Chapter 282: Clash of Feelings

Vahn looked up at the standing Tione and could see the will to fight kindled within her eyes. It had been a while since Vahn fought against someone that was clearly stronger than he was, and he was actually interested in the challenge. He didn’t know if his skills had gotten rusty, because he had been reliant on his equipment in the fight against Kuji, Laverna’s subordinate, and [Enkidu] when he fought Aisha to save Haruhime. Even so, Vahn didn’t think there was any point to fighting Tione when she was behaving strangely and out of character. He felt like she wouldn’t be able to control her attacks properly and there was a real chance one of them could get hurt in the process…

Seeing the fighting spirit in Tione’s eyes, Vahn released a mental sigh as a small smile appeared on his face and he stood from the sofa. Even though he rationalized it as a bad idea, Vahn didn’t like the thought of backing down from a challenge. He didn’t consider himself competitive, but whenever he looked back at the past Vahn couldn’t remember refusing a challenge. No matter how difficult things got, he always pushed himself forward and became increasingly stronger. Without the will to exceed his limits, there would be nothing that drove him forward since there was already a lot of stability in his life. If he wanted to, he could avoid the dungeon and any troubles and just live the remainder of his long life making a fortune while enjoying the company of the girls that cared for him. But, though that might seem fulfilling, Vahn didn’t think he would be able to be truly happy in such a situation. He even had a slight fear that he would degenerate into something that would drive some of the people around him away.

Only allowed on

When the group made their way outside, they weren’t the only ones to do so as Haruhime and Mikoto had accompanied behind the group. Fenrir wanted to come, but Vahn was afraid she would lose herself to her frustrations if he was beaten up right in front of her. She was being tended to by Hestia, Emiru, Maemi, and Preasia while they kept her distracted far enough away from the training area that she wouldn’t be able to sense the fluctuations of energy. Coincidentally, the decided upon place has been Vahn’s room, but he wasn’t aware of it at the time. Since there were sound dampening talismans installed, they would be able to prevent Fenrir’s sensitive ears from picking up the echoes and reverberations of the fight.

Tione began stretching to loosen up her joints as she looked over toward the loose, casual, stance of Vahn. While rolling her shoulder, as if she were warming up for a punch, Tione asked, “Tell me Vahn, if you went all out, do you think you could defeat me?” Her question caused some of the other girls in the area to show very mild expressions of shock, since it would be next to impossible for a Level 3 to defeat a Level 5 in normal circumstances. They were even more surprised when Vahn nodded confidently and said, “If things got serious, I would have around a 70% chance at victory…” Vahn also wanted to say that, if it were truly a fight to the death, his odds were near 100% in a fight against a single opponent. [Enkidu] was a powerful asset and, if he could drag the fight out a bit, it would be possible to use his domain and [Rakshasa Body] to turn the fight in his favor.

As if she had expected his words, Tione nodded her head before stretching her legs and beginning a short story, “You know, Tiona and I weren’t always in the Loki Familia. When we first arrived in the City, like most Amazons, we had the option of trying to move up through normal Familia or getting involved in something stupid like prostitution. Amazons aren’t actually that commonly accepted in normal society because of our cultures and traditions…but we wanted to avoid that kind of life and joined a weak Familia at first. Once we got stronger, we went around challenging people because our former Captain was weak and we had reached a dead end in our progress…”

Tione stood up and loudly popped her neck before loosening up the joints in each of her fingers with loud sounds like bones breaking. She had a somewhat melancholic mood as she continued, “Because of our pride, we not only announced that we would join the Familia of the people that defeated us, but we would also become their women if they were suitable partners. You should know that Tiona and I are a little unique compared to other Amazons, but we still announced our claim to the public in hopes of meeting capable fighters. By the time we had defeated more than seventy challengers, we were eventually approached by Gareth…and Finn. Because we were only Level 3 at the time, there wasn’t much we could do against powerhouses at the peak of Level 5, and that is how we ended up in the Loki Familia. Finn had been my opponent, and I eventually wanted to devote myself to him because he was handsome, strong, and had a strong, self-sacrificing, character…”

As if to stop Tione from continuing on, Tiona shouted out, “Don’t misunderstand Vahn, even though I respected Gareth, I never had any intention of actually being with him~!” Tiona had a slightly panicked look on her face which made Tione laugh scornfully before saying, “Don’t let her fool you, us Amazons aren’t so quick to throw away our pride and renege on our words. She is just trying to cover up the fact that Gareth treated her like a child and never gave her a chance from the very beginning…” Tiona made a strange shout and said, “Tione, you traitor~! Even if its the truth, you didn’t have to tell Vahn…” Tiona had a very dejected look and plopped onto the cold grass with a defeated look in her eyes. Because she had only been twelve at the time, she had been spurned by the 51 years-old middle-aged Gareth no matter what she tried to do. She never loved him, because he didn’t have the heroic traits she was looking for, but it didn’t stop her from trying…

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Vahn had a wry smile on his face before glancing over at the dejected Tiona and saying in a thoughtful manner, “I guess I’ll have to thank Gareth then…I’m not sure I can imagine what life would have been like if Tiona hadn’t shown me her favor.” Hearing Vahn’s words, Tiona sprung back up to her feet with a happy expression on her face as she laughed in a ‘Ehehehehe~” like manner. Not everyone would be as magnanimous or understanding as Vahn, since the Amazon culture was often hard to understand for most people.

