Chapter 356: Haruhime Awakens

After retreating to safety, Vahn laid Haruhime’s body onto the ground after setting down a thin futon. Her body was covered in several small wounds, but the most important thing to tend to were her shoulder and her right thigh. Her collarbone had been fractured and had started to swell up with a dark purple coloration while her thigh had a 10cm piece of wooden shrapnel lodged deeply into it like a massive splinter that made a chill run down Vahn’s back. He pressed a few spots in the upper part of her inner thigh while doing his best to ignore the somewhat damp heat coming from Haruhime’s lower body. The pressure point to stimy the flow of the femoral artery was near the connecting point between the pelvis and the interior of the thigh and Vahn could feel a dampness of the back of his hand when he had reached under her kimono to touch it.

Once the majority of blood had stopped pumping out of her wound, Vahn poured an Elixer in Haruhime’s mouth to start the recovery process before numbing her entire right leg using his [Hands of Nirvana]. The next part wasn’t very pleasant as Vahn had to slowly ease the tension in her muscles to pull out the long splintered piece of wood. He used his [Eyes of Truth] to view the interior of the leg and made sure to remove any of the backward facing splinters that would prevent him from removing the entire piece from her leg. He didn’t want to yank it out and leave a bunch of smaller splinters behind, so Vahn took extra care to make sure there weren’t any small protrusions that would cause more damage.

After nearly twenty minutes, Vahn finished his ‘surgery’ and removed all the small pieces from Haruhime’s leg. The mangled hole left behind made Vahn’s brows twitch as he looked at Haruhime’s peacefully sleeping face before letting out a small sigh. He took out a small knife and cut open his palm before letting his own blood drip into the hole until it had completely filled up Haruhime’s wound. Vahn’s intention was to ensure that there were no infections, toxins, or excess bacteria left behind in the wound. His blood has properties to remove such impurities and it would help to guarantee there were no sequelae left behind as he used his [Hands of Nirvana] in conjunction with several Potions to help close up the wound quickly. By the time he was finished, the only indication of any damage was a small scar that Vahn removed to leave behind nothing by a pale white thigh with a small red tenderness where the wound was previously located.

Her shoulder was easier to deal with since he was able to set the bone and speed up the healing process before covering her shoulder with another Hi-Potion. The bruising slowly faded away and was completely gone a few minutes later after Vahn channeled his own healing energies into the wound. Since he wasn’t the type to overlook things, Vahn inspected Haruhime’s body and made sure all of her wounds were completely healed before releasing a sigh filled with relief. He wasn’t actually concerned that he wouldn’t be able to treat her wounds, but it still made him worried to see even a small cut on the girls around him if he could help. Even if was a bit excessive, or overprotective of him, Vahn still felt better when they were happy and unharmed.

Though he thought about petting and comforting her while she slept, Vahn decided it wasn’t appropriate to do so without permission, even though he was certain she wouldn’t mind. Instead, he wiped away the blood on her body with a hot towel before snuggly bundling her up in a blanket so she could rest properly. It was better to recover naturally after entering ‘Mind Down’, so Vahn allowed Haruhime to sleep even though it was still early in the afternoon. Since it was a good opportunity, he decided to take a nap as well, so Vahn sat with his back to the wall near Haruhime and closed his eyes to rest for a short while.

A few hours later, Vahn felt Haruhime’s aura stir and immediately opened his eyes to see her ‘sneakily’ trying to move over to him. Caught red-handed, Haruhime began to laugh bashfully before sitting up straight and showing a beautiful smile. Vahn noticed her eyes had returned to their normal, placid green, state and there didn’t seem to be any other abnormalities in her body. Other than the fact her mana was still depleted, Haruhime was fit as a fiddle and looked as lovely and youthful as always. Vahn smiled with a gentle expression on his face as he gestured toward Haruhime which immediately caused the Renard girl to smile as she practically shot over like a bullet before snuggling up with her back to him. Vahn began to pat her head as he explained, “I haven’t been able to confirm it myself, but you’ve most likely awakened a rare skill while you were fighting. We’ll have to update your Status Board to confirm it, but can you tell me if you realized anything earlier?”

Haruhime lazily nodded her head with her eyes closed and said, “Yes…ever since you brushed my hair, it felt like there was a powerful warmth in my chest…when I fought earlier, it was like all of my emotions were welling up and becoming my power. When I made my way down to the eleventh floor, it was like my entire body had become light as a feather and I felt a powerful energy coursing through my body. Even when I fought against the variant, the only thing I could think of was defeating the enemy…so that I could keep walking the path I’ve decided for myself…” As she spoked, Haruhime had wrapped the tip of her dexterous tail around Vahn’s arm. Vahn could feel a strange energy coming from her body so he activated his [Eyes of Truth] and saw that, overtop her normal tail, there was an illusory blue tail overlapping it.

