The atmosphere within the room had improved considerably. Tsubaki scooped up Lili and left Vahn and Welf sitting at the table as she went to prepare dinner. Though Lili tried to struggle at first, Tsubaki was easily able to carry her light body without being affected. Vahn gave a glance at Lili but didn’t say anything as she was tearfully pulled into the kitchen.
Welf laughed awkwardly before trying to restart the conversation with Vahn. He knew he made a bad first impression, so he wanted to try and patch things up between them. The two talked a bit about each other’s past. Vahn gave his standard story about growing up the forest, while Welf mentioned he came from the neighboring country Rakia.
When they were discussing why each came to the City and how they had been living, Welf was surprised to find that Vahn had only recently arrived in Orario. He found the fact that Vahn had been able to reach Level 2 within a month terrifying and began to suspect there was more to the story that he wasn’t made aware of. Welf suspected the reason Vahn had been entrusted to Tsubaki, who was the current captain of the Familia, was likely due to some kind of secret.
Though Vahn knew about Welf from the story, he still tried probing the reason why Welf came to Orario. Welf hesitated for a moment before saying it was to escape having to create weapons that indiscriminately take innocent lives. He told Vahn about his unique skill [Crozzo Blood] which his family had used to create weapons of mass destruction for Ares’s army. He swore that he would never take part it such a cruel process and even took a vow to never forge magic weapons.
Vahn nodded, showing that he understood Welf’s plight with the seriousness of his expression. Welf was able to see that Vahn didn’t simply acknowledge his words but genuinely empathized with his situation. He began to respect Vahn even more and began acting more casually while they talked. That is until Vahn said something that completely caught him off guard.
“The longer you deny your own capabilities, the less progress you’ll make in the future. You’ll never be able to move forward unless you overcome your past. Your fear of magic items and the damage they can cause is baseless because the only fear you have is in regards to damage others have caused, not yourself. Even if you refuse to make magic weapons, it won’t prevent the people that use them to indiscriminately kill from doing so anyway. The only difference is they’ll use an even crueler method to achieve the same result.” Vahn slowly spoke the words, even though he could see Welf begin to get upset. Towards the end of his statement, Welf was even gritting his teeth while trying to keep down his emotions.
“Welf, I understand better than you think, I’m not simply empathizing with you. I know how blood can be used as a powerful tool at the convenience of evil and cruel men. But, you aren’t proving anything by restricting your own power while they continue performing their deeds. If you truly understood the burden of your blood, you would use it to deny those that would exploit others.”
Welf looked towards Vahn with hate-filled eyes, though the hate wasn’t directed at him. Welf continued taking deep breaths, trying to calm himself. Once he recovered enough rationality, he spoke, “So you’re saying I should make weapons and use them to kill the people that wanted to use them? How does that make me better than they are; because I’m the one choosing the targets!?”
Vahn shook his head and responded in a serious manner. “I’m not saying you need to use the weapons or even let others use them. I’m saying you should research and study their power…so that you can create countermeasures against it in the future. Who else better than the creator knows how to prevent the damage caused by their use? Lastly, as long as there is a desire for your weapons, the people that would use them to cause harm would stop at nothing to get their hands on them. As you are now, there is any number of things that could force your hand and lead to the very event you’re trying to avoid.”
Welf grits his teeth even harder and was visibly shaken by Vahn’s words. He knew best what kind of people his family worked with. If they found out his location, even with the protection of the Hephaestus Familia, they would try to force him to concede. When that happened, he would be taken back to Rakia and be forced to make magic weapons until he either killed himself or lost his usefulness and they did the job for him.
Vahn continued, “There are more than just offensive spells. If your blood allows you to infuse magic into an item, why does it have to be for attack? Why not create a shield that can generate barriers or a staff that can cast recovery magic? Don’t tell me you think the only use for magic is to cause harm? Look-“
Vahn used a dagger and drew a line of blood across his forearm. Welf started in shock at the self-inflicted wound, but his eyes became completely round when he saw Vahn close the wound simply by tracing his finger across it. After the wound was completely healed, Vahn looked into Welf’s eyes and spoke. “Magic has many applications, why are you so obsessed with killing?”
Hearing the words, Welf’s mind was completely blank. He just stared at where the wound previously existed, unable to form any thought for several seconds. After some clarity was restored, he began to ponder the question Vahn asked. Once again, the words Vahn spoke hit to the core of the matter that he had avoided for so long. There was, in fact, no reason for him to create magic swords to bring harm. As long as he had a proper understanding of the magical circuit, he could infuse any type of spell into the equipment…
While he was lost in thought, Vahn was browsing through his system shop. He wanted to find an item that would help demonstrate his point even better than his previous action. Vahn found that looking for equipment that could heal was actually rather difficult due to the cost of such items. The cheapest one he could find was something literally called [Heal:C] that cost 2,000OP. He decided to purchase it and then pulled it out using his ‘storage magic’.
Welf was surprised seeing a staff appear in Vahn’s hand. He recalled that Vahn had previously pulled his hammer out of nowhere, and assumed it was likely a rare skill like storage magic. The staff in Vahn’s hand was made of wood which spiraled until coming to a red crystalline gem at the head of the staff. Welf was curious why Vahn would have a staff, as he didn’t seem like the type to use magic based on his build and demeanor.
