Chapter 309: Phantom Pains

Vahn followed behind Maemi and reminded her to always be in an alert status while making use of her natural abilities to detect monsters. Since she was a Snow Leopard, she had enhanced eyesight, great hearing, a moderately strong sense of smell, but most importantly, her body was actually extremely flexible. Whenever they were doing their stretching exercises in the morning, Vahn noticed that both Maemi and Emiru were flexible to the point where they could bend their backs and place their own feet over their shoulders. Out of curiosity, he tried to do the same thing later and realized that it was a nearly impossible feat until he pushed himself in his Báihǔ form. This allowed Vahn to realize that the flexibility of their bodies even exceeded his own, which was already developed to a relatively ridiculous level.

Maemi’s next opponents were a group of goblins, but Vahn finished off the majority until there were only two left. She kept her body low as she dashed forward and Vahn felt like she was trying to emulate how ninjas ran in Naruto for a brief moment until she leaped onto the closest goblin, stabbed it in the head, and then tried to vault away in an inexperienced manner. Her momentum had knocked the goblin back and it made her flip fail to launch her body far but she was able to twist herself and land on her feet regardless. Vahn felt like this was her natural instinct and thought the scene was very interesting to view from his current position. She tried to emulate his ‘smooth’ movements and swipe away at the remaining goblin, but the majority of her attacks were too shallow because she couldn’t properly gauge the distance.

Fortunately, she had learned her lesson and immediately moved to create a distance before trying again when the goblin attacked toward her. She used the momentum of its charges to strike at its sides and legs, but Vahn knew that type of moment wasn’t suitable for most monsters and would correct her on it later. There needed to be more weight behind her strikes or she would never be able to penetrate the thick hides of the majority of monsters beyond the fifth floor. Vahn started to realize why the twins had chosen the ‘weighted’ daggers that looked like curved cleavers. They didn’t have the physical strength to deal with the monsters quickly and Vahn was wondering if he should ask Chloe to teach them how to properly handle daggers.

After a short while, Maemi ended up getting around to the goblins back before stabbing it through the shoulder in the approximate location of its heart. She, fortunately, managed to clip the magic stone in its body which caused it to turn to dust before she fell onto her butt again and drew heavy breaths. Vahn shook his head with a wry smile before using Shundo to appear next to her and calming her body by placing his palm on her back. He could use [Hands of Nirvana] to help to remove any muscle strains in her body just like he used to do for Lili back in the day. Maemi’s breathing returned to normal after a minute or so passed and she enjoyed the comforting energy on her back in silence before Vahn helped her stand again.

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She showed a somewhat bashful smile as she placed her index fingers and thumbs together and said, “Thank you very much…” Vahn pat her on the head once before saying, “You’re doing well, do you think you can keep going?” Maemi nodded her head confidently and they made their way further into the dungeon until she suddenly came to a stop a few minutes later. Vahn could see her eyes widen a bit as her ears twitched about so he asked, “Is something the matter, Maemi?”

She had a small frown on her face as her brows furrowed and she said, “Emiru is in trouble…she is very scared.” As she spoke, Maemi’s body flinched and she held her hand at her side as she curled over. Vahn reached out to support her by the shoulder and noticed a small puncture wound had actually appeared in her side.

Vahn healed the wound with [Hands of Nirvana] and tried to make sense of the situation as he asked, “Has anything like this ever happened before?” Though he wasn’t certain, Vahn was relatively sure this had something to do with their Innate ability. Maemi nodded her head and had a concerned look on her face as she explained, “The reason we always stay together, is because whenever we feel powerful emotions, the other person can always feel it. We always get sick at the same time and when we got small injuries they would sometimes appear on the other person’s body…there was even a time where we both broke our arms at the same time, even though I was the only person that fell from the tree.”

