Endless Path : Infinite Cosmos
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    Endless Path : Infinite Cosmos Chapter 1586

    Chapter 1586: Paradigm Shift

    Update a month ago

    With the time dilation of Theo's Resort Diorama, days quickly turned into weeks, and, slowly but surely, weeks coalesced into months. This was more than enough time for great changes to occur, sentiments to changes, and dynamics to shift. Vahn was able to see Asuna grow like a bean sprout, and, though they weren't exactly close, Eva and Arika had come to tolerate each other. As for Theo, she actually got along fairly well with Eva, her persistence slowly, inevitably, whittling away the walls around the former Demon Queen's heart.

    Though there were quite a number of hiccups along the way, such as Eva getting her first period and Theo requesting he become a very different kind of Master for her, things had been relatively peaceful. Vahn's strength had notably increased, and, though she had moments where she would become 'super serious', Asuna had become a rather lively girl. It was rare to see her without a smile, and, showing just how prodigious she truly was, she managed to awaken her Zanpakuto Spirit after a startlingly short 719 days.

    Vahn had already forged Asauchi's for Eva, Arika, Theo, Fenrir, and even Xiao Bai, but, compared to Asuna, they were advancing at a snail's pace. Her Zanpakuto, Kyo, allowed her to defeat Theo in a number of spars, and, though there was still a pretty big gap in their abilities, she even managed to catch Arika by surprise quite a few times.

    Asuna's speed and strength were monstrous for a girl that hadn't even turned eight years old, but, what made her truly terrifying, other than her completely 'broken' Zanpakuto, was the fact she had already started to encroach upon the concept of Nothingness. She could seemingly fade in and out of existence, and, though it wasn't as flashy as Laev-tan, Asuna's Kyo had no discernible counters.

    Though it looked like a simple black Tanto with a lotus-like Tsuba, Asuna's Kyo, seemingly inspired by his ability to cut anything within his domain, was able to cut anything within her field of vision; completely ignoring things like distance. What made this truly terrifying was that the damage was based on her perception relative to her target, so, if she cut a distant object like Phobos or Deimos, one of Mundus Magicus' two moons, it would create a massive gulf across the visible surface of the moon...

    If not for her ability costing an incredible amount of Spiritual Energy, to the point she could barely even use it a single time, Asuna would be even more monstrous. Still, as she was only seven-years-old, going on eight, this feat was already bordering on incomprehensible. She would only become even stronger in the future, and, once she obtained Bankai, she might not even have any opponents left in the Akamatsuverse.

    Fortunately, even with her monstrous talent, it would take several decades, at the very least, before she is able to reach that point. Spiritual and Mental energies were difficult to train as they relied on things like knowledge, experience, comprehension, and literal age. These weren't things that could be overcome with talent, so, until she matured physically, emotionally, and spiritually, Asuna would struggle to unlock her full potential. She would still be able to surpass all of her peers, growing far stronger than most people could even rationalize, but there would always be an upper-limit to her growth based on her age and experience.

    The thing that made most Protagonists so powerful, other than the protection of Fate, was the fact they were constantly experiencing, and overcoming, difficult situations. They were constantly forced to overcome the limits of both their body and mind, elevating even complete 'idiots' to a level that even the most prodigious and talented youth could never hope to match. In some stories, the Main Characters were even able to overcome people thousands, if not millions, of times older than them in a relatively short period of time. This seemed like utter nonsense from an objective point of view, but, considering the path he had walked, Vahn didn't have much room to talk. Rather, there were a number of instances where he wondered whether or not he, himself, was just the main character in someone else's story...

    ---

    With a placid smile on his face, Vahn absentmindedly observed the five people meditating beneath the artificial waterfall he had constructed. This was a training method to help them enter a deeper state of meditation, and, despite her monstrous power, even Eva wasn't spared. She was seated at the very center of the group, her developing body covered in a weighted white Gi as mischievous Water Elemental Spirits guided the waterfall's flow to impact directly atop her head.

    One of the biggest changes to occur over the last few months was the revelation of Eva's true form. She had made the mistake of teasing Asuna in the bath, and, as a result of the latter's Magic Cancel acting up, Eva's transformation had been broken in an instant. This caused her to enter a depressive and antagonistic state for a couple of days, but, after realizing even Arika didn't care about her true form, she eventually got over it. Rather, after realizing the true tragedy of Eva's existence, Arika and Theo become more sympathetic toward her plight.

