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CHAPTER 297

REIGN OF CHAOS (I)

A moment of stillness passed as the world held its breath. Beneath the eyes jammed up in the sky, all those looking up felt tiny, small, ethereally insignificant. That feeling only grew beyond the bounds of what an ordinary heart could endure as Lino finished his chant. The world disappeared -- or, rather than disappeared, it became true. It reverted back to its origin form, to what it truly was when stripped of all the embellishments.

Everything and nothing... light and dark... life and death... Eighteen Laws of Creation manifested into eighteen gashes of creation far above Lino, surrounding him like claws. There was neither the beginning nor the end to them; they were everything and nothing. Everywhere and nowhere. Laws themselves ceased to matter beneath its nobility; all of creation felt the most primal urge to bow, to kneel, to worship.

Yennefer looked at the sky with a horrid gaze, her expression beyond one of despair. Who... what could ever stand up against this, she wondered. This was no longer the matter of strength or weakness, no longer the question of Law mastery, levels, Qi, mantras and arts. Beneath this, all of that ceased to matter, she realized. Whatever theories they drew up, whatever plans they had prior to the battle... what of them now? Nothing, she knew.

Lino’s body relaxed momentarily as he played with the [Dragon Slayer]; the blade was no longer the blade, the sword itself something more. Each one of its movements stirred the world around, banishing reality and replacing it with whatever Lino willed. Fire, frost, water, death, darkness, light... all were within the grasp of his hands. All of creation was right there, right in front of him, ripe for taking.

As the stillness ceased, and the world drowned in absolute entropy, he moved. He stepped but once, yet appeared right in the heart of the army. Others hadn’t even realized he was there by the time he swung the sword. It was a casual swing, it was so slow even a child could evade it. Yet, all the same, heads flew, blood spewed, it all happened so quickly that no one even had a chance to cry out.

All the while, the eighteen blades began moving apart from one another, seemingly encircling the entire world bit by bit.

Lino moved yet again, appeared behind Ritton who emptily still stared at where Lino was just a breath ago, convinced he hadn’t moved; the latter casually grabbed him by the shoulder, spun him around, and drove the sword straight through his skull, ripping it in half before kicking the body squarely, blowing it into smithereens of blood and gore.

“FUCKING RUN!!!!!” Yennefer screamed from the depth of her lungs, yet her voice turned sluggish by the time it left her lips. Realizing this was the end, she quickly activated her own Avatar Form -- yet, it’s an understatement to say it paled in comparison to everything surrounding her. A winged angel appeared behind her back, yet its light was almost immediately snuffed out, its wings clipped, head disintegrated into ash. “Graah--” she spewed blood from her mouth due to the severe backlash, feeling the very life force which upheld her seeping from her.

By now, Lino had once again moved, returning to the army; from just over 15,000, they were now at 10,000. Once more he swung casually, yet that casual swing ripped open the very concept of space and time, allowing him to pull nearly 5,000 souls into a singular spot before drowning them in cuts from which they could not escape. One after another they fell, yet not even their corpses remained.

Ethena shuddered suddenly, swiftly turning back only to meet a pair of milky-white eyes staring right at her, not even ten centimeters away. She didn’t scream or cry out, or even try to defend herself -- not for the lack of trying... but her Will simply wouldn’t listen. She was entranced within the chaos, within the distorted world where mountains were not mountains, where rivers were not rivers, and where sky wasn’t the sky she knew. The pair of eyes appeared almost holy-like compared to the ruin surrounding them.

Lino extended his arm and grabbed at her head from above, pressing his fingers into her skull and cracking it seemingly with no effort. The sounds of the cracking bones exploded out into ether, echoing throughout the entire vast world. He then spun sideways and threw her body at the army, turning it into a blasting cannonball that took nearly 2,000 lives on its way down.

All turned into nothingness; it would be hard to say how much time had passed since he’d begun the reaping, as time itself ceased to exist within the entropy. Yet, to those standing around and witnessing it all, waiting for their turn, it felt like more than just one eternity. They couldn’t move, couldn’t scream, couldn’t curse to at the very least let go of some of the grievances they felt toward him... they could do nothing but remain frozen in that single spot, awaiting their doom.

