Chapter 962: 71st Floor

Unable to take the mirror artifact from the statue, Vahn made a few more inquiries from it to test the limits of its functionality before heading towards the ‘heart’ formation. As for what he asked the statue, it was to show him things like the location of Zeus, the appearance of Gilgamesh, and any powerful monsters he had to be aware of. Since it could show him things within the Dungeon, Vahn spent more than two hours cataloging every monster contained within using the mirror as a proxy. It was truly one of the most useful artifacts Vahn had ever come across since it seemed to possess a scary degree of omniscience. Vahn had even asked about the location of any secret treasures that had been lost to time and was shown the location where they rested, waiting for someone fated to stumble across them…

At this point, it was already late in the afternoon but Vahn wanted to continue his exploration for a short while longer since he could always use his Qinglong form to exit the Dungeon. It took most of his reserves to do so but transitioning a few Floors to use the teleportation wards on the 60th Floor wasn’t that difficult. So long as he didn’t encounter some kind of spatial lock, Vahn wasn’t worried that he wouldn’t be able to return to the surface when he was ready to do so. Thus, without any further delay, Vahn arrived at the large illusory barrier that represented the ‘heart’ before taking a step inside. He found a large temple contained within while the surroundings changed, making it appear as if he were atop a mountain outside of the Dungeon.

After marveling at the complexity of the magic formation, Vahn made his way into the interior of the temple and quickly found the stairs leading into the 71st Floor. The fact that there hadn’t been any enemies since his encounter with the Guardian was somewhat worrisome but Vahn knew there were threats lurking deeper within. After all, he now knew exactly what monsters were located on each Floor, including any Monster Rexes and unique variants he would have to be wary of. The only thing he didn’t know were their strengths, weakness, and general ecology. He would have to discover these on his own since the information from the system shop may not pertain to the version of Danmachi he resided in.

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Upon reaching the 71st Floor, the layout of the Dungeon had changed once again, this time into an ashen-grey stone that emanated a peculiar magical glow. The density of mana at this level was far more powerful than the upper Floors, to the point that there was a thin mist consolidating in stagnant areas. This was a physical manifestation of mana, something that rarely appeared outside of communities where Great Spirits resided. Constant exposure to such high potency mana could lead to the evolution of animals into monsters while also providing great benefits to anyone that was able to absorb external energies into their bodies. Vahn suspected that, once he popularized Cultivation techniques in the future, there would be some bold practitioners that may use Floors like this to further advance their strength.

With that thought in mind, Vahn created a ‘sucking’ force with his domain and began to absorb the mana in the atmosphere to supplement his own reserves. The blessings from Yggy made such an action almost unnecessary, but Vahn was curious about the potency of the mana and if it contained any dangerous elements that could cause harm to the body. He quickly noticed something similar to a numbness spreading through his limbs before the malignant energy was naturally filtered from his body. Vahn wasn’t surprised there were toxins contained within the mist as there were few instances where the Dungeon would outright reward its invaders without putting them through a trial…

After traveling for a few minutes, Vahn came across a few vibrant blue lights that were fluttering around in the air, illuminating the cold grey walls with their magical light. It was a truly mesmerizing sight since there was a subtle hypnotic effect contained within the light, courtesy of the small pixie-like monsters at the center of the luminescence. They looked like tiny figures that were carved from wood, each possessing vaguely humanoid qualities while their eyes looked like tiny gemstones that glowed various shades of green and blue. Each had a pair of dragonfly-like wings that made high-pitched sounds as a result of how quickly they were moving about.

Vahn spent a few moments staring at the rather beautiful sight before quickly extending his hand outward, catching one of the tiny pixies that attempted to ambush him. They had speed that could easily rival a Level 4 and, with their tiny and agile bodies, Vahn imagined it would be difficult to face large groups of the pointy-toothed creatures. The one he had caught was trying to gnaw on his hand with sharp teeth that easily tore through the S-Ranked gloves he had been wearing. This caused Vahn to frown as he put a bit of strength into his hand, marveling at how durable the tiny creature was before its defenses were eventually overcome. Vahn’s hand came to a complete close before he opened it to reveal a tiny yet extremely high-quality magic core.

As he marveled at the magic core that was barely bigger than a grain of rice, the other pixies in the surroundings began to make annoyingly high-pitched noises that sounded like a rudimentary language to Vahn’s ears. This wasn’t necessarily a sign of true intelligence, however, as even Goblins and Kobolds were able to communicate with each other. Since none of them had auras, and were proactively trying to attack him, Vahn didn’t hold back as he sent a tidal wave of crimson-gold flames through the corridors, scorching most of the Pixies in an instant. None were killed by the attack but their fragile wings seemed exceptionally weak to high temperatures, forcing the 10cm tall monsters to rain down from the sky as they lost the ability to fly.

