Chapter 401: Convenience

Fenrir managed to remove all four tusks and a total of 93 large scales before the Mammoth eventually succumbed to its wounds. Vahn was able to confirm that he didn’t get any negative karma from her actions, so he released a contented sigh before jumping down next to the jittery Fenrir that had stars in her eyes as she waited to be praised. Vahn found her to be especially adorable, so he picked her up by her armpits and spun her around as she laughed happily. The others made their way over before Vahn supported Fenrir with his arms as she playfully nuzzled against him.

Tiona put the tip of her index finger in her mouth and had a ‘longing’ look on her face as she said, “Ah, I want to be held by Vahn as well…” Her earlier excitement, when she had been cheering for the two of them, hadn’t been without reason. Tiona’s instincts always flared up whenever Vahn was ‘showing off’, and she knew he was getting progressively closer to her in strength. Though she was managing to control herself for the time being, Vahn hadn’t missed her increased breathing and the light blush that was covering, not just her cheeks, but Tione’s, Haruhime’s, and even Ryuu’s. Vahn saw their looks and felt a pressure in the bridge of his nose before rubbing foreheads with Fenrir and setting her back down on the ground.

Before things took a strange turn, Vahn stored the loot into his inventory and saw that Mammoth Fools were worth around 1,500OP each. The monsters in the middle floors were worth a great deal more than their upper floor ‘brethren’ and Vahn had gained nearly 40,000 OP in the few short hours they had been on the 19th floor. After looking everything, Vahn nodded to the group and said, “Okay, we’ve still got a long way to go before we reach our destination. Let’s find the staircase as soon as possible, I’m starting to get hungry after moving around a bit.”

Following Vahn’s orders, everyone resumed their places in the formation, but not before Tiona ‘sneakily’ approach Vahn and planted a wet kiss on his cheek before ‘dancing’ away with a happy laughter. Vahn shook his head with a smile on his face as another presence ‘snuck’ up from his right and Vahn turned to see the golden-eyed Haruhime staring up at him. The deep red ‘makeup’ around her eyes gave her a seductive look as she said in a low voice, “How envious~.” Vahn felt a chill run down his spine but managed to keep his smile as he reached out his hand and plopped it atop Haruhime’s head and ruffled her silky hair and fluffy ears a bit before signaling everyone to move forward.

Along the way, the group continued dealing with any monsters that appeared while Vahn put all of the drops items into his inventory. As he had noticed Lefiya was somewhat pale, Vahn asked in as gentle a voice as he could manage, “Is everything okay, Lefiya?” Lefiya gave a bashful laugh as her ears drooped low in an adorable manner and she said, “Sorry, Vahn…I’m not so good with blood and stuff…” As she spoke, Lefiya looked at Vahn’s bloodstained clothing from when he had been carrying Fenrir. He hadn’t actually gotten any on himself when he was fighting, but Fenrir’s combat style wasn’t very ‘refined’. She easily got covered in blood, which was the reason she wore such little clothing, each piece being made of a material that wouldn’t stain or absorb liquids.

Vahn frowned slightly at the blood on his arm before a thought came to his mind and he looked at the blood on his body with his [Eyes of Truth]. He could see the individual elements that made up the blood’s composition and used his [Hands of Nirvana] to try and ‘pull’ the elements away from his body. This was the same as when he removed toxins but, instead of requiring contact with his body, Vahn was pulling the blood through the air while using his domain as the intermediary. Though it hadn’t worked at first, the somewhat dried blood began to flake as it peels away from his tunic and began to pool in the palm of his hand.

Inspired by his success, Vahn had a big smile on his face and began to trace his hand over each area where blood had soaked into his clothing. Riveria and Lefiya stared at his actions with unconcealed intrigue in their eyes with a subtle amount of incredulity in their expressions. As Elves, they were able to see the flow of mana and could somewhat understand what Vahn was doing. It was a type of ‘magic’ that required a lot of finesse and would be almost impossible to replicate without an almost ‘absolute’ control over the elements. It was somewhat frustrating, especially for Riveria, because Vahn was able to easily do what should be impossible. Without any magic chant, or so much as a chant, he was, before her very eyes, casually creating a brand new magic that once again proved the flaws in their own magic system.

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After he had gotten the hang of it, Vahn was able to ‘casually wave’ his hand over the areas with blood and easily pull it out of his tunic. By the time he was done, he had a small orb of congealed blood in his right hand which he threw off to the side to dispose of it. Transforming into his Báihǔ form, Vahn smelled the area to see if there were any lingering odor and was able to confirm that he had removed most of it. With practice, Vahn knew he would be able to get even the small particles that remained behind. With a bit of finesse, he should even be able to use the same technique for other kinds of fluids and debris, as long as he could identify and understand its structure.

