Chapter 778: Peculiar Energy…Fate?

Now that things had calmed down a bit, Vahn was able to observe Bell in greater detail than before. He had to admit, compared to his expectations of Bell, the white-haired young boy didn’t really have the ‘aura’ of a Hero at all. Instead, he actually seemed somewhat wimpy and frail, a stark contrast to what Vahn had expected, even though he seemed like a good kid. Still, Vahn believed that Bell could undoubtedly become strong and, just like he didn’t know much when he first arrived in the City, it was possible that Bell would change a lot in the coming months. After all, even in the original manga, Bell had appeared to be a wimpy kid until he started trying to pursue Ais…he just needed a ‘push’ in the right direction.

Seeing Vahn observing him, Bell couldn’t help but squirm a little as he asked, “Ahh…umm, Vahn?” To this, Vahn raised his brow slightly, curious as to what Bell wanted to say only for the latter to surprise him by asking, “Umm…exactly how many girls are you in a relationship with…?” There was a glimmer in Bell’s eyes, full of expectation and curiosity, as he asked his seemingly innocent question. Vahn, however, couldn’t help but release a small sigh as he said, “That isn’t really something you should concern yourself with. Though you’ll probably meet some of them in the future, you should instead focus on increasing your strength and starting your own adventure…”

Bell just laughed awkwardly in response, then, as if the words didn’t actually process in his mind, said, “You know, I heard a lot about you back in the village I grew up in. One day, I want to become a great hero that is surrounded by beauties, just like you!” This time, Vahn released a light chuckle and ‘almost’ reached out his hand to pat Bell’s head before casually redirecting it to lightly pat his shoulder, stating, “You’re making a small mistake there, Bell…men that only seek to selfishly increase the number of women they are involved with aren’t heroes…instead, you should just focus on being the best you that you can be. If you work hard, girls will naturally be drawn to you…haaaa…”

Having learned from experience, Vahn knew this to be a truth as, with the prerequisite that you were handsome, rich, famous, or capable, any of these things could draw women to you. Though Bell had a somewhat girly appearance, he also had various unique features that gave him the semblance of a handsome young man. Once he matured a bit, there would undoubtedly be girls drawn to just his looks, even without him putting in much effort. Since he also had the potential of becoming very powerful, that meant money and fame would follow his rise to prominence. The only thing that would prevent Bell from having women gather at his side would be his own willingness to be with them…

Before Bell could continue asking questions, Vahn held his palm in front of the confused boy and used his cleaning magic to pull all the blood and gore away from his body. The fact that Bell seemed to be completely unaware of just how messy he had become made Vahn realize the former was more than a bit of an airhead. Though, as this thought crossed his mind, Vahn realized that many of the main characters within the manga he read matched that description. Luffy was a notorious idiot, Naruto had been a dunce that never would have graduated without fate guiding him along, and even characters like Goku and Ichigo had been the type to just ‘go with the flow’ of things, never really thinking for themselves…

After observing Tina for a while, and seeing that she had also become a little airheaded, Vahn wondered if the influence of fate actually made a person more ‘oblivious’ to their surroundings. This likely made them more susceptible to getting wrapped up in the flow of fate, instead of resisting it, which allowed them to walk the path that their ‘creators’ had established for them. At this point, though Vahn didn’t know what level of influence they would have had, he understood that the ‘creators’ of the records, even though they were normal humans, had a powerful influence on ‘fate’ within the records that had come about as a result of their efforts. Going against the intent of the creator could potentially cause the record itself to identify you as a threat, even though it didn’t actually seem to be something that had ‘awareness’…

Shaking his head lightly, Vahn decided he would need to pay close attention to how events transpired around Bell in the future so that he could have a better understanding of how to manipulate the flow of fate in the future. Many of the records he would visit in the future would be places he had no information on, meaning he could actually experience innumerable setbacks if he didn’t know how to recognize the machinations of fate. Fortunately, it seemed that he had an ‘instinct’ that allowed him to sense when something was afoot and, depending on what he ‘desired’ from The Path, there would be plenty of ways he could work around such troublesome matters.

