Endless Path : Infinite Cosmos Chapter 867
Though he wasn't sure if now was the best time, Vahn decided to simply proceed with his plans since it was a necessary step to take in order to make headway against Enyo. Construction of Haven had been steadily progressing and, though it would like take several months for the outer wall to be constructed through normal means, Vahn knew Terra would be able to create a makeshift wall in less than a day. He also had the opportunity of buying large stone slabs to serve as natural barriers so, in preparation for potential attacks, the main priority of the laborers was simply clearing trees and leveling the ground. Once he had decided this, Vahn called a meeting of all the Unit Commanders, the representatives of each Familia, and the few influential merchants who had faced their fears to descend into the Dungeon for profit.
Now, Vahn sat at the 'head' of a ring-shaped table with twenty-three individuals, each waiting for the decision he would make as the Supreme Commander of the Alliance. He had Maemi and Emiru standing slightly behind, completely decked out in their [Pactio] raiments and holding their [Saint's Halberd]s to create a rather imposing figure. Haruhime was sitting on his left, tails flickering behind her in an almost hypnotic fashion, while Finn stat to his right, elbows on the table and an amiable smile on his face. He seemed in much higher spirits than before the expedition had started, honestly admitting in private that he was 'relieved' to be away from his women and children for a short while...
Once everyone was properly seated, Vahn waved his hand, causing hot tea and pastries to occupy the empty area in front of everyone. He made sure there weren't any hard foods that would make chewing noises and, to ease everyone's tension, picked up a small cherry danish and ate it with a smile on his face. Though he didn't go out of his way to intimidate people, Vahn had noticed that the way people acted around him had changed drastically ever since he began operating in the Elven Kingdom. When he turned his sights on the Nobles within Orario, everyone suddenly became very fearful of offending him, even though he generally tried to be polite and easygoing towards all but his enemies.
With tensions easing a bit, Vahn's on expression softened slightly as he said, "I know that my calling this meeting hasn't come as a surprise to anyone. As you'd expect, we need to come up with plans to deal with the impending danger of Enyo's forces. Our actions of focusing on the establishment of 'Haven' gave her a bit of breathing room and, now that she is starting to get restless, we need to prepare for an attack. I have gathered everyone here to ask for their opinion but, at the same time, I wanted to assuage your concerns so you can assure everyone else that things are going well. Please, wait for me to finish laying out my plan before you begin making suggestions."
Not surprisingly, nobody spoke out to try and guide the conversation themselves, knowing full well that the final decision rested on Vahn from the outset. Though there were certainly those among them that had their own plans for Haven, Vahn already knew of their intentions and wasn't against them trying to find success on the 50th Floor. So long as they didn't try to outright exploit people in the future, he didn't mind if they sought a few benefits for themselves. Thus, without any objections, Vahn smiled and began explaining, "Because of the planned size of Haven, construction on the outer wall will not be completed by the time we're expecting an attack. For the time being, the main focus should be on clearing the surrounding terrain while maintaining the defensive line near the inner wall..."
As he spoke, Vahn raised his finger and used Earth Elemental manipulation to make a diagram of Haven within the center of the ring-shaped table. There was a large empty space that he had reserved for this purpose and, with the reactions of surprise from those gathered, he was happy to have come up with the idea. Besides, it was much easier for people to understand what he had in mind through demonstration instead of simply talking it over. Though they had all seen the blueprints, the fact there would be a Tree of Life within the center was something that had yet to be revealed.
Continuing where he left off, Vahn explained, "Though we will have patrols watching over the workers, the largest force will be concentrated near the five fortresses. We have five [Paling] barriers that will prevent most external attacks but they don't have the ability to block monsters from moving into the protective area. Since larger barrier magic won't work under a [Paling], we have several defensive wards in place that can be activated with magic cores. As you can see, our main focus will be solely on a defensive fight and we have it set up so that only a tenth of our personnel would be required to maintain the active defense..."
