Chapter 407: Dead Zone

There were no distinguishable differences between the 25th, 26th, and 27th floors other than the density of the monsters the group faced. After realizing the ridiculous amount of OP he could earn on the floors, Vahn had the group progress through the floors at a somewhat slower pace than they had originally intended. Knowing that he could convert the magic cores into useful and unique items, even Riveria didn’t have any complaints and they systematically hunted every single monster within Vahn’s range of detection as they made their way deeper into the floors. Other than a break for lunch, the group had been in combat for nearly fourteen hours and everyone was able to experience the support capabilities of having Vahn in the group.

Vahn’s own energy regeneration was quite high, with the support of [Mantra of Eternity], [Yggrasil’s Favor], and [Spirit Healing] constantly working to replenish his reserves. Using [Hands of Nirvana], in conjunction with his domain, Vahn was able to recover the stamina of everyone within the entire group while also directly recovering the mana of the mages within the group. His detection range was inarguably some of the best that anyone in the group had ever seen and his backline support using his bow was exceptional. Even when someone suffered the rare injury, Vahn would simply turn into his Xuánwǔ form before transplanting the injury to his own body, which would rapidly regenerate without the need for using any consumable items. For their nine-member group, Vahn could sustain the entire party almost indefinitely, assuming they weren’t thrown into an unexpected situation.

The only thing Vahn couldn’t actually deal with was the mental strain everyone, including himself, faced by fighting such long engagements. Though he could use his [Hands of Nirvana] to help calm their minds, Vahn knew there was a real mental burden that people faced when going through stress for long periods of time. Even if his energy and stamina were filled to the brim, Vahn had often ‘collapsed’ in the past because of the mental burdens he had faced. Other than mana, or energy, there were also factors such as Spiritual Energy and Mental Energy, which Vahn had no methods of restoring at the moment.

By the time the group had reached the staircase leading down to the 28th floor, everyone was mentally exhausted so Vahn decided to call it a day. Though they weren’t making progress as quickly as he’d like, he now had a reserve pool of 299,316OP after purchasing the final two [Effigy of the Hero]s for Riveria and Ais. Vahn’s ability to scout and track enemies allowed to ‘efficiently’ hunt monsters so he was assuming they would be able to make up for lost time when they finally reached the 30th floor tomorrow. The 28th and 29th floor were actually considered ‘dead zones’ within the Dungeon, so they wouldn’t actually take too much time to pass through because of the low number of monsters they would face along the way.

Other than a few random monsters, such as Devil Mosquitos and Light Quartzes, they wouldn’t face any real opposition on the next two floors at all. Of course, the complacency some groups would have when finally reaching this point, had led to several party wipes because of the few variants that would sometimes patrol the floors. One example was the Merman Tyrants that would appear occasionally and often led groups of more than a hundred Mermen into battle. Vahn had experienced fighting the organized groups of monsters on the 26th floor and knew they could be somewhat problematic if you couldn’t deal with their Captains quickly. They had a strange method of communication that allowed them to strategize and try to get an advantage.

Unfortunately, they weren’t able to do much once they had fallen into Vahn’s detection range and he was able to deal with them by firing explosive arrows into the water. Vahn discovered that the concussive wave of an explosion was even more effective in water, so he had switched to explosive arrows for dealing with the various fish-type monsters populating the floors. Though they looked somewhat intimidating with their humanoid forms, blue-scaled figures, webbed hands and feet, and the various natural weapons at their disposal, they weren’t able to accomplish much against the organized party commanded by Vahn. Each Merman was, on average, a Level 2 monster so they couldn’t oppose a party where the median level was around four.

After setting up camp, the party sat around and enjoyed a meal together while talking about what they thought of the progress the group was making. Since it was Vahn’s first time in command, he was very receptive to their input and took into consideration everything that had been brought forth. Riveria was especially interested in his ability to ‘create’ items and had been pestering him about the specifics for nearly the entire meal. Vahn couldn’t actually explain things to her, as doing so would get them all killed in the process, but he could still disclose a small amount of information while playing it off as the influence of his Pseudo-Divinity. He also stated that there were several things he needed to keep a secret, as they were important to keep himself and the people around him safe.

