Chapter 768: Conflict

While zipping around through the dense canopy of the dark forest, illuminated by his Lightning Raiment, Vahn encountered a variety of small groups that had sought shelter within the security of their own domiciles. With the massive downpour of rain extinguishing the once furious fires burning within the forest, it made the once beautiful and fantastical Elven Kingdom seem inordinately solemn. However, Vahn had the distinct impression that, even before he came to this magical land, it had already been a terribly dark place. Instead of the rain creating the stagnant atmosphere, Vahn felt as though it was washing away the sins of the past, purifying the corruption that had deeply rooted itself within this sacred forest. And he, his role in all of this, was the Lightning of Tribulation, striking down upon those that had lived their lives at the expense of others…

With his current speed, Vahn was able to move through the territory of the Elven Kingdom very quickly and, after a few minutes had passed, he had already located another group of hostages. Unlike the previous one, however, there were around thirty people from the High Priestess Faction currently trying to negotiate with the members of the Elven Nobility. Unfortunately, as a result of the fact that the main forces of the Nobles had already been mostly dealt with, those keeping the hostages weren’t in the mood to negotiate agreeable terms. Vahn had heard them make some foolish demands like requiring the Priestesses to make vows of servitude if they wanted to free the captive members of the Elven community.

Instead of throwing his voice into the negotiations, Vahn instead threw in his own body, though not before completely getting rid of the explosives located around the mass congregation of Elves. Then, just as before, he had torn through the group within just a few short seconds before turning to the High Elven woman leading the group from the High Priestess Faction. She had honey-colored hair, peach-colored eyes, and a very beautiful face. Unfortunately, much like the group he had just rescued, she had a pale complexion full of fear while resisting the urge to raise her staff in a defensive posture. They had already been informed about his involvement in the rescue efforts so, fortunately, the woman had enough sense not to attack an ally…

Though he had left a survivor from the Noble faction, Vahn still asked the High Elven woman, “Tell me, do you know how many more locations there are with hostages? I’ve already rescued a group of around ten-thousand previously, and I need to know what to expect before I move on to the next location.” These words, which easily cut through the silent atmosphere, eased the tensions of the captives who began to talk amongst themselves. Before it became too loud, Vahn turned towards them and spoke in a firm tone, “For the time being, it will be helpful for everyone if you remain silent. This situation hasn’t been resolved yet and, until everyone has been saved, I ask that you be patient, quiet, and well behaved…” As before, Vahn began setting out food and blankets with a wave of his hand, assigning a few people to help pass them out before turning back to the group of Priestesses.

The honey-haired woman tensed up a bit with his approach but, after seeing the actions Vahn had taken, did her best to stay calm as she said, “Vahn Mason…thank you for your assistance. You have done the Elven people a great service today…” Though he would have humored her in normal circumstances, Vahn didn’t believe that the Nobles and the Sage Council were the only ones to blame for how things had become. For the last thousand years, all in a vain attempt to hold onto their old culture and traditions, the High Priestess Faction had stood at the side and allowed their people to stagnate to the point that their population was actually declining. Their passive approach had crippled the Elven People greatly and, all because they refused to contend directly for power against the Elven Nobles, thousands of people had suffered due to their inaction.

Without extending any of the normal courtesies, Vahn’s expression remained firm as he said, “I asked you questions previously, which are currently unanswered. Dispense with the pleasantries, there are people’s lives on the line…” This caused the High Elven woman to both pale and blush at the same time, showing an expression of incredulity and embarrassment as she said, “There should only be one more place where people are being held…the High Priestess had gone to-” Holding up his hand to interrupt her, Vahn asked, “Where?”

Looking as though she had swallowed a bug, the High Elven woman pointed in the direction of one of the Sacred Trees and started to open her mouth. Before she was able to form any words, however, Vahn nodded his head and said, “I’ll go lend a hand. Stay here and make sure things remain orderly until this incident is over. If your people had sent a group to the third location, send a message to make sure they don’t let people begin wandering around. Until this mess is cleaned up, you have the responsibility of keeping your people in line. Wait for the King and the High Priestess to give you notice when things have been resolved…”

Finished speaking, Vahn used [Shundo] and vanished from the area with a loud thunderclap, startling the already stunned group. They were too used to being looked up to and treated as if they were special so, having someone like Vahn treat them in such a manner, was difficult to react to. It was almost like they weren’t even in his eyes, merely an inconvenience that prevented things from running smoothly. Previously, the High Elven woman, named Rosalina Caed Gelaimh, had intended to use the captives to make a march on the properties of the Noble Faction. This would have caused even greater chaos, but it would have also prevented the latter group from bouncing back and trying to spin things in their favor.

