Chapter 612: Lan Qing Ascends to Paragon

    Chapter 612: Lan Qing Ascends to Paragon

    This was the An Lun army? A fervent light shone in the eyes of the Star Division soldiers.

    "Halt!" An officer called the command and his soldiers froze instantly in place, still perfectly in position.

    "Sit!" They dropped to the floor, cross-legged with straight backs.

    Everyone who watched them was impressed by how precise and disciplined they were. Even the Paragons had to nod in appreciation. Turning soldiers into to warriors like this may just be a matter of time, but it was different for Adepts. To turn these talented men and women into a singular force, a singular mind, was a herculean task.

    "Indeed worthy of the An Lun army name!" the Wine Master praised.

    "Yeah! Incredible. If I didn't broke through so early I would have loved to test myself against them," the Pauper lamented.

    Lan Jue laughed. "You'll have your chance. We didn't only come here for some insight, this is a joint military exercise. We'll check each other out and see how we do things differently. At least in terms of individual strength I think we have them beat, but level of training and military experience it's hard to say."

    The Pauper replied, "Won't know till you try."

    As he spoke the Pauper twitched the side of his mouth surreptitiously toward Jue Di. Lan Jue smirked at his friend, a signal for him to hold on.

    Lan Qing came running over their way. "I'm sorry to keep our honored guests waiting."

    An Lun's admirable was different today. The waves of protogenic energy they'd sensed the day before were gone. He seemed perfectly calm and in control. His face bore a small, easy smile however every movement he made felt peculiar.

    He almost seemed to glow with an internal light. Naturally he drew everyone's attention.

    The Pauper looked at him with surprise. "Admiral Lan, suddenly the strength of your aura feels so close to mine."

    Lan Qing smiled at him. "The Taming Dragon Arhat is being polite, we'll find out the truth at the height of the show."

    Lan Jue also felt like his brother had somehow changed significantly. His typically severe countenance was gone. He seemed calm, dare he say relaxed.

    Jue Di's deep voice intruded. "It's time, prepare to begin."

    "Yes!" Lan Qing nodded his head, resolute.

    Lan Jue concentrated his attention on his brother. He'd witnessed the rise of Paragons before, but his brother was a different story. They were blood, grew up together. It was deeply affecting for Lan Jue to watch someone so close achieve their dream. If he were to gain insight it would undoubtedly be very beneficial because of their connection.

    Ln Qing took a step forward and immediately lifted into the air. He slowly rose over their heads while a pale cyan light radiated out around him. Set in the center of his chest, the vibrant green light of the Clairvoyant's pendant flickered.

    The field they were in was underground like all the rest of the An Lun military base, but it was the air strip their ships launched from. High overhead the rocky ceiling split into a yawning fissure that gave them a glimpse of the sky. Powerful shields kept the inhospitable alien atmosphere out.

    The higher he rose, the brighter Lan Qing's cyan Discipline flared. However bright as the light was it did not stab the eyes. It fell gentle on their vision like a comfortable glow. All the soldiers no matter their banner stared at the scene, trying to remember every moment.

    Star Division soldiers recognized him, Prometheus the God of Wisdom, An Lun super soldier. This was the man about to become the East's newest Paragon. It was a spectacular happening for their Alliance, one that would catapult their army into a whole new realm of might.

    The East had never enjoyed a Paragon acting in their military in an official capacity. They were overjoyed, and were prepared to immediately grant the title of Fleet Admiral to their super soldier once he succeeded.

    Tendrils of cyan light interwoven with protogenia coiled around him. Lan Qing's eyes were closed and he bore a contented smile. His palms were pressed together in front of him and he sat cross-legged in mid-air.

    Lan Jue stared raptly at his older brother. It'd been years since he'd cultivated with his brother, so he had no idea the path he'd chosen. The process of breaking through was more important for a Paragon than for any previous breakthrough an Adept underwent. It solidified their powers, and there was no way to change them when the process was complete. You had to be sure of yourself before taking that final step, otherwise you would be fighting yourself forever.

    A measure of a Paragon's dominance ceased to be about their Disciplines. The depth of their knowledge of the universe was what defined them, their ability to sense the tangled weave of protogenia in all things. It was a quest for absolute perfection of oneself and their connection to everything - to be a part of everything.

    And so, when a man became a Paragon he was no longer completely a man any longer. He became a conduit of protogenia, an inexorable part of that realm. Becoming a Paragon was not the end, either. The end was something no longer within the grasp of their species. He knew it from Jun Yongye as enlightenment, as the old immortals experienced.

