Chapter 127: Future

Vahn was very surprised by the sudden notification in his system. Not only had he completed the ‘Heart’s Desire’ of Tiona, but he also unlocked a new parameter. According to the system, she now felt ‘True Love’ for Vahn, and it made him feel a happy and somewhat longing feeling as he looked at the peacefully sleeping young girl. He didn’t care much about the quest, as it was already his intent to make her happy in the first place, but now he had a bit of extra incentive to do so.

Curious, Vahn began looking through his system, as he had received several notifications while he was having sex previously. His mind was so focused on the emotions and his interactions with the two girls that he hadn’t paid them any attention at the time. Now that the two girls were sleeping at his sides, Vahn had the opportunity to review what he had previously overlooked.

//Ais Wallenstein Has Reached Maximum Affection//

//Quest Completed: [The Hearts Desire:C-SS]//
Completion Grade: S
Rewards: 10,000 OP [Swordsman:D] increased to B rank, 1x[Hearts Desire: Ais Wallenstein]Grade Rewards: [Friend of Spirits: A] skill unlocked, 1x [Skill Enhancement Scroll: A], 20,000 OP

[Friend of Spirits]Rank: A
Greatly increases the effect of support magic. Allows the user to communicate with and borrow the power of Spirits.

Vahn wasn’t too surprised by the fact that Ais’s affection had reached the maximum. Though he could only vaguely recall, he seemed to remember that the notification had sounded when she started kissing him in their second bout of intercourse. Other than that, the other notifications were just showing various increases and decreases of her affection over the course of events.

He was happy to notice he had gotten a new skill, as well as a large increased to one he previously possessed. It wasn’t an exaggeration to say that Ais was a prodigy when it came to the sword, and now Vahn seemed to benefit a bit from her potential. According to Sis, a B rank skill typically corresponded to a veteran, while A rank was expert. It was very difficult to develop a skill beyond A-rank and reach the pinnacle of S-rank, but it wasn’t unheard of. If a person could push it even further beyond, the skill would even evolve into a higher tier ability, much like how [Blacksmith:S] turned into [Master Smith].

The thing that most concerned him about the current events was the new [Hearts Desire: Ais Wallenstein] that he had obtained. Vahn already had some expectations about what Ais sought, and he was a little hesitant to peak into the girl’s memories. However, after he noticed her sleeping contentedly next to him, Vahn threw his inhibitions aside and activated the item. Just as before, the air seemed to freeze and time came to a stop for Vahn as the vision began flashing through his mind.

Since it was already his fourth time, Vahn understood that he was currently seeing things from Ais’s perspective. Through her eyes, he could see what looked like a matured version of Ais sitting near a low table in a flower garden. Vahn felt very happy inside as he moved toward the beautiful girl and jumped into her arms. He felt very safe and happy as the woman gently stroked through his long golden hair and whispered kind words into his ear…

Ais had always felt happy when she was with her mother. Her mother, Aria Wallenstein, was always the kindest person to her and she taught her many things. She was very beautiful always treated her better than anyone else, even her own father who was always away on his adventures. Though Ais really loved her father, it was always her mother that made her feel happiest. She wished that they would be able to spend the rest of their lives together in the garden they had tended to since Ais first became aware of her surroundings.

But, things didn’t last, and Ais felt a powerful sadness when she received devastating news. Her mother had gone missing when she accompanied her father to fight against the terrible Black Dragon that had been ravaging the lands. And to make matters worse, her father had died in the conflict as well while trading his life to deal a heavy blow to the Dragon’s eye.

Ais felt lost and terrified and she ran away from the group of people that were trying to console her. Ais hated the people that were supposed to be the allies of her parents and resented the fact they were able to return while she lost everything. She hated the black dragon that had stolen away her happiness, but most important of all, the emotion that was most prevalent in her mind, was heartbreak.

Remembering the happy times she had with both of her parents, Ais fell to the ground and started crying without rest. She remembered her goofy father who was always training, and all the stories he would tell her when he was back home from his adventures. She remembered the kind smile of her mother and the warm embrace that always made her unhappy feelings fly away. Now, Ais would never be able to feel and experience those emotions ever again. The only thing she could do now was ball up onto the ground and continue sobbing as the loneliness bore down on her like an endless tide.

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A long period of time passed, far longer than Ais could remember. She seemed to have fallen into an endless black abyss with no light or sound. The only thing she felt was the loneliness that had deeply rooted itself in her heart.

Though she wasn’t aware how or when it happened, Ais suddenly found herself surrounded by people that treated her with kindness. They always had smiles on their faces when the talked to her, and whenever she felt sad they tried to encourage her to move forward. The Goddess of their group, Loki, had even given her a goal and helped Ais increase her strength. Loki told her that, if she wanted to be able to regain her happiness, the only thing she could do was seek revenge against the One-Eyed Black Dragon that took it from her.

Believing the words of Loki, Ais underwent the painful ceremony and had the Loki Familia crest engraved into her back. After that, she trained tirelessly from sunrise to sunset, constantly striving to improve her strength. The kind people that had been tending to her previously also helped her grow stronger, and their praise helped Ais continue to move forward even when things got difficult.

