Chapter 910: Chaos

With the fall of Sobek and Ares in such a short period of time, absolute chaos began to spread through the battlefield. Even with the Generals trying to keep order by cutting down those trying to flee, they were unable to stop their forces from dispersing rapidly. The punitive force had been mowing through their ranks with unstoppable momentum and now that their gods had fallen, everything they had believed in previously fell with them. After all, the Rakia Kingdom was just an extension of the Ares Familia, with the King of Rakia being the Captain of the Familia. With Ares dead, the Familia would cease to exist, meaning their very Kingdom would likely fall shortly after.

Following Haruhime’s original orders, the four platoons of the punitive force continued to give chase, completely routing the enemy forces that had outnumbered them one-thousand-to-one. With chaos now spreading through the entire battlefield, few even tried to fight back as everyone tried to be the quickest to flee. Many even abandoned their weapons and armor while others would attack their own allies to prevent them from escaping faster than they themselves. It was only in the center of the battlefield, where a group of ten people ignored the retreating tides as they looked towards Vahn, fear and inhibitions nowhere to be seen within their eyes.

This group was entirely comprised of Amazoness women who were covered in red tribal markings while, at the very center of their small unit, Ioke stood with her massive battleax. Like the Amazoness surrounding her, she had a blood-crazed expression as she said, “You…strong…” in a cold monotone. With these two words leaving her lips, similar red markings to those that had been painted on the Amazoness’ bodies began to appear on Ioke’s pale skin. Vahn realized they had likely copied their markings after observing Ioke but he didn’t have time to think about it since the latter had already moved toward him after kicking against the ground hard enough to cause corpses to lift into the air.

Ioke’s body tore through these corpses, turning them into a torrent of flesh and blood that followed along with her movement. Vahn was a little surprised by this but, at the most, Ioke’s strength was only around the peak of Level 5 while her Amazoness troupe, each wielding massive weapons of their own, were only Level 3. He raised his hand while converging his domain in an instant, greatly increasing the pressure in the surroundings while the mana density in the air was so condensed that it had become both visible and tangible. All of this mana was under Vahn’s control as well, allowing him to dictate its structure and manipulate it freely, this time converting it into pure Light Elemental energy.

Though he didn’t understand the principle behind it, Vahn felt that the Slaughter Laws around Ioke’s body were ‘cold’ and ‘dark’, leading him to believe it was a form of negative energy. His [Yggdrasil’s Champion] allowed him to use the vital energy granted by Yggy to greatly increase his ability to purify negative energies. As a result, the blood red shroud around Ioke dispersed as a red mist began erupting from her body, all while Vahn used his Xuanwu form to deflect her heavy battleax. Instead of 70kg, it was actually closer to 150kg, causing Vahn’s bones to creak slightly as his feet fractured the ground below. Ioke’s physical power had been much higher than he had expected, even though her speed hadn’t been that impressive.

As Ioke screamed and writhed about on the ground, bloody mist escaping her body with incredible momentum, Vahn used [Enkidu] to wrap her up while dispersing the Light Elemental energy that had caused his domain to become like a vibrant white sun. If not for his [Eyes of Truth] being unaffected, Vahn would have been blinded by his own attack, much like the nine Amazoness who hunched over on the ground, protecting their eyes with their hands. Their skin had turned tender from the high exposure to Light Elemental energy, but they would be fine after soaking in an Elixir bath for a short while. Vahn, however, couldn’t exactly afford them the opportunity since they had some of the most vicious black auras he had ever seen…

These nine Amazoness were women who had reveled in slaughter and murder for a long period of time, even though they weren’t compelled by any kind of Divinity to do so. They happily butchered people for the thrill of it and, back in the Rakia Kingdom, they were notorious for murdering people in broad daylight without consequence. Vahn understood they were probably close to Ioke, likely her only Familia members, but having such ‘toxic’ existences would only make her life more difficult. For the time being, however, Vahn just put them into a deep comatose state since he didn’t want Ioke’s first experience with him and the Alliance, outside of combat, to be negative.

Once the Amazoness had been dealt with, Vahn used telekinesis to levitate their bodies as he turned to the bound Ioke who, for the first time in her long existence, no longer felt the compulsion of her Divinity. She just stared blankly at Vahn, mouth slightly agape as both words and thoughts, at least for the moment, completely escaped her. Vahn felt a great deal of pity for an existence like Ioke and, knowing how much she had suffered in the past, his bad habit was acting up a bit. Without putting much thought into it, Vahn had found himself in front of Ioke, stroking her blood-red hair with a concerned look on his face as he said, “Hestia, Hephaestus, Artemis, and Demeter have been worried about you…nobody will use you as a weapon anymore, Ioke. It may take some time but there will be a lot of people who help you try and become happy in the future…”

There was a great deal of confusion in Ioke’s eyes as she looked up at Vahn, seeing the melancholy and empathy contained within his expression. This caused her brows to furrow as she asked, “You will…not bully…Ioke…?” Though she was nearly three-hundred million years old, Ioke very rarely spoke full sentences to people, often choosing to forgo conversations entirely. Her social skills had degraded a great deal, to the point that she sounded more like a child who was just learning how to speak for the first time. This made Vahn’s heart feel like someone was twisting it as he nodded his head and said, “From now on, you will choose how you want to live. Though I can’t just let you go around killing people, I will do my best to create an environment where you can be happy…”

Ioke didn’t need to kill people in order to pacify her Divinity so, as long as Vahn was able to provide an environment where she could cut loose whenever she wanted, that should be enough to allow her to live a relatively normal life. Since the underground network of tunnels was now connected with the Dungeon, Vahn could make a channel where monsters were able to spawn and proliferate. Though these would mostly be just Goblins and Kobolds, it shouldn’t really matter from the perspective of Ioke’s Divinity. So long as she was able to slaughter ‘something’, Ioke wouldn’t have to worry about experiencing pain and suffering from trying to resist her Divinity’s compulsion.

Though she couldn’t really imagine a world where she was ‘happy’, Ioke felt like Vahn wasn’t trying to trick her by lying. Just the golde chains wrapping her body, which were strangely comfortable, combined with the warm energy flowing from his palm made her feel very relaxed and safe. Even if he was lying to her, Ioke felt it was better to be with someone that treated her kindly instead of someone that would bully her all the time. She had been severely scarred by Zeus in Heaven and, after coming to the Mortal World, she ended up being used as a weapon by Ares. The worst part was that, while Ares himself didn’t do anything to her, he had allowed his men to do as they pleased, all while she was unable to kill them because of the vow she had made to not harm anyone in his Familia. There were many cruel people within the Ares Familia and, being able to do whatever they wanted to a goddess was a large boost to the ego of many in the upper echelons of the Familia…

Vahn, unaware of the full extent of Ioke’s suffering, continued to stroke her head gently until she had slowly lapsed into a deep slumber. Haruhime had already appeared at his side long ago, waiting for his orders since it would be easy for her to catch up with the retreating army. Vahn picked up Ioke’s body in a bridal carry, feeling pained by how light she was in his arms. He turned to Haruhime, that same pain showing on his face as he said, “If they are just Level 1, give the punitive force the order to have those that surrender make a life-long vow to never commit criminal acts before letting them go. Those who are Level 2 and above, especially if they have the ‘scent’ of blood on them, make sure they are all killed. The Rakia Kingdom no longer exists…I will not let its legacy survive it…”

The ‘official’ population of the Rakia Kingdom was around 600,000 citizens, not counting those in the lower rungs of society who were generally treated as slaves and laborers. Though there would be those amongst the 600,000 that are innocent, Vahn knew those that had risen through the ranks of society were just as corrupt as the Kingdom itself. Now that Ares had died, the worst amongst them would either try to seize power within the broken Kingdom while those with keen insight would start fleeing. They would lay their roots elsewhere, likely taking over a small village or township, if not outright migrating to other countries where their corruption would once again begin to spread. Vahn wanted to eliminate people like this, especially those that acted willingly as agents of the Empire, each like a cancerous cell that needed to be cut out in order to begin the recovery process…

Haruhime gave an elegant bow, her usual smile nowhere to be seen as she understood this wasn’t an easy decision for Vahn to make. In a way, most of the residents of Rakia Kingdom were ‘victims’ and, if given the opportunity to seek a better life for themselves, many would take the chance. Now, there would undoubtedly be innocents who would die as a result of the chaos that would permeate through the now defunct Kingdom. Each of these lives, even if Vahn didn’t experience the deaths themselves, would weigh heavily on his heart. Understanding this, Haruhime shared Vahn’s pain and, if possible, she wanted to take it unto herself so that he could have peace of mind…

Even without seeing her aura, Vahn was sensitive to Haruhime’s feelings because of their ever-growing bond with each other. His expression softened and, before she raised her head, Vahn had started to pet her glossy blonde hair as he said, “Soon, events like this will be a thing of the past. Don’t worry, Haruhime…I will not break from something like this. With amazing women like you supporting me, I can bear the weight of Heaven itself if I need to…” The moment these words left his mouth, Vahn felt like each of his nerves was on fire as his instincts warned him of imminent danger.