Though it wasn’t the most gentlemanly action, Vahn lifted the side of Maemi’s bouse to confirm that the wound had completely healed. Her blouse was a vanilla-white, so she now had a dark-red blood stain where the puncture had appeared earlier. He was going to ask, but Maemi’s expression returned to normal as she stated confidently, “She is okay…” Vahn nodded his head before thinking about if he should return or not. He knew Ryuu could use [Noah Heal] to recover, not only wounds but stamina as well. As long as she was with Emiru, Vahn was confident they would both be okay. The most likely thing that had occurred was that Emiru had met a goblin, or something similar, that had a weapon and got injured.

After thinking for a while, Vahn said, “Let’s take a break for the time being…I want you to try and focus on your sister and tell me if you can feel anything for the next hour or so.” Vahn moved over to the wall and set a cushion down for Maemi to sit on as he sat with his back to the wall. She nodded her head and muttered in a low voice, “Thank you, Vahn-sama…” before sitting down on the cushion and trying to calm her mind. Just like when she spoke in concert with her twin, Maemi began to focus on the ‘connection’ they had always shared to see if she could feel anything from her sister that was well over 2km away.

A few minutes passed in silence before Maemi muttered in a somewhat lazy, almost dazed sounding, voice, “I can see…Emiru, she is fighting against a Kobold…” Vahn didn’t interrupt her words and was staring at her body with his [Eyes of Truth] active so he could see the fluctuations of mana in her body. He could also see that her muscles tensed up slightly, almost as if she were subconsciously matching the movements of Emiru. With this much evidence, Vahn was certain they had a very powerful bond, and it was likely a result of their sealed Innate. Though it would take some study, Vahn even assumed they could be experiencing each others growth if they shared their thoughts and experiences together…

Another two minutes passed before Maemi smiled and opened her lilac colored eyes and said, “She won~.” Vahn nodded his head with a smile and said, “Go ahead and continue focusing…I want you to repeat everything you can see…focus on the feelings and try to imagine what Emiru is hearing…smelling…tasting…focus on all the senses you can share.” Vahn had been speaking in a gentle, almost hypnotic tone as Maemi closed her eyes and relaxed the tensions in her body.

After a while, Maemi began to narrate everything she was experiencing, “Emiru…she is tired…and she feels…jealous?” Hearing her own words, Maemi giggled a bit before continuing, “Ah, she can feel my laughter too…now she is a little angry. I can almost hear her cursing at me under her breath…oh, Ryuu-sama just yelled at her to stay focused.” Without disturbing her much, Vahn whispered in a low tone, “Very good, Maemi…continue to focus on everything Emiru is experiencing.”

Emiru eventually got into a fight with three Goblins and was doing her best to follow Ryuu’s instructions and stay outside their range to prevent herself from being surrounded. Maemi continued to narrate everything she was doing, including how she used rocks as make-shift projectiles to create gaps in the Goblins defenses. One of the stones crushed the eye of a goblin and both Maemi and Emiru felt a bit nauseous before a warm energy spread through their minds after Vahn placed his hand on Maemi’s head. Emiru recovered quickly and eventually dispatched the three Goblins with a fair amount of excitement when she received compliments from Ryuu.

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Maemi opened her lilac eyes and stared at Vahn as he removed his hand from her head and asked, “Were you able to feel everything?” Maemi nodded her head and explained, “It’s a very strange feeling, almost like I was in Emiru’s body and fighting with her. When you put your hand on my head, we both felt a lot calmer and she was able to fight without feeling afraid…” Vahn nodded his head and, with a wide smile on his face, said, “Let’s go to your sister, I think this is a significant matter that needs to be investigated further. If you’re able to share senses like this, I think it would be better to train you together instead of separating you like this.” Maemi nodded her head but Vahn saw the subtle melancholy in her eyes before he shook his head helplessly and said, “Don’t worry, if you work hard I’ll find a suitable reward for you. For now, aim for Level 2 alongside Emiru so you can help protect each other in the future. I think the two of you have a lot of potential if you strengthen the bond you share.” Vahn wanted them to activate the [Gemini] Innate because he was very curious about the Innate abilities of other people. Each of his provided an incredible boost to his capabilities, so he had very high expectations for the unique ability shared by the twins.

