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Chapter 811: Bracing Domains

    Chapter 811: Bracing Domains

    However, even though everything but the purest of their energies remained, Lan Jue and Zhou Qianlin continued their meteoric rise. Especially Qianlin, who was already trying to hold herself back from breaking the bottleneck to Nirvana.

    This was wonderful on some level of course. Qianlin was the only one who need not worry about the dangers of universal protogenia. The suppression of the cosmos had no bearing on her - she was truly unique.

    But her rise was too fast. For a Paragon to breakthrough directly to Reflection of Heaven and Earth was already shocking. Now it seemed she would achieve Nirvana in a matter of days. However if she did, it would make her foundation insecure. She would find it difficult to control her own powers, turning their benefits into a ticking time bomb.

    A Paragon's power was built on their ability to control it. A master with tremendous power who could not command it was inferior to the one with less strength but more control. What's more, it was safer even for the Paragon as losing control could lead to harm - to themselves and the people around them.

    When Jue Di returned and learned about Qianlin's abilities, it was for these reasons he forbade her from rising further. For the time being she needed to keep herself firmly as a Reflection of Heaven and Earth until she could master her own capabilities. Once she could do that they might consider ascending to the next level.

    Lan Jue's condition was much better. It was true that the Emperor of the North Star's lineage granted him tremendous power. However, it also demanded he accumulate even more energy and understanding than the typical Paragon before rising to new heights. Because of these requirements he was able to shoulder some of the energy Qianlin acquired through the faith of the masses. It prevented her from directly breaking through to Paragon and also helped him along his own path.

    Lan Jue was also near the upper borders of Reflection. According to his earlier plans getting to this point would have required at least three years of studious cultivation to achieve - assuming he did so with Qianlin and everything went smoothly.

    Up to now it had been Qianlin who had benefited from Lan Jue's presence. Now the proverbial tables had turned. Through years of study Lan Jue's control of his powers was solid. At this point he didn't break through to Nirvana simply because he didn't want to.

    "Right now both of you need to work on control. If you don't you invite danger." Jue Di instructed.

    And he was right. As the power of faith continued to flood into Qianlin her powers would only increase. If she didn't learn to control them the situation would only worsen.

    Qianlin was seated before him, surrounded by a pale golden aura. She also was not interested in breaking through just yet, but the faithful were multiplying faster than she could keep up.

    Altogether humanity numbered in the tens of billions. Without question the people of these seven planets were converts to Guanyin, the Queen of Heaven. They were fervently devoted to their new savior. Where it began to get out of control was the scores of people who saw video of her actions, who chose to follow the light of the goddess though they were light years away from danger. This is what ultimately made Zhou Qianlin's faith-amplified powers difficult to bear.

    When she spoke there was concern in her soft voice. "Uncle 1 would my transformation influence Lan Jue?"

    "Certainly, to some degree," Jue Di answered. "You are connected by blood, and what happens to one will be reflected in the other. There are also the vows you made - set up by that old kook Clairvoyant. Thus in many ways the two of you are one entity. Injure one and both suffer, nourish one and the other benefits. You are inseparable, and what problems are visited unto you Lan Jue must bear as well."

    His response caused her to worry. "So what should I do? I'm already having trouble controlling my power."

    Jue Di smiled comfortingly. "Don't worry, there is a way. First, you mustn't show yourself in public for a little while. We have to limit your exposure to the masses, and that will limit the spread of faith. Likewise I'll tell Lan Qing to get in touch with the leadership of the Alliances, and have them stop spreading news of your actions. The power of faith should abate by then. Still this only deals with the symptoms and not the problem."

    "For the two of you your priority needs to be stabilizing your newfound power and strengthening your control. At the Nirvana level, simply not wishing to break through is no longer enough. It comes down to how long you can fight back. But even if you do the faith of the people isn't enough to push you into the Infinite. Once you achieve Nirvana you need only be careful when employing your Discipline and you shouldn't get in too much trouble."

