For several long seconds, Vahn didn’t know how to respond as he stared into Preasia’s still blank expression. Even after he saw her lips move, Vahn almost felt like it was his imagination until she began repeating her words for the fourth time. For a brief moment, Vahn wanted to cry out and comfort the girl but he willed himself to remain still as he muttered in a soft voice, “I wanted to help you…I want to make the man that did this to you pay dearly.”
As if she were responding to a different question, Preasia asked, “Will you…hurt me?” Her words made Vahn grit his teeth so hard that he felt like they were going to crack. He looked at her straight in the eyes and barely forced out the words, “I would never hurt you…I want to heal you. You shouldn’t have had to go through this…it just isn’t right!” If the scumbag was in front of him right now, Vahn swore he would rip out the man’s guts so they could both find out the color of his insides.
Preasia remained quiet for several minutes and Vahn noticed she didn’t even blink a single time as she continued to look into his eyes. He didn’t know what she was thinking at all and wasn’t sure if there was even anything he could say to help her. Fortunately, Fenrir didn’t be able to take the silence as she stated confidently, “Vahn is good. Vahn never hurt Preasia. Vahn only beat bad people, Preasia good girl.” To emphasize her words, Fenrir patted Preasia’s head with her paws in a comforting manner.
Though her head bobbed slightly with the pats, Preasia continued to stare into Vahn’s eyes for a while until she asked, “You can…heal me?” For the briefest moment, Vahn thought he saw a spark in Preasia’s eyes, almost like a single glimmer of hope in an infinite darkness. Without explaining anything, Vahn drew a line into his palm and it began to bleed slightly. Demonstrating his [Hands of Nirvana], Vahn created a line of light with his index finger and completely removed the cut as if it had never been there in the first place.
For the first time, Preasia turned her gaze away from Vahn’s face and stared at his hand blankly for several seconds. Vahn saw that she was leaning her head forward a bit, so he slowly moved closer to her and allowed her to inspect his palm. Preasia continued to stare blankly at the now-healed hand before gingerly reaching out and touching Vahn’s palm with her hand. The first thing Vahn noticed was how cold her hands were and he had to fight against the urge to help warm them up.
After a while, Preasia moved her hand away and rolled up the sleeve of her sweater and revealed several of the wounded covering her arm. There were small holes that looked like she had been poked with a hot skewer and there even several derogatory names permanently carved into her flesh like ‘animal’ and ‘slave’ that made Vahn’s brain buzz. In a dazed state, Preasia traced her fingers over several of her own scars, including the insulting words. Vahn couldn’t help but swallow a bit of saliva because of how nervous he was feeling. He wasn’t even capable of forming any excess thoughts as he continued to watch her actions in silence.
Vahn watched as Preasia touched the word ‘animal’ for a long period of time before she muttered in a quaking voice, “I’m…not an animal…Please…make it go away.” Preasia held out her arm to Vahn and he nodded his head and explained, “You may feel an itch or some discomfort…it is because your wounds are regenerating…” Channeling his energy into his fingers, Vahn slowly traced his index finger over the word and began to erase it. Even though he knew it was painful, Vahn noticed the Preasia didn’t flinch in the slightest and just continued to stare as the word was erased from her arm.
For the first time, Preasia’s expression began to waver as she hesitantly touched her ruddy pink skin that looked somewhat irritated after the treatment. Even though it still itched slightly, the hateful word was now gone. Other than the memory, nothing remained but clean and healthy skin. Vahn saw her wavering eyes moisten as a bit of light returned before Preasia began sobbing loudly. Her cries were so loud that both Hestia and Haruhime showed up to investigate and saw the scene of four people with tears in their eyes as three of them tried consoling the loudly crying girl on the ground.
Vahn looked into the crystalline blue eyes of Hestia and the placid green eyes of Haruhime with a pained look and they both realized he was asking for their help. If it were up to him, Vahn would simply heal all of Preasia’s wounds and hope she recovered in time. He couldn’t deal with the girl who had been catatonic before but was now sobbing inconsolably on the floor. Because of his earlier rage, Vahn didn’t know how to react at all and suddenly wished that Eina or Hephaestus were here to guide him.
