Chapter 896: A Grim Reminder

Though his original plan had been to blast open the Dwarves’ Mother Mountain and create a pathway to the interior valley, Vahn had changed his mind after due consideration. Because the largest population of the Iron Hills consisted of slaves, meaning their were far more innocents that would be hurt by such an attack, Vahn decided to be less ‘direct’. Though there would still be a large number of casualties, the number of people that would be liberated after he forced the Elder Council to acquiesce would be far greater than if he chose a more direct method. Since this was an action that needed to have a ‘visible’ outcome, so that it wouldn’t fade within the memory of future generations, Vahn chose to blow off the top of the mountain instead of breaking it apart.

There were several reasons why he had chosen this course of action, other than a general concern for the lives of several hundred thousand slaves within the Iron Hills. Because the ‘bomb’ was wholly comprised of natural energies, there would be no real fallout from the blast, as ‘normal’ explosives would often have various chemicals that made the affected area inhospitable. After his bomb exploded, the area would become saturated with natural energy, turning the ‘valley’ that would come into existence after the bomb was detonated into a natural paradise, filled with greenery and rare materials. Vahn wasn’t fond of the idea of causing destruction for the sole purpose of ‘harming’ a target, as the act of destroying the environment to make future life difficult didn’t sit well with him…

The more important purpose of this bomb, however, was to serve as an important ‘lesson’, not just for the Dwarves, but for the future generations of all peoples. Vahn was intending to enact strict regulations on the development of technology designed to be used for war in the future, as even the existence of Magic Items like the [Shadow Visor Mk. 1] were already game-changers. If possible, he wanted most issues to be settled in designated arenas and battlefields in the future, where the stakes would be high while the destruction and loss of life would be closely regulated. This was a means to promote individual growth and encourage people to pursue greater heights instead of allowing the trend of relying on technology to wage warfare to become popularized.

After uniting the seven regions of Eden, Vahn was expecting ‘war’ in general to become obsolete, at least in the grand scheme of things. Those it would be impossible to prevent civil strife and small conflicts from breaking out, large-scale wars would be pointless as a single proficient Mage would likely be able to take out tens of thousands with ease. Future battles, where hundreds of thousands would engage each other in fights to the death, would serve no purpose other than ‘wasting’ lives. Though overpopulation, and other factors, would have to be considered, Vahn was confident that these types of issues could be addressed after he had linked the records. After all, it would be possible for him to create entire records, each containing entire multiverses. Limited resources weren’t an issue in the grand scheme of things though, as people tried to ascend the path to godhood, there would certainly be a fair number of conflicts over the especially precious ones…

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It was with thoughts like this on his mind that Vahn stood high above the Mother Mountain with an 80cm diameter green sphere. He knew that, even if he detonated the Sub-Space orb at the very peak of the mountain, the resultant shockwave would probably collapse several mines and tunnels. The eight Undercities themselves would probably be fine, but the number of casualties amongst the slaves would still be very large. Vahn also suspected landslides and rock showers to occur but, in order to bring an end to future conflicts, he knew a decisive action was required. Thus, after nearly an hour of inspecting the region, Vahn placed the Sub-Space orb into a cavern near the very center of the mountain before fracturing its surface…

At the same instant as the orb was fractured, a veritable ocean of Nature Energy poured out from its interior. The inside had been compressed to a 5km space that was highly saturated with Nature energy, to the point that even a High Elf probably would have died from exposure. Even the air inside had a slight emerald hue so, when the orb ‘detonated’, it created the image of a green sun that instantly consumed the upper half of the mountain. Though he had expected this result, Vahn was still surprised by the sheer power contained within the Sub-Space orb as his own body was immediately reduced to mana particulates that were pushed away with the explosion.

