Chapter 882: Abyss

With the first skeleton dealt with, Vahn observed Fels for a few seconds before saying, “You are too dangerous to be left unattended. I don’t know the conditions of your vows so I’ll be taking your magic items before imprisoning you temporarily. If your vows are related to Enyo, I have a lot of questions you for after she is dealt with…” There were several means by which Vahn could kill Fels but, based on the information he had available, it was possible that Fels wasn’t genuinely evil. Since he had lived for more than eight hundred years, Fels undoubtedly knew about most of the major events occurring behind the scenes. If he was only being prevented from speaking because of a pact with Ouranos, Vahn could use this event as a justification for having the elderly god nullify the vow and free Fels from his service…

Once again, Fels remained quiet and didn’t even try to resist as Vahn rather forcefully removed all of the Magic Items in his possession. By the time everything had been stripped away, Fels was left with nothing but his blackened armor as it had been grafted to his skeleton and also possessed the indestructible trait. Even so, Vahn had removed sixteen Magic Items from Fels’ body and, unable to store them in his Inventory, Vahn created a sphere of pure Yang flames and destroyed each of the items. Fels’ aura trembled slightly, especially when Vahn got to the two ‘divine’ grade rings, but there wasn’t anything he could do to stop Vahn from at least trying to melt them down.

At first, Vahn wasn’t able to make much progress but, after infusing his Source Energy into the flames, even the divine grade gold was slowly melted down. When he was finished, Vahn had a marble-sized piece of divine gold that he was now able to store into his Inventory without difficulty. He did feel slightly guilty about destroying Fels’ items but, considering the latter had tried to kill him, Vahn got over it relatively quickly. If they truly ended up being allies in the future, Vahn could help the errant Alchemist create new items. Besides, if he had been able to create them previously, Fels shouldn’t have any difficulty remaking such items in the future…

After making Fels effectively powerless, Vahn placed his hand against the strangely warm cranial bones of Fels’ head and began to send waves of Source Energy coursing through him. Vahn was ‘pushing’ Fels’ energy out of his body, causing the skeleton to tremble before he inevitably went limp. This was essentially the same as Mind Down for normal people, allowing Vahn to purchase some durable chains that were covered in sealing runes from the system shop. He spent some time wrapping Fels up as firmly as possible before placing a durable lock to keep them in place. Vahn finished up by placing a small barrier ward on the lock itself, hopefully preventing anyone from removing the restraints while he dealt with Enyo.

When he had finished binding Fels, Vahn wondered if he should send the skeletal figure back to the surface so that he could temporarily be imprisoned. He was just going to leave him laying on the Dungeon Floor but, considering Enyo could send someone to retrieve him, Vahn decided against it. Thus, back within the Sub-Space orb, Vahn created a few more vials of his blood before calling Terra to his side, apologizing to the rather fatigued True Dragon before asking her to escort Fels to the secure room beneath the Guest Residence. As even his Innates couldn’t really peer through the barriers there, Vahn assumed that Enyo wouldn’t have any means of trying to recover him either. This was also within Terra’s domain and, even if Enyo sent her forces to try and free Fels, Vahn was confident Terra would repel them relatively easily…

Though she didn’t let it show on her face, Terra was a little annoyed by having to move back and forth between the Dungeon so many times today. It took a great deal of effort for her to make each jump and it was beginning to wear her down. Even so, she kept a calm smile and said, “I hope this will be the last one for today, Master…” with a subtle plea in her tone. Vahn had picked up on this and, even though he had already apologized after calling her, he once again adopted an apologetic expression as he said, “You’re the only one I can rely on for things like this, Terra…I’m sorry if it is troubling you…”

Hearing her Master’s words, Terra’s tail flicked happily as she adopted a more natural smile and said, “Ah, if you put it that way, I can’t exactly stay unhappy now, can I~? Ufufufufu~.” Though she knew he relied on her a great deal, hearing her Master say that he relied on her made Terra feel especially fluttery in her heart. Most of her time these days was spent just watching over Spero, educating Alexa, and researching a few magic topics when she was bored. Her Master was generally very busy lately and, though they had a few intimate moments together, lazing about in her Garden could get rather boring. She used to have Riveria, Ryuu, and Lefiya to keep her company but now they were either busy in the Dungeon or taking care of things in the School…

