Chapter 358: Seeing Double

The first day in the Dungeon concluded much earlier than Vahn had expected, and it wasn’t without a fair amount of trouble. He had tried to help Haruhime recover her mana by channeling his energy into her abdomen, but the moment she had enough mana to support her Innate skill she would immediately start to transform. Vahn was able to tell exactly when the skill activated since her aura would always turn from a rosy pink into a passionate red with the strange golden aura that would extend its tendrils toward him in an almost possessive manner. Though her expression wouldn’t change much, Vahn noticed that Haruhime would show a slightly enamored look deep within her eyes the moment the red markings appeared. He decided to just have her go to sleep early in order to naturally recover her energy while helping recharge her accessories in the process.

When she laid down, Haruhime didn’t immediately fall asleep and Vahn could hear her humming the same strange tune as earlier while he was replenishing the energy within her accessories. Though he wasn’t looking directly at her, Vahn was aware of everything Haruhime was doing and he could feel her gaze on his back for several minutes as she continued humming. With his [Eyes of Truth] active, Vahn could feel the ‘domain’ of Haruhime extending outwards for about nine meters and he felt like all of the mana contained within had taken on an illusory nature. Eventually, he finished recharging the accessories before turning around to see Haruhime supporting her head with both hands as she watched him with a ‘playful’ smile on her face. Her tail continued to sway about behind her until she rolled over onto her back and asked while staring at him upside down, “Vaaahn, do you want to rest with me~?”

Vahn looked at her for a few seconds before sighing and tossing over the various accessories in his hands. Haruhime startled as she spun around on the bed and grasped all the accessories before they could touch the ground. She released a relieved sigh before happily wearing them in the blink of an eye. After she had returned them to their rightful places, Haruhime plopped down onto the futon and fluttered her pale-gold eyes toward Vahn until he said firmly, “Haruhime, go to sleep. Staying awake longer is only going to delay things and that isn’t the reason why we came into the Dungeon.” Hearing his words, Haruhime’s curved ears drooped downwards before she rolled up under the blankets and popped out her head one last time and asked with a ‘pitiable’ expression, “Are you sure? I think I would sleep even better if we were together…”

Shaking his head, Vahn’s expression turned softer and he said, “You’re being influenced too much by your own ability right now. Until you learn to control it, it’s too dangerous for us to interact closely. Don’t get me wrong, Haruhime, your power isn’t the issue here, it is your lack of control that is the problem. I will do my best to help you understand your power, but the only surefire way is to acclimate your body to its use. When you’re able to keep your skill active without it influencing your mind, I don’t mind giving you an appropriate reward.” Though it looked like she was going to ‘pout’ for a moment, Haruhime’s expression turned into a smile before she snuggled up into her futon and whispered in a sultry voice, “I’ll work even harder…make sure you think of my reward properly, Vaaaahn~.” From within the ‘darkness’ of the futon, Vahn could see Haruhime’s pale-golden eyes staring at him with a subtle glow present in their depths.

The second day in the dungeon was relatively uneventful except for the fact that Haruhime had to take a long break after traversing each floor. Though the eleventh floor had been her temporary limit, she had made her way down to the 14th by the time the afternoon had come around. Her total monster count was 403, and there was slightly more than half the time remaining before they were supposed to return. Of course, they could stay longer and let Haruhime hunt even more monsters to guarantee things, as it didn’t really restrict the person to attempting the feat a single time. When Familia’s trained their members to acquire the skill, they usually stayed in the dungeon for an entire week and generally followed an established route that was well-documented by veteran members within the Familia.

Vahn had noticed that Haruhime’s power made her a capable fighter since the majority of monsters didn’t seem to be able to see through her illusions at all. Her dance had become increasingly complex over time and Vahn felt like she was already fighting at the capabilities of a Level 2 even though she hadn’t leveled up yet. When they returned to the surface, Vahn wanted to see how she would fair against Mikoto since they wouldn’t be that far apart in actual parameters. Unless she managed to catch Haruhime with her gravity magic, Vahn didn’t think Mikoto would actually be able to win against the somewhat ‘broken’ Innate skill of Haruhime.

