Chapter 587:Willingness

For nearly a minute, Vahn absentmindedly stared at Riveria and continued stroking her head, shocked by the continued development of his [Petting] ability and the reaction of the mature High Elf. At this point, Riveria had completely closed her eyes and seemed to be greatly enjoying his caress, contrary to any expectations he had at the very beginning. Though part of him advised caution, Vahn felt an inclination to see exactly what he could get away with before Riveria came back to her senses. She was very obviously in a somewhat absentminded state and Vahn felt somewhat emboldened by her uncharacteristic behavior.

Knowing better than to push her too far, Vahn did a relatively simple action and moved his hand from Riveria’s forehead and caressed the side of her cheek in a very ‘affectionate’ manner. Riveria also seemed to have noticed the ‘abnormality’ in the situation and immediately opened her eyes to stare at Vahn with a shocked expression on her face. Vahn did his best to put on the most gentle expression he could as he asked, “Are you okay…Riveria?” while cradling the left side of her face with his right hand. Riveria furrowed her brows slightly and Vahn could see a blush creeping up her neck at a visible rate as she said, “I’m fine…”

Vahn’s smile became more genuine as he released a relieved sigh and said, “That’s good…” while allowing his middle finger to touch against the base of Riveria’s ear, immediately causing it to turn scarlet. Riveria frowned deeply at this but Vahn could see her jaw quivering slightly at the sudden contact, as allowing someone to touch your ears was an incredibly intimate action. However, the fact Riveria didn’t say anything to stop him made Vahn feel warmth flow out of from his chest as he muttered, “You’re very beautiful…” before putting on a hopeful expression and asking, “May I…give you a kiss…?” Though it wouldn’t be the first time they kissed, Vahn was currently supporting Riveria’s body and it was decidedly more awkward than their previous interactions.

Riveria thought she had found her resolve but now realized she was grossly unprepared for sharing intimate moments with Vahn. However, the more she felt inclined to resist, the most Riveria berated herself because she really didn’t want to keep taking advantage of Vahn. Though almost every fiber of her being wanted to refuse, Riveria clenched her teeth to stop their chattering and nodded her head with a ‘serious’ expression on her face. Vahn smiled happily, making Riveria feel even more flustered, and stroked the side of her face gently before leaning in to give her a very tame kiss. The only thing that made it ‘dangerous’ was the length, as Vahn took advantage of the opportunity to press his lips against Riveria’s until she made the decision to pull away. Strangely, she seemed almost ‘unwilling’ to back down first so they ended up in an awkward moment where Riveria’s face become increasingly red as she held her breath. Vahn continued stroking the side of her head, not shying away from tracing his finger near the base of her ear until she eventually released a heavy sigh through her nose and turned her face to the side in embarrassment and frustration.

Using the momentary lull, Vahn figured Riveria would need a bit of coaxing to ‘justify’ her own thoughts and actions so he gently muttered, “Riveria, don’t worry…I’ll never force you into anything you’re against and we only have to act intimately in private. Even if it’s only periodically, I think I would be very happy seeing your blushing face when we’re together…” Though he mentioned being in private, Vahn was very aware of the heavy gaze of Terra who was relaxing against her roost. She was being very quiet, blending in with the environment itself, but Vahn could feel a bit of resentment wafting from her, not directed at him, but Riveria.

Riveria didn’t seem to sense this at all, however, and seemed to be seriously considering his words once again. He felt it was somewhat ‘cute’ how she put so much effort into rationalizing things but didn’t want her to push herself too hard again, taking the initiative to say, “Emotions are something you feel, Riveria…don’t overthink them…” as he sealed her lips again. This time, Riveria didn’t have the opportunity to close her mouth and Vahn managed to probe into her lips with his tongue before immediately removing it when her teeth ‘snapped’ closed. Riveria panicked a little at the unexpected kiss but Vahn didn’t immediately pull away and instead compressed his domain while infusing a combination of calming and stimulating energy into it.