As her training continued, Ais learned that it was easier to deal with the sadness by pushing away all her other emotions as well, She became solely focused on training, and in just a few short years had reached a pinnacle where most people were unable to achieve. She had become one of the strongest in the City she ended up residing in, and now she was able to destroy all the vile monsters that took away the happiness of others. Ais became determined to continue increasing her strength so that she could one day kill the monster that stole her family.

On her endless pursuit for strength, she heard rumors of a ‘heroic’ boy that had rescued a girl from the dungeon. Even when other adventurers had attacked him due to a misunderstanding, he was able to defeat them all while still ensuring the safety of the girl he had saved. Ais was reminded a lot of her father when she heard the rumors, and it made a painful feeling rise in her chest for a little while. Afterward, she had decided to accompany one of her allies, Tiona, to meet the boy with other members of her Familia.

Ais was surprised when she saw the small and frail boy with a handsome face. He seemed completely different from her expectations, but she was curious about the subtle aura she could sense from his body. Though she couldn’t understand why, his aura seemed to have a deep impact on her, and Ais felt like he would be able to become truly strong in the future. When she got the chance to spar against him, Ais immediately accepted as she wanted to test his current capabilities.

As she had expected, the boy was very weak, but no matter how many setbacks he suffered, he always tried his best to continue fighting. There was even a moment where he almost got an advantage against her, and Ais was shocked for a moment before counterattacking. Though he was only Level 2, he was actually able to make her feel a little bit of pressure. So that the boy wouldn’t give up, Ais gave him some words of encouragement in hopes that he would become even stronger.

Not long later, she reunited with the boy in an unexpected circumstance. Against all reasonable explanation, the boy was now on the 17th floor of the dungeon on his own. Ais could feel the aura emitting from his body had become deeper, and she intuitively understood that his strength had increased greatly in the short period of time they had been separated. His growth resonated with something deep inside of her, and Ais wanted to know what secrets the boy had to be able to increase his strength so quickly.

After watching the boy, who she remembered was named Vahn, solo against a Goliath, Ais felt a bit of excitement ignited inside of her heart. No matter how she evaluated the situation, Vahn should have lost against the Goliath. However, as if to refute everything she knew, he continued fighting against the odds until he ultimately claimed victory against the giant monster. The small spark that had been kindled in her heart now turned into a small flame as she began to develop expectations for the boys future.

Ais believed that he would become strong, stronger than anyone else, even stronger than she could become. Even though she worked hard, Ais knew she wasn’t a match for the growth of the boy before her, and the thought made her feel excited. She wanted to see how far he could go and wanted to accompany him to see the end of his limits. If he had none, Ais wanted to learn from his example and increase her own strength. She believed that, if she followed the boy, she would one day be able to reclaim what she had lost. Even if she couldn’t do it with her own strength, she felt as though the boy would lend his own to her…

Time started again for Vahn and he just sat in a daze while he tried to make sense of all the information in his head. From the vision, he understood Ais had a tragic past where she lost both of her parents to the evil Black Dragon. After an incredibly long period of time, she awakened and began pursuing strength in earnest, but seemed to realize that she would be unable to reach her goal. In order to increase her strength even further, she began burying her own emotions and pushing away all other thoughts…

If Vahn interpreted her ‘Hearts Desire’ correctly, it seemed like she had somehow placed her hopes in him now. He didn’t understand when it happened since there wasn’t a lot of information in the vision, but for some reason, Ais believed he would be able to help her achieve her goal. Vahn looked over at the peacefully sleeping beauty and felt the weight of her expectations on his shoulders. Suddenly, all of her random and spontaneous actions toward him seemed to be calculated instead of being a result of genuine curiosity.

Seeing Ais breathing slow and gentle breaths while laying next to him completely naked, Vahn felt the weight on his shoulders ease up a bit. He didn’t even know why he was hesitating after seeing the vision, as he had already promised to protect her. If she ended up fighting the One-Eyed Black Dragon in the future, Vahn would have never forgiven himself if he wasn’t at her side. Now, Vahn had even more reason to increase his strength. Not only did he have to protect Tiona and his children, but he needed to ensure that Ais would be able to seek vengeance against the monster that had stolen her family.

There was also the matter of the other girls in his life, and Vahn realized that the only way he would be able to guarantee everyone’s happiness would be to keep his promise. He would become the strongest there is; so strong that nothing, monster, man, or god, would be able to harm those that he loved. If they were able to place their trust in him and even develop hopes for the future because of his efforts, Vahn was willing to do whatever it took to meet their expectations.

Reaching out his hands, Vahn placed one palm on each sleeping girls’ head as he began to stroke their hair affectionately. As if recognizing his touch, both Tiona and Ais showed pleased smiles on their face which seemed to brighten up the dark cave. Vahn smiled himself while turning his head toward the ‘stars’ overhead. Though he wondered which one he may visit in the future, Vahn had decided that the most important matter was the present. Until he was no longer able to remain in this world, Vahn would continue moving forward and doing his best…no matter what it took.

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Ais’s Hope’,’A Willing Burden’,’Nothing gets by…the Vahnguard’)

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