Chapter 471: Burden

Though it was somewhat embarrassing, Vahn explained to the other girls about his confrontation with Finn as he cradled the still shaking Lili in his arms. She had been in a bit of a daze since earlier and, even though she was obviously ‘enjoying’ his scent, Vahn didn’t mind her antics since he had no reason to deny her affectionate behavior anymore. If she got too out of hand, he could always talk to her about the matter and it was highly likely the other girls would step in as well. As she had just undergone a bit of emotional turmoil, Vahn decided to spoil her for the time being even though she was a little distracting.

The girls had already known about the ‘conflict’ between Lili and Finn earlier as it was public knowledge that was known by pretty much everyone in the expedition. The encounter had been during the meal time so there were several people gathered in the canteen when Lili had her outburst and essentially accused Finn of being a ‘selfish bastard’ before storming off. She had spent the rest of the day being pacified by Haruhime and Mikoto until the girls from the Loki Familia had arrived. Tione, especially, seemed to be highly affected by Finn’s behavior and Vahn had seen her aura flickering about in a chaotic manner that was tinged with negative emotions, including anger.

As someone that had spent two years pursuing Finn, Tione knew his personality better than almost anyone and it shook her a little knowing how he had behaved. In her heart and mind, Finn was the type of man that made sacrifices for others and invested most of his efforts in pursuing the ideologies he believed in. Imagining him pressing the issue about Lili, especially knowing she was still too young, and even trying to confront Vahn over the matter of their races unnerved her a little. She knew he considered himself the representative of Pallum ‘liberation’ and wanted to create an example others can follow, but now she was starting to believe that his intentions weren’t as ‘pure’ as they had originally seemed…

After their discussion, which had included a meal and Lili’s eventual ‘recovery’, came to an end Vahn had called an early end to his own day since he planned to get an early start the following morning. As they were the two girls within his own Familia that had yet to accompany him, Vahn said he would venture into the 51st floor with Lili in the morning before returning around lunch time to accompany Mikoto. Since she also wanted to get an early start tomorrow, while also maximizing her ‘quality’ time with Vahn that had been going on for more than an hour already, Lili also ‘retired’ for the night by essentially clinging to Vahn.

With the exception of Mikoto, who had been struggling on the matter as a result of her own sense of propriety, everyone had actually been sleeping in the same room using one large futon that covered the entire floor. His side was usually taken by Ais or Tiona in the past, but tonight it had become occupied by Naaza and Fenrir as Lili stole the wolf girls spot on his chest. Though she was somewhat annoyed by this new change, Fenrir didn’t say anything about the matter and simply snuggled up against Vahn’s side with a slight frown on her face.

Fenrir knew that this was a ‘special’ circumstance where her Master was ‘spoiling’ one of the other girls, something she generally wouldn’t be present for, so she allowed Lili to be spoiled for the time being. From her memory, Fenrir knew that Vahn often kept Lili away in the past and it was his interaction with the ‘bully’ Finn that had caused this result. Fenrir swore that she would become stronger than the small Finn creature and bully him in the future if he made her Master upset again. As a result, though he couldn’t quite pinpoint the reason, Finn felt his thumb itching as if it had a thousand ants crawling on it as a chill ran down his spine…

Though no one had fallen asleep yet, everyone had become silent as the majority of the group actually decided to rest early as Vahn was generating a very pleasant aura presently. The exceptions to this were Tione and Lefiya, the former seemingly lost in her own thoughts while the latter had gone to discuss matters with Riveria, as was something she often did. Using the peaceful atmosphere to his advantage, Vahn pulled out a chestnut brown orb and shattered it without anyone being aware of his action. He had already resolved to make use of [Hearts Desire]s when he obtained them, with the exception of Riveria’s, so he wanted to see Lili’s now that he had an opportunity.

Dear Readers. Scrapers have recently been devasting our views. At this rate, the site (creativenovels .com) might...let's just hope it doesn't come to that. If you are reading on a scraper site. Please don't.

As time slowed to a crawl, Vahn speculated that Lili’s space would likely be similar to Nanu’s and that she wouldn’t place much emphasis on her past anymore. They had actually discussed her past several times at length and Vahn was relatively sure he knew most things about Lili already. He didn’t mind viewing some of the tragic things that had happened to her, even though it would probably cause him to seek revenge against the Soma Familia members, but he also hoped that she could put it behind her and walk toward the future with him instead of worrying about such things…

When he opened his eyes within the vision, Vahn released an audible sigh of relief before smiling at the unnervingly small naked girl standing right in front of him. His current height was 171cm so it was a little strange seeing the 110cm tall Lili looking up at him with her large chestnut colored eyes. However, without minding it too much, Vahn bent down and hugged her just as he had done in the real world and, much like her real self, she also trembled in his arms and began to cry. All around them, Vahn saw memories full of negatively fragmenting into small particles with very few colored with warm colors. There was so little ‘warmth’ within the series of memories that it almost seemed ‘wrong’ that there was any at all…

