Chapter 810: Intuition

After letting the expedition rest for a couple of hours, all the while monsters continued to besiege the barrier, it was time for them to progress into the 37th Floor, the beginning of the White Palace. Though Vahn had initially wanted to make it all the way to the 39th Floor and rest on Lil Geirr, the number of monsters inhibiting their advance was far beyond his expectations. At any one moment, the corridors and caverns would be filled with tens of thousands of monsters that were trying to halt their advance. Since he had been worried that Lil Geirr was also under attack, Vahn had even sent Ais, Tiona, Maemi, and Emiru to break through the blockade and go provide support.

Since there were only a few Floors separating them, Vahn was able to maintain contact with the girls and learned that, against expectations, Lil Geirr had only been assaulted a few times. This meant that Enyo’s forces were specifically targetting the expedition and, quite possibly, there could be something carried by one of its members that was drawing them in. After all, he hadn’t expected Enyo to put so much effort into stopping their progress since it made it very apparent that something ‘unnatural’ was occurring. In his original calculations, she should have already learned about the plans to build a settlement on the 50th Floor and would have been planning some kind of ambush for them, not proactively wasting forces just trying to stall…

Vahn had told the girls to continue defending Lil Geirr since there was no way of knowing if the situation would change and, though the defenses of the small fortress were rather high, the combat capabilities of their individual members left something to be desired. Other than people like Gareth, Bete, and a few other Elites, the only means by which they could turn away a wave of monsters was entirely dependent on the defensive wards and ballistae that had been installed. Other than that, the defenders would have to rely on ranged weaponry while anyone capable enough to fight up close would struggle to try and hold ground against the numbers that the expedition was currently facing.

Once the expedition had prepared to move out again, Vahn slowly opened his eyes and exhaled a sigh as Alexa quickly released his back and relied on her own wings to remain airborne. She looked down at the monsters that were futilely striking at the barrier, a cold glint in her aquamarine eyes as she asked, “Papa, can I kill them…?” Vahn stretched his body, as he had been stationary for nearly six hours, nodding his head as he said, “Yes, but don’t overextend yourself. It would be best if you barrage them with a few big attacks and then return to my side.”

Alexa smiled excitedly, saying, “I understand, Papa, leave it to me~!” as she flicked her wings and created a shockwave with her sudden acceleration. Vahn slowly began moving along with the expedition but kept his back towards the front as he observed Alexa wreak a bit of havoc on the enemies. She created green spheres of condensed magical power in her hands that had dark black cores that radiated with what looked like green electricity. Whenever she tossed them into a group of monsters, the spheres wouldn’t simply explode, but instead expanded in an instant before persisting for several seconds. When they finally faded away, the only thing remaining was a perfect hemispherical hole where monsters had previously stood.

The attack spell that Alexa was using is something she had created for herself, an unnamed spell that was comprised of Space, Darkness, and a small amount of source energy to contain it. This was why the attack was nearly soundless as, even though the destructive energies inside were terrifying, they still couldn’t overwhelm the thin membrane of source that had been used as a stabilizer. Anything unfortunate enough to be trapped inside was devoured by the Darkness as the space around them was completely isolated for external energies. Even if they had a teleportation ability, unless it was an Innate, there would be few means by which most enemies could even escape Alexa’s attacks.

After lobbing eight of her terrifyingly destructive magic sphere, Alexa quickly created a few shockwaves as she zipped back to his side, breathing a little heavily but still smiling. Vahn extended his arm and let Alexa come forward to hug him while he helped to replenish her energy and keep pace with the expedition. This cycle repeated a few times and, though he knew she would probably be okay, Vahn didn’t let his attention fall away from Alexa whenever she was fighting monsters. Even if she was a True Dragon, he couldn’t help but worry about her, regardless of the fact that most enemies couldn’t threaten her even if they landed a direct hit.

