With the arrival of the Expedition on the 39th Floor, the construction of the Supply Depot could begin in earnest. Much like he had previously, Vahn assisted in the procural of building materials for the construction teams while also setting up large amounts of supplies for their use. When everyone saw how much materials he had been carrying in his ‘storage’, people were utterly gobsmacked because Vahn’s presence alone almost invalidated the need for ‘normal’ Expeditions. While other people had to establish large convoys, escorting materials on carts and wagons, Vahn could simply carry it all himself. Previously, some three-hundred-plus workers wondered how well things would go as they had expected to harvest materials from the Dungeon, not have them all outright provided by Vahn himself.
While everyone was getting the gear and supplies allocated to the proper areas, Vahn was sitting in the Command Tent with Finn, Gareth, Bete, Lefiya, and the representative of the artisans, a half-dwarf woman by the name of Quinn. She had wild purple hair, showing she didn’t care much for her appearance, and pink colored eyes that looked soft and disinterested in most things. Unsurprisingly, she had a very full and angular build, showing she had been in her line of business for many years, which wasn’t hard to imagine as she was in her early forties. As for why she seemed so disinterested in everything, it was apparently because she didn’t really care much about anything other than building things. Though he couldn’t be certain, Vahn suspected she might even be a demigoddess since her aura was larger than normal even though she was purportedly only Level 3.
Quinn was looking over the blueprints for the fortification Vahn had in mind, which he had worked out with Hestia and Hephaestus previously. After looking it over for several minutes, an almost ‘fervent’ glimmer appeared in the stout woman’s pink eyes as she asked, “Who came up with this design? I’ve never seen such a unique balance between form and function before…was it a goddess? Ah, I believe your goddess has a Divinity related to Architecture…yes, I see. Fufufu, this project just got a lot more interesting…” It was a little off-putting seeing how quickly Quinn had ‘shifted’ from a lazy and disinterested appearance into a woman that could wait to get to work. She continued to scan over the blueprints with glimmering eyes as a smile continued to expand on her face.
Finn laughed at this display while Gareth stroked his beard with a small smile on his face, clearly impressed by the woman’s fervor. As for Vahn, he had a wry smile on his face because he had originally thought Quinn was asking him questions when she was apparently having a conversation with herself. After collecting his thoughts, Vahn explained, “There are some things that will be changed, but I’ll make sure to inform you and your team beforehand. Instead of using traditional formations, I’ll be using a secret technique that will provide greater defensive capabilities to the fortress. As for everything else, I’ll leave it to your discretion but know that I’ll be inspecting everything in great detail. I don’t want to find out about anything like secret tunnels being constructed outside the original plans and nobody has the authorization to build secondary buildings within 1,000m of the settlement when it is complete.”
The current plan was to construct the Supply Depot like a ‘Fortress City’, meaning there would be a large external wall with a heavily fortified structure at the ‘core’ of the CIty. Though they will also be building things like Inns, Shops, Grocers, Entertainment Facilities, and even a Guild Office, nobody would be allowed to take up residence within the Supply Depot. Even the members of the Alliance could only stay within the area for upwards of two years before they would be forced to retire their post for a similar amount of time. This was to prevent corruption from taking root since everything would be managed and accounted for, including routine inspections by the Alliance itself.
Though it couldn’t be completely rooted out, especially after several years time passed, Vahn was determined to make sure those in charge of management had strong moral characters and ‘clear’ auras. The Supply Depot would be managed by the Loki Familia, but Vahn had already gotten permission from Loki to be a ‘Special Administrator’ that could overturn decisions and replace people he found undeserving of the position. Since the Supply Depot would be an important waypoint for exploration deeper into the Dungeon, Vahn didn’t want it to become a haven for criminals and information brokers like on the 18th Floor, Rivira
After the plans were finished being discussed, Vahn moved to the first perimeter where the fortress itself would be constructed, assisting the construction teams by cutting blocks of stone for their use. They had a five-stage plan for the construction, starting from the inner walls of the fortress, the fortress itself, the external walls of the settlement, the ‘formation’ creation, and then the buildings that would serve predesignated purposes. Everything was set up so that there would be plenty of space to move about while the buildings themselves were intended to be highly durable while also being somewhat spartan in design. This meant they could be repaired very quickly and made it much harder to disguise criminal activity since the space between buildings was much larger than normal.
