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Chapter 874: Joining With the Sword

    Chapter 874: Joining With the Sword

    If Li Ke was still master of the sword Lan Qing would be unable to break his connection and fuse with Ultus. However, with only the sword's own will to contend against dominating it would be much easier. As resistance waned Lan Qing took in the tendrils of power from Ultus into himself where it began to join with the light around Vairochana.

    The nimbus of orange light surrounding the Buddha took on a turquoise hue. Ultimately it was Lan Qing's wind-element Discipline that connected him with fully with the sword. It was impossible to force Ultus to accept Vairochana entirely, instead he found common ground through wind.

    Lan Qing was surprised by the result.

    When it was time to break through to Paragon, Lan Qing forsook his natural Talent and took on the inheritance of Vairochana with his father's guidance. His wind Discipline remained, but separate from the new powers of the Buddhist lineage. Upon rising to a Reflection he wanted to find a way to join the two and thus improve his protogenic potency. In doing so he would pave the way toward Nirvana. Only, he hadn't had the time.

    Instead by happy circumstance his forced delay ultimately facilitated his success in combining with Ultus. As it was without bias Lan Qing's wind powers served as a bridge between his protogenia and the godblade.

    A pale corona of light flickered around him, and a small smile touched Lan Qing's lips. His hands slowly curled into the dharma mudra seal and mystical sigils appeared in his palm. As the turquoise light gradually withdraw a halo of orange encircled Lan Qing's head.  Vairochana's radiance shined all around him.

    Was it over? Li Ke's eyes glimmered. As he watched Lan Qing opened his mouth and a beam of turquoise light burst forth. It was Ultus.

    The sword's light was the same, but for the fact that it seemed somehow softer. This was because any trace of its keen nature had been removed.

    Now was Li Ke's time. The spirit began to meditate and all of his experience, his will, dissolved into a beam of light that melded with that of Ultus.

    The process was smoother than he'd thought it might be. While soothing chants hung in the air Li Ke allowed himself to become one with the godblade. The power of the sword stabilized his ebbing spirit.

    He'd prepared himself to suffer the bite of Ultus through this process. It was certain, Li Ke thought, that he would suffer injuries from the sword's cutting essence that he might not recover from. Yet now that the time was upon him he was surprised to find his fears were for naught. None of the danger or pain he'd prepared for was present. He became the spirit of the sword without incident.

    Lan Qing opened his eyes, and a faint flickering of turquoise light appeared and vanished within his orange halo. A wonderful sensation drew his attention to the sword, still before him.

    He smiled. Ultus, first of the Banishing Blades - the greatest weapon of the gods!

    Godblade was a worthy name. Even the faintest vestiges of its will was almost more than he could accept.

    He opened his mouth and the sword, dissolving into a beam of light, vanished within. Immediately the light of his halo intensified. A moment later he was a streak of light flying into the distance.

    ξ

    On the outskirts of the armada, the battle between man and monster raged on.

    The fight between the Violet Prince and the Photographer was evenly matched and they traded blows that shook the heavens. Had Luo Xianni been given more time to find the essence of her Infinite powers the fight would have been easier, for humanity's potency was always more than what these aliens could achieve. But she was still freshly arisen, and unfamiliar with the nuances the Infinite contained. Were Jue Di alive the situation would have been very different. As it was the humans were beginning to lose steam.

    Luo Xianni was managing to hold her own, but the others were flagging. Faced off against other Infinite-level monstrosities the Paragons were at an increasingly dangerous disadvantage. The Violet Princess was dead and the Prince was busy, but that left two peak-strength enemies still to deal with. They were the avatars of Monarch and Queen.

    Terminator and Chu Cheng were a team, facing the might of Queen's avatar. Relying on his staggering strength, Terminator had so far been able to withstand Queen's devastating attacks. She lashed at the two of them with tendrils of purple light more cutting than any sword save Ultus. Mighty as the Terminator's defenses were his body was still soaked from the blood of several dozen wounds. None threatened his life, but they'd begun to take a toll on his abilities.

