Chapter 80: Benefits of Survival

Vahn opened his eyes and noticed he was surrounded by an endless expanse of darkness. His body felt heavy and weightless at the same time; it was like he had fallen into a deep abyssal ocean and continued descending further into the darkness. Vahn struggled to move his body, desperately attempting to resist falling deeper into the abyss.

A powerful sensation could be felt welling up inside his chest. Heat began to expand to dissipate the cold that had been permeating throughout his body. His body almost felt like it was ‘thawing’ with the heat as he slowly regained the ability to move. Starting from his fingers and toes, until spreading to his arms and legs. As he regained functionality in his limbs, Vahn tried swimming upward against the pressure that had been weighing him down.

The heat continued building within Vahn allowing him greater freedom of movement. His heart felt like it was pumping with a mad intensity and his chest began glowing with a crimson light. The light spread from his heart and began to extend to the rest of Vahn’s body. As the intensity of the light increased, the darkness around Vahn began to lose its power to restrain him. Vahn doubled his efforts and started rising to escape the pressure.

The further he moved up, the less restraint he felt against his body. An excitement began to build within Vahn as his desire for freedom grew to a breaking point. The echoes of laughter began to sound in his mind, and Vahn recognized the voice as his own. No sound came from his lips in the vast emptiness of this space, but he could feel the intent behind the laugh sounding fervently within his mind.

Suddenly, the crimson light in Vahn’s chest took on a golden hue as it erupted from his body. Vahn ceased his struggles and roared powerfully through the darkness. Flames emerged from his body that formed a sphere of inviolable territory that banished the encroaching darkness. The flames continued to expand until, from an outside view, Vahn’s body now looked like a small sun floating through endless space.

Vahn bathed in the warmth of his own flames and enjoyed the powerful feeling pulsing through his veins. From around his body, several images began to form within the domain of flames. Starting from their eyes, four creatures formed within the void and looked at the dazed human before them. Their eyes had a reverence contained within as they all lowered their heads towards the boy.

Vahn looked curiously at the four creatures and understood what they represented. They were the forms of his [Rakshasa Body] and were a white-tiger, black-turtle, virmilion-bird, and azure-dragon. Each had an awe-inspiring majesty and radiated with infinite power…a power which submitted itself to Vahn. Smiling, Vahn reached out his hand to the closest creature, the white-tiger, and placed his palm on the ‘king’ symbol of its forehead.

A powerful rumble came from the tiger’s body as it opened its eyes toward Vahn. Vahn stared into the azure blue eyes and felt like its depths exceeded even the expanse of the void he had previously thought to be infinite. Within the eyes, Vahn saw life, death, wisdom, and an insurmountable pride that formed the core of the tiger’s being. But, even with all these things, it still looked towards Vahn with expectation and obeisance.

Vahn smiled and whispered with a powerful voice that tore through the void. No sound came from his lips, but space around was filled with a single word, almost like an irrefutable claim recognized by creation itself. “Báihǔ.”

‘Hearing’ its name, the tiger raised it’s head and roared. Space around completely shattered as the darkness formed shards like broken glass that dissipated into nothingness. A white expanse began to form around the domain Vahn had established. Looking around, Vahn felt an immense pride welling up inside him as his consciousness began to fade. He looks toward the other three creatures that had the same expectation on their face as Báihǔ previously.

He stared into each of their eyes in turn before his mind faded completely. The next moment, Vahn was waking up on the cold hard floor of the dungeon. All around his body there was a black, foul-smelling substance which covered the majority of his skin. Vahn’s nose scrunched up after smelling the odor, so he pulled out his [Decanter of Replenishment] to clean his body.

Afterward, as he was still naked, Vahn pulled out his spare equipment and adorned it on his body. He was now wearing his normal equipment as his fire-proof stuff had been incinerated by the crimson flames that had surged out of his body. He looked towards the ground where he had fallen which had now formed into a smooth, somewhat glassy, black color.

(“Sis, that was the third form of my [Rakshasa Body], wasn’t it? Such powerful flames…”) Vahn felt like the flames weren’t natural as even his ‘eternal flame’ didn’t seem to have such power.