It was a bit ‘shameless’, but Vahn had ‘learned’ from Loki, Syr, and even Eina that he shouldn’t shy away from making use of his capabilities, as long as he didn’t push it too far. As long as he wasn’t ‘reliant’ on his abilities to make the girls happy, it wasn’t really an issue that required him to put restrictions on himself. As a response to the contrasting aura that enveloped her body, Riveria released a sigh through her nose before turning her head away and muttering in a low voice, “Stop…I don’t want to keep doing this…” Contrary to her ‘expectations’, Vahn immediately nodded his head and dissipated his aura, helping Riveria stand while saying, “Sorry, I got a little carried away.” in an apologetic tone.

Though she knew he was a ‘sensible’ boy, Riveria hadn’t actually expected Vahn to back down so easily when he was acting so ‘aggressively’. She was momentarily at a loss and just looked at him blankly as a strange feeling of ’emptiness’ rose up inside of her. Seeing his ‘apologetic’ look made Riveria feel both guilty and anxious because she had been the one that originally given him permission to kiss her. Vahn simply smiled in response to her vexation, reaching out his hand to stroke the side of her face again, saying, “Don’t overthink it, Riveria. If you’re feeling any inhibitions about something, please tell me…I don’t want to drive you away by pushing you into something you aren’t prepared for. For now, we should just take care of the procedure before Terra ends up losing her temper.”

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Riveria had started to feel even more guilty as she listened to Vahn’s words but was startled at the ‘reminder’ of Terra’s presence. Her eyes widened and she looked toward the sunbathing True Dragon, seeing the ‘gentle smile’ on her face as uncharacteristically cold. Though she was much stronger than Terra, Riveria felt a little intimidated by her look and turned away, nodding to Vahn as she said, “Yes…let’s go to the…salon?” Realizing her suggestion, Riveria felt a bit of panic and was very aware of how quickly her heart was beating. She felt like it was getting progressively harder to ‘cope’ with all the emotions that were going to war inside of her body. The only thing keeping her moving forward was her feelings of guilt, the strong sense of duty she had, and the ‘wavering’ trust she felt toward Vahn…

Vahn nodded at Riveria’s suggestion and did his best to remain calm as he turned to Terra and showed an apologetic expression on his face as he said, “Sorry, Terra…I’ll make it up to you later.” In response to his words, Terra’s wings slowly traced a smooth curve through the water as her tail snaked from side to side, a sign she was ‘looking forward’ to how he would apologize. Vahn gave an awkward smile before looking toward Riveria and suggesting, “Shall we go…?” while extending his hand to her. Riveria stared at his outstretched hand for several seconds, ‘willing’ herself to eventually reach out and grab it with her own before saying, “Yes…” in a quiet tone.

Surprisingly, Riveria allowed Vahn to escort her all the way to the edge of the illusory forest before she eventually pulled her hand free from his. Though he gave her a questioning look and a slight smile, Vahn didn’t ask and simply continued to lead the way until she reached his salon. They had passed by a few people along the way, causing Riveria’s aura to fluctuate slightly, but she maintained a stoic expression and simply nodded in greeting. As for Vahn, he shared a few words with the girls but didn’t tarry for long since he knew Riveria probably wanted to get things taken care of as soon as possible. Once they reached the salon proper, Vahn could sense Riveria relax greatly and she released an audible sigh to emphasize the tensions she had been experiencing. He had realized this a while back, but Riveria sighed more than anyone else he had ever met, completely unaware that the reason for this was almost exclusively because of him.

Before he could try to break the ice, Riveria had surprisingly seized the initiative by saying, “I was serious about my earlier words, Vahn…since I’m going to be your wife, I will do my best to ‘tolerate’ and abide by your wishes. Just…don’t embarrass me in front of other people…I need to be strong so that people treat me seriously…” She had never talked about it to anyone else before, but Riveria had often worn far more girly and elegant clothing in the past. After learning that she lost her birthright as a result of being a woman, Riveria had changed her disposition and started wearing more reserved and manly clothing. She had even artificially deepened her voice to make it sound more husky, all so that she wouldn’t be treated like some kind of ‘delicate flower’ by the other nobles.