In total, the construction process was expected to take slightly more than six months but the fortress itself should be completed within two. During this time, the Loki Familia would be in charge of the defense while the builders, artisans, and general construction crews would be working tirelessly in shifts. Since it would be very stressful otherwise, one of the biggest priorities was setting up a large mess hall and recreation center that would be soundproofed to external sounds. Providing good food, mildly alcoholic drinks, gambling, and relaxation were very important for the mental wellness of everyone. Of course, there were strict rules and regulations that everyone would have to follow at the same time, with some of the punishments being rather harsh.
As stress continued to build, it was very likely that people would look to each other for comfort and even Vahn planned to spend some ‘quality’ time with the girls. To prevent things from getting out of control, people were restricted in the amount of alcohol they could consume, easily justified as simple ‘rationing’. Finn also gave a speech that, while it was perfectly fine to have relationships with people, everyone was required to always be at their post at the assigned times. He also, with a very serious and cold gaze, explained that crimes like sexual harassment and **** wouldn’t be tolerated, promising a swift end for anyone found committing such atrocities.
The Amazoness team, headed by Aisha, had already volunteered to help some of the men vent. Accompanying them were a few other girls that had been scouted for the exact same purpose, recruited from the Red Light District and promised guaranteed salaries and additional benefits such as protection from predators. Though Vahn wasn’t entirely in agreement with such practices, he understood it was ‘nature’ at work and it would be even more problematic if there weren’t willing participants that were already designated for ‘stress relief’. Since it was a much better life than being a simple prostitute, Vahn let it slide after briefly interviewing all the volunteers and learning of their reasons for volunteering. He also had a long conversation with Aisha, comforting the mature woman and apologizing for having never been in a position to reciprocate her feelings.
Aisha didn’t seem to mind it much, as it hadn’t even been that long since they first met, claiming she didn’t mind waiting for a few years if necessary. As for her ‘commitment’ to be with him, it was, as she claimed, because other men didn’t trigger her instincts anymore. After being bound and dominated in the past, Aisha had become ‘frigid’ in regards to other men, finding them to be unappealing and severely lacking. She was also very busy taking care of the other Amazons in her charge and wanted to ensure they were able to find their own happiness so it actually wasn’t ‘convenient’ for her to get involved with him either. As she had also seen through Vahn’s ‘guilt’ on the matter, she teased him a great deal and had him make it up to her simply by having him spend the night, not having sex, but just holding her…
While the construction efforts were continuing in force, Vahn was also spending a great deal of time within the orb, continuing his harsh training with Eva. She claimed that the only way to promote fast growth was to constantly push the body to its limits as it required a ‘shift’ in a person’s mentality to become truly strong. Thus, regardless of how painful and tiring the training got, Vahn never complained and always did his best to meet his ‘Master’s’ expectations. It helped that Fenrir and Terra also told him about their own experiences during Eva’s training so he knew he wasn’t getting ‘special’ treatment.
The simple truth of the matter was, much like in the record of Danmachi itself, people needed to push themselves beyond their preconceived limits to become stronger. It was much like how the characters in the novels he read had to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds before they finally obtained victory. The only ‘requirement’ to become truly powerful was to have a never-give-up mentality and an earnest desire to grow stronger, supplemented by talent and comprehension of certain laws and principles.
Vahn didn’t truly consider himself a ‘protagonist’, but it was an irrefutable fact that his presence within the record had a large impact on the fate of everyone around him. With a limitless potential for growth, as a result of his own mentality and The Path, Vahn was geared to become one of the strongest forces in the world, assuming he ‘wanted’ to. This meant that, as long as he truly desired to become stronger and continued pursuing greater heights, Vahn would never reach the end of his path. The only ‘restrictions’ were the bonds he created and the limitations of his own mentality, things Vahn knew held him back but also gave him greater ‘purpose’. Seeing the Divination had allowed him to put many things in perspective and Vahn determined it wasn’t ‘worth’ becoming the strongest if he had to give up the things that made him happy.
