DAUGHTER OF ORDER
Lino was currently ‘hiding’ on a small, floating island, the one nearest to where Umbra was. He was casually sitting on top of a tip-flattened rock, enjoying the view of the running critters. Grim sat lazily next to him, crying out from time to time and snuggling against Lino’s side. The latter merely waited for the Devils to come to him so that Hannah can go and wreak some havoc.
He didn’t exactly know how much he’d have to wait, but he didn’t fret; he had enough booze to last him for decades stored inside his void world, and if he ever got bored, he mused, he’d just take a nap.
Looking on toward the distant skies, he once again thought about what lay at the Realm’s very center; or, rather, who lay in wait there. Though the Writ had told him not to think too much about it, his curious nature got better of him in the end. Of all the Eras, save for perhaps the Origin Era, Lino was the most fascinated by the Titan Era.
Emerging from seemingly nowhere, the towering race conquered the entire world within a span of a few centuries, forcing all other races either into extinction or underground, before ruling with iron fist for over a billion years altogether, and disappearing just as quickly as they came without leaving any records behind. Though some parts of their culture had been deciphered due to the remnants they’ve left behind, largely ruins of their massive cities, a vast majority of information about them remains a mystery to this day.
What piqued Lino’s curiosity the most was their origin -- and though he’d asked the Writ numerous times, he’d always gotten the same reply ‘you are not authorized to know’. At the very least, however, Lino mused, it meant that the Writ knew of Titans’ origins, and as long as Lino kept getting stronger, he’d eventually get the answers.
Pulling himself out of the deep thoughts, he curled his lips up into a faint smile, gazing forward. He quickly spotted a massive Hell Army emerging from the shadows out into the open, all their eyes focused onto him. The one leading them was none other than Rothar, the one Devil of those present Lino was familiar with. He had a rather complex expression, seemingly unwilling to do what they were about to do.
“Ow man,” Lino cried lowly. “How?!”
“Nothing has to happen,” Rothar said. “As long as you simply relax here for a little while longer, we can end this.”
“... to think you peeps thirsted after the Prime,” Lino chuckled, slowly getting on his feet. “And to think you’d still have enough balls to come back.”
“Who the hell-”
“Shut the fuck up you imbecile,” Lino interrupted one of the remaining Devil Commanders, his tone growing heavy and dull, void of emotion. “What do you think will happen now Rothar? You’re gonna leave some of these cunts behind to stall me for as long as possible? Or do you think you can actually kill me? I genuinely want to cry over how almost innately moronic you lot are, a perfect reflection of what it means to be a brainless jackoff. Rather than people selling their souls to the devils for power, you idiots ought to sell yours for some intellect. You’re embarrassing even me, and I’m at most a random stranger to you.”
“... if you consider intellect to be an ability to spout profanities like a child,” Rothar refuted, angered. “Then I’m happy to be a moron.”
“... I’m tired, you know?” Lino smirked for a moment as he whipped out [Hell’s Belittlement] from the void world. “Tired of constantly bickering and moaning with you. Tired of having to eat my own words because not a single one of you has an iota of integrity... iota of dignity... iota of pride. You are just a bunch of miscreants, delusional narcissists who think that anything beyond the Hell’s boundaries... isn’t worth jack shit. I don’t even know why I try, in the end,” sighing, he jumped off the rock as he withdrew Grim. “I know it will always turn out the same; I’ll cry over how naive I was to extend a hand, and you’ll snicker over how ‘smart’ you were to bite my ass back. I’ve made a promise to your late-Commander,” he continued, taking a slow step forward while the Devils and Demons retreated. “A promise I wasn’t going to keep. But, time and again, you kept removing my reasons as to why I shouldn’t. Now... I’ve got no more reasons to remove.”
“... you cannot win this war,” Rothar warned as he signaled the army behind him to get into a formation. “Even if you were ten times as strong.”
“Heh, who said anything about winning the war?” Lino chuckled, glancing beyond the Hell’s army causing Rothar to suddenly freeze. “I said it already, haven’t I? You... are just imbeciles. Nothing more. Maybe something less.”
“RETREAT!!!!” Rothar suddenly shouted as he unfurled his wings. “BACK TO THE ISLAND!! HURRY UP!!”
“Stay and play for a while,” Lino said as he sent a sliver of Qi through the sole of his boots, activating the island-wide trapping formation. Though it was quite primitive, it can hold on for at least 5-6 seconds under the siege of everyone here. “I promise you’ll have fun.”
Meanwhile, several tens of miles away, Hannah felt a talisman vibrate within her void treasure, causing her lips to curl up. Glancing around, she met each Devil’s gaze currently observing her squarely, causing the latter to also realize something was amiss.
“... I can finally go all out.” she mumbled faintly
“It’s rather worrying that you’re hiding so much from him.”
“... I don’t want him to get dispirited.” she shrugged.
“Hannah... he’s a kid who’s known nothing but those bounding him since he began cultivating. Unless you can shit gold, I’m fairly certain he won’t care.”
“Eh, all in due time...” she mumbled.
Her eyes suddenly flared in bright cyan, devouring the whole eyeball with a shine as similarly-dyed smoke billowed out of them. A range of arrays linked around her body lit up in concert, shimmering in stark coral like flames. Thunder woke around her, bolts dancing like tiny serpents as frigid winds chimed in, causing an elementally breathtaking scene to take place.
