Since the reason for his collapse had been due to the ‘Mind Down’ status, Vahn awoke after around two hours. Even though his body was still very fatigued and he wanted to sleep, he couldn’t help but open his eyes due to the strange pressure on his left arm. Turning his head, he could see Evangeline using his outstretched arm as a pillow as she curled herself up next to him. He could feel the air from her nose tickling his neck and a numbness from his arm due to the loss of circulation.
Perhaps sensing his movement, Evangeline’s icy-blue eyes opened and stared at Vahn. After a few seconds, almost like she was pretending not to have noticed him awakening, she closed her eyes and curled herself up a bit more. Since she had moved her head slightly, the circulation had returned to Vahn’s arm and he could feel it begin to vibrate as the blood started to flow properly. Vahn could see a gentle blue and yellow aura coming from Evangeline’s body, and it was sticking to his skin like a wispy mist.
Vahn smiled and closed his eyes as well and continued to rest. He made sure to increase the strength of his blood flow by using his [Heart of the Eternal] flame and hoped that it would prevent his arm from going numb when he next awakened. Evangeline’s presence at his side didn’t really bother him, and seeing her small form curled up next to him made Vahn feel somewhat protective of her.
A few minutes after Vahn’s breathing had changed to that of a sleeping rhythm, Evangeline opened her eyes and stared at the side of his face with a blank expression. As she had expected, even though Vahn had clearly seen her awake, the moment she pretended to sleep he ended up playing along. Unlike how cold he acted when she treated him poorly, he was always very kind when she treated him better. Though she had acted like he was inconsiderate toward her earlier, she had long since realized he only acted that way because he could see through her facade. Even though he was much younger than she was, they had both suffered greatly in the past. However, while she lashed out and treated people coldly, he always saw the best in people and treated them well…he even willingly let people take advantage of his kindness without complaint.
Evangeline released a sigh, and the hot breath tickled Vahn’s neck and caused him to grimace slightly. Seeing his reaction to her breath, Evangeline couldn’t help but laugh to herself as she snuggled closer to his face and blew air softly into his ear. Vahn turned his head away to evade the airflow and Evangeline couldn’t help but smile as she continued to tease him further. Compared to how he was when he was awake, Evangeline felt that teasing him when he was asleep was much easier.
As she tried to lean over his face to continue teasing him, Vahn’s left arm closed around her body and pulled her weight onto his chest. Evangeline was flustered and thought that Vahn had awoken, but she noticed that his breathing was still stable. Though she was now in an awkward position with her body pressed against his chest, Evangeline wasn’t off-put by the situation. Even if Vahn woke up, she could blame him and he’d probably apologize for accidentally taking advantage of her. That thought made Evangeline smile as she laid her head on his chest and listened to his heartbeat. She noticed that his body produced a lot of heat, and it made her cold body warm up as his body heat radiated into her.
Vahn awoke almost seven hours later, this time with a pressure on his chest instead of his arm. When he opened his eyes, he saw the top of someone’s head and immediately recognized the figure as Evangeline due to the golden-blond color of her hair. Seeing his own arm wrapped around her back, Vahn slowly removed it before placing it on the bed.
The moment Vahn had awoken and moved his hand, Evangeline had already fully awakened as well. She turned her face and rested her palm on Vahn’s chest as she asked in a coy manner, “Did you enjoy hugging your Master as you slept, my idiot Disciple?”
Vahn could see a glimmer in her eye while her aura danced around as she asked the question. Understanding that she was trying to tease him, Vahn wasn’t to be outdone so he placed his hand back around her waist before saying in a matter-of-fact manner with a nod, “Yes, your body is very light and soft, Evangeline.” Then, before the ‘coy’ vampire could respond, Vahn leaned forward slightly and smelled her long golden-blonde hair which typically hung past her waist.
Though she had intended to tease him more, the moment Vahn smelled her hair, Evangeline quickly separated from his body before turning away and speaking in a sharp tone, “You lecherous pervert, how dare you tease your master!” The reason she had turned away before her outburst was due to the blush that had appeared on her face. After Vahn smelled her hair so suddenly, Evangeline felt a mixture of embarrassment and panic.
Now that Evangeline had released his body, Vahn sat up and began to stretch his joints as he said, “Your hair smells very nice, it’s a warm and gentle odor.” His words made Evangeline hold her hands out like claws with her palms facing upwards as she looked toward the empty black sky like she wanted to scream out. Every time Vahn spoke in his ‘gentle’ voice and said nice things to her, she felt both happy and frustrated. She wanted to wring his neck and send him flying, but she didn’t want to keep making him treat her coldly any longer.
Vahn left the bed without turning to look toward Evangeline who had hidden her face from view. He had already seen her ears turn a crimson color from behind, so he knew she probably had a fierce blush on her face. The mental image made Vahn smile and he returned to his forging in high spirits. Noticing that he hadn’t looked toward her, Evangeline followed Vahn’s back with her eyes and gave him a ‘blaming’ look for teasing her so much. She once again swore that she would make him suffer when they finally started their magic training.
As Vahn began forging another piece of equipment, Evangeline took out the [Ice Empress] which she had placed into the void. Without saying anything to Vahn, she teleported several hundred kilometers away in an instant in order to test the efficacy of the staff. The moment she started channeling her magic, Evangeline immediately noticed that the material was incredibly conducive to her magic power. It even seemed to enhance the accumulation of the ice elemental energy in the air and boosted her magic power by a large amount.
