Chapter 830: Gathering

Gros’ ‘evolution’ had caused waves within the small Xenos community as, even though Vahn was already quite popular within the close-knit community, having the ‘leader’ of the faction that believed Xenos couldn’t live amicably amongst surface dwellers was a great boon. Though there were a few skeptics, their minds were changed rather quickly after a private discussion with Gros. Since they were able to determine that he was in full control of his actions and still possessed all of his memories, all while possessing much greater strength, it was hard not to ‘believe’ in the future that Vahn had promised.

As a result of these developments, Vahn ended up at the center of a communal gathering as he tried to lay out his plan for allowing the Xenos to live on the surface. He had Lyd, Ray, Gros, Rayne, Naho, Terror, Xude, Marie, and Gryuu behind him as he looked out at the hopeful Xenos and said, “I do not want to mislead anyone here…know that, even amongst different communities of surface dwellers, there are ongoing conflicts that are slowly being resolved. The integration of Xenos into society would be an endeavor that we would have to spend several years working on. However, I can promise you wholeheartedly that the Alliance, the organization I represent, will continue to make efforts to ensure the Xenos are able to live with the same liberties afforded all surface dwellers…”

Vahn noticed that, though the gathered Xenos had intelligence, many weren’t really following what he was trying to say. There was a lot of confusion on their faces so he adopted a kindly smile as he explained, “For the time being, the Xenos will be given land within the territory of the Alliance to build their homes. You will have my personal support and the support of those that follow me…even though it may take several years for the public opinion of people to change, I promise you will still be able to live on the surface. I will never force you to do anything you don’t want to do and, as long as you don’t endanger the lives of others, you will be protected under the banner of the Alliance. To that end, you will have to receive an education so you know how to interact with other surface dwellers, but that is something that can be managed by your current leadership. I will work with Ray, Lyd, and Gros to help them understand how you can incorporate yourselves into society, so you will just have to listen to them. As long as you do not break any laws, commit heinous crimes, or bring harm unto others, the Alliance will never turn its back on you…!”

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Though Vahn could sense the excitement building, his words didn’t seem as impactful as he expected, causing Lyd to step forward and point his scimitar towards the ceiling as he shouted, “Vahn is another part of our family! He deserves our trust and will take us out of this prison so that we can live on the surface! It won’t be easy, but we can work together to make it easier! Now give Vahn a loud hurrah to show him that the Xenos can’t be underestimated!” With the rise of Lyd’s scimitar, the gathered Xenos all began to shout and cheer, many calling out Vahn’s name while others began to happily talk about living on the surface…

Vahn had a humbled smile on his face as Lyd gently elbowed him and said, “Big words are nice ‘n all, but you gotta be direct. Just like you were staying to Gros earlier, show the Xenos with your actions, not your words. Don’t worry, we know how to keep each other in line to avoid trouble. Ray’s group might cause a few problems, but it shouldn’t be that difficult to keep them distracted…hahahaha~!” In response to this, Ray produced a wry smile, knowing that she actually didn’t have much ground to stand on if she wanted to argue against it. Though they would ‘get better’ as they became more human, it was an established fact that Bird-Type Xenos didn’t have the same intellectual growth as some of the other species…

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From amongst the crowd of Xenos, one of the Goblin-Xenos, wearing a red-brimmed hat, raised their hand and stepped forward, drawing attention to itself as a ‘she’ asked, “Mister Vahn, is it possible for all of us to become powerful like Mister Gros? I know that many Adventurers would mock and look down upon us Goblin-Xenos and, if possible, would like to become stronger in order to protect myself…” This was a very important question on the minds of many Xenos, especially since the majority were only Level 1, being comprised of Goblins, Kobolds, Imps, and Almiraj. They had been fodder in their previous lives and, even though they had comparable intelligence to some surface dwellers, their weakness was still a predominant issue…

Hearing the apparently female Goblin’s question, though she looked like any normal Goblin, Vahn smiled and asked, “Tell me, little one, what is your name…?” With a courteous bow, catching Vahn off guard, the Goblin-Xenos introduced herself, stating in a polite tone, “My name is Laura, a Goblin-Xenos. Thank you for asking for this little one’s name, Mister Vahn…” With ‘her’ words finished, Laura raised her head, patiently awaiting an answer to her earlier inquiry. Vahn was a little taken aback by her behavior and lightly reprimanded himself for making ‘assumptions’ about any Xenos as a result of their ‘heritage’…

