The happy atmosphere shared by the three, with Fenrir as a silent observer, didn’t last for long however as Mikoto seemed to recall what else was ‘necessary’ before they departed. She had been thinking about heading out to train with her new katana, but the practical training against monsters was inarguably more important since she could hone her battle awareness at the same time. Though she still had inhibitions about it, Mikoto had already made her resolve in the past to serve Vahn as his blade and, if he one day decided to push their relationship forward, she had already prepared her heart after discussing the matter with Haruhime several times…
Vahn had noticed the slightly chaotic fluctuations in Mikoto’s aura as the smile disappeared from her face and, although it wasn’t that noticeable, how she had started to take slightly deeper breaths through her nose. Seemingly finding her resolve, Mikoto’s eyes became somewhat serious as she moved her hand up and unfastened the clasp holding her shoulder guard in place. Then, Mikotoko loosened her own kimono with somewhat rigid movements before revealing her breasts, which were wrapped tightly with a cloth sarashi, similar to Tsubaki. Her breathing had become slightly more labored as she reached up to loosen the sarashi before her head drooped a bit and she decided to turn around instead. It almost appeared as if she was going to set aside her shame as a show of conviction, but she hesitated at the end after imagining how her behavior might be misconstrued by others as her ‘tempting’ Vahn.
Fenrir had already moved out of his lap so that he would be able to move easier so Vahn kneeled behind Mikoto before pricking his finger and tracing a line of blood down the curve of her back. The Hestia Familia crest came into existence and Vahn began scanning his eyes over the values present. Since she was one of the girls that generally went to Hestia for her Status update, this was the first time Vahn was seeing Mikoto’s progress since before they departed for their excursion in the past. Though she had made fair progress, Vahn could understand why she was feeling a bit of pressure as the majority of girls within the Familia had overtaken her in a short period of time. Even Haruhime, the girl she had sworn to protect from future harm was now much stronger than her and the few spars they had always resulted in the disciplined swordswoman’s loss…
(A/N: I went back and checked only to realize I never posed Mikoto’s updated status in the past so I’ll do so now…)
Name: Yamato Mikoto
Skill: [Yatanokurogarasu:C->B], [Prometheus’s Blessing:A]
Magic: [Futsunomitama:B], [Apocalypse: Innate(sealed)]
Development Skill: [Abnormal Resistance:C], [Swordsman:(sealed)]
Though her foundation was very ‘balanced’, Mikoto had increased her level far too quickly because she had been desperate to become stronger to save Haruhime. After they entered the City, Takemikazuchi had the fortune of establishing a connection with Hephaestus while also learning of the existence of the ‘heroic’ Vahn so he had his children focus on growing stronger instead of simply searching the unknown City. He wasn’t aware of this, but the current Mikoto was far stronger than her future self had been by a fair amount. However, when compared to the growth of some of the other girls around her, she couldn’t help but feel very weak and often spent several hours a day honing her skills in the pursuit of greater strength.
While Mikoto was fixing her clothing, Vahn held his hand to his chin while in deep thought about methods he could employ to help her become stronger. She was certain to experience parameter development when they hunted on the 51st floor, but Mikoto was the type that placed greater value in her swordsmanship and actual skill than her base parameters. Since she didn’t actually have any skills or abilities that modified her parameters any, Vahn understood why she would have such an emphasis since she didn’t have anything else to rely on previously. Now she had the [Mizuryū-no-Mai], her strength would likely increase greatly but Vahn wanted to help her have something she could personally rely on, other than her equipment.
If Mikoto was truly going to treat him as her Master, Vahn wasn’t going to overlook her training in a passive manner anymore and wanted to help push her along the path she chose for herself. Other than making her do some training to develop [Featherfoot], Vahn wanted her to have an attack skill or something else that could bolster her strength in a pinch. Every powerful Adventurer he had seen all had some way to enhance her parameters while the only benefit Mikoto had was the support of Haruhime on occasion. Relying on other people for such things could have adverse effects, however, since you might become over-reliant on their buffs and never develop any of your own…
Vahn ultimately decided that he actually wasn’t capable of teaching Mikoto and there wasn’t much he could do other than offer her advice and guidance on her own path. She also had the guidance of capable swordswomen like Ais and Tsubaki, so Vahn changed his approach about things and instead decided to make use of The Path to assist him. Though it would put his daily expenditures over 600k OP, Vahn unhesitantly used the gacha again, this time looking for sword techniques and manuals that could help Mikoto increase her own comprehension. It could also benefit his own growth in the future if he decided to pursue sword techniques so there was no major downside to it at all, especially considering his own [Swordsman] was A-Rank.
Against his expectations, the first orb that was spat out by the wooden wheel was a deep Indigo in color that had a powerful light shining within its core. Vahn had started to speculate that the colors were either based on the color spectrum or the progression of chakras within the body so Indigo should be much higher quality than even the blue orbs that had contained the two girls’ katanas. If his assumption was correct, the grades should range between Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet, with the highest rarity being a combination of them all creating a resplendent rainbow such as when he obtained [Magia Erebea] and [Mantra of Eternity] in the past. However, Vahn also knew that the color should be based on his current Soul Tier so something that was rainbow when he was Tier 2 might be as low as Red in the far future.
Other than the first Indigo orb, there were two red orbs while the rest were white in coloration with the only exception being the ‘bonus’ pull which had come out as a dull grey that made Vahn’s eye twitch. He had felt like the bonus pull had a higher chance of being a ‘win’ so it was a little unexpected to see a dud as the final item. Harboring a hope that it was a ‘unique’ shade of black instead of an actual dull grey, Vahn cracked it open and the only thing that popped out was a piece of paper showing three images. The first image was them standing still while the second showed them raising their sword only for the third image to be the exact same as the first. It showed the most basic form of a slash and Vahn knew his delusion had been shattered as he fed it back into the shop for a whopping 0 OP.
Without wasting any more time, even though so little had passed that Mikoto was still wrapping her sarashi around her breasts, Vahn cracked open the Indigo orb to reveal a somewhat worn looking silk scroll with ornamental carved bamboo at the ends in the style of the Far East. Vahn couldn’t discern anything from its appearance so he threw it into his inventory to read the description and saw the name and rank of the scroll before his brows raised. After checking in the system shop, Vahn saw that it was actually worth 3,000,000OP and any worries he had about ‘wasting’ his OP had completely flown out the window.
————————————————————————-[Flying Heavenly Sword Scroll](A/N: Or as many people would know it: Scroll of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū)
Rank: S (Heritage)
Use: A manual detailing an ancient kenjutsu style from the Sengoku Jidai, developed to allow a single samurai to defeat numerous foes single-handedly, created by Hiko Seijūrō I.
After scanning the surprisingly lengthy contents with his mind, Vahn pulled out the scroll and held onto it with a serious expression on his face as he waited for Mikoto to finish dressing. When she noticed his look, her countenance also because serious because the atmosphere in the room had become somewhat tense a short while earlier. After she resumed her seat, Vahn held up the scroll as if it were an especially fragile artifact and said, “This scroll contains a powerful sword heritage that could allow you to one day become the greatest swordswoman in the world. I will entrust it to you for safekeeping Mikoto, in the hopes that you will master its contents and one day proliferate the techniques through your own disciples one day…”
Mikoto was a little confused by Vahn’s claims, as they were very bold and it seemed very difficult to believe, but she reached out and the accepted the scroll regardless while deciding to believe in his words. At the very least, she knew the contents of the scroll would allow her to become much stronger so Mikoto treated the matter seriously, especially considering that it was Vahn’s first official bestowment since becoming her Master. Even if he gave her a scroll that caused her to gain proficiency in doing a task like laundry, she would study it seriously simply because of the value she placed in her own pride and the principles she lived by. Vahn wasn’t the type to mislead people in such a way, however, but Mikoto had no way of knowing that the scroll she had just received would one day become one of the most coveted items within the entire mortal world…
There obviously wasn’t time for Mikoto to practice the [Flying Heavenly Sword Scroll] right now, so led her and Fenrir to another different entrance to the 51st floor. Mikoto hadn’t been too fond of the idea of riding Vahn’s back or having him carry her, so they ended up running to a nearby entrance instead of taking advantage of his [Shundo] as a convenient mode of transportation. Vahn didn’t actually mind running along because he was still a Vanargandr and there was something ‘exciting’ about feeling the wind pass through his fur and the large ears atop his head. Other than his hyper-sensitive senses, the thing that Vahn had the most trouble adapting to were the two large ears he had obtained as a Vanargandr. They were around 15cm long and it was very weird for him to feel them moving about atop his head.
One of the reasons it was strange is because Vahn wasn’t normally able to ‘move’ his ears about in most of his forms yet, as a Vanargandr, they were capable of rotating around 30 degrees, almost like a rabbit, whenever he picked up on sounds. There was also the fact that, whenever he tried to relax and stop focusing on the various sounds around him, the ears would flop down unless he stood with a proper posture or willed them to stand tall. He started to realize why Fenrir, after obtaining her new body, would often flop her ears about in an adorable manner. Vahn felt she had been trying to get used to the much larger ears and he wondered if he would have to do the same in the future since the form was actually very convenient for fighting.
After making their way down to the 51st-floor entrance, Vahn explained to Mikoto all the things she would have to be aware of. She was only Level 2 and didn’t have a ‘cheat-like’ combat Innate to enhance her capabilities like Haruhime and Lili. She would also be using a new weapon so she needed to exercise caution while doing her best to avoid taking blows from the powerful Level 4 Black Rhinos. Fortunately, she had the benefit of years of training and her skills had been polished to a much greater extent than many of the other girls. Her agility should allow her to dodge the Black Rhinos with relative ease, and the 90cm long blade would be able to cut through the hide of the monsters without any major difficulties. As long as she didn’t lose her focus, things shouldn’t become a problem. With her passive ability to sense monsters she has slain before, the moment she kills a single Black Rhinos and Deformis Spider things would get a lot safer for her.
Hearing Vahn’s cautionary words, Mikoto listened with a serious expression on her face before responding, “I understand.” in a firm tone the moment he finished. Vahn nodded his head with a smile before turning to Fenrir and gesturing to her to lead the way. They wouldn’t be ‘hunting’ like they had during the first half of the day, but she didn’t seem to mind it too much at all. Fenrir knew that Mikoto was ‘weak’ so it was important to make sure they took things slowly so accidents wouldn’t happen. When they finally approached the first group of monsters, Fenrir looked at Mikoto and said, “Mikoto will stay back and fight the enemies Fenrir lets through. Vahn will watch over you, but make sure you do your best if you want to become stronger.”
Mikoto nodded without showing before unsheathing her new katana and preparing for the coming battle. Fenrir gave her one last glance before charging into the corridor and triggering the spawn of the Black Rhinos. She felt much faster now and had already killed nearly six-hundred Black Rhinos on her own so she unhesitantly charged at the supposedly strong monsters before passing her claws through them effortlessly. Her [Severing Claws] allowed her to cut as deep as 30cm if she tried hard and each of the ‘blades’ carried the same unstoppable momentum of her normal claws. Fenrir didn’t bother making sure they were dead, instead focusing on disabling them and controlling their movements since she still needed to let Mikoto fight. As a result, one of the first enemies she had attacked, which had large gashes in its thigh, had recovered a bit and charged toward Mikoto with significantly reduced speed.
Seeing the enemy approach her, Mikoto’s expression turned even more serious and she even pursed her lips slightly as she leaned forward slightly and shifted her weight to the right while kicking off with her left foot. In the same evasive motion she used to dodge the Black Rhinos’ charge, Mikoto slashed horizontally with [Mizuryū-no-Mai] and sliced through the side of the monster before using her right foot as a pivot to twist around and follow its back for the next strike. Because she hadn’t done anything to stop its momentum, the Black Rhinos had continued forward and slid across the ground for several meters, still alive. Mikoto chased after it before piercing her katana into its back and pulling it out in an arc that left a 130cm gash in it’s back. Mikoto was surprised with how little ‘feedback’ she felt from her own actions because the sword was much sharper than she had expected.
After finding her footing, Mikoto targetted another nearby Black Rhino before dashing forward. Its momentous charge was much faster than her own, but Mikoto was able to easily change direction while the monster was forced to carry forward as a result of its own inertia and its propensity for mindlessly charging forward. Before it was able to slow down and change direction, Mikoto had stepped in behind it and traced her sword in a horizontal slash across the back of the Black Rhinos that nearly bisected its entire body. Once again, there was almost no feedback from the slash and Mikoto felt like she was passing her black through water instead of a monster known for its durability. As a follow-up to her attack, Mikoto pierced forward with her katana once again, but this time she didn’t put much strength into the movement. Her sword passed through the back of Black Rhinos like she was inserting it into a block of tofu before it turned into dust when she struck its magic core.
Mikoto was somewhat conflicted with how ‘easy’ it was to kill the enemies because it almost felt like she was relying more on the katana in her hands than her own strength. However, as long as she used any weapon at all, she was inarguably relying on it to defeat her enemies. Thus, though it caused her a bit of discomfort, Mikoto looked at the unblemished blade with a somewhat affectionate look and resolved herself to become worthy of wielding it in the future. This katana would one day become an extension of her own body and a trusted companion that she placed her fate in during the heat of battle. Having a strong companion was always better than having a weak one so Mikoto promised that she would become strong enough so as not to hold the katana itself back…