Chapter 373: Fall

—Tione PoV—

Not long after she jumped off Fafnir’s back, Tione had spun through the air several times before stabilizing her body with her arms and legs spread wide in a free-falling posture. The waistcloth that had been tied around her hips had been caught by the wind and torn from her body and she cursed Vahn within her mind for not thinking about everyone’s clothing. She did notice, however, after she fell for about twenty seconds she had stopped accelerating entirely. If anything, Tione felt like she was falling ‘slowly’ and the only way she could go faster was the change her posture to cut through the wind. She realized that Vahn’s words had been true and, just based on her current speed, there wasn’t any danger at all. This realization was a very liberating thing for Tione since she had a great fear of heights in the past.

After flipping over her body, Tione was falling towards the continent and staring upwards toward the sky as if she was looking for the others. Though the air was frigid, it didn’t affect her much and it actually felt very pleasant against her skin. However, she had a strange desire for ‘warmth’ and wished she had pulled Vahn along with her when she took the ‘leap of faith’. Her confession just before her jump had been a pretty big step forward for her since it was the point where she officially decided to give up on Finn. Even though they didn’t spend too much time together, Vahn showed her far more care than Finn had ever shown. She was always his ‘subordinate’ and, other than the time they spent at the Twilight Manor and on expeditions, they didn’t really do anything intimate at all. Now that she had overcome her fear of heights, she suddenly felt like it was much easier to overcome the other things that burdened her heart in the past…

—Godhand PoV—

Though he had only leaped down a few seconds after Tione, the actual distance between them was several hundred meters. Vahn had been slightly concerned about her, so he was trying to close the distance to make sure she hadn’t passed out or something. Though she would still survive the fall, Vahn didn’t want her to have a bad experience since he wanted to do this type of thing more often in the future. As for Fenrir, she was clinging to his body like a koala while doing her best not to dig her claws into his back. She wasn’t afraid at all, especially since Vahn was holding onto her, but it was still ‘strange’ to be falling upside down toward the planet. Her instincts were screaming at her that, if she fell to the ground at this rate, she would definitely die. However, Fenrir had long stopped listening to her instincts and placed all of her trust in Vahn since she knew that he would always protect her, just like she would protect him…

Because they had been falling head-first towards the ground, Vahn saw a red speckle with his enhanced vision and recognized it to be Tione since his eyes literally zoomed in on her after he spotted her. She had turned face up and was falling toward the ground with her eyes closed, but Vahn could tell she was still awake by her body posture and stable aura. Tione looked to be at peace with the current situation and Vahn smiled knowing she had been able to overcome her fear. Since she was in a neutral posture, it wasn’t too long before he was able to close the distance to her before realizing how ‘difficult’ it was to approach someone else in freefall.

Vahn overshot her by a large margin and passed by Tione like a bullet as he started laughing out loud which caused her to startle as she flipped over her body to stare at him with an incredulous look on her face. Because of the wind surrounding them, they couldn’t actually speak to each other, but bits of Vahn’s laughter carried through the air since he was lower than she was. He did his best to try and control his descent as Tione angled her body to slowly close the distance between them. Because they were both high levels, the control of their bodies was very high and it wasn’t too long before they had closed the gap and stabilized by reaching out to each other.

When she grabbed his right hand, Tione had a big smile on her face as she tried to shout out words that couldn’t bridge the short distance between them due to the wind whizzing by. Vahn shook his head with a smile and mouthed a few words of his own which allowed her to understand he couldn’t hear her at all. With a somewhat ‘frustrated’ look on her face, Tione pulled Vahn closer to her and grabbed onto his body with Fenrir in between them as she shouted as loudly as she could in his ear, “I SAID I LOVE YOU, YOU IDIOOOOOOOT~!”

Because of the zero distance between her mouth and his ear, Vahn’s eardrum rattled and his winced in pain before laughing at her confession. Before she misunderstood his response, Vahn leaned forward and tried to say something as her long hair whipped up into his face and smacked him in the eye. She had little metal ties on the ends of her braided sideburns and Vahn took one directly to the eye which made him wince as a bit of moisture built up at the edge of his closed eyelids.

