Chapter 1014: Vow : Sadness

At the same time that he was enjoying a peaceful lunch with Yggy, Vahn, accompanied by Fenrir, showed up within the Main Branch of Orario’s Adventurer’s Guild. His presence immediately caused a stir amongst the other Adventurers present, as it had been several days since his last public appearance, but the Guild managed to quickly restore order as the Guild Head, Royman Mardeel, quickly escorted Vahn to the elevator connecting to Ouranos’ throne room. As the elderly Elf seemed to be expecting his arrival, Vahn’s face had formed a mask of suspicion as he patiently waited for the elevator to reach its destination. Though he had been tempted to try and teleport to meet Ouranos directly, Vahn felt that it would cause unnecessary tension while ultimately proving futile. After all, Ouranos was one of the most powerful ‘Sky’ gods in existence, giving him greater influence over Space than any other known gods…

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Once the elevator came to a rather loud stop, Vahn exited the platform with Fenrir following closely behind. This was only his third time entering Ouranos’ domain but, compared to his previous visits, Vahn noticed there was a distinct lack of pressure compared to the past. Though he might have misunderstood this to be related to his increased Soul Tier, Vahn’s encounter with Tiamat and Nuwa made him fully aware of the fact that his own aura couldn’t contend against that of a Primordial God. The only reason he was able to walk with his head raised was due to Ouranos’ leniency, something that bothered Vahn more than he would openly admit. As for what had ‘changed’ since his previous visit, it hadn’t taken Vahn long to notice that the massive sealing array behind Ouranos had now become inert…

With an uncharacteristic smile on his face, Ouranos glanced down at the approaching Vahn as he said, “You have done well, Sage Emperor…or perhaps it would be more appropriate to call you ‘God-Emperor’ now…?” There was a touch of amusement within Ouranos’ voice as his words caused the void between them to tremble. Vahn’s hardened expression slowly dissolved into one of acceptance as he released a long sigh before asking, “Have you been aware of Nuwa’s intentions since the beginning? What was the purpose of the seal you had placed here? Was it not to keep the monsters within the Dungeon at bay…?” Though Vahn had long suspected that the purpose of Ouranos’ seal was distinctly different than advertised, he hadn’t expected it to suddenly vanish now that he had ‘conquered’ the Dungeon…

In response to Vahn’s questions, Ouranos continued to smile as he gave a curt nod and explained, “Though I had not dedicated myself to the same pursuit, I have born witness to Nuwa’s efforts over the years. I have long awaited the day that a mortal would rise to join our ranks…as for the seal, its purpose is the same that has been publicized. The only difference is the fact that, instead of simply serving as a seal, it also served as a ‘furnace’ of sorts. You may have guessed it, but the Dungeon serves the dual purpose of bridging the three realms while also acting as a means to control the balance of mana within the Mortal World. Now that you have defeated the ‘Guardians’ within the lower floors, the Dungeon will require time to recycle the mana it had expended to facilitate your ascension…”

Hearing Ouranos’ explanation, Vahn knew the elderly god wasn’t telling the full truth as, other than serving as a proving grounds for mortals reaching for godhood, it seemed like the Dungeon had several other purposes. Not only did it allow the gods the means to observe the evolution of monsters, but it also gave them the opportunity to experiment with the process of reincarnation. Since the gods controlling the Dungeon had ‘stolen’ his method of creating teleportation wards, one of which was obviously connected to the Dark Continent, Vahn suspected they also used it as a means to observe and steal the unique techniques developed by mortals. Though most Magic was the result of a god’s blessing, the form in which it took was unique to the individual based on their race and comprehension. For reasons that they kept secret, the gods were obviously analyzing the effects of the Falna, something that was relatively new compared to the grand expanse of time that had transpired within the Record…