After hearing his encouraging words, Maemi showed a somewhat lovely smile and nodded her head in affirmation before following behind Vahn obediently. Along the way, Vahn asked her to try and send a ‘message’ to Emiru so they would be able to intercept each other in a shorter amount of time. He even gave Maemi a map to see if they were able to read the same map through each others vision. Other than when she was fighting small groups of monsters, Vahn led Maemi slowly through the dungeon while having her focus on the connection she had with Emiru.

A half hour passed before Vahn and Maemi reunited with the somewhat surprised Ryuu who was escorting Emiru. The twins got near each other and Emiru said toward Ryuu, “I told you, I could feel Maemi calling me~!” Ryuu nodded her head and walked over to Vahn as the twins were discussing their experience. He wasn’t trying to keep anything from the twins, and he also knew they could probably hear him, but Vahn said in a low voice, “They share a powerful connection with each other that will likely affect their growth in the future. I was able to see that Maemi’s body actually reacted whenever Emiru was in combat, so I think their growth may be tied to each other’s.” Ryuu had a thoughtful expression as she looked at the twins that were giving them sidelong glances and said, “I believe it…when Emiru got wounded earlier, I noticed that it began to heal before I even used my magic. She told me she could feel a warm energy and I assumed you had done something on your end.” Ryuu could see the bloodstain on Maemi’s blouse and understood that Vahn’s words must be true based on the contextual evidence.

Vahn had a thought, so he waved over the twins and they both walked over in concert with each other, tilted their heads in the same direction, and asked, “Yes, Vahn-sama~?” Vahn smiled and said, “I wanted to try something, though I’m not sure if it’ll work out…” Both Emiru and Maemi had something expectant looks as if they were encouraging him to continue, so he said, “Here, let me see your left hands.” Though they weren’t sure of his intention, the twins held out their left hands at the same time and Vahn placed his index fingers on the backs of each. He tried to use his [Mentor] skill to overwrite the previous mark but didn’t have any luck since there were two targets instead of one.

After releasing a short sigh, Vahn ruminated for a moment before saying, “I want you both to focus, not just passively feel each other, but truly focus on what each person is feeling…” Emiru and Maemi blinked in sequence before closing their eyes and trying to do what Vahn said. After waiting for a few minutes, Vahn gingerly touched Emiru’s outstretched wrist before pushing down on it slightly. He noticed that Maemi’s hand fell at the same time as Emiru’s before an intrigued smile appeared on his face. It was very interesting to see how a second person was able to react based on the stimulus received by someone else. After removing his finger, both girls’ hands raised slightly before he placed his index finger on the back of Maemi’s hand. He waited for a few seconds before trying to create a new Mentor’s Mark.

There was a short pause between the skill activation and Vahn could feel a peculiar sensation pulsing through his own energy. It was very difficult to describe, and it was unlike anything he had ever felt before so it created a strange incongruity in his own body before a small mark began to appear, not just on Maemi’s hand, but on the back of Emiru’s hand at the same time. Vahn felt a bit of excitement in his heart and continued to form the mark until it eventually became solid. When he was finished, he noticed there was actually only half of his face on Maemi’s hand, while Emiru’s had the other half. On the same spot located on his body, two halves of the girls’ faces had appeared and perfectly overlapped with each other to form a singular whole.

Ryuu had been watching from the side and had even felt the strange magical fluctuations that had passed between the three. She had watched the mana flow from Vahn’s body into Maemi’s before it created a strange kind of feedback loop that began to feed into Emiru’s body as well. She had seen the marks eventually form and wasn’t sure of what to make of the situation other than the fact that Vahn’s experiment had been successful. Once again, she was surprised by his capabilities because he always seemed to be able to make the impossible into a reality. A small smile appeared on her face as she began to build a few expectations about the future. Ryuu wondered what kind of miracles he would make in the future and how far they would be able to walk the same path together.

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