Chapter 330: Reason

After entering Tsubaki’s room, Vahn looked around briefly to take in the sights contained within. He had never entered her room previously, and he noticed there were a surprising number of intricately designed weapons lining the walls, similar to Hephaestus’s office. Though he was somewhat interested in the items, he turned his attention to the woman that seemed to be contemplating if she should break his arms or not. If he hadn’t been resisting the urge, Vahn would have been slowly forced into his Báihǔ form and his hands had started to become numb due to the lack of proper blood flow.

Tsubaki had noticed the surroundings changed in an instant, and she looked around in confusion for a brief moment because Vahn’s movement technique was unlike anything she had ever seen previously. She noticed he had been distracted somewhat, and she was currently trying to forcefully flex her muscles to try and restore the functionality of her lower body. All she had to do was distract him for a minute or so and he would lose any advantage he had gained with his sneak attack earlier. She didn’t mind spending time with Vahn and sharing a few drinks, but she got butterflies in her stomach imagining what he might do if left unchecked.

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Vahn had noticed Tsubaki leaning forward slightly with her head down and saw her aura was turning placid and calm. He knew she was beginning to focus her attention, probably using the brief moment when he was distracted by her room as an opportunity. Though he could use Shundo to knock them off balance, there was no way he could easily remove Tsubaki’s vice-like grip on his arms. The difference between their actual power was likely several thousand parameters and his only practical solution was to use [Hands of Nirvana] to disable her arms. However, there was a part of his mind that prevented him from removing her ability to resist, since they were currently supposed to be in a ‘battle’.

After a brief moment of reflection, Vahn turned his attention to the low table where there were a few ceramic bottles of alcohol that was popular in the Far East. It wasn’t the ‘sake’ he had seen in manga, but it was something very similar that was distilled from a bean-like grain called ‘Ponta’. Because of her Half-Dwarf heritage, the alcohol Tsubaki usually drinks was several times stronger than normal alcohol. Vahn cocked his head as if he were trying to see Tsubaki’s face and asked, “Aren’t you going to pour me a few drinks?” The moment he asked the question, Tsubaki laughed and said, “Sure, I don’t mind, but don’t think I’m unaware of your disposition Vahn. I’ve seen you drink entire groups under the table, so you’ll be drinking alone if you want me to serve you.”

Vahn released a snort that was a mix between a sigh and a laugh before turning his attention to the table and dropping a small item that made a ‘plonk’ sound. Tsubaki heard the noise and turned to see what Vahn was looking at before her eye widened. For a brief moment, her hands loosened up and Vahn converged his domain to extend the window as he freed his arms from Tsubaki’s grasp. She tried to reach out and prevent his escape, but Vahn quickly pressed a pressure point between her collarbone and shoulder before jumping back. Before he moved away, he set a few large cushions on the ground to support Tsubaki’s falling body.

Before it got destroyed in the ensuing chaos, Vahn recovered the item he had set on the table that distracted Tsubaki earlier. It was a bit of a cheap shot, but Vahn had set the [Matryoshka of Fertility] on the table while banking that Tsubaki would remember the item due to the previous incident. His guess had been on point, and her brows raised to a point he had never seen before with an expression of absolute shock. Now, after his escape, she just laid on the pillows for a bit as Vahn saw her aura grow and become somewhat flame-like. There was a hint of passion within the coloration, but it was predominantly the colors of anger intermixed with a bit of fear and trepidation.

Tsubaki grabbed the pillows he had dropped to the floor and threw them like bullets as Vahn dodged around the room using Shundo. Even though they were just cushions, Tsubaki had monstrous strength and, if not for the fact the walls of her room were reinforced, she might have actually put holes in the walls. Fortunately, the walls were very durable and the only result was the pillows exploding into a tuft of feathers and fabric that Vahn expected would be annoying to clean up later. He could see a fiery light in Tsubaki’s uncovered eye with a healthy blush touching her bronzed skin. She was obviously very embarrassed, and her default response seemed to be lashing out in anger to gain an advantage.

After she ran out of pillows, Tsubaki looked around for something else to throw before Vahn appeared next to the low table and sat down in a casual manner. He picked up the ceramic cup and poured a bit of the crisp, somewhat bitter, alcohol into the cup before sipping it as if they hadn’t just previously been engaged in a small scuffle. She could feel a warm energy flowing in her body as the feeling was slowly restored to her limbs. For a short moment, Tsubaki hesitated before eventually allowing herself to calm down and wait patiently for the tingling sensation in her body to cease. With Vahn’s assistance, it only took around forty seconds before she stood up and stretched her limbs a bit as she walked over to the table and sat down opposite Vahn.

