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Published at 16th of August 2019 09:03:44 AM

Chapter 923


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Vahn was currently experiencing a familiar sensation that had long fallen into the deepest recesses of his mind. Similar to when he had fought the Juggernaut, Vahn felt like his mind had completely 'shattered', immersing himself in deep and all-encompassing pain. In this state, it was entirely impossible to form any thoughts and, for what felt like an eternity, Vahn could only accept the pain as it permeated through his entire existence. Still, part of him knew the pain would one day pass so, even though it felt like an eternity until that time would come, Vahn did his best to withstand the pain...

Just as it felt like his very existence was on the verge of fragmenting, Vahn experienced a familiar cooling sensation that began to spread from the center of where he 'felt' his mind to be. Though he had no lungs to breathe, Vahn exhaled a profoundly relieved sigh as he allowed the cooling sensation to wash over him. Everywhere its influence spread, the seemingly endless pain would fade away, replaced by a refreshing sensation as his 'body' was finally fully submerged. Following this, Vahn felt the cooling sensation slowly fade away, replaced by a gentle and all-encompassing warmth as the warmth that brought his perception back into focus...

Upon opening his eyes, Vahn found himself staring up at an endless expanse of darkness but, instead of feeling afraid, he felt incredibly relaxed and calm. Raising his tired body, Vahn saw the familiar existence of Baihu, Xuanwu, Zhuque, and his yet unnamed Azure Dragon. Different from the last time he had visited, the first three now had glowing runes covering their body. Beneath him, Vahn found the same eight-elemental Taiji that normally appeared on his back had now expanded outward from his location. It glowed with a sacred blue light that had stretched outward to completely encompass the four sacred beasts, each taking cardinal positions for themselves.

To the North, representing Water, there was Xuanwu, the Black Tortoise and Snake pairing that had been one of his staunchest allies. Its black scales were covered in aquamarine green runes while the snake coiling around its body now had black scales with yellow runes. To the West, occupying the Metal element, surprising Vahn slightly, there was Baihu, the large White Tiger that had been his first companion, allowing Vahn to experience the 'joy' of battle. Vahn found it a little peculiar that it occupied the Metal element, even though it had granted him an increased affinity with Wind...

The black stripes on Baihu's fur shimmered with a pattern of light green runes but, at the very center of its head, where the pattern for 'king' was located, Vahn saw a vibrant gold rune shining radiantly. Next, he turned his head to the South, finding the strangely enchanting Zhuque, the Vermillion Bird, occupying the symbol representing Fire. This wasn't a great surprise to Vahn but, noticing some of its feathers now shimmered with a golden hue while runes that appeared similar to eyes now glimmered along its flight feathers. Vahn was momentarily brought back to his fight with Enyo, remembering how he had used Zhuque to completely overwhelm the Darkness for a brief moment...


Vahn noticed that he had naturally smiled while observing Zhuque and, though it didn't have the means to produce human expressions, Vahn felt it had smiled back. This caused him to feel a bit of warmth in his chest as he turned to his final companion, occupying the element of Wood. Just as with Baihu, Vahn felt it was a little strange that the Azure Dragon would occupy such an element as, while he had been fighting previously, it seemed to have a relation with Space and, to a lesser extent, Time. Even so, it didn't really matter right now as Vahn could see the expectant look in the Azure Dragon's eyes as it lowered its head...

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Reaching out his hand, Vahn placed his palm against the Azure Dragon's head and muttered, "I have kept you waiting for too long, my friend..." In response to Vahn's words, the Azure Dragon just nudged his hand slightly and released a complacent rumble from its throat, causing Vahn to chuckle lightly before a tense atmosphere spread throughout the infinite darkness. The other three Sacred Beasts became silent as they watched from their positions, a gleeful look in their eyes as Vahn's voice resonated, "Henceforth, you shall be Qinglong..."

