Chapter 109: Lamentation

After sending the messages, Hephaestus put away the parchment and quill before looking toward Vahn. Right now, he was sitting topless on the sofa and watching her with intrigue. Hephaestus smiled before leaving her desk and sitting next of Vahn on the couch. After she got comfortable, she pulled Vahn’s head into her chest before gently patting his head. “You know Vahn, I was very worried about you. After your promise and healing my eye, the next time I see you is on a hospital bed. I feel like you’re trying to worry me to death…”

Vahn was a bit flustered at first, but after hearing Hephaestus’s soothing tone, he began to relax and enjoy the embrace. Of all the people that have held him, Vahn always felt the most comfortable with Hephaestus since she always seemed to show so much care for him. After a few minutes, she sighed before bringing Vahn’s head to rest on her lap. “Tell me everything that happened in the dungeon…”

As she had been holding in for a while, Vahn was very relaxed and complacent. He began recounting everything he had done in the dungeon since he entered. He talked about how he killed monsters at the pantry to get revenge for Naaza, how he hunted monsters in the mist, and about his crusade against the Minotaurs. Hephaestus closed her eyes and tried to imagine everything that Vahn had experienced and matched it against her own experiences in the recent days. She could recall the excitement he had felt during certain events, and wondered what kind of battles he had gone through to grow so quickly.

Vahn continued his story, conveniently avoiding talking about the Juggernaut, and recounted how he saved a father that was protecting his two sons against a variant Wyvern. Hephaestus smiled and gently stroked his head; she felt very proud that Vahn was willing to save people instead of overlooking their troubles. After that, he told her about how he first arrived in Riviria and about his encounter with the ‘Hounds of Anubis’ and their young leader Rasui.

While speaking of the young chienthropes, Vahn actually began to feel embarrassed after remembering certain events. Hephaestus noticed his looked and asked, “What’s wrong Vahn? Did anything else happen while they were tracking you?” Vahn took a deep breath and told Hephaestus how he had dealt with their ‘attack’. He even mentioned how he had lodged arrows into the lower backs of two of the young girls and how awkward it was having to remove them later.

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Hephaestus had conflicting feelings when Vahn mentioned having to pull arrows out of two young girls backsides. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to laugh or berate Vahn for his excessive behavior. After hearing that he used his [Hands of Nirvana] to heal their wounds, she almost wanted to squeeze his little head to alleviate her own rising emotions. She was glad he was being honest with her, but she didn’t think he would casually say such embarrassing things.

Afterward, Vahn told Hephaestus about how he encountered a Wyvern and was able to tame it. Hephaestus was very impressed, as monster taming was an incredibly rare ability. When she heard that, after taming it, the monster even evolved, she was incredibly shocked. “Where is your ‘Dragon’ now? Did you leave it in the dungeon…?” Vahn shook his head and withdrew Fafnir’s core from his inventory. Hephaestus received the core and began to inspect it only to discover that her god’s eye couldn’t actually see through the crystal.

Vahn explained how the crystal seemed to be able to contain Fafnir, and by channeling his energy into the core, he was able to materialize its body whenever he wanted. Once again, Hephaestus was incredibly shocked by the revelation and sighed before telling Vahn, “This is another thing you need to keep a secret…who knows about this?” Vahn answered, and after Hephaestus heard that the ace party of the Loki Familia knew about the secret, she nearly screamed in frustration after thinking about the future troubles.

Unfortunately for Hephaestus, her troubles were already beginning, as Vahn continued talking about his fight with the Goliath and meeting the Loki Familia on the 17th floor. Hephaestus originally thought he fought alongside them, but hearing that Vahn defeated the Goliath on his own, she didn’t know what to feel. While she was shocked, sure, she was also slowly becoming numb to the surprises Vahn was giving her. She started to think that allowing Vahn to enter the dungeon alone had been a mistake in the first place…too many abnormal things happened around him.

In her daze, Hephaestus almost didn’t hear the words Vahn spoked after defeating the Goliath, “What was that, Vahn?” Vahn repeated his words, “I said that, after the fight, the amazon girl Tiona tackled me to the ground while I was naked. I didn’t mind much at first, but I realized later how embarrassing that was…” Vahn didn’t consider the words anything worth hiding, so he repeated them without worrying.

