Chapter 625: Parting : Departure

In the time before he was ejected from the orb, Vahn sat around in the scenic clearing that Terra had made over the course of three days. Eva was sitting at his side, holding his arm as she leaned against his shoulder with her eyes closed, enjoying the gentle breeze that was flowing through the air as a result of Vahn’s domain. Fenrir was sitting on his other side, hugging his arm tightly and rubbing her cheek against him, showing an unwillingness to separate even though this was a decision she made herself. As for Terra, she watched the three of them wither her sky-blue eyes glistening, tapping her tail against the ground in a steady rhythm that showed she wasn’t looking forward to the coming separation either…

To allay their worries, Vahn smiled and calmly stated, “The two of you can become much stronger if you listen to Eva and follow her teachings seriously. When I reach the 39th Floor, if you don’t want to stay inside the orb, you can come out and just watch the construction of the Depot and relax…you don’t have to stay in here the entire time, after all.” Each twelve-hour period in the real world corresponded to a four year period within the orb, meaning 480 years would have passed within the orb by the time Vahn returned to the surface. He couldn’t even imagine how much Fenrir or Terra would change in that period of time and wanted them to know they didn’t have to stay inside, even though he kind of wanted a companion for Eva.

Vahn intended to capture another Wyvern, or some other kind of flying monster, when he went into the Dungeon this time around. The cooldown for his [Keeper of the Akashic] tome was almost up and he had promised Loki previously that he would capture one for her. Though it was a little ‘cruel’, Vahn also intended to bring it into the orb so that it would be able to accompany Eva in the event that Fenrir and Terra wanted to leave. He wouldn’t have too many attachments to it, at least not at first, and Vahn was confident it would be able to cope better than Fenrir and Terra, as they were already somewhat attached to him…

Terra squinted her eyes slightly when she heard Vahn’s words, smiling as she said, “Since I’m a True Dragon, my strength primarily increases with my age and wisdom, thus I intend to stay inside the orb for as long as possible. Fear not, Master, as I will not lose myself to loneliness as long as you treat me well later on…I won’t compete with Evangeline for your affections within the orb, but I’d like to receive your attention when we return to the Manor…” Much like Fenrir, Terra realized she could also ‘mature’ by associating with Eva, especially since she seemed like an intelligent and sensible girl. There was also a library with tens-of-thousands of books present, many related to various fields of research. She hadn’t mentioned it yet, but Terra also considered learning a craft, such as [Blacksmithing], so she would be able to assist her Master in the future…

As if incited by Terra’s words, Fenrir showed a very ‘sad’ expression as she tightly gripped his arm and said, “Master, Fenrir will do her best to mature…but, Fenrir will also try to stay innocent so Master can be happy. But…Fenrir likes Master the most, so please treat Fenrir even better in the future…” For one of the first times in her life, Fenrir’s eyes were becoming moist because she didn’t really know how to cope with what she was feeling at all. Her scarlet eyes were glowing like fireballs and there was a feeling of ’emptiness’ inside of her, both in her heart and her stomach. Now that the time for their separation was nearing, Fenrir was starting to feel like she didn’t want to ‘grow up’ since being away from her Master was a very painful feeling…

Vahn’s own heart began to ache when he saw Fenrir behaving like this, bringing his head down to nuzzle against her’s since she wouldn’t free his arm right now. Unless she said she wanted to leave, Vahn wanted to respect Fenrir’s conviction and encourage her to work hard. Resting his forehead against her’s, Vahn said, “Fenrir, I’m already so proud of you…stay strong and do your best…it may be difficult, but you’ll be much stronger as a result of the choice you’re making right now. When you come out of the orb, I promise to treat you better…” At the end of his words, Vahn kissed Fenrir’s forehead, praying that she wouldn’t lose her innocence in the pursuit of strength and maturity. He probably wouldn’t be able to ‘refuse’ her in the future, which was a little sad to think about, but it wasn’t ‘wrong’ of her to want to mature so they could be together…

Realizing he had put very heavy restrictions on her as a result of his own inhibitions, Vahn felt very apologetic to Fenrir, primarily because she was like this because of the name he gave her. She didn’t seem to be bothered by it, but Vahn felt he could have given her a name that allowed her to live a less stressful life. If she had been more physically mature when he made her, Vahn knew he probably wouldn’t have kept her at arm’s length for so long. Thus, he promised to treat her well in the future, much like he intended to treat Eva and Lili better…though the later would have to wait for a while longer.

