Skyfire Avenue Chapter 441-450

Chapter 441: Supreme Yang Lightning

The collision of these two beams produced a golden explosion that rivaled Luo City on the brightest day. The whole of the Great Conclave Arena was lost in the glare, while beneath the force shields, the entire battlefield was buffeted by waves of power. Blue and gold intermingled, though it looked like as though the gold had begun to devour everything else.

Then there was another flash, followed by a blast.

Boom-!

Bing Yu had her spear defiantly thrust toward Lan Jue, but the exchange forced her from the air back down to ground. The area around her flickered with golden light. Surprise flit through her expression. She had felt something, a mysterious and indefinable buzz that filled her. A residual heat surrounding the area, but it wasn’t from outside. The heat was coming from her. One of the benefits of lightning Disciplines were their osmotic and explosive capabilities. The purer the power, the more effective and damaging the strike.

Boom-boom-boom-boom! One after another, bolts of lightning thicker than a person came crashing toward Bing Yu. The spear
in her hand flashed and whipped, deflecting them as they came.

Nine in total, and none had landed. Lan Jue appeared again before the eyes of the public.

Bing Yu lifted her head to look at him. Though none of Zeus’ strikes had found their target, she was nonetheless surrounded by a visible corona of electric energy.

“The strength of Zeus’ attacks are weaker than Bing Yu’s, clearly due to their difference in rank. However, Bing Yu appears to have lost the advantage. Why is the effort so strenuous for her?” Mo Xiao was genuinely curious about what she was watching.

The Terminator’s dispassionate voice answered. “Vigorous, prosperous, positive; the Nine Supreme Yang Thunderbolts. Lightning and Thunderbolt are natural elements that can also be separated in to yin and yang like anything. The yang aspect is hard, while yin nature is soft. Although this masked youth is not of a high rank, he has a very good grasp of his abilities and their attributes. It reduces the power gap between him and Absolute Zero. There are no weaklings in the quarter-finals, remember.”
The Terminator was right; that had been Lan Jue’s Nine Supreme Yang Thunderbolt attack. It was also true that, despite his rank two abilities, the combination of his experience, his two Disciplines and spiritual understanding have made the difference less stark. Bing Yu had been able to block the blast force of his attacks, but wasn’t able to stop lightning’s permeating nature. Those nine lightning bolts had still taken their toll.

Crack! Bing Yu’s spear shattered in to a hundred million pieces, right in her hands. Sparking slivers of lightning were discharged when it did. But Bing Yu was not idle. A white light began to grow, centered on her chest until it swallowed her up and made her entirely translucent. She looked like she was made of the same stuff she commanded, ice.

Temperatures on the battlefield kept falling. On-screen thermometers were flashing negative one hundred and fifty. It was a stabbing, tearing cold. Lan Jue felt like even his meridians were beginning to solidify.

Bing Yu took a threatening step forward. The radiating corona of her power appeared and disappeared at random intervals, while she herself was an inexplicable opaque white from head to toe. The entire battlefield shivered when her foot touched the ground, which was then followed by a blinding light that
erupted from below her. It spread until it consumed the whole field, covering every corner. The battlefield was lost in a sea of impenetrable white.

It was an unnatural cold that assailed Lan Jue, even worse than before. He could feel the power being sapped from him by the second. He felt like everything around him was locked in an enormous block of ice, himself included.

Overhead, the Terminator’s eyes glimmered. “The true essence of ice… interesting.”

Mo Xiao gave him a sideways glance, then engaged. “Your Majesty, I’ve been wondering. How strong would an Adept like Bing Yu need to be in order to bring the field all the way down to true, absolute zero?.”

“Difficult to answer,” came the Paragon’s response. “To reach a certain level and to master it are very different. Setting aside brief spells of success, she would need to be an established Paragon before she could achieve absolute zero for long periods, and consistently. As far as I know there has never been a Paragon with her powers, which makes answering your question difficult.”
Mo Xiao, her face displaying regret, turned back to the fight. “It looks like Zeus is going to lose.”

Down on the field, that opaque white hue had paled, becoming translucent. The occasional flash of lightning from within was clearly much weaker than it had been. Zeus himself was frozen solid.

Bing Yu did not use this opportunity to launch an attack, but instead remained locked in place in the ‘air.’ Her faceted figure glimmered like a gem, even as the temperature continued to fall to negative one hundred and eighty degrees.

The battlefield was a frozen hellscape. At this degree of cold, it appeared even Bing Yu was beginning to struggle. If she could, wouldn’t she be moving in for the kill? Still, it was clear she had taken the upper hand. Only the areas directly beside Zeus were still affected by the lightning, and even that was growing weaker by the moment. It was an indication of his failing shields, and if that lightning went out it would mean he’d been completely frozen. The match would be lost.

Swaths of white color slithered through the ice. Lan Jue was their target, and they moved toward him with a predatory air. This was pure elemental essence, one of Bing Yu’s greatest
advantages.

Every elemental Adept sought to find the true nature of their gift. It was practice for immersing oneself in protogenia; an Adapt who had practice in uncovering the underlying essence of their element was better equipped for progress later. The breakthrough to Paragon was similar.

The cold was slithering passed Lan Jue’s protections. He could feel it invade him like a cancer, while his Lightning defenses failed. Even the blood in his veins was slowing down. His heartbeat slowed. His Core was under duress, pressed down tight. The force of his Discipline was dedicated solely to stop himself from being crushed, but his mind was  beginning  to grow sluggish. The cold was invading his soul.

What awful, pure power!

There was no doubt that Lan Jue was under pressure. His mask and bearing hid his thoughts from view, but inside his heart was as smooth as a lake surface. There was no fear, no anxiety – he focused on the cold, and how it interacted with his body. He immersed himself in it, and at least to him it was marvelous. Lan Jue’s body and mind was focused on the present.
The Pharmacist had told him that re-cultivation was a purification process. Like watching a TV show for the second time, you can see and understand a great deal more. After his joining with Qianlin, his Core was smaller and his power weaker. However, Lan Jue could sense the purity in his Discipline, and his increased control.

Thunderbolt had rules. Like everything else, it was also an aspect of protogenia. He was beginning to understand. Pressure from the outside world had a constraining effect on his lightning, but the result made him better able to recognize details since they were happening slower. It was another piece of the puzzle. Lightning didn’t have an inherent shape. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t bound by its own rules. Around his core, tendrils of lightning danced all around but had slowed from the extreme temperatures.

Under Lan Jue’s ministrations, his core was glowing a brilliant gold. Pure and vibrant, his Core seemed to continue drawing in on itself. Condensing one’s Core wasn’t something most Adepts were eager to try. It could crack, or collapse. Either were unspeakable tragedies.

Lan Jue’s Discipline was also strong, explosive, and difficult to precisely control. That made the risks even greater. If the Driver knew what was going on, he’d probably be grinning from
ear to ear. This wasn’t much different than attempting suicide.

But this was another benefit of re-cultivation. Mind and experiences weren’t lost when his Discipline was. Alas, the struggle made him better! After the Silkworm ability and the Mystic Raiment, he was better than new.

The compression continued. And the further his Core was pressed, the more pressure his Discipline was under.

Cores were limited by the space they inhabited. The constraints of the human body were a hard cap on their volume. This was why purity and condensing practices were so important, because they were the only path forward. At ninth rank, an Adept’s Core was at its peak volume. From there, the goal was to increase density to improve energy volume.

Condensing a Core, shrinking it, was like extending its growth period, while re-cultivated Discipline was denser by nature. It was a dream for any Adept to have a second growth spurt.

As for Paragons, a very important change undergoes their Cores during ascension. With each advance in solidifying their knowledge of protogenia, their Cores were polished until at last
they broke through. After that, it could not be said that a Paragon was truly human any longer. They were half human only, and half a being of energy. For those like Lan Jue with an elemental Discipline, it meant that they were inseparable from it. He would be lightning, and lightning would be him.

With the Pharmacist’s guidance, Lan Jue had come to understand the benefits of all this. He no longer lamented the loss of his former power. He was thankful to have been so blessed.

The last few days, he had relied on strength of will to succeed.
He would purify his Discipline, and he would purify his Core.

Chapter 442: Compress The Core!

He felt like he was succeeding. His ninth level, second rank Core wasn’t overly difficult to compress. He had the experience and control of a ninth rank Adept, so this was easier. He was also benefiting from Zhou Qianlin’s tenacity, something which he could access after their unnatural union. It settled over his Core and made it stronger. The likelihood of his Core collapsing from the strain was remote.

Of course, as he did so it was for Qianlin – any changes to his own Core were reflected in hers. The young Adept, it could be said, was undergoing her own re-cultivation process. The only difference was, that her discipline didn’t have the same explosive power that his did.

In the battle now, he could feel the struggle between Bing Yu’s essence of cold, and Qianlin’s Queen of Heaven powers. The Queen of Heaven transformation served to empower one’s Core, and allowed both he and Qianlin to share control. But although Bing Yu’s powers were different, there was still a benefit. The chaotic nature of his Discipline was constrained, and its erratic behavior soothed by the cold. Since Lan Jue’s unification with Qianlin had also granted him higher degrees of control, he was having no trouble commanding his abilities masterfully.
How could Lan Jue pass up such an incredible opportunity? The pressure was a great catalyst for his hidden potential. He continued to allow himself to be pressed.

Through their telepathic link, Qianlin’s power had been part of him since the beginning, making his Discipline more controlled and flexible. Lan Jue feared no circumstance, for whatever he experienced Qianlin would sense as well. With her Queen of Heaven powers, there was no danger he couldn’t overcome here.

Bing Yu, of course, didn’t suspect she was actually helping her foe. She could see the electricity around his frost-covered body dimming.