A mirage appeared behind her, one towering over nearly two whole kilometers, transparent in its make, in the image of her. It mirrored each of her movements, down to her slow and steady breaths.
“Code of Order--” she mumbled gently, lifting up her arm and extending her index finger, pointing toward the island. “Law of Command -- Avatar of Order Form.”
The mirage behind her contorted and distorted until it warped into a small sphere of brilliant, green light. Hannah grabbed it gently and placed it on her forehead as a shining, emerald gem appeared where the light disappeared. Her outfit quickly changed, robe shifting into an ethereal one wrapping around space itself rather than just her, two chakram-like rings appearing above her shoulders, rotating quickly and causing friction, just enough to set them ablaze.
A shining, breathtaking armor formed itself over her body, adorned with ripping gems, tied together with seemingly nothing but her own body. Her crimson hair suddenly turned entirely white, like snow, growing to twice its usual size.
“Qi Deconstruction -- Augmented Displacement -- Shatter.” space around her suddenly collapsed, consumed with the raging storm of hundreds of different elements as they combined to form winds visible to the naked eye, streaks of fire and ice and earth and light and shadows bounding the vast skies.
The Devils currently watching suddenly froze as they finally recognized who they were up against -- it wasn’t merely another Descender as they’d thought previously, it was also another Bearer! And the Bearer of Order at that, second only to the Bearer of Spoken Word when it came to bending reality as they see fit.
Hannah suddenly clasped her hands, causing all the elements dancing around to blast outward into a huge tsunami-like wave of absolute destruction; everything in their wake turned to ash or froze over or was consumed whole, as the sky above splintered into millions of small, dimensional rips which began spitting out everything and anything, drowning the whole world around in absolute ruin.
She danced amidst the riveting chaos, whisking sideways as her robes fluttered in concert with her hair, her eyes still shining in brilliant cyan. Whenever she’d extend her arms in an attacking form, another element would form on top of her palms. She seemed to command the entirety of the world within a ten mile radius, bending it to her will with a mere flick of a finger.
Extending her arms sideways and clutching her hands into fists, she punched forth, causing the space above her to tear open as two massive, fire-raging fists emerged from the void and struck at the meek barrier protecting the island. The barrier didn’t last a single breath before collapsing as the fists struck squarely, causing hundreds and thousands of cries and wails to bellow out into the sky simultaneously, almost consuming the sounds of the raging elements.
Realizing she might have overdone it a bit, she pulled her arms back as the wanton destruction of the island reversed, the two gigantic craters formed by the fists suddenly reverting back to the flatland. However, save for the landscape, those dead could only wail on from the realms of beyond, as their fate had been sealed. Looking around, she realized that there were only a few small-time Devils and Demons left, and as she was currently burning through her Qi faster than ever before, she quickly ended her Avatar form and reverted to her ordinary appearance, the only difference being the slightly pale complexion and a tired look. Taking a deep breath, just as she was about to give chase to the remaining survivors, she froze, her eyes meeting Lino’s.
“... babe,” he mumbled, seeming stupefied. “What in the shit was that?”
“... w-what in the shit are you doing here?!! Aren’t you supposed to keep the main army busy?!” Hannah cried out, feeling wronged.
“Oh, that. Well, I whooped most of their asses and locked up the survivors in the Pouch,” he explained. “So I figured I’d head over and see whether you could use help. Turns out, I should have given them a helping hand. Dear god, just how fucking strong are you?!”
“...” to Hannah’s surprise, the array of emotions she spotted within Lino’s eyes were nothing like those she expected. She saw joy, awe, curiosity, happiness, warmth... not envy, not fear, not coldness... “Y-you... you’re not... angry?”
“Eh? Angry?” he asked, confused, flying over with Grim and helping Hannah up as he ordered the bird to chase after the currently escaping Devils and Demons. “Why would I be angry? Oh wait. You didn’t tell me because you thought it’d ruin my confidence or something?”
“Ha ha ha ha ha, oh god, you’re a fucking blast,” Lino laughed, caressing her hair wantonly for a moment. “Do you really think so little of me?”
“... no, of course I don’t...” Hannah chuckled bitterly, shaking her head and wondering inwardly why she even thought as such in the first place. “I’m sorry for not telling you. Or showing you. Or hinting at that I might be quite stronger than you think.”
“... eh, I don’t care about how strong or whatnot you are,” Lino suddenly said. “It’s how cool you looked! Damn! All these things were like flying, whoosh, swoosh, bam, boom, dang, sliiiish, and shit was exploding all over and those fucking huge fists when they boomed, and then you fixed the island somehow like what the fuck was that... goddammit Ataxia!! Why can’t you be as cool?! We are as cool as shit comparatively speaking!”
“...” Hannah, Ataxia, Grim, Astrum, and each of Lino’s Primal Spirits collectively suffered from temporary brain freeze as they tried to follow Lino’s thought process, only to realize they got lost before even getting to the first quarter. They also learned that trying to walk a mile in Lino’s shoes would not be a good idea... and they also felt somewhat envious, wondering just how mentally strong he was to not allow such thoughts to cripple both his sanity and his intelligence. Lino, on the other hand, continued cursing lowly, truly depressed. He vowed more now than ever that he’d create the coolest-looking set of armor with the coolest special effects ever to somehow try and remedy the absolute uncoolness of the Empyrean’s fighting style.
END OF VOLUME IX