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Chapter 595: Ninth Level, Seventh Rank

    Chapter 595: Ninth Level, Seventh Rank

    Body's mind and body were flooded Lan Jue hormones. Separating once again would be very difficult. He fumbled off the bed and into the bathroom where he got into a cold shower. The chilly water soothed the fires in his heart. Once he'd sufficiently calmed, he brought Qianlin back out and placed her atop the bed. He covered her in a sheet.

    As Lan Jue came to accept Qianlin in his heart, he found her more and more difficult to resist. Just looking into her eyes stirred urges within him. The Monarch took several breaths and a few gulps of ice water to keep himself calm. He then shut his eyes, and focused his attention inward.

    Ninth level, seventh rank?

    Lan Jue was surprised to discover that his Discipline had once again increased. It was a significant leap, too. He was back to where he'd been before being bound to Qianlin. In fact he was stronger than ever. Re-cultivating purified his Discipline and strengthened his base.

    Qianlin's Discipline became Lan Jue's next focus. Ninth level sixth rank! Lan Jue's eyes popped open and he stared at his lover with shock. Was she really so strong as that, now? Her improvement was almost frightening. Obviously, joining with the Banishing Blades had been a real leap in power for both of them.

    Lan Jue felt something stir within him. There was a flicker of red light that hung around him like a blanket - Captus. However, there were pulses of energy coming from the sword. It was like a projection, like it wasn't really there.

    With Captus' appearance there was a spark of blue in Zhou Qianlin's eyes. Demortus' image appeared in the air between them.

    "Lan Jue, the two of you must begin to train your swordsmanship. Only once you've mastered the Harmonious Sword will you be strong enough to face your enemies. If you do not, then we fear that the next time you face a creature like the Violet Princess it will be our undoing." Jun Yongye's even voice floated through the air.

    Lan Jue's brows furrowed. "How can we learn the Harmonious Sword when Lan Jue is in this state? Besides, the two of you are so strong. Finding a suitable place to practice is a problem."

    Xuanyuan Shishi's voice came from the direction of Qianlin. "This is not difficult. Qianlin has lost her consciousness and memory, but her body still functions just fine. I can transfer my knowledge of the style to her. It will come down to you to guider her in using the Harmonious Swords. As for a place to train, we also have a solution. You can practice in our realm."

    A moment after he spoke, there was a flash of blue and red. Reality shuffled around before his eyes, and a moment later Lan Jue found himself in another place entirely.

    He was in a strange, misty dreamscape. It was almost like a mountain peak, piercing into the heavens. The ground was level, looking out over a sea of clouds. Zhou Qianlin was standing across from him.

    "This is..." Lan Jue trailed off, looking all around.

    The red and blue flashes of light returned. Lan Jue felt his arm grow heavy, and when he looked down Captus was resting in his grip. He looked across and saw that Demortus had also appeared and Qianlin held it fast. She flourished the blade in her right hand, while two fingers from her left jabbed forehead. She looked at Lan Jue.

    "Be careful." Xuanyuan Shishi's voice cautioned.

    Qianlin stepped forward, touching the ground with the tip of her toes before lifting weightlessly into the air. Demortus erupted, descending upon Lan Jue as ten thousand copies of itself. This extended to Qianlin as well, countless images of her filled the skies. Each one was saturated with the living intention of the Banishing Blade. He didn't know where she stopped and the weapon began, much less which one of those images was the real Qianlin.

    Lan Jue looked up in awe. Then, sweeping Captus through the air toward the encroaching hail of weapons, a bloom of red light issued from the blade. It surged like a tidal wave, and the two opposing forces were poised to collide.

    Roaring waves of energy were expelled when the power of the two swords met. A great many of Demortus' copies were blasted away, however there were many more still intent on skewering Lan Jue.

    "Xuanyuan, what are you doing?" Lan Jue angrily asked. An aura of golden light sprang up around him to deflect Qianlin's attack. Demortus' terrible sharpness tore his protective shell to shreds. He weaved and dodged, swiping fervently with Captus. He managed with some considerable effort to evade injury.

    Xuanyuan Shishi's voice was thick with nefarious intent. "Practicing, of course! Be careful, you don't want tohurt Qianlin!"

    In reality it was Lan Jue he had to be wary, it didn't seem as though Qianlin was holding anything back. Not only had her last attack covered all means of escape, each blade was a deadly dervish in and of itself.

