Chapter 405: Treasure

After passing through the long corridor in the wall of the Dungeon, the group came into the room housing the Treasure Tree and its guardian, the Green Dragon. Just to be safe, Vahn had Riveria cast a barrier while he himself, along with Ais and Fenrir, went to investigate the situation. From what he could tell, the Green Dragon didn’t seem hostile yet, so Vahn wanted to see if it had any intelligence. If possible, they could come to a compromise and take some of the Magic Treasure Stones and then leave without coming into conflict with each other. Vahn wasn’t the type that considered it to be acceptable to ‘steal’ from a sentient creature just because it benefitted himself. Even if he went his entire life without getting ahold of the stones, Vahn wouldn’t have lost out at all. It would be pure selfishness if, after discovering the dragon was sentient, they killed it anyway just to line their pockets with Valis.

Vahn was carrying Fenrir, in the event they had to flee away at a moments notice, as he approached the location of the Green Dragon after passing through a small forest. Once they came into the clearing, the dragon was looking toward them with its light blue eyes. With a low growl, it stood up on its hind legs and extended the large emerald wings that spread nearly 20m from tip to tip. General conventions wouldn’t allow it to fly with such small wings, since its body was very heavy, but several creatures were able to get around that restriction through the use of magic, just like Fafnir. However, this dragon didn’t immediately take flight and turn hostile, it instead stood its ground as if it were waiting to see what the three people before it would do.

Seeing that it didn’t start attacking, Vahn showed a gentle smile and spoke as casually as he could manage, “We’re sorry for invading your territory like this but, if it won’t be a great inconvenience to you, we would like to take some of the stones on that Treasure Tree. We don’t damage its foundation, and we’ll leave as soon as we collect a few…” Vahn wasn’t sure if the dragon could understand him, but he wanted to at least try and negotiate with it. Since it wasn’t attacking them, it was obviously not being influenced by the Dungeon’s control and had some semblance of rationality.

The Green Dragon stared at Vahn for several seconds before turning its head to the small tree it had been protecting. After a while, it turned back to Vahn and a soft voice emitted from its mouth with a low growl, “I have protected this tree since my birth, I cannot easily part with the treasures within its branches…I don’t know why, but it seems to be important to me.” Hearing the soft voice of the dragon, Vahn’s smile widened a great deal because it was exceptionally rare to meet such a creature in the Dungeon. Since it was open to discussion, Vahn thought about what he might be able to offer the dragon in exchange for its treasures.

Monsters in the Dungeon didn’t actually require sustenance to live and fed directly off the energy contained within the Dungeon itself. It didn’t seem to actually care that much about the tree itself and just seemed to be protecting it out of instinct. Vahn knew from the compendium that a Green Dragon always protected a Treasure Tree, so they were likely interconnected entities with each other. It was very possible that, if they destroyed the tree, the dragon would likely follow shortly after. The gem-like quality of its scales wasn’t too different from the trunk of the tree itself and this is why Vahn didn’t want to press the matter if they couldn’t come to an agreement. However, he knew other Adventurers weren’t as ‘magnanimous’ as he was and, if they discovered the dragon, a conflict would most certainly occur as a result of the ‘innate’ greed of many Adventurers.

After thinking for a while, Vahn decided it was best to simply ask the dragon itself what it wanted so he asked, “Is there anything you’d like, perhaps in exchange for part of the treasure you’re guarding?” The dragon closed its massive wings before arching its head low and saying, “I don’t know…there isn’t really anything I want…but I have always longed for the surface. Even though I’ve never seen it, I have memories of an endless blue sky…a mountain range…and a small village…I don’t like this dark Dungeon, but I can’t leave it.”

Vahn was very surprised by the dragon’s words, but he was even more surprised when Fenrir suddenly nodded her head and said, “Yes, this place is a very sad and cold place…Fenrir also wanted to see the surface but was unable to go up the stairs leading out. Every time Fenrir tried, there was a scary feeling in her stomach that made her stay…but Master showed me the light. If you are a good dragon, Master can take you to the surface. He can even help you become stronger and keep you safe, but you will have to do your best as well, okay?”

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The Green Dragon turned its large head toward Fenrir before walking forward with loud footsteps. Ais became very tense, but she just tightly gripped the hilt of her sword without actually pulling it as she continued to watch the scene play out. After it quickly closed the distance, the dragon leaned down and cocked its head to the side as it stared directly at Fenrir with its light blue eye. Fenrir reached out with her paw and placed it on the snout of the dragon as they just stared at each other for several long seconds. Though the atmosphere was somewhat tense, it wasn’t a hostile one and Vahn just continued to patiently hold Fenrir’s body as she ‘communicated’ with the dragon.

After nearly three minutes passed, the Green Dragon lifted its head and said, “I don’t want to fight…but I do want to be stronger. You aren’t the first group to discover this place, and I don’t want to have to suffer anymore…” As the dragon spoke it turned to its side where there was still a broken spear embedded in its side. The wound had already healed, but there was a brackish color around the area that showed it had become infected. Vahn frowned at the sight, but he couldn’t exactly blame the Adventurer’s that had tried to fight against the Green Dragon in the past. Though it was possible they were greedy and cruel individuals, Vahn had never met them personally and they had likely already died in their conflict against the dragon.

