Chapter 767: Rescue

After interrogating the two High Elves, Vahn put them both into a temporary coma and set about incapacitating the entire Sage Council. With the admission of two senior members, and the fact that he had already discovered the link between their leader and Alosrin, Vahn had no reason not to hold them all accountable. After all, according to the nearly 300-year-old member he had just interrogated, they only made decisions based on internal votes. The part about certain Sages favoring certain factions had been a hoax from the start, only allowing them to manipulate the Noble houses even further.

It would seem that the corruption within the Elven Kingdom ran even deeper than expected, going all the way back to the establishment of the Sage Council more than eight-hundred years prior. The man he had killed, known as the Grand Archmage Kesir Alu Prana, had actually been the one to establish the Sage Council and, at the time of his death, was purportedly 837 years old. Ever since the death of the first Elven King, he had been plotting to try and seize power for himself but, as a result of having a rare ‘mutation’ in his genes, could never lead in the light.

He was one of the few people in the entire world who could use Necromancy, a type of magic that could animate the dead and have them fight at nearly the same strength as when they were alive. This type of magic was a serious taboo so, as a result of his ‘mutation’, which Vahn suspected was simply an Innate, the only path left to him was to run things from the shadows. Knowing this, Vahn couldn’t help but find it fitting that someone who mingled amongst decay and death happened to be one of the primary reasons for the decline of the Elven people, and the deaths of thousands of its members…

In total, the number of ‘Sages’ within the council amounted to only twenty-seven individuals, generally divided between Master and Apprentice. Though they were all given the title of Sage, granted to them by the King in days gone by, the only ones who held power were the thirteen Masters. By the time Vahn had completely cleared out the underground Sanctum, he had managed to kill three Masters, incapacitate five, and disable the majority of their Apprentices. The rest had to be aboveground and, considering the duo he and Terra had taken out previously, this meant there were five Masters unaccounted for.

Given the circumstances, Vahn assumed they had fled but, if this wasn’t the case, he would weed them out if given enough time. Now that things had reached this point, he would take a more proactive approach in dealing with things. Even if Larfal didn’t choose to retain his position as King, Vahn wouldn’t let other people easily take up the mantle of leadership. From now on, the Elves no longer walked their path towards the future without guidance. If he had to be the stern Shepherd, earning the ire of the entire Elven people, it was something he felt compelled to do. With the introduction of things like the [Sage Aldrnari’s Blessing], better living conditions, and less restrictive trade regulations, Vahn knew things would eventually normalize.

One of the more important matters on his mind wasn’t actually the Elven Kingdom, as that would be resolved in time, but the Rakia Kingdom to the West, and the Iron Hills to the North. Vahn had given them a warning previously but, after this fiasco, his opinion of the Dwarves of the Iron Hills had reached an all-time low. Though it was certainly the fault of the Nobles and Sage Council for making use of the items provided by the Dwarves, the fact that the supposed ‘allies’ of the Elven people had given weapons to be used on themselves was ridiculous. They obviously just wanted to take advantage of the inner turmoil even further, likely to secure more ‘stock’ for their Slave Farms and the like.

Once things had started to calm down, they were next on Vahn’s ‘corrections required’ list, regardless of their own opinion on the matter. Though he wouldn’t be the same kind of tyrant Emperor in the Divination, he had just about gotten fed up with how backward all of these things were. Since the Nobles had no right to sell the Elven people as slaves, the Dwarves would be forced to return each and every single one of them. If they failed to do so, Vahn wouldn’t mind teaching them that, much like they seemed to purport, ‘everything’ had a price. The Iron Hills had been accumulating a great debt with him for a long time, compounded by things such as the matter with Tsubaki, and the attempt they had made to put pressure on Orario’s markets.

