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Chapter 664: Stronger

    Chapter 664: Stronger

    Lan Qing froze. He knew that his brother had obtained thunder essence and was absorbing the immortal qi within. He knew Lan Jue was in the process of transforming his thunderbolt Discipline. The ancient, mystical lightning was real and he could feel it in the younger Lan's power. He knew he couldn't contend with it at his current strength, but Lan Jue couldn't sustain it, either.

    As Lan Qin stood still, stunned, Lan Jue escaped from his Domain with Qianlin. Down among the soldiers, two more figures joined in watching the hologram. Jue Di had changed into his favorite pair of overalls. He watched the two brothers compete with a grin plastered on his face.

    "Who knew A-Jue could break free of A-Qing's Domain! It looks like he's underestimating his brother." Luo Xianni mused out loud at Jue Di's shoulder.

    Jue Di shook his head. "No, he didn't underestimate him. It's A-Jue's Thunderbolt. It isn't true All-Heaven Lightning, but his luck is other-worldly. The thunder essence bore the residuals of the real stuff. Whatever creature it used to be must have been strong. Strong enough that the old immortals chose to bring it down with All-Heaven Lightning. Now that it's a part of Lan Jue, no average Domain can contain it. Taking into consideration that Lan Qing isn't completely familiar with his Domain yet, and he didn't know what to expect from Lan Jue, we can see how A-Jue managed to escape. Keep watching, let's see what other surprises they have hidden up their sleeves."

    Lan Jue managed to free himself and Qianlin from Lan Qing's Domain, but he didn't relax. Now that he'd experienced it, he knew Lan Qing's Domain wasn't just energy oppression. More frightening was its psychological and emotional assault. Indeed, his brother's powers were physical and mental both. No wonder he rose so sharply through the ranks of Paragon.

    Lan Jue remembered something his father had taught him. The strongest Domains had a psychological component, able to suppress the enemy's thoughts and actions. Not only did it undermine one's foe, it also boosted the self. At some point the imposing aura becomes strong enough to completely cow the weak-willed and empower one's ability to new heights.

    Their clash had been brief, but already Lan Jue was beginning to understand what he was up against.

    Lan Qing reappeared. He didn't seem the least affected by watching Lan Jue cleave apart his Domain. On the contrary, he was calm as ever. Lan Jue was learning about Lan Qing's Domain, but at the same time he was discovering what he could about Thunderbolt Discipline. The two brothers eyed one another from a distance, sharing a moment of quiet understanding.

    The soldiers couldn't say their first clash was very exciting. To them there was just a flash, two flashes, and then they were watching each other. Only the few ninth level Adepts among them could glimpse parts of what had happened.

    Lan Jue slowly lifted Captus, gripping it tight. Beside him, Qianlin released his hand. Demortus appeared in a flash to fill the void. Both of them pointed the god-blades toward Lan Qing.

    Without physical contact, both Lan Jue and Qianlin felt their powers rapidly decline. However, Lan Qing had the inexplicable feeling that right now, these two were even more dangerous.

    The sword in Lan Jue's hand lashed out. What followed was a torrent of ghastly power, a tidal wave that raced for Lan Qing. At first it looked like a straight column, but as it approached Lan Qing saw it as a sea of energy. He became the focal point for the full force of it.

    Zhou Qianlin attacked in tandem. Her strike fractured into ten thousand glimmering swipes. Like leaves on the breeze they flowed through space, descending on Lan Qing from all directions. While Lan Jue's attack was a focused flood, hers was a torrential downpour. Individually her strikes were weak, but they were relentless. Every opening, every weakness was found and exploited. As the red and blue lights shone brighter, the two sword-bearers vanished.

    Ten Thousand Swords as one, and Focused Flow! Zhou Qianlin and Lan Jue! At last their knowledge combined as a singular overwhelming assault on the An Lun super soldier!

    Lan Qing sensed the purity in their sword dance. Neither could call upon the full power of their swords, but he daren't hesitate or underestimate what they could do. Hands he'd kept pressed to his chest were thrust out in a dual-handed push. His chanting stopped, everything went silent. But his body did not remain still. The general's figure exploded to a hundred times his normal size, blazing gold like a Buddha. A pale and unimpressive light shimmered behind his head. Although he did not change in appearance, an incomparable sense of shock struck Lan Jue like a train.

    The Three Prajna Mantras! The Great Spiritual Mantra!

