Chapter 469: Control

Unlike the previous formation they had assumed earlier in the day, Vahn had decided to change things up since he wanted to practice his mid-range combat capabilities. He had come up with the idea of refining his close combat skills in the mornings while trying to further develop his magic and control skills in the afternoons. Fenrir needed practice fighting multiple enemies to develop her own polish her own instincts further, so it was a good opportunity for her to get even stronger. Vahn actually believed she would be able to reach Level 4 by the time the expedition came to an end because her earlier progress had been startling, even by his standards.

However, it wasn’t Vahn initial intent to adopt this type of training style and he had made his decision after taking into consideration Naaza’s existence within the group. Though her agility was very high, she didn’t have any mobility skills and was a pure backline specialist. Her ranged capabilities were exceptional and she could even kill powerful enemies with her [Darbh Daol] magic. It was an incredibly rare magic ability that made use of ‘devouring’ laws, so there were few enemies that had any resistance to it at all. As long as she managed to land the initial hit, it was almost guaranteed to kill her target after the spell literally ate through their bodies like a series of scarabs devouring the flesh of a corpse.

Since it was a spell that targeted the insides, there was almost no way to survive it unless you had some form of magic resistance or outright managed to evade it. With her increased Magic parameter from obtaining his flame seed, she had refined the skill to a scary extent and would likely even be able to solo the Goliath on her own, assuming she could evade its rage after landing the blow. The biggest weakness to the spell was that the initial projectile was somewhat slow and that it took time to devour the enemy.

Fenrir happily led the way through the 51st floor as Vahn followed a few meters behind her while scanning the Dungeon with his [Eyes of Truth]. As Fenrir was even more sensitive to their bond now, it was almost like she shared his sight because she could intuit the location of enemies the moment Vahn located them. She was also in a very good mood since earlier and seemed to enjoy leading the way instead of waiting for others to guide her. As for Naaza, she kept pace at a relatively close distance to Vahn with her bow always at the ready.

Every time Vahn saw the [Yi Bow], he couldn’t deny that he was tempted to make use of the somewhat terrifying weapon himself. For a relatively small amount of mana, Naaza could infuse a bit of the record of Yi into the arrows and they could deal catastrophic damage to enemies while crowd controlling stronger monsters. Even a grazing blow could rip limbs from monsters and she had garnered herself quite a reputation amongst the expedition party since her attacks seemed to ignore both physical and magical resistances. Vahn wouldn’t be surprised if she actually carried the alias [Yi] in the future or became known as a ‘goddess’ of archery.

The coolest thing, however, was the fact that whenever Naaza focused on something in the distance, her purple eyes would actually turn a golden color as the white sclera of her eyes turned black. This was the physical manifestation of her [Eagle Eye] skill and Vahn was somewhat envious of the striking golden eyes that seemed to pierce through anything. Though his eyes literally carried that trait, Vahn knew they simply shone with a blue magical light which was actually rather common amongst the phenomenon that would be generated by skills that affected the eyes. He could change his eye color whenever he wanted, sure, but there was something ‘cool’ about how Naaza’s change in an instant.

Their first encounter was surprisingly not against a group of Black Rhinos and Vahn was rather shocked to find a slightly wider room that had three hidden presences within. As she had also sensed the strange enemies up ahead, Fenrir scrunched up her nose and began to sniff around in the air before saying, “It smells like rotting meat…” Though she didn’t care much about taste, Fenrir wasn’t fond of powerful smells since her olfactory senses were stronger than almost any other race found within the record.

