Chapter 680: Vows, Promises, Duty

It didn’t take long for them to reach the room where Mikoto had been conversing with Fatina. Vahn was somewhat surprised to find that Mikoto was using a brush to comb through Fatina’s hair as it stood majestically within the peculiar lighting of the cave. As was described by Finn, Fatina was obviously not a normal Unicorn and, instead of the pristine white fur, golden mane, and golden hair, it had a silvery sheen to its coat, pale blue hair, and a crystalline horn affixed to its head. The eyes, which were usually blue, had an amethyst hue to them that radiated with the light of intelligence.

Unfortunately, as soon as it turned to look at Vahn, Fatina seemed to ‘huff’ as a soft male voice resonated through the room, seemingly filled with contempt and frustration as it said, “So, this is the boy you have taken a liking to? Hmph…someone with as gentle a soul as you shouldn’t allow yourself to be tainted by this impure child…” Vahn felt his brow twitch slightly while Mikoto flustered a bit, stopping her brushing as she said, “Vahn isn’t impure! He puts in more effort than anyone else to make everyone happy. You can’t just say such inconsiderate things…!”

Vahn, Haruhime, and even Fenrir, were all surprised by Mikoto’s sudden outburst but Fatina didn’t seem to care as it just snorted toward Vahn before looking over the other two girls at his side. Sensing the ‘presence’ of Vahn within Haruhime, Fatina didn’t spare her more than a glance before turning to Fenrir, feeling a shudder run along its body when meeting her cold scarlet eyes. Fatina could strangely feel the presence of Vahn coming from Fenrir as well yet, unlike Haruhime, she also radiated an aura of purity. Though there was a feeling of danger radiating off of her body, Fatina felt that, amongst the three girls present, Fenrir was the most ‘pure’ of them all…

Since Mikoto had stopped brushing it, Fatina walked over towards Fenrir, doing its best not to mind her cold glare as it said, “You, pure one. I will allow you to touch me…” Fenrir just furrowed her brows in response, stepping off to the side and grabbing her Master’s arm. Feeling calmed by his presence, Fenrir spoke in an icy tone, saying, “Fenrir doesn’t want to touch you, not at all. Also, you shouldn’t say bad things about Master or Fenrir will have to punish you…” Holding up her left paw, Fenrir let her claws grow slightly, causing Fatina to feel a great amount of pressure. However, it just snorted before making its way back over to Mikoto, saying, “Continue brushing me or I will leave this area. You…” Fatina looked toward Vahn, obviously intending for the later to introduce himself.

Vahn didn’t have the best impression of Fatina but, considering the Quest had a few benefits, decided to not mind its rude behavior as he nodded slightly and said, “Greetings, my name is Vahn Mason. You’ve already met Mikoto and these two are Haruhime and Fenrir.” Fatina blinked in a somewhat lazy manner before lightly nodding its head and saying, “Very well, Vahn Mason. I promised this one that I would meet with you for a short while so tell me your reasons for seeking me out.” Using his Quest to guide his line of questioning, Vahn smiled and explained, “There are two matters that I wanted to discuss with you. First of all, I’m simply interested to know your origin and if you are a Xenos. Secondly, if you are a Xenos that seeks the surface, I wanted to give the opportunity to increase your strength and roam about the surface without people going out of their way to try and kill you.”

Fatina stared directly toward Vahn as he spoke, finding no dishonesty in the boy’s words, effectively increasing his opinion of Vahn in the process. Deciding there was no downside to answering the first question, Fatina explained, “I know not what a Xenos is, but my origin is something I can recall. I was once a Unicorn wandering about the Western Forests, tended to by Elven Maidens through the years. However, after taking a meal and retiring to my grotto, I suddenly awoke to find myself in this dismal place. No matter how much I roam, I cannot seem to venture beyond a certain point, finding myself wandering in circles and evading those that seek out my horn and blood…”

From Fatina’s explanation, Vahn could determine it was indeed a Xenos, especially since it was currently genderless, even though its voice sounded masculine. Monsters reborn in the Dungeon, including Xenos like Terra, didn’t possess the same sexual characteristics as their previous existences. Though some of them had humanoid appearances, they weren’t truly separated from their identities as monsters while still being bound to the Dungeon. Prolonged separation from the energy contained within the Dungeon would eventually cause them to experience weakness and all kinds of other issues, which was the main reason why the Xenos remained within the Dungeon. Other reasons included the fact that they would be killed almost immediately after emerging and, unless they were bound by slave contracts or covered in powerful sealing formations, they could never leave for long periods of time.

