Chapter 456: Where were you?

As this was an expedition focused on increasing the floor record, the Loki Familia had consolidated a large portion of their manpower as well as an incredible amount of resources for the event. Other than the two main groups, which consisted of the vanguard unit and the rear guard, there were a total of 308 personnel that had been designated positions in the expeditionary party. In total, the main group consisted of ten people, including Vahn, Fenrir, Finn, Riveria, Garth, Ais, Tione, Tiona, Bete, and Lefiya. As for the rear guard, they consisted of Raul, five yet unnamed Adventurers, Haruhime, Lili, Naaza, and Mikoto. Making up the garrison and support units, there were one hundred Level 2 Adventurers, thirty Level 3 Adventurers, eighty Supporters, and the rest were medical specials, blacksmiths, and lastly a group of five backline mages all at Level 3.

The expedition escorted a total of eleven large carts of full of provisions for the journey while most of the actual luggage was carried by the eighty Supporters. Vahn felt a little guilty seeing the loads they carried since it wouldn’t have been that difficult for him to store everything in his inventory. However, if the entire expedition relied on Vahn just to function that could lead to a disaster if the group wasn’t able to adapt in the event of an emergency. Along the carts, there were a variety of weapons, shields, bows, crossbows, spears, and consumable items that could be used by anyone as long as Finn gave the order. The Loki Familia trained its general personnel in a manner that ensured everyone was adept at multiple roles so they could fill in the gaps depending on the situation.

Most notably, however, was how well coordinated everyone was and how efficiently things were managed by Finn, Riveria, and Gareth as they made their way deeper into the Dungeon. Finn had the [Command Howl] Skill at S-Rank so his voice carried over the entire expedition and was clearly discerned over the noises of combat. When the group had encountered a Monster Party on the 17th floor, Finn had directed the younger adventurers to sortie and eliminate the enemies without any major hiccups occurring at all. Since the monsters were relatively weak in the upper floors, the vanguard had actually been positioned as the rear guard while the younger Adventurers and Supporters cleared the way and earned experience.

Vahn stood next to Finn and watched as the Pallum commanded the entire expedition without difficulty and he couldn’t help but feel that his own ability was somewhat lacking. He always had a confident smile on his face, spoke in a clear and easy to understand manner, and never showed any perturbation when difficulties arose. As Vahn was more ’emotional’ when it came to fighting, he understood that there were several things he could improve upon for himself in the future. However, there was one trait of Finn’s that had quickly started to wear away at Vahn’s patience…

Though Finn had been performing his duties commendably, his eyes often fell to the only other Pallum in the entire expedition, Lili. Unlike other Pallum Adventurers, which usually relied on ranged combat and support items, Lili was a vanguard fighter that dashed around the battlefield and carved a path of destruction through the enemy lines. She used a beautiful black naginata that had a red tassel that danced around as she cleaved through enemies without difficulty. There was even a moment where she grabbed the wrist of a Minotaur and, to the awe of many, tossed it effortlessly through the air only to have the monster smash into the wall with most of the bones in its body broken.

Because Vahn was at his side, Finn kept paying heavy compliments about Lili and, when she dealt with the Minotaur, he said, “She has an incredible amount of power for a Pallum female. If she had been born a little earlier, it might have been she that represented the Pallum people as ‘Braver’. I’m certain our people would be in awe if they were able to see her performance…” As someone that had dedicated their entire life to advocating for his people, Finn was a bit obstinate when it came to such matters and had constantly been wearing away at Vahn every time Lili performed an ‘amazing’ feat for a ‘Pallum female’.

Hearing Finn’s most recent remark, Vahn turned to match Finn’s gaze and found his ‘amiable’ smile to be especially annoying at the moment. After taking a deep breath to calm himself, Vahn said, “It’s curious how you advocate for the Pallum people yet seem to think so little of them. Lili is only a Level 2 and you’re speaking about her feats as if they are ‘amazing’ and ‘unbelievable’ just because she is a Pallum? I won’t deny Lili is a capable girl, but only because she has put in the effort to get to where she is…it has nothing to do with being a Pallum at all. How do you expect to represent all Pallums if you’re ‘surprised’ every time they accomplish something…?”

Contrary to Vahn’s expectations, Finn didn’t seem to mind his somewhat snide tone at all and simply answered, “I don’t think so little of my own people, Vahn, I just want to place ’emphasis’ on their feats so they are talked about more openly. One of the biggest problems faced by my people is that they have been pushed down by other races for so long that it is ‘unbelievable’ when they go against the ‘norms’ established all over the world. I want all Pallums to take pride in the things they’ve accomplished and spread it all over the world so they can inspire our people, the ones that believe such things are impossible, to step forward and create a better future for themselves.”