This matter was just the final straw and, if they were unwilling to compromise, Vahn would simply flip the table on them. Though there would certainly be Dwarves that were innocent, Vahn would give them the same treatment that seemed ‘necessary’ in almost every country around the world. The ruling class had simply been in place for too long and, with a greater focus on personal wealth and repressing other people, this had caused the world to turn rotten. As a physician, just as he had done previously, Vahn knew it was important to remove the rot if you wanted the wound to heal. Since he was trying to change the world in the long term, it would be better to cut out the cancerous parts now and, in time, there was a chance the newer tissue would be much stronger than before. All it needed was proper care, nourishment, and opportunity…

As for Rakia Kingdom…Vahn knew they weren’t the true threat, merely the tip of a very large iceberg that he hadn’t even been able to glimpse in the Divination. This meant the Empire probably wouldn’t be a threat in the interim, meaning he should take care of the Rakia Kingdom sooner, rather than later. They were the ‘ultimate’ example of how corruption from the top could corrode an entire society of people, as anyone that was even remotely ‘successful’ generally did so using cruel and heartless means. The only exception to this seemed to be those at the lower rungs, forced to act as slaves, and those that had never been exposed to the policies of Rakia’s upper echelons. However, even amongst them, there would be few people that had clean hands as even people like Lunoire and Welf had been forced to get their hands dirty in their youths…

Since the Sage’s Sanctum had been cleared out, Vahn made his way to the outside of the Sacred Tree and began constructing a powerful ward around the outside. Unfortunately, he was unable to muster up enough magic power to activate it so, after sending Terra a message, he had to wait for her to deal with her own matters before arriving and finishing the job. While he was waiting, Vahn was sending telepathic messages back to the Manor, updating the girls on the situation, especially Riveria. She wanted to come over but Vahn had asked them to wait until things had calmed down as, right now, there were several things he needed to tend to without splitting hairs worrying about them.

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Though they could certainly be trusted to take care of matters, it would just cause even more trouble if all the forces of the Hearth Manor suddenly appeared within the Elven Kingdom. He had already thrown their original plans aside for his own ‘selfishness’ and, in order to make things smoother in the future, it was better that he deal with things personally. Besides, as he would be the catalyst for the changes coming to the Elven Kingdom, it was better to have everyone focus on him. They might treat him as a Tyrant for not but, in the next few years, Vahn believed he would truly be considered a ‘Sage’ in their hearts. Now, he just needed to secure all of the Sacred Trees and, if the Elven people were still being held captive by the remaining Noble Houses, Vahn would save them.

Only allowed on

A few minutes after he had communicated the situation to her, Terra arrived at his side, fluttering her wings as she said, “Forgive my late arrival, Master, but I had to deal with a few…well, that can wait until later. So, you want me to activate this ward~?” Vahn gave a wry smile when he heard Terra’s words, as he could imagine her intimidating the Elves that had shown hostility towards him previously. Though she had a kind and gentle disposition, most of the time, Terra actually wasn’t a very personable True Dragon. In fact, like all True Dragons, she was very prideful and ‘extremely’ territorial of the things she considered her treasures. She showed a great deal of leniency towards the girls in the Hearth Manor, mostly out of consideration for him, but that didn’t mean she would ‘tolerate’ hostility, or other things, from external parties.

Nodding his head, Vahn explained, “Yes, and I’d like for you to secure all of the other Sacred Trees, if possible. I’ll make sure to reward you plentily later, so please work hard…” Vahn had been staring nearby Terra when he was speaking and had to ‘dodge’ her wings when they flicked open. Even her tail made a smooth undulation as her breathing increased slightly. Ever since the time they had first made love within Eva’s orb, Terra had been a lot less ‘reserved’ than when she had first assumed her humanoid form. She was easily one of the more proactive women in his life and could be very ‘greedy’ when receiving ‘rewards’…

After leaving behind the ‘excited’ True Dragon, Vahn dashed within the boundaries of the Elven Kingdom, looking for any large groups of Elves that might be held together. With his speed, it hadn’t even taken more than two minutes to find a large underground area that looked like an ‘ocean’ of life signs, all clumped together. At a glance, Vahn speculated there were more than ten thousand people and, among them, there were two potential Sage Council members, as they were both Level 6. Before jumping in, and potentially bringing harm to the hostages, Vahn scanned the area within his perception, trying to find the location of the supposed ‘bombs’.

