Waking up Sunday morning sandwiched by Syr and Ryuu was a refreshing experience and Vahn spent the first part of the morning sharing a bit of intimacy with the two in the bath. Though she still maintained her ‘cool’ personality, Ryuu was opening up a lot when it was just the three of them and Vahn enjoyed her affections that seemed to be stirred by the presence of Syr. When they were in the bath, Ryuu stuck close to him and helped wash his body while Syr helped clean Vahn’s hair. Vahn returned the favor and helped clean the two girls before finally bringing their private moment to an end when it came time to prepare breakfast. Syr, though she seemed to lack any cooking skill of her own, always ‘managed’ the kitchen for meals and her guidance actually increased the quality of food prepared by the other girls. Vahn found this to be very strange since, if Syr was such a capable teacher, it didn’t make sense why she was unable to make delicious meals on her own.
During breakfast, Vahn was talking about his plans for the day and mentioned that he wanted to try something new that he thought would be fun for the girls. Before everyone got excited, however, Vahn had Sis run the numbers and mentioned that anyone with less than 1800 total Endurance wouldn’t be allowed to participate. This pretty much eliminated anyone under Level 3 and left quite a few of them saddened by the fact. Vahn consoled them for a bit and explained that there were simply some things that couldn’t be done unless you had the capabilities required. If they wanted to be involved in some of the more ‘interesting’ things he had in mind, they would have to become stronger through their own efforts.
Though he left it ‘optional’, all of the girls he asked to come along with him ended up agreeing without requiring any convincing. Even though Vahn didn’t tell them what they were going to do, they all thought it should be fun and exciting since he wasn’t the type that would genuinely endanger them. The participants ended up being, Tiona, Ais, Tione, Ryuu, Aki, Riveria, and, even though she didn’t meet the requirements, Fenrir. Vahn could easily watch over one person, and he wanted Fenrir to experience something new and exciting. Since he would be in the Dungeon for another three days, Vahn knew Fenrir would be ‘sad’ when he was away and wanted to spend time with her when he could.
Before they left, Vahn told the other girls they wouldn’t actually be gone too long and that he would try to think of something fun for everyone else to do when he returned. After taking several ‘suggestions’, Vahn parted with the girls at the Manor and lead everyone to the Southern Gate before logging their exit in the logbook. First-Class Adventurers were required to undergo vows after reaching Level 4 and higher since their power was capable of causing chaos outside of the City if they weren’t kept in check. Though there were several loopholes that were commonly exploited, the majority of First-Class Adventurer’s followed the rules so as not to cause problems for themselves and their respective Familias.
Once they exited the City and found a large enough clearing, Vahn turned to the group and said, “Okay, I wanted to keep this a secret from the younger and less durable girls since it would cause a lot of problems if anything went wrong. I’ll look after Fenrir, but I’ll trust each and every one of you to take care of yourself from hereon. Don’t worry, even if it’s ‘scary’, you’re not actually in any real danger as long as you keep your sensibilities…” Vahn was being intentionally vague in order to increase the tensions and it was very obvious to most of the girls present.
Riveria crossed her arms and asked, “So, we’re doing something ‘dangerous’, but is also ‘safe’ as long as you have above a certain threshold of Endurance…?” She cocked her head to the side in thought but was interrupted when Tiona laughed loudly and asked, “What are we going to do, jump off a cliff or something~?” Though it wasn’t by much, Vahn’s eye twitched a bit and several of the girls had noticed it. This was the downside to being in a group full of girls with very high levels as they were all very perceptive and constantly paying attention to the changes in other people.
Vahn laughed awkwardly as everyone gave him strange, almost ‘accusatory’ looks before he shook his head and said, “No, we’re not going to jump off a cliff…” Shortly after his words fell, a massive dragon head appeared out of the ground and made Ais flinch for a moment as she grabbed for a weapon that didn’t exist before calming down. Fafnir cocked its head to the side and said, (*Hello everyone~! Vahn, you called for me~?*). The moment Fafnir popped out, it spoke into the minds of everyone present with its somewhat adorable and childish voice.
Though they were all aware of its existence, most of the girls didn’t interact with Fafnir much and were still a bit ‘intimidated’ by its appearance. However, the moment they heard its voice and saw its actions, most of the girls immediately lost their tensions and started affectionately patting the ‘evil’ looking colossal dragon. The only exception to this was Ais who, even though she had seen it several times, was still somewhat uncomfortable around dragons in general, especially giant black ones.
Vahn grabbed her hand in his own and said, “It makes me sad that Fafnir always has to hide away, so I’d like everyone to get along with it whenever possible. Fafnir will be a very important part of our family in the future…” Ais had gripped Vahn’s hand with her own and listened closely to his words before nodding her head and saying, “I will do my best…family…” Vahn gave Ais a short embrace and stroked her long golden hair for a bit as he whispered, “Thank you, Ais, I’ll also do my best for everyone.” When they eventually parted, Vahn pulled Ais forward and helped her climb onto Fafnir’s back before everyone else jumped up to the platform it had created for their comfort.
This was the first time any of the girls, minus Fenrir, had ridden on Fafnir and it was quite an experience for them when it launched itself from the ground with enough force to uproot some nearby trees. Tiona immediately shouted out, “Whoooooooa~! This is super amazing~!” She was holding onto a small ‘handle’ that grew out of Fafnir’s scales and was peeking over the side of Fafnir’s body as they ascended higher and higher into the sky. Tione, surprisingly, seemed to be afraid of heights as she clutched onto her own handle with enough force that it looked like she might break it off. Vahn knew this would be a ‘trying’ experience for her and knew he would have to watch over her if anything went wrong. Hopefully, her fear of heights would fade away after the fact since she would know for a fact that heights weren’t a factor she needed to be concerned with…
Ais sat next to Vahn and snuggled up to him without using the handle while Fenrir sat in his lap and kicked her legs about in a playful manner without seeming to mind being at an increasingly incredible height. Ryuu and Riveria had thoughtful expressions on their faces as they ‘inspected’ the flow of mana around Fafnir’s body that allowed it to fly without actually relying on its wings. Vahn couldn’t blame them, as he had also looked into it quite a bit in the past since he would like to fly through the sky on his own one day. As for Aki, she seemed to be nervous but was holding up much better than Tione and had enough courage to peek up and over Fafnir’s back on occasion.
Since the magical barrier around Fafnir’s body protected them, even though it was moving faster than the speed of sound Vahn was able to speak to everyone without issue. Now that it was ‘too late’ for them to back out, Vahn explained in a somewhat teasing tone, “As I was saying earlier, we’re not going to be jumping from a cliff. I once traveled to the upper atmosphere on Fafnir’s back and tested out what it was like to fall from a great height. It was a very enriching experience and I’d like everyone to experience it for themselves since it is more freeing than you might expect…”
Hearing his words, Tione finally managed to break the ‘handle’ she was holding onto as she shouted, “No way, no how, are you insane!? If we fall from this kind of height, we’d be dead for sure!” Tione’s eyes were round as saucers and it appeared like she was looking for some way off of Fafnir’s back, excluding the method in Vahn’s mind. Tione’s sentiments seemed to be shared by the other girls as they gave Vahn strange looks like he was putting their lives at risk based on a delusion. The only ones that seemed completely fine with the situation were Tiona, Ais, and Fenrir in his lap. Riveria had a serious expression on her face, but she kept to herself since she assumed Vahn was going to explain things to ‘convince’ everyone.
Vahn noticed everyone’s reaction and shook his head with a smile on his face as he asked, “Do you know what happens when you fall from a great height?” Tione, being the person with the highest tensions said, “You’ll die!” Vahn’s smile didn’t break as he asked, “When you leap about at your highest speed, do you ever feel the air break around your body like a shockwave?” For a few moments, Tione’s mind blanked before she responded, “Yes, but what does that have to do with anything!?” Vahn nodded his head and explained, “For that type of phenomenon to occur, you have to temporarily exceed more than 1200km/h and break what is called the ‘sound barrier’. Everyone here should have a basic understanding of why it’s called the ‘sound barrier’ since, after you break through that threshold of wind, all sounds temporarily cease to exist, right?”
Even Riveria’s Agility exceeded 3,000 total parameters so she was also capable of bursts of speed that could break the sound barrier even though she was a mage. Everyone knew exactly what Vahn was talking about so they nodded their heads before he continued, “When falling from a great height, you have to take into consideration things like ‘gravity’, ‘atmospheric composition’, and ‘wind resistance’ to generate what can be called ‘terminal velocity’. For humanoids, this value never really goes beyond 300-350km/h depending on the angle your orient your body at when falling…”
Riveria squinted her eyes after hearing Vahn’s words and said, “So, you’re saying that, regardless of height, you can fall any distance as long as your body is capable of resisting the ‘terminal velocity’ of free fall…?” Vahn nodded his head with a smile and explained, “That’s right, since everyone here can break the sound barrier and be perfectly fine, there is absolutely no reason to believe falling from any height would harm you. You’re more likely to injure yourself with your normal movements than to sustain any serious injuries, regardless of if you fall from a thousand meters, or one-hundred-thousand meters. Even if you can’t break that speed on your own, as long as your Endurance is high enough there is absolutely no danger involved. Just land on your feet like if you were jumping from a few stories on a tall building. It is fundamentally the same impact force regardless of any extra height…”
As everyone was processing his words, Vahn smiled and continued, “The only real threats would be the potential internal damage to organs and the displacement of fluids in the body from the impact, but that is all mitigated by the laws that govern high-speed movements when you have high Agility and your body’s natural ability to mitigate shockwaves with High Endurance. Especially for the physical fighters, you should be very aware of how your body is able to disperse shockwaves from punches strong enough to shatter boulders, right?” Vahn had turned his gaze to the baffled Tione who was having trouble processing everything she had just heard. Hearing Vahn addressing her, Tione thought about his words for a moment before nodding her head and saying, “Yeah, I know what you’re saying…I just never really thought about it like that before…”
Vahn smiled wider and said, “I have already tested this personally and was able to safely land even though I jumped from a height far above the height of Babel Tower. It took several minutes for me to reach the ground and, since I was able to disperse the shockwave, I didn’t even leave a crack on the ground below. As long as you don’t panic, you’ll notice that you are actually falling a lot slower than your maximum movement speed. Why should you be afraid of moving slowly just because you’re high up?” Hearing the way Vahn explained it, Tione couldn’t help but feel she was worrying about nothing. She had fallen from a cliff when she was a child and had broken her leg so, ever since that incident, she had been afraid of heights and avoided tall places whenever she could. Now that Vahn explained it clearly, it started to seem like her fears were almost ridiculous…
Riveria had been lost in thought as she processed Vahn’s words and understood that he was likely correct. It had never been something anyone else ‘tested’ before in the past, so such concepts like ‘terminal velocity’ didn’t exist in any scholarly publications. It was simply accepted that, if you fall from a great height, you would likely die. The longer you fell, the greater the speed you would reach but, according to Vahn’s words, there was actually a ‘maximum speed’ to attain…it was a very interesting concept and Riveria could tell from Vahn’s honest expression and confident smile that he was certain about what he claimed. She had no reason to believe he hadn’t ‘tested’ it himself in the past and she was starting to look forward to testing the veracity of his claims.
After ten minutes, the group reached a height of around 400km and the air had thinned a lot while the cold had started to creep through the protective bubble around Fafnir’s back. Vahn had brought them to a stop and pushed against the chill with his domain and explained in an excited manner, “From this height, we can literally fall for nearly an hour and a half without any problems whatsoever…” Vahn noticed that the majority wasn’t even paying attention to him anymore as they were all overlooking the world below with unveiled intrigue on their faces. He showed a happy smile as his expression turned gentle and he spoke in a tone that resonated with most of the girls in the group, “It’s truly beautiful, isn’t it…I wanted to share this experience with everyone…”
With the change in his tone, everyone turned their attention to Vahn and saw his expression as he overlooked the world alongside them. Ais had been next to him the entire time and said in a quiet voice, “I never imagined such a sight… it’s beautiful…” Her impression was shared by the entire group, especially Riveria and Ryuu. Elves were somewhat ‘prideful’ by nature and had a strong connection with their home forests and the planet itself. However, seeing the world from above like this, showed them how ‘small’ the concept of a single forest was in the grand scale of things. From their current point, they could see the majority of the continent of Eden below them, including their home forests to the west.
