Chapter 800: Mystery

After finally settling things within the Traveler’s Inn, Vahn was now flying through the sky with Asfi using her [Talaria] to keep pace. Though he did end up coping a feel of Lulune’s butt, which was springy and tender, Vahn couldn’t exactly stay there all day and keep messing around. The original purpose of his visit was to follow-up with Asfi and have her develop some magic items for him. He already had a few ideas in mind for things she could make and, considering he actually ‘owned’ her now, there were no longer any restrictions on the total amount. So long as he provided her with ample materials, Asfi could theoretically make anything his imagination could come up with.

From the information Vahn had been able to gather on the [Mystery] Development Ability, it was purported able to create ‘miracles’, which seemed to match the description provided by the system as well. As for what constituted a miracle, it was any phenomenon that was naturally occurring in the world, but represented through a function that had nothing to do with the original phenomenon. An example that was quite popular, even though the items were very expensive, was the concept of creating magic items to allow flight. Within the natural world, there were numerous creatures that could fly and, by ‘believing’ in that phenomenon and superimposing onto an item, you were able to create a ‘miracle’ that allowed the item to reflect the initial phenomenon.

Asfi’s [Talaria] worked with this same concept and, though they had the basic form of sandals, she could use them to produce four wings out of thin air, allowing her to fly around the same speed she could run. As for other magic items she made use of, Asfi’s dagger was able to produce magical fire, her glasses enabled her to see the flow of mana, her leather armor could be as hard as metal, and her cloak was able to obscure the detection abilities of others. All of these properties were things that existed naturally and, though it was possible to create similar effects with his [Master Smith], the fact that magic items could be assigned almost any effect was fundamentally different than the abilities obtained while blacksmithing.

After landing in the Manor’s courtyard, Vahn led the way while Asfi, who had been following behind, suddenly came to a stop. Even without looking at her, Vahn had detected her hesitation and, without breaking step, said, “Come along, Asfi. You can’t lecture me about hesitating if you’re going to act like this….” Then, coming to a stop at the door, Vahn turned around and smiled before adding, “Besides, it is a little late to start worrying about things you can’t really do much to influence. From the moment we shared vows, this place became your home…besides, most of the things you’re worrying over don’t have much to do with the reality of the situation…well, you’ll understand soon enough.”

From the moment he had said ‘come along’, Asfi had already started walking toward the door, no longer able to stop her own feet from moving forward. Vahn’s words helped her calm down a little, though not to the extent that she didn’t feel a great amount of trepidation about meeting the other girls in the Manor. She felt like she had intruded in on something that should have been inviolable, as the Hearth Manor was the ‘heart’ of the entire Alliance, the most powerful organization on the continent. Because of this, Asfi was a little worried about other people would see her, especially those that were close to Vahn…

Unable to do anything about her fears, Asfi followed behind Vahn in silence until he stopped outside of a door and said, “Well, do your best, Asfi…” These words caused Asfi to feel even more nervous as Vahn opened up the door to reveal…another Vahn. Not quite understanding what was going on, Asfi’s mind blanked until a small part of her memory was triggered, reminding her of the fact Vahn claimed to have two bodies. Remembering this, she started to relax a little, at least until the second Vahn stepped to the side, revealing an entire room full of people staring back at her. Asfi felt like her heart was gripped by each and every one of them and sweatdropped when Vahn gently said, “Go inside…” while lightly pushing against her back with his surprisingly warm palm.

What followed was Asfi sitting like a statue between Haruhime and Mikoto as she answered everyone’s questions. As for Vahn, he sat down between Loki, Hephaestus, Anubis, and Hestia. Having two bodies was convenient for situations like this, as he could see from two different perspectives while also giving more people an opportunity to sit next to him. He had already explained the situation to the girls before Asfi and him had even shown up, so they mainly asked about her past, her [Mystery] Development Ability, and her various likes and dislikes.

Asfi, realizing that almost none of the girls were hostile towards her, with Haruhime even showing her a bit of support, quickly calmed down after a few minutes had passed. When the questioning phase was over, Loki had her take some very detailed vows to ensure she wouldn’t ever be able to exploit any loopholes to share the secrets of the Manor. After that, Asfi was given her own set of network items, a book containing all the rules and regulations of the Manor, and a summary document of decisions made during past Vahnatus. Seeing how ‘organized’ everything was, Asfi started to realize that what she had just become a part of was much ‘bigger’ than anything she had expected…

