Chapter 1003: Overcome

True to her words, Jeanne was able to systematically eliminate every Hypergoblin that entered within her range with relative ease. As a result of her unstoppable advance, there were a few among the green-skinned variety who abandoned their colony and escaped into various side tunnels. Many who tried to flee were attacked by their own companions but, after a certain point, the tide of retreating Hypergoblins vastly exceeded those that remained to fight on. Among this group, all surviving red-skinned Hypergoblins remained while, after the battle had gone on for nearly twenty minutes, their Chieftain had also taken to the battlefield. It had yet to enter the fray directly, spending most of its efforts tossing large stones to execute deserters, but it was easy to see that the large Hypergoblin was losing its patience.

By the time a half-hour had passed, Jeanne had directly entered the encampment after lightly leaping over the tall wall and cutting down what remained of the forward defenders. It was at this point that the Chieftain finally took action against her, lifting up a stone that was around 20cm, the tattoos on its body already emblazoned with a fervent red light. Almost in the exact instant that Jeanne’s feet touched down on its soil, it loosed the stone towards her with enough speed to cause a literal tear in the ground after forming a massive sonic boom in its wake. Jeanne’s eyes reflected the image of the stone as she dutifully lifted her shield in an attempt to deflect the momentum away from her body. Her attempts proved fruitful, causing the stone to bounce off her shield before annihilating the wall behind her, but she wasn’t able to deflect the entirety of its momentum as a result of the stone’s slight spin.

Though she was forced off balance momentarily, Jeanne caught herself almost immediately by planting her foot on the ground and using her toeas a pivot to spin around several times. At the end of her rather elegant movement, which would have surprised most professional dancers, Jeanne once again adopted her battle stance with natural grace. In response to this, the Hypergoblin Chieftain released a wrath-filled battlecry as the tattoos on its body more than doubled in intensity. The two surviving red-skinned Hypergoblins, the last of their lot, joined the cry alongside their Chieftain as they began to madly pepper Jeanne’s location with sections of the Dungeon flooring.

Without suffering a second direct blow, Jeanne was able to easily mitigate these attacks by staying relatively low to the ground and allowing the stones the graze off her shield. Impressively, though her kite shield had a high ranked [Durandal] property, there were small pockmarks appearing along its previously unblemished surface. This showed that, even after deflecting the stones, the force they carried couldn’t be looked down on. If not for her ridiculously high defensive capabilities, just the secondary shockwaves might have been enough to bruise Jeanne’s organs. Fortunately, though she still had to shrug off the forces passing into her body through her shield, Jeanne hardly even flinched in response as she continued her advance undaunted.

Seeing that their attacks had little effect, the Chieftain stopped tossing stones as it lifted up a massive tree-sized club that looked like a gnarled piece of wood, even as it shone with a metallic sheen. It leaped forward, closing the 300m distance between itself and Jeanne in a single motion as it attempted to sweep her away with a flanking blow. Her blue eyes, peeking over the side of her shield, squinted slightly as she performed an instep to evade the heaviest part of the club before striking upwards with her sword. As a result of their size disparity, the Hypergoblin Chieftain completely missed its mark while, with the same dauntless momentum as her advance, Jeanne’s sword moved forward like a beam of light as it severed the tendons in the monster’s wrist.

Even with its nigh-instantaneous regeneration, the momentum of its own swing caused the Chieftain to release its grip on the massive club. As a result, several unfortunate green-skinned Hypergoblins were turned into a meaty pulp by the wayward weapon while their Chieftain had its blazing red eyes fully focused on the petite figure of Jeanne. It was at this point that the latter activated her SS-Rank [Shield Slam], converting her monstrous resistances into raw physical power as she struck against the Chieftain’s abdomen.

A sound reminiscent of metal striking against metal rang through the area as the much larger Chieftain was forced back with even greater velocity than one of the thrown stones. It smashed through the rudimentary buildings of the encampment before coming to a stop nearly a kilometer away from its starting point. Instead of pursuing the Chieftain, which had easily survived the blow, Jeanne turned her attention to the two surviving red-skinned Hypergoblins as, true to her word, she intended to give Fenrir the opportunity to finish it off.

