Chapter 868: Exploration : Explanation

As was the case during the last time Vahn had visited the 51st Floor, the majority of the enemies were simply Black Rhinos while, very rarely, there would be a Deformis Spider trying to ambush them. These enemies weren’t even a threat back when the girls were much weaker so, without any difficulty whatsoever, Ais and Fenrir had slaughtered every monster that appeared almost instantly. Every time one was about to spawn, Fenrir had already impaled the wall with a spear of ice while Ais, even without her [Ariel], cut through the thick-skinned Black Rhinos as if they were less dense than fog. With Vahn dealing with the stealthy Deformis Spiders using a single well-placed arrow, their progress through the 51st Floor had been going very smoothly.

With that in mind, Vahn watched as a large flow of mana began to condense in the surrounding walls and simply stated, “Monster Party.” in a calm tone. Haruhime gave a small nod, uttering ‘Adeat’ as her raiment immediately came into existence. It still had the same palatial appearance as before, making Haruhime look like an Empress as she caused an opaque white membrane to spread around. Though it looked thin, the only way to break through Haruhime’s barrier was to completely eat through her mana and, with Vahn serving as a ‘battery’ of sorts, this was nearly impossible.

Everyone had already moved inside of the barrier as Fenrir, forming two pure blue magic circles in her paws, began to reduce the temperature outside of the barrier extremely quickly. As the monsters began breaking free from the walls, floor, and ceiling, they were almost immediately coated in a layer of frost. Some of the Black Rhinos charged toward the barrier with great momentum but the only thing they got for their troubles was a crink in the neck as their momentum was immediately halted. Before they even had any time to regain their senses, Fenrir held out her paws in both directions, causing larger magical wards to appear outside of the barrier as she shouted, “Master, give me strength! Flash Freeze~!”

Following Fenrir’s outburst, a vibrant white light flared outside of Haruhime’s barrier and, by the time it had faded away, there were hundreds of icy statues no loitering in the surrounding corridors. Every surface had became covered in a layer of frost as Fenrir took a few deep breaths while Vahn patted her head. She had been trying to get better at using ‘unnamed spells’ and, after witnessing him freeze an entire Floor, Fenrir had been inspired to make her own version of the spell. Though it ate up nearly 60% of her reserves, she could freeze almost everything within a 300m radius, so long as it didn’t have a natural resistance to Ice Elemental magic.

Tiona, seeing the frozen world, walked out of the barrier and immediately jumped away from the Floor as her bare feet nearly got stuck to the ice. By the time she landed back down, however, there was a thin layer of energy covering her feet as she playfully exclaimed, “Ehehe, Fenrir’s ice is very cold~.” At the same time, she had walked up to one of the ‘statues’ and knocked on it with her knuckles, causing the Variant Black Rhinos to immediately fracture and fall apart. This made Tiona’s eyes widen slightly as she mused, “Wow, super cold~! Maybe I should try to learn Ice Magic~?”

Though Tiona didn’t really expect a response, Fenrir said, “Ice Magic is dangerous for those who don’t have an affinity with it. Tiona is already very strong with Enhancement Magic…you should improve upon your strengths and cover your weaknesses, not pursue random things…” Upon hearing this, Tiona made a pouting expression, saying, “Muuuu, Fenrir is a bully…” Then, eyeing Vahn, Tiona’s eyes glimmered as she said, “Vahn, if I collect a bunch of materials, can you make me a Magic Weapon that can use Ice Magic~?”

Vahn laughed lightly in response while patting Fenrir’s head to keep her from saying anything ‘mean’ while he answered, “Sure, but only if you train diligently. Fenrir’s words are from Eva, a very wise and powerful Mage who uses Ice Elemental magic. If you don’t have a talent for it, the chances of you injuring yourself would be very high…though, I suppose that wouldn’t matter to you that much…?” With her [Magic Devouring King], Tiona would probably just get stronger if her Magic backfired against her. Since it seemed she understood this as well, Tiona laughed boisterously while smashing a few of the nearby statues to collect the monster cores.

Other than Ais, most of the girls had awakened most, if not all, of their Innates after spending a few years inside of the Sub-Space orb proactively trying to awaken them. Ais had only managed to awaken her [Progenitor of the Wind], allowing her to manipulate Air Elemental energy even without the use of her [Ariel]. As for Tiona, her [Magic Devouring King] as already C-Rank while her [Titan Virga] was at H-Rank. Even then, the amount of power she could gain from siphoning off the mana of other people was rather terrifying, especially since Titan Virga also increased her Magic Resistance and Regeneration based on the amount of damage she had taken from magical attacks. She was slowly but surely becoming an ‘unstoppable’ existence that, if you were unable to kill her instantly, it was almost guaranteed she would eventually overwhelm you…

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As if to emphasize this fact, one of the statues Tiona was about to break ended up fracturing before she was able to smash it. This had belonged to a Variant Black Rhinos who, instead of having thick black hide, possessed a white hide with shiny blue eyes. Vahn had already known it was still alive and he knew that Tiona was fully aware of this as well, given the fact that her smile had become larger and more playful as she drew near. When the ‘White Rhinos’ tried to launch itself at her, Tiona simply spun her body in a natural arc with her foot following behind like a whip. When her seemingly delicate brown toes came into contact with the side of the White Rhinos’ head, the durable hide immediately contorted as a shockwave passed through. All of its forward momentum had been completely overpowered as the monster’s head ‘popped’ like a balloon, followed closely by its body also turning to dust.

