Chapter 880: Conflicting Ideals

While Vahn was naturally recuperating on the 60th Floor, he had exited the Sub-Space orb on the surface to let the girls know what was going on. They had actually expected it to take several days for him to reach the 60th Floor so, learning that he was already ‘saving’ some of Enyo’s captives, Loki, in particular, was very surprised. None of them were actually surprised by the fact that Enyo was keeping captives, however, even though Vahn only explained the truth of the matter to Loki herself. She quickly set about arranging a place for the majority of the victims to stay while the High Spirit and Demigoddesses would be tended to in a more secure location. Vahn also called Gros to his side, explaining the situation so they could facilitate the addition of seven more Xenos into their community. He actually expected the Xenos to recover much quicker than the other victims, as the Xenos community, in general, had a very therapeutic effect on the heart and mind…

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Most of these arrangements had been made in only fifteen minutes, as it was something of an emergency situation that needed to be dealt with quickly. Vahn had Emiru and Maemi take some of the other Maids to organize beds using the large training area on the north side of the Manor which, to this day, had gone unused. It had more than enough room for a hundred gurneys to be lined up side-by-side while Naaza and Preasia showed the girls how to prepare an Elixir-drip. After entrusting that matter to the girls, Vahn had ended up in the clearing next to Yggy’s tree, learning of the situation on the 50th Floor while also updating Terra on the situation on the 60th.

Terra didn’t actually have enough mana to break through 60 Floors of the Dungeon with her [Void Movement], as even passing through twenty-four Floors had been very taxing. Vahn, however, had stored over 30 of the [Source Energy Crystals] in his Inventory and, at the very least, she should be able to make 30 jumps with them alone. For the rest, Vahn cut open his palm and filled several potion bottles with his actual blood, giving them to Terra to store in her spatial ring to refill her own mana. The crystals were more practical to use, as she could instantly use the energy contained within to power the teleportation, while the blood would allow her to quickly replenish her reserves while Vahn returned to the Sub-Space orb to act a battery for himself within the Dungeon. If necessary, he would further supplement her energy with his avatar but, for the time being, these steps should suffice for the purpose of transportation…

By the time all his preparations had been completed, less than a half-hour had passed when Vahn called Terra to his side with Unit Management. He noticed a ‘shift’ in the Dungeon’s mana flow but it didn’t prevent Terra from creating a magic circle with one of the [Source Energy Crystals] in her hand, transporting the High Spirit and the two Demigoddesses back with her. Though Vahn wouldn’t devalue the lives of others, the three were inarguably the higher priority targets to evacuate in this circumstance. As if to verify this, Enyo’s voice somewhat angrily sounded in his mind, (“Vahn Mason, you are beginning to try my patience. If you’re not going to play with me, I’m not going to keep following the rules either, you know…?”)

Squinting his eyes, Vahn stated in an icy voice, “This isn’t a game, Enyo. What you have done here is beyond recompense. When I find you…”. In response to this, an eerie laugh sounded in Vahn’s mind before Enyo responded, (“You’re making such a big deal out of something so small…I had thought you were closer to a god than a mortal but it seems you have disappointed me, Vahn Mason. Can you not see that I gave these people a greater purpose…? Yes, they may have gone through hardship from the perspective of mortals, but it is only a few years of misery before they have the privilege of returning to the cycle of reincarnation. Their imprisonment is nothing compared to what we gods have experienced…no matter how much I make them suffer, it will not even amount to a fraction of what we have experienced…!”)

While continually calling Terra to his side so that she could move even more people away, Vahn snorted in response to Enyo’s words, asking, “Is that what this is about, Enyo? You’re envious of mortals and now want to destroy the surface world to vent? If you already understand they will simple reincarnate in the future, why even go through all this trouble? If you’re so fed up with the lot you’ve been given, why don’t you just let your existence fade away so that someone else can take up the mantle of Divinity…? You are just a mad and errant god, even if your Divinity had led you down this path…”

This time, Enyo’s laughter sounded like someone who had completely lost their mind before she loudly exclaimed, (“You know nothing, Vahn Mason! See, that is how mortals view the world, using their own limited understanding of the situation to pass judgment on others! Your mentality is exactly the same as every other tyrant who believes they can shape the world to their liking, only to lead it to ruin and stagnation in the end when your petty greed gets the better of you…! Even if you spent thousands of years trying to understand the greater purpose I aspire towards, you will never be able to see beyond your own limited perspective! What you’re doing isn’t fixing the world, it’s making the world into your own personal playground!”)