Seeing their Chieftain sent flying, the surviving Hypergoblins all paused simultaneously as, for a brief moment, a silent lull had settled on the battlefield. Due to the stun that accompanied Jeanne’s [Shield Slam], the Chieftain didn’t climb out of the rubble quickly so, even though they had held out until now, the few remaining green-skinned Hypergoblins all began fleeing in mass. Even the two red-skinned brutes had turned statuesque but, seeing their lesser kin fleeing, the tattoos on their body flared up as they began slaughtering any who were foolish enough to get close. Curiously, their path of destruction took them in the same direction as the larger tide of green-skinned Hypergoblins instead of towards the waiting Jeanne…

Witnessing the behavior of the shameless brutes, Jeanne’s face formed a small frown as she activated her SS-Rank [Chasing Strike]. Though her own Agility allowed her to easily catch up with most enemies, this technique allowed her to even contend against Heroes that were known for their swift nature. As a result, Jeanne moved so quickly that a pseudo-solid afterimage, persisting nearly an entire second, was left in her wake. By the time it had faded away, Jeanne was already pulling her sword free from one of the Hypergoblin’s backs before leaping towards the second one like a top loosed from its string. Her swipe cleaved through both of its muscular arms and torso, causing it to drop to the ground in four separate pieces before she deftly pierced the location of its monster core. This finally brought an end to the red-skinned tribe residing within the encampment and, with nothing left to keep them in line, almost every green-skinned Hypergoblin left began running for its life.

Around the same time that the mass retreat had started, a pile of rubble in the distance exploded with a large red plume of the same red aura that clung to the bodies of the red-skinned Hypergoblins. This was the same location where the Chieftain had been buried previously so Jeanne wasn’t surprised in the least while, even with their leader returning, the fleeing Hypergoblins responded by running away even faster. Replacing them on the battlefield was a figure cloaked in a midnight blue aura that radiated icy white light on the ends as it appeared next to Jeanne like a phantom. As she had already ‘sensed’ her arrival with the [Voice of the World], Jeanne dropped her battle-ready stance before looking towards the newly arrived Fenrir with a gentle look in her eyes.

Allowing a smile to spread across her slightly tired face, Jeanne sheathed her sword within the slot of her kite shield before saying, “I’ll leave the rest to you…haahaa…” As a result of fighting to meet her promised deadline, Jeanne was more tired than normal as, even without having sustained any actual injuries, it had been a long time since she went ‘all-out’ against enemies. There was a reason why her [Child of Light] was only D-Rank as, even though her Magic parameter was quite high, Jeanne was unable to use mana efficiently. Much of her ‘talent’ in the magical arts was a direct result of Helen’s assistance so it wasn’t easy for her to maintain her holy shroud for over half an hour.

In response to Jeanne’s words, Fenrir gave a curt nod as her voice raspily intoned, “You should return to Master…” Though she could temper her emotions easily enough outside of combat, Fenrir’s glowing red eyes showed that she was a little too eager to enter into the fray. Jeanne could only smile wryly at this as, instead of returning to Vahn’s side, she moved to a nearby wall to observe the battle directly. If things got out of hand, she would step in to protect Fenrir, even if it meant the latter would hold a grudge against her for months to come. With what she knew of her Lord’s disposition, the odds of Fenrir being in actual danger were slim but, having sworn to protect everything her Lord held dear, Jeanne couldn’t be a simple bystander.