For nearly fifty years, Riveria had treated most of her interactions with people like a ‘confrontation’ and had never really made an attempt to open her heart to others, even her close companions like Aina. This was the primary reason she hadn’t wanted Vahn to see her [Hearts Desire] in the past because she didn’t want him to pry into her past and see how much she had changed…she didn’t want his pity. Though he treated her as an ‘equal’, Riveria often found herself feeling somewhat ‘lacking’ in comparison to Vahn, oftentimes one-sidedly benefitting from him and only offering small bits of advice in exchange. If he ‘pitied’ her, Riveria was certain she wouldn’t be able to actually stay around him since she ‘needed’ his respect if they were going to be together and raise their child. Since her own understanding of love was shallow, Riveria prioritized ‘respect’, ‘dignity’, and even ‘pride’ more than her own emotions…

Vahn observed her in silence for a few seconds before softening his expression and saying, “Riveria, I’m actually a pretty selfish person…” Hearing his words, Riveria was confused and gave him a questioning look since she couldn’t understand why he was saying such a thing. Though he was a bit foolish at times, Vahn was undoubtedly one of the most ‘selfless’ people she had ever met. Even if she asked everyone else in the Manor what they thought about Vahn, Riveria couldn’t imagine a single one of them, even the goddesses, claiming that he was ‘selfish’. Vahn, however, showed his characteristic ‘honest’ expression and explained, “I wouldn’t have ‘surrounded’ myself with so many capable and beautiful women if I was ‘content’…”

Even if the others felt like ‘they’ were the selfish ones in his relationships, Vahn felt like he had ‘needed’ almost all the girls and had slowly started to feel like he couldn’t easily separate with any of them. So she could understand what he was trying to say better, Vahn continued, saying, “I will probably try to get a rise out of you at times…because, though I love the cool beauty you portray yourself as, I also love the bashful you just as much…I want to see every single expression you can make, as long as its one of happiness or contentedness. Since it’s important to you to maintain your image, I will keep all of your happy expressions to myself…at least until our child is born. Please, rest assured, I will never take action that would embarrass you in front of others…” Vahn didn’t know what the future would hold but he was confident he could abide by his promise, determined to even make a ‘vow’ if Riveria wasn’t convinced.

Riveria had already seen the ‘conviction’ in his eyes, however, and she felt the emphasis he placed on each of his words as he stated them very clearly and in a firm tone. Though they were very embarrassing to hear, Riveria also felt ‘comforted’ knowing that Vahn was so considerate of her. She knew better than anyone about her own insecurities, so it gave her peace of mind knowing that he would respect her ‘image’, at least when they were in front of others. It might be a little late to consider the matter, especially after their little display in front of Terra, but Riveria didn’t mind it too much since she was also at fault. Thus, with her ‘resolve’ solidified and her heart at greater ease than before, Riveria brought her left hand to the golden clasp around her mantle and unfastened it, allowing the tan fabric to drop to the ground…

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Though she was still almost fully clothed, Vahn gulped audibly when he saw Riveria ‘discard’ her mantle and reveal the somewhat masculine military style robe underneath. She may have tried to ‘appear’ manly, but Riveria was a breathtaking beauty and there was absolutely nothing she could do to truly convince someone she wasn’t a woman. Even with her serious expression, Vahn found her to be very adorable since she was ‘fighting’ very hard to keep the blush from spreading through her cheeks. Since she hadn’t actually ‘prepared’ for the procedure properly, Riveria knew that the only thing under her robes, other than the black undershirt she had worn after the ‘incident’, was a mismatched bra and panty. Thinking of Vahn’s reaction, Riveria’s face became very hot but she continued willing herself forward even though Vahn’s gaze was very ‘heavy’…

Vahn watched as Riveria unfastened the clasps of her belt before using her somewhat shaky fingers to unbutton her robe. Though her blush had already reached the tips of her inordinately long ears, Riveria didn’t seem ‘content’ with the accomplishment and Vahn was actually worried she would have a nosebleed like Ryuu pretty soon. Deciding it was best not to ‘pressure’ her too much, Vahn averted his eyes and started preparing the materials for the procedure, feeling Riveria’s aura calm down a lot the moment he turned away. He even heard her release another sigh but noticed there was a bit of exasperation mixed in alongside the relief. Riveria had felt both ‘grateful’ for Vahn’s consideration but regretted that she was so ‘weak’ that she required the kindness of a young boy just to cope…even if that young boy was her future husband.

