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As the energy from Kallavan's attack washed harmlessly across his body, Vahn stood in silent contemplation with his eyes closed and arms slightly spread. His impermeability had reached such extremes that, even if he were to be tossed into a dwarf star, the gravity, pressure, and heat would have no effect on his body. Rather, unless their comprehension of the laws had exceeded a certain threshold, dealing damage to him was akin to a normal human attempting to pluck a star from the sky…
Exhaling a sigh, a green aura erupted from Vahn's body that caused the Aris Family compound to rapidly repair itself. At the same time, the people killed by Kallavan's indiscriminate attack found their bodies made whole again as Vahn shaped the explosive Shinsu from his attack into a highly compressed Baang. Then, just as Kallavan was preparing to speak, Vahn opened his eyes to reveal shimmering golden pupils as he remarked, "Pure, unadulterated, ego…"
Without affording the man the opportunity to respond, Vahn grabbed the Baang with his bare hand before slamming it against the surrounding void. This caused space-time within the proximity of his domain to fracture like a broken mirror, but, due to the ongoing reversal of entropy, the destructive process was unable to wreak the havoc commonly associated with such an event.
With Kallavan lacking the ability to control his association with the Standard Axis of Time, Vahn was able to appear right in front of the man as he repeated the same seventeen-microsecond cycle over and over again. He was effectively trapped in a time loop, but, due to the blessings provided by the Essence of Bravery, he was still cognizant of everything around him. This would be a boon against a normal opponent, but, against someone like Vahn, it was no different than being a prisoner within your own body and mind.
Staring into the glaring man's fiery-blue eyes, Vahn's expression remained a mask of apathy as he stated, "You are a good man, Kallavan. Unfortunately, much like Adori, you are blinded by your own sense of justice. You are so convinced that you are doing the right thing, that, even when you make mistakes, you simply press forward, propelled by your sense of duty. I wonder…how many lives have you taken in these three-thousand-years just because they were opposed to accepting the 'second chance' you offered them? Did it bring you a sense of comfort when you excused your actions with self-assurances and telling yourself they were better off dead than living in opposition to Jahad…?"
Unable to respond, Kallavan continued trying to surge forward, but, no matter how much power he attempted to muster, it would immediately return to his body due to the irresistible looping of time. This, alone, would have been unbelievably frustrating, but, with the addition of Vahn's words, it was almost like being trapped in hell. To make matters worse, Vahn appeared completely unfazed by his own exertion, almost as if it took no effort whatsoever…
Sensing Kallavan's murderous intent increasing exponentially in relation to his fear, Vahn couldn't help shaking his head as he softly muttered, "Yet another example of a good man corrupted by a power he didn't earn…haaaaa…"
Though he knew Kallavan would eventually come around if he was given time to reflect, Vahn knew the only way to get him to empathize with others was to put him on the same level. The Essence of Bravery had influenced his perspective in an extreme way, and, though he had tried to use its power for good, such sentiments were meaningless if you didn't have to struggle.
Having made up his mind, Vahn lifted his hand towards the heavens as Laev-tan manifested within his grasp. This allowed the flow of time to return to normal, but, before Kallavan could so much as widen his eyes, his entire body was bisected from crown to crotch by the eerie black haze left in the wake of Vahn's instantaneous, imperceptible, slash. Immediately thereafter, every trace of energy within his body spontaneously ceased to exist, as, deep within the container of his Soul, a large blue crystal split cleanly in two before subsequently vanishing alongside a smiling man with ashen-grey skin and blood-red eyes…
With the black haze fading from the man's body, Vahn extended his hand to grab Kallavan's collar so that he wouldn't fall from the sky and injure himself. He still had the physique of a High Ranker, but, due to the complete lack of Shinsu in his body, every cell in his body was screaming out as his nerves lit up like the night sky following a festival. This caused his body to seize and spasm, and, as a result of the phenomenal pain he was experiencing, even someone of Kallavan's character was left unconscious, froth forming at his mouth as his eyes rolled backward.
Deciding to save the man a bit of face, Vahn unceremoniously tossed Kallavan into the Little Garden before shifting his gaze towards the fleet of Suspend Ships looming in the distance. More precisely, his gaze focused on the centermost ship within the fleet, a massive craft reminiscent of a city-sized centipede. This was Kallavan's flagship, and, though they understood the futility of trying to attack a High Ranker with conventional weaponry, that didn't stop Cheonhee from giving the order to open fire.
Though he could have simply ignored the wall-like barrage of cannons, Vahn responded by raising his hand and instantaneously erecting magic circles equal in number to the beams of Shinsu firing toward him. As a result, every single beam of Shinsu was absorbed, greatly empowering the magic circles. Then, much to the horror of the 4th Army Corp, the magic circles began to rapidly divide as the center of each emanated a light similar to a Shinsu cannon preparing to fire.
Had they simply stayed in a wall-like formation, the 4th Army Corp might have been able to react to Vahn's counter using powerful barriers and Lighthouses. Unfortunately, just as the Vice-Commander of the 4th Army Corp gave the order to prepare the defenses, the tens of thousands of magic circles in the distance disappeared before subsequently reappearing in a hemispherical formation beneath the fleet. Then, like a rain rising from the ground and piercing the heavens, innumerable weakened beams of Shinsu began to pepper the fleet, completely overwhelming all but the flagship's shields.