The moment she sat down, Vahn smiled and said, “It’s fine, Tsubaki, if you’re that afraid of my [Hands of Nirvana], I won’t force you to do anything…” Tsubaki gave a somewhat dry laugh before releasing a husky sigh as she reached for her own cup. In a gentle voice that made Vahn’s heart shake, Tsubaki turned her gaze and locked eyes with him as she said, “You’ve grown up so quickly, Vahn, I’m happy for you. It’s hard to believe how much has changed…you know, I once thought you would be in my care for a few years as I slowly trained you up to be a [Master Smith]. I even wanted to nurture you as my successor…”

Vahn furrowed his brows a bit before placing his cup down on the table and saying in an apologetic tone, “I enjoyed every day that I lived here previously…though I didn’t say it enough in the past, I’m grateful for everything you did for me, Tsubaki. It was because I had a safe refuge here at your Manor that I was able to slowly break out of the shell that I had surrounded myself with. You’re even looking after Lili and Naaza, even though they should have been my responsibility, and not your’s…”

Tsubaki laughed in a manner that made Vahn’s heart wrench in his chest, because he could hear the sadness contained in the humor. She leaned on the table with her elbow and supported her head with her hand. The only thing she was wearing was her red hakama and a white sarashi, so her breasts swayed a bit with the movement. Tsubaki showed a wide smile with a reminiscent look in her eye as she said, “Honestly, it was good to have so much young blood around after such a long time. Other than clients, the only people that really visit this place were Hephaestus-sama and Welf. This Manor has more than enough rooms for twenty people, so it was a little unnerving to stay here alone…I’m glad that Hephaestus brought you here, and you don’t have to worry about those two girls. They’re good kids, even though Lili still has a ways to go before she stabilizes…”

Vahn stared into her uncovered red eye with a pained expression because he could feel the melancholy coming from her body, almost like it was a palpable, heavy, aura that permeated through the air. He frowned and said, “You don’t have to be alone…there are all the girls on the network, and Hephaest herself…and…” Tsubaki’s expression became very gentle as she stared directly at him and said, “Vahn, you’re a good, strong, capable person…but you’re still just a kid. You have to understand that it isn’t possible to help everyone you come across. Even though I get a bit lonely, I’m also the Captain of an entire Familia and have more than a few things to keep me busy. There are plenty of young girls, and even a number of goddesses, that will look after you…you shouldn’t be overly concerned with me. I accepted my lot in life a long time ago…”

Tsubaki saw Vahn’s expression worsen so she laughed and righted her body as she said, “Don’t worry, I’ll be perfectly happy when your young’uns are running about. I imagine things will get pretty lively in the future, so you don’t have to worry about me so much…” Vahn’s expression didn’t’ loosen at all as he practically glared at Tsubaki and asked, “Why are you so determined to have me believe your lie? How can you smile and act so dismissively when it’s obvious you have regrets!?” Hearing Vahn’s outburst, Tsubaki released a long sigh before her own expression turned serious and she asked, “Why are you so persistent when I’ve already made my decision? Do you think you have more right to make choices about my life than I do? If you’re just concerned with me having a baby, you can just leave that small doll with me and let me take care of things at my own discretion. The way you talk about the matter, its almost like you’ve made the decision that you have to be the one to do the deed!”

Vahn’s mind blanked for a moment at Tsubaki’s words and she noticed he didn’t have an immediate response so she poured a drink and said, “You have plenty of things to worry about without adding my problems atop everything else. Go spend some time with the younger women in the group and leave the matters of the older-” Before Tsubaki could finish her statement, Vahn’s cup shattered to pieces in his hand and he said, “Tsubaki…I refuse. If you gave me a real excuse, I would back down easily, but I can’t just sit here and listen to you lie and make excuses. Do you really think I can overlook all our past interactions, the hope that was present in your eyes when you found out you could get pregnant, and how playful and responsive you were to being teased by me?”

Tsubaki ground her teeth a bit in frustration before saying plainly, “It was never your right to choose…it has always been my decision to make. If it were just playing around, I didn’t mind spending some time with you after you grew up a bit, but that was before…things have changed now. There are literally dozens of potential partners surrounding you, and there are even two, or more, that are already pregnant with your children. I’m better suited to help raise the kids you have with the others than having a child of my own…” Vahn looked into her eye and asked in a stern voice, “Tell me…why? If you say it is because of your age, I…I…” Vahn flexed his hands in frustration because he disliked how easily influenced some girls were by their ‘age’. Even though both she and Milan still looked young and beautiful, they acted like they were some untouchable, unworthy, object that would profane him with their touch.

