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Chapter 644: The Power of the Astral Phantom

    Chapter 644: The Power of the Astral Phantom

    The daggers of wind tore themselves apart the moment the purple light touched them. Lan Qing felt the forces of chaos unravel his elemental Discipline. The strange power from the Phantom's daggers were accompanied by a low rumble. Its resonance made the tempest unstable, and dissipated Lan Qing's attack.

    If Lan Qing's daggers were solid wind than the Phantom's daggers were acid. Everything the purple light touched was wiped away without a trace, like the protogenia was just erased.

    Only protogenia could contend against protogenia! The Astral Phantom was only a first-degree Paragon, but he knew the mysteries it entailed. He was more versed than young Lan Qing in the control and use of these powers. Here was where his advantages began to be revealed.

    However Lan Qing was not put off. A pale cyan light shimmered around him like a shell, and the next moment he shot off like a bullet to avoid the daggers. The air around him reacted as tendrils of purple energy grasped and groped. Each one of them seemed sharp enough to cut space-time apart. In fact Lan Qing's rapidly retreating body froze, and suddenly he was back where he was a moment ago.

    It happened in the space of an instant. Lan Qing hardly knew what was happening.

    Spectators watching outside were also surprised, not least of them the Wine Master. Those purple tendrils were definitely having an effect on space-time. They'd cancelled Lan Qing's retreat like it'd never happened.

    It demanded masterful control to counter another Paragon's protogenia with one's own. No wonder the astral Phantom was respected for his long years as a Paragon. It was a trick, to lull Lan Qing into a false sense of security. He'd seemed weak, and revealed his strength at just the right moment.

    A smug grin spread across the assassin's face. This child thought he could face up to me. Too bold, kid. Let's see if you can block the combined might of heaven and earth - my Daemon-cleaver!

    There was nowhere Lan Qing could flee to. The roaring aura of the Deamon-cleaver attack ripped his defensive shell away. Terrifying to behold, there was also a sense of beauty in watching protogenia so expertly castrated. It was akin to the sounds of a frantic guqin, springs buzzing with sound until all at once they snap - sad, shrill and beautiful.

    Ding-ding! In the final moment, just as it seemed the Astral Phantom's daggers would cleave Lan Qing in two, the crowd gasped. An Luo's super soldier reacted in a way none of them could have expected.

    He lifted his hands, and using nothing but his calloused palm swatted the daggers away. A soft golden aura surrounded them, flesh white as polished porcelain. In fact his whole body was illuminated by an internal glow.

    The Astral Phantom stared incredulously as Lan Qing batted his daggers away. The incomparably sharp Soulblighter daggers didn't even get passed that thin gold aura around his head. It was like trying to pierce cast iron.

    How could this be? Although it hadn't been the Phantom's deadliest attack, it was among his strongest! How was it possible it was swatted away like an irritating fly? With two bare hands? Even the leaders of Skyfire Avenue wouldn't have been able to do that. Why was he different?

    Combat was about living in the moment. Lan Qing didn't give his foe the luxury of time, and thrust forward with his palms before the Phantom could recover. A wall of invisible force bore down on him.

    It sent the astral Phantom spinning wildly through the air. He sailed out of control for a good while. When the would-be killer finally came to a stop he could only gape in disbelief. Whatever power Lan Qing used, he couldn't comprehend it.

    How could this be happening? What did I get myself into? My daggers, just ignored like rubbish by a fresh Paragon.

    But then he took another look, and his mind went blank. Lan Qing was completely different.

    The gusts of Discipline had been restrained. Although he calmly floated just as before, he was now surrounded by a pale golden aura. The ethereal, aloof face of Prometheus was spread in a mellow smile of content.

    Once an Adept became a Paragon their protogenia could not change. It wasn't just nonsense told to them by trainers. It was equally impossible to see someone's protogenia spontaneously evolve. Yet, that's what the Phantom's eyes were telling him.

    Lan Qing regarded the Astral Phantom calmly. Then, one hand curled into a loose fist and he thrust a punch at his opponent.

    Sinister determination hardened the Phantom's face. If he'd underestimated Lan Qing before, things were different now. Anyone who could block his attacks the way this young soldier did was a formidable enemy.

    Lan Qing's punch looked weak but the whole space around them warped because of it. From the Astral Phantom's perspective, Lan Qing got larger and larger until he took up his whole field of vision. And yet, it seemed strange, false like an illusion. He didn't know what was real or not anymore. This punch seemed to go beyond the constraints of protogenia.

    The Astral Phantom reacted. He thrust his hands behind his back and shut his eyes. All of a sudden, his whole body became translucent, like an amethyst. The assassin dashed forward like a bolt of lightning, right into Lan Qing's formless punch.

    Tssssssshhhhh! A strange sound thundered from every direction. Waves of wild energy crashed against the boundaries of their pocket dimension. The Clairvoyant's Domain appeared to react, and soon resplendent starlight was twinkling all through the room. Separate though they were, spectators could still feel the feral and ferocious power of their collision.

    When the ripples passed and reality settled, the Astral Phantom was the first one they saw. His battered form hung in the emptiness of space. When they spied Lan Qing in the distance he looked no different. Clearly the general had won their exchange.

    Representatives who did not know Lan Qing couldn't hide their shock. It was inconceivable that a young Paragon who just broke through could stand toe to toe against the Astral Phantom and emerge unscathed. It was a glittering endorsement of his strength and potential. The Representatives clambered to get a better view of the display.

    Lucifer, the Fallen Angel now understood why he'd felt such pressure when their eyes met. Only someone on an entirely different level could give him that sense of dread!

    Archangel Metatron didn't look any better. He'd spent a fortune in research after Zeus revealed his identity at the Great Adept Tournament. Lan Qing and Lan Jue were brothers, and the younger of the two was already at the top of the Pontiff's black list. Now, however, they see a big brother stands behind him. The pressure this added to the Citadel could be imagined. How would they contend against a foe like this?

    The Astral Phantom still hadn't gotten over his disbelief. He'd thrown real power behind that attack. However, he knew that neither of them knew the truth about the other. The Astral Phantom's secret was his protogenia. It wasn't poison, nor was it his speed. In fact, the assassin's greatest power was his perception. Perception was his chosen path to Paragon.

    Cutting perception was what had allowed him to manipulate the Soulblgiht daggers to resonate at just the right frequency. That rendered Lan Qing's wind daggers useless. Total situational awareness was his strong suit, with poison and speed used to get him the advantage.

    He'd focused his perception on Lan Qing's punch in the hopes of gleaning some clue as to how to beat it. What he saw was a perfect sphere, seamless and without a weakness to exploit. It crashed onto him like a stone curtain. Flawless.

    It was simply impossible. A Paragon's protogenia was the integration of natural principles, powerful energies and the Paragon's comprehension. However for Lan Qing's power there was no border from one to the other. It was a total, unbroken whole. It went against everything the Astral Phantom thought he knew about Paragons.

    Yet the truth had been painfully demonstrated to him. His only recourse was to counter his foe's attack with one of his own.

    Lan Qing shared some of his foe's surprise. The Astral Phantom was stronger than Lan Qing would have guessed. He'd used his speed to amplify the strength of his protogenia. He'd lashed out with the Soulblighters, and their power was cast out in seven shadowy copies. When they converged on the force of the punch, they were strong enough to carve a path through. They was even enough energy to reach Lan Qing. However, it was so weak by that point the General avoided it with ease.
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