Only allowed on

Now was the perfect time for a revolution and, suddenly being ‘told’ to stand by, Rosalina couldn’t help but clench her teeth in frustration. However, she couldn’t even imagine something that could deal with the power that Vahn had just displayed. Since their current orders were to ‘not antagonize Vahn Mason’, the only thing she could do was swallow her pride and, as he suggested, make sure the people stay calm until everything had been resolved. Just the fact that Vahn had saved nearly twenty-thousand people, while eliminating a group they couldn’t even do anything about, kept her from having any ideas that might go against his words…

With the directions provided by the High Elven woman, it didn’t take Vahn long to reach the final destination where people were being held captive. Once again, he bore witness to a completely different scenario, however, as the ‘negotiations’ that had been taking place looked to have progressed to an annoying point. Vahn saw a middle-aged handsome man with Dark Blue eyes and a mix of golden and silver hair putting a slave collar around a young High Elven woman, the same one he had seen previously alongside Terra. Seeing this, Vahn couldn’t help shake his head because he couldn’t understand what was going through the minds of the High Priestess Faction if they believed the ‘solution’ was to compromise with the people ‘literally’ bringing ruin to their country.

Just as the man had finished fastening the collar, showing a ‘victorious’ look on his face, Vahn had appeared next to where the man had stood. The only thing that remained of the Level 6 Noble was the hand he had stretched out to touch the young Half Elf’s chin, which now fell lifelessly to the ground. Having resigned herself to her fate, the young woman’s dark blue eyes opened wide when she saw this and she instinctually took a few steps backward before falling onto her butt. Her golden hair, which bordered on the color white, was matted against her face from the rain and she couldn’t help but stare wide-eyed as Vahn, currently appearing like a phantom shrouded in lightning, tore through all of the enemies present.

Once the main group had been dealt with, Vahn pulled out the remnant group within the crowd of captive Elves and crippled all thirteen of them. It seemed only the first group he had found, which was held underground, had been smart enough to include a large number of plants. The second group he saved only had a single high-level person hidden in their midst and the third group just had a few people carrying smaller explosives on their body, which had been thrown into his Inventory before he jumped in. Even so, his actions had left the group completely stunned as, much like the previous two, it was a very startling experience to have lightning ‘exploding’ around you. Most people in the areas he had appeared were completely stunned, fallen to the ground while covering their eyes and ears, while everyone else just cowered away, using the bodies of other people as cover.

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Shaking his head, Vahn spread out his hands and gently stated, “Do not worry, I have come to help you…please, stay calm and quiet. The King and the High Priestess will inform you when everything is safe…” With that thought in mind, Vahn [Shundo]’d over to the group of nearly fifty women, consisting of two High Elves and forty-three other Elven women. He saw the young woman on the ground and frowned slightly, trusting his instincts and asking, “Are you supposed to be the High Priestess…?” Without forming words, the young woman just nodded her head a little too quickly while still letting the rain pepper her body. Seeing this, Vahn released a small sigh and threw a blanket to her before condensing the periphery of his domain to form a barrier around the area, preventing the rain from reaching the exposed captives.

Suddenly having a warm blanket thrown over her body, the young High Elf muttered an ‘Eh?’ while putting on a confused look. Vahn, however, had already turned back to the crowd to calm them down, providing them with warm food as he increased the temperature within his domain to keep them from being chilled. It took around fifteen minutes to get everything settled, as he was no longer in as much a hurry, before he turned back to the group from the High Priestess Faction. At this point, the High Priestess had been brought to her feet and was surrounded by the larger group of Priestesses as the only other High Elf looked towards him with a fierce expression.