Noticing this, Vahn teleported directly above the flagship, ignoring the astonished gaze of the Vice-Commander, an inordinately tall man with broad horns and a body fashioned from a blue and white exoskeleton. Then, with what appeared to be a simple, slow-motion, punch, he struck the hull with enough force to create a tunnel-like cavity in the ground below, a distance more than 13,000m. As a result, the flagship ended up dropping hundreds of meters in an instant as a hole more than 10m across penetrated the entirety of the city-sized ship.
Shifting his attention away from the flagship, Vahn directed his gaze towards the Vice-Commander, calmly questioning, "Are we done here, or do you intend to continue trying my patience? Be sure to choose your next words wisely, Vice-Commander Elpathion."
Though he hadn't completely recovered his senses, Elpathion managed to ask, "Is the Commander still alive?" before promptly following it with, "We surrender." in response to Vahn's affirmative nod. Kallavan was more important to them than their own lives, so, as long as he was still alive, there was always room for negotiations…
Having witnessed the battle from start to finish, Senna was forced to consume a medicine produced by her family just to calm her nerves. Vahn's power wasn't unprecedented within the long history of the Tower, but, seeing the ease in which he performed feats of extraordinary skill and power, it was easy to surmise that he was holding back. This made it difficult to grasp his actual power, and, more importantly, whether or not he had any actual limits…
Shaking her head, Senna comforted herself with the notion that, even if he was a God, there 'had' to be a limit to Vahn's strength. At the very least, there had to be some sort of 'logic' that both defined and subsequently limited its use. There was no such thing as absolute omnipotence, so, while Vahn was unquestionably powerful, there had to be some kind of restrictions preventing him from using it however he pleased…
Nodding in approval of her own assertation, Senna manifested her Lighthouse's console in order to file an updated report. It was her duty to update Headquarters on all matters pertaining to the Sage Dragon Emperor, and, most importantly, offer suggestions regarding how they should both handle and approach him. In this regard, her authority was second only to Adori, as, prior to the legendary Princess' rise, she had served nearly three-thousand-years as Commander-in-Chief of the Empire's forces.
In Senna's opinion, Vahn's existence was an opportunity to introduce some much-needed reform to the Empire. Ten-thousand-years of peace had resulted in the stagnation and corruption of the Great Families, and, as a result, the Empire as a whole. If left to fester unattended, it was only a matter of time before the Empire collapsed from the inside, so, while Vahn's existence was a clear and present threat, it also provided much-needed relief to generations of societal decay.
Conveying this within her report, Senna hoped those at the top took her advice to heart and made a concerted effort to improve things before Vahn's arrival. Opposing him directly would only result in even greater destruction to the Empire, so, for everyone's sake, she was hoping they did the right thing. At the very least, they need to discover Vahn's weakness before making a stand, as, based on the information they had obtained thus far, there were no known methods to decisively defeat him. Adori had purportedly annihilated his body without a trace, yet, as if it didn't matter in the slightest, Vahn had simply recreated himself from nothingness.
Though the current theory was that Vahn transplanted a version of himself from a parallel timeline into the present, the notion that he possessed such a capability was more than enough reason not to antagonize him. The Workshop had published studies attesting to the existence of a functionally infinite number of alternate and derivative timelines, so, if Vahn truly possessed the ability to draw power from alternate versions of himself, what could they, beings trapped in a single timeline, hope to do against him…?
As that thought crossed her mind, Senna leaned back in her chair and quietly enjoyed the calm and serene atmosphere that always preceded periods of unbridled chaos. Any moment now, hundreds of reports would come filing in from various sources, so, even if it was just for a few seconds longer, she wanted to enjoy the relaxed state of her body, a side-effect of the medicine she had previously ingested…
With a pained groan escaping from his throat, the result of simply breathing, Kallavan opened his eyes to find himself lying beneath an inordinately large and beautiful tree. Rather than appreciating its beauty, however, he immediately forced himself to a seated position, ignoring the pain even as a thick layer of sweat spread across his entire body.
Noticing several other inordinately large trees in the distance, reports related to the 'Little Garden' immediately appeared within Kallavan's mind. Before he could make any decisions about what he wanted to do, however, a gentle voice echoed from behind him, saying, "You shouldn't be moving around just yet. Were it not for the unique nature of this place, you might have already died from the strain on your body."
Though it caused every nerve in his body to cry out in pain, Kallavan forced himself to spin around in an instant, Shinsu gathering around his arms as he launched himself toward the voice's owner, a young girl with dark-skin, leaf-green hair, and clothes comprised entirely of leaves and flowers.
Frowning in response to Kallavan's actions, the drill-haired girl swiped her hand through the air in a slapping gesture. Under normal circumstances, Kallavan could have easily evaded such a blow, but, at that exact moment, all the Shinsu he had gathered spontaneously dispersed. He had completely lost the rights to manipulate it within the First Layer, and, as a result, the girl's deceptively simple slap ended up connecting directly with his left cheek, consequently sending him flying hundreds of meters…
(A/N: Alternate Titles: 'O_O…','Treating poison with poison','Kallavan be like, "Why you bully me…?')
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