With less than a minute remaining, Vahn shared a group hug with Eva, Fenrir, and Terra, the latter of which embraced the entire group with her comfortable wings. Though it was a little uncharacteristic, Vahn decided to also kiss all three of them before he left, hoping that it would ‘help’ in some way so that the next four years weren’t as difficult. He started with Fenrir, giving her a relatively tame kiss since he wasn’t in the mood to lose his tongue right now. Afterward, Vahn gave Terra a kiss, something she was very happy about if her flittering wings were any indicator. Lastly, Vahn shared a passionate kiss with Eva, twining his tongue with hers until the very moment his body dissipated into dust and vanished from the orb…

All three girls watched Vahn disappear into particulates until nothing remained to mark his existence, other than a moist and warm feeling on each of their lips. Eva released a sigh before turning her head to Terra and Fenrir, understanding it was actually much harder to be separated from people if you had never experienced long periods of loneliness. She had more than two thousand years to adapt at this point but Terra and Fenrir were still ‘young’ compared to her, especially the latter. So that time would pass more quickly, Eva wanted to teach them seriously so that they could surprise Vahn later on…

Fenrir squatted down on the ground after a few seconds of silence, drawing circles in the dirt with her claws as she immediately began to regret her decision. It was too late now, however, so Fenrir hardened her heart and swore that she would do her best so her Master would praise her. Seeing this, Eva squinted her eyes slightly before turning to Terra and saying, “From now on, our training will begin in earnest. Since you seem to be ‘moderately’ intelligent, I’ll be relying on you to help out Fenrir when I’m resting since I don’t really have the patience to explain things over and over. Unlike the two of you, I don’t have an easy way to replenish my energy unless you plan to offer up your blood…since I need to maintain this space, I’ll have to take long periods of rest while you work on the lessons I’ve already taught.”

Hearing Eva’s words, Terra nodded her head and did her best to maintain her smile, even though she was also feeling very lonely now that her Master had left. At least she had a good opportunity to increase her strength while also getting closer to Fenrir and Eva. Terra believed Fenrir would eventually open her heart to her after enough time passed, hopefully, sooner, rather than later, so they could potentially confide in each other. She had seriously been considering the matter of ‘eternity’ as well so Terra had already firmed herself and was prepared to work hard, even if she had to stay in the orb for the entire 480 years. At the very least, she wanted to be stronger than Fafnir since being weaker than another Dragon made her feel perturbed, though she wasn’t entirely sure of the reason why…

Without much delay, Eva had Terra and Fenrir follow her into the Library so that they could begin their studies on magical theory and language. Vahn couldn’t easily afford the books from her world so he had never given Eva any of the ones he found within the shop. Unaware of this, Eva just took the initiative to inscribe the texts from scratch while having Terra and Fenrir study Latin and the origin of magic. Though a specific language wasn’t ‘necessary’ to cast magic, it helped when you were building your foundation and made it easier to form an image in the future. Fortunately, both girls could already read, with Terra being rather exceptional and quick on the uptake. Though she struggled with it, Fenrir also worked very hard so Eva believed they would be ‘passable’ mages if she trained them seriously over the next four years…

When Vahn opened his eyes back in the real world, everyone was still looking toward him as only a few seconds had passed over the course of the three days he was in the orb. It took a short moment for him to gather his thoughts before explaining, “Terra and Fenrir will be staying in the orb for the time being…when they return, they may be different, even a bit distant, so please treat them well when the time comes.” Though Fenrir would probably rejoin him by the end of the day, Terra would probably stay inside the orb for a very long stint of time since she was mentally and emotionally strong. When he had talked to her about it, she had said a few hundred years wasn’t a long period of time in the grand scheme of eternity. If she could increase her strength in a safe and structured environment like the orb, instead of having to fight and take lives in the real world, it was far more preferable for her.