For the coming procedure, Vahn had prepared a compound ink that was mixed with powdered Orichalcum, Terra’s blood, and a small amount of [Cadmus Spring Water] and [Mega Elixir] as the ‘carrier’ to prevent infection. Though lower-quality materials could be substituted, Vahn wasn’t going to cut corners when it came to one of the women that would become his future wives and the mother of children. Even if the combined materials cost several tens-of-millions of Valis, it was literally a small price to pay from Vahn’s perspective. For the ‘needle’, as he would actually be tattooing the formation into Riveria’s skin, Vahn used a very thin scale that he had obtained from Fafnir as its tip was only three molecules thick, making it one of the ‘sharpest’ objects in the record, though it was also somewhat fragile at the same time. The best part was that Fafnir’s scales were inherently sterile and it wouldn’t absorb any of the magical or medicinal properties of the ingredients at all.

As he could almost perfectly ‘simulate’ the procedure in his mind, Vahn was confident it would take slightly under three hours to complete, though that was assuming Riveria didn’t move at all. He expected she would probably struggle a bit at first until he helped her ‘relax’ and eased her into the procedure. With his new [Petting: A], Vahn was very confident he could help her calm down, even if it would also be a bit embarrassing for her when she recalled the event later on. He could already ‘force’ Arnya, Chloe, Aki, and Milan to purr and had already seen that his technique was ‘effective’ on Riveria earlier. Now that it was even stronger, Vahn expected he could get her to ‘relax’ pretty easily and hoped she wouldn’t be too resistant since he didn’t want to be late for dinner and cause her greater embarrassment…

Though it had taken a much longer amount of time than expected, the sound of clothing being moved around eventually came to a stop and there was silence in the salon for a short while afterward. Vahn could ‘sense’ Riveria perfectly, even without looking at her, and knew she was staring at him with a great deal of hesitation. Deciding to be more forward with her, Vahn turned around with a smile on his face and gave Riveria’s body a ‘casual’ and appreciative glance, saying, “You really are an ethereal beauty…”

Vahn had been somewhat surprised to see that Riveria was wearing a beige colored panty and a light-green bra, Vahn didn’t think it was strange at all and simply admired her beauty. As for Riveria, she hadn’t expected Vahn to suddenly turn around and froze up under his gaze before feeling a strange sense of relief when he didn’t give her a ‘weird’ look and instead showed clear admiration on his face. It might seem a little ‘shallow’, but Riveria felt a bit of pride and relaxed a great deal even though she still had many inhibitions about the situation.

Trying to act as professionally as possible, Vahn smiled and gestured to his massage table, saying, “We don’t want to be late for dinner and you will probably want to take a bath afterward. Let’s go ahead and get started…” Riveria’s face became somewhat serious at this point because she also realized how ‘awkward’ it would be if they showed up to dinner late. Even taking a bath was going to be very ‘difficult’ in the future because everyone would be able to see the large tattoo that would be covering her abdomen and lower body in the future.

Riveria had previously decided that it ‘should’ be considered a mark of pride and had already resolved herself to put on a strong front around the others but knew it wouldn’t be easy. Though there were some High Elves that carved special formations into their body to make use of their unique magic, Riveria would be the first of the Alf lineage to ever willingly allow her body to be ‘blemished’. However, she didn’t want people to see it that way and wanted it to be a mark that ‘inspired’ hope in her people in the future. She had even considered wearing clothing that displayed the mark in the future, though hadn’t made an actual decision to show it off quite yet…

Taking a deep breath, Riveria walked over to Vahn’s massage table and climbed onto its plush surface, feeling her butt sink into the pliable material below. It was very comfortable, but Riveria felt incredibly awkward as she lay back against it and looked toward the gentle lighting above. She had previously allowed Vahn to touch her back, but this was decidedly different as Riveria would be able to see all of his actions clearly. Her breasts, which she had always been self-conscious of, were clearly displayed before him with only a thin fabric separating them. As for her lower body, Riveria was doing her best not to think about it at all and just ‘prayed’ that she wouldn’t do anything to embarrass herself during the procedure. Part of the tattoo required Vahn to work around the very delicate area and Riveria was very worried, for a variety of reasons…

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