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After promising that his schedule would open up a lot after dealing with Enyo, Vahn sent Terra on her way with Fels. She left in a much better mood than she had arrived but Vahn still made a mental note to get check on her when he had the opportunity. He still didn’t actually know where Enyo’s main body was located but, with the number of important personnel gathered here, Vahn felt she shouldn’t be that far. This became especially apparent when, after moving along the natural crystal-laden path for a few minutes, Vahn found a very strange structure. He had already realized that this crystalline section of the Dungeon was one of the ‘safe areas’ that were naturally produced to serve as a safe haven to the Xenos. Now, in one of the larger chambers he had come across, Vahn found something akin to a throne while one of the adjoining rooms finally answered one of the questions that had always been on his mind…

Covering almost every surface of the spherical room he was in, Vahn saw several panels, each showing a different section of the Dungeon. The most incredible discovery, however, was that there was a ‘projection’ of what Vahn assumed to be the Dungeon itself. It was a ridiculously intricate structure that looked like a series of stars linked together by an infinite number of strings. Upon touching his finger to one of the ‘stars’, some of the panels on the wall had their images change, showing what Vahn assumed to be the location he had clicked on. This was an amazing discovery and, though it might not be entirely accurate, Vahn committed the ‘projection’ to memory and compared it with his own map.

As expected, many of the areas he had map himself overlapped with the projection, even though some parts had obviously changed. The Dungeon’s structure was constantly morphing so it wasn’t surprising to see that his map of certain areas was already outdated. This actually made the existence of this room even more amazing to Vahn, as the amount of information a person had access to with these panels and projection was monstrous. He was even able to click on the large ‘room’ he assumed to be the 50th Floor, finding several long-distance images of Haven. From the image’s orientation, Vahn was able to determine that it was the ‘lighting’ within the Dungeon that was responsible for collecting information. Enyo’s forces must have replaced hundreds of thousands of lighting crystals, bioluminescent moss, and other largely ignored components of the Dungeon with observation devices.

Now that he understood how they had been spying on him for so long, Vahn couldn’t help but release a sigh as his mind raced with possibilities. He had always wondered why Enyo’s forces ‘ignored’ the girls whenever they would enter the Dungeon without him. It wasn’t simply that she didn’t have enough people to venture into the upper Floors, but there were no ‘practical’ means to track small groups with the projection. Unless she had someone keeping track of everyone entering and exiting the Dungeon, or the person monitoring this room was watching the entrance at all times, it was simply impossible to track small groups all at once…

Vahn assumed they must have had some means of communicating with each other but, for the time being, that remained a mystery to him. He didn’t even know how the crystals were connected together in order to feed information into this observation room. For the time being, his assumption was that they were somehow able to use the Dungeon’s systems and mana itself…there was even a chance that this observation room had been a product created by the Dungeon, potentially to help the Xenos find their kin. Every thought led to even more questions but, the one thing Vahn knew for sure was that Enyo herself certainly had the means to manipulate some of the Dungeon’s processes. He had been ‘targetted’ by Monster Parties in the past and she had shown, on several instances, the ability to manipulate the Dungeon’s mana flow…

Deciding he would have to look into things in greater detail later, Vahn clicked on some of the points of interest on the projection to see what the panels reflected. He focused his search on the 60th Floor, trying to identify from the projection the most likely location of Enyo. She would have placed her most trusted aide to monitor things on her behalf so he assumed she had to be relatively close by, even though he couldn’t sense her presence at all. Ultimately, Vahn decided to seal off this room with a powerful barrier, in the hope that another one of Enyo’s pawns wouldn’t come by to sabotage the observation system. When he was finished, Vahn used his updated minimap to get his bearings before heading towards the largest chamber on the 60th Floor. Its appearance on the map was a perfect circle and, being dissimilar from almost every other part of the Dungeon, Vahn felt it was the most suspect location…