The moment Vahn's words sounded out, Qinglong's body became covered in a pattern of golden runes as it raised its head and released a loud roar that shook the very void around them. Baihu, Xuanwu, and Zhuque all joined in, releasing their own distinct roars as the runes on their bodies began to resonate with each other. Vahn saw the eight-elemental Taiji begin to emanate intensely with a blue light that began to shroud both his body, and those of the four massive beasts roaring around him. When the light faded away, instead of being surrounded by the familiar figures, Vahn saw four versions of himself, each representing his transformed states...

Suddenly, his Baihu form began performing a series of movements that caught Vahn's eye while the other three adopted seated positions, falling silent as the runes on their body shimmered. Having nothing else to do, Vahn found himself immersed in watching Baihu perform a total of nine different techniques, each seeming simple but radiating a sense of profundity that caused Vahn's soul to tremble. He didn't think it would be possible for him to perform similar moves but, using his own transformed body as the example, Vahn watched as Baihu demonstrated the techniques ceaselessly until, after an inordinately long period of time, Vahn noticed that his own body had already started emulating the movements...

Just as it felt like he was about to discern some great truth regarding his [Rakshasa Body], Vahn opened his eyes, finding a familiar roof overhead as two different pressures weighed against his chest. Turning his eyes downward, Vahn found Lefiya drooling on a light-grey tunic he didn't remember wearing while, opposite her, Fenrir had been curled up in the same bed as him, looking decidedly fluffy. As if they were both aware of his awakening, which was likely the case through their powerful bonds, Lefiya and Fenrir both startled awake, immediately turning their unique eyes towards Vahn. In the next moment, Vahn found himself consoling both girls as Lefiya cried in his arms while Fenrir hugged his body tightly, almost as if she were afraid he would disappear...

---

Nearly two hours later, after practically being paraded around and embraced by almost every girl within the Mano, Vahn was seated together with the entirety of his rather large family. At the side, somewhat unexpectedly, Jeanne was wearing brand new armor while, wearing a cloak that veiled most of her features, Helen stood slightly behind her. Currently, Loki was explaining to him what had happened while he was passed out, this time for a full thirty-eight days, even though only a little more than six had passed in the real world. So that his children wouldn't worry too much, Vahn had been treated within the Sub-Space orb while the girls took turns watching over him as his body went through various stages during his recovery...


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According to Loki, after hearing an accounting from Jeanne, the latter had fled from the City of Heroes after warning the Valkyrie's of the potential fallout. The group of proud warriors had been preparing Cú Chulainn funeral rites, completely ignoring the battle occurring in the Coliseum. Upon learning of their father's death at the hands of Heracles, the girls were completely incensed but, after learning that the latter had also died, their anger quickly turned into feelings of loss, confusion, and uncertainty. They served within the City of Heroes at the behest of their Allfather and, now that he was gone, their purpose could no longer be fulfilled. None of them wanted to take orders from Zeus and Hera and, with Jeanne's and Helen's efforts, they had not only helped the two women escape but were now residing in Freya's Manor to the south.

Jeanne and Helen were not the only ones to part from the City of Heroes as Vahn learned that Musashi, the man whose sword intent had been so intense that it actually cut through his ego, had also begun wandering. Vahn's form was wholly dependent on his self-image and, in a state where he had pushed his mental energies far beyond their limits, the impact of Musashi's strike had carried over to his main body. Though he hadn't been in any danger of actually dying, it was the singular most impressive sword strike Vahn had ever witnessed and he expected this would remain the case for a very long period of time...

Other than Musashi, several other members of Legend also departed the City, none of them wanting to be around when Zeus began raging and throwing a tantrum. Jeanne and Helen were unable to comment about which members had left as, even while residing in the Manor, they weren't able to share information about Legend's structure. The only reason Jeanne had been able to comment on Musashi was that he had been involved in the event, allowing her to readily speak about what she knew on the matter. What was important, however, was the fact that, with the exception of Zeus, there weren't really any threats from their side. Though most of the Heroes had their quirks, none were the type to go out of their way to seek trouble, especially with recent developments...