Seeing the look she was giving him, Vahn felt his brain buzz with frustration as his own visage become icy cold. He was starting to get really tired of the people he was helping give him accusatory looks and showing hostility. Previously, he thought the High Priestess Faction to be far more reasonable but, after coming to their aid, Vahn realized they had been treating him as an enemy. Since he had never done anything to antagonize them, the fact they were treating him like this was beginning to grate on his nerves a great deal. All he had ever done, since their first interactions with each other, was trying to help out their Faction and support the Elven people as a whole…this…this treatment didn’t make any sense at all…

Before the woman was able to say anything, Vahn bore his aura down upon her and said, “Choose your words very carefully…ever since I’ve come here, the only actions I’ve taken were to help you and your people. If you continue to treat me in such a hostile manner, I will give you a reason to…” While speaking, lightning began to crackle around Vahn’s body as a stark white aura lit up the darkness, radiating from his body and forcing everyone to remember how he had previously wiped out all of the enemies in mere seconds. This caused the mature High Elf to take a deep breath and step back as her hand instinctually went towards a pendant around her neck.

With a crackle of lightning, Vahn appeared right in front of the woman and pulled away the pendant, even though there was a powerful resistive force trying to prevent him from doing so. The look in his eyes became even more fierce as fire elemental energy, infused with his lightning, consolidated within his hand. In mere moments, the temperature of his hand had reached nearly 60,000 degrees, causing the pendant to turn into liquid slag that fell from the cracks between his fingers. During this display, Vahn kept his eyes locked with the woman’s, almost as if he were daring her to make another foolish action.

The tension in the atmosphere, which had started to soften from the warmth Vahn had introduced into his domain, immediately became icy cold as a terrifyingly oppressive aura descended upon everyone present. Vahn was fighting against his own urge to strike this woman as he had recognized the pendant to be very similar to the gravity artifact used by the previous woman. Though she may not have intended to use it, and was just moving instinctually to defend herself, Vahn didn’t care one bit. If he had let her use that item against him, it was the same as essentially letting her kill him over a misunderstanding. Yes, he may be immortal, but the pain caused by having each of your cells weighed down by an oppressive gravitational force was maddeningly painful.

After clenching his teeth for a few seconds, doing his best to calm down, Vahn asked, “What…did you…want to say…?” Currently, the mature High Elf had been staring slack-jawed as she observed the droplets of one of her family’s most precious treasures drip down onto the ground. She knew the temperature and strength of Vahn’s grip was something unimaginable and, as she had not intended to use the item, it pained her to see it destroyed so quickly. However, regrets aside, she still tried to calm herself down, hardening her convictions as she said, “My name is Irisalia Els Lainu, former High Priestess and current Advisor to the new High Priestess, Sylfia Dal Alfan…Vahn Mason, if you do not wish to seek trouble with the High Priestess Faction, you will release our-“

Without continuing to listen to the woman’s words, Vahn pinched the bridge of his nose, looking away from her as he coldly stated, “Ever since I came here, your people have done nothing but show hostility towards me. I did not seek trouble, Irisalia, your group ‘created’ it for me! After all of this, you think you have the right to order me!? You believe yourself so above everything that you would show ire towards the person that had saved nearly a third of your entire population!? You would show hostility towards the person that prevented you Sacred Trees from burning to the ground!?”

Irisalia stared wide-eyed towards the boy in front of her, clearly seeing that he had reached the limits of his patience. Everything he said was true and, even though he had done nothing wrong, they had been openly hostile towards him, even while he was in the process of helping them. Not only that, but he had prevented the assassination of the King, stopped the burning of two of their Sacred Trees, and liberated a large number of their people. However, the only thing that had been on her mind was the fact that, at the present moment, Vahn had become the ‘Master’ of the High Priestess, Sylfia.

By killing the man who had contracted Syflia, Vahn had ‘inherited’ her from him and Irisalia couldn’t allow him to keep her as his slave, even for a short while. She had wanted him to nullify the contract before the people could react to what was going on, potentially spreading rumors that the High Priestess had been the slave of a ‘human’, even if he was rumored to be a Progenitor. The turmoil that the Elven Kingdom would face in the aftermath of this event was simply too great. They would need strong leadership to be able to return things to ‘normal’ once again, especially now that a large power vacuum had appeared with the deaths of so many of the Nobles…

Just as she was about to try and rebuke Vahn and get him to release the High Priestess, a small voice cut through the tense atmosphere, saying, “Please…wait…” Turning her head to the side, Irisalia saw Sylfia hesitantly talking towards Vahn and immediately moved to obstruct her, saying, “Sylfia, you must stay away from this man! He is too dangerous…!” These words caused Vahn to begin laughing, freely and uninhibitedly while a righteous fury began to bubble up inside of his heart. When he had laughed enough, he turned his eyes back to the woman, shouting, “So, you say I’m too dangerous, the man who just saved your people and provided them food and security!? Yet, just before I arrived, your group had literally been in the process of compromising with the very people trying to f****** ‘kill’ them! The only dangerous thing here is every word that comes out of your f****** mouth!”