    "Both of you should hole up and work on steadying your cultivation. Qianlin, your powers are steady by nature, and cultivating together will help Lan Jue bear the pressure better. You need to consolidate your internal energies, and your protogenia. Work on your mutual connection so that if you do break through, Lan Jue can help you manage it. With his level of control you shouldn't have a problem. His own Domain is powerful enough as it is. After all, the Middle Heaven Emperor of the North Pole Star of Purple Subtlety was a king among gods. He has a long way to go before he can fully grasp that inheritance. This also means he can absorb far more energy. Wait until both of you have more discipline, then you will certainly have a way to deal with the enormous energies at your disposal."

    Jue Di had decades of experience in suppressing cultivation. In fact for the last several years it had been his sole focus. Due to this he was able to recognize and suggest the best method for Lan Jue and Qianlin to solve their problem.

    La Jue chimed in. "But with the situation as it is, there's a lot we need to do. Sequestering ourselves -"

    Jue Di's response was somewhat irritated. "Will there be no more pork without Lan the Butcher? 2 We'll be fine without you. Besides you won't be gone for long. Already your Domains are stabilizing thanks to Qianlin's abilities. I want you to seal yourselves off from distractions so you can learn more deeply about yourselves and what you've gained. You must cultivate the correct way and that will be enough. Did you think I wanted you to lock yourselves away to improve your cultivation?"

    Despite his harsh tone Lan Jue noted that his father was in high spirits. Their missions had been successful, and the revelations of Qianlin's abilities were a great boon to everyone. For instance, the influence of her light had been tremendously helpful for Luo Xianni. When Jue Di returned to the others the first thing he'd done is ask why his lover had chosen something so dangerous as breaking through to the Infinite.

    Luo Xianni then explained to him what she'd learned of Qianlin's abilities. Jue Di then sought her out to see for himself, and discovered that her abilities helped him as well. Of course, the discrepancy in cultivation meant the effects on him were less than on Luo Xianni. Even so, using his powers while within her aura stopped the universe from draining his life force.

    Many Paragon-level vital crystals had been recovered after this last mission. Of particular note was the one that had belonged to the Monarch's Avatar before Lan Jue put it down. That orb of pure energy was a fragment of Monarch itself, born from its own body. While energetically it possessed the powers of Nirvana, it had come from something nearly immortal. Its benefits for Jue Di were considerable. It would increase his lifespan by at least a decade, while also allowing him to employ his full strength at least for a short period.

    One day, if Qianlin achieved the Infinite, then she could conceal him from the dangers of universal protogenia as well. It was a pleasant surprise for him, for Jue Di had given up hope that an answer to his slow demise would be forthcoming. But an answer had revealed itself.

    Lan Jue rose and, taking Zhou Qianlin's hand, led her to a place where they could be alone. They requested three days of solitude from Lan Qing to complete the process, and for these three days Lan Qing would be busy.

    Control of the seven planets surrounding Europa had been returned to the humans. The implications of this were important, it was the first time they had won a total victory in the face of this alien menace.

    However, by the same token the responsibilities of liberating these planets were taxing on the allied forces. Their enemy had not withdrawn entirely, and bands of aliens still harassed the planets from time to time.

    They were populated by survivors. It took a great deal of trouble and energy to cure them of their illness, so the allied forces couldn't simply leave them to their own devices. But protecting them meant the armada would need to split its forces. It opened them up to the possibility that alien bands would pick them off one by one. More importantly, their forces would need to remain stationed there.

    This was a problem even Lan Qing's lauded intelligence couldn't solve with any satisfaction. The best they could come up with was to gather the survivors together on a single planet to better protect them. Of course this meant the others would be abandoned, but it was the only way their war could continue.

    So far none of their scouts had returned from the inner recesses of the solar system with actionable intelligence. Some would disappear entirely while others would return with nothing of consequence. The only thing they could say with certainty was that any ship that headed for Europa didn't come back. Whatever was happening out there they could not know.

    While it looked like humans were on the cusp of victory, Lan Qing knew better. The aliens were still in control.

    1. A term of respect for an elder male, what you might call your boyfriend's dad. He had not yet given her permission to call him father, as Luo Xianni had.

    2. This refers to a story about Zhang the Butcher, who forced out all his competition so he was the only one selling meat on the street. He had the ignorant masses convinced that if he wasn't around they would have no meat at all. Of course when he gets sick and dies, the street fills with butchers who had all been forced out of business by Zhang. The moral is 'you ain't hot **.'
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