Chapter 942: Peace And Quiet

After a few hours of partying with the Xenos, Vahn was surrounded by several sleeping figures, many having passed out after having a little too much to drink. As for Vahn himself, his natural immunity to toxins prevented him from getting drunk so he was reclining against Ruby, a variant Bugbear-Xenos with white fur and ruby-red eyes. Her human transformation was lacking but her fur had become very soft after Vahn introduced the concept of shampoo and conditioner to the Xenos. Ever since her arrival in the village, Ruby had become the ‘cuddle-buddy’ of most of the mammalian-type Xenos, such as the Kobold, Horned Rabbit, Almiraj, and Hellhound Xenos. Vahn also found her coat very comfortable and didn’t refuse the offer to use her body as a pillow while his own body ended up being piled upon by several of the smaller Xenos sub-species…

As much as he was enjoying the comfortable and warm sensation of cuddling up with a horde of fluffy Xenos, Vahn’s day was far from over and he couldn’t stick around for too long. Thus, after sending out calming energy and helping lull the surrounding Xenos into a deep slumber, Vahn extricated himself from the pile-up before stretching his body, sharing a few words with those who were still awake, and then leaving the larger communal compound. He made his way to a small white building that had a rounded dome-like structure and oblong holes for windows. It appeared to have been created from a type of clay, like many of the buildings that were constructed in Spero but had a large conch-like protrusion sticking out of the top.

Unlike the rest of the residences in Spero, Vahn stopped outside this one and passed his finger through a series of colored crystals that were similar to a wind chime. They were a little heavy to be moved by normal winds but, when impacting each other, resonated with a very pleasant and calming bell-like sound. Shortly after the sound began to echo through the area, Vahn could hear a bit of shuffling around and the movement of water before an inordinately charming and gentle voice sounded out, causing even the pleasant sound of the chime to seem rather dull. Vahn shook his head to clear his thoughts before passing through the barrier that had barred entry, finding two beautiful girls waiting for him in the building’s interior…

The inside of the building lacked furnishings, much like most of the Xenos residences, but there was a large pool that filled more than half the available space. Within that pool, Marie was laying on her stomach atop a large red stone, a happy smile on her face as she exclaimed, “Vahn…! Welcome~!.” She hadn’t been present during the impromptu party earlier because her tolerance towards alcohol was nonexistent, causing her to stir up trouble with her charm without intending to. Since she could even charm hostile monsters, Marie’s ability could easily influence her fellow Xenos, making it rather dangerous for her to be present when everyone was cutting loose.

Vahn returned a natural smile to Marie, commenting, “That new swimsuit looks very nice. Did Naho make it for you…?” Marie had gotten into the habit of wearing clothing to protect her dignity, even if it was only an emerald-green bikini top and a pareo tied firmly around her waist. This time, however, she was wearing a rather ornate top that looked like two starfish covering her breasts, woven together in a complex arrangement that actually covered most of her upper body. She still had a large pareo, as it was very difficult for her to wear any other kind of bottoms, but it too seemed rather intricate compared to her previous garments…

Marie beamed at the compliment, pushing away from the side of the pool and spinning around happily so Vahn could get a full view as she said, “Naho make fabric. Helen make swimsuit~!” After her outburst, Marie sunk into the water before making a loop underwater and coming back up at the side, this time much closer to the second person within the room. Marie produced another happy smile, earning a very small smile in return from her rather demure and quiet companion, Helen. She was reclining on an ornate chaise lounge, the only piece of genuine furniture within the living area of the residence.

Compared to the past, Helen no longer attempted to cover up her appearance, causing Vahn’s heart to twist in his chest every time they met each other. No matter how often he interacted with Helen, it was like he was laying eyes on her for the first time, requiring him to steady his heart and mind to avoid having to use [Will of the Emperor] just to converse with her. Somewhat annoyingly, however, Helen almost seemed like she was tempting him at times, even though he ‘knew’ she wasn’t trying to. After all, though his first impression told him that the thing clothing she was wearing was meant to entice him, Vahn’s discerning eye noticed that the exact opposite was true. Her clothing was worn in such a way that it didn’t accent her beauty much and instead hid the curves of her body, even though her face, ankles, feet, and arms were bare…

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Taking a breath to calm himself, Vahn broke the tension that had started to build, asking, “How have you been Helen?” After the initial ‘wave’ washed over him, Vahn was able to regain his composure, returning to a calm mental state and adopting a natural smile. This caused Helen’s eyes to squint almost imperceptibly as she slowly adjusted her position, each minor movement appearing like a composition that had been carefully arranged by a master painter. She moved a few of her long white strands of hair to the side, ensuring that no loose strands spilled over onto the ground as she sat straight and responded, “It has been very pleasant, living here in this village…”

Vahn gave a small nod in response, urging Helen to continue with his eyes, matching her pinkish irises without being influenced by the powerful charm contained within. This was something that Helen always seemed to appreciate as it would often bring a small smile to her face, sometimes even reaching the edges of her mesmerizing eyes. Vahn didn’t interact with her too often but he had slowly been learning how to identify how she was feeling based on the small changes in her aura and disposition. She wasn’t very expressive at all, as it could be very ‘dangerous’ if she showed genuine emotion over the previous eight hundred years, so Vahn had to pay close attention to know what she was thinking…

