Chapter 255: Convictions

After formulating his plan, Vahn snuck into the brothel and avoided detection as he made his way down several floors until he was on the ground level. There were several people asleep in many rooms while the noises of intimate actions echoed from others. Vahn kept his mind calm and slowly made his way through using his stealth to avoid drawing attention to himself. When he finally entered the large corridor where Haruhime’s room was located, Vahn saw the Amazon sitting at the end of the hallway outside the door.

Noticing the arrival of the figure wearing a light-grey cloak, the Amazon stood up and tilted her head sideways as she asked, “Hmm~? If you’re a customer, I’ll ask you to remove your cloak. If you continue to hide your face, I might just have to punish you.” Without responding, Vahn grabbed the hood of his cloak and pulled it back revealing his white hair, tiger-like ears, and icy-blue eyes.

When she saw his face, the Amazon woman’s brow raised slightly as she said, “It’s you?”

Vahn showed a slight smile and responded, “Sorry about that.” Though he could see the Amazon’s aura turn somewhat fiery, Vahn noticed that she didn’t immediately become hostile. Instead, she had a seductive smile on her face as she asked, “Oh? Have you come to make it up to me~?” Before she could walk forward, Vahn raised his hand slowly and explained, “My purpose here is somewhat different…”

Before he finished, the Amazon began laughing seductively and said, “So the person looking for Haruhime was actually the famous Vahn Mason? Here to play hero?” Vahn’s brows raised momentarily before a somewhat fierce look appeared on his face. When he was about to ask, the Amazon woman explained, “Even if it isn’t common knowledge, there are quite a few people that know about your transformation ability. Didn’t you make it public knowledge when you entered the dungeon in the past~? There aren’t many weretigers in the City, especially ones with white hair and blue eyes…”

After thinking it over briefly, Vahn realized she was correct and that he hadn’t done nearly enough to actually hide his identity. Dropping his hands, Vahn stood casually and asked, “Are you going to stop me?” In response, the Amazon woman playfully touched the clasp on her revealing bottoms and had a glimmer in her eye as she asked, “It depends on what you intend to do~? If you’re here for business, I don’t mind attending to you. But, if you want to touch Haruhime…I’m not sure you have the capabilities.”

With a frown on his face, Vahn asked, “What is Haruhime to you? You seem protective of her, but I’ve seen the state she is in…that isn’t something that happens when you’re being protected.” As he spoke, the Amazon woman’s smile slowly faded and she had a serious look on her face as her aura became tinged with the colors of hatred. Glaring at Vahn, the Amazon said, “I am protecting her…you have no idea of the situation. If I could, I would have taken her away from this place long ago.”

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Flexing his claws a bit, Vahn asked in a serious manner, “I’ve come to help her, will you stand in my way?” Even if Ishtar already knew about his presence, this only meant Vahn was more pressed to save Haruhime now instead of waiting for Ishtar to take action. However, he suspected the goddess had something different in mind seeing how she only left one person to guard Haruhime, two if counting the second Level 4 that was in a room in the lower levels.

With a fierce look on her face, the Amazon asked, “Do you really have the resolve to protect Haruhime from what is to come? Why should I entrust her to you?” Without answering her question, Vahn compressed his domain and focused his intent on the Amazon girl in an instant. She was temporarily stunned and, in the time it took for her to regain control of her body, Vahn wrapped her arms and legs with [Enkidu] before stepping in with Shundo and placing his hand on her abdomen.

The Amazon looked at him with absolute shock and discovered she could do nothing about the chains holding her arms and legs tightly. No matter how much strength she mustered, the didn’t even move by a single millimeter. She looked down at Vahn and was about to berate him before she felt a powerful heat spreading through her body that made all the muscles in her lower body forcibly relax. The chains wrapping around her legs dissipated and she was lowered to her knees with the chains holding up her torso and arms.

Placing his palm on the Amazon’s head, Vahn stated plainly, “No matter what happens, I will always fight to protect the things I’ve chosen to protect. Even if I have to face difficulties, I will never give up in my goal of creating a happy world for myself and the people in my care.” Without giving her time to respond, Vahn converged his aura into the Amazon’s body and began driving out the foreign energy that had been soaked into her mind.

The Amazon’s eyes widened as she gritted her teeth to resist the wave of energy overtaking her body without explanation. After a few seconds passed, she felt most of her stamina had completely drained as an emptiness overtook her body. Accompanying the emptiness, however, she could feel a sense of liberation, almost like a burden that had plagued her mind had been removed. The chains wrapped her arms loosened and Vahn helped lay her on the floor as he looked into her eyes and said, “You aren’t the only one that is willing to do whatever it takes to help others. Now you can make your own decisions…just don’t get in my way.”

Vahn stood up after driving out the poisonous pink energy that had been tainting the Amazon’s body. Though he wasn’t entirely sure, he intuited that it was like the charm Divinity of Isthar and it had been controlling the actions of the girl in front of him. She obviously cared about Haruhime yet chose to let her stay in this nightmare facility. The only reason Vahn could think of behind her actions was that she was acting against her will. Since she still kept a bit of her sanity and protected Haruhime even under the influence of another, Vahn knew she had to be someone with a strong mentality.

The Amazon looked up at him with confusion and relief on her face as she asked, “How? It shouldn’t be possible…” Vahn looked down and showed a somewhat confident smile as he responded, “I’ve never much cared for what other’s thought possible. My only concern is doing my best to protect the things I care about…I’m going now, will you stop me?”