While Asfi was going over the documents, Hephaestus leaned against the table and said, “You know, Asfi, I’ve always been curious about the [Mystery] Development Ability. If possible, I’d like to see you make something within the workshop of the Manor. My daughter would probably be interested to see your skills in action as well, especially since you also have [Metalworking]. Honestly, I’m quite surprised to see how far your skills have developed while you’re so young…” When she Hephaestus’ voice, Asfi became a little rigid before responding with, “You’re too kind, Hephaestus-sama, I-” Before she was able to continue any further, Hephaestus furrowed her brows and said, “Just call me Hephaestus. Here, in this Manor, we’re all family…”

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Swallowing her words, Asfi fell silent for a few seconds before nodding her head and saying, “I understand, Hephaestus…” This earned her an approving nod from Hephaestus, who then added, “Also, don’t try to see yourself short for no reason. One of the things you’ll learn after staying in this Manor long enough is that everyone here works hard to improve themselves. Though there isn’t anything wrong with being humble, that kind of mentality will only slow your progress. Be confident and proud of what you’ve been able to achieve, especially if the person paying you a compliment is a couple of hundred million years old than you…” With Hephaestus’ words, Loki, Hestia, and Anubis all began to chuckle. Demeter and Eirene were currently busy with their Familias or they likely would have joined in on the laughter.

Piggybacking off of Hephaestus’ words, Tsubaki showed an amicable smile and added, “You wouldn’t be known as the most capable item maker in the City if you weren’t inordinately skilled. I’m also quite interested in your skills and wouldn’t mind taking a look myself later. You never know, I might actually be able to give you some advice on where you can improve. Since you’re already at the A-Rank, it’ll only take a few more breakthroughs before you reach mastery. I’m pretty curious to see what the [Mystery] Development Ability becomes once it reaches S-Rank…” As one of the rarest Development Abilities, the amount of information on the [Mystery] skill was severely lacking, with no record of the next tier anywhere in the Guild’s files.

Vahn, however, didn’t have such a limitation and immediately threw a filter into the system shop to see if there were any books or journals that would detail the skill further. It didn’t take long for him to even find a manual for the [Mystery] Development Ability, costing 3,000,000OP, but he instead purchased a small encyclopedia of skills, magic, and abilities that had been documented. He assumed it would have the information he needed because it had the same name as one of the Guilds records but cost several times more. Though it was almost impossible to buy items from the future of his current timeline, as it no longer existed within the system, Vahn was able to buy items from the other records of Danmachi that existed within The Paths information base.

Upon purchasing the book, Vahn copied the information to his mind and immediately found what he was looking for, deciding to vocalize his ‘discovery’ by saying, “There is a good chance that Asfi’s [Mystery] would evolve into [Enigma] once she mastered it. After that, it would become [Phantasm] before finally reaching the peak at [Miracle] itself…” As they were very accustomed to Vahn’s ‘quirks’, none of the girls were surprised by his revelations, even when he pulled out a book they knew had likely never been printed before. Vahn passed it off to Loki, who immediately opened it up and began reading the contents. Once she was finished, the book would become one of the important records of the Alliance, much like the other random books Vahn would ‘create’…

Asfi, thinking that Vahn had already had the book this entire time, didn’t think much about it and just kept relatively silent in the lively atmosphere. She was thinking about what kind of item she would make and, though they had asked if she were willing to let them see her process, it wasn’t as though she could refuse. If Vahn told her to stand in the middle of a public venue stark naked and create an item in front of a crowd, that would be her fate. Besides, as all of these girls were people that were close to Vahn, Asfi couldn’t come up with any justification to deny their request, even if she wasn’t told expressly to reveal her techniques.

Unaware of the exhibitionist thoughts running through Asfi’s mind, Vahn was also thinking about a simple magic item she could make that wouldn’t take too long. He was pretty confident in being able to learn the [Mystery] Development Ability himself, which is why he wouldn’t spend 3M OP just to get a manual explaining things. There was also a good chance that, once Asfi’s Affection reached 100, their bond would likely outright give him the skill. Presently, she was at 97(Love?) and Vahn believed it wouldn’t take too long to reach 100. In fact, he speculated he could get her to 100 almost instantly if he was a bit more forward in his approach…Asfi seemed like the type of girl who was stoic on the surface but was actually fragile underneath. She wanted to be sought after openly and, now that they were bound to each other, Vahn knew he would have to take the initiative to avoid having her lose confidence in herself…

After a lively luncheon, most of the girls went about their own business while Vahn, Hephaestus, Hestia, Loki, Tsubaki, and Haruhime all went with Asfi to one of the spare workshops in the East Annex. Along the way, they picked up Ina from her workshop and, even though she was a little annoyed at the interruption, her eyes glimmered the moment she heard about Asfi’s ability. When Asfi saw Ina, knowing it was Vahn’s daughter, she was shocked to the core and could hardly believe her eyes. After all, Ina was only around two years old publically but the girl standing in front of her looked closer in age to a teenager…

