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Chapter 399: Disgrace and Immolation

    Chapter 399: Disgrace and Immolation

    The ungodly friction of her dark blade and Chu Cheng's fiery lotus caused an ear-splitting screech. It was eventually the eminance shadow blade that gave way, shattering into oblivion.

    Chu Cheng thrust a palm forward, and at his command the smoldering buds began to shed petals. These petals were black as the world around them, and sharp as razors. They sliced erratically through the air toward the cloaked lady.

    She brandished the rapier in her grip, and executed a series of rapid swiped all around. Crescent-shaped waves of energy spread out like ripples, leaving behind them tails of opaque light. Still the petals came, though many where swept away by the waves. The cloaked lady dodged and weaved among them like a shadow - no, like a host of shadows, too quick to fix your eyes on. In truth there were, for several shadowy clones had clawed free from her and scuttled through the dark.

    Metatron watched from the viewing platform. He turned his eyes to Lucifer beside him. In a voice flat with indifference he said "Well, it appears the deep pockets of our affluent colleagues have purchase another unholy masterpiece."

    "That is Dracula's daughter," was the tepid response from the Dark Citadel's second in command. There was no attempt to hide the cloaked lady's identity, there didn't appear to be a need to. The two citadels butted heads often, and if they didn't learn about her now then it would be soon. She was strong enough now to get their attention.

    There was a sniff from the Lord Archangel. "It's unfortunate! She's come across one opponent that may be more than a match. Unless I'm mistaken, that's the Northern successor to the Hades bloodline."

    While he spoke to Lucifer, his eyes slowly went to the Gourmet in the row ahead. Especially after the Gourmet's ascent to Paragon, no one was unaware of his history.

    Lucifer didn't react to the taunt. He gave his Pontifical counterpart an admonishing grin then returned his attention to the field.

    Metatron smirked back, then followed his eyes to the cloaked woman.

    The two where at the climax of their confrontation. Dracula's offspring had shown staggering speed and power, but the Hades scion had replied with power to match. Now as the petals fell and she weaved, another surprise ensued. The metal-looking petals dissolved in to lapping flames as they were destroyed. That was part of what made Hades dangerous - his powers were sinister.

    This was where the gap between them began to show. The cloaked woman was blessed with two Disciplines, and even still couldn't match the superior Chu Cheng. After only this brief exchange, she was starting to look sluggish.

    Chu Cheng curled his body in like he was preparing to jump. Then, with claw-like hands, he pulled his arms up over his head. The ground rumbled as a column of hellfire erupted from the earth, directly beneath the woman's feet.

    She managed to leap out of the way half a moment before the fires consumed her. But while the attack didn't hit her, it did suck in the orbiting lotus flowers surrounding them. The column grew with every addition, until another flower, larger and more intense than all the others began to emerge. More than three times the size of its predecessors and bearing a crushing atmosphere of its own, it came crashing toward the cloaked woman.

    Lit by the hellish fires, the cloaked woman let loose a beastial roar. Her whole body shook, and the cloak flapped as a pair of giant leathery wings sprang from her back. A sanguine cloud of red surrounded her, and set her shadow blade ablaze with crimson fire.

    She took a step forward, then launched herself directly toward the enormous nimbus like she meant to face it head on. Chu Cheng watched with a dark grin, and when she began her approach he moved as well. Raising his hands overhead, a swirling vortex of fire and brimstone crackled to life before him.

    Just as the crowd was wondering why he'd waste time with a short-range strike, the cloaked woman vanished from view. She reappeared moments later, right in front of Chu Cheng's vortex and that's when it turned a boundless grey.

    This wasn't just power. It was forethought.

    The cloaked woman's rapier grew impossibly sluggish, like it was trying to cut through molasses, or glue. Her interspacial powers seemed useless. The vacuum force of his vortex finally ripped her cloak away revealing a lithe and beautiful young woman.

    She was as beautiful as she was dangerous. Tall, with dark tights covering and outlining her athletic figure. Her face was pale, and cold, but beautiful. Like gazing on an iceberg. Dark red hair framed her black eyes.

    Chu Cheng reacted immediately. As soon as her face was revealed, his vortex weakened. As it did the woman took advantage, melding her shadow rapier back in to herself. A moment later her entire body turned in to a living blade, which she used to try and destroy the vortex holding her.

