Vahn continued to sit on the balcony while trying to come up with a solution for how to, not only increase his own strength, but the strength of those around him. He knew that, through ‘The Path’, he could eventually become stronger than anything else. However, Vahn also knew it would require an incredible amount of personal effort, comprehension of his skills, and manipulation of the laws. Because of the restrictions of the laws within the record, Vahn had to undergo the same process of everyone else within the world to become strong, albeit with access to a system that made the process much smoother for himself. He could use items to enhance, not his parameters, but how his parameters will develop later on if he puts in the effort.
For example, even if he did millions of push-ups, ran for thousands of kilometers, and performed precise training for decades, Vahn’s actual parameters wouldn’t change much at all. For the Falna to actually enhance someone’s parameters, they had to undergo the trials of the record, which was to kill monsters and face calamities. It wasn’t possible to get to Level 10 by just killing goblins on the second floor, he had to constantly push himself in the pursuit of self-mastery while exposing his mind and body to stressful situations. With the use of items to increase his foundation, Vahn was able to get more growth out of his parameters when undergoing the same tasks as others. However, this also created a problem that he was just now beginning to face…Vahn was outscaling the natural growth and development of the Status Board.
Vahn hadn’t thought of it before, but increasing his parameters instantly instead of having his blessing updated through the normal method was actually going to restrict his growth unless he constantly put his life in danger to push his limits. One of the reasons other people could undergo massive leaps in development was because they could restrict their own capabilities by not updating their status. This allowed them more time to acclimate to their own skills and learn how to fight progressively stronger monsters even without their Status changing. By the time they finally updated their status, they would have huge leaps which would allow them to progress forward and slowly acclimate themselves again. Since his status automatically updated, it meant he would eventually hit a bottleneck where his parameters wouldn’t increase much at all. The problem was that his Innate abilities and equipment simply made most threats ‘negligible’, so Vahn wouldn’t actually get a lot of exilia from the fight even if he killed powerful monsters…
As he was sitting on the balcony, Vahn released a sigh and looked toward the horizon to see that the sun was going to be rising soon. There was a gentle, warm, light that began to push against the darkness of the night and it would soon be time to train. Though he wasn’t necessary for their exercises, Vahn liked to watch the girls train so he would have a better understanding of their capabilities for the future. He might be concerned about his own strength, but Vahn knew that the key to progressing further into the dungeon was having stronger allies. Most people took several years to reach upwards of Level 5 and higher, but Vahn was determined to help the girls reach that point within a short few years. Especially for girls like Haruhime, Vahn knew she would likely be the key to his own growth since he could exceed his limits temporarily and push himself further against much stronger foes. The problem was finding a method to increase her strength without actually exposing her to danger, even though she was required to be exposed to danger to increase her strength…
Just as Vahn was preparing to head downstairs, he heard a notification within his mind and nearly fell from the balcony after he read the contents. Unable to comprehend what had happened, Vahn read over the information several times before making his way inside the Manor to ask Aki if she had heard about any operations against the Ishtar Familia within the last few hours. Though he didn’t mind someone stepping in to help complete his own mission, Vahn was still very confused about everything that was happening because it almost seemed ‘too convenient’ since he had just been thinking of how to improve the strength of others.
//Quest Completed//[Quest: Rescue Sanjouno Haruhime]
Rank: B (C-S)
Objective: Rescue Sanjouno Haruhime from her captors.
Optional Objective: Defeat and/or Kill captors: 2/10
Rewards: ‘Upgrade’ Function Unlocked, 10x[Upgrade Stone], 14,000OP
Grade Rewards: [Menor:C] Development Ability unlocked, 1x[Seal of the Challenger:S] [Upgrade]
Use: Increase attributes of a piece of equipment by 1% of current stats and adds a +(n) suffix to the item. Requires [Upgrade Stone]s and has a higher chance of failure depending on the number of upgrades already on the item. [Upgrade Stone]s can be acquired for 100,000OP and are also a random drop from mobs within the record. 10x[Upgrade Stone]s can be exchanged for 1x[Upgrade Stone+]. 10x[Upgrade Stone+]s can be exchanged for 1x[Upgrade Stone++].[Upgrade Stone]
Use: Upgrades a piece of equipment until +10 without any chance of failure. Failure increases by 10% per successful upgrade after +10 and has a chance to destroy the item after +15.[Upgrade Stone+]
Use: Upgrades a piece of equipment until +20 without any chance of failure. Failure increases by 10% per successful upgrade after +20 and has a chance to destroy the item after +25.[Upgrade Stone++]
Use: Upgrades a piece of equipment until +30 without any chance of failure. Failure increases by 10% per successful upgrade after +30 and has a chance to destroy the item after +35.[Mentor]
Use: Increases exilia gain of an ally when paired together. Allows for commands to be clearly heard by the paired ally under duress. Skill efficacy based on the number of allies present. Current Maximum (1).[Seal of the Challenger]
Abilities: Indestructible, Challenger(S)
A collar that grows a chain link that doubles base experience rate. Each link also doubles the amount of damage received by the wearer and increases the likelihood of receiving critical hits. (Critical hit chance depends on the Power of the attack compared to the Endurance of the wearer).
