Throughout the night, Vahn periodically awoke and investigated his surroundings. Though his domain never picked up any presence, by moving around he was able to increase the area of his detection. Since there was a good chance his ‘enemies’ were still looking for him, Vahn wanted to remain cautious. Fortunately, by the time the crystals in the sky began to glow with a gentle warmth, Vahn had managed to make it through the rest of the night undisturbed.
Come morning, Vahn was relatively well rested and decided to continue trying to increase his strength. As it currently stood, he could either backtrack and accumulate OP on the 17th-18th floors and wait for a chance to fight the Goliath, or Vahn could progress further into the dungeon. Vahn knew that if he wanted to gain OP in the fastest manner, fighting stronger monsters was necessary. However, it was incredibly safe if he returned to the previous floors.
Vahn was able to earn well over 100 OP for each Minotaur he killed, and if he could around one-hundred a day alongside other monsters, he could earn between 15-20 thousand OP per day. If he managed to trigger any ‘monster parties’, or fight any variants, that number could easily increase. Vahn speculated that he would be able to complete the remaining seven-hundred-thousand or so OP within 30-40 days without exposing himself to too many problems.
After careful deliberation, Vahn decided it would be best to head back up a bit. Right now, there were enemies that were trying to interfere with him, and Vahn even suspected they had something to do with the Juggernaut he encountered previously. If he decided to head down, not only would he expose himself to further danger but ran the risk of losing his path of retreat. Though the majority of people within the Osiris Familia seemed to be around Level 2, it didn’t prevent them from paying others to sabotage Vahn’s progress. Dealing with higher level adventurers while fighting dangerous monsters wasn’t a pleasant thought.
Before Vahn headed down, he decided to explore the perimeter of the 18th floor and completely map out the area. He would be here for some time, and knowing the terrain would allow him to protect himself if things took a turn for the worse. Vahn didn’t believe anyone, even people that lived on the 18th floor, would have a better understanding of the layout and terrain by the time he finished mapping it.
As Vahn had woken up early, he managed to explore the majority of the 18th floor within three hours. Some of the things he noticed were that there were a large number of small lakes and ponds dotting the various forests and plains on the floor. They were all fed by a large lake that connected to the network of roots on the western side of the giant tree in the center. Vahn also learned that the central tree was also the entrance to the 19th floor, and unless you took one of the few holes leading downward, you would be identified by personnel as you enter.
Some Adventurers had set up a post that listed some of the material and subjugation missions listed by the Guild. They would pay a fee to relieve the items from Adventurers and Familias that had no intention of returning to the surface within the near future. The fee would allow the adventurers a measure of convenience and ensure they were able to afford some of the ridiculously costly items in the Riviria Bazaar. And, the adventurers accepting the items, would be able to exchange them at the Guild on the surface for merit and the posted rewards. This was a method lower level adventurers used to earn rewards/merit for high-level quests.
Their presence was a deterrent for Vahn, however, because even if he didn’t leave his info they would still log his appearance for their personal gains. There was nothing to stop them from selling the information to other people, and they even kept a network of information regarding who was within the deeper floors. Vahn noticed they had even set up a betting board in some of the pubs and he could purchase information from one of the brokers about everyone in the lower floors. The prices were expensive, but Vahn had little doubt the Osiris Familia would be willing to pay to obtain his information. After all, even now, there was an information slip with the name ‘Vulcan’ posted on the wall.
After resupplying some of his items, Vahn made his way up to the 17th floor to begin backtracking. Unlike other floors, the 17th-floor stairs only ran between the 17th and 18th floors. If Vahn wanted to return to the upper levels, he would have to venture through the 17th floor in its entirety. He also had the option of climbing up one of the holes in the ceiling, which Vahn thought seemed like a fun idea.
Leaving the room full of holes that connected to the stairs, Vahn once again found himself in front of the ‘Wall of Grief’. Like previously, it still had the rainbow hue and crystalline structure, but now the shadow within the depths had grown much larger. Vahn had Sis calculate the rate of increase since his last visit and try to establish a window for when the Goliath would actually spawn. After a few minutes, he was informed it would take between 70-75 hours, which gave Vahn nearly three days to prepare. If he could reach Level 3 in that time, it would greatly increase his odds in the ensuing fight.
Vahn made his way through the 17th floor, and just like the previous day, there weren’t a great number of monsters. It seemed like this floor was focused more on ambush combat combined with difficult terrain and low visibility. As Vahn was essentially immune to these factors, he was able to progress through this floor much easier than most people. After a while, as he wasn’t earning a lot of OP, Vahn decided to follow through with his earlier urge.