Unwilling to overlook anything, it took Vahn nearly twenty minutes until he found energy signatures that matched what he was looking for. Using his [Eyes of Truth], Vahn peered through the ground and saw the situation inside, releasing a sigh of relief when he noticed there was nothing too gruesome going on. It seemed like the High Elves had enough sense not to rile the people up too much, as it would likely cause them to revolt and escalate the situation beyond control. Vahn visually identified the members that should belong to the Sage Council while also taking note of the forces that represented the Noble houses. The latter was in a panic, likely as a result of losing contact with their main forces, while the group for the Sage Council was lingering around the periphery.

Looking towards the energy signatures he had taken note of previously, Vahns aw several small cask-like objects that were filled with a mixture of powdered Fire Dragon Cores, some Earth-based catalyst, and what looked like an inner tube of Flame Dragon’s Oil. When it exploded, Vahn could imagine that, not only would the explosion spread out for around 50m, but the fire resulting from the explosion would be ‘very’ persistent. It made sense how the Nobles had been able to damage the Sacred Trees now, as normal flames wouldn’t have been able to do much to the magically resistant bark. The flames resulting from Dragon’s Oil, especially those coming from Fire Dragons, were especially effective against anything that relied on natural energy to empower itself.

After identifying each of the casks, Vahn took the path of least resistance and simply threw each of them into his Inventory. Though he could have probably taken out the Nobles before they were able to activate the bombs, there was no need to put on an unnecessary display. For now, he just needed to save these people, as it would likely help his cause in the future if they were able to identify him as the ‘reason’ they avoided a major catastrophe. His actions, of course, caused the Noble Family’s forces to start panicking even further but, immediately after Vahn had stowed away the casks, he had already moved into action.

Using his same lightning-form [Shundo], Vahn set his ‘destination’ point at the same location as the stronger of the two Sages. He had learned his lesson from his previous acceleration attempt and, instead of just ‘picking a direction’, Vahn set a destination from the start. Thus, with the sound of a thunderclap impacting the ground, Vahn tore through the layer of soil with his body and ‘struck’ the unfortunate Sage directly. Just like the elderly Necromancer, Vahn had completely annihilated the body of the man while simultaneously stunning everyone present. The underground area had been very dark, as Elves actually have very good eyesight, so the sudden flash of lightning, accompanied by the sound of an explosion, had caused many people to actually pass out from shock. Others held their hands of their ears while the vast majority of people near his destination point were temporarily blinded by his intrusion.

Unfortunately, apologies would have to wait until later as Vahn had already started moving towards the man desperately channeling his mana into a red crystal. It was obviously the ‘trigger’ for the explosives and, knowing that he had actually tried to set them off, Vahn showed the man no mercy. He had set his ‘destination’ point to right behind the monstrous individual, causing another thunderclap as, in significantly less time than it took to blink an eye, Vahn was already behind where the man had previously stood. Now, other than some mist that had dispersed into the ionized air, nothing else remained to even mark that another person had been there previously.

Vahn was beginning to find this method of moved-based-attack very effective and, feeling appreciative of the functionality of the skill, decided to name it ‘Fulgur Interitum’, Lightning Annihilation. Yes, it was a bit cheesy, but Vahn felt this technique could become the cornerstone of his attack method in the future and wanted it to sound flashy. Then, as if to commemorate the naming of the skill, Vahn expanded his senses and set several destination points, making sure to avoid the citizens. With the sound of a thunderstorm constantly releasing flashes of lightning and thunder, Vahn blinked around the underground area fast enough that it looked like a constant stream of lightning that had several versions of himself present. He could already make afterimages with regular [Shundo], so this was pushing that same functionality to the extreme.

Though it felt like a minute had passed for him, the actual time it had taken to eliminate all the ‘obvious’ hostiles was only seven seconds. When he was finished, Vahn stood before the completely awestruck crowd of Elves and calmly stated, “I have come to help you, but I will not tolerate disorder in this situation. Stay still and allow me to heal you quickly so I can move on and save the next group. Anyone that tries to make trouble will be treated as a hostile…” To emphasize his words, Vahn allowed his aura to expand slightly, causing a very high pitched sound of electricity to spread around the cavernous underground storage area.