For Haruhime, this was her first time seeing Vahn look so lost and she couldn’t stop herself from walking forward quickly before sitting next to him and trying to help console the small sheep girl she had met earlier. She didn’t remember her name, but she could tell that things had to be serious given how Vahn was acting. Since she also didn’t know how to deal with the situation, she just began whispering comforting words to the crying girl while trying to soothe her.
Hestia, who had been hesitating due to her own concern, felt somewhat at a loss by Haruhime’s decisive response. Even though she couldn’t do anything to help the situation, Haruhime immediately moved forward to try while she, a goddess, was stuck at the sidelines watching. The only thing Hestia knew was that Vahn needed her help but she didn’t know how to help him…
Vahn uttered a quiet thanks to Haruhime before turning back to stare at Hestia. Even he didn’t know what he wanted to ask of her, but Vahn felt like she should have a solution. In his mind, Hestia might act selfish and spoiled sometimes, but she was inherently a kind and gentle girl that empathized with others. Though he didn’t know why Vahn believed Hestia would be able to help in the absence of motherly figures like Milan and reliable girls like Eina…
Hestia saw the expectant look in Vahn’s eyes and felt a bit of fear well up inside her from the pressure contained within his gaze. However, there was also a small flame that rose up to overtake the fear as a confident glint passed through her eyes. She didn’t want to let Vahn down, so Hestia moved forward calmly and with her characteristic gentle smile as she stated clearly, “Please move away from Preasia for a moment.” Though they didn’t understand her intentions, every girl except Fenrir moved away from Preasia.
Vahn saw Fenrir’s actions and gently ushered her away from Preasia to give Hestia an opportunity to take action. Though he saw her aura fluctuate greatly earlier, Vahn noticed Hestia had stabilized a bit even though her aura still flickered like a candle. When everyone had cleared away, Preasia continued to cry on the ground as if their lack of presence had no meaning to her. Hestia kneeled down next to her and, instead of trying to console her directly, cradled Preasia’s head in her hands as she gently turned her face upwards and made eye contact with the watery light-grey eyes.
Though her actions seemed to lack delicacy, Hestia asked in a very gentle manner with a hopeful look on her face, “Do you want all the bad memories to go away?” Preasia continued to look into Hestia’s deep blue eyes as her sobbing slowly calmed down. There was still a stream of tears pouring down her face, but she said through muted sobs, “Please…please help me…” Hestia hugged Preasia’s head against her chest even though her horns got in the way slightly. She stroked the back of her hair and explained in a gentle tone, “Vahn will help you…you just have to believe in him. The people who hurt you will never come back, you can be happy as long as you continue to push forward. The reason gods are envious of people is that they have the ability to change…even when sad things happen, you just have to continue to seek happiness…as long as you never give up, there is nothing that can stop you from moving forward except yourself…don’t let bad memories from the past affect how you live in the present…don’t give any more power to the people that hurt you. You’re better than they can ever aspire to be…you’re safe now.”
Vahn almost felt like Hestia’s soothing words were a spell that was something akin to a magical spell. She was so gentle and confident in her speech that even Vahn felt somewhat affected and hopeful for the future. He wasn’t the only one affected either, as every girl, other than Fenrir, had somewhat serious expressions on their faces as if they were lost in contemplation. As the target of the words, Preasia had started to take deep breaths as her body shook. After a few seconds of silence, Preasia looked up, not at Hestia, but at Vahn and pleaded, “Please heal me…I want to forget…I don’t want these scars anymore!”
Though he still felt chaotic emotions inside, Vahn nodded his head and stated firmly, “I’ll heal you. I won’t leave a single mark behind.” Vahn stood up from the ground as Hestia helped lift Preasia’s body. With shaky hands, Preasia started trying to remove her sweater and Vahn realized she wanted to be healed now. Nodding to the twins, they both moved forward to help Preasia with her clothing while Hestia and Haruhime approached Vahn to see if they could help with anything. Vahn thanked them but said, “Leave it to me, I’ll take care of everything.”
Waving his hand, Vahn pulled out the table that he had purchased for the purpose of massaging in the past. It was a long table that could be inclined slightly and had a cushioned hole where a person could place their face and completely relax while they were laying on their stomach. Thinking for a moment, Vahn also placed a large mirror nearby so that Preasia could more easily inspect her own body before and after the fact. Vahn assumed she would want to verify things immediately and then he would send her away with the other girls to wash up while Vahn contacted a few people.