Vahn knew that ‘The Path’ usually helped him whenever there was something he wanted to do, but he hadn’t expected such a windfall at this moment. He was previously brooding over what he needed to do in order to become stronger and then, moments later, someone else completed his quest for him and he received the exact reward he needed to continue forward. Since ‘The Path’ was supposed to exist in order to grant his ‘wish’, Vahn had a smile on his face knowing it was looking out for him even when he was coming to a standstill on matters.
With the [Seal of the Challenger], Vahn would be able to artificially increase the risk he faced during a fight while also increasing the amount of exilia he would gain in the process. Within the record of Danmachi, it very well might be one of the most powerful items he had ever seen. But, this wasn’t the main reason for his excitement, as Vahn stared at the ‘Abilities’ section of the black collar with an expectant smile. Since ‘Challenger’ was the ability of a piece of equipment, Vahn knew there should also be other ways to enhance the amount of exilia gained if he created items with that intent in mind. He expected it would be rather difficult, since the item gave no other defensive stats at all, but Vahn knew it was theoretically possible now.
When Vahn arrived at Aki’s room, she didn’t immediately answer the door when he knocked and he heard her voice from the interior so he entered the room. Aki was currently staring into the ‘logbook’ that recorded the information from the network and was also directly corresponding with someone at the same time. Vahn knew he wasn’t supposed to interfere with the girls’ line of communication, so he asked Aki what was going on without looking at the contents for himself. Since she hadn’t gotten ready for the day yet, Aki was still wearing a cream-colored nightgown and looked over with a somewhat incredulous look on her face as she said, “The Ishtar Familia was destroyed overnight…we’re still collecting information, but it looks like the culprit behind the attack was the Freya Familia. Loki-sama wanted me to inform you that, no matter what happens, do not approach the Freya Familia for the time being.”
Hearing that the Isthar Familia was ‘destroyed’, Vahn had a mixture of emotions that ranged from relief, perturbance, anxiety, and apprehension. He was happy that the biggest threat to Haruhime had been dealt with, but Vahn was also worried about Aisha and anyone that had been forcibly charmed by Ishtar. He hoped they were able to escape the destruction and were able to find better lives for themselves in the future. Unfortunately, that hope was also tainted with a fair amount of anxiety because Vahn was afraid there was a very real chance they may come to him for assistance. He didn’t mind helping out, but the last thing Vahn needed to worry about was a group of ‘experienced’ Amazons invading his home. Tiona and Tione were already high on his priority list for matters that needed to be addressed in the future, and it would only complicate the matter if even more Amazons were present. Of course, the biggest issue, as Loki seemed to suspect, was the fact that the perpetrators of the attack had been the Freya Familia.
Even without meeting her, Vahn was already very cautious of Freya for various reasons, including his own inability to resist women. Vahn knew that Freya was supposed to have an ‘unnatural or ‘unrivaled’ beauty, so he was actually somewhat afraid to meet her since he didn’t have much confidence in his own ability to maintain his sensibilities. He knew her charm magic wouldn’t work against him, but Vahn still had an interest in someone purportedly as beautiful as she was claimed to be. The most important reason he didn’t want to meet her, however, was because Vahn knew that she was actually a very ‘difficult’ person to deal with and had brought about great harm to several people.
Even in the original series, she was one of the driving forces behind Bell’s struggles because she was trying to cultivate him into becoming stronger. Because of his own potential, and the fact he had an item like [Enkidu], Vahn knew she would likely become one of the biggest obstacles he faced in the future. The influence of her Divinity and the amount of power she wielded within the City made her one of the most dangerous people he could ever associate with. Now that she was taking action, Vahn expected there to be some kind of clash between himself, the Freya Familia, and potentially the Alliance within the near future.
After promising Aki to avoid any contact with the Freya Familia, Vahn went downstairs and met up with Ryuu who told him a very similar thing. She had an especially serious look on her face and Vahn could see the concern in her sky-blue eyes. Though he hadn’t been able to observe Freya’s influence within the Hostess of Fertility, Vahn knew she had a connection with a number of the girls he commonly associated with there. Even though they had ‘cut ties’ with her, Mama Mia still bore the Freya Familia crest while Syr had been the protege of Freya within the past. Vahn had actually expected Freya to approach him much sooner through the members of the Hostess of Fertility, but he was happy to see that none of them had ever tried to sway him toward her direction so far.
