Chapter 1008: Breakthrough : An Overdue Visit

Ever since her Master had given her a name, what now seemed like a lifetime ago, Fenrir had never once dreamed. Though her best friend, Preasia, had allowed her to experience what it was like to dream, Fenrir knew that the actual phenomenon was something she had never experienced. As a result of this quirk, Fenrir had also never had a genuine nightmare before as most of her time spent sleeping was at the side of her Master. This meant that Fenrir was generally very happy when sleeping as, regardless of how deeply she fell into unconsciousness, the bond she shared with her Master was everpresent. It provided her warmth, security, and, now that she understood more complex emotions, Fenrir knew that she had come to love her Master dearly…

Now, for what felt like the first time in her life, Fenrir was not enjoying a peaceful slumber as, instead of warmth and security, she felt fear and anxiety. More than anything else, Fenrir had an instinctual fear of being trapped and imprisoned against her will so, after being toyed with by Tiamat, a being she could do nothing to resist, something had snapped inside of her. It felt as if she broke through a ceiling that had been just above her head, causing Fenrir’s heart to feel lighter, even as her mind retreated into a darkness she had never asked for. This realization, that she could do nothing, caused Fenrir’s lightened heart to feel like it was gripped tightly in someone else’s clutches as she reached out her paws towards a small light in the distance, praying that her Master would pull her free…

From within the darkness that had been forced upon her, Fenrir could feel a phantom burning sensation that seemed to spread from her abdomen before extending its tendrils towards her heart and mind. As it was occurring inside of her body, Fenrir could only writhe around in futile resistance as an insatiable desire to devour everything around her began to well up from where she had desperately fought to seal it away. It had been a long time since she last felt genuine hunger but, now that it had broken free, Fenrir felt as if she herself was being devoured as the energy ‘gifted’ to her by Tiamat continued to mercilessly invade her body. By the time the burning sensation reached her heart, Fenrir felt as if she had been irrevocably tainted and, though her body seemed to be peacefully slumbering back in the real world, she began to thrash about as tears poured from her face like a leaking faucet…

It was when the heat began to rise to her head that Fenrir was able to finally feel some relief as, instead of being imprisoned in absolute darkness, the light above began to shine with greater intensity all of a sudden. Though the pain in her body didn’t go away, Fenrir felt a familiar warmth from the outside that made everything she was going through feel more tolerable. As this was a warmth she knew better than anything else, Fenrir forcibly calmed herself down as she knew that, at the very least, her Master had saved her. When she felt his familiar energy course through her body, the heat quickly began to fade away in response, becoming a lukewarm sensation that made her limbs feel somewhat tingly…

With much of her anxiety quelled, Fenrir quickly entered a state of increased clarity as her mind reached a calm that she only rarely experienced during meditation. She fully trusted her Master to do everything in his power to help her and, believing he was capable of anything, Fenrir began to focus on the changes in her body from an introspective standpoint. Though the invasive energy was something she vehemently resisted on an instinctual level, Fenrir noticed that there was no animosity contained within. Instead, it felt as if her body was being filled with incredible power, far greater than anything she had ever personally manifested. Though this didn’t do much to appease her, as it was not a power earned or granted to her by her Master, Fenrir knew it was only a matter of time before she either made the energy her own or it was removed permanently…this was her sincere belief…and determination.

After entrusting Jeanne to escort the despondent Helen back to the surface, Vahn had been watching over Fenrir for the better part of two days. Though it felt like his eyes had become perpetually dry after overusing his [Eyes of the Truth], Vahn was watching for any unexpected changes in her body as he gently stroked the paw pads of her palm with his thumb. This was something that helped him remain calm and, as an especially sensitive area, he believed Fenrir would be able to feel his presence, even in her sleep. Since she had a calm and peaceful expression on her face, Vahn was hoping that she would wake soon so that he could continue his journey and set things into motion as soon as possible. As for why he hadn’t moved her to the surface just yet, it was due to the fact that Vahn’s current plans were intended to be a secret, something that would be difficult to keep if he was constantly at Fenrir’s side with his main body. He also felt that the increased mana within the Dungeon, especially with Yggy’s presence nearby, was beneficial for her body as it underwent subtle changes as a result of her new Innate…

