Vahn continued to make his way through the 14th floor while familiarizing himself with his Báihǔ form. Using it in conjunction with [Will of the Emperor] increased his perception and awareness to incredible levels. Vahn couldn’t just ‘sense’ things within the domain, he could smell, hear, and see things far more clearly than before. Instead of the passive stance, Vahn always assumed in fights, where he would dodge and evade enemies while countering, now he was aggressively fighting the enemies with his bare hands.
With the ‘burning’ attribute and his absorption of flame elements, Vahn was able to deal debilitating blows to monsters. It was a very weird sensation to feel bones breaking and watching as monsters were deformed under the power of his blows. With his enhanced vision, Vahn was even able to experience a moment where he punched a monster and was able to actually see the shockwave pass through its body in slow motion.
Most of the monsters he encountered were the Hell Hounds and Almiraj he had grown accustomed to fighting, but after an hour of travel Vahn finally encountered something new. It was a giant boar monster that was slightly more than 2m tall. It looked to weight around 1000kg and left tracks inside the hard floor as it rushed towards Vahn. Vahn recognized the creature as a Battle Boar which was known for their explosive rushes and incredibly durable skin.
Unfortunately for the boar, it wasn’t able to change directions quickly when it was charging. Vahn was able to leap over the Battle Boar and get behind it. As it tried to change direction and charge again, Vahn attacked its unguarded flank with his strongest punch. His fist sunk into the hard flesh and a burning smell began to spread in the air, but that was the extent of the damage. Vahn jumped back as the boar tried to maul him with its large tusks.
It was no wonder the compendium said that Battle Boars were known for their durability. When Vahn’s fist had collided with its side, it almost felt like the shockwave, he had grown used to feeling, was dispersed. He assumed the boar had some kind of natural ability to repel/disperse shocks similar to his [Rakshasa Body] passive. The boar madly charged towards Vahn with a red gleam in its eyes as it spewed drool all over the place in its rage.
Vahn side-stepped the boar, and instead of punching, he lashed out with his super-heated claws. One of the changes brought about by his Báihǔ form was a set of razor-sharp claws that extended nearly 5cm from each finger. Combining their sharpness with the flame elemental attacks made them able to easily rend through flesh. As his fingers swept across the side of the boar, they sunk deep into the thick hide and left cauterized wounds in their wake.
The Battle Boar flinched at the pain, the gleam in its eyes intensifying, as it continued to attack without hesitation. Vahn noticed that the longer he fought the beast, the larger it became and the more ferocious its attacks. The blackish-brown skin of the boar had started to take on a red hue and Vahn noticed steam began to erupt from its nostrils with each breath.
As it began its charge, Vahn sighed before taking out his [Runic Tamahagane Blade]. It was very difficult to kill the boar using just his hands because it was resistant to strikes and his claws couldn’t cut deeply enough into the flesh to cause any serious damages. Readying his sword, Vahn also charged towards the enraged beast with a fearless expression.
The Battle Boar roared loudly as it accepted the challenge of the boy before it. It increased its pace and intended to tear Vahn apart using its massive tusks. The two forms, one large boar, and one small boy, continued to charge at each other without any hesitation. Just as they were about to cross paths, Vahn planted his left foot into the ground at a sidewards angle before twisting his waist and turning his back toward the Battle Boar.
The boar intended to run right through his defenseless body, but just as it was about to make contact, Vahn kicked the ground and did a backflip over the charging beast. The boar tilted its head slightly to stare at the figure above its head who returned his gaze with a confident expression. While Vahn was in the air, he swapped out his sword for his bow and loosed an arrow into the exposed eye that was glaring at him.
Jerking its head sideways from the painful impact, the boar lost control of its charge and skid across the bedrock wall. Its tusks carved through the hard surface and slowed its momentum. With the arrow still lodged in its eye, it turned towards the boy to continue its charge. However, no matter where the boar looked, it couldn’t find any traces of the boy’s presence.
Even in its enraged state, the boar was still capable of thinking and it was confused at how the enemy it had been fighting suddenly vanished. Suddenly, a painful sensation came from the side of its body where it had been blinded. Its head rolled from its body and it could see the form of its enemy holding a glowing golden blade next to its body that was still standing in its place.
Before the Battle Boar lost consciousness for the last time, it saw the boy look towards it with a mocking expression on his face. Vahn had seen the boar hadn’t died instantly, so he smiled towards the head that now lay on the ground. He had used the blind spot created when he shot out the boar’s eye to create an opening to behead the creature. Though Vahn felt a little guilty at exploiting its weakness, he had no obligation to fight fairly against monsters that were trying to kill him. Even ones that seemed to mindlessly charge forward and fight their enemies directly.
Vahn removed the core from the boar’s ‘corpse’ as both the head and body began to dissolve into dust. He noticed there was a strange pelt that had been left behind that looked similar to the boar’s hide. Thinking it could be a good material to make armor in the future, Vahn ended up keeping it in his inventory instead of exchanging it for OP. A master smith like Tsubaki or Hephaestus would be able to bring out the inherent qualities of such a material and Vahn would be able to possess the same shock-resistant functions as the boar possessed in life.
This was one of the first fights that Vahn actually enjoyed to this extent. The boar wasn’t an easy opponent he could simply vanquish with a single strike like the Hell Hounds and Almiraj that endlessly pestered him. He had to use all of his skills to come out on top and it took a great deal more effort than most of his fights. Vahn began to hope there would be similar situations in the future as he turned towards the corridor and delved deeper into the 14th floor.
