Chapter 333: Excursion

The rest of the evening was uneventful and Vahn just spent it interacting with the girls within his Familia. He worked on some of the designs for equipment in his workshop for around two hours, but then detected the arrival of the dungeon parties and brought his work to an end. They had all been happy to find out that he had actually returned and Vahn spent some time explaining things as everyone enjoyed a long meal together. He also promised to go into the dungeon with everyone tomorrow and take them down as far as the 18th floor, just so they could experience Rivira and unlock the shortcuts and make use of the stairs in the future.

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Though they were mostly all still Level 1, Vahn, Ryuu, and Aki, would easily be able to protect the group from any threats. Most supporters, even though that ventured into the lower floors, were only Leve 1, while just a few remained Supporters after reaching Level 2. The Dungeon typically scaled the difficulty based on party size, with a few exceptions such as Monster Parties, but Vahn had one of the most powerful detection abilities and could easily guarantee their safe passage unless something unexpected happened.

Because it would likely take the entire day, everyone was sent to bed earlier than normal since they would be heading out long before the sun rose. Even if they spent an hour on each floor, the deepest the majority of the girls had gone was floor 6, which meant it would take well over twelve hours to reach Rivira at a quick pace. They would then stay within the forests outside of the settlement and Vahn made a promise to go visit the site of the Astrea Familia’s grave with Ryuu while they were there. On Thursday, the group would head to the 17th floor and Vahn wanted everyone to see his fight against the Goliath while being protected by the Elites of the Loki Familia. It was also a good opportunity to expose them to First Class Adventurers and everyone was looking forward to the coming fight.

Before he went to sleep, Vahn pampered Hestia a bit since they would be gone for a good 2-3 days depending on how things panned out. She would be house-sitting with Preasia, but apparently intended to go and stay with the girls at the Hostess of Fertility just to make sure nothing happened while the Familia was in the Dungeon. Vahn had intended to have Fafnir protect them, so he was happy she had already thought about a possible solution. This was one of the greatest benefits of the network, since they could easily reach out and support each other after discussing things. Syr had immediately invited Hestia and Preasia to stay with them the moment she discovered that the rest of the Familia was entering the Dungeon.

Though he still had plenty of time to prepare, Vahn spent about an hour going over his own equipment, buying a few emergency use items, and then reviewing his Status and skills. His parameters, excluding his magic, hadn’t changed too much in the last few months because he hadn’t been exposed to any actual threats. Even enemies like Tione and Tammuz didn’t cause his parameters to increase, because you were unable to obtain exillia from the recognized sentient species, regardless of if they were good or evil. Still, even though he hadn’t fought too often, his parameters were still growing very rapidly with the growth correction of his Innate abilities.

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[[Stats]]

Name: [Vahn Mason]

Age: 15

Race: Human, *sealed*

Parameter: [Danmachi: 1-4]

-Level:3(3)

-Power: 1906+(I61)->(H130)

-Endurance: 2221+(F222)->(F254)

-Dexterity: 1807+(H112)->(H172)

-Agility: 1959+(H141)->(G204)

-Magic: 3562+(SS1319)->(SS1553)

Total:11455+(1855)->(2313)

Soul Tier 2 (Hero Soul)->3 (Lord Soul)

[Karma]: 4,733->7,907(RIP Vahn’s peaceful life)

[OP]: 128,997

[Valis]: 108,772,631

Skills: [Will of the Emperor:SSS], [Rakshasa Body:E], [Keeper of the Akashic Tome:B], [Eyes of Truth: B],[Bow Mastery:A], [Stealth:B], [Chainbreaker:S], [Heart of the Eternal Flame:SS], [Prometheus:A], [Call of the Reaper:B],[Yggdrasil’s Favor:S], [Veil of the Traveler: S], [Featherfoot:B], [Hands of Nirvana:S], [Metallurgy:B], [Fist Strike:B], [Friend of Spirits:A]

Magic: [Thria*Mimos:C], [Shundo:B]

Development Skills: [Wound Transfer:A], [Spirit Healing:A], [Swordsman:A], [Master Smith:I], [Mixing:C], [Mentor:C]

(A/N: It was asked on the Discord, so let me explain a bit about how skills/magic/DA grow. Skills are typically capped at Rank S, UNLESS they are Innates or abilities that exceed mortal limits. This is why a skill like [Heart of the Eternal Flame] is Rank SS, because it is literally derived from a goddess’s Divinity. Magic is also restricted to a max of Rank S, same as Development Abilities. The big difference is that DA has the chance to evolve once the person hits Rank S and change into a higher tiered ability which resets it to Rank I. Hope that clarifies things a bit.)