Seeing the confidence in Finn’s expression and the firm belief he placed in his words was somewhat unsettling to Vahn because, while he didn’t disagree with Finn, he couldn’t tolerate the heavy bias the Pallum had about the world. While it wasn’t wrong to advocate for Pallums in an effort to elevate their status, it would be more productive to establish a common baseline for all species in the world and learn to work together to accomplish greatness. If Finn’s only goal was the incite Pallum to action, he was more likely to cause civil strife and conflict than actually elevate his people to a better social standing…

Vahn looked around at Riveria, Gareth, Tiona, Tione, Ais, Lefiya, and even Bete before his eyes came to a stop on Fenrir at his side. Riveria was a High Elf that sought to ensure that her people had a place in the world that broke away from the ‘Elitism’ propagated by other Elves. Gareth hailed from the Iron Hills where other Dwarves proactively enslaved people to continue their industrious ways. Tiona and Tione came from a society that cut itself off from the rest of the world in order to protect its culture but also relied on the men of other races to propagate their own species. As for Lefiya, she fell into a similar category as Riveria while Bete, being a relatively rare Werewolf, was shunned by most societies who saw them as ‘unhinged’ or ‘monsters’. Finn was a Pallum, the race treated as slaves by almost every other race, especially Dwarves, but the future he wanted to see was impossible unless he was willing to compromise. Every race had its problems and, unless they settled their differences and found common grounds, the only result ‘advocating’ a species would have is war…

However, one of the only ‘common’ enemies the races had in the world were monsters and Vahn knew that this wasn’t ‘natural’ at all. Even monsters, such as the Xenos and the variant species like Fenrir and Fafnir, were capable of obtaining souls. Other monsters were simply mana constructs that were created by the Dungeon and were intended to serve a specific purpose. If the other races truly banded together to defeat the ‘real’ enemies, the world would eventually stagnate as people began focusing more on their differences than their shared values. Though he wouldn’t walk the same path, Vahn was beginning to realize why his future self had become an ‘Emperor’. If things continued as they were, even principled men like Finn would simply propagate their ideals to the point where it caused further conflict. If the only way to reach ‘compromise’ was after a tragic thing like ‘war’, Vahn was certain it was the incorrect path.

After ruminating over the matter for a while, Vahn turned his attention back to Finn and said, “Finn, you are an amazing person…” Hearing his words, Finn’s smiled widened somewhat before Vahn continued by saying, “But you’re also an idiot…” This time, Finn’s smile broke a little bit as he asked, “What makes you say that, Vahn?” Vahn looked around once again before stroking Fenrir’s head and stating confidently, “The only correct path toward a future where everyone can coexist together is one where all races come together and compromise. How many people are you willing to let die for things to ‘fix’ themselves over time simply by setting an example for others to follow? If Pallums truly did think highly of themselves, which seems to be what you desire, it would simply cause conflict between Pallums and the other races in the future since they wouldn’t be able to ‘agree’ with each other…”

Though his smile didn’t fade, Finn’s expression hardened a bit as he contemplated Vahn’s words. Vahn, however, wasn’t quite done with the ‘heroic’ boy as he said, “You consider Lili to be a commendable Pallum…a ‘worthy’ candidate to produce an ‘heir’ to the Pallum people…but what do you know about her life and the struggles she had faced?” Finn’s expression returned to normal and he stated plainly, “The past is only important when comparing one’s accomplishments against the struggles they had to face in reaching them. Lili is commendable ‘because’ of the struggles she faced and the fact that she was able to overcome them.”

Vahn shook his head and looked at Finn as if he had just seen a delusional beggar on the street as he said, “Lili would have continued to suffer for years if not for the intervention of other people in her life. The same girl you think is ‘worthy’ of you would have continued to suffer as you continue propagating your b******* to others. She became stronger because she relied on her allies, none of which were Pallums, and continued working toward the future she wanted to create for herself. It is because she has been opening her heart to others that Lili has been able to continue forward and hold her head up high, not as a Pallum, but as Liliruca Arde…you would diminish all of that for your own convenience? How pathetic…”

He hadn’t been aware of when it activated, but Vahn’s [Will of the Emperor] had started to put pressure on Finn as he stood like a statue and bore the brunt of Vahn’s abrasive words. As Vahn stated, he didn’t really know anything about Lili and it wasn’t until he saw her at the wedding that he took any interest in her at all. If she hadn’t been a Pallum, Finn wouldn’t have even noticed her and many of her accomplishments would have been overlooked since they weren’t as ‘significant’. Hearing Vahn speak made Finn feel as though he had affronted the boy and had earned his ire as a result. The most difficult part of the entire situation was that Vahn’s words cut through to the truth of the matter and were nearly impossible to refute. Though they sounded like platitudes, the ideals Vahn purported were much ‘purer’ than those he represented as the ‘hero’ of the Pallum people.

