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Chapter 519: Too Nasty!

    Chapter 519: Too Nasty!

    Chu Cheng flew for a dozen meters before falling to the ground with a crash. His arms were numb and limp. Lan Jue was going easy; if he had used lightning with his Taiji, Chu Cheng would be feeling it.

    Chu Cheng's fighting spirit flared at the humiliation. The hellish red light in his eyes flickered, and then a murderous aura crept out from around Hades. It started beneath his feet, but the dead grey light that consumed the ground quickly started to spread in all directions. Everything was cold, gloomy, and still as the grave.

    His numb arms were drained of color. They were grey, like they belonged to a corpse. Meanwhile, the aura surrounding him felt like a chasm of alluring death that would cripple a normal man.

    Lan Jue didn't press the attack. He stood tall and straight, with eyes that blazed with battle-lust. Tendrils of golden lightning emerged and swung about him erratically. Soon they relaxed, becoming a layer of golden clothing. However, unlike Chu Cheng, his power didn't radiate through the world.

    Lan Qing couldn't help but keep the pleased reaction from his face. Turning lightning in to such a thin shell required tremendous control. Lan Jue was much improved over where he had been even only months ago. This was an accomplishment, as Thunderbolt Disciplines were notoriously difficult to command.

    The two men stared at each other from across the field; one gold, one grey. The potential destruction was palpable as their auras clashed between them.

    The Wine Master waved his hand. The scepter clutched in his gnarled hands flared, and a protective silver light sequestered the fighters from the others.

    Chu Cheng once again made the first move. He knew that if his friend had a chance to focus his Discipline, its explosiveness would overcome his hellfire. He raced forward so fast that a blurry afterimage of himself traced his path. He crossed the field in a heartbeat.

    To Lan Jue it looked like a dissolving swath of grey that melted heaven and earth into one wherever it went. His response was to slowly his extend his pointer and middle finger into the air before him. A glorious pattern of lightning hung where his fingers crossed.

    The indomitable press of Chu Cheng's charge broke off at the last second and he moved to the side. Their Disciplines clashed. Lan Jue juked around his foe and the two changed places.

    Lan Jue's sword-fingers 1 traced another outline, all around Chu Cheng. This time the lightning appeared as a full circle, suspended in air. The flickering light set off the hard lines in Chu Cheng's face. He could feel its buzz affecting his body.

    Hades saw his leverage slip away. The uncomfortable sensation broke his rhythm.

    Lan Jue's orb of lightning was a dazzling display. But as he looked on, it grew sluggish and an ominous sensation filled him.

    Hades' protogenic capabilities specialized in immediate extinction, the thin line between life and death. Lan Jue's orbs changed this, though. Somehow, Chu Cheng found he couldn't command that division as easily - it was like Lan Jue's Discipline was keeping them glued together.

    He flailed and jerked, trying to free himself from the prison of electricity. His form swelled as he railed, and two beams of grey light fired out like a pair of luminous scissors, right for Lan Jue's neck.

    Lan Jue traced another circle with his fingers and darted back. Chu Cheng's beams of grey were swallowed up by the attractive force of his lightning before being destroyed.

    At least it had earned Chu Cheng some breathing room. In that moment of respite, his body joined with a grey sword that surreptitiously appeared overhead. Chu Cheng drew circles.

    The sword broke its constraints and fractured into a dozen copies. They surrounded Lan Jue and besieged him on all sides. Lan Jue still traced circles.

    Wave after wave of grey light raced toward Lan Jue. Each one was thick with a sense of death, so numerous that they were like a life-devouring tide.

    But, no matter how many attacks Chu Cheng threw at Lan Jue, they vanished into the depths of those golden orbs. Chu Cheng was a raging force of destruction, and Lan Jue was fighting to hold everything together. He was there for every step his foe took.

    Seventy-eight attacks, and not a one found its target. Lan Jue's defense was absolute.

    Ting! Chu Cheng had to stop. The last ringing sound of his attack being deflected away hung between them. He couldn't sustain that level of offense for long. Already Chu Cheng sensed his energy reserves down by a third.

    While it may not have looked it, Lan Jue was glad for the pause. That brief exchange had been grueling. His style had changed, no more the reckless warrior like his opponent. But that defense had required endurance. He didn't dare stop, else he be drawn into its all-consuming vacuum himself.

    "I..." Chu Cheng fought for breath, trying to concede. Lan Jue was also taking big gulps of air. That clash was intense.

    Lan Jue didn't give him the chance. His fingers flicked out, flickering with a golden haze. A sphere of roiling lightning surrounded Chu Cheng. The Northern Monarch's Discipline flared as he shored up his defense.

    What was fierce at fore grows weak at aft. Chu Cheng was exhausted, and yet that mysterious orb from Lan Jue was robust. Defending against it was as impossible as fighting destiny. Little by little, Chu Cheng's energy slipped away. Soon he couldn't stop his body from being swept up into the swirling tide of the orb's power. It was like being caught in an undertow, only getting worse as his Discipline wore out.

