Chapter 460: Udaeus

After progressing through several Coliseums, the expedition arrived at the Knight District and Vahn got to encounter the final series of monsters recorded in the compendium that made the White Palace their home. True to its namesake as the ‘Knight’ district, the rooms were populated with Spartoi, which were skeleton monsters that had varying heights and were rated around Level 4 in strength. It was rumored that Adventurers that fell in the Dungeon became Spartoi later on because they would often spawn with various weapons and armor and had the skill to use them. Even if you encountered two similar Spartoi, both wielding swords, they could use completely different styles and it was because of this that they were considered the most dangerous warrior-type monsters on the floor.

Out of curiosity, Vahn made a habit out of destroying the small crystals that held their skeletal joints together before looting their weapons for later study. After they were identified by the system, Vahn found the majority were around C-Rank weapons while there were a few that even managed to reach B-Rank. The reason why Vahn had decided to loot them was that they were distinctly different from normal weapons as they had been ‘created’ by the mana that had collected in the walls of the Dungeon. Vahn figured that, if he were able to reverse engineer the process, later on, he would be able to make weapons and armor that could ‘form’ like the dress that Hephaestus had worn in the Divination.

As for other monsters that appeared in the Knight District, the expedition came across several Peluda, which were dark-green dragonoid monsters that had long snake-like bodies with arrow-like quills along its back. They could angle the quills forward and shoot them out as projectiles so Riveria had been using a physical barrier to protect the expedition whenever one of the troublesome monsters would show up. The quills themselves weren’t that dangerous but they were coated in a powerful poison that could overwhelm the abnormal resistance of most Adventurers. Unless your tolerance was B, or higher, you needed to avoid contact with the quills or you could be forced into cardiac arrest within half a minute.

During one of the Coliseum encounters, when Vahn had been preparing to charge forward with the rest of the group, several Peluda had spawned simultaneously with a massive purple one mixed amount the larger horde. If the green Peluda’s quills were like arrows, the purple ones were like spears that seemingly regenerated infinitely as it began to bombard the shield Riveria had erected. It was during this instance that Vahn got to experience a bit of Gareth’s prowess as he had borrowed Finn’s spear before tossing it like a javelin toward the large monster. A total of three shockwaves were generated by the momentous toss before the spear disappeared inside the purple Peluda and caused the entire thing to explode into poisonous dust.

Gareth was the type of Adventurer that only leveled up when his Power and Endurance had reached the stat caps so Vahn could guesstimate his throw to have at least 5400 Power behind it, without taking into consideration skills and abilities. Vahn knew he had the relatively rare racial skill [Dvergr Enhance] as well, which could nearly double his power output, so it was very likely that his power had exceeded 9,000 when he pushed himself to the limit. Since Endurance didn’t have much of an effect on projectiles and bladed weapons, there were few, if any, monsters that would be able to tank Gareth’s blow head-on. Vahn knew that, even if he pushed himself to his absolute limits, he wouldn’t even get close to what Gareth had displayed during his toss.

There weren’t only positives to be gained from such a display, however, as once the group had cleared the room and recovered the spear the only thing that remained of it was a bent rod and a shattered spearhead. Finn had been using Vahn’s [Moonlight Piercer] as his weapon of choice recently because it was easy to handle compared to his [Fortia Spear]. Though it wasn’t nearly as strong as his primary weapon, it had become something of a personal favorite of his for general use. Holding the bent spear in his hands, Finn turned to Vahn with a wry smile on his face as he said, “It seems that this is the end of the line for this one…”

Vahn saw the shoddy state of the spear and accepted it from Finn before confirming that it was still recognized as a weapon through the system. Then, in front of the eyes of apologetic Pallum, Vahn pulled out a [Whetstone] and struck it against the broken blade several times before the entire thing was restored to a pristine condition. The [Whetstone]s produced by Vahn weren’t a secret anymore, at least in the upper echelons of the Alliance, but Finn hadn’t expected it to be able to have such a ‘drastic’ effect where it could even restore a badly damaged weapon. When he accepted it back from Vahn and tested the edge, he found it was actually ‘better’ than it had been previously so he remarked, “Your skill as a [Master Smith] will be a great boon to our future expeditions, Vahn. Thank you for restoring this spear for me, as I’ve grown quite fond of it as of late.”