Now that he was clean, Vahn smiled at the befuddled Lefiya before placing his hand on her head and patting her for the first time in a while. She had been intently watching his earlier actions and had been caught completely off-guard by his sudden touch. Her eyes opened wide and her face turned crimson red before she passed out on the spot. Vahn quickly caught her body before she fell to the ground as Haruhime began laughing like a bell from behind. As he hadn’t intended to make her collapse, Vahn placed his palm against Lefiya’s forehead and used [Hands of Nirvana] to help stir her awake.

Lefiya opened her dark blue eyes a few seconds later but, the moment she saw Vahn’s face in close proximity to her own, the blush came back with a greater intensity and she immediately passed out again. Not just Haruhime, but the other girls had noticed what was happening since they had stopped moving forward. Tiona was laughing loudly while holding her stomach while Tione was simply shaking her head with an exasperated expression. Ais, worried about Lefiya’s state, walked over and asked, “Is Lefiya okay?” Vahn nodded his head and, resisting the embarrassment that was tinging his own cheeks, said in a confident tone, “She’s fine, she just passed out from the blood rushing to her head so suddenly. I’ll…wake her up again…?”

Vahn had a terrible premonition as Ais squatted down next to him and began poking the beet red face of Lefiya with a curious expression on her relatively blank face. For the second time, Vahn used his energy to help Lefiya wake up but, once again, the moment she woke up and saw not just Vahn, but Ais as well, her face turned a maroon color and Vahn had the illusion he could see her soul escaping through her open mouth as she made a ‘wawawawawa’ sound and collapsed. Tiona began laughing so hard that she was rolling on the ground while holding her stomach.

The only way to proceed at this point was to wait for Lefiya to recover on her own, but they were currently deep within the 19th floor. Staying around for too long wasn’t ideal so Vahn did what he anticipated to be the incorrect choice and lifted Lefiya’s body onto his back after putting her staff away in his inventory. He expected that she would probably act even more flustered to be carried, but Vahn didn’t want everyone to wait around just because of his mistake. When he lifted her body onto his back, however, Vahn immediately regretted it because he noticed various things that he shouldn’t have paid any attention to. Lefiya’s body was very light, much lighter than he had expected, and he could feel her soft thighs against his palms and her budding breasts pressing into his back…

Vahn saw the looks the other girls were giving him and knew they had seen through his thoughts, likely because of his expression. With a light blush on his healthy brown skin, Vahn said with mock confidence, “L-lets go…we’ve been on the 19th floor for a while, so it shouldn’t be much longer before we get to the stairs…” Tiona finally got off the floor and removed her [Dance of the Amazon] from the ground and began to walk forward while humming a familia tune. Tione followed along as well and the rest of the group started to move soon after. Ais stayed back for a little while and observed the sleeping Lefiya for a while before saying, “Lefiya…sneaky, maybe?”

Ais’s words made Vahn nearly stumble on a nonexistent obstacle before he corrected himself using Shundo to move forward a single meter. Ais, suddenly being ‘avoided’, showed a pouting expression before jumping ahead of the rest of the group and resuming her position at the front. Vahn didn’t know what to make of Ais’s reaction, as her Love hadn’t gone down or anything, but her aura seemed to be flaring up like a fire. He knew she was very competitive, but he didn’t know how she had been set off by the sleeping Lefiya that was on his back. Vahn assumed she would probably want to be carried later, but that was a matter to deal with in the future and Vahn’s current ‘focus’ was the petite elf on his back.

While they were walking, Riveria spoke out from the side, “You and Lefiya have a very close relationship…” Vahn laughed in an awkward manner before saying, “Yeah, though it isn’t anything intimate…she is still a little too young for that kind of thing.” Riveria nodded her head in response and said, “She is a good girl and she will grow much stronger at your side. If…” Without continuing her words, Riveria shook her head before looking around the area as if trying to spot any hidden dangers. Vahn was tempted to ask several questions, like what she had intended to say, or what she was looking for, but he assumed she would have told him if it was his business.

Without bothering her, Vahn continued forward as if the conversation had never happened and he heard a small notification in his head that showed Riveria’s Affection had increased to 90(Trust). Her affection was constantly fluctuating, generally around the mid-to-late eighties, but this was the first time it had reached the benchmark of 90. Vahn wasn’t sure what to make of it, but he felt like he had made the correct decision not to press her about the matter. A part of him was very curious about the continuation of her words, as it had seemed like she was about to say something about herself, but Vahn knew there was plenty of time in the future for such things.

After clearing a few more rooms filled with monsters, Lefiya began to stir on his back but she didn’t say anything. Vahn could feel her aura turn slightly pink and knew she had decided to pretend to have not woken up. A small smile appeared on his face and, just as he had done for Riveria previously, Vahn ignored Lefiya and allowed her to do as she pleased. If she was enjoying the moment, Vahn thought it was the least he could do to make it up to her for ‘forcing’ her to pass out twice. She had technically fallen three times, but Vahn credited the final collapse to Ais since Lefiya’s reaction had been much stronger. Her Affection generally hovered around 92-94, and her parameters had been at (Trust) for a very long time. Vahn knew she liked him, so he was wondering when, if ever, the parameter would change into something else.