    Lan Jue's fingers spiraled out and away, causing Chu Cheng to fly spinning like a top to the distance. He was just adding insult to injury.

    The golden light in Lan Jue's eyes dimmed. The buffeting force that filled the arena fell away. Outside of the force field, a host of shocked eyes followed him.

    Even for Hua Li and Lan Qing - who knew Lan Jue very well - this was beyond comprehension. They both knew that Lan Jue, recently crowned champion at the tournament, had a better chance at victory. What they saw instead was a masterful performance.

    Lan Jue hadn't laid out a single straightforward attack. Instead, his defense had done all the heavy lifting. It matched and surpassed everything Chu Cheng threw at it. It didn't look like much, but the simple fact it withstood the full force of Chu Cheng's attacks proved its magnificence.

    Lan Jue retracted his finger and stood tall. He stared at his defeated opponent, looking as lofty as a mountain, as deep as the ocean. He was surrounded by a strange and charismatic aura. The swirling vortex of energy finally swirled in to him and vanished, just as all rivers flow down to the sea.

    For a full eight seconds Chu Cheng stood where he'd landed, solid as a rock, staring at Lan Jue. Then he began to sway, until ultimately he stumbled and fell on his ass. He face was pale and drawn.

    Lan Jue rushed over to his side. He clenched his hands together into a double fist, and bashed them against Chu Cheng's back. The other man jolted, then seemed to recover.

    "Goddamn, what the hell was that? So nasty!" Chu Cheng managed to angrily spat the words after recovering.

    Lan Jue stood over him. "A defensive technique."

    Chu Cheng shot him a detestable look. "I am never sparring against you again. That ** sucked. I prefer head to head, getting a beating would be much less uncomfortable. Bro," he said, looking at Lan Qing, "look at your little brother. How can you look at this bull** and not want to smack him around?"

    Lan Qing regarded his brother with a placid gaze. "Do you need a rest?" He was anxious to test himself, now that he knew what Lan Jue was capable of.

    Lan Jue shook his head. "No need. But I do need a sword."

    "Alright." Lan Qing acquiesced.

    "Little-Jue." Luo Xianni's voice interrupted.

    "Mother?" He answered respectfully, something he reminded himself he needed to speak with Lan Qing about. He couldn't help but be a little scared off his new - somewhat off-kilter - mother.

    She answered with a smile. "Your Taiji sword play is very good. More agile than Chi Bupang, but less stately. You need more vigor. From light to heavy, something you'll learn with experience."

    Lan Jue's eyes lit up. "Thank you, mother."

    By this time Lan Qing had arrived at the center of the ring. Lan Jue turned to Xiuxiu and waved her over.

    She smiled, then quickly jogged to his side. Xiuxiu rose to the tips of her toes, as a gentle silver light enveloped her. Her body lengthened and warped until she became a shimmering longsword hovering in the air. The handle hovered before Lan Jue, awaiting his grip.

    Lan Jue took the Asura Godblade. The golden aura sprang back to life, and he charged.

    Lan Qing face was as still as a dry lake bed. His slowly retracted his right hand to his chest, then exhaled evenly as he stretched it out again. He stood out, the definition of towering majesty.

    As his hand stretched out, it seemed the bearer of stillness. Everything around them, the whole ring, suddenly became calm and silent.

    Lan Jue knew that facing his brother would be completely different from Chu Cheng. Hades was like a volcano that could blow at any moment. Lan Qing's strategies were as layered and boundless as the night sky.

    Lan Jue lashed out, commanding the power of Xiuxiu and the Asura Godblade. The blade traced a beautiful arc but, to Lan Jue's surprise, no hint of power followed in its wake. It was as though Lan Qing's singular hand was drinking it all up.

    Lan Jue understood suddenly that Lan Qing had long since learned to join his Discipline with martial skill. But his reactions were quick. His experience against stronger opponents had been bolstered in the Great Adept Tournament. He channeled the energies of the Asura Godblade, and concentrated his own thunderbolt Discipline. He swung the blade through the air again, but this time agility was replaced with intent.

    Pfu! Lan Qing thrust his palm forward. Lan Jue felt himself shake, and the circle he was tracing was knocked off course.

    The super-soldier of An Lun curled his hand into a fist, and struck again with an explosive one-inch punch. The deafening blast of an explosion tore through the arena. Wisps of cyan energy coalesced into a fist, half a meter across. It quickly crossed the ten meter distance between him and Lan Jue.

    Lan Jue suddenly began to move faster. A rapid succession of swirling orbs were cut in the air, and knocked the fist aside. In the next instant, it was surrounded by a net of golden lightning.

    It exploded. The cyan fist became a ferocious tornado of compressed wind that obliterated Lan Jue's defensive circles.

    1. This is where you put your pointer and middle finger together, extended like the blade of a sword. I remember this was taught when learning the Taiji sword styles (I never got to weapons, sadly). Seems like a good way to lose your pointer and middle fingers, really.
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