Chapter 93: Gentle Embrace


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After seeing the system notification, Vahn was in a daze. The only other ‘person’ he had achieved maximum affection with was Hephaestus, and that was after knowing her for a long time. He didn’t understand how Tiona was so affectionate toward him, and when he turned toward her and saw her beaming smile Vahn didn’t know what to feel. His mind felt ‘tingly’ and it felt like there was a pressure, other than Tiona, on his chest.

Finn saw the ‘discomfort’ Vahn was in, so he tried to rein back Tiona. “Tiona, that kind of thing can wait for later. We should return back to Riviria for now.” Finn motioned for everyone to head out, but Tiona hadn’t let go of Vahn. She continued to cling to him for a few moments longer before asking, “Will you come with us Vahn?”

Hearing her question, Vahn was somewhat indecisive. He had to return back to Rivira himself, but it felt awkward to be dragged along with their group. After thinking things through, Vahn furrowed his brows a bit before he looked at the lively girl that had yet to release him. Seeing that her smile didn’t fade in the slightest as she waited for his answer, Vahn finally gave up before sighing. “Sure…”

Tiona was very happy with his response and started walking with him toward the exit. Finn and the rest of the party were already near the stairs, but Ais and Lefiya had stayed behind a bit in the corridor for Tiona to catch up. Seeing that Vahn had come along, she gave a small nod before walking alongside them to join the rest of the group. Lefiya followed behind everyone, and Vahn could feel a discomforting ‘glare’ on the back of his head.

The entire time they were going down the stairs, Tiona kept barraging Vahn with questions. She asked about his home, when he came to City, what kinds of food he liked to eat. Anything she could think of to ask, as long as it related to Vahn, she wanted to know the answer. Vahn answered most of the questions, though he felt helpless since Tiona was still clinging to him even while she bounced around.

Ais also asked a few curt questions about how Vahn was able to grow so much in the last week, and about if his Level had increased at all since their last meeting. When she asked, Riveria’s ears twitched a bit, while Finn also slowed his pace by a small amount. Neither looked toward the direction, but they were listening in on the conversation. Vahn was paying attention though, so he only gave short responses that didn’t reveal any important information.

He did mention, however, that his ‘magic’ that allowed him to transform his body had undergone a change after his narrow escape with the Juggernaut. Vahn knew it was possible for magic to develop and evolve under tense and stressful situations, so he found it an appropriate time to mention the encounter. As the Loki Familia was one of the strongest in the City, they may even be able to subjugate it, saving countless lives in the process.

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Hearing Vahn mention surviving against a Juggernaut, Tiona started issuing a laugh like she was lost in her own little world. Though it was subtle, Vahn could feel her grip on him tighten by a small amount. The rest of the Familia, especially the senior members Finn, Riveria, and Gareth all had very serious expressions on their faces. They believed that it’s somewhat justified Vahn’s explosive growth and his unique skill, but they were also shocked that a Juggernaut was currently on the 13th floor. They had been in the dungeon for a few days, and they hadn’t heard anything about its appearance at all.

The entire group stopped walking as Finn looked back and asked, “You’re sure the thing you encountered on the 13th floor was a Juggernaut? It could have been some kind of Variant creature.” If what Vahn said was true, they needed to inform the guild to either cordon off the floor or arrange an emergency subjugation team. They would also need to investigate the cause and find out what had happened for such a powerful monster to appear on the middle floors.

Vahn described his encounter with a bit of embellishment, including its features and how he had narrowly escaped by leaping through a hole to the 14th floor. For some reason, as he recounted the last part of his escape, Vahn felt a bit ashamed of his weakness. He was especially aware of the girl that was still holding on to his arm, though he didn’t know why her presence concerned him so much.

“I’m glad.” While Vahn was having a mild internal struggle, he heard a gentle voice ring in his ear from the right. Looking up, he could see Ais looking at him with her characteristic blank expression. Seeing she had got his attention, she continued, “You can become much stronger. One day you will win.” Ais said the words without any hesitation and it made Vahn feel a bit more confident.

“Hahaha, that’s right! Every hero has setbacks, but they always turn things around in the end! If it was anyone else, they would have died you know~!?” Tiona seemed to agree with what Ais said, and in a similar but much more excitable manner, she tried to encourage Vahn. They weren’t the only two either, as every present member of the Loki Familia gave him words of encouragement. Even Lefiya, who Vahn felt disliked him, gave him a few kind words in a quiet voice.

Eventually, the group had exited the stairs and Vahn noticed it was still dark on the 18th floor. After checking his system time, he realized it was only shortly before 2 AM, which meant the Goliath had spawned much sooner than expected. It was fortunate the Loki Familia had arrived, or he may have been in a situation where he was awoken by the Goliath’s arrival. Even if he had summoned Fafnir immediately, he would have still been drained for the resulting fight.

Tiona had been paying attention to Vahn, so she asked what he was thinking about. Vahn looked toward the ‘sky’ before showing a somewhat complacent smile. “I was thinking that I was very lucky everyone showed up. I think things wouldn’t have gone as smoothly without you all nearby.” As Tiona hugged his arm even tighter, everyone else either smiled or laughed a bit after hearing Vahn’s answer.

As the group made their way further into the 18th floor, Vahn noticed they were deviating away from the settlement. After asking, Finn had told him they were currently on an expedition to the 30th floor and had a group too large to fit in the small settlement. Though they had a small manor that could house about twenty people, it wasn’t nearly enough for their current eighty man expedition. Because of their numbers, they had been forced to set up camp away from the settlement to prevent tensions between the 18th-floor residents.