One by one they fell, like flies carried onward by a hurricane, until only Yennefer remained. She was halfway over to the realm of dead, unable to even keep herself afloat -- she knew she wasn’t the reason why she still remained in the sky, yet she dared not actually think about who was holding her up.

He soon appeared in front of her, standing right there, within her grasp; all the same, she was unable to do anything. She couldn’t even look away, let alone raise her arm. Looking at him once more, she realized he was no longer human-looking; from top to bottom, he was like a creature encased in escaping shadows, his features save for the pair of milky-white eyes indiscernible. More than a human, more than a god, she felt he was akin to something that shouldn’t even exist.

The pair of eyes looked at her calmly, seemingly examining the very depths of her soul. She felt starkly naked beneath that gaze, yet also distinctly wounded as the gaze seemed to hold no desire toward her; entirely indifferent, not even cold or harsh, merely as though she was just... air. Empty air of nothingness.

“--w-what are you... waiting for?” she managed to stutter out somewhat after a second.

“... I’m assuming someone from your family,” Lino replied in his usual voice, yet slightly distorted, similar to Writ’s, as he glanced past her into the horizon. “They’re speeding over as quickly as they can. At the very least, I can give them a chance to say goodbye.”

“--n-n-no... no...” Yennefer’s eyes turned into saucers, dominated by horror; no matter who it was, she only wished she could scream at them to return. To return and never look back.

Perhaps, had she still been her whole self, she would objectively gauge that Lino was by no means invincible; yet, living within that domain of nothingness even for a moment... changes a person. Anything outside of it... stands no chance. She believed that with every fiber of her being; she was convinced even if every single member of the Holy Grounds, every single Bearer, every single living soul banded together to attack Lino, they would only stream gently into their deaths.

“Ah, they’re here,” Lino said, walking over and grabbing Yennefer by her neck, forcing her to look into the horizon where suddenly over a hundred flashes of light flickered as people began showing up one by one. “My, my. You’re awfully popular for a prideful cunt. World is really a strange place.”

“Release her at once---”

“Shut up!!” an older voice interrupted a younger one, as a man seemingly in his mid forties stepped in front of the group; much like Yennefer, he had similar disposition, sharing her pair of azure-colored eyes and golden hair. “You have proven your point, Empyrean. Is there a reason to escalate this any further?”

“...” Lino squeezed her neck slightly harder, causing Yennefer to gag and cough, and others to cry out and attempt to step forward, only to be stopped by the middle-aged man. “There seems to be a misunderstanding here,” Lino said. “I’m not escalating anything. I’m just matching you. Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, tit for a tit. That sort of a thing.”

“... there is still time to make the right choice,” the middle-aged man said, frowning slightly. “Killing her will bring you no benefits.”

“Really?” though the shadow-encased figure had no features besides the eyes, it almost seemed as though it grinned for a moment. “And letting her go will?”

“Naturally, I will personally--”

“If you could personally do anything, you wouldn’t be here,” Lino interrupted, squeezing slightly harder. “It seems to me the world hadn’t taken my declaration seriously. I said wait for me. Not hunt me. Furthermore, especially don’t hunt me by sending prideful, vain children to their deaths... only to then shuffle all the blame onto me. What was she doing here? What were they doing here? You can’t have seriously expected they were strong enough to even kiss my dick, let alone actually kill me. Either you are far stupider than I ever dreamed, or you are looking to kindle the slightly doused flames of hate toward me.”

“...”

“Either way,” Lino said, glancing up toward the sky. “It doesn’t matter. Send children, send adults, send old cripples... all who may come will meet the same fate.”

“Think through this carefully, child.” the middle-aged man said, seemingly running out of patience. “If you kill her, the wrath of heavens will fall upon you. There will be no place to hide.”

“What are you talking about?” Lino said, meeting his gaze squarely. “It seems you haven’t realized it yet.” he added. “I am the wrath.” he clenched the hand around Yennefer’s neck and snapped her head off, holding it in his hand as her body fell to doom.

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beddedOtaku

Bio: Bad writer, worse painter, terrible singer. Accumulation of all things gone wrong. Rather proud of it, actually.

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