At the same time that Alexa was helping the Haruhime’s Rearguard Unit thin out their pursuers, Lefiya was surrounded by a perpetual pink magic circle as dozens of smaller magic circles formed behind her back like wings. Whenever she would see a large group of enemies, she would send forth a beam of magical power that would cut through any enemies unfortunate enough to meet its path before exploding against the ground and creating an explosion nearly 20m in diameter. The fact that she could send out 79 such attacks at once made Lefiya’s role within the group of Mages the most important. It also helped that, standing a short distance from her, Ryuu was using her bow to immediately pick off any variant monsters that might appear. They couldn’t even hope to defend against her arrows, each compressed Star Elemental energy that naturally counteracted the very existence of mana constructs like monsters…

Though the girls were the most dominant forces on the battlefield, it wasn’t as if they were doing all of the work. In fact, if not for Vahn’s ability to replenish their energy reserves and the large number of consumable items they had available, it might not even be possible to progress as smoothly as they had been. Fortunately, the girls were able to conserve the majority of their strength to mislead Enyo’s forces, instead, allowing the expedition itself to do handle most enemies. Having hundreds of Adventurers that were Level 3 and higher made short work of most monsters, as each of them was able to fight off dozens of enemies with ease while the ‘normal’ Mages were able to clear out large groups that exerted pressure on the convoy.

Even the construction crew and Supporters were helping out, using crossbows, miniature ballistae, and a few of the [Burst Oil] potions that Asfi had mass-produced within the sub-space orb. Each potion was enough to create a small inferno that could cover an area of around 8m, tearing through the defenses of most monsters with ease. With the help of Naaza, Chloe, Shizune, Lili, and Vahn himself, they had made more than three thousand of the highly useful explosive potions. If they ran low, Vahn could even purchase more from the system shop but, given the fact that they had the resources and it also saved him a great deal of OP, he preferred having them made from scratch.

Thus far, other than a few light injuries that had been easily dealt with, everything was proceeding relatively smoothly. This fact, however, caused Vahn to be on even higher alert, especially during the moments when Arnya, Mikoto, and Lili were clearing out the Coliseums. Since it was very difficult for those inside to get out, Vahn was worried that an unexpected attack would occur while their forces were split. Fortunately, the three girls were able to completely annihilate the monsters barring further passage while he had been waiting with Alexa, Haruhime, Ryuu, Lefiya, Chloe, Shizune, and Tina. The latter two hadn’t had the opportunity to showcase their skills just yet, but Vahn knew they would have a chance in the near future.

Using this same strategy, the expedition continued forward in relatively high spirits as Finn directed everyone in a tight formation. The second Unit, comprised of a large number of members of the Ganesha Familia, was their weakest spot. However, as this was also where Vahn and Alexa were located, it was simultaneously the safest place to be for the weaker members of the expedition. Things were intentionally designed this way to draw attention to the ‘center’ of the formation, especially if there were someone intelligent guiding the monsters’ actions. The majority of those making up the leadership of the Alliance was very aware of the existence of Enyo at this point, so morale had been high, even under the constant barrage of monsters.

After clearing through the White Palace, the expedition filtered into where the Udaeus would normally spawn but, after the girls passed through the previous day, it had been easily defeated. The room had been so damaged from the fight that, even though the Dungeon would heal over time, there were several indicators of the battle that had occurred. Vahn knew that Ais, Tiona, and Tione had let Maemi and Emiru take it on by themselves, so it wasn’t too surprising to see how much damage remained in the area. After all, Maemiru was powerful enough to defeat the combined efforts of many of the other girls, assuming she wasn’t already injured beforehand…

Only allowed on
Dear Readers. Scrapers have recently been devasting our views. At this rate, the site (creativenovels .com) might...let's just hope it doesn't come to that. If you are reading on a scraper site. Please don't.

While the expedition made its way through the wide-open room, Vahn didn’t drop his guard for a single moment, even though the waves of enemies had temporarily stopped. His intuition was telling him that something was ‘wrong’ but, even after they had clearly progressed into the next Floor, nothing had happened. As a result, the expedition continued forward until they were very near the entrance to the 39th Floor. The waves of monsters had started from the moment they entered into the 38th Floor, but the open space was actually to the advantage of the Alliance and made it relatively easy to continue forward since they were no longer ‘funneled’ inward.

