Chapter 973: Fall

Vahn spent a fair amount of time helping Shizune regain her composure as the three of them sat near the vicinity of the statue and ate a light meal together. Surprisingly, Shizune hadn’t asked him to head to the Far East any sooner than planned as, according to her, there was no need to worry about people she had never met when there were plenty of people suffering in the world. Even Ais didn’t believe this excuse, however, as she gave Shizune a contemplative look throughout the meal that said, ‘I won’t let you go alone’. Vahn agreed with this sentiment, somewhat roughly stroking Shizune’s head as he said, “I have the power of Space…if I can’t use it during moments like this, what else is it good for…?”

Shizune knew that Vahn was very busy in the present and didn’t want to inconvenience him over her own personal matters. Still, hearing him console her and show genuine concern for people that were almost entirely unrelated to her made Shizune want to cry. She managed to keep the waterworks at bay but still nuzzled against Vahn’s chest rather affectionately as she intoned a small ‘Nn…’ in response. In truth, Vahn didn’t really need to change his plans to visit the Far East on schedule as, if he used his Qinglong form effectively, it wouldn’t necessarily take more than a few hours to find the suffering girl and liberate her. As for the woman that should be her mother, she was someone they could deal with at any time so Vahn intended to ‘brand’ her with a tracking ward so that she wouldn’t be able to escape.

After explaining the situation to the girls back at the ‘daycare’, Vahn managed to extricate himself from his children. He was thinking about the best course of action while Lili followed behind, completely silent as she seemed to be trying to read his mind. Though he didn’t need any help in rescuing a single person, Vahn was intending to ask Fenrir to accompany him since it was often better to have more people in the event something unexpected happened. Lili didn’t know exactly what Vahn was thinking but, as if to make her presence more obvious, she kept cycling through various forms in the periphery of his vision until Vahn released a small chuckle and asked, “Will you accompany me, Lili…?”

Lili had just adopted one of her more ‘adorable’ forms, growing thin pink hair around her forearms and legs, matching the color atop her head and the cat-like tail poking out from the small fold that was present in most of her clothing. Since she had the habit of transforming quite a bit, while even her [Pactio] gave her a monkey-like tail, Lili’s clothes were customized to allow for ease of movement in almost any form. This particular form was Lili’s attempt to make a Cat Person that had some of the racial traits she had tried to copy from a Vanargandr, meaning she had an incredible sense of smell and excellent vision. As for why it was pink, that was just an aesthetic choice that Lili had made when she was trying to think of how to make herself more ‘unique’ to suit Vahn’s preferences…

Hearing Vahn’s question, Lili beamed a mischevious and excited smile as she pumped her fist victoriously and said, “Of course I’ll go~!” She had, less than secretly, been wanting to accompany Vahn on one of his ‘missions’, much like many of the girls. They would, at times, feel useless since he was constantly dealing with the more dangerous and troublesome affairs on his own. The matter with the One-Eyed Black Dragon had taken them by surprise, as they had expected Vahn to at least severely injuring it before giving Ais the chance to fight. He was overprotective, almost to an extreme, something that made the girls feel gratified but extremely self-conscious since they all worked hard to grow stronger to stand at his side…

Vahn was slightly taken aback by how excited Lili was to simply accompany him for a short trip but, instead of thinking about it too deeply, he just habitually began stroking her silky hair in an affectionate manner until Fenrir showed up a few moments later. The latter gave Lili a glance, understanding she would also be accompanying them, before fixing her gaze upon her Master and saying, “I am ready, Master. Let’s go save Shizune’s family…!” She had already intuited the details through her connection with Vahn, unlike Lili who was still waiting for a deeper explanation into what they would be doing. When she heard Fenrir’s words, Lili produced and imperceptible frown, feeling slightly envious of the fact that Fenrir’s ‘bond’ with Vahn was strong enough that she could ‘literally’ read his mind at times…

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Noticing the momentary shift in Lili’s aura, Vahn gave the small Pallum a questioning look with his eyes before she immediately reverted back to normal with a sheepish grin on her face. He knew the girls would, at times, feel small bouts of envy or jealousy towards each other so it wasn’t that much of a surprise, especially considering that Lili treated Fenrir as something akin to a ‘rival’. The two had grown much closer after Lili allowed Fenrir to learn her [Cinder*Ella], but that only served to increase their competitiveness since both would attempt to make the cutest, fluffiest, or most adorable form in an attempt to appeal to him. Because Fenrir had inherited Lili’s ‘experience’ with the skill, she had quickly caught up with the latter’s use of the skill and the competition had been somewhat fierce, especially when the two were together…

Without dallying too much, Vahn explained the situation while in his Qinglong transformation, his intent quickly moving across the vast and seemingly endless sea as he continued speaking to the two girls from the Manor’s courtyard. It hadn’t taken long for him to discover that, instead of simply ‘teleporting’ his intent to a specific point, Vahn was able to move it around at startling speeds without the need to move his actual body. Though this kind of ‘clairvoyance’ was rather taxing on the mind and his reserves, it would allow Vahn to ‘map’ areas without actually visiting them while also giving him one of the most versatile methods to spy on any potential enemies.

