Chapter 108: Changes

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Vahn accompanied Hephaestus out of the medical ward and the two exited the Tower of Babel. Along the way, Hephaestus seemed very happy, and her mood had infected Vahn who also had a pleased smile on his face. While they were walking, Vahn noticed they were heading the north-west, instead of toward Tsubaki’s place. Vahn was curious, so he asked, “Are we not going to Tsubaki’s manor?”

Hephaestus laughed a bit before looking at Vahn with a smiling expression and saying, “You’ll still be staying there, but at least for today, I’m going to keep you at my workshop.” Seeing Hephaestus’s expression, Vahn’s heartbeat began to increase which promoted Hephaestus to give him a curious look as she too was aware of the change. “Is there something wrong, Vahn? Is your body okay?” Hephaestus was very concerned about Vahn, especially considering he just awoke from a nine-day slumber.

Vahn wanted to explain what he was feeling, but before he found his words a strange sound emitted from his stomach. The moment the noise ended, Vahn began to blush a bit as he looked at Hephaestus trying to hold back her laughter. “Let’s get some food on the way, okay?” Hephaestus led the way, and Vahn followed slightly behind her while rubbing his stomach. He hadn’t eaten anything in more than a week, and he was incredibly hungry…

On their way to the workshop, they stopped at a small stand fried meats that had been seasoned with a variety of different spices. Vahn thought it was interesting because the basket he received had several different types of mystery meats with different seasonings. He had a wooden skewer to eat with, and every bite was a different flavor he had yet to experience. Hephaestus had gotten some for herself, but seeing Vahn happily eating away at his food, she couldn’t help but offer him some of her own. Vahn gratefully accepted the food and ate directly from the skewer she offered.

After around twenty minutes, Hephaestus and Vahn arrived at her workshop and she dismissed the security personnel. She instructed Zaff to stay in the area and ordered a variety of foods to be delivered for later in the day. Zaff affirmed her orders before giving Vahn a heavy pat on the back,”Good job coming back kid. You had me ‘n the boys worried there for a bit.” Vahn smiled at Zaff’s words and gave him a polite bow in return.

Hephaestus led the way into her office before promptly locking the door after they both entered. Looking toward Vahn who was taking in the sights of her office, she spoke in a gentle tone,”It seems like you have influenced a number of people. I was very surprised when so many members of the Loki Familia kept coming to visit you in the ward. Even Loki herself stopped by to discuss the matter of your reward and pay reparations.”

Vahn’s brows raised after hearing Hephaestus speak. He didn’t think he did anything deserving of a reward or reparations, or anything like that. Noticing his look, Hephaestus frowned and had a sad expression as she said, “If Loki hadn’t tried to negotiate personally, my Familia probably would have had a falling out with her if you didn’t wake up. What concerns me more than that is, you seem to have made a lot of…friends in the Loki Familia?”

Vahn nodded his head and explained, “The Loki Familia was present when I fought against the Goliath. Afterward, I ended up joining them on the expedition and various things happened before we finally fought against the Juggernaut.” Hearing Vahn mention fighting against the Goliath in such a casual demeanor, Hephaestus felt like she had taken a blow to her mentality. She had yet to know the full account of Vahn’s adventures in the dungeon, and the fact he had even gotten to the 18th floor in the first place had surprised her.

Hephaestus moved to the couch and patted it while saying, “Take off your shirt, I’ll update your status while you tell me everything that happened in the dungeon. Don’t try to hide anything, as I can easily tell if you’re lying…you may not know this, but your expression makes it very hard for you to keep secrets.” Vahn was surprised and he held his hand to his face like he would be able to discover something from her words.

Watching his response, Hephaestus laughed before saying, “It’s not a bad thing, just make sure you’re careful around people trying to plot and scheme against you. Especially people like that imp Loki…” As Hephaestus spoke, Vahn walked over after removing his tunic. Hephaestus had been watching him, and after seeing his body, her words trailed a bit and she closed her mouth.