“Your Majesty… should you call the fight?” Mo Xiao cast a nervous sideways glance toward the Terminator.

He shook his head. “It isn’t finished yet. The masked man has options yet, and he hasn’t used up any tricks. He’s  got something in mind – let’s watch carefully.”

A full minute stretched like this, Lan Jue unable to move a muscle. However, he was not idle. As he compressed his Core,
he immersed himself in the sensations and secrets of pure elemental ice. It was fascinating to watch the effects.

Bing Yu had never considered the fact that Lan Jue might have a deeper elemental understanding than she did. Protogenia was out of the question.

The secrets of lightning’s essence were rooted in righteous qi of the universe. Righteous qi followed the path of the universe, and so those who bore a Discipline like lightning were almost physically unable to go against what was just and good. An Adept who went against the grain of his Discipline, found themselves very quickly weakening. This was one reason why the Clairvoyant elected to have Lan Jue join not just the Avenue, but the council as well. His Discipline was proof that Lan Jue could not be a bad man.

The term TJSS used here in 正气, which is a phrase that, today, is a catch-all for all aspects of qi that are good and proper. I’ll refer to it hereafter as ‘righteous qi’

What about protogenic thunderbolt and lightning? Where the essence of lightning was a reflection of righteous and correct action, their protogenic reflection was less refined. As Lan Jue understood, it was judgment! Universal Judgement against all
that was evil and vile. That was what protogenia meant for thunderbolt and lightning.

A golden light started to radiate from the center of Lan Jue’s chest. As it expanded, the lightning from around him was swallowed up and vanished until every inch of him was covered.

This fight was a battle of comprehension. Both were aware of the essence of their gift, so it would come down to a contest of their attributes. Clearly, Lan Jue was not a match for Bing Yu rank for rank. However her mistake was using her own powers to try and contain his. Lan Jue was gifted with two Disciplines and had some notion of protogenia. Bing Yu was fated to lose.

ζ

Chu Cheng watched from the stadium seats like the other guests. As the essence of ice froze the ring solid, his lips curled in to a sour grin. He shook his head. “This lucky bastard.”

The bundle of clothes that was Hua Li nodded knowingly.

ζ
There was a flash of gold, then Lan Jue was gone. Half a breath later, a streak of light was heading right for the jade-like statue the essence was emanating from. It struck, and coiled around the form causing the pockets of essence to fall away and dissipate. When he reappeared, Lan Jue was still blanketed in that golden light. He looked like a holy avatar come to earth.

Bing Yu dangled from his fist, clutching at his golden hand around her throat. With a shuddering zrgggtttt, she was injected with untold volts of electricity.

The fight was over!

That familiar electronic voice confirmed it. Lan Jue gently returned Bing Yu to the ground.

She just regarded him with disbelief. “You understand essence… even more than I do? How can you, at you rank? How when you only have a third-rank Discipline at best?”

Lan Jue said nothing, though inwardly he muttered about the rank discrimination. There was nothing more to say, so he turned and walked off the field. Bing Yu watched him go, but there wasn’t any animosity. Her accomplishments were
amazing for an unaffiliated Adept. Ranking wasn’t any more important to her than it was for Lan Jue. She had come here to learn something.

She had felt the whole of her Discipline suppressed after Lan Jue hit her with the final lightning attack. Even before then, she had been locked in place while releasing essence. But when he used it, he could move… it was a matter of their nature! She had only sensed Lan Jue’s nature for a fraction of a second, but she was convinced her loss was no fluke.

Everyone here was a talented Adept, and young. Their differences in rank didn’t matter so much as their understanding. If they grasped the essence of who they were and what they could do, their Discipline would inevitably rise to the occasion. An Adept who rose in rank but still didn’t understand this, was destined to hit a ceiling and stop improving.

Bing Yu’s curiosity about this Zeus was only greater now after their fight.

The first round of group one battles had concluded. The results; Titan and Zeus had won, while Bing Yu and Qi Mu had been defeated.
For the losers, their chances at advancing to the semi-finals were mearger. In the next round, Titan would face Bing Yu while Lan Jue would square off against Qi Mu. If he wanted a chance at qualifying, he’d need to beat the wolf, too.

Now attentions shifted to the second group, which was now choosing fights. The group consisted of the Pharmacist, Jiang Yuan, Qianbian, and Chi Tianjiao. Of all the groups, it was the one the Accountant had fretted over least. The Pharmacist, with her strength, would find little trouble in advancing through the tournament. Her roughest fight would be against Jian Yuan, the Necromancer from the Dark Citadel.

The sorting finished, and the Pharmacist’s first fight was to be against Chi Tianjiao. Jian Yuan was pitted against Qian Bian.

“My turn.” The Pharmacist gracefully rose to her feet, smiling at Lan Jue.

He nodded, and gave her a thumbs up.

Today, she was dressed in a light-blue qi pao that really set off her figure, and highlighted her traditional Chinese style. Her foot lightly touched the ground and then she rose in to the air
like a fairy. She landed within the ring, ready for her fight.

Lan Jue’s mind went back to the Accountant’s report:

Chi Tianjiao. Westerner. Discipline; hematomorphosis. Nickname; Pureblood Succubus. Ninth level, sixth rank. Besides Lan Jue, she was the weakest Adept in the quarter-finals.

However, the Accountant had said that Chi Tianjiao’s Discipline was especially dangerous. It awas capable of enacting changes within the blood of their victims. With such a rare and specialized Discipline, there were many ways they could get around a lower rank.

Chi Tianjiao was another female, but who was unfortunately not blessed with good looks. She was large, and big boned. If one looked at her from behind they might think she was a man. Her features were cut stark with high cheek-bones, and her hair was short and straight as steel nails. It was red, like her hard eyes.

When they met in the ring, Chi Tianjiao lustily licked her lips. “Your blood has got to taste something special,” she hissed.
The Pharmacist’s response was tepid. “Even the basest things feel it appropriate to boast before me.”

“Three, two, one. Begin!”

Chi Tianjiao heaved a terrible roar and a vigorous aura of red light sprang up around her. Much to the horror of the onlookers, the light congealed and formed in to a figure before her. It looked like half-congealed blood, but more stunning was its likeness to the Pharmacist.

“Blood boil!” Chi Tianjiao thrust her hands in the sky and shouted again.

The light around the Pureblood Succubus had darkened to a crimson red. A fire of the same hue danced around the bloody form in front of her.

On the opposite end of the ring, the Pharmacist suddenly went rigid. Red had begun to creep in to the skin of her face. She could feel it, like the blood in her veins no longer belonged to her. It felt like it was trying to fight its way out of her body. A strange mist had begun to accumulate over the  Pharmacist’s head before being blown away by the wind.
“Hmph!” The Pharmacist audibly sniffed at her foe. She stretched her foot out half a step and thrust her hand out vertically with fingers intertwined. Her left foot stamped to the ground.

In that moment, the image of a golden mountain shimmered in to view behind her before vanishing. Right away, the rising heat in her blood was gone. The creature Chi Tianjiao had summoned fell away in a torrent of blood with their connection severed.

A cyan light slowly rose from behind the Pharmacist, and soared high in to the air. It broadened until it became an enormous sword that swiped right for Chi Tianjiao. The faint image of an enormous fist could be seen groping through the air, bearing the blade down on the Pharmacist’s enemy.

The Western Adept felt like everything around her was sheered away. She couldn’t dodge, or even move. Her claim to fame, that special blood Discipline, was completely useless. All advantage, gone. How could she possibly survive against this peak-ranked Adepts sword?!

The encroaching swipe of the blade shook the heavens.

Chapter 443: Qian Bian vs. Jiang Yuan

“Chi Tianjiao has lost. The competitors must not be harmed.” The Terminator’s deep voice boomed through the arena.

Chi Tiantjian was caught off-guard and stumbled backward, falling on to her backside. A moment later, two deep slices appeared in the ground where she had just stood. When she saw it, her face blanched. The Terminator’s voice had saved her from getting cut in two.

Down the field, the Pharmacist’s spectral  sword  vanished from view. She regarded her defeated foe with cold eyes. “If I discover that you use human blood to augment your powers, you won’t even remember a day when you weren’t in agony.”

The Pharmacist glanced for a moment toward the VIP platform, but said nothing. After a moment she floated away back toward the resting area.

That… that was it?

The audience was dumbfounded. It didn’t look like Chi Tianjiao even registered on the Pharmacist’s radar. Too fast to
see anything! Certainly the fastest since the quarter-finals had started.

It was expected that the contenders this late in the tournament would all be powerhouses. So how could something so blatantly one-sided happen? Chi Tianjiao couldn’t protect herself – even the Terminator had to intervene. Was their difference in power really that stark? The simply answer was no; the weakness lay in the restraints of Chi Tianjiao’s Discipline.

Disciples of Celestial Master Qian were followers of ancient Chinese values, values which were attuned to the righteous qi of the earth. All things evil, base and vile were weak against her Discipline. Chi Tianjiao’s skills were based in darkness, and with the Pharmacist’s abilities practically on another level, she hadn’t a chance.

The defeated Adept stumbled from the ring in a daze. She looked almost afraid as she walked right passed the resting area, and right out of the arena.

The first fight of the second group had concluded. The Pharmacist had once more marred the field with her power.
Next fight; Qian Bian against Jiang Yuan.

Most competitors had a firm understanding of Jiang Yuan’s strength, if not its limit. His opponent was another matter. The Northerner was a mystery, but he’d already left quite the impression with the crowd.

From the Accountant’s information, Qian Bian was a ninth level sixth rank who had fused his body and his Discipline with the newest liquid metal technology. The result was fierce adaptability and resistance. Several types of weaponry had been installed as well, so the end result of his conversion was higher than the official score of his Discipline. He was not a weakling.

