Chapter 630: Collision : Awakening

Vahn was truly awed by how strong Fenrir had become, especially considering she was still ‘only’ Level 5. With few exceptions, there wouldn’t be anyone able to defeat her within the Danmachi record and, if not for the fact that they weren’t fighting to the death, Vahn would have already lost three times at this point. She hadn’t used her claws, teeth, or skills like [Severing Claws] throughout the entire fight, each something that would simply overwhelm his current defensive capabilities. There was also the fact she had her [Hroovitnir], which Vahn could see was a self-created ‘ultimate’ ability that she was holding onto. He suspected that, if she used it from the beginning, the fight would have immediately ended…

However, Vahn wasn’t going to back down and, now that things had reached this point, his own blood was burning with more than just excitement. Because of the amount of damage he had taken, Vahn’s scales had small cracks located all over, each allowing wisps of crimson flames to break through the skin. The ice around him hadn’t melted, but instead instantly evaporated in an ever-expanding circle as his jade-green eyes transitioned into a vermillion color. His previously black pupils now emitted a golden light which, when observed closely, looked like the cores of stars. The previously golden aura around his body turned a vermillion-gold as Vahn kicked against the ground, launching himself towards Fenrir with enough momentum to create three conal shockwaves, shattering the molten ground below in the process.

Fenrir’s hair was standing on end as she immediately fled towards the sky, showing an excited smile on her face as she evaded her Master’s attack. All of her senses were screaming for her to stay away from him and she had been taught to always trust her instincts. Where she had previously stood, her Master simply passed through the icy pillar as if it had been an illusion, dissipating the magic power within the ice in an instant. The battlefield she had created to give her an advantage was slowly breaking down as the world around them began to burn everywhere her Master moved. Twisting her body in the air, Fenri brought her paws together like she was praying, shouting, “Master, give me strength! Come to me, spirits, heed Fenrir’s call! Drown, Freeze, I don’t care! Go go go~!”

Vahn had smashed into the ground nearly 200m away from where he launched himself, sinking into the molten earth that was created when he came into contact with it. Strangely, he felt like a fish in the water and could move through the liquid stone as if it was his natural environment. When he came to the surface of the small pool he had created, however, Vahn’s eyes widened greatly because the entire sky had become a frigid blue in the time he had been submerged. Fenrir was ‘standing’ in the air with her paws spread wide, a vibrant blue emanating from her body that spread out for more than a kilometer. A massive blue magic circle came into existence behind her body, showing the visage of a wolf with chains and spears emerging from its periphery…

At the same time as Fenrir brought her paws forward, Vahn raised both hands and created a pillar of fire more than 8m in diameter that shot towards Fenrir with seemingly unstoppable momentum. Fenrir didn’t back down at all as the vibrant blue within the air ‘collapsed’ towards Vahn and the flame pillar in an instant, causing a massive explosion of steam that caused Vahn to smash further into the ground, even though the flame pillar itself wasn’t stopped. The ‘magma’ around his body actually began to freeze over as a secondary explosion occurred, this time tearing Vahn’s body apart and burying him deep into the ground below…

On the surface, Fenrir saw the flame pillar continuing towards her, bringing her paws together as several magic circles formed in the air, shouting, “Reflexio~! Reflexio~! Reflexio~! Reflexio~!” over and over again. Each magic circle created an icy blue barrier that fought against the seemingly unstoppable pillar of flame until it smashed into Fenrir’s body, which she resisted by curling up into a small shape and crossing her arms. The thick blue aura protected her body and caused an explosion to occur at the very moment the pillar came into contact with her, fortunately knocking her out of the trajectory of the flames. It was very painful, but Fenrir avoided any major injuries except for the fact her fur was brackish and burnt all over her body…

Though he had been severely injured, Vahn’s regeneration with his vermillion bird form was incredibly fast, causing his missing left arm to reform after only a few seconds. The terrain around him began to rapidly heat up, dispersing the incredible volume of ice elemental energy that was still trying to collapse in on him. He didn’t know it, but there was a pillar of ice above the ground that was 30m wide and more than 100m tall, shaped like an explosion that had been frozen in time. With the intense heat from his body, however, the pillar began to crack as a vermillion light emerged from the bottom. By the time he came into contact with the pillar itself, it exploded outwards as a result of the drastic change in temperature.