Perhaps due to her exposure as a slave, but Preasia didn’t have any noticeable aversion to being seen naked as her clothes were fully stripped down to just her panties. Because of the cruelty of her former owner, not even her genitals or backside were spared and the final garment was removed which caused some of the girls to begin shaking slightly at the sight. For Haruhime, this was her first time seeing something so terrible and she could do nothing but hold her mouth as she did her best to contain her sobs.
Hestia’s aura was very chaotic but her expression remained gentle as she walked forward and guided Preasia in front of the mirror. When Vahn had set it out earlier, she immediately understood its purpose and took the initiative to support Preasia. Seeing her own reflection, the small light that had appeared in Preasia’s eyes began to fade somewhat before Hestia whispered, “This isn’t you…this is what someone tried to make you. Show them you’re not a slave…you’re a free girl now and will never have to see this form again.” As if rekindling a flame, the small light in Preasia’s eyes came back with marginally more intensity as she walked over and sat on the table with the assistance of Hestia.
Because she was most heavily impacted by the wounds on her front, Preasia laid face up and had a pleading look in her eyes as she gave one last look at Vahn before closing her eyes tightly. Vahn knew it would be a somewhat painful procedure and said, “I will do a massage that helps relax your body so you don’t feel as much pain. You won’t be able to move easily so don’t panic…” Without saying anything, Preasia nodded her head slightly and kept her eyes firmly shut.
Vahn took a deep breath and used [Hands of Nirvana] to force Preasia’s body to relax while dealing with some of her smaller wounds. The tension in her body soon faded away and she opened her eyes and blankly stared to the side where Hestia sat holding her hand. It took nearly forty minutes, but Vahn was able to completely remove the scars from the front of Preasia’s body. It was an incredibly unnerving experience when he had to remove the scars from the inside of her thighs. Preasia, who was almost completely unable to move, still tensed up her body somehow and grit her teeth while Vahn finished the procedure.
After her frontside was healed, Hestia helped Preasia inspect her own body. When she saw the absence of any noticeable scars on her body, Preasia wasn’t even able to cry normally. She just stared with wavering eyes at her own reflection as if she was incapable of believing what she was seeing with her own eyes. Since she didn’t seem to be making any movements on her own, Hestia helped take Preasia back to the table as Emiru stepped forward and helped.
Preasia’s backside was actually severely more damaged than her front and it took Vahn more than an hour to heal her wounds. Though he couldn’t be sure, he thought that the scars on her back were caused by a whip. There were even areas that cut more than a centimeter into the skin and looked incredibly painful even though they had scarred over. The monster behind the actions must have used a low-grade potion to force the wounds closed after the vile act. Just the fact that Preasia had almost no actual reaction from what should be an incredibly irritating healing process showed that she was almost completely numb to normal pain…
By the time nearly two hours had passed, all of the wounds covering Preasia’s body had been completely healed without a single scar remaining. Because she couldn’t see her back, Vahn set up a triple-mirror setup that was typically used in changing rooms. Using the mirrors, Preasia was able to see her body from every angle and she even inspected the areas around her tail and ears where there used to be burn marks. After a while, Preasia looked like she had begun to hyperventilate and eventually passed out as her body was caught by the twins that had been attending to her. Hestia had left earlier when Vahn asked her to pass messages for him along the network.
Vahn helped carry the unconscious Preasia to the girls’ onsen and was accompanied by Haruhime, Emiru, Maemi, and Fenrir. While the girls changed out of their clothes, Vahn found a shallow pool and helped submerge Preasia’s body without removing his clothes. Even though he could unequip them, Vahn felt incredibly insecure about being around Preasia’s body while being naked. A few minutes after he entered, the other girls walked into the onsen completely naked without minding Vahn’s presence at all. Even Haruhime followed along and just gave Vahn a comforting smile as she helped take over the duties of cleaning Preasia.
Vahn offered a polite thanks to the girls and didn’t stare at their bodies at all before stepping out of the pool with his soaked clothes and walking through the empty changing room before swapping into dry clothing. A fierce look appeared on his face as Vahn walked towards Hestia’s room to find out if she had heard anything yet. Vahn wanted to find the man that did this and make him pay dearly…even if it brought no closure to Preasia, he wanted to vent his own frustrations on the person who he could only identify as a monster.
(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Glimmer of Hope’,’Hestia’s Gentleness’,’Vahn’s Wrath Is Invoked’)