Following Jeanne’s movements with her eyes, Fenrir adopted a small frown on her face before kicking against the ground and meeting the charge of the much larger Chieftain. It had paused after seeing a second enemy appear but, now that Jeanne had moved off to the side, it’s fear had been tempered as it set its sights on the much weaker target that had replaced her. Though its instincts caused its skin to crawl in response to the glimmering red eyes of Fenrir, a primal desire to crush the existence of Fenrir welled up within the heart of the Chieftain. All monsters fought for supremacy over each other so, even though it could sense that Fenrir was a higher-tiered existence, it refused to back down as, if it was able to devour her core, its strength would increase exponentially…

Just as she was about to collide with the Chieftain, Fenrir curled her body up into a ball before kicking outward with both feet. She had created a foothold in the air right in front of the Hypergoblins charge, instantly changing the direction of her charge as its large body slammed into the area where they would have previously met. As if it were punching into paste, the Hypergoblin Chieftain’s arm sunk into the hard bedrock of the Dungeon as a ripple spread out from the point of contact. In the next instant, an explosion rang through the area at the same time that Fenrir reappeared, claws glimmering with a subtle silver glow.

In most circumstances, catching an enemy by surprise would have brought a swift end to the fight but, in a manner similar to the first Hypergoblin the party had encountered, a second explosion began to spread outwards from the Hypergoblin Chieftain’s body. Fenrir was in the middle of her attack as the powerful Flame Elemental energy pulse collided with her body, carrying with it the peculiar electrical energy that naturally emanated from the aura of every red-skinned Hypergoblin. As a result, she was flung backward like a ragdoll before spinning through the air several times and kicking off another foothold she had created. By the time Fenrir appeared again, there were burns over each exposed area of her flesh which, considering she didn’t like to wear much clothing in combat, meant her entire abdomen, arms, neck, legs, and face were burned.

With an even fiercer glint in her eyes than before, Fenrir entered right into the Hypergoblin Chieftain’s range before unhinging her jaw and biting down on its neck in a single vicious movement. This caused a massive hole to appear before an almost solid stream of blood began to squirt out from the severed arteries, dousing Fenrir’s badly burned body and exacerbating her already serious injuries. The blood of a normal red-skinned Hypergoblin carried a great deal of Flame Elemental energy whenever they were using their unique skill so, with the Chieftain already in an enraged state, its blood at away like an acid wherever it touched the equally enraged Vangargandr…

Though he had promised not to intervene, both of Vahn’s hands had formed fists as he watched the battle with cold eyes. He managed to prevent himself from stepping, knowing that the [Effigy of the Hero] would protect her, but several regrets ran through Vahn’s mind as he watched Fenrir fight against a marginally stronger foe. At the very top of the list were the concessions he had made in the design of Fenrir’s combat attire as, if she had been fully covered, she wouldn’t have suffered an injury at the very beginning of the fight. Though this was primarily the result of the peculiar energy contained within the Chieftain’s ‘pulse’, seemingly able to ignore the magical aura protecting Fenrir’s body, Vahn couldn’t help but tightly clench his teeth as he watched their brutal fight continue to play out before him…

Even in her enraged state, Fenrir didn’t completely forgo thinking how to best her opponent as she began to dance around it using her superior speed to look for an opening. This was to buy her body time to regenerate as she sent spears of ice crashing into the Chieftain’s body to slow it down. Fortunately, even though it had a natural Fire Elemental Affinity, her attacks were still having an effect thanks to the presence of Source Energy contained within. As a result, the Chieftain’s speed was being drained by each successive spear of ice as parts of its red flesh began to turn dark from frostbite. It’s only means to counteract Fenrir’s barrage was to adopt a defensive posture while periodically releasing pulses of electrical flames from its body. Unfortunately for the Chieftain, Fenrir wasn’t foolish enough to get caught a second time. Using [Shundo], she was able to move outside of the pulse’s range in an instant before hitting the Chieftain with a large-scale magic attack. She had noticed that its resilience was weakened after using the pulse, taking advantage of the opportunity to deal lasting damage to spite the Chieftain’s attempt to harm her.

Realizing it was at a disadvantage, the Chieftain covered its head with both arms before charging into a nearby building to break Fenrir’s line of sight. When she saw this, Fenrir snorted through her nose but, instead of pursuing directly, she instead created a foothold in the air before spreading both paws wide. The aura around her body increased in intensity as a series of magical circles began to form a few centimeters away from her fleshy paw pads. Though she wasn’t nearly as prolific as Terra, Fenrir shared the same elemental affinities as Eva so, while her magical power was lacking, she wasn’t incapable of using the more powerful spells taught by her ‘second’ Master.