Tione had an apologetic expression on her face but Vahn just shook his head before leaning forward quickly and giving her a kiss as the three of them rapidly fell towards the ground. Vahn was constantly being barraged by Tione’s hair, but he just kept his eyes closed and accepted the ‘assault’ as he held Tione in his arms until he detected another group of presences closing in on them. When he pulled his face away from her’s, Vahn saw the enamored blush and the fervent expression on her face before he shook his head and pushed away from her with a wink as he pointed upwards. Following his finger, Tione saw a flash of brown skin wearing nothing but a small white top and bottoms that she recognized as her own twin sister. Tiona had also lost her waistcloth and, perhaps due to the ‘aerodynamic’ nature of her body, she was quickly closing the distance like a Vahn-seeking missile.

Vahn could tell that she was approaching too quickly so he reached out his hand and simply ‘chanted’, “Raging winds, hear my call, slow Tiona’s descent for me~!” Since the only thing that mattered when casting magic was your ‘image’ and the ‘intention’ behind your chant, it was actually possible to cast any kind of magic you ‘believed’ would work. Vahn ‘genuinely’ wanted to slow Tiona down and knew the most reliable method would be to increase the wind resistance of her body. Since she was within the range of his domain, he could perfectly track her trajectory and hit her with a light green bullet that shot out of his palm and slowed her bullet-like descent to a crawl right before she collided with him with open arms.

Though he only heard bits and pieces of it, Vahn could tell from Tiona’s expression and the reverberations passing between their bodies that she was laughing jubilantly. She had probably seen him kissing Tione, so Tiona grabbed the sides of his face and started kissing him passionately as the spun around chaotically through the air without regard for their current situation. Vahn was enjoying the stimulus since he hadn’t expected their freefall to suddenly turn into a make-out session and it made everything far more ‘exciting’. Most ‘fighters’ were omnidirectional experts so, even though they were spinning about randomly, Vahn was able to keep his orientation without getting nauseous at all. He just spent a short while twining his tongue with the overeager Tiona before reaching his hand out and repeating, “Raging winds, hear my call, slow Ais’s descent for me~!”

Ais had jumped down right after Tiona, so she wasn’t far behind her and quickly closed the distance with the obvious intention of catching up with Vahn. Vahn’s spell had no effect on her, however, as it broke against a green barrier that appeared around Ais’s body. Though his eyes widened for a moment, Vahn calmed down quickly when Ais naturally decelerated to match their pace. With his [Eyes of Truth], Vahn could tell that Ais was manipulating the wind around her very skillfully and was even shielding herself from the wind resistance battering everyone else. With Ais’s inclusion, their group became a strange three-way hug with Fenrir stuck between everyone else with a somewhat frustrated expression as she shouted loudly, “Don’t squish Fenrir!”

Because Ais’s wind barrier had wrapped around everyone else, they all heard Fenrir’s shout and Vahn began to laugh as he said, “Let’s just enjoy the fall, for now, I’ll make sure to invite the two of you to my room later~.” Vahn sent the girls a wink before pressing lightly against them and breaking free of Ais’s barrier. Understanding the meaning behind his words, Tiona stopped controlling her fall and began to flip around acrobatically while laughing about. Vahn knew that, if they were on the ground, her actions would look closer to a happy dance and he found her falling figure to be rather beautiful since her skin-tight clothing didn’t leave much to the imagination.

Ais also seemed somewhat happy, but her expression was also ‘serious’ as she began to accelerate downwards at a faster pace than the rest of the group. Vahn felt like she wanted to land ‘first’, probably because of her competitive nature that liked to turn arbitrary things into a competition. Her actions weren’t missed by Tione and Tiona, but neither girl had magic to help them against the wind and quickly gave up thoughts of trying to win against Ais in a race toward the ground. They just enjoyed the fall until Vahn sent them a signal and decelerated his body which made him shoot high above them. He hadn’t actually ‘gone up’, but they were falling much faster than he was and it was a strange sight to see.

—Ryuu PoV—

Ryuu, unknowingly, was going through much the same experience as Tione had when she made her earlier leap. After resolving herself to jump off Fafnir, she felt a little afraid at first but, after falling for a few seconds, she noticed that her speed had stopped increasing. If she pushed her limits, Ryuu was actually capable of ‘running’ faster than she was currently falling. Her fears vanished shortly after this realization and she began trying to experiment with controlling her descent. However, similar to Tione and Tiona, Ryuu quickly lost a bit of her clothing when she turned her feet toward the ground. She had been wearing casual clothes for the outing, which included a light blue skirt that got caught in the fierce winds and torn from her waist.

Her blouse also tried to ride up her body, but she managed to keep it down with her hands before flipping upside down with an embarrassed blush on her face. Though Vahn had profound insights at times, he also had a bad track record when it came to paying attention to the smaller details. Even if he didn’t want to spoil the ‘surprise’, he should have told the girls to wear tighter clothing so they wouldn’t lose the garments as they fell. Now, instead of ‘enjoying’ the fall, Ryuu had her thighs clenched together tightly to make sure her vanilla colored silk panties didn’t get torn off her body as well…

—Aki PoV—

After mustering up what little courage she had, Aki leaped off of Fafnir’s back and screamed in the manner characteristic of Cat Persons for about thirty seconds until she realized that she wasn’t actually falling that fast. If not for the fact that her blouse was starting to peel down her stomach, she would have enjoyed the cool air passing through her long black hair and whizzing by her ears. Even when she wasn’t adventuring, she always wore a similar black blouse that hugged around her chest without having any shoulder support at all.

There was a strip of leather-like material about two wide that acted to create friction between her blouse and skin to prevent it from falling even during intense maneuvers. It wasn’t, however, resistant to constant wind pressure and, since she had been falling head first, the wind had coincidentally been catching the small gap in her cleavage which caused her blouse to expand from the intruding air and slowly inch its way further down her body. The only thing she could do was hold it with her hands to keep it from descending further since, when she tried flipping right side up, the air had caught in her skirt and the cold sensation against her thin black spats sent a chill up her spine.

The posture she decided upon was falling with her back toward the ground as she fixed her blouse as best she could before tightening the belts around her waist. After arranging her clothing better, she spun around and fell in a neutral position that caused her descent to slow, but also prevented the wind from trying to peel her clothing off her body. She had a wry smile as she imagined Vahn ‘scheming’ to have the girls lose their clothes, even though she knew it wasn’t his nature to do such a thing. Aki wondered if any of the other girls had trouble and tried remembering what everyone was wearing. She knew, undoubtedly, that Tione and Tiona had probably lost their sashes and nearly burst out laughing after remembering that Ryuu had the ‘misfortune’ of wearing a skirt today. Her smile froze, however, when she recalled that Riveria was wearing her usual robe that went all the way down to her knees…

—Riveria PoV—

Riveria had the most inhibitions about jumping and she immediately regretted her actions soon after since, like all the other girls, she was completely ‘unprepared’ for the raging winds. Her typical attire consisted of a creamy beige cloak, which was now long lost, a light green sash, which she was desperately holding on to, and a green military-style robe known as the ‘Elf Kings Holy Robe’. She also had on a pair of sleek looking black trousers and long brown boots, but that was a minor reprieve as she ‘desperately’ tried to rebutton her robe that had been torn open by the winds. If there were any onlookers, they would have gotten a clear view of her somewhat pale skin, that had turned lighter from the cold, and the lime-green lace brassier concealed her modest breasts.

She ‘cursed’ Vahn for his oversight, but also knew it was her fault for not properly considering the matter as well. Even when they first started their magic discussions, Vahn had a tendency to overlook things and had even gone into a ‘Mind Down’ state from his own overconfidence. He spent a lot of time thinking about things, but this also meant he was easily caught off guard when unexpected situations occurred. Because he was what could be considered an ‘omnidirectional’ fighter, Vahn wore clothing that hugged the body easily during intense movements. Riveria, however, wore somewhat loose robes and a cloak since she was a caster and didn’t move around a lot during fights. The only thing she was grateful for at the moment was the fact that she always wore pants under her clothing instead of a skirt…

—Godhand PoV—

After slowing his descent, Vahn controlled his body with his target being Ryuu who he had detected above his current position. She was falling head-first toward the ground, so the distance between them was rapidly shrinking and Vahn was surprised when he noticed that she wasn’t wearing her skirt anymore. Given the ‘blaming’ look he could see in her sky-blue eyes, Vahn knew he had made a mistake and suddenly recalled that both Tiona and Tione were also missing their waistcloths. After resolving himself for the lecture that would likely follow, Vahn altered his trajectory to try and match Ryuu’s descent as they slowly closed the distance between each other. Because of his spatial awareness, which was nearly flawless due to his domain, Vahn was becoming adept at being able to control his body through the air.

