Chapter 424: Big Dipper Godblade

    Chapter 424: Big Dipper Godblade


    The resulting explosion caused a spider web of cracks to appear in the ring's shield and then explode in to a shower of shimmering sparks. The audience watched the golden great sword pierce through it and speed off into the heavens. Another roar, then suddenly a five-clawed dragon emerged from the roiling clouds above1. It's limbs each bore a shimmering star, seven across its whole form, and where it moved the clouds parted like the sea. The sense of majesty it exuded was dumbfounding.

    Booomm-! Chu Cheng's body went sailing out of the ring. The dragon curled and swam above, partly hidden in the clouds. The blazing golden greats word, however, was ever visible. Even Chu Dong - himself the peak of ninth rank - took several uneasy steps backward. Once he regained his composure his eyes immediately shot to where his son had flown.

    As the explosion of golden light receded it became seven beams of rainbow-hued glare. They each raced toward the Pharmacist and converged at the top of her head. From there they delved deep in to the Adepts body and vanished. Subtle flashes of golden light shone in her eyes, but silence was the prevalent scene. Her qipao fluttered though there was no breeze and she stood as serene as a goddess, hands clasped at the small of her back. Her pale face was offset by blushing cheeks2.

    No one waiting in the resting area was enjoying their fancy new sofas. Long ago they had forsaken them and stood to watch the breathtaking clash. The young upstart Chu Cheng had already displayed a level of power few would have thought him capable of. His last attack had the power of a peak-level Adept behind it. Yet still he'd lost and didn't even leave a mark on his foe.

    This was the Pharmacist, representative of Skyfire Avenue, and even her own people watched with wide eyes and opened mouths.

    "Is she even human?" The Barber slowly shook his head in disbelief. He used to think he was strong, but then he lost to Lan Jue and now this. She was a ninth level adept, like him! Not a Paragon. How was there such a difference between them?

    The Accountant  had long since been stricken mute by the dramatic scene before him. All he knew was that if that sword was pointed his way, he'd have to bequeath everything he owned to his dad because he'd be dead meat.

    The great quaking blast of power reached all the way to the VIP platform. It was silent as the grave. Both Metatron and Lucifer watched with expression dark and gloomy. They were a hair's breadth from Paragon, but they knew they couldn't beat her in a fight.

    The Avenue was a whole lot more frightening than they'd originally thought.

    The Terminator let out a long breath. His eyes swung to Jun'er, who was vociferously celebrating her mother's victory. He couldn't think of what to say. And the Gourmet? He looked as stunned as everyone else. If he weren't a Paragon, he asked himself, could he face her toe-to-toe? He didn't like the answer.

    This was the first time ever the Pharmacist had revealed her true strength. Even against powerful foes from the Citadels, she had never needed to resort to tipping her hand.

    Chu Cheng, beaten and bruised, struggled back to his feet. Rivulets of blood flowed from his nose and mouth, but his eyes were bright. He liked it.

    Chu Dong came quickly and looked over his son. Only once he was sure there wasn't any lasting damage did he heave a sigh of relief. "Failure is the mother of success," he said, "don't worry about it." It was a rare word of comfort from the man.

    However Chu Cheng hardly noticed. His eyes were glued to the Pharmacist, he had since floated down and away from the ring. "Goodness gracious," he hummed. "That right there is the woman of my dreams."

    Smack! Chu Cheng's face whipped back toward Chu Dong after his father slapped it back around.

    The Pharmacist slowly made her way back to the waiting, clearly in no hurry. The eye of every Adept followed her, but she acted like nothing was out of the ordinary. She took a seat, instead of leaving immediately as she had always done before.

    Lan Jue made an effort to keep the shock he felt out of his expression. The whole fight was still roiling in his mind, and now finally he thought he had an inkling as to what her power was.

    Legend told of the Big Dipper Godblade, which was less an actual weapon than it was the apex of Celestial Master Qian's martial knowledge. He couldn't be sure whether that distinctive golden sword was real or just condensed energy.

    What incredible power!