Tione had a slight frown on her face as she watched their interaction with a touch of envy in her eyes. Before they could spoil the atmosphere for the fight, she continued, “I’ll be honest Vahn, I do like you a bit…but not nearly as much as Finn. I’m jealous of Tiona being able to find happiness while I have to keep struggling in a vain attempt to change Finn’s mind. Even though I know, if he did actually make concessions for me, I probably wouldn’t be able to return to him after I had a child…” One of the reasons Tione liked Finn was due to his steadfast nature and unwillingness to bend easily. If he suddenly lost that trait just because she whittled down his defenses, she would probably raise their child alone before wandering the world again for a new partner…

Hearing Tione’s words, Vahn had a serious expression on his face and waiting for Tione’s continuation. After a brief period of solemnity, Tione turned her eyes up at Vahn and said, “I can only respect those that can defeat me…so I want you to go all out. If you can defeat me…” Without continuing further, Tione grit her teeth and prepared a stance as if she were waiting for the start of the fight. Vahn’s brows furrowed a bit and he asked, “So you’re saying I can use all my resources…and you’re just going to fight bare-handed?” Instead of responding, Tione just maintained a serious look on her face with her fists up in a gesture similar to a loose boxing stance.

With her silent ascent, Vahn had a bit of a dilemma to face due to the unique quality of his skills and abilities. Even though she was letting him use everything, Vahn didn’t think it would be fair to rely on his equipment to edge out a stale victory. He wanted to fight her using nothing but his own skills and abilities, but he also knew it would be impossible to win…unless he was trying to kill her. For a brief moment, Vahn remembered the angst and trepidation in Hestia’s eyes when he had hesitated in the past and a small flame was lit in the pit of his stomach that egged him onward.

Turning to the spectators, Vahn said, “Haruhime, buff me…” Though she was surprised at first, Haruhime eventually started uttering a bell-like chant while swaying her body about as if she were going to start dancing. She was already developing the habit of moving while chanting even though she hadn’t yet learned the actual skill. After a few seconds had passed, an azure, wispy, light emerged from Vahn’s body and prompted him to transform into his Báihǔ form while expanding his domain.

Since Tione and Tiona had both only reached Level 5 a few months ago, they were at the beginning stages in developing their parameters. With Haruhime’s level-up magic, Vahn had the base parameters of a Level 4 peak and could reach into Level 5 with the use of his domain and Báihǔ form. With his equipment, he would even be a match for some of the weaker Level 6’s, at least as far as parameters were concerned. For someone to reach that point naturally, they would probably have the edge in regards to techniques and trump cards to use.

Now that his preparations were complete, Vahn and Tione were likely very similar, at least in base parameters. The problem was that a large portion of Vahn’s status came from his magic, while the majority of Tione’s were focused on purely physical ability. Unlike Tiona, Tione had a small talent for Magic but had reached her current Level primarily through developing her power, endurance, dexterity, and agility. Even if they had similar amounts of parameters, she would edge out ahead in almost every category because of her specialization. However, Vahn still had confidence in his advantages…

Vahn opened his stark-blue tiger-like eyes and stared into Tione’s brown eyes before throwing a small effigy toward her in a casual manner. Though she had been in a combat state, Tione realized that Vahn hadn’t started the attack yet and caught the small figurine in her hands. Before she asked, Vahn explained in a serious manner, “That is a very rare item called [Effigy of the Hero]…I created it using a special technique that requires the accumulation of exillia of slain monsters. Whoever has that item on their person, as soon as they take near-fatal damage, they will immediately heal all injuries and have their parameters boosted by a large amount before entering a temporary inactive state a few minutes later…”

Vahn’s words echoed like thunder around the training area because the item he just described would be a powerful, life-saving, item that could completely change the situation of a fight in the dungeon. Holding out his hand, Vahn showed the second effigy as he looked into Tione’s eyes and said, “No holding back…” Tione saw his convictions and gripped the effigy tightly in her hands before placing it inside of the silver clasp that prevented her revealing, swimsuit-like, top from revealed her naked breasts. Vahn hadn’t expected the clasp to actually be a locket and he briefly saw a faded image of a handsome blonde ‘boy’ inside of it that he recognized as Finn.

Though he wasn’t sure why, Vahn felt a little annoyed at Finn, even though he knew it was everyone’s choice to love who they wanted. Since Vahn had little actual resistance against women, it wasn’t easy for him to rationalize ‘letting down’ a girl that placed so much hope and love in him. It was tragic in a way, that Tione would love someone dearly even knowing the target of her love would never reciprocate her feelings. Though subtle, Vahn tensed his hands a bit and prepared for Tione to retake her stance. The moment she did so, Vahn released the tension of his body and fluidly transitioned into a low crouch before saying, “Tione, I’m coming…” Without waiting for her response, Vahn disappeared from his spot using Shundo…

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