The presumed final day of their excursion started relatively early since the twins had slept early in the evening the previous day. This was something that often happened when venturing into the Dungeon, as following a set schedule was nearly impossible. Even on expeditions, there would be times that, because they had been inside for several weeks, the active hours would have skewed to the point where everyone was ‘awake’ late in the evening. From the moment you left the 18th floor and proceeded further into the Dungeon, there were nearly no actually safe areas and rest was a luxury that only the powerful and prepared could afford.
Because he had been leading them around to find enemies, their kill counts were 641 for Maemi and 593 for Emiru respectively. Unfortunately, they didn’t gain the [Hunter] Development Ability by reaching a combined 1,000 kills and Vahn was starting to worry they wouldn’t obtain it when they hit it on their own either. To meet the requirements of the ability, you had to slay a total of 1,000 monsters within a 72 hour period ‘without help’. Vahn had hoped their Innate would supersede this restriction since even the world itself almost considered them one person. It wasn’t too bad though, even if they were unable to obtain it this time, as the twins had grown much stronger in a very short period.
The combination of [Prometheus’s Blessing] and the correction ability of their own Innate had been allowing them to develop at a pace that would likely cause another stir once they returned to the surface. Before Vahn had set a new one, Ais had the record for the shortest period of time to obtain Level 2 from an introductory Level 1. This was a big deal because, even though it was somewhat frowned upon for children to venture into the Dungeon, Ais had only been eight years old at the time. It had taken her a total of 11 months and 18 days, whereas Vahn’s ‘officially’ recorded time was only 6 days.
He had the benefit of stockpiling his parameters and keeping his level low before he even joined a Familia, so it wasn’t really the case that he had accomplished such an incredible feat. If anything, his record should have been set to slightly more than seven months, even though that was still rather impressive. As for Haruhime, Emiru, and Maemi, they had actually been training for less than a month and, though they had only recently been registered as Adventurers, Haruhime was already Level 2 and the twins were able to level up at any point. Haruhime would have the ‘real’ record at this point, as she had obtained Level 2 in around 23 days while the twins had hit the ‘requirements’ for Level 2 after 29 days.
There were several downsides to their rapid growth, however, and it would skew their perception a bit of what it meant to progress as a more normal pace. Ais had this problem, though it wasn’t to the extent as it had been in the manga. She almost desperately pursued strength but, once you started outscaling the monsters you fought, it was incredibly difficult to achieve any real growth. Not just Ais, but all First-Class Adventurer’s had this problem and, even after fighting for several weeks, or even months, their parameters would only increase by a few points. In the few months since their meeting, Ais had ‘complained’ to Vahn that her total parameters had only increased by around 40 points even though there were several thousand monsters dead as a result of her efforts.
For now, however, the twins were struggling ‘adequately’ and it wasn’t easy for them to deal with the opponents due to their relatively basic equipment. Vahn was currently watching them fight three Minotaurs together and they were having a great deal of trouble as a result of their diminutive size and the short attack range of their daggers. Minotaurs were typically slated as Level 2 ‘killers’ and the twins were still both Level 1, with most of their parameters leaning into the Magic category. Unlike the monstrously talented Fenrir, with her incredibly battle instincts, and the almost ‘broken’ capabilities of Haruhime, the twins were relatively normal in their methods for dealing with enemies.
This was important for their development, however, since adapting your fighting style through your own experiences was very important. The twins had chosen daggers as their weapons of choice, but now they might choose something better suited for fighting large monsters. Since they were going to be training with Arnya, Vahn could imagine the two picking up the spear in the future and it seemed very suitable given how flexible their bodies were and how synchronous their fighting style was. Exploiting the openings of monsters with a spear was much easier than with a dagger and they could make use of their rapidly developing Agility to outmaneuver most future enemies.
After struggling for around ten minutes, Emiru managed to dodge low under the arms of a Minotaur and cut a clean path through its thigh which heavily affected its mobility. As if enlightened, the two girls began circling around the three Minotaurs in their characteristic manner and attacking the legs of the Minotaurs whenever they would try to attack. Monsters weren’t very intelligent, so Emiru was able to draw the attention of one of them while Maemi quickly dashed by the back of its legs and cut through both of the defenseless calves. Now that they had ‘figured out’ how to deal with the Minotaurs, the rest of the fight was relatively easy even though they had to execute the flailing Minotaurs from a distance with their crossbows.
