Chapter 285: Stance

After a small fiasco where Ais and Lefiya helped Vahn wear a change of clothing, they were looking for a place to keep his body until he awoke. They didn’t know how long he would be out of commission, and thought it would be best to return him to his room. Since he was now clothed, Tiona had volunteered to carry Vahn and was supporting him on her back as they walked through the Manor and headed upstairs after meeting with Haruhime along the way. The entire group made their way into Vahn’s room, and for many, this was the first time they had ever entered.

Hestia had been sitting on the sofa with a subtly blushing Anakitty and they stopped their conversation when the group had arrived. Fenrir was the first to notice the arrival and trotted over quickly in her maid getup and had a very frustrated look on her face after seeing Vahn on Tiona’s back. She glared at the girls and asked, “Who hurt Vahn?” Even though they were much stronger than Fenrir, everyone present felt their instincts trigger an alarm in the back of their mind. Tione looked like she was about to take responsibility, but Hestia said from the couch, “Fenrir, Vahn is okay and needs to rest properly. Please don’t wake him up right now, okay?” Hestia had a gentle look on her face, but her blue eyes were scarier than the glowing scarlet eyes of Fenrir to some of the girls, especially Tione.

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After Vahn was laid in the bed, Hestia addressed everyone present, “If you’re not in an active relationship with Vahn, please leave the room. Dinner will be ready in a few hours, so you’re welcome to stay as long as you leave afterward.” Hearing Hestia’s words, everyone had slightly different reactions and began to leave the room. Fenrir wanted to stay, but Hestia had her accompany Preasia, Haruhime, and Mikoto. The only people left in the room were Tiona, Ais, Hestia, Vahn, and Tione, who had been asked to stay since Hestia knew she was the culprit behind the current situation. She hadn’t heard the full details from Mikoto and Anakitty, but she had heard a bit and was going to be waiting for Vahn to tell her the rest later.

Hestia looked at Tione and could tell she was reflecting on her actions, but she still felt the smallest amount of distaste in her heart for the Amazon girl. For Vahn to have passed out in such a manner, it had great implications about what had happened. The fact he had asked Fenrir to be distracted before they even began was evidence that things had gotten out of hand. Turning her head away from the apologetic looking Tione, Hestia evaluated Ais and Tiona with an appraising look. She had known about the two girls previously but had never been properly introduced to them since they had gone on an expedition shortly after she descended. The only time she had met them had been during the birthday celebration, but she had kept to herself at the time since she was trying to understand the situation better.

Now that she got a good look, Hestia realized that Tiona had a very lively, almost childish, appearance. Though it was a strange way to describe someone, Hestia felt like she was similar to a light breeze, or a breath of fresh air. Even though she didn’t know much about the girl personally, she could tell that Vahn probably needed a girl like her in his life. Her impression of Ais, however, was distinctly different than that of Tiona.

Ais looked like a very young lady, not even a woman yet, and her appearance was almost flawless and doll-like. It looked like she had been made by a master artisan of the gods and Hestia couldn’t find anything negative to say about her besides the relatively expressionless look on her face. Though she wasn’t sure why, Hestia felt like Ais was a very dangerous girl to keep around Vahn. Since Vahn didn’t have much common sense, Hestia could imagine him getting caught up in Ais’s life and unable to escape if things took a strange turn.

Without beating around the bush, Hestia asked both girls with a serious expression on her face, “Tell me what you think about Vahn. I don’t want to hear that you simply like, or love, him. I want to know why you like him and what you plan to do in the future from hereon. I won’t hide it, but I love Vahn a lot, maybe even more than most of the other girls and goddesses. He is the person I’ve decided to dedicate everything to, and I won’t let him suffer just because of his gentle nature and eagerness to please others. If you can’t give me a proper explanation, I’ll have to ask that you don’t try to maintain a long-term relationship with him in the future. Vahn needs stability in his life…if you can’t help provide that for him, you should be friends…not lovers.”

Tiona wasn’t intimidated at all and answered with a thoughtful, yet happy, expression on her face, “I can tell you care about Vahn a whole lot, but I don’t think my feelings would lose out at all. I am the first girl that fell in love with Vahn, and he is the hero that helped pull my heart away from the darkness of my past. Though I can’t be with him always, I also intend to dedicate my everything to him…because he has already become a big part of how I define myself.” As if a testament to her ‘True Love’ Status, Tiona didn’t waver at all when she spoke to Hestia. Even though she wasn’t always eloquent, she could seriously discuss matters that were near and dear to her heart.

Hestia nodded her head approvingly because she realized Tiona was very serious about her words and would probably willingly sacrifice herself if she could protect Vahn. She also didn’t interfere in his life much and even allowed him to seek happiness from other people without restraint. In many ways, Hestia realized that Tiona was far ahead of her when it came to the relationship she had with Vahn. Unlike her selfish and possessive nature, Tiona simply became happy knowing that Vahn was happy and doing his best. Even though she was a mortal, she wasn’t in a rush and even worked toward improving herself without weighing down Vahn at all.

Turning her head, Hestia could see Ais with a slight frown on her face as she looked toward the sleeping Vahn with a contemplative look. Sensing Hestia’s gaze, she turned her golden eyes and stared into the blue gems of Hestia before a slightly serious look appeared on her face. Though she rarely spoke long sentences, Ais stated confidently, “I like Vahn a lot…I love him…if I had to, I would love him more than anyone else. He is strong and he grows very quickly…he gives me hope that the future will be better. I want to walk the same path with him…and see if I can find the happiness I lost. Even if you wanted to force me away…I will always come back to Vahn. Being together with him…makes me feel like things will be okay.”

Though she had a frown on her face, Hestia didn’t try to refute the words of Ais at all. She knew that Vahn needed something to motivate him to grow stronger and would never abandon someone he had already decided to help. Even if she tried to drive a wedge between the two, both Ais and Vahn would probably seek each other out regardless. However, Hestia felt a bit of fear in her heart because she knew that, if anyone was to get Vahn killed, it would probably be this beautiful golden-haired girl in front of her. The only thing she could think of to say was, “Please, don’t let Vahn do anything too dangerous…” Hestia put her hands together like she was praying and earnestly implored the two girls that had been his first lovers.

After they affirmed her request, Hestia turned her gaze to Tione and asked, “And what about you? I remember you acting strangely ever since the birthday party…I can tell you also like Vahn, but how did things develop to this point? Depending on your answer…” Of all the girls around Vahn, Hestia felt like this Amazon girl didn’t suit Vahn at all. Not only was she the sister of Tiona, but she had even caused Vahn to overextend himself and get hurt. She wasn’t aware that Vahn had actually suffered a fatal attack, but Hestia could tell by the way Tione was acting that something very serious had happened.

Tione had a wry smile on her face as she looked between Ais, Tiona, Vahn, and then back to Hestia. She hugged her arms under her breasts and had a forlorn look on her face as she explained, “Ever since I watched Vahn fight the Goliath, I thought he would be a worthy partner one day. Afterward, when I saw him in the bath, it made me feel a little excited and I wanted to tease him a bit. When he got in a relationship with my sister, I felt envious and frustrated because I had lost my pride as the elder twin. Though he doesn’t reciprocate my feelings at all, I had been in love with a Pallum man named Finn for the last few years…seeing Tiona with Vahn was a big impact on me…”

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Releasing a long sigh, Tione looked at her own sister and shook her head before continuing, “After seeing how well things were going between Vahn, Tiona, and Ais, I started to get impatient and made a lot of efforts to approach Finn and change his mind. However, nothing I tried could get him to lower his guard and it just ended up building a wall between us…because I couldn’t cope with the situation properly…I started wanting to tease Vahn and Tiona more so I could appease my own feelings of unease…”

Tione had a somewhat mournful look on her face because she could see that Hestia was staring at her with a cold glare while even Tiona and Ais were giving her strange looks. She was very aware that she was in the wrong and had been using Vahn as an outlet for her frustrations. Because he was handsome, capable, and even in a relationship with her twin, Tione couldn’t easily stand by the sidelines and pretend everything was fine. After a brief hesitation, she explained, “Whenever I accompanied Tiona on her dates…I was always very jealous of how Vahn treated her. He was always nice and showed her affection, while the person I loved had spurned me for more than three years. Since he is so easy to approach…I decided to take advantage of the kind and gentle nature of Vahn and have him show me some affections as well…”

Looking over toward the bed, Tione had a sad smile on her face before continuing again, “He really is a gentle fool…even though I didn’t do anything to earn his favor, he always showed me kindness and even treated me well alongside my sister. He never left me out of things and even took all my teasing in stride without faltering in the slightest. Though he had no need to do so, he always treated me as a friend and showed that I had a place in his heart if I needed it…Because of this, I started to have a change in how I felt about him and it had turned into a longing feeling after we had left for the recent expedition. Vahn gave us all weapons, and even though the swords he gifted me were high quality, I could feel the difference in treatment between myself, Tiona, and Ais…”

At this point, Tione had a struggling expression on her face and her brows were quivering slightly as she said, “I felt afraid…even though he had shown me so much kindness, I could see that Vahn didn’t treat me the same way as Tiona and Ais. I knew I had no right to expect his affections, but I can’t help but consider myself deserving of the same treatment as my own twin…I just wanted to be happy as well. Even if I couldn’t get the same exact treatment, I wanted Vahn to show me that he cared about me almost as much as Tiona…because I had started to give up on my own love.”

Tione released a strange, self-ridiculing, laugh as tears began to appear in her eyes. She looked at the three girls and asked with a pitiful expression on her face, “Do you know what Finn said…when I told him that I might fall in love with Vahn if he didn’t give me a chance?” As if she were feeling scared and cold, Tione’s body shook a little bit and she hugged herself and stated, “He said, “That would be for the best. I hope Vahn treats you well.” Without any hesitation at all, even though I had laid everything bare for him, Finn easily dismissed me without a thought…”

The reason Tione had been in such high tensions for the visit to the Manor was that she had been in a chaotic state of mind ever since Finn had made his intentions clear. She could still remember the ‘encouraging’ smile on his face as he stared up from the paperwork he was filling out. Moments after his words fell, he began writing on the document with his quill as if she hadn’t said anything significant that required his further attention. Since she didn’t want to disturb his work, Tione showed him a ‘cheerful’ smile before wishing him well and leaving his office.

Swallowing her saliva, Tione wiped away her tears and had the same self-ridiculing look on her face as she said, “I wanted to call out Vahn for treating me differently and get him riled up enough that he would be willing to fight me. I thought that, if he was at least able to put up a good fight, I would be able to change the target of my affections to him. I didn’t think it would be any time soon, but I hoped my heart would be healed over time as I watched him slowly close the gap between us and eventually overtake me. When that happened, I could be with both him and Tiona and we could work hard to make our shared dream come true…I also dislike the customs of the Amazon’s, and I don’t want my daughter to have to undergo that kind of life…I wanted her to be free…so she didn’t have to suffer the same burdens we had gone through.”

A hopeful look appeared in Tione’s eyes as she looked toward Vahn again and continued, “But, instead of putting up a fight…Vahn actually managed to defeat me. Even though…even though…” Tione remembered the last blow of the fight and how devastated she had been when she saw Vahn’s appearance after the error she had made. Almost as if her body had responded to the thought, Tione once again fell to her butt after her legs lost their strength. With a fearful look on her face, she stared up at the three girls and said through tear-stained eyes, “I’m sorry…I just wanted to be loved…”

Tiona had also been remembering the event and had a difficult expression on her face, but she couldn’t simply ignore the state of her big sis. They had struggled together their entire lives, and she knew Tione better than anyone else. Though she couldn’t forgive her for what had happened, she wouldn’t continue blaming her just to make her feel guilty. There were other ways they could reconcile their problems other than just holding blame over each other after all. Unable to bear the current, pitiful, state of Tione, Tiona stepped forward and hugged her sister and tried to help console her.

Being embraced by Tiona, Tione began crying as she embraced her little sister’s body and the two held each other closely with their titanic strength. Gently stroking the back of Tione’s hair, Tiona looked up at Hestia and had a wry smile on her face with a gentle gleam in her eyes as she said, “Sorry Hestia, Tione can be a bit of a doofus at times…but she is a good girl. Please don’t hate her for one mistake…she is already the person most affected by her actions.” As if to support Tiona’s words, Ais nodded her head and said, “It is painful…not to be loved.” Since she had lost her parents and suffered a great deal in the past, Ais felt a bit of empathy for Tione having been neglected by Finn.

