After Haruhime’s tail suddenly split into two, Vahn used his [Eyes of Truth] to investigate as he was very curious about their nature. Haruhime had noticed the change in his eyes before turning around ‘obediently’ so Vahn could get a better look. With a somewhat wry smile on his face, Vahn observed Haruhime’s lower back and noticed several things, some expected, some not so much. The connecting vertebrae for Haruhime’s tail had split into a Y-shape, and Vahn noticed that, whenever Haruhime moved it, the bone seemed somewhat flexible in nature and it was a very strange sight to see. As for one of the unexpected things, Vahn could see that Haruhime’s tails both had the same illusory blue color trailing them and he suspected this was the sign they would split in the future. For the moment, the coloration was very light instead of the prominent, rich, blue coloration of the previous phantom tail.
While he was observing the tails, Vahn noticed they swayed about in a strange pattern for a brief moment and, by the time he realized something had happened, Haruhime was turned around facing him while asking, “Is everything okay, Vahn~?” Because she had previously had her back to him, Vahn was surprised that Haruhime was now facing toward him while staring up with her pale-golden eyes with a hint of concern contained within. Shaking his head, Vahn used [Will of the Emperor] before explaining, “It’s fine, Haruhime, but it seems like your tails have some kind of hypnotic effect that creates a gap in the awareness of others. You should have noticed it earlier when you were fighting, but the monsters would always attack your previous locations instead of where your actual body is.”
Haruhime tilted her head to the side for a moment in confusion before nodding and saying, “I didn’t notice it too much, but I believe you’re correct, Vahn. All I was doing was following the tempo of the monsters and moving slightly faster than they were. From what I can tell, they can’t move beyond their own tempo, so as long as I keep the rhythm they can’t touch me…well, that is unless they stop trying to hit me and go crazy.” Hearing the way Haruhime described it, Vahn was somewhat curious and asked, “Do you want to spar with me for a moment? I’m curious about how that ‘tempo’ you’re mentioning works…”
For a brief moment, Haruhime seemed to consider Vahn’s words before eventually shaking her head and saying, “Even if it’s just sparring, I don’t want to ever fight you, Vahn. I’m sorry, please forgive me…” As she spoke, Haruhime bowed very low in an apologetic fashion that made Vahn feel slightly uncomfortable so he said, “No, it’s fine…when we get to the surface, I’ll have you spar with Mikoto and the others though.” Haruhime raised her head with a smile and said, “Of course, I’ll do my best~!” Vahn wanted to remark about why she was so ‘eager’ to fight the other girls, but he decided against it before they both wandered deeper into the depths of the Dungeon. Since Haruhime had cleared the 14th floor with relative ease, she was now going to be facing one of the most dangerous monsters in the upper floor, even for those that have reached the early stages of Level 2, the ‘notorious’ Minotaurs…
Vahn was watching Haruhime deal with her twentieth Minotaur and he couldn’t help but release a short sigh because the ugly bull monsters had let him down yet again. Even when he fought them in the past, he couldn’t help but feel like they were actually much weaker than rumored. Because of his training with Tsubaki, bipedal creatures were simply easier to deal with than almost any other type of monster. Though they had incredible strength, their agility wasn’t impressive to the point where it was a major threat to experienced fighters. Their biggest weakness, however, was the fact that they were rather dumb and typically just flailed their arms about trying to smash things. Since Haruhime’s skill allowed her to exploit the gaps in someone’s thoughts, the Minotaurs just kept smashing random areas long after she had moved away. With the added benefit of a powerful sword, Haruhime had absolutely no trouble dealing with small groups of Minotaurs at all.
Now that he was no longer ‘hiding’, Haruhime spent the majority of the time walking at his side as if they were enjoying a date. She had a happy smile on her face and let Vahn lead her around in order to more efficiently locate monsters. They didn’t talk too much, but Haruhime would often wrap her dexterous tail around his wrist while maintaining a complacent smile on her face. If not for the fact that her ears were twitching about from various sounds, Vahn would have lightly reprimanded her for not paying attention. Though he was leading the way, Haruhime would release his arm long before they arrived near the monsters and spend a few seconds thinking about the best way to engage them before walking out. This showed that she wasn’t simply ‘playing around’, but was also keeping her senses trained on her surroundings and treating the matter, at least a little, seriously.
This time around, Haruhime was facing a group of eight Minotaurs, three more than any other group she had faced. To add to the difficulty, one of the Minotaurs actually had a large greatsword covering in nicks and scratches that was also missing the tip. Vahn was wondering how she would deal with it, but before Haruhime got anywhere near the Minotaurs she simply called out in a sing-song tone, “Piercing Chill, Icicle Edge~!” However, instead of the singular ice spear, this time there were two that appeared at Haruhime’s flanks that both shot toward the Minotaur wielding the sword. It tried it’s best to cut them out of the air, but the second one managed to slip through and impale it in the ribs with enough force that the tip of the spear jutted out from the back of its body. As it had been on the side where its heart would have been located, the Minotaur quickly succumbed to its wound before collapsing to the ground without ever getting a chance to use its sword.
