Chapter 43 - Too Many Opponents
Vahn stood there in shock as Lili continued holding his hand on her chest. His mouth gaped open and closed like a fish out of water. He was trying to find a solution but struggled to find the words. Though he tried removing his hand, he was shocked to find Lili had been holding his wrist like a vice seemingly unwilling to let him extricate it from her grasp.
"Ara~. Even though the sun has gone down, it isn't appropriate to show such displays of affection in public."
The cold sweat that had settled on his back began to increase as Vahn heard the unamused words that seemed to be spoken by a demon from a dark icy abyss. Both he and Lili turned towards the sound of the voice in a mechanical manner and saw a mature woman staring at them with an icy gaze. The smile on her face, though it appeared friendly on the surface, seemed to possess a veiled threat as it coldly observed their actions.
The woman, Milan, continued to stare at the two children who were frozen by her sight. Though she was laughing in her mind, she felt a mischevious urge and wanted to tease the two of them. She moved her 'icy' gaze towards the hand that was still being held to the chest of the hooded girl and Vahn immediately snatched his hand away as a result. The hooded girl was broken from her stupor by the movement before crouching down into a ball and hiding her face from view.
After staring at the girl for a moment, she turned her gaze back towards Vahn and increased the depth of her smile. "Vahn, it seems you not only took advantage of my daughter but in the span of a few minutes you found a second victim~nya? Perhaps it's too dangerous to allow you to stay under this roof any longer so as to protect our female residents and employees~?
Every word seemed to increase the mental damage Vahn had received since entering the Inn. Had he known something like this was going to happen, he wouldn't have tried pinning on the brooch in the first place! At this point, he could only swallow his regrets and try to explain the situation while apologizing.
"Mrs. Yuel...please, I can explain...I didn't mean to offend your daughter. This whole situation is just a big misunderstanding caused by my slip and lack of focus." He raised both his hands and waved them in surrender.
Milan couldn't help but find his reaction hilarious, but she wasn't willing to let him get out of things so easily. "Ara~? So you're saying that after you 'accidentally' slipped and groped my daughter, you also 'accidentally' squeezed her chest~?"
Hearing the words, Vahn fell to his knees with his palms on the ground. Though he could explain away the first part, he didn't have a reasonable excuse for the second half of her words. After she had repeated the series of events, he was dealt a critical blow and couldn't remain standing any longer. He now began to understand why so many 'dense' protagonists suffered in anime and manga, and he resolved to try and remedy his bad habits in the future.
While staring at the boy who had black lines covering his face, Milan had to cover her mouth to prevent laughing aloud. She had no doubt everything was caused by a misunderstanding, but it didn't change the fact he took advantage of the situation to gain benefits. Seeing that it would likely take time for Vahn to recover, she decided to change her focus to the second 'victim'.
Milan was surprised at how small the girl was. If she wasn't wrong, the girl was even younger than her daughter if height was any indicator. "Little miss, what brings you here to my Inn? Were you accompanying this rogue willingly, or did he kidnap you from somewhere~?"
Lili twitched when the woman began addressing her. She turned towards the voice and took a good look at the woman who spoke. She could see the similarities between the woman and the young cat person, Tina, from before. This was probably the girl's mother and the proprietress of the Inn.
"Umu...I'm Lili, and I'm following Vahn-sama by my own will." As she began speaking, a small amount of courage started emerging from her heart. "And he isn't a rogue! He didn't touch your daughter on purpose, and it was my decision to let him feel my chest!"
"Nyahahahahaha~" Hearing Lili's words, Milan could no longer hold back her laugh. She began to laugh boisterously as the two children before her started at her with confused expressions. Lili began to blush and wanted to shout at her, but Milan interrupted the attempt. "It's fine Lili, I know Vahn isn't like that~. Even if he was curious, he is the type of boy to ask permission, isn't that right Vahn~nya?"
Vahn was unable to answer her words, he just continued to stare at her blankly. From his side, he could feel the atmosphere become stagnant as an oppressive aura started to emit from outside his line-of-sight. Turning his head, he could see Lili staring at him with an aggrieved expression.
Within Lili's mind, all she could think of was the last few words spoken by the proprietress. If she was telling the truth, that means Vahn 'asked permission' to touch her at some point!? She grits her teeth before glaring at her new 'opponent'.
"Where...?" Lili clenched her fists as she asked the question.
"Ara~nya? It was one of my most sensitive parts you know~? Even after he touched it, he wasn't satisfied and even tried touching again~nya" While speaking, Milan crossed her arms and seemed to emphasize her chest.
Lili stared at the woman's chest with fierce eyes and compared the size against her own. Though her's were smaller, it wasn't a very big difference. "If it's just that...then even I...."
"Nya~? Who said it was just that~? It was a place much more sensitive you know~?" Seeing the anger and competitiveness in the young girl made Milan feel fifteen years younger. It reminded her of the times when she would compare herself to her 'rivals' back in her Adventuring days. She wanted to tease the girl even more but decided it was enough seeing as how Vahn was on the verge of a mental collapse.
