Chapter 430: Second Metamorphosis, Silvermoon Alpha

    Chapter 430: Second Metamorphosis, Silvermoon Alpha

    "Raaaaagghhh!" The Wolf King Ju Mu raced like a lightning bolt right for the Bartender. The primal roar shook the Avenue fighter, and in the blink of an eye the Avenue fighter found himself face to face with an enormous red wolf's jaws.

    So fast! Surprise flashed through the Bartender's eyes, and he retreated as quick as he could. As he went back, his arms went forward and the ring filled sound. A roar, like twin dragons.

    Two powerful beams of light erupted from his palms, one blue and one red. The blue light was surrounded by a hazy mist of crystals, while the air around the red beam warped under intense heat. Two conflicting powers, both equally bleak for his enemy. It was like being caught between magma and glacier.


    The explosion was followed by a deluge of energy. It struck Ji Mu so hard the dark pupils in his yellow eyes contracted. The forcepenetrating deep to his qi and blood.

    But he was a shifter! Adapting was his specialty. A dark crimson aura spread out from the surface of his body, and it made him look even darker and more feral. He paused for just a moment to dodge the beams, then raced forward once again. He swiped, revealing terrible claws aglow in golden light.

    The Bartender narrowed his eyes but stopped the retreat. He couldn't go any further back or he'd be against the ring's far border. That was a bad position to be in. He crouched, and the raging powers separated to either side of him. A pair of great dragons - one red, one blue - could faintly be discerned weaving in and out of reality behind him.

    The Wolf King's swipe came tearing through the air, and the Bartender threw his arm out to meet the blow. Clang! Those golden claws were held fast against the Bartender's forearm, caught between dense dragon scales. They emerged from his skin, protruding several inches and capturing the blade-like claws between them. The Bartender took advantage and launched them both toward the sky. He began to spin as the dragon cries grew louder and more agitated.

    The higher they rose the stronger the Bartender's influence became. An aura of swirling red and blue surrounded the wolf's claws first, then spread over all of Ju Mu's body. His had was cramped like it'd be electrified, latched firmed to his enemy's arm. He was swept up with the Bartender, powerless to extricate himself.

    The two diametrically opposed powers seemed to work as one, attempting to drill in to the Wolf King's body. The energy itself was frightening, bringing with it an ominous aura of doom. Ji Mu was more than surprised. When he first met the fighter, he knew that the Bartender's gifts were greater than his own. However, he thought his rank advantage would more than cover the discrepancy. In this moment, though, the Avenue representative felt unstoppable and indestructible. His attack hadn't even left a mark.

    Surprised or not, it didn't slow him down. He urged his powers outward and expelled the infectious powers from his body. He tore at the Bartender with his free hand and struck him. There was a muffled clank, and the attack leveraged the Wolf King free to fall to the ground.

    The Wolf King had been taken by surprise, but the Bartender was no less startled. The ability he'd just used was called Rise of the Twin Dragons, and it turned the explosive nature of his Discipline inward. The implosion doubled his power for a short time and made him nearly invulnerable. The only attacks that could penetrate his defense had to surpass his own strength three times over.

    It was one of his most powerful and effective tricks, one that required a bit of protogenic knowledge to master. And yet, the Wolf King was far less affected by it than he'd thought. The beast even had the strength to purge the dual Disciplines beforehand. Instead of continuing to join as the Bartender's powers were meant to, the Wolf King shattered them.

    However, the Bartender hadn't relied on luck to get so high in the tournament ladder. His reaction was quick as the lycanthrope's.

    The sound of screeching dragons never ceased. Before the Wolf King's eyes the Bartender stretched and grew, warped in to a two-headed dragon seven meters long. The scaly mythical beast was split evenly down the middle, one half red and one half blue.

    Icefire Wyvern, metamorphosis!

    Ji Mu's pupils contracted. He'd never met an Adept with this Discipline before, but he could tell right away that he was very strong. Few in the West were a match, he reckoned.

    But natural talent didn't always mean superiority. The greater an Adept's potential the more difficult progress became. This was especially true when breaking through to new ranks, and it was often discovered that these Adepts rose quickly, but could spend years at later ranks caught in a bottleneck. Ji Mu knew that true power came from only one road; talent, dedication, and understanding. Without one, you could never grow strong.

