Chapter 887: Establishment

Deep within the 60th Floor of the Dungeon, Vahn was standing before an icy pillar more than 9m tall, casting out a thick chill that brought down the surrounding temperature to nearly -100 degrees Celsius. Even with their combined efforts, Vahn and Terra had been unable to replicate Eva’s [Eternal Ice Coffin], as their understanding of Laws relating to Time, Space, Ice, and Darkness were simply below the necessary standard of Tier 5. Even so, their efforts hadn’t been entirely in vain and, with Vahn using his own Source Energy to power the ritual magic ward they had created, the final result should end up holding her in place for several hundred years.

Though it wasn’t impossible to move Enyo out of the Dungeon, the chances of something going wrong exponentially increased. Since it was, ironically, safer to seal Enyo within the Dungeon, Vahn had decided to seal her away in one of the natural safe regions of the 60th Floor, close to the Observation Rooms location. Here, there would always be a guard rotation of Xenos watching over Enyo, a duty they took very seriously after learning how she had been exploiting and experimenting on their people…

Even if the Xenos did slack off, it wouldn’t make too much of a difference as, in order to decrease the chances of something going wrong, Vahn and Terra had designed the room as a self-contained system. All of the mana that flowed away from the imperfect [Eternal Ice Coffin] went into the intricate ritual magic ward that covered every single surface. This formation worked as a space-time lock of sorts, slowing the flow of time within the room to a crawl depending on the amount of energy fed into the system. Even in the final stages of her awakening, they would have upwards of several years to make preparations, during which time Vahn could always use [Enkidu] once again…

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This being the case, Vahn didn’t actually like the idea of imprisoning anyone, even someone as errant and dangerous as Enyo. However, when he considered that the passage of time she would experience would only be a ‘blink’ within her long life, it was easier to accept. Even so, Vahn had put Enyo into a deep slumber before they cast the [Eternal Ice Coffin] on her, making it so that she wouldn’t even ‘experience’ the passage of time from her own perspective. For Enyo, it would feel like she had simply ‘blinked’, allowing hundreds of years to pass on the outside. During that time, any threat she posed would have been largely mitigated, especially since Vahn would have already returned after linking the records…

The sole purpose of the patrols keeping watch over Enyo’s chamber was to prevent external influences, though the chances of this happening were relatively slim. Only those that had very high Loyalty and Allegiance towards Vahn were allowed to operate on the 60th Floor. This region had now become one of the closely guarded secrets of the Alliance and its importance was arguably greater than even Haven. Other than the Observation Room, there was a large network of ‘safe’ areas to make use of and, with the research notes of Ein, their understanding of the Dungeon itself had increased greatly.

On Ein’s person, there had been several unique Magic Items, including an artifact that had been identified by The Path as a [Dungeon Controller]. This was an incredible discovery as it allowed the user to trigger the ‘transportation’ function of the Dungeon. So long as you had the spatial coordinates of your location, it was possible to use the [Dungeon Controller] to traverse through the Dungeon and emerge out at the specified location. The ‘downside’ was that its functions only worked within the safe areas of the Dungeon and the only viable targets for transfer were the Xenos…

Just knowing it was possible to ride the mana streams of the Dungeon was an important discovery, as it should be possible to reverse-engineer the process with time. Until then, Vahn knew it was possible to ‘modify’ those that would reside within the 60th Floor into humanoid Xenos, though that wasn’t something he would do without serious consideration. For the time being, he had entrusted the artifact to Gros, the first to volunteer to observe Enyo and make sure she was unable to escape. He had never required sleep as a Gargoyle Xenos and, even after becoming a ‘Titan’, this nature of his hadn’t changed. If it meant he could protect, not just the Xenos, but everyone that lived on the surface, Gros was the type that would stand vigilant for thousands of years without leaving his post…

Back on the surface, Ray had become the ‘Village Chief’ of Spero and was helping the seventy-one new Xenos adapt to life within Spero. As he had expected, the Xenos were very adaptive and, even after experiencing Enyo’s influence, they were able to bounce back quickly amongst their kin. They would be under ‘observation’ for a few months, training with the more powerful humanoid Xenos within the village, before some of their members joined Lyd’s Search and Rescue Expedition…