After collecting his thoughts, Vahn gestured Fenrir to his side and began patting her head as he smiled and explained, “As long as you have the desire to grow stronger, there is no limit to how far your strength can develop. This here is Fenrir, my most adorable and trusted companion…though it may be difficult to believe, she actually used to be a normal Kobold. Now, after working harder than most people, she has become one of the most powerful existences in the entire world…I am very proud of her…” As he praised her, Fenrir puffed out her chest and should a prideful expression on her face, following up his words by adding, “As long as you desire power for the right reasons, anyone can become strong. Though my Master can help you become strong much faster, this is only possible if you are a ‘good’ person. Don’t expect Master to help you become strong just so you can use your power to harm others…strength is meant to protect the things you care about…”

Since Kobolds weren’t that different than Goblins, Laura produced a crooked smile and was satisfied with the answer she had received. However, seeing how physically appealing Fenrir was, Laura couldn’t help but ask, “Is it possible for even a Goblin like myself to become an ‘adorable’ existence like Miss Fenrir…?” To this question, Vahn couldn’t help but chuckle lightly as he said, “I plan to work with Ray to help pave a way forward for all Xenos to become more human. But, the easy answer to your question is, yes, it is possible. I can help you evolve like Gros or, if your allegiance towards me is high enough, I can help you change your race completely. If you wanted, I could even help you become a real and true human…”

This revelation caused a bit of a stir amongst the gathered Xenos with Ray taking the initiative to ask, “You can really change Xenos into humans…? Is that really true, Vahn…?” Understanding where this conversation was headed, Vahn nodded his head and explained, “Not just human, but almost any conceivable race so long as your desire and allegiance are high enough. I could even make a Goblin-Xenos like Laura into a True Dragon like Fafnir, though it would take a very long period of time. For some relatively simple like a Human, it would only take a few weeks of time…?” Since he couldn’t just spend all of his OP without consideration, Vahn knew he would have to request resources from those he helped transform. Though some exceptions could be made, as demonstrations would serve as a powerful motivator for others, that was an ‘investment’ towards the future that would likely pay dividends with time…

Since he expected it might be another question that popped up, Vahn decided to elaborate, saying, “It isn’t just race, either, as I can help you change your size, shape, appearance, and even gender. However, there is something I need to clarify from the start so that there are fewer ‘complications’ in the future. You will all be able to see this in greater detail when we return to the surface, but I already have a very large family and several lovers that I care for deeply. I know there are some amongst you who have started to harbor hopes and expectations about how I may interact with you in the future…though it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility, I would rather you focus your affections towards others. This has nothing to do with the fact that I may prefer any particular species of Xenos over any others, so don’t jump to conclusions, please…”

Though he was more than a little interested in the exotic nature of some of the Xenos, Vahn had experienced another ‘shift’ in his mentality as of late. The moment he had stopped worrying about his relationships with women outside of the Manor, Vahn noticed that the number of women approaching him in a meaningful way had drastically increased. It was almost as if they were ‘aware’ that he was more receptive to their approach and, as it was never his intention to greatly increase the number of women around him, Vahn needed to begin directly shutting down the advances of some. If things continued as they were, Vahn had a sinking suspicion that almost every female Xenos would take up residence around the Manor in the future…

The moment his words had fallen upon their various different types of ears, several of the Xenos began stirring, talking amongst themselves while some cast glances at him. Vahn noticed this was primarily the group of Bird-Type Xenos, those that had experienced his [Grooming] for extended periods of times, and those like Marie, Naho, and even Rayne. Though he hadn’t interacted with Marie much, as she couldn’t easily move around as a Mermaid-Xenos, she had a very positive impression of him from the very beginning. As for Naho and Rayne, Vahn noticed that they were somewhat isolated from many of the other Xenos and it was likely he was one of the closest people to them, even after a very short period of time…

As if she were the representative of the female Xenos, Ray stepped forward and clapped her hands together to make everyone quiet down. When she had their attention, Ray smiled radiantly before saying, “Girls, everyone has the choice to love who they want to love. However, note that Vahn didn’t say there wasn’t a chance…work hard, ufufufu~.” Since she had already been behind Vahn, Ray was now right next to him so, when she finished her words, Vahn found himself being hugged by a pair of golden wings was a pair of soft mounds pressed into his back. Ray began to giggle and it was apparent her words had resonated with the other Xenos as many of the girls who harbored ‘expectations’ towards Vahn began to cheer and celebrate…

The gathering had quickly turned into another celebration as everyone began talking about what it would be like to live on the surface after thinking about it for such a long period of time. Some also discussed what race and gender would be the best to live as while others, never knowing anything other than their original race, simply wanted to evolve further. Vahn answered a lot of questions about his powers and even pointed out some of those among the Xenos that were the closest to being able to activate his powers. Since many of these were girls like Naho, Mlem, Rayne, Ray, Marie, Terror, Fear, and even Jude, it got some of the other female Xenos riled up, causing Lyd and Gros to designate an area around Vahn as a no-entry zone…

