Chapter 287: Awakening

Vahn awoke, not in the comfort of his bed, but in an infinite, cold, dark, void-like space. Even though it felt very lonely at first, Vahn recognized this space and wasn’t afraid as he tucked in his body and began expanding his domain. Blazing flames slowly filled the space with an intermixture of azures, golds, and vermillion reds. Vahn enjoyed the powerful feeling as the sphere of flame slowly spread from his body until it became several hundred meters in diameter. Once it reached a stopping point, several pairs of eyes appeared within his domain and slowly took the familiar shapes of his [Rakshasa Body] transformations.

Directly in front of him, Vahn could Báihǔ standing proudly but he noticed there were strange runes covering its body compared to the past. Though he wasn’t sure how, Vahn could tell that Báihǔ was slowly undergoing a transformation that would likely benefit him in the future. Reaching out his hand, Vahn placed his palm against the crown of Báihǔ’s massive head and pet it for a little while as a show of gratitude. Báihǔ had been an important transformation and had been the core of Vahn’s fighting style for the last few months. Under his hand, the 10m long white tiger laid down in the void with a ‘thud’ and began purring ripples of energy that destabilized the surrounding space with a please look in its icy-blue eyes.

After a short while passed, Vahn turned his attention to his other three companions, even though they were yet unnamed. Vahn knew he was unable to name them until he had reached the awakening status of [Rakshasa Body] in the real world. He could see a longing look in eyes of the regal looking azure dragon to the east and an almost fervent gaze from the vermillion bird to the south. When he turned his attention to the black turtle to the north, Vahn saw, not longing, but pride within the black and green eyes of the giant turtle. From around its 20m frame, a giant head peaked out and gave a curious glance at Vahn with golden eyes. Vahn had never noticed it before, since he wasn’t able to spend much time in this space, but he could see a golden snake-like creature surrounding the body of the black turtle.

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Vahn floated toward the duo and they bowed low with their heads near each other with an expectant glimmer in their eyes. During his fight with Tione, Vahn had gone from 94% awakening in his turtle form to 100% when he completed his transformation. It had actually been this notification that distracted him a bit and allowed Tione to use his face as a springboard. When he told everyone that it wasn’t all her fault, Vahn had meant it…even though he felt very embarrassed to try and explain why he had been in a daze. If possible, he’d like everyone to forget about the matter in the future so he could bury his own shame in the passage of time.

Shaking his head, Vahn put the matter behind him and pressed his palms to the heads of the giant turtle and snake before him. For several long seconds, there was absolute silence within the space as a gentle light began closing from the interior of Vahn’s pupils. Since he was naked within the space, the tattoo of a turtle and dragon began to appear of Vahn’s body as scales began to grow along his arms, shoulders, head, and legs. Green runes began glowing on the scales as a confident look appeared on Vahn’s face and he uttered a series of words that shook the entire space around them with their echoes, “Henceforth…you shall be Xuánwǔ.”

Vahn could see green runes begin to appear along Xuánwǔ’s body as it roared powerfully toward the empty void above. Follow its cue, the other three sacred beasts began to release their calls all well. Báihǔ released a deep roar that felt like it could shake the soul, while the vermillion birds cry sounded like the wrath of nature itself. Most impressively was the roar of the azure dragon which overpowered the other three and sounded truly tyrannical as electricity spread around the space around its body. Vahn turned his attention to the two unnamed beasts and promised, “One day…I will name you two as well.” With his words finished, Vahn could feel his mind begin to fade and he knew his time in the space had come to an end.

When he next opened his eyes, Vahn could feel the comfortable heat of Hestia’s body atop his own. He absentmindedly began to stroke her hair and she wriggled about on his body a bit before finally waking up and staring into his face with her clear blue eyes. Without saying anything, she laid her head back down on his chest and Vahn could feel a powerful clamping feeling coming from his nether region that made him clench his teeth slightly without his smile breaking. He could tell she was ‘refusing’ to part for the time being but Vahn had already expected something similar to happen so he traced his finger along her spine using [Hands of Nirvana].

Hestia released a sensual moan as her body began to tremble powerfully before all the tensions in her body faded away. Vahn could feel a trickle of moisture around his member, but the painful clamping had ceased as he pulled up Hestia’s body and freed himself from her interior. She had a dissatisfied look in her eyes, but Vahn just continued to kiss her and tend to her body for a bit until she had calmed down. He wasn’t certain, but Vahn felt like Hestia was not only trying to adapt her body to him, but his body to her’s. Even after they separated, Vahn could feel a phantom sensation coming from his own p**** and a strange longing inside of him to be together again.