Keeping this thought to herself, Asfi began setting up her workshop with the assistance of Vahn, surprised by the fact that he seemed to be able to pull out anything she could think of from thin air. When he noticed her surprise, Vahn smiled and explained, “It should be in the documents you were given, but I have the power to create almost anything I can think of. The only requirement is that I have enough special energy within my reserves, which is the reason why the Alliance exchanges so many drop items with the Manor. I produce many of the hard to obtain resources within the market by using the energy contained within the drop items that are provided…”

When she heard Vahn’s explanation, Asfi’s face had a completely blank expression, like she was looking off into the distance and had seen something outside the perception of others. When she finally processed exactly what he had said, Asfi had wanted to ask several questions but lost the opportunity when Loki said, “You’ve got plenty of time to learn about what’s going on within the Manor, especially if it relates to Vahn. For now, just focus on creating a magic item and, after you’re done, there are a couple of things I want to talk to you about. I need to get your input on the Hermes Familia so I have a better understanding of how to use them in the most efficient manner.”

Though she really wanted to have her questions answered, Asfi knew that Loki’s words were true and, after she had finished here, there was plenty of time to ask about the things on her mind. Loki herself would probably be the best person to answer the majority of her questions so, without further delay, Asfi quickly got to work. The first thing she did was take a piece of already refined metal and, using the template blueprint Vahn had given her, began shaping it into a disc. Unlike what a [Blacksmith] would have to do, she was able to shape the metal itself by directly inserting her mana into the structure and molding it. Though it took a lot of her energy, Asfi was startled when Vahn placed his hand on her back and a warm flow of energy invaded her body, replenishing her reserves much faster than she could consume them…

Vahn knew about the [Metalworking] ability, so he wasn’t too surprised to see Asfi suddenly warp the metal just by placing her hands above it. Though the others couldn’t see it, he was able to see a hemisphere of energy that had been created by Asfi when she activated the ability. He wasn’t able to understand everything that was going on, but Vahn could still memorize the process and strive to emulate it later. It would take some trial and error, but he would eventually be able to replicate the strange energy coming out of Asfi’s hands, enabling him to use the [Metalworking] ability himself after a bit of practice.

When Asfi finished shaping the strange disc, which was around 150cm in diameter and had several small grooves located on its surface, she reached up to wipe the sweat from her brow only to discover a white towel being handed to her from the side. Seeing Vahn holding it out for her with a smile on his face, Asfi felt her heart flutter before accepting it, muttering a small ‘Nn’ in the process. The moment she did this, however, it felt like a jolt of cold electricity ran up her back and, turning towards the direction her instincts warned her of, she saw Vahn’s daughter staring at her with somewhat icy eyes. This didn’t last long, fortunately, as Hephaestus had brought her hand to Ina’s shoulder and began lightly rubbing it to calm her down.

As he had also noticed Ina’s behavior, Vahn knew he would have to explain things clearly to her and the other children later. The situation in the Manor was certainly very unique and, to avoid them harboring any ill will towards any of the girls that may come to reside here in the future, Vahn wanted to clear some things up with them. He knew Ina was probably worried that she would have even less time with him in the future, something that made him feel a little guilty at times. There were even moments when he considered trying to make another Avatar for the sole purpose of spending time with his children but Sis had advised him against it, saying he needed to increase the Tier of his soul if he wanted to split his consciousness any further.

Knowing how difficult it had been just to master controlling two bodies, which he was still working on, Vahn knew her advice should be taken very seriously. This once again brought up the idea of using shadow clones but, after experiencing the mental strain of just absorbing his memory fragments thoughts, Vahn knew the skill wasn’t the best solution. Instead, he intended to simply make more time for them when his main body went into the Dungeon with the majority of the girls. This would actually free up a lot of time for him on the surface since he was supposed to be within the Dungeon and it would raise a few flags if people discovered he was in two places at once.