During the two days he had been watching over Fenrir, Yggy had taken up the responsibility of looking after her Papa. She adopted a slightly more mature appearance, giving her enough height to move about the cottage with ease, as she cooked up small meals. Though Vahn didn’t actually need to eat, he couldn’t very well ignore her efforts so, while making casual conversation, he dutifully ate the baked fruits and sweets that Yggy would bring him. She had a bit of a sweet tooth so most of the foods she prepared were pastries and sweets, not that Vahn had any complaints. Her presence was calming to him so, even if she was just sitting quietly at the side, Vahn was grateful for the extra company. Fortunately, perhaps the result of her sensing something was off, Tiamat hadn’t made any attempts to contact him ever since that fateful day and, having no means to really tell her off, Vahn had given up the thought of visiting the underwater temple a second time…

It wasn’t until the eve of the second day that Fenrir began to stir awake, starting by her lightly closing her paw around Vahn’s hand. Since he had been closely observing her, Vahn had been aware of the moment her brain entered an ‘active’ state, causing a smile to spread across his face as Fenrir’s eyelids slowly peeled open. She seemed uncharacteristically tired, as if she had been sleeping for a very long time, but still managed a smile of her own before it quickly morphed into a frown. Before she could say anything, Vahn firmly held Fenrir’s paw with his hand while running his fingers through her hair as he softly stated, “None of this can be blamed on you, Fenrir…don’t worry, we will both become much stronger from here onwards…”

Though he spoke very softly, there was an incredible amount of conviction within Vahn’s words that, even without their already strong bond, Fenrir would have been able to discern. Her apologetic expression turned into one of relief as she closed her eyes and slowly nodded her head, a single tear freeing itself from the corner of her eye. Now that she was awake, the power coursing through her body was far more apparent than it had been while she was trapped within the darkness. Even so, Fenrir felt ‘wrong’ to have the foreign energy within her body, especially with her Master nearby. She felt incredibly ashamed regarding what had happened so, hearing him say they would both become stronger felt like having a heavy weight removed from her chest.

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After a long night of gentle caressing and serious conversation, Vahn had sent Fenrir back to the surface while he quickly made his way towards the crevasse leading to the 91st Floor. She would be accompanying him to the Far East and, in preparation for their departure, stay at the side of his main body until it was time to go. As for his avatar, Vahn had something else in mind as he leaped down the crevasse with a fierce glint flashing across his azure-blue eyes. A barrier appeared to block his passage but, as it couldn’t even stop his intent from breaking through, there was little resistance as Vahn tore through it with his claws before crashing into the 91st Floor like a meteor. A massive shockwave tore through the area as bands of azure lightning seemingly disintegrated everything they came into contact with.

Rising from the rubble, Vahn took in his surroundings before picking a direction and simply flying straight. Though there were certain sections of the Dungeon that even he couldn’t breakthrough, it wasn’t that difficult to fly around them as the rest of the walls gave way without any resistance whatsoever. As for the enemies that appeared along the way, Vahn would only spare his attention towards any variants that appeared, taking a few extra seconds out of his time to rip out their magic core before throwing their corpse into his Inventory and moving on. With their slow speeds and lumbering bodies, the only advantage the Golems had were their size and durability. As these things meant nothing to Vahn, even in his base state, it took next to no effort for him to crash through the body of a 40m tall Adamantine Golem before continuing his search for the next Floor’s entrance.

