Chapter 426: Battle of Attrition

    Chapter 426: Battle of Attrition

    What sort of strategy was this? Neither one ever actually collided with the other. One simply covered the area in a massive draining area-attack, and the other darted around at full charge while evading the lightning. Both of them were hemorrhaging energy.

    "This isn't right. Zeus' attacks are far weaker than they should be." Metatron muttered.

    It was loud enough for the Gourmet to hear, and he furtively smirked to himself. They were already late in their discovery, and there was no way for them to alert Sariel from up here. Metatron was among only a few members of the audience who understood the tactic - force Sariel to waste her energy. In a pure contest Lan Jue was a great deal weaker than Sariel. The difference between a second rank and a sixth was more than considerable. This was true even despite his dual Disciplines and the benefits of re-cultivating. If he wanted a shot at winning, it would be from draining his enemy and striking when the time was right.

    However, it didn't look like this was the case. Outside observers could tell that Lan Jue was spending far more energy than Sariel was. In reality, though, Lan Jue still had the skills from before his fall to second rank that made them efficient. There was also the special gift he'd gotten for surviving the bug attack on Taihua - the Phylactery Stone!

    Even Lan Jue didn't know how much energy the Phylactery stone could hold. The tournament didn't prohibit the use of weapons or power stones, banning only mech suits. This stone was also unique in that it was bound to his blood and body.

    These rules were specifically implemented for Converts. A lot of what made them powerful Adepts were installations such as these. Aside from the fact that they could only be removed by hacking off a limb, the reduction in power would cripple them as Adepts as well. They couldn't be expected to compete in a situation like that. Other banned materials were filtered out with scans when they'd first entered the arena to sign up.

    The Phylactery stone would not be a problem, especially since it had long since joined with his left hand. In peaceful times he had developed a habit of infusing the gem with energy every day. No matter how much he put in it, though, the gem never seemed satiated. Using it felt equally bottomless, and that cache of energy was what fueled his steady stream of attacks.

    How could Sariel know about this secret weapon? She hadn't, and the result had been dire. From the start she had been forced to waste her own precious energy by protecting herself from him. She was playing to his tune. After fifteen minutes of fighting, Sariel guessed she had no more than sixty percent of her stamina left.

    It's off! Sariel was beginning to get the idea that something was wrong. From what she knew of Lan Jue he should have been exhausted by this point! However from what she could see, he could keep this up for the rest of the fight. This was not normal. Sariel still couldn't fathom the truth, but few would. The situations surrounding Lan Jue's drop in power were unthinkable for most Adepts. But whatever the mechanisms she saw the result; if she didn't try to end this now with all of her remaining power, than her loss would be a slow and shameful one.

    Sariel stopped her fruitless chasing, and thrust her holy weapon toward the heavens. The crescent moon that followed her transformed, just as it had in her fight against Chu Cheng. Soon it was full and glorious, releasing piercing rays of silver light. She became more imposing with each pulsing wave of light, and the six great wings at her back shimmered with pure white light.

    Lan Jue's face was lit stark against the encroaching waves of light. He wasn't surprised or alarmed - he figured this would happen sooner or later. Even getting Sariel down to her current level of fatigue was difficult. The burst meant there was nowhere to go, and just like he'd left her no room for escape, now it was his turn to face the strike head on.

    His shimmering spear of lightning vanished without ever having been used. As the sweeping lunar power grew ever closer, Lan Jue pressed his palms to the sky like he was supporting it. Again he summoned his Forest of Lightning, stronger than last time. Individual tendrils of gold appeared in the sea of purple electricity, and soon began to spread. The ghostly remnants of protogenia flickered in that power. Soon the entire ring was lost in a sea of gold and silver. Their clash was so bright not even the Paragon's eyes could pierce through.

    Sariel could feel the power increase, but there was no other choice. Whatever came, her only chance lay in a head-on confrontation. She held her sacrosanct blade aloft with both hands as a sweet and piercing call rang from her lips. The moon above descended to join with the lunar angel. Imbued with the power of the moon, she brought her weapon down in a brazen chop. From outside the spectators could see a milky-white dragon cleaving through the sea of gold toward Lan Jue.

    Sariel had pulled out all the stop to try and lock Lan Jue down. Even if he dodged, it would set him up for a fierce counter-attack.

    Trickery became a lot harder when Adepts got to the higher echelons.

    Lan Jue stood in the center of the roiling lightning with his hands pressed together before his chest. The electric power around him sizzles and congealed until it produced an elemental essence shield around him. He watched as the powerful eminence of Sariel's holy weapon came barreling his way, and then moved. Eight steps, strangely paced and specific. Beneath his feet the faint image of yin and yang appeared. Lan Jue threw up his hands and an arc of intertwined black and white raced out to meet the danger.


    The ring's shields quivered. The tournament organizers had learned from their mistakes, so this time there was a team of high-level Adepts continuously strengthening the shields as they fought. Even with their help, though, it was a full ten seconds before the shields returned to stasis.

    Eventually the blazing lights inside also dies away to reveal the scene. Lan Jue stood where Sariel had sent out her attack. Sariel, likewise, stood where he had made his defense. The two had changed position.

    Lan Jue stood calmly. The air around him was charge, and tendrils of lightning burst to life then vanished. He seemed perfectly fine.

    But Sariel looked pale, even more than usual. She looked at Zeus with wide, bewildered eyes.
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