Though Vahn wasn’t aware of it himself, his 150cm frame had now grown to 156cm, while his frail looking body had started to develop in a more mature fashion. Unaware of Hephaestus’s strange gaze, Vahn laid down on the couch so Hephaestus could update his status. The moment he put his head on the cushion, Vahn smelled a strange scent that made his mind feel a little bit numb. Curious about what it was, he turned his head and inhaled the scent while trying to identify its source.

Hephaestus, who had been dazed at seeing Vahn’s body, now saw him smelling the couch and she immediately recalled that she had been sleeping there recently. She had even, on the night after he left, done something unmentionable on the very spot Vahn now rested. In a flustered manner, she actually grabbed Vahn’s head before turning it sideways. “Y-you can’t talk if your face is down. Look to the side while I read your status and, don’t smell that cushion. I spilled something on it previously and forgot to get it cleaned.”

Vahn, who felt like his neck had nearly been broken, nodded his head slowly in response. He wondered what she had spilled on the cushion and thought about asking, but seeing the flustered look on her face, Vahn thought she would be embarrassed if he asked. Instead, he began recounting his adventures since the first day as Hephaestus kneeled next to him and dropped a bit of her blood onto the crest on his back.

The moment the numbers popped up, Hephaestus was in shock as she listened to Vahn’s tale. Vahn was curious at her response, so he decided to ask, “What’s wrong, Hephaestus?” Hephaestus was broken from her stupor as she looked at Vahn with a serious expression on her face. “Vahn, how did you level up?” Now, it was Vahn’s turn to be surprised as he checked his status window in the system.

————————————————————————–
[[Stats]]Name: [Vahn Mason]Age: 14
Race: Human, *sealed*
Parameter: [Danmachi: 1-4]-Level:3(3)
-Power: 1906+(I14)
-Endurance: 2221+(I44)
-Dexterity: 1807+(I11)
-Agility: 1959+(I21)
-Magic: 3562+(G251)
Total:11455+(341)( (A/N: For those curious, Vahn’s total at level up was 5908.)


Soul Tier 2 (Hero Soul)
[Karma]: 2,003
[OP]: 411,259
[Valis]: 171,630
————————————————————————-
(A/N: As an example of a normal total after just reaching lv 3, most adventurers would be between 7000-8500 total points. That makes Vahn about 1.4-1.6 times stronger without buffs! Some Level 4 adventurers only have 10,500-12,000 parameters after reaching Level 4.)

Vahn was shocked after seeing his stats. Not only had he leveled up without his notice, but he even had an increase in his magic afterward. Sis, who is always present within his mind, explained. (*When you suffered that mental attack, it nearly destroyed your brain. [Will of the Emperor] tried to protect you against the attack and slowly heal your mind. Since it was repairing your badly damaged brain for a whole nine days, it shouldn’t be a surprise that your magic would increase. As for the level increase, that was due to the stress that was being placed on your body as your parameters grew. Without leveling up, your body would have exploded before your mind was able to recover.*)

Hephaestus saw Vahn’s expression and believed he had been unaware of the change himself. She suspected it could be a result of his blood, so she tried asking, “Vahn, has there ever been anything strange with your status before? Have you ever been able to feel changes after fighting?” Since most adventurer’s parameters didn’t increase without their status being updated, Hephaestus figured Vahn would be aware of there were any changes.

Vahn slowly nodded as he began to repeat the words Sis was speaking in his mind.”Yes, I often feel my body become stronger after fights. That is how I was able to progress so far into the dungeon. Even I was surprised by how far I was able to go, but every time I encountered a dangerous situation, I seemed to get stronger afterward…”

Hearing his admittance, Hephaestus sighed and began to marvel at the mystery of Vahn’s body. If her speculation was true, not only did Vahn not need a Falna to improve, but he seems to even be able to update any Falna he has received. With this thought in mind, Hephaestus suddenly recalled the little Pallum girl that often followed Vahn around. Hephaestus had learned from Tsubaki that Lili was a member of the Soma Familia yet, after training with Tsubaki, her status seemed to rapidly increase.

