Lefiya had been watching all of the changes in Vahn since the very beginning and she was starting to suspect that her presence had been unnecessary. Riveria had wanted her to remain behind to better make sense of Vahn’s deductions but everything he was doing made no sense to her at all. Just seeing Vahn turn into a High Elf right before her eyes caused her mind to blank because of the incredulity of the situation. There was also the matter that High Elves, and Elves in general, weren’t predisposed to physical development, yet Vahn stood in front of her with a relatively thin frame that was still incredibly toned. Seeing him as a High Elf made her heart feel like it was going to explode in her chest and she couldn’t even continue to stare at his muscular figure and had to turn away.
As for Riveria, she continued to stare at Vahn’s crest with a blank expression for several seconds before reaching out her hand and tracing her index finger of the hieroglyphs that revealed Vahn’s current race. Even now, when the evidence was right in front of her, she couldn’t quite believe what she was seeing and continued to trace her finger over the mark as if to reveal its secret. Vahn didn’t mind her touch, but he started feeling like things were taking a strange turn so he asked, “Have you been able to confirm it properly? I don’t mind staying like this for a while, but it’s a little awkward to have you constantly touching my back…” Hearing his words, Riveria pulled away her finger with a slightly startled expression on her face before almost immediately resuming her taciturn expression.
Now that Vahn mentioned it, Riveria realized what she was doing was actually very inappropriate considering the culture of High Elves. If Vahn was a natural born High Elf, touching his bare back as a female High Elf would have been considered a very intimate gesture since it was the tradition that Elves didn’t associate with the same sex until they had returned to their motherland and had undergone various courtship ceremonies. She was very confused with everything that was happening because, even though she knew Vahn was Human, it was inarguably a High Elf in the present moment. Riveria felt like her understanding of, not just magic, but the actual identity of her people was being broken down by Vahn’s existence. Though she wasn’t one of the elitists that advocated Elven supremacy, she still had the pride of a High Elf and it was difficult to process that someone was able to freely transition their race to become something that had been considered sacred by her people for millennia.
Fortunately for both girls, Vahn’s body started slowly returning to his original form at a visible rate and they were able to calm down after about ten minutes when he had lost his Elven traits entirely. Riveria released a relieved sigh and said, “There are so many things I’d like to try and understand regarding what you have discovered today. I don’t believe it’s an exaggeration to say that you’ll one day revolutionize magic in its entirety…ah, it’s hard to even process everything that is happening. It’s almost like my life has been spent pursuing a dead end…” Hearing her words, Vahn shook his head before showing a casual smile and saying, “I don’t think it’s quite as simple as my explanation makes it seem…it wouldn’t be incorrect to consider myself an exception, not the rule. Though I might be able to help you make sense of how magic works at a fundamental level, it doesn’t mean I can revolutionize magic on my own. It would be through our combined efforts and research that real change is made since what I do is something unique to my body and not something I can replicate in others…”
Seeing the confusion on Riveria’s and Lefiya’s faces, Vahn continued, “Well, I figured you might be worried that I would be able to simply turn people into other races, but that isn’t the case at all. Just like I’m able to hold the image of your spell within my mind, I’m also about to do the same with my own sense of self while also recording the information of the people I view in detail. Changing the flow of energy in a person’s body requires constant focus and it would have to be maintained for a long period of time as their mind and body adapt to the change. I might be able to pull this off for myself, but it isn’t something I can help others understand since, if they were able to understand it, they wouldn’t need my help to change. Even if they might not like the race they are born as, everyone would have adapted to being themselves after growing up and experiencing various things over time. The body may change easily, but the mind is something that can be surprisingly persistent and inflexible…”
Riveria started to understand what Vahn was trying to say so she asked, “So you’re saying that it isn’t simply the structure of a person’s mana that determines their race, but also their mental image of themselves…if they don’t truly believe the image they create, they wouldn’t be able to replicate the feat you performed…” Seeing Vahn nod in affirmation, Riveria squinted her eyes before placing her hand on her chin and saying in a thoughtful tone, “The real question is how you’re able to do something so inconceivable after simply thinking about it once…your mind, the very structure of your thoughts, is fundamentally different than anything found in the mortal world. Perhaps it is tied to your origin as a Demigod…hmm…”
While Riveria was ruminating over matters within her own mind, Lefiya decided to try to break into the conversation but, before she asked any questions of her own, she said, “Vahn, please put your shirt back on…” Hearing Lefiya’s words, Vahn showed a big smile on his face as he saw her blushing expression. Since he didn’t want to stress her out too much, Vahn equipped a tunic from his inventory and it immediately covered his body. Seeing the sudden appearance of the tunic was somewhat surprising, but Lefiya still released a relieved sigh as she pat her chest a few times before saying, “Thank you…ano, I was wondering about a few things…? I kind of understand what you said about magic circles being like ‘language’, since they are formed by chants, but does that mean its possible to cast magic without a chant if you understand the structure of the magic circle? I noticed that both of your magic were usable without chants…did you create those spells yourself? Also, umm, Riveria…when you read Vahn’s Status Board, did he have your magic listed? If he is able to use the magic, shouldn’t it have been added to his list of usable magics?”