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Even though he was only Level 3, Vahn was able to learn Development Abilities through effort and comprehending them through practice. With rare exceptions, most people had to choose a Development Ability once they reached Level 2, and they could only choose new ones each rank. Vahn, however, wasn’t able to choose any abilities when he leveled up but also wasn’t restricted on the number he could have based solely on his level. There was also the fact that the majority of people only had three magic slots, if any, while he didn’t have a limit whatsoever. Strangely though, he wasn’t actually able to learn most magic and he wondered if it was something about his constitution and intended to figure it out better when he trained with Riveria and Eva in the future.

Vahn thought he could get around his inability to learn magic by using grimoires, but when he tried to take a peek at the [Icicle Edge] Grimoire he received from Riveria, he noticed that there wasn’t a reaction from the book at all. Though he didn’t intend to sneakily use it in lieu of Haruhime, Vahn wasn’t able to restrain his own curiosity and had planned to apologize if things didn’t go well. Unfortunately, or perhaps, fortunately, his body had absolutely no reaction to the Grimoire and he eventually gave it to Haruhime, who learned the entire thing in less than twenty minutes. She had entered a dazed state before falling asleep for a short while and then suddenly knew the spell, including its chant.

Haruhime could now create spears of ice out of thin air and launch them at sub-sonic speeds to impale enemies. With practice, she would be able to mold them fast and launch them at far greater speeds. The best thing about the spell was, it was a super short chant spell that only required the activation key to fire. When she had used it the first time, Haruhime held out her palms and shouted, “Piercing Chill, Icicle Edge~!” before a 1 meter long spear of ice shot at the target. When she used it in conjunction with her [Kokonoe], she was able to launch four at a time and only required a single chant until the extra tails faded away. Vahn always found it a very curious sight when he saw her grow extra tails, and he was very curious about how they were actually attached to her body.

After setting aside the matter of his inability to learn grimoires, Vahn did one last check of the items in his inventory before finally retiring to his bed. When he awoke the next morning, it was only 3 AM and he quickly made the rounds to wake everyone up, starting with Ryuu and Aki, even though he could already detect they were awake. They went to wake up everyone else while Vahn headed downstairs and set out breakfast for everyone to eat. He wasn’t going to let the twins cook because it would take a good half hour or so to prepare food for everyone. It was his intent to hit the dungeon early so that they could be safely at Rivira before the crystals on the ceiling turned dark. There was no telling what would happen along the way, so it was best to leave early to allow for ample time for the miniature expedition to reach its destination.

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Once everyone had gotten prepared, and eaten breakfast, the entire group met in the large area of the foyer and Vahn got to inspect the entire combat potential of his Familia for the first time as they prepared to venture into the Dungeon together. Their numbers include himself, as Captain, and Level 3 with the combat potential of an introductory Level 5. Ryuu, the Vice-Captain, a Level 4 easily capable of best most Level 5 if she could extend the fight. Aki, his Lieutenant, a Level 4 who was a very well-balanced fighter and tactician. Mikoto, a High-Class Adventurer at Level 2 who specialized in scouting and gravity magic. Fenrir, technically a High-Class Adventurer at Level 2 who was actually a monster that obtained a soul and the blessing of Hestia. Then there were several Level 1’s in the Familia, which included Haruhime, Maemi, and Emiru. Preasia was also Level 1, but she was a Supporter that didn’t venture into the dungeon, at least for the time being.

Vahn took in the view of everyone with a satisfied smile as he nodded his head and said, “This is great, before I even realized it the Familia had already grown so large…I’m excited to see how everyone will grow from hereafter. Keep your wits about you and make sure to listen to my orders, though you should prioritize Aki’s and Ryuu’s unless I overrule them. This is the deepest into the dungeon that you’ll all have ventured, and there are several monsters that are much stronger than you are at present. Leave it to us unless we expressly give you permission to act. Haruhime, you can use your support magic and [Icicle Edge] when you can, while you two, Emiru and Maemi, will use the crossbows you received. We’ll try to let you get the final blow on the enemies so you can receive experience and a boost to your exilia. As for you girls, Fenrir, please be on your best behavior and protect the girls from any enemies that slip by Ryuu, Aki, and myself. Mikoto will act as the rear guard and keep an eye out for any enemies that slip beyond my perception if I’m focused on other enemies. It isn’t likely to be the case, but it is better to be prepared than lower our guards. This is our first adventure as a Familia, and I want to make sure everything goes smoothly…Understood!?”

