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Chapter 714: Pressure Battle

    Chapter 714: Pressure Battle

    This was the Terminator's power - his true, terrifying power.

    Lan Jue felt that this man, the one they said was second on the Paragon List, earned his fame. The Epochrion was also a Reflection of Heaven and Earth, but she could not compare to his sheer destructive power. More notable was his protogenic understanding. The Terminator was intimately aware of the secrets of his ruinous abilities and the mighty source it came from.

    Even Luo Xianni, having arisen to Nirvana, would struggle. Her space-time abilities were undermined by the Terminator's protogenia, and if the two fought tooth and nail it wasn't impossible to imagine Luo Xianni being defeated.

    What incredible power! Lan Jue inwardly praised the Northern leader.

    "Buddha's Wisdom!" 1 The soft voice was not a chant, but Lan Qing's own voice. It was full of tranquility, benevolence, and a quiet self-confidence.

    The light of Buddha's Revelation dimmed, and the image of Vairochana dissipated into the darkness. Only Lan Qing remained.

    He stood alone against the ravenous vacuum of the dark comet. He spread his arms, and a pure white lotus bloomed from the center of his chest. It lazily drifted forward, vanishing into the infinite destruction of the Terminator's Domain.

    But with each petal destroyed, that fearful power diminished. It was like each white petal it devoured pulled the comet from the brink of annihilation. Somehow it was healing its collapse, stunting its destruction.

    It wasn't a collision, it was a rescue. Lan Qing was saving the dark comet from itself like a doctor curing a patient of their ailments.

    "I did not imagine you could use such a method to counteract my Domain." Surprise was thick in the Terminator's words. His dark comet dispersed. The world around them returned to normal, and the two men stood in the center of the arena as though nothing had happened. The Terminator looked at Lan Qing in shock, and the Eastern Admiral looked back with compassion and joy.

    "His Majesty has a third phase, I'm sure." Lan Qing's eyes twinkled as he stared at the Terminator.

    He sighed. "The third phase is different from the first two. I can't use it unless as a last resort. Even though we didn't release the full scope of our powers, facing my second phase means you've attained power equal to my own. I would never have imagined your rise would be so quick. I'll admit I'm a little jealous."

    But Lan Qing shook his head. "I could sense that you were holding back. It was my honor to spar with you. And unless I'm mistaken you should be near your next breakthrough."

    The Terminator nodded. "I won't lie, I'm close - I can feel the pull of Nirvana on my spirit. But it feels more like a curse. I need outside stimulation to propel me forward, to catalyze the potential I haven't yet tapped into. The strength you've shown isn't enough, but I can try and see if your younger brother has the capability. Who knows, with his assistance perhaps the two of you can help."

    "Don't worry, I don't have any untoward intentions. In fact there was a little of that metal I told you about left over after I constructed my Astrum. Whether I break through or not, I'd like to give it to the two of you. It's only enough to make one Astrum, but I'm certain you'll find it useful. Especially your brother who has yet to break through. Perhaps he can gain some insight from it."

    Lan Qing's eyes sparkled. Of course the Terminator didn't know that Lan Jue possessed one of the Banishing Blades, or the thunder essence that allowed for their merger. His younger brother already had his Astrum. It was, in fact, Lan Qing who needed a weapon through which he could focus his power.

    "So is it our turn?" Lan Jue piped up with a smirk. He arrived floating through the air with Zhou Qianlin's hand in his own.

    "I imagine you heard what we were discussing," the Terminator said. "I promise nothing bad will come upon you while you're here. At any time you can tell me, and I'll bring you safely to the exit."

    Lan Jue smiled pleasantly. "I have no problems with this. Improving humanity's strength is good for the species. Allow me to congratulate you on your success beforehand."

    The Terminator's eyes were bright. "Despite your kind words don't expect me to go easy on you. I intend to meet Jue Di, and if causing you a little hurt is how to accomplish that then you can expect it. That old man is my idol."

    Lan Jue's face twitched for just a moment. If there was anything his father despised, it was being called old.