A mocking smile appeared on Vahn’s face as he tilted his head at Finn and said, “Feel free to try and pursue Lili to your hearts content…however, I can say with certainty that she would likely resent you the moment you open your mouth and spew that crap to her. What you’re looking for, Finn, isn’t a ‘worthy’ wife to create an heir, you’re looking for a worth ‘tool’ to make use of for your own ends. Unfortunately, you’ll find most capable women aren’t so easy to manipulate as you please…” Finn grimaced like he had swallowed a fly and said, “I’m not trying to take advantage of anyone…” Vahn shook his head and said, “You’re willing to ‘use’ your own life to set the example for the Pallum people…there isn’t much more you would be unwilling to make use of when even your own life isn’t beyond the scope of your ideals…”

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The expedition finally reached Rivira, the settlement on the 18th floor, after about seven hours of travel. A smaller group would have been able to make the trip much faster but the expedition had to escort their supplies and also deal with the Dungeon that would spawn waves of monsters to stall their progress. Once they reached Rivira, the expedition set up camp and began moving supplies from their staging area into the carts while leaving behind some personnel to act as guards. The Loki Familia’s expeditions weren’t kept a secret so there were numerous vendors out and about trying to barter goods and exchange supplies. There were even a fair number of people that made requests to the group while some wanted to accompany the expedition into the deeper floors.

It wasn’t that uncommon to take on reputable Adventurers, as it was always better to have more personnel available, but this time they refused everyone’s offer. Because it was known by all the core members of the Alliance that their enemies were stationed within the Dungeon, it wasn’t advisable to accept the assistance of standalone Adventurers and Freelancers from other Familia. There was no way of knowing who served as an agent, willingly or otherwise, for the enemy. Of course, they still accepted any requests that could be dealt with as a matter of convenience even if they were unwilling to allow the groups to accompany them.

Even though there was still plenty of time left in the day, as the expedition had gotten an early start, they would be waiting until the morning of the following day before they entered the lower floors. Proper rest would be essential when the group was preparing to face the literal hordes of enemies that would bar their safe passage. Other than the stairwells and adjoining corridors, there were no true ‘safe’ zones between the 19th and 49th floors. Until the expedition reached the 50th floor, it would be a nigh-constant assault from monsters as the Dungeon proactively resisted their ‘invasion’.

Though Vahn was part of the main party, he ended up establishing his own tent which was shared by the entire Hestia Familia group and the members of the Loki Familia that resided in the Hearth Manor. The only exception to this was Riveria, who stayed in the main tent with Gareth and Finn since she was one of the core commanders of the group. As for how Vahn could fit so many people in his own tent, he had purchased a gigantic war tent from the shop that could easily support twenty people comfortably.

Since it was treated as one item, Vahn could even store clothing and supplies in the tent before moving the entire thing into his inventory. When the members of the Loki Familia saw a tent ‘pop’ into existence it had caused quite the stir but Vahn didn’t mind them at all. He had been in a relatively foul mood ever since his conversation with Finn earlier, which had resulted in the Pallum falling into silence except for when he gave commands to the expedition. Even though they couldn’t see eye-to-eye with each other, Finn still did his duties as a Commander without showing any signs that he had been affected by Vahn’s words at all…

Though he had plenty of supplies in his inventory, Vahn had decided to eat with the rest of the expedition party and decided to do something he had been intended to do for a long time. After filling up a small wooden bowl with a hearty meat stew, Vahn went to the location where the primary group of the rear guard was sitting. Vahn saw a youthful looking man with frizzy black hair and black eyes. He was attired in medium armor that consisted of a breastplate, pauldrons, and leg armor that was made primarily of magisteel infused with bands of Adamantine. He wore a green undershirt, white trousers, and a pair of tan gloves and matching boots with a medium-length sword strapped to his side in a black sheath, nearly identical to the one carried by Aki in the past.