In this manner, Vahn bore through the 91st Floor with a veracity that might cause the caterpillars he had observed on the previous Floor to blush in shame. Though the Dungeon repaired itself much faster in the deeper Floors, any damage caused by Vahn’s Qinglong form took a great deal of time to patch. It not only contained the chaotic energies of Space and Time, but the presence of Source Energy contained within wasn’t something the Dungeon could simply filter out. A ‘wound’ that would have only taken minutes to heal now took several hours, causing Vahn to actually encounter the same Juggernaut twice before finally reaching the entrance to the 92nd Floor. This time, its body seemed to be made of a black crystalline material that provided a surprising amount of resistance to Space and Gravity Laws. Unfortunately, there was a difference between resistance and immunity so, with the inclusion of Vahn’s Source Energy, the Juggernaut’s body was compacted into a spherical shape around a fully charged [Yi] arrow before he used his [Longinus] to pierce its magic core.

A journey that might have taken the better part of 2-3 days in a party only took Vahn seven hours, even with a massive red-hued Golem guarding the entrance to the 92nd Floor. It was able to produce dozens of red orbs around its body, each capable of firing laser-like beams of pure Fire Elemental mana. When Vahn realized this, his expressionless face morphed into one of slight contempt as he made no attempts to dodge the beams before unceremoniously smashing the Golem with raw power. It took several hits before the Golem eventually began to glow an even more vibrant red, resulting in a massive explosion that seemed to rock the entire Floor. This too was comprised almost entirely of Fire Elemental energy, however, resulting in Vahn standing unscathed after the smoke cleared away…

With the Guardian dealt with, Vahn proceeded into the 92nd Floor without much hesitation, only stopping to ingest one of Terra’s painstakingly concocted potions. Knowing that such items would be functionally useless when he transitioned between records, Vahn wasn’t shy about consuming any resources that would shorten the time it took to conquer the Dungeon. When he linked the Records in the future, even Terra’s skills in Alchemy would likely fail to meet his standards. Even Vahn couldn’t imagine how vast a gulf would have been created between them by the time he reached the level of existence that was required to link Records. He may even be able to ‘create’ the same potions that Terra had to pour her literal blood, sweat, and tears into with nothing more than a thought…

Shaking such thoughts from his head, Vahn focused his mind as that was such a distant event that there was simply no purpose in thinking about it. It was his focus on power that he ‘would’ have that caused him to overlook the fact that, even within his own Tier, he wasn’t the strongest. Though he was approaching godhood, that was only the first step into the realm of Tier 4. With gods and goddesses who had lived for nearly a billion years populating the Tier 4 within Danmachi, Vahn had grossly overestimated himself. Even if they weren’t antagonistic against him, there had once been enemies even the primordial gods couldn’t defeat without nearly being wiped out. Since there were still two Realms within Danmachi that had never even been revealed, Vahn was no longer content to simply stand by playing at being an Emperor in a game designed by someone else…

While his avatar was ‘literally’ tearing its way through the Dungeon, Vahn’s main body had just set foot inside of a courtyard surrounded by various ornate shrines. There were nearly a thousand females, both girls and women, wearing the traditional Shrine Maiden garb that was popular in the Far East. Seeing the ‘intruder’, the older women within the group pulled out various charms and wooden weapons while the younger Shrine Maidens all retreated into the surrounding shrines in a surprisingly organized fashion. Throughout this process, Vahn remained stoic, at least compared to the scarlet-eyed Vanargandr at his side. Fenrir wasn’t afraid of any of the Shrine Maidens but, with most of their weapons suffused with powerful sealing energy, her instincts caused her hair to stand on end as she released a subtle threat that caused even the most senior Shrine Maidens to avoid violating a territory larger than 100m surrounding Vahn’s location.

