Endless Path : Infinite Cosmos
Chapter 2294: Freedom

Chapter 2294: Freedom
Several days after the Pied Piper incident, nearly the entire population of Kouen City had gathered to witness the wedding ceremony between Vahn and Sandora.
Wearing a phoenix-like wedding dress, hand-crafted by Vahn himself, Sandora surprised the crowd of millions by appearing in her adult form. The top resembled a fiery red, form-fitting bodice that left parts of Sandora's neck, navel, and back exposed, while the bottom resembled ethereal flames with a subtle rainbow hue. The entire outfit was accented with gold, but, instead of ordinary gold, it was comprised of the same material as many Divine Weapons and Armaments.
When the crowd first saw Sandora appear, a stunned silence descended over the entire gate. She had always been very popular with the people due to her adorable appearance and hard-working nature. Many viewed her as the little sister of the entire Community, but, while some people were disappointed to see her suddenly appear as a breathtakingly beautiful woman, it wasn't long before the entire city was trembling due to their cheers.
Fortunately for the guests attending the ceremony directly, there was a very powerful barrier that muted sounds from the outside. Vahn could still feel the envy and hatred of a remarkable number of people, but that was nothing new.
As Sandora made her way up the aisle, escorted by her brother, a casual yet loving smile set across Vahn's face. He and Sandora had cohabitated for the better part of eight years, and this was far from his first wedding. He was still a little nervous, but it was nothing compared to Sandora.
With the gazes of millions of people directed at her, Sandora felt like her every action, despite being impeccably smooth, was robotic. Things got a little better when she laid eyes on Vahn, but her body was trembling with anxiety as she made her way up the aisle.
Since the ceremony was more of a performance than anything else, Sandora couldn't help using her telepathy to remark, ("I never expected this to be so nerve-wracking...")
Revealing a hint of amusement in his smile, Vahn proposed, ("If you want, I can create an illusion, and the two of us can observe from the side. Our Communities and the Central Network already regard us as husband and wife.")
Though the old her might have felt compelled to continue playing her part till the end, Sandora didn't hesitate to answer, ("Let's get out of here.")
With a subtle nod, Vahn separated himself and Sandora from the Principle Axis of Reality while simultaneously creating realistic, physical illusions of the two of them. Then, as the wedding progressed in the background, he swooped the lovable redhead up in his arms before promptly teleporting back to their room.
After breathing a sigh of relief, the tensions in Sandora's body relaxed as she adopted a slightly mischievous smile and asked, "Should we proceed to the honeymoon~?"
Adopting a wolfish smile of his own, Vahn drew his face and lips closer to Sandora's as he asked, "Is here okay, or would you like to go someplace else...?"
Though she would have been fine even if Vahn pushed her down in the middle of the aisle, Sandora didn't immediately respond to his words. The notion she could now go anywhere and do virtually anything crossed her mind as she drew her lips close enough to touch Vahn's. However, instead of kissing him outright, she replied, "I want to become stronger..."
Despite defeating Pest rather handily, Sandora wasn't even remotely satisfied. She couldn't even grasp the distance between her and Vahn, so even though she knew she was more than a little selfish, Sandora wanted Vahn to take her someplace where she could become much stronger.
Having anticipated Sandora's words, Vahn planted a lingering kiss on her lips before pulling away to explain, "There are two worlds I have in mind. The first is not dissimilar to the Little Garden, governed by a God of Play known as Tet. The second is a world ruled by sorcery and magic, a place where summoners have tapped into the very essence of creation to attain power comparable to the beings that created their world."
With a bit of a teasing undertone, Sandora inquired, "Which has the most beautiful women? Can you show me~?"
Smiling wryly in response to Sandora's words, Vahn created two displays in mid-air, one showing a surreal world known as Disboard while the other displayed a relatively normal-looking world known as Runeterra. However, while both worlds had powerful beings inhabiting them, Vahn believed the latter to be far more dangerous. In Runeterra, even Dragon Gods capable of producing stars could be trapped and ensnared by the powerful magics that governed that world.
Seeing the drastically different worlds depicted by Vahn, Sandora rolled her eyes before remarking, "If they are worlds you're familiar with, there must be people you've taken an interest in. Show me the girls."
Waving his hand, Vahn forced the displays to cycle through the various casts affiliated with each world. The world of Disboard was inhabited by races standard within fantasy settings, while the world of Runeterra was filled with so many unique and sapient races that it was nearly impossible to keep track of them all.
Though the aesthetics of both worlds were drastically different, Sandora could tell the world of Disboard was a bit more perverted than Runeterra due to how scantily clad most of the women were. There were many lascivious-looking women in the latter, but it seemed a heck of a lot more 'normal' compared to a world filled with chess pieces that penetrated the atmosphere.
Since she was a little fed up with how the Little Garden chose to settle everything through games, Sandora found herself increasingly drawn to the more naturalistic setting of Runeterra. She felt like she would have a lot more freedom to act there, so, after a brief period of deliberation, she nodded her head towards the display and said, "Let's go there. We could make a far more significant impact on a world wrought with conflict and strife. As enjoyable as Gift Games are, they get tiring after a while..."
Nodding his head in both approval and affirmation, Vahn held Sandora a little closer, drawing her Ego and consciousness into himself as he made use of his Actualization Innate. He still had to create vessels for himself and the people who wished to inhabit the worlds he created, but he had gotten a lot better at it. At the very least, he could prevent their original bodies from being destroyed during the transfer...