The thing that drew his attention to this particular location even more, however, was the fact that this current room acted as something of an antechamber for the larger room beyond. What confused Vahnw as that, even as he neared the room, his perception wasn’t able to sense anything contained within. This was a relatively big flag, causing his instincts to trigger so strongly that is felt like his skin was crawling with ants. Thus, even though he told himself he wasn’t afraid to confront Enyo, Vahn found his feet slowly to a crawl as his [Eyes of Truth] peered through the walls to get a better look. When his vision reached the circular room, however, the only thing Vahn saw…was reflective darkness, almost like an abyss…

Even though he wasn’t in the room, Vahn could see his reflection against what looked like a liquid hemisphere of pure darkness. It had an appearance similar to oil but was more reflective than a mirror as Vahn felt his consciousness being ‘sucked’ towards the image of himself. He quickly broke free when his [Will of the Emperor] took effect, allowing him to deactivate his [Eyes of Truth]. Vahn realized he was breathing raggedly and had even ended up on his hands and knees, sweat pouring from his head before evaporating into wisps and returning to his body. In this state, Enyo’s laughter reached his mind once again before she mused, (“You really do know how to ruin a girl’s fun, Vahn Mason…I wanted you to come to me and see with your own eyes what you’re trying to oppose. Now, I wonder if you will flee and continue playing the game like a good little boy~?”)

Though Enyo could very well be goading him forward into a trap, Vahn found his resolve upon hearing her taunting words. He rose to his feet and pressed forward, even though his instincts screamed at him to turn back. Using his [Will of the Emperor], Vahn buried these feelings away and, after a few minutes had passed, reached a pair of ornate crystalline doors that were more than 50m tall. On the other side of these doors, the black ‘liquid’ awaited him and, presumably within, Enyo’s body should also be present. As if to emphasize this fact, Enyo’s voice began to enter his mind but Vahn completely severed the connection with his [Will of the Emperor] while pushing against the massive door with all his Power.

Surprisingly, the door opened relatively easily and, as a result of Vahn pushing forward with such force, cracks where present where his hand had impacted. The door itself slammed open before crashing into the adjoining wall with an explosive sound. As this had been rather unexpected, Vahn flinched slightly because of how tense his body had been, especially once the black liquid was within view. This time, however, it wasn’t his own reflection that was present within, but the reflection of the Manor’s residents. Behind them, there was a tall figure with a scythe and, while staring at it, Vahn found himself ‘pulled’ into an illusion like when he watched Haruhime. For a brief moment, he saw images of people being slaughtered by figured dressed in black robes. The girls were fighting against these figures but, even after slaying their targets, they ended up being stabbed through by invisible assailants, much as he had been…

Vahn shook his head to break free from the image as Enyo’s voice stated rather pointedly, (“That is a vision of the very near future, Vahn Mason. Because of your failure here, everyone you care about is doomed to die. Did you know that, even as we speak, my forces have already infiltrated into your little Haven and are simply awaiting my orders to cause chaos? If even your perceptive self can fall victim to my pawns, what chance do you think they have~?”) This time, Enyo’s voice sounded like it was spoken through amplification magic, resounding inside of his head and echoing loudly. Vahn channeled his [Will of the Emperor] to resist it but Enyo’s laughter still reached his mind, causing him to feel nauseous and collapse to the ground.

Unaware of what was going on around him, Vahn clutched at his head and attempted to resist the voice and images while an extension of the black liquid slowly made its way toward him. As it snaked along the ground, the bluish-crystalline structure of the floor began to rapidly turn black, spreading out like mold that corroded everything it touched. It continued forward at a slow and leisurely pace and, even upon nearing Vahn, didn’t immediately reach out to apply the same corrosive force. Instead, the ‘liquid’ began to lift itself up like a snake that was about to strike a sleeping target before creating a shape similar to a teardrop. From the bottom end of this teardrop, a face that wasn’t quite a reflection came into shape, looking like a white mask that was sculpted to match the expression of a smiling woman…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘If Fels had tear ducts, he would definitely be crying now…’,’Terra’s pouting…’,’If you gaze into an abyss, the abyss gazes back…’,’Cliff-sama is not gentle o_o…!’)

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