Vahn was curious, so he reached around with his left hand and tilted Haruhime’s head upward toward him. She opened her eyes and Vahn noticed that had almost completely transitioned from their placid green stay to an off-shade of green that was bordering gold. Her pupils had started to contract in a strange manner and were taller than they were wide. The moment he looked into them, their color became richer and they were very quickly becoming a pale-gold color as Haruhime whispered in a seductive tone, “Vahn…” Vahn felt a chill run up his back as a red ‘blush’ appeared around Haruhime’s eyelids and she tried to reach up and kiss him. Out of instinct, Vahn tilted his head slightly and she kissed the bottom of his chin before laughing in a playful manner that made Vahn’s brain buzz slightly.

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Haruhime leaned her back against him and placed both of her palms on Vahn’s thighs before he grabbed her hands and pulled them away as he said, “Haruhime, don’t get carried away. As you stated, I believe your skill isn’t simply influenced by your emotions, but it also influences your emotions in a dangerous loop. You should be able to sense it yourself, but the little mana remaining in your body is starting to circulate to sustain this ability. If you keep using it, at this rate, you’ll end up going Mind Down again.” Haruhime’s golden eyes blinked before she tilted her head down and closed her eyes as she took several deep breaths. Vahn watched her with his [Eyes of Truth] but it didn’t seem like the illusory blue tail was going to vanish any time soon.

Vahn suspected that he might actually be the reason for her current ‘state’ since Haruhime’s aura was a strangely passionate red intermixed with a pale blue color that was coiling around his body with invisible tendrils. He couldn’t feel anything from their touch, but Vahn knew Haruhime was in a somewhat ‘dangerous’ state so he said in a firm tone, “Haruhime, you need to get off my lap. I don’t think you’ll be able to calm down from this state unless you do.” Haruhime tilted her head and opened her eyes to reveal they were fluctuating slightly before she let out a somewhat sad sigh and stood up from his lap. She muttered in a quiet tone as she pressed her hands over her heart and said, “I don’t want to let this feeling go…I feel like I can do anything with this power…but I don’t mind giving it up if it prevents me from being close to you, Vahn…”

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After Haruhime stood up, Vahn bounced to his feet as he heard her words and shook his head before saying, “You don’t have to worry about anything like that, Haruhime. Once you learn to control that power and make it your own, you won’t have to worry about being influenced so strongly by the side-effects. I have a few rare skills of my own, and they can be pretty difficult to adapt to, but it isn’t impossible. After all, it’s a power that belongs to us, not the other way around.” Though he was worried it might extend the time she was stuck in the form, Vahn reached out his hand and affectionately stroked Haruhime’s long blond hair while using [Hands of Nirvana] to channel calming energy into her mind.

Haruhime closed her eyes and enjoyed the moment before she began to hum a strange tune that Vahn had heard earlier when she was fighting. She didn’t seem to notice she was doing it, and Vahn thought it was another aspect of her ability but was unable to determine its influence on her body even with his [Eyes of Truth]. The only thing he could discern that her mana fluctuated slightly in tune with her humming and it was a very peculiar sight to behold. After a while, however, Vahn decided that Haruhime needed to rest and also wanted to update her Status Board to verify some of his earlier conjecture.

Though he felt sorry to disturb her small reverie, Vahn said in a low tone, “Haruhime, I want to check your Status and see if you’ve actually awakened a rare skill. Since you defeated a powerful enemy, you may have even gained an achievement and might be able to level up. However, I would caution you against leveling up too soon as it would hurt your foundation in the future. We also have nearly sixty hours to complete the requirements for the [Hunter] Development Ability, so there isn’t any real rush to Level up now.”

Hearing Vahn’s words, Haruhime opened her eyes and Vahn noticed they were a pale green that was slowly restoring to their original color. However, the moment she opened them, Haruhime’s eyes began to fade and take on an off-shade of gold that made Vahn release a short sigh that caused the young Renard girl to laugh as she quickly loosened her obi. Vahn averted his eyes but Haruhime asked, “Please, Vahn, I don’t want you to look away…it’s not like I’m naked, though, even then, I wouldn’t mind…” Vahn awkwardly scratched the side of his face before turning back to Haruhime with a nod. He had seen her naked several times, and it was actually more awkward for him to look away than stare straight at her. Since she wanted him to look, turning his head just made the atmosphere tenser.

Haruhime’s face blossomed with a smile as she finished loosening her obi and lowering her red kimono with a bell-like laugh. Because he had brought up the concern of having to update the girls’ status in the dungeon, Ryuu and Aki had purchased black tops and shorts that covered the chest while keeping the back completely exposed. Most Adventurers, at least females, didn’t wear bras in the dungeon since the elastic bands and wires were uncomfortable after strenuous movements. Vahn could see the shape of Haruhime’s breasts through the black fabric as well as a slight hint of her skin concealed underneath it. The most obvious thing though were the two small buds that were pressing against the fabric and Vahn knew Haruhime had wanted him to see them. Her eyes immediately turned a pale golden color with long slits for pupils as a red coloration framed her eyes as she laughed in what Vahn could only describe as a ‘mischevious’ manner before she began radiating an aura of ‘elegance’ as she turned around and swayed her hips.