Of the three former Leaders of the Xenos, Lyd had become responsible for leading the team that explored the depths of the Dungeon to scout for any emergent Xenos. His focus of operations was now on the 60th Floor, waiting for the ‘Observation Team’ to investigate the areas around the Xenos’ Hidden Villages for their kin. Upon discovering any traces of their people, Gros would use the [Dungeon Controller] to send the group to the closest transfer point, allowing them to recover the emergent Xenos and escort them to safety. As a result, the population of Spero was steadily increasing and they would likely be nearing five hundred residents by the year’s end. With the Observation Room and the [Dungeon Controller], they were finding an average of one Xenos every thirty hours…

Overall, things were going very well, to the point that Vahn couldn’t quite believe something hadn’t gone wrong to disrupt his relatively peaceful life back at the Manor. Though he had certainly been busy within the Dungeon, things had calmed down quite a bit in regards to his personal life. He now had a lot of time to spend with his children and, after checking his ‘Main Quest], Vahn noticed that ‘killing’ Enyo had never been a requirement. Currently, he just needed to unify the other seven major regions of Eden, descend into the depths of Tartarus, and finish establishing the Divine Council. Thus far, he had (11/30] members picked out and it wouldn’t be that difficult to get the other nineteen after dealing with external issues…

One curious thing Vahn noticed was that his ‘Optional Objectives’ had also progressed a great deal, especially in regards to acquiring followers, subordinates, and retainers. Originally, this number was a measly nine while, after all of these events had transpired, Vahn now had (2,937/10,000). The curious thing was that his ‘Sire 100 Children’ had increased from (18/100) to (21/100) before he had noticed. Upon discovering this, Vahn had used his [Eyes of Truth] to ‘investigate’, finding that, other than Syr and Shakti, Lunoire had also become pregnant. This caused a bit of a stir, as she hadn’t really been trying to get pregnant, but Vahn was just glad it hadn’t been Tina. He hadn’t confirmed if she had taken the pill after their first night together and, being a Cat Person, it was almost guaranteed she would have been pregnant if she chose not to…

Vahn didn’t have any issues with Tina wanting to become a mother but, with how things had been developing within the Manor, it wasn’t exactly an ideal time. He didn’t want to cause any kind of strange tension with Milan and, with Tina herself also wanting to become much stronger, becoming pregnant would have thrown a wrench into her plan. Not everyone was like Lili, training twice as hard after giving birth just to catch up on the training time she had lost during her pregnancy. If possible, Vahn wanted everyone to start relaxing and enjoying life a bit more, especially now that one of the largest threats was already dealt with…

Even with that being the case, Vahn still found himself thinking about his future actions and contemplating the best method to move forward. He still had several promises to keep and would have to deal with the Amazoness country, Telskyura in the near future. Before that, however, Vahn had a bone to pick with the Iron Hills, as their actions have been grating his nerves for quite a while. This would likely tie into his confrontation with the Rakia Kingdom and, based on how things develop, Vahn knew he would have to make personal efforts within the other regions of the Continent as well…

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The closest region, which Vahn had a bit of genuine interest in, was the ‘Land of no Sun’, located a little over a thousand kilometers to the north of Orario. He found himself curious about the status of Shiva, the Dark Elf he had saved in the past, and wondered how well her revenge had been going. Since others didn’t have The Path serving as an incredible boon to their potential and resources, it could take several years for a personal campaign or revenge for most people. Shiva had been strong, but she was only around the strength of a Level 4, which couldn’t be the strongest within a region. It had been nearly two years since she had set out on her journey and, with things as they were, Vahn wondered if he might be able to help her unify the ‘Land of no Sun’ if he showed up to assist…

Though he believed this could be a good idea, Vahn knew he needed to take care of other things before he decided to assist Shiva. For the time being, he had posted a commission within the Headquarter of the Haven Defense Forces. It was prompted accept by a four-person squad, which was the standard in their organizational structure, consisting of two Pallum Scouts, a Chienthrope, and an Elf. Such squads were highly mobile and, with their racial composition, they had advantages in almost any type of terrain and situation. The Chienthrope in the group acted as the nose and ears while the Pallum had keen eyesight and could easily scout dangerous areas. As for the Elf in their squad, they served the purpose of monitoring the natural energy in the environment while also having the natural ability to see mana.

