Chapter 142: A Series of Misunderstandings

Once Vahn returned to his room, he had the system scan the information inside of the books and store it in his mind. Similar to what he did with manuals, Vahn was able to retain the information in the system and then read it at a later date. It also provided information to Sis, so if there was something he overlooked, she might be able to help him out. Vahn didn’t have anything like a perfect memory, but his recollection with the support of ‘The Path’ and Sis could be very useful.

Vahn perused the information for a bit, especially the areas regarding social etiquette and hierarchal relationships. There were several things on the various courting rituals and how both men and women sought mates. The more Vahn read, the more he understood just how badly he had messed up. If he saw things from Nanu’s perspective, he would have also been misled by his actions. Vahn tried to recall all the events that happened in order, so he would be able to make better sense of everything…

It all started the moment he accepted the children into his house along with Anubis. The moment he became the ‘Alpha’, all the children immediately respected his position, even if they weren’t fond of his character. From that point on, if Vahn had acted impartially and confidently, there wouldn’t have been any issues. His first mistake was treating the two girls, Nanu and Chione, as different entities compared to the other children.

Since Vahn had felt guilty for pinning the two girls backsides with his arrows back on the 18th floor, he was always a bit awkward around them. He tried to be nice whenever he could because he wanted to make up for any grievances they had suffered at his hands. Unfortunately, since he was treating them ‘differently’ from the rest of the pack, they interpreted that as him having an interest in them. The longer he treated them kindly, the greater the impact would have been, and it wouldn’t be long before one of them responded to his ‘advances’ out of necessity.

Once Nanu was chosen to be his assistant due to her [Blacksmith] skill, Vahn needed to immediately treat her like a student. He needed to be firm with her, and make sure she followed his orders without hesitation. Instead, he always paid attention to her efforts, even when he was working on his own ingots. From her perspective, this was him continuing to give her a ‘signal’ that he was interested in her, not as a student, but as a potential suitor.

The biggest problem before that though, was when Anubis had helped him test the effects of [Enkidu] in his workshop. Instead of dismissing Nanu, he allowed her to stay in the room while he had Anubis act in a submissive manner toward him. Since Anubis was higher than her in the hierarchy, but he allowed Nanu to see their intimacy, it was similar to saying she was also special.

When Anubis called her over to check her Status, Nanu had been paying close attention to Vahn’s expression. Instead of looking away or acting disinterested, Vahn instead locked eyes with the girl throughout the entire process. From Nanu’s perspective, this was the same as acknowledging and being okay with her presence around him. The fact that he held eye contact with her, even though she was lower in the hierarchy, was the same as elevating her position according to customs.

After Anubis had been dismissed, instead of immediately asking her to get dressed, Vahn entered a ‘contemplative’ state while still facing toward her. Since he had been thinking about all the women around him being ‘pregnant’ in his mind, it must have looked to Nanu like he was inspecting her body and having ‘intentions’ about her body. It didn’t help that, the moment Vahn’s contemplation ended, he had a smile due to his own excitement. He remembers that, at the time, Nanu looked at him with a reverent expression and seemed to be very pleased when he gave her permission to wear her clothes.

When they were working, he never ignored her and continued helping her out in all of her work. From Nanu’s perspective, it was essentially him helping her increase her own capabilities to make her more compatible with him. When the entered the bath, Nanu started sending him ‘signals’ of her own by undressing next to him. Typically, it was inappropriate for someone of a lower stature to change next to someone else, but Vahn allowed her to do so and even gazed at her figure periodically.

Once they entered the bath, she continued allowing him to court her by offering to service him. Since Vahn had thought she was acting as his ‘apprentice’ and wanted to show off to the other kids, he allowed her to do so, which essentially confirmed her suspicions that he was interested in her. If Vahn had recognized the looks of all the other girls at the time, he may have been able to avoid the misunderstanding. It was only Vahn’s second time bathing with the group, so he was entirely unaware of their customs.

This is the reason why the other girls immediately started treating Nanu better, and Vahn allowing her to sit at Anubis’s side at dinner cemented the idea in the entire group. When he allowed her to take charge of the cleanup and the rewarded her in front of the rest of the pack, it was almost as if he was informing the group that she was now his potential mate and to respect her will in the future.

All of these misunderstandings led to the events that happened during the training in the morning. Even when they had trained on the first day, when the kids sparred, they always did so with each other. Vahn only fought them as a group, and it was always when he initiated the spar. When the kids broke off into pairs and Nanu approached him and requested the spar, the moment he accepted, it was like saying he recognized her efforts and was giving her the chance to impress him.

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Nanu pushed herself as hard as she could to impress Vahn, and even exceeded her own limits by a fair amount. Unless Vahn had asked her to give up, it was the same as allowing her to continue. Unless she failed, she would keep trying to impress him until he either refused or accepted her. The moment she performed her acrobatic maneuver and suffered an injury, Nanu probably thought she failed to earn his respect as a potential mate. This was the true reason why she had apologized to him at the time with tears in her eyes.

Instead of being ‘disappointed’ with her, Vahn instead showed concern for her injured state and treated her wounds. This was the same as him telling her that he was stilling willing to give her a chance, so she took the queue and performed the final courting ceremony where she would offer her belly to him. She would become his official subordinate, and in the future, she might even become his potential mate. Because of the failure of Anubis to explain properly, Vahn put his hand on her stomach without any hesitation.

