Endless Path : Infinite Cosmos Chapter 2067 | einlion
Seeing the hundred-odd children eagerly yet nervously awaiting his arrival, many wearing little more than rags, Vahn did his best to appear enthusiastic as he made his way towards Lily and a few other 'senior' children.
Noticing Vahn's arrival along with all the other children, a cheerful smile developed across Lily's face as she gathered everyone's attention with a clap before cheerfully explaining, "Look, everyone. This is the person we were telling you about. His name is Vahn and he's going to be providing us with a nice, big breakfast. Make sure to thank him properly~!"
Though some of the children were too young to really understand what was happening, they each began to clap and cheer in response to Lily's words. As for Lily, she quickly ran over to Vahn's side, asking, "What can I do to help?" before looking towards Jin and waving with a happy smile on her face.
Before Jin could even think of organizing the children, Vahn plopped his right hand atop Lily's head, answering, "Just leave it to me." as he raised his left hand and snapped. This caused several banquet tables to manifest out of thin air. Then, like magic, 122 plates appeared alongside several large trays of pancakes, bacon, eggs, sausage, biscuits, rice, and other breakfast items.
Taking advantage of everyone's stupor, Vahn snapped his fingers a second time to cast wide-range cleaning magic on the entire group. This caused a series of laughs and a few startled exclamations, but, when everything was said and done, even the fingernails of the children had been thoroughly cleaned.
Satisfied by the result, Vahn retracted his hand from the slightly blushing Lily's head before looking towards the befuddled Jin and saying, "There's a lot more where this came from. Let them eat their fill and then send them towards the cottage I'm about to set up. I'll be performing a medical check on everyone and dental work on those who require it. That includes you. Two years without proper medical care isn't good for developing children."
Since it wasn't really up for discussion, Vahn shifted his attention to Sarina and Nono, adding, "I'll have the two of you lend a hand. I intend to teach you medical skills in the future so this will be an important experience. Come."
Without waiting for the rest of the group to respond, Vahn made his way towards a large clearing before stopping when Black Rabbit pulled his sleeve and tentatively asked, "W-What should I do...?"
Returning a smile, Vahn extended his hand to caress the pink-haired rabbit's head as he said, "You should spend time with your Community. In the end, I'm an outsider. I'll do everything in my power to help, but it's ultimately up to you, Jin, and Lily to look after everyone. Don't get me wrong. I love kids. It will just cause problems for everyone if I spend too much time with them."
Though she had wanted to convince him to eat with everyone, Black Rabbit ultimately nodded in response to Vahn's words. She knew he had a lot more experience with these types of situations than she did, so, trusting in his words, she allowed him to continue caressing her head for several additional seconds before returning to help Jin and Lily settle the understandably elated children...
Ignoring the crimson blush on Sarina's face, Vahn demonstrated the proper use of a stethoscope before allowing Nono to try it herself. He wanted to get them started with the absolute basics, so, rather than teach them how to analyze the structure of a person's body with a touch, he had Sarina strip down to her underwear before walking them through the basics of a physical examination.
Maintaining an impeccably professional disposition, Vahn shook his head in response to Sarina's behavior, explaining, "Those involved in the care of others must appear calm and professional at all times. You will invariably have male and female patients in the future so you need to condition your mind to regard both sexes as objectively as possible. Becoming flustered will only complicate things and leave you prone to making mistakes...now, deep breath...hold...and exhale..."
Though her face was brighter than a tomato, Sarina did her best to nod as she obediently followed Vahn's commands. At the same time, Nono, demonstrating extraordinary calm, patiently listened to the former's breathing. It was a little difficult due to her throbbing heart but she could still detect a subtle wheezing sound at the end of Sarina's breaths.
"I think there is something wrong with her lungs...?"
Nodding his head, Vahn caused Sarina's expression to pale slightly as he answered, "It isn't that advanced, but she has asthma. Don't worry. It's easily treatable. I just wanted to see if you would notice. Good job."
With that said, Vahn placed his palm on Sarina's exposed back. This caused a stifling sensation in her chest, but, almost immediately thereafter, a pleasant warmth spread through her body as he said, "There. You're cured. We still need to measure your height, weight, and a few other variables, but, other than that, you're fit as a fiddle. Now, stand on this scale. I'm going to walk Nono through the process. Pay close attention as you'll be recording her values next."
Though her heart was still beating a mile a minute, Sarina didn't hesitate to take advantage of the current situation by raising her arms. She could easily hop down from the examination table on her own but she would much rather Vahn help her down.
Understanding the precocious girl's thoughts, Vahn picked Sarina up by the pits of her arms before setting her down on the floor. He could later use this as an example of how she was still a child, so, even if she was fishing for affection, he didn't mind. After all, now that he had learned about the No Names, Sarina and Nono would be spending a lot of time with the other children...
Around the same time that Nono was getting dressed after her own physical, Vahn heard a gentle rattle on the door. He already knew who this was, so, after manifesting a curtain to afford Nono a bit of privacy, he called out, "Come on in, Jin, Lily."