Momentarily distracted, Vahn ended up taking a big hit from Eva that completely tore of his arm after it had been impacted by one of her spears of lightning. He was already accustomed to the occasional loss of a limb but felt like he would never be able to adapt to having electricity surge through his body as it causes his muscles to seize. Eva landed next to him, showing a cold expression that couldn’t hide the worry in her eyes as she asked, “Why are you letting your mind wander, Vahn? We don’t have much time left and you aren’t nearly at the level I’d like…” At this point, there was only two more sessions until Eva would be unable to keep the orb stable. Since using the trial scroll for [Magia Erebea] took a bit of time as well, there wasn’t much left for Vahn’s training.
Vahn winced as he slowly regenerated his arm, ingesting a [Senzu Bean] to speed up the process as the flesh mended back together. Producing a wry smile, Vahn said, “I don’t think I’ll be able to get to that point any time soon since my own energy can’t be converted so easily…sorry, Eva…” Eva didn’t know about ‘source’ energy, but she knew Vahn’s ‘mana’ was far more pure than normal, to the point that her body couldn’t even process it all when she was sucking his blood. Thus, she wasn’t really that surprised by his words since they had already talked about it in great detail in the past. It was fortunate he had a talent for drawing wards and using reinforcement spells, but very ‘frustrating’ to see that his use of external magic power was severely lacking.
Though Vahn had been able to manipulate the mana in the air to supplement his own magic power, it was simply too slow since his body interfered with the process instead of allowing it to flow freely. The biggest problem with this was the simple fact that Vahn didn’t have enough internal magic power to sustain continued combat, at least not at the level Eva knew he would have to face in the future. Vahn’s power was incredible, to an extent that he could even threaten an S-Ranked Mage when going at full strength, but his sustainability was some of the worst she had ever seen.
At best, Vahn could only keep up his [Vis Maxima] for around fourteen minutes before completely burning out. Fortunately, his regeneration was abnormally high and he had all kind of Elixirs to supplement his reserves, but external help was never favored by Eva. The type of magic that she taught, which made her one of the strongest in the entire world, was entirely dependant on a person’s individual capabilities and didn’t make use of things like magic wands or staves. Since Vahn was her first disciple, Eva was a little upset that he was incapable of reaching the point she would like, knowing full well it wasn’t really his fault.
Releasing a sigh, Eva turned around and sat in Vahn’s lap, resting her head against his chest while enjoying his warmth, even though they were surrounded by a world of ice. She tilted her head up to match his gaze, complaining, “You have such a ridiculous amount of power in your body, especially your blood, but you’re unable to make use of it. I have several times Terra’s magic power, but I can replenish my own reserves after draining your blood for less than an hour…how is it that you can’t seem to make use of that same energy in your spells? It’s so vexing!” It really didn’t make much sense from Eva’s perspective, so much so that she and Terra had spent nearly fifty years researching it without discovering its secrets. Vahn’s blood was just as anomalous as the boy himself and it bothered Eva a great deal knowing there were so many unknowns about the boy she had fallen in love with…
Vahn held Eva tightly, understanding she wasn’t really upset at him and was just worried about the enemies he would face in the future. She had already suspected they came from different worlds, a very long time ago, but didn’t know they came from different ‘records’. Since there were a few people that were even stronger than she was, Eva was worried he would face an enemy she couldn’t prepare him for. Though [Magia Erebea] would put him at the pinnacle of power, Immortality wasn’t actually that difficult to overcome if the other party was strong enough. She had already had him study about a variety of monsters that were specifically engineered to ‘eat’ immortals, some forcibly digesting them over several thousand years. It was also possible to be sealed away, though Vahn expected he would be an exception to that since his [Chainbreaker] would eventually allow him to escape.
