Other than a bit of awkwardness during the morning training, Vahn’s remaining time as Tiona came to an end uneventfully while he was discussing things with Riveria. However, due to his own oversights, Vahn ended up in girls’ clothing for a brief moment after the transition and quickly swapped out for his standard outfit as the stunned Riveria watched him. Aftward, Vahn ended up in his own workshop and started working on the under-armor once again. He still hadn’t come up with a solution to his current problems so Vahn decided to spend the day simply confirming that the scales worked as intended.
After purchasing a simple leather glove through the system shop, Vahn spent a bit of time disassembling the relatively complicated glove before using string made from the tendons of a dragon. Though not nearly as effective as Mithril, the threads were capable of channeling mana so Vahn sewed a complex pattern on the inside of the glove that connected each of the scales on the surface. Since they took quite a while to manufacture, Vahn only made four additional scales and affixed them to the knuckle of each sleeve. (A/N: The part that the finger goes in on a glove is called a sleeve (UwU))
The formation Vahn had sewn was a simple one that allowed the user to infuse their own mana into the glove through the use of the [Fist Strike] skill. It was important that each scale activated simultaneously so that the force was properly transmitted through the glove and dissipated. The glove would allow a person to ‘strike’ an object and dissipate the shockwaves that would have passed into the hand. It didn’t increase attack power at all, but it allowed the user greater defensive capabilities if used properly. As the original glove hadn’t been manufactured by him, the overall rank of the final product was relatively low but Vahn was, at the very least, able to confirm his conjecture.
Rank: C (Magic)
Ability: Shock Absorption(C)
Simple leather gloves that have been pushed to the extremes of their potential by a skilled [Master Smith]. Though simple in structure, these gloves carry the will of Xuánwǔ and allow the user to dissipate shockwaves if used skillfully.
Once he had completed the gloves, Vahn recorded his findings inside his own journal before disassembling the gloves he had spent so much effort developing. Even though they were somewhat useful, Vahn wasn’t going to give a piece of C-Rank equipment to any of the girls if he could make a stronger pair in the future. Other than Tiona, Tione, and Lunoire, the other girls didn’t really fight with their fists anyway. As for selling them, Vahn was already earning money faster than he could spend so it wasn’t really a pressing matter. Besides, there was no way Vahn was willing to part with the five scales that he had painstakingly forged on a sub-standard piece of equipment.
During the second block of time on his schedule, Vahn ate lunch with Milan, Tina, Shizune, Preasia, and Fenrir and talked to them about some of the troubles he was having. Vahn didn’t expect that they would be any help, but there was always a chance they could discover something he had overlooked and it was also fun simply talking with them. To his surprise, Vahn did actually glean some new information from his talks with the girls as, when he showed the scales to Tina, she commented, “This looks a lot like a snake scale…” Though it was a simple statement, Vahn felt like a mechanism had been triggered in his mind and the image of Fenrir’s outfit once again re-appeared.
As Tina had said, the second layer looked a lot like snakeskin and, if Vahn could find a snake capable of channeling magic through its scales, he would be able to avoid having the manufacture the scales himself. A large grin appeared on his face as he picked up the flustered girl and spun her around in the air several times before giving her a big kiss on the cheek. After setting her down, Vahn waved back at the group and said, “I need to go confirm something~! Great job, Tina!” before disappearing out through the door.
Tina’s mouth was opening and closing like a fish as she stared wide-eyed at the door Vahn had exited through as a deep blush appeared on her face. Milan began to laugh at her daughter’s reaction as she pat the small girl on the head and said, “See, there are plenty of ways you can be helpful to Vahn without exposing yourself to danger…” Tina had been talking to her about trying to convince Vahn to allow her to go into the Dungeon recently but Milan had asked her to put the matter off until he returned from the expedition. Hearing her mother’s words, Tina nodded her head as she put her hand on the cheek where Vahn had given her a kiss and laughed in a silly manner…
Vahn made a beeline toward Tsubaki’s workshop and found her taking a break as she sipped on a fragrant tea in the rest area. Seeing Vahn’s haste, Tsubaki arched her brow and asked, “What has you so riled up, Vahn?” Vahn pulled out his monster compendium, armor diagrams, and the scales that he had produced alongside the various notes he had taken about his own research. Tsubaki picked up the scale wither her finger and marveled at the craftsmanship as Vahn explained, “I’m trying to figure out a faster method to create the second layer of the under-armor everyone will use but I hit a snag early on since producing a single one of these scales takes quite a while. When I was talking to Tina, she said the scale looked similar to those on a snake’s body so I was thinking about which monsters would have suitable materials…”
Tsubaki had seen the incredibly fine Orichalcum veins on the back of the scale and, after listening to Vahn’s words, said, “I agree that it will be more efficient to use the skin of a snake, but what will you do about this little network of orichalcum you have on the back?” Hearing her words, Vahn blanked for a brief moment because he hadn’t really considered a solution yet. Even if he picked scales that were naturally conducive to the flow of mana, that didn’t mean it would flow the way he wanted it to. Using the skin would prevent him from having to make the scales on his own, but he would still have to network the thousands of scales together regardless.