Since the Green Dragon seemed to be willing to follow them to the surface, Vahn compressed his [Will of the Emperor] into a small area and said in a firm tone, “I will promise to take you to the surface, but you will have to follow me. If you indiscriminately hurt others, I will be forced to take your life to protect everyone else. However, I will protect you and provide a safe place for you to stay as long as you are obedient…” While he was speaking, Vahn converged his intent on the dragon’s mind and it began to tremble slightly under the pressure. He wasn’t really trying to intimidate it, but the only way to actually rake it to the surface would be to subordinate it through the system. Once the 27 remaining days passed for his naming ability, Vahn could even confer the dragon a name and allow it to evolve, just like Fenrir and Fafnir.

After resisting the pressure for a short while, the Green Dragon eventually stopped fighting against Vahn’s aura and dropped to the ground. Ais removed her hand from the hilt of her sword and watched as Vahn walked forward and placed his palm against the head of the ‘submissive’ monster. Its light blue eyes shone with a magical light before they slowly came to a close and it’s body disappeared, not in a cloud of pure purple dust, but dust intermixed with a rainbow hue as a large magic core appeared on the ground. Seeing Vahn pick it up, Ais asked, “It’s still alive?” Vahn nodded his head with a smile on his face and said, “Don’t worry, it won’t harm anyone anymore. I’ll take it to the surface and find a place to release it where it won’t cause any major disturbance. Thank you for listening to my selfishness, Ais…I know you don’t like dragons very much.”

Ais shook her head slowly before moving some loose strands of hair with her hand as she said, “No…I think the way you do things is correct, Vahn. I hate monsters that try to harm people…I don’t want to see anyone I care about suffer…but, I know not all monsters are bad.” As Ais was very near to Vahn and Fenrir, she reached out her hand and pat Fenrir’s head as she continued, “Some monsters are very cute…and I liked jumping off Fafnir’s back…we should have more fun together. I will still kill any monster I come across, but I will do my best to not indiscriminately kill anymore…I think I will become much stronger if I change my perspective more.”

Vahn had tried several times to speak but he was unable to actually say anything because Ais had spoken a mouthful. She typically said a few short words, and rarely spoke full sentences, so Vahn hadn’t expected her to say so much and just stood there with a somewhat dumb expression on his face. However, he knew well enough to smile before reaching out his hand and stroking Ais’s long golden hair with his free hand. Her small smile became slightly larger as the briefest hint of a blush appeared on her face.

Soon thereafter, the rest of the group arrived after witnessing the Green Dragon simply vanish after Vahn had touched it. He explained the situation and agreed to Riveria’s request to allow her to view the ‘naming ceremony’ when it came time to confer a name to his new subordinate. It was already Level 4, so Vahn was very excited about its future capabilities, even if it might never actually see combat. Though it might seem weird to imagine a dragon as a pacifist, it seemed like the Green Dragon he had obtained didn’t like conflict at all. Vahn was already beginning to think of a suitable name for it, something the embodied its relatively peaceful mindset.

Because he didn’t want to potentially kill his new subordinate, Vahn didn’t want to simply uproot the Treasure Tree after harvesting the valuable materials that comprised it. Fortunately, because he was still under the effects of [Fairy’s Promenade], Vahn was simply able to have the tree ‘move’ to the side before placing the whole thing into his inventory. It was a very strange thing, as the tree wasn’t a sentient creature at all, yet it was able to move its roots and ‘move out the way’ when he tried to pass by it. When he saw the incredulous look on Riveria’s face after the fact, Vahn couldn’t help but laugh out, earning a bit of ire from the scholarly High Elf.

After collecting the tree, the group made its way back to the corridor Vahn had created earlier and followed the wall of the Dungeon until they came across a stone structure barring their path. Since it wasn’t a part of the actual Dungeon, Vahn had no hesitation when it came to destroying the wall and breaking into the seemingly manmade structure. Unlike the mossy light of the 24th floor, the stone dungeon was fixed with small glowstones, very similar to the type found on the upper floors of the Dungeon. Following the path, they came to the area where Vahn had seen the monster girl and it turned out to be a heated pool that was thick with elemental energies. From what he could discern, it seemed suitable for treating injuries so Vahn was wondering if the woman had been recovering from wounds when he was stunned to silence a moment later…

Tiona had placed her feet in the warm water and made a pleasant sound sigh before she asked, “If you saw the woman here, does that mean she was taking a bath? Ahahahaha~.” Though she had just intended it at a joke, Tiona saw Vahn’s expression and began to laugh even harder at his expense. Ais, as if perturbed by Tiona’s deduction, walked forward and removed her glove before placing her hand into the relatively hot water. After ‘confirming’ something within her mind, she began to undress with explaining anything. Lefiya was the fastest to react as she covered her face with both hands, even though she was peeking through the cracks of her fingers, and said, “A-A-Ais, now isn’t an appropriate time to take a b-b-bath!”