    The Wolf King's clawed feet dug in to the earth, and he thrust his chest out as he thrust his head toward the heavens.


    The bone-chilling howl rang through the air, and everything beneath the ring's force shields darkened as though night had fallen. A full moon appeared above the crest of Ji Mu's head, and it's silvery light fell over him like a blanket.

    "A second metamorphosis!" Lan Jue gasped from the waiting area.

    A second metamorphosis like this was a sign of mastery for beast-class Disciplines. Only Adepts who've reached ninth level sixth rank could employ it, for the power almost evolved the Adept in to another form. It filled their blood.

    Lan Jue had met one once. The Adept's power awakened in the form of an ancient beast that turned him in to a veritable nightmare on the field. As he looked on, Lan Jue watched the blood red Wolf King grow even larger. Soon he was even more imposing than the Icefire Wyvern, stretching over eight meters long and five meters tall on all fours. He crouched like a small mountain, and as they looked on the color bled away from his fur. The once red wolf became silvery-white, its eyes as well. Ji Mu's form exuded a majestic and intelligent grace.

    Still crouched, the crowds could see something pressing out from beneath the wolf's shoulder blades. It swelled until, with a piercing rrriip, Ji Mu's fur parted and spat a pair of fully-formed wings.

    The first batch had ended without any action, and was a great disappointment to the audience. Now they watched with wide eyes, for it was clear these Adepts were pulling out all the stops.

    Two orbs of ice and fire were spat from the maws of the Icefire Wyvern. He'd seen the transformation, but at this point his only option was to forge ahead.

    The long lupine face gave the wyvern a mockery of a grin. His enormous front legs waved and a flash of silver shot out. Moments later the Bartender's orbs erupted without warning, too far to cause him harm. Below the great silver wolf's wings beat once, and he rose high in to the air.

    He was too fast to see. When he reappeared Ji Mu was hovering over the Bartender, bearing down on his prey.

    "I concede!" The Bartender's voice cried.

    For a moment the scene froze. The Bartender's cry had stopped Ji Mu just as his razor-sharp talons were at his back. In a flash the silver wolf was back on the ground.

    Lan Jue, watching from the sidelines, was distracted when he noticed the Pharmacist from the corner of his eye. Her lips were moving as though she were speaking, but he couldn't hear what she was saying.

    She was projecting her voice? Could the Bartender really hear her from this far and through those shields?

    The match was over! Ji Mu, the Wolf King, emerged victorious. The audience were somewhat disappointed that the final clash never commenced, but the drama of their transformations was plenty entertaining. For most of them it was probably the first time they'd seen a second metamorphosis.

    The Bartender left the ring with a sour expression. He looked once at the Pharmacist and nodded, then instead of leaving went to his sofa and watched. Tactics and knowledge came in to play now, as these duels were all between powerful contenders. He had to see what he could learn from the other fights.

    Jiang Yuan the Necromancer was nearly finished in the other ring. The Convert was strong, but he couldn't penetrate Jiang Yuan's control. His curses tormented him with sluggishness, weakness, preventing him from affecting any sort of real damage. Ji Mu was strong, but it was a shadow of Jiang Yuan's true strength. This was proven with his leadership position in the Citadel, and his presence here as their trump card. His current opponent wasn't enough to make him tip his hand, however.

    "Did you know about the second metamorphosis?" Lan Jue asked the Pharmacist beside him.

    She nodded. "The Silvermoon Alpha, a rare and powerful evolution. He has exceptional strength and speed, and wings for flight and heightened maneuverability. That's just part of it, though. The worst, is he's practically invulnerable to the six elements."

    Lan Jue grunted in appreciation. Water, fire, earth, wind, light and dark... he was empowered against them all. Luckily for Lan Jue things like time, space, and lightning Disciplines didn't fall in to those categories. They were either composite elemental powers, mystical or occult. None of this helped the Bartender.

    It was no wonder the Pharmacist convinced him to concede when one knew the breadth of his power and defense. With the added hurdle of their rank discrepancy, the Bartender hadn't stood a chance. Even if he'd suddenly broken through to sixth rank and gained more control over his powers, his chances wouldn't have exceeded fifty-fifty. The Wolf King was too strong, much stronger than he could have known.


    Metatron sat on the viewing platform with a dour expression. Ji Mu and Jiang Yuan... everything the Pontiff's Citadel knew about them was terribly wrong.
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