Chapter 877: Overwhelming

Much like his previous descent into the 58th Floor, Vahn carried a powerful killing intent that only made the Shadows around him ‘burn’ even stronger. Though the ocean in his mind was extremely calm, Vahn had ‘decided’ that Enyo needed to die. He had wanted to try and be discreet, in order to understand her capabilities a bit better, but that had changed after his conversation with Sis. Now, he would much rather resolve this matter as soon as possible, not just so he could spend more time with his family, but to allow him time to understand the functions of The Path in greater detail. When he moved to other worlds, The Path would be his most reliable asset and, the greater Vahn’s understanding of its functions, the faster he would be able to return to his home in the future…

After falling for a few minutes, during which time several other Valgang Dragons wasted their breath against him, Vahn once again entered the 58th Floor proper. His eyes scanned the surroundings, unobstructed by the cloud of shadows that had already started to devour and tear apart the flock of Ill Wyverns. They may have an affinity for Darkness and Poison but their resistances against his ‘shadow domain’ only prolonged their suffering as the 3m long bluish-purple Dragons’ bodies were torn apart, their howls soundlessly spreading into the Shadows that immediately filled their throats and insides…

Still falling, Vahn knocked arrows onto his [Khryselakatos] and began loosing them towards the Valgang Dragons below, creating a veritable rain of pitch black arrows that accurately pierced through their thick scales and destroyed the cores within. With his SSS-Rank [Archery Goddess’ Blessing], combined with the Abilities of [Khryselakatos], every single one of Vahn’s arrows landed true on his targets. Even though he was using simple Mithril arrows, they were suffused with his Shadow Elemental energy and carried with them the power to pierce through magical barriers, the thick scales of Dragons, and even several meters of the Dungeon’s bedrock with ease. With more than half the arrows also dealing explosive critical strikes, Vahn had slain a total of 38 Valgang Dragons by the time he had landed.

Without wasting any time, Vahn made his way towards the large hole that was located near the center of the 58th Floor, which was a giant and expansive wasteland with few areas of cover. His shadowy domain moved along with him, appearing like a tidal wave of darkness that moved several times the speed of sound as it ate away at the Dungeon Floor below. The rate at which it devoured the bedrock wasn’t that quick, but it still left a very noticeable path in the Floor as Vahn moved along. He was still conserving his energy as maintaining the Shadow domain would become significantly more difficult if he was moving while using [Shundo]. Since the shroud wouldn’t be able to keep up with the instantaneous movement, Vahn didn’t want to waste his efforts in producing it just by hurrying along too quickly…

Even with his natural running speed, Vahn only needed a few minutes to reach the large spiral staircase that would have normally led down to the entrance to the 59th Floor. That was the furthest point any Familia had ever treaded, at least according to the Guild’s records. It was supposed to be a Floor nearly 300km in diameter that was comprised of a labyrinthine expanse of frozen tundra. There would be an endless blizzard assaulting you fought against sub-zero temperatures while trying to fend of ambushes from Snow Yeti, Frost Giants, and the very rarely seen Ice Elves. It was supposed to be one of the most inhospitable Floors, each monster possessing the strength of an average Level 4 Adventurer while the Ice Elves were archers that could easily reach Level 5 in strength…

As he leaped down into the stairwell, not bothering to use the actual stairs, Vahn mused that he was technically setting several records on behalf of the Hestia Familia. These thoughts faded away rather quickly, however, as he noticed that the temperature actually increased during his descent instead of decreasing. If there were truly sub-zero temperatures on the 59th Floor, there would have been a very noticeable decrease in temperature the closer he was to the actual entrance. Instead, by the time he landed at the bottom of the massive spiral stairs, Vahn found a cavernous entrance that had a steady stream of warm air, carrying with it the fragrance of flowering plant life…

Knowing that Enyo had the ability to influence the minds of others, Vahn couldn’t help but wonder if there was ever supposed to be a frozen wasteland on the 59th Floor at all. It was very likely that the Zeus and Hera Familias had been wiped out upon entering the Floor and, before allowing them to return, Enyo had falsified the memories of the surviving members to suit her needs. By making the 59th Floor sound like an incredibly inhospitable place, she could have been trying to buy time for herself. If an Expedition had to pack a large number of supplies to allow for survival in such a harsh winter climate, their progress through the Dragon’s Vase would be much slower…