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Undaunted, and extremely angry, the Pixies began to leap at Vahn with their tiny legs, many targetting his face and throat. With Vahn having already erected a magical barrier, their attacks were ultimately futile. As a result, Vahn had ample time to observe them as he wondered how exactly such weak creatures were meant to pose a threat to Adventurers. He supposed that the toxins within the extremely dense mana were supposed to incapacitate intruders, leaving them helpless as the small Pixies tore their bodies to shreds. They also had high Endurance, making them somewhat difficult to kill, while their magical resistance also seemed rather high. Combined with the other monsters that should be present on the 71st Floor, Vahn was able to understand that they were more of an inconvenience that could overwhelm Mages than a genuine threat…

After completing his analysis, Vahn transformed into his Baihu form before creating tempestuous blades of wind that cut through the surrounding Pixies with relative ease. He confirmed that they were remarkably resilient as some continued trying to attack even after losing arms and legs. It wasn’t until their small magic cores were damaged that they finally dispersed into motes of dust, leaving vibrant bluish-green cores in their stead. Vahn quickly looted these cores, selling them for a substantial 800-1100 OP each before turning his attention toward a particularly dense cloud of mana that had been skulking around in the periphery.

Understanding it had been spotted, what appeared to be a rainbow colored snake shot out from the mist with a speed that caused Vahn’s eyes to widen, even in his Baihu form. It was practically like a bolt of lightning as it snaked through the air and tried to bury its long fangs into his neck. Though it was only around 110cm long, Vahn imagined it would even be able to take out a Monster Rex with the speed it had displayed. Unfortunately, he was a particularly bad matchup for fast moving enemies as the monster, which Vahn decided to call a Rainbow Viper, slammed into his magical barrier. He used the momentary gap before it was able to react to catch the snake by its neck, completely shattering its spine in the process.

Though the Rainbow Viper had yet to die, it was no longer able to move on its own volition once Vahn had essentially severed the nerves between its brain and body. It twitched about like a whip, impacting Vahn a few times in the process, but each hit was absorbed by his secondary magical aura as he marveled at the surprising beauty of the snake. It’s rainbow-colored scaled made a striking pattern that could put to shame most jewelry Vahn had laid eyes on. He imagined it would be an exceptional material for producing accessories for the girls, particularly Anubis, Nanu, Tiona, and Tione. Vahn knew the rainbow-colored scales would accent their healthy brown skin and was already thinking about how he could acquire a few more Rainbow Vipers to collect enough materials…

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//[Nameless] Wishes to become your subordinate. (Y/N?)//

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Vahn was snapped out of his momentary reverie by the system notification and, having accepted several tens of thousands of subordinates over the last year, actually accepted without even thinking about it. His eyes widened slightly as he stared down at the rather pitiful looking Rainbow Viper that was still twitching about in his grasp. A small feeling of guilt welled up in his heart when he saw it’s golden pupils beginning to lose their light, causing Vahn to send a wave of healing energy into the Rainbow Vipers body to preserve its life. It quickly regained its vitality and, though Vahn was still holding its neck, the snake coiled around his arm with gentle pressure as it happily flicked its tongue.

Seeing how affectionate the Rainbow Viper was acting just moments after it tried to kill him, Vahn couldn’t help but issue a wry smile as he stated, “You’re pretty clever, aren’t you? Well, we’ll chalk this up to fate…so long as you obey my orders, I will help you become even stronger in the future.” As if it truly understood his words, the Rainbow Viper flicked its tongue a few times as its Loyalty increased from 53 to 57. If his [Keeper of the Akashic Tome] hadn’t been on cooldown, Vahn would have named the clever little snake that had somehow weaseled its way into his life. For the time being, he simply let it coil around his neck like a scarf as it flicked its tongue near his ear and mirrored the movements of his head as he walked through the 71st Floor and continued to hunt more Pixies…

With the evening deepening, Vahn was preparing to cut his adventure short after another hour of probing the 71st Floor. Most of the enemies he had encountered along the way were the rather annoying Pixies, which seemed to roam in groups of more than thirty at a time, while only a few Rainbow Vipers appeared. Whenever one showed up, the [Nameless] Rainbow Viper on his shoulders would immediately set into motion, coiling together with the opposing snake as they fought for dominance. Vahn wasn’t sure if it was due to the influence of his Unit Management, but his Rainbow Viper always emerged victorious before slithering over with the paralyzed body of its prey, laying it at his feet before happily flickering its tongue. At times like this, Vahn would reach down and gently stroke [Nameless]’s head before allowing it to resume its place on his shoulders once again.