It wasn’t the first time they had wanted to swap to different weapons so, as if they had heard his earlier thoughts, the twins walked over and asked, “Master, do you have any weapons with a greater range? We’re having trouble dealing with monsters that outrange our attacks.” Seeing that they were speaking in sequence with each other as if it were the most natural thing in the world, Vahn smiled before asking, “I have several different types of weapons, but are you sure a sword is the best option? There are bows, spears, halberds, katanas, and even hammers, if you’re having trouble breaking through their defenses at all.”
Maemi and Emiru turned to each other and made eye contact for several seconds before turning back to him and asking, “What does Master think would suit us? We’d like something that is cute and elegant if possible. Haruhime’s katana is very beautiful and even Lili and Naaze have incredible pieces of equipment.” Hearing their indirect ‘complaint’, Vahn cocked his head in a thoughtful manner while browsing through his system shop. He had a total of 93,418OP, with more than 30,000 being accredited to the twins in the last two days, so it wasn’t that difficult to find a usable weapon for them.
Even his [Runic Tamahagane Blade] was only 2,000OP and had been an A-Rank weapon. S-Rank weapons typically cost well over a hundred thousand Origin Points, but the A-Rank could spread anywhere between the 2,000OP cost as the blade and the 91,000OP cost of Haruhime’s [Sakura Blossom] very easily. Vahn was aware, as he had become a [Master Smith] through an almost inhuman amount of effort, that there were massive differences between the capabilities of weapons at the same rank. Even now that he could forge S-Rank equipment, the difference between something he forged now, and something he might create in ten years, would nearly make the items incomparable.
After thinking about it for around a minute, Vahn decided to tempt fate a bit and push them toward the direction he thought would be suitable for them in the future. Vahn turned his attention to the patiently waiting twins and said, “If it’s just a matter of range, it would probably be ideal if the two of you used spears. It would allow you to continue developing your current fighting style and would allow you to safely attack monsters from the middle-range. If you want more slashing capabilities and power output, there is also the option of choosing a glaive or a halberd. The difference between them being that glaives typically have longer blades while halberds usually have weighted blades for cleaving, much like heavy axes…”
Emiru and Maemi locked eyes with each other for a brief moment once again before saying, “We want to increase our Power parameter more, so we’ll use a halberd for the time being.” Vahn nodded his head thoughtfully and decided to leave matters to fate as he put 10,000OP into the ‘Standard Gacha’ with the categories being set to ‘elegant’, ‘cute’, and ‘balanced’. Even if the twins wanted to use a heavy weapon, it would be better for their agility development to use something that wouldn’t compromise their mobility too much. Using the gacha, even if he got unlucky and ‘missed’ getting a blue drop or higher, the item would still be in the upper B-Rank.
The giant wheel in Vahn’s mind began to rotate for a short moment before it spit out a capsule that had a light blue color. Vahn hadn’t used the gacha system too much, so he wasn’t entirely sure what each color meant. Since it wasn’t the rich blue of [Sakura Blossom], Vahn assumed it was slightly weaker but should still be decent. Mentally opening the orb, a beautiful black and gold halberd with accents of midnight blue. Vahn’s first impression of the weapon was that it was very elegant and noble and, seeing it was named [Saint Halberd], Vahn assumed it was relatively powerful.
Rank: A (Magic)
Abilities: Astral Shift(A), Valkyrie’s Pride(B), Durandal(B), Crushing Blow(C)
A weapon wielded by a prideful Valkyrie from a foreign record. Pushing the limits of its materials and borders on the Divine in terms of capabilities. This weapon requires that its wielder remain loyal to their Master and willing to go to any length to ensure victory on their behalf.
Use: ‘Astral Shift’, allows the user to teleport themselves, or the halberd, short distances. Requires the user and the halberd to be in different locations.
Restrictions: ‘Valkyrie’s Pride’ only recognizes a single weilder. If unable to earn the acknowledgment of the weapon, it can lead to mental collapse.