Helen, as expected, gave an immaculate and indescribably beautiful smile in response before saying, “I have been getting along well with all of the Xenos, especially Marie…she and I have become very close over the last few months…” These words caused Marie to beam while leaning against the side of her pool, a peal of pleased laughter escaping her lips. Helen gave her an affectionate smile before adding, “This place is truly a small and unexpected paradise…one I fear I never would have found if not for the whims of fate. Thank you, Vahn Mason…” Before coming to reside in Spero, Helen had to worry about both men and women being influenced by her Innates. The Xenos, however, including those with humanoid forms, had a natural resistance to her. They didn’t have the same concept of beauty and aesthetic as normal people, finding Helen to simply be unique and interesting, not a possession worth fighting over…

In response to Helen’s gratitude, Vahn waved his hand dismissively, earning a small squint from her as he said, “You don’t have to thank me, Helen. Nobody should have had to go through what you went through. If I can give you some peace of mind by allowing you to reside here, that is something I ought to do, not something you should thank me for…” This wasn’t even remotely close to the first time that Helen had thanked him so Vahn was starting to develop an immunity towards it. Even so, he still added similar words to what he almost always said, “Just remember to let me know if you need anything. Don’t forget, you aren’t a prisoner here and I can always help you relocate if you grow weary of this kind of life…”

As usual, Helen didn’t have a response to this and just averted her eyes to the side in deep thought, nobody knowing what was on her mind. Vahn could see her aura waver for a brief moment before normalizing, causing him to turn away and say, “You can always contact me or Jeanne if you need anything…have a good evening, Helen…” After those parting words, Vahn cast a glance towards Marie, adding, “I’ll see you at dinner, Marie~.” She responded by happily swimming in a swift arc before diving down, disappearing into the complex corridors that comprised her personal network of tunnels. Vahn had moved through them a few times himself but Marie could navigate them with extreme ease, moving about freely between Spero and the Hearth Manor.

With Marie’s departure, Vahn didn’t have any reason to stick around and was about to cross through the barrier when Helen’s voice reached his ears, asking, “Why do you not ask me about my secrets, Vahn? If you asked, I would tell you everything…” Though not quite in the same fashion, this was also a question Helen had posed to him in the past. He knew she wanted him to inquire about her past and the ‘fate’ that had been assigned to her, likely to make that very fate a reality. Vahn, however, had no intention of going with the flow of things and allowing Helen to make ‘excuses’ about how she would act in the future. Unless she told him about herself of her own volition, Vahn wasn’t going to pry into her tragic past, becoming the target of some prophecy or fate that Helen had convinced herself was inescapable…

Vahn cast a glance back at Helen, the same casual smile on his face as they locked eyes for a few tense seconds before he once again turned away. This time, Helen didn’t call out to him and just stood standing in her spot for more than a minute, the soft chime of crystals dancing in the wind. She knew Vahn had already long departed and, unlike her brothers, wasn’t lingering around outside as he waited for her to call out to him a second time. As a result, Helen allowed a genuine expression to show on her face, causing her delicate and flawless features to turn into a frown.

If anyone had been around to witness this, they would have almost immediately taken up arms, demanding to know who had upset her and doing everything they could to make her smile again. Instead, Helen was left alone in the small and homely residence she shared with Marie, the ambient sounds of nature and the gentle ebb and flow of water the only things breaking the silence. It truly was a very peaceful place to live but Helen hadn’t been able to completely enjoy it as her thoughts were deeply rooted in pessimism. Though she hadn’t seen a single sign of this being the case, Helen couldn’t help but feel as if she were simply being fooled. Even though she had seen the truth herself, knowing full-well that Vahn had a general immunity to her abilities, a part of her couldn’t completely accept the reality of her situation…

Helen released a tired sigh before gingerly laying her body across the chaise lounge that Vahn had gifted to her in the past. Though he had just given it to her after asking what kind of furniture she preferred, the same part of Helen that made it impossible for her to accept reality told her that he had given the lounge as a gift to woo her. Even as she would lay against it for hours, playing with the seams of between the cushions, Helen still felt very confused about her current situation. After all, she even made sure it was located in the very center of the room and would always lay across it every time Vahn made an appearance. Regardless, other than a small moment of shock and awe when he first laid eyes on her, Vahn would return to normal almost immediately, not even shying away when she looked directly at him…

For the better part of an hour, Helen didn’t move a muscle as her pointed ears were trained on her surroundings. She had even sent out her perception like a small echo, using her mana to individually check every inch of Spero and the village’s periphery. Even Helen didn’t know ‘why’ she bothered looking around, knowing full well that what she was looking for wouldn’t appear. Still, she couldn’t help herself and continued to inspect every presence down to the smallest animals and insects before releasing another tired sigh and rolling onto her side. From this angle, she could see a small shelf-like section in Marie’s pool, filled with small trinkets and vials that Vahn had given her in the past. On the very edge of the shelf, there was a small waterproof doll that had aquamarine gems for eyes and a cross-shaped mouth. There was a very subtle area of darkness around this x from where Marie would kiss the doll before diving into her cove at night and resting for the evening…

With nothing better to do, Helen played with a few strands of her long white hair, aimlessly staring at the doll without any thoughts passing through her mind. She had gotten very accustomed to simply ‘existing’ back at the City of Heroes so it wasn’t difficult for her to spend entire days without a single actual thought passing through her mind. At times, she would even meditate for upwards of a month, only stirring when Jeanne would come by to visit and tell her about events taking place in the City. Now, Helen was once again left without anything to do as her ‘purpose’ was to support the person that was able to resist her charms. She had thought Vahn would be this person but, even after nearly three months had passed, Helen wasn’t sure what he wanted from her. It seemed like he had no expectations whatsoever, but this was something incomprehensible to Helen, filling her with doubts and causing her extreme confusion…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Fluffy Paradise…’,’Marie is adorable~’,’Helen has been pursued by ‘everyone’ so she has no idea how to function when she isn’t pursued (UwU)…’)

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