With a bit of careful maneuvering, Vahn managed to reach Ryuu before grabbed her outstretched hand and pulling her closer to his body. She tried to say something, but Vahn couldn’t hear her and just leaned forward and decided to push his luck by saying, “Vanilla really suits you, Ryuu…” as he gently pinched her slightly exposed butt. The ‘blaming’ look in her eyes turned slightly sharper but Ryuu wasn’t able to hide the blush on her cheeks as she mimicked his actions and pulled close to his ear and said, “Vahn…I’m going to make you pay for this…” Vahn blinked rapidly a few times because he didn’t know exactly what someone like Ryuu would do to make him ‘pay’. Deciding to try and avoid the potential trouble, Vahn made an effort to appease Ryuu and pulled out a pair of dark blue spats from his inventory.

Without explaining what he was trying to do, Vahn pulled Ryuu ‘up’ towards the ground as he traced down her body slowly. Ryuu didn’t understand what he was trying to do and grabbed his hair to prevent him from going any further ‘down’ since she thought he was going to tease her. Vahn realized from the fluctuations in Ryuu’s aura what she was ‘afraid’ of, but her actions just urged him onwards as he began stroking the back of her exposed thighs with his palm while using [Hands of Nirvana] to ‘shock’ her a little. Her grip on his hair tightened, but Vahn didn’t mind the pain much and continued to pull ‘up’ on her body until he could get the spats around one of her legs.

Ryuu felt the foreign cloth on her leg and realized what Vahn was trying to do so she released a sigh and helped him. After she got both of her legs into the fabric, Vahn ‘shimmed’ up her body as Ryuu pulled his tunic before pulling up his body from the shoulders. Vahn managed to get the thin, skin-tight, fabric around Ryuu’s butt and recover a bit of her modesty before sneaking in a kiss and pinching her butt again before ‘escaping’. Ryuu sent him a ‘glare’ but, after a few seconds past, mouthed the words, ‘Thank you, Vahn.’ as she slowly fell further away from him. Vahn waved at her with a casual smile on his face and said, “Ryuu, you’re so adorable…” He knew she couldn’t hear him, but his words seemed to have been conveyed as she turned her face away with a blush and accelerated toward the ground.

Vahn’s next ‘target’ was Aki, who was surprisingly higher up than he had expected. Unlike the other girls, with the exception of Ais, Aki was still wearing all of her clothing but she still gave Vahn a subtle ‘glare’ with a smile on her face. After a bit of careful maneuvering, Vahn managed to close the distance with her in a similar manner as the previous girls. When he grabbed her, Vahn leaned forward and asked, “Are you enjoying the fall?” Aki held onto his shoulder while patting Fenrir’s head and said, “It’s very exhilarating, but you should have thought about everyone’s clothing~! My blouse keeps trying to escape and my skirt isn’t exactly suitable for this type of activity!”

Though she was wearing a skirt, Aki also had on a pair of moderately thick black shorts with white bands around them. There wasn’t any ‘danger’ of her being exposed, but Vahn could understand how annoying it was to have her skirt flapping around and threatening to make her blouse ride up her body. Because there weren’t any shoulder straps, Aki faced a problem no matter how she oriented herself and the solution she had found was to simply fall flat instead of angling her body up or down. Vahn thought about it for a moment before reaching out and placing her skirt into his inventory. He also started to place items like her belts and pouches into his inventory, just so they weren’t lost later on.

Aki was surprised by Vahn’s actions at first but realized it was probably ‘better’ than trying to prevent the clothing from being torn off. He also pulled out a different blouse that would be able to hug her shoulders and helped her shimmy into it with a great deal of effort before removing her old blouse by storing it away in an instant. The blouse he had given her was something that hugged the body tightly, so Aki was able to cut through the air smoothly now that she was just wearing the tight blouse in conjunction with her form-fitting shorts. Vahn then hugged her body close and spoke into her ears as he said, “You look cute in outfits like this, it really brings out your lithe figure! I’m gonna head up and see how Riveria is doing, so I’ll see you in a bit~!”

Vahn’s current mindset was ‘might as well press my luck’ so, before he separated from Aki, he gave her a quick kiss and a firm squeeze of her toned butt. She squirmed a bit from his touch and startled when, right before he pushed away from her, he grabbed her tail playfully and ran his hand along its length. Aki released a mewling cry and tried to grab him before he could get away, but Vahn changed his posture and immediately shot up away from Aki. Though she tried to reorient her body to slow her descent to match his, Vahn was always higher up since he generated more wind resistance and also had Fenrir attached to his body. She frowned for a short moment before sticking out her tongue playfully and heading downwards so Vahn could go ‘help’ Riveria.

It took Vahn nearly a full minute before he finally detected Riveria and understood she had probably jumped long after everyone else. When he got closer, Vahn saw her state and began to panic after noticing she was ‘clutching’ onto her sash and ‘glaring’ at him with a cold expression on her face. For a brief moment, Vahn considered descending and dealing with her later, but he eventually decided to try and help her if she was willing to accept his assistance. He knew that she would likely be angrier if she was embarrassed in front of the other girls so Vahn mustered up his resolve and slowly navigated toward her.

Unlike the previous instances, Vahn didn’t reach out for her since she didn’t extend her hands due to her current predicament. Vahn tried asking if she needed his assistance, but she didn’t seem to be able to understand what he was trying to say as she mouthed the words, ‘I can’t hear you.’ Thinking she might be able to hear him if he was underneath her, Vahn fell lower and changed his trajectory to try and match her descent. This turned out to be a mistake though as, the moment he entered the same path as Riveria, his body created a windshield that allowed her to descend faster and she collided into his body with an impact. Both of them were completely okay by the collision, but they still spun around in the air for a while ‘hugging’ each other to regain their orientation.

Fenrir seemed to be especially frustrated by the situation since Vahn could feel her claws digging into his back a little as she wiggled her body around in between him and Riveria. Vahn quickly controlled their orientation and managed to recover before trying to create a bit of distance between them since he could feel Riveria’s breasts nearly pressing into him as she stared into his face with a stern expression. Instead of separating, however, Riveria grabbed Vahn’s arms before leaning forward and saying, “Help me fix my robe, and never speak of this to anyone. You also owe me a new cloak…” Vahn nodded his head before leaning forward and whispering into Riveria’s long ears, “Sorry, Riveria, I should have thought about this type of thing beforehand. I’ll personally make you a cloak that is much better than your previous one…”

Riveria nodded her head and her expression became less serious as she patiently allowed Vahn to try and close up her robe. Vahn, however, was very distracted since it was difficult to fight against the tearing wind while trying to button up the robe. He was using his body as a shield, but Riveria’s robe was simply too long and was trailing behind her body and exacerbating the situation. It didn’t help that he was slightly distracted by her lime-green brassier and the light blush that was slowly appearing on her face as he continued to ‘stare’ at her chest while touching her body. Her affection wasn’t changing at all, but Vahn was aware that Riveria’s aura was turning slightly chaotic from their close proximity to each other.

After failing to button the robe for nearly five minutes, Vahn gave up continuing to use the same method when a gust of wind caught some of the buttons he had already closed and tore them open again. Fortunately, the robe itself was of an incredible quality and they weren’t ripped off by the sudden tearing force. Though it was awkward to approach the slightly blushing Riveria, Vahn still pulled closer to her and spoke into her ear, “I’m going to try something…if anything goes wrong, please protect Fenrir.” Riveria wasn’t sure what he was going to do, but she knew it would probably be something ‘ridiculous’ and had a few misgivings about agreeing to his request. However, she decided it was better than maintaining their current state since her embarrassment had grown to near intolerable levels.

With Riveria’s acknowledgment, Vahn focused his mind and compressed his domain to around 10m instead of the usual 455m. As the density increased through compression, Vahn’s ability to manipulate the energy within his domain increased alongside it. He hadn’t really had any use for this beforehand, but now that he had a greater understanding of magic, Vahn knew he would be able to make use of the elemental energies within his domain if he conveyed his intent properly. His goal was to manipulate the wind elements in the air and create a bubble to protect them from the chaotic wind flow, just like how Ais had been doing earlier. It was actually much easier than he expected since the density of his domain was already acting somewhat like a shield and had slowed their descent by a fair amount.

After nearly a minute had passed, the air around their bodies had turned completely stagnant and Vahn could feel the air outside pressing against the semi-solid boundaries of his domain as it bore the brunt of the wind pressure. It was almost like he had created a physical barrier against a wind cannon, and it was very taxing on his mind to keep the domain stable as he quickly helped arrange Riveria’s robe using his dexterous fingers. Riveria had been somewhat distracted by the phenomenon around Vahn but was stirred awake when he started closing up her robe with strangely practiced motions. For a moment, Riveria thought about helping him, or even doing it herself, but she just let him do as he pleased as she tried to make sense of what was going on within his domain.

Once he had helped button up all sixteen buttons, Vahn released a relieved sigh before slowly releasing his control of the wind elemental energy in his domain. He knew releasing it all at once would cause a large amount of turbulence, so he eased them back into the fall instead. Riveria noticed the change and leaned forward as she said, “You were able to isolate the wind elements within the area of your aura. That is an incredible feat, Vahn, I’d like to discuss it more in the future. Elemental control is something that is generally only possible for spirits, so I think it could be the key to future breakthroughs…”

Vahn nodded his head lazily before pulling out a [Senzu Bean] to recover his diminishing stamina. He then did his best to down a mana recovery potion but discovered it was very awkward to drink things in free fall. Even though he had put the lip of the bottle in his mouth, a small amount got caught by the wind and ended up flying toward Riveria’s face and coincidentally hitting her lips. Vahn furrowed his brows slightly before swallowing, both saliva and the mana potion, as Riveria licked off the slight moisture with her red tongue. Her affection increased by one point, up to 80(Trust) and Vahn felt Riveria’s aura fluctuate slightly, even though she didn’t say anything.

To prevent her from having any other wardrobe malfunctions, Vahn and Rivera descended together for more than an hour until the ground was fast approaching in their sights. Vahn had his back to the earth and Riveria was the one to tell him, “We’ll probably touch down in around a minute…” Vahn nodded his head and contracted his domain again and seized control over the wind elemental energy, not to slow their descent, but to allow Riveria to separate from his body and land without her robe getting torn open again. The hour-long fall, where they shared a few awkward conversations, had given Vahn enough time to recover his energy and regain some clarity with the assistance of [Will of the Emperor]. Riveria’s affection had increased by an additional point, but Vahn was more concerned with their landing for the time being.

The wind around them stopped battering against their clothes and Vahn gently separated from Riveria as they fell ‘weightlessly’ in the bubble he had created. Vahn quickly transformed into his Xuánwǔ and hugged Fenrir, who had actually fallen asleep from boredom, before orienting his feet toward the ground. Around fifteen seconds later, Vahn collided with the grassy terrain and planted his feet firmly against the ground as time seemed to stop for a brief moment before a large crater emerged around his feet. Since he could redirect the shockwave up through his body while holding Fenrir, Vahn had ‘countered’ it and sent the entire wave into the ground around him.

Riveria landed nearby and appeared to ‘gently’ touch the ground as a wave of energy passed up through her legs and dissipated. The only sign that she had landed from her long descent was a slight indentation in the undersoil beneath the grass. She walked over and inspected the crater around Vahn before asking, “You redirected the shockwave into the ground?” Vahn nodded his head as he transformed back into a human and set the now awake Fenrir on the ground. She yawned in an adorable manner before rubbing her sleepy eyes with her paws and asking, “Is it over? Fenrir was having a nice nap, fuuuu~” Vahn laughed at her reaction and began affectionately rubbing her head as he and Riveria waited for the others to come to them.

They were the last three to land, but it didn’t mean everyone landed near each other. Because of the influence of winds, their trajectories could easily be off by several kilometers unless the group had stayed together. Fortunately, everyone wasn’t too far apart from each other and were able to reunite quickly after Fafnir showed up and acted as a massive landmark by hovering in the sky overhead. A 17-meter long black dragon was quite the contrast against the bluish-white backdrop of the sky overhead. Once they were all together, Vahn got to share a happy embrace with the jubilant Tiona, earned a kiss from the ‘victorious’ Ais, experienced some awkwardness with the blushing Tione, received some false ire from Ryuu, teased the coy Aki with her own skirt, and then, once everything had calmed down, he got a long lecture from the entire group about proper preparations before going on outings as he consoled himself by brushing the happy Fenrir’s hair…

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