The two men separated to either side of the ring.

The Necromancer was as imposing and macabre as ever. His compatriot’s loss to Titan didn’t appear to have affected him in any way. Qian Bian was another classical-style Easterner, tall with a spiky yellow Mohawk over two meters tall. One could guess height was an important aspect of manliness in the North, but in fact the imposing stature of converts was often directly correlated to their strength. This was especially true for an Adept like Qian Bian.
However, for the moment both of them had very dour expressions, and the reason was simple. They had, along with everyone else, seen the Pharmacist’s performance. Jiang Yuan may not have been bothered by Qi Mu’s loss, but the Pharmacist terrified him. Qian Bian was no different. It was a clear message; you’ve got no chance in this group.

Jiang Yuan’s powers were also rooted in darkness, so he had very carefully watched the last fight. The moment he saw how quickly Chi Tianjiao lost, he knew his days were numbered. But it was what it was, and he would do his best against the Eastern dragon lady to see what he could acquire from the experience. Now to protect his ego, he would have to begin by defeating the convert in front of him. He had something to prove.

Qian Bian was less flustered. With Titan and Yan Ningya in the fight, he had no illusions of winning the tournament crown. His goal had been to reach the quarter-finals, and that was a goal he’d achieved. The rest was just an opportunity for growth, so he faced his next fight with that in mind.

“Three, two, one. Begin!”

Qian Bian’s hands shot up, and much to the crowd’s surprise they watched his body become a pure titanium white. His two
arms shifted before their arms, remolding in to dual six-barrel laser cannons. A storm of energy blasts were headed to his foe.

ζ

Lan Jue watched from the resting area, recovered after his own encounter. It had been a great one in terms of results, with his Core a full one third more compressed than it had been. What he wouldn’t have dared to do himself, Bing Yu’s ice powers had helped him achieve flawlessly.

The Pharmacist had returned as well, and walked over to the chair beside him. It was like the tyrannical woman who’d embarrassed Chi Tianjiao was someone else entirely. She even smiled when she saw how carefully he was watching the fight. “What? Are you afraid they’re going to beat me?”

Of course he didn’t. Jiang Yuan’s Discipline attributes spelled his doom, while Qian Bian just didn’t have the strength. Liquid metal wasn’t so difficult to defeat as one might think. Direct explosive force was simplest, and besides Qian Mu was still part human.

“I was just thinking about an acquaintance with similar
abilities to Qian Bian,” Lan Jue mused.

His mind went to Ke’er, the Force Tempest. Those two were very similar indeed! A single Adept with the power of two. Ke’er’s ‘participation’ in the Northern experiments had involved the best technology available, and it appeared the same held true for Qian Bian. His Discipline was higher than Kun’er’s, but Lan Jue felt like he was missing something his Amazon already had.

As an aside, his name is 千变, ‘ten thousand changes.’

The Pharmacist’s gentle voice intruded. “There is no future for a thing half man, half machine. Understanding protogenia requires that we have an understanding of ourselves. Titan is different, though. They built him to join with his Discipline so that they might grow together. For Qian Bian, they tried to force him in to power.”

Lan Jue suddenly understood what it was that made Ke’er and Qian Bian different. The Amazon’s abilities were metalmorphosis and explosive energy, and the metals they had used to remake her had not been your run-of-the-mill variety. Really, the thing that had been most affected had been her Core, which they’d catalyzed to make it grow. So one difference
between the two was that the experiments on Ke’er were of a higher grade. Lan Jue vaguely remembered Ke’er telling him that, when she did it, the success rate for this sort of thing was very small. It was because of her than Qian Bian existed at all.

On the field, the fight had reached a fever pitch.

ζ

Qian Bian opened with a salvo of powerful energy blasts. His style and powers were commonly encountered in the North, though few ever reached his level. With his Disciplines in tune, he blasted Jiang Yuan’s side of the ring with missile fire. The six-barrel cannons that his arms had become, belched like raging dragons. Pyroblast Missile!

Glimmering flashes could be seen in the area around Qian Bian’s shoulders. His liquid form undulated, and from somewhere inside two enormous orbs of energy launched outward. They screamed through the air right toward Jiang Yuan, with a smoldering tail of fire in their wake.

As Qian Bian was summoning the pyroblast missiles, Jiang Yuan called forth his dark scepter. He pointed, summonging an
enormous skull that blocked the path to him. Qian Bian’s missiles grew closer and, just as they looked as though they would reach their target, a sickly green light erupted from the skull’s eyes. When the light reached the missiles, they exploded in midair. The resulted blast buffeting the whole interior of the battlefield.

Jiang Yuan remained behind the destructive glare of the skull, all the while muttering curses. Pus-green orbs of toxic power were flung every which way. Dark glyphs hung in the air around him, tainting the piece of reality they inhabited. They slowly began to converge.

Qian Bian had an idea of his foe’s abilities from the pre-fight research. Jiang Yuan’s curses weren’t random, but precise and all-pervasive. So, once he knew that Jiang Yuan would be his opponent, he was ready – more than ready. Victory against the necromancer would be won by direct, explosive force. The longer he waited, the more likely his defeat became.

While Jiang Yuan was dealing with the missiles, the convert crouched low then launched himself in to the air. His body changed as he soared, before crashing to the ground in the form of an artillery gun.
It didn’t look like much, size wise, but the barrel was downright huge. The dark maw of the weapon began to glow red as the power within raged to be let free. An unseen energy reverberated all around them.

Jiang Yuan’s eyes narrowed, clearly sensing the ominous surge from his opponent. The protective skull before him was little more than fractured bone after the pyroblast missile strikes.

A cold, hard look appeared in the necromancer’s eyes, and he took a threatening step forward. At once, the  putrid  aura swelled to cover him entirely. His growling voice became great cries of profanity.

The arena shook with the terrible power of his voice. Everyone who heard felt their head begin to spin, and those unfortunate spectators who were not Adepts began to wretch uncontrollably.

Light around the arena shifted as the force field readjusted to the threat. Gradually, the necromancer’s poisonous words were locked away within the ring. Just in time, for in that moment Qian Bian’s attack had charged. The gun roared as a beam of saffron yellow erupted from within to devour the field.

Chapter 444: Summoning The Malefic Wyrm

The intense heat caused the air beneath the force field to shimmer. Even the people in the audience could see the alloy floor begin to soften. The alloy it was constructed from had been made to resist blasts from top-ranked adepts. For those attacks that softened it, it had been imbued with metals for self- repair. The damage to the floor alone, then, was a clear indication of Qian Bian’s strength.

The torrent of destructive yellow energy continued for another five seconds before gradually dispersing.

The artillery gun that had delivered the payload shook, and reverted back to the human shape of Qian Bian. However, the victorious look in his face fled when he peered toward where the beam had fallen. There he discovered a doll, about the size of a man’s palm, suspended in air.

The little black plaything exploded with an audible crack before a caustic mist seeped from it. The fumes fused to form Jiang Yuan.

“Beguiling puppet!” The Terminator turned his head to look
back at Lucifer, seated behind. “Very impressive! For the necromancer bloodline to employ this, they’ve come a long way.”

Lucifer’s remained impassive to the praise, but offered a polite smile. “Thank you, Your Majesty.”

Qian Bian, of course, was more surprised than anyone. When he saw the shot land, he’d thought for sure the fight was over. He even thought, he confessed, that the Terminator might even have had to intervene.

As one of his strongest moves, Qian Bian was very aware of how powerful the Mass Energy Discharge attack was. Even a peak ranked Adept couldn’t match it for pure destructive power. It had also been extreme draining, but he hadn’t expected Jiang Yuan to walk away from it unscathed thanks to some trick.

Jiang Yuan ominously brandished his scepter, and the metal floor split as four skeletal hands groped for Qian Bian from below. They were followed quickly by a string of the necromancer’s curses.
The beguiling puppet that had surprised the Paragon was a very useful skill to possess. For someone of Jiang Yuan’s ability, it was tantamount to gaining a second life. On top of that, he could keep casting his spells through the doll so there would be no interruptions.

Qian Bian reacted to the clawing hands, shifting his arms once more in to cannons that blasted the skeletal appendages to bits. He knew he was on the ropes. He’d pulled out his biggest guns from the start to take Jiang Yuan by surprise. The plan was to give him no chance to react and fight back. He was dismayed to find the dark mage’s powers were stranger than he’d thought.

But he would not roll over so easily, and would resist until he hit the floor. His reconstructed body shivered and launched in to the air where it converted in to fighter jet. His streamlined frame was dazzling, reflecting light off of his smooth metallic surface.

As if in response to the change, a guttural howl swept through the arena.

Those terrible curses that looked as though they had been headed for Qian Bian, fell to the ground some distance away. The white alloy had only just healed from the former blast
when the necromancer’s dark powers began to change it. The whole surface went smooth, and the purplish-black eminence of his power painted the floor with a mirror sheen. A brilliant purple outline of a hexagram emerged from the black.

The image rotated, and then the whole floor flashed purple. The center gradually darkened again to an intractable onyx. It looked like the entrance to some horrible abyss.

That was where the cry had come from.

Jiang Yuan’s villainous face was split in a self-satisfied smirk. Looking up toward the soaring warplane that was Qian Bian, the necromancer extended a single gnarled finger.

Qian Bian didn’t know what was coming, but he knew he might not survive it. All or nothing, that was his only choice. The fighter jet swung around and pointed its nose cone right for Jiang Yuan. The guided missiles bristling from beneath its wings roared to life and launched. It didn’t matter what the mage had done – blowing him up would solve the problem.

As the missile’s orange flames set the ring in stark light, an enormous white object lifted from the abyss below.
Out on the platform, the Terminator shot to his feet much to the shock of those around him. In a blink he was gone.

Whatever it was filled the entire field, and Qian Bian’s attacks were inexplicably swallowed up. He could feel the hunger in it, like it wanted to devour him as well. But then a large silhouette cut off his vision, revealing the Terminator right in front of him. The Paragon gripped him with a meaty hand and then, before he even knew it, Qian Bian was standing outside of the ring.

What he couldn’t see before he saw clearly now. The thing that Jiang Yuan had summoned was an enormous skull, as large as the arena itself. He could not name the beast, but the bones looked reptilian. It lashed and flailed like a demon, with a cold putrid fire where its eyes had been.

The monstrous creature lived somewhere in that blackness, and at Jiang Yuan’s call had come to devour the convert. It had spread wide its maw and leapt to bite. If the Terminator had been even a fraction of a second later, he’d have been gulped in to the black abyss. He didn’t even want to think what that would entail.

“Thank you… thank you, Your Majesty, for saving my life!”
Qian Bian could feel the cold icy grip of death on his spine. He had been inches from obliteration!

The Terminator did not reply. His hard eyes were fixed on the necromancer. “You dare to call the malefic wyrm, Yaduobaha. The gall!”

Jiang Yuan had not finished his curses. With a pale face, he concentrated all his focus on the skull of the legendary monster. The beast turned toward the necromancer, spreading wide its jaws anew. The fire in its eyes flared as the beast appeared to find a new target.

Jiang Yuan jerked. His mouth flew open, and a forceful burst of blood was vomited forth. Shaking hands groped at the pendant against his chest; a skull that looked exactly like the monster’s own.

Spatters of the blood from his mouth splashed against the charm. A red light wormed itself from the bone, eventually turning purple as well. A pair of black flames sparked in its eyes, identical to the larger one.

Yaduobaha, as though sensing something, stopped suddenly
and shook its massive head. It dissolved in to a beam of light that raced for the pendant Jiang Yuan bore. When it reached him, the necromancer was enveloped in incandescent light. The portal below him retracted and eventually vanished, cutting them off from the terrible behemoth that lurked just beyond.

Amazement flickered in the Terminator’s gaze. He shook his head and said, “He calls and seals the malefic wyrm! Courageous, and stupid. For the Dark Citadel to command someone like this, it’s clear they are a force that will endure.”

The Paragon released Qian Bian like one would a mutt, thrusting him away before returning to his seat upon the viewing platform in a flash.

From the competitor’s resting area, Lan Jue had seen the entire thing. From what he could pick out, the necromancer needed time for the full might of his power to be realized.

“Why do I get the feeling this was all to put on a show for you,” Lan Jue said dryly to the Pharmacist.

She shook her head. “From the start I wasn’t sure what he was up to. At his level of power, he had a great many options for
dealing with Qian Bian but he decided to take the lengthiest road. This isn’t the first time, either. If you watched his use of the beguiling puppet from earlier, it had been to extend the time he had to complete the incantation. It must be a terrible, powerful curse from the ancient West – some sort of summoning rite that was clearly very difficult to achieve. He was prepared, and still managed under pressure. Likely with some power still to spare. I think you’re right… the purpose was to show me what was in store. Yaduobaha, the Malefic Wyrm? Self-aggrandizing nonsense. An earthworm by any other name…”

Lan Jue had a great deal of admiration for the woman. He looked at her scornful expression and knew she was a match for anything thrown at her.

It took three or four minutes for Jiang Yuan to completely seal the beast. Only once the last vestiges of that bone-white light were gone did he return to normal. Normal, though, was subjective. Now his skin had an unnaturally violet tint, and his eyes burned with an enigmatic brightness. But where his eyes looked fierce and young, his body looked as though it had aged several years. New wrinkled plagued the corners of his eyes. Summoning that creature had cost him.

This was the end of the second group. The winners were the
Pharmacist, and Jiang Yuan.

Each fight had been more spectacular than the last, from the Pharmacist’s lightning-fast victory to Jiang Yuan’s display of stupendous power. They were still processing what they’d watched, but they knew that the qualification process meant there could be only one. It was something they were looking forward to.

Lan Jue’s attention was very closely fixed to the ring now, more so than ever. The next group – group three – was the one the Accountant said would be the meanest;

Yan Ningya, the Driver, Cao Shuiqin, and Jun Yongye.

Chapter 445: The Blade Of Jun Yongye

“That was an incredible spectacle! I have no idea what it was Jiang Yuan summoned, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw it again before the end of the tournament. Perhaps we’ll see even more to come.” Mo Xiao’s voice rang through speakers around the arena. Her sweet voice never failed to draw every eye. It stirred them from their stunned silence.

She went on. “Now, we will proceed to fight selection for group three.”

Four new portraits appeared. Meanwhile, a dim light hung over the ring as the floor began the process of repairing itself. Recovery was longer this time, though that was no surprise after what they’d witnessed.

“Begin!”

The portraits immediately shuffled in the air above them, quickly arranging themselves in to pairs. It was decided.

“Group three, round one; Yan Ningya against Jun Yongye, and the Driver against Cao Shuiqin.”
The Accountant’s advice had been dire no matter who the Driver ran up against. Use his potential to the best of his abilities, was the official answer. If he triumphed, it would be a mighty feat.

The Driver would face off against Cao Shuiqin, the one the Accountant had praised so highly. First, however, were the disciple and the swordsman. Yan Ningya was the disciple of the Great Conclave’s second Paragon, the Epochrion. Her foe was a man the Accountant knew little about, only that his Discipline involved his sword – Jun Yongye.

Lan Jue turned his eyes toward Yan Ningya, who was rising to her feet. The wind caught the veil that hid her features from view, making it flutter. But while her face was hidden, her eyes were a dazzling prismatic display that drew the viewer in. She slowly made her way out to the ring.

Jun Yongye also rose, and Lan Jue took the measure of this mysterious Adept for the first time. He looked like he might be around thirty, not terribly handsome, with a medium build. He had pale white skin with dark eyes – not someone who really stands out from a crowd. However, if someone were to give him more than a passing glance, they would discover something different about his bearing. He was dressed in white, but nothing with modern appeal or stylish cut. It was a long robe,
like the style they might have worn in the former era Chinese dynasties. His long hair had been coiled up and fixed to the top of his head with a wooden clip. All in all, it was a very oriental flavor.

He entered the ring with the same poise Cao Shuiqin bore. His gait looked almost lazy, but to Lan Jue’s trained eyes he could see the flow in them. They were precise, and very evenly spaced.

The Pharmacist regarded him as well, with her brows pressed together in thought. The light of curiosity flitted behind her eyes.

“What do you think about this one?” Lan Jue asked her.

She shook her head. “It’s hard to say. This will be a battle between a fierce tiger and a mighty dragon. I think they’re more evenly matched than any fight we’ve witnessed yet.”

Zeus was genuinely surprised. “You think Jun Yongye is that skilled?” His surprise could be understood. After all, Yan Ningya was the disciple of a Paragon. She had one of the most fearsome of Disciplines at her command, Time. She was one of the
delegates the North pinned their hopes on to win the tournament. If the Pharmacist’s estimations were correct, then that spoke volumes to Jun Yongye’s capabilities.

The Pharmacist answered. “He’s a difficult one to read. He seems kind, and there’s something familiar… as for the limits of his strength, we’ll only know when we see him in action. At our levels, Discipline isn’t the only factor for victory.”

Lan Jue nodded in agreement. “I’m anxious to see what we discover.”

The two competitors entered the arena together from opposite sides. Jun Yongye’s robes flapped in the breeze, like he’d just come in from the wild lands. An amicable smile spread his lips.

Yan Ningya’s expression was hidden beneath her veil, but her eyes continued to flash hypnotically. The audience attention was almost subconsciously drawn to those eyes.

“Three, two, one. Begin!”
Jun Yongye wrapped up the outer layer of his robes with his left hand and swept it behind hand back. His right hand extended, and beckoned towards Yan Ningya. Very refined.

His opponent nodded back, as though in greeting. She did not rush to engage. By all appearances, they looked more like friends than competitors.

Then, Yan Ningya shot her right hand in to the air. An odd sword appeared in a flash of white, clutched in her grip. Its length was its most defining feature. An average sword was about three and a half feet long, maybe four. This sword was a full six feet long, and was composed of pure energy.

This Northerner from the Conclave was a swordswoman?

In all her former fights she’d hardly had to try. In fact, she’d hardly had to move. Vicious use of her Discipline had been enough to quickly attain victory.

“Brother Jun! I hear there’s no one in the tournament with a better comprehension of protogenia than you. If I’m honest, though, I’m not convinced. I’m anxious for a lesson in swordsmanship.” Yan Ninya’s voice carried far across the arena,
but oddly spaced. Some were long, and others short, and tumbled over one another in an alluring sort of rhythm. Every word was an enticing coo that pulled at the listeners’ hearts.

“Their praise is unwarranted,” he assured her. “But I would be happy to assist little sister in her hobby.”

Jun Yangye reached out as though grabbing for something, and at his gesture a flash of light stretched from within his hand. An ordinary-looking, four-feet long sword appeared.

Yan Ningya’s delicate foot stepped forward, just half a foot, and then she was gone. In the next instant she reappeared directly in front of Jun Yongye.

The Pharmacist gasped. “Phasing!”

She swiped her sword toward his face as it blazed an angry white.

But a change had overcome Jun Yongye, the moment that sword appeared in his hand. His warm eyes sharpened to a single point, the blade. The point of it swayed a little, slowly
slanting forward.