Seeing Vahn’s blank expression, Tsubaki smiled slightly and said, “Worm Wells are probably too large, so you’d probably have to make use of the skin of a Thunder Snake, Silver Worm, Flame Python, or any of the higher grades of dragons. The downside is they have their own elemental properties and many of the materials are either difficult to acquire, or hard to work with. I imagine you would have the most success with a Flame Python at first, but if you’re thinking of armor for the girls you’d probably want to use a Silver Worm or a dragon variant like the Cadmus…” Since Vahn was ‘immune’ to fire, he could easily work with the Flame Python materials and potentially even create some fire resistant armor for himself.
Vahn took notes on Tsubaki’s recommendations before looking through the shop and confirming the prices for each of the materials she listed out. He had the benefit that he didn’t even have to go into the Dungeon to hunt monsters for materials, though the conversion ratio was rather bad. Other than selling magic cores to the shop, most other materials didn’t even ‘sell’ for 1/10th their buying price. The Cadmus skin and Flame Python were even worth 120,000OP and 93,000OP respectively, though the acquired material was actually more than fair for the price. If Vahn sold the large piece of ‘perfect’ Cadmus skin he obtained from the shop, not that he ever would, it would be worth well over a billion Valis. Even a small roll of the skin could be worth millions and Vahn received 10m of the material for his experiments.
Tsubaki’s eyes widened when she saw Vahn materialize incredibly rare materials out of thin air but she already knew of his ‘creation’ Divinity and recovered in an instant. Apparently, as long as he had enough magic cores to convert into the energy, Vahn was able to create almost anything he knew the specifics of. Since he could consult the compendium for information, and also had samples of most rare materials, it wasn’t that difficult to understand how he could create such things from scratch. Of course, Tsubaki also knew that there were unique qualities to the materials Vahn produced and it had been agreed that none of the items made using his materials should ever enter the market. Hephaestus had even informed her about how Vahn could use his blood to create crystals that could store magic, so Tsubaki wasn’t surprised by anything the boy did anymore. If anything, it simply meant she could rely on him for any difficult to acquire materials in exchange for magic cores…
As she watched Vahn sort through his materials in the middle of her workshop, Tsubaki laid eyes on the dragon skin Vahn had purchased before asking in a curious tone, “Vahn, why don’t you ask for Fafnir’s help in producing scales? Can’t it shape its scales into almost anything? I also tested the material sample you provided to me and it is even more efficient than Mithril with high resistance to foreign magics…” Vahn had been using a small scalpel to cut out a piece of Cadmus hide before his hand slipped and he dragged his scalpel clear through the table underneath. Tsubaki’s words had hit him like a brick and Vahn couldn’t believe he had made such a massive oversight. He had even been riding on Fafnir’s back the previous day and had several fragments of its scales in his inventory.
Tsubaki laughed at Vahn’s reaction before rising from the sofa and giving him a pat on the back as she said, “Don’t let it bother you too much, Vahn. I just had the thought while I was watching you work with the materials and remembered that you described the scales from your memory as ‘black like mithril’. I just thought, ‘Isn’t Fafnir also black?’ and decided to ask if you considered it.” Vahn nodded his head in a lazy manner before clearing away a section of the workshop and calling Fafnir. Now that Tsubaki said it, Vahn realized Fafnir was probably the source of the scales from the very beginning. It also had the ability to reshape and regrow its scales, assuming it had his source energy, so it was almost like a material factory if needed…
Fafnir popped its head up out of the ground and said, (“Hello Vahn, hello Tsubaki~! Did you need me for anything~?”) Vahn showed a wry smile on his face as he held out one of the small scales he had created and asked, “Fafnir, I know it may be a little rude to ask this…but do you think you could make scales that are similar to this one?” Though Vahn had researched the properties of Fafnir’s scales, it still felt a little awkward to ask his own subordinate, which he treated like family, for materials. However, Fafnir didn’t seem to mind the matter at all as it tilted its head to the side and looked at the scale with its massive blue eye. Vahn got to see the sight of its pupil, which was typically several centimeters wide, shrink down to the size of a pinhole as it inspected the scale in Vahn’s fingers.