Vahn’s expression turned into a somewhat cruel one that surprised Naaza but didn’t seem to have any effect whatsoever on Fenrir. He looked back at the hesitant Chienthrope girl and said, “Sorry, Naaza, but I have something of a personal grudge against Deformis Spiders so I want to take this group out on my own…” Hearing Vahn mentioned the massive spiders, a shiver passed through Naaza’s body and it was Vahn’s turn to be surprised. She saw his expression and a wry smile appeared on her face as she said, “I’ll leave this one to you…I’m not that great with spiders…” Though he had been rather serious previously, Vahn couldn’t help but laugh in a hearty manner before giving Naaza a playful look and saying, “Leave it to me…”

Without entering the room, Vahn actually sat down on the floor of the Dungeon and began to focus his mind as his domain converged around them. Even without his urging, Fenrir drew closer to Vahn and assumed a defensive posture which incited Naaza to partially draw her bow as her own alertness was increased. As for Vahn, he was trying to draw on his earlier experience where he had used the ‘vanish’ ability while also making use of the experience he had quarrying stone for the encampment. Vahn knew that he could exercise control over elemental energies within his domain and the Dungeon wasn’t an exception to this. It took more effort than inert material, but Vahn could essentially ‘override’ sections of the Dungeon temporarily…

After infusing his intent into the areas of the Dungeon near the Deformis Spiders, Vahn opened his eyes a cruel glint passed through them. Though he wasn’t sure why he took such actions, Vahn brought his palms together as he sent out a subtle pulse of energy. Even though he wasn’t in the room, Vahn could ‘envision’ the entire scene within his mind as he willed the Dungeon itself to attack the unsuspecting spiders. Within the blink of an eye, three thick spikes protruded from the wall and pierced through the large abdomens of the Deformis Spiders as they began to writhe around and release a shrill shriek that made Naaza flinch behind him. Even Fenrir’s ears twitched as her brows furrowed in distaste at the unpleasant sound.

Though it was a bit cruel, Vahn began infusing flame elemental energy into the Deformis Spiders bodies using his [Heart of the Eternal Flame] as they began to roast on the skewers Vahn had created. He actually had no intention of torturing them, he just simply chose an indirect method to fight them as they themselves were ambush predators. Though it likely wouldn’t be interpreted as such by The Path, Vahn knew there was such a concept as karmic retribution and ‘getting even’ with things on behalf of another person was actually an acceptable thing as long as he didn’t take it too far. It was futile to try and hunt every Deformis Spider within the Dungeon, as they could be infinitely spawned, but Vahn wanted to at least enact some form of justice on the first group he encountered.

As a result of his own ‘grudge’ with the Deformis Spiders, Vahn actually only obtained a single point of negative karma while gaining a surprising nineteen positive karma. This meant that his ‘retribution’ had come to an end and that ‘fate’ was rewarding him for carrying out his task without taking it to the extreme. However, since the method he employed was rather cruel, Vahn still obtained a cheeky point of negative karma, almost as if fate was giving him a mild reprimand. Moderately content with the outcome, Vahn simply resolved himself to create an ‘anti-spider’ weapon in the future that he would use as his weapon of choice for whenever he encountered another Deformis Spider.

After rising to his feet, Vahn looked at the somewhat startled Naaza before smiling gently and stroking her droopy ears. She was one of the few Chienthrope girls he knew with flat droopy ears and it always made her look somewhat sad whenever she wasn’t smiling. As was the case with most of the girls these days, Naaza closed her eyes and a pleased expression appeared on her face as she completely relaxed. Vahn’s smile widened before he ruffled Fenrir’s hair and said, “Let’s continue forward…we can all become much stronger, but only if we put in the effort to do so.” Though brief, Fenrir was satisfied by the fact that Vahn still ‘remembered’ to reward her for protecting his body when he was focusing earlier. With his orders fresh in her ears, a predatory looked appeared on her face as she activated her [Huntress] and began hunting the unfortunate prey would find its way across her path.

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As Deformis Spiders were relatively rare, they didn’t encounter anymore for the rest of the day as Vahn continued to refine what he was calling his ‘elemental control’. Though it wasn’t easy, he was slowly learning to manipulate the elemental energies in the air through the motions of his body. Other than fire, his control over the other elements was lacking, but Vahn was still capable of manipulating each of them to an extent. As long as he practiced, Vahn was confident he would even be able to use time elemental energies to literally freeze his enemies, at least temporarily.