Seemingly happy about the change in her magic, Haruhime laughed in a dulcet tone before calling out, “Piercing Chill, Icicle Edge~!”, “Piercing Chill, Icicle Edge~!”, “Piercing Chill, Icicle Edge~!” as she began raining down ice spears on the ‘poor’ Minotaurs that were trying to rush at her. Vahn was worried about her mana consumption, but he noticed she was using the equipment he had forged for her instead of her own reserves. He also noticed that every time Haruhime was saying her short chant, the illusory blue of her tails would sparkle for a brief moment just as she finished the chant. Just like her [Kokonoe], her extra tails seemed to be able to simulcast the spell she was using without the need for an extra chant. If this remained the case as her tails grew in number, it was theoretically possible that Haruhime would be able to cast nine spells with a single chant in the future…
For the rest of the day, Vahn told his speculations to Haruhime and they both worked hard in order to learn the best use for her skill. Knowing that she would one day be able to grow even more tails, Haruhime was very excited to learn more magic in order to make better use of her gift. As a Renard, she was very aware that her rare skill was named after their patron goddess, so she felt especially motivated to master it in the future. There was also the fact that, if she could grow nine tails, the time she would be able to spend with Vahn would increase a great deal whenever she could convince him to brush them. Since they were very soft to the touch, Vahn didn’t really mind helping girls like Fenrir and Haruhime brush their tails as he felt like it was a very therapeutic thing for his mind.
By the time they decided to rest, it was nearly 9 PM and Haruhime had slain a total of 744 monsters. Though he was worried about it initially, it seemed like Haruhime would easily be able to reach the required 1,000 now that he had started to track down the monsters for her. He felt that her pace was ‘slow’ in the past, but now that her Innate skill had awakened Haruhime was able to dispatch groups of enemies without much difficulty. Even though he had a number of powerful Innates at his disposal, Vahn couldn’t help but feel like Haruhime’s was a bit of a ‘cheat’. Monsters were simple-minded creatures, often incapable of complex thought, so they had no resistance at all against her skill. There was something a bit ‘sad’ when watching monsters attack nothing over and over again for several hours, but at least he was able to see Haruhime’s ‘dance’ being polished in the process.
One thing to note was, Haruhime’s ‘control’ over the skill had, at the very least, stabilized a bit and she was no longer acting as untoward as she had previously. She was still overly affectionate compared to her past self but seemed to be behaving better after he resisted her advances over and over again. Perhaps it was because she didn’t want to offend him, but Haruhime began behaving in a more reserved and elegant fashion in order to get closer to Vahn without putting him off because of her behavior. The only problem was, Vahn had the ability to see auras and her ‘act’ wasn’t very effective when her aura was coiling around him like it was trying to fuse with his body. However, Vahn didn’t simply turn her away since she was making an effort to control her power so he meticulously brushed her long hair and tails before updating her Status Board now that the day had come to an end.
Name: Sanjouno Haruhime
Skill: [Inari:Innate(H)->(F)], [Prometheus’s Blessing:A], [Heroic Strike:G],[Featherfoot:D->C]
Magic: [Uchide no Kozuchi:B],[Kokonoe:C],[Icicle Edge:F->E]
Development Skill: [Moon Priestess:Innate(sealed)], [Spirit Healing:C->B], [Mage(sealed)]
Because her Innate seemed to be tied to her Magic parameter, Haruhime’s growth had broken the ‘limit’ and exceeded the S-Rank in parameter growth, which was the limit for the majority of people. All of her mobility parameters and skills were increasing rapidly as well and Haruhime was very quickly proceeding down a somewhat rare path where she was focused on both mobility and magic. Though she didn’t have [Concurrent Chanting], she may not even need it now since her Innate seemed to be able to allow her to chant withing needing the skill at all. As long as she followed the ‘tempo’, Haruhime was able to continue chanting without having to stop her ‘dance’ at all. As a test, Vahn tried to get her to do it in a normal state and, from this experiment, he was able to confirm his speculation that it was another benefit of her Innate.
It seemed as though Innates named after gods and goddesses were a great deal stronger than normal, especially if the person using the ability had a good understanding of the traits associated with the god in question. Since Inari was the patron goddess of the Renard people, Haruhime knew a great deal about her since she was the daughter of a noble family. Ironically, the reason for her ‘exile’ from the clan was because of a shrine offering she was accused of eating which had been intended as a tribute to Inari herself. Vahn wondered if the two had some kind of interconnected fate and if he would be able to see the purportedly beautiful Renard goddess in the future.