Deciding to clear up a few things, Vahn explained, “This place is the Dungeon, located in Orario, the City at the very center of the continent of Eden. If you lived amongst Elves, you likely resided in the Western Forests while you were alive. I’m uncertain how you died, but you were reborn into the Dungeon and have now become a Xenos. I’m certain you’ve noticed that your form has changed slightly and, though you likely possessed intelligence as a Unicorn, you are undoubtedly more intelligent now.” Fatina blinked slowly once again, seemingly contemplating Vahn’s words before nodding its head and saying, “What you say is true, Vahn Mason. I am much more powerful than I had been previously, though it doesn’t please me to know I had died to obtain my current status…” Fatina released another snort but, different from the previous ones, this one sounded almost like a sigh.

Since it didn’t have any knowledge about the Xenos, Vahn explained, “The Xenos are monsters that have gained sentience, sometimes rivaling, or even exceeding, the various surface races. However, they are also hunted down by some groups since many people still consider them monsters. The Alliance, the organization I’m a part of, has been advocating for Xenos to be granted the right to live without persecution. If you believe you can trust me, I’d like to help you leave this place and, if you have nowhere else to go, I can grant you greater strength and a form of eternal life. Though you will become my subordinate, I am willing to take a vow that I will never force you to fight on my behalf, nor will I ever make you do something against your will. However, there is someone I wish for you to act as a mount for, a goddess by the name of Eirene…”

Vahn knew Eirene wasn’t a virgin but, as a goddess, Fatina shouldn’t be able to consider her as ‘impure’ since, by virtue of their existence, gods were unblemished entities that were irrefutably pure, regardless of the characteristics and personalities. Fatina, showing a very human expression of surprise, seemed to consider the offer for a few minutes since it didn’t sense any dishonesty in Vahn’s words. Though it would have outright refused the offer to serve as a mount to almost anyone else, Fatina didn’t think a goddess was beneath it. In fact, few Unicorns ever had the opportunity to stand at the side of goddesses since their kind would often be hunted down if they left the safety of the forest. If it could truly become stronger under the protection of Vahn, Fatina didn’t think it was a bad idea, especially if it could escape this dismal Dungeon and return to the surface.

After several minutes of silence, Fatina looked into Vahn’s eyes and said, “I do not wish to spend the rest of my days locked up within this Dungeon, awaiting the moment when some wayward Adventurer manages to claim my head. If your words are true, show me your conviction and make a vow that you will guarantee my safety in exchange for my trust. However, if the person you introduce me to, goddess or not, isn’t to my taste, I ask that you allow me to freely roam the world once again.” Vahn, without even considering it in detail nodded his head with a smile, raising his hand and saying, “I swear, by title as the Sage Adrnari and Captain of the Hestia Familia, I, Vahn Mason, will guarantee your protection and, should you one day seek it from me, your freedom. I will not force you into anything against your will, nor will I bind you to service for selfish ends.”

Seeing the light of a vow emerge and fuse into Vahn’s chest, Fatina nodded with a contented expression on its face as it said, “Very well, Vahn Mason. From this point onwards, I will follow you in exchange for power and freedom.” At the same time as Fatina spoke, Vahn got the notification through his system that his Quest had been completed and that Fatina wished to become his subordinate. Vahn was somewhat curious if he would actually be able to name Fatina but, considering it had been reborn through the Dungeon, it shouldn’t be an issue. In fact, when he read the notification clearly, Vahn knew it simply referred to itself as Fatina while actually being a [Nameless] entity. Presumably, it had been called Fatina in the past but, after being reborn, this no longer had any relevance.

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[Quest: Secret of the Silver Unicorn]

Rank: S

Completion Grade: B

Objective: Investigate the rumors of the Variant Unicorn seen between the 40th and 43rd Floors (Incomplete). Find the Variant Unicorn and discover the secret of its origin, capturing or killing it in the process (1/1).

Rewards: Unit Management Function Upgraded, 100,000 OP.

Grade Rewards: 1x[Unicorn Bridle]

//[Nameless] Wishes To Become Your Subordinate. (Y/N?)//

[Nameless]

Age: 63 Days

Race: Silver Unicorn

Level: 4

Loyalty: 53

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Soul Strength: Tier 0 (Mana Construct)

Karma: –

State: [Active]

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Vahn was a little bothered that his completion grade had been so low but, considering he managed to recruit a Unicorn, especially a Variant species that was also a Xenos, it didn’t really matter much. Having an upgrade to his ‘Unit Management Function’ was already a great reward and, unlike before when he could only summon them from a short range, Vahn could now call his Subordinates to his side in exchange for some OP. Unlike other forms of ‘teleportation’, Sis informed him that using the functionality of the system couldn’t be interfered with by the laws and restrictions of the world. Though it only seemed to apply to the subordinates he had named, as they were comprised of source energy, it was still a very useful upgrade.