    Going by standard Earth time, which was the system they had unilaterally agreed to use, nearly four years had passed since Theo arrived with her diorama. This was more than enough time for nascent and burgeoning emotions to evolve into something far more powerful, so, as time passed, even the normally taciturn Arika had been losing her patience. She wasn't nearly as bold as Theo, but, during one of their massage sessions, she had enough wherewithal to grab his wrist, an impassioned look in her eyes as she guided his hand toward her most sensitive spot...

    Follow the revelation of Eva's true form, Arika and Theo had tempered their growing passions quite a bit. Arika, in particular, seemed to lose all of the animosity she had accumulated during the rather harsh training. Though she didn't exactly become close to Eva, she seemed to lose the motivation to hate her. She, alongside Theo, had even apologized for her behavior. This caused a fair amount of awkwardness, as Eva was weak against sincerity, but, by the end of it, Vahn was on kissing terms with all three girls...

    While the other five residents of the diorama were seated beneath the waterfall, Asuna, wearing a sukumizu-style school swimsuit, complete with her name and class number sewn across the chest, popped up from beneath Vahn. For reasons that only Sidra's ancestors, or the creator of the Record would know, the victorian-style city had adopted traditional Japanese-style uniforms within most of the higher level Academies. The students in Asuna's class typically wore a modified sailor uniform, and, during gym class, they even wore trimmed white t-shirts and bloomers.

    Seemingly bored, Asuna reached up, her body almost completely emerging from the water so that she could grab his ankle. In the next moment, Vahn felt an incomprehensibly powerful force pulling him downward, but, like an immovable mountain, he remained in place, a slight smile on his face as he mused, "You'll have to try a lot harder than that if you want to move me..."

    Her competitiveness triggered, a serious look replaced Asuna's mischievous smile as she said, "You asked for it...!"

    Following her words, Asuna's weight seemed to increase exponentially as the water's surface began to bow inwards, appearing concave. It was almost like she was bending reality to her will, and, even though he had already obtained Divinities related to Space, Time, and Creation, Vahn was unable to prevent the spatial anchor he had formed from being destroyed. Asuna's 'authority' within Mundus Magicus seemed to overwrite everything else, and, though this wasn't the first time he had seen her do something 'nonsensical', he couldn't help feel a combination of intrigue and surprise as he was penultimately yanked into the water.

    Seemingly satisfied by her success, Asuna had a massive grin on her face as she used her tiny hands to squish his cheeks beneath the water. Then, using his chest as a springboard, she kicked off with a bit of force, creating a small shockwave as she darted through the water much faster than any non-magical fish could manage. She obviously intended for him to catch her, but, before giving in to his adorable Apprentice's antics, Vahn surfaced to find everyone except Xiao Bai, who seemed to have fallen asleep, staring back at him.

    With a wry smile on his face, Vahn discarded his training Gi for a pair of swim trunks as he said, "It's already been a few hours. How about we all take a break while I bring over a grill and cook up some barbeque...?"

    Before anyone could answer his question, Asuna, like an alligator slowly closing in on its prey, snuck up from behind Vahn, the water around her surging in response. This was the true reason for Vahn's wry smile, as, when she got excited, Asuna could be rather 'overbearing'. He could stop her without too much trouble, but, understanding she was just having fun, he was helpless as the wave carrying the mischievous loli crashed into him, pulling him under as she hugged his neck from behind.

    Since she had grown rather tired of meditating, Eva was the first to discard her Gi, revealing a rather 'adult' white bikini. She had matured quite a bit compared to her past self, growing from 130cm to a commendable 149cm, but her figure hadn't exactly blossomed into the mature beauty she often disguised herself as. Despite this, she radiated a considerable amount of pride and self-confidence as she pulled out a scrunchie to tie up her hair, saying, "Last one inside has to-"

    Without waiting for Eva to state the terms, Arika, Theo, and Fenrir leaped from the ledge they had been sitting on, Gi flying through the air to reveal the swimwear they had on underneath. The only exception to this was Theo, who, for a variety of reasons, decided to forgo wearing anything at all underneath her Gi. This wasn't too uncommon for her, but, before she was able to land in the water, Eva grabbed her by the horn, holding her in the air as she shouted, "Go get a swimsuit, you damned exhibitionist...!"