After a few seconds of concentration, Fafnir’s head began to vibrate audibly before a wave of black flakes fell from its body and onto the floor. It cocked its head to the side to inspect the scales it had produced before saying, (“I think they are the same, but I couldn’t copy the tiny golden things inside~! I’ll practice more in the future to see if I can figure it out~!”) Under Fafnir’s watchful gaze, Vahn picked up one of the scales from the ground and compared it to the one in his hand. Though Fafnir wasn’t able to produce the Orichalcum mana circuits, it was able to create the channels for them. Vahn released a heavy sigh before placing his forehead against Fafnir’s snout and saying, “Fafnir, you really saved me this time…all of the girls will be much safer when I use these scales to make armor for them. Thank you very much…”
Fafnir laughed in its characteristic child-like voice before saying, (“Yay~! I’m glad I was able to help Vahn~!”) At this point, even Tsubaki had picked up one of the thousands of scales that now covered her workshop floor. Even though it only took a few seconds for Fafnir to produce them, their craftsmanship was almost identical to the one Vahn had created. She was tempted to ask if Fafnir could shape a few blades for her but, similar to Vahn, she didn’t really feel it was appropriate to do so. If someone came to her asking her to shed some skin so they could use it to make armor, Tsubaki imagined she would plant a human-shaped tree as a result of their offense.
After topping up Fafnir’s energy reserves, which required Vahn to chug several mana potions, Vahn sent it on its way and promised to take it sightseeing when he returned from the expedition. When he had asked if Fafnir wanted anything, it’s response had been a cheerful, (“I want to go see lots of interesting places with Vahn~!”). Since it spent the majority of its time in the shadows, primarily sleeping to conserve energy, Fafnir got bored at times and wanted to get out more often. It didn’t mind the shadows, as they were very comfortable and relaxing, but it wanted to spend more time with Vahn, Tina, and Fenrir.
Once Fafnir had left, Vahn swept up a total of 71,999 scales and stored them into a single inventory slot. Because of the massive size of its head, and the relatively small size of the scales, Fafnir had produced a huge amount in a single sloughing motion that made Vahn feel like a fool for not going to the reliable dragon first. It had taken Vahn nearly five hours to make five scales, the majority of which was spent shaping the scale itself, so Fafnir had saved Vahn approximately 60,000hours, or nearly 7 years of effort…now Vahn just had to create the orichalcum veins for each one and he could begin linking them together.
Since she was curious about the process, Vahn showed how he liquidized the Orichalcum using his own unique method before giving Tsubaki 2,000 scales of her own to practice creating her own items with. She might not be able to emulate his control over flame elements, but that didn’t mean she wouldn’t be able to make use of them for her own purposes. Even if she just used them to adorn some of her own weapons and armor in the future, they were materials almost equal in quality to Mithril that had already been refined into a usable shape. They were a glossy black color as well, which made them especially suitable for use in a variety of different ways.
For the rest of the afternoon, Vahn practiced creating the Orichalcum veins until he got to the point where he could complete a single scale in about five minutes. Since it initially took around ten, this meant Vahn had nearly doubled his pace and, by the end of the day, he had finished a total of forty-seven additional scales, compared to the five he would have been able to make. As the scales weren’t required to cover the entire mesh of base material, Vahn would need around 1400 total for a single outfit but he was well on his way and would get progressively faster as time passed. Even if his pace didn’t increase at all, Vahn could produce around 100-120 of the scales per work day which meant he would be able to complete around three sets per month, at the very least.
Vahn spent the last half hour cleaning up his workshop and going through a few variations of his design that could be more practical than his current setup. He had been using a synthetic material that consisted of Shadowsilk and processed wyvern hide, but now he was considering using the Cadmus hide as the base material and increasing the overall quality of the prototype with the intent of making it ready for practical use. The Cadmus hide was very thin, almost like snakeskin, but it was incredibly durable and was one of the most highly sought after materials for light armor in the entire world. Since Vahn had 30 square meters of the material, he had more than enough to use to construct the entire base of the outfits using it. It also had the benefit of being stark white, which meant it could be easily treated and dyed later on.