Despite the immense danger involved, two little girls, roughly eight and nine years old, could be found crossing a rampaging river in pursuit of a bright, fiery blue butterfly. The eldest, a blonde-haired girl named Daisy Hastur, was the one chasing after the butterfly while her brown-haired stepsister, Annie, followed after, shouting, "Daisy! Wait! It's dangerous...!"
Ignoring her sister's pleas, Daisy, enchanted by the magical properties of the butterfly, simply giggled as she ran across the slippery, moss-covered stones spanning the river. She would usually be very cautious of the river, but the butterfly she was chasing was a type of pseudo-spiritual creature known as a Fae Willow. The dust from its wings was used to produce one of the most powerful hallucinogens in the world, but the thing it was most famous for was luring lost children to their deaths.
Though she and Annie had been warned to stay away from both the river and butterflies, Daisy was already captivated by the Fae Willow's spell as she ignored every danger to her life and tried to catch it. In response, the Fae Willow flittered to the edge of the most precarious rock before finally stopping in place and waiting for Daisy to try and grab it. When she did, it simply dispersed into thin air like a Will o' Wisp, the little girl's shock and momentum causing her to slip.
Mustering strength and speed she didn't know she had, Annie practically flashed forward to grab Daisy just as the latter plunged into the rapids, screaming, "Annie...!" with renewed clarity.
Though she failed to grasp her stepsister's hand, Annie was able to extend her favorite doll, a stuffed teddy bear named Tibbers, just in time for Daisy to grab it. Unfortunately, she was nowhere near strong enough to oppose the force of the rapids. The most she could do was hold on as tightly as possible as Daisy, tears streaming down her face, cried, "Help! Annie, please...!"
"Just...just hold on! Help is coming...!"
As if to spite both of the desperate girls, the Fae Willow reappeared as the seams along Tibbers' body began to weaken and tear. It was a type of creature that dined on fear, and there was no fear more succulent than the despair of children facing their inevitable end.
Just as the Fae Willow contemplated exacerbating the situation, all thoughts ceased from its mind as a bronze-skinned hand suddenly closed around it. Immediately after that, the river seemed to freeze in place as a man with tanned skin, dark hair, and glistening green eyes scooped up the two girls, saying, "You shouldn't be playing out here by the river."
Though Annie was stunned by the appearance of the strange man, Daisy immediately clung to him, tears streaming down her face as she cried her heart out. She had never been more scared in her entire life, so she didn't even notice that the man was standing in the air or that the world around them was moving at a snail's pace...
After saving the two damsels in distress and giving their parents a bit of advice, Vahn reappeared in a homely-looking tavern filled with swirling golden portals.
Noticing Vahn's return, the barkeep, a 93cm tall 'man' with large pointed ears and features reminiscent of a red panda, asked, "Off saving the world again?" as he continued cleaning a glass mug.
Returning a smile, Vahn asked, "When am I not?" before looking around at the emptied tavern and asking, "Where is everyone?"
Setting aside the glass, the mustached barkeep explained, "Corki, Teemo, and Tristana ported over to Bilgewater. Ever since the Harrowing a couple of months ago, a bunch of wraiths have been appearing to cause trouble. As for Lady Sandora and the rest, you would know better than me..."
Shifting his awareness to Sandora, Vahn was pleasantly surprised to find her napping at the base of a tree next to a woman identical to her in every way. Nearby, another woman, possessing purple-blue hair, large ears, and the centaurian lower body of a fawn, could be seen strumming a lyre with a contented smile on her face.
Waving to the barkeep, Vahn said, "See ya around, Jim." before vanishing into thin air. His appearance briefly startled the deer-like girl playing the lyre, but her nimble fingers never stopped strumming the lyre as she said, "Welcome back, Vahn. Have you come to use the Dreaming Tree or to see us?"
Before Vahn could answer, one of the Sandora's sprang up, shouting, "It's the Vahn~!" before pouncing on him. When she did, her form slowly gave way to reveal a slender woman with purple-pink hair that flared outward at the sides like oversized ears. There was bright pink plumage protruding from the crown of her head, but her most striking features were her large amber eyes, green sclera, the green scales covering various parts of her body, and the lizard-like tail protruding from her lower back.
With said tail curling around his body, much like the woman's legs, Vahn's expression became slightly wry as he said, "It's good to see you as well, Neeko. Have you been a good girl?"
Nodding her head with a bit of vigor, Neeko declared, "Neeko is always a good girl~!" before following it up by wiggling her hips and asking, "Is the Vahn going to give Neeko a reward~?"
Though it wasn't how he planned to spend the rest of his day, Vahn didn't hesitate to nod his head, answering, "Sure." before shifting his attention to Sandora and adding, "If your big sis permits it."
Before Neeko could pounce on her, Sandora rose to a seated position with a dream-like smile on her face as she replied, "Of course. What about you, Lillia? Do you want to join in...?"
Hearing Sandora's words, Lillia missed a few notes on her lyre, her oversized ears twitching as she sheepishly replied, "N-No...but thank you for offering..."
Since it was customary for Lillia to refuse her invitation, especially when Neeko was around, Sandora wasn't particularly surprised by her answer. Instead, she just stretched her body, issuing a long yawn in the process, before bouncing to her feet and saying, "Let's have fun."
(A/N: This was supposed to come out yesterday, but my brother wanted me to come see his recently born twins. Also, EPIC will be starting back up with the new year as my main, potentially only project. We just got the issues with the site resolved, so I'm going to be pushing to finish EPIC in one go as my New Years' resolution. There will only be one chapter a day on NovelWell, but there should be 3-4 on Library of Akasha. If you'd like to support EPIC and any future series I work on, please consider reading there~!)