Achieve without acting. The very minute adjustment to the sword’s angle had it collide squarely with the flat of Yan Ningya’s sword. Their collision was marked with a piercing ring!

And then a puff! Yan Ningya immediately disengaged and retreated, much to everyone’s surprise. Then they saw that her sword had been broken clean in half. The front part had dissolved in to motes of crackling light and vanished before reaching the ground.


That noise, though, wasn’t the noise of the Adept’s sword breaking. It sounded like a quick rush of air, like puncturing a balloon. The ring’s uppermost shields exploded outward.

The colors flashing in Yan Ningya’s eyes displayed pure astonishment. She urged energy through the sword, reforging it in a blink. She pressed the advanced, flowing gracefully in to attack. She became a whirling of motion, her sword flashing dangerously as it came at him from a dozen different angles.

Jun Yongye never looked at her, never looked up. His eyes
were locked firmly on the sword. He turned it again, down and diagonally just a few degrees.

Ding!

Yan Ningya’s sword broke again, but there was no dramatic explosion like last time. Everything was normal.

On the surface this was beginning to look like a fight between wu shu masters, not Adepts. A few knowing spectators, however, knew that what had transpired in the last moments was crucial.

Lan Jue, the Pharmacist, and the Terminator all watched with that knowing look.

What Jun Yongye was using wasn’t swordsmanship. It wasn’t protogenia either, but a sort of it… the true way of the sword.

No one knew what the man’s comprehension entailed, but it made the hair on the Terminator’s skin stand on end. It reminded him of someone – someone he didn’t want to ever have to think about. Jue Di!
There was nothing similar in the abilities of this swordsman and Jue Di, but it wasn’t the ability that reminded it. The similarity lied in the sheer skill, the mastery that bordered on divine. It scared the Paragon. He also thought to his future. For one so young to have so much talent, his Path to Paragon would be a difficult one.

Yan Ningya’s eyes hardened. She had a great deal of confidence in her swordsmanship abilities, no less than her formidable Discipline. She hadn’t anticipated that she would be so outclassed.

She disengaged and reforged her sword once more.

Jun Yongye didn’t follow. His just stared at his weapon. To him, nothing seemed to exist outside of the sword’s flashing blade.

The arena was silent. The audience was as still, and soundless. Most didn’t understand what happened, but those with a clue grinned from ear to ear. As for those in the VIP platform, they all watched a quiet, dignified disbelief. What they were seeing couldn’t possibly be true.
The Epochrion’s disciple looked like a child before Jun Yongye.

The Terminator’s eyes were more solemn, as though he were thinking about something. Beside him, Mo Xiao sat speechless.

This man… he’s amazing! Could he really be so good as this? Is this the power of perfect simplicity?

Yan Ningya lifted a hand, and pulled the veil from her face, instantly stopping the peppered conversations that had begun in the crowd.

What a face! Milky white like flawless jade, with large dark eyes beneath delicate brows. She was a rare beauty.

Chapter 446: The Alluring Blade

Lan Jue had been blessed with the company of many beautiful women in his life, but this one was only surpassed by Hera and Zhou Qianlin. She had a very different style, however.

Yan Ningya’s beauty was something Easterners’ could appreciate. She had a very classical appearance that was not the flavor of the North or West where they preferred more straightforward girls. However, once beauty reached a certain point it didn’t matter. At least, that’s how many in the audience felt when they looked upon her.

She was like a different woman once the mask was gone, though. A fervor burned in those glittering eyes. Then, she turned her back on her enemy and walked a few steps away. She dragged her longsword along the crowd to the sounds of an awful hiss. A jagged trench followed her.

Jun Yongye appeared to sense something, and his response was to smile pleasantly toward the girl. With his left hand he flicked the blade of his weapon. The resulting hum of reverberation sounded like the sigh of a great dragon. It filled the whole arena as commanding as ringing church bells. There was something stimulating about it that cleared the minds of listeners so they could focus more clearly on the fight below.
Seven long steps. Yan Ningya lazily dragged her sword seven steps across the field before slowly turning back to look at the swordsman. Her pretty face was split in a shy smile, and yet her eyes were different. A quick glimpse of sadness existed somewhere in them that appeared only occasionally. For many it only served to increase her charm.

Then there was a flash, a piercing ray of light that slashed the ring in two.

The Pharmacist muttered as she and Lan Jue watched. “The Alluring Blade. Beguiling with a look and a smile!”

The moment Yan Ningya swung back around, Jun Yongye was on the move. The point of his simple sword tore through the air. His eyes followed the biting tip, the blade leaving a dim afterimage in its wake. A series of tintinnabulating rings followed quickly one after the other, like wind chimes as he deflected the beam.

That cutting light that had threatened to sever the whole ring vanished. Jun Yongye stood unmoved, with the tip of his sword firmly pointed to the distant Yan Ningya.
She looked unmoved, but there was flash in her eyes at the world around her appeared to thicken. Her foe could feel his sword moving more sluggishly, as though trying to cut through jam. At last it was time to use her Discipline – time control.

Her eyes grew sharp and she took a step forward. She and her sword swam effortlessly toward her enemy, as though dancing. She began to sing, sweet soft tones.

“In the North lives a wondrous beauty!” She whipped the sword around herself and over, bringing it down in a fierce chop toward Jun Yongye.

Yan Ningya’s time dilation had begun to slow him down, but a pale white haze sprang up as she neared. He pulled back his sword just in time to deflect her attack with the flat of his sword.

“Clang!” Jun Yongye stumbled sideways a couple steps.

“Peerless and independent!” She almost floated down from the sky above, with her sword piercing straight ahead. He continued to fall back with his sword raised in defense.
“Clang!” He was knocked back three steps.

“One laugh and cities fall!” She let out a sweet giggle of her own. The light around her sword bloomed and birthed countless more shards. All of them were sent flying.

Even on his back foot Jun Yongye wasn’t the least bit flustered. He was retreating when suddenly he stopped, and thrust his blade straight at her. He was slower, but if he focused on that fact then he would have to chance to dodge her attacks.

“Clang!” This time, Yan Ningya was reeling.

She don’t know how that happened. Her attack should have struck first. She nibbled pitifully on her lower lip, and her big eyes were full of sorrow. A moment later, though, she giggled again. Her clear voice called out. “Another laugh, another city!” She flipped her sword over so the point was downward over her enemy’s head. A blast of light shot out.

Jun Yongye’s face became somewhat more serious. He dropped in to a crouch, but it looked like the time distortion wouldn’t allow him to bring back his sword in time to block. Instead, he angled the hilt…
“Clang!” Jun Yongye’s sword was knocked away.

A multitude of colors flared from Yan Ningya’s eyes, and the light washed over the field below. She herself was suddenly enveloped in a golden aura, which formed in the appearance of a courtly dress. A godly phoenix sorrowfully circled overhead.

Back in the rest area, the Pharmacist continued to narrate. “Ah, the Naked Eyes of the Concubine. A very good pair to the Alluring Blade.”

As far as I can tell, this is taken from a poem written in the Tang Dynasty by a poet named Bai Juyi called The Song of Everlasting Regret

Yan Ningya shut her eyes and began to murmur. “Such a beauty as this was rare to be seen.” Her fairy-like flight took her higher and then, body and sword as one, she descended upon the defenseless Jun Yongye like a lightning bolt.

“Your Majesty!” Mo Xiao cried.

Jun Yongye’s destruction at the hand of Yan Ningye looked
inevitable. She couldn’t understand why the Terminator didn’t intervene. In fact he merely sat there, silent and unmoving.

“Clang!”

The disciple’s sword rang against Jun Yongye’s chest. Shocked, she found that even with all of her power behind it, her sword couldn’t pierce him.

Jun Yongye smiled at her, “I am the sword!”

She could see his body quiver ever so slightly, and then radiating waves of vibrating energy wafting from him. In that moment he did look like a greatsword, standing proudly in the center of the arena. Yan Ningya watched the vibrations from him dissipate her time dilation, and was even forceful enough to force her to retreat. The energy sword in her hand shattered again.

He stood with his weapon raised to his chest in salute. “When you have learned the true meaning of time, and have joined it with the Alluring Blade, then you may seek me again.”
He punctuated the word by half-hazardly pointing with his weapon toward her. With a beautiful flourish, the sword disappeared into the folds of his fluttering robes.

Yan Ningya then felt an impossibly sharp, piercing intent stop just between her eyebrows – right where Jun Yongye had leveled the blade. She knew that the power she felt only stopped from drilling right through her because of her opponent’s mastery. Her eyes were as wide as saucers, but she could sense something in that power she felt she could understand.

“I concede.” She said softly, dropping her eyes to the ground.
Her smile was gone.

Chapter 447: Cao Shuiqin

Jun Yongye gave her a final nod, then left the ring.

Compared to the other fights, this one had been almost tame. Although Yan Ningya’s charge had been a spectacle, the rest looked like a plain sword battle. However, one of the strongest hopes for the future of the Great Conclave had lost. The crowd muttered among themselves at the result.

Mo Xiao, her mouth slightly agape, slowly turned her head to look at the Terminator. Her shock turned to a smile. “Forgive me, Your Majesty. I was on the edge of my seat and got over- exited. You have incredible perception.”

The Terminator did not speak. Were his eyes really so good as she said? The truth was that the aura Jun Yongye bore made him uncomfortable. It was partly for this reason that the Paragon hadn’t stopped Yan Ningya from trying to destroy him.

Lan Jue, meanwhile, watched from his small sofa with narrowed eyes. The swordsman’s display had him thinking, and only those like Lan Jue who knew the art of combat could see how dangerous that fight had been. Yan Ningya should have tested him out first, and then used her Discipline in the same
moment as her Alluring Blade. That would have been the most effective use of her skills.