Knowing that ‘exposing’ Ouranos would serve no purpose, Vahn politely inclined his head in response before saying, “Thank you for the explanation…” This caused Ouranos’ sky-blue eyes to glimmer as, once again breaking from the character he upheld before others, he leaned forward on his throne and asked, “Now, I believe there is a greater purpose behind your visit today. Tell me, Vahn, is there something you require of this old man…?” Instead of ‘talking down’ to Vahn, as was how he conversed with almost everyone else, Ouranos had temporarily dismissed with such formalities. Vahn found this somewhat disconcerting but, determined to fulfill the purpose of his visit, he gave a firm nod before explaining, “Now that I have reached this point, I have come to you seeking a vow…in exchange for one of my own, I would ask that you swear an Eternal Vow with me.”

Ouranos’ smile faded away upon hearing Vahn’s words, followed by him sitting straight upon his throne as he asked, “What are the terms of this vow?” He didn’t outright refuse, not that Vahn had expected him to, but it was still a good sign. Thus, with greater confidence, Vahn stated, “The vow I intend to make is one that aligns with how you have presented yourself throughout recorded History. In exchange for your Eternal Vow, promising never to directly interfere with my personal affairs, I will swear to watch over this world, forever attempting to guide its inhabitants towards a future where they are guaranteed the greatest chance at reaching their infinite potential. I will endeavor to break the boundaries that separate mortals and gods, opening the path towards a limitless future for all existences within the ‘five’ realms…”

Though Ouranos’ expression hadn’t changed at all throughout much of Vahn’s speech, his eyes turned sharp when the latter mentioned five realms, not three. Immediately following Vahn’s proposition, Ouranos asked in a voice that caused the void to fracture, “How much do you know…?” However, instead of waiting for an answer, Ouranos shook his head, adding, “I suppose it doesn’t matter. Your existence has always been anomalous but, after watching over your time within Orario, I choose to believe you bear no malice towards this world’s inhabitants. Very well, Vahn Mason, I will agree to your proposed terms, though not without a few addendums. Not only will you swear to serve as a guiding light for future mortals, but I will also have your promise that, no matter how much time passes, you will never betray the Mortal World in exchange for benefits promised to you from the ‘outside’…”

As he had no idea what the ‘outside’ was, Vahn gave a nod of affirmation before making his vow without any hesitation. In exchange, Ouranos swore an Eternal Vow of his own, verified by the Laws of the world as they formed thick chains that coiled around both Vahn and Ouranos respectively. With this finished, Vahn turned his attention to the system interface within his mind, watching as his Quest confirmed he had the requisite amount of Eternal Vows. Now, with the exception of completing two more [Origin of Heroes], Vahn had met all the requirements for his Optional Quest, [I Shall Return]. Fortunately, though it had originally required him to complete nine [Origin of Heroes], Vahn’s desire to leave the Record as quickly as possible had caused the Quest requirements to change slightly, reducing the requirement to seven.

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//Optional Quest Complete//

[Quest: I Shall Return]

Rank: SSS

Objective: Complete [Quest: Origin of Heroes](7/9)->(7/7). Establish ‘Eternal Bonds’ with gods that possess Divinities related to Time, Space, Bonds, (and) Fate (4/4). Current: Kali, Ouranos, Hestia, Amaterasu

Rewards: Reduction of requirements for [Quest: I Shall Seal The Heavens]. 10x->5x Reduction in necessary Origin Points.

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Even with the reward being reduced considerably, Vahn was currently sitting on a monstrous 21,811,919,053OP after cannibalizing most of the resources he had gained within the Dungeon. Though this still put him a hefty number of OP from his goal, Vahn, knowing that the items would be lost upon his exit, unhesitantly sold the majority of his Inventory before unceremoniously selling the [Grimoire of Creation]. Its value within the system shop was listed as 50,000,000,000 OP and, even though Vahn could only get a tenth of the total in exchange, it still put him a bit closer to his goal. Now, he just needed to spend a few days within the 91st through 94th Floors, averaging around 300,000,000OP per day with monsters giving him upwards of 3-5k each. Though killing more than sixty thousand monsters a day might seem like a lot, there were monster parties that spawned well over a thousand of the mineral-based golems that now posed absolutely no threat to him…