After a brief period of silence, Tsubaki nodded her head and said, “I’m old, Vahn…even if I can live well over a hundred years, I don’t want my children to have to be embarrassed that their mother looks more like their grandmother. I’m already 36, that means I would be, at least, 50 by the time my child reached adulthood. It might not show much now, since I take proper care of my body, but it’ll become much more apparent when I’m older…” Vahn shook his head and said, “No, you’re overlooking too many things while using your age as a convenient excuse! If I use my [Hands of Nirvana] on you, even just every few weeks, your age wouldn’t even show within the next fifty years, much less fourteen. There are plenty of ways to keep you young, or even reduce your physical age depending on how things play out…Tell me Tsubaki, do you really think I’m such a shallow and incapable man that I can’t even put in the effort necessary to help you be happy?”

Tsubaki frowned and didn’t say anything for a very long period of time as she stared into Vahn’s face. His expression didn’t falter at all and he just continued to show a serious expression as if he wouldn’t accept any excuse she might try to give him. She knew she could easily put an end to the entire matter by simply refusing, and Vahn wasn’t the type that would force her into the situation just like he had shown leniency on her earlier. If he had wanted to, Tsubaki knew she wouldn’t even be able to resist him after his successful sneak attack. Instead, he gave her time to recover and even de-escalated the situation himself after she got angry and embarrassed. His perception was just way too high and it was almost impossible to actually fool him with simple lies and excuses. She also heard about Shizune, how her body was returned to that of a child, and she also knew the supposed health and beauty benefits of Vahn’s massage. Every single girl that had experienced looked healthier and more vibrant than they had previously, even the goddesses whose appearances shouldn’t change regardless of how much time passes.

After a while, Tsubaki began tapping on the low wooden table in a rhythmic manner as if she were in serious contemplation. The biggest problems she was dealing with related to, just how Vahn mentioned previously, how they had interacted with each other in the past. There was also the fact that everyone on the network pretty much expected it to happen sooner or later, and this was the reason she had been ‘avoiding’ Vahn and never showed up to receive his massage. When they had been conspired against by Anubis and forced on a date, she had been very nervous and had even brought the date to an early end when she KO’d Vahn after he embarrassed her. It was all of this, combined with several other factors, that made it very difficult for her to answer Vahn’s question, especially since she herself knew it would be a lie, much less the perceptive Vahn.

Eventually, Tsubaki’s finger came to a stop and she released a long and exasperated sigh that diffused the tense atmosphere that had spread through the room. She made the excuse about not wanting to cause trouble for Vahn, but her current actions would likely cause him even more trouble than if she gave up. He wasn’t the type that could easily back down and understand things that contradicted themselves. The more she tried to push him away, though he would never do anything forcibly, the harder he would try to approach her in the future. She would also experience pressure from the network and there was a very real possibility Hephaestus, alongside several others, would approach and try to convince her. If she remained at loggerheads with the network just because of her own denial of the situation, it wouldn’t make anyone happy at all…

Tsubaki blinked and her expression loosened before she said in a yielding manner, “Fine, fine, I give up…I’ll give you a chance to convince me. However, if I’m not satisfied with the outcome, you have to swear that you’ll never try to broach this subject again in the future.” Even though she hadn’t said what he had to do, Vahn nodded and said with absolute confidence, “I won’t fail, no matter what.” Tsubaki laughed in an exasperated manner for a short while before saying, somewhat hesitantly, “Show me the full benefits of your supposedly unrivaled massage technique. They call you ‘godhand’ on the network, but I wonder if you’re capable of actually performing a miracle, since that is what it would take to convince me.”

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Though he was confident before, there was now a literal blaze of resolve deep within Vahn’s eyes that made Tsubaki feel like she just stepped on the tail of a dragon. She might be able to best a dragon in combat, but it was another matter entirely if she was expected to entrust her body to it. Before she could say anything further, Vahn stated in a firm manner, “If you leave it to me, regardless of how scary, or terrifying, things might get, I’ll show you a miracle. I’m more worried that your mind won’t able to cope with the procedure though…no, you’re a strong and capable woman, I believe you’ll be fine.” Vahn nodded his head as if he had been convinced by his own words. Tsubaki, however, realized it wasn’t a simple dragon’s tail she had stepped on as she asked hesitantly, “What…do I need to do?”

Vahn’s eyes darted about for a few seconds as if he were recalling the procedure before explaining with renewed confidence, “All you need to do…is believe in me. Believe that I would never do anything to harm you and that everything will be okay as long as you trust me. I don’t want to scare you, but the procedure that I’m going to perform will not be easy to bear…the only thing you can do after I start is trust that I’ll bring you back safely…” The more Vahn spoke, the stronger the giddy feeling inside Tsubaki’s stomach became. She had no idea what he was planning, but she knew it would probably ‘change’ her in a way she might not be prepared for.

