Chapter 162: Vahnatus (2/3)

After Lefiya’s flustered and dismissive response, the other girls began introducing themselves and their relationship to Vahn. Not to be outdone by the girls in the Loki Familia, Nanu raised her chin and had a proud expression on her face as she declared, “I am Nanu, and Master Vahn is my future mate!” Hearing her proclamation, some of the girls at the table gave her strange looks like she had just said something strange.

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Anubis gave a short chuckle and explained, “In the Southern Tribe, things are a bit different when it comes to courting women. I’m sure it will come up in the discussion later, so allow me to continue where Nanu left off.” When Anubis spoke, everyone’s eyes were drawn to the mature and exotic chienthrope goddess as she introduced herself. “Greetings, I am Anubis, Goddess of the Anubis Familia, and servant of my Master, Vahn Mason. I will continue to follow my Master until the time of his death. I’m certain I will be seeing a lot of you in the future.”

Most of the mortal girls felt a bit of pressure after learning that the beautiful goddess before them was Vahn’s ‘servant’. It was very rare for a goddess to serve a mortal, and they realized she would be a major obstacle in the future, especially considering the three girls at her side. One of the girls, Maat, spoke next as she said, “I’m Maat, part of my Master’s pack. I will continue to follow Master Vahn until I find a worthy mate to accept me in the future.” After her words, Chione continued, “Hello, I’m Chione, and I’ll also follow Master until he accepts me or I find another suitable mate.”

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After all the chienthrope girls in the ‘Anubis Faction’ had spoken, everyone clearly understood the girls would support each other in their pursuit of Vahn. Considering that Nanu was already his ‘mate’, it wasn’t a stretch to imagine that the similarly aged girls would follow suit. The most problematic of all was the goddess who had been giving everyone a ‘gentle’ look that contained a veiled threat.

After Anubis’s group, the next to speak up was Tsubaki, who had resumed her characteristic cheerful demeanor. Since she had known Hephaestus for nearly twenty years, she understood that her goddess had likely formulated a plan already. After she easily overlooked Loki’s words, Tsubaki began to find the situation interesting as she said, “Heyo~! My name is Tsubaki, and I guess I’m like a Master and mother-figure to Vahn? Though I don’t have any romantic feelings toward him, I can’t guarantee he won’t eventually break down my defenses. That kid has ‘magic fingers’.” As she spoke the last words, she gave Hephaestus a knowing smile and laughed.

Following the trend of one group introducing themselves at a time, it was now Lili’s turn to speak as she said, “I’m Liliruca Arde, and I really really love Vahn! Though he still treats me like a kid, when I get stronger I will be together with him! Your girls may have a head start, but I won’t be the only one left out!” As one of the weaker people present, Lili made her declaration in a high voice to release some of her own frustrations. She glared at Tiona and Ais like they were her rivals and refused to concede to the two girls who were barely older than she was. After locking eyes with the two, she then turned to the girl named Nanu who was a similar age as her. Seeing the small girl proudly claim to be Vahn’s mate had been a big impact on her.

Naaza followed suit and introduced herself after Lili. She had a slight frown on her face as she explained, “I’m Naaza Erisuis, and I’m someone that was saved by Vahn in the past. I have grown to love him over time and intend to be together with him when I increase my own capabilities.” Though she spoke quietly, there was a firm conviction in Naaza’s voice which earned approving nods from some of the other girls.

Since they were sitting to the right of Naaza and Lili, it was now Chloe and Arnya’s turn to make their introductions. At this point, Arnya had finally realized what was going on and she had a befuddled look on her face as she explained, “I-I don’t think I’m supposed to be here~nya! Though I think Vahn is handsome and a loyal customer, I don’t want to compete for him with Chloe~nya!” Though Arnya had often served Vahn in the past and even had some ‘playful’ contact with him, she was only interested in playing around and teasing him. Chloe was one of her good friends, and she didn’t want to get in the way of the two in the future.

After Arnya’s outburst, Chloe spoke in a casual and almost cold tone as she said, “Good morning, my name is Chloe Rollo(retconned), it is very nice to meet each of you.” Though her words were polite, many of the girls felt a bit of a threat hidden within as she continued, “I’m someone that tried to help heal Vahn in the past…and I may become enemies with some of you depending on how events play out.” Chloe gave a ‘fierce’ look toward Ais and Tiona before turning her gaze to the members of the Anubis Familia.