Seeing that Finn was genuinely pleased by the outcome, Vahn nodded his head contentedly and said, “As long as it’s a weapon, I’ll be able to use my [Whetstones] to recover it to an optimal state. It won’t work if the weapon is in a state of disrepair, however, so take proper care of your equipment or I’ll start charging you a maintenance fee…” Finn laughed at Vahn’s words before brandishing the spear a few more times. As for what it meant to be in a state of ‘disrepair’, Vahn had conducted several experiments to see if he could exploit the [Whetstone]s and potentially produce an infinite supply of materials.

He had created a pure mithril blade, broken the tip of it, and then used a [Whtstone] to repair the damaged blade. However, the moment the blade shone with the magical light, which represented it was fixed, the materials Vahn had set to the side completely vanished. Vahn tried to circumvent this by storing away the fragments into his inventory but, the moment the composite materials were moved away from the original weapon, the [Whetstone]s lost their effect. Vahn didn’t know the effective range of the small stone but it seemed to imply that, as long as the broken pieces were nearby, Vahn would be able to repair anything within a short period of time.

After clearing several more Coliseums, the expedition arrived at a massive wall that looked as though it had been carefully constructed to resemble an actual palace. There were massive pillars that extended all the way from the floor nearly 400m to the ceiling. Finn gave out orders for the expedition to spread out and create a temporary defensive line as they investigated the interior and determined if the Udaeus had spawned. Since it hid within the floor and walls of the Throne Room, it was impossible to know if it had spawned unless they actually entered inside. At least, this would have been the case if Vahn hadn’t been present.

Though his domain couldn’t cover the entire Throne Room, Vahn could see veins of mana spreading through the floor that all converged on a single mass of energy near the western wall. Ever since it was decided they would be the ones fighting it, Vahn had been discussing the tactics of the Udaeus with Ais, Tiona, and Tione. They had each fought the Udaeus in the past so they were very familiar with its tactics and answered all of Vahn’s questions. Though it was a floor boss, the Udaeus was one of the few immobile enemies that could be encountered in the Dungeon. Knowing its spawn location was an important piece of information because it would often try to ambush the parties that tried to clear the Throne Room thinking it was ‘safe’.

The biggest threat posed by the colossal monster was its speed, range, and the area-wide magic that it used. Even if you tried to fight it from a distance, it had incredibly high magic resistance and could even spawn Spartoi if you went beyond the range of its attacks. Since there were no limits to the number of monsters it could spawn, the best tactic to employ was to stay within the range of the Udaeus and take advantage of the gaps in its attacks. Though it was fast, there were plenty of opportunities to exploit in its movements since it couldn’t easily deal with multiple agility fighters at once. With the support of Haruhime’s [Uchide no Kozuchi], everyone’s agility parameter had increased by 30% which had greatly boosted their potential speed.

Just as they were preparing to enter, Riveria had stopped the group and reminded, “When the Udaeus moves, it can create massive shockwaves in the wake of its attacks. Don’t drop your guard just because you were able to evade its attacks, especially you, Vahn. Most importantly, make sure to mind your footing since blades can shoot up out of the ground in an instant and catch you unprepared…” Seeing Riveria’s actions, Finn arched his brows slightly and even Gareth gave her a strange look before saying, “It’s rare that our Riveria is so considerate to others right before a fight…” Hearing Gareth’s remark, Riveria’s brow twitched before she ignored him and said, “Be careful…” to Vahn and the girls.

After entering the room, Vahn indicated the location of the Udaeus before Ais activated her [Aeriel] and began to draw a wide arc around its location. Tiona and Tione charged toward the spawn location while Vahn prepared his own measures in the backline. Though it was purported to have incredibly high magic resistance, Vahn was curious if his own magic would be effective against the monster. As for Tiona and Tione, they actually weren’t planning to fight Udaeus head on and were merely intended to serve as a distraction for Ais to target the orbs that linked together the monster’s joints. If they could disable its arms, the rest of the fight would be relatively straightforward because it would only be able to use its magic and summon Spartoi.

Once they got within 200m of the Udaeus, Tiona and Tione dashed in opposite directions as a mass of crystalline black blades shot up out of the ground where they had been standing. Vahn had his [Eyes of Truth] active so he was able to see pulses of energy pass through the floor that triggered every time the girls landed. As a result, the mana would condense into a physical form that would try to impale them from below. Vahn squinted his eyes in thought as the 15m tall skeletal floor boss exploded from the ground and sent huge shards of shrapnel flying through the air as it released an eerie roar that shook the air around them. Its body was completely black and it had massive horns on its head that made it look somewhat demonic and cruel as it swept its arms toward Tione.