    A Paragon-level Great Spiritual Mantra!

    An enormous golden palm appeared. It blocked the red and blue sword-strikes, mingling with them, and blocking them from proceeding.

    Ruin, penetration; wide as the ocean, thin as a needle. Lan Jue and Qianlin could not enact the Harmonious Swords, but nonetheless what they created in their union was baleful. The focused power of Cpatus and Demortus roiled over one another until they carved a path through the golden palms. They blazed a path for Lan Qing.

    The An Lun general didn't speak, and didn't run. His hands arose, fingers splayed like picking a flower. His fingers waggled.

    "Ding - ding!" The two ringing sounds came one after the other. The two Banishing Blades shuddered as their waves of power were parted to either side of Lan Qing. Next he stepped forward, and the motion seemed to free him from the golden aura. It fell away like a shed skin, and in its place Lan Qing was a homogenous cyan.

    In the next instant Lan Jue felt like he was in the eye of a tornado. Lan Qing's pervasive and overbearing power underwent a dramatic upheaval. The wave of force swept passed him, thrusting him a hundred meters away. Qianlin - who had been standing by his side - was gone.

    "You..." Lan Jue was too surprised to speak. He raced forward to regain the lost ground. However, every centimeter gained was contested by whirling cyan winds. One concentrated storm after another buffeted him, and as they continued to come they took on the form of hideous bloodthirsty dragons. Lan Jue was forced to rely on Captus' power to fight them off.

    The tip of his weapon danced in circles as Lan Jue drew upon his Taiji sword knowledge. He flooded the sword and its movements with All-Heaven Lightning. It was enough to carve up his brother's attacks, but were very draining.

    When the dust settled he looked for his opponent. He saw instead Qianlin, captured in a column of cyan light. She valiantly slashed with Demortus, but couldn't penetrate the curtain of power. Of course, without enough strength she couldn't summon enough of the sword's abilities to free herself.

    "You... you're protogenia isn't Vairochana?" Lan Jue looked at his brother with surprise clear in his gaze.

    Lan Qing was once again the familiar, intractable figure of Prometheus. The same, only much stronger. The swirling waves of power from him continued all around, only now they were the essence of wind.

    Lan Qing smirked. "They come from the same source, not much different from one another. It is an intrinsic part of me, why not employ it? It was my Discipline. Vairochana and Wind... there is no conflict. Do you understand?"

    Lan Jue just looked at him. Of course he didn't understand. He couldn't grasp how his brother seemed to change so completely. Could a Paragon use two separate kinds of protogenia? How was this possible? But despite his disbelief the proof was right in front of him. He'd seen both from his brother, but that didn't make it any less inconceivable. He'd been caught off guard and separated from Qianlin. He certainly was no match for general now.

    Gusts of cyan wind roiled around Lan Qing's body, once more becoming gold. Prometheus became the golden Buddha, and with the new appearance returned the crushing aura. Again, Vairochana! The change was instantaneous, like it was subject only to the will of Lan Qing.

    Lan Jue's shocked expression gradually gave way. Something was becoming clear to him.

    There was a flash of turquoise and Qianlin was deposited back to Lan Jue's side. When he took her hand their psychic connection was reestablished. Both of them felt their Disciplines surge to the peak of ninth rank. After a moment of quiet thought, Lan Jue spoke up. "I need to go back and think on this." The words were absent-mindedly murmured by way of explanation before Lan Jue took Qianlin and left back toward An Lun.

    Lan Qing's face revealed a small smile. This was exactly the result he was looking for!

    What could two ninth level Adepts do against a Reflection of Heaven and Earth? The point wasn't to beat Lan Jue. All of this was his way of imparting the things he'd learned, to bestow his knowledge upon his little brother. With luck it will shorten his path. That was all Lan Qing had aimed to accomplish.

    "He knows how to make the best of the situation." Jue Di nodded in satisfaction, after which he turned and left the field. Luo Xianni laughed, overjoyed at what she saw. How could she not? These two brothers propped each other up, they would go much farther than the generation that guided them.

    Lan Jue took Qianlin back to base, and directly back to their room. There, he sunk into quiet contemplation.

    There was no question that Lan Qing had won their fight. It served to stoke the fires of competition among the Bloodiron Kahns and Star Division. They didn't need any more motivation words from their commanders. Soon they could test themselves in DreamNet, and a single-minded thought consumed every soldier. Get strong. Stronger. Stronger!
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