Twenty minutes later, the group finally arrived at the stairs and it was nearing 1 PM so they decided to rest and enjoy a meal before moving further into the Dungeon. Vahn set out cushions for everyone to use before placing a small table down using his inventory. He also laid a futon off to the side so Lefiya could continue pretending to be asleep for a while longer before ‘waking up’ when she thought enough time had passed. Before he had set her down, however, Fenrir walked over and said, “Lefiya, why are you still with Master? Are your legs injured?” Lefiya startled a bit on his back, but didn’t respond to Fenrir’s words and kept ‘sleeping’.

Vahn was going to explain away the situation on Lefiya’s behalf, but it was too late as Tiona walked over after hearing Fenrir’s words. With a cheeky smile on her face, she reached out and poked Lefiya’s side, just below the ribs, and the small elf girl let out a yelp and nearly fell from Vahn’s back before hugging his neck in a panic. Her face turned crimson again, but she didn’t pass out this time as she stammered, “T-t-t-thank you f-for c-carrying me, Vahn. You can let me down now!” Following her wishes, Vahn set Lefiya down and she released a long sigh of relief before hiding her face away from the playfully smiling Tiona. Incited by Lefiya’s actions, Tiona hugged her body and began laughing as she carried Lefiya over to the rest of the group while she released a frustrated and embarrassed sound while failing to escape Tiona’s grasp.

Seeing their antics, Vahn showed a complacent smile before turning his head to the frowning Fenrir that was standing at his side. Vahn pet her head a little heavily and she tore her eyes away from the girls and showed a ‘happy’ expression at having gained Vahn’s attention. He knew Fenrir still had inhibitions about many of the other girls in the Manor, even though she proactively made an effort to get along with them. She liked to be spoiled and, when Vahn wasn’t around to spoil her, she always went to others for attention. Vahn wasn’t sure the best method to get her to open up but assumed it would get better with time. She had already made incredible improvements compared to her past self, so Vahn was hopeful she would continue to mature steadily in the future.

Of course, he hoped it wasn’t too fast because he found the current Fenrir to be very adorable. It might be because the Akashic Record had made her match his subconscious image of what ‘cute’ was, but Vahn had a strong draw to Fenrir and usually found comfort in her company. Though he wanted her to grow up one day, he hoped she stayed like this for a while longer. She also seemed happy with how things were, for the most part, and Vahn did his best to pamper her when he could. One such example of his care was like now, where he was using his new method to help remove the blood from her body and fur.

Fenrir was enjoying the ‘ticklish’ sensation at first until she realized what Vahn was doing and began to ‘pout’ without saying anything. Vahn laughed at her reaction and said in a consoling tone, “Don’t worry, once we settle down later I’ll help you wash your body. I just don’t want you to make a mess while we’re eating, okay?” Hearing his words, Fenrir showed her best ‘smile’ and said, “Vahn is the best to Fenrir~. Fenrir wants to ride on Vahn’s back too, but not right now though. Fenrir is a good girl and will wait until we are out of the Dungeon. If Master is carrying Fenrir, he can’t fight if things get dangerous…” Vahn’s eyes opened wide after hearing Fenrir’s words since she was entirely correct and had said it loud enough that it was heard by everyone present. Though her mental functions were a little lacking compared to others, she still knew how to ‘lecture’ people indirectly…Vahn felt like she was maturing faster than he was aware.

Over at the table, Lefiya was getting teased by Tiona and, when they all heard what Fenrir said, she hung her head low as her ears wobbled pitifully. Even Tiona stopped teasing her as she said in a low voice, “Fenrir can be scary at times…haha..ha.” As everyone at the table had ‘experienced’ Fenrir’s wrath before, they all gave subtle nods and simultaneously took a sip of the tea Vahn had set out earlier. It was a strange sight, really, seeing everyone sitting around at a table with silverware, plates of food, and soft cushions, all while being in the middle of the Dungeon. Such things were typically left behind during expeditions, but Vahn had a tendency to ‘spoil’ the girls and tried to make things more comfortable for them when he could.

Vahn saw the awkward atmosphere and showed a wry smile on his face as he patted Fenrir’s head and said, “Come on, Fenrir, let’s go eat with everyone. I’ll feed you this time…” Fenrir nodded her head after sending a glance at Lefiya and ‘smiled’ at Vahn as she trotted over to what would be their shared seat for the meal. As he watched her bushy tail waggle about happily, Vahn couldn’t help but think to himself if this was a precursor to what he would experiencing raising his own children. Even though he didn’t have any of his own yet, Vahn remarked in a low voice that too quiet for even Haruhime and Fenrir to hear, “They grow up so fast…”

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(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Casually creating new magic…’,’Lefiya increasing her sneak parameter’,’Fenrir is surprisingly perceptive’)

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