The girls had all been paying close attention to his words and the moment he shouted they all gave a loud, cheerful, affirmation. Vahn nodded in appreciation of their response before leading the way into the freezing cold morning air. Though he could use his domain to keep everyone warm, Vahn wanted them to treat this excursion seriously and experience every small trial in its entirety. This would be an important test to see how well coordinated the entire Familia was in an engagement, and it would also be a test of his ability to command the group as a whole. Aki had lectured him a fair amount on how to command troops, but he had no actual experience and usually relied on his own combat potential to overcome difficult situations. If he wanted them to become strong enough to venture into the deeper floors, they would have to grow accustomed to following his orders and coordinating their efforts to overcome powerful enemies. By the time they appeared on the lower floors, every single monster they faced could exceed Level 3, and there would literally be thousands of them. If their coordination wasn’t impeccable, there was a very high chance casualties would occur, and Vahn found this completely unacceptable.

It only took the group around fifteen minutes to reach the entrance to the Dungeon and another thirty to make their way through the first floor and down the stairs to the sixth floor. The moment they crossed over the threshold, Vahn turned to the group and said, “Emiru, Maemi, you take point. Mikoto, Fenrir, you’ll protect Haruhime while she will support the entire group from the backline. Use your mana sparingly and act like I won’t be around to help you replenish your stores if they run out. Ryuu, Aki, and myself, we’ll be watching from the side but won’t step in unless an accident occurs. Treat this with absolute seriousness and do your best to support each other. Haruhime, since you’ll be viewing the entire battlefield, it’ll be up to you to direct the attention of everyone in combat. Trust your judgment and do your best to ensure everyone gets through the next few floors in one piece.”

The girls all nodded their head and assumed the formation Vahn had laid out for them in his explanation. Fenrir wasn’t accustomed to working in a team at all, but she also didn’t want to be the only one left out and did her best to pay attention to Haruhime’s commands as the group pushed forward into the sixth floor. Haruhime’s buffs could last for up to an hour, and she could increase the Level of up to four targets at once, which was perfect since the total number of allies within the party was also four. Though a 30% parameter increase wasn’t that major for Level 1’s, it was still a significant boost compared to their normal parameters. They were able to progress rapidly through the sixth floor without any major difficulties and the entire trip to the stairs leading down only took forty minutes.

Since Vahn had mentioned she was in charge for the next few floors, Haruhime stopped the group outside the seventh-floor corridor and explained the enemies they would face from now on. This was the floor where Purple Moths, Needle Rabbits, and a few groups of annoying enemies started to spawn. After going over everything, Haruhime asked Vahn for the items he had prepared before their excursion and gave everyone, excluding Fenrir, a potion to prevent the toxins from the moth from affecting them. Fenrir had been down to the 12th floor before, and Vahn learned long ago that she was completely immune to most status abnormalities, including poisons and toxins.

Dressed in matching purple mantles, the group made their way into the 7th floor and fought against the waves of enemies that started to appear. The main reason most parties were restricted to four members was that the Dungeon actually increased the spawn rate of monsters when there were more people gathered together. Since there were eight of them, even though Vahn, Ryuu, and Aki weren’t fighting, the Dungeon still spawned a corresponding number of monsters for them to face. Fortunately, with the buff magic of Haruhime, Emiru and Maemi were able to coordinate their attacks and easily deal with many of the enemies they faced. Since they didn’t have to worry about the poisonous powder of the Purple Moths, they were able to exploit their relatively low agility and defense to quickly dispatch most of the enemies. Anything that got through was taken out by Mikoto’s swordsmanship and Fenrir’s indefensible claws. Fortunately, she didn’t like the ‘soft’ bodies of the Purple Moths and didn’t start chowing down on them in the middle of the fight.

After an hour, Haruhime noticed Emiru and Maemi had started to slow down a lot so she called out, “Mikoto, Fenrir, please take Emiru and Maemi’s place in the vanguard for a while. Emiru, Maemi, fall back and try to replenish your stamina. Go ahead and use potions if you need them and we’ll take a longer break once we get through this floor~!” Mikoto quickly affirmed Haruhime’s orders and moved ahead of the twins to cut down a War Shadow that was trying to exploit their slowing bodies. Fenrir followed close behind and rapidly overtook Mikoto as the twins fell into the middle distance. Now that she had permission to ‘attack’, Fenrir cut loose and rapidly started dispatching the enemies far faster than the twins, or even Mikoto, could manage. Since she was immune to poison, Fenrir completely ignored the powder in the air and rapidly jumped around and sliced through the enemies with her terrifying claws while biting into the bodies of some of the Needle Rabbits that tried to sneak attack her.