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Vahn had never felt so tired in his entire life and he didn’t even know how he was able to pull himself out of the crater his battle with Fenrir had caused. More than a pool, the molten terrain now formed a lake with him at the center. Fenrir was currently very far away, opening up a great distance between him since her instincts had been firing danger signals. Though not nearly as fast as Vahn, Fenrir had steam coming from her body as her fur regrew and became a pristine midnight blue once again. She had a giant grin on her face, displaying the numerous sharp fangs that had grown as a result of her excitement. The fact her Master had been able to stand up after her ‘ultimate’ attack made Fenrir giddy and she knew this wasn’t even the limit of his strength!

The wispy, fire-like, feathers on Vahn’s body began to dissipate as a strange energy he had never felt before began to lift his body towards the sky. Because of his fatigue, Vahn didn’t even know how he was able to move around at all, almost like his body was automatically acting in self-preservation. He couldn’t even sense his own source energy directly, almost like he was surrounded by a hazy barrier that prevented his perception from communicating with it. If not for the fact the familiar chill was ever-present in his mind, Vahn would have thought he was dreaming. Curling up into the fetal position, while floating high in the sky, Vahn felt a throbbing sensation around his heart as the ‘eternal flame’ in his chest shrunk into a ball, almost like it was trying to protect itself…

Suddenly, Eva appeared behind Vahn and chopped the back of his neck, robbing him of his consciousness as he fell towards the ground below. She looked at her hand, which had become numb even though she protected it with her magic power, muttering, “How much power is sleeping inside of that body of your’s…” Whatever Vahn was about to do, Eva knew it would have been more than the space would be able to handle, meaning the orb would have likely been destroyed. Since he didn’t seem to be in control, Eva knew he wouldn’t be able to seal her away and would potentially even lose everything within the orb in the process. Her body trembled as she imagined what would have happened if she allowed the fight to continue, feeling a sour sensation in the bridge of her nose as moisture began spreading through her eyes…

Just as Vahn was able to slam into the ground below, Eva appeared beneath him and caught his limp body, muttering, “Stupid…idiot…you promised…” After realizing what had nearly happened, Eva felt both scared and angry at the same time, wanting to punish Vahn but simultaneously just wanting to hug him tightly so he didn’t just disappear on her. Terra and Fenrir approached at this point, seeing Eva cradling Vahn’s body with tears in her eyes, understanding things had taken a bad turn. Fenrir’s ears flopped down pitifully as she said, “I’m sorry, Eva…”, even though she wasn’t entirely sure what happened. As for Terra, her smile had faded and she simply looked at her sleeping Master in awe…

As a True Dragon, Terra was attuned to the energy the produced, feeling a kinship with other dragons while simultaneously wanting to ‘compete’ with them. When Vahn curled up into a ball, Terra felt like her blood had been completely suppressed and it was almost like she was observing the birth of a far more powerful Dragon than herself. Her heart had trembled greatly and, though she already loved her Master, Terra felt ‘compelled’ to give her everything to Vahn at that moment. There was even a pressure in her lower body, accompanied by an aching feeling that made her tightly clench her fists to stop their trembling. For a brief moment, she had even considered attacking Eva for having the ‘audacity’ to strike her Master…

Vahn felt himself floating in an endless black void, a feeling he had become very familiar with over the last year since it seemed to happen rather often. As usual, he spread out his domain and felt four presences surrounding his body, opening his eyes to see Báihǔ, Xuánwǔ, the Vermillion Bird, and the Azure Dragon. This time, Vahn was face-to-face with the Vermillion bird and he felt incredibly close to it compared to the previous times he had entered this space. Even the Azure Dragon had a glistening and expectant look in its eyes, almost as if it was looking forward to something. Vahn just smiled as he casually reached out and stroked the massive bird’s head, allowing it to nestle against him in an affectionate manner.

Before his battle with Fenrir, Vahn’s awakening of his Vermillion Bird form had been at 86% so it was very obvious he had reached the requirements to finally access the form through giving it a name. This made him very happy because, even using that form for a very short period of time, there was almost nothing that could fight him. Thus, while stroking the surprisingly smooth feathers of the Vermillion Bird, Vahn opened his mouth as a single powerful word resonated through space, “Zhūquè…” The moment the word left his lips, the Vermillion Bird, now Zhūquè, began to produce a large amount of flames as it raised its head and released a cry that sounded like ‘nature’ itself…

As if incited by it’s cry, Báihǔ and Xuánwǔ both released their own roars while the Azure Dragon watched from the side, eyes glimmering with a competitive light as it released a roar that seemed like it could even shatter the space around them. Vahn felt the four energies from the sacred beasts resonate through his body and, though he wasn’t sure why, felt compelled to turn his head towards the black void above and release a ‘silent’ roar that completely silenced all four of them. Before he could make sense of what was happening, Vahn opened his eyes and sat up, sweat covering his body as he looked around at his surroundings.