Since there were genuine concerns about people overdrafting themselves, especially during a siege, a lot of the defensive weaponry was mechanical in nature and could be operated by almost anyone. Though the damage would be much lower without any skills to enhance their efficacy, cannons and arbalests were still very useful weapons against even large monsters. Their bolts were three-meter long projectiles that were affixed with carved Dragon Fangs on the tips. Since they had a base property of being able to penetrate almost anything, they were exceptionally useful against large monsters. As for smaller monsters, they would be dealt with by a combination of Asfi's [Burst Oil] and explosive ordinance that was designed to penetrate into a monster before exploding. Though this wouldn't deal much damage to stronger monsters, just weakening them slightly was very helpful in a defensive engagement...
After detailing some of the defensive measures they would be employing, Vahn got to the heart of the discussion, saying, "Also, I'm sure many of you have been wondering why we left such a massive space within the center of Haven..." Since many of them had actually asked the question directly in the past, Vahn wasn't surprised when almost everyone nodded in response. Seeing this, his smile broadened slightly as he raised his hand, causing a tree to begin sprouting in the middle of the diagram. As this was happening, Vahn explained, "In order to make sure Haven truly becomes a territory of the surface world, I will be planting a Tree of Life within the center of the City. The true purpose of our strong defenses is solely for protecting this tree and ensuring that it is able to grow without issue..."
Since one of the participants of the meeting happened to be an Elven Mage, her eyes widened greatly upon hearing this, exclaiming, "Did you discuss this with the King and the High Priestess!?" Even as she spoke, Vahn noticed her Affection had jumped up from 80 to 88 in an instant, a look of reverence in her pale blue eyes. Vahn, however, shook his head lightly and said, "There are things going on behind the scenes that I am not able to disclose, even to those gathered here. Just know that this Tree of Life is different than the Sacred Trees back at the Elven Forest, though their function if fundamentally the same. Also, please be patient and allow me to complete my explanation before interjecting...if you have any questions that don't directly relate to the subject at hand, please confer with me in private later."
Though there was no greater meaning behind his words, Vahn saw the system notification show that her Affection had jumped to 92 as a light blush appeared upon her cheeks. This caused his brows to raise almost imperceptively as he quickly got back to the discussion, saying, "In order to ensure the Tree of Life is properly protecting, I will be moving one of the Trump cards of the Alliance down to the 50th Floor to assist in the defense. Many of you know her as the True Dragon, Terra, one of my trusted companions...she is very likely the most powerful Mage in the entire world and it is her work that allows me to use the giant emerald barrier many of you have seen. Even if Enyo's forces tried to collapse the entire Floor, they would be unable to do so while Terra is present..."
As she was 'very' famous these days, nobody doubted Vahn's words when he said Terra would be able to greatly increase their defensive strength. They had seen the barrier artifact that Vahn uses withstand the assault of tens of thousands of monsters for several hours, completely impervious to almost any attack so long as there was enough energy. With Vahn generally acting as the 'battery', seemingly without having to strain himself, they knew the defensive strength of Haven was almost guaranteed. That left the question, however, as to what they would be doing to deal with the issue, something everyone was very curious about...
Understanding what everyone must be thinking, Vahn tapped his finger a few times before saying, "Once we have secured the perimeter around the Tree of Life, I will create a detached force to begin breaching into the Deep Floors. Just as we have always done in the past, we'll use a small group of elites to scout ahead and deal with any looming threats. For the preliminary scouting, it will just be Ais, Tiona, Haruhime, Lefiya, Fenrir, Lili, and myself. I don't want to leave Haven without any means of dealing with the strange plant-monsters that might show up in response to our probe into the Deep Floors. While I'm away, Finn will be the acting Supreme Commander...keep in mind, Finn, that Terra only really listens to my orders. When she is here, trust that she will do her duty and try not to make her angry..."
