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Chapter 895: One Final Photograph

    Chapter 895: One Final Photograph

    Blood trickled from the corners of Luo Xianni's mouth and dripped onto her camera. Suddenly it flashed with an intense pink light that made her stand out against the darkness of space.

    The Violet Prince, in the midst of his charge, sensed something and spun around. When his eyes fell on Luo Xianni, his pupils contracted.

    Ka-cha! The unmistakable sound of a camera shutter clicked. Everything froze.

    The Violet Prince was stuck with a hand raised, ready to launch another attack at her. He fluttered through invisible gravitational waves as a two-dimensional image.

    Luo Xianni's body was pink from head to toe and somewhat opaque. It made her all the more beautiful and ethereal, like an angel. Strangely she also looked much younger, perhaps only fifteen or so.

    "Chi Bupang.... Chi Bupang you bastard, you dare jilt me. You just wait, I'll fight for you all the rest of my life!" She smiled as she muttered the words, a recollection from years ago.

    The Prince's picturesque image floated over to her and with great difficulty she lifted her arms. Pinching the top of the photo she began to tear.

    A flood of energy so intense it was frightening poured from the photograph, a sign of the Prince's struggle. Luo Xianni's pink-hued body shone brighter.

    Crack! The dainty camera she carried with her shattered into dust.

    Ssshhhrrrip! She tore off one edge of the picture, containing the Prince's arm. She cast the torn section away and it dissolved into ash.

    She pinched again and began to pull. Her aim was his head.

    "Aaaarrrrrgggghh!!!" A bloodcurdling roar burst forth, followed by a surge of violet light that tried to smother Luo Xianni's pink glow. Her body warped in response and flickered with a rose tint. The violet aura solidified and was blocked from expanding, she refused to let him escape.

    "My children, this is as much as your mother can offer. Don't give up!" Her voice was not pained, or sad. Instead she sounded almost jovial. She sounded relaxed. Indeed, she was off to find her love, she hadn't been happy since Jue Di's passing. At last she could put down her burden and look for the partner she'd lost.

    ξ

    Within the Banishing Strategy.

    Tears flowed freely from Lan Jue, Lan Qing and Zhou Qianlin's faces. They put their all toward establishing the Strategy, but they saw everything that was happening outside. They were forced to watch silently as soldiers from Star Division, the Bloodiron Khans and the convert army gave their lives. They were acutely affected by the deaths of the Keeper, Bookworm, and the Gods of Wine.

    Every one of them gave their lives to buy them time. They sacrificed themselves for final victory!

    The Banishing Strategy fought perpetually against the might of Monarch. But this Strategy was designed to contend against the strongest immortals in history, one of the greatest forces of the universe. Even the simplest manifestation of it was a threat to Monarch's life.

    Unless the Strategy failed, Monarch wasn't getting away.

    The Banishing Strategy had only been attempted once before, by four of the greatest warriors to have ever lived. Among them were legendary Celestial Masters Yuanshi and Taishang!

    Lan Jue could feel himself weakening. His protogenia, energy, and life force were being drained by the sword. But he was ready - they were determined to give their lives for the Strategy to succeed.

    However it was difficult beyond words to watch his friends, his family, his soldiers fall one after the other. The burden it put on him was crushing, and reached its peak when he heard Luo Xianni's parting words. Even Lan Qing, always a rock in the most unstable times, had tears running down his face. But they couldn't help, all they could do was continue to focus all of their strength on the Strategy.

    Light from the four swords continued to oscillate around them. They carved out channels of energy as they build the foundation. Erratic tempests of deadly sword energy whipped all around. When they brought it under control, the Strategy would be complete.

    Upon being captured by the power of the Strategy, Monarch was filled with fear. Immediately he sensed the aura of immortality protecting him get stripped away. He was left exposed, and if the universe discovered him he would be subject to the terrible power of universal protogenia.

    However as time stretched on he found that universal protogenia was no threat to him under the cover of the Strategy. On the contrary, he sensed something altogether different here. The energy that assailed him was completely different from anything he'd experienced before. Its burden was incredible, outstripping even his own Domain. The revelation opened his eyes.

    What in the world was this mysterious power? Its turbid, agitated influence was capable of locking out everything outside and yet offered no physical threat.

    Monarch and his species were adept at consumption and adaptation. He'd grown to these lofty heights thanks to this skill. Naturally his first instinct was to try and absorb this power for himself and see if it could be used to his benefit.

    Starting small, he drew in a portion and tried to assimilate it but hastily cast it back. Although the small dose was weak he could sense the grade of this energy was towering beyond limit. Taking in even the slightest amount was met with a violent and immediate rejection that threatening to destroy him from inside.

    What frightening power! If only he could somehow command it, he wondered, to what heights would he climb?

    Monarch mulled over the problem, searching for some way to consume this inexplicable force. As he did, the tinge of fear that had assailed him before was gone. After exploring his surroundings with his senses he did not fear for himself, not against these four insignificant humans. He was a god amongst men, and with Luo Xianni's demise none among them commanded the power of the Infinite. Even this strange power that had him temporarily suspended was causing no damage. Who remained to stand against him?

    Monarch was a creature of supreme ambition. His target was to supplant the universe itself. He was both curious and fascinated by this new type of energy and thus did not hurry to free himself from it. Instead he followed its ebb and flow, confident that he could discover its secrets. Secrets that would guide him on the path to domination.

    As a result Lan Jue and the others did not sense Monarch struggling. Little by little, they were free to establish their Strategy. However it was more than just the death of Luo Xianni that filled their hearts with sadness. Despair was beginning to set in.

    They could not complete the Strategy! This unspoken fear grew within each of the four sword bearers. They were nearing their limit and yet not even a third of the Strategy's foundation was complete. Even if they spent every drop of vitality remaining within them they could not see a way to give what the Strategy demanded. In the end they would be consumed by the power they sought to command, Monarch would escape unscathed.

    Half of humanity's mightiest had already fallen and they were failing. After all of this, was it truly the fate of mankind to be destroyed by these monsters?

    Lan Qing's voice called to the other three. "Do not give up, even to the last moment. Give up everything and we will see what can be accomplished. His aura of protection is gone, and even if we only succeed in injuring him perhaps universe protogenia can do the rest."

    "Alright!" Lan Jue answered. His eyes, burning with resolve, never left Zhou Qianlin.

    While Monarch couldn't see through the chaotic flows of energy, to the sword bearers it was clear as water. It was carried by the swords, but was present at the creation of the universe. Lan Jue's Five Lightnings were a derivative of this primordial power. This pure chaos was a profound and eternal aspect of reality. Of course Monarch would know nothing of it.

    Lan Jue took a deep breath and from his Core a bright light emerged. An image of the Middle Heaven Great Emperor of the North Star of Purple Subtlety appeared behind. Hundreds of twinkling star-like lights appeared upon Lan Jue and set his body ablaze.

    He offered himself as a sacrifice to the Banishing Blade, urging it to give them more power. Lan Qing, Zhou Qianlin and the Pharmacist did the same.

    In response all four swords flared and burned like four suns. The Strategy began to arrange itself faster. Monarch, who had been carefully examining the power, felt it suddenly press heavily upon him. The load it placed on him took his breath away.

    "Impossible!" It was the first thought to cross his mind. How could this insignificant creatures summon something so exceptional?

    Golden light radiated from him as he fought to stave off the pressure. The chaos around him rippled but was otherwise unchanged.

    Something like fear flashed in Monarch's eyes. No, he couldn't hold back any longer. If they were allowed to use even a fraction of this power against him it would threaten his life.
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