Lili had been born into the Soma Familia as a result of her parents sleeping with each other without considering the consequences of their actions. Because her Mother had been on Soma, while also ingested several other detrimental things like drugs, Lili had actually been a slightly premature baby and had been even frailer than most Pallums. Though they had resulted in her creation, her parents weren’t actually married and were simply members of the same Familia so there was no real love between them at all. They both saw Lili as nothing more than a ‘convenience’ that would one day be able to make their own earnings easier. If she was especially useful, they wouldn’t have to work nearly as hard because they could get her to earn money for them…

By the time she was old enough to comprehend her own tragic situation, Lili was already being forced to work by her parents at the ridiculous age of three. However, her tragic fate had only just begun since, not long after they had put her to work both of her parents actually ended up dying within the Dungeon as the result of falling prey to a Monster Party. Lili was left alone in a Familia full of criminals and scoundrels and, now that she didn’t have the ‘protection’ of her parents, she was quickly exploited by others that wanted to make use of her for the same reason as her parents. This meant Lili spent her formative years, the most important period of her life, knowing nothing by pain, exhaustion, and the exploitation of others…

In an effort to change her fate for the better, Lili actually tried to increase her own earnings and become ‘independent’ at the tender age of five years old. However, as a result of the fact she was only around 70cm tall at the time and was even weak by a Pallum’s standards, there was absolutely no way she could become an Adventurer. She didn’t have any real equipment, other than broken pieces she had picked from the garbage, and there was absolutely no way the Guild condoned her venturing into the Dungeon. This meant she had absolutely nothing supporting her growth while also having a much harder starting point than almost anyone else in the entire world…

Lili failed to become an Adventurer and, after having nearly died to a goblin, which was actually much taller than she was, Lili fell into an even more tragic state as she was derided by her own ‘companions’ for her ‘lack of talent’. As a result, Lili spent the rest of her life from then onwards with only a moment of reprieve when she ran away and was taken care of by an old couple. Since her existence was ‘convenient’ for them, however, the Soma Familia tracked her down and ‘punished’ her for trying to escape instead of knowing her ‘place’.

Until Vahn had appeared to save her, she had suffered nothing but beatings, malnutrition, and the borderline perversion of some of the members of her Familia. If he hadn’t stepped in and taken responsibility for guiding her, Vahn knew she would have even become addicted to Soma and deviate even further into the darkness until Bell had shown up nearly two years from now. If he hadn’t shown up, she likely would have even been forced into prostitution at some point because she would be able to earn the disreputable members of the Soma Familia even more money…

The only warm memories that Vahn could see, which had taken the longest amount of time to vanish, were the memories Lili had forged after their meeting. Some of them had ‘dangerous’ colors to him, especially when Lili had been making advances at him, but the rest were relatively tame and there were even a few with girls like Tsubaki, Chloe, Naaza, Preasia, Hestia, Milan, Tina, and Haruhime. Then, as if she had been waiting for the memories to nearly finish fading away, the avatar of Lili said, “Being held like this makes me feel safe and secure…almost like all the bad things in the world don’t exist and the only thing that matters is that you are with me…Vahn, I know I can be a selfish girl, but…but…” At this point, tears had begun streaming down Lili’s face as her body trembled greatly and she muttered, “The only thing….I’ve ever wanted…was to be loved….just once….”

Though he did his best to restrain his own anxiety, Vahn’s body had begun to tremble as he cradled the small crying girl in his arms. She really was very tiny and, knowing what she had gone through in life, Vahn felt righteous indignation spread through his heart similar to when he had first learned of her past. Even though she was putting the past behind her after this, Vahn had saved the images of everyone that was ever cruel to Lili within his mind as he glanced over the darkest memories she possessed. Though they might have a changed a little with time, Vahn now knew the faces of the people that had tormented her the most. He wouldn’t go out of his way to track them down, but Vahn swore that he would bring them to justice if they ever met in the future…

Vahn continued to hold the avatar of Lili all the way until the final memory faded, which lingered for several seconds longer than all the others and was the moment they had just experienced in the real world. It showed him entering the tent and Vahn was surprised at how ‘big’ he appeared from Lili’s perspective as he walked forward and hugged her tightly and confessed his care and love for her. Compared to all of the other memories, this one shone the brightest of them all and even the avatar cradled in his arms looked up at it with moist eyes as if she was reliving the experience all over again. When it finally faded, she nuzzled into his chest and hugged his body tightly before saying, “Thank you for saving me…and giving me the love I longed for…” as the entire world around them faded from existence…

Only allowed on Creativenovels.com

When he returned to reality, Vahn was in a slight daze as he felt the relatively high body temperature of Lili spreading through him and her nearly negligible weight. Her [Hearts Desire] had been completed by the time he returned to his senses and he had received the ‘standard’ quest as a result. What had surprised him, however, was that Lili’s awakened Love parameter was at a relatively low 1,338 even though she was one of the girls he had known the longest. However, Vahn also noticed that it was steadily increasing at a relatively fast pace now and, by the time three minutes had passed, it had already reached 1,354. It seemed that Lili’s Love for him had actually been stunted because he hadn’t truly reciprocated her feelings until today. The fact it was as high as it was was a testament to the struggle she had been undergoing over the past few months and it made Vahn feel very guilty.