Even as they entered into the 39th Floor, Vahn suspicion that something was ‘wrong’ kept nagging at his mind, almost affirming that it was something within the expedition itself that was setting off this feeling. Unfortunately, he hadn’t been able to sense any abnormalities, even after inspecting every single person within the expedition with his senses. Not only did he search their aura, but Vahn even went out of his way to inspect their clothing, view their bodies with his [Eyes of Truth], and even transform into his Baihu form to try and sense something. The only thing this accomplished was making the ‘danger’ feel even stronger, but Vahn couldn’t identify the source at all…

Once the expedition managed to enter into Lil Geirr and begin setting up camp, the girls that had trailblazed regrouped with the main group and Vahn took the initiative to call together a council of all the Unit Commanders. He gathered Finn, Shakti, and Haruhime into the Command Tent while a little over twenty other executives filed in to listen to his orders. Without beating around the bush at all, Vahn explained, “I can’t ascertain the source, but there is something within the expedition itself that is causing my instincts to trigger. Though that might not sound convincing, know that I’m absolutely certain there is something seriously ‘wrong’ about how things have been going…”

Following his words, Finn immediately nodded his head and added, “Vahn is right. My own instincts have been going off for a while now. My thumb is so itchy that I can hardly prevent myself from gnawing it off…” To emphasize this, Finn raised his hand and showed the teeth marks on his glove with a wry smile on his face. His ‘thumb’ was a very well known quirk so, even though they hadn’t exactly discounted Vahn’s words, most people were convinced by the fact that both people with the highest authority were in agreement. The only peculiarity, which Vahn was surprised he had overlooked, was that Rufina’s aura began to shake a little while she sat at the side with a thoughtful expression on her face.

Seeing her behavior, Vahn wondered if his feeling was somehow related to her and, even though he was resolved to hold onto it, Vahn was tempted to use the [Fate Severing Knife] on her. For the time being, however, he just closed his eyes as if he were in deep thought and inspected Rufina in greater detail than he had before. It was his mistake to have overlooked giving a detailed inspection of the people he had already trusted, even though Rufina’s fate was intertwined with the Dungeon itself. He was relieved to see that there wasn’t anything particularly strange with her, even though she clearly understood he was looking based on her body language and aura…

Vahn smiled comfortingly to her and sent a telepathic message to Tiona and Chloe to try and look after her once the meeting was over. At the same time, he had started to discuss the best course of action to take in determining the cause of the abnormality. The simplest solution seemed to be separating everyone that had a ‘negative’ aura and spending a few extra days in Lil Geirr to determine the cause by investigating everything in detail. There were a couple of thousand people that currently resided in Lil Geirr itself, including laborers, artisans, and construction workers. It wouldn’t be that difficult to rotate them out in exchange for greater benefits for those that would volunteer for the journey…

Finn listened to Vahn’s plan of action before nodding his head in agreement, trusting Vahn’s judgment as he said, “I believe this is one of our best options right now. However, we should also extend our investigation to everyone in the expedition while helping bolster the defenses of Lil Geirr. We’ve all seen how abnormal the monsters are acting and, even though we’re in a ‘safe area’, there have already been several small attacks over the last twenty-four hours. Considering it would sometimes be weeks between similar attacks, it is clear to see that there is a greater scheme afoot here. We can’t expose any weakness that could be exploited by our enemies so, until we get to the bottom of this, we should stay put and consolidate our forces.”

Shakti and Haruhime immediately gave their approval and, even though that would have been all that was required, the matter was still put to a vote. The representatives of the merchant and construction Familia also acceded to the ruling very quickly, even though some of the merchant Familia members were obviously a little nervous. Many of them knew that some of their members were less than reputable individuals and would likely be weeded out by any thorough investigation. Even so, they wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to set up shops within the 50th Floor this time around, even if the number of clients they had would likely be extremely few for the first few years. They were in this for the long-term investment of such an ambitious project and, missing the opportunity when they had the backing and protection of the Alliance would be one of the greatest chances they ever let slip.

