Chapter 823: Conflict

While he was dealing with matters both on the surface, and within the Dungeon, things hadn’t exactly been quiet within Lil Geirr. There had been several monster waves that had appeared, even though it was supposed to be a safe zone, so the patrols had been rather tense. Though every attack had been dealt with very quickly, as defensive battles with heavy fortifications were quite easy to maintain, things become a little more troublesome when the expedition from the Noble Faction showed up. They were lead by two Level 5 brothers named Keith and Ike, both having retired from Adventuring years prior but now served as the head guards for the Deval Noble Family.

Upon arriving on the 39th Floor, it was very apparent they hadn’t enjoyed the same ‘smooth’ journey of the Alliance as nearly a third of their convoy had been wiped out. They had lost nearly half of their wagons and supplies as well, arriving beaten and battered as they ‘demanded’ to be allowed within Lil Geirr. It was their reasoning that the outpost, while operated by the Alliance, was supposed to serve as a rest stop for all Adventurers that were delving into the Dungeon. This wasn’t exactly false, as anyone that hadn’t been blacklisted by the Alliance could temporarily reside inside of Lil Geirr, but the guards weren’t happy to have people who were obviously ‘hostile’ towards the Alliance making demands of them.

Instead of acceding to the two brothers’ provocation, the gates remained completely closed and a message was quickly sent via communication scroll, alerting Gareth, Finn, and, subsequently, Vahn himself. All three had been gathered in the public mess hall and were partaking of a small feast with other residents of the settlement as a means of increasing morale. When the messenger arrived carrying the report, the entire mess hall had turned silent as Gareth released a throaty hmph and rose from the table, saying, “I’ll deal with these idiots…” As if he wasn’t about to go deal with a group comprised of nearly two-hundred people, Gareth threw back another mug of alcohol and released a loud belch before moving rather quickly towards the exit.

Vahn and Finn watched him ‘waddle’ away as the latter asked, “Are you going…?” with a slightly annoyed look on his face. Since he wasn’t the type to just sit around, at least currently, Vahn nodded his head and swept away his food as he said, “We should probably prepare the next rotation and increase the defenses of Lil Geirr. I have a feeling these idiots have brought even more trouble with them than they themselves realize…” Finn nodded his head and began issuing orders to the people within the Mess Hall as Vahn quickly made his way to the main gate of Lil Geirr to see what kind of farce they would try to pull this time.

Though Gareth didn’t seem to be that fast from his physique, he had already run over to the gate without even bothering to wear his armor as he looked down upon the expedition ‘camping’ outside of the front gate and shouted, “Its obvious yer lot hasn’t come here with good intentions. The Alliance will offer you aid to help lick yer wounds, but you’re two shades shy of a piece of s*** if you think I’ll let you inside these walls!” Vahn nearly fell out of the sky when he heard this loud bellow, not quite understanding the logic behind the insult, even though it was hilarious.

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The two brothers gathered below didn’t seem to find it nearly as funny, however, as the taller of the two, Keith, raised his sword and pointed it towards Gareth, screaming, “You and the Alliance believe you can do whatever you want without any consequences!? This trash heap is publically purported to be a place where people can seek shelter and supplies! But that isn’t the truth, is it, Gareth Landrock!? No, this shitty-” In the middle of his words, Keith and Ike both jumped back to evade the large mass of muscle and bristly hair that was Gareth, smashing into the ground like a mountain falling from the sky. He didn’t even have any of his equipment on at all as he gestured towards the two men, stating, “Less b*******. Come, brats. I’m not yer Daddy, but I’ll give you a spanking if you need it!”

As entertaining the sight of Gareth spanking two grown men might be, Vahn decided to make his own entrance at this moment, using [Shundo] to appear next to Gareth and patting the man’s iron-like shoulder as he said, “Make sure to get your equipment prepared, Gareth, I have a feeling things are going to escalate very quickly.” Though his eyes were still focused on Keith and Ike, Gareth nodded his head before leaping back to the top of the 20m tall walls with an ease that didn’t quite match his frame. As for Vahn, he now traded places with Gareth, staring down the two men as he plainly stated, “I have no interest in the games you wish to play. If you decide to cause trouble and run your mouth, expect to be dealt with accordingly. I don’t care what you tell your Masters when you return, but make sure they know the Alliance will seek a reckoning with them depending on your actions…”

Though he had been focused on the two men at first, Vahn’s eyes darted towards one of their wagons since he had sensed a peculiar fluctuation of mana coming from within. His eyes flashed a mystical blue color and he peered directly into the tightly bound contents, immediately feeling his body tense up with what he saw. Waving his hand, Vahn placed the entire wagon into his Inventory before moving forward and striking both men in an instant. A cold light glimmered in his eyes as he asked, “You were never trying to build a settlement of your own…you sly bastards…hahahahaha~!”