Hephaestus nodded slowly as if she had realized a few things before urging Vahn to continue. She would later come to regret this as Vahn started telling her about all the events that followed. He told her about how Tiona had hugged him until he collapsed and then when he finally woke up, how he took a bath with Tiona, Tione, Ais, and Lefiya. At this point, Hephaestus had a dazed expression and was just listening to Vahn speak. Recalling all the girls that had visited Vahn in the ward, she began to think there was a lot more to the story…which she soon found out.

Vahn talked about his first kiss with Tiona, how she confessed to him, and how in his first experience of mental frustration, how he destroyed a small section of the forest to relieve the emotions that had built up inside him. Hephaestus wasn’t too surprised that Tiona would confess to Vahn after his previous words, but when she found out that, because of his embarrassment, he started to become aware of women, she felt a bit of panic in her heart.

His next words made Hephaestus want to march into the Loki Familia and strangle Riveria since she found out that Vahn had received ‘lessons’ from her on sexual education. With his newfound knowledge, he had apparently decided it was okay to kiss not only Tiona but Ais as well. When he got to the part about how Tiona ‘attacked’ him, Hephaestus was no longer able to think straight. It wasn’t until he told her about Ais’s desire to have sex on her birthday that Hephaestus finally returned to her senses.

Hephaestus lazily looked at Vahn and could see that he had a slight blush on his face as he recounted the events. “Vahn, what are you going to do?” Vahn was surprised at seeing how strange Hephaestus was acting, but he responded anyway, “Ah, they’re both very affectionate toward me, so I don’t think it will be a problem. I promised Tiona I would have a baby with her when I am strong enough, and I’m also interested in sharing experiences with Ais.”

“I see…” Hephaestus felt like a lot of her strength had left her after listening to Vahn’s experiences in the dungeon. She didn’t even process the words he spoke about his battle with the Juggernaut; she just sat in a daze while thinking about each of the girls that always hung around Vahn. Eventually, once Vahn had stopped talking, Hephaestus showed him a sad smile before saying,”I’m glad you found girls your own age to be with…”

Vahn noticed that Hephaestus was no longer just acting strange, but she was acting sad, almost like she had lost something she cared about. Vahn felt a painful feeling in his chest seeing her sad look. “Hephaestus, what is wrong? Why are you sad?” Though Vahn had seen all kinds of faces from Hephaestus, he had never seen such a sad look before. Even his vision of her heart’s desire, when she was lost in that infinite loneliness, she didn’t seem as sad as she was now.

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Hephaestus just shook her head in response and said, “It’s nothing Vahn…I just had a strange expectation. You don’t have to worry about it, just focus on finding your own happiness.” Hephaestus began to gently stroke his head, but Vahn felt like her hands, which were usually warm, were now cold and clammy as they weakly made their way through his hair. Vahn didn’t like this feeling, so he sat up and looked Hephaestus directly in her eyes.

“Something is wrong, this isn’t like you. Please, tell me, I will do my best to help you.” Vahn hated seeing Hephaestus this way, and he really was willing to do anything if it would return the kind person from his memories. Hephaestus, seeing the earnest and caring expression of Vahn, felt her heart twitch, but it wasn’t enough to drive away the melancholy that has overtaken her.

Looking weakly into his eyes, Hephaestus spoke softly as tears began to cloud her vision, “I just…thought that…after your promise…” Hephaestus couldn’t form a complete sentence, and every word seems to strike at something deep within Vahn. He recalled his promise, about how he would help drive away her loneliness, and it wasn’t until now that he understood the context contained within. Vahn realized the companionship Hephaestus was looking for wasn’t for a person of equal skill to appear, but she was looking for someone worthy of being her lover.

Vahn began recalling all the memories he had with Hephaestus. He remembered all the kindness, all the care, all the emotions, everything she had given him just to protect him. Even now, just so he wouldn’t be in danger, she was dealing with the Osiris Familia and Soma Familias just to protect his secrets. This realization broke something within Vahn, and he felt like he had wronged her severely…

Vahn grabbed her hands, which seemed to contain no strength, and looked into her sad eyes. “Hephaestus, I…” Before he could finish, Hephaestus side and removed her hands from his. “It’s okay, Vahn…I’m just happy if you are happy.” As her words finished, Hephaestus gave Vahn a fake smile and tried to get off the couch. Vahn, seeing her actions reached out his hand and grabbed her wrist.