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With even a weaker Black Rhinos being a Level 3 monster, most of the Variants would be Level 4 or higher. Even so, Tiona had defeated it with a simple kick before putting her hands behind her head and lackadaisically walking to break the next statue. At this point, everyone else had started to break statues of their own in passing until the formation slowly rebuilt itself. There was almost no danger of other monsters showing up after a Monster Party had been cleared so things became a little lax for a few minutes. Vahn collected all the Drop Items into his Inventory, selling the majority for a few ‘drops’ of OP into the massive reserves he was building…

While the exploration of the 51st Floor was going on, Vahn was also back in the Manor talking with Hestia, Hephaestus, Loki, and Artemis. Ever since the changes to Freya, which had caused a major stir during the previous Denastus, rumors had been spreading in regards to Vahn seemingly finding a method to remove the restrictions placed on gods in the Mortal World. As this wasn’t exactly false, many gods, including those that were already within the Alliance, had been pressuring for details.

Things had only been made worse when rumors regarding Artemis began to spread, which Loki credited to Hermes, as some gods had actually gone to her Temple in Heaven. There, they found that her statue had been broken into small fragments, which would have led to the conclusion that she was dead, but it was already well-known that she was alive in the Mortal World. Some gods even speculated that Artemis had fully manifested and they were currently discussing the matter and possible solutions.

Loki, releasing a frustrated sigh, complained, “Man, I swear I’ll wring that bastards neck the next time I see him…” She had thought, at least for a short while, Hermes would try to lay low after their last meeting together. Since he still spread these rumors within the godly community, it was likely at the behest of Ouranos or, even more frustratingly, he may have his own reasons for doing so. It was impossible to pin him down and, now that Vahn was the ‘owner’ of the Hermes Familia, the number of people that the wandering god associated with had decreased exponentially.

Artemis, upon hearing Loki’s words, showed an apologetic expression but, before she could say anything, Hestia interjected, saying, “Artemis, you have no reason to feel bad about anything that happened! You and your children are the victims here!” This brought a smile to Artemis’ face as she reached out her hand to stroke Hestia’s hair, saying, “Thank you, Hestia, you are always so kind…” To this, Hestia smiled radiantly and said, “Of course! We’re family now, so I’ll always be here to support you, Artemis~!”

As pleasant as the mood was, Loki, always the realist, chimed in, saying, “Still, the question remains about exactly what kind of existence Artemis and Freya are at this point. Tell me, Vahn, what do you make of everything that is going on? Do you think you can really allow a god to fully manifest in the Mortal World? And you, Artemis, can you even use your Arcanum…?” Before the latter could answer, Vahn raised his hand and said, “That may not be the best idea. Though I can say with certainty that it is possible to manifest a god’s Arcanum, it requires a very powerful seal to prevent their body from breaking apart. In fact, it may be necessary for us to commission Hermes to escort Artemis back to Heaven so she can descend again safely. As it stands, overusing her Arcanum may cause her body to break down and, though this may not kill her, the time it takes to reform her body would likely stretch into the thousands of years…”

Hearing this, Loki hunched over in deep thought, hand supporting her chin with a moderately annoyed expression on her face. Almost everyone’s attention was focused on her, including Artemis who eventually stated, “I do not mind returning to Heaven for a short while but, before I go, I…I want to…” Towards the end of her sentence, Artemis’ eyes had trained on Vahn and her cheeks had started to become slightly flushed. She now had a Love Divinity but, unlike normal Goddesses of Love, Artemis’ was kept in check by the fact she also had a Divinity related to Family. Her affections were almost wholly reserved for the people she treated as her kin while Vahn was undoubtedly the focus of her love…

Without any sign of perturbance, Vahn smiled in response, saying, “I understand it may take a few years for your to form an avatar and descend a second time…if you’re willing, we can protect you here at the Manor and build a family together before you return…” Since she was fully manifested, it was actually possible for Artemis to enter into the Sub-Space orb as well. If she truly wanted to live in the Mortal World safely for a few years, it was possible for her to reside there and experience living amongst her family and friends for a while before returning. Vahn was even willing to make a slight exception and allow her to raise a Vanir within the orb, as he would rather she have the opportunity to raise their child to maturity before being separated for a short while…

This time, Artemis’ face had become a rosy pink color as a vibrant smile spread across her face as she said, “I’d like that, Vahn…!” There was even a slight moisture buildup in her eyes that made Vahn’s heart tremble with a powerful desire to protect her. Still, there were a few other options and, given how much Karma he had accumulated, Vahn had prepared himself to broach a major subject he had been sitting on for a while. He couldn’t exactly tell them he would be going to another world but, depending on how he worded things, it was possible to convincingly come up with an excuse that would explain the record suddenly being linked one day…