After nearly an hour on foot, it was slightly after 3 AM when the group arrived outside a relatively large campsite. There were more than 30 tents spaced around in a large clearing next to a forest. A river ran alongside the camp and disappeared further into the trees after turning a bend more than 50m away.

Once they had arrived, Finn addressed the party and dismissed everyone for the time being. He still needed to make a report to Riviria and get in contact with the Guild regarding the Juggernaut, so there was a chance he would have to place the expedition on hold. Out of consideration for the situation, Finn informed Vahn that the seven red tents in the western section of the camp belonged to the Hephaestus Familia. If he wanted to, Vahn could rest there and even join them on their expedition if he was interested.

After Finn mention going into the deeper floors of the dungeon, Vahn was somewhat excited. He was already nearing the halfway completion point of his quest, and killing monsters deeper in the dungeon with, the support of an S-Rank Familia, was the best possible solution for completing the quest quickly. He gladly accepted the invitation, as it would also allow him to move without having to worry about the Osiris Familia pestering him. Even if they wanted to interfere, there wasn’t much they could do when the Loki and Hephaestus Familia(s) were involved on an expedition.

Looking toward the tents, Vahn said goodbye to everyone and tried to make his way over. However, the moment he stepped forward, his body was jerked slightly by Tiona who had still been holding his arm since the 17th floor. Tiona firmly held his body as she looked toward the rest of the group. “I want a spare tent. I will stay with Vahn.”

Finn started laughing in a ‘fed-up’ manner as he slowly made his way toward Rivira with Gareth. Riveria was left to watch over Ais, while the rest of the girls gave Tiona an incredulous look. Tione stepped forward and shouted, “What are you thinking Tiona!? Do you believe I’d let you get a head start on me? I haven’t even been able to sleep with the Captain yet and you want to run off with Vahn!?” From the distance, Finn, who was still in earshot, nearly fell over. This time, it was Gareth’s turn to laugh as he patted the blond-haired pallum boy on the back.

“I don’t care about your troubles~ I said I wanted to have Vahn’s children and that is my problem, not yours!” As Tiona spoke, she started dragging Vahn away and he began to panic. He tried to free himself from her grip, but there was a huge disparity in their two strengths. Unable to free himself on his own, Vahn tried talking his way out of the matter. “Wait, Tiona, I’ll stay with the Hephaestus Familia. I don’t want to have children or anything like that, there is still a lot of things I need to do!”

Tiona looked at him with a thoughtful expression and seemed to contemplate his words for a while. After coming to some kind of decision, she smiled widely and said, “It’s fine~! I’ll take care of them on my own or drop them off at Telskyura. It won’t interfere with your matters~” The moment she finished her words, she continued dragging Vahn who was now in a cold sweat.

Vahn knew of children, sex, and even other things, but he was lacking fundamental knowledge of the process behind their conception. Vahn thought only married people had children, and he wasn’t prepared to marry anyone just yet. Fortunately, he was saved by a shining golden goddess as Ais stepped in and grabbed Tiona’s hand which was dragging Vahn.

Tiona, who had been grabbed, looked toward Ais with a somewhat hostile expression. “Ais? Why are you getting in my way?” Ais stared blankly after being asked the question before looking between Tiona’s grim face and Vahn’s anxious expression. Her eyes eventually settled on Tiona as she said plainly, “He doesn’t like it.”

After hearing the words, Tiona frowned and stared towards Vahn. Her grim expression slowly turned into a sad one as she saw how uncomfortable she was making Vahn. After a few seconds, she loosened her grip and lowered her head. “Do you hate me now?” Tiona felt very guilty for having forced Vahn against his will. In the worst case scenario, she was afraid her actions might have pushed him away.

Vahn looked at her dejected state and felt like it didn’t suit her at all. Everything he could remember about Tiona was her happy and bubbly personality, but now, because of his fear and inhibitions, the once cheerful girl looked broken-hearted. After giving a thankful nod to Ais, Vahn walked forward and patted Tiona on the head. He gently ruffled her hair until she turned up her head to look at him.

Seeing her face, Vahn tried smiling in what he imagined to be the most gentle manner he could manage. “I would never hate you Tiona. It makes me sad to see you act so down. I like it more when you smile.” As he continued his words, Tiona’s face became brighter and brighter before she eventually leaped forward and hugged him. She lifted him and spun around with his helpless body while bouncing in jubilation.

“Aaaaaah, if you say stuff like that it makes it even harder to let you go!” Tiona was so excited that she didn’t realize she had been using her massive strength and was slowly squeezing the air out of Vahn’s lungs. He didn’t know if he should laugh or cry after being picked up like a sandbag and spun about in a carefree manner. As he slowly began to pass out, Vahn’s mind wandered to his status, as he had developed the habit of checking them before ‘sleeping’.

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[[Stats]]

Name: [Vahn Mason]

Age: 14

Race: Human, *sealed*

Parameter: [Danmachi: 1-4]

-Level:2(+)(2)

-Power:1001+(B778)->(S905)

-Endurance:1108+(SS1025)->(SSS1113)

-Dexterity:887+(B750)->(S920)

-Agility:940+(A828)->(SS1019)

-Magic:1611+(SSS1198)->(SSS1548)

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Total:5547+(4579)->(5505)( (A/N: Now THIS is some gainz!)

Soul Tier 2 (Hero Soul)

[Karma]: 1,473

[OP]: 411,259

[Valis]: 171,630

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(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Not so Gentle After-all’,’Death by Snu Snu?’,’Tiona’s Determination’,’Planned Parenthood’)

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