Lefiya wasn’t considered a prodigy for no reason as her questions all struck at various important subjects even though it didn’t seem like she put a lot of thought into it. This was the reason why Riveria wanted her to stay behind and she began to seriously consider the answer to the questions Lefiya had asked while turning her attention to Vahn. He was currently lost in thought and was likely trying to come up with the best way to explain things. Riveria respected that, although he could become a prolific mage by keeping the information to himself, Vahn was the type that tried to help increase the understanding of others. Though he might not reveal his own secrets, he wouldn’t hide things that could benefit others and help them develop themselves. His alias ‘Aldrnari’ and the title of ‘Sage’ were very suitable and Rivera began to wonder if she should take any other actions to elevate his status. Now that he could freely turn into a High Elf…
Riveria’s thoughts were brought to a halt when Vahn began explaining, “I don’t think chants are even important, at least for casting general magics…the chant just gives power to the spell, while the magic circle reinforces and enhances the power of the magic that is being cast by the user. The most important thing should be understanding the elemental laws you’re trying to make use of and having a proper image for the phenomenon you’re trying to create. Umm, let’s try this…” Vahn had noticed the two girls had somewhat confused looked on their faces so he wanted to try an experiment to help them understand what he was saying.
Holding out his hand, Vahn recalled the various images of Bell within the manga using his [Firebolt] magic. It was a super short chant magic and also didn’t have a magic circle, but Bell was able to cast many different versions based on the amount of effort he put into the spell. He could even empower it with skills like Argonaut to create a much stronger version of the magic which shouldn’t be possible given the traditional logic that Riveria mentioned earlier. Though he had never met Bell, Vahn felt a strong bond with the heroic boy and considered his existence within the record of Danmachi to be one of the strongest ‘legends’, even though it had yet to be written. Confident that his deduction was correct, Vahn aimed at the blackboard and created the image of Bell using firebolt in his mind and said, “Firebolt~!” From the center of his palm, a small spark of flame shot out before colliding with the blackboard and causing a small explosion that created a hole in the center.
Vahn smiled since, through this experiment, he was able to confirm that he could actually use any magic that he was able to comprehend and hold a powerful image of within his mind. Since his status didn’t show he had the spell listed, this showed that the magic system he was ‘creating’ had nothing to do with the record of Danmachi itself, at least for the time being. Just like when he had been learning [Shundo], Vahn was able to use a simplified version of the spell until he attained some degree of mastery in it. If he continued to use the spell, Vahn was confident he would one day be able to make it his own, instead of just something he had copied from Bell.