The moment Vahn turned his head towards the presence at his right, a pale blur passed through the periphery of his vision before a loud ‘smack’ sounded in the room. His cheek felt very hot and, though it was somewhat painful, Vahn was more concerned about the teary-eyed vampire to worry about the fact she just slapped him. He didn’t understand what was happening but knew he had likely made a mistake, bringing Eva into his embrace, saying, “Eva, I’m sorry…” while stroking her long blond hair. Eva buried her head into his chest and began weakly pounding against his chest with her fists as she said, “You almost threw everything away! You stupid jerk…!”

Vahn tried to make sense of what Eva meant, doing his best to recall the events before he passed out. All he knew was that there was a powerful force emerging from his body and, given Eva’s reaction, Vahn suspected it was probably enough to completely destabilize the orb. If he had completed that transformation, everything they had planned would have collapsed. He wouldn’t have been able to learn the Magic Erebea and, worst of all, Vahn wouldn’t have been able to seal Eva away in his soul. Because he wouldn’t have been able to maintain that form for even an instant, Vahn would have simply destroyed the space without accomplishing anything except breaking his promise with Eva…

Hugging Eva’s trembling body as tightly as he could, Vahn also began to cry as he muttered, “Eva, I’m so sorry…I’ll never lose control like that again…please don’t cry…” Vahn couldn’t even imagine how he would have been able to cope with the loss of Eva, someone he owed an endless debt of gratitude towards. If not for the orb, he never would have been able to keep his promise with Hephaestus so quickly, nor would he have been able to learn [Shundo], create Fenrir, or having her train them in magic. Eva was the ‘key’ to his happiness and Vahn wanted to repay his debts to her in the future, regardless of how difficult the fight against the Mage of the Beginning would be.

For the better part of an hour, Vahn did his best to console Eva until she had managed to calm down enough to explain what had happened. According to her, though his power hadn’t increased a lot, the energy coming from his body had a very strong influence of space. If he had completed the transformation, the collapse of the orb would have been accelerated greatly, potentially even breaking down the instant he transformed. Eva had stepped in to stop him the moment she realized what was happening, fortunately preventing the worst from happening.

Now, more than ever before, Eva wanted Vahn to take his training seriously because there was no way of knowing what other incidents might occur to threaten the space. She was even tempted to give him the Magia Erebia scroll directly, explaining all the benefits and potential detriments of learning it. If he managed to pass the trial, which was very likely given the constitution of his body, Vahn’s magic power would undergo a fundamental change and he would be able to absorb foreign magical power into his body, fueling his Magia Erebea further. Since he had an omni-elemental affinity, Vahn would be able to push the skill to an extreme that even Eva wouldn’t have been able to manage since her own elemental affinities were restricted.

The biggest ‘detriment’ was the fact that the skill eroded a person’s mind and, if they lacked the willpower, it would eventually turn them into a mindless monster that wrought destruction on everything around them. Since it also granted immortality, Vahn would potentially become an unstoppable force that eventually destroyed the entire world. Fortunately, with his [Will of the Emperor], Vahn wasn’t worried about such an occurrence since his will wasn’t so easily swayed. He also suspected the detriments of Magia Erebea wouldn’t affect him at all because his blood would undoubtedly filter out the corruptive energy completely, meaning the version of the skill he learned would be ‘perfect’. Eva also agreed with this but still cautioned him about the trial itself, explaining, “When you activate the scroll, you’ll have to face the darkness within your heart. I can’t tell you what the conditions for success are, as you’ll never be able to ‘understand’ the skill without facing it on your own. If you can’t succeed before your body breaks down and turns into a monster, you’ll end up dying and having your soul torn apart in the process…”

When Vahn learned that the matter was related to his soul, he actually started laughing until Eva smacked him on the head a few times with a flushed expression, shouting, “I’m being serious here, Vahn!” This time, Eva didn’t hold back her strength and Vahn was certain he would have had a concussion if he wasn’t a spiritual body. Rubbing the top of his head, Vahn explained, “I can’t really explain the reason, just know that my soul won’t be torn apart even if I fail the trial. If you had the ability to see souls, you would understand that the structure of mine is a little unique…so, I guess there really isn’t any danger to me learning the scroll at all?”