"Vahn seemed to be curious about a Cat People. When he first moved in, he asked if he could touch my ears, so I allowed him to~nya. Only once though~" She began to laugh while sending a wink towards Vahn who was still lamenting his misfortune on the ground.
"Ears...?" Lili gave a glance towards Vahn before muttering a chant under her breath. Once she was finished, she removed her hood and revealed...a pair of cat ears on her head. "If its ears...I have them too." She gave a confident look towards the shocked Proprietress.
"Ara~? It seems Vahn is more interested in cat people than I thought, to bring one home with him..." She looked towards Vahn who had been staring at Lili in confusion. She began thinking she may have to sit down with her daughter and have a long talk...
"So Lili, will you be staying with us at the Hearths Embrace, or are you just visiting?" Since the talks had gone on long enough, Milan decided to find out what had brought the two here at this time.
Vahn had begun to recover and tried to stand up and answer on Lili's behalf. He thought it was a good opportunity to clear up matters before they got any worse. Unfortunately, it seemed the floor hadn't had enough intimate contact with him as he ended up meeting it once again after hearing the words spoken by Lili.
"I will be staying with Vahn-sama, in the same room. I don't mind paying the costs separately." She immediately pulled out a bag of Valis with a serious expression.
From the floor, Vahn quickly raised his voice. "No, I object!" He knew it would be dangerous in various ways if he allowed Lili to stay in the same room as him. After all, there was only one bed, and he was still worried about the implications behind her 'love' status. He didn't want to break down the walls he was trying to build to protect them both.
"I have to agree with Vahn. Even if the two of you are close, it's not appropriate for a young boy and girl to share the same room. If you have the money, you should lease your own room and visit whenever you have matters to discuss. Though keep in mind the walls are rather thin and there are other residents within the Inn." As she spoke the last words she gave a warning look at Lili who still seemed intent on getting the same room.
"Fine, but I want the closest room to Vahn-sama. I'll even pay the current resident to change rooms if necessary." For Lili, this was as far as she was willing to compromise. Even if she couldn't share the same room, being in the next room over was better than nothing. Plus, she would be able to hear if Vahn brought any company into his room without her notice...
After paying for the room, the three continued to talk for a while. From the back room, a small silhouette could be seen peaking through the area between the door and frame. Whenever anyone would look over, the silhouette would immediately vanish causing the mature woman to laugh.
After Vahn had refused to stay for dinner, Milan allowed the two to leave. As they went up the stairs she gave them one last parting remark reminding them to be mindful of the other residents. Hearing this, Vahn sighed while Lili seemed to blush with a look of conviction on her face.
They stowed away Lili's luggage and decided to grab dinner together. Before they left, Lili insisted on seeing Vahn's room so he allowed her access. When she saw the room lacked any decorations, Lili was reminded of Vahn's storage space.
"Vahn...Even if you have storage magic you should still personalize your living space a bit. It is kind of lonely seeing the place someone lives being so...empty." She began wandering around his room looking for any signs that he actually lived there. After failing to find anything, she sat down on his bed and used her empowered senses from turning into a Cat Person to smell the scent coming from the bed.
"Eh, it smells like fresh linens. That demon or her daughter must have changed the sheets recently. Guuu.."
Vahn was helpless seeing her actions. There wasn't anything he could think of that wouldn't hurt her feelings if he tried to stop her, so he just let her be and hoped she grew out of it. While she was lost in her own thoughts, he looked around at the barren room. It was the same as the first time he moved in, and other than the sheets nothing had changed since his arrival. For Vahn, he never had thought of decorating, but remembering how much stuff he had added to his cave he thought he should do so in the future. If he was treating this place as his home, he should show that he is 'living' in it.
Eventually, Lili snapped out of her delusions, and the two made their way towards the Hostess of Fertility. Vahn had been talking about the amazing food, but Lili was only focused on one of the other well-known aspects of the pub...it's women.
After they arrived, Vahn took the time to enjoy the aroma as he had done so on all his previous visits. He leads Lili through the doors and was received...by Chloe.
The black-haired cat girl stared at the two new guests with a professional smile on her face. "Nya~ Would you like a table for two~? She looked between Vahn and the new face of the cat person at his side. The small girl was also staring directly at her with a defensive posture...but Chloe could also see something else behind the girl's bravado.
Lili stared at the girl that seemed to be familiar with Vahn based on their reaction to each other. After noticing the black-haired woman was also a Cat Person, Lili began to wonder if Vahn wasn't interested in her because of his preferences...
Feeling a gaze, Lili noticed that the woman was staring at her with a strange expression. It was almost like she was able to see through her, and Lili began to feel a fear emerge from the back of her mind. She could tell that this woman...would be a terrifying opponent.
As that thought crossed her mind, she couldn't help but scream internally, ('Aren't there way too many opponents!?')