Seeing the mild shock on the two Elves faces, Vahn’s smile widened marginally since he fought the dumbfounded and embarrassed faces of elves to be some of the most adorable. They were typically stoic, cool, and collected, so seeing such an ‘abnormal’ expression on their faces made something in Vahn strangely happy. After nodding his head, Vahn explained, “All I did was hold the image of someone casting firebolt within my mind and then replicated the actions at the same time as the image replayed itself. Theoretically, if I practice the spell enough, I would be able to use it without using a chant at all. Admittedly, this would make the spell much weaker, and there also seem to be restrictions based on the structure of a person’s body. When I used Riveria’s magic earlier, I got a painful headache for a brief moment, most likely since I was ‘human’ at the time and had used ‘elven’ magic.”
Hearing Vahn’s explanation, Riveria asked, “So, you’re saying that other races can use racial magic but there is a backlash due to how the mana is structured in the body?” Vahn nodded his head and said, “Yeah, it’s like the ‘language’ changes a bit based on the internal structure, or mana circuits, of the body. If you try to force the spell to cast without running it through the proper channels, the spell would probably fail, or potentially even rebound depending on the understanding of the caster. This is most likely why people have different chants, since the same chant may not be compatible with different people based on the structure of their mana circuits. There should be a way to reverse engineer the magic and make it universal, but I’m not sure where to even start in order to understand that.”
Everything Vahn was saying was something ‘revolutionary’ in the minds of the two capable elven mages and they were both taking notes as they asked Vahn various questions in order to hear his personal speculation. Based on what Vahn said, it seemed like the current magic system was based more on ‘assumptions’ than actual logic and reasoning. The current system showed that magic was a phenomenon emulating the ‘miracles’ created by Spirits and used the stories, legends, and myths created in the earlier ages as the source of their power. Vahn’s ‘system’ of magic was very similar, but it was fundamentally different since it showed that it was more-so the ‘strength of the belief’ behind the magic that mattered. Theoretically, a person could create an entirely new myth and, as long as they believed in the power behind it, the magic would be equally powerful. It has nothing to do with anything concrete from the past, but was entirely dependant on the person’s understanding of elemental laws and their ability to influence them through the ‘language’ of magic and the ‘image’ they were able to formulate in their own minds.
To demonstrate this, Vahn got a bit carried away and started using a variety of different magics based on the images he had created in his mind. Previously, he couldn’t really use any magic and wasn’t even able to make use of a grimoire, yet now he was able to case all kinds of spells just because he ‘believed’ he could do so. Not only had he read a fair amount of manga in his previous life, but Vahn had also ‘downloaded’ several thousands of different books related to heroes, myths, and fairy tales. Since he was able to actually visit the record of the worlds contained in the books, Vahn was able to easily imagine himself as the protagonist of those worlds and could use a simplified version of the magic from their ‘legend’.
This was a major revelation for Vahn and he couldn’t stop himself from trying all kinds of different spells, each something that heavily impacted the two Elves watching him. It was like their roles had reversed and, instead of being here to learn magic from Riveria and Lefiya, the two were eagerly taking notes and asking him an endless stream of questions. Since he was the type to get carried away when people were interested in what he was doing, Vahn stared ‘showing off’ a bit and, when Lefiya asked about complex magic like ‘space’ and ‘time’, Vahn got a little overconfident and wondered if he would be able to stop, or even reverse, time. It was hard to understanding something like ‘time’, at least regarding laws, but Vahn was confident he would be able to pull something off and tried using a magic spell from one of the stories he had read in the past.
After focusing his mind, Vahn extended his hand towards the blackboard he had damaged earlier and simply said, “Ad Past…” It was a magic spell that was used for everything from repairing the damage done to buildings, to even recovering the wounds of the target. Unlike a ‘healing’ spell that used elemental laws of light, recovery, restoration, or rejuvenation, [Ad Past] was purely related to time and literally ‘reversed’ time for the object in question. Unfortunately, though the blackboard actually started repairing, Vahn immediately entered a state of Mind Down after less than a single second of trying to maintain the magic.