However, though her use of the skill was improving, her ‘control’ seemed to be slipping further and further. After a somewhat difficult fight where she had slain a group of twelve Hellhounds, Haruhime actually looked over toward where he was hiding before walking over in a slow manner with an elegant smile on her face. Vahn was certain he hadn’t done anything to alert her to his presence and he could tell that his [Stealth] hadn’t actually been broken even though she seemed to understand his location. Without calling out to him, Haruhime stopped a few meters away from his hiding spot before looking around with a blushing face as if confirming no one was present. She released a ‘relieved’ sigh before squatting down after pulling down the black spat-like shorts she was wearing. Vahn immediately turned his attention away from her as he listened to the trickle of fluids colliding with the Dungeon floor…

After around a minute, Vahn heard the rustling of clothes as Haruhime slowly made her way further into the dungeon without looking over at his location again. Though it could have been a ‘coincidence’, Vahn had seen the smile on Haruhime’s face before she walked over and knew she had somehow detected his presence even without actually locating him. It was a strangely disconcerting thought since Vahn was confident he could avoid almost all forms of detection, both physical and magical. He was even able to avoid Mikoto’s detection spell and could hide right under the nose of a Juggernaut…yet he couldn’t avoid the senses of a Level 1 Renard girl?

Once Haruhime had left the room, Vahn walked out from behind his hiding spot and stared at the damp puddle on the ground that had a small amount of steam rising up from it. He released a sigh before shaking his head and following along behind Haruhime while maintaining an increased distance from her to avoid further detection. However, though he maintained increased caution, Vahn was able to tell that Haruhime was somehow able to sense him now even though he remained hidden. She kept sneaking glances in his direction and seemed to be controlling her movements as if she were trying to ‘show off’ to him.

Since he had done something similar in the past, Vahn was easily able to see through her little act. The final straw had been when she ‘accidentally’ stepped to short when evading an attack and a Hellhounds razor sharp teeth had caught onto the interior fold of her kimono and tore the entire thing open. Though she was still wearing the black undergarment to protect her modesty, Haruhime continued the remainder of the fight facing toward Vahn and he could see a light blush on her face the entire time. When all of the monsters were killed, Haruhime released a ‘relieved’ sigh before placing her hand over her heart by means of grabbing her own breast. After a few minutes of ‘calming down’, she walked over before staring at a magic core and turning her back toward Vahn and bending over at the waist instead of bending down to pick it up. Because of her tail, the red kimono Haruhime was wearing slid up her body and Vahn got a full view of her black spats several times as she repeated the action to pick up the remaining magic cores.

Vahn released a sigh before stepping into the light and removing his cloak as he asked, “How are you able to detect my presence?” Haruhime ‘startled’ as she jumped up and tried her best to resume an elegant demeanor before saying, “Ah, greetings, Vahn. I’m not sure what you mean though~?” Seeing Vahn frown, Haruhime stuck out her tongue playfully and said, “Tehehe, I’m just kidding~! I don’t know how I’m able to do it either, it’s just like I can ‘feel’ you nearby. Even if I can’t see, hear, or smell you, I’m able to roughly understand your location!” After her small outburst, Haruhime suddenly turned bashful as she rubbed her thighs together and asked, “Did…you see it~?” For a very brief moment, Vahn was confused about her question until he averted his eyes and said, “No, I turned my head away…I could hear it though. Haruhime…you shouldn’t be doing things like that.”

Haruhime’s ears twitched at his words before she said in a low tone with her upturned eyes, “But, I want you to see my everything…even if we’re not doing anything together, I see want you to watch me. Just knowing you’re the one watching gives me strength and courage…so don’t turn away, Vahn…” As she spoke, Haruhime traced her hands up to her obi and began to loosen it even though they were still in the middle of a room where monsters could spawn at any time. As if she understood his concerns, Haruhime giggled before saying, “Even if I have to fight naked, I’ll be able to defeat monsters of this level easily~.” Though she didn’t quite get naked, Haruhime striped down until she was wearing nothing but her black, semi-transparent, top and the black spats-like shorts. She still had on her actual armor, but it was a strange sight to see a half-naked girl standing in the low light of the dungeon.