The more complex elements took a greater amount of focus and actually had a surprising impact on his stamina instead of his source energy. As he was using the ambient elemental energies in the atmosphere, instead of using his own energy, the only upkeep for the ability was the energy he used to sustain his domain and the stamina usage he used in his movements. Vahn found that certain hand shapes and motions could actually influence different energies more easily and it kind of felt like he was creating ‘hand signs’ like in Naruto, except none of the ones from his memory actually seemed to do anything.

Whenever they engaged enemies, Vahn would instantly start off by infusing flame elemental energy around the heads of the Black Rhinos, with emphasis placed on their eyes, and he was actually getting much better at hitting them while they were moving after a bit of practice. Without the ability to see, the monsters continued their momentous charges without any sense of direction as Fenrir jumped from their bodies with her increased Agility and carved massive gashes in their bodies. There was even one unfortunate Black Rhinos that Fenrir had vaulted over as she swiped her claws across its head. Vahn got to see the somewhat unnerving sight of a monster’s head quadrisected before it burst into purple dust a few milliseconds later.

As for Naaza, her hands moved with impeccable precision as she skillfully loosed arrows towards the joints of the Black Rhinos, similar to Vahn. She actually only used the active ability of her bow whenever enemies began targetting her as she was experienced enough to know that conserving her mana was important. Since she had never partied with Vahn before, she wasn’t accounting for the fact that he could replenish her mana or she might have been spamming them. She might not be that open about it, but Vahn was very aware that she enjoyed small moments of contact with him and it made his own heart flutter because of her adorable reactions.

A pair of Black Rhinos managed to break from Fenrir’s defensive line but she simply sent them a glance before turning her attention to other enemies. There was a slight frown on her face, as she had intended to prevent anything from getting through, but she was ‘mature’ enough to know that pursuing every enemy would overdraft her. Instead, she decided to take out her frustrations on the other enemies while leaving the two stragglers for Naaza to deal with. Though she would definitely become the strongest, Fenrir knew it was also important for the other girls to become stronger too so Vahn wouldn’t have to watch over them so much.

Seeing the pair slip through Fenrir’s claws, Naaza’s eyes turned sharp as she loosed two arrows that shone with a black luster in less than a tenth of a second. Vahn followed their path with his [Eyes of Truth] as they slammed into the heads of the Black Rhinos and exploded into miniature black holes that caused space to warp for around 1m and distort the heads of the monsters until they had been compressed to a point. Before the effect of the arrows had faded, the monsters had burst into purple dust that was also absorbed by the small vortex of space elemental energy before disappearing from this world entirely.

Every time Vahn saw the effect activate, he was impressed by the incredible firepower because he knew that Naaza only used about 3% of her total mana on the two arrows. Once she learned [Spirit Healing] in the future, Naaza’s capabilities would become monstrous and the effect would be even more pronounced. By the time she hit Level 5, or higher, Vahn could even see her taking out floor bosses with a single well-placed arrow. Though the credit might ultimately belong to the bow he had created, Vahn now associated the weapon with Naaza and couldn’t see her using anything else after her current display. Since she wasn’t the most expressive girl, she looked stoic as she skillfully drew each arrow before accurately hitting her target with commendable efficiency. More than any other person that used a bow, including himself, Vahn felt like Naaza was especially suited to using it.

Though it was a strange thought to develop in the middle of combat, Vahn wondered if he could ‘shape’ the future of other Adventurers with the equipment he forged for him. He was now beginning to understand why [Master Smith]s were so selective with their clientele and typically only made weapons to suit the current capabilities of the Adventurer. If they gave out powerful weapons, it wasn’t incorrect to say the Adventurer would be ‘defined’ by the weapon they wielded. Vahn, however, didn’t see this as something that was inherently bad since he knew it was possible to make soulbound equipment that would exclusively belong to the individual he created it for.