As expected, the rest of the girls were a little surprised by Fenrir’s fighting style so Vahn stepped forward next to Haruhime and said in a low voice, “You need to reign her in before things get out of hand. Remember, Fenrir is an evolved monster, so she will give in to her instincts if you let her get out of control…” Haruhime startled at Vahn’s words and remembered that Fenrir wasn’t actually a Beast-Human, contrary to what her cute appearance would suggest. After they made their vow of non-disclosure, every girl was informed about the true identity of Fenrir and cautioned about some of her characteristics. However, though it was easy to understand in principle, it was very strange to see a monster in human form and things didn’t truly click until they saw how she fought enemies. Haruhime understood why Vahn always let Fenrir go into the dungeon with Ryuu, instead of allowing her to accompany the rest of the Familia.

Haruhime paused for a moment before a resolute glint passed over her eyes and she shouted, “Fenrir, fall back and support Mikoto. Don’t extend too far or you’ll expose yourself to attacks from the sides. Work together or we’ll never be able to go with Vahn into the deeper floors~!” Though she had started to lose her senses while killing the monsters, Fenrir’s ears twitched at Haruhime’s words and she briefly looked back at the group and noticed she had run out quite a bit. She panicked for a moment before running over to the group and shouting, “Aaaah, Fenrir is a good girl! Fenrir will listen to Harume, so don’t leave Fenrir behind anymore!” Without any propriety, Fenrir ran over before stopping in front of Haruhime with upturned eyes and an upset expression on her face. Haruhime smiled before petting the wolf girls head as she called out to the rest of the group, “Pay attention to the enemies, Fenrir will rejoin the fight soon~!”

After sending out her order, Haruhime bent down a bit and used her red kimono to wipe away some of the blood on Fenrir’s face and said in an encouraging voice, “I’d like to be able to go with Fenrir into the deeper floors in the future as well. Make sure you pay attention and work together from now on…it would be sad if any of our friends got hurt because we weren’t paying attention. Doesn’t Vahn always protect you when you make mistakes?” Fenrir tilted her head and looked over at Vahn and saw a small smile on his face before she nodded her head and said, “Vahn protects Fenrir and helps her grow stronger.” Haruhime nodded her head and pet the large ears of Fenrir and said, “Just like Vahn protects us, we need to protect each other so he doesn’t have to be sad. I want to make Vahn happy, so let’s work together from now on, okay~?” Fenrir’s eyes opened wide and she flexed her tiny claws for a bit before saying, “Fenrir will do it! Fenrir will make Vahn the happiest!” Her words finished, Fenrir broke away from Haruhime and ran over to take up her spot a few meters away from Mikoto. She waited for the enemies to approach her instantaneous attack range before dealing with them quickly and falling back to an appropriate distance without extending forward too far.

Vahn nodded his head and stroked his chin as Aki said from the side, “Haruhime has good insight, she’ll make a capable team leader one day. It helps, especially considering she has powerful support magic as well. It was the correct choice to put her in charge, even though Mikoto is the most experience of the group.” Vahn nodded his head and turned to the side to face Aki and said, “Mikoto is too inflexible, so there is a good chance she would hesitate to make difficult decisions. Haruhime has a strong drive to improve, and she is very considerate of others. She will be a core member of the Familia in the future, so I want her to have experience commanding the party as early as possible…” Aki nodded her head and said, “From now on, I’ll lecture her a bit on how to command a group and have her lead the party whenever we venture together from now on.” Vahn nodded his head and said, “Thanks, Aki, I can always rely on you.”

From his left, Vahn heard an almost indistinguishable snort and looked over to see Ryuu’s expressionless face as she watched the girls fight. When he turned to her, she matched Vahn’s gaze and said, “I’ll make sure she learns [Concurrent Chanting] and how to cast magic while on the move…I might not be able to teach her complex magic like Riveria, but I’ve never met anyone more proficient in [Concurrent Chanting] than I am.” Vahn raised his brows slightly because it was very rare for Ryuu to say something so ‘bold’. He realized that she might feel a little jealous of his compliments to Aki, so he showed a gratified smile and said, “Thanks, Ryuu, as expected of my capable Vice-Captain…” Hearing Vahn’s words, Ryuu showed an incredibly small smile and nodded without responding to his words. Vahn’s expression didn’t change much, but he started laughing inside his mind as he turned his attention back to the ongoing fight.

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