Not too surprisingly, the crowd remained mostly passive as Vahn spread out his aura across them and began regulating his energy to simultaneously heal their wounds and calm their nerves. At the same time, however, he was also identifying the remaining enemies and, after the majority of people were healed, he began pointing them out, ordering in a stern tone, “As you can see, it isn’t my intent to bring you any harm. However, there are some hiding among you that belong to the forces that put you into this situation. I will point them out and, unless someone has a good reason explaining why they shouldn’t be punished, I will cripple them and put them into a temporary coma until they can be judged for any potential crimes later…”

Once again, as expected, a person from the crowd immediately shouted out to try and refute Vahn’s words. Since it was one of the people he had already identified as an enemy, Vahn immediately converged his aura on the man, silencing him. Raising his hand, Vahn pulled the man forward with his telekinesis and ‘poked’ his index finger slightly below the man’s navel. Because of the suppression of his aura, the man wasn’t able to scream out in pain and passed into unconsciousness moments later. With the same calm tone as before, Vahn said, “If you want to avoid pain, you would save us both the trouble by offering yourself up willingly. Your Masters are either dead or dying, so the only hope you have to avoid even heavier punishment is to show penance for your actions…”

For several long seconds, nobody made any sounds, which was very eerie with more than ten-thousand people within the cavern. In response to this, Vahn just began converging his aura on everyone that had a highly negative aura, freezing them in place. Some of them had been on the periphery and were looking for opportunities to disappear into the various passages doting the massive underground chamber. Then, with a raise of his hand, Vahn picked up nearly a hundred people, gritting his teeth against the strain as he brought them slowly towards his position. As this was happening, the rest of the group of Elves remained silent, many showing expressions of absolute fear and dread at the situation occurring before their eyes.

Like a machine, Vahn systematically crippled each of the ninety-three men, and four women, before laying them out on the ground in a line. Turning to the group of Elves, who seemed to be waiting for the sky to fall upon their heads, Vahn put on the gentlest expression he could manage and said, “I know this experience has been difficult for each of you…but we’re doing our best to get things under control. For the time being, I would appreciate it if you all stayed in this area and watched over these criminals. I’ll provide you with food, water, and blankets to tide you over and, hopefully, this nightmare can be brought to a conclusion in the next couple of hours. Rest assured, as your King will likely make a statement alongside the High Priestess once everything is resolved…”

While speaking, Vahn began to line the area with tables full of food, purchased through his system shop, and began piling up large amounts of blankets next to the crowd. Pointing to a few people, Vahn tried to soften his words as he said, “Please, help pass out these blankets. There aren’t enough for everyone, so please share with your friends and family. And, please, remember my words…if you start returning to the surface while the conflict is ongoing, it will only make matters more difficult to resolve. I know some of you may wish to help, but you wouldn’t have ended up in this situation if you could contribute to resolving it. Leave it to myself, my companions, and the people that are in charge of your safety and protection…”

Towards the end of his words, Vahn began to slowly levitate into the air, causing several people nearby to backpedal as if their lives depended on it. He knew that, while he thought it looked cool, his [Magia Erebea] form could appear very demonic. Though he had several forms that allowed him to make use of natural energy, they typically weren’t suited for combat like this so they would have to tolerate his ‘demonic’ appearance. Fortunately, he noticed that many people had slightly positive colors in their auras, even though the majority of them also had clear indicators of fear present as well. They had been through a lot and, even though his attacks had been decisive, it wasn’t a pleasant experience having lightning flashing and exploding around you…

Giving the group one last look, Vahn ascended through the hole he had arrived through, making his way towards his next destination. Now that he had success using his method once, Vahn knew he would be able to repeat it for any other places. He did, however, make a mental note to ask how many locations existed where people were being held. It would be very embarrassing if he had all these people waiting underground after he had already ‘rescued’ everyone. Since there was a fair chance some people had been kidnapped during the chaos, having the larger group of Elves search their own territory would save time. For now, however, they needed to be patient as, much like people were ought to do, they would only stand in his way…

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