Seeing Vahn’s approach, the young man showed a slightly startled expression on his face before he stood upright and knocked over his own bowl of stew. The beautiful Elven woman, with golden hair and green eyes, sitting next to the man showed a scowl and said, “Raul, pay attention to what you’re doing! You spilled your food on my boots…” The Elven girl had turned her attention Vahn after following Raul’s line of sight and allowed her words to trail off toward the end. Before Raul was able to say anything, she stood up and said, “You’re the ‘Sage’ Aldrnari, Vahn Mason~! I never expected a human boy to be able to earn the title of Sage and at the behest of Riveria-sama no less! It is very nice to finally meet you, Vahn. My name is Alicia Forestlight, please let me know if you require my assistance with anything.”

Vahn was a little caught off guard by Alicia’s behavior since it was somewhat peculiar for an Elf to act so expressively. He quickly recovered and bowed politely, saying, “Greetings, Alicia, it is a pleasure to meet you…” before turning to Raul and showing a small smile as he said, “And you must be Raul…I have been wanting to meet you for some time.” Alicia seemed to be pleased by Vahn’s introduction before an ‘understanding’ expression appeared on her face as she looked between him and the flustering Raul. After hearing Vahn address him, Raul showed an awkward smile on his face as he said, “I-It’s nice to meet you, Vahn…I’ve heard a lot about your accomplishments in the past and it’s amazing seeing how much you’ve grown in such a short period of time. I’d never be able to match your achievements…”

Hearing Raul casually inflate Vahn’s accomplishments while simultaneously belittling himself made Vahn’s smile break a little as he looked at the seemingly powerful looking Raul with confusion and asked, “Raul, what Level are you?” In response to his words, Raul stood straight and actually saluted Vahn as he said, “I am currently Level 4!” before turning into a statue for a few seconds and saying, “But only because I’ve been blessed to follow in the footsteps of the main party…” Hearing Raul’s words, Vahn was stunned to silence and saw that everyone else in the group seemed exasperated to hear Raul’s words. Alicia, in order to smoothen over the tensions, said, “You’ll have to forgive Raul, Vahn, he is lacking in the self-confidence department…”

Without refuting her words at all, Raul began to laugh awkwardly as he rubbed the back of his head. From Vahn’s perspective, he could see the man’s relatively powerful aura dancing about like a flame in the wind and it was very obvious he was feeling embarrassed at the current situation. Vahn had wanted to get to know the man that Aki had been in love with in the past, but he was now beginning to understand why things had never worked out between them. Raul was already nineteen and the commander of the 2nd party in the Loki Familia, the current rank 1 Familia in the entire City. Vahn couldn’t understand how he reached such a position if he lacked self-confidence. Turning his head to look over the rest of the group, Vahn could tell they were all capable people based on the auras coming from their bodies and how they carried themselves. If anything, it looked like Alicia or the confident looking Chienthrope man should be the leader of the group…

As if understanding Vahn’s expression, the Chienthrope man put down his spoon and spoke in a somewhat deep voice as he said, “Names Cruz Bussell, and I’m the current Lieutenant of our ‘fearless’ commander here now that Aki isn’t around.” Hearing Aki’s name mentioned, Raul flinched before sitting down in a slump in less time than it took to bat an eye. Cruz looked over at him and shook his head in an exasperated manner before turning back to Vahn and asking, “How is Aki these days? I heard from Loki-sama that she got pregnant…presumably with your child?” Since Aki had been spending all of her time at the Hearth Manor, she hadn’t been in contact with her former comrades ever since she left.

Vahn unhesitantly nodded his head and gave the dejected Raul a glance as he said, “That’s right…Aki opened her heart to me and allowed me to take responsibility for her and our future child…” In response to Vahn’s words, Raul looked up with a somewhat melancholic expression on his face and asked, “Is she happy…?” Vahn squinted his eyes slightly and said, “She is ‘happier’ than she had been initially…” A wry smile appeared on Raul’s face and he didn’t say anything in response to Vahn’s claimed that Aki was ‘happier’ now. He knew he had let Aki down several times in the past and was simply glad that she had found someone that could give her what she needed in a relationship.