As Lili was very obviously still awake, since she had been burying her face into his chest while straddling his body, Vahn looked down at her and said, “Lili, from now on, I will do my best to show you the love you deserve…but please act with a bit of moderation until you reach adulthood…” The reason why her Love had been increasing was that her ‘infatuation’ with his scent and she had even transformed into a Chienthrope earlier to take it in even more. Her relatively heavy breathing was actually the reason why almost everyone else was awake as well, as it was rather ‘distracting’ given the circumstances.

Lili turned her head up to match his gaze and there was an almost drunken look on her face as she dazed for several seconds. A smile appeared on her face and her Love increased by a full thirty points in an instant when she said, “I’ll behave if you give me a kiss goodnight…” Vahn had actually already embraced all of the girls while giving them differing intensities of a kiss, with the exception of Mikoto, including Lili. What she was asking for was like a bit ‘more’ than the relatively tame exchange from earlier but Vahn nodded his head, somewhat against her expectations, and said, “I will do my best to keep my promises to you, Lili, so please treat your own with the same seriousness…”

Then, before the small girl could react, Vahn temporarily liberated his arm from Naaza, as Fenrir’s body tensed up slightly when he tried to move his right, before pulling up Lili and kissing her in an effort to ‘pacify’ her. She immediately released a sigh through her nose and eagerly sought his lips as her rather small tongue entwined with his. Vahn even stroked his hand along her lower back where a tail was poking out of her nightgown and beating with loud thumps as she began to lose herself in the moment. Though several auras flared up around him, Vahn promised he would make it up to the other girls in the future and did his best not to mind them for the time being.

Lili had been shifting her weight further up his body as she more eagerly sought his lips so Vahn eventually had to bring her back to her senses by sending a jolt of energy above the base of her tail. Though it wasn’t to the same extent as Cat Persons, Chienthropes were sensitive around their tails and Lili immediately scrunched up her body as a result of his actions and began to release hot and heavy breaths against his chest. When she pulled away, she had coincidentally locked eyes with the blushing Naaza and her senses began to return to her as she remembers Vahn’s words, as well as the ‘promise’ she had made prior.

After regulating her own breathing a bit, Lili said in a slightly anxious tone, “Eight months and twenty-seven days…please make me truly your’s on that day, Vahn…promise me…” When Lili’s words finished, Vahn felt strange energy fill his body and begin to hover around the vessel of his soul with an anticipatory vibe radiating from it. He knew this was likely the [Burden of Love] activating with Lili’s words as the catalyst but he didn’t mind it too much and just nodded his head and said, “I already made that promise in the past, but I will repeat it if it brings you some comfort, Lili…I promise, when you become a proper adult, I will be the one to seek you out…” Speaking his words, Vahn felt like his previous actions of sharing a passionate kiss were somewhat ‘suspect’, but their actual age was less than a year apart so he didn’t feel too guilty…

A beautiful smile blossomed on Lili’s face when she heard Vahn’s words while he himself felt the energy circling his soul activate before entering within the same stream as [Enkidu] as it waited for his promise to be completed. It was a relatively ‘significant’ promise so light had become rather dazzling as it ‘patiently’ drifted about and revolved within his soul in the same direction as [Enkidu]. With their promise literally soulbinding at this point, at least for Vahn, Lili seemed content and started ‘behaving’ once again but Vahn noticed she didn’t exist out of her Chienthrope transformation. Though she wasn’t directly breathing in his scent any longer, he could still see her Love parameter tick up every now and then so she was obviously still ‘enjoying’ the moment.

For the rest of the night, things were relatively uneventful and most of the girls began falling asleep soon after Lili stopped misbehaving. As for Vahn himself, he stayed awake until Tione and Lefiya had crept into the room before finally allowing himself to drift off. With him finally relaxing, Fenrir also drifted off to sleep at nearly the exact same time but not before she nuzzled up against Vahn and began to tickle his arm with her shallow breaths. He might not have noticed it in the past but, now that Lili was doing something very similar, Vahn was aware that Fenrir was ‘passively’ enjoying his scent…

(A/N: Though it might not be necessary, I wanted to explain he original title, ‘Burden’, for anyone that was confused. It’s essentially the ridiculous burden that was literally forced on Lili before she even knew what was going on in her life. The fact she awakened the rare [Artel Assist] and [Cinder Ella] show just how terrible things had been for her. If you take into consideration that her Innate ability is also [Atlas], even though she was born with a weak body, it essentially shows that it was her ‘fate’ to experience such suffering…fate can eat a dog turd and choke (O,…,O)!!)

You may also like: