Chapter 825: Rematch

Unlike a normal Juggernaut, the one was around 8m tall while slouched over, having a length of nearly twenty meters with its snaking, whip-like tail. With its black coloration, the strange runes spread across its body, and the bloodthirsty aura radiating from it scarlet red eyes, it gave off a very intimidating presence. Vahn, however, felt a powerful excitement begin to replace the momentary fear that had welled up within him as he sent a telepathic message to the girls, (“Protect Lil Geirr. Haruhime, use your [Uchide no Kozuchi] on Ais, Tiona, Ryuu, and Arnya. Maemi, Emiru, Chloe, take Shizune and Tina back to the central fortification and protect my daughter. Do not let her come out…!”)

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Vahn knew that magic would almost be useless against even a normal Juggernaut so he wanted Haruhime to boost those that had powerful physical capabilities and ranged attacks. At the same time, he was considering if this would be a chance to push his body to the limits and trigger his Azure Dragon transformation. If Alexa managed to catch sight of that form, Vahn was worried that her body would ‘activate’ in a similar manner to her Mother’s. Since he couldn’t give her what she ‘needed’, there was a chance that Alexa may end up losing her mind as even Terra had barely managed to withstand the anxiety associated with ‘failing’ to produce a fertilized egg…

At the same time that the girls followed his orders, Vahn pulled out his [Yoichi Bow], nocking a [Yi] arrow onto its string, immediately ‘triggering’ the Juggernaut to release a terrifyingly shrill howl. In the next moment, Vahn felt color draining from the world as the Juggernaut arched its back before kicking against the ground and making the entire Floor shudder when it moved forward. Vahn’s eyes widened and he immediately dropped down to intercept the charging monstrosity, now moving so fast that the entire world seemed stagnant in comparison. This wouldn’t have been that bothersome in a direct confrontation, but the fact the Juggernaut was charging towards Lefiya’s group made Vahn’s brain buzz.

Vahn was immediately regretting that he hadn’t taken the time to transform into his ‘Lightning Emperor’ form, as it felt like he was moving through a super-dense liquid as he moved to try and intercept the seemingly unstoppable monster. It had to be moving more than 20,000km/h and each step caused a pillar of debris to erupt into the sky, long after it had moved away from where it had stepped. From the perspective of a normal person, they could only see a black shadow that left two red trails for its eyes as it barreled towards Lefiya, Chloe, Shizune, and Tina.

Though he wasn’t sure when he had formed the thought in his own mind, Vahn extended three links of [Enkidu] to block the Juggernaut’s path while practically screaming within the girls’ minds to fall back, even though they had already been moving towards Lil Geirr. When he saw the Juggernaut jump through the air, twisting its skeletal frame to completely bypass the three chains, Vahn felt like a bomb had been set off within his mind. The world instantly lost all color, with even the Juggernaut and Vahn himself coming to a stop. However, slowly but surely, Vahn was ‘tearing’ through space and time in order to intercept the Juggernaut’s path, even as his own body was shattered into pieces and regenerating.

By the time color had returned to the world, Vahn had managed to move to the front of the Juggernaut, pulling out a massive shield that was ‘literally’ named [Aegis] with his [Keeper of the Akashic Tome]. The Juggernaut’s body smashed into the shield and caused a powerful shockwave to spread out for hundreds of meters, sending the girls back until Chloe picked up Shizune and Tina, diving into the shadows and moving at an insane speed towards Lil Geirr. Lefiya used [Cantus Bellax] to create a protective membrane around her body and brought out her wings, fleeing with her fastest speed as Vahn stored away [Aegis] and swung [Laevateinn] across the Juggernaut’s maw.

As his blade cut through the air in a smooth arc, Vahn felt time slowing to a crawl once again as the Juggernaut ‘ducked’ under [Laevateinn]’s trajectory before biting forward with its Dragon-like skull. Though he already knew this to be the case, the evasive maneuver and counterattack of the Juggernaut made it very obvious the creature was far faster than his base form. Vahn felt like he was moving in slow motion while the Juggernaut was moving at a normal speed, even though his mind was able to keep up. It was with this clarity that Vahn put away [Laevateinn], pulled out a small golden nail, and allowed the Juggernaut to bite down on his body while driving the anti-immortal tool into the monster’s eye.