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“Vahn, that Pallum girl, Lili, were you the one who updated her Status Board?” Hephaestus asked the question casually, and Vahn responded without thinking, “Yes, but how did you know she was a Pallum?” As far as Vahn could remember, Lili had always kept her cat person transformation ever since moving in with Tsubaki.

Hephaestus frowned a bit before saying, “A little transformation magic isn’t enough to disguise her from my eyes. I knew she was a Pallum the moment we first met. I assume she is hiding from the Soma Familia after you rescued her from the dungeon, but that isn’t important right now. Tell me Vahn, how did you update her Status?” Vahn realized there was something wrong with how Hephaestus was questioning him, and as if to affirm his suspicions, a voice rang in his head.

(*You’re an idiot sometimes Vahn…*)

Seeing Hephaestus look at him, Vahn began to sweat under the pressure and decided to speak the truth, “After you told me about my origin, I thought I would be able to update someone’s status using my skill [Yggdrasil’s Blessing]. Though it wasn’t easy at first, I was able to do so after a bit of practice.” Hephaestus, hearing Vahn’s confession, began to panic a little inside her mind.

If what Vahn said was true, if anyone found out about it, he would likely become a target of other gods or syndicates. A mortal that can update status would be invaluable to organizations where their gods weren’t willing or able to perform the ceremony themselves. Vahn could probably even become a powerful tool for exploitation if anyone found out. Grabbing Vahn’s face, Hephaestus looked directly into his eyes after bringing her face right in front of his. “Never, ever, tell anyone you can update the Status of another person. Promise me, Vahn.”

Vahn, for the second time today, felt like his neck was about to break as he slowly nodded his head. “I promise Hephaestus…” He could see the panic and concern in her eyes, so Vahn knew it could be very dangerous if word were to spread of his ability. Though Vahn never planned to publicize it, if anyone from the Soma Familia found out about Lili, rumors might begin to spread.

Hephaestus realized this as well, as she said, “We’ll need to have Lili undergo the conversion ceremony. I know she wanted to do something about the Soma Familia herself, but this is no longer just her problem. Even if she became strong enough to crush the Familia on her own, it would raise too many questions and would draw too much attention to the people close to her.” Hephaestus planned to inform Tsubaki immediately, so she pulled out a strange parchment and a red magic pen.

As she wrote a message onto the parchment, the words slowly began to burn and dissolve into ashes that disappeared into the air. Vahn thought the sight was very interesting, so he couldn’t help but ask,”What kind of magic tool is that? I’ve never seen such a thing.” Hephaestus sighed after seeing how casual Vahn was acting given the severity of the situation. However, seeing the honest look on his face, she answered, “The parchment is made from the hide of a magical beast and has been linked to a sister scroll. Using this Fire-link Quill, anything written onto the parchment would be sent the scroll on the other end. Its only effective within 100km, but it’s quite useful in emergencies.”

Vahn began to realize there was still a lot about this world he didn’t know about. He planned to use the next few months to familiarize himself with the City and learn all kinds of new things. Seeing the letter Hephaestus was writing, he suddenly had a thought and asked, “Hephaestus, did anyone come by to give you a letter when I was in the dungeon?” Hephaestus’s quill stopped a while before she looked at Vahn with slightly widened eyes. “Yes, I had almost forgotten about that matter. I’ll have her stop by tomorrow and we can get to the bottom of that situation.” Toward the end of her words, Vahn saw that Hephaestus had a fierce and angry expression. He almost felt bad for the person on the receiving end of her wrath…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Level 3′,’Hephaestus noticed Vahn’s growth’,’Within the Couch’s Embrace’)

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