Chapter 492: Peace

After a four hour climb up nearly 2km of stairs, the expedition finally reached the surface and Vahn got to experience what it was like to move a massive haul of materials via escort through crowded streets. Since it was early in the morning, there were numerous people entering the Dungeon and they all cleared the path and applauded the expeditions return. The main members of the Loki Familia led the way with Finn holding a massive banner and it was quite the sight to behold. Vahn had been tempted to leave after a few parting words by using Fafnir, but he decided not to ‘steal’ the spotlight from the Loki Familia this time around.

Once the convoy reached Babel Plaza, they came to a temporary stop as it had come time for the other Familia that had accompanied them to part ways. Vahn stood with the group as Finn thanked everyone for their assistance while also expressing interest to work with them in the future. He had even taken the initiative to open the floor to Vahn for a little while, something that had caught him slightly off guard, but he managed to say a few encouraging words to the gathered leaders. Vahn was somewhat fond of the Hephaestus Familia blacksmiths and even promised to do a demonstration for them in the future. It wasn’t uncommon for [Master Smiths] to do annual demonstrations for aspiring blacksmiths and many people were interested to see Vahn’s actual skill level since he was so young.

After everyone began parting ways, Finn walked over and said, “The girls will be returning to the Twilight Manor to celebrate with the Familia and get their Status Boards updated. It looks like Lefiya had reached her peak, though I’m sure you’re more aware of that than anyone, so we’ll be celebrating her rise as a Second-Class Adventurer. I’m certain there are things you have to attend to, but I expect I’ll see you early tomorrow morning when you come to receive them?” Vahn had already known that the girls would be returning to the Twilight Manor temporarily, as they had talked about it within their tent, so he simply nodded his head before shaking hands with Finn and saying, “I’ll be bringing a surprise by, so look forward to it.”

Hearing Vahn mention a ‘surprise’, Finn’s expression broke slightly before he smiled widely and returned to the convoy and began leading the way once again. Vahn was left behind with Fenrir, Haruhime, Naaza, Lili, and Mikoto as they watched the departure until they had reached the opposite side of the tower. Vahn then turned to the patiently waiting girls and smiled before saying, “We’re going to take a short detour before we return to the Manor, okay?” As the ‘voice of reason’ within the group, Naaza asked, “Where are we going?” She didn’t plan to oppose Vahn at all, but she couldn’t help but ask the question that was on everyone’s minds.

As if to answer her question, the shadows at their feet expanded greatly as Fafnir popped up out of the ground and ‘spooked’ several nearby Adventurers and pedestrians. Vahn rubbed its snout before answering, “I have a promise to keep to one of our allies, and I’d like to take care of it before we get busy over the next few days.” Vahn still wanted to surprise the girls a bit, so he was being a little roundabout in his explanation. Haruhime, Mikoto, and Fenrir had some idea about what he was talking about, but Naaza and Lili were completely in the dark about the situation since they hadn’t accompanied Vahn during the Bloodsaurus hunt.

After mounting Fafnir, Vahn didn’t immediately depart the City because he didn’t want to make a ‘bigger’ scene by circumventing the laws that governed every resident. Though it caused a bit of panic amongst the guards, Vahn arrived at the West Gate of Orario before filling out the paperwork for their departure from the City. Things went especially fast because of the ‘pressure’ people felt from Fafnir’s presence. Even though it didn’t do anything to actually intimidate them, Fafnir looked inarguably like an ‘evil’ dragon and its appearance was enough to unnerve weaker people. Most of the guards didn’t exceed Levels 2-3, so the pressure from a Level 5 Dragon was a bit much for them.

Vahn explained that he would check back in through the same gate so that they could inform others not to panic when a dragon appeared outside the gate later. Afterward, they mounted Fafnir once again before flying to one of the large structures that dotted the horizon to the northwest of the City. Eden was a ‘mystical’ looking continent so there were several uncommon structures that couldn’t be found on Earth, not that Vahn would know for certain. One of the features was a series of ‘pillar’ like objects that erupted from the ground at slight angles. The reason people called them pillars was because they were either cylindrical or squarish in shape and the peaks were also flat. As for why you wouldn’t see such a thing in other records, it was because many of them were several kilometers tall and there was no way they were formed ‘naturally’.

Fafnir landed atop one of the massive pillars that were more than 7km wide before everyone climbed down to the surface. They weren’t the first ones to reach the top of one, as some people actually used them as a form of training by climbing to the top, but it was still a spectacle to behold, being able to look out over the nearby City from several kilometers in the air. Vahn eventually wanted to take them all freefalling one day, but there were other things to take care of right now so he pulled out the large monster core from his inventory and began infusing his energy into it.

While he was infusing his energy into the core, which was taking a fair amount of time, Vahn explained, “When we entered the Dungeon to hunt Bloodsaurus, we had come across a sentient Green Dragon…” Vahn had already told them about this in the past, he was just reminding them so they understood the situation a bit better. Once it seemed like everyone recalled this fact, Vahn continued by saying, “I had promised to allow it to see the surface and live a lifestyle free from combat as much as possible. From here onwards, please treat this dragon as one of our companions and look after it so it understands the kindness of others…Fafnir, since you’re a dragon as well, I’ll be relying on you to look after your sibling, okay?”