Following the indicators he had made on his map, Vahn quickly found what he was looking for. On the ceiling of a large room, there was a giant hole that crept further up into the dungeon. Vahn vaulted off the walls and then used his claws to find his footing within the hole. After getting his bearings and stabilizing himself, he began to jump up the sides of the hole and make his way directly to the 16th floor. Thinking that he was one of the only people that could use this method, Vahn couldn’t help but smile at the thought.
Arriving on the 16th floor, Vahn began his ‘eternal’ subjugation of the Minotaur species. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that, if he continued here for the duration of his quest, Vahn may very well be the most prolific Minotaur slayer in history. By the end of his quest, he would have slain several thousand at the very least, a number which would likely include a few variants.
As he was butchering Minotaurs, Vahn also made an effort to explore the entire floor. Even though he had a ‘map’, the layout the dungeon changed from time to time and they weren’t always up-to-date. The Guild had a repeatable mission that required people to submit any information they have about the changes they encounter. It was during this exploration of his that Vahn encountered a new, but recognizable, enemy.
Standing in the center of the room and lazing about on the floor, Vahn saw a giant 4m long pink Wyvern. As he was constantly maintaining his stealth to avoid detection, it had yet to notice his presence. Vahn had already slain a Purple Wyvern, so he didn’t believe a normal one would be his match, but he also wanted to try fighting it without someone else having to draw its attention.
Deactivating the stealth component of his domain, Vahn focused his intent on the Wyvern. The moment he did so, the Wyvern’s body jerked to life and looked towards Vahn with aggression and a hint, though very subtle, of fear. Vahn was curious about its reaction and began to take an interest in the Wyvern. Without drawing any weapons, Vahn got into a low crouching stance that he had adopted after constantly using his Báihǔ form. This pose allowed him to spontaneously reach his maximum speed in any direction without having to build any momentum.
The Wyvern roared and approached the enemy that caused it to feel an instinctive pressure. It had never experienced an ‘aura’ like what Vahn was emitting. It made the Wyvern feel an apprehension within its mind and caused it to have doubts about the coming fight. Trying to resist the pressure, the Wyvern charged towards the small creature before billowing out a huge pillar of flames. The flames directly impacted the target and the Wyvern, for a brief moment, felt relieved.
Seeing the flames approach, Vahn closed his eyes and unequipped the majority of his armor. He had lost his fire-proof clothing when he transformed into the vermillion-bird, and he didn’t want the remainder of his gear to get charred as he directly allowed himself to be encompassed by the flames. After remaining motionless in the fire for around two seconds, Vahn suddenly launched himself forward.
The Wyvern felt something was wrong with the situation as, even though it had directly hit the enemy with its strongest attack, its instincts were flaring up and it began to feel genuine fear. As that thought passed through its mind, a powerful force slammed into its jaw and knocked its 10,000kg body backward. The Wyvern felt a powerful shockwave resonate through its body and repress the mana within its core. It felt like its entire being had been restrained by the energy that continued to echo within its body without dissipating.
Vahn had noticed that the Wyvern seemed to drop its guard shortly after launching its breath attack, so using the gap in its preparedness, he had focused his energy before kicking the underside of its jaw. The Wyvern’s mouth slammed shut and its body was pushed back a few meters. Interestingly enough, instead of immediately counterattacking in a rage, the Wyvern seemed to be dazed and hesitant. Vahn could see the fear in its eyes more evidently than it had been previously. Testing his theory, Vahn slowly walked toward the Wyvern while converging his intent on it.
The Wyvern could feel the repressive force within its body growing with each step the figure before it took. Every moment seemed to be drawing it closer to its death, and a powerful helplessness emerged in the ‘heart’ of the monster. The moment the figure came within 1m of its body, the Wyvern could no longer withstand the pressure and simply collapsed to the ground. It gazed towards the boy with tired eyes and released a ‘sight’ that was accompanied by a tuft of smoke.
When the Wyvern collapsed to the ground, Vahn began to experience a feeling of déjà vu for the first time in his life. Much like the kobold that had ‘submitted’ to him in the past, the Wyvern was now laying with its head to the ground and looking upwards toward Vahn. He could see it had completely lost the will to fight and felt that, if he used [Will of the Emperor], he would be able to subjugate the creature.
Vahn reached out and put his hand onto the snout of the Wyvern. The creature didn’t resist in the slightest as Vahn continued to converge his intent, directing it towards the Wyvern’s mind before asking, “Will you follow me?” Vahn said the words slowly and with power behind each syllable. As the words sounded, the Wyvern’s body shuddered a bit before it closed its eyes. Less than five seconds after doing so, a notification sounded in Vahn’s mind.
//(Nameless) Wishes to become your subordinate: Y/N?//
(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Cliff-sama descends’,’How to Train your Dragon’,’Pink is manly’)