Also, unlike other Immortals, Vahn’s soul couldn’t be bound by the record and he could even ‘eject’ from the world if things got too difficult. Ever since he reached Tier 2, a long time ago, Vahn had the Records option in his system become accessible again. At any point, he could pick another world and move on without any restrictions whatsoever. The only reason he didn’t do so was that the record was no longer static after he entered it, meaning time would continue to move forward at the same pace, irrespective of the records he went to. Vahn would never abandon all of the people that he had come to love so he had never considered using the Records function ever since it had become available in the past…
While Vahn and Eva were snuggling up in the frozen tundra, Terra was sitting in her Atelier, running a few tests on Vahn’s blood, primarily focused on using it as a catalyst for Alchemy. One of the things they had discovered was that his blood could be introduced into other magically active compounds to further enhance them, though the dilation required varied greatly. It was to the point where they were using parts-per-million for Vahn’s blood and other catalysts, such as her own blood and nectar. The main reason Vahn had never had any success in [Mixing] was that using a single drop of blood was ‘several million times’ more than he should have been using.
Terra now had the [Alchemy] Development Ability after studying with Eva for so long and had awakened it after successfully making an Elixir with Vahn’s blood in the past. She now performed all kinds of experiments, discovering very quickly that Vahn’s blood was a ‘perfect’ binding agent between other materials. It was even possible to forcibly mix to materials with conflicting elemental properties by using his blood as an intermediary, allowing for one of her greatest masterpieces, the [Frost-Fire Explosive Flask]. It had the ability to create a large explosion that both froze everything it came into contact with while simultaneously burning the target like a powerful caustic solution as the concentrated fire elemental energy broke down whatever it touched.
The most important discovery was that most of the potions made using Vahn’s blood as an ingredient were inordinately more powerful than normal, even bringing her own [Emerald Elixir] to the point where they could completely regenerate missing limbs. As for why this mattered, it was because the potions could be used by other people, unlike the items Vahn ‘created’ using his abilities. Terra had even gotten to the point where she emulated the mechanism behind chemical grenades so she could feed the [Emerald Elixir] into a canister to give it an area of effect, though the potency would be reduced…
Terra was watching as yet another one of her experiments was successful, showing a complacent smile even though her eyes were glimmering with intrigue. She had just managed to produce ‘ink’ that used a mixture of her Master’s blood and her own, making it far more powerful than normal. It made Terra very happy knowing that her Master’s blood was so much more ‘potent’ than her own, especially since she had become far more powerful than he was, at least for the moment. She had long since outgrown the Falna, even losing her Familia Emblem as it ‘evaporated’ from her body several years ago. Now, she carried her Master’s crest on her back instead of Hestia’s, which was preferable since it always bothered her having the mark of someone else marring her skin.
Taking the ink she had just produced, Terra separated it into several different types of storage mediums to allow them to sit over the next few years. Eva had taught her a great deal about Science so Terra always conducted a variety of tests, thankful for the time she had in the orb since it would have been very inconvenient to do so in the ‘real’ world. Though the first few decades had been very difficult, Terra had adapted to the long periods of separation and had continued developing her companionship with Eva further. They had even started sleeping together, though not in a sexual manner, as it was easier to cope with the loneliness by confiding in one another.
Of course, that didn’t mean there wasn’t any intimacy between them, as Terra had become very fond of Eva and enjoyed spending time with her. Sometimes, while they were watching a ‘play’ between the ‘dolls’ Eva had made, Terra and she would make out and touch each other’s bodies. Eva felt a little guilty that she was going to ‘impose’ on her real self in the future with memories that didn’t match her ‘disposition’ but, considering the number of women around Vahn, she got over it after a few awkward sessions. After all, she would undoubtedly have to share the man she loved with numerous other girls and it would be ‘troublesome’ not having assistance from people she could trust…
(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Quinn, the construction otaku’,’Complications, Expectations, Comfort’,’Terra, True Dragon Alchemist’)
(A/N: Some people seem to have some confusion about why Vahn ‘sucks’ at using external magic. The simple fact of the matter is, Vahn’s source energy may be capable of creating any kind of energy, but that doesn’t mean Vahn knows how to facilitate that conversion. You might think he would be able to intuit it after a bit of practice, but remember that source energy ‘exceeds’ Tier 9, meaning there is no way a Tier 3 existence like Vahn would be able to make proper use of it. Even Tier 9 entities would hardly be able to glean any insights into the blood’s true capabilities so cut the boy a little slack xD. Of course, this is also the main reason why Vahn gets inordinately more powerful in higher Tiered worlds, as his capabilities and understanding of the energies in his body continues to expand (UwU).)