During the moments when there weren’t any enemies present, Vahn was explaining various things to the small snake since he could tell it was already growing attached to him. He couldn’t easily walk around with it on his shoulders all the time and, knowing it would one day possess a humanoid form, Vahn didn’t want it to develop any strange expectations like some of his earlier subordinates. Though it couldn’t really understand his words, Vahn knew the Rainbow Viper could understand his intent as it bobbed its head as if nodding and stared back at him with its golden eyes that would often emanate a gentle light…

While preparing for his return trip to the 60th Floor, Vahn had detected a much larger presence than a Pixie or Rainbow Viper so he decided to investigate since it wouldn’t take too much time. He already knew what to expect from the unseen entity so Vahn wasn’t surprised when an emerald-colored tree entered his vision. It had vibrant blue leaves that rustled gently, even in the absence of wind, as microscopic spores spread from its canopy. Vahn found the aroma coming from the spores rather pleasant but [Nameless] had snuck into his collar to avoid exposing itself since they were a lethal poison to most biological lifeforms.

Vahn experienced his nerves seizing up painfully before his body filtered out the toxins, allowing him to confirm the potency of the spores before creating a barrier that prevented them from entering his body once again. The strange tree seemed to sense this as it began to tremble, causing the ground to quake as large roots began to break through the floor. They attempted to coil around Vahn but he was much faster, allowing him to easily evade as hundreds of Pixies began to pour out from the trees canopy as they attempted to overwhelm him. Vahn decided to name the tree-like monster as a Pixie Colony as he stretched out his right arm. He focused his mind to the extreme as cracks began to emerge along his skin before Vermillion feathers began to sprout like tiny flames escaping the gaps of a blast furnace…

One of the things Vahn had been working on recently was partial transformations with his [Rakshasa Body] since he suspected it should be possible to make use of multiple transformations in the future. Currently, he could only transform a single arm with his Zhuque form, likely the result of his general affinity with Fire Elemental energy. As a result, Vahn was able to create a pillar of vermillion flames that washed over the flock of Pixies, this time burning them to ashes as the pillar collided with the Pixie Colony’s emerald green trunk. A deep groan escaped from the monster, though Vahn wasn’t quite sure where from, as it began to twist in a futile attempt to escape the flames.

After a few minutes had passed, the only thing that remained of the Pixie Colony and its residents were a few Drop Items and enough rice-like magic cores to fill a five-ounce bag. Vahn sold the entire bag and was gobsmacked when he was awarded over 700,000 OP in a single go. He happily threw the other Drop Items into his Inventory as the Rainbow Viper poked its head out of his collar and licked the air a few times. Vahn was reminded of its existence, causing him to issue a wry smile as he said, “You better not develop the habit of trying to sneak into my clothes or I’ll never allow you to have a human transformation…” He didn’t know why, but Vahn felt like he had some kind of fate with this small snake, causing small warning signals to sound in his mind as a result of his extremely high karma…

In response to his words, the small snake stared blankly with its golden eyes before flicking its purple tongue a few times. It then tried to sneak back into the depths of Vahn’s tunic but he quickly snatched it before tossing it up into the air. The Rainbow Viper showed a momentary panic as it flipped through the air but ultimately landed without issue before quickly returning to Vahn’s side and coiling around his leg with a sorry expression on its face. Seeing this, Vahn shook his head while releasing a sigh as he wondered what name to grant the small snake in the future. He didn’t have to grant it a human form but Vahn knew the small snake would likely want one at some point. Since he knew how unfair it could be for his subordinates to make decisions on their behalf, Vahn needed to seriously consider what was best for his new [Nameless] companion before picking its name…

With several suitable names crossing his mind, Vahn had [Nameless] momentarily return to its core as he transformed into his Qinglong form and tore through space to reach the 61st Floor. Though he could enter the 60th Floor proper, Vahn liked to play it safe by not messing with the spatial fabric near Enyo’s seal. The last thing he needed was the errant goddess breaking free from her seal just because he wanted to save a few minutes of time. As a result, Vahn had to kill a few Slimes and Berserker subspecies before he finally reached the secret area that connected with his most secure base. Gros had already been waiting for his arrival, as there was a team constantly monitoring the surroundings, so Vahn spent a few minutes discussing various matters before finally using the teleportation ward to return to the surface.

Since the teleportation ward connected to the Xenos Village, Vahn’s eyes instinctually focused on the small residence where Helen and Marie resided together. It was only a brief moment, however, as the two Xenos who had been watching over the teleportation ward happened to be Naho and Arles. The former was wearing a black and white gothic style dress while the latter had a pristine blue dress with a white apron and frills that matched closely with Diana’s outfit. Freya had called it an Alice-Style outfit, though even she didn’t know the origin of the name. The only thing that really mattered was that both girls looked unbelievably cute, especially with Arles’ small white rabbit ears, so Vahn was prevented from going to meet with Helen since it would have broken the two girls’ hearts if he left just after arriving…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘*Squishing Intensifies*’,’Clever snek…!?’,’Arles wearing an Alice outfit with a large pocket watch nestled against her diminutive chest…’)

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