Chapter 909: Dual Ascent

The moment Ares gave his command, more than twelve-hundred cavalry charged forward with loud warcries while the remainder of his army began to fan out while advancing on the punitive force. With the other four armies creating a larger container, the situation was changing so that the smaller force would be surrounded doubly so, Ares’ army acting as the inner group that would the one hundred soldiers representing Orario’s first line of defense.

There were many in Ares’ army who were faster than the majestic and mighty looking white stallions owned by the cavalry and, not wanting to miss out on the fun, they ran ahead without fear. The elites making up Ares’ army specialized in individual combat and, in order to increase their own standing, there were those who wanted to earn meritorious achievements for themselves. Even more, however, simply wanted to slaughter as many people as they could, reveling in the idea of cutting through what they believed to be weak enemies. With nearly half the punitive force was comprised of Pallum, it reinforced their misconception that the enemies before them were weak.

Now, instead of targetting the outer armies, the punitive force switched their focus to Ares’ army, shooting around sixty explosive bolts per second towards the oncoming cavalry. There were a few soldiers who were able to swipe away the bolts while others, even after getting hit, pressed forward without showing any signs of slowing down. The Endurance parameter increased a person’s ability to resist shockwaves, to the point that ‘normal’ explosives were useless after a certain threshold was reached. Other than taking out most of the horses, which did slow down the momentum of Ares’ army a bit, the large majority of soldiers were just incensed by the attacks, not taken out by them.

Completely expecting this outcome, which is why they hadn’t targetted Ares’ forces at first, a series of quick commands were issued that caused the next rack of bolts to contain pure white projectiles. These were all carved from Dragon Fangs, each possessing a single Ability that would make them extremely lethal, ‘Piercing:S’. Though some of Ares’ forces realized the difference in the projectiles, there were others who had decided to simply take them head on like the previous bolts. This time, instead of simply slowing them down, the bolts continued forward, piercing straight through their targets and even injuring some other soldiers that had been behind those unfortunate enough to overestimate themselves…

At this time, the two ‘armies’ had grown close enough for a physical clash, resulting in several Level 3 members of Ares’ army to advance towards the punitive force with the intent to slaughter the whole lot. They numbered merely five individuals, believing themselves to be skilled Elites that would be like wolves released in a flock of sheep as they attempted to jump over the vanguard and target the interior of the punitive force’s formation. Since they were ignored by the Archers and Vanguard, the few Level 3s that had breached forward believed themselves unstoppable, all the way up until the eight Spear-users trained by Arnya ran them through in an instant. Each of their members was Level 3 while their coordination was impeccable, making short work of three of the Level 3’s without any difficulty at all. The sole survivor that had managed to touch down in the middle of the punitive force found himself surrounded, skewered by three different spears before he was able to attack anyone.

The Technicians within the punitive force split into two groups, one that moved forward and began lobbing [Burst Oil] and [Smoke Grenades] into Ares’ army while three members moved to dispose of the corpses that had landed within the force’s interior. Unlike the explosions caused by the bolts, the [Burst Oil] was easily strong enough to overwhelm a Level 2 while even most Level 3 wouldn’t be able to resist the viscous oil that possessed corrosive properties and couldn’t be doused by normal means. This marked the moment when things became truly chaotic as the center of the battlefield quickly became suffused with plumes of smoke and flames as the advancing forces of Ares’ army were mowed down rapidly. Because of the bodies of their own fallen comrades, the advance of other soldiers was slowed as few people were willing to move ahead into the ‘kill zone’ that had been established.

Ares had been watching these events play out without his expression changing even a little, a small smile plastered across his immaculately sculpted face. He still believed that the small unit before them was entirely reliant on equipment and, so long as they were continually pressed, they would begin to run out of supplies while building fatigues. The existence of spatial artifacts was a very well-kept secret as of the present moment, making Ares completely unaware of the fact that the punitive force had enough supplies to repel more than ten waves of Fomoire, much less a few armies. His actions amounted to sending his men into a meat grinder that was harvesting the lives of his men much faster than they could even advance.

After around fifteen minutes had passed, there was now an area of more than one-hundred meters around the punitive force, which many people could cover in an instant, now completely bereft of living soldiers. There were thousands of corpses littering the battlefield while the flames from the [Burst Oil] continued to burn, filling the air with a pungent smell of burnt flesh. This didn’t reach any of the members of the punitive force, however, as Vahn was able to sweep away the smoke and pungent aroma by providing a constant stream of fresh air through his domain. Rakia’s forces had no such luxury however as, even with their Generals urging them forward, there were people who would die from the fumes and flames alone, without the punitive force even needing to harvest their lives.

Sobek was a little surprised with how things had gone thus far, as he had expected a few elites from Orario’s side to simply throw themselves into their forces and sow chaos for a bit. This was the first time Orario had manned a standing defense, even if it was relatively small, so his expectations had been skewed by the five previous invasions. Now, he was passing orders to reform the lines, creating a perimeter around the punitive force as they tried to create a wall of shield bearers to try and box in the one hundred highly proficient killing machines. They didn’t have the option of actually trying to attack Orario, where tens of thousands of people were watching atop the massive City walls. From the very beginning, this endeavor had only been to satiate Ares’ desire to try and conquer Orario, a City known to simply be unconquerable through direct methods…

Seeing that Sobek had begun to direct the army to back away and reform, Ares’ expression changed for the first time, showing a frown as he cursed, “Sobek will always be a coward….haaaa…” From Ares’ perspective, a direct battle, where both sides fought for dominance and tried to conquer the other, was ‘real’ War. He didn’t care for things like strategy, believing that individual prowess, and battle itself, were the only things that mattered. The fact that Orario would usually only send out a few Level 5-6 Adventurers to rout his armies was a perfect example of this simple truth. He was a little surprised by the fact that the ‘weaklings’ that relied on equipment had managed to hold out for so long but, now that the other four armies were beginning to pull back, Ares knew it was his time to shine.

The frown on Ares’ face slowly faded away, replaced by a confident look and zeal that spread around him, causing the few elites that had formed around him to show battle-crazed expressions of their own. A short ways away, Ioke also pulled her massive battleax out of the ground, her mouth opening slightly to reveal sharpened teeth that were similar to Fenrir’s when she got angry. The blood-red in her irises began to dance around like a liquid that was contained by the structure of her eyes, giving her a very strange and eerie appearance, almost as if there was actual blood contained within. This wasn’t entirely incorrect either, as Ioke’s Slaughter Divinity gave her access to actual Slaughter Laws, causing a bloody red aura to begin wrapping around her body and ax as she prepared to throw herself into battle…

Seeing the gods were about to move, Vahn knew it was time for him to take action as well so he sent his commands to Haruhime who quickly relayed them to the punitive force. In an instant, the force broke apart into four different platoons that dispersed towards the four armies that had been boxing them in. They moved as one, advancing on the restructuring enemy lines and sowing even greater chaos in the battle as Haruhime stood alone before Ares’ army. As nobody had expected the turtling force to suddenly fan out, even Ares was slightly taken aback before he began to laugh out loud. With the speed of the punitive force, he realized that each person was around the strength of his own Generals, not some weak prey that had been waiting for them to make a move.

Jumping off his horse, Ares shouldered his golden claymore as he shouted, “This is starting to look like fun…!” Right now, Haruhime stood before his army alone, completely unflustered by the army that was moving to surround her, catcalling and taunting her as they prepared to jump on her like a pack of wolves. Even so, none of them actually moved forward as they had already identified her as the ‘General’ of the enemy forces. Nobody wanted to be the first to make a move as, without any doubt whatsoever, it would likely mean their death. It was Ares himself who took action first, pulling a small golden shortbow that had the motif of a lion carved into it.

Instead of a physical arrow, Ares pulled back the string of his bow as the surrounding elemental energy converged together, forming what appeared to be an arrow of light. He unhesitantly loosed it toward Haruhime, causing it to trace an inviolable arc as it pierced through her chest a moment later. This caused Ares to raise one of his brows as the smile on his face became even more excited, undeterred by the fact that Haruhime had turned into a haze before reappearing outside of the arrow’s original trajectory. From the beginning of the battle, her Innate had already been in effect, subtly altering the perception of Ares’ forces while Haruhime herself appeared unmoving.

Ares was preparing to loose another arrow to test the limits of Haruhime’s abilities but his action was interrupted when, unexpectedly, a massive pillar of light appeared at the very back of the army. His head snapped around, genuine surprise and confusion on his face as in the distance, Sobek’s body was breaking down as his Arcanum was burned in an attempt to kill Haruhime. She had used [Shundo] to appear at the god’s side undetected, cutting him at the waist and bisecting his body. Sobek had been caught completely off-guard as his Arcanum disintegrated Haruhime’s body, once again showing it had been a simple illusion, not the person herself.