    Jun Yongye had imparted the secrets of focused flow to him, but Lan Jue hadn't had much experience using it in combat. Besides, he was facing Zhou Qianlin! The fact made it difficult to concentrate on form.

    Lan Jue continued to swipe and cut. Fissures of collapsing reality ripped apart those swords that got too close. However Qianlin's onslaught would not let us, and his defense was not perfect. The ten thousand blades probed for any opportunity, and sometimes found them. Lan Jue was already covered in several small wounds.

    "Compose yourself, strike." Jon Yungye's dissatisfied voice chastised him from the back of his mind.

    Lan Jue suddenly felt his heart race. Almost subconsciously the sword lashed out, tracing out a circle in the air. The red aura around Captus was bright, but soft and inviting. It covered him from the rest of the hail.

    "Ey?!" Xuanyuan Shishi's surprised yelp met his ears. The force of Qianlin's assault increased as she pummeled him with sapphire-blue copies of her blade. They cut and chopped and pierced, seeking ceaselessly for a hole in his defenses. They crashed against him like a chaotic wave, with every strike like being hit by a mountain. Xuanyuan's signature sword style unfolded, ten thousand swords from ten thousand directions. Each one of those images was strong enough to do mortal damage.

    Lan Jue appeared to have gotten his footing. One after the other, Lan Jue used Captus to carve circle through the air. The movements birthed orbs of red light that surrounded him on all sides. Strange, no matter how intense and ferocious Qianlin's attacks became, they were swallowed into these orbs and spat out off target.

    He'd found a settled point in his heart. With a soft smile, Lan Jue continued to follow the flow of his own movements like running water. It was almost as though he was paying Qianlin's attacks no mind. He was simply moving to the rhythm of his own style. Wave upon wave of Demortus' fury rained upon him, but as they got close it was like crashing into the unyielding waves of a vast ocean.

    It didn't take Lan Jue long to achieve the upper hand. He was stronger than Qianlin to begin with, and Demortus was slowly being overcome with Captus' dominance. Demortus couldn't produce its full potential. Qianlin was like a bird that railed against its cage, but the more she struggled the smaller her prison became.

    "Stop, stop, stop!" Xuanyuan Shishi entreated. Lan Jue answered with a final flourish that spun Qianlin around and nearly knocked her off her feet.

    "What sword style is this?" Xuanyuan Shishi asked, perturbed.

    Lan Jue smirked. "Taiji sword style."

    "And who told you to use it?" Shishi responded, irritated. "What about focused flow?"

    Lan Jue chuckled sheepishly. "Come on, I'm fighting my better half, here! What if I hurt her? Taiji sword is better suited for defense, it seemed more appropriate. It seems to work especially well to constrain the ten thousand blades style."

    Xuanyuan Shishi was silent for a moment. "You need to practice focused flow, and only then can you achieve the Harmonious Swords! No one told you to use Taiji, is it really so amazing?"

    Jun Yongye's voice interjected. "Enough, Xuanyuan. You're still so competitive. Lan Jue's decision was correct, and his Taiji style melds well with Captus. Why didn't you use it during your conflict with the Violet Princess? It would have helped you avoid being caught in such a tight situation."

    Lan Jue smirked. "I... forgot. I've never actually used it in a fight."

    Jun Yongye went on. "This style of yours is unique. It calls for much introspection and cultivation. However, Xuanyuan is also correct. It is paramount that you excel in the use of focused flow first. Taiji sword style was among the most potent styles in the ancient world - perhaps even more than focused flow. But if you can combine focused flow with the ten thousand blades, it could be the most effective weapons style known to man. You do not need to fear harming her during this training. Xuanyuan and I have sealed away the deadly power of the banishing blades. For all intents and purposes, they are average swords. Your natural defenses should be enough to handle them."

    "No one said anything..." Lan Jue protested weakly.

    Xuanyuan Shishi harrumphed. "How can I keep the element of surprise if I tell you? Now hurry up, no more using that sword style."

    Lan Jue nodded. Now that there were no worries for Qianlin, he no longer had his hands tied. It was time to immerse himself in focused flow. Formerly he'd had no means to practice the skills Yongye had imparted. Now that he had a chance, he could begin to puzzle out the secrets of the style.

    Jue Di's instructions were still fresh from his time on Ziluo. Lan Jue's progress was quick.
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