Chapter 894: Sacrifice

    Chapter 894: Sacrifice

    A hundred thousand thoughts flooded the Violet Prince's mind, all the same: Humanity forever! For the North! For the East! Cry after cry of devotion, each one small but together a cacophony. It was so intense it gave him pause.

    He only managed one attack before Luo Xianni caught up with him.

    In the same instant two incandescent beams of light exploded forth. The dazzling beams were birthed from what appeared to be binary stars burning one beside the other. The focused fury of their dual supernovae were focused on the three-headed avatar.

    The mad laughter of the Keeper and the Bookworm hung in the air, audible to all. Their dharmas appeared beside them, for in the final moments of their lives as they channeled their vital essence into the attack they broke through to a new level. Like the Pontiff their sacrifice empowered them to be Reflections of Heaven and Earth.

    Tears wet the eyes of every member of Skyfire Avenue, Paragon and Division soldier alike. These men were pillars of the Avenue, of the East as a whole. Echoes of their contributions would persist far into humanity's future - if they had a future.

    It was the two of them who first puzzled out the secrets of the exuvium process, using vital crystals to extend life. It was them who pushed the East forward technologically so they would not fall too far behind the North. Now, they used the last light of their lives in a final service to their people.

    The splendor of their sacrifice shone all across the universe.

    The hydra abomination was shocked by the turn of events. By itself the beast could defend against the blasts, but the will and spirit of these old men surged tenfold. Faced with such conviction, the avatar paused.

    Half a moment later the beast was swallowed up by the beams of light. Under the blaze its body was torn apart and put back together half a dozen times.

    The Wine Master watched, holding tightly to the Clockmaker's hand, his face pale. He'd known the Keeper for so long, the old scientist was more senior among the Avenue's leadership. When the Clairvoyant passed, it should have been the Keeper to take over the duties of chairman. However the Keeper refused, stating only that he didn't have the time. Thus the responsibility passed onto the Wine Master.

    He was selfless. He put the prosperity of Skyfire Avenue and the East as a whole before himself, to the very end!

    The Wine Master cast a glance to the Clockmaker at his side. "I'm sorry."

    She smiled back at him, her free hand fiddling with the small clock she carried with her. She gripped his hand tighter. "What are you saying? You think I'm less dedicated than you?"

    He smiled back. "I've loved you my whole life. It took me an eternity to earn your heart, but it is my greatest achievement. If another life awaits us I will meet it gladly, and I'll be more brazen the second go-round."

    As they spoke, looking deeply into one another's eyes, light began to flicker around them. Flashes of silver radiated from the Wine Master and his scepter. A smear of multicolor light hung over the Clockmaker. She flung her small clock into space where it dissolved into a golden beam, and was caught in the flows of space-time that surrounded them.

    The avatar was too strong. Though the scientists' sacrifice had managed to contain it temporarily they could not destroy it. More power was needed.

    When the Wine Master said sorry to his love he'd made up his mind. He was the chairman of Skyfire Avenue's council, he had a responsibility.

    Sacrificing one's life for humanity was a fine period on the final sentence of his life. His only regret was leaving the wonderful woman by his side. Her calm in the face of the end, her small comforting smile, eased the sorrow in his heart. They were together at the finale of their lives, two hearts beating as one. Together they would deliver a crushing blow on behalf of mankind.

    "This sort of thing is the responsibility of us old folk." The words were almost lackadaisical, delivered from another figure standing on the Wine Master's other side. A crystalline vine, pulsing with protogenia.

    "You're a lover of wine, and our legacy has to be passed on. It's a treasure that belongs to everyone." Two streaks of light flit passed the Wine Master, one purple and one red. They raced toward the dual columns of white.

    The Gods of Wine, Bize and Aubert.

    "I finally feel like I'm worthy of meeting Henri in the afterlife. I'm a hero, now - he can't steal you away from me. Hahahaha!" Aubert's laughter was coarse, making Bize's cheeks red.

    A deep purple light spread forth form Aubert, turning the branches sprouting from him into crystal extensions. A rich scent of wine filled the air. In all his life the Wine Master had never smelled anything so wonderful.

    Purple and ring intermingled, and as they drilled into the light they became a magnificent spear.

    POP! A sound like a balloon exploding rang out. The whole area seemed to shake as red, white and purple sparkled so brightly it painted the whole galaxy.

    Boom--! A ripping explosion followed.

    The lights dimmed and a body hung in space. It was the three-headed avatar. The Keeper, Bookworm, and the two Gods of Wine were gone without a trace.

    But did their target still live?

    Four Paragons gave their lives to destroy a single creature, but it still didn't seem enough. It spoke to how terrible its power really was.

    However their sacrifice wasn't entirely in vain. The three-headed monster had but one head remaining, two thirds of what had created it were destroyed. Its power was still roughly equivalent to the Infinite, but compared to the near immortal level might it'd commanded before this was a sharp decline. The remains of its battered body continuously leaked a thick purple fluid and branches could be seen embedded in its back. The wounds and branches leached out the lifeblood of the monster, making it weaker.

    "Kill it!" The Wine Master shouted. He charged in to put the beast down.

    The Pauper was gone, as was the Keeper, the Bookworm, Bize and Aubert. Only six Paragons were left, standing between the enemy and the Banishing Strategy.

    The Gourmet, Driver, Wine Master, Clockmaker, Hua Li, and Chu Cheng were all that were left.

    They dashed forward, a flood of rage, sadness and determination. Chu Cheng swiped at the avatar with Hade's Falchion, which glinted with a bitter and forlorn glow. With no time to recover before the Paragons were on it, the beast was cut deep by the weapon.

    Orbs of blue and gold erupted from Hua Li's trident. They surrounded the creature and slowed it down. Primordial lightning, dimensional daggers and weaponized time-element struck all at once.

    Blood shot out like a geyser, but the avatar still stood. Even heavily damaged it contrived to summon what remained of its Domain to block the brunt of the attacks. It knocked the Wine Master away.

    Things were looking bad for Luo Xianni. Her powers were suffering after the wound she'd sustained from the Prince. It was only getting easier for her foe to cast off her attacks and turn his focus on his real target.

    Every time the Prince repelled her he lashed out at the Banishing Strategy. Each attack destroyed hundreds more mechas and drones. Were it not for Luo Xianni's persistence he would make quick work of these piddling defenders.

    Yet as their comrades died more mechas and drones surged into the breach to take their place. They were ready for a glorious death, to give themselves for victory. The Banishing Strategy was in the midst of establishing mankind's last chance. The least they could do - the only thing they could do - was whatever they could to see it succeed.

    "Die!" The Violet Prince roared. He sent Luo Xianni flying once again. Her chest was visibly collapsed, her protogenia could no longer protect her. Her camera was damaged beyond repair.

    Her expression crestfallen, a bronze light flickered as Jue Di's former weapon appeared in her grip. She clutched the Compliant Rod desperately.

    "Chi Bupang, I'm coming to join you. Don't forget me." She whispered through lungs rapidly filling with blood.

    Luo Xianni threw the rod into the air. Then, aiming her camera, she focused on the Prince as he raced toward the Banishing Strategy. As he began to tear through the mechas and drones, she muttered through gritted teeth.

    "Take... advice... from Luo Xianni. A camera... is all you need."

    She fought to speak the words, each syllable causing her small pink camera to grow more dim and intangible. A fading violet light arose from her concave chest and merged with the fading astrum.
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