While quickly calculating how many Golems he would have to harvest in order to meet his Quest requirements, Vahn turned his attention to his primary objective, his Main Quest. The final requirement, ignoring optional objectives, was to unify the Continent of Eden. With one of the base rewards providing 10,000,000,000OP, Vahn could significantly reduce the time he would need to harvest Golems within the Dungeon. The best part was, even without him doing anything, the Quest was on the verge of completing itself as, after Chloe’s Shadow Corps took action, most of the opposition within the Land of No Sun had ceased to exist. All that remained was discussing trade agreements and the terms of their future treaty, matters being handled by his Ministers and the Divine Council…

Seeing Vahn adopt a distant and calculating gaze, Ouranos furrowed his brows slightly before clearing his throat with a thunderous rumble. This snapped Vahn back to his senses, causing him to produce a wry smile as he apologetically stated, “Sorry, I’ve had a lot on my plate lately. I’ll be excusing myself, as there are matters that require my attention. I look forward to working together with the Guild far into the future…” Defaulting to a polite form of speech, Vahn politely inclined his head without bowing before quickly alighting from Ouranos’ throne room. The latter followed his movements in silence, waiting until Vahn had stepped on the elevator before saying, “Though I will not force your hand, it may be best that you find a suitable heir to serve as Emperor in your stead. Now that you have become a god, many will lose the faith they had previously placed in you, crediting your accomplishments to your newfound Divinity instead of your sincere desire to create a better future. You should consider serving as a member of your own Divine Council, or perhaps take up the mantle of Headmaster within that Academy you intend to build…”

Hearing Ouranos’ advice, Vahn stopped to reflect for a short while before giving a slight nod as he said, “I will consider your advice. For the time being, however, it is best that I stay the course and keep my Divinity a secret. I trust that you will not alert the greater godly community to my ascension…?” Though it ultimately wouldn’t matter if others knew he was a god, Vahn would rather avoid any unexpected situations while he was preparing to depart the Record. Fortunately, Ouranos gave a curt nod in response before affirming, “Worry not, as, per our agreement, I have no intention of interfering with your affairs. I will not speak of the matter until you have come forth of your own accord to speak of it. However, know that I cannot help but discourage treating your Divinity as something you can simply keep hidden away. You are a God, Vahn Mason, wear your identity with pride…you have earned that right…”

With another polite nod, Vahn pressed the button to the elevator without replying to Ouranos’ counsel. Though he understood the significance within the elderly god’s words, Vahn knew that their true value would be lost once he left the Record. By the time he returned, the very nature of the world would have changed and, regardless of what secrets remained, nothing would be beyond his perception. It was an egotistical thought, something Vahn knew he should avoid, but it was also an irrefutable truth. Once he was freed from having to worry about the safety of his loved ones, Vahn felt as if there would be nothing in the way of his progress. Even if he ended up making mistakes that he would ultimately regret, Vahn would have the knowledge that his family was waiting for his return to serve as his guiding light.

Once the elevator reached the surface, Vahn turned to the patiently waiting Fenrir before extending his hand and stroking her ears. She had been very obedient during the meeting with Ouranos so Vahn felt a reward was in order as he said, “Let’s take a short break before entering into the Dungeon. It has been a long time since the two of us hunted together and I believe you will enjoy how ‘crunchy’ the monsters on the 91st Floor can be…” Though she had already been enjoying her Master’s caress, Fenrir’s ears shot up when she heard what he had in mind. She still needed to spend a bit more time to devour the energy contained within Tiamat’s ‘blessing’, but that wasn’t nearly as important as being able to spend time hunting with her Master.