Opening the door almost immediately after Vahn called out, Jin replied with a courteous, "Pardon our intrusion." as he held the door open for Lily. The latter immediately looked around the room, her emerald green eyes scanning the interior before ultimately coming to settle on Vahn, a radiant smile developing across her face as she said, "Thank you, Vahn. It's been so long since the children had anything to celebrate. Seeing them smile with full bellies warms my heart."
Despite returning a smile of his own, Vahn shook his head and said, "Your gratitude is appreciated but unnecessary. It is the duty of adults to look after children until they are capable of looking after themselves. The No Names have been wronged by the society of the Little Garden. I'm just helping to right a wrong that never should have occurred."
Adopting an even more radiant smile, Lily left Vahn slightly taken aback as she calmly answered, "I understand. However, even if you consider it unnecessary, I cannot help but express my gratitude. My mother taught me that acts of kindness should not go unrewarded. I have nothing else to give, so, even if you do not require it, please accept my gratitude."
Punctuating her words with a bow, Lily did her best to appear as sincere as she felt. At the same time, Jin chimed in to say, "I'm afraid I must agree with Lily on this matter. Rather, as the Leader of the No Names, I would feel ashamed if you didn't at least accept my gratitude. I should be the one providing for my Community, but-"
Raising his hand, Vahn interrupted the teal-haired Magus' speech with an abrupt, "That's enough. I don't want to hear you bemoan your faults. You're a ten-year-old kid. The only things you should be worrying about are how to make friends and how to have the most fun. I'm not going to tell you to give up being the Leader of the No Names. Rather, I plan to help you become strong enough to protect the things you want to protect. Now, stop wallowing in self-pity. I still have a hundred-and-twenty kids to examine after you. Lose the robes. Lily, you can wait outside."
Tilting her head to the side, Lily intoned a bemused, "Hmm?" before asking, "Why do I need to wait outside? Jin and I still take baths together. I wash his back and helps to clean my hair, ears, and tails. I don't mind seeing him naked."
Radiating the kind of innocence that only a child could manage, Lily seemed genuinely confused by Vahn's words as she stared at him with a smile and waited for his explanation. As for Jin, he seemed more than a little embarrassed, but, after hesitating for several seconds, he backed Lily's statement by explaining, "Baths in the East Side are communal in nature. Though some Communities separate their baths by gender, it isn't uncommon for children beneath the age of ten to be allowed entry to both sides. It is a form of social bonding that has existed since the establishment of the East Side..."
Despite his words, Jin's face became progressively redder the longer he spoke. He had actually been trying to convince Lily to let him bathe alone for quite some time, but, as they had already been sharing the bath for years, she simply wouldn't listen. The one time he tried to put his foot down, she ended up pouting and ignoring him for the better part of three days.
Noticing Jin's and Lily's auras briefly overlap, an amused smile developed across Vahn's face as he said, "So be it. I was actually intending to teach Lily as well, so this is a good opportunity. I'll explain things while Sarina performs your check-up. Remove your robes and take a seat on that table."
Gesturing towards the examination table, Vahn pretended to be unaware of the duress in both Jin's and Sarina's expressions as he began organizing everything they would need. The teal-haired youth was already afraid to be seen by his childhood friend. The thought of having a girl around his age conduct his physical examination caused his face to turn as red as a cherry. As for Sarina, well, she just didn't want to touch a boy she had only just met.
Noticing that neither was moving, Vahn picked up the stethoscope before handing it to Sarina and asking, "Are you going to give up learning medicine? I'm still going to teach you Alchemy, but the skills I'm teaching you now can be used to help everyone. What if I got injured and you needed to treat me? Would you ignore me as well...?"
Though he knew it was a little unfair to present her with such a scenario, Vahn knew the quickest way to remove Sarina's developing dependence on him was to redirect her focus towards people who might actually benefit from her support. If she received gratitude from others, it was only a matter of time before she began pursuing the path of a physician seriously. He would just need to show enthusiasm around that time so that she would believe he was genuinely proud. Fortunately, so long as she made even a middling effort, he would be.
In the end, it was Nono emerging from behind the curtain that made up Sarina's mind, as, unlike her raven-haired counterpart, the auburn-haired girl genuinely enjoyed playing doctor. Thus, with a gentle smile on her face, she combed aside her bangs before surprisingly everyone as she looked towards Jin and said, "Please remove your robes and take a seat on the table. If you hesitate, the other children will feel nervous. As the Leader of the No Names, isn't it your responsibility to set a good example...?"
As if an opportunity was being stolen from her, Sarina immediately came back to her senses, saying, "He's my patient, Nono. You can help, but please leave the examination to me."
Though her sky-blue eyes briefly shifted to Vahn, much to his amusement, Nono quickly nodded in response to Sarina's words, saying, "Very well..." in her characteristically calm, subtly bashful tone.
(A/N: Alternate Titles: 'Vahn still enjoys showing off..','Magic is nice, but analog medical skills are also important~','Jin is both lucky and extremely unfortunate xD...')
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