vahn, felt a pleasant heat spread through their bodies, almost as if they were sunbathing on a cool Spring day...
To prevent any trouble from arising, Vahn lightly twirled his index finger, manipulating the wind to contain the fragrance before it could actually intoxicate everyone. Some of the sparrow-yokai had already collapsed, their fat bodies rolling around along the smooth marbled surface with peculiar human smiles on their faces. It was a little creepy, but, as was often the case with Yokai, Vahn was more amused than perturbed by the display.
Using his telekinesis, Vahn made sure to tightly cork the porcelain container, explaining, "That is a special sake that can completely revitalize an Oni's body with a single sip. You should try mixing it into your favorite wines in the future, diluting it down a bit instead of drinking it directly. As you can see, it is a little too potent for direct consumption, hahahaha~."
As even Benienma was stumbling around while trying to pour drinks, it was pretty apparent that the contents of [Inari's Grace] weren't to be underestimated. It basically qualified as a weapon, as, despite being a 'simple' bottle of sake, it was actually an item on the upper ends of A-Rank. It had cost him a startling 300,000 Origin Points within the shop, but, after his most recent ventures, OP wasn't much of a concern for him at the moment.
Rank: A (Divine)
Use: A Sacred Wine gifted by the Goddess Inari to her betrothed, the Great Demon King, Shuten-douji. It carries the original hopes of its creator, bestowing feelings of bliss and satiety to whoever is fortunate enough to sample its contents. When given generously, this sake has a flavor akin to a warm Spring day, but, if taken greedily, even the most stalwart of Gods may be forced into a deep comatose state. "Drink, and be merry!"
Though it might be considered 'cheating' to purchase an item that had been gifted to another world's Shuten-douji, Vahn's very existence was basically the ultimate cheat. This was something he had gradually come to accept, as, while he still intended to work hard to obtain his power, it never hurt to share his blessings with others. If he could buy an item that made people happy, he had very few qualms about doing so...
After recovering enough of her faculties to interact with her surroundings, Shuten offered a rather slovenly smile as she slurred, "Ay likish yuu boyaaa. Neksht tiem, ay'll give you sum wakame sake ash thanksh..."
Hearing Shuten's remark, Vahn quickly shook his head, stating, "That is unnecessary. If you want to thank me, just make sure to follow the Common Law in the future. You will be a leader within the Yokai community so it is important that you set a proper example for everyone else to follow."
In response to Vahn's words, Shuten puffed out her cheeks to form a rather adorable pout as she complained, "Jest you wait...ay'll get you evenshully..." before falling backward, still hugging the container of sake in her arms. This caused Ibaraki to glare at him, but, as she knew there weren't any 'tricks' concealed within the sake, she had no grounds to really complain.
Raikou, having witnessed the incident from start to finish, looked toward Shuten with a helpless expression on her face before staring at Vahn and asking, "Do you really intend to take care of these girls? I won't forgive you if you treat them poorly. They may be a little mischievous, but I believe they are still good children."
Understanding Raikou's concerns, Vahn gave a small nod before saying, "You're welcome to visit the Yokai District whenever you'd like. Even if the Heroes Faction is meant to stand in opposition to the Empire, that is no reason for us to fight at every opportunity. Meeting together like this and sharing a few drinks every now and then will help prevent any genuine animosity from developing between our two sides. We might not see eye-to-eye on some things, but that is no reason for any hatred to develop between us."
In his ideal world, Vahn would be able to fight against his enemies without any hard feelings. He wouldn't mind relinquishing the power and authority he had seized for himself if his opponent genuinely believed in the path they pursued. There was no need to arbitrarily kill in order to seize power, as, in the grand scheme of things, that was more an act of cowardice than anything else. If you had such little conviction in your beliefs that you couldn't accept them being challenged by another, you were little more than a tyrant and a despot.
Vahn had always liked stories where former enemies were able to reach an understanding with each other, eventually coming together to make the world a better place. A continuous cycle of killing only contributed to more hatred than was necessary in the world. It was for this reason he didn't mind if others opposed him, as, after what he had done, they had every right to do so. So long as they didn't lose themselves to the negative feelings that came with seeking vengeance, forcing their hatred upon others, he had few reasons to actually kill them...
Hearing Vahn's reply, Raikou offered what could only be described as a motherly smile as she commented, "You are a good child. Though you're lacking in discipline, I can see that you are not the evil person people make you out to be. Tell me, Ten'nō-sama, what is your mother like? If you are orphaned, I don't mind caring for you in her stead...?"
Understanding she didn't mean for her words to come off as rude-sounding, Vahn managed to shrug off Raikou's remark without too much trouble, answering confidently, "My mother was an amazing woman. She loved me with all her heart, hoping for my happiness above all else. She is one of the reasons I seek to create a world where everyone can be happy. Her love is one of my most powerful motivators, and, without it, I wouldn't be the man I am today...thank you for your offer, Raikou, but I'll have to refuse..."
Though Vahn hadn't exactly told any lies throughout the banquet, there was an unquestionable sincerity in his voice when speaking about his mother. This was enough to even cause Shuten to peel open her eyes, while, around the table, everyone looked toward him with slightly stunned expressions. As for Raikou, her smile had increased marginally, becoming more affectionate as she muttered, "I'm happy for you...it's a shame, though, as I would have liked to be the mother of such a filial child..."
(A/N: Alternate Titles: 'A table full of gluttons','Taming an Oni with sake...','Things may change, but a mother's love is eternal')
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