Because of the matters taking place presently, Vahn and Ryuu had cut the training short while explaining the details of everything happening within the City. Haruhime had a similarly conflicted expression on her face when she heard about the destruction of the Ishtar Familia, and Vahn knew she was probably worried about Aisha and some of the other girls as well. Mikoto herself seemed genuinely relieved, but she still showed support for Haruhime and concealed her own emotions regarding the matter. Vahn informed them that they may be venturing into the dungeon after things begin to settle down, so he wanted them to make sure they were both mentally and physically prepared for what was to come.
Ryuu had decided to stay over for the day, just in case anything happened, and she was going to be lecturing the girls about things they needed to consider before venturing into the dungeon. She took everyone to the study where they usually practiced reading and writing while Vahn kept Haruhime back for a short while and tried to console her. He hadn’t been spending too much time ‘petting’ the girls lately, so Vahn sat next to Haruhime on a bench and stroked her hair and ears while stating, “Don’t worry, I had removed the charm effect on Aisha on the night I saved you. She should have been able to escape and assist others as well…” Hearing his words, Haruhime’s tail flickered a bit and she turned her droopy green eyes toward him and asked, “Is that really true?”
Vahn showed a gentle smile and nodded his head as he explained how he was able to drive away the charm effect using his own ‘pseudo divinity’. He had come into contact with Aisha outside Haruhime’s room at the time and they had a short conversation where he was able to free her from Ishtar’s control. After that, Aisha left to go undermine Ishtar’s plan while entrusting Haruhime to his protection. When she heard about everything that had happened, Haruhime had tears beginning to build up in her eyes as she muttered, “Aisha…thank you for everything…” As if relieved by the revelation, Haruhime leaned into Vahn’s chest with her face and gingerly held onto his tunic with her fingers as Vahn stroked the back of her long blond hair.
Before they separated, Vahn explained to Haruhime about his [Mentor] skill that he had suddenly learned about after his fight against an intruder this morning. Though she was shocked to learn about the attempt to ‘kidnap’ her, Haruhime’s face blossomed into a beautiful smile when she heard about Vahn’s efforts to keep her safe without even alerting her that anything was wrong. Though she also wished she had been there to help, Haruhime was happy knowing that Vahn put in so much effort on her behalf and the image she had of him as a hero become even stronger. When he mentioned the [Mentor] Development Ability and explained its effects, Haruhime’s ears were twitching about rapidly and there was even a subtle blaze of motivation within her placid green eyes.
Haruhime was very excited to know that she would probably be able to spend time alone with Vahn within the dungeon while also growing stronger at the same time. Without him having to explain much about its use, Haruhime wanted to try experiencing the skill herself and implored Vahn to use it. Since it was a Development Ability, that meant it had an ‘active’ component before it took effect and Vahn was able to experience it for himself after following his intuition when using the skill. It allowed him to place a small seal on the body of a person, and Vahn noticed it looked like a cartoonish depiction of his own face and it made him feel a little embarrassed. Coincidentally, a very small image of Haruhime’s face appeared in a similar location on his own body which made the Renard girl’s eyes blaze with a fiery resolution.
Because Vahn hadn’t known about the effect of the skill, he had placed the seal on the back of Haruhime’s left hand and now they both had caricatures of each other’s face on the backs of their hands. Since Vahn wanted to test its efficacy and range, he used Shundo after having Haruhime calm down and dashed to the end of his domain. He noticed that the seal was still present and continued forward for a few dashes until he was around two-thousand meters away from Haruhime’s location. The seal on his hand faded away and Vahn now understood the effective range of the ability and was pleased to see that it was actually quite far.
After returning to the backyard, Vahn saw Haruhime with a somewhat dejected look on her face as she said, “The mark went away…” Vahn smiled at her reaction and wanted to laugh a bit since she was acting in an adorable manner. He was tempted to place the seal in an unconcealed location to prevent his own feelings of embarrassment, but Vahn also figured it would cause a misunderstanding if someone saw the mark without knowing its purpose. He explained the matter to Haruhime and said he would tell everyone about the skills effect when they returned to the study. Though she was in somewhat low spirits, Haruhime nodded and followed alongside Vahn before her face bloomed into a smile when he said, “Don’t worry, when I show off the skill in a bit, I’ll make sure to demonstrate it on you.” Hearing his words, Haruhime crossed her hands in front of her body in an elegant manner before wrapping the end of her tail around Vahn’s arm with a happy smile on her face.