In truth, Vahn had probably sworn less than a dozen times after arriving in this world, as it always seemed unnecessary. At this moment, however, he was so unbelievably annoyed at this situation that he couldn’t help but use harsher words. Instead of thanking him, the first words anyone in their Faction spoke were ‘telling’ him what he needed to do. Even now, after it was very clear that he wasn’t buying her b*******, the woman openly called him dangerous. This was immediately after she had been tempted, even for a moment, to use an item that would have been able to kill him. He couldn’t stand the hypocrisy and longer…

Raising his hand, Vahn’s expression became even icier as he said, “You seem to lack an understanding of the situation on a very fundamental level, Irisalia. Currently, I have prevented the assassination of the Elven King, saved nearly thirty-thousand of your people, prevented the burning of two of your sacred trees, ensure that all seven sacred trees were protected, eliminated the forces of the Nobility, and destroyed the masterminds in the Sage Council pulling the strings behind everyone’s backs…I did all of this without a single bit of help from your incompetent group. There was never a point in time where your opinion on the situation has mattered and, now that it has been resolved, any right you had to make compromises has been lost. You could have helped out from the start but, just like the arrogant Nobles, and the foolish Sages, you have only thought about how you can use this situation to your advantage. Here, before more than ten-thousand of your kin, you show hostility to the very person that saved them. All of this, without a single f****** word of gratitude before you start showing your true face…!”

Every word Vahn spoke boomed like thunder and, as his anger continued to rise, so too did the aura around his body. At this point, there was a stark white electrical aura shrouding his figure for nearly eight meters, making it almost impossible to look directly at him. Even so, his words echoed the truth of the matter to everyone present, putting into perspective what had been going on for the uninformed masses. As for Irisalia, and the other members of the High Priestess Faction, they had turned pale under the pressure of Vahn. Still, as if she was simply incapable of setting aside her pride and dignity, Irisalia’s expression remained undaunted as she opened her mouth once again.

This time, however, Vahn flared his aura even more and furrowed his brows deeply as he said, “Shut the f*** up…I swear, if you say one more asinine remark, I will wipe out your entire Faction along with the Nobles and Sage Council…” To emphasize this fact, chains formed by the Laws of the world came into existence, binding to Vahn’s heart as he gave Irisalia a stare that promised endless regrets if she so much as said a single word. This time, Irisalia’s mouth shut completely and she swallowed hard enough that it was audible to almost everyone in the immediate surroundings. However, her silence only made it possible for someone else to speak up as the young High Elf stepped forward once again and muttered, “Vahn Mason…please…this is all a misunderstanding… it’s my fault…please don’t hurt anyone…”

The words came from none other than the current High Priestess, Sylfia Dal Alfan, currently with tears beginning to form in her eyes as she took hesitant steps forward. Vahn’s icy expression softened a bit when he saw this young girl pleading for leniency and, as he didn’t actually want to hurt anyone, his mind began to calm down very quickly. After all, the only reason he had come here was to save people and bring about change that would make each of their lives better. He didn’t want to become a tyrant that ‘forced’ change, not if he didn’t need to. However, it was very difficult to tolerate all the things he had to face over the last few hours, especially when the people that should have been helping him were the ones who had caused him the most actual harm.

Suddenly feeling a little guilty for making a ‘young’ woman cry, Vahn released a sigh and averted his eyes away as he said, “Calm down…I’m not going to do anything unless some ‘fools’ continue to try and antagonize me…” While speaking, Vahn had cast a glance towards Irisalia, once again ‘daring’ her to say something to trigger his fury. Fortunately, for everyone, she kept her silence as Sylfia continued to close the distance and released a long sigh of relief. Her dark blue eyes reflecting his image in them and, after a few awkward seconds had passed, a small smile began to bloom on Sylfia’s face as she said, “I’m sorry for everything…please take care of me from now on…” Following her words, Sylfia bowed low, stunning everyone present, Vahn included…

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