Before he had even started speaking, all of the goddesses in the room had become quiet and serious, their bond with Vahn telling them he had something very important to discuss. This was something that made Vahn really appreciate the power of ‘bonds’, as having their understanding during such times was very beneficial. Thus, as serious as the topic was, Vahn smiled casually as he stated, “I’m sure you’ve all seen it, and I know we’ve discussed several related matters before…but the world is beginning to rapidly change. With the existence of the Vanir, and the possibility of not only myself, but several of the girls in the Manor obtaining godhood, the balance of the world is slowly being distorted. In time, the average strength of Mortals will continue to increase and, in the not so distant future, the boundaries between the realms will slowly blend together…”

Vahn was already immortal and, after discussing the purpose of Innates and the future development of everyone in the Manor, it wasn’t even a ‘question’ if others would be able to obtain immortality. In fact, just by using his ‘modify’, Vahn could grant everyone in the Manor a form of immortality just by changing them into Xenos with predominately human features. As Xenos didn’t age, this meant they would have biological immortality and, so long as the girls weren’t outright killed, they would go on to live forever. With the existence of the Sub-Space and Space-Time orbs, it was only a matter of time before someone amongst their group was able to obtain unrestrained godhood in the Mortal World.

After gauging their reactions thus far, Vahn continued, adding, “I’m certain these incidents with Freya and Artemis are some of the most notable signs of the changes to come. Since it will be necessary for these developments to transpire in order to remove the restrictions and inherent compulsion found within Divinity, I will continue to push the world towards these changes. The tragic existence of the gods has gone on for too long and I want to not only liberate you from the influence of your Divinities but also open the way forward for even gods to grow much stronger…”

When he said this, Loki almost immediately asked, eyes slightly widened, “Vahn…is that really what you’re trying to do…? As impossible as it seems, I…I believe you would actually be able to pull it off. However, is such a world truly a safe place…ah, I see…” As she was speaking, Loki began to deduce some of the underlying factors behind what Vahn was saying. Her eyes squinted into lines but her sharp red irises were still slightly visible as she stated, “You’re going to do something very dangerous in order to make sure everyone is protected…even if the balance of the world is destroyed…”

Hestia and Artemis immediately adopted concerned expressions as the smaller of the two, Hestia, stated, “Vahn, please don’t do anything too dangerous. I know you want to protect our family, but that is a burden we all share together…please, rely on us a little more…!” Even Hephaestus had a very concerned expression on her face but, unlike Hestia, asked, “It’s something only you can do, isn’t it…? You must have a power that you either can’t explain, or don’t understand yourself…” Loki, without missing a beat, piggybacked off of Hephaestus’ words, saying, “It’s always like this, one way or another…Vahn…haaaa…just answer me this, is there a chance of failure…?”

Vahn had felt a great deal of inner turmoil seeing how they were reacting but, upon hearing Loki’s question, he immediately regained his confidence and said, “No, even if it is very difficult to achieve, the chance of success would be one-hundred percent by the time I initiate the technique. I just wanted to let everyone know that, at some point, the world may begin to change very quickly…in fact, just like in the History books, the very nature of the world may experience a sudden shift. Not only do I plan to remove the restriction of gods, but I plan to pave a way forward for all people…it will be necessary for me to become much stronger but, by the time the changes occur, I will possess a degree of power far greater than any god…”

As he spoke, the subtle light in Vahn’s eyes actually became visible to the goddesses in the room, causing all except Hestia to take in a sudden sharp breath of surprise. Vahn gave an apologetic smile in return, explaining, “You all remember Eva…the method I’d be using is very similar to her orb, but on a level that will affect the entire world. Though it will seem as if no time had passed, it is very possible I may experience thousands of years before I am able to succeed in my plan…however, no matter how long it takes, I will succeed…this place is my home and I will not leave the safety of my family, my children, and all those who believe in me to chance…!”

Since Vahn had already spent ‘hundreds’ of years in Space-Time orbs, none of the goddesses were too affected by the admission he could be away for thousands of years. Still, they knew that Eva was apparently a being that was even stronger than gods like Ouranos yet, according to the stories they had heard, even she wasn’t the strongest. For Vahn to get involved with forces that could exercise greater power than even the gods, they couldn’t help but feel very worried for him, even if he was seemingly unkillable. The amount of suffering he may have to experience, all while they were blissfully unaware of it, was almost heartbreaking to each of them, even Loki…

Understanding what they were thinking, Vahn’s expression softened as the aura he had been passively letting out turned mellow and calm. Though it may be a little unfair to them, Vahn asked in a quiet tone, “Tell me…what would you do to protect our children…? Is there anything you wouldn’t suffer through if it meant they would be safe…?” These were the only questions Vahn needed to ask in order to completely convince the goddesses before them. He already knew that, even if they needed to go to war against Heaven itself, not a single one of them would shy away. Loki would probably destroy Heaven in its entirety if it meant she could protect Erika while Hestia, even though she had already started to tear up, had a very resolute light contained within her beautiful blue gem-like eyes…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Copywolf, Fenrir, “Master, give me strength~!’,’Hermes is on everyone’s s*** list xD…’,’Vahn is feeling the weight of Karma…’)

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