At any rate, a ninth level eighth rank Talent who could perfectly fuse their martial art with their Discipline… that was something that got people’s attention. And although she had lost the fight, her attack would easily have destroyed the arena if those shields hadn’t been there to protect them. Still, in the end Jun Yongye used nothing but his ordinary-looking sword to knock her aside.

The Pharmacist looked as surprised as many in the audience. “He… he is no man.

“Not a man?” Lan Jue looked at her quizzically.

“He’s a sword…. Unbreakable Blade style. He’s quite strong,” she illuminated.

Lan Jue wasn’t a student of the sword, so his knowledge didn’t extend passed the rudimentary. However, the Pharmacist was indeed trained in swordsmanship, since her Discipline and martial art both used one. She was certainly the one to ask for insight in to use of the blade.
Jun Yongye did not remain to watch the rest of the fight. His firm and steady gait took him right out of the arena.

Lan Jue sat in silence, and even closed his eyes momentarily. The fight had given him more than just a passing moment of excitement. There was something in there to be learned.

Ever since acquiring the special conductive metal from Lyr, Lan Jue had, on occasion, turned him mind to the future Astrum he would bear if he became a Paragon. Each Astrum was unique to its user, and every Paragon bore one. On the day they died, their weapons would inexplicably be destroyed along with them – as a part of themselves. One of the main reasons that the Gourmet and the Bookworm were still considered weak even among Paragons, was in part because of their lack of an Astrum.

Something he’d seen when watching Jun Yongye awakened an understanding in him. He knew what he had to do.

In the legends of ancient Greece, Zeus’ weapon were his lightning bolts and sometimes a spear of lightning. Likewise, those had been the tools Lan Jue employed in his own battle tactics. Now that he’d seen Jun Yongye’s demonstration, Lan Jue wasn’t so sure his was the best method.
Once an Astrum was created, it could not be changed. If Lan Jue were to adhere precisely to the old tales, than a spear would be best. However, still he hesitated. He was an Easterner who was given the name. Somehow, he just felt as though the spear was not the shape his Astrum should take. He had been moved by Jun Yongye’s mastery with the blade, and wanted that for himself.

In ancient China the sword was called the lord of weapons. It was the most difficult to learn, but his earlier dabbling in swordsmanship became a desire when he saw what it could accomplish.

When he opened his eyes, the ring was occupied by two new people. The Driver and Cao Shuiqin had already begun preparing for their fight.

The Pharmacist, seated beside him, had also come to from her own thoughts. She was somewhat taken aback by the light of determination she saw in Lan Jue’s eyes when they opened.

“I guess you made up your mind,” she said with a smirk.

Lan Jue nodded. “Coming here was the right decision.
Watching that fight helped me decide what my future Astrum will be.”

She blinked at him. “The sword?”

He nodded.

The Pharmacist smiled at the revelation. “If you feel that is the right choice, then it is the right choice for you. The first feeling is often the correct one. Congratulations on your revelation.”

Finding one’s chosen path with such conviction was not an easy thing. This was especially true when an Adept reached such levels as they inhabited. Once a Talent got to these heights, everything they did was to prepare for the breakthrough to Paragon. The more abundant this preparation, the easier their eventual success would be.

“Three, two, one. Begin!” The fight had already started.

Cao Shuiqin looked like the very picture of soft femininity. Although she wasn’t as attractive as Yan Ningya, her gentle aura
was almost hypnotizing. She was covered in a yellow dress, and carried a guqin with her.

This is a guqin. I tried to learn guzheng once, which is one of these just with more strings. I was viciously teased, because instruments like this are widely considered a woman’s instrument, despite those lying Kung Fu movies which have blind old guys throwing daggers made of sound from these things. The distinct lack of sound-weaponry is ultimately what made me quit.

“Another Easterner,” the Pharmacist mused.

Lan Jue blinked. She was right! The North appeared to have the tournament wrapped up, but the Easterners who came to participate were making a show of it. Himself, the Pharmacist, the Driver, Jun Yongye, Cao Shuiqin, Xiangyuan Shishi and Ying Suifeng were its representatives. Unfortunately, the third group had an abundance of Easterners, and only one could advance.

Translated earlier as ‘Windshadow’ in Chapter 432. Changed to the normal Chinese name.
Lan Jue was surprised when Cao Shuiqin was the one to initiate the fight, and not the lightning-fast Driver.

She started with a coy smile, which immediately made the Driver freeze in his tracks. A strange look filled his eyes. In that fraction of a second, her delicate hands lay upon the seven string, thirteen bar instrument. They danced like waving blades of grain, coaxing forth a simple chord.

The humming strings shot forth a fan of sharp, blue daggers of air. The translucent attack spread right for the Driver.

The Driver was still distracted by her smirk and thus was surprised by her strike. Just before those dangerous weapons pierced him, he shot in to the air as a bolt of lightning. There, he reappeared before launching himself down again toward his waiting foe.

Chapter 448: Heartstrings

The Driver was blindingly fast. Before Lan Jue learned the secrets of martial arts, he couldn’t have kept up with the Driver’s speed. In a flash, the Avenue delegate appeared behind Cao Shuiqin with his hands reaching for her neck.

In this instant, the Driver didn’t pay much head to the Accountant’s concerns. He felt that encountering Cao Shuiqin in the first match was a good thing. Her Discipline was music, based in sound. Sound was a great deal slower than light – the speed he was almost capable of achieving. He wasn’t worried his powers would be insufficient.

As if to prove the point, his hands clapped down on Cao Shuiqin’s shoulders, and she didn’t even move. He poured electricity through his hands and in to his foe, though even the audience could tell he was taking it easy because he was fighting a woman.

However, over the din of the crackling electricity, he could make out a crystal-clear buzz.

The sound seemed to be coming from Cao Shuiqin herself. The Driver’s hands were suddenly and forceful knocked away,
while his heart began to race without reason. He could feel it buzz, too, just like his foe.

The electricity numbed her, and caused her to stumble forward a step. However, the playful smile on her face showed that the Driver had had little effect. Her fingers danced along the strings again.

In that instant his enemy vanished, and  the  Driver inexplicably found himself in a vast and empty abyss.

This… dreamland?

The arena began to thud rhythmically from unseen war drums. Then, without warning, a cadre of troops clad head to toe in armor appeared from nothing like the armies of heaven. Meanwhile, the metal floor had become a sucking bog that attempted to swallow him up.

The Driver growled. There was a pulse of silver light and then, with a thunderous crash, bolts of lightning erupted from him in all directions.
Boom—!

Lightning roared from beneath the Driver’s feet in attempts to send him catapulting in to the air above Cao Shuiqin’s power. There was a flash, and he changed direction in mid-air to plummet into a swath of bristling soldiers. It was the area he last remembered Cao Shuiqin standing. He was still lost in a world of her making.

Silver light enveloped the ring, followed by a staggering explosion.

In the use of their powers, the Driver and Lan Jue were quite different. Thunderbolt was thunderbolt, and lightning was lightning – he could use them together or apart. The Driver, though, only employed them joined together. This was one important factor in his comparative weakness to Lan Jue, and his troubles moving forward.

Thunderbolt especially, being an aspect of righteous qi, was stronger in its yang form than in its yin.

The Driver jumped back to his feet after the charge, then swung around to envelope another hoard of enemies in fatal
lightning. He knew for certain that the things he witnessed weren’t real – they were a trick of Cao Shuiqin’s power – except that somewhere she was in the darkness. And if he didn’t know where his target was, then the plan was simple. Direct, all- pervasive force!

Explosiveness was an undeniable benefit of thunderbolt Disciplines. Its blast-force was strong enough to destroy most illusions outright. Like Lan Jue had the first time he met the Beautician.

But no matter how strong the Driver’s attacks were, Cao Shuiqin always remade the dreamland when he destroyed it. At least his strikes were having an effect. However, the more serious problem was the music itself. No matter how much strength he put behind a strike, the music continued. He could fill the whole field with lightning and it wouldn’t put an end to the constant echo of that stern music in his brain. It was worming its way through him, tugging at his heart.

What is this?! The Driver was at a loss.

It was evident that she’d chosen this tactic to combat his specialty, but while effective it must also be draining to maintain. This couldn’t continue for long. If the Driver was
anything, he was sturdy, and once his mind was made up his resolve was unshakeable.

A beam of powerful light launched from the Driver, followed quickly by a thunderous blast. Like a terrible firecracker, it blasted through the remaining soldiers nearby.

While the illusory bodies writhed, he pressed his hands together in front of his chest, wasting no time. His fingers danced and curled around each other in odd arrangements, while silvery runes appeared and vanished inexplicably.

Hand Seals?

Lan Jue regarded his fellow Avenue denizen with some surprise. They could not see the phantoms that plagued him, but they could see the Driver’s every move as he combated the dreamland. He tore through the air, spraying lightning everywhere in desperate blasts. Now, as he cast his runes, Cao Shuiqin remained below him in the center of the field playing her guqin.

Nine runes hung in the air, floating around the Driver. The sounds of thunder played on the wind, faintly heard. Then,
there was a flash of silver light that filled the sky. The whole of the ring’s interior was immediately buffeted by an explosion so fierce that the force fields screeched in protest.

This guy…

Lan Jue knew what he was up to. The Driver knew that even though the dreamland he was lost in looked infinite, there was in fact only limited space in their arena. He was using his greatest attack to fill their limited space, and blast through every corner.

It was usually a dumb strategy, but in this case it looked as though it might prove effective. What Lan Jue failed to understand was how the Driver succumbed so easily to the illusion. With all of the competitors ninth level and higher, it shouldn’t be that easy.

