Chapter 663: Battle of the Brothers

    Chapter 663: Battle of the Brothers

    He wasn't yet a Paragon, but Lan Jue's mastery of protogenia was singular. It was more vibrant and cooperative than it ever had been. Although he couldn't command the power to manifest a Paragon's Domain, his failure certainly wasn't for lack of comprehension.

    Qianlin's Discipline had grown over time as well. Her progress wasn't fast, but rather steady. She managed to keep pace with Lan Jue. However, swordplay was another matter. As they continued to train, Qianlin's skills had flourished. The unfortunate state of her consciousness didn't inhibit her at all, to the point where she even surpassed Lan Jue. Xuanyuan Shishi claimed it was her nature. The Queen of Heaven Discipline was the purest energy in the universe, and the closest to the immortals of old. An innate understanding of these old secrets lived within her, which resonated with the inherited knowledge imparted by the sword spirit. As they practiced the bonds only strengthened. For Qianlin, all it took was a step at a time.

    Lan Qing led them high over the An Lun base. Below, soldiers from two armies watched via satellite. Holographic images shone with crystal clarity in the center of the An Lun training field. Meanwhile, monitors in the West and North shrieked and returned nothing but white noise. Something was blocking their signals.

    No one blinked an eye. This was common circumstance when watching An Lun. They did this any time they were holding exercises. It never lasted long, scramblers cost a lot of energy to keep running.

    Lan Qing turned toward the two of them. He sighed. "Is she any better?" Lan Jue's character was no secret to him. Lan Jue was talented and smart, but he had a clear weakness. He was emotional and quick to action. The moment something caught his passion it took over his thinking. Those raging emotions sunk him into depression for three years.

    Lan Jue struggled to catch up with Lan Qing, but he never knew how much it cost for his older brother to maintain the lead. Lan Qing knew he didn't have his brother's talent, that's why he pushed himself so hard.

    It warmed his heart to see his little brother with someone he loved, standing shoulder to shoulder. The battle fervor diminished in the face of joy, and uncertainty. Was power really so important? Or, was it more important to live your life with someone you loved?

    Lan Jue quietly watched. He spotted every micro-expression that crossed his brother's face. When a glimpse of sadness revealed itself, Lan Jue replied. "Better. At least... on the path to being better. Her Queen of Heaven Discipline has a strong regenerative power. She will recover. She will!" Certainty rang in his voice.

    A smile crept onto Lan Qing's face. "I wish her a speedy recovery. You also mustn't put too much of the burden on yourself. That's my job."

    Lan Jue blinked. He'd never heard his brother talk like this before. "Hey, are you alright? Don't tell me you're scared you can't beat me."

    It was such a rare occurrence to see his brother's romantic side, Lan Jue wasn't sure how to react. Ever since Lan Qing broke through, he was like a different man. Before, 'stick up his ass' would have been an apt description of the admiral. Now he was looser, almost calm. That made Lan Jue very happy.

    "Come, show me how you've been spending your time. Father has a lot of praise for your abilities." All expression drained from Lan Qing's face, his voice was flat. It was the familiar mask of the God of Wisdom. It was the face of Prometheus.

    Lan Jue smirked. This was the Lan Qing he knew. He gripped Qianlin's hand, and a soft blue light began to radiate from him. His blue eyes swirled with eddies of gold, and his imperious gaze was as godlike as his namesake.

    Qianlin became a brilliant beacon of white light. Flecks of silver rollicked through the snowy expanse. Her life was lived by instinct, but through her telepathic link with Lan Jue he could guide her.

    Lan Qing's eyes also brightened, but there were no flashes or changing colors. Instead, his body was surrounded by a strange gleaming aura. It was he was a part of everything around him, and he could seamlessly merge into the universe at any moment.

    For a moment, Lan Jue felt like it was he and Qianlin against the whole universe. It was far from pleasant. A nameless pressure crushed him from all directions. It wasn't strong, but it eroded his confidence, convincing him it was hopeless. Everything was under his opponent's control.