Knowing that Vahn wouldn't give him such a warning without reason, Finn nodded his head with a serious expression on his face, saying, "Understood, Vahn. You can leave it to me when the time comes. Don't worry, I will make sure Haven is safe while you are away." Hearing this, Vahn gave a small nod to Finn before turning his attention back to the rest of the group and saying, "Also, though this is a provisional thing, expect there to be an influx of Elves and Xenos into Haven in the future. Though they may not be easily accepted on the surface world just yet, the Alliance is the official protectorate of the Xenos people. They will be helping to maintain the supply route using paths that normal Adventurers don't have access to. Though their services may not be cheap, I'm sure many of the merchants here would appreciate being able to move supplies to the surface safely...when the time comes, I won't accept a single instance of persecution towards the Xenos. Please start taking steps to ensure there won't be any problems when they do start showing up, understood...?"
This time, Vahn let a bit of pressure leak out and influence those within the room, causing several people to turn pale as they all nodded in understanding. Vahn noticed that not everyone was in agreement with his words but, after he sent them a glance, they fell in line rather quickly. He didn't expect things to go entirely without issue but if he ever found out about an incident where a Xenos was murdered unjustly, Vahn knew he would have to make a harsh example out of the perpetrator. In a way, the Dungeon was the territory and home of the Xenos and, for nearly a thousand years, the people of the surface had been impeding into their domain, harvesting materials, and even killing the Xenos people. Though he wouldn't let anyone simply claim ownership of the Dungeon in such a way, the Xenos still had every right as any other surface dweller to roam safely within the settlements that had been established...
For the better part of three hours, Vahn continued to discuss the defensive measures and any developmental plans that the leaders present had in mind. The merchants wanted to speed up construction of the Industrial and Business Districts of Haven, claiming that it would jumpstart the economic growth of the budding City and allow for future expansions to proceed more quickly. Vahn agreed with their opinion of establishing the Industrial District, as that was where the Alliance's 'Laborer's Guild' would be located, but he denied their claims that the Business District should be a primary focus. The reason for this was relatively simple, as most of the 'specialized' goods would be flowing out of the Alliance's fortresses early on.
As almost every merchant would be buying specialty goods from the Alliance directly, it was essentially pointless for businesses to be the main focus early on. Though some argued against this, Vahn said he would discuss it with Fortuna and Minerva to get their take on things, effectively silencing the group of Merchants who knew benefits wouldn't be that easy to obtain. Even so, Vahn promised that, so long as they didn't partake in any shady practices that drew the attention of the Alliance, he would ensure they were able to draw a profit. To assuage their concerns, he gave them a catalog of some of the items they would be able to procure in the future and nearly laughed out loud when one of the larger merchants nearly fell down upon witnessing some of the items listed.
With the Merchants pacified, for the moment, Vahn argued that the secondary focus should be on the establishment of the Residential District. This would leave a gap in their defenses, as the Entertainment District would be located between the Residential and Industrial Districts, but Vahn wanted to have the infrastructure for accepting Adventurers and migrants as soon as possible. They couldn't simply allow everyone that showed up to stay within the fortresses that protected the Tree of Life, as that would unnecessarily increase the chances of someone trying to interfere with his future plans. Though the chances of anyone breaking through the defensive measures around the tree would be small, there was no way of knowing what kind of Innates people had. All it took was one person with a stealth-based Innate that allowed them to move through barriers and they would be able to discover the teleportation ward and potentially damage the Tree of Life...
There was also the simple fact that, but creating places where people could begin living, people would 'naturally' begin to reside within Haven. If there were only things like Inns and temporary housing, then Haven would never feel like a real City. Thus, to encourage migration, Vahn emphasized building residences and, though they would be very expensive, he knew people would pay hefty sums to obtain such property. In the future, owning a residence within Haven would become a status symbol that showed off your wealth, strength, wisdom, or prestige in general. The materials used to construct each residence, the security that would be provided, and the general living conditions of almost everyone that would reside here in the future...Vahn wanted to elevate it all to an extreme. One day, he believed that Haven would become a true beacon of hope for everyone on the surface world...a fantastical place that everyone aspired to at least visit once...
(A/N: Alternate Titles: 'Vahn wonders why people fear him...then casually intimidates them xD...','Terra is very scary (o,...,o)~!','Vahn is essentially trying to create a Utopia...delusions are dangerous~.')
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