Hestia had slightly furrowed brows as she stared between Tiona and Ais before turning her attention back to the crying Tione. She could tell that she was very sorry for her actions, but that only made Hestia more fearful of what had actually happened. Since Vahn was the person affected by the situation, Hestia had intended to allow him to make the final decision and handle things himself. She now realized, however, that things weren’t nearly as simple and clear-cut as she had expected. Though she empathized greatly with Tione, she still cared more about Vahn’s well-being and didn’t want to see him hurt because of a lovelorn Amazon that couldn’t control her emotions properly.

As she had been thinking about her decision, a ginormous head popped out of the floor and shocked everyone in the room. For a brief moment, Ais had put her hand on the hilt of her sword due to the sudden appearance of a dragon. Fortunately, she had seen Fafnir and developed a bit of resistance against it and managed to keep her calm. When Ais relaxed, everyone else in the room also calmed down a bit since it wasn’t their first time seeing Vahn’s ‘variant dragon’ either. Fafnir itself looked between them with an ‘innocent’ glint in its blue eyes as it stared over at Vahn on the bed. After cocking its head to the side in a confused manner, Fafnir looked toward the girls and said, (*Hestia, Vahn says to not be harsh to Tione…he says he knew things would get out of hand from the start…that is why he made Fenrir stay away and used the effigy to ensure their safety. He said, if you want to blame someone, you should blame him for letting things get out of control…*)

Hearing the ‘childish’ voice of Fafnir speaking in their heads, Hestia gave an exasperated sigh before shooing away Fafnir so it could return to Tina. The fact Vahn had called it over showed that he had been paying close attention to the conversation and didn’t want Tione to be blamed for the outcome. Though Hestia wouldn’t easily forgive the Amazon girl, she wouldn’t show any action on the surface to drive a wedge between her and Vahn. After things calmed down a bit, she would bring the matter up on the network and get the consensus of everyone before she made her final decision.

Tione had a large frown and her eyes wavered a bit as she looked over at Vahn’s body with a light blush on her face. Even when she had erred greatly, he still showed her the same kind and gentle behavior that had actually made her life somewhat difficult recently. Now, he had not only defeated her, but he simply set aside the fact she had nearly killed him as if it were just a casual matter. She could feel a burning sensation in her body and it was noticed by Tiona who gave her a serious look before turning to Ais and saying, “Ais, we need to take Tione away from here, quickly.” Hearing Tiona’s words, Ais looked over and saw the somewhat feverish gaze of Tione and understood what was happening so she helped lift Tione up and carry her out of the room as Hestia watched their departure.

Once they were gone, Hestia walked over and locked the door behind them before reactivating the sound-dampening talismans that had been disabled after Anakitty and Mikoto showed up. After that, she walked over to the side of the bed before crawling atop Vahn’s body with a fretful look upon her face. Since she knew he could hear her, Hestia said in a low tone, “Vahn…please don’t make my heart worry so much. If you were to die so soon…I think I might not be able to stay in this world anymore. I would rather follow your soul to Heaven and watch over it until your reincarnation than live in this world without you…” As she spoke, Hestia’s clothes began to wilt and fall away from her body in petals that decorated the covers.

Though he felt slightly apprehensive, Vahn also knew that Hesti was greatly affected by the situation even though she didn’t know the full extent of what had happened. He could sense the fear she felt because of the purple hue of her aura that was intermixed with greens and pinks. This showed that she was feeling jealous, envious, afraid, and affectionate all at the same time. Vahn wanted to comfort her, but he couldn’t get his body to respond to his intentions at all. [Effigy of the Hero] didn’t simply paralyze the body, but it put it into a dormant state to protect it from the aftereffects of forcefully regenerating the body and exhausting its potential. Vahn might be able to break free using [Chainbreaker], but it would have potentially disastrous consequences.

Hestia was slowly removing his clothing and muttered, “I know you probably can’t move…but I want to feel closer to you so forgive me for my selfishness. Make sure to recover quickly, please…I will stay with you until then.” After Vahn was fully naked, Hestia looked over his body before resting her eyes on his flaccid p**** and releasing a hot sigh. Since he didn’t seem to be able to get it up, there wasn’t much she could do at the moment so she just laid her naked body against his and enjoyed his warmth for the time being. She didn’t know how close she had come to losing Vahn forever, but Hestia didn’t care as long as she could be with him ‘now’.

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