Seeing the capabilities of the halberd, Vahn was very surprised since it was actually bordering the potential of the S-Rank. Though it had some usage restrictions, it shouldn’t be a problem in the long term and Vahn could easily just forge a new weapon for them in the future. After checking in the system shop, Vahn found it was listed at 83,000OP and, with a heavy heart, Vahn purchased a second one in order to ensure the twins had identical weapons. The way their [Gemini] Innate skill seemed to work required that they dressed identically and even used the same weapons. Though it didn’t seem to change the equipment’s stats, it was required that they be identical in order to complete the fusion. Vahn didn’t know if this would always be the case, but it was a safe assumption for the time being.
Vahn pulled out the beautiful halberds and was surprised to see they were 2.4m long and surprisingly well balanced even with axe and spearhead attached to the end. With his [Metallurgy] skill, Vahn could tell that the metal was made of a strange composite that got progressively denser towards the base of the halberd. With his hand in the center, it was perfectly balanced even though its appearance seemed anything but. The twins’ eyes were glued to the halberds in Vahn’s hands and he could even see the glimmer of sparkles deep within their pupils. Before he handed them over, Vahn tried to swing the halberd but time seemed to come to a stop as he heard a deep, womanly, voice echo in his mind, (*Whom dost thou serve?*)
After a brief pause, Vahn realized this was likely the ‘Valkyrie’s Pride’ taking effect and he thought it was a very intriguing phenomenon. The weapon didn’t have a soul, not that he could see, and it obviously wasn’t sentient. Yet, despite this fact, the ability of the weapon allowed it to emulate sentient thought and it was trying to create a ‘contract’ with him. He could feel it probing his mind with a strange energy and knew that, if it found him ‘unworthy’, it would likely try to attack and injure him. Though time had still come to a pause, Vahn imagined himself smiling as a cold sensation spread through his mind and he said, “I serve no one. I create my own path!” The weak tendril of energy couldn’t oppose his [Will of the Emperor] at all and time immediately returned to normal as Vahn smiled at the ‘presumptuous’ halberd in his hand.
Feeling the twins’ gaze on him, Vahn turned to them and explained, “These weapons are unique amongst anything else I’ve ever seen or created. They have a function that allows you to make a contract with the weapon in exchange for using its power. You should know that there is a chance the weapon could cause you a powerful mental backlash if you aren’t prepared to earn its acknowledgment.” Both twins tilted their heads at the same angle and asked, “What do we have to do to earn its approval?” Vahn explained all the details he had discerned about the weapons and both Emiru and Maemi accepted them without hesitation. He knew they would likely recognize him as their ‘Master’ since they already addressed him as such, but Vahn’ didn’t mind it too much. They already have his flame seed in their hearts so the [Saint Halberd] would actually reinforce their feelings and promote their growth even further…
After hearing Vahn’s explanation of the weapons, Emiru and Maemi felt a bit of excitement well up inside of them as they reached out and took the beautiful halberds into their hands. Just as they had requested, Vahn gifted them elegant weapons and they could tell the quality was incredibly high. When they heard about its abilities, they were even more shocked than Vahn and eagerly tried to bond with the weapons. Because they were still in a synchronized state, Maemi and Emiru actually ended up experiencing the stoppage of time at the exact same moment as the voice echoed within their minds, (*Whom dost thou serve?*).
Without any hesitation, the twins responded at the same time, (“We serve our Master, Vahn Mason.”) The image of the young and handsome boy appeared within their minds and they began to recount all of their memories of the past month in reverse order. Even though it was their memories, the twins were experiencing things from an outsiders perspective and it seemed to be focusing on Vahn and the emotions they felt. Whenever he was watching over them, they felt confident a strong sense of security knowing that he was always taking care of them. Every time they suffered a wound, they would see Vahn flinch subtly without his expression changing in the slightest as he looked over them with what they interpreted as pride and intrigue.
Their memories continued to reverse and they got to experience Vahn’s care again and saw themselves behaving somewhat shamelessly while Vahn showed a happy and complacent expression as he pampered them. Next, they were taken back to the Hearth Manor where they were constantly trying to earn Vahn’s approval and doing their best to act their roles as maids. Vahn seemed somewhat lackadaisical as a Master, but they still respected him greatly and desired to be at his side regardless of how difficult things got. The moment this thought passed through their minds, the twins saw the embarrassing sight of themselves in their own private room overlapped with each other in a sensual and compromising position. Maemi was staring down at Emiru wearing one of Vahn’s old tunics as she pressed her into the bed and teased her for a long while before they swapped positions and continued their ‘play’.