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Just as tensions had started to boil over, a piercing voice broke through the silence, yelling, “Stop-desu~!”. This nearly caused Vahn to collapse in exasperation while the surrounding Shrine Maidens all lowered their weapons, reverent looks on their faces. Vahn’s own expression was a stark contrast to this, his eyes glazing over after directing them to the voice’s owner. From within the largest shrine, a girl that appeared no older than eight years old came running down the steps with ornate palatial robes covering her body. Her black hair was done up in an almost ridiculous fashion, tied together in a bow that created the symbol for ‘infinity’ while two long pigtails trailed behind her. The only thing that kept them from dragging across the ground were the oversized ceremonial robes but, even more ridiculous than that, Vahn’s eyes were drawn to the massive lotus flower sitting atop the girls head as she nearly stumbled several times in her attempt to safely descend the stairs…

When she finally reached the bottom step, the young girl released a sigh of relief before looking up with her exceptionally childish face. Though she had a small amount of makeup, which was very rare for a goddess, it didn’t do much to make her appear more mature as she waddled over to Vahn with a quick pitter-patter of steps. He made no efforts to close the distance between them, even though it would have eased the girl’s burdens a great deal, as the Shrine Maiden’s in the surrounding were still directing sideways glances in his direction. By the time she reached his, Vahn noticed she was even smaller than Lili while her facial features were closer to a first-year student at his School than a goddess who had lived for millions of years…

After taking several deep breaths to calm her heart, the goddess raised her head with a happy smile on her face before politely crossing her hands in her lap, bowing as she said, “Greetings, Emperor Vahn Aldrnari Mason~desu! Welcome to the Shrine of the Sun Goddess~!” With her basic greetings out of the way, the goddess raised her head to reveal another childish smile as she added, “My name is Wakahirume, it is a pleasure to meet you~desu!” At the moment those words left her lips, Vahn felt as if a massive weight had been liberated from his stomach, causing a natural smile to spread across his face as he replied, “The pleasure is all mine, Goddess Wakahirume. I believe you know the purpose of my visit…?”

Bobbing her head in affirmation, Wakahirume quickly moved in a rather large arc in order to turn around before gesturing towards the largest shrine and saying, “I will personally guide you~! Big Sis has been waiting for your visit~desu!” Without even waiting for Vahn’s response, Wakahirume began dragging her oversized robes along with her as she quickly moved towards the stairs leading up to the shrine. Vahn couldn’t help wondering why she wore such long robes but, remembering that Wakahirume was supposed to be a Goddess of Weaving, it wasn’t hard to guess that she had hand-made each of the intricate garments covering her body. Upon closer inspection, Vahn noticed that there were no discernible signs that the garment was handmade, even along the spots where seams would usually be located. This was something only a god could manage as creating seamless fabric would require an impossible mastery over the art of sewing and weaving…

Without minding the eyes of the Shrine Maidens boring into the back of his head, Vahn took slow steps to follow after Wakahirume as each of his own matched three of her’s. He honestly wanted to carry her along with his Telekinesis, as it was rather awkward to watch her struggle back up the steps, but that wouldn’t have been appropriate considering they had just met. Though Wakahirume looked like a child, she was easily over three-hundred million years old so Vahn couldn’t treat her the same way he would an actual child. He didn’t know her disposition well but, considering that none of the ‘respectful’ Shrine Maidens moved to help her, it was very likely that Wakahirume had what Syr referred to as ‘childish pride’. So long as it was something they could do themselves, there were some children who would adamantly refuse the help of ‘adults’, as they wanted to be taken more seriously instead of being looked down upon…

Though it was thoughts like this that were playing through Vahn’s mind, he still instinctually reached out his hand when Wakahirume fell over and nearly collapsed against the hard stone stairs. Her body stopped a few centimeters from the stone surface before Vahn quickly righted her, his expression never changing throughout the entire incident. This was for the best as Wakahirume looked back towards him with a pouting expression before turning away and doubling the speed in which she ascended the stairs. When she reached the top, however, the small goddess waited for Vahn’s arrival before politely bowing as she muttered, “Thank you for your assistance…” in a voice that barely reached his ears. In response to this, Vahn gave a curt nod before falling into step behind the small goddess as she quickly began leading the way into the shrine’s interior…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘The bond between Vahn and Fenrir is quite something…’,’Don’t bully Juggernaut-chan…!’,’Vahn nearly had a heart attack when Wakahirume appeared xD…’)

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