Pointing the staff toward the distance, dozens of magic circles simultaneously appeared in the air and created a large formation as Evangeline shouted, “Nivis Casus!” The moment the words left her lips, a gigantic magic circle more than 1000m in diameter appeared on the ground before creating a massive explosion of ice and snow. The explosion reached a height of nearly 400m and sent a powerful shockwave through the stark white floor that stretched out for several kilometers.
Seeing the devastating power of her own magic, Evangeline couldn’t help but hold the staff with a hint of reverence in her eyes. Typically, to achieve the same result she just witnessed, she would have had to expend 40% more mana. That meant the staff in her hands increased her offensive magic output by as much as 40%, and there didn’t seem to be any drawbacks. The staff felt like it was perfectly made to suit her magic, and she couldn’t help but commend the craftsmanship and attention to detail that Vahn had put into its creation.
Turning her head toward the direction where Vahn would be located if she teleported, Evangeline couldn’t help but smile after remembering how much effort he put into the staffs’ construction just so she wouldn’t be ‘sad’ anymore. She decided to forgive him for teasing her earlier as she sat cross-legged in the sky and began to meditate while channeling mana into the staff in her lap. She was trying to understand the structure of the staff and reverse engineer how it interfaced with her own magic system to achieve the results that she just witnessed.
While Evangeline was off trying to understand the ‘logic’ behind the magic of the ‘record’ of Danmachi, Vahn was busy forging a variety of different items. Since he had already forged the most commonly used equipment that he made use of, Vahn was now just improving his control over the ‘eternal flame’ by mass producing simple blades of various different sizes. Just as when he created the [Moon Piercer], Vahn preferred to make items that were simple and efficient. Not everything he made could be as intricate as the [Ice Empress] which he created for Evangeline.
Though the blades weren’t attached to anything and couldn’t be used, it didn’t prevent Vahn from being able to see their base stats. Generally speaking, even when a blade wasn’t attached to a handle or a pole, it still had similar offensive capabilities and a basic rank. Most of the mass-produced blades were C-rank, but Vahn noticed he was making an increasingly greater amount of B rank blades as he continued improving his coordination with the ‘eternal flame’.
As a fragment of the original ‘eternal flame’, Vahn’s flame also possessed its own will and tried its best to assist him during the forging process. Though he could achieve greater results when he forcefully controlled the flame, Vahn wanted it to learn and adapt to his skills on its own. There was something comforting about working with someone else when you were forging, and Vahn had been quickly building a camaraderie with the flickering crimson-gold flame.
It too seemed to enjoy interacting with Vahn, as it would often dance around in an ‘excited’ manner every time Vahn was forging a piece of metal inside of it. Though he couldn’t actually communicate with it, Vahn had started to learn how to understand what it was trying to convey to him based on its actions and the way it ‘flickered’ in specific ways. It also coordinated with his efforts when it came to heating the metal, and Vahn had reached a point where he could actively preserve more than 95% of most metals, with the only exception being Adamantine, which he still struggled to achieve more than 80%. Fortunately, instead of being wasted as was common, the ‘eternal flame’ actually tried to filter out the remnant metals and separate them at the side of its basin. This allowed Vahn to salvage the metal and recycle it for later use when creating smaller adornments.
After nearly twenty hours of working, Vahn finally decided to take a break and get some rest. He still had nearly twenty-five hours left before he was forcefully ejected, so Vahn wanted to take a short nap before returning back to his mass-production forge method. After wiping down his body and enjoying a hearty meal, Vahn made his way over to the bed and saw the soot stains and sweat marks from when he had slept earlier. With a frown, Vahn stored the blankets into his inventory before purchasing a newer pair within the shop. Though they were still pink, since Vahn thought it suited Evangeline, they were slightly higher in quality compared to the last set.
Vahn relaxed on the thick blankets and dazed for a few minutes before he was finally ready to sleep. He couldn’t help but wonder if Evangeline would find her way into the bed while he was sleeping again and try to play it off as she had done earlier. Vahn always felt comfortable whenever he was embracing or being embraced by others, so he didn’t have a problem with her actions. He knew she was just a memory fragment and couldn’t do anything that crossed the line without undermining her ‘purpose’. However, her actions had caused Vahn to wonder what the real Evangeline was like, and he wondered if she would be as troublesome as the small vampire that tried to act like his Master.
Resolving himself to ask her more about her past and the world she came from, Vahn allowed himself to fall asleep as he browsed through the system for similar items to the orb he had obtained. He found several magical textbooks and even other types of orbs, but they were all astronomically expensive. Even the book, ‘Beginner Magic 101’ cost 300,000OP…
Not long after Vahn fell asleep, a figure appeared next to the bed and stared down at him with an uncharacteristically gentle expression. Her perception easily covered the entire area within the orb, so the moment Vahn went to sleep, Evangeline had stopped her research and hidden in the void to observe his actions. Seeing him replace the dirtied blankets and replaced them with newer, higher quality ones, she couldn’t help but approve of his actions. When he finally fell asleep after a few minutes, she revealed herself and, as Vahn had suspected, crawled into the bed and cuddled up next to him as if it was a perfectly natural thing to do.
(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘More Dere than Tsun atm’,’Vahn, the Industrial Era Hero’,’I imagine Riveria would shank a hoe to get a staff like that’)