Seeing Raul’s behavior made Vahn feel a strange anxiety in his heart as he looked down at the clearly dejected boy. Everything Raul did made Vahn feel uncomfortable and he couldn’t understand how someone could clearly care about another person and simply allow things to develop to this point. Shaking his head, Vahn decided to state his actual purpose for coming over and said, “I’ve been trying to expand a personal network of male companions within the Alliance and wanted to extend an invitation to you. Even though Aki is with me now, I trust her judgment and believe you would make a good friend in the future…” Toward the end of his words, Vahn also turned his attention to Cruz and said, “I would extend the same offer to you, Cruz…” In Vahn’s opinion, Cruz seemed like a reliable ally to have and he was obviously much stronger than Raul himself.

Cruz titled his head slightly and asked, “What benefits are there to gain other than companionship?” It was obviously a ‘boon’ to become friends with the youngest [Master Smith] in the entire continent, but Cruz was wondering if there was anything else that he could expect from his involvement. Vahn, understanding his intentions, smiled as he said, “I do a lot of research into various subjects that would be beneficial to everyone involved in them. There are also a variety of alcohols and forms of entertainment that will be provided, many of which cannot be found no matter how much Valis you spend. I treat my friends well in the hopes they would do the same…”

The way Vahn phrased things wasn’t very detailed but Cruz still found it somewhat interesting so he nodded his head and said, “Sure, I’d at least like to give it a try to see what it’s like. Even if our fearless commander can’t muster up the courage to stop by, I’ll drag him along if necessary.” Cruz smiled in a surprisingly mischevious manner as the rest of the group, which were predominately female, began to laugh. Raul released another sigh and said, “If you want to be my friend, I have no problems with that at all…hahaha…” Even though they were laughing at him, Raul joined in which caused Vahn to shake his head and comment, “Gareth, Finn, and Bete should be members as well, so things should be pretty interesting…” before handing his untouched stew to Raul and walking away.

When Vahn arrived back near the large cauldron to receive another serving of stew, he came across a peculiar sight which had caused a small stir in those that were gathered. Finn was standing next to the laughing Gareth with a wry smile on his face as a red palm print glowed on his cheek. Given the relatively small size of the imprint, Vahn was easily able to understand what happened even before Finn said, “It seems you were right, Vahn. Lili doesn’t seem to be very fond of me…” Gareth smacked Finn’s back in a hearty manner and said, “I think if she were any stronger, the lass might’ve ripped yer head off! Ahahahaha!” Finn tolerated Gareth’s heavy palms as he laughed awkwardly in an effort to ease his own embarrassment…

—A Few Minutes Prior—

After confirming that everything was running smoothly, Finn left Riveria in charge of things as he went to check on the status of the encampment and grab something to eat. He had been thinking a lot about what Vahn said earlier and simply couldn’t agree with what the young boy purported. Though Vahn wasn’t ‘wrong’, Finn knew the things were far more complicated than Vahn let on and there were far more variables involved that needed to be taken into consideration. It was ‘impossible’ for every race to actually reach the type of compromises Vahn was mentioning and, though it was nice to think about, it wasn’t practical to take such actions in order to unite all peoples.

From Finn’s perspective, it was far more productive to focus on one’s own race and then try to compromise later down the line when you had established the foundation of your movement. While it may lead to inevitable conflict, such things were what led to change in the first place and there were few, if any, ways to avoid bloodshed. Though he may be a demigod, Vahn was still fundamentally human so it was much easier for him to say such things as he was never in the same situation that many Pallums found themselves in…

Believing that Lili would understand his perspective, Finn grabbed two bowls of food before making his way to the largest tent in the campsite. He had wanted to make a comment that it was ‘inappropriate’ for Vahn to have a tent larger than the Command Tent since it might lead to confusion, but Finn decided to let the matter slide since it didn’t seem very productive to butt heads with the rather ‘obstinate’ boy. Thus, with bowls in hand and a confident expression on his face, Finn entered the tent after announcing his presence at the entrance. Inside, he could see Haruhime, Mikoto, Naaza, and, most importantly, Lili, sorting through a variety of supplies and arranging them into kits.

Haruhime had stood up to greet Finn, as she was the ‘representative’ of the group, and bowed politely as she asked, “Is there a matter that requires our assistance, Finn? If you were looking for Vahn, I believe he had gone to meet with Raul at their campsite…” Finn returned a polite smile to Haruhime before saying in a confident tone, “Forgive my intrusion, but I came here in order to meet with Ms. Arde and discuss a matter of importance. As it may take some time, I also brought food and would be honored if you considered eating lunch with me.”