For many people, this was their first time seeing Vahn go into the orb and it was very difficult to imagine the few short seconds had actually been three days for him. Some people found it difficult to remember what they were doing earlier in the day so, Vahn being able to instantly ‘bounce back’ was almost unbelievable. Eina, who had been sitting next to him, had grabbed his head when he was talking about the three days he had been in the orb, understanding he was worried about the two girls. Loki, who was sitting in his lap, had a very different reaction though, as she was looking forward to seeing how powerful a True Dragon would become after being trained by a Mage that was purportedly stronger than gods…

After discussing the three-day period, Vahn had calmed his mind a bit, saying, “This is going to be a major transition for our family, so let’s all do our best to not slip just as things are beginning to pick up. After I learn Magia Erebea, there will be few enemies that can threaten our family, especially with Terra and Fenrir increasing their strength…” Though they were simple words, Vahn felt his confidence increasing greatly as a small smile appeared on his face. Looking around at everyone gathered together, each person an important part of his family, Vahn started to feel very motivated, saying, “Let’s go to the Dungeon; we don’t want to keep everyone waiting and there is much to do in preparation for the future!”

Vahn had raised his fists in excitement, an expectant glow in his that seemed to be infectious since many of the girls had a similar glow in theirs. Tiona and Tione immediately gave a ‘Raaaaaah~!’ warcry while Ais pumped her fists in imitation of Vahn, showing a very serious expression on her face the accompany the glimmer in her eyes. Lefiya had a muted response but a resolute fire had also been ignited in her since she knew Vahn would be teaching her magic soon. She wouldn’t have the ‘benefit’ of Terra and Fenrir, but Lefiya believed she would be able to catch up if she worked hard. As for Haruhime and Mikoto, the former had an elegant smile on her face while the latter gripped her katana with an expectant glint in her eyes…

After they gathered all of their equipment, most of which was stored in Vahn’s Inventory, they mounted Fafnir and flew to the rendezvous point at Babel Plaza. Vahn apologized to Fafnir for not being able to take it into the orb, as it would be required to stay and protect the Manor. Surprisingly, Fafnir hadn’t been saddened by the news at all and simply said, (“It’s okay, Eva will be with us forever in the future~.”) in its characteristic childish tone. With Fenrir ‘maturing’, Fafnir would truly be the little ‘brother’ of the two, not that it seemed to be in any hurry to grow up. It was already happy just being able to fly around whenever it wanted while being able to spend time with everyone at the Manor, sometimes giving Tina a ride when she wanted to ‘play’.

As they weren’t in a hurry, the flight to Babel Tower took around five minutes before they landed in the designated area, where the Expedition was already formed up and ready to depart. Vahn jumped down to the ground with Ais, Tiona, Tione, Lefiya, Haruhime, and Mikoto in tow, each eager to enter the Dungeon. Finn, Gareth, and Bete were already gathered with the first two coming to greet Vahn while Bete skulked off towards where a petite Amazoness was waving. He was actually one of the people that volunteered to man the Supply Depot for six months so Lena was coming along, accompanying a small squad of Amazons that were being headed by Aisha. It was a little difficult for Vahn to accept, but many of the girls were acting as ‘relief’ in the Dungeon since it would be taxing for those stationed there if they didn’t have a way to vent. Aisha wasn’t part of it, however, as she claimed to be ‘faithful’ to Vahn ever since he had liberated them in the past.

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Finn had an amiable smile on his face as he said, “Welcome, Vahn, you’re just in time. Everything is ready so we’re ready to leave when you give the command.” Vahn was assigned as the ‘leader’ of the Expedition this time around, even though Finn would still be the one in charge during most situations. The difference in their experience was vast and Vahn had been the one to assign him to the position, only keeping the role that had been assigned to him since Loki wanted to ‘promote’ him more to increase his authority. Thus, with a confident smile on his face, Vahn nodded his head and said, “Very well, I’ll trust that things are in order since you have a commendable track record, Finn.”

Hearing Vahn’s words, Finn just laughed and said, “Well, it’s a lot easier this time around since you’re carrying the majority of the supplies using your storage magic. When Loki-sama told me that you could fit several warehouses of materials in your storage, I was up all night staring at the stars, ahahaha.” This time around, instead of carrying a massive amount of supplies on the wagons, they were mostly empty except for spare weapons, armor, and basic tools and supplies. They also had a larger number of people this time around, consisting of 638 people, the vast majority consisting of craftsman and laborers that had accepted very hefty payments to venture into the 39th Floor to build a ‘Settlement’. Though it was a Supply Depot, it would undoubtedly become a relay point for Adventurers in the future so building the necessary infrastructure early on would make it easier to manage things later.