Eva just stared at Vahn with an incredulous expression because she could see that he was telling the truth, meaning all of her ‘worries’ were ‘wasted’. She suddenly felt very aggrieved as a pouty expression appeared on her face, complete with teary-eyes and a mild blush. As if compelled by a force beyond her understanding, Eva began to weakly beat Vahn as she loosed all her pent up frustrations on him. Vahn shielded his head and bore the brunt of her ‘assault’ until she eventually just pinned him down, tearing at his tunic as she said, “It’s time for your punishment!” with a flustered expression on her face. Immediately thereafter, Eva began to diffuse an almost ‘intolerably’ stimulating energy into Vahn’s body as she ‘punished’ him for making her worry so much, seemingly unnecessarily…

Fenrir and Terra were sitting in the castle’s courtyard meditating, both becoming alert when they heard their Master cry out. Fenrir’s ears became erect as she turned her head towards the castle, scarlet eyes glowing before she began pouting. Terra’s pointed ears also ‘wiggled’ up and down as she listened to the ‘cries’ of her Master, likely being punished by Eva. Seeing Fenrir’s reaction, Terra began to laugh, drawing the attention of the scarlet-eyed wolf as she said, “I’m certain you can get Master to treat you like an ‘adult’ if you stopped pretending, Fenrir~.” Fenrir snorted through her nose, averting her eyes from Terra as she muttered, “I’m not like you, you lewd dragon…I’ll protect Master, both body and mind, even if it gets difficult at times…”

Hearing Fenrir call her a ‘lewd dragon’, Terra furrowed her brows slightly but didn’t say anything since she knew the reason behind Fenrir’s words. After getting close with Eva, Terra had eventually convinced Eva to allow her access to the ‘secret’ area in the castle. She had also managed to get Fenrir to come along as Eva embarrassedly introduced them to her art gallery. They were already accustomed to all the naked portraits and statues of Vahn, but the ‘art’ within the secret gallery was far more ‘intense’. Eva had been wanting to be ‘together’ with Vahn for well over 1500 years at this point so many of her desires had been given form through her paintings and statues…

This wouldn’t have been too bad, as it was quite ‘exciting’ to behold, but Eva had also been researching automatons, marionettes, and control magic. She had created an exact replica of Vahn, down to the fine details, and it was paired together with an exact replica of herself. Eva had trouble imagining things properly within her own mind, so she created two ‘dolls’ that were able to serve as ‘inspiration’. She had been very embarrassed to reveal her secret to Terra and Fenrir but, after seeing they were both ‘excited’ by the existence of the Vahn-doll, she opened up to them a lot more and began disclosing her various fantasies. At the time, though she was just trying to tease Eva, Terra asked if she could borrow the Vahn doll for ‘practice’, causing both Eva and Fenrir to blush deeply. Ever since then, whenever Fenrir was upset with Terra, she would always call her a ‘lewd dragon’ and had never entered the secret gallery again…at least not when Eva and Terra were around…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Fenrir’s Dominance’,’Awaken, Vermillion Flame Chicken’,’Lewd Dragon…’)

(A/N: To all the people showing their support in the comments section, I am truly grateful. Things are very tense in my own family so it’s comforting to see that the fanbase is so encouraging. Some of you seem to be worried that I’m still writing, but know that this is somewhat therapeutic for me and allows my mind to focus on happier thoughts for a brief moment. I feel like, if I only focus on sad thing, it would be much harder to cope. As stated, I will keep publishing at least one chapter since that is a promise I made long ago, one that I’m not willing to break presently. Truly, thank you for the support, as some of you have gone much further than is necessary to help me out during these trying times, especially T. Hughes, G. Bishop, and P. Wallbom. I can’t really express my gratitude fully for everything you have done, but I would ask that you all add me on the Discord so we can at least talk about the future direction of the novel together…anyways, take care, everyone. And, once again, thank you…this is all so much easier with support, even from people I’ve never met.)

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