Now that Fatina had joined them, Vahn smiled and explained, “From now on, we’re linked together until you decide to separate and go your own way. I’ll keep you safely away within my storage dimension for the time being and, once the cooldown on my unique ability is up, I will bestow upon you a name that will grant you unlimited potential and a fair amount of power.” Fatina could also sense the bond it now shared with Vahn, suddenly finding him less ‘appalling’ than before. It gave a light snort and said, “I can sense there is something different about you. This is the first time I have placed my trust in a human…do not let me down…” With its words finished, Fatina slumped forward and dispersed into blue and purple dust that receded into a relatively large and beautiful monster core.

After safely keeping Fatina’s monster core in his Inventory, Vahn turned to the other three girls before focusing his gaze on Mikoto and smiling. She returned his smile and bowed her head slightly while Haruhime came near her side and whispered, “You did well, Mikoto. You can use this as an opportunity to get closer to Vahn…” The latter half of her words had been very quiet but, judging by how red Mikoto’s face became, Vahn had some idea of what she might have said. Chuckling lightly, Vahn gestured to the girls and said, “This didn’t take as long as I expected. If we hurry, we can easily return to the surface and then spend tomorrow just relaxing. As Haruhime said, you did very well this time, Mikoto. If there is anything you’d like, please just let me know and I’ll do my best to grant your request.” Vahn sent Mikoto a playful wink, nearly bursting into laughter when it looked like Mikoto was going to begin producing steam from her head…

Though they made a quick stop at Lil Geirr, informing Finn about the success of the mission and leaving behind a reward for the people who had originally spotted the Unicorn, the group managed to reach the surface in around fourteen hours. In total, they had spent slightly more than an entire day within the Dungeon but, even considering they had only rested for a few hours, Haruhime and Mikoto were both in high spirits when they reached the surface. When they were in their [Pactio] forms, it was very easy to send them energy since there was already a ‘link’ established between his own source energy and their transformations. This meant Vahn could passively strengthen the girls and, though he still used his [Grooming] to pamper them a bit, it wasn’t entirely necessary. Of course, he would never tell them this since he was personally fond of petting the girls…

Terra showed up almost immediately after they exited Babel Tower, displaying a lovely smile on her face as she said, “Welcome back, Master.” Without warning, Terra wrapped her arms and wings around Vahn, surprising him a little bit until she said, “I finished the orb…whenever you’re ready, please help me hatch ‘our’ egg…” Vahn felt a little giddy at Terra’s words, completely caught off guard by the sudden revelation as she laughed lightly and kissed his cheek. Gesturing to the other girls to stand close, Terra created a ward on the ground that surprised the onlookers as the entire group disappeared from sight, moved to the Manor through Terra’s use of [Void Transference]. They ultimately ended up in the training area, Terra giving Vahn a questioning look as she twisted her waist in a somewhat sensual manner while walking towards the illusory forest.

Vahn watched her for a few seconds before releasing a small sigh and saying, “Make sure to get some rest. I’ll accompany Terra for the time being so, if anyone asks, tell them…” Unable to come up with a way to talk around the issue, Vahn just shook his head and honestly stated, “There is a good chance I’m going to help her hatch the egg. I’m not sure what that will entail so it may take a few hours until I have any free time. Inform everyone what is going on so there aren’t any disturbances…” Haruhime giggled slightly, sending an amorous look towards Vahn before grabbing Mikoto’s sleeve and saying, “Come, Mikoto, let’s go spread the good news to everyone~.” Mikoto flustered a bit, producing an awkward ‘N-nn’ as Haruhime dragged her away by the sleeve of her kimono.

Fenrir continued to watch her Master’s back all the way until he vanished into the illusory woods, watching as his figure was obscured by the invisible barrier before he completely disappeared. She then looked around the area, sensing all the smells from the girls’ earlier training, which had already ended for the day, before jumping up onto the roof. Knowing that Terra was able to give their Master a child made Fenrir more than a little uncomfortable, not because she truly wanted a child of her own, but because she had seen how happy her Master was to have children. If she could, Fenrir would give her Master as many babies as it took to keep him happy since, more than anything else in the entire world, Fenrir didn’t like seeing her Master sad…

With nothing else to do at the moment, Fenrir looked at her paws as a magical light flowed over her fur and caused them to compress, elongating her fingers and making them more humanoid. She wiggled them around, testing their dexterity while feeling slightly uncomfortable at the unfamiliar movements. For the time being, as there were no practical solutions that would allow an Ageless body to bear children, Fenrir decided to focus on the next best thing. She would continue working on her transformation magic until she could safely interact with, not just her Master, but her Master’s current children. Fenrir figured that, if she couldn’t give her Master children of her own, she could at least protect and take care of what he already had…it was her duty, and Fenrir refused to let her Master down…

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