Vahn entrusted them with the task of investigating the Land of no Sun and, if possible, learn of the location of Shiva and any of her allies. Since it was only an investigation commission, they didn’t have to engage in combat unless they were targetted first. Given the culture and traditions of the Dark Elves, it wasn’t difficult to imagine they would be attacked by some of the clans that made a living off looting merchant groups. So long as they used their squad composition to their advantage, most of these threats were easily avoidable, however, so Vahn told them to exercise caution above all else…

It wasn’t just this squad who ended up having a mission as, even with Enyo’s ‘defeat’, there hadn’t been a single person who wanted to leave the Haven Defense Force. Instead, the organizational structure of the group was becoming increasingly more stable with each passing day. Though Finn ended up stepping down from his position after the successful defense, relinquishing it to Haruhime, the momentum and morale of the HDF members was through the roof. Not only was their strength increasing very quickly, but their sense of unity was stronger than most armies that had worked alongside each other for years. Since this would only stabilize the foundation of Haven even further, Vahn hadn’t opposed converting them into a permanant fixture of the emergent City…

In an effort to ensure things were running smoothly, the HDF became an organization that emulated the Guild while having aspects of a standing army. There were ranks that could be obtained through merit or by increasing your individual strength to a certain point and applying for promotion. Much like the Guild, the HDF issued quests and commissions that only its members could take, acquiring contribution points much like the system used by the girls within the Hearth Manor. Your rank and contribution points determined your weekly salary while also giving you access to a larger pool of valuable items and equipment. It was even possible to obtain S-Rank equipment through the contribution system, turning the HDF into something of a meritocracy, even though you could be assigned to a squad and given missions at the behest of the organization itself.

One thing that Vahn truly believed in was that, if people are making an effort to improve themselves, they should be rewarded for their efforts. He liked systems that promoted this ideology and, so long as people weren’t trying to gain benefits at the expense of their companions, he didn’t mind a bit of competition between the HDF members. It helped that they were all his Subordinates and Retainers, meaning they had a natural ability to work with each other for the greater good of the organization. Even if someone wanted to use the HDF as a means to promote themselves for selfish gain, it would be very simple to identify them since their values within the system interface would likely be very low…

To ensure that such individuals never rose to a rank of power, the HDF regulations specifically stated that Vahn had to approve of anyone that wanted to rise to a command position, making them a Captain within the organization. In order to gain this position, Vahn would conduct an interview with the applicant and, so long as their Loyalty or Allegiance was high enough, it was very likely they would get the position. If they didn’t meet these requirements, Vahn would use the interview as an opportunity to set them on a better path, even if it meant ‘ordering’ them to do so.

Since his orders didn’t actually affect the free will of his Subordinate or Retainer, they would either correct their actions and become a Captain after an evaluation period, or they would be ‘retired’ from the organization. This would be necessary as, if they weren’t even following his orders as Supreme Commander when he tried to correct their errant path, they would become a seed of corruption within the HDF. Though it was a little ‘unfair’ to opportunists, Vahn’s Unit Management made it impossible for anyone to truly rise up and use the organization for their own means. The moment they began taking selfish actions, their Loyalty and Allegiance would begin to drain away, raising a red flag that made them easily removed after an investigation…

This type of system was necessary as, without any doubt whatsoever, Vahn was sure there would be individuals who seek to join the HDF for personal gain. Even with him recruiting all the members himself, people could change a lot under the right circumstances. All it took was a single instance of someone feeling they had greater power and authority than they had earned to set them down the path of a corrupt tyrant. With powerful Magic Items and Equipment at their disposal, there was even a chance they would try and profit off selling the equipment to the black market, depending on the circumstances. This wasn’t necessarily because they were tempted by the money, but it wasn’t impossible for things like blackmail, hostage taking, and other factors to come into play…

Knowing that, regardless of the actions he took, fate and karma would allow evil to propagate under his influence, Vahn could only do his best to weed out the corruption from the start. He would try and ensure that any organization he established was free from people using it for their own benefits, especially things like the HDF, the Sage Aldrnari School, and the Haven Academy. Since these three organizations would produce some of the most powerful individuals in the world, Vahn wanted to make it exceedingly difficult for cruel and malicious people to rise up. Even though he knew it would inevitably happen, Vahn believed it was his duty and obligation to hold back the tide of fate, even for a short while…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Imperfect Sealing…? No worries, we’ll just use that imperfection to power a second seal~!’,’The HDF seems like an ideal organization…until you get that ‘loyal’ person who is also tyrannical xD…’,’It is very frustrating, knowing that every positive action you take just increases the power of future evils…’)

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