Hearing that Finn had arrived to speak with her, Lili showed a skeptical look on her face and said, “We’ve never even talked before, so what ‘matter of importance’ could you possibly have to discuss with me?” There was an unveiled hostility in Lili’s words because she didn’t like the look Finn was giving her at all. From the moment he entered the tent, it was almost like he was ‘appraising’ her in the same way that some of the disgusting men from her past. Without minding Lili’s tone, Finn showed an amiable smile and said, “It is a matter that concerns the future of our people and I would like you to treat the matter with due consideration before making any conclusions.”

Not only Lili, but Haruhime, Mikoto, and Naaza all showed expressions of distaste that made Finn feel particularly awkward since he was the only man present. In a somewhat icy tone, Lili asked, “How can anything I’m involved with fall into the category of things that ‘concern the future of our people’, especially if its related to you?” Finn continued showing his same smile as he looked around at the gathered girls and asked, “Would it not be better to discuss such matters in private?” However, Haruhime immediately answered his question as she said, “Our Familia doesn’t keep such secrets from each other. How could anything you wish to discuss be so impactful, include one of our members, and be brought up while Vahn isn’t present?”

Finn considered how to answer Haruhime’s rather heavy question but Lili spoke up before he could manage to find his words as she asked, “What did you want to talk about? If it’s something so important, surely it would be better for other people to know about it, especially our allies…” Hearing her words, though he was somewhat hesitant, Finn nodded his head and said, “You are a strong and capable Pallum woman so, once you’re old enough to wed, I would like to take you in as my wife. I believe that our union will serve as an example for the Pallum people and our children will be able to pave the way toward a better future for our entire race.”

Hearing Finn’s words, Lili showed a deep scowl and asked, “Why the hell would I even consider such a thing!? I don’t give a damn about the ‘Pallum people’ at all and have already decided to be with Vahn in the future!” Finn’s smile twitched a little at Lili’s words and he patiently explained, “It isn’t safe for a Pallum to bear the children of a human and Vahn already has many women around him. The Pallum people need strong leadership tha-” Before Finn could continue his words, Lili walked forward and slapped him fiercely across the face and sent both bowls tumbling to the ground as she shouted, “I don’t give a rats ass about what is ‘safe’ in your mind. The only thing that matters is that I decided to be with Vahn of my own volition. It is one of the only decisions I’ve ever been allowed to make for myself, so who are you to come in and question it!?”

Finn rubbed the relatively tender skin of his cheek and marveled at Lili’s uncommon strength as he said, “I’m simply worried about you and the entire Pallum people…I’m certain you understand how difficult it can be for our people when they are growing up? They are exploited for the ends of other people and-” Lili had tried to slap him once again but this time Finn evaded it easily, earning a fierce glare from the rambunctious woman. Through gnashed teeth, Lili said, “I know exactly how hard it can be to grow up in the world as a Pallum, but what does that have anything to do with you, or anyone else for that matter? I’ve known about you, Mister ‘Braver’, ever since I was a small girl. Yes, you have accomplished many things, but where the f*** were you when I was going through that ‘suffering’ you seem so intent to liberate others from!?”

With a somewhat complex expression on his face, Finn tried to explain, “I can’t help everyone, Lili, they need to be able to help them-” This time, Lili threw a fist at Finn’s face and he backstepped until he was outside of the tent. She glared at him with her chestnut brown eyes and said, “You were off playing at being a ‘hero’ while I was suffering at the hands of others. It wasn’t just me either, as there are thousands of Pallums that are in the City suffering right this moment! What are you doing to help any of them!? If not for Vahn saving me, I probably wouldn’t even be here today and yet here you are acting like I have some kind of obligation to ‘help’ you!? WHY DIDN’T YOU HELP ME!?”

Finn had both of his hands up in a defensive posture and tried to soothe Lili by saying, “Calm down, Lili, I’m certain you will understand things if you consider them rationally. You went through a lot, I’m sure, but-” Without listening to Finn’s words, Lili kicked up a pebble that flew like a bullet at his face before turning her back and entering into the tent. Finn had easily dodged the projectile but he could feel the wind graze against his face and sting the swelling handprint that was on his cheek. It didn’t seem like Lili was willing to listen to his ‘reasoning’ at all so Finn decided to call a temporary retreat. He was confident she would come to her senses in the future once she realized the impracticality of the relationship she sought with Vahn. Even though Vahn was a capable man, with a commendable character, he wouldn’t be able to impact the lives of the Pallum people in the same manner as the two of them could if they worked together. Though she might not see eye-to-eye with him at the moment, Finn believed things would work out once she matured a bit and had a better understanding of the world at large…

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