    So, as Lan Qing took this step the choices he made for his final form of protogenia was incredibly important.

    Jue Di stepped forward, the small movement bringing him dozens of meters through the air to arrive at his son's side in mid-air. He placed his calloused hands upon Lan Qing's back and fixed his eyes upon him.

    The other Paragons did not move. With Jue Di present, what could they offer to the process?

    Lan Qing sat still, but waves of protogenia radiated out from him and shone down upon the people below. They could all feel the subtle change it wrought on reality around them.

    Lan Jue folded his knees beneath him and sat with eyes closed, quietly reflecting on the sensations. His brother's process was important to himself as well, for soon he would be taking his own plunge. The smoother he could make it, the better.

    For the two brothers it was never really a question of whether they could become Paragons. The question was always how far as Paragons could they go. But the journey of a thousand miles required a single, solid first step.

    Dad was laughing because he saw my future. He couldn't go into it because of Lan Qing's breakthrough, but he also said I would learn something from this.

    The corona of light around Lan Qing grew ever brighter. Every corner of the base was illuminated by it. Strange, though, was the change that came over it. As everyone watched that cyan color change from pale yellow, to bright yellow, to resplendent gold.

    The light washed over them like a searing wave, undeniably comforting. It sizzled on their skin like the pleasant light of the summer sun. The soldiers' bodies and souls felt refreshed, their energies moving smoother within them.

    "Well done, impressive!" The Pauper couldn't help but voice his acclaim. He had benefited from the Taming Dragon Arhat lineage, it had given him a structure to help him on his path to Paragon. IT wasn't a codified dharma, and it wasn't as stable as others, but his insights of the process were deeper at the time of his breakthrough than any Paragon in recent memory.

    The Photographer, Clockmaker, and Wine Master had broken through long ago, the act was dim in their memories. This was not so for the Pauper. He could sense the protogenia infused in his aura were guided by an underlying structure.

    It was usually said that Adepts, as they broke through, released the floodgates of their protogenia. It surrounded and immersed them, completely altering every fiber of their being. However, controlling this fundamental powers was much more difficult. It took years of careful cultivation, searching for the rules that governed this new realm. Is these are revealed a Paragon defined their own dharma, the ultimate extension of their Path. When a Paragon became a Reflection of Heaven and Earth, that was when their powers were said to wholly form.

    One could be fooled with the simplicity of the phrase, to collate one's dharma, however you only need to look at the Wine Master to know the truth. He'd been searching for twenty years but had yet rise to the next level. Uncovering the secrets of the universe as they applied to oneself was tough work.

    The Pauper's inherited dharma played a major role in his breakthrough. The Taming Dragon Arhat was itself a system of rules, so they came naturally to the Pauper as he crossed the threshold to Paragon and served to prop him up as he did so. These truths were not uncovered by the Pauper through grueling years of self-reflection. He merely had to understand what he'd been taught and he would rise to the next level.

    Lan Qing's Discipline was Wind, as everyone knew. What showered them now did not have the characteristics of Wind as they expected. Instead they saw the close-knit strands of protogenia covering everything.

    This meant one of only two possibilities. The first was that he had immediately become a Reflection of Heaven and Earth, the second degree of Paragon. Second, it could mean that - like the Pauper - he had been blessed with an inherited power.

    Taking into account what Jue Di had told him, Lan Jue suspected the second possibility was more likely the case. But he couldn't know for sure.

    The look of surprise on the Clockmaker's face was even more evident than the Pauper's. She had already achieved Reflection, and could sense that those weaves were in fact the result of dharma.

    It'd taken her seven whole years to uncover the rules that governed her perception of the universe. Now this young soldier, in the moment of his breakthrough, was starting with such incredible insight. Could it mean he would... ?

    People couldn't tear their eyes from the dazzling golden light pouring from Prometheus. As the waves of protogenic power pulsed, the light seemed to flow with it and eventually coagulate around him. When he'd started it was just a golden light, but it condensed and brightened until it became a searing nimbus behind his head.

    Ding! After a moment of rattling the pendent set within Lan Qing's chest shattered, dissolving into motes of light that floated on the wind. They rode the eddies and gusts until they flitted into the space between Lan Qing's eyebrows. Suddenly, his aura changed. The energies he used as an Adept ceased altogether while the surge of protogenia rose. The tidal wave of energy filled them sensation that was difficult to put into words. A image slowly began to take shape.
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