Currently, the number of people aware of this fact, at least outside of the Manor, numbered only eight people. It was a very important secret that he wanted to keep under wraps since it would allow him to get a jump on any enemies that wanted to attack his home, or the Alliance, while he was away. Since he had the ability to change his form, Vahn intended to transform into a smaller version of a Vanargandr and use an Ice Raiment [Magia Erebea] to make people think he was just another Xenos kept secret by the Alliance. He was quite fond of the transformation as well since Fenrir was ‘extremely’ fond of it and he had gotten pampered quite a bit after showing it off to the girls…

Broken out of his thoughts but Asfi finishing up the template ‘levitation platform’ he wanted her to make, Vahn smiled and answered her unasked question, “You’ve seen it yourself, but I’ll demonstrate it again and explain the phenomenon of levitation…” While speaking, Vahn hovered off of the ground slightly and crossed his legs into a seated position, explaining, “Essentially, but using your mental energy in a skilled manner, you can manipulate objects with your mind and bring about a variety of phenomenon. This specific technique is called levitation and, by having a proper grasp of Space, you can change your orientation to the ground or even create ‘anchors’. I’ll demonstrate…”

Vahn sent a telepathic message to Tsubaki, surprising her at first before an excited grin appeared on her face. Then, surprising Asfi, and many of the other girls, Tsubaki jumped through the air with a ‘Haaaaaaa!’ and kicked towards Vahn’s chest. She didn’t put that much force into the hit, but Tsubaki was also a Level 6 with a large focus on physical Power. Her kick caused the ground beneath Vahn, which he wasn’t even in contact with, to crack slightly as he caught her bare foot with his hand. Unlike in the past, Vahn was now more than a little stronger than Tsubaki, especially if she wasn’t going all out.

Releasing a sigh, which caused Tsubaki to laugh even more, Vahn turned to Asfi and explained, “As you can see, it is possible to ‘anchor’ yourself to other objects, with the ground being the easiest. The miracle I want you to perform is imbuing that platform with the ability to levitate off the ground while still being anchored to it. This will give it much greater stability and stop the platform from wobbling when weight is placed on top of it. At the same time, you should keep in mind that it shouldn’t be a perfect anchor, like what I just demonstrated, and should instead act as a shock absorber…like so…”

Turning to Ina, Vahn gestured towards his daughter and she immediately ran over without any explanation required and hopped into his lap. This caused Vahn to ‘spring’ slightly with the added weight before immediately returning back to his starting position. Ina happily began dangling her feet while leaning into his chest, giving Asfi a somewhat haughty look as if she had achieved some great victory…

Asfi was starting to realize it wasn’t the girls in the Manor she needed to win over, but Vahn’s children. For the time being, however, she just nodded towards Vahn and said, “I understand. Though I may not be able to get everything working properly the first time, I can use my [Mystery] skill multiple times on the same object. Only one effect can ‘stick’, but removing effects I personally assigned is easy enough…” Without waiting for Vahn to tell her to proceed, Asfi brought her hands together like she was praying and actually did exactly that. In reality, she was forming the image of the phenomenon she wanted to create and, by understanding the said phenomenon, she would be able to imbue it into the object she had designated.

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Vahn watched Asfi with his [Eyes of Truth] active and could see one of the strangest phenomena he had ever observed before. An illusory sphere had surrounded Asfi’s body and there were several cogs, rings, and other strange mechanical components that nobody else seemed to be able to discern. The reality, however, was quite different from Vahn’s expectations as the young Vanir sitting in his lap could also clearly see these things, her own eyes glimmering with the illusion of eight segmented parts, each reflecting a different image of the same scene. They both watched as the strange mechanical structure around Asfi changed into a more organized shape before blue characters appeared in front of her face, which Vahn could interpret as ‘Levitation’. It would seem that, once again, the phenomenon on the world could be guided by words and intentions, just like how magic itself was able to function…

When the word had formed, it began to condense into a small droplet of energy between Asfi’s hands and, when she opened her palms, the illusory droplet now existed in reality. She was able to move it forward without it falling to the ground and placed it above the platform before letting it drop. When it contacted the metallic surface, it created ripples that could be seen with the naked eye before the metallic surface became calm once again. From the side, Hephaestus hand her hand to her chin in a thoughtful manner and said, “Hooo…trully, a prodigious talent…I haven’t seen someone use the [Mystery] ability with that much finesse in my entire time in the mortal world…” Next to her, Loki also nodded her head and understood that Asfi was actually far more skilled than she had expected. Though neither she nor Hephaestus had seen the phenomenon observed by Vahn and Ina, they were able to sense the fluctuations of the world and a small amount of Divine Power contained within Asfi’s ability…

After releasing a sigh of relief, Asfi smiled and picked up the platform before placing it on the ground and standing on it. Since she was used to activating magic items near her feet, with her own [Talaria] requiring the same capability, Asfi was quickly able to activate the [Levitation Platform]. The moment it was activated, she hovered about two meters off the ground and, to test the shock absorption capabilities, jumped up and down a few times to make it bob. As for Vahn, he had averted his eyes to the side as Ina looked up at Asfi’s pale-blue lace panties that were on full display from the current angle…

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