Chapter 376: Encyclopaedia Roboris, Martial Articles

    Chapter 376: Encyclopaedia Roboris, Martial Articles

    "Halt!" A man barring Lan Jue's path lifted a hand.

    "Are you new? You shouldn't be wandering around - don't you know this is Uriel's meditation chamber?" The priest's voice was haughty and dismissive. For him and the other clergyman standing by the door, this was a very honorable position.

    "I'm very sorry," Lan Jue replied, feigning awe. "I am new, yes. Thank you for the help, I'll go this way." He turned around and started back the way he'd come. What the two arrogant guards could not see was the small smile spreading across his face.

    He'd approached to gather information, and the guards had been very helpful in providing it to him. The map he'd been given appeared complete, and now he had his target.

    Sariel had armed with with blueprints and quite a lot of valuable intelligence. Most of it was concerning Uriel, Gabriel and Michael. According to what she'd told him, Michael had spent most of the last few months locked away in his room, recovering. He was almost completely back to normal. Gabriel spent the bulk of his days in prayer, while Uriel chose nightfall as the time to do his meditations.

    Every Archangel had their own meditation chamber. The ultimate aim was to improve their photoelemental abilities and make them more powerful. Lan Jue had met Sariel in her own meditation chambers when they'd stolen in to the Cathedral before. This one was Uriel's, as confirmed by the guards.

    Lan Jue took a few turns through the corridors, before pushing passed a door in to a utility closet. The Cathedral was massive, so there were several of these small rooms strewn about to help the staff. They were mostly full of cleaning products and janitorial equipment. He didn't have to worry, though - janitors kept specific hours, usually during visiting hours.

    Moreover, most surveillance equipment was turned off after hours. The selection criteria for clergymen here was very strict, which had the unfortunate side-effect of making them overconfident.

    Lan Jue was left undisturbed. He looked around from an electrical socket and, with a flash, he was gone. He reappeared in a marvelously decorated chamber.

    The meditation chambers were all the same, and Uriel's was no exception. Sariel had expressed that these rooms were the best place for the Archangels to get some privacy. No one was allowed inside without express consent from the Archangels, and violators were very harshly dealt with.

    Lan Jue carefully examined his surroundings before slowly walking behind a nearby pillar. Here, he closed his eyes and focused his breathing. Gradually, his electrical Discipline vanished and was replaced by an infrequent shimmer of black and white light. But then something strange occurred, for as Lan Jue's aura coiled around him it began to solidify. It drew together until Lan Jue was like a statue hidden behind the pillar. Even if someone were to be standing right on top of him, it would now be difficult to sense out his aura.

    The unity of heaven and man! Wholeness!

    An Adept of appropriate skill who saw this might understand Lan jue's motive, for only such a skill would have these results. Any ninth level Adept - regardless of rank - may learn the Wholeness. It also served to help expedite their training to at least ninth level fifth rank. It was a skill acquired through understanding, not hard work. When an Adept was able to fully grasp man's place as an integral part of the universe, it helped to improve their own Discipline. 1

    It was an important step, a level of comprehension that prepared the Adept for the Protogenic realm. Once Wholeness was understood, the road ahead became easier. It was possible that every Paragon had to master this before they broke through. If one didn't, they would be stuck at the peak of ninth level forever, searching for their Path.

    Lan Jue had learned this skill three years prior, though he wasn't looking for it. After Hera died, he'd locked himself away in seclusion. For ten days and ten nights he didn't move a muscle. When he awoke, he'd somehow come to know the reality of man's connection to the universe.

    The years following were spent languishing away. Had he kept to his cultivation, he'd undoubtedly be significantly stronger than he was now. At the very least, he'd be closer to where his brother stood.

    The seconds ticked by. Outside the day darkened in to night. That was when he heard footsteps approaching.

    "Lord Uriel. Lord Gabriel." Lan Jue heard the two guards outside greet the Archangels respectfully. The doors opened, and the two powerful Adepts stepped inside. Lan Jue, practically indistinguishable from the pillar he hid behind, couldn't move. However, this state did serve to enhance his perception.

    Two of them together, Lan Jue thought, his heart skipping a beat . Bad luck? Or...

    He didn't move, and barely breathed. So long as he maintained this skill, the only way they could know he was here is if one of them walked behind the pillar.

    "Nothing - no news at all. And Raphael, he couldn't even get out a warning? Or delay for backup? He mustn't have, otherwise how could he be snatched up," Gabriel complained.

