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Chapter 838: Intercepted

    Chapter 838: Intercepted

    Jue Di smiled. "Every parent has their favorite, you're already better than most. After all you met A-Jue first, and first impressions are important. You've spent the most time with him. And don't worry, this sort of thing doesn't trouble A-Qing. Come, we have preparations of our own to make. It isn't certain our old bones will make it through this, but if we do I'll lead you to humanity's next immortal realm. I can assure you it'll be an interesting journey, I've been preparing for it for ten years."

    Jue Di looked at her with eyes full of vigor and excitement. A golden-red power flickered in their depths.

    ζ

    A pocket of space began to ripple, growing in intensity until a cleft of pink light split it apart. Two figures emerged into the emptiness of space, lit by twinkling rays from the stars.

    Lan Jue and the Pharmacist stood shoulder to shoulder. They took a minute to modulate their protogenia and recover from the uncomfortable sensation of being thrown across such a distance.

    The Pharmacist fixed Lan Jue with a deep and serious look. "I should be doing this alone. Why did you insist on coming?"

    Lan Jue grinned back at her. "How could I let my sister go alone? How do you not grasp that your problems are mine as well?"

    She smiled in response. "It's rare for you to be so relaxed. It eases my worries, too. You know I've been waiting for this opportunity for so long, I almost couldn't wait anymore. But now as we're starting out, I can't help but feel troubled. Not for myself, but for you. I don't want to put you in danger. You've helped me so much, ever since you agreed to be Jun'er's adopted father. Now you're here risking your life with me."

    "Stop speaking like we're strangers," Lan Jue told her. "You'll have a chance to pay me back when we've finished our mission. I'd like you to be godmother when Qianlin and I have our child. I can't think of anyone else with better experience."

    She chuckled. "Sure! I lived in bitterness for years as Jun'er grew. So long as we survive I'll help you and your family face life with peace and positivity."

    Her words were a joy for Lan Jue to hear. Ever since he'd known her the Pharmacist lived her life in despair. Breaking her out of that shell had been very difficult.

    The two of them cast their eyes into the distance. Pleasant smiles melted away before grave expressions.

    From behind, Europa was even more hideous. It was wrapped in pulsing veins thick as mountains, like a diseased uterus. Beneath the writhing tubules one could hardly call Europa a planet anymore. A sick consciousness lived within it, ready to break free of its shell at any moment.

    Lan Jue took a deep breath and set his jaw.

    "Let's go!" The two of them began their approach. Their mission wasn't as simple as scouting out enemy positions. Luo Xianni was right to consider it strange.

    Monarch, Queen, and Consort hugged Europa closely. Each of them were surrounded by a violet haze that seemed only partially real. Like cancerous tumors they clung to the beleaguered human planet. If one looked closely they could see minuscule changes occurring in the alien home worlds.

    Lan Jue's first impression was they looked like enormous gelatinous orbs. As Europa continued to squirm the three worlds seemed determined to press into it.

    The sight made Lan Jue's heart skip a beat.

    Jue Di's assertion that the planets would need a core of tremendous energy to achieve their goal was spot on. Europa was that core... did that mean they were trying to transformation the Western capital into their own immortal realm?

    From where he was standing it looked as though they were pouring their energies into the planet to transform it. Was this their evolutionary process?

    He couldn't know, but it seemed the most likely explanation. If that were true their process would be complete once the planets were completely absorbed into Europa.

    But how much time before they were finished?

    A cursory glance revealed the home worlds were about the same size as they'd always been. However, they were oddly transparent. A closer look revealed that their outer shell was maintained to keep up appearances of size, but the energies within them were being funneled into Europa. Though he couldn't tell exactly, Lan Jue suspected it wouldn't be long before they achieved their goal.

    Europa drew ever closer as he pondered the scene before him. The modulated communicator on his wrist was recording everything he witnessed - including his analysis - and was beaming it to Middle Heaven.

    If their only aim was to take a peek and leave the dangers were limited. Most of the aliens were on the other side of the planet, and the two humans were fast enough to make a fast escape if necessary. However they were sensitive to energy waves and immediately recognized it when Lan Jue sent his communique to Middle Heaven. He and the Pharmacist turned and fled once the information was delivered.