Vahn was reading the description and use of the new item and realized he had hit the jackpot. He once again cut his arm, which caused Welf to grimace. He then channeled his energy into the staff and activated its ability. The red orb glowed with a gentle luminance and a white light emitted from Vahn’s body. After the light had faded, any evidence of the wound had completely vanished.
Welf was in awe of the demonstration because he could tell that Vahn hadn’t used any actual magic due to the lack of a chant. It was nothing like his small demonstration from earlier. From his perspective, he was able to see the staff create a magical circle around Vahn which covered him in white light and healed the wound. It was the first time Welf had ever seen a magical staff with the inherent ability to heal.
Welf swallowed heavily before asking, “That staff…did you make it?” Seeing Vahn shake his head, he released a sigh of relief. If Vahn had the skill to make such an item there would be no end to the people lining up to purchase his equipment. “Can I ask where you obtained it? How does it function?”
Vahn shook his head. He couldn’t tell Welf about the system, but he didn’t want to lie. “Sorry, it’s a very important secret that I can’t tell others. It’s dangerous even exposing items like this, but I wanted you to know that your blood didn’t always lead to a bloody end. If you put in the effort you could save countless lives. You don’t have to create items that cause harm.”
Welf nodded but continued staring at the staff. He never even considered Vahn’s approach, but now that he thought about it, Vahn was completely right. There had been so much pain and death caused by his family’s [Crozzo Blood] that he completely avoided trying to find a solution on his own. Instead, he just focused on trying to become a great blacksmith without creating magic weapons. He realized that he had been terribly wrong this entire time…
Welf released a long sigh while giving Vahn a gratified look. If he hadn’t met Vahn today, he may never have overcome the fear within his mind. He would have kept trying to forge a path that denied an integral part of himself until the very thing he was trying to escape caught up to him.
“Thank you Vahn. You’ve taught me something very important today. I’ll prove that your words aren’t wasted, count on it.” Welf looked into Vahn’s eyes while making his claim with a renewed passion. He now owed a great debt to this boy he had just met and wanted to prove that he wasn’t the coward that fled from his home long ago. Welf decided he would find a better path…one where when people spoke of the name ‘Crozzo’, it would be in adulation and not contempt.
Vahn could see the aura of Welf blazing like the sun. He was literally radiating confidence and determination, so Vahn gave him an appreciative nod. “You can do it Welf. As long as you continue to believe, there is nothing that can stop you.”
The two smiled at each other before nearly having a heart attack when a loud clap sounded from the doorway. Tsubaki, who had been watching the two in their own world for some time, started laughing loudly. Her decision to leave Welf to Vahn paid off, and she was happy to see a renewed flame burning within Welf.
“Foods ready you two. Come and get it before it gets cold. We made a buttload, so prepare to stuff yourself or face the consequences~!” As she spoke, she grabbed both of them by the back of their collars and dragged them towards the dining room.
As they were both aware of Tsubaki’s behavior, they didn’t put up much resistance as it would only make matters worse. Instead, they just gave each other awkward smiles and laughed along with the Cyclopian woman treating them like luggage.
Lili, who had been forced to cook with Tsubaki, was beside herself after seeing the violent woman drag in the two boys. She really wanted to shout at her for treating Vahn so poorly but knew nothing would be able to protect her if she opened her mouth. She resolved herself to become stronger as soon as possible so they could both escape the grasp of their one-eyed demoness.
Tsubaki dropped the two off near the table and everyone sat down to enjoy the meal. Vahn noticed that, though there was a slight variation, the meal was once again fried rice. Just like lunch, it was delicious and he enjoyed several bowls while making conversation. He had been focusing primarily on Welf for a while, so he made sure to ask Lili about her training earlier in the day, a topic he would regret bringing up.
Hearing Vahn mention training, Tsubaki started regaling everyone with the tale of Vahn’s valiant attempts to spar against her. She spoke about how he was able to improve at a fast pace, but no matter how hard he struggled he still ended up eating dirt ninety-nine times in a row. When she got to here, Tsubaki paused and gave a massive grin while looking at Vahn. She could see him sweating to the point he was unable to even chew his food.
She looked towards Lili who had been frowning during the recounting of events. “Nee~, Lili, what do you think happened after the ninety-ninth time?” Lili looked towards her with confusion, unable to understand why she would ask the question. “Did he block the attack?” She uttered the only words that came to her mind, missing the fact Vahn nearly planted his face into the table as she asked.
Tsubaki hefted up her large breasts before loudly proclaiming, “Hahaha, he managed to react in time, but the thing he blocked wasn’t my hand…it was my breasts!” She continued laughing while Vahn shrunk in his seat, Lili became flustered, and Welf just stared towards Vahn with a horrified expression.
(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Bromance’, ‘Why you attak wen u can protec?’, ‘Magic swords aren’t even unique to [Crozzo Blood]’, ‘Cyclops with surprisingly high EQ’, ‘Liliruca Arde, Benchwarmer’)