“Wait, you don’t understand, I didn’t know…” Vahn felt like, if he let go of her hand now, he might never be able to close the distance between them again. Hephaestus tried to free herself from his grasp but noticed that his hand was like a vice and she couldn’t escape. Sighing, Hephaestus looked toward Vahn was an ‘angry’ look and said, “Let go of my Vahn, I don’t blame you. Even now, I’ll do my best to protect you. You are my ‘child’ after all.”

Hearing the emphasis she placed on the word ‘child’, Vahn felt an incredible panic build up inside of him. Without thinking further, he pulled Hephaestus toward him and she fell into his embrace since she hadn’t been putting much power into supporting her own body. The moment their bodies made contact, Hephaestus began to struggle, but Vahn just held her body in his embrace without letting go.

Hephaestus continued to curse and try to free herself from Vahn’s clutches, but no matter what she said or how much she tried to escape, he just silently held onto her. Eventually, after several minutes, she began to cease her struggles and just allowed herself to be held. Vahn’s embrace loosened a bit as he began to channel his energy from [Hands of Nirvana] into her back. Hephaestus felt a warm energy enter her body, almost like it wanted to drive away all the negative feelings in her heart.

Vahn continued to hold Hephaestus close to him; he wanted her to feel his care and his affection for her. He was trying to assure her that, no matter what happened, he would never let her go and be lonely again. After a while, he could feel tears on his bare chest as Hephaestus slowly embraced him as well. She began crying in his arms as he continued channeling his energy into her back while gently patting it.

Nearly half an hour later, Hephaestus had stopped crying, but Vahn was still holding onto her. In the silence, she just rested her head against his chest and listened to the familiar heartbeat that had accompanied her for every waking moment in the last few months. “Your heart…it brings me comfort you know that? I listen to it when I go to sleep…” Vahn was a bit surprised at the confession, but he just tightened his grip a little bit to show her his concern.

Hephaestus continued in a low tone, “I even…on this couch…” Hephaestus didn’t continue her sentence, but Vahn could feel her heartbeat increasing as well. It was a powerful and fast tempo that he could feel through her breasts that were pressing into his stomach. It made his heart rate begin to increase as well, which caused Hephaestus to lift her head and smile.

Vahn could see the light blush covering Hephaestus’s tear-stained face, and her smile made his head no numb. Without thinking, he reached his right hand to the back of her head and, before she could react, sealed her lips with his own. Hephaestus immediately reacted by opening her eyes wide and trying to separate from Vahn, but since she was in an awkward position since earlier, she was unable to muster any real strength.

Vahn continued to kiss her, and similar to how Tiona had done so previously, he began invading her mouth with his tongue. Her struggles nearly doubled in intensity, but Vahn was unwilling to release the kiss until she understood his feelings. Eventually, Hephaestus stopped her struggles entirely and Vahn could feel the heavy breathing from her nostrils as she began returning his kiss. Noticing she had begun to seek after his mouth now, Vahn pulled away slightly and smiled.

Hephaestus, unprepared for his withdrawal, actually closed the distance and continued the kiss on her own. Her momentum knocked Vahn onto the couch and she embraced him from above. Hephaestus could feel the passion in her body begin to take over as she sought out the boy that had been dominating her thoughts recently. Though she was scared he would leave her behind, she now saw that he cared about her just as much as she cared about him.

The emotions began to steadily build inside Vahn as well, as he could feel the weight of Hephaestus’s body press against his own. He was startled by her passion, and how soft her body was. Her breasts especially, as Vahn felt them against his own chest, made his mind go numb and he began exploring her body to discover what other parts were soft. Eventually, his hands found their way to Hephaestus’s pert butt and she gasped slightly before moving her kiss away from his mouth and onto his neck. She began to kiss his neck and collarbone as his hands continued to grope about and enjoy the springy sensation through her trousers.

*knock* *knock* *knock*

A knock was heard at the door, and both Hephaestus and Vahn immediately froze. Staring toward the door, Hephaestus heard it begin to open from the outside as the latch holding the door closed became undone. The only people that had a key to her workshop were herself and Tsubaki, and the figure that came through confirmed her fears. Tsubaki walked through the door with Lili in tow, and the two stared at the figures of Vahn and Hephaestus on the couch.

Lili pointed toward the two and screamed, “Aaaaah! Hephaestus-sama, thats sneaky!!!”

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘I feel the Lili hate coming’,’Hephaestus x Vahn’,’Embrace’)

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