In an instant, the world lost almost all of its color as Vahn strained every muscle in his neck and torso to look skyward, all while ‘pushing’ Haruhime, Ioke, and the unconscious Amazoness away from him. Within this colorless world, there was a shining golden ‘star’ that had entered Vahn’s perception, even though it had yet to enter into his domain. It felt like his body was being weighed down like a mountain that grew exponentially heavier with each passing moment. However, even though less than a thousandth of a second had passed in reality, even with Vahn’s perception making it appear as if time itself had been brought to stop, the golden object had already pierced through his body before passing into the earth below…

Vahn could feel the cells in his body being torn apart in slow motion as his senses were becoming obscure, almost as if he was no longer in his own body any longer. This resulted in time returning to normal as Haruhime, Ioke, and the Amazonesses were still caught in the large shockwave that had occurred after the golden object had pierced into the earth, traveling very near the speed of light. Haruhime and Ioke had been pushed away from the blastwave without any grievous injuries, but the unconscious Amazonesses, who were only Level 3, had been disintegrated by the strike. Vahn hadn’t had enough time to try and protect them as the period between his instincts trigger and the attack hitting had been nigh-instantaneous.

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With the blastwave expanding outward, Vahn’s body was also disintegrated alongside them but, long before the light had faded away, he had already regenerated. He then immediately launched himself into the sky with a vicious look in his eyes as sheer unadulterated rage had overtaken him for the time being. Though Haruhime would have been able to survive with the [Effigy of the Hero], that attack had been more than enough to sure-kill almost anything within its area of effect. The fact that this unknown enemy had struck forth with the intent to kill, not only himself, but Haruhime, Ioke, and the Amaonesses, had caused Vahn’s rage to explode outward.

Even without transforming into one of his [Magia Erebea] forms, Vahn had torn through the sky with enough force to create several shockwaves as a black trail followed behind him. He reached out with his hand, grasping towards a man with short black hair and a casual smile on his face. This same man held out his hand, causing a flash of brilliant golden light as an ornate spear, covering from tip to pommel in glowing runes, appeared. From Vahn’s perspective, the world lost its color once again as the man kicked with enough physical force to fracture the void, leaping higher into the sky as he arched his back and prepared to strike down with his spear a second time.

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At the very same moment that the man’s muscles contracted, fully prepared to throw his spear, Vahn had also torn through the void, shrinking the distance between him and the man in ‘literally’ no time. His claw found its way around the man’s neck while he was still transitioning out of his wind-up motion, tearing through flesh and bone without any resistance. Vahn’s other claw had pierced through the man’s chest, completely crushing his heart and causing ‘ripples’ to spread from the contact point as, with time returning to normal, his neck and torso exploded into particles so fine that they seemed to vanish into the void. All that was left of the man was his still smiling face, his lower body, and a golden spear that was quickly losing its light…

Vahn matched gazes with the man who finally seemed to realize his situation but was already too far gone to do anything to preserve his life. The light in his eyes faded away almost at the same instant that realization hit him, the smile on his face turning into an incredulous gap as his black eyes reflected an azure-blue light. There, within that reflection, the image of Vahn, shrouded in an azure radiance. Much of his body was covered in scales that emanated with azure blue and gold light as he stood like an indomitable tyrant while the very void around him was shattering from his presence. His eyes had become like blazing golden suns as golden antler-like horns protruded from the mane of electrified azure-blue hair framing his fierce visage. Behind his body, there was a golden bladed ring that seemed to vibrate with a frequency that caused space to retreat away from Vahn, almost as if the world itself feared his presence…

(A/N: Alternate Titles: ‘The End of Suffering…’,’Removing cancer from the source’,’The mantis stalks the cicada, unaware of the oriole behind it…all while the Azure Dragon watches silently from the void, its wrath waiting to be unleashed…’)

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