    The Terminator had suffered some trauma before Chu Cheng arrived. Although he helped to take some of the focus off the Conclave's leader, Chu Cheng was only a Reflection of Heaven and Earth. Against an enemy as puissant as the Queen there was little he could do. The Terminator had to shield Chu Cheng from the avatar's attacks otherwise a single successful hit might end him.

    With time Terminator was forced to expend more energy, and Chu Cheng's stamina was also quickly being spent. As the pressure mounted both men knew a single misstep could mean their lives.

    Things were somewhat less bleak in the fight against Monarch's avatar. The Wine Master and Epochrion were bringing the full might of space-time to bear against the terrifying alien. The Pauper and Driver backed them up. The Driver's Primordial lightning was particularly effective in containing the avatar and was most lethal. So long as these Paragons continued to fight in unison they could defend themselves.

    However the might of a creature of the Infinite was the stuff of legends. It crushed the waves of space-time protogenia as they came and shrugged off its debilitating effects. Each time the avatar fought back the four Paragons had to struggle mightily to respond.

    Most importantly, the Wine Master and Epochrion were battling against someone several classes above them. They were managing to contain some measure of the avatar' Infinite powers but it cost them greatly. Eventually they would tire.

    Luckily the Driver's cultivation was also nearly Reflection-level. Even without a breakthrough his Primordial Lightning was a threat to the monster and gave them an edge. Still, it was clear the only way they could hope to survive was to finish the fight quickly. Each passing minute inched their chances closer to zero.

    This engagement teetered on a razor's edge. If one side should fall all the rest would follow. This was especially true for the humans.

    Things were no better for Lan Jue and Zhou Qianlin. Hand in hand they wielded the power of the Harmonious Blades masterfully, but the monster they faced was the strongest of them all. Once the avatars combined into this three headed, six armed abomination its power surpassed even the Infinite. Jue Di in his prime would have struggled.

    Lan Jue and Qianlin fought with all of their strength. So far they were able to distract the creature. And indeed distract was their purpose. Captured within Lan Jue's Boundless Starlight the hydra couldn't influence the other fights, but that was all they could hope to achieve. Any attempt to kill the beast was futile, especially after expending so much energy in killing the Princess.

    Fear began to worm its way into Lan Jue's mind. If they were forced to continue the fight like this the only outcome would be defeat. If any flank collapsed everything would be lost.

    The greatest hopes were placed on the Pharmacist, who faced the best odds. She was battling three Nirvana-level creatures and had the Gods of Wine, the Keeper, and the Bookworm to aid her. But Lan Jue quickly found they had nowhere to go, for the simple reason that they were too tired. Some of them had taken injuries, in particular the Gods of Wine and the Gourmet. They'd pushed themselves to their limit in fighting the Violet Princess. She was now dead but their strength had quickly fallen off. Hua Li was fresh, but unfortunately was weaker in cultivation.

    As a result most of the responsibility for the fight fell on the Pharmacist's shoulders. While the fight looks like seven on three, it was hardly as easy as the math might suggest.

    What's more the Pharmacist had just experienced a deeply emotional event, one which was still affecting her. Her Slaughter Domain was deadly, but only empowered her if she took life. Thus far she'd only managed to kill one. Strong as the Princess was a single victory didn't catalyze the full might of the Pharmacist's Domain. So it was that her battle was the only one that could put pressure on the enemy, but killing them seemed unlikely.

    What could they do? Unless something drastic changed they were on losing footing.

    A voice rang in Lan Jue's ear. "Lan Jue, if things start to come apart you take Qianlin and the Pharmacist and return to the bastion. Its defenses should keep you safe. I know a way that will take me out and this bastard with me - or at least seriously wound it."

    Lan Jue felt his heart skip a beat. The plan was delivered calmly, but he could hear the solemn sadness in it.

    Terminator! The Northern leader couldn't hold out any more. He had one chance to go out together with his foe. If he waited any longer he couldn't have the energy remaining to do it.
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