As she had a plethora of secrets of her own, Riveria wasn’t in a position to force the issue and spent the final part of the meal in silent contemplation. Freed up from her cross-examination, Vahn spent the rest of the meal goofing off with the rest of the girls before finally retiring for the night. Haruhime had somehow managed to win over Fenrir at some point throughout the evening so, when it finally came time for bed, Vahn was in a difficult situation where she was asking to sleep in his tent. As they had their own sleeping bags, Vahn didn’t think it would be an issue until it devolved into a situation where several of the other girls also wanted to share the tent.

Before things got out of hand, it was actually Fenrir who held up both of her paws in a grabbing gesture with her claws extended as she said, “Vahn has already played with everyone else. Fenrir will keep Harume out of trouble so stay in your own tents! Everyone has to be fair or Vahn will be the one that has to suffer!” Vahn hadn’t realized it before, but it seemed like Fenrir had somehow become his ‘Vahnguard’ in lieu of Tina. It might be because of their exposure to each other, combined with the fact that he actually brought her along to keep the other girls in check, but Fenrir had taken the role of his ‘guardian’ all of a sudden.

Though it seemed like Ais wanted to complain, she eventually just ‘picked’ up Lefiya like a flustered hug pillow before carrying her off to their shared tent. Vahn fought the urge to laugh after witnessing the adorable sight before wishing the other girls a pleasant night and retiring to his tent with Fenrir and Haruhime. When they entered, Haruhime had a somewhat mischevious smile on her face and her eyes were shining a bright golden color. Contrary to his expectations, instead of causing any trouble, Haruhime obediently laid out her own sleeping bag nearby Vahn’s before crawling into it after wishing him a good night.

When he had laid down himself, Fenrir actually took the spot in between him and Haruhime instead of sleeping on his chest as per usual. Having her cuddle up to his side inspired a protective instinct in Vahn so he ‘shielded’ her by hugging her from behind. From his vantage point, he could see the glowing eyes of Haruhime staring back at him and they eventually fell asleep, separated by the very awake Fenrir. The night passed uneventfully and Vahn awoke early the next morning before helping Fenrir change her clothes and prepare for the coming day. She seemed to be abnormally tired and kept sending annoyed glances at the elegantly smiling Haruhime who was also changing nonchalantly within Vahn’s tent.

Though she was supposed to be in her ‘growth phase’, Vahn noticed that Haruhime’s body hadn’t changed much in the last few months, even though she was training often and also adventuring into the Dungeon. She was still around 152cm tall with fair white skin, long golden hair that reached beyond her plump little bottom, a pair of long golden tails with tufts of pale yellow fur on the end, bushy curved ears with a fair amount of fluff, and a pair of budding breasts that were slightly whiter than the rest of her body. Other than her tail splitting into two, and her body becoming slightly more toned, she hadn’t changed much at all and Vahn was wondering if it was the effect of his [Hands of Nirvana]. He knew it was supposed to be able to fight against the signs of aging, to the point where it could even slow physical development, but he didn’t think it would have such a drastic effect on someone that he had only sparingly used the technique on…

Haruhime had noticed Vahn’s ‘appraising’ look and made no attempts to hide her body at all as she slowly changed out of her sleepwear and into the combat attire that Vahn had customized for her. She still felt a little awkward to have such a short skirt, since she was used to wearing traditional kimonos, but it beat being stuck in a brothel and having to wear loose clothing that often ‘exposed’ her body. Now that her life had changed so drastically, Haruhime only ever wanted to truly expose herself to Vahn and, seeing that he was looking at her, made her heart palpitate powerfully in her chest. She could feel the everpresent warmth located within her heart and felt power spreading through her body the longer he looked at her.

Vahn noticed Haruhime’s aura flaring up greatly and showed a wry smile as he said, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to gawk for so long…I was thinking about…” Haruhime shook her head and had a lovely smile on her face as she said in a sing-song tone, “Vahn, everything that I am, everything that I will be, they are all for you~. If you want to look at my body, even if you want to touch it, you don’t even have to ask…it makes me happy knowing I can win your affections, even if but for a moment~.” Vahn swallowed hard at Haruhime’s words, but it was Fenrir who replied as she said, “Harume is a sneaky girl…”

Hearing Fenrir’s words, Haruhime covered her mouth with her hand and giggled in a girlish manner before continuing to wear her clothes without commenting. She did, however, angle her back to Vahn as her tails danced about playfully as if trying to entice him. Vahn shook his head in mock exasperation as he fixed the belt to Fenrir’s waist before using a hard brush to comb through the bristly fur of her tail. Because of her ‘ageless’ trait, Fenrir’s body never changed regardless of how much time passed. Even if Vahn styled her hair, it would revert back to the unkempt mess that it was usually in after around two hours, even if she wasn’t doing anything. This meant that Fenrir always had a reason to be spoiled by the people around her because she liked to look neat and proper since she was in a phase where she tried to emulate some of the more mature girls in the Manor.

Once the two girls were ready, Vahn helped pack up the camp after passing out some crepes for the girls to eat for breakfast. They were going to be making the push to the 30th floor this morning before finally beginning their hunt for Bloodsaurus. For the next 3-4 days, they would do nothing but harvest the materials from monsters on the 30th floor in order to procure ingredients for use by the Alliance in the future. Even if they only hunted a few dozens per day, the amount of wealth the group would be able to accumulate in this short trip would easily breach more than a billion Valis. Vahn also suspected that Bloodsaurus would be worth a healthy amount of OP, so he was looking forward to large boon they would obtain soon. He didn’t actually plan to sell any of the items the obtained, but it was still considered part of the Alliance’s wealth, as they wouldn’t have to purchase the items off the market in the future.

Vahn’s actual ability to procure wealth, when traveling with an expeditionary party, was likely to be unrivaled in the entire City. Most expeditions came to an end relatively early, as there was only so much that could be carried back to the surface on carts, but Vahn was able to completely ignore this restriction. As long as they made the proper preparations, Vahn could allow an expedition to stay within the Dungeon indefinitely. Assuming he was able to convert the magic cores into OP, Vahn could infinitely replenish the food stores of the expedition and even purchase building materials if they wanted to build a temporary base within the floors. When he accompanied the Loki Familia in the future, the only limit they would likely face would be the waves of monsters crashing against the forces of the Familia. Vahn wouldn’t ‘steal’ the job of other Supporters, but he would make sure the expedition ran a lot smoother, at least for himself and his direct allies.

Once everyone had their fill, Vahn gave the order to proceed into the 28th floor and the group took their first step into the ‘dead zone’. There were still pools of water located in the various rooms, but they were spaced far apart and Vahn couldn’t sense many presences at all. Even after they cleared three rooms, and several passageways, they had only come across a total of nineteen enemies, all Devil Mosquitos. They were monsters that grew up to 20cm in length and were quite fast considering they were on the lower end of Level 2.

Devil Mosquitos had long, needle-like, mouths that were capable of penetrating through steel armor when they charged into Adventurers. They were able to suck nearly an entire liter of blood in just a few short seconds, so they were some of the most detested monsters in the entire Dungeon. Fortunately, they were incredibly weak and most Adventurers could kill them by simply swatting them with their fists. Fenrir had managed to catch one in her paws, even though she shredded parts of it, and bit off its head before commenting that it didn’t taste good.

Since there were so few enemies, Vahn made the decision to let Fenrir and Haruhime deal with the monsters while Tiona and Ais supported them in the middle distance. Tione was moved to the rear guard with Ryuu, even though it wasn’t likely they would be ambushed from behind. Through his domain, Vahn would be able to detect if any enemies were trying to sneak up on them and he could even track the movement of energy in the Dungeon to determine where traps, hazzards, and Monster Parties would be located.