The flying daggers stopped. What the Driver saw as enemy soldiers were consumed by the burning silver light. When it cleared, he was back in the ring. He turned to look at Cao Shuiqin, who looked somewhat disheveled.

She looked right back at him, and offered a smile. “I can’t tell
you why, but you’ve already lost…. Well, you seem like I nice boy so I suppose I can.”

The Driver just looked at her, confused. Cao Shuiqin simply went back to plucking at the instrument. However, much to the crowd’s surprise no sound came out. But the Driver’s face changed, and he staggered so much that he nearly fell. To him it felt like waves of overpowering fear were pouring from his own heart. It beat so fast it felt like it might burst from his chest, urged on by some unseen stimuli.

Cao Shuiqin’s poison tones were thankfully only heard by the Driver. Acoustics!

“You’re strong. Everyone in our group is. If it was a contest of direct strength then I would have had to employ all of my tricks, but I need those for the other fighters. And so, to win I took a risk. Your chance had been at the very start when you put your hands on me. You held back, and if you hadn’t than I would have been finished. But I knew you well enough to know you wouldn’t charge headlong with your full strength at a woman. I was right. The moment you touched me you were infected by my music. My heartstrings got their hooks in to you, and with each pluck of my finger you are powerless. You cannot resist now that the strings are already tuned. I’m sorry to have used your kind-heartedness against you… but as a consolation, my
Heartstrings are not such a bad thing.”

Faint hues of red appeared on her pale face. Her delicate fingers laid upon the strings, silencing their hum. The Driver stood still, as though nailed to the floor.

His brows furrowed as he glared at her. He knew he’d lost. His defeat wasn’t from a lack of power, but poor planning. After a moment his brow relaxed, and a smile even split his face. “I didn’t lose to you, I lost to myself – the moment I saw you step in to the ring. You are precisely the type of woman I like, perhaps the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. You win, I’m convinced.”

The Driver finished with a gentlemanly bow, then left the ring. Cao Shuiqin clearly hadn’t expected him to be so graceful in defeat. The light red in her cheeks deepened considerably. The cameras streaming to each of the great Alliances caught it all.

He… how could he say this in public like that? There are qualifiers to win, how am I supposed to behave?

She furiously stamped her foot and glared at the Driver’s
back. She spun on her heels and ran from the field.

The audience was quiet. Then, suddenly, the whole audience erupted in to laughter. It was hard to tell whether it was meant kindly or something else.

The seriousness of the fight had been relieved by the waves of laughter. “This guy…” Lan Jue said, shaking his head as he watched the Driver come.

“The nerve!” The Pharmacist sniffed, full of displeasure. “How could he tease her like that after losing.”

Lan Jue chuckled. “It is often wise to find advantage in inferior position. I know him, he wouldn’t say something like that out of nowhere. He’s got some plan, you wait and see. There’s a trap in store for Cao Shuiqin.”

The Pharmacist gave him a flat stare. “Men. Not a single good thing about them.”

Lan Jue responded with a profound stare of his own. “Well… before you patent that, maybe add a little disclaimer; ‘but my
little brother’s ok’.”

She snorted a laugh at him. “You seem skilled enough in singing your own praises.”

Chapter 449: Constantine’s Path

“Just a suggestion,” Lan Jue said with a smirk.

So it was for group three. Cao Shuiqin and Jun Yongye had achieved victory. There wasn’t a great deal of surprise but for the dark horse,Jun Yongye. His almost assured entrance in the final four was a surprising result.

Mo Xiao’s final words for the group were brief. This was somewhat understandable, since even she wasn’t fully aware of everything that was happening. At this level, the difference between victory and defeat rested on a razor’s edge. For instance, she wasn’t even sure how it was the Driver was defeated. The Terminator didn’t explain either. What happened was a secret between the Driver and Cao Shuiqin.

It had come to the final group of the day, and the last of the opening rounds for the quarter-finals. Group four; Constantine, Blackmoon, Ying Suifeng, and Xuanyuan Shishi. Of them, Constantine was heavily favored to advance. Like the Pharmacist, he had smashed through his previous foes as though they were made of paper.

It’s important to note that the first part of his name
‘Xuanyuan’ is another name for the Yellow Emperor, Huang Di, the first emperor of China.

Back in the Avenue during the Citadel’s visit, he had shown real strength. He had ultimately lost to the Pauper, though the beggar was half a step away from Paragon at the time. Constantine was a peak-level Adept who, with the Spear of Fate in his hands, was undisputedly a force to be reckoned with.

The big question was the Easterner in the group, Xuanyuan Shishi. This was the one the Accountant couldn’t find much information for. He was a young man with short dark hair and a lively sense about him. He was twenty six, maybe twenty seven, and a notable Talent already. His earlier fights had been fast and mysterious. Mist was his Discipline, and when that cloud enveloped his foes they would lose without anyone seeing how.

Lan Jue was helplessly distraught to learn of Xuanyuan Shishi’s luck, which seemed almost supernatural. He’d been paired with weaker opponents in every fight leading up to now. His trek to the quarter-finals had been a breeze.

Blackmoon – the Northern delegate – was also a notable member of the group. His Discipline was called the Wicked Eye, and involved thought control. He bore a high-caliber energy
rifle, and once he got the lock the target had nowhere to hide. He was celebrated as a master sniper with attack force almost equal to a Paragon.

But like anything with such awesome power, there were restrictions. He could only fire once in ten seconds. If it weren’t for that handicap, then the other Adepts would probably refuse to fight him. For him, like any sniper, the trick lay in not getting pinned by the full force of his strength.

The fight arrangements were complete; Constantine verses Blackmoon. Xuanyuan Shishi against Ying Suifeng.

The first fight would be an interesting test of Blackmoon’s attacks. Were they mighty enough to overcome Constantine? That was the key – if he could land even one shot, he could win.

Constantine took to the ring with a majestic gait. He glittered beneath the arena lights, clad in white priest garb inlaid with gold.

Blackmoon was a different sort of animal. He was thin as a rail, with vulture-like eyes. His hair was tied back with a black bandanna, the same color as his combat fatigues. It was night-
camouflage, designed to keep him hidden in the dark.

The two men looked at each other from across the ring.
Neither said a word.

Blackmoon grunted, and slapped his hands against his chest. The inky color around him was cast forth, then coalesced in his hands in to his trademark sniper rifle. The thing was so enormous it made him look almost comically small.

“Three, two, one, begin!”

“BANG!”

The very instant the voice stopped, Blackmoon’s rifle had fired its first round. Everyone paying attention was stunned. The rules demanded that he didn’t carry a loaded rifle on to the field. How did he fire so fast?

Constantine’s eyes went wide, and he lunged out of the way.

“Poof!” The bullet seemed set to hit Constantine, quicker than
his dodge. But just as the bullet of energy was about to land it fractured and spread out, forming a net of energy that enveloped the High Inquisitor.

Blackmoon had never used anything but mass-energy rounds against his previous opponents. This was completely outside of what they knew about him.

Enhanced Snare Rounds! These things were used against mechas.

The convert’s right eye flashed and turned red. The rifle in his hand hummed, and streamers of crimson energy began to gather in it. The strength of Blackmoon’s shots were only in part due to hardware. The Wicked Eye was a force to be reckoned with all its own. The two together were earthshaking.

It was a fact few knew. Most of those who did were dead. One hundred shots, one hundred hits – nothing could stop him. That was the power of Blackmoon.

The net had been a bid to give him a shot, literally and figuratively. What no one knew was that the ten second constraint wasn’t a rule; if he poured more energy in to the rifle
he could charge it faster.

Constantine was caught beneath the net, but he didn’t look worried. The snare, which was supposed to force him to his knees, didn’t seem to bother Constantine much at all.

“Retribution!” He calmly cried. A beam of white light appeared overhead and shone down upon him.

The snare wasn’t just a lash to keep him down, that would be too simple. It was also infused with deadly high-voltage electricity designed to wreak havoc on mechas, to say nothing of what it might do to a human. An ordinary man would almost immediately be singed to ash, but Constantine was not ordinary. The holy light protected him and with a burst of anointed energy that pulsed from him, but the net remained

Constantine narrowed his eyes.

Three seconds.

The ghost of a smile turned Blackmoon’s lips. He was a cold- hearted, professional sniper. Getting him to show any reaction
at all was a feat. He knew that the full effect of the enhanced snare round was more than his enemy thought.

A second light appeared from nothing, joining the other. Their fused strength proved too much for the net and finally destroyed it.

Five seconds had passed.

Blackmoon’s smile fled. He looked at his foe, who simply stood there. Constantine didn’t attack, instead calling out to him with an almost bored inflection.

“Hurry.”

There was about no greater insult to a sniper than to let them take their shot.

Blackmoon’s red eye flared, and the light gathering in his rifle thickened.

Seven seconds.
BANG–!

A screaming, blood-red round fired from the barrel of the gun. Its kickback was so strong it knocked Blackmoon back three meters. When it hit Constantine it sent him flying across the ring.

The audience watched, gasping in sheer disbelief. The Inquisitor was poised to win the tournament! Could this have really knocked him out of the running? It looked like the loss might have even cost him his life! They just watched him take a shot that would eradicate a gunship.

Bang! Constantine was brutally smashed against the force field, with enough force to send him sailing back forward. He landed with a crash, covered in crackling remnants of red light.

A wicked, self-satisfied smirk split the sniper’s face. Pompous ass. Screw off.

Then his red eye went wide.

“Not… not bad. It’s true what they say… you almost hit like a
Paragon. Pretty close, anyway.” Constantly coughed, pushing himself from the ground with one hand while the other tenderly rubbed his chest. The rippling waves of light around him stabilized.