    Of course, the Terminator couldn't know what he was thinking. By this time Lan Qing had moved to the side and was kneeling comfortably away from the other two. He was meditating, in part to recover but also to contemplate the flows of protogenia he'd experienced during their fight. Although he was already a Reflection of Heaven and Earth, there was no time when a Paragon finished increasing their knowledge or comprehension of the universe.

    The Terminator grinned at the young couple that faced him now. "Whenever you're ready, you can start."

    Lan Jue glanced at Qianlin then released her hand. She still had recovered consciousness, but that didn't impeded the connected they had heart to heart.

    They were connected through the Arrow of Compassion and their joined blood. One silver lining surrounding Qianlin's unfortunate mental state was it helped her easily slip into a position of spiritual receptiveness.

    The longer he looked, the more surprised the Terminator became. Although he couldn't quite place it, the two of them didn't seem to fit in the reality they occupied. They were somehow separate from the world, like everything around them was making way.

    No matter how close he looked, he couldn't figure out why that was.

    Strange!

    The Terminator couldn't shake it, and all he could guess was that they must have discovered some special way of cultivating. That must be why they seemed so odd.

    Meanwhile Lan Jue smirked at him with a quiet arrogance.

    What was up this guy's sleeve, the Terminator wondered?

    Lan Jue's expression became serious, almost solemn. He'd clashed with the Terminator before, as well as the Violet Prince and Princess, but they had always had back-up. A one-on-fight was rare, and it was his first time facing someone so close to Nirvana.

    He didn't rush to action. Instead Lan Jue shut his eyes, and Qianlin seeming to sense the change, did so as well. The surprises continued to assail the Terminator as he sensed an enigmatic link grow between his two young challengers.

    It started with their breath; even, long, and coordinated. It quickly extended to their hearts, which beat in unison. They ceased to be two separate people, and more like a single fractured entity.

    Clang! The sound snapped him from his thoughts. The fine hairs on his body stood on end, galvanizing his focus. It was a heavy and uncomfortable sensation, like the judgement of the universe was leveled on his shoulders.

    Only once since becoming a Paragon had he felt that way. Although it only lasted a moment, it was enough to make his heart skip a beat.

    Lan Jue and Qianlin lifted their hands, and as if in response haloes of red and blue appeared around their heads. Two swords descended from on high, playing off one another and enhancing their brilliance as though they were alive. They supplemented one another, depended on one another, and entangled one another. The Terminator was left flabbergasted.

    What swords were these? How could their power be so incredible? As a second-degree Paragon he sense Captus and Demortus differently than others. The waves of influence within them were frightening to him, so frightening in fact that he didn't dare look into them too deeply. The closest he could describe them was like active volcanoes that could rain fiery destruction on everything around them at a moment's notice.

    "I am looking forward to His Majesty's instruction." Lan Jue's soft-spoken words were delivered, and then he made his move. The Jewelry Master stepped forward, and almost laughably slowly pressed his sword forward.

    The mysterious blade was imposing as a mountain, mighty as a tidal wave. It was both turbulent and magnificent!

    It was as though the Terminator could hear the roar of the sea. In that roar he felt as though he would be swallowed up.

    In the same instant Lan Jue stepped forward, Qianlin made her first move. With a sweep of her sword countless slashes of the sword's energy were spat out in all directions. They felt full, sometimes with vitality and strength, sometimes with the consistency of rain on a tin roof. All the while they blotted out the sky as they raced for the Terminator.

    "Excellent, a fine sword style!" The Terminator barked his praise with drawing a circle in the air in front of him. A pitch-black orb appeared in that spot that was surrounded by a blazing yellow disk.

    It was a pocket dimension of his Domain. He didn't need to begin with the full gamut of his abilities against two Adepts yet to achieve Paragon. However, the Terminator soon discovered that he may have underestimated them.

    The first strikes to reach him were from Captus. They defied nature by tearing through the sky in erratic fashion. Light as feathers, they were nonetheless impossibly sharp.

    The Terminator sensed the manifestation of his Domain become punctured and stabbed. Somehow his protogenia was unable to deflect Lan Jue's weapon, and on the contrary was actively severed by it.

    1. The text is a little more complicated. This is a concept from a Sanskrit translation of the 'Classic of the Heart', a chant or spell meant to dissolves things that blocked the heart's powers.
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