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Chapter 696: Simulated Strategy

    Chapter 696: Simulated Strategy

    Although the meaning of Occisus was 'immortal executor' 1, it was actually created by the greatest of the immortals, Celestial Master Hongjun. However, the swords came under the control of the fiend Tongtian 2.  It was he who created the Banishing Strategy, and thus gave the blades their ominous names.

    The immortal qi Lan Jue had absorbed helped him greatly in commanding the power of Captus. What he needed now to solidify that power, was to break through and keep improving his own strength. Jun Yongye had told him long ago that becoming a Paragon would vastly enhance his control of the blade. This would be especially true for the Pharmacist since her Discipline was laden with immortal qi.

    However, helpful as the Pharmacist's breakthrough was Lan Jue could not ease his heart enough to meditate on it. The gate that was created was there every time he closed his eyes, at the forefront of his mind. Those three words were burned into memory

    Gates of Slaughter!

    At first he didn't know why the Violet Princess had fled so readily, but then he felt what came out of that gate. The power it bore was even more catastrophic than his father's Up-ender attack.

    Strangely it hadn't affected him or the Pharmacist in the least. Could it be this was a taste of the power Occisus bore now that its master was a Paragon? If this were true, to what heights was the Pharmacist capable? Could she unveil the secrets of the Infinite?

    "Ease your heart and meditate. It is not so simple as you think." Jun Yongye's voice was serious and impatient.

    "Yongye, guide me. That whole experience was beyond my understanding. The confusing is stopping me from focusing." Lan Jue pleaded.

    Yongye replied. "The Gates of Slaughter is one of the principles of the Banishing Strategy. It is so powerful the greatest immortals shiver at its mention."

    "The Banishing Strategy?" Lan Jue gasped. "But we don't have the formation. How could any part of the Strategy manifest?"

    The sword-spirit went on. "The Pharmacist's breakthrough invigorated the base elements of her sword. In that moment, Occisus and Captus resonated with one another - part of that is the Gates of Slaughter. Altogether, the Banishing Strategy has eight Gates. Because we don't have the formation all I could produce was a counterfeit of the Gates, but its aura was enough to frighten the Princess. Even a copy of the real thing is incredibly difficult to produce, and if the Pharmacist hadn't broken through in just that moment I wouldn't have been able to complete it. If we were in possession of the formation, and could employ the Strategy, do you think the Princess would be able to flee? Even with only three swords the Strategy would be enough to reduce her to ash."

    An arrogance had crept into Jun Yongye's voice as he described the power the swords possessed.

    So that's what it was! Lan Jue's heart raced.

    Though his time with Captus was brief, he knew the power this god-blade held. Or, he thought he knew. Upon feeling even the mimicry of power from the Gates of Slaughter, he began to understand.

    He burned for the knowledge of the Banishing Strategy!

    "We must recapture Ultus! Spare no effort, for once the formation is obtained even those terrible planets will be cut down before these swords." Excitement was evident in Jun Yongye's appeal.

    "When the Gates appeared I could feel Ultus more clearly. It may be under alien control, but they can't suppress the blade's will. If you can find it, awaken it, then there is a chance you can take Ultus from their clutches. With the four Banishing Blades together again, you'll have a mighty force in hand that these monsters will struggle to oppose, even without the Strategy."

    Lan Jue gave a bitter smirk. "Easier said than done! If we want that sword back we'll need to walk into the lion's den. That planet is the one the Princess calls Monarch, and it's even stronger than father. You saw the fate of Arachnid just as we did, there's no way we can get close enough. How can we get the sword back if we can't even get close enough to find it?"

    Jun Yongye replied with a small, mysterious smile. "The Princess did mention she was interested in coupling with you..."

    "You... I'm not prostituting myself!" Lan Jue balked.

    Gradually his doubt and confusion subsided, enough to focus on Occisus' power. It was pure and strong, and although it was unerringly brutal there was a righteousness to it. It was a sword of reckoning, here to pass judgement on all things foul and eliminate evil.

    Lan Jue's powers were also just, fair and good. His rapport with the essence of the sword deepened his comprehension of its secrets. Soon a profound focus consumed him. Qianlin, joined with him, enjoyed the same abiding level of wisdom.