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When his body had reformed, the mountain now looked more like a volcano, with a spherical mouth, while the surroundings were utterly devastated by the explosion. The curious thing, though Vahn had entirely expected it to happen, was that the once snowy mountain was now completely covered in grass and small plants as a green haze formed a dome around the former peak. Natural energy wasn’t the type to disperse very quickly and, unless something siphoned it away, even the high altitude wouldn’t be enough to prevent the propagation of vibrant plant life in the area…

After overlooking the devastation for a bit, Vahn felt somewhat melancholic but buried the feeling in his heart as he moved to the center of the large impact crater and pulled out one of Yggy’s ‘hearts’. In the future, this place would become a true paradise while the surrounding landscape would also benefit from the endless infusion of vital energies. As for the crater itself, however, Vahn planned to immortalize the site and prevent the Dwarves, or anyone for that matter, from trying to take advantage of the devastated area for their own purposes. In the future, people would be able to make a pilgrimage to this area, seeing where the once proud mountain once stood and understand the true terror of indiscriminate warfare…

Once the 10m tall tree had sprouted, Vahn was greeted by the ever-adorable Yggy as she popped out of the trunk with a slightly mischevious expression on her face. Vahn already knew what she was going to do so he kneeled down and allowed Yggy’ to plant a kiss on his cheek, granting him the fourth boost to his [Yggdrasil’s Champion]. Each boost had given him about a 2% increase to his Source Energy regeneration rate and, even though it seemed like a small amount, this made it possible for him to replenish his reserves in under twenty minutes. If she granted him all nine, it wouldn’t be impossible for him to replenish his entire reserves in under sixteen minutes which, if combined with the Sub Space orb, meant he could be topped off in just 2.5 minutes. In actually, the [Yggdrasil’s Champion] buff was slowly turning Vahn into even more of a ridiculous existence than before…

After planting an innocent and sloppy kiss on her Papa’s cheek, Yggy giggled happily before looking around at her fourth home and saying, “I like this place a lot, it has so much natural energy already~!” Vahn, upon hearing this, showed an affectionate smile while, on the inside, he felt rather awkward hearing Yggy say such a thing. Previously, the dominant energies in this area were Earth, Ice, Water, and a bit of Darkness. It was only by destroying the top of the mountain that it became oversaturated with Nature energy, making it a suitable environment for all types of flora and fauna for the future. Even so, he didn’t let the mild incongruity show on his face as he ruffed Yggy’s hair and said, “I have to go deal with a few troublesome matters now, Yggy. I’ll come by to visit you at the Manor for lunch, okay…?”

Yggy, bringing her tiny fists together in excitement, nodded her head with a vibrant smile and said, “Yes~! Don’t worry, I’ll make sure this area is protected properly, Papa…!” Since she already knew beforehand the purpose behind her heart being planted in this area, Yggy was determined to keep this large crater safe. She would let people enter and walk about freely but, if they tried to take away any of the plants or animals that would come to reside here, she would drive them away very quickly. Terra had already taught her some of the basics of magic and, being extremely quick on the uptake, Yggy could easily defend an area of a few kilometers with ease.

After giving Yggy a candy that had, somewhat awkwardly, been made out of a crystallized version of Terra’s ‘sap’, Vahn flew towards the largest structure in the valley, assuming it would put him in touch with someone of authority. The aboveground City, known as the ‘City of Gold, Enterprise’, was a large port City that served as the consolidation hub for various merchants and businesses. Most of the Dwarves still lived in the Undercities, making the largest population of people present within Enterprise slaves. Vahn was surprised by the sheer number of Beast People present, many wearing nothing more than rags while metallic collars cut into their necks and collarbones.

Because of the mountain face exploding, there was a large amount of damage to Enterprise, resulting in tens of thousands of slaves moving about as they rapidly tried to clean the area and repair the damage. It was easy to see they were shaken by the events as even the Dwarves, who would typically beat and berate them at every opportunity, were walking around in low spirits. Their expressions were pale and there were even a few who had been unable to take their eyes off the once majestic mountain, now bereft of its sharp peak. Though it hadn’t been the tallest mountain on the Continent, it was still their prided ancestral grounds, now ruined in an instant after an explosion of impossible magnitude…