The only ones who didn’t seem surprised by her actions were the people that knew of her prior relationship with Vahn. Hephaestus even gave Chloe a sidewards glance before tuning to Eina as they both nodded in mutual understanding. Hephaestus then turned toward the Mother-Daughter pair who were the last to introduce themselves.

Tina had taken several big impacts from the events that were happening around her. She had tears on the edge of her eyes as a deep frown covered her tiny face. Though she had heard the rumors about Vahn from some of the customers, she didn’t think he associated with so many women after he made a promise to her. She began recalling the past and a powerful sense of regret began to well up inside of her for not trying to follow him sooner.

The day Vahn had entered the dungeon, she had caught sight of him and tried to wave him down, but he ignored her and continued on without paying her any attention. She felt very sad and frustrated at the time, and even cried in her mother’s embrace when they had retired to bed. For a while afterward, she held a grudge against Vahn and become determined to teach him a lesson when he finally came back. Tina continued to hold her ‘grudge’ all the way up until she heard a rumor that Vahn had been seriously injured on an expedition with the Loki Familia. Her tiny heart wrenched painfully in her chest as she desperately pleaded to her mother to allow her to visit.

After calling in the temp staff to take care of the Inn, Milan and Tina both made their way to where Vahn had been receiving treatment. Though they weren’t able to gain permission to enter the ward, the two stayed outside late into the evening so they could obtain information regarding Vahn’s wellbeing. When the finally intercepted a member of the Loki Familia and learned that Vahn had suffered irreparable brain damage, both mother and daughter were devastated. Tina collapsed on the spot and had to receive emergency treatment from the nearby medical staff while Milan suffered the dual pain of knowing both Vahn and her daughter were suffering.

For the next nine days, Tina was a shell of her former self as she lazily performed her duties in a mechanical fashion. Milan herself was also quite affected, but the loss of her husband years before had strengthened her heart and she was able to continue performing the majority of her work without problems. This continued until the evening of the ninth day when one of the customers mentioned that Vahn had miraculously recovered.

Milan was the first to hear the news, and it made her heart beat with joy after realizing Vahn had managed to recuperate. When she told her daughter, Tina didn’t seem to understand her words until she explained it several times. Once she finally understood what her mother was telling her, Tina’s eyes widened and she immediately sprinted out of the Inn. Milan tried to stop her, but ended up having to give chase while leaving all of her duties to the temp staff she had hired.

Tina ran as fast as she could, but she still was far slower than the Level 3 Milan who managed to catch up to her within two blocks. Tina tried to shake off her mother’s hand and continue toward the ward before Milan explained that Vahn had already been discharged. It took a bit of time for her to process the words, but Tina finally managed to calm down and return back to the Inn with her mother. Once they got back, Tina had suddenly reversed her depressed state and started working in earnest. She wanted everything to be clean and proper and was expecting Vahn to stop by any minute to tell her he was okay.

Her excitement carried well into the second day, all the way up until she heard about the rumors that had begun to circulate around Vahn. Tina was devastated by the news because she couldn’t believe Vahn was running off with others girls right after his recovery. While she had been excitedly waiting for his return, he had completely ignored her and run off with two women. She refused to believe the words and continued to work hard in hopes that Vahn would eventually come by and make matters clear. However, even nearly a week had passed, Vahn never showed up to alleviate her concerns. Instead, she heard rumors about his other relationships and how he had hidden away to ‘avoid responsibility’.

Tina had returned to her mechanical state, all the way up until a beautiful half-elf had shown up and given them an invitation. Though she didn’t particularly care at the time, when Tina learned it was to discuss matters regarding Vahn, she couldn’t help but feel a bit of curiosity. Even though she was currently broken-hearted, she couldn’t easily forget the boy who had left his impression on her heart. She wanted to know what had been going on with him and, if possible, get the answers to her many questions.