(*That is correct Vahn. The third form is that of the Zhūquè, or the vermillion-bird. It seems to enhance your bodies regeneration to an incredible extent while greatly increasing your offensive capabilities at the cost of your defense.*)

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Vahn nodded, he had noticed that the fractures in his arms had been rapidly regenerating during his fall. Now, his body was completely uninjured and he even felt a powerful energy coursing through his veins. Curious, Vahn inspected his body using his mental energies and found the source of the new energy. The golden colored ‘eternal flame’ in his chest now had a crimson hue to it and burned with a much greater intensity than before.

The ‘eternal flame’ seemed to notice his presence as it began to dance around excitedly with unbound jubilation. Vahn could feel a ‘happiness’ coming from the flame as it seemed to be thanking him. Vahn smiled, imaging happy feelings of his own, and directed them towards the ‘eternal flame’ to let it know he was also happy seeing its change.

Vahn was now on the 14th floor with no easy way to progress. He now had just 300OP left to spend before he would exceed the quest limitation. As he had entered the dungeon with the intent of completing the quest, Vahn didn’t want to turn back after his first major setback. Now that he had avoided the danger, he felt it would be a waste to return empty-handed.

Van began to weigh the benefits of advancing and retreating. If he pressed forward he would be able to gain a larger amount of OP from stronger monsters, but there was an obvious risk factor involved. Retreating would allow him to inform the Guild of the existence of the Juggernaut, but it would also draw a lot of attention to himself as the person who submitted the information. Even Vahn couldn’t imagine how a Level 2 would have been able to survive after encountering such a monstrosity…

While he was stuck trying to make a decision, Vahn decided to inspect his own stats. He had experienced a great amount of danger and managed to survive against the odds. With his new [Rakshasa Body] transformation, it was very likely the skill had increased as well.

————————————————————————-

[[Stats]]

Name: [Vahn Mason]

Age: 14

Race: Human, *sealed*

Parameter: [Danmachi: 1-4]

-Level:2(2)

-Power:1001+(E498)->(C609)

-Endurance:1108+(C665)->(S914)

-Dexterity:887+(F372)->(E470)

-Agility:940+(E449)->(D551)

-Magic:1611+(B750)->(S949)

Total:5547+(2734)->(3393)

Soul Strength: Tier 2 (Hero Soul)

[Karma]: 1,022

[OP]: 182,037

[Valis]: 171,630

————————————————————————-

[OP]Spent: 99,700/100,000

Sure enough, exposing oneself to danger and surviving had a large influence on his growth. He still had a long way to go, but Vahn was grateful that he had at least obtained something for his troubles. If only he had been able to kill the Juggernaut somehow…Vahn shook his head as the thought entered his mind. The Juggernaut was far stronger than even Tsubaki; the fact that he was even able to wound it was almost unbelievable.

Thinking back to the incident, Vahn was very satisfied with the outcome. [Call of the Reaper] was far stronger than the expected, and even the Juggernauts enhanced senses weren’t able to detect the arrow before it was too late. If he had been stronger and possessed enough energy to charge that arrow, it was possible Vahn would have been able to kill the beast before it was even aware of what happened. That [Yi] arrow had a terrifying power, and Vahn knew he hadn’t even scratched the surface of its full potential. The fact it cost 5x more than his [Runic Tamahagane Blade: A] was enough to indicate how powerful it was.

A thought suddenly occurred and Vahn asked Sis to display the arrows information. Since he had purchased it, even though he hadn’t inspected it at the time, he should still be able to access information related to the arrow. Sure enough, an information window appeared in his vision and Vahn read the details of the arrow.

[Yi]

Rank:S-SSS

Slots:0

P.Atk:0

M.Atk:0

Use: Energy can be infused in this godly arrow to create the depiction of 10 Suns. Each Sun increases the Physical and Magical attack by 1000 points. Further channeling energy into the arrow will extinguish the suns and increase the arrows might. P.Atk/M.Atk + 10,000(number of suns extinguished). This arrow is restricted by the worlds ‘laws’ and cannot exceed the strength of four suns.

The stats of the arrow were incredible, and given the 300% damage increase from his [Call of the Reaper], Vahn must have hit the Juggernaut with an attack ranging between 20-25k total power. He was able to infer this due to the fact he had almost extinguished a single sun by about 70%. If he had been able to channel just a bit more energy, Vahn believed he might have been able to kill the Juggernaut if he was lucky…

Vahn decided that once he finished his weapon quest, he would purchase several [Yi] for emergency situations. Unlike other arrows, they seemed to be single use but Vahn couldn’t help but respect the awesome scene he had observed earlier. That single arrow managed to severely wound a creature near Level 7 even though Vahn was currently only Level 2.