By the time Vahn reached the stairs more than five hours had passed. Combining this with the amount of time he spent on the 13th floor and passed out on the 14th floor, it was now nearly 8 PM. Though Vahn wasn’t really tired, since the ‘eternal flame’ seemed to be providing him with excess amounts of energy, he decided to take a break. He sat down and reviewed his spoils and progress.
Each Hell Hound, even though they weren’t that strong, gave Vahn around 23-27OP each. The Almiraj, though they were harder to deal with than the Hell Hounds, only gave a pitiable 18-20OP each. The good thing about both was they were incredibly common, so Vahn had been able to earn a total of 14,779 in his five-hour stint. His total OP was brought up to 196,816 and he was getting increasingly closer to obtaining a fifth of the required amount for his quest.
Vahn pulled out the large core he had obtained from the Battle Boar. So far he had kept both the core and the pelt, as he felt it was a shame to turn it into OP for now. Generally speaking, the magic core obtained from a monster was the optimal catalyst for the forging of weapons and armors. Since Vahn wanted to use the hide, he decided to hold onto the core for now even though it should be worth a few hundred points.
Staring into the purple-blue crystalline structure, Vahn was captivated by the swirling energies contained within. He always found magic cores to be interesting, and higher grade cores like this one were even beautiful to look at. They were like dark gems that sparkled with light at their cores, and Vahn had thought about crafting accessories or imbuing them into weapons as decorations.
Vahn continued admiring the stone before placing it back into his inventory. He shouldn’t be wasting too much time focusing on other things while he was still in the dungeon. Once he got to Riviria he would have time to consider his options and make further plans. For now, Vahn pulled out some food and ate a hearty meal. Afterward, he wiped down his body using a sponge and water from his canteen. He couldn’t do much to clean his clothing, but it was better than nothing.
Once he had finished his preparations, it was now close to 9 PM, but as Vahn wasn’t tired he decided to press onward. Entering into his Báihǔ form, Vahn crossed the threshold into the 15th floor. This was one of the floors he looked forward to the most and was also the reason he didn’t feel like resting just yet. Vahn could feel anticipation building in him as he walked down the corridor towards his first room.
Entering the room, Vahn could feel the blood begin to boil in his veins. Standing near the center of the 30m wide room was a pair of monsters that he had been wanting to fight for a long time. They were Minotaurs, and they stood around 2-3m each with massive and muscular builds. They each had fierce looking bull heads and large bristled manes that reached around their head and covered their necks and shoulders. They stood on two powerful hooved legs and the larger of the two even carried with it a broken sword that was full of nicks and chips.
The moment he entered the room, both Minotaurs immediately noticed him and began to amble towards him menacingly. They each had vicious expressions as they groaned while emitting waves of hot air and steam. Vahn got into his battle stance after putting away his sword. He intended to fight them unarmed unless it was too difficult, as using a sword would give him too much of an advantage given his current parameters. Minotaurs might be a major threat to most Level 2’s, but Vahn’s enhancements from his Báihǔ form and [Will of the Emperor] gave him stats that would easily rival a Level 3.
A golden aura danced around Vahn as he dashed towards the closest Minotaur. It used its broken sword and tried to attack, but Vahn accelerated at the last moment before dashing cleanly through its open legs. As he passed, Vahn used his claws to sever the femoral arteries on both legs. The Minotaur fell forward in pain as buckets of blood began to pour out of the exposed veins. It was unable to support itself without leaning against the blade.
Vahn continued his charge towards the unarmed second Minotaur. It tried using its powerful arms to smash at the nimble Vahn. Vahn broke his own momentum by kicking the ground outside the range of the Minotaur’s attack. Its fists slammed heavy into the ground and caused cracks in the bedrock, but Vahn ignored the attack as he had already launched himself towards the Minotaur’s face.
Using his super-heated claws, Vahn grabbed the head of the Minotaur as he pressed both of his thumbs deep into the eye-sockets of the monster. As it tried to grab him in its blind flurry, Vahn kicked off with force and broke both collarbones of the Minotaur as he vaulted backward in the air before landing back on his feet.
The first Minotaur stared at Vahn as it waited for its wounds to recover while the second was blindly flailing its dangling arms around. At one point it collided with its larger companion and brought both of them to the ground. As the Minotaur had dropped the sword, Vahn recovered it into his inventory before equipping it. He inspected the badly damaged blade before approaching the two disorganized monsters.
Raising the sword, which had likely belonged to one of their victims, Vahn issued a silent prayer towards the unlucky fellow as he split the larger Minotaur’s head. The second Minotaur kept flailing about, unable to stand back up without the use of its arms, so Vahn stabbed it through the back of the neck and brought its struggles to the end. All in all, both Minotaurs combined posed less of a threat than the Battle Boar he had fought previously.
Though they had a fearsome strength that could overwhelm weaker adventurers, they lacked the mobility and durability to resist Vahn’s attacks. Since they had relatively humanoid forms, they also possessed similar weaknesses and the vital spots of their bodies were easy to identify. There were few people who knew the location of major veins and arteries better than Vahn.
Vahn recovered the two cores and was happy to notice they were worth 113 and 139 OP each. With a smile on his face, Vahn walked forward to find his next target. Still wielding the broken sword, Vahn had decided he would use it to slay as many Minotaurs as he could before finding a place to properly lay it to rest. Hopefully, the person that had left it behind would find some solace in the act.
(A/N: Alternate Titles:’Minotaurs ain’t scary’,’No tomatoes today’,’Vahn is confirmed furry at this point’,’Battle Boar got cheated’,’If Vahn is fighting through the night, doesn’t that mean Hephaestus is stuck trying to sleep while his heart beats loudly/excitedly in her soul?’,’Agility is OP’)