Wrapping up her recounting of events, Loki released a pent up sigh while her red eyes gleamed through the slits in her eyelids. She hadn't even been remotely surprised by the fact that Zeus actually had an organization of Heroes that he had been collecting over the last thousand years. What annoyed her was the fact that Zeus had been keeping so many powerhouses a secret, even when his Familia had been in operation. Though it ended up being for the 'better', as Enyo would have been much more dangerous if she had powerful Heroes under her influence, it still bothered her that Zeus, Hera, and even a god from her own Pantheon, Odin, had kept such a secret without anyone realizing it was going on...

Having already publically declared Zeus and Hera as exiled gods who were not allowed to roam within the City, there wasn't much else Loki could do other than plot to have them both killed. Even if she had to have them assassinated, it would be worth getting rid of such troublesome individuals since, in the future, Loki truly believed Vahn would be able to completely crush them. She didn't know exactly how he would do it but, based on everything Vahn had been able to reveal, Loki knew he had a way that was completely beyond her comprehension. For now, the things that needed to be dealt with most pressingly were the two women quietly standing at the side...

Just as she was about to mention Jeanne and Helen, Loki's thoughts wandered to an even more important subject as she interrupted her own thought process and said, "Now that your avatar is destroyed, you should take some time to live a normal life for a while. She might be putting on a strong front, but you have no idea how stressful the last week had been for Syr..." Before he had run off to confront Legend, Vahn had been spending time with Syr in the maternity ward. He had left partway to enter into the Sub-Space orb but, the next time he had emerged, his body had almost been completed bisected. Not only Syr, but most of the girls in the Manor had been extremely stressed out while Vahn's body had been recovering. Presently, there wasn't a single one amongst them that was protecting Haven while Anubis, Tsubaki, and Riveria had taken leave from the School...

There were a lot of things Vahn 'needed' to take care of, sooner, rather than later, but he still nodded his head in response to Loki's words. After what had happened, Vahn felt like he needed to 'reset' his mentality as the impact of his failure to defeat Heracles, combined with the over-taxing of his mental energies, had left him a little shaken. If Musashi hadn't dealt the final blow, Vahn would have been out of commission while Heracles, in his madness, would have wrought havoc upon the Mortal World. There was no doubt in his mind that the mad Demigod's first target would have been Orario and, out of spite, the Manor itself...

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At least for a short while, Vahn just wanted to spend time with his family without having to worry about what was going on in the outside world. Zeus wasn't a 'real' threat and, with access to his Qinglong form, Vahn knew that his movements in the future would be much easier. He could also use this time to familiarize himself with the techniques demonstrated by Baihu, all while watching over his children and spending time with everyone 'normally' for once. With that thought in mind, Vahn very nearly asked if everyone wanted to go on a picnic, overlooking the fact that it was already late in the evening...

Fortunately, before Vahn said something to embarrass himself, Loki asked, "What are you going to do about these two girls? We currently have Ioke being cared for by Juno, so you don't have to worry about her for the time being. As for the Valkyrie, they haven't caused any trouble thus far, though their leaders had wanted to meet with you at some point. For now, we've been letting these two stay in the Guest Residence since the Jeanne woman had readily accepted the vows after claiming to be your Knight..." Loki wasn't really concerned about Jeanne but, after learning the identity of Helen, she didn't believe it was 'safe' for her to stay in the Manor at all.

Even without Loki expressly stating her concerns, Vahn had been able to intuit what she was worried about so he gave an apologetic smile to everyone before saying, "For the time being, I need everyone but Loki, Hestia, Anubis, Fenrir, Jeanne, and Helen to leave the room..." Vahn understood that it was better for fewer people to see Helen's true appearance and, though it could potentially be a little dangerous for Fenrir to meet her, Vahn was confident her Loyalty would invalidate the danger.