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Once Bell was completely cleaned, Vahn ignored the boy’s starstruck gaze and began walking towards the nearest corridor, saying, “Follow me, Bell. I’ll take you to the surface and help you get situated within a Familia…hmm, I also want to see how well you can fight, so take this…” Pulling out a nondescript black dagger, as Bell’s had broken from his previous fight, Vahn handed it over while explaining, “I know you might be a little shaken after everything that happened, but it is events like those that will help you grow as a person. In order to avoid another situation where you are powerless to protect yourself, you need to constantly press forward, always aiming for greater heights…”

Bell accepted the dagger with both hands, holding it like some sort of sacred artifact as he put on a vibrant smile and exclaimed, “Thank you very much, Vahn! I swear, I won’t let such a small thing set me back. Just watch, I’ll show you that I can also become a great hero, just like you!” Hearing this, Vahn shook his head, surprising Bell a little until the former explained, “Having a goal isn’t bad, Bell, but you should never aspire to be ‘like’ someone else. You can be similar, sure, but a ‘real’ goal would be trying to overcome the person that inspires you…if you are content with such a small goal, it will only prevent you from reaching your full potential. Even I, as strong as I might be, understand that there is ‘always’ someone stronger…never stop aiming for greater heights, or you’ll eventually be overtaken by someone else you set their goal as exceeding you. If that person is good, it isn’t a problem…but, if they were evil…well, there is no medicine for regrets…”

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Though he said that, Vahn was curious if the system shop might actually have such an item. Given the myriad of different items contained within, and the functionally infinite number of records to pull from, Vahn believed the chance of there being such an item was actually close to 100%. Still, it was a cool phrase that he had been a recurring sentiment in several novels he had purchased from the system and, given the circumstances, it seemed like the correct things to say. It also helped that, after experiencing it himself several times, Vahn knew his words were an absolute and inviolable truth. Even Eva had always cautioned him to never assume he was the strongest and, considering she was ‘only’ at the peak of Tier 5, Vahn knew that entities from higher tiered records would be almost ‘impossibly’ strong from his current perspective…

As if he had just heard the most insightful words in the entire world, Bell’s expression transitioned into a serious and reverential one as he firmly nodded his head. He fixed the dagger to his back and said, “From now on, I’ll do my best to never forget those words, Vahn! I don’t want to become the kind of person who can’t protect the things he cares about, just because I thought I was the strongest in the world. As long as I draw breath, I swear that I will never stop pursuing even greater heights!” Bell held up both his fists as a fiery light was glowing within his ruby red irises. Vahn couldn’t help but feel he was somewhat similar to Vana, a thought that made him more appreciative towards Bell, even while feeling slightly perturbed by the fact. He just hoped that Vana didn’t become an airheaded person in the future…

Having Bell lead the way, though Vahn instructed him what directions to take, the duo began making their way towards the surface. When the encountered a pair of Goblins, Vahn didn’t even have to give Bell any advice as the latter immediately dashed towards the two monsters and, using more agile movements than should be possible for his level, began attacking while evading the Goblins’ attacks. This peculiarity caused Vahn to activate his [Eyes of Truth], noticing that formless energy was flowing through Bell’s body as the latter fought against the two monsters as though his life depended on it.

This energy was unlike anything Vahn had ever seen before and seemed to be ‘guiding’ Bell’s movements, making it seem like his earlier speculation about fate literally guiding the main characters more than a simple assumption. Vahn could see a ‘path’ created by the energy that, when Bell followed it, allowed him to slide underneath the sharpened stick of the Goblin, slicing into its side before Bell twisted around like his feet were almost frictionless surfaces. It didn’t really make sense how he was able to pull off such movements, especially considering that Bell didn’t even have a Falna at the moment…

Though it had taken around three minutes, Bell managed to kill both Goblins by cutting the first one across both eyes, blinding it, and somewhat severing the arm of the second. The dagger Vahn had given him was actually just a ‘practice’ weapon that he had forged for use by the School’s students. It didn’t have very high attack power at all and shouldn’t have been sharp enough for Bell to cut through flesh, tendon, and even bone with a single strike. Vahn knew there had to be more going on than his eyes could currently see and figured it was like an Innate that hadn’t been revealed within the original manga.