    Despite being tossed rather unceremoniously towards the shoreline, Theo just laughed in response to Eva's words as she landed nimbly on the embankment. Then, still naked, she bolted like a bronze blur into the surrounding forest, her laughter continuing to echo as flocks of birds took to the sky... for visiting.

    After briefly considering sending an ice-infused Sagitta Magicka towards the retreating Hellasian's exposed butt, Eva ultimately shook her head, choosing to ignore the perverted woman. Instead, she jumped a few meters into the air, curling up her legs to perform a cannonball that displaced nearly all the water in the basin...

    ---

    While three versions of himself were enjoying an impromptu swim break, another version of Vahn was enjoying a very different form of relaxation within the Sub-Space Orb he had created inside of Arika's Airfish. The time-dilation had been modified to allow a 12:1 flow, and, due to how occupied everyone else was with the diorama, it basically served as a personal paradise for him, Fenrir, and, Medusa.

    Though her gestation was rather slow, taking nearly twenty months, Medusa ended up giving birth to two adorable little girls: Stheno and Euryale. These two names were traditionally associated with Medusa's older sisters, appearing within the texts of various different Records, but, as if to forcibly break some kind of flag, Medusa decided to assign the two legendary names to her daughters...

    Like their mother, albeit even more adorable, Stheno and Euryale had the ability to shapeshift their maroon-red hair into various tiny snakes. Stheno was much better at this than her younger sister, but, unlike her older twin, Euryale had actually inherited his draconic bloodline. She had two tiny horns growing from above her temples, and, though it was only a few centimeters long, she also had a rather thick tail protruding from her lower back.

    Stheno lacked horns and a tail, but, with her pointed ears, silky-smooth hair, phenomenal magic power, and potent poison, she wouldn't lose out against her sister. Rather, despite the fact she was only seventeen-months old, it was 'very' apparent that Stheno would grow into a beauty. She even had an Innate that was directly related to charming, and, though her body was much weaker than her younger twin's, she seemed to be developing quite a bit faster, both physically and mentally...

    A stark contrast to her older sister, who had already grown to 79cm in height, Euryale was a rather petite 68cm. She was also exceptionally quiet, and, though she was just as clingy as her older sister, she wouldn't cry when separated from him. Instead, she would just become melancholic, remaining completely silent as she followed you with her pale-red eyes. She rarely ever smiled, and, even after learning how to speak, she 'very' rarely spoke more than a few broken words.

    Vahn was, honestly, a little worried about Euryale, but, whenever he turned on his View Affection, her aura always showed that she was happy and content. She was just a very quiet and shy girl, a stark contrast to what he had expected after seeing the Innates she was born with. One gave her a phenomenal strength, to the point she accidentally broke most of her toys, while the other, called [Descendent of the Dragon God], caused her tail to grow longer, scales to sprout on her arms and legs, and, most notably, gave her a pair of leathery, scale-covered, wings.

    Ideally, Euryale would become a reliable Vanguard, but, in spite of her physical blessings, she was a rather docile girl. She didn't even move around that much, a stark contrast to the hyperactive and ever-eager-for-attention Stheno. Fortunately, when the latter wanted to play, Euryale would never refuse, and, though it was very clear Stheno had a rather dominant personality, she seemed to care about her younger sister quite a bit. In fact, some of the first questions she had ever asked were in regard to Stheno's well-being, sincere concern visible in her countenance as she asked why Euryale was always so quiet...

    From what he could tell, there was absolutely nothing wrong with Euryale. Rather, she was a lot like her mother, and, if she didn't 'have' to do anything, she would choose to do 'nothing'. She seemed to enjoy being doted upon, and, though she would never proactively try to read, she enjoyed being read to quite a bit. At times, her tiny dragon tail would even tap lightly, manifesting the happiness that never seemed to show on her face...

    Regardless of his daughters' quirks, Vahn loved them both dearly, and, though they would spend upwards of ten hours a day just sunbathing together, it never felt like a waste of time. Rather, this was necessary for the girls to grow properly, as, much like their mother, they needed to periodically molt in order to mature. This was the main reason Stheno developed so much quicker than Euryale, as, unlike her younger sister, she was very active, even while sunbathing. She also enjoyed soaking in the bath, and, whenever it was time to eat, she could eat nearly a tenth of her body weight in a single sitting...

    (A/N: Alternate Titles: 'If you tease Asuna, you will pay the price...','Theo is too far gone...','Euryale would make an excellent Nara...','Click on paragraph comment if you want to see adult Stheno and Euryale')

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