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Ais turned back and explained in a plain tone, “If that woman can take a bath here…it must be safe…” Turning to Vahn, Ais continued and asked, “Do you sense anything…nearby?” Vahn blinked at the unexpected question and passively scanned through his entire domain before shaking his head and saying, “There aren’t any auras within 471 meters…but I’m not sure-” Before he could finish his words, Ais loosened the strap of her breastplate and let it drop to the ground with a loud thud before stripping off her white dress with blue accents. Her actions incited a response from Tiona, who finally stopped laughing, but was now also stripping out of her clothes as she said, “Ah, this water is really great, I think it would be a good time to take a bath. The basins that Vahn provides are also super helpful, but I’ve never gotten to take a bath in something like this before~.”

Tiona hardly wore any clothes to begin with, so she actually finished stripping in less than ten seconds before happily stepping into the surprisingly deep pool. It was only around 4m in diameter, but it immediately went straight down nearly 1.4m in a cylindrical shape. This made the water nearly reach Tiona’s collarbone after she jumped in and it caused her to release a happy sigh before saying, “Vahn, you should join me~! It’s embarrassing to be the only one naked, hahahaha~.” Contrary to her words, Tiona began to relax in the small pool and even floated her body on the surface as if she wasn’t afraid of being seen naked at all.

Though he didn’t agree that it was a great idea to take a bath now, Vahn was able to see there wasn’t actually anything dangerous in the water. Ais and Tiona had already resolved themselves to take a bath in the moment, and didn’t seem to be listening to reason, so Vahn eventually gave in and said, “Fine, but we can’t stay too long…remember, we still have a mission and need to make our way down to the 30th fl-” As he was speaking, Tiona approached the edge of the pool before reaching out and pulling him toward the water with a mischevious smile on her face. Vahn’s brain stalled for a moment but he was still able to unequip everything on his body before splashing heavily into the mana-infused water. Now that he was submerged, Vahn realized the water was actually ridiculously comfortable and his desire to leave suddenly faded entirely…

Seeing Vahn suddenly naked, Tiona ‘swam’ over with a playful expression and stuck to his body before two more splashes sounded out in the dark Dungeon. Ais had finally completed undressing and, though she hadn’t removed any of her clothing, Fenrir had also jumped in. The water came up to her chin, but she still ‘waded’ over toward Vahn faster than Ais could as she said, “Vahn, wash Fenrir~! Fenrir helped convince the Green Dragon so she deserves a reward~!” Hearing her words, Vahn was positive Fenrir was becoming much ‘smarter’ over the period he had been interacting with her in the Dungeon. She generally never said words like ‘you’, ‘me’, ‘she’, etc, but now she was speaking fuller sentences all of a sudden and was using ‘reasoning’ to explain things. Just like when she had been dealing with Lefiya, she was showing a very high perception…

As Vahn was thinking, he suddenly realized that he was the first person to notice that Lefiya was still awake but he didn’t mind it and kept carrying her. Just like she was able to intuit the locations of monsters through their bond, Vahn now began suspecting that she was able to understand some of his thoughts and had discerned that Lefiya was still awake through his, not her own, perception. Vahn thought this was something worth looking into in the future, but for now he just happily played with Fenrir, Tiona, and Ais. He was also somewhat distracted because, soon after Ais and Fenrir jumped in, the other girls began to undress as if they had given up on avoiding the situation. Nobody really wanted to be standing around for an hour while other people enjoyed a hot bath, so it didn’t take much for them to justify joining in on the fun.

Even Riveria, though she seemed to be the least open to the situation, removed her cloak and began unbuttoning her robe. Vahn remembered the fall that had taken place just a week ago and the somewhat tantalizing sight of a flustered Riveria desperately trying to fix her clothing. They had fallen for nearly an entire hour together while staying in close proximity and Vahn had previously engraved the image into his mind. Now that she was suddenly undressing within the darkness, with only the gentle light of the pool and the glowstones above, Vahn felt his heart flutter a bit. Unlike other girls, who wore tape to cover their breasts in the Dungeon, Riveria was wearing a proper green bra and neatly folded all of her clothes at the side. When she began wiggling out of her tight-fitting black pants, Vahn had briefly stopped scrubbing Fenrir’s head to stare at her relatively small, but incredibly fit and pale, posterior…

Tiona set her chin on his shoulder and looked in the same direction before saying in a voice much louder than Vahn would have liked, “I thought you just like big butts, but it seems like you like all butts?” Vahn’s body turned into a statue because, without standing up properly, Riveria looked back at him with her butt poked out and there was a cold look in her jade green eyes. Curiously, she didn’t say anything and just continued undressing before finally removing the dark green panties that had been affixed to her waist. Instead of dropping directly into the pool, she sat down on the edge and inserted her legs one at a time into the glowing blue water. After adapting to the heat, she lowered the rest of her body into the pool and released a contented sigh just like Tiona had done previously. Vahn, however, felt like the water had turned slightly colder because Riveria kept giving him chilly glances out of the corner of her eyes throughout the entire bath..

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Fenrir, Master Tamer’,’There is a time and a place for everything, including baths!’,’Tiona is going to get Vahn killed, kappa’)

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