With an eager and expectant smile on her face, Fenrir tightly clenched her hands together, nodding her head fervently as she said, “Yes, that sounds amazing~!” She was even moving her hips slightly, forcefully wagging her tail to emphasize how enthused she was at the idea. Vahn issued a light chuckle upon witnessing this before extending his hand and entwining his fingers with her’s. Like this, the two left the Guild’s Main Branch before flying towards the outskirts of Orario. Once they were a ‘safe’ distance, Vahn transformed into his Qinglong form before teleporting them to Yggy’s Sanctuary atop the Mother Mountain. Upon arriving, though it was a bit odd considering he had just eaten with her in the Dungeon, Vahn and Fenrir enjoyed lunch alongside the adorable High Spirit before finally heading into the Dungeon. In this manner, Vahn would be able to half the amount of time it took to accumulate OP as, with his main body and avatar both ‘harvesting’ Golems, it was theoretically possible to earn upwards of 500,000,000OP per day…

While Vahn was focused on completing his preparations, the atmosphere around the Hearth Manor had become somewhat dour as, even though Loki had come up with an excuse for Vahn’s absence, many of the girls hadn’t bought it. Though they didn’t know exactly what was going on, it was easy to see from how Hestia was behaving that ‘something’ had happened with Vahn. As a result, most of the girls had elected not to spend time within the Sub-Space orb, including the rarely seen Risna. Since she practically lived within the Sub-Space orb, she had been heavily impacted by Vahn’s long absence. After all, though it had been less than two weeks, this equated to several months from her perspective…

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With a tired expression on her face, Risna was spending some rare quality time with Eina and their mother, Aina, though none of them had their characteristic smiles. The only thing that kept Risna from outright complaining about the situation was the presence of Eiko who, like the rest of the children, had felt the absence of their Papa more than anyone else. Even Ina, who spent the majority of her time cooped up in her workshop, now passed the days conversing with her sisters as they all discussed when their Papa would return. She didn’t even have the energy to tinker with anything in the last two days, even after Hephaestus had tried to teach her a new technique she had been desperately wanting to learn.

Seeing her sister in a borderline catatonic state, Vana released a frustrated sigh as she poked Ina’s cheek and said, “Papa wouldn’t want to see you like this, you know…come on…” Since it was very rare for Ina not to have a smile on her face, Vana was beginning to feel increasingly uncomfortable keeping her company. She had been able to deal with her own stress by training within the forest so it made her feel agitated to just sit around and brood with everyone else. Ina, however, didn’t seem to care as she put her head down on the table before crossing her arms and muttering, “Papa…” in a voice that was tinged with sadness.

Though she was able to see him at any time using her Innate, Ina would only get more depressed since she knew it would be ‘several days’ before he finally returned to the Manor. This wasn’t the worst part, however, as there were some tangents of the future where she simply couldn’t see him at all, something that had caused her to stop using her ability completely. She had kept this from everyone else thus far but, as the days in continued to pass, Ina’s fear and apprehension continued to grow. Now, any time someone mentioned her Papa, she would be on the verge of tears as she tried desperately not to think about the worst possibilities.

With her twin on the verge of tears, Vana felt extremely anxious within her heart as a strong desire to simply run out of the Manor to find her Papa burst forth from the back of her mind. Though reason told her not to do anything extreme, Vana felt that she could ‘force’ her Papa to appear if she exposed herself to danger. Unfortunately, the one time she had tried to sneak out, Terra had immediately appeared before escorting her directly to Hephaestus. Before then, Vana had never seen her Mother get truly angry and, having experienced it once, she was determined not to go through it a second time. The worst part hadn’t been the shouting, even though it was scary, but the pain and regret that she had been able to see within her mother’s eyes. After that, the two hugged each other for a long time in order to make up so, even though Vana felt the urge to find her Papa, she buried it within her heart before placing her head on the table alongside Ina…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Secrets within secrets’,’RIP [Grimoire of Creation]’,’Vahn needs to hurry up and ‘return’…’)

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