After a little under an hour, Vahn’s intent had traversed the Poseidon Sea and he quickly found himself passing over various mountain ranges and scenic landscapes, all while using clues provided by the mirror and Shizune to locate the approximate location of her family members. They had already concluded that, other than one other person, a middle-aged Kitsune woman who seemed to work at a small store in the Far East, the affluent woman and her horribly mistreated daughter were Shizune’s only family. How they were related was still a mystery, as families often grew estranged with each other and could even branch out to create new families, but that wasn’t really a reason to ignore the younger Kitsune’s plight.

While he was searching around for the larger residence that was used by Shizune’s vicious relative, Vahn was still back in the Dungeon helping to pacify Shizune. He couldn’t teleport her out of the Dungeon quickly and then take her across the Sea with him in a timely manner so he had decided to keep her in the area for the time being as he dealt with things personally. When they finally returned to the surface, after scouting the location of the One-Eyed Black Dragon, Vahn promised that things would have already been dealt with and, if Shizune chose to, she could become the guardian of her young family member. This had come as a surprise to her as, even in her indignant rage, Shizune hadn’t actually thought she might have to be the caretaker of the young girl as even thoughts of having children of her own were a distant issue in the future…

Ultimately, it didn’t matter where the young girl would end up as simply removing her from such a toxic situation would be infinitely better than what she was currently going through. If Shizune was unable to care for the girl, which was completely reasonable given everything going on around the Manor, they could easily find someone willing to do so. Vahn was already considering having the young Kitsune attend the School as, not only would it increase her knowledge and power, it would provide her with a safe environment where she could make friends. He had no doubt she had experienced great trauma and it would only be through experiencing the kindness of others, in an environment where she could prosper, that she would be able to move on and overcome the past…

With such thoughts in mind, Vahn found himself above a two-tiered building of Far Eastern design, having a gently sloping roof that came to a point that was extremely ornate. It was almost entirely comprised of wood, each component of the building meticulously carved to increase the aesthetic appeal of the large manor below. There were several posts and lintels supporting the overall structure while many of the walls, as was common in many Far Eastern concepts, were relatively thin and could easily be rearranged for various purposes. They weren’t designed to be load-bearing at all, making the true support for the large building the various reinforced pillars that held everything together. The only exception to this was the ‘inner sanctum’, the part of the building that was reserved as general living quarters and often housed various treasures and shrines.

From the very moment Vahn’s intent arrived in the air above the Manor, ripples began to appear on Space itself before small fractures could be seen. An appendage with azure scales and golden claws broke through the void, causing Space to madly withdraw from the area as Vahn pulled Fenrir and Lili along with him. It wasn’t that difficult to move through Space on his own, as his Qinglong form seemed almost immune to any detrimental effects, but Vahn had to take extra precautions when moving others. The unstable ‘nothingness’ between Space could tear apart virtually anything, meaning he needed to protect the girls by having them as close to his body as possible when making the transfer. Even then, the cost for moving anyone other than himself was immense so Vahn found himself gasping for air as he quickly downed a [Turbo Ether] to replenish his reserves.

Though few people could sense spatial fluctuations, Space being torn apart wasn’t a very subtle act, causing extremely loud noises like glass shattering to echo throughout the area. The barriers surrounding the Manor also fractured as a result of Space trying to repair itself while areas of the ground below had been pulled up, distorting the land and disturbing the previously immaculate landscaping that decorated the manor’s surroundings. These were all significant events that drew a lot of attention, causing several guards that wielded Sasumata, a type of weapon used to capture criminals, began to appear. There were also several men that wielded katanas, spears, and naginata that came from the interior of the residence, turning their eyes skyward with tense looks adorning their otherwise fearless expressions.

