Chapter 111: Relaxation

The ceremony lasted nearly ten minutes, and the entire time it was going on, Lili continued to stare at Vahn with clenched teeth. Eventually, the light began to fade, and the crest of a moon and chalice had now turned into two hammers with a flaming volcano. Lili released a gasp as the pain slowly began to fade, and began drawing deep breaths to help ease the aching in her back. Vahn, seeing that the ceremony had finished, stood up and walked forward before placing his hand on Lili’s head. He began to channel his energy through [Hands of Nirvana] and her pained expression rapidly turned into one of comfort.

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Hephaestus removed her finger from Lili’s back and said, “You withstood that well. From now on you are a member of the Hephaestus Familia. If anyone, including the bastards from the Soma Familia, tries to harm you, I will make them pay.” Even if Hephaestus wasn’t too fond of Lili, she was very protective of her ‘children’. She fully intended to have the Guild investigate into the Soma Familia and find out what had been going on behind the scenes.

Lili nodded her head and continued to enjoy the warm feeling coming from Vahn’s hand. “Thank you Hephaestus-sama, I will do my best to not embarrass the Familia.” Tsubaki spoke up in response, “From now on you can join official parties if you’d like, or even act a supporter on expeditions. Once you earn enough experience and exilia, you’ll be able to freely increase your level from now on.”

Lili continued to nod her head, but she was feeling a little uneasy on the inside. She knew the Soma Familia couldn’t touch the Hephaestus Familia, but she still wanted to do her best to get revenge on her own. She couldn’t easily forgive everything the Soma Familia had put her through, and there were many people within that she wanted to punish herself.

Vahn, as he could see auras, noticed that Lili’s began to fluctuate and he knew she was hiding her anger. He couldn’t blame her as he if he could one day return to earth, would probably try to seek revenge against the people that mistreated him as well. Even if he found out they were destroyed by someone else, Vahn didn’t think it would make him happy. But, Vahn had also promised his mother that he would try to live happy and free, and he had slowly been letting go of his hatred as he spent time in this world.

Tilting Lili’s head toward him, she opened her eyes and stared at him with confusion. Vahn slowly spoke, “Lili, there is no meaning to a life lived in the pursuit of revenge. The only way you can overcome your past is to live free and happy. Don’t let distant memories ruin the experiences you’re having now.” Lili’s eyes opened wide at Vahn’s words, and she could tell that he had been able to sense the hatred she had kept hidden. In response, she muttered in a low voice, “I will try…Vahn.”

Afterward, Lili stood up from the chair and, to Hephaestus’s mild annoyance, had Vahn help her dress. With slightly less awkwardness, Vahn helped Lili wear her blouse, but he noticed a strange feeling of loss as he slowly fastened the buttons. By the time she was properly wearing the clothes, Vahn almost felt sad, though he wasn’t sure why. Tsubaki, who had been paying attention to the entire event with interest, smacked Vahn on the back before saying,”Don’t be sad, Vahn! You’ll have plenty of chances to undress women if you work hard; isn’t that right Hephaestus-sama!?”

Hephaestus flinched at the loud voice of Tsubaki before hanging her head a bit and muttering, “Maybe…after your forge an item that can satisfy me. I can’t abandon my own vows, and the incident earlier was just a slight lapse in judgment…” Vahn frowned after hearing Hephaestus try to explain away the earlier events. He felt like she was trying to build up a wall between them again, so he slowly approached until he stood directly in front of her.

Reaching out, Vahn placed his hand on her face and had her look into his eyes. He said in a firm tone, similar to how people tried to convince him, “I will forge an item for you, but that doesn’t mean I want us to be apart all the time. We don’t have to have sex, but I think hugging and kissing should be fine.” Hephaestus was shocked to hear his words, while Tsubaki had an almost ‘proud’ look on her face as she nodded at Vahn’s actions. Lili, who had been enjoying her moment with Vahn previously, just stood there in silence as her breathing increased a bit.

The moment Hephaestus tried to say something, Vahn leaned forward and kissed her on the lips. It was a little awkward, and he almost fell over because of their height distance, but he wanted to convey his feelings to her in the most direct manner he could. Vahn felt he wasn’t that good at expressing himself through words, so he decided a kiss was the most appropriate course of action.

Unlike earlier, Hephaestus didn’t try to resist, but she pulled away after a few seconds with a blush on her cheeks. After a few seconds, she ‘glared’ at Vahn before biting her lower lip and saying, “…only…every once and a while.” As he heard her words, Vahn couldn’t help but smile with a large grin on his face.

Hephaestus saw his look and grit her teeth before releasing and sigh. She felt mixed feelings about her future and sat at her desk before putting her head down into her arms. While everyone stared at her in curiosity, she just closed her eyes and ignored their gazes as she tried to calm herself by listening to Vahn’s heart. Even though she was vaguely aware that her actions were strange, it had become a habit for her recently, so she couldn’t help herself. Unfortunately, she could feel Vahn’s heart beating quite quickly as well, so it took much longer than normal for her to relax.