One of these Dwarves was the eldest son of Kanav Mun Ironheart, the current Patriarch of the Ironheart Noble House. He had been in charge of the external businesses of the family for the last thirty years, making a name for himself as the aspiring head of the Ironheart clan. To his fellow merchants, he was known as Sterlaag the ‘Mountain’, because his expression was always cold and unchangeable. In business, he had been an unshakeable existence, proudly comparing himself to their very Mother Mountain during a few recreational drunken brawls. Now, seeing that very mountain broken, with a large boulder crushing the office where he would normally have been sitting, Sterlaag found himself feeling a series of solemn emotions, unlike anything he had ever experienced before…

Vahn had noticed this rather stout figure, appearing to be around his late fifties with dark black hair and an intricately woven beard that extended past his chest. Even the slaves around this man were dressed better than the others, wearing black uniforms with golden accents, so Vahn decided to drop in and make his presence known. Upon dropping down in front of the man, Vahn noticed he hadn’t quite processed the reality of the situation as his face warped into one of abject confusion instead of rage. Even so, Vahn increased the pressure on this man and forced him to his knees as he said, “I am Vahn Mason, come to make good on my promise. Go, inform your Elders that this is only the beginning of conflict if they are unwilling to compromise…”

Being forced to his knees in an instant, Sterlaag came back to his senses and did his best to resist the pressure weighing him down. His face was filled with indignation and, after hearing Vahn’s introduction, an expression of unhinged rage replaced his confusion. However, before he was able to open his mouth and order his slaves and guards to attack, Sterlaag felt the pressure more than double, smashing his body into the ground below as his bones creaked. There was nothing he could do except listen as Vahn’s cold tone resounded, “This attack was meant to serve as a warning for what awaits your people if you choose to walk down this errant path. The next attack will be within your Undercities themselves…once again, I will give you three days. If you fail to pass on my message, I will track you down personally and have you watch as your precious cities are destroyed one by one…”

After leaving his message, Vahn equipped his [Shadow Visor Mk. 2] and ‘vanished’ from the area in an instant, though the pressure persisted for several minutes after the fact. He had already identified a large elevator that looked like it shuttled supplies between the surface and the Undercities below. Though he would allow the wealthy merchant to pass on his message, Vahn still wanted to investigate the underground himself to better plan his next course of action. If possible, he wanted to recover Elily’s former Master and, depending on the circumstances, free some of the slaves. Vahn knew an absolutely nightmarish scene awaited him when he got to some of the ‘slave farms’ and, even if it caused some trouble, he would plant to assassinate the staff and plan for the future liberation of the slave population…

Vahn fully intended to negotiate terms with the Dwarves but, regardless of how they felt about the matter, there would no longer be slaves within the Iron Hills after he was finished. The Dwarves had mistreated other races for far too long so, even if they had a legitimate claim to some slaves, Vahn didn’t care one bit. They had completely lost the right to manage the lives of others and, for the foreseeable future, the Dwarves themselves would be responsible for their own progress. Vahn intended to completely cripple their foundation and force them into a period of reflection and recovery that relied on other countries for their prosperity. There would be no more slaves kept as nothing more than livestock to be worked to their deaths for the sole purpose of greed and sheer laziness.

With that thought in mind, Vahn steeled his heart and mind before dropping down the elevator shaft and descending more than five kilometers into the dark depths below. There were several areas where the elevator platform would have stopped but Vahn assumed the ‘farms’ would be located in the lower levels. He didn’t expect the glorious and artistically designed Undercities would be home to a large number of slaves, as their fate had been perpetually toiling away within the mines and endlessly harvesting resources for others to use. At this depth, the air temperature was a steamy 61 degrees Celsius, an extremely uncomfortable temperature for most people. However, here in these dark caverns that seemed completely inhospitable to life, Vahn sensed hundreds of auras moving about, the vast majority of which seemed extremely fatigued while others were on the verge of death…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘League of Legends, anyone…?’,’June 17th, Zeroth Year of the Emperor, the morning of two suns…’,’Descent into Hell…’)

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