Chapter 871: The Pontiff’s Epiphany!

    Chapter 871: The Pontiff's Epiphany!

    Both the Violet Prince and Violet Princess had consumed vast amounts of human genetic material, even adopting the human form, so that they might grasp the potential of the species. So far it had worked very well for them. However, the familiar anatomy came with all the special characteristics of normal humans. Namely, acupuncture points.

    The Prince and Princess could use their alien powers to cut off this internal system, but doing so would severely limit the potency of the human form. They would no longer really be human. As such they kept the meridians and acupuncture points intact.

    There was an ocean of difference between the powers of the Gods of Wine and the Princess. However, they were still Paragons, old and wise. Both of them together, along with the pressure from the Bookworm and Keeper, made her organs feel like they were on fire. It was a sign the damage was running deep.

    It was so intense that two streams of steaming qi seeped from her feet. At some point in the chaotic exchange two hands had appeared around her ankles, gripping tightly to her feet. Grey fires crept up her legs, simultaneously blocking her vessels and draining her vital essence.

    The power of the Infernal Vanguard was born from the blood of Hades. Devouring the essence of life was the gift of the Gourmet's inheritance! But his power and those of the aliens was different in that he destroyed the essence of life for rebirth. It was completely opposed to the aliens' abilities of consumption for the purpose of personal amplification. This was the perfect moment for the Gourmet to exploit that difference against the Princess.

    Were these humans crazy, she thought. They continued to fight in spite of immanent destruction. Did they hope to simply shrug off the Prince's attack? It would almost certainly mean their death.

    She looked at them, three faces full of determination. But more than determination, there was sorrow and admiration.

    Three? Where was the fourth?

    She looked up, and for the first time there was utter disbelief in the Princess' eyes. She saw that the Violet Prince's attack would not come to save her, for in the midst of its all-consuming destruction was a single figure - a bright silhouette against the darkness.

    No, not a figure. A mountain. A golden mountain whose peak was populated with a host of angels chanting in unison. It was the holy mountain, glimmering with the white light of faith. Pure white light spewed from its crest, and from the base rippled a pool of golden splendor.

    Reflection of Heaven and Earth!

    One figure stood at the highest point of this mountain. It was the Pontiff, clad in his resplendent robes with his scepter held aloft. His face was ablaze with the light of pure faith, and from his mouth poured prayers to the on high. In those deep eyes was profound understanding.

    As his life had come near its end the Pontiff had achieved an awakening. At last he understood why he'd been stuck at the cusp of advancement for years. He knew why it was he could never progress.

    It was his own heart. The faith within him was not pure. Without pure faith how could he receive God's love? Even with the worship of so many devour followers.

    In the face of all his failings, all his shortcoming, the Pontiff placed himself between his allies at the Violet Prince's attack. Despite the knowledge that it would mean his end, he was willing to sacrifice himself. It was then he knew what he was missing.

    Satan's mad smile as he died came to mind. If such a creature could face death unflinchingly, why not a man of faith?

    It wasn't a decision that set him free, but instead instilled him with a sense of the sublime. He couldn't remember the last time he felt this way, it'd been so many long years since he'd felt such a connection. He felt proud!

    For the first time in who knew how long he was proud of himself. Faith had burned away the final obstacle to his advancement, and at last he arose to become a Reflection of Heaven and Earth. The golden mountain burned defiantly as the Prince's black destruction bore down on it. They collided in a magnificent and terrible display of mutual destruction.

    The Pontiff smiled contentedly. The truths he'd found crystallized in his mind, imprinted themselves on his soul, and were imparted into his holy scepter. A single beam of light, a gleaming spear of faith amidst the darkness, shot toward Middle Heaven and the Prince's power annihilated itself against the Pontiff. He would die, but in his final moments he imparted his legacy.

    Constantine was the bearer of the Spear of Fate, but he was still young. Only Metatron was wise enough to accept the burden of this position. The Pontiff had faith that by virtue of the knowledge within the scepter Metatron would break the poisoned cycle they'd wrought and break through to become the next Paragon of the Citadel.

    The Pontiff had spent his life in service to the Citadel. It was fitting that his last moments would be given to ensure its survival.

    Just before the end the Pontiff closed his eyes. His heart was filled with a quiet joy. Death took him, and he went serenely.

    If you are waiting for me in another world, Satan, then be ready to greet me.

    The light of the Harmonious Swords collapsed upon the Princess just as the Pontiff drew his final breath. He's given his life for this moment.

    Boom-The weapon separating the Princess from the light shattered instantly.  Cracks turned her skin to broken glass. Golden-purple energy shot from the fissures, concentrated rays of ruin that fired out toward the Paragons that entrapped her.

    A toxic cloud of purple bellowed from between her pretty lips. Her gorgeous features were broken and twisted, more hellspawn than human. Right away the Paragons could tell their coordinated effort had really hit the mark.

    The creeping hand of death was crawling up her spine. She needed to flee, she was desperate to escape. Monarch's orders were forgotten as she fought for her life - a reaction all living creatures shared.

    She struggled to get free but before she could another ray of light hit her. This one gleamed with a righteous, murderous white. The Harmonious Swords weren't the only danger, as the Pharmacist proved.

    Lan Jue feint had scattered the three she was fighting against. Now she was free to lend a hand and focused her Reflection powers through Occisus. The blade hummed with additional power from Captus and Demortus.

    The Pharmacist hated these beasts. These monsters stole her husband from her in his prime. They were responsible for her daughter's damaged eyes. That hate, and rage, and bloodlust crystallized within Occisus and she brought all of it to bear against the Princess.

    The captured Princess could only lift her arms to protect herself.

    Clang! A monster such as she would not so easily be brought down. The Princess was a reservoir of power far greater than any of theirs, and even Occisus couldn't break her defense. But it did cut halfway through her lifted arms.

    If only Ultus was with them. The keenest of the Banishing Blades would easily cut through the Princess' empowered flesh. Without the fourth sword overcoming her defenses was a mighty undertaking.

    And they did it anyway.

    There was a flash of black and white before her eyes when suddenly the Princess discovered half her body had gone ashen grey. She watched in horror as pieces of her began to disintegrate.

    Magnificent as she was she could not completely protect herself. Every last ounce of power she focused on keeping her core from ruin. Yet the skin on half her body was gone, revealing the sickness beneath.

    Onlookers where shocked to see what lay below the Princess' beautiful façade. All of her was made of worms, writhing and working to keep the meat sack moving [1. ED: Didn't they just say they kept the humans' internal structure?! Guess not... ].

    One by one the maggots were destroyed by the Pharmacist's sustained attack. The Princess' life force was draining at a swift pace. The alien royalty couldn't believe it, she had come to think there was almost nothing that could stand in her way. Nothing in the universe could harm her, especially not the humans.

    Two figures appeared above her. Their two swords pointed with perfect synchronicity and another kaleidoscope of light burst forth. She raged and bucked, desperate to force her way out. Geysers of golden power burst from within her.

    But Lan Jue would not allow it.

    "Bonds of Devotion!"

    This expression of their Harmonious Swords was not a single unbroken beam. Instead it was threads of power formed into the shape of a net. They swallowed up the golden-purple light beaming from her.

    Each ray that was cast from the Princess was a single maggot in the throes of death. They were atomized the moment they touched the net. Little by little the Violet Princess was being consumed.

    The Pharmacist recovered after being deflected. She came again blade first, reaching out with her barbarity. Her Slaughter Discipline encased the Princess and cut her off from any hope of escape. Spears of white light slipped through the holes of Lan Jue's net and proceeded to cut her enemy to pieces.
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