There was a protective membrane that tried to prevent Vahn’s attack from driving forward, but it did absolutely nothing to stop the relatively simply looking nail. The Juggernaut’s teeth clamped down around his body, but Vahn just began laughing as it howled in pain, thrashing about and trying to tear his body apart. Even when Vahn’s upper body was separated from his goody bits, the light in his eyes didn’t fade in the slightest, instead, growing much more powerful as his blood swirled and regenerated his form in milliseconds. He had already pulled out his [Laevateinn] again and cut forward, intending to chop off the Juggernaut’s head as the monster’s razor sharp claws cut towards him.

Vahn was beginning to get annoyed with the Juggernaut’s speed and tried to defend himself with his Xuanwu form while contracting his domain in an attempt to pressure the enraged monster. Though this did have an effect, it was negligible in the long run as the four blade-like claws of the Juggernaut still diced through his body as if his transformation offered him no benefits. Following behind this attack, the Juggernaut’s tail cut forward with such speed that it left a black trail behind it, cutting through the void. Vahn hadn’t fully regenerated as a black ‘blade’ of energy separated his body once again, this time followed up by the Juggernaut’s overhead sweep as it tried to crush his mangled body into the ground. (A/N: Fast boi.)

Unable to resist the difference in speed and power, Vahn was smashed into the ground with enough force to lodge him nearly 30m into the durable bedrock of the Dungeon’s Floor. This surrounding area was devastated, sinking several meters like a meteor had struck the ground as a large dust explosion reached hundreds of meters into the air. Following this, the Juggernaut released another blood-curdling howl that dispersed the cloud in an instant before he balled up its fists and began to beat at the Dungeon’s Floor, intent on completely crushing Vahn to paste. It could sense that Vahn was still alive and was determined to destroy him completely, the shared memories of its kin playing through its mind. Unlike normal monsters, Juggernauts had a shared consciousness that allowed them to better protect the Dungeon from destructive forces. It could still ‘remember’ having its head blown apart, and the indignation it had felt during their last encounter…

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In the midst of the Juggernaut’s enraged assault, a resplendent column of light tore through the sky, impacting the monster’s body before it had any time to react at all. Even with its ultrasonic speed, dodging and attack that could reach nearly a third the speed of light was nearly impossible. As a result, this column struck true, smashing into the Juggernaut’s body as it released a shrill groan and did its best to protect itself. The durable black carapace-like skin began to fracture and tear away, revealing a scarlet red interior that began to sizzle under the influence of the powerful energy. By the time the beam had cleared away, nearly a third of the Juggernaut’s body was now shimmering with a red light as a look of absolute hatred was directed towards the source of the light, none other than Ryuu and her artifact, ‘Meteoron Imber’.

Just as it was about to charge towards the brave Elven woman, the Juggernaut was impacted on its blind side as Ais shouted, “Lil Ragna~!” Appearing very similar to Ryuu’s attack, Ais was like a focused tempest as her Spiritual Wind tore into the left side of the Juggernaut’s face, tearing away the bone-like structure of its head and revealing even more bloody scarlet below. As for its eye, it had been turned into a wispy paste that was completely disintegrated by Ais’ attack as her [Gram] tried to destroy the head in its entirety.

Instead of resisting against the attack, the Juggernaut twisted its body and only lost a portion of its skull as Ais barreled forward and carved a large scar across the land. She brandished her sword, shifting her weight to make a second attack as her wings of light kept her stabilized within the air. By the time she had turned back, however, there was a massive red beam completely filling her vision, barely giving her enough time to shield herself with the sword in her hands. The beam collided against the tempestuous energy around Ais’ body, the majority of it being deflected away from her body and causing deep crevasses to decimate the landscape. As for the rest of the energy, it crashed against the indestructible [Gram] while also being broken down by the magical aura protecting Ais’ body.

Though the attack had forced her back until she had slammed into the far wall, several kilometers away, Ais was ultimately unscathed and immediately darted forward at a speed much greater than the Juggernaut’s. If not for the fact that this speed relied on her to move in a single direction, Ais would have been able to get a big advantage against the massive creature. Unfortunately, the Juggernaut’s speed wasn’t the type based on momentum and was just pure agility, giving it greater flexibility as it dodged the second strike from the seemingly unstoppable Sword Goddess. It then tried to whip her with its tail but ultimately hit nothing but air as Ais was already long gone from that spot and preparing her third strike.