Hearing Enyo’s outburst, Vahn furrowed his brows, saying, “I’m trying to make a world where people can be happy. Even if my goals are selfish, I’m doing my best to prevent tragedies like what you’ve created here. No matter how you try to spin your madness to make it sound like logic, the fact you can’t do anything without bringing harm and suffering to others shows how limited your own perspective is…” This time, Enyo’s laughter was more moderated as she asked, (“And how is what you’re doing any different, Vahn Mason? How many people have you killed? How many have suffered because of your actions, or your inaction? Every ‘evil’ person you’ve ever put to the blade was someone that became that way through circumstance and because they opposed the world view you have in mind, you killed them without remorse…tell me, what can YOU do without bringing harm and suffering to others…?”)

Vahn shook his head, a look of pure condemnation on his face as he retorted, “It is too easy to draw parallels between people, especially when you’re acting to justify your monstrous actions. There is no true comparison between someone that takes lives to limit the suffering of others and someone that causes suffering just to take more lives. No matter how you try and spin it, they are fundamentally different things, something your egocentric mentality will never understand. My actions would lead to a world of general prosperity where the path towards greatness is open to everyone…yours would only lead to pain, destruction, and death…the fact you even try to compare us is sickening…!”

For several seconds after he had finished speaking, Vahn heard ‘nothing’ within his mind before Enyo’s voice sounded out in an icy monotone, (“You know nothing, Vahn Mason…your mindset is only possible because of your limited lifespan. I have lived for eons, watching the continuous cycle in both Heaven and the Mortal World. The natural state of the world is chaos and, by trying to resist this cycle, you would lead the world to ruin. Your plan sounds fine now, but what will you do when the population explodes? How will you deal with the innate nature of sentient creatures to seek war with each other? How do you prevent greed from running rampant and corrupting society? What will you do when resources run low, or when sickness begins to spread due to overpopulation? Will you slowly expand until the surface is completely covered with people, continuing outwards to conquer the seas, islands, and even other Continents? Your world view is restricted to a few thousand years of time passing, while the three realms will continue to exist for eons further…you call me a mad and errant god, but the number of people that we will have killed in the end will heavily favor you, Vahn Mason…I pray that you live to see the ruin your actions bring upon the world…!”)

With these parting words, Enyo’s ‘presence’ faded from Vahn’s mind, leaving him staring with a hardened expression toward the center of the Floor. He knew there was actually a bit of truth to Enyo’s words, as it had actually been a talking point during the Denatus. Loki had also mentioned similar things, talking about things like ‘population control’, resource management, and land allocation. There was undoubtedly a ‘finite’ amount of resources that naturally existed in the worlds, as even the power of a god was not truly without limit. If he truly wanted to keep ‘order’, at least with the record as it was, regulation, laws, and restrictions would have to be imposed. This would undoubtedly make it so that he was ‘benefitting’ from others, as the chance that these restrictions applied wholly to him, his family, and their future kin, were relatively small. Even if he wanted to avoid corruption from taking root in his bloodline, Vahn knew it was an inevitable fact, as ‘karma’ itself would always attempt to restore balance to the world…

The only thing Vahn could do about the situation was to take a deep breath through his nose, exhale, and then simply ‘let it go’. He would undoubtedly make mistakes over the course of ‘eternity’ but, so long as he always did his best to try and learn, there was time to correct his mistakes. As Enyo said, there were some things that were simply beyond his limited perspective and, only by experiencing these setbacks personally, could Vahn truly learn from them. Since he would continue to live forever, the number of people to die at his hands was functionally infinite, as he may even one day create entire multiverses with Death as a functioning Law. This was something he simply needed to accept; not something he should let Enyo use to sow the seeds of doubt within his mind…