After a few seconds of silence, Tsubaki showed a resolved expression on her face as she looked into Vahn’s face and said, “I said I’ll give you a chance, so I’m not going to back down and renege on my own word…” Tsubaki began to laugh in an awkward manner before she continued, “Besides, I know that the other girls on the network would punish you harshly if you took things too far. You already have my trust, but it’s nice to have a bit of insurance…” Vahn nodded his head without refuting her words before pulling out the massage table that he used often in the past. It would be necessary for the start of the procedure, so he stood up from the table and motioned toward the massage table and said, “You’ll have to strip down…”

Without much hesitation, Tsubaki also stood up from the table and laughed for a short while as she loosened the band fixing her hakama to her hips. She gave Vahn a cheeky look and asked, “Are you just going to gawk as I get naked in front of you?” Vahn shook his head in a casual manner without averting his eyes as he said, “After we begin, there isn’t really any part of your body that I won’t know. Besides, we bathed together plenty in the past and I have no aversion to seeing your naked body at all. You’re a lot more beautiful than you like to pretend…”

Tsubaki’s smile widened a bit and she had a ‘helpless’ expression on her face as she loosened the fundoshi style underwear that she wore under her hakama. As Vahn said, they had been naked together a lot in the past and she just wanted to tease him a bit. After she stripped herself of her bottoms, Tsubaki removed the small clasp holding her sarashi around her breasts before letting the bandages fall to the floor. Throughout the entire process, she noticed Vahn had been staring at her body in a completely different way than he had in the past. It wasn’t a perverse glare, but closer to an inquisitive and admiring gaze as he traced his eyes over every part of her body. She frowned slightly but ignored her apprehension as she walked over in a ‘casual’ manner before holding up her own breasts with her palms and asking, “I wonder if you’ll be able to prevent my breasts from sagging, I’ve actually be worried about it you know?”

Vahn cocked his head to the side a bit before reaching out with his index finger and poking into the springy, somewhat youthful feeling, brown flesh. Even in the relatively low light of the room, there was a sheen on Tsubaki’s healthy brown skin and he couldn’t see any sign of sagging or stretch marks anywhere on her well-endowed chest. As he moved his finger away, Tsubaki’s breast quickly resumed its almost flawless shape without any difficulty at all so Vahn said, “It’ll be no problem at all. You have very healthy and beautiful breasts already, and I can guarantee they’ll stay that way for years to come.”

Tsubaki’s brain had stalled for a moment when Vahn nonchalantly pressed his index finger on her left breasts and dragged it across her skin as if testing the resistance and feel before making a casual and confident promise while also sneaking in a compliment. She stood there for a short moment and thought about teasing him by trying to hug his face into them, but the thought made her feel a little nervous. There weren’t any ‘problems’ yet, but Tsubaki was afraid she would get excited by the relatively intimate contact and do something embarrassing before the massage even began. After deciding against teasing him further, Tsubaki let her breasts hang freely before walking over to the table and climbing atop it. She noticed that, when she pressed her breasts against the upper cushions, they sunk into the incredibly pliant material and made it easier for her to lay down. It was her first time experiencing Vahn’s massage, so everything was a new experience and she found it to be a little exciting as she rested her face into the oval shaped hole that would allow her to relax completely without interfering with her breathing.

Vahn watched the process of Tsubaki climbing onto the table and admired her figure from behind for a bit until she had gotten comfortable. Even though she complained about her age, there were nearly no signs of it on her body at all. She had springy, youthful, brown skin that had a healthy bronze tone. It was so healthy that, even when she wasn’t perspiring a lot, there was always a subtle reflective sheen on her skin and both her breasts and butt looked very soft. He could see the powerful muscles of her body, but they didn’t actually change the somewhat supple, refined, and womanly figure of Tsubaki in the least. Though she had abs if she focused her attention on making them visible, her belly was nearly flat and smooth when she was relaxed. Unlike a supposed 36-year-old, she had the body of a woman in her twenties because of her racial traits, Level, and the care she put into maintaining her figure. A Half-Dwarf could live nearly two-hundred years if they were strong enough, so the 36-year-old Tsubaki was hardly even considered middle-aged by the standards of her species.

After she had completely settled into the table, Vahn approached Tsubaki’s side and said, “I’m going to begin, so prepare yourself for what is to come. Remember, no matter what you feel, trust that I won’t harm you at all.” From the hole in the chair, Vahn heard Tsubaki’s voice, “Just get started, show me what you’re made of kid.” Vahn nodded his head before flexing all of his fingers and placing them on Tsubaki’s back. He was very tempted to give some early attention to her very plump rump, but he knew there would be time for that kind of thing later. Right now, he needed to focus his full efforts on the procedure, since he was actually going to be using several techniques he had never practiced before. Tsubaki wanted irrefutable proof of his skills, and Vahn intended to give her a full course that would literally change how she saw, not only herself, but Vahn as a whole.

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