Vahn, truthfully, had no interest in trying to enter into a relationship with someone like Helen, but that didn't mean he would abandon her and cast her out in the world alone. Though part of him was intrigued by the existence of the 'most beautiful' woman, his intuition told him that things would become complicated if he was actively involved with her. Since he wanted to avoid the situation where conflict was to arise within the Manor, Vahn knew he needed to come up with a solution for where she would stay in the future. If possible, he would try to help her find a way to reduce the effect of her Innates on other people so that she could at least interact with a few people normally...

After a few rather awkward minutes, which were made easier by Maemi and Emiru proposing tea and snacks while they waited, Vahn ended up in the room with only those he had designated to stay. Now, to set things in motion, Vahn turned his attention to the veiled Helen, saying, "For the time being, you can remove your hood and allow everyone in the room to see your appearance." Instead of obliging Vahn's words, Helen shook her head slightly before saying, "I believe it would be better for everyone if I were to stay like this. As I am very grateful for what you have done, I do not wish to make things difficult for you, Vahn Mason..."

Hearing Helen's words, Vahn released a small sigh before locking on to the dark cloak with his intent and stowing it away in his Inventory. He had already seen through the fabric with his [Eyes of Truth] previously and, though her appearance had been a visual impact on his mind, it wasn't to the extent of overpowering his [Will of the Emperor]. Though she truly was one of the most immaculate beauties Vahn had ever seen, especially with her inordinately long white hair and her pale red eyes, swimming with runic symbols. Upon looking into her slightly startled eyes, Vahn, for a brief moment, felt like he was being pulled into her gaze but quickly managed to shake it off as he said, "I need to understand your situation better if I'm going to be able to help you live a normal life in the future..."

As he spoke, Vahn gauged the reaction of everyone else in the room and as somewhat surprised when he saw that Loki, of all people, had become absentminded. Everyone else, including Fenrir, seemed relatively unaffected by Helen's appearance but Loki, perhaps due to her association with the fairer sex, seemed somewhat smitten while looking at Helen. It didn't last too long, however, as her skin radiated a slight luster that only people like Vahn could see as her Divinity naturally repelled the influence of Helen's Innate. As for Helen herself, her surprise had faded away quickly and, even though her expression was completely neutral, it still made the rest of the room seem strangely 'dull' in comparison...

Vahn was starting to get a feel for the situation and decided to test something by calling over Lyd through the Unit Management function. Lyd was very confused by the sudden change in his surroundings but, seeing Vahn, and sense the strange atmosphere, he chose to remain silent and away Vahn's instructions. His eyes still wandered around the room, however, passing over Jeanne and Helen with a bit of intrigue in his slit-like pupils before inspecting everyone else gathered in the room. This seemed to surprise Helen somewhat, as Lyd had made direct eye contact with her, while Vahn simply nodded his head after confirming his suspicions.

As a final test, even without explaining things, Vahn sent a telepathic message to Rufina, having her enter into the room unawares. Much like Lyd, she looked around and, seeing the unveiled Helen, showed a slightly surprised expression. This, however, was the extent of her reaction to Helen before she turned to Vahn and asked, "What did you need me for...?" Instead of Vahn, it was Loki who answered as she had been paying close attention to what was going on. She had locked eyes with Helen a second time while waiting on Rufina, feeling her mind wander once again before he resisted the influence invading her mind. Now, she understood much of the situation, explaining, "It seems like it won't be too difficult finding a place for you to stay after all, Helen..."

(A/N: I decided to release this chapter a bit early since I'm not sure I have enough willpower to continue writing further xD. Though I woke up super early to get a jump start on things, the first three chapters took a lot more time than expected. I started around 2:40AM and, at the time of writing this A/N, it was 2:52PM. I did take breaks to eat and shower, but I've been essentially focused on writing for twelve hours at this point and just want to take a nap xD...)

(A/N: Alternate Titles: 'My pain is far greater than yours~!','Changes in [Rakshasa Body]','Loyalty and Allegiance are OP (o 3 o)~!')

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