Vahn didn’t consider himself too prideful in the past but, knowing he was already an Emperor, he was determined to play the part as he looked down on the men below with scorn and contempt. It helped that he was in his Qinglong form as, even with his [Will of the Emperor], Vahn noticed that it was very easy to feel such emotions in this particular transformation. As a result, some guards were unable to remain steady on their feet, even before Vahn actually allowed his aura to descend upon them like the Heavens themselves collapsing. He even suspected that the SSS-Ranked magic ability he had possessed in the Divination, [Heaven’s Fall], was inspired by a similar concept, giving Vahn a bit of inspiration…

Sano Tomonori was, by his own admission, a true prodigy with the sword. Even when he was growing up in an impoverished environment where others would have broken under the pressure and strain of their own hunger, he had been able to temper his body and mind, cultivating an unshakeable discipline and desire for strength. As a result, even as young as seven years old, he had managed to best a Ronin, a wandering or disgraced Samurai, taking his victim’s prided weapons as his own. Though the man had been drunk at the time, Tomonori was still proud to have defeated an enemy much larger and more skilled than himself…

From that moment onward, Tomonori became slightly famous in his small village and quickly rose to power amongst the other downtrodden youths in the area. As weapons were very hard to come by, especially well-crafted katana, he was able to garner a great deal of respect and admiration just carrying them at his hip. Since people knew he had taken them from a Ronin, someone they couldn’t see themselves defeating, nobody challenged his rise to greater power. This gave Tomonori enough time to cultivate his budding skills even further, to the point that he was actually able to defeat minor bandits and troublemaking Ronin, many much older than himself, with relative ease.

Remembering the respect his fellow villagers had shown him in the past, Tomonori felt a bit regretful that he had left them behind after becoming an adult, all in the pursuit of honor and supposed glory. He had once desired to become the greatest swordsman in the land, not because he truly cared for the title, but because it would have made the people in his village feel prideful that they had produced such a prodigy. However, with the passage of time, Tomonori had abandoned such thoughts and, after coming to serve his current mistress, his skills with the sword had been stagnating while his personal pride, especially in the bedroom, had been growing…

Realizing how far he had deviated from his original path, to the point that he had even stopped sending money back to help support his village, Tomonori felt an overwhelming sense of shame. Unfortunately, such thoughts were entirely too late as, from the moment the ‘god of death’ had appeared above his mistress’ manor, his journey had come to an end. Any pride he had in his own skill was crushed before the fight even began as, the moment Tomonori made eye contact with Vahn, it felt as if every bone in his body had turned to soft pudding. The sword that almost never left his side was instinctually dropped by his right hand, almost as if doing so might afford him some small hope that tragedy could be avoided…

As if to refute this kindling hope, an oppressive aura descended upon, not just Tomonori’s body, but everyone present within the Manor’s courtyard. It felt as if the weight of a mountain was pressing down on him as his knees buckled. Tomonori found himself forced into a deep bow with his forehead pressed to the ground, as if he was being forced to repent for all of his past actions. He even found himself lamenting the fact he had the audacity to look the god-like being before him in the eyes as tears began to build in his own. Then, a strange feeling of relief suddenly swallowed Tomonori, causing him to feel both confused and excited at the same time. He attempted to lift his head to express his gratitude to the divine being that had spared him, only to find the action impossible as darkness quickly overtook his vision. After that, the only thought that passed through his mind was simply, ‘I miss the ramen that Kana used to make for me…’.

Following his instincts, Vahn extended his hand outward and allowed his domain to spread through the area, forcing an irresistible pressure to descend upon the gathered guards below. Even the strongest amongst them was merely Level 3, meaning they couldn’t even offer a small amount of resistance against the pressure of his domain. Then, not content with this show of power, Vahn increased the pressure even more as he pushed forward with his palm. Space began to compress within the area, much like the phenomenon he had created with the Sub-Space orb back at the Manor. This time, however, Vahn was condensing Space to an extreme and in a very short period of time, causing the ground below to begin to ‘bend’ downward as he muttered, “Heaven’s Fall…” in a deep and resonating voice.

Though the effect of the ‘spell’ had already started to manifest themselves, a very different phenomenon occurred when the words left Vahn’s mouth. He had already created a basic structure for the spell within his mind and, though it was only ‘nameless magic’ at present, any Space Elemental offensive spell was truly monstrous. It wasn’t one of the foundational elements for no reason, taking Vahn, Lili, and Fenrir by surprise as a second wave of ‘pressure’ descended upon the designated area. In an instant, Space condensed to the point that it felt as if time itself had stopped, followed by what could only be described as a ‘collapse’. The fabric of the void seemed to break down, causing chaotic fluctuations that began to rapidly devour everything within the targetted area, leaving behind ‘literally’ nothing after Space had stabilized. The only indicator of the attack was the gaping hole that seemed to extend more than 100m into the earth without a single sign of debris where there had once been several layers of subsurface soil and rock…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘The Fluffiest of all Rivalries’,’Vahn, Godhand, Sage-Emperor, and Ero-Sannin…? The ultimate peeking skill has been obtained…!’,’O________________O’)

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