    Uriel motioned for his compatriot to take a seat. He then shook his head. "I'm sure it's no so easy as that. They had to have planned this for a long time in advance, otherwise they wouldn't have been able to pull it off without leaving any clues behind. They must also have known that Raphael, with his healing Discipline, was the weakest fighter of us all. If the attackers were strong enough, they'd have been able to silence him before he could do anything. It's also lucky they used the tailor to help them, maybe make threats."

    Gabriel's voice was low as he responded. "She'll have to go. Whether Raphael is returned or not, her presence here undermines our reputation."

    Uriel nodded his acknowledgement. "Metatron expressed a similar thought. I'll send someone to deal with it. In a few days I'll be leaving for the tournament, but it would be best for you to remain here. I have a feeling the terrorists are still skulking around, somewhere."

    Gabriel grunted in irritation. "That's good then, the more opportunity for us to discover who would dare kidnap an Archangel. When we catch them, they'll be nailed on a crucifix side by side for their insolence."

    "Don't act rashly," Uriel cautioned. "They must be very strong, at least a match for you. Think about it, who would be able to beat Raphael so thoroughly he couldn't even get a message out to one of us?"

    "How would I know? I've never seen it," Gabriel answered.

    Uriel poked three fingers in to the air. "Three possibilities. A man and a woman with power at least comparable to our own. It's worth noting what Julie said about the man, that his Discipline manifested in black and white. Part of it contains a consuming element 2 This is no Discipline I've ever encountered, but my research has revealed three prospects.However, none of them could contest the abilities of your average ninth level Adept, especially since none of them confirm to this vortex aspect."

    "You mean to say that this Discipline is completely unknown?" Gabriel asked, surprised. Although his face bore an indignant anger, he was careful and calculating.

    Uriel shook his head. "No, I suspect that his power isn't necessarily a Discipline. I checked the Disciplines recorded in the Encyclopaedia Roboris, and came across something helpful."

    Gabriel blinked. "Why didn't you tell Metatron?"

    "Because there's no proof, only conjecture," he explained. "It also involves something we aren't supposed to be involved in. Look!" Uriel produced an ancient, yellowed volume from his robes. He handed the crumbling tome to Gabriel.

    "Encyclopaedia Roboris: Articles on Martial Virtue!" Gabriel read off the book's title. His tone rose with each word.

    Uriel nodded. "Here," he said, reaching over to flip open the book to the second page.

    "The Martial Virtue of Taijiquan. Lost knowledge said to have been rediscovered by the master Jue Di. It is said that a true sage of Taiji is capable of using oneself to channel the yin and yang energies of the universe. Through this, the practitioner is capable of unmaking any living thing."

    As Gabriel read on, his eyes grew wide. He wasn't sure how to react to the news. Most of it was noise, but two words stuck out like they were burned on the page: Jue Di!

    Even just the name had caused the Archangels' breath to quicken. They exchanged a quick look, and each spied in the others' eyes the fear they themselves felt.

    Jue Di! An average Adept my not be familiar with the name. Most would probably say it sounded pretentious 3 To those in the know, however, this name represented incomparable power.

    Among the Three Alliances the strongest was undoubtedly the North. They were in control of the largest number of galaxies, more than both the West and East combined. By now - a hundred years after humans left for the stars - the nearby galaxies were all occupied. If any of the Alliances wished to expand, they'd have to reach out further in to the dangerous blackness of space. 4

    1. This is a core precept of yin-yang naturalist theory that states man is an integral part of the total Truth. We are not separate, only another aspect made up the combination of yin-yang and the five elements. In Chinese Medicine, this translates as an understanding that we follow the same rules as any other living thing and helps guide diagnostic theory and treatment protocols. From a philosophical point of view, this means that we are already at one with the universe, and understanding the universe will help us come to understanding ourselves and vice-versa.

    2. Ying-Yang theory also posits that yin and yang are interconsuming (as indicated in the yin-yang picture by the white or black tapering off near the bottom). This means that both yin and yang are capable of destroying and absorbing the other, but not completely. That may or may not be the idea behind Lan Jue's martial vortex from the earlier fight

    3. Jue Di is written as  - translated directly as Absolute Emperor.

    4. Disconnect! I had my wife read the end here and yes - this makes no sense. The only reason I can think of for TJSS to jump topics like this is either a. He was drunk or b.I'm drunk? I guess we'll find out next chapter.
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