Things progressed even further back and they saw the sight of themselves training in earnest while Vahn watched over them from the side. For a brief moment, their image of him warped into that of a Snow Leopard male and both girls felt a fluttery feeling welling up inside of them. After the image faded, they were back on the rooftop after Vahn had just saved them from the slave trader. Even though they had resolved themselves to the lives of slaves, they were happy that such a handsome and gentle Master had purchased them. Before he had released them, they had already decided to serve him to the best of their abilities and earn his affections.
The last memory that passed through their minds was standing in front of Vahn completely naked as slaves that had just discarded the small cloth used to cover their bodies. Just as they had done then, they had pressed themselves together and had ‘pleaded’ to him in an attempt to earn his favor and sympathy. From the very moment they saw the handsome boy sitting in the seat as a potential buyer, they had ‘communicated’ with each other to do whatever it took to convince him to buy them. They had literally given up their former lives and put themselves into an uncertain situation where they would potentially suffer for the rest of their lives. However, they believed that, as long as they were together, they would be able to find some happiness. Seeing such a kind, handsome, and, though they wouldn’t ever say it to him, gullible boy, they had decided he would become their Master.
As the memories faded from their minds, the same voice echoed once again, (*Thine desire for the Master ye shall serveth is impure and full of selfishness. However, thine feelings are strong and true, thus I shall accept thou as my Master.*) They could feel a strange energy spread through their mind and body until a powerful warmth emerged from their hearts. Though they couldn’t see it, they knew this was the warmth of the flame seed that Vahn had given them in the past. For a brief moment, right before they felt time begin to flow again, they saw themselves dressed in regal and elegant armor wielding their halberds together while flanking Vahn. The instant before time returned to normal, they heard the voice once again, (*This is one of many possible futures. Thine resolve will determine the course of fate. Go forth and serve our Master.*)
Vahn had tried to discern something from the contract between the halberds and the twins by using his [Eyes of Truth]. Because it seemed to actually influence time somewhat, Vahn wasn’t able to see through how the contract was performed but he was able to detect the flow of energy for a brief moment at the very end. Though he wasn’t aware of it from their perspective, Vahn also saw a strange illusion of the twins wearing a strangely elegant battledress adored with midnight blue, golds, whites, and feathers. It was a powerful image and, though it was only for a brief moment, Vahn developed an interest in the garb he had seen. Since he had near perfect recall, Vahn could analyze the image in detail, even though aspects like the back of the attire, which hadn’t been able to see, were left a mystery.
After the energy dissipated, the twins blinked their eyes slowly before looking up and staring directly at him. Their expressions were usually somewhat placid and youthful in the past, but now Vahn could feel confidence radiating from Emiru and Maemi. Their brows were furrowed very slightly and they had an air of pride and a subtle coldness contained within their voices as they firmly stated, “We will serve you faithfully for the rest of our lives, Master. If it will make your path easier, we will march into the very depths of Hell itself to clear the way. On our pride, our honor, and our desire, we make this vow on our very souls.” As their words fell, a strange light appeared on the bodies of the twins which Vahn recognized as the ‘laws’ affirming that a vow had been made. He was too late to stop them and there was no way he could change their minds now that the deed had been done.
Emiru and Maemi continued to stare without wavering in the slightest as they patiently waited for his answer. Even if Vahn refused them, they had already resolved themselves to follow him regardless. As the voice had said, their motives were somewhat selfish and impure. Even before they knew anything about Vahn, they were already willing to ‘take advantage’ of him so they could live better lives. However, even though they were being exploitative, Vahn accepted them regardless and showed them continued kindness. He even pushed them forward to become stronger and they now realized that, so they didn’t become a burden to him, they needed to get much stronger. Just as he had been constantly looking after them, they wanted to return the favor in the future and continue walking alongside him regardless of how difficult things became. Even if it cost them their lives, it was better to die at Vahn’s side after having done their best than it was to die a shallow existence that only got by while exploiting the kindness of others.
Seeing the unwavering light in the twins’ eyes, Vahn showed a grateful smile before reaching out his hands and ruffling the girl’s silver hair. Though they were obviously ‘happy’ at the contact, they maintained stern and serious expressions until Vahn said, “Very well, but know that I forge my own path. If you believe in me and seriously consider myself to be your Master, you will trust in my judgment and follow behind me obediently. I can clear my own path, but it’s good to have people I can trust watching my back…” Vahn had been tempted to comment, ‘Looks like I obtained two adorable kittens…’, but he decided to treat the matter seriously since the twins were showing such stern expressions.