For several seconds, the Amazon looked at Vahn as if he was some anomalous entity that defied common sense. Even though she could tell he was weaker than her, he was able to defeat her before she even had enough time to process a war cry. Now, he had weakened her to the point where she couldn’t fight back at all and had even removed the charm effect from her mind. There was nothing she could do to stop him, even if she wanted to take a hard stance to protect Haruhime. Releasing a muted sigh, she looked up at Vahn with an appraising smile as she said, “My name is Aisha Belka…please protect Haruhime. I’ll trust you for now and try to buy you some time.”

Vahn nodded his head before setting a ‘Hi-Stamina-Potion’ on the ground that would allow Aisha to recover a bit of her strength. Even after his surprise attack, her aura hadn’t turned hostile toward him at all so he knew she wasn’t currently a threat. Before turning away and entering the room with Haruhime, Vahn muttered, “We all choose the path we follow…don’t do anything that would make others sad. Ishtar can’t move against me easily and I’ll do what I can do deal with her in my own way.”

Without waiting for her response, Vahn opened up the door to Haruhime’s room and stepped over the threshold. He could sense Aisha picking up the potion before moving along the corridor with a spirited aura that was much more lively than the mellow aura she had previously. While he was focused on her, Haruhime twitched a bit before she sat up from the large futon that was soiled with somewhat disgusting fluids. She saw the entrance of the boy before her and made no efforts to conceal her body as she wiped off her exposed skin with a towel and moved toward her ‘client’.

Vahn noticed her movements and his expression turned a bit pained as he grabbed Haruhime’s wrists and prevent her from trying to remove his clothes. She had a confused expression on her face as she looked up at him with her placid green eyes and asked, “Did you want something else Sir? I…might be a bit inexperienced-” Before Haruhime could continue, Vahn placed his hand on her head and used [Hands of Nirvana] to drive away her anxiety as he explained, “I have come here to save you from this place Haruhime. I’m friends with the Takemikazuchi Familia and they asked me to help you…”

Though she was confused, Haruhime’s body flinched when Vahn mentioned saving her and the fact that he knew her friends. She could hardly believe that his words were true, but the warmth coming from his hand made her feel strangely safe and secure as it pushed away the bad feelings from her mind. With tears in her eyes, Haruhime shook her head and explained, “It’s too late…I don’t deserve to be saved anymore. I’m a prostitute…a dirty girl that is the enemy of heroes. If you try to save me, you’ll just invite disaster on yourself…”

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Vahn’s heart felt like it twisted in his chest as he shook his head and cradled the sides of Haruhime’s face and looked directly into her watery green eyes. He explained seriously, “This isn’t a life you chose for yourself, you have just as much a right as anyone else to be free and search for your happiness. I don’t know what kind of life you’ve lived for the past three years but I can say with certainty you’re not a dirty girl that doesn’t deserve salvation.”

Haruhime’s grabbed Vahn’s wrists and pulled her head away from his hands as she exclaimed, “No, you don’t understand…” Before she could continue, Vahn decided he needed to clarify something since it might help her come to terms with the situation, “Haruhime, I’m not sure what you think, but I’m something of an expert when it comes to inspecting the bodies of others. Without any doubt, I can guarantee you are still a virgin…”

Though she had a melancholic expression before, now Haruhime had an incredulous look on her face as she stared at Vahn and said, “Eeeiii~? That isn’t possible!” As if to prove some kind of point, Haruhime picked up the towel she had used to wipe down her body, “Look, look at all this dirty stuff! Every time I have a client, I always wake up covered in this foul liquid!” Grabbing the towel from Haruhime’s hands, Vahn turned it into ashes before shaking his head and explaining, “There are several ways to confirm it once we get you out of here. All you have to do is ask a goddess of Fertility or have another woman verify it for you. If I had to guess, that fluid was probably placed on your body just to put mental pressure on you and prevent you from developing the desire to escape on your own…”

Haruhime’s eyes were wide and she seemed to have trouble contemplating everything Vahn was saying. Pressing down her ears with her hands, Haruhime squatted down on the floor and muttered to herself, “Can it really be true…am I not a dirty girl after all?” While she was lost in thought, Vahn walked over and helped calm her mind as he knelt down beside her and helped close up her red kimono. She looked into his blue eyes and saw the care and concern he had for her and asked, “Is it really true? Can I still become happy? Will you really save me?”

Vahn showed a slight smile and said, “Of course, even if you didn’t want me to save you, I would still take you away from this place. The world is far bigger than this small room and you’ll eventually find the happiness you seek if you never give up. Don’t worry about Ishtar or any of her Familia, there are a lot of great people that will help to protect you from her influence.” As he spoke, Haruhime’s eyes began to clear up a bit as her tail brushed the ground slowly.

For a brief moment, Haruhime hung her head and muttered to herself for a bit until she looked up and said with a hopeful voice, “Please save me!” Responding to her words, Vahn had a smile on his face as he gently stroked her hair and said, “You don’t need to ask at all… let’s go, there are a lot of people that would like to see you safe and happy. If we work together, there is nothing we can’t overcome.”

Without continuing the conversation any further, Vahn picked up Haruhime in a princess carry that made her fluster a bit before wrapped her arms around his neck. She immediately noticed that Vahn’s body was incredibly hot, almost like a hearth whose warmth brought safety and comfort while driving away the darkness in her heart. Since he was carrying her like a princess, Haruhime couldn’t help but feel like he was a hero that had arrived in her hour of need and freed her from her suffering. Just like the stories she read often in the past, Vahn had suddenly taken the place of each of the heroes in the novels while she was the damsel in distress that needed saving. Though she wasn’t sure what the future held, Haruhime wondered if she might be able to live happily ever after just like the heroine in a fairy tale…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Reunion : Solicitation’,’Vahn’s Resolve’,’Haruhime’s Desire’)

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