With the motion, Haruhime’s tail followed her movements before gently caressing the underside of Vahn’s chin with the tip. Vahn felt his brain buzz to an incredible extent and had to use [Will of the Emperor] to regain his calm as he stared at Haruhime’s pale white back. Her tail was moving from side-to-side, almost as if it were in slow motion and Vahn could see the illusory blue tail trailing slowly behind in a hypnotic fashion. He knew her tail, or tails, were the catalyst for her power and Vahn knew that, even if she wasn’t doing it intentionally, she was trying to seduce him with a powerful, almost instinctive, compulsion in each of her movements.

Vahn ignored the matter for the time being as he pricked his finger and stretched it forward to draw a line down Haruhime’s back. The moment his finger touched near the base of her neck, Vahn could feel Haruhime’s body tremble slightly. When he traced his finger down, the trembling increased and she released a hot sigh that made Vahn have a strange urge to facepalm and rub his temples. He started to realize that Haruhime’s ‘awakened’ state could be very problematic for him in the future since he was the primary target of her affections. To get a better understanding of her ability, he would have to see if it also influenced other people or it might be impossible for Haruhime to fight in groups. If she was ‘distracting’ her own allies, it wouldn’t be very helpful when they were on expeditions in the future. If it just affected her ‘targets’, Vahn would be able to resist the influence of the skill as long as he used his [Will of the Emperor] to keep his mind calm.

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[[STATUS]]

Name: Sanjouno Haruhime

Race: Renard

LV. 1(+)

POW: H185->G222

END: G206->F371

DEX: G233->E419

AGI: F314->E448

MAG: B748->S929

Skill: [Inari:Innate(H)], [Prometheus’s Blessing:A], [Heroic Strike:G],[Featherfoot:E->D]

Magic: [Uchide no Kozuchi:B],[Kokonoe:D->C],[Icicle Edge:G->F]

Development Skill: [Moon Priestess:Innate(sealed)], [Spirit Healing:C], [Mage(sealed)]

———————————————————————————–

Seeing Haruhime’s updated status, Vahn was very pleased since his earlier deduction had proven to be true. Since it was related to her tails, Vahn assumed Haruhime’s awakened ability was related to her Innate skill, [Inari]. Now that he had confirmation of the fact, Vahn started to have a better understanding of what was required to awaken Innate abilities. Though he wasn’t certain, Vahn suspected that Bell’s [Liaris Freese] was also an Innate, which meant that the trigger was powerful emotions. As long as the emotions remained, the Innate would continue to develop and the person would grow progressively stronger. For the twins, it was their shared bond that served as the basis, but it was the emotions they directed toward him that resulted in the skill awakening. It was the same for Haruhime since it was her affections and attachment to him that served as the trigger for her own awakening.

This was a double-edged sword, however, since if their feelings faded it could negatively affect their growth in the future. Haruhime not only had his flame seed in her chest, which also depended on her feelings, but she was also influenced by his Mentor’s Mark as well as her own Innate. He knew what she meant when she mentioned it felt like her ‘feelings’ were giving her strength. All three skills compounded to spur her growth forward and it was at a pace that would likely even exceed his own record depending on the circumstances. This would inevitably make her emotions even stronger though, as she would always relate her own growth and progress to the thoughts and feelings she harbored inside her heart. Just like Bell had pursued Ais endlessly in the manga, he had become Haruhime’s goal and the thought of the fox girl chasing at his back put a little pressure on him.

After mulling over matters for a short moment, Vahn handed the status sheet to the waiting Haruhime and said with a smile, “Your growth is nothing short of incredible, Haruhime. Not only did you unlock a rare skill, but I can even tell you completed the requirements for the [Mage] Development Ability. You’ll have to decide which one you want to choose by the time you level up in the future.” Haruhime stared at her own status sheet as a somewhat strange smile appeared on her face and she hugged the piece of paper to her chest. She then turned to Vahn with her expression a mix between elegance and ardor as she said, “I will catch up to you soon, Vahn~!” Vahn felt like a small animal being eyed by a predator as he awkwardly smiled before nodding his head and saying, “Work hard, I believe in you, Haruhime.” She laughed in a happy manner before the pale-gold color of her eyes spontaneously dissipated and she nearly fell onto her butt in an exhausted manner before laughing exuberantly when Vahn caught her…

(A/N: I know some people might not like the fact that Vahn is focusing on the strength of others, but know that this is a very important matter. I’m not going to detail the growth of every character, just those that will play an important role in the future plot. There is a very large misconception that some people have when they think Vahn could progress into the lower floors of the dungeon alone. Simply put, if he tried to do so, Vahn would almost certainly die without any other possible outcome. He might be able to fight off dozens, even hundreds, of monsters at once, but monsters spawn in thousands in the lower floors. The Dungeon itself starts proactively trying to kill you as well, so the more tired you are, the greater the chance of monsters spawning near you. On top of all of this, there isn’t a single safe area from the 18th floor all the way down to the 50th floor. There are also no shortcuts to exit the dungeon easily, and this is why Familia organize literal military expeditions to proceed further down. Vahn might be a logistician’s wet dream, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t get tired and run out of supplies.)

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