Hearing Vahn’s words, Emiru and Maemi showed happy smiles and puffed out their chests a bit as if they had obtained some manner of pride from what he had said. After glancing at each other for a brief moment, they turned to Vahn and said, “In order to give Master the confidence to continue forward, we will do our best to protect everything at your back instead. We won’t let you have any regrets, or our pride would never allow us to hold our heads up high again.” As if they had practiced it beforehand, the twins lifted their halberds before slamming down with enough force to embed the pointed end into the hard Dungeon floor.
Vahn felt like they had suddenly become much more confident and their resolve even made him feel a little bit of pressure. It was slightly offset by the fact they were both adorable girls, but Vahn still found their current disposition to be commendable. Now that he was somewhat ‘stuck’ with them, Vahn rubbed his chin with an awkward smile on his face as he hesitated over a matter. Seeing the resolve of the twins, Vahn decided to show a little of his own as he reached out his hands and said in the most casual manner he could manage, “Though it may not be appropriate, considering the situation, I wanted the two of you to have these. I…think they might suit you…in the future…” Though he had ‘resolved’ himself, Vahn still stumbled a bit toward the end as the girls grabbed the blue and black ‘fabric’ out of his hands with curious expressions on their faces.
Because they had slammed the halberds into the floor previously, they were able to use both hands to ‘inspect’ the gift Vahn had given them. Maemi and Emiru both opened their eyes wide after realizing what Vahn had given them. They were currently holding the garment from the sides and they could clearly see the ‘missing’ piece and it made them both show rich blushes on their faces as they glanced between themselves and Vahn. Seeing their behavior, Vahn laughed in an awkward manner and said, “Ummm, they are called…[Naughty Maid’s Victory Underwear]…I thought the two of you would…like them?”
Hearing Vahn’s words, the twins stood close to each other and seemed to be having a mental conversation between them in a hurried manner. The silence made Vahn feel even more awkward and he could feel a heat touching his cheeks the longer the silence persisted. After nearly an entire minute had passed, the twins turned to him with smiling faces and started to loosen the buckles of the belts supporting their small shorts. Vahn’s eyes widened a bit and he was going to object but they spoke before he could find the words, “It is a gift from our Master, we want to wear them now. Are you going to take them away from us~?”
Unable to answer their question easily, Vahn withdrew his hand and watched the twins smile as they removed their small white shorts. They were both wearing rather plain panties underneath and quickly stripped them from their pert bottoms before throwing them towards the mentally stalled Vahn. He passively caught them out of the air and felt the ambient warmth from the cloth as Maemi and Emiru happily wore the crotchless panties he had given them. Seeing the sight, Vahn couldn’t help but think it was infinitely more erotic than when they were completely bare. The twins seemed to agree with this thought because, when they inspected each other, they had fiercely blushing faces. After a short period of time passed, they both turned to Vahn and asked, “What do you think, Master?”
Vahn’s mental processes had come to a crawl, but he still managed to say a few words, “It looks…good on you…” After he spoke, Vahn instinctually swallowed the saliva that was accumulating in his mouth and the twins both beamed at his words and reaction. Without pressing their luck too much, they began to put their shorts back on as Emiru commented in a playful manner, “Ah, it feels a little strange…” Piggybacking her sister’s words, Maemi chuckled and said, “Yes, but it makes me feel closer to our Master. Every time it rubs against me…” Emiru nodded her head in agreement and continued, “Yes, it feels like we’re receiving our Master’s ‘care’…I think I might need to wear thicker shorts so it doesn’t look like I peed myself…”
Hearing Emiru’s words, Maemi nodded her head over and over before turning to the statuesque Vahn and asking, “Master, do you think it would be better for us to wear skirts? Or maybe we should wear black shorts so it isn’t so obvious? Hmmm…I think a skirt-” Continuing where Maemi left off, without a single pause in the actual sequence of the sentence, Emiru said, “-would be very ‘convenient’.” Both twins nodded and smiled in a somewhat teasing manner at Vahn and said simultaneously, “Don’t you think it would be ‘convenient’ as well, Master?”