Chapter 41: Affection : Love

Vahn blanked out as he stared at the system notification. He never expected that Lili would fall in ‘love’ with him after such a short period of time. Staring at the young girl that had gotten close to his body during his absentmindedness, he wasn’t really sure what to feel. Though he understood what love was from reading manga and the memory of his mother, he didn’t really know how to express it. He knew he liked Lili, since she was very adorable, but he also liked Chloe’s playfulness and Hephaestus’s bashful coolness.

Seeing the quest required him to get 100 affection, Vahn was at a loss. Even though they had spent a fair amount of time together, her affection had only increased twice throughout the entire duration. He had almost even forgotten about it since her aura had remained persistent since he saved her the previous day.

Since he couldn’t think of the solution himself, he tried asking his reliable big Sis. (“Sis, how can I increase someones affection to 100? Do I…need to marry them or something?”)

A deep, mechanical sigh sounded in his mind. (*I’m sure if you got someone to 100 Affection and they loved you as a member of the opposite sex, they would probably marry you. But marriage doesn’t mean someone has 100 affection. There are several types of love as well, such as the bonds between comrades that have fought together, or the familial love like what your mother had for you. How you get the affection to 100 will be entirely dependant on you, since my help would have more negative influence than positive gain.*)

Vahn sighed within his mind. (“Why is love such a complicated thing…”). He looked towards Lili who had been sticking to his body for some time now. It seemed like she was developing the tendencies of some kind of hug type monster. He even noticed she would periodically smell his body, which always caused a cold sweat to drip down his back.

As a test, he tried seeing if he could increase her affection by petting her…

When his hand came into contact with her head, she began to snuggle against him more intensely, almost as if the hand was a signal that allowed her behavior. Though Vahn was beginning to get uncomfortable, he also felt an ‘awkward’ feeling within his chest as his pulse began to markedly increase. Through his petting, he noticed that her aura seemed to become very lively as it danced about, but there was no change in the amount of affection displayed in the system.

He almost thought about giving her a kiss, but eventually dismissed the idea. They hadn’t known each other for very long, and there was still a long while before he could complete her training. If he kissed her now before she had become more stable, he would feel like he was manipulating her. This thought brought back memories of his sunset rendezvous with Chloe, and he began to truly understand why she had prevented him from confessing at that moment. If she had accepted his feelings then and there, he would have become reliant on her. All of his efforts would have been spent trying to make her happy, and it would most likely cause him to make a mistake in the future.

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Once again he could see the parallels between himself and Lili. Since she had been neglected so much as a child and also exploited by the people she should have been able to rely on, she was in desperate need of an anchor to ground her emotions. Though he could see she ‘loved’ him through the system, it was more of a ‘puppy love’ or ‘dependency’ instead of genuine infatuation…

He began to understand the dangers of the current situation, so after he gave her two more soft pats he stood up. “It’s time we head out of the dungeon. Even if this is the corridor of the first floor, there is no guarantee that danger won’t present itself. I also have several things to take care of this evening, so we shouldn’t loiter around here for too long.”

Lili was disappointed that he put an end to their little moment. She thought things were progressing in a good direction, but right as she was about to try and push things forward he ended up running away. She began thinking Vahn was either too dense to sense the atmosphere, or maybe he wasn’t interested in her. Looking at his face, he seemed calm and collected, which caused her to feel a little down.

Vahn noticed her actions but knew if he gave her too much attention it would probably develop into an issue in the near future. He still gave her a gentle smile and softly called out to her. “Come, Lili. Let’s get out of this dreary dungeon. We might even make it in time to see the sunset from the plaza.”

Her ears twitched at his words, and she immediately bounded to her feet. “Yes, Vahn-sama~ Lets go go go~!” She began leading the way while Vahn just helplessly shook his head.

They made their way out of the dungeon, and Lili took the few cores they had earned to a guild managed window near the information desks outside the dungeon entrance. Vahn watched her curiously, and he wondered why she had taken the cores. After fifteen minutes, she rushed back holding a small bag of Valis and presented it to him.

“Here you go Vahn-sama. You managed to earn 14,830V today~!” She stuffed the bag into his hands and gave him a look like she wanted to be praised. Vahn decided to give in, and began rubbing her head which caused her to squirm about while making strange noises.

“This Valis, it came from the cores we earned today? Were you able to exchange them here at the tower?” He looked towards the direction she had left earlier. He noticed there were a few adventurers entering and exiting the small building he had previously neglected.

Lili gave him a confused look before asking, “Eh? Vahn-sama? Have you not been exchanging your cores outside the dungeon?”

Vahn shook his head and told her he had been trading them in at the main Guild branch. She looked at him like he was a weirdo, but then recalled that he was a newbie freelancer that had been in the City for little more than a week.

“Vahn-sama, it would be very time-consuming if people had to walk all the way to the Guild every time they wanted to exchange cores and drop items. That’s why the Guild set up an exchange booth near the entrance of the dungeon. Though they offer a 1% markup from the normal tax, it’s still much more convenient than spending nearly an hour just to take your spoils to the Guild. Most people only visit the main office to accept and report quests and level ups.”

Vahn couldn’t help but laugh after hearing her words. It definitely made sense, and he probably should have paid more attention to his surroundings. He began to consider mapping the entire City in the future and trying to obtain as much information as he could. Seeing the expectant expression on Lili’s face, he decided to pat her again while teasing her a bit.

“Thanks, Liliruca-sama. This ignorant one has heard your guidance and taken it to heart.”

After he had spoken, Lili visibly froze. She mechanically turned to him with an incredulous expression on her face. “Vahn-sama…please don’t address me like that. I’m offering my advice because I want to, not because I think I’m in a higher position than you are…”

Vahn simply smiled in response. “It’s the same for me Lili. I’m helping you because I want to, so you shouldn’t address me as sama either. We’ll be together for a long time, so it feels awkward being addressed in such a subservient way.

She began to grit her teeth while she struggled with the words. After a while, she looked into his eyes while nodding slightly. “Yes…Vahn. I will try to fix my bad habit.”

They continued generating their unique atmosphere as the passing adventurers gave them strange looks. Some of the less sensitive ones even whistled and gave them playful calls to embarrass the two senseless children.

Hearing the surrounding voices, Lili hung her head and began to blush. She gave shy glances at Vahn, but seeing his composed expression she couldn’t help but sigh. “Vahn-sa…Vahn, where are you going from here?”

Vahn smiled before looking towards the sky. The sun was going to set in about twenty minutes, so he decided to keep his word and view it together. “For now let’s find a better vantage point to watch the sunset. I did say we would watch it if we made it in time. After that, I’ll head back towards my Inn after stopping at the market to purchase a gift.”

“Eh, gift? For who?” Hearing the words gift, Lili became excited and concerned at the same time. She hoped that the gift might be for her, but seeing as how he mentioned it casually it was likely for someone else…probably a woman.

“Ah, it’s for the Proprietress’ daughter. She was the one that made the lunchbox I ate during our break in the dungeon, remember?” Vahn casually mentioned Tina, as it wasn’t really a secret.

“Umu…I want to meet her.” There was a cautious glint in her eye, with a hint of competitiveness. If it was a cute girl, she had to make sure to protect Vahn from her devious clutches. There was also the matter of the Proprietress who allowed her daughter to make a lunchbox for a customer…

“Sure, I’ll introduce you in the future.”

They two eventually ended up on the same viewing platform where Vahn had watched the sunset with Chloe. Lili used the opportunity snuggle again Vahn, but wasn’t as restless as she had been previously. She just continued staring towards the sunset in a daze, silent until it had disappeared beyond the horizon. Vahn observed the silence and allowed her to lean against his body. For some reason, as the light faded he felt a melancholy deep within his heart that he couldn’t explain. It wasn’t until the light had completely faded that he broke the silence.

“What will you do from here on Lili?” Though they had agreed to meet up again, much earlier this time, Vahn was still curious about what she had decided upon. He knew, given her current disguise, that she was still actively hiding from her Familia.

Only allowed on

Lili silently contemplated her next words carefully. She looked towards Vahn and noticed the concern in his eyes, so she mustered up her courage. “I…I want to stay in the same Inn as you. I don’t want to return to my Familia as they’ll likely blame me for the deaths of the three members that died in the dungeon. Though there isn’t a lot of camaraderie in that detestable place, they’ll still punish me severely to appease their own unease. In the worst case, they may even kill me…”

Vahn grit his teeth in anger hearing her words. He understood what she said was true, and since it was due to his actions that caused the death of the three, he needed to take responsibility and protect her until she became strong enough. Seeing the fear that begun to show in Lili’s eyes, he smiled before walking towards the stairs leading to the lower levels.

After he took a few steps, he turned towards the dejected looking Pallum. “Come on Lili, lets go home.” As the words left his lips, he felt a powerful force nearly knock him to the ground.

“Vahn-saaaama~” Lili had lept into his body after his Vahn’s words. She nuzzled against his abdomen and gripped his body like a vice.

//[Liliruca Arde] Affection +1//

After several painstaking minutes, Vahn finally managed to separate the hugging demon from his body. He turned and continued his way outside of the tower, as the cheerful girl followed closely behind.

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