Now that it was her turn to introduce herself, Tina didn’t know what to say any longer. Each new thing she learned at this discussion had impacted her deeply, and the heartache she had experienced previously had grown in intensity. It wasn’t until she felt her mother’s gentle touch and saw the expression of her ‘rival’ that Tina finally managed to find a hint of resolve. “I’m Tina Yuel…and I promised that I would become strong enough to follow Vahn…” As she spoke the words, Tina couldn’t help but start crying as everyone stared at her with a mixture of different emotions on their faces.

Milan pat her daughter’s back as she felt a bit of anguish in her own heart. Her impression of Vahn had been a naive and gentle boy, and this situation was something outside her expectations. She and her daughter were ordinary people compared to almost everyone else at the table, and it seemed like her daughter’s first love would be bittersweet. Milan also felt a bit at a loss after remembering her past interactions with Vahn, but she didn’t want to make things more difficult for her daughter.

As Tina continued crying, everyone at the table remained silent as the felt bad for the small girl. Tina was currently only ten years old, and it had to be incredibly painful for her given the situation. Even Hephaestus and Eina began to feel that it was a mistake to involve the small girl and her mother. However, not everyone was pitying the little girl, as Lili looked at her with furrowed brows and asked in a low tone, “Tina, were you really in love with Vahn?”

The crying girl heard the only familiar voice within the group and turned her teary eyes toward Lili as she muttered through sobs, “Yes, I loved him so much…it feels like my heart is breaking…” Lili’s brows furrowed even lower as she asked, “Did you think you would be able to keep Vahn to yourself? Even I never believed that would be possible, and I expected you were going to be one of my rivals. Are you really giving up at the first hurdle?”

Tina continued to cry as she stared at the serious face of Lili. After a few seconds, she hung her head low and muttered, “I-I don’t want to give up…I want to be with Vahn…It isn’t fair that everyone else gets to be with him, but I’m the only one left out~nya!” Tina hollered the last words at the top of her voice, and she couldn’t suppress her verbal tick. In response, Lili nodded her head before looking around the table and saying, “All that matters is your feelings and the efforts you make. Even if every girl here becomes your rival, that doesn’t stop you from chasing after what you want. Me too, I will continue to work hard, I won’t lose!”

Lili and Tina locked eyes with each other for several seconds while the rest of the group looked at them with strange expressions. After a bit of time had passed, Tina nodded her head toward Lili and said, “I won’t give up either…I’ll never give up on my feelings…nyever ever!” Though she still had a sad look and a tear-stained face, everyone could see that the small cat girl had found her conviction.

Milan was proud of her daughter and followed up with an introduction of her own, “I’m Milan Yuel, Tina’s mother. I took care of Vahn for a little while when he rested at my Inn. I…” Though she had planned to pass off her feelings as just playful fancy, Milan was unable to form the words after experiencing the passion of her daughter. Though she never harbored any hope that Vahn would be with her, she wanted to watch of him and her daughter if they were to be together in the future.

Releasing a sigh, Milan continued, “I like to tease Vahn, and I don’t think I’d be able to turn him away if he made advances against me. I can’t say I have feelings for him, but I won’t deny that I have some affections for him. The only thing that matter to me is that my daughter is happy, and I’ll do my best to support her in the future.” Milan had decided to be honest since she couldn’t imagine keeping it a secret and knew it would be problematic in the future if she tried.

Surprisingly, nobody treated her statement as odd, even her daughter who was sitting next to her. With a questioning look on her face, Milan looked into her daughter’s eyes and received a response before she could ask her question. Tina looked at her like she was being weird as she said, “Mama was the one that told me to only let the boy I like touch my ears and tail. Weren’t you the first one to let Vahnya touch your ears?”

Milan wanted to refute her daughter’s words before someone else at the table spoke up in a loud voice, “Ah! You’re the one the turned Vahn into a petting fiend!?” The outburst had come from Lili, who had thought only the daughter was the dangerous one in the duo. Her outburst caused almost all the woman at the table to give Milan strange looks while everyone with fluffy ears and tails began to twitch and wag about in a somewhat excited state. Milan blankly stared at the girls who were giving her a variety of different expressions, mostly related to reminiscence and even a hint of gratitude. She couldn’t help but retort in her mind, ‘I turned Vahn into a petting fiend?’

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Origin of the Godhand’,’Tina’s Frustrations’,’Rivals? Alliance?’)

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