After standing for a few seconds, Haruhime tilted her head and asked with a smile on her face, “Are you going to give me a change of clothes, or did you want me to dance for you~?” Without waiting for his answer, Haruhime took a step forward in a strange pattern that traced an s along the ground as her hips swayed about gracefully with her tail following the motion. Vahn immediately snapped out of his temporary daze before pulling out a new kimono that matched the damaged one Haruhime had removed. She caught the tossed clothing with her hands before laughing in a mischevious manner and saying, “Maybe next time then~?” As she got dressed, Haruhime took about three times the normal amount of time it took to wear her kimono. Throughout the entire process, she continued to bend her body at different angles as if trying to make sure that Vahn could see everything properly.

Once Haruhime and completed getting dressed, she turned back to Vahn and showed a gentle smile on her face as she said, “Thanks for watching, Vahn. Sorry for being a little selfish this time around…I just wanted to tease you a bit. I don’t understand it myself, but getting a small rise out of you makes me feel happy. I’ll try to be a bit more serious from now on, so please continue to watch over me as I do my best to catch up to you.” After speaking, Haruhime bowed in a very prim and proper manner before the pale-gold in her eyes began to turn slightly green. Vahn raised his brow at the sight before a small smile appeared on his face and he said, “Sure, your dance is captivating from far away, so I imagine it’ll be even better up close. Since I can’t really hide from you, I’ll just stand off to the side and watch your performance until the end. Show me how far you can go Haruhime, I won’t run ahead too quickly so take your time trying to catch up.”

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Haruhime’s gentle smile blossomed into a lovely expression before she released a somewhat sad sigh and said, “I wish moments like this could last forever…just the two of us spending time together. It’s almost like I’m stuck inside a dream and the happy feelings keep spreading through my body ceaselessly…I don’t really want to wake up anymore.” Haruhime turned her head up toward the ceiling and continued, “I will become even stronger, Vahn…strong enough that, no matter how far you run, how fast you fly, or how deep you go, I will be able to stand at your side proudly.” Turning back to Vahn, Haruhime had a soft expression on her face as she said, “Please always keep a spot open for me…”

Though she might have expected him to hesitate, Vahn had long ago decided to accept Haruhime in the future after she increased her own strength. He knew she would probably grow attached to him after he had saved her since he had seen how rapidly her affection developed after he carried her for the first time. Haruhime was not only incredibly gifted but extremely beautiful as well; Vahn simply didn’t have it in him to turn her away after everything that happened. He considered every person he saved a part of his responsibility, so he wouldn’t simply leave Haruhime to someone else since she had chosen to follow him. With a happy smile on his face, Vahn reached out and stroked Haruhime’s head lovingly as he said, “Thank you, Haruhime, for doing so much for me…no matter what, there will always be a place for you at my side. I’m actually looking forward to the day you step forward to claim it…”

Hearing Vahn’s words, Haruhime tilted her head up with a bright smile on her face and said in a cheerful tone, “I won’t keep you waiting long~! You’re not the only one looking forward to it, fufufufu~!” As her laughter sounded, Haruhime’s eyes turned a vibrant gold color as a wispy blue light shone from behind her. Vahn had noticed it first, but it wasn’t long before Haruhime turned her head and watched her own tail begin to fray from the tip. She panicked for a moment since such a thing had never occurred before in the past. Her tail had always been one of the things she prided herself on and Haruhime couldn’t even imagine what she would do if something strange happened to it. However, regardless of her will, Haruhime’s tail continued to fray until it eventually started to split in a strange manner.

After a few tense seconds had passed, her singular tail had now turned into two different tails that now jutted out from her bottom. Even though it had happened to her own body, Haruhime couldn’t understand what was going on until she tried to move both tails simultaneously. She realized that, just like she could easily move her first tail, Haruhime had just as much control over the second one. Even though it didn’t make sense to her why this was the case, she felt very happy at the realization as she turned her attention to the surprised Vahn and reached both tails around her body and rubbed them against him. He blinked before looking down at the two appendages before Haruhime whispered, “Now you’ll have to spend twice as long brushing my tails, I’m looking forward to it~!”

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