With a strangely prideful expression on her face, Fenrir shouted, “Master, give me strength~!” at the top of her lungs. This caused the magic circles around her to nearly double in size before she converged them together and began chanting, “Come, Spirits of Ice and Darkness! Bring Eternal Darkness to those who flee the Snowstorm! Nivis Tempestas Obscurans~!”

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Even before Fenrir’s chant had finished, the surrounding temperature had started to rapidly decrease as the already low-lit Dungeon became progressively darker. The moment the final syllable left her lips, a tempestuous wind began to converge upon the building where the Chieftain had fled. It didn’t take long at all for this wind to turn into a literal tornado of ice but, unlike a regular Ice Elemental spell, there were threads of pure black contained within the frosty white of the tornado. As Fenrir also had Affinities with Darkness and Yin Elemental energy, she could infuse it into her attacks, greatly increasing the potency of ice magic as a result.

By the time Fenrir’s attack had come to an end, the building containing the Chieftain had been reduced to nothingness as peculiar black ice spread out for several hundred meters from the impact point. As for Fenrir herself, she was slowly descending from the sky while taking deep breaths, desperately fighting against unconsciousness after overtaxing her reserves. Fortunately, she had a habit of carrying around magic cores and high-quality potions within her pouch so Fenrir was able to crunch down a few cores to avoid collapsing. She didn’t know whether or not the Chieftain had actually been killed by her attack so, until its death could be confirmed, Fenrir remained on full-alert for any sign of movement.

Without having to wait long, Vahn appeared in the area with a concerned look in his eyes and a proud smile on his face. With his presence, Fenrir knew she had won the fight so she allowed her wobbling legs to give out, trusting that her Master would catch her. She hadn’t even fallen three centimeters before a pair of warm arms embraced her body and a large palm found its way to the back of her head. With her Master’s fingers running through her hair, Fenrir allowed herself to fall asleep with a small smile on her quickly healing face. She had already been regenerating quickly so, after eating a few magic cores, her appearance had almost returned to normal by the time her Master had shown up to retrieve her. It was a secret that would be locked away deep within her heart that she had actually drawn out the fight a bit for that express purpose…

Holding Fenrir’s small figure in his arms, Vahn released a sigh of relief after seeing that she had no serious injuries. Other than overtaxing her mana-circuits, which would heal by the time she awoke, most of Fenrir’s other injuries had vanished as a result of her body’s ability to always revert back to its default state. Though this had been a big ‘problem’ in the past, before Lili had bestowed her [Cinder*Ella] upon her, it was at times like this that Vahn was grateful for nature of Fenrir’s body. Thus, while cradling her body within his arms, Vahn descended next to Jeanne and Helen before uttering in a gentle tone, “Let’s find a place to rest. Jeanne, I’ll have you cook this time…”

With her A-Rank [Cooking] Development Ability, Jeanne was more than capable of taking up the task so she happily returned a smile before saying, “Leave it to me, my Lord. I’ll make something nutritious that will help Lady Fenrir recover even faster…!” As her food literally carried several benefits, the least of which could temporarily boost the parameters of whoever ate it, Jeanne had full confidence that she could make good on her promise. Being fully aware of this, Vahn gave a nod in response before turning his attention towards the ‘ground zero’ of Fenrir’s last attack. There were small fragments of blackened ice that would likely persist for several months, each containing small chunks of what used to be the Level 8 Chieftain…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘The Indomitable Jeanne’,’Master, give me strength~!’,’Ain’t no kill quite like over-kill~!’)

(A/N: I think I figured out why I’m waking up two hours later than normal. It’s because I was on the west coast, which means that my body is waking up at the time it ‘expects’, around 5am, even though it is 7am CST xD. Once my bio-rhythm returns to normal, there shouldn’t be any more delays ^_^…)

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