After around two hours, Terra had managed to move everyone out of the 60th Floor, leaving Vahn to mull over his thoughts in silence for a few minutes before he rose to his feet and changed back into his Zhuque form. Even as he rested, Vahn never dropped his Shadow Emperor raiment, as it would have unnecessarily dropped his combat potential, so he once again used the combined form to cut through the Dungeon. Vahn, while he had time to think, reasoned that this room was likely not the only one that Enyo had for producing the pseudo-spirit embryo. There were hundreds of doctored files within the Guild’s archives and he suspected the number of Xenos she had captured, especially in recent months, had crossed into the triple-digits. Saving them all would be ideal but, with how much time it took just to move 83 people, Vahn wanted to deal with Enyo herself first.

So long as he didn’t encounter any such rooms along the way, Vahn could fool himself into believing that one room was the only one that existed. Though he empathized with the victims to an extreme, the revelation that Enyo had already begun her siege of Haven meant that the longer he delayed things, the more dangerous it was for the girls. He could tell himself that their defenses ‘should’ hold out for several weeks but there were never any guarantees in war. Enyo could have any number of means up her sleeves to turn the tides in her favor, especially with her propensity to rely on chemical warfare, mutated monsters, and other cruel means. The only way to stop her was to take decisive action and, now that he knew how ‘warped’ the errant goddess’ mentality was, Vahn knew it was far too dangerous to let her continue acting as she pleased…

With the desire to bring things to a swift end, Vahn tore through the walls until he broke into another large room, this one having a distinctly different layout than the rest of the Dungeon. The number of crystals lining the walls made it appear as though the Dungeon’s structure itself was one massive geode. Here, the amount of mana was so dense that a mist was present in the air, causing Vahn’s pores to open and greedily absorb it to supplement his own reserves. There was a malicious energy contained in the mana but Vahn’s body naturally filtered it out, eliciting a synthetic voice to comment, “You truly are an anomaly, Vahn Mason…”

Following these words, what appeared to be a Silverback that had been mutated by one of the parasitic plants, followed by a Lizardman with a similar state, jumped towards him with two peculiar golden weapons. They were shaped like a tool used to capture people and, upon entering into the range of Vahn’s Zhuque flames, they were completely unaffected as they tore towards him with incredible momentum. Vahn, however, was long gone from the spot as the two continued forward with large holes where their cores used to reside. The same synthetic voice cursed, “Useless, useless, useless…!”, the sound emanating from every direction without any apparent source.

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Using his domain, Vahn was slowly seizing control of the mana in the air and began to send ‘pulses’ through it, the same radar-like ability he had developed to detect invisible enemies in the past. With just the first pulse, Vahn found an ‘outline’ within his perception and, using [Shundo], immediately appeared next to the target with his hand reaching out. It tried to move away but was far slower than Vahn, allowing the latter to grab what felt like cloth that easily ripped away. Whatever invisible entity had been present tumbled to the ground rather pathetically, rolling to try and douse the flames that had ignited on the fabric of its clothing. Vahn felt like this person would be a good source of information so, while they were thrashing around, he lifted their body with telekinesis while ‘pulling’ away the flames that they had been unable to deal with.

With the loss of their cloak, what was left floating in the air before him was a skeletal figure that was completely covered in red and black armor, tens of magical artifacts and accessories adorning their body. Other than the extremely emaciated and skeletal figure, with onyx-black bones, the most striking feature of this entity was the peculiar red and black mask the covered their face. Strangely, they also had a shaped breastplate that gave them a more feminine appearance, though Vahn had already identified the figure as a female from the bone structure. It was still very strange, seeing a living skeleton with an incredibly large amount of vitality contained within their bones, even though their mana was malicious to an extreme…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘*Casually traveling in and out of the 60th Floor*’,’Not even comparable…!’,’RIP Skeleton-chan…?’)

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