Once again, seemingly unaware of the blood staining his hands, Bell wiped the sweat from his brow and smeared blood there instead. Vahn didn’t understand how the sweat could have bothered him since he was seemingly unaware of the blood, almost like he simply ‘couldn’t’ be affected by it. One of the things that affected most newbie adventurers was a general aversion to blood, as it would cause people to tense up when they saw it, especially in large quantities. Bell seemed completely immune to this, however, almost like he was unaware it even existed…

Out of curiosity, Vahn asked, “Do you not care about the fact that you’re smearing blood on your own face? You know, it will be difficult to impress girls if you’re covered in blood…” While he was speaking, Vahn watched as Bell’s face showed confusion, even going so far as to tilt his head slightly and mutter an, ‘Eh…?’ before looking down at his own hands. As if noticing the blood for the first time, Bell released a much louder, “Eeeeeeehhhh!?” before wiping it off on his own tunic. Vahn just laughed when he saw this, throwing a towel to the boy who graciously accepted it while asking, “How are you able to just pull stuff out of thin air? I’ve never heard of such an ability…is it something I can learn?”

Since this was a question he actually got asked a lot, Vahn casually responded by saying, “I’ve always been highly proficient with ‘Storage Magic’, and other space-related abilities…well, you’ll understand better in the future, just know that everyone has elemental affinities that make it easier for them to learn specific skills. It isn’t impossible for you to learn storage magic, but it would be very difficult if you didn’t have an affinity with space…” While saying this, Vahn was inspecting Bell’s internal flow of energy and saw that it was a triple helix of pure red, violet, and pristine white.

After seeing this, Vahn smiled and explained, “I’ve always been able to discern the affinities of other people and I can tell you that yours are Pure Fire, Pure Lightning, and Pure Light. It is already very rare to have a single purified affinity, so you should feel blessed having three…if you work hard, you will be able to use powerful skills, abilities, and magic related to your elemental affinities…”

Bell was very excited to learn of his own affinities, especially after hearing Vahn explained he had three rare ones, but he couldn’t help but release a sad sigh when he realized Vahn hadn’t said he had an affinity related to Space. It seemed like a super useful ability, being able to put things away and pull them out whenever he wanted, without having to carry them himself. Still, he didn’t stay upset for long and immediately resumed smiling as he asked, “How can I learn how to use my affinities? I’ve never even heard people mention them before…and, can I really learn magic? I thought only Elves and a few exceptional geniuses were able to use magic…?”

Hearing this, Vahn shook his head and confidently stated, “That is a misconception that is held by many people, so I can’t exactly blame you for believing that to be the case…however, you should know that there are no limits to a person’s growth. As long as a person never gives up, even the impossible is something that can be overcome, as there is no such thing as impossible from the start…anyone that says otherwise simply lacks the comprehension required to perform such feats. If you had attended my School, you would have been able to learn magic there, regardless of your race…”

Bell’s eyes lit up again as he asked, “Can I still join the School? I really want to be able to use magic!” Vahn, however, immediately shook his head and explained, “The cutoff for the School is being fourteen years of age…you should already be fourteen, so its a little late for you to enroll. Also, now is the middle of a semester and you would probably be able to become much stronger than most normal students before the next enrollment came around. Focus on increasing your own strength and understanding your own abilities before you start trying to learn things like magic. After all, with how little mana you currently possess, magic wouldn’t really be a reliable way for you to fight. Overusing it leads to a state called Mind Down and, as you currently are, you would probably only be able to shoot off a few fireballs before you passed out and ended up getting killed by a stray monster…”

Hearing this, Bell released a sigh and slumped over, eyes becoming slightly moist as he said, “I really am just a weakling right now…aren’t I…?” Vahn immediately nodded his head, making Bell release a pitiable whine until Vahn explained, “It is perfectly normal to start off weak, Bell, especially if you haven’t actually put in an effort to become stronger…even I almost lost my life to a simple Goblin in the past. Heck, when I first came into the Dungeon, I almost died a second time when I first met a Kobold…that was only around two and a half years ago, so don’t beat yourself up just because you aren’t already strong. The fact you can already fight multiple Goblins, even without a Falna, actually makes you ridiculously strong for a beginner…”

Having been a fan of Vahn’s, Bell knew that his words about only having been an Adventurer for a little more than two years were the truth. One of the things that made Vahn so famous was how he had been able to rise from a fresh Level 1 and, in less than two years, managed to reach the peak of all the Adventurers within the City. He had become an inspiration for all Adventurers, young and old, for how perseverance and determination could pay off. After all, it was also well known now that Vahn had actually been much weaker than normal and, only by constantly working to improve his strength, was he able to reach the point where he was currently at…standing at the top of a massive pyramid as he led the most powerful organization on the entire continent…