    There were still other fights from the first round yet to finish. The dramatic finish to the Pharmacist's fight had been a major distraction. In one case they had to pause the fight, and resumed once Chu Cheng and the Pharmacist had finished. Though the Beautician fought valiantly, in the end she was just not enough to match the Necromancer's curses. Perhaps she just didn't want it enough, but whatever the case the Avenue had one less horse in the running.

    The Coffee Master, Beautician and Barber had seen defeat, but that was to be expected considering their relatively lower ranks.

    The first batch was done, but the audience still remained quietly in their seats. They were still stunned - maybe even frightened. The vision of that coiling dragon and golden sword were burned deep in to their collective memory. They were suddenly vary aware of the force shields around the rings, and very grateful. That woman's power was beyond imagining, enough to shake the pillars of heaven!

    Chu Cheng tenderly walked the distance back to the waiting area. No one in the audience looked down upon him for the loss. His strength was proving in the Pharmacist's response. No one before had made her resort to such frightening attacks. He gave the imposing woman a thumbs up as he limped passed, and his eyes were full of praise. She acted like he didn't exist.

    "You're full of **," Chu Cheng wheezed.

    "Oh? How's that?" Lan Jue asked.

    His companion sniffed. "My ass she's your baby momma. That other stuff you said was right on the nose. She is at least as strong as big brother - and when I saw those seven stars gather and come right for me, she was even scarier than him. Lan Qing's fear is ominous, like a net slowly closing around you. He is a terrifying strategist. There's no escape - you helplessly deliver yourself right in to his hands. But the Pharmacist, damn... that's straight domination. No tricks or fanciness, just straightforward, in your face superiority. You expect me to believe she'll let you in that dress? Having a kid at her level definitely has a negative effect on breaking through to Paragon. So whatever, you lied to me, but don't spread that nonsense. Otherwise you better be careful."

    Realization dawned on Lan Jue as he listened to his friend. Yes, the sacrifices that she made to give her husband a child were great, and showed how deeply she cared for him. There was a dark envy in his heart, but she had lost her love as well. If he were still alive they would be a loving, happy family.

    Chu Cheng, confident he'd exposed his friends lie, let the silence extend for a moment. He spoke again after a second, his voice thick with pride. "I may have lost the fight but I didn't lose the people. If you don't believe me check tomorrow's headlines. Your brother here will be plastered all over the front page. Now that I've fought the Pharmacist I'm convinced she's going to win it, I'm putting my money on her. Constantine ain't got ** on her."

    "Aren't you hurt," Lan Jue asked dryly. "How about you sit quietly and recover. It's time for my fight."

    The second batch would be where he was to face off against Sariel. Lan Jue rose to his feet and left for the rings. Watching the fight between Chu Cheng and the Pharmacist had been an inspiration. Both her power and Chu Cheng's grit had lit a fire in him. The tournament restricted the use of protogenia, so all of that power had come from just his friend's Discipline. Had you asked Lan Jue yesterday, he would never have thought it possible. His brother's potential was a point of pride.

    He thought about Chu Cheng's three consecutive strikes, and wondered if he'd be able to stop all of them. That sword he'd used sure wasn't any ordinary sword - he figured it was the Hades family Astrum. That's the only explanation as to how it almost broke the Pharmacist's defense and corrupted her weapon. His grey falchion was the factor that forced her to reveal her true strength.

    But what about him? Lan Jue absent-mindedly fiddled with a spot against his chest.

    He made his way to the ring and was silently grateful to Chu Cheng. The audience was still processing the fight and didn't have the energy or attention to fling curses his way. Things had gotten better as time went on, but he still heard the jeers and hisses every time he stepped out on to the field. His protest was to continue climbing the ladder.

    Sariel flew into the ring on great, majestic wings. She had an absent-minded expression on her face, but that wasn't odd. When competing at their levels, an Adept had to possess an intimate understanding of themselves. They were always turning their perception inward.

    Watching each other recently meant that both he and Sariel knew what to expect and were preparing accordingly. This was going to be a good fight.

    1. Five claws is significant. In ancient China it was said only the emperor was permitted to bear the image of a dragon with five claws. Any lesser official who chose to use a dragon as a symbol must have fewer.

    2. I believe he's trying to channel old paintings such as this.
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