Though she was well out of its range, a wave of energy passed through the air and knocked the Amazon from the sky and sent her flying several meters before she bounded off the ground and evaded the blades of black crystal. Vahn was still outside of its normal range and hadn’t drawn any aggro so the Udaeus had completely ignored him and the waiting Riveria, Gareth, and Finn. Vahn was using the opportunity to learn the patterns of the Udaeus to see if he could interfere with its own abilities any. Since he could see the flow of mana through the floor, Vahn had been trying to interfere with it using his own domain as a medium. Though it took a bit of effort, Vahn managed to get the rampant mana under his control after about two minutes.

The Udaeus released another roar that caused a shockwave to spread all the way to Vahn’s position, nearly 400m away. The pulse of energy seemed intent to disrupt other ‘magic spells’ but it was unable to influence Vahn’s domain at all. When Tiona landed on the ground, after evading the Udaeus’ attack, she noted that there were no more annoying blades trying to cut up her feet and she began laughing cheerfully as she charged toward the Udaeus without any fear. Tione had quickly caught on as well while Ais bounced around on the wall and charged toward the raging monster like a loosed arrow.

Noticing its countermeasures had no effect, the Udaeus twisted its body and used the twisted blade-like bones of its forearms to try and strike at the two Amazons charging its front. True to Riveria’s warning, even though they had evaded the strikes, both Tiona and Tione were sent flying by the shockwave that followed and were forced back nearly twenty meters in an instant. Ais, however, wasn’t affected at all and managed to pierce her [Gram] into the Udaeus’ shoulder before vaulting away to safety as it tried to counterattack. Having shattered one of the orbs holding its form together, the Udaeus’ arm collapsed to the ground as a new orb slowly began to grow from the joint.

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After cocking its head back for a brief moment, the Udaeus leaned forward and released a charged blast of energy from its mouth as it traced Ais’s path through the air. Everywhere the blast struck, the hard bedrock of the Dungeon was cleaved and nothing but devastation left in its wake. Though Ais seemed to be dodging relatively easily, Vahn wasn’t going to wait around so he used [Shundo] to get under the Udaeus’ and shot a concentrated bolt of light elemental energy toward the huge magic core protected by its rib cage. The bolt slammed into the solar plexus of the Udaeus and began to erode the black bones at a visible rate before it tried to sweep up Vahn, who had long departed from the location with [Shundo].

Seeing that his magic had been effective, Vahn had a pleased grin on his face because it was turning out similar to how he had expected. The moment he learned that the Udaeus was a stationary creature, Vahn assumed the fight would actually be much easier than expected. He had already been able to ‘freeze’ the energy passing through the ground so the Udaeus couldn’t make use of its most powerful ability any longer. Without the threat of the blades rising up from the floor, the Udaeus’ only threat were the shockwaves it could generate from its mouth and the massive amount of power contained in its strikes.

Lifting its body with its remaining arm, the Udaeus looked toward Vahn’s location with its glowing red eyes and sent a pulse of energy similar to the Juggernaut from the past. Vahn wasn’t fond of suffering from the same attack twice so he erected a small magical barrier that dissipated the pulse of energy and turned it into a harmless breeze that struck against his face and distorted his hair slightly. Vahn knew the name of the skill was appropriately called [Resentment] and was a relatively rare skill that could only be used by a few powerful Monster Rexes and the Juggernaut. It was rarely ever used, however, because it took a large amount of willpower to perform and would leave the user vulnerable for several seconds…

As she hadn’t missed the skill being used, Ais had drawn a beautiful arc through the air before appearing above the back of the Udaeus and shouting, “Lil Rafaga~!” and sending a tempest of magical energy through the unguarded back of the once fearsome monster. Though there was a brief moment of resistance, Ais eventually cut through the body of the Udaeus before jamming the tip of her sword into the massive monster core, causing the entire thing to explode into thousands of smaller cores in an instant. Other than a few bone fragments, which were worth a fair amount of Valis, the only thing that remained of the Udaeus was a veritable horde of magic cores that had buried Ais up to her neck as she wadded out of them with a complex expression on her face.

Vahn had already appeared nearby so she walked up and said, “Vahn, cleaning magic…” as she dusted herself off. Fighting the urge to laugh, Vahn began removing the dust that had completely coated Ais’s body as Tiona and Tione rapidly approached their position. As if she didn’t care Ais was dirty at all, Tiona jumped at her body and began clinging to her as she stated in a cheerful tone, “Ais, that last attack was amazing~!” Then, after doing a full revolution around Ais’s neck, Tiona let go of her and jumped toward Vahn and began rubbing her cheek against his in an affectionate manner as she said, “I never thought the fight would be over so quickly with your help, Vahn~! How did you stop those annoying blades from appearing!?”