Shaking his head a bit, Vahn internally remarked, (“I wonder, just how many lives have been lost due to Enyo’s schemes over the years…”) Given what little he knew of her, Vahn didn’t find it difficult to believe that Enyo had indeed fabricated the reports of the 59th Floor. This almost guaranteed that Zeus and Hera had been manipulated by her, which made a lot of sense considering how ‘weak’ Evilus was rumored to be. Ryuu, back when she was only at the early stages of Level 4, managed to wipe out the majority of their standard forces all on her own. However, the two most powerful Familia, even though they had been crippled, were unable to oppose Evilus…? Even with other Familia banding together to exile the Zeus and Hera Familia, Evilus itself should have been relatively powerless to do anything to them…

Knowing he would find the answers to questions like these, and more, Vahn continued through the massive cavern that eventually opened to reveal an incredibly lush environment that was reminiscent of the Large Tree Labyrinth. There were tall trees, massive plants, dozens of different kinds of flowers, and a variety of other flora that could be seen from the very moment Vahn entered the Floor. Though his Shadow domain immediately began devouring it, Vahn was still able to take in the rather awe-inspiring sight. The most immediately obvious thing, however, was the massive 100m tall flower that was located in the exact center of the room…

As if it had sensed his presence as well, the ten petals wrapping around the top of the flower slowly unfurled, revealing the upper body of another beautiful woman, even though her skin and hair were different shades of green instead of a more ‘natural’ color. Vahn felt that this monster was either a Xenos or, based on the composition of her aura, a Spirit. She was somewhat similar to a Dryad, if he ignored the fact that her lower body seemed to have fused with a variant of the Corpse Flower, a rare monster that sometimes spawned within the Large Tree Labyrinth. If he hadn’t previously seen another ‘woman’ fusing with the Cadmus previously, Vahn wouldn’t know what to make of this situation…

Suddenly, the expression of the ‘woman’ turned into one of absolute madness as a seething and malicious aura began to spread, encompassing the entirety of the Floor in an instant. Vahn felt a bit of pressure on himself, causing his brows to furrow as he resisted the oppressive aura with his [Will of the Emperor]. At a glance, this plant-like monster before him was nearly as strong as Terra, at least if their auras were to be compared with each other. Instead of being afraid, however, Vahn stopped wasting energy on diffusing shadows through his domain and instead created a vortex that condensed the shadowy energy into a giant lance.

For the first time, the strange monster spoke, an almost synthetic voice sounding out, “You aren’t Aria…! I was told Aria would be coming…ahhh, that bitch lied to me…hahahaha…tell me, do you know Aria…? Where is she? Bring her to me…!” Without answering her question, Vahn sent the 20m long spear of shadows towards the dangerous monster, causing her to fold her petals inward as a powerful nullifying aura covered her body. Seeing this, Vahn snorted through his nose and moved forward with [Koku Shundo] as the spear crashed against her defenses but, instead of breaking away as she likely intended, the shadows easily pierced her magical resistance and began to corrode her body.

With a loud and blood-curdling scream, the plant-like monstrosity spread open her petals like wings, shrieking in pain as she ripped them away from her body. At the same time, a seemingly endless ocean of the caterpillar-monsters began burrowing up out of the Dungeon Floor before spear-like roots pierced through their bodies, absorbing their blood and mana. Vahn didn’t wait around to see the results of this, however, as he pressed both palms forward and sent ten [Lanceae Umbrae] tearing through the quickly regenerating body of the monstrous entity. He had aimed for her magic core and, being unable to provide any meaningful resistance to his anti-magic spears, the ‘woman’ became statuesque with a look of sheer disbelief on her face as she muttered, “I just wanted to be one…with Aria…”

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The moment her words fell, the body of the massive plant monster turned into black and yellow dust that exploded outward like a tidal wave. Vahn quickly gathered up the massive amount of magic cores and threw them into his Inventory while standing in the air and observing his surroundings. There were still a seemingly infinite number of monsters in the surrounding area but now, instead of trying to attack him, they had begun to cannibalize themselves, devouring each other’s magic cores in a massive feeding frenzy. Upon witnessing this, Vahn just shook his head before brandishing [Laevateinn] and sweeping massive swaths of crimson flames onto the Floor below. With the entire room being covered end-to-end with plant life, Vahn knew his flames would spread very quickly, especially if he guided them with his Fire Elemental manipulation.