    Chu Cheng released a gentle sigh, and motioned with his hands again. A second vortex appeared, adjacent to the first and rotating in the opposite direction. The two crashed into each other, and the resulting explosion sent waves of feral power tearing out in all directions. The blade-woman went sailing though the air, and the strike caused her to return to her human form.

    When she hit the floor vestiges of the grey energy congealed in to shackles. They pinned her to the ground, stretching her catsuit even tighter.

    Chu Cheng swallowed and offered a chuckle. "Come on. Look, we can be friends, right?"

    The digitized voice called out Chu Cheng's victory.

    He walked over and extended a hand to release the chains. They were his creation, after all. There was more to it than that, of course. He wanted to get his hands on her.

    Impressive elasticity, Chu Cheng mused to himself as he looked over her outfit. He banished the shackles with no further delay.

    SLAP!

    The cloaked woman delivered a slap so hard it spun Chu Cheng in place. She looked as surprised she hit as he did. "Why didn't you move?!" He was strong and experienced enough to have seen that coming, certainly.

    "You're so pretty that I forgot," he said, rubbing his face.

    "Pervert!" She glared daggers at him, and then without any further exchange soared in to the air and away.

    All he could do was shrug his shoulders. "You can run sweet heart, but I know your number." Every contestant had one, and hers was recorded on his badge. With a family as important as his, finding out more about her wouldn't be a problem.

    "Pretty, fit, fierce and strong... Not bad, not bad at all. Heh, now I've got me a target. A-Jue can't steal all the ninth level ladies, can he."

    "Get the hell out of here." A gruff voice interrupted his thoughts from a few feet away. When Chu Cheng looked he discovered a man who looked like he was in his forties. He looked quite a lot like Chu Cheng, though a sight more level-headed. Still, he didn't need to be angry to instill the immediate sensation that he had to be listened to.

    He was dressed in the uniform of the tournament judges. He had to be a powerful Adept, since the North would only ask those capable of stopping an issue to perform these duties.

    "Erk..." Chu Cheng didn't say a world, and practically ran from the arena.

    "If you embarrass me in public again I'll roast you," the older man said, slapping him upside the head.

    "Ah! Hey!" Chu Cheng cowered and rubbed his head. "Since when could judges hit people?!"

    He stepped closer and kicked at him. "Right now I'm no judge, I'm your father!"

    This was indeed the head of the Hades Bloodline, Chu Cheng's father - Chu Dong. He was a ninth level Adept, who all his life had been looking for his Path to protogenic understanding that never came.

    Chu Dong looked up once his son scuttled off, and his eyes met the Gourmet seated atop the main viewing platform. There was something there between them, unspoken but visible in their face. Without a word or motion, Chu Dong turned and continued to watch the remaining fights.

    Chu Cheng found the cloaked woman's name quickly and without much effort. She was the legitimate daughter of Dracula and was a member of the Dark Citadel. Lina Lee. She came from the most stories vampire family to have ever lived. She was born with two Disciplines, with strength of Talent, and was widely considered the eminent successor to the Dracula bloodline.

    There was only one Prince of Vampires, and that was Dracula. Like many titles it was not the name of a single person, but rather generational. When the old Dracula passed, another was crowned from the new generation. They would then be called Dracula. The bloodline had remained strong and unbroken for countless generations, peak of the world of vampires.

    "Lina Lee, quite a sexy name," Chu Cheng sniggered to himself. He continued to gather whatever other information he could find.

    At last the second batch was called. There were more familiar faces this time, namely the Driver, Constantine , and Sariel. Constantine was lucky enough to be given a weak opponent which he dealt with in short order. Sariel was similarly quick in putting another win in her column. The Driver, however, had more of a challenge.

    Lots meant who you fought came down to luck. Sometimes you came out ahead, an sometimes you didn't. Chu Cheng encountering Lina was certainly an example of unfortunate placement. She was a ninth level Talent indeed, but thankfully only third rank.

    The brunt of that poor luck obviously fell on Lina. The difference in Discipline rank was too much for her to overcome, even though she had two Disciplines. Chu Cheng already had a grasp on his protogenic transformation in Hades. Although they weren't permitted to use protogenic powers in the arena, it still helped him tremendously in other ways.

    The Driver's opponent was a Northerner. He was a young man, thin and small, who wore a curiously cone-shaped hat. The arms crossed across his chest were more interesting, composed of some pitch-black material. It made it impossible to tell just what sort of trouble this tiny man had installed.
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