Neither girl had expected his sudden collapse so Vahn fell face first and actually smashed into Riveria’s desk in a painful sounding collision. Fortunately, his endurance was much higher than the ‘damage output’ of the desk and he didn’t suffer any actual injuries. Vahn’s collapse had awkwardly been around the same time as the other girls had shown up, so Riveria had to cut the classes short after noticing that Fenrir seemed like she was going to throw a tantrum after seeing Vahn’s unconscious body. They carried Vahn’s body over to the soft and Fenrir sat on his body and ‘glared’ at everyone else in the room and caused all the girls present to feel more than a little intimidated. As the presumed cause of Vahn’s collapse, Riveria became the primary target of Fenrir’s gaze and, even though she was Level 6, the High Elf felt a powerful desire to ‘defend’ herself against the small wolf girl. Her instincts that had been developed over nearly a hundred years were telling Riveria that Fenrir was actually a threat to her life if she dropped her guard for even a moment…
Fortunately, Fenrir was very ‘loyal’ to Vahn and, even though she was currently hostile towards Riveria, she wouldn’t do something like actually attacking unless Vahn was in danger. Her standing orders were only to attack other people if they were trying to hurt her, and Fenrir didn’t want to ‘betray’ Vahn’s trust by ignoring his orders and acting as she pleased. Instead, she just sat on top of his chest for a while before curling up into a ball and watching Riveria without even blinking her glowing scarlet eyes. The other girls had tried to get close to her on occasion, but Fenrir would stare them down and say, “Fenrir will protect Vahn…stay away…”
Even Tina and Preasia weren’t able to get near the overprotective Fenrir no matter what they tried to say or do. It wasn’t until Hestia’s arrival, after learning about the incident, that Fenrir eventually allowed them to move his body to the medical ward which was located near the Library. Vahn had ordered Fenrir to follow Hestia’s orders so, unless she said something that conflicted with her other orders, Fenrir would listen to the small goddess obediently. Of course, it didn’t stop her from watching over Vahn’s body from his side as he was treated by Lefiya while being ‘nursed’ by Hestia. Riveria had been ‘forced’ away so she had no choice but to let Lefiya look after Vahn while spending a few more hours teaching the younger girls about magic. Even though she knew her understanding was flawed, it was still informative for the girls that had no knowledge of magic at all…
Vahn awoke nearly five hours later and could feel a soft feeling on the back of his head as a somewhat cool palm traced its way over his head and through his hair. When he opened his eyes, he saw Hestia looking down on him with a gentle smile as she said, “You’re finally awake, sleepy head, everyone was worried about you…” Before Vahn could say anything to respond to her, Fenrir jumped atop his body and began affectionately rubbing her head and ears against him like a pet dog that was thrilled to be reunited with its owner. Vahn laughed at her actions as he pet Fenrir’s head while using [Hands of Nirvana] to help calm her down while Lefiya explained what had happened. He wasn’t too surprised by her words since he had already realized what had happened in the brief period of time before his collapse. It seems that trying to make use of ‘time’ laws, without having a proper understanding of them, was a very foolish thing to attempt. Even the ‘Oblivion’ skill of his [Eyes of Truth] wasn’t nearly as draining as trying to reverse the time of an inanimate object by a full second.
After understanding the situation, Vahn made rounds throughout the Manor and apologized to everyone for the inconvenience he had caused. He took Fenrir around with him and tried to help her understand that it wasn’t the fault of anyone else, but his own mistake that had caused trouble for others. Because of his insistence, Fenrir eventually ‘faced down’ Riveria and said, “Fenrir is sorry…” before bowing in an adorable manner that made even the taciturn Riveria smile before saying, “It’s fine, Fenrir, you were just trying to protect Vahn. I should have been more cautious so he didn’t get so carried away…” Riveria gave Vahn a slightly ‘blaming’ look and he felt a little embarrassed since he knew he had indeed gotten carried away since everything going on at the time was very interesting.