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Since there were still things he wanted to investigate, Vahn didn’t just let the flames burn freely and instead guided them while systematically annihilating the horde of monsters below. He was looking for any landmarks or points of interest that might provide some answers about how he should proceed. At a glance, there didn’t seem to be any exits that would lead down to the 60th Floor and, other than the massive mushroom-like pillars, Vahn found nothing of interest in his first sweep. Even so, he made a few passes over each region of the Floor before deciding that anything of interest was likely further down.

With that thought, Vahn allowed the flames to burn freely before taking a seat in the air and watching as the ocean of fire ceaselessly burned the fire-resistant creatures. It wasn’t his intention to make them suffer but, based on how they didn’t seem to have a reaction to pain whatsoever, Vahn didn’t feel the need to kill them at the expense of even more energy. These were ‘monsters’ that not only devoured other monsters within the Dungeon but even cannibalized their own kin in order to increase their strength. As he watched them burn away in the flames, still trying to devour each other in an effort to evolve, Vahn felt nothing but contempt, not for the monsters themselves, but that Enyo had engineered them in such a fashion…

By the time the flames had nearly swept the Floor clean, Vahn was entering into the evening of his first day of subjugating Enyo. More than half that time had been him running around on the 52nd-54th Floors, while the rest had been the result of his preliminary search of the 59th. Now that most of the plant life had burned away into ash, Vahn began a secondary search to see if he could find the entrance to the 60th Floor, starting from where the giant plant-like monster with the upper body of a woman had been located. In retrospect, Vahn realized that he may have been able to get some information out of the woman but, remembering the look of ‘madness’ in her eyes, this was very unlikely. Had he waited any longer, things would have become marginally more difficult and, if not for the fact that Shadow Elemental energy could tear through magical barriers with ease, the fight could have been a lot harder.

Unfortunately for her, Vahn’s Shadow Elemental energy had also been suffused with Source Energy, making it impossible for her to regenerate from the wounds he had caused. Now that he had the [Yggdrasil’s Champion] Skill, Vahn was even more perceptive of Vital and Nature energy than before, allowing him to discern that the large monster would have likely regenerated almost completely in a short moment. Since he had long ago learned that his Source Energy could outright prevent such regeneration, even as far back as his first fight against an Orc on the 10th Floor, it was a rather unfortunate matchup for Enyo’s pawn. Though this would have given Enyo even more information about his capabilities, Vahn didn’t think it would matter now that he was this close to her ‘heart’…

After sifting through the ruins and ashes, Vahn finally found a secret passageway under a stone slab that looked to weight several hundred thousand kilograms. It would have been very difficult to move it but, with his [Eyes of Truth], Vahn quickly found the mechanism to make the massive slab shift out of the way revealing not a set of stairs, but a shaft that led straight down into darkness. This seemed more than a little strange to Vahn since, unless Enyo had the power to change the Dungeon’s layout, the fact that there were no obvious entrances into the 60th Floor was abnormal. Vahn knew that the Dungeon went much deeper than the 60th Floor, as they were pushing into the 70s in the Divination, so this was a troubling revelation…

Upon considering what Enyo had done to make it more difficult for people to reach her on the previous Floors, Vahn found it rather likely she would have made it so that an Expedition couldn’t proceed with their supplies beyond this point. Before the introduction of his spatial artifacts, any group that got this far would have have been forced to make camp and leave their supplies behind while their advance party scouted the Floors below. Since many people were unnecessarily afraid of heights, they would have been even more cautious about taking the leap into absolute darkness. He, however, had no such inhibitions and, after a cursory pass over a few other areas, Vahn jumped down into the darkness below, wondering if his encounter with Enyo would be coming soon…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Shadowy Descent, the Moon Goddess’ Champion~!’,’TFW you’re a big bad Mage who can use Expedition wiping spells and you come across an immortal who can use anti-magic magic…’,’The unexplored 60th Floor…’)

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