As long as they continue putting in the effort to improve themselves, Vahn didn’t think it was ‘wrong’ for relatively weak Adventurers to wield powerful weapons. This was, of course, a bit of a bias and Vahn recognized it as such. It was his desire to ensure the girls were protected that allowed him to justify his actions as he didn’t even mind using every last bit of OP in his possession as long as he could ensure their continued survival…

By the time their hunt had come to an end, they had encountered a total of 417 Black Rhinos over a period of six hours. Naaza had eventually gotten a bit winded during the extended engagement and blushed beet red when Vahn ‘playfully’ placed his hand against her navel and efficiently recharged her mana. It was, after all, the most effective spot to insert his energy and he enjoyed seeing her try to keep her cool as her tail trembled behind her as a result of her attempts to keep it under control. However, from that point onwards, Naaza began spamming her Yi arrows a bit with the excuse that it was good for her Magic parameter development. Of course, for future replenishments, she made sure that Vahn inserted it through her back so she could hide her face from his view.

As a result of their exertions, Naaza’s parameters had increased a fair amount, to the point where she would need to level up soon, while Fenrir had experienced another moderate spurt of growth. Proactively engaging opponents was her preferred method of fighting and she was adapting at a visible rate that would stun veteran Adventurers. Just this morning, though she didn’t exactly struggle against them, Fenrir had taken a few minutes to defeat three Black Rhinos. Now, however, she could manage a group of seven in the same amount of time and had become increasingly proficient at using her [Severing Claws]. Though it varied in length, Vahn had seen the wave of energy reach as far as 23cm at times and it had allowed her to completely sever the limbs of some of her more unfortunate enemies.

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[[STATUS]]

Name: Naaza Erisuis

Race: Chienthrope

LV. 2(+)

POW: D529->D570

END: D598->C619

DEX: S903->S998

AGI: A820->A860

MAG: S955->SS1071

Skill: [Bow Mastery:B], [Eagle Eye:B], [Prometheus’s Blessing:A]

Magic: [Awen:Innate(sealed)], [Darbh Daol:A]

Development Skill: [Mixing:B], [Spirit Healing:(sealed)], [Mage:(sealed)]

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[[STATUS]]

Name: [Fenrir]

Level:3

POW: E419->E478

END: G299->F340

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DEX: D583->C639

AGI: C612->C688

MAG: G202->G299

Skills: [Insatiable Hunger:Innate(-)], [Lunar Cry:A], [Freezing Roar:A], [Chainbreaker:C], [Devour:SS], [Huntress:SS], [Endeavor:E], [Severing Claws:G->E]

Magic: –

Development Abilities: [Chain Attack:E->D]

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As for his own development, Vahn’s parameters hadn’t changed much but his proficiency in manipulating elemental energy had increased greatly. Though there was nigh-infinite room for improvement, Vahn could envision a future where he could even direct the spells of enemies after they had already been fired. Without using his own source energy, he would even be able to upturn the earth, freely transition water through its various states, or even lock his opponents within time. If he could grasp the concept behind it, Vahn might even one day be able to emulate the effect of the Yi arrows through his own domain and cause spatial vortexes to appear within the bodies of his enemies…

(A/N: Some people might be a bit concerned about the borderline ‘info dumps’ present in the current chapters. Note that these chapters are recording the somewhat ‘explosive’ growth of the members of the Hestia Familia as they are currently around Level 2-3 and fighting enemies that are AT LEAST Level 4. The amount of exilia they are capable of gaining on these floors, at least at their current level, is actually quite immense. Even though they might be dealing with the enemies with relative ease, there is still a very real danger of them sustaining heavy injuries if they make even a simple mistake. This is also a good opportunity for me to flesh out some of the relatively ‘obscure’ characters that had fallen to the wayside, so please be patient with me (UwU)~!)

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