Though nobody really dropped their guards, this made their progress through the 28th and 29th floor somewhat casual. It had only taken them a total of three hours to clear both floors and, by the time they were on the staircase leading to the 30th floor, they had only come across 327 monsters. Vahn’s OP had only increased by an additional 13,080 points, so he wasn’t very fond of the two floors and would do his best to bypass them quickly in the future. He now had a total of 312,396OP in his reserves and, before the group actually proceeded into the 30th floor proper, Vahn decided to update Fenrir’s and Haruhime’s Status Boards so that he could keep track of how much they progressed over the next few days.

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[[Stats]]

Name: [Vahn Mason]

Age: 15

Race: Human, *sealed*

Parameter: [Danmachi: 1-4]

-Level:3(3)

-Power: 1906+(H198)->(G207)

-Endurance: 2221+(F327)->(F338)

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-Dexterity: 1807+(G213)->(F346)

-Agility: 1959+(G226)->(G228)

-Magic: 3562+(SSS1604)->(SSS1639)

Total:11455+(2838)

Soul Tier: 3 (Lord Soul)

[Karma]: 8,213

[OP]: 312,396

[Valis]: 419,583,990

Skills: [Will of the Emperor:SSS], [Rakshasa Body:E], [Keeper of the Akashic Tome:B], [Eyes of Truth: B],[Bow Mastery:S], [Stealth:B], [Chainbreaker:S], [Heart of the Eternal Flame:SS], [Prometheus:A], [Call of the Reaper:A],[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:S], [Spirit Healing:A], [Swordsman:A], [Master Smith:H], [Mixing:C], [Mentor:B]

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[[STATUS]]

Name: [Fenrir]

Level:2(+)

POW: D582->C616

END: E470->D513

DEX: B801->B840

AGI: C671->B705

MAG: G275->F335

Skills: [Lunar Cry:C], [Freezing Roar:B], [Chainbreaker:C], [Devour:SS], [Huntress:A]

Development Abilities: –

Magic: –

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[[STATUS]]

Name: Sanjouno Haruhime

Race: Renard

LV. 2

POW: 440+(I43)->(H122)

END: 648+(I77)->(H149)

DEX: 698+(I80)->(H183)

AGI: 1053+(H153)->(G267)

MAG: 1548+(G218)->(E401)<—(A/N: This makes Haruhime almost the same MAG as Lefiya UwU)

Skill: [Inari:Innate(E)], [Prometheus’s Blessing:A], [Heroic Strike:F], [Featherfoot:B]

Magic: [Uchide no Kozuchi:B], [Kokonoe:C], [Icicle Edge:D->C]

Development Skill: [Moon Priestess:Innate(sealed)], [Spirit Healing:B], [Hunter:I->H], [Mage(sealed)]

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He recorded their updated information, alongside his own, in a journal before snapping it shut and giving the order to progress into the 30th floor. The reason he hadn’t updated everyone’s status boards was due to the fact that, even though they had killed thousands of enemies on the way down, it was very unlikely that Ais, Tiona, or Tione, had earned even a single point in their parameters along the way. They were simply too strong compared to the monsters so it was almost a waste of time to even fight them, though it wasn’t bad for skill development and increasing combat proficiency.

Vahn was considering helping the girls undergo ‘Nirvana’, so that he could increase their potential, but he was somewhat hesitant after seeing the effects of his basic massage on Haruhime. If he ‘revitalized’ their bodies like he had done Tsubaki, Vahn was worried they would end up looking closer to children than actual adults. It was a very different experience seeing them in real life, as compared to the cartoonish designs of the characters in the manga, and Vahn knew they were nowhere near the development of their future selves. Ais had a long way to go before she was a ‘beautiful woman’, and her current appearance was closer to an adorable, and exquisitely designed doll.

Since Vahn himself didn’t actually ‘age’, it wouldn’t be that much of a problem in the near future but, after a few years passed and they still looked very young, it would probably become a point of contention. Vahn had a strange image in his mind where, after around fourteen years passed, he would have his own daughters looks nearly the same age as their mothers. He couldn’t keep his children from developing, so they were bound to be similar in appearance after enough time passed. Even if it wasn’t a real concern, Vahn couldn’t help but think about it since it painted such a peculiar image within his mind.

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘The feeling of taking an overleveled party into a novice dungeon…’,’Vahn’s OP’,’In Time(tm)’)

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