After finally separating Tiona from his body, Vahn began explaining his strategy when the rest of the members of the first party had arrived. Riveria, having experienced Vahn’s control over mana in the past, wasn’t that surprised by the revelation that Vahn had interrupted the Udaeus’ area magic. The thing she was most interested in was the light magic Vahn had used, which he once again explained away as a condensed bolt of pure elemental energy. Since the Udaeus was ‘resistant’ and not ‘immune’, Vahn said its defenses could be overwhelmed if you focused your attack on a single point. As for the corrosive effect, that was simply the result of opposite elemental energies mixing together since the Udaeus was almost entirely comprised of darkness elemental energy. Though darkness could corrode almost everything else, the opposite happened when light was introduced into it.

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Just as he was finishing up his explanation, Vahn dropped a small bombshell on the group when he said, “Because it wasn’t capable of moving, I most likely could have ended the fight in an instant if I made use of my [Enkidu]. The moment I wrapped its body in the chains, it wouldn’t be able to move or use any of its magic at all. Since there are huge gaps in its skeletal structure, it would have been easy to destroy the core after it was immobilized…” Since Vahn knew where the Udaeus spawned, he could have easily entrapped it using [Enkidu] the moment it erupted from the ground.

Unlike other monsters, which would have been able to evade the chains, Udaeus was stuck in one spot so it was a relatively ‘bad’ matchup for the 15m tall skeletal creature. The only reason Vahn didn’t do so was that it was important to fight against such enemies using your base capabilities in order to gain more exilia. He also needed to practice coordinating with the other members of the party since teamwork was inarguably the most important thing when it came to overcoming their future enemies.

Because it was a rather unique circumstance, it was decided that Vahn would receive the drops from the Udaeus because he had been regularly maintaining the equipment of the girls and he would be able to use the materials in the creation of future items. Riveria had also convinced Finn to give Vahn the majority of the monster cores, even though she didn’t explain to him the reason why it was important to do so. Other than the residents of the Hearth Manor, nobody else knew about Vahn’s ‘creation’ ability since it was a closely guarded secret that would cause great turmoil if it was discovered. As a result of Riveria’s actions, Vahn received a huge boon of more than 783,000OP in an instant, which caused a large smile to appear on his face.

He hadn’t been earning that much on the expedition thus far but the large influx had now pushed his current OP reserves over the four-million mark and allowed him to reach 4,013,754. Since it was Riveria’s efforts that had caused such an outcome, Vahn made a mental note to reward her for her actions in the future. There were a nigh-infinite number of items within the system shop that would intrigue a girl like Riveria so he was planning to do a bit of research before picking out something suitable for her.

After breaking down the defensive line and re-establishing the convoy, the expedition proceeded through the large spiral staircase in the center of the 37th floor. Seeing how difficult it was to get the carts down the stairs, Vahn was sure it would be even more frustrating trying to reach the surface in the future. Unfortunately, without an inventory like Vahn’s, people didn’t really have a choice when it came to transporting large volumes of materials and it was considered a ‘necessary’ task to be performed by Supporters of large Familia. Fortunately, everyone worked together and the task wasn’t too difficult to perform since people in the Danmachi record could even lift thousands of pounds if their Power parameter was high enough.

The 38th floor was similar in appearance to the 37th floor except, instead of circular walls converging into a Throne Room, it had now resumed the appearance of a wide labyrinth. Coliseums still appeared but the path leading to the 39th floor was relatively straightforward and the expedition managed to reach it after around two hours of travel. In total, it had taken the group 14 hours to pass through the 31st to the 39th floor, which was much faster than normal. The 37th floor alone typically took more than seven hours to clear, as a result of its complexity and the fact it was nearly the size of Orario above at 200km in diameter. Because they had easily been able to discover the entrances into the inner walls, with Vahn’s scouting, the group had managed the trip in slightly under five hours.

Since the 39th floor was considered a safety point, though it wasn’t nearly as safe as the 18th and 50th, the expedition set camp atop a large plateau that provided an overview of the surroundings. Unlike Rivira, which was full of lush greenery and various lakes and rivers, the 39th floor was nameless and looked somewhat dreary since everything was an ashen white color. Other than stone outcroppings, there was no noticeable scenery at all and, if not for the celebratory atmosphere of the expeditionary party, Vahn would have found the floor somewhat distasteful. Fortunately, he seemed to be rather popular amongst the gathered Adventurers and Supporters so any melancholy he might have felt was immediately washed away by the festive atmosphere…

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