Vahn understood what the merchants were thinking but didn’t mind it that much as he had discussed their participation with Minerva and Fortuna before following their advice. Though he could easily establish a monopoly for various goods, the two goddesses explained that it was good to at least create the semblance of competition. This would give people the illusion that things weren’t exclusively controlled by the Alliance and encourage more merchants and business owners to make the migration. At the same time, the Alliance would be establishing a Merchant’s Guild in conjunction with the actual Guild representatives, this time comprising of a group of three people, one elderly Elven man, and two youthful looking Human women.

With the ‘unanimous’ approval to conduct an investigation, everyone was denied ‘leave’ to explore Lil Geirr until they had provided the proper documentation and had both their personal belongings and bodies thoroughly investigated. Though some of the female members had complained about this kind of treatment, they had quieted down after learning that Vahn would personally conduct the search. For better or worse, it was times like this where his reputation, the amicable aura he emitted from his body, and the influence of his [Charm] Development Skill were able to show off their usefulness. Fortunately, he was still back at the Manor and was able to vent some of his frustrations on the surprisingly docile Fenrir, having become more affectionate and submissive after their first few days together…

Given the fact there were more than 1300 people to go through, the investigation would obviously take a few days. To expedite things, Vahn had started off by identifying each of the members with dark and ‘negative’ auras, giving a list to Finn so he could call them forward first. It wasn’t that surprising to Vahn that the majority inevitably confessed to various crimes they had committed, nor that nearly thirty people admitted to being plants by the Noble faction. As for how he was able to get them to admit to this, it was a combination of mental suppression, calming incense, and implanting suggestions in their mind using a few advanced hypnosis techniques. Though he would never use such things on the people he cared about, nor would he shamelessly exploit those under his influence, it was a very useful technique for prying information out of ‘enemies’. At the very least, it was better than having to ‘torture’ it out of them, the method that Loki and Freya were a little ‘too’ fond of…

Other than the plants of the Nobles, and those that ‘admitted’ to the fact they intended to commit crimes in the new settlement, Vahn let the rest of the people go free. Many of these people, while having dark auras, were the victims of circumstance, pressured by criminal Familias on the surface, or simply wanted to ‘migrate’ into the Dungeon to escape from a difficult past. Vahn took pity on people like this and, after planting a ward inside of them that was designed to absorb negative energies, he let them go free.

As long as they didn’t make any trouble in the future, he had no reason to put pressure on people that were trying to improve their lives. For those that had been victimized by other people, to the point that they were drawn into the darkness against their will, Vahn had them identify the people that pressured them. He would investigate them back on the surface and try to remove them so that they were unable to pressure other people into living similar lifestyles. In total, the number of people that were detained numbered 58 people, the majority being planted by the Nobles, those that had committed horrible crimes like **** and murder, and those that intended to try and illegally smuggle goods back to the surface.

After the first wave of people, everyone that followed came from the queue that had been situated outside. Vahn noticed that nearly every person to enter the tent after calling in the first person was a female. Some of them, taking the ‘inspection’ a little too seriously, even tried to strip down the moment the tent flap closed behind them. Since this type of behavior could be used to mislead him, Vahn remained unperturbed and closely inspected each person, even while explaining that he didn’t require them to remove their clothes and just wanted to ask them a couple of questions.

The majority of such women pouted slightly but still answered his questions honestly. Some, however, took notice of the fact that he was ‘eyeing’ their bodies rather seriously and thought it was an opportunity to push their luck. By the end of the first evening, Vahn had lost count of the number of breasts he had seen while some of the more bold women had even entered the tent without panties from the start. The fact that the majority of such girls were Beast People and Amazonesses was something deeply ingrained into Vahn’s mind…

You may also like: