Endless Path : Infinite Cosmos

Chapter 2359: EPIClogue 002

Chapter 2359: EPIClogue 002


"You've been behaving strangely..." muttered Ais, her expression and tone flat, but her cheeks flushed as she lay against Vahn's chest, enjoying the feeling of resting her cheek against his firm yet strangely pliant pecks.

"Can you be more specific...?" asked Vahn, combing aside a few loose strands of Ais's hair as he stared at the golden-haired girl with all the compassion and tenderness he could muster. In truth, he knew exactly what Ais was referring to, but there wasn't much he could do since the memories of his past and future encounters weighed on his heart and mind...


Unsure how to express her uneasiness, Ais deliberated for nearly a full minute before saying, "It's like you're here...but you're not here at the same time..."

"Yeah..." agreed Vahn, raising his gaze to the ceiling and staring at a place far beyond even his expanded comprehension. He had all the knowledge, memories, and experiences of his past self, but he felt like the version of him that had traversed multiple Records had reached a point so far beyond him that it was like they were completely different people.

"Given time, the feeling should fade..." asserted Vahn, his expression and tone gentle as he caressed the underside of Ais's chin and compelled her to look up and meet his gaze. Then, with a playful smile adorning his face, he added, "If it feels like there is distance between us, we simply need to close it..."

Drawn to Vahn's lips, Ais took the initiative to initiate a long and passionate kiss. By the end, she was straddling his lower belly, but when Vahn grabbed his proud member and attempted to direct it to her eagerly awaiting entrance, she surprised him by pulling away and saying, "I want to try something new..."

"I like new things..." replied Vahn, pecking Ais on the lips before asking, "What did you have in mind?"

"What's something you've never done before...?" asked Ais, her golden eyes glistening with intrigue and intensity. She had always been obsessed with claiming his firsts, but since his past self had fused with the consciousnesses of an entire metaverse, Vahn wasn't sure he had any firsts left to give.

Noticing Vahn's hesitation, the glimmer in Ais's eyes waned, giving her an almost puppy-like look as she asked, "Is it no good...?"

"Technically speaking, anything we do is something we're doing for the first time..." stated Vahn, gently caressing the side of Ais's face as he added, "But I have an idea..."




"Look, it's the Sword Princess..." muttered a middle-aged man with a scraggly beard and brown hair, seated at a table at the Hostess of Fertility with several of his dungeon-faring colleagues.

"Good Gods...she's even more beautiful than the rumors..." expressed a second man, eyes full of admiration and jaw slack as he stared at Ais, seemingly obvious to the other members of the Loki Familia that were present.

"Hey, you!" shouted Bete, his matte-grey hair standing on end as he glared at the group of tavern-goers and threatened, "Keep gawking, and I'll tear your eyes out and shove 'em down your throats...!"

"Oh, come now, Bete!" exclaimed Loki, smacking the wolf-like man's backside and laughing as she joked, "Our Ais is one of the most beautiful girls in town! Even Gods are captivated by her beauty, so what chance did these fools have?"

Despite her words and joking tone, Loki parted her snake-like eyes and directed a warning look at the group of men. She didn't mind them staring, but if they tried anything, Bete's fury would be the least of their troubles.

Feeling they had overstayed their welcome, the group of men promptly flagged down Arnya, closed their tab, and departed the Hostess of Fertility as if they had forgotten to turn off the stoves at their respective dwellings. Ais noticed this, but while she felt guilty, she remained silent, seated between Loki and Lefiya with an impassive look on her face.

"Is something wrong, Ais...?" asked Lefiya, noticing there was something 'off' with the girl she looked up to more than anyone else.


Hearing Lefiya's query, Loki cracked her left eye and gave Ais a scrutinizing gaze. She had also noticed their burgeoning ace was behaving strangely, but with all the other oddities she had observed, the mental state of a single Familia member wasn't her highest priority.

"I don't know..." muttered Ais, wrapping her hands around the mug of beer she had been provided, staring at the innumerous bubbles forming its head as if the answer she sought could be found within.

"Oh, come on," said Bete, scowling as he asked, "You're not still thinking about that rookie you saved from the Minotaur, are you? That tomato brat isn't worth a fart, much less your concern!"

"Now, now," said Finn, wearing his usual smile as he leaned forward onto the table with his elbows, hands linked together as he reminded, "It was our mistake that led to the Minotaur fleeing to the higher floors. We're fortunate no one was killed."

"Fortunate?" parroted Bete, his expression and tone incredulous. "If anyone's fortunate, it's that stupid tomato-head. Someone that weak and pathetic shouldn't be venturing into the Dungeon, much less solo-diving. He might have survived today, but he's bound to die if he keeps doing stupid shit like that."

"Harsh, but true," hummed Loki, taking several large swigs from her mug as she wondered what kind of fool entered the Dungeon alone. Even talentless Supporters formed groups to avoid being ambushed or overwhelmed by numbers, so the person Ais rescued had to be a special kind of stupid or desperate to ignore common sense...

As the celebratory chatter between the members of the Loki Familia continued, none in their group realized the boy they were speaking ill of was seated just a few meters away, hanging his head at the bar. His matted brown hair and tattered clothing gave him the appearance of a beggar, but any girl who saw his face or had his placid aquamarine eyes meet theirs would feel their heart skip a beat.

"Is everything okay, Vahn?" asked Syl, resisting the temptation to embrace the young man as she remarked, "You've barely touched your spaghetti."

Forcing a smile that caused the Affection values of several people to increase, Vahn, his voice suffused with a deep melancholy, replied, "I'm sorry, Syl. The food is just as good as always, but I don't have much of an appetite..."

Casting a fleeting, disproving glance at the members of the Loki Familia, Syl asked, "It's typically not allowed, but I'm sure Mama Mia wouldn't mind if you finished your meal in the back..."

"There's a limit to the amount of favoritism you can show certain customers..." remarked the nearby Mia Grande, sporting a disproving look that softened when Vahn met her gaze with a glimmer of apology contained in his large, unfathomably deep eyes.

'This boy is going to break a lot of hearts...' thought Mia, closing her eyes and exhaling a loud, exasperated sigh. Before she could agree to allow Vahn to finish his food elsewhere, however, Bete leaned against the bar immediately to his right, propping his elbow on the counter as he demanded, "Hey, Mama, give me your best cut of jerky. I'm pissed and need something to chew on."

"Sure, but you better watch your tone..." warned Mia, narrowing her eyes. Beta laughed out loud in response, but anyone looking closely would have noticed that the hair on his head, the tips of his wolf-like ears, and his bushy tail were standing in response to Mia unleashing a faint but penetrating burst of killing intent.

Looking to cover his anxiousness, Bete turned to his left, mostly to address Syl but also to get a look at the beggar she had been talking to.

As he had never seen Vahn not covered head to toe in Minotaur blood, Bete didn't recognize him. But, as he could tell the boy was weak, he felt obligated to ask, "Hey, kid...you wouldn't happen to be an Adventurer, would you? If so, what Familia do you belong to?"

"The Hestia Familia..." responded Vahn, surprising Bete as he turned to stare directly at him. Most people avoided his gaze for fear of being lashed out against, so Bete was momentarily taken aback by the fact Vahn could stare directly at him, absent so much as an iota of fear...

'Freaky kid...' thought Bete, holding his right fist up to his mouth and coughing into it before adopting a fierce expression and stating, "Must not be a very successful Familia if they got you wearing rags. Either way, make sure you don't enter the Dungeon alone, okay? If you do, you only have yourself to blame when a Kobold tears out your throat, or you get railed in the ass by a Minotaur..."

With Mia handing him his jerky, Bete punctuated his warning with a contemptuous snort and attempted to walk away. There were few things he hated more than weaklings, but since he knew what it was like to be powerless, he felt obligated to warn those weaker than himself to avoid taking unnecessary risks.

"Wait..." said Vahn, his voice low but easily picked up by Bete's sensitive hearing.

"Haaaaaaa? You got something to say, you little shit...?" asked Bete, turning to face Vahn but tensing when he noticed the latter's piercing green eyes looking directly at him. There wasn't a hint of animosity exuding from him, but Bete felt his fight or flight response trigger as Vahn firmly asserted, "I won't always be weak..." with a slight frown marring his face.

Recovering from his momentary stupor, Bete forcefully exhaled a "Ha...!" before approaching and looming over Vahn as he asked, "Is that so? Then, how about I give you a private lesson? If you're lucky, even that porous turd you call a brain might absorb something..."

Leaving Bete at another momentary loss for words, Vahn's expression hardened into one of grim resolution as he nodded and replied, "Fine...let's fight..."

Knowing how powerful Bete was, Syl was startled at Vahn's words, her eyes briefly widening to their limits before she hurriedly positioned herself between the two, arms spread as she asserted, "This isn't the coliseum or some back alley arena! If you continue to cause trouble, I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave...!"

"You can piss off...!" exclaimed Bete, raising his left hand and motioning as if he were about to backhand Syl before several members of his Familia, including Gareth, grabbed and held him from behind. Before they could tell him off for losing his cool, however, the entire tavern succumbed to a tense silence as an oppressive aura exuded from Vahn, his expression firm and tone trembling as he asked, "Just what were you about to do...?" while glaring daggers at Bete.

'Oho? Just which God's kid is this...?' Loki wondered, her smile stretching far beyond the limits of an ordinary human as she leaned forward to observe the scene with interest. She felt a peculiar sense of...familiarity when perceiving Vahn's aura, so she was curious to see how things would play out.

"It's him..." muttered Ais, temporarily garnering Loki's attention as she rose from the table and hurriedly approached the burgeoning conflict. Those observing the scene thought she was planning to intervene, but while that wasn't incorrect, her actions caused even Loki to become slack-jawed as she walked up to Vahn, grabbed his hands, looked him in the eyes, and said, "Please go out with me," with an expression comparable to the one she wore when going into a battle she wasn't sure she would walk away from...




(A/N: Someone on my Discord suggested I use EPIC to help promote the novel I'm currently working on, but I didn't want to simply post a glorified ad. The EPIClogue is something I still have a vested interest in, so if you'd like to support me so I can continue writing, please take a look at -The Path-. It's based on the very first novel premise I published and eventually ties in with EPIC itself, so I would greatly appreciate feedback from those of you who have stuck with me since the start of this journey and are curious to see how I develop as an Author moving forward. Either way, thank you for your time. Life hasn't been especially kind to me these past few months, but I pray you are all well and will continue to remain as such in the far future.)

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