As he continued to inspect his stats and items, Vahn noticed a peculiarity in his skill section. His [Rakshasa Body] had increased from F to E, but there was new information listed within the description that caught Vahn’s attention.

[Rakshasa Body]

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

[Passive]: Provides a large increase to pain resistance. Allows the body to disperse internal forces. Increases bodies natural regeneration by a moderate amount.

[Active]: Increases power and endurance based on damage received. Moderate stamina consumption.

[Actiive]: Allows the user to instantly activate awakened forms.

Awakening: [???]0%,[???]10%,[???]31%,[Báihǔ]100%

Vahn was surprised at the vast improvement, but considering it was an [Innate] skill, it wasn’t that difficult to imagine it had limitless potential. If Vahn had to wait until he was near death to make use of the skill it wouldn’t be very helpful. Now that he could activate it whenever he wanted, it would greatly enhance his combat capabilities.

Focusing his mind, Vahn began channeling energy into his body. He could feel a burning sensation on his back and could hear a word whispering within his mind. The sensation in his back began to grow as the voice repeated the word over and over. Vahn understood he had to repeat the name, so he muttered, “Báihǔ”.

The moment the word left his lips, his forearms and legs immediately grew a flawless white fur with black stripes. Unlike the previous off-white color, it was now an unblemished and pure white with a stark and beautiful black color. The claws on his hands seemed far more powerful and the muscles in his body felt both taut and stringy at the same time. Vahn felt like his body was full of explosive power, and he tested it out by launching himself forward.

The ground shattered at Vahn’s feet as he moved nearly three times his original speed and almost crashed into the wall 20m opposite of his starting position. Using his enhanced senses and flexibility, Vahn bent his body like a bow and sprung off the wall leaving indentations where his feet had landed. He spun several times in the air before landing nimbly back on his feet.

Vahn was amazed at his own acrobatic display, as he had never really been focused on agility as much as his other stats. The light feeling of his body and the flexibility of his bones left him in shock. If he could sustain this form whenever he pleased, Vahn felt like even most Level 3s wouldn’t be able to fight against him.

With an idea popping up in his mind, Vahn smiled while channeling his [Will of the Emperor]. He infused flame elemental energy into the domain and began absorbing it in large quantities into his body. The stark white hair on his body began to glow with a golden luster as the palms and claws of his hands began to radiate with an intense heat. Vahn took a deep breath and adapted to the enhancement of his body and senses.

He suddenly opened his eyes before kicking away from the ground with his maximum strength. Vahn could feel his body pass through some kind of membrane as the air exploded around his body. Using his fierce momentum, Vahn smashed his fist into the hard bedrock walls. A powerful energy erupted from his body and channeled itself into the wall where, nearly an entire second later, it exploded.

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The explosion caused the wall to fissure with a web-like pattern as the ceiling above gave in after losing its support. Vahn jumped backward and waited for the dust to settle before staring into the empty space beyond the wall he had just destroyed. With his perception, he had been able to sense a corridor parallel to the one he was currently in, and now Vahn was able to spread his senses into the now open room.

Several monsters, including Hell Hound and Almiraj, were startled by the sudden collapse of the wall and stared with red eyes towards the intruder. Seeing Vahn emerge from the hole, they immediately began attacking. Vahn smiled and spread both arms wide as if he were accepting their challenge. The aura radiating from his body caused his hair to dance in the wind created by his domain as he bent forward and dashed towards the monsters with his bare hands.

After a few minutes, Vahn had cleared the entire room and earned 611 OP for his efforts. He smiled and stared towards the ceiling before shaking his head. Now was not the time to retreat, instead, Vahn decided to venture further into the dungeon and continue towards the 18th floor. He would be able to rest there before working on completing his quest. Doing so would allow him to increase his strength even further, and he could use the time to work on awakening his other forms. If Vahn could get to the point where he could channel the flames of the vermillion-bird, he felt like there were few things that could stall his progress in the future.

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Dump : Dump’,’Maybe it’s not a phase’,’Milan’s Intuition’,’RIP Hephaestus’)

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