Fortunately, though the topic was never truly dropped, Vahn managed to have a more guided conversation with Lyd, Gros, and Ray. Though the latter seemed to be ‘targetting’ him, she was a lot easier to deal with than the other Xenos who had no understanding of personal space whatsoever. Fenrir also acted as a ‘barrier’ to keep others away while they talked about the necessary steps to facilitate the transition of Xenos from the Dungeon onto the surface. Vahn was currently back at the Manor trying to get things prepared, mainly by having Terra agree to allow the Xenos to reside in the Illusory Forest. Though she showed a bit of hesitation at first, especially knowing that there would be many ‘competing’ females within the group of Xenos, Vahn managed to ‘convince’ her after a few hours of ‘coaxing’…

Vahn’s current plan was to have the majority of the Xenos begin migrating to the surface and slowly introduce them to the general populous through various events that would be coordinated with the Ganesha Familia. Before that, they would be kept safe within the small illusory forest at the center of the Hearth Manor. At the same time, Terra was going to be creating caverns underground if space started to become an issue that needed to be addressed. Though it would be a relatively simple solution to let the Xenos stay within a Sub-Space orb that had been catered to their needs, this wasn’t exactly conducive to their desire to live on the surface. They would just be trading one scenic prison for another, never truly incorporating themselves into society. Though they would certainly have a Sub-Space orb to make use of, if not using the ‘main’ one directly, that was a secondary focus for the time being, not a priority…

At the same time that the Xenos would be moving to the surface, they would also be organized into teams that would patrol and investigate the Dungeon. They were able to locate and navigate the secret areas of the Dungeon with relative ease and would be moving between the various Hidden Villages to recruit any new kin that came into existence. The Xenos had always proactively searched for more of their kind and offered protection and companionship to their newly formed kin. It was this spirit of cooperation that had allowed them to survive for hundreds of years and, even though they lost their some of their companions in the process, they never gave up on their own people…it was truly an admirable trait that Vahn felt all sentient species could learn from.

Though there would be several teams formed, the members would be comprised of the stronger Xenos in the group, specifically those that had become his subordinates and retainers. They not only had the highest chance of survival but could also train to overcome their limits with greater ease than those bound by the pseudo-restrictions of their base species. For the time being, Gros would become the leader of the search team and, once Vahn’s cooldown was up, Lyd would become the second team leader. They would operate with impunity, under the guidance of supervision of other Xenos, reporting only to Vahn himself. Vahn wanted to strengthen their community so that, even if it took decades for the general populace to accept the Xenos, they would still be able to get a foothold for themselves within the Alliance…

The final phase of the Xenos’ migration, even though it would be an ongoing process from the very start that would likely continue indefinitely, was the ‘research’ component of things. Vahn knew there was a lot to be learned through observing the Xenos, as their existence itself touched upon the secrets of the soul itself. Since monsters were simple mana constructs, the fact they could obtain souls was a phenomenon that deserved the highest priority of attention. After all, even the gods had spent hundreds of millions of years proactively trying to create souls, only for the first batch of ‘truly sentient’ beings to come into existence at random. The fact that the Xenos existed at all, even though the Dungeon wasn’t that old, was one of the most significant discoveries that deserved proper study and research. It was even possible that one day in the distant future, any monster could be groomed into a Xenos, fundamentally changing the very nature of the record…

Since it wasn’t exactly ‘proper’ for him to conduct the research on the Xenos without any oversight, Vahn decided it was best to simply focus on educating the Xenos to coexist with society. As their intelligence continued to develop, Xenos like Ray could become the frontrunners in Xenos research, working tirelessly to understand and promote her species so that true understanding could be reached. Since this research had the chance of exponentially increasing their numbers, Ray was very excited to get started, though she emphasized that Vahn had to be involved directly. She wasn’t entirely in agreement with the fact that Vahn wanted to let the Xenos head the research as it seemed ‘unnecessary’ from her perspective.

Ray argued that many Xenos would willingly allow someone like Vahn, who they had placed their trust in, to conduct research on them. She pointed out that, as he had no intention to exploit and use them for his own selfishness, it would be better for their entire species if he took charge of things. Since he was already helping them evolve and change, it wouldn’t make sense for him to take a backseat on the research that would better the lives of every Xenos in the future. As there wasn’t any real argument he could come up with to refute Ray’s words, which was surprising in itself, Vahn ended up agreeing with her. Though he knew Ray had more than a few ‘intentions’ of her own, Vahn agreed that he was inarguably the most capable in conducting research into almost any field…

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