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After dressing, Vahn made his way down and rinsed of his body before making his way to the training area and greeting Ryuu. The other girls were still getting ready, and Ryuu was the only one in the backyard for the time being. Vahn noticed she had been looking around at the various holes and craters in the ground with a curious glint in her eyes. Noticing his presence, Ryuu showed a small smile and said, “Good morning Vahn.” For some reason, Vahn felt a strange pang of emotion in his heart so he stepped forward and loosely embraced Ryuu’s body which caused her eyes to widen slightly.

She didn’t resist his embrace and eventually put her arms around his back as well and rested her head against his shoulder. Vahn whispered in her nearby ear, “Sorry…I just felt like holding you for a bit.” Even Vahn didn’t know why the smile of Ryuu had triggered him to take action, but it felt like the right thing to do and he followed his intuition. Angling her head to the side, Ryuu spoke in a low voice, “You don’t have to apologize for holding me Vahn. Even I want to enjoy your affections when there is no one else around.”

Vahn’s smile widened and his pressed his head against Ryuu’s forehead and rocked their bodies slowly from side-to-side in silence. Just before some of the other girls arrived, Vahn gave Ryuu a short kiss on her light-peach colored lips and enjoyed their softness for a few seconds before parting. Ryuu had a thoughtful look in her eyes as a gentle smile touched her lips until she noticed the arrival of the other girls and turned serious. Afterward, Ryuu met with Aki and they discussed how to help the others girls train and even sparred a bit to get a better understanding of each other’s capabilities.

Aki used a shortsword and was very agile with impeccable technique, but she wasn’t the opponent of Ryuu. After a few minutes of exchanges, Aki had taken on a completely defensive posture and could only deflect the attacks of Ryuu’s wooden swordstaff in a vain attempt to prolong the fight. She eventually fell onto the cold ground with a wry smile on her face as she complimented Ryuu’s capabilities and commended her for being a capable vice-captain. Ryuu helped her up and paid her a few compliments as well before they started training the slack-jawed girls that had been watching from the sidelines.

Vahn had also been watching the fight, and he couldn’t help but find the figures of the two girls in combat to be captivating. Ryuu’s attacks were smooth and had a fluid-like quality while Aki had a very beautiful and lithe figure with incredible flexibility. She was able to use her sword to parry Ryuu’s comparatively heavier attacks and gain some small advantages during the beginning of the fight. Unfortunately, she had no way to keep up with Ryuu’s stamina and the fact that her attacks got increasingly stronger based on how fast she was moving.

When they were splitting into groups, Aki began training the twins since they didn’t seem to have much talent for magic and would likely be pure agility-based fighters. Ryuu ended up training with Haruhime, Fenrir, and even included Mikoto in their routine since she had noticed the ‘fluidity’ of Ryuu’s movements and also used a bit of magic. Haruhime was going down the route of an agile support caster while Mikoto seemed intent on remaining a vanguard unit that specialized in crowd-control magic. Vahn had finally gotten the opportunity to see her gravity magic, Futsunomitama, when she used it to crush a relatively large area of the backyard. Upon activation, a purple sword that triggered his danger senses fell from the sky and collided with purple circles that had isolated a space in the yard. Every time the sword hit a new circle, the gravity within the area compressed further until the ground, approximately 15m in diameter, had flattened and sunk several inches.

The major downside behind the magic was how much mana it required to actually use. Since Vahn could see the ‘mana’ of others if he focused his [Eyes of Truth], he could tell that Mikoto used more than 70% of her total mana just using the spell once. Since she also focused on swordsmanship and keeping her status balanced, Vahn felt like she wouldn’t be able to efficiently use the spell in the future unless he could come up with a method to help her expand her mana pool. He wondered if he would be able to make a talisman, or a piece of equipment, that would be able to store excess mana for later usage and actually pulled out a piece of diagram paper and started sketching out the idea. Preasia looked over at his actions from the side in silence since she wasn’t participating in the training at all.

By the time the training had come to an end, Vahn had drawn several basic designs for a pair of bracers and even a necklace that could be useful for Mikoto. The bracers could be used to replace her current guard, and Vahn figured the necklace would also be suitable for her. He wouldn’t admit it, but he had been thinking about Mikoto’s visible cleavage and wondered if the necklace would be able to nestle between the growing pair of breasts similar to how the [Sapphire Star] was almost always present between Hestia’s.