Since it couldn’t fly, the Juggernaut released an indignant roar and began to channel energy from its mouth once again, only to find another star-powered, meteor-like arrow impacting its body. This time, the Juggernaut rolled to try and get under the attack but ended up losing an arm in the process as it began to rage about, using a massive slab of the Dungeon Floor to try and shield itself. Its arm had already started to regenerate mere moments later and it wanted to buy enough time to completely recover before destroying the annoying insects that brought it so much pain. The fact that no attacks came during the time it was recovering made the Juggernaut feel a sadistic glee, even though it was still very annoyed that it’s left eye, stabbed through by Vahn, hadn’t recovered.

Using its senses, which enabled it to detect almost everything on the Floor, the Juggernaut pushed against the massive bedrock slab and used it as a shield to plow towards Lil Geirr. It didn’t get far, however, as golden chains barred its passage and completely halted its momentum. Recognizing these chains, a moment of clarity passed through the Juggernaut’s mind, almost at the same time that its head was completely separated from its body. It could see itself still pushing against the stone as the world spun around, at least until a flash of brilliant whitish blue light appeared in the periphery of its vision.

Vahn grabbed the tumbling head out of the air and buried his fingers into its harder-than-Adamantine flesh, staring into the remaining eye as he said, “I feel like I owe you a great debt…the next time you are reborn, let’s settle it in full…!” Then, just as the Juggernaut seemed like it was going to howl out once again, even though it didn’t even have a windpipe anymore, the light faded from its eyes and it nearly burst into dust before Vahn tossed the head into his Inventory. Ais had buried her [Gram] into the exposed core of the Juggernaut and Vahn wanted to see what would happen to a monster part that was kept for an extended period of time in stasis. He had already noticed that there was something very ‘wrong’ about the Juggernaut this time around and also wanted to see if the system could analyze it…

What was left after the Juggernaut faded away was an assortment of monster cores but, Vahn noticed there was an encroaching yellow coloration on many of them. This helped to confirm his suspicions somewhat and he was certain everything had all been a plan executed by Enyo’s forces. The fact that the crystals had fallen and nearly crushed Lil Geirr were enough ‘damage’ to the Dungeon to trigger the spawn of a Juggernaut. Though it was still serving the purpose of the Dungeon’s ‘cleaner’, it was very obvious that the monster had come under the partial influence of Enyo using a method that had yet come to light. She seemed to have the ability to mutate and produce plant-like monsters that were far more powerful than normal. At the same time, there were several strange variants beginning to pop up, showing that their methods were beginning to influence normal monsters…or, as Vahn was beginning to fear, Xenos…

After dropping down next to Ais, Vahn gave the beautiful girl a loving embrace, holding her tightly against his chest and stroking her silky golden hair. Unlike normal, however, Ais had a slightly complex expression as she said, “Vahn, we have to return to Lil Geirr…” These words set something off in Vahn’s mind and he had to release Ais before he put too much power into his grip, asking, “What happened…?” Ais held up her hands in a placating manner before a very different voice answered his question, entering into Vahn’s mind as the synchronous voice of Maemiru, (“Master, we captured an enemy who tried to attack Rufina. Alexa protected her and we managed to subdue him.”)

Vahn took a deep breath to calm himself when he heard this, asking, (“Did anyone get hurt…?”). This question was followed by a moderately terrifying period of silence before Maemiru replied, (“There were several people killed, but Alexa, Rufina, and Shakti are all okay…”) Vahn could hear an apologetic tone in Maemiru’s voice and he knew she was probably blaming herself for their deaths. At the same time, however, Vahn felt greatly relieved as he informed the girls he was on his way back, looting all of the Juggernaut’s drops before flying along with Ais. Since the Juggernaut couldn’t actually answer his questions, Vahn was hoping the person they had captured was slightly more ‘understanding’ when it came time for questioning…though, even if they weren’t, Vahn was confident they would eventually talk…he was quite sure of it…

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