This is when he made his biggest mistake because, the moment he put his palm on her abdomen, she had already become his subordinate. Instead of allowing her to recover and accept her place as his subordinate, he instead ‘held her down’ in her submissive stance and continued to stroke her belly. For Nanu, this was Vahn telling her that she now belonged to him and to accept her place as his ‘mate’. Vahn remembered how excited Nanu became at his actions, and he even smiled back at her because he thought she was ticklish…

After both ‘recognizing’ each other as official mates, Nanu had been incredibly excited and even received the congratulations of the other children in high spirits. Since that point onward, in the minds of the other hounds, Nanu was now Vahn’s official mate within the group. Everything after that just compounded on top of his various mistakes, all the way up until the point where Nanu started to get a little out of hand. His constant rewards and leniency gave her an incredible amount of confidence, and she was trying to act the part of a proper ‘mate’ and desired to please him.

Now that Vahn understood the whole story, he felt like a genuine idiot. It was almost like he had been actively pursuing her from the moment she entered his house, and he hadn’t even been aware of it. Now he had a young chienthrope that seriously considered him to be her mate, and according to the notes in text, chienthropes of the Southern Tribe were fiercely monogamous. Those that become mates with members higher up the hierarchy would only ever have that one mate for life. As the ‘Alpha’, Vahn was allowed to have multiple partners, but for the rest of her life, Nanu would only consider herself to belong to him.

Vahn started to realize why he felt so much pressure from the young girl. From her perspective, he had more or less become the center of her world, and he had been the one to initiate the courting. This made her own valuation of herself increase to an insane degree, and she would likely continue acting in his interests until he became dissatisfied with her. According to tradition, if a mate had been abandoned by the ‘Alpha’, they would either kill themselves or drive a hot stake into their womb to prevent from having to bear the child of another. In their culture, they were considered some of the lowest in the entire social hierarchy, because they had the chance to rise up and became unworthy of their position.

Imagining the young Nanu driving a stake into herself, Vahn’s face became pale and he almost ran out of his bedroom to retrieve Nanu. Remembering her dejected manner as she walked away, Vahn was afraid that she might have misunderstood his actions as ‘abandoning’ her. Fortunately, he managed to recall the actions of Anubis and understood that wasn’t the case. If he went to her now, it would essentially be telling her that he allowed her to be selfish and would harm his image in the eyes of the other children as someone who couldn’t keep his word. It was even possible that the other children may start seeing Nanu as the ‘Alpha’ while Vahn was just her mate…

Vahn collapsed back on his bed and wiped the sweat from his brow while releasing a deep sigh. The burden of the truth was quite heavy, and he had never expected that knowing the reason behind her actions would have such heavy implications. If he wasn’t careful in the future, things could get out of hand very quickly. To ensure there were no slipups, he re-read the books on social etiquette and how ‘mates’ typically interacted with each other. Since he couldn’t abandon her, he needed to make sure he performed his expected duties well.

After reading the books front-to-back three times in a row, it was nearing midnight and Vahn decided it was time to pull out the black orb and have another go at learning the technique. He didn’t know if time continued in the space of the orb, or if it would reset to the state of the previous evening. Taking a deep breath, Vahn focused his consciousness on the orb before opening his eyes in the familiar white terrain and black sky.

The moment he opened his eyes, his instincts immediately began to trigger and Vahn received a heavy kick to his head while he was unprepared. He was launched nearly twenty meters before finding his footing and staring at the beautiful girl that had just sent him flying. Activating his Báihǔ form and spreading his domain, Vahn immediately began attacking toward the woman with his greatest speed.

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The woman looked at him with disdain as her feet gently touched the ground and she vanished from Vahn’s sight. Unlike the teleportation she had used previously, Vahn understood this was a pure speed-based skill. He didn’t understand the principles behind it, but it seemed to allow her to spontaneously accelerate without any buildup of momentum.

Vahn dodged the kick that came at the back of his head and tried to kick back with both of his legs toward her pivot foot. Since she had been ruthless the entire time, Vahn’s kick was intended to snap the slender white leg. Before he was able to hit her body, she suddenly disappeared again with an incredible burst of speed and appeared at his side before punting his body skyward with a sharp kick to his exposed gut.

Before he was able to travel higher than ten meters, the woman suddenly teleported above him and performed a heel-drop kick to his back. Vahn felt like his spine had snapped by the attack as he was shot down toward the ground like a bullet. After coughing up a mouthful of blood, Vahn swallowed a senzu bean and tried to recover. However, the woman didn’t seem to be giving him a reprieve as she fell like a meteor into his back and shattered the newly repaired spine of Vahn.

Vahn coughed out a large mouthful of blood as the woman spoke in a cold tone, “The next time you come here, be prepared. To be a fighter beaten down by a mage…you are unqualified to learn my techniques.” As her words fell, Vahn was rapidly losing consciousness but he managed to hear each of her words clearly. Right before his body completely dissolved, Vahn said it a muted tone, “I won’t give up…”

The woman followed the particles that constituted his body and looked skyward in a manner similar to their last meeting. When the remnants of Vahn had vanished, she looked down to the pool of blood on the ground before cupping her hands together and filling them with his blood. She cocked her head back and drank Vahn’s blood without any hesitation. When she had swallowed it, she licked her hands clean before turning back toward the sky and saying, “You are definitely not a normal human…”

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Culture Shock’,’Crushed’,’Ittadakimasu’)

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