Tsubaki saw Hephaestus acting strangely, and she grabbed Lili’s arm before slowly making her way to the exit. “Come on Lili, there are plenty of things we need to take care of now that you’re officially in the Familia. You can try your luck tempting Vahn later.” Lili had been quiet since earlier, and she kept changing her gaze between Hephaestus and Vahn. Right before she exited through the door, she spoke toward Hephaestus, “You are lucky Hephaestus-sama. Vahn cares about you a lot…it makes me a little jealous.” With those parting words, she followed Tsubaki out the door and closed it behind her.

Hephaestus raised her head slightly and watched as the latch on the door secured itself. After a few more minutes of silence, she placed her head back on the table and tried to relax a bit. She hadn’t actually been getting much sleep the last nine days since she had been spending most of her time at Vahn’s bedside. Now that she had been in high tensions for so long, she felt incredibly tired, both physically and emotionally.

Vahn stood in front of her desk and didn’t know if he should say anything. It was already late in the day, and he would probably end up sleeping her in her office. Seeing how strange the atmosphere had become, he wanted to do something about it and decided to help Hephaestus relax.

Walking to the side, Vahn reached out and gently reached for one of the arms of Hephaestus. Hephaestus had noticed his approach, and seeing him reach for her, she actually began to feel even more tired expecting him to try to do more. Though she didn’t mind his advances, she kind of wished he would be a little considerate of her. Staring towards him, she asked in a lazy voice, “What is it, Vahn? I’m very tired right now.”

Vahn just showed her a gentle smile before saying, “I know, I won’t do anything strange. I just want to help you relax, so can you rest on the couch instead of the desk?” Hephaestus, seeing the honest and concerned look of Vahn, couldn’t help but give in to his demands as she allowed Vahn to escort her to the couch. Seeing the familiar sofa and recalling the events from earlier, her heart began to race slightly, but she did her best to keep calm. She trusted that Vahn would keep his word and wouldn’t try doing anything to her right now.

“Okay, Hephaestus, it may be a bit…difficult, but I need you to lay on your stomach and relax your body.” Hephaestus noticed that, as Vahn said the word ‘difficult’, his eyes had wandered to her breasts for a brief instant. She couldn’t help but laugh slightly as she said, “It’s fine, I sleep on this cough a lot without any…difficulties.” Hephaestus also placed emphasis on the word which caused Vahn to laugh awkwardly.

Only allowed on

After Hephaestus laid down, she did as Vahn suggested and tried relaxing her body. She was unsure of what he was going to do, but her concerns were answered shortly after as she felt one of his fingers touch her shoulder. Before she could ask what he was up to, she felt a gentle but penetrating warmth flow into her shoulder.

After a few seconds, all the tension in the muscles had completely relaxed and Vahn moved on to another point and repeated the process. Hephaestus quickly realized that Vahn’s method to help her relax turned out to be some kind of massage using his energy to diffuse tension. She couldn’t help but feel happy that he was so thoughtful, quite unlike the concerns she had earlier about him being inconsiderate.

When Vahn had originally learned [Hands of Nirvana], it also discussed the various pressure points on the body. With practice, he could use the technique for everything from relieving stress to sealing arteries to stop blood flow. Right now, he was using one of the techniques that were supposed to ease muscle tension. He had hoped it would help Hephaestus to relax a bit, and judging by how she had fallen asleep after only a few minutes, he was very satisfied with the results.

Since Vahn had never given a massage before, he became strangely focused on his actions and slowly moved to the various muscle groups on Hephaestus’s back. He was once against surprised with how soft a girls body was, but he also marveled at the tension and strength in her muscles. As she was an experienced blacksmith, the area around her upper back and shoulders were far more developed than normal. Even though it didn’t ‘look’ like she had any developed muscles at all, Vahn was able to feel the ‘steel-like’ tension flowing through what little she had.

Vahn’s only frustration at the situation was, according to the manual, the patient was supposed to have removed their clothing for the procedure. Since Vahn was worried that Hephaestus would think he was going against his promise, he didn’t mention anything and allowed her to keep her clothes on. It made the process much more difficult, but Vahn also kind of enjoyed ‘discovering’ the proper locations through trial and error. It was kind of fun when he was able to insert his energy into one of the nerves and the muscles around would twitch slightly.

After nearly an hour of massaging, Vahn noticed that Hephaestus’s body had now completely relaxed. She even had a bit of drool coming out of her mouth, which Vahn thought was kind of cute. After wiping up the dripping saliva, Vahn dried his hand on his tunic before tracing his hand through Hephaestus’s hair and giving her a kiss on the cheek. Even in her sleep, she seemed to recognize his presence and smile slightly in response.

Vahn, satisfied at having been able to keep his promise, laid down on the floor next to the couch and slowly drifted off into sleep himself. Before his thoughts faded into darkness, the last thing that passed through Vahn’s mind was the thought of improving his massage technique in the future…

Throughout the City, for no discernible reason, the backs of several girls felt a chill pass down their spines.

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Godhand Vahn’,’Sleeping Hephaestus Discovered!’,’Hope for the Future’)

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