Within the cart, Vahn had seen a massive monster core that had been surrounded by a complex mechanism that radiated an incredible amount of energy, even though it had been contained. Since he had seen the explosives used back at the Elven Kingdom, Vahn immediately understood the purpose of the secret cargo and why they so desperately wanted to enter Lil Geirr. He even suspected that the tunnel that had been dug through the plateau had been specifically designed to move this massive bomb into the encampment.

Having no intentions of playing around, Vahn bore his pressure down upon the injured members of the Nobles’ expedition and shouted, “Leave this place, immediately, you curs!” At the same time, Vahn pulled his hands free from the chests of Keith and Ike, letting their dead bodies slump to the ground before moving several more carts of supplies into his Inventory. Though it was unlikely every member of their expedition knew what they were carrying, it was a simple fact that these people had come to cause problems for the Alliance. Vahn wasn’t going to dirty his hands by killing them himself, but he wasn’t going to let them get away without paying some form of reparations either.

Seeing their leaders get killed in an instant, while most of their supplies simply ‘vanished’ into thin air, the remaining members of the Nobles’ expedition began running down the slope leading up to the plateau as if their lives depended on it. Vahn didn’t stop them from fleeing but he could also see what they were fleeing towards as he raised his hand and shouted, “Prepare to engage the enemy! Man the ballistae!” At the same time, Vahn took to the sky and pulled out his [Yoichi Bow] and began loosing arrows towards the forest surrounding the plateau. The members of the Noble expedition were confused by this, at least until they saw the veritable horde of monsters break through the line of trees and rush towards the slope they were currently standing on…

To prevent them from doubling back and trying to enter into Lil Geirr, Vahn drew out [Laevateinn] and created a massive tidal wave of flame that barred access to the slope. This would prevent both the majority of scoundrels and monsters from ascending the slope, even if they tried their hardest to extinguish the flames. As for those that had the physical ability to leap over the flames, they were fortunately intelligent enough not to even try and instead abandoned the weaker members of their troupe and fled into the forests. This left the logistical support specialists and Supports completely unprotected as the horde of Loup Garou, Obsidian Soldiers, Spartoi, and Barbarians tore through them.

Though he pitied some of them, Vahn’s face remained unphased as he continued to draw his bow and loose arrows with enough force to pierce through several monsters before losing their power. Beneath him, as he had ascended above their trajectory, hundreds of arrows, ballistae bolts, and magic spells traced colorful arcs through the air and crashed into the approaching horde. Even so, with their sheer numbers, the monsters were slowly gaining ground as a line of Skull Sheep waved their magical staves and created barriers to block the rain of projectiles. Though this didn’t do much against the ballistae bolts, and Vahn’s arrows, it still gave the monsters a slight advantage…at least until they reached the sea of flames halfway up the slope.

The monsters seemed intent to try and smother the flames with the corpses of their own ‘allies’, but [Laevateinn]’s flames were even more powerful than they had been in the past. Not only could the flames burn perpetually, but they carried a highly corrosive effect with the power of Destruction and Darkness contained within them. This gave them a bloody-red coloration with wisps of crimson and pure darkness as they continued to expand and devour the monster horde. Then, once the flames had reached a critical level, Vahn tossed his [Yoichi Bow] into his Inventory and ‘pressed’ both of his hands forward. The bloody flames then began to ‘descend’ the slope and proactively devour the monsters trying to use their allies as a foothold to proceed forward…

Around this time, Gareth and Finn had shown up to command the defenses, the latter showing a slightly confused expression as he murmured to himself, “Where are Ais and the others…?” Generally, whenever there was an attack against the base, the girls would be the first to take to the defense. Vahn usually sat back and only assisted when necessary, generally serving as a support and preventing any casualties from occurring. This was the first time Finn had watched him put on such a showy display and, as the girls’ presence was ‘very’ noticeable on the battlefield, it felt strange not seeing them slaughtering monsters with the ease of a skilled farmer harvesting wheat…

While devouring the enemies with his flames, Vahn was actually sending telepathic messages to the girls, having them protect the perimeter and keep watch for any surprise attacks. This wave of monsters was much bigger than normal and Vahn suspected it was the result of Enyo’s forces trying to take advantage of the secondary expedition trying to cause trouble. If things had proceeded in a ‘normal’ manner, the gates would have been opened to allow the Nobles’ expedition to flee into Lil Geirr when the monsters attacked. This would have allowed them to set off their bomb in the core of the settlement, leading Vahn to speculate that the Nobles had some kind of dealings with Enyo and the Iron Hills…either way, it was very annoying.