Holy shit, he took it straight on!

Blackmoon simply couldn’t believe what he was looking at. He had never once encountered anyone who wasn’t a Paragon that could survive a shot from his gun. That shot was the crux of his strategy!

It was completely inconceivable, and yet the proof was standing right in front of him. No matter how much Blackmoon didn’t want to believe it, Constantine had faced down his best and was still standing.

That wasn’t to say he was unscathed. Constantine was bleeding profusely, from the mouth, nose and ears. It looked like he had taken some damage from the blow. His eyes, though, ere sharp as ever. He almost looked excited, and still didn’t make to attack Blackmoon.

The convert hefted his rifle and began charging again. It was
impossible – he couldn’t accept anyone short of a Paragon could escape his gun!

“I get the idea.” Constantine waved his hand dismissively.
The entire ring was suddenly lost in a sea of holy light

“Winner; Constantine!”

The Inquisitor walked away from the ring holding his chest. He bared his teeth in pain, making him look like a wounded animal.

Lan Jue watched him closely, his eyes narrowed. Constantine’s choice to face the bullet was deliberate. He was seeking the thrill, the fear of danger to push him to his potential. It was also reckless, for the point of impact must have been very near his Core. A little stronger and he would have been in far more dire straits.

The dangers were balanced by understanding, though. At the very least his own potential would rise to try and meet the demand. He wasn’t here for titles or riches. He was here for the same reason as most of the others.
VIP Platform.

“Your Majesty, was Constantine’s choice to take the bullet in order to deepened his understanding?”

Chapter 450: Xiangyuan Shishi

The Terminator patiently offered his knowledge. “He’s following a path I myself took before breaking through to Paragon. I would spend my time at my peak seeking out the strongest contemporaries, and urging them to hit me with everything they had. I would use their strength to help me find my Path, and the stress ensured I always performed at my best. Constantine has the same goal. Let there be no mistake that, if Constantine had desired Blackmoon would never have gotten his shot off. There was too much of a discrepancy between them, and in fact Constantine may struggle to be challenged in his group.”

Mo Xiao nodded, agreeing with his assessment.

Seven of the eight fights for the day had concluded. The final match would be between Xiangyuan Shishi and Ying Suifeng.

Ying Suifeng – Ninth level, seventh rank. Discipline: Voice of Command

Xiangyuan Shishi – Ninth level, seventh rank.  Discipline: Mist.
Both men were from the Eastern Alliance.

Ying Suifeng was an ordinary-looking man, young and hip- looking. He was perhaps twenty seven or twenty eight. Shishi, meanwhile, cut quite the heroic figure. His face was lit up with a beaming smile.

“Hello, hello. Take it easy on me, will you?” As Shishi stepped in to the ring, he waved pleasantly toward Ying Suifeng, who only nodded back.

“Three, two, one. Begin!”

Ying Suifeng’s body quivered oddly for a moment, then split in to three identical copies. It reminded Lan Jue of the doppleganger tactics in mecha fighting. The difference was that this wasn’t some trick of the mind. It was likely the function of his Discipline. Then, as they watched, the three figures fused in to a grotesque amalgamation with three heads and six arms.

All three heads spoke in unison. “Silence,” they hummed.

Silence immediately pervaded beneath the force field, sudden
and complete.

Xuanyuan Shishi, watching from afar, had a somewhat startled expression on his face when he lifted his right hand. Mist gathered over his foe, and settled to envelope the three- headed Adept.

“Disperse!” The three low voices hummed.

And they obeyed. The mist dissipated until not a trace was left.

This…

The Voice of command Discipline was not often encountered. In some ways it was very similar to Lan Jue’s Ascension, though not as effective. While transformed in to Zeus, his Voice of Command weaved protogenia to manipulate reality. Ying Suifeng could only control things within his immediate area.

Both arms shot over Xuanyuan’s Shishi’s head and summoned another thick screen of cloud cover. Like all of his  battles before, the field became lost in the opaque fog.
Ying Suifeng raced forward to meet it. Moments before being completely enveloped, his six hands clapped together. “Disperse!”

Puff! They were gone again, at his command. But the sharp- eyed spectators were given a clue when they noticed that not all of Shishi’s mist was dispelled by his words, only a large swath. His influence extended fifty meters through the clouds before losing potency. The Voice of Command was potential devastating, but had its limitations. If not, no one could defend against him.

Ying Suifeng’s middle head perked up, and called out while one pair of arms pressed their palms together. “Clouds, open!”

The remaining cloud cover was pushed aside by some unseen force. A clear corridor was created.

Lan Jue watched carefully, his brows knit tight. “The Voice of Command has its roots in psychic force, right?” He asked the Pharmacist beside him.

She nodded. “Indeed. The true Voice of Command requires protogenia to realize its full strength. Its effect also depends on
the strength of the one it’s directed against. A capable opponent will only feel the urge, but can resist. The fifty meter trick was also a ploy, I suspect. A seventh rank should not be this weak.

Xuanyuan Shishi was not revealed when Ying Suifeng split the clouds. The three-headed Adept stood now in the heart of the mist. He stopped and shut his eyes, while the clouds rolled closer to swallow him up again.

Ying Suifeng’s three sets of eyes popped open. “Erupt.”

The tumultuous clouds stopped, as though frozen in time. A roar sounded from afar, gradually rising in pitch until it shook the whole arena. Great pockets of mist vanished without reason, replaced with dazzling golden light that began to swallow the ring. No one had seen a Voice Adept with such sphere of control!

Could the Voice of Command really be so strong as this?

“His power is centered around him, and extends in a radius. He moved to the center of the ring so that the acoustics bring his voice as far as possible. This tactic isn’t to hurt his opponent, but flush him out of hiding. Once he finds his target, then he’ll attack,” the Terminator explained.
The shockwave force of the blast buffeted the ring, turning it in to a raging sea of energy. The golden light made it difficult for the audience to see anything, and the eagerly waited with baited breath for the dust to settle.

The blast continued unchecked for a full seven seconds before it began to burn itself out. When finally the ring was revealed to them, the spectators looked with unadulterated shock.

The clouds were indeed gone from the ring. But there was something else in its place.

Ying Suifeng stood in the center of the arena, just as he had been. He, too, could only stare with wide eyes.

The air around him was thickly dotted with glimmering swords. They were long, sharp, and their surface was an undulating milky white. They were clouds – fused tightly to a razor’s edge – that extended all across the field. But nowhere was there any trace of Xuanyuan Shishi.

The feral blades slowly swung their points toward the center of the arena, where the three-headed Ying Suifeng stood. Uncomfortable only began to describe the sensation of standing
beneath the collected armory of Damocles.

The look of interest in the Terminators eyes revealed that this was as unexpected for him as it was for everyone else. What was this? Such a sudden, inexplicable change in circumstance.

Everyone was at a loss, as their slack expressions showed.

All but for the Pharmacist. With a gasp, she shot to her feet. “The Ten-Thousand Blade Technique!”

Even when she’d witnessed Jun Yongye’s abilities, she had remained even-tempered. Upon seeing this, however, the Pharmacist was less poised.

The words conjured a memory of Lan Jue’s teacher, and of something he said. Ten-Thousand Blades was a branch from an older technique, the House of Flying Blades. The path  to mastery was ever-changing and gruelingly difficult, but the rewards for persistence were prodigious.

Everyone expected Shishi’s Discipline to be mist. And in fact, it was. But that mist became swords, and the sum of them both
was formidable power.

Formidable, terrible power!

Lan Jue could feel his heart beating in his chest. The group everyone thought Constantine had sewn up was displaying much more than they’d expected. Whether Ying Suifeng’s Voice of Command, or Xuanyuan Shishi’s secret mastery, Constantine had a rougher road ahead than anticipated.

The msit swords moved once they’d found their target. Like a hail of deadly thorns they whistled through the air toward Ying Suifeng.

“Disperse!” He howled! His Voice, people were beginning to realize, wasn’t just speaking anything. These were Words of Power he was using.

Disperse, open, erupt. Words with visceral ties.

The first group of swords, those nearest, were sent back flailing chaotically. The second, however, kept coming. And so did the others, the hundreds upon thousands of milky blades
that seemed to have no end.

“Erupt!” Ying Suifeng spat the words. Once again the power of his Voice ravaged the ring and painted it gold. Once more the audience’s view was blocked as the shields thickened to protect them.

The roar of the blast, fierce and deafening, stretched for a long time. In a perfect mirror of before, the crowd’s eyes were wide in bewilderment as the shields returned to normal.

Half of the swords were gone. But, those that remained were three times as large. Threads of golden energy traced along their length.

If Jun Yongye was the king of swords given flesh, than this was his ancestor. As Xuanyuan’s training had prepared him for, he took the ever changing situation and manipulated it to his advantage. He was as fluid as circumstances required.

The enormous mist swords continued their relentless charge toward Ying Suifeng. They were slower in coming now, but the air around them warped in reaction to their strength. From outside, it looked like the ring was being sliced to bits by tears in
reality.

Mo Xiao’s heart beat thunderously in her chest. She shot a glance to her side when she felt the overpowering, murderous intent coming off of the Terminator in waves.

This is… could the Terminator be so threatened by this man that he would want to kill him?

“I give!”

Ying Suifeng’s bitter call rang in the air.

He had no choice. He couldn’t defend against swords sharp enough to slice reality. It was concede, or get cut to pieces. His Voice couldn’t stop these swords, so it was lose fast or lose painfully.

The dense cloud of swords overhead fused in to one, and settled to the ground. A figure emerged, of Xuuanyuan Shishi with his hands folded respectfully together toward his competitor. “Ahh no no. You let me win, is all.”

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