For several breathtaking minutes, everyone just stood in silence as they looked down at the world below from a perspective that was incomprehensible by most people in present societies. Only the gods were privy to such a view and now they all knew how truly small the massive world beneath them was. Fenrir was the only one who didn’t seem to care, but she remained silent since she didn’t want to ‘bother’ everyone else. She just held onto Vahn’s right arm tightly and enjoyed the moment they were together without paying attention to much else. Vahn, however, had been paying attention to everyone and was happy to see their captivated expressions. After letting them take in the moment for a while longer, Vahn said in a calm voice, “It’s time…who is willing to take the first step with me…?”
Hearing Vahn’s words, a nervous atmosphere spread over everyone present until Tiona shouted ‘confidently’, “I’ll do it~! Even if it’s actually super scary, I know things will be okay as long as we’re together!” Though Vahn was already holding hands with Ais and Fenrir, Tiona jumped over and clung to his body with a happy smile on her face even though Vahn could feel her body shaking from the tensions. Ais, from his left, also said in a surprisingly calm tone, “I believe in Vahn…I am not afraid.” Fenrir, perhaps caught up by the momentum, shouted loudly, “Fenrir will be with Vahn forever! Fenrir isn’t afraid of anything!” Vahn laughed, clearly pleased at the girls’ reactions before turning toward the other, somewhat hesitant girls, and saying, “Riveria, if you’re worried about it, you can use your barrier magic to protect everyone. I’ll be going ahead, so if the rest of you can’t muster up the courage, feel free to return to the surface with Fafnir. You’ll actually arrive much faster than we do, so wait for us down below…”
Though she should have been happy to have a ‘way out’, Tione felt annoyed by Vahn’s words and walked over to the four-person huddle before pinching Tiona’s side with her fingers. Tiona screamed but didn’t let go of Vahn’s neck as she stared at Tione and said, “What are you trying to pull!? That really hurts you know~!?” Tione frowned and shouted in a flustered tone, “Can you just let go of him for one moment you dumb gorilla girl!?” Tiona looked like she was about to refuse but, seeing the frustrated expression on Tione’s face, she decided to relent for the moment and released Vahn’s neck. Tione released a relieved sigh before shooting Tiona a grateful look as she stepped forward and unhesitatingly kissed Vahn.
Vahn was surprised by Tione’s sudden intimacy, but he was even more surprised when she held the sides of his face, looked into his eyes, and said, “Vahn, I know you might not have the same feelings for me as you do Tiona, but know that I’m not going to back down…I…I love you too!” Without waiting for his response, Tione let go of his face before jumping back with enough force to break free of the bubble surrounding Fafnir. Before she started her descent, she looked back at the group and said, “If it’s for love, why should I have any fear at all!?” Not two seconds later, Tione began to rapidly descend and turned into a small dot shortly after as the majority of people stared down with fear, shock, and a powerful trepidation.
Without waiting any longer, Vahn released a hearty laugh as he picked up Fenrir in his arms and leaped off Fafnir’s back as he shouted while doing a front flip, “Baaaanzaaaai~!” Fenrir, perhaps emulating him, waved happily at the group on the back of Fafnir and shouted, “Banzai, banzai~!” Not willing to be ‘left behind’, Ais shot off Fafnir’s back like a bullet and followed after them before Tiona jumped off a few seconds later with a playful laughter ringing through the air. As for the rest of the group, they all stared down with hesitant expressions since, even though they believed in Vahn, it was still difficult to overcome the instinctual fear of falling a great distance.
After around twenty seconds passed, Ryuu nodded her head to the remaining group and said in a ‘confident’ tone, “I will follow Vahn…I already made my decision. Hesitating this long is shameful…” Without any further words, Ryuu leaped over the side and shot down head-first in order to try and close the distance with the previous group. The only two left on Fafnir’s back was Riveria and Aki and the two girls looked at each other for a few moments until Aki eventually released a sigh and said, “Banzai~?” With an awkward laughter, she jumped off Fafnir’s back as a strange ‘nyaaahahahahahaaaaaaa’ type scream sounded from below. Riveria followed Aki’s descent with her eyes for a few moments before holding up her hand and saying, “Assemble, breath of the land – my name is Alf.” A green barrier covered her body before she released a sigh and leaped off Fafnir’s back before saying, “Return to the surface and wait for us…banzai…”