The others had already returned from the dungeon, taken baths, and had even eaten dinner, so Vahn ended up in the onsen with a much smaller group than the previous two instances. Hestia, Lefiya, and Fenrir had all been taking care of him, so they were the only ones in the bath after Lili failed to ‘infiltrate’ it, even though she had taken one earlier. Vahn wasn’t sure if they had worked something out on the network, but it seemed like Ryuu, Aki, Milan, and Syr were all ‘watching over’ Lili to keep her from doing anything foolish. Even if she wasn’t willing to open up to others, it didn’t seem like they were willing to let her keep to herself and were slowly breaking down her walls since they knew how important she was to Vahn.
Vahn found the bath with just four people to be far more relaxing as he helped wash Fenrir and Hestia whilst Lefiya scrubbed away earnestly at his back in a flustered manner. They then enjoyed a small meal together and spent a bit of time with the other residents of the Manor, even though they had already eaten dinner earlier. Vahn set out some snacks for the group while the twins served tea and everyone as they all recounted their experiences in the dungeon earlier in the day. Ais’s group had gone down to the 17th floor and she had focused on trying to help Mikoto since, after Haruhime’s incredible growth, she was feeling a little pressure. Tiona’s group actually went all the way down to the 21st floor for a short while since Naaza and Lili were actually very capable Level 2’s with the addition the S-Ranked gear Vahn had given them in the past. As for the final group, Tione had only taken them down to the 14th floor since Emiru and Maemi didn’t have a great deal of stamina. Though Aki was with them, and they had the protection of a Level 5, it didn’t mean the girls were capable of fighting without worry and they were actually the group to return the earliest.
Hearing about everyone’s exploits, especially those of the girls that had gone beyond the 18th floor, Vahn began looking forward to venturing into the dungeon himself in the future. Now that he could freely enter with the members of the Alliance, he could start probing into the 19th-25th floor of the dungeon relatively safely. It would also be fun to spend time with Tiona, Ais, Lefiya, Tione, and probably Riveria, as they delved into the deeper floors together. They couldn’t go beyond the 25th floor safely, since that typically required expeditions, but it was still something new and exciting that Vahn had yet to experience.
Vahn decided that, after helping the twins reach Level 2, he would start focusing on increasing his own strength for a while and try to reach Level 4 within the next six months. If he managed to pull that off, there was a high chance he would be able to reach Level 5 before the start of the original timeline and Vahn felt he would have more than enough strength to influence any of the major events that might occur due to the influence of fate and karma. Most of the original events had likely been irreversibly altered by him, but it wouldn’t stop planned events that had come to pass by the various forces behind the scenes from taking place.
Though he hadn’t read much about it in the manga, Vahn knew there were evil forces at work that would rear their head in the future. He couldn’t exactly keep his head down and avoid drawing attention to himself, so the only option he had was to increase, not just his own power, but the capabilities of everyone around him to ensure that things would progress smoothly. He was actually looking forward to crafting outfits for the girls and gearing them up with his creations now that the majority of them were living together with him…
After the late dinner came to an end, the conversation continued for nearly two hours before finally coming to a stop after the clock indicated it was 10 PM. Vahn faced a small dilemma almost immediately thereafter since he knew that some of the girls would probably want to sleep together with him in his room. To prevent things for escalating to a point beyond his control, Vahn took the ‘initiative’ and invited Milan and Tina, which also included Fenrir and Shizune, to stay with him for the night. He really wasn’t in the ‘mood’ for doing anything sexual, so Vahn wanted to spend time with some of the girls that he was close to without having to worry about anything happening.
Hearing Vahn ask her to stay with him for the night, Tina was very happy and immediately agreed before Milan could even get out a single word. Shizune, even though she was supposedly the older of the two, also pitched in and supported Tina as they happily dragged Vahn away along with the excited Fenrir. Unable to escape the momentum of the three girls, Milan ended up following behind and Vahn spent a fair amount of time before they actually went to sleep brushing, petting, and combing the hair of the four girls. When it finally came time for bed, Vahn ended up covered in the smaller girls while Milan cuddled up against him on his left side. Vahn noticed that the body temperature of the three smaller girls was much hotter than that of the ‘adults’, but he still preferred the gentle warmth and pleasant aroma coming from Milan at his side…