With Vahn’s encouragement, Bell was excited to increase his own strength and, mid-conversation began running down the corridor as he looked for another monster to fight. Vahn blankly stared at the boy’s back for a few seconds before following behind, wondering just what exactly went through Bell’s head to make him act so spontaneously. One thing he did know was that, after giving Bell a bit of advice, the strange energy surrounding his body actually become slightly more noticeable. Vahn was beginning to wonder if this energy was ‘fate’ itself, being so thick around Bell’s body that it actually became visible to those with the discernment to see it. He would need to get Anubis or Freya to look at Bell’s soul and see if they were able to discern anything if he wanted to be certain…

While following along behind Bell, who had started to fight another climactic battle with a single Goblin, Vahn turned his attention briefly to his Inventory and inspected the [Fate Severing Knife] he had received from saving Bell previously. It looked like a straight blade with a tip that had a 45-degree angle instead of a curve, giving it the appearance of an angular tanto. The handle was comprised of interwoven black cloth and had a red cord tied around the end that spread out into a small tassel. Overall, it was a very strange looking blade but it was the description of the item that truly caught his attention…

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[Fate Severing Knife]

Rank: Unique

Use: Allows the user to sever the fate of a target, resetting their karmic value to 100 and breaking any vows, strings, or promises linking them to any other entities. [!!( Warning)!!] This knife has the ability to affect causality and fate, changing the perception of other entities towards the target. Using this item also severs any connections between the target and any soulbound items, including those acquired through special circumstances.

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By and large, this was the most ‘powerful’ unique item Vahn had ever obtained, even though it didn’t actually seem that useful at a glance. The fact that it actually came with a warning showed that he would have to seriously consider how he wanted to use it in the future. After all, if his interpretation of the knife’s use was correct, it meant that even his [Enkidu] or, at worse, Eva’s fragment would be ‘severed’ and split from him. Since neither object was something that existed in a physical sense, they would likely be destroyed the moment they were separated from him, meaning he wouldn’t be able to use the knife to ‘reset’ his own karmic value…even if it would have been a mistake to do so from the start…

Since he had obtained it in relation to Bell, Vahn felt as though The Path had actually given it to him in the event that he decided the boy was no longer ‘important’. Severing Bell’s fate would essentially remove his status as the protagonist and, as it seemed to affect how other people saw him, it would probably prevent Ais and other significant characters from even caring about their relation to him. If Bell’s existence became too troublesome, Vahn now had a way to simply ‘cut’ ties with the boy and send him to an area where he would no longer be able to influence events…

Imagining ‘severing’ the fate of another person, Vahn couldn’t help but frown slightly since it seemed like an inextricably cruel thing to do, at least in relation to someone destined to save the world. Though he hadn’t exactly stolen anyone from Bell, there was still a small part of Vahn that felt somewhat guilty that he might have taken the girl that Bell had been fated to love at some point. If the original author was setting things up as they appeared, this meant that he and Ais probably would have become a couple at some point or, at the very least, had some kind of powerful fate binding them together. There was almost no chance of them being with each other now, but Vahn still felt it was ‘wrong’ to sever the bond between them, especially considering it might be important to Ais’ past and helping her resolve the matters of her past…

Since he didn’t plan to let Bell actually do anything that would negatively impact his family, Vahn didn’t see the need to use the [Fate Severing Knife] on the boy. After all, Bell was a good kid who had never really wronged him in any meaningful way. He also had a powerful fate that meant, as long as he was given time to grow, meant he would be able to shoulder the burden of the entire record at some point. This made Bell a very powerful ally that would actually allow Vahn to relax a bit more in the future since Bell would likely be able to deal with most smaller matters without any direct involvement on his part…

With that thought in mind, Vahn decided to hold on to the [Fate Severing Knife] for the time being, as it would be very useful if he ever encountered someone with a ‘tragic’ fate. One such example was Eva herself as, from what Vahn was able to discern, she seemed to be one of the central characters from her record. If he used the [Fate Severing Knife] on her, it would allow her to avoid association with the Mage of the Beginning or, at the very least, allow her to be rid of any of the negative karma she might have garnered over her six hundred years as a Shinso Vampire…

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