Hearing that it would have a new companion, Fafnir roared out with its mouth with a terrible roar as a childish voice resonated in everyone’s minds, (“Yay~! Leave it to me, Vahn, I’ll take care of them to the best of my ability~!”) As if not to be left out, Fenrir pumped her paws in an excited manner and said, “Fenrir will also look after the Green Dragon as the big sister!” Then, as if realizing something, Fenrir tilted her head and asked, “Master, are you going to make the Green Dragon a girl or a boy?”

Vahn had been thinking about that for the last few days as well, but he eventually settled on just naming the Green Dragon without thinking about its gender at all.

He knew monsters could be ‘genderless’, so he would leave it to the Green Dragon itself to decide what it wanted to become in the future. However, he couldn’t help but shake the feeling it would end up as a girl while Fafnir would likely become a boy, as it’s childish voice had taken on a more masculine intonation as of late.

Even as a Xenos, which is what Vahn assumed the Green Dragon to be, it had a soft and somewhat womanly voice so Vahn figured that is how it identified itself.

To answer Fenrir’s question, Vahn finished infusing his energy into the monster core and said, “I’ll leave it up to the Green Dragon to make that decision. I should have consulted you and Fafnir about it bef-” Before Vahn could finish his words, Fenrir’s hair stood on end and she said, “Fenrir is super happy to be a girl~! If Fenrir had been a boy, she wouldn’t have been able to spend so much time with Master!” Vahn was slightly surprised by Fenrir’s outburst but he didn’t have much time to address her as a Green Dragon nearly 12m in length appeared after a large cloud of purple dust formed its body.

When it opened its blue eyes, the Green Dragon looked toward the sky and dazed for a moment before a soft voice sounded out in a low growl, “The sky is so beautiful and vast…”. Everyone was brought to a temporary silence, as a combination of the sudden appearance of another large dragon and the ‘sadness’ they could hear in its tone. If the Green Dragon had tear ducts, it might have started crying as a result of seeing the cloudless sky above. Like most Xenos, it longed for the light of the surface and this was the first time it had been able to realize its ‘dream’.

After staring at the sky for a short while, the Green Dragon turned its head toward Vahn before leaning forward and nuzzling against him in an affectionate manner as it said, “My Master, you have kept your promise…thank you…”. Vahn used his [Hands of Nirvana] and [Petting] to comfort the dragon, something it seemed to be somewhat startled by, as he said, “I’ve only kept part of my promise so far, and I’m about to make good on the second part. To ensure that others are able to accept your presence, I’m going to bestow upon you a name. You should know that the name I give you can give you great power, or it can change your fate to guarantee you can experience the peace you desire. Depending on your choices, you can even become humanoid and take on the appearance of a man or woman…it’s all up to you.”

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Hearing Vahn’s words, the Green Dragon opened its eyes with a slightly contemplative look as it turned to observe Fafnir and Fenrir. It could sense that they were the same as it was, monsters that had come to serve Vahn. It didn’t know the name of the dragon, but the Green Dragon felt an instinctive fear towards it and knew it wouldn’t be able to fight it at all. Even the small Fenrir had become much stronger since the last time the Green Dragon had seen her, so she knew Vahn’s words were true. After coming to a decision, the Green Dragon turned to Vahn and said, “I will accept the fate my Master bestows me…just know that I do not like fighting…though I do desire the power to protect myself and others…”

Vahn smiled before asking, “Do you have a preference about being a boy or a girl…or perhaps you’d like to be genderless? I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to change it in the future, so you’ll have to consider the matter seriously.” The Green Dragon cocked its head slightly before saying, “I am a female, even in my past life, so I’d like to remain as such. As for my form, it doesn’t matter to me that much as long as I’m able to live a peaceful life…” Since the dragon wanted to be a female, Vahn respected its decision and began to form an image in his mind.

There were surprisingly very few records he could find about dragons that protected nature, but that didn’t mean there weren’t any. As part of an experiment, though it might have been ‘rude’ to conduct it without permission, Vahn harbored the desire that it would be able to change form in the future. If it truly obtained the ability to do so, Vahn figured he would be able to glean some understanding from the ability and potentially even teach it to Fafnir in the future. Fafnir was still an adolescent dragon, which meant it would still grow much larger in the future. Vahn was worried it might even reach more than 40m and it would be very difficult for it to move above on the surface. It’s weak spot also grew in proportion to its size, so Vahn wanted to find a way to help it shrink its body so it would be safer.

Some of the names Vahn had researched came up with results about a peaceful dragon of dreams and nature, named Ysera, a guardian of the mortal plane, Treva, and the more preeminent of the earth dragons, Gaea and Terra. Vahn knew there was a powerful primordial goddess by the name of Gaea, so he was somewhat worried about ‘borrowing’ the name and inadvertently offending someone. Though he would be borrowing the name from a dragon from a different record, Vahn still had a few concerns about it. As for Treva, it might give the Green Dragon a lot of power, but it might also bind her to a fate of inevitable conflict. The last name on his list was simply a nature spirit named Evergreen, and Vahn was curious what would happen if he wanted her to stay a dragon while giving her the name of a powerful nature spirit…

Eventually deciding it would be best to take into consideration the Green Dragon’s desire for a ‘peaceful’ life, Vahn looked up and asked the dragon itself, “I can name you Evergreen, which would give you power over nature and plant life, or I can name you Terra, which would give you dominion over the earth itself if you become strong enough. Neither would require you to fight, but both names give you great potential…” The Green Dragon blinked its large eyes once before asking, “Can I choose Terra Evergreen as my name? They both seem like good names and I do not wish for either to go to waste…”

Hearing the Green Dragon’s question, Vahn found his mind had blanked somewhat before thought began to rapidly bounce around in his head. Out of curiosity, Vahn opened up his system shop and did a search for ‘Terra Evergreen’ and found several books and items related to entities with that existence. Vahn was somewhat worried that the Green Dragon might end up being named after a person from a different record, one which had nothing to do with dragons, and it seemed like he had good reason to be. Since he didn’t want to read through every book, Vahn decided to trust in the nature of his skill since it had even been able to make Fenrir into an adorable girl simply because he wanted the evolution to be ‘cute’.

Vahn smiled before nodding his head and saying, “We’ll go with that then…from this point onward, you shall be known as Terra Evergreen, Dragon-Avatar of the Earth, and Guardian of Nature…” The instant his words finished, a vortex of energy began to envelop the Green Dragon and Vahn as powerful winds formed atop the surface of the Pillar. Fortunately, the girls were much stronger now and they had the protection of Fafnir’s magic to block the turbulent energy. It wasn’t nearly as chaotic as Fafnir’s and Vahn felt a gentle warmth spreading from the Green Dragon as her form shrank a great deal.

After a bit of time passed, the 12m dragon had shrunken down into a sphere 3m in diameter as roots began growing from the ground and twining around it. The roots began to sprout branches from which rainbow-colored flowers began to bloom from. Vahn could smell an incredibly calming fragrance spread through the air as the turbulent energy immediately came to a stop, replaced instead by a gentle breeze. The entire top of the Pillar erupted with plant life as the cold atmosphere now permeated a spring-like warmth as a sea of flowers was formed throughout the entire 7km radius atop the Pillar. The green energy that had formed into a sphere began to solidify until it looked like a piece of pure green amber with a shadowy figure located in its core.

The energy in the air had completely stabilized and there was a very strange yet comforting sense of ‘peace’ that had enveloped everyone present. Vahn felt like there would be nothing better in the entire world than simply laying down in the field of flowers and enjoying the sunshine as he counted the clouds or took a long nap. However, he was more interested in the emerald-green amber that had been entwined with ‘magical’ roots. Though they looked normal at first glance, there were emerald-green lines that grew along the roots that were full of vitality and life. Vahn felt like they would be incredibly valuable materials for alchemy but decided not to concern himself with it as he waited for Terra to emerge from the amber. He instinctually knew she would awaken very soon and turned his attention to the Unit Management to check her status in the meantime…

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(Terra Evergreen)

Age: 7 months 19 days (Ageless)

Race: True Dragon

Level: 4

Loyalty: 92

Soul Strength: Tier 1 (Named Familiar)

Karma: –

State: [Active], [Chrysalis]

Skills: [Avatar of Earth:Innate(B)], [Guardian of Nature:Innate(C)], [Pacifism:C], [Aroma Therapy:B], [Healing Sap:C] [Terra Evergreen] A unique entity formed from the amalgamation of two records, The Earth Dragon, Terra, and the Queen of the Spirits, Evergreen. As an entity formed to be the embodiment of peace, they are unable to exercise their might in the majority of combat situations but have incredible support potential. Within a given area, they are able to exercise rudimentary control over nature, with their power growing further the longer their roots are embedded within the soil. Proper nourishment could even give them full control over the planet, so take proper care of the one who bears this record, lest you face the wrath of the planet itself!

[Avatar of the Earth]

Rank: Innate(B) *Innate skills cannot be identified. Attempts to do so will result in a backlash.*

Passive: Allows the user to exercise dominion over the land in a given area. Proper nourishment is required to sustain their growth and they can become sick if the land in the area is polluted.

Active: Strengthens allies within their territory while weakening enemies.

[Guardian of Nature]

Rank: Innate(C) *Innate skills cannot be identified. Attempts to do so will result in a backlash.*

Passive: Nourishes plant life and greatly accelerates their growth.

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Active: Creates a ‘Nature Spirit Guardian’ that siphons natural energy in the surroundings to defeat enemies.

[Pacifism]

Rank: C

Use: Increases parameters when out of combat. Sharply decreases parameters if the user builds negative emotions.

[Aroma Therapy]

Rank: B

Use: Allows the user generates a fragrance that is pleasant to all entities. Calms the mind of those that smell the fragrance and reminds them of fond memories.

[Healing Sap]

Rank: C

Use: Allows the user to produce sap that can be applied to wounds to rapidly regenerate damaged tissue. Can also be ingested and has a flavor reminiscent of honey and sugar dew.

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