As he was exhausted from the day’s exertions, Vahn made his way to the bath to wash his body before dinner was ready. There were already several people inside so Vahn walked in planning to make light conversation with everyone about the breakthroughs he had made. However, the moment he stepped over the threshold separating the changing room and the bath, Vahn heard a yelp before tilting his head to the side and dodging a wooden bucket that traced a beautiful arc through the air. Vahn blinked in confusion for a moment before laying eyes on the culprit that threw the bucket and saw Rose glaring at him with her teeth displayed as she crouched down in the water.
Eina and Syr were both present, among other girls, so Eina put her hand on her cheek in an exasperated manner and said, “I told you several times that Vahn used this bath as well…” As for Syr, she had been making conversation with Rose previously and simply laughed at the Werewolf girls reaction before saying, “Other people also warned you plenty of times~.” Rose glared at the two girls before saying in an icy tone, “I thought he used it at different times than everyone else! How can you let him bathe at the same time as the other girls!?” Though she had been addressing Syr and Eina, it was the relaxing Hestia who stated, “This entire Manor belongs to Vahn and he is also the Captain of my Familia. We have communal bathing, so stop making a big deal out of things. Even that clingy pink-colored girl had enough sense to use a private bath after she was warned…”
Misha and Rose had officially completed their move earlier today and had decided to take a bath before dinner with everyone else. They had been warned several times that Vahn would be using the bath in no uncertain terms so Misha had used one of the private baths after failing to invite along some of the other girls. Rose, however, ignored the warnings and treated the onsen similar to the women’s bath at the dorm she used to reside at. As everyone stated, it was clearly she who was at fault, but this entire situation was somewhat nonsensical to her. However, as an outsider compared to everyone else here, she didn’t really have any ground to stand on at all. This didn’t stop her from lashing out though as she looked toward the direction where Vahn had been standing completely naked earlier and noticed he was now missing.
Syr rose up out of the water and gestured to Ryuu as the two followed Vahn’s path and headed toward the private bath he had decided to use. Fenrir, who had been treading water near Hestia, looked toward Rose and said, “This is Master’s home…you should leave if you’re going to cause trouble…” Hearing Fenrir’s words, Rose turned her attention to the small wolf girl before swallowing audibly when she fell under the gaze of the scarlet eyes. Hestia came up from behind and grabbed Fenrir to calm her down as she said, “Rose, Fenrir isn’t wrong…you are friends with Eina, but you are here on behalf of the Guild. We have arranged free food and boarding to you, but that doesn’t mean you can take advantage of things to such an extent. I’m certain there are more than a few people that would willingly take your place as representative inside the Hearth Manor…”
Eina winced slightly at Hestia words before turning to Rose and saying in a gentle tone, “Vahn is arguably the most important person in the entire Alliance and everyone within the Hearth Manor supports and cares for him. There are more than a dozen private baths to make use of, so please do so in the future unless you don’t mind being seen by Vahn. As the head of the residence, it would be silly that a ‘guest’ is able to kick him out of his own bath…” Though she wanted to back up her friend, Eina stood on Vahn’s side on this matter since she was, after all, his wife. Eina also knew that it wasn’t Vahn’s idea to break down the wall initially and that he had even opposed it for a while before finally agreeing to the current situation. It wasn’t as if Vahn did anything promiscuous within the bath, so it wasn’t a major issue like how Rose made it out to be.
Realizing that everyone present was giving her ‘strange’ looks, including Eina, Rose understood that she had been in the wrong. Hestia was the goddess of the Hestia Familia and allowed Vahn to use the bath while Eina, Vahn’s wife, seemed to be perfectly okay with the situation. As an ‘outsider’, she had no place to complain about the situation at all since it was something manufactured by her own oversights…
Eina reclined in the water until it came up to her neck and said, “Don’t worry about it too much, Rose, as Vahn probably won’t mind at all. If anything, I imagine he will be the one to apologize to you later during dinner…” Hearing Eina’s words, several of the girls began to laugh because they could imagine Vahn doing just that. Rose felt even more awkward so she decided to leave the bath early and prepare for dinner. They were currently staying in the first floor of the west wing, near the medical ward, which was also furnished with a kitchen. She and Misha were given all the necessary ingredients to prepare their own food but had decided to eat with the larger group after discussing the matter with Eina and Syr previously. Now, however, Rose was beginning to feel like she should eat alone for the evening…