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As expected, Vahn got a message from Lefiya a few minutes into the ‘invasion’, her panicked voice resounding in his mind as she said, (“Master! There is a strange plant monster here!”). Vahn blinked next to Finn, startling the Pallum as he held out [Longinus] and said, “You can borrow this for the time being. There are other enemies. Protect the Gate.” Without bothering to explain further, Vahn vanished from sight, leaving a confused Finn holding one of the most powerful spears within the record. His attention was pulled to the spear a few moments later, causing his blue eyes to glimmer as he felt the ‘power’ emanating from the relatively simple looking weapon…

It didn’t take Vahn to reach Lefiya’s location, finding her chanting a powerful magic spell as Tina ‘rooted’ a massive Minotaur-like creature that had a flower blooming out of its head in place. There was a cloud of spores in the area but they were unable to break through Tina’s barrier as her rather petite frame stood stalwart like a mountain. Vahn felt this display was commendable and, if not for the fact there were other strange creatures assaulting Chloe and Shizune, he would have just watched the battle play out. Now, with [Laevateinn] in his hands, Vahn tore through the air like a meteor and bisected what appeared to be a Lambton that was nearly 20m long and had strange vine-like tentacles that kept trying to whip and pierce the two nimble girls.

As his [Laevateinn] cut through the creature, Vahn noticed purple blood erupt from its body, acting as a powerful acid that burned into the ground at a very fast rate. It was completely ineffective against his [Laevateinn], but he could tell it would be a very serious issue for normal people to deal with. He sent messages to all the girls, warning them that the blood of the creatures was corrosive so that they wouldn’t get caught off guard. He then picked up Shizune and carried her away as she complained, “If you let me use my power, I could have dealt with that monster on my own…!” To this, Vahn just laughed lightly and set her at the top of the plateau, stroking her ears to placate her as he said, “Your power is one of the Alliances most important trump cards in a war. Be patient, Shizune, you’ll have plenty of time to show off in the future…”

Since she wasn’t really that upset, Shizune closed her eyes and simply enjoyed Vahn’s caress until a loud explosion erupted, creating what appeared to be a miniature sun that wiped out hundreds of monsters in a single strike. Vahn turned his attention back to the fight and saw Tina walking away from the explosion completely unscathed, even though a large section of the forest was now destroyed in Lefiya’s attack. She had one of the highest defenses amongst the girls and, with her [Pactio] and accessories bolstering it even further, Tina was nearly indestructible in ‘normal’ circumstances…

Vahn released a sigh, blinking to Tina’s side and using his cleaning magic to pull away the caustic purple blood that was dissolving the majority of her clothes. All of the armor was undamaged but there were several areas of tender skin that had been revealed as Tina showed a bashful expression and said, “Thank you, Vahn…” When he was finished, Vahn ruffled her hair and said, “Make sure to change back to your normal form to reset your raiment…” She nodded her head in response and returned to Lefiya’s side as several other explosions sounded in the distance. At the same time, Haruhime’s voice echoed in his head, relatively calm even though her message wasn’t exactly good news, (“Master, there are a lot of strange caterpillar-like monsters trying to climb up the western side of the plateau.”).

Though she couldn’t see him, Vahn nodded his head and sent an affirmation to Haruhime before turning to Lefiya, Chloe, Shizune, and Tina, saying, “Try to keep the monsters here at bay. Let me know if you need assistance.” The girls nodded in understanding while Chloe brandished her daggers and said, “Nyahaha, leave it to us, Vahn~.” As she spoke, Chloe’s shadowy mantle completely surrounded her body and she vanished into her own shadow. It then ‘bloomed’ outward like a spiderweb, paralyzing any monster it came into contact with before Chloe would pop up next to them and slice them apart before vanishing once again.

Seeing this, Vahn cracked a smile and pet the heads of Lefiya and Tina, wishing them luck before he moved towards the western side of the plateau. He didn’t know if it was because Ais was there, her fate drawing more attention to the location, but there was a veritable ocean of massive caterpillars that were spewing forth streams of acid. The girls dodged them with relative ease, but Vahn could see that it would be very troublesome to fight against such enemies since their acid blood had caused the ground to turn into a murky ‘swamp’ that was comprised of the large volume of acid that had mixed together and diluted itself after melting through several meters of hard bedrock.

Fortunately, Ais, Tiona, and Maemiru were devastating the enemies from the sky while Arnya stood at the top of the plateau, raining explosive spears onto the enemies that would wipe out several tens of them at a time. As for Haruhime, she was also in her [Pactio] raiment but was currently placing her palms against a defensive ward that caused a barrier to erect itself, preventing the streams of acid from affecting the plateau. There were also several dozen Adventurers belonging to the Alliance present but, compared to the girls themselves, their efforts didn’t quite stack up…

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