Before Finn could give the order to mobilize, Gareth began stroking his beard as he asked, “Where is the little lass, Fenrir? I find it difficult to believe she isn’t coming along with us…” Vahn took a deep breath and released a small sigh before explaining, “She is within her magic core right now and will be rejoining us once she recuperates a bit.” As Gareth had seen Vahn summon Fafnir in the past, he didn’t have any trouble believing that Fenrir could also return to a core form, likely sitting in Vahn’s ‘storage’. Without any further questions, he moved to the lead with Finn as Vahn and the rest followed behind.

Everyone got into their places in the formation, Lefiya replacing Riveria as the primary Mage in the group while Haruhime acted in support of her. Mikoto joined up with the second team, under the command of Raul, while Vahn actually had the somewhat ‘enviable’ role of sitting on a carriage. Not only was he the ‘leader’ of the Expedition, but Vahn was also their ‘supplies’, meaning he needed to be protected by the bulk of the Expedition while he provided support with his archery, magic, and support skills. Many of the people present had joined the previous expedition so they didn’t have any complaints at all, knowing Vahn would probably become their ‘ace’ during emergency situations. He had already been monstrously strong as a Level 3 so, now that he had reached Level 4, few people underestimated his power.

Shortly after he sat down, a very young boy approached Vahn, catching him off guard when he realized who it was. With raised brows, Vahn asked, “Alfonse? What are you doing here?” The young boy was the same ‘Supporter’ he had met when visiting the Twilight Manor in the past. The [001] he had given to him in the past was strapped to his back along with a backpack, signifying his role as a Supporter instead of a combatant. The fact that Vahn remembered his name made Alfonse smile to much that it distorted his relatively plain and youthful face a bit. In a somewhat high-pitched tone, as a result of his voice cracking, Alfonse said, “Ye-ES, I’m Alfonse! Thank you for remembering someone like me, Vahn-sama! I heard you were leading the Expedition and got permission to come along to gain experience!”

Vahn always had a good impression of this boy since his pure light elemental affinity was very rare and he seemed to be a good kid. Stroking his chin, Vahn felt like he had a bit of fate with this kid so he pulled a small bangle out of his Inventory and handed it over, saying, “This is a special item called a [Healing Bangle]. You may not be aware of it, but you have a very high affinity with light magic and healing, Alfonse. This will let you use a very elementary version of healing magic, though make sure you don’t use it too much until your Magic increases, okay?” Alfonse practically turned into a statue when Vahn handed him yet another ‘free’ item. The effect was also something really amazing so Alfonse didn’t even know how to respond as all the thoughts vanished from his mind.

Seeing his reaction, Vahn smiled and said, “Go rejoin your squad and stay alert so you don’t miss any orders…” As he spoke, Finn had actually given the order for everyone to begin moving forward so Alfonse awakened from his reverie with a start. Bowing several times, Alfonse held the bangle in his hands like it was a great treasure as he said, “Thank you very much, Vahn-sama!” before running off to rejoin his squad. Vahn noticed the majority of them were young children, around the ages of 10-13 years old, and Alfonse actually seemed to be the leader of their group. Though he had a relatively plain face, Vahn didn’t think it was a coincidence that, of the seven members in their group, five were girls while the only other guy seemed to be Alfonse’s rival. Though he wasn’t really old himself, Vahn couldn’t help but smile and comment, “It’s good to be young…” under his breath.

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Fenrir will train the hardest of all~!’,’Fafnir is surprisingly mature for its age…’,’Alfonse, Hero in Training~?’)

(A/N: Since some people may be curious…

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[Healing Bangle]
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Rank: C (Magic)

Slots: 0

P.Def: 18

M.Def: 40

Abilities: Lesser Elemental Healing(C), Magic Enhancer(H)

A simple bangle generally worn by Acolytes in a foreign record. Though anyone can use the bangle, it has the greatest effect when used by those with Light, Water, and Holy elemental affinities.

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