    From here they were at least two hours away from the armada. With the Pharmacist riding the burning light of her sword and Lan Jue a streak of blue lightning, the two of them shot into the distance. None of the three planets appeared to react, and the two sped away unmolested.

    They couldn't return to the armada directly, it was too far through enemy territory. Now they had to wait. Carefully positioned behind the main force, their chances for succeeding in their true mission were good.

    As they made their escape a beam of light shot passed. It stored before them, revealing a foreboding orb of light ten meters across. It flickered as two figures emerged from its depths.

    Lan Jue and the Pharmacist gaped in fear, their pupils contracting. The two who met them were old acquaintances by this point; the Violet Prince and Princess.

    Lan Jue had suspected they would be found by the planets, but he didn't think they would dispatch the two royals so quickly. Fleeing now that they were faced with two Infinite-levels enemies was out of the question. Lan Jue and the Pharmacist exchanged a look, then released their dharmic images.

    The Harbinger Faerie was clearer than ever before. The slaughter she perpetrated against these monsters had strengthened her Domain and empowered her abilities. Her status as a Reflection of Heaven and Earth was not only solid, but steadily rising. All the while the Pharmacist's connection to her Banishing Blade grew closer.

    With the appearance of Occisus, a bloodthirsty aura sprang up around them. The expanse of white it exuded was entirely different from the soothing glow of the Queen of Heaven. Qianlin's powers brought deliverance and healing. The Pharmacist's Domain promised only death.

    Lan Jue also summoned his Boundless Starlight Domain without hesitation. The stern visage of the Emperor of the North Star glared at his enemies.

    Captus shimmered with angry red light, and golden runes danced along the length of the blade - a sign that more than ten percent of the weapon's potential was being drawn upon.

    Lan Jue was a different man than he was before - a Paragon who was one with Nirvana. Where he any less of an Adept he would not have agreed to this mission. If they hoped to flee with their lives, they would need to rely on their strength to carve a path.

    A stern grunt was issued from the Violet Prince. Without a word he thrust a fist toward Lan Jue, initiating the attack.

    Meanwhile the Violet Princess only watched him, head tilted, with a curious and hungry light in her eyes.

    The Harbinger Faerie was first to react. Stern of countenance the dharmic image lifted Occisus high. Instantly the image crystallized into reality, sword and bearer as one.

    Pale light arose through the space between them. Not the crushing power of before, but something intangible and enigmatic. Still this strange power gave the Prince and Princess pause. The target of this evil human weapon wasn't their bodies, it was their souls.

    Occisus was the most savage of the four Banishing Blades, the death it promised didn't stop with the body. After rising to the status of Reflection of Heaven and Earth, the Harbinger Faerie could call upon Occisus' 'Beheading the Three' technique to sear an enemy's spirit. 1

    Without counting Jue Di, the only other Domain capable of rivaling the Pharmacist's pure destruction was Lan Jue's Boundless Starlight Domain. Though there were only two of them, they commanded more power than a coterie of Paragons.

    As the influence of her aura impacted the Violet Prince, the power of his attack was greatly diminished. Lan Jue focused his Domain to meet what remained and they clashed.

    Poof! The Boundless Starlight Domain was ripped apart and dissipated. Lan Jue himself was gone without a trace, as though the Prince's attack had atomized him.

    A thick reddish-black aura sprang up around the two alien luminaries, thick with the essence of their strength. Behind them appeared their own images, two reptilian monstrosities identical to the titans they'd faced in the last battle - only larger.

    The Violet Prince's eyes burned as he groped out with a pale hand. His overpowering will stretched out, reflected in his eyes as a nightmarish violet-gold.

    1. During the process of Taoist cultivation, it is said that humans are possessed of three evils, they use the character for 'worm.' They represent our base desires that keep us from the immortal, and must be 'destroyed at the root' if we desire to transcend mortality. They are: peng hou, ignorance (I think willful ignorance), located in the head; peng zhi, worry and vain delusion preventing peace, located in the chest; peng jiao, covetousness and gluttony, located in the abdomen.
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