Since it was still a work in progress, Vahn placed away the diagrams and kept it a secret since he didn’t want Mikoto to get her expectations up and lose focus of her own progress. Vahn was very aware that an over-reliance on equipment could lead to stagnation and actually affect how parameters increased. For proper growth, you had to fight against monsters of similar skill and constantly push yourself to overcome your limits. If you used powerful equipment to avoid having to fight directly, the only thing you’d affect is your dexterity and magic parameters while your physical stats showed minimal increases.

After the training ended, the girls went to bathe while Vahn walked to the library as it had become his habit as of late. Preasia left for the dining room and was going to wait for the others so they could eat breakfast together. She wanted to follow Vahn, but was doing her best to socialize with the others and try to find out how she could be useful. Preasia had no desire to be an Adventurer since she didn’t like the idea of killing monsters and facing hardships in a cold and dark environment. Since she had spent a few weeks within a foul ‘dungeon’, Preasia wasn’t in any hurry to return to a similar environment. She instead spent her time reading up on things like mixing, alchemy, and magical formations in the hopes of being able to support everyone without having to actually enter the dungeon herself.

In the library, Vahn had been laying down and reading a book related to a hero that slew a red dragon the size of a mountain. It was a foreign fairy tail from another record, and Vahn found the contents very interesting. He was actually very fond of hero stories and had developed a dislike for the tragedy and horror genres since he felt like most of the situations were forced. Since he knew his own capabilities, Vahn couldn’t help but put himself in the shoes of the protagonist and wonder why they made such terrible decisions that usually led to themselves, or their friends, getting hurt or killed. He preferred the stories where the hero constantly strove forward and overcame obstacles to eventually achieve his goal and save the greatest number of people. There were still some tragic elements, but Vahn felt like they made the journey of the hero more impactful and gave their inevitable triumph more meaning.

After about an hour of solitude, Vahn could feel a gentle, sky-blue, aura tinged with yellows walking toward the library. Since it was different than most girls, Vahn knew it was probably Aki so he sat up from the sofa and placed the book on the table before waiting for her arrival. She entered the room shortly thereafter and looked around at the thousands of books lining the shelves before turning her gaze to Vahn and showing a kind smile that reached her eyes a bit. She performed a small curtsey and flared her short white skirt a bit before saying, “I figured we had a few things that needed to be discussed in private. Sorry if I’m interrupting your relaxation time…”

Vahn couldn’t help but pass his gaze over Aki a bit and take in the sight of her peculiar beauty. She had the typical lean figure of a cat person but showed an impeccable sense of style with her black, white, and gold attire that enhanced her youthful qualities. Her features were very beautiful and she had a natural smile on her face that emphasized her seemingly kind nature. The only thing that seemed strange was how her tail was almost always curved upwards instead of dangling downwards like most of the cat people he had seen. It drew a natural, s-shaped, curve from the top of her hips and came up till around her shoulders.

(A/N: If you’re confused about Aki: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/Oi76HY_tJyQ/maxresdefault.jpg )

After releasing a short sigh, Vahn smiled at Aki and said, “It’s no bother at all, Aki. As you said, there were several things I wanted to talk to you about. This is a good opportunity…” Vahn placed out a set of tea and snacks on the table which made Aki’s smile widen as she put her hands behind her back and walked over in a somewhat cheerful manner before sitting down on the sofa with an appropriate amount of distance between her and Vahn. Before she sat down, she smoothed out her skirt and kept her legs close together to prevent the contents from being accidentally visible. Vahn’s brows raised slightly because it was actually almost ‘abnormal’ compared to some of the girls around him.

Aki giggled slightly before picking up a small fish-shaped cracker and nibbling on it a bit before taking a sip of tea. Her tail twitched about slightly and Vahn thought it was an interesting reaction so he ate a few snacks of his own before enjoying the fragrant black tea with a small amount of honey. After a short while, Aki tilted her head a bit and asked, “Are you not going to ask me anything?” Vahn finished sipping his tea before placing it on the table and nodding, “I was thinking about how and what I should ask you. For now, how about you explain your reasoning for coming here. I can’t really speak about Loki’s behavior…but I know there is a reason behind all of her actions. For you specifically to appear, there must be a greater reason behind it than is apparent from the surface.”

Aki’s expression didn’t change much, but she released a short sigh and said, in a very quiet tone, “Loki-sama already gave me permission to speak openly, so…well, it all started…with an idiot boy…”

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