    The Clockmaker looked on, and she witnessed the changes coming over Lan Jue's aura; first blue, then red. They flickered back and forth while behind him the Banishing Blades' lights roiled like dancing auroras.

    Three of the god-blades had been gathered. Their splendor dominated the laws of nature.

    A divine light shone from within Lan Jue, and every change that came over him caused reality to ripple.

    The first one to arise from meditation was Lin Guoguo. Psychics like her were rare, and although the Pharmacist's breakthrough tempered her abilities they didn't offer any insights. She would only be gifted insight from a Paragon with powers like hers - a very unlikely scenario.

    Of the four Adepts it was Lan Jue and the Driver who sank deepest into meditation. He was near to Paragon already, and his evolved Primordial Lightning was another righteous display of the immortal realm. There was some faint parallels with the Pharmacist's legendary weapon. He learned much.

    Lan Jue had even more of a connection with the Banishing Blade. He, too, felt the flows of protogenia deeply.

    The Wine Master was the third one to awaken, recovered from teleporting them to safety.

    "How are you? Better?" The Clockmaker asked.

    The Wine Master glanced at the sword and nodded. "I'm fine. The hardest hit was my pocket-book, teleportation is expensive! But, I feel as though I may make a breakthrough soon."

    The Clockmaker's face lit up. "You have a sense?"

    He chuckled. "Skyfire Avenue has Paragons popping up like weeds after a spring shower. As its chairman, how could I show my face if I don't work to keep up! With my aunt's help and my years of experience it is nearly time. When we return I'll cloister myself in preparation."

    She seemed a little disappointed. "In our time the rise of a Paragon was a rare and wonderful thing. How many does Skyfire Avenue have now?"

    The Wine Master sighed. "In fact, I would rather it was like it had been in the old days. It is a sign of looming tragedy that we should have so many now. These aliens have come to end our species, and they are so strong as to make it a real possibility. They come on a foul wind, and I shudder to think of the destruction they'll cause when they invade the human galaxies."

    The Clockmaker tried to reassure him. "There is no point in worrying over it now. All we can do is continue to give our best. We will fight, and cast the beasts from our homes. Humanity has survived since ancient times, and I believe it was all in preparation for a time like this."

    "I hope so," he replied. "The Clairvoyant's prophecies are coming true, but the one I wish for most desperately is the Jewelry Master. They say destiny is a strange and marvelous thing. Ever since that young man shed his troubled past, Skyfire Avenue has been swept up in his every act. Like the Clairvoyant said - he is the hinge. A bridge, and because of him Skyfire Avenue will play an important role in humanity's future."

    The Clockmaker looked at Lan Jue. "Then we must be even more vigilant in protecting him. I didn't agree with this trip to help the North, I know how they operate. They are fierce on the battlefield, with valiant soldiers and wise commanders. However, they will sell the deepest core of themselves for their Alliance. Were the outcome different and their campaign a success, I would not be surprised to find them turning their guns on us."

    The Wine Master nodded. "That's why we set the teleportation array on Tyrannosaurus. In the end we didn't need it to save ourselves, but to save them."

    The Clockmaker turned to him, looking him deep in the eyes. "The only person you can ever really trust in this universe is yourself. Do not believe that saving Kang Hui's life has made him an ally. When it comes to the benefit of the nation, one man's feelings mean nothing. Kang Hui is their highest ranking military officer, he lives that fact. Give the North a wide margin as we go back, it's safest to return straight to Skyfire."

    The Wine Master nodded again in agreement. He'd originally planned to catch up with the Bastion and share their intelligence before returning home. But the Clockmaker was right, it may very well be a path toward danger.

    1. It is.

    2. So my wife threw me down one hell of a rabbit hole. There is an old and famous book called Fengshen Yanyi, and in it the writer described a battle among the immortals - using the Banishing Blades Stance (henceforth I'll refer to it as Strategy, it's a better term). Tongtian is an immortal who joins two of the three Pure Ones to fight against their master which is why it's called 'The Immortal Killing Battle Array' (direct translation). The interesting take away here is that TJSS is borrowing from a very famous old novel that perverted Taoist teachings. Interestingly, the alien planets are three, while the main immortals who were trying to kill the other immortals also numbered three. It isn't impossible to imagine that TJSS is replicating that battle - in space!
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