    Lan Jue couldn't hold back for even a moment, not against a Paragon. A flash of blinding golden light burst from his eyes as he stepped forward. Suddenly a wave of terror gushed from him. Beams of gold erupted all around him threatening to consume everything. That overbearing presence felt like it was simultaneously a part of and separate from its surroundings.

    Lan Jue did not speak the words of command. Instead, without warning the radiant columns of gold dispersed, becoming motes of golden light floating away in the wind. Lan Jue's aura vanished, but the pressure from Lan Qing's did not take its place. It, too, was gone. In that moment of stillness, a slash of red split the sky. When it materialized, reality quivered.

    Lan Qing squinted his eyes. Sharp-eyed soldiers watching the hologram could spot the general's hair rustling, like something was tugging on him. The red light coalesced into a sword a hundred meters tall, tumbling right for the top of Lan Qing's head.

    Space seemed to collapse before the tip of the weapons as it fell inexorably downward. Everything was torn apart and gobbled up! A vast chasm of nothingness was left in its wake. At this point it was no longer a sword. It was hell, come calling for Lan Qing's soul.

    Lan Qing watched it come. He nodded, as though he were judging the attack and found it worthy. As the weapon came barreling down, he remain suspended in the air, but not idle. Extending his hands, the Paragon pressed outward. A keen flash crossed his eyes, and suddenly a strange scene emerged. Lan Qing seemed to merge into the rippling space around them. As it moved, so did he.

    The soul-crushing swipe of the sword raced through. Lan Qing became translucent and his body warped furiously. However, a moment later he phased back into reality like nothing had happened.

    Immediately upon the heels of the sword, Lan Qing's face was lit up by a blazing blue. The silvery display was as dazzling as the tail of a comet before it detonated. Swirling tendrils of power shot off in every direction, expanding and lengthening until they covered the Paragon completely. A hundred million sword-swipes danced among each other - as beautiful as it was deadly.

    If the red sword was a hellish visitation, this blue glow was a torch from the immortals. Mysterious, perplexing, stunning.

    The intertwining colors cracked Lan Qing's famous calm. He splayed his arms out in wide semicircles before bringing his palms together before his chest with a clap. A flash of gold rushed from behind him, bearing a fervent aura that penetrated into the soul.

    Resonating chants bore the weight of timeless faith. Its arrival swept away blue and red, leaving no trace of their passage. As unmovable as a mountain! Prometheus was gone, replaced with Lan Qing the Buddha. His holy manifestation demanded everything before him prostrate in worship.

    Waves of gentle golden light radiated from him out into space, casting light upon the darkness. While the universe was painted a radiant gold, shadowy silhouettes appeared in contrast. The throaty chants of Buddhist monks intensified. It imparted a kindness that made Lan Jue feel sluggish and unwilling to lift his arm in attack.

    Domain... this was Lan Qing's Domain? It wasn't as strong as the Deva-gati shown by Jue Di, but it was full of unspoken power. The entirety of the past and the future washed over them, borne from the image of Vairochana seated in the exact center of this pocket universe. Everything revolved around him, worshipped him. Struggle was futile.

    "Prajna-paramitah!" The deep chants cried. They were loud, but sharp and clear like they spoke directly to the heart. Captus shivered in Lan Jue's grip as he fought the urge to fall to his knees.

    Prajna-paramita was one of the most powerful sutras of the Buddhist faith. Lan Qing did not attack or take advantage, for with a single phrase he had collapsed Lan Jue's will to fight.

    Before absorbing the thunder essence, this would have spelled the end. Now, though, a flood of energy thrilled through him, clearing his mind of the booming sermons. He lashed out with the sword, and a sweeping arc of sword-energy swept them up and away to safety.

    Where the cutting blue light passed, the golden couldn't help but recede. Its destructive force was so intense, it shook Lan Qing's Domain to its core.
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