When the pillar of light had faded away, Haruhime’s figure seemingly stepped out of the void as she brandished her [Sakura Blossom] with a cold smile on her face. The soldiers who had been at Sobek’s side, who had been standing around in confusion as their god was slain, now faded away in a haze, revealing that they had already been killed by Haruhime. Her pale-gold eyes glimmered as her tails flickered around behind her, causing those who beheld her to take in sharp breaths while their hearts beat furiously in their chests.

For some, they found themselves awash with a warm breeze like spring, filled with the scent of flowers, as sakura petals danced around them. In the next moment, however, this ‘dream’ faded as those very same petals cut through their body like a tempestuous wind, tearing them asunder as Haruhime, a Level 7, danced through enemy lines. She cut down hundreds as if the sounds of slaughter were an accompanying tune, an elegant smile on her face that made those within the effective area of her domain completely helpless to resist…

Seeing Haruhime’s capabilities, Ares didn’t even care that Sobek had been killed as he ran forward with incredible momentum, charging straight into Haruhime’s domain. When the pink petals swept towards him, Ares brandished his claymore, sweeping them away in an instant as a crazed smile spread across his face. Haruhime’s brows moved slightly as she muttered in a soft voice, “You are my Master’s prey…” while sweeping her katana towards Ares. An icy blue aura had shrouded her body for a moment, greatly increasing her physical parameters as her blade clashed with Ares’. From Ares’ perspective, it felt like he had just been hit by a mountain as he was forced back several hundred meters, crashing through his own men and breaking their bodies apart with his momentum.

Feeling his hands numbed by the strike, Ares was undaunted and instead felt greater anticipation as he began to laugh loudly. The next moment, his instincts caused his temples to tremble as he swept his sword to the side and blocked an invisible arrow that had been aimed toward his heart. With his golden eyes shining, Ares looked toward the sky where Vahn was standing with his [Khryselakatos] in hand. The two made eye contact as Ares’ lion’s mane like hair began to stand on ends, a war cry escaping his lips that caused all soldiers in the surroundings, from Vahn’s perspective, to become covered in a golden aura. This was ultimately futile against Haruhime while Vahn’s response was to begin loosing a literal rain of arrows upon Ares.

Instead of retreating, Ares began laughing boisterously as his sword danced around like a golden tempest, cutting through each arrow with ease. It was only when one of the arrows triggered his instincts that the battle-crazed god moved to the side, sending waves of golden energy to clash with the dangerous arrows that seemed to home in on his vitals with ridiculous precision. Vahn, seeing Ares able to withstand his barrage, was slightly surprised but, considering his parameters had dropped by half after Ares blocked his [Call of the Reaper], it made a lot of sense. Now, to put more pressure on the golden god, Vahn began firing arrows ‘randomly’, many of which weren’t even aimed at Ares at all…

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Without exception, these randomly fired arrows drew sharp arcs through the air as they all converged towards Ares from every conceivable angle. Amongst these arrows was a total of ten [Yi], each charged with the power of a single ‘sun’. This time, Ares stopped swinging his sword and instead pointed it toward Vahn as he released a loud shout that resonated through the battlefield. The golden energy around his body more than doubled in size as a pillar of light passed through where Vahn had been located previously. Even if Ares could fight on par with a Level 7 for a short while, there was nothing in his millions of years of experience that could prepare him for a battle against Vahn.

Having easily evaded Ares’ attack with [Shundo], Vahn appeared right behind the golden god, undeterred by the golden energy that seemed to be trying to rip his body apart. Without any intention of causing any harm, Vahn reached out his hand and placed it against the top of Ares’ golden mane of hair. Vahn had already identified that Ares was able to ‘read’ bloodlust and intent so, instead of trying to harm Ares, Vahn did the exact opposite. This caused the briefest of gaps in Ares’ awareness as a confused look appeared in his golden eyes.

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In this momentary gap, the ten [Yi] arrows that Vahn had fired smashed into Ares’ weakened aura and impacted his body. Now, Ares’ eyes widened greatly as the golden aura around his body exploded outward in an attempt to resist the ten gravitational singularities threatening to tear him apart. Since he didn’t use his Arcanum, this endeavor was ultimately unsuccessful as Vahn pulled his hand away, saying, “War will change in the future…your era is over, Ares…” As even his own body was being pulled apart by the powerful gravitational forces, Vahn quickly escaped the affected area. At the same time, Ares simply laughed in response before shouting, “War is eternal..!” as his body was torn apart and converted into particles of light.

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘Meat Grinder’,’Haruhime over here being more decisive than Vahn…’,’Ares is surprisingly not petty…’)

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