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Chapter 451: The First Round Finishes

    Chapter 451: The First Round Finishes

    Ying Suifeng's three body's melted away back in to one. He wordlessly nodded, then exited the ring.

    Constantine, who was recovering in the resting area, watched with a look of disbelief. Even he didn't know the truth of what this group had in store for him. What was this Discipline? Mistblades... and so strong.

    Lan Jue's eyes were bright after watching the contest. It would be a very interesting fight, no matter who he would be paired against later.

    "That's it for the first round of the quarter-finals! These fights were so exciting, my heart's still racing. That will be all for today's events, but we will continue tomorrow with the second round." Mo Xiao's excitedly addressed the audience from the VIP platform. The Terminator, resting at her side, was no longer glaring with murderous intent and looked calm.

    The final results for round one winners were;

    Group One - Titan and Lan Jue

    Group Two - the Pharmacist and Jiang Yuan

    Group Three - Jun Yongye and Cao Shuiqin

    Group Four - Constantine and Xuanyuan Shishi

    All eight of them wished to advance to the finals. Now, after the first round, everyone had a clearer picture of where they stood.

    Titan was the one everyone had their bets on for group one. The Pharmacist dominated the second, and Jun Yongye looked nearly invincible. For the fourth group, it was difficult for people to choose between Constantine and Xuanyuan Shishi. In terms of Discipline Constantine was the clear favorite, however there was more to it than that. Shishi's strength had never been revealed before today, and that changed everything.

    A hard look flitted across Lan Jue's eyes, and he crossed his arms over his chest. His next opponent would be Qi Mu. He'd revealed one of his tricks to win against Bing Yu, and now he had to ponder how it was he would defeat the Wolf King and his three transformations. His expression was sour because he knew he might have to really tip his hand to win.

    Lan Jue rose together with the Pharmacist. Side by side they walked, though the Pharmacist kept her eyes upon the departing Xuanyuan Shishi. Almost as though he sensed it, Shishi turned then and noticed the Pharmacist. He gave her a wide, pleasant smile before joining someone in the waiting room.

    The other one stood as Shishi approached and joined in his amicable smile, though it was more reserved.

    The two shared a high-five - Clap! - than separated. Shishi returned to his seat.

    And who was it he was so chummy with? None other than the first one to shock the crowd, Jun Yongye.

    This... these two knew each other? What was their relationship? The curiosity burned in the gut of everyone who saw. Not only was the Accountant unable to learn about this, but no one seemed to. These just appeared out of thin air!

    The White Blademaster Jun Yongye. Ten-Thousand Swords in one, Xuanyuan Shishi. Both of them had given the viewers a spectacular show. Both had made quite the impression, and had a real chance at making the finals.

    Lan Jue looked at the Pharmacist. "Do you know him?"

    She shook her head. "But I'm very familiar with his technique. I learned it from my teacher, as I inherited his knowledge. All schools of sword mastery started with him. According to the information I received, it started in the Former Era. I committed myself to everything I could learn, but those styles were never imparted to me. I walk the traditional path of the Flying Sword - they have mastered genuinely mythical techniques. I never would have dreamed I would encounter them here. They must have gained the master's knowledge the same way I had."

    They were also Celestial Master Qian's Disciples? It was a stunning revelation, but with it there was a surge of pride. His own master once told him that his greatest regret was not living in the same generation as Master Qian, so as to test himself against the Paragon. Indeed his level is considered higher than Qian's now, but they weren't tested. It would never be certain who was better, since the only way to know was face to face.

    The Pharmacist was his partner, and he was just as eager to see what he could learn from the two master swordsmen. Meeting them on the field would help him along his newly chosen path of the blade. He could learn.

    The fights were done, and the day was over. Participants and audience alike trickled out in to the city. The Great Conclave Arena gradually became silent. At least, it had outside. In a secret room within was hushed conversation.

    The Terminator and the Epochrion sat facing one another. Titan stood behind his master, and Yan Ningya behind hers.

    "You saw it?" the Terminator asked them.

    The Epochrion gently nodded her head. "I did. Protogenia. It radiated from both of their blades, especially Jun Yongye. He has grasped the essence of it, and has achieved perfection in simplicity. Before I broke through, I could never have reached his level of comprehension."

    The Terminator sighed. "In the realm of martial arts, your Eastern Alliance has a wealth of advantage to draw from. The North will never be able to compete in that way. They represent a threat - if they become Paragons than the East's strength will be unchecked. They've been quiet these last few years letting us think they were weak, though we knew that they were rapidly improving in science and tech. Here we seem to have hit a plateau in development. They're weak on resources, but the universe is limitless. They just need time to develop the infrastructure."

    His partner nodded again. "The development of humanity will only go so far with science. At a certain point, the burden will have to be borne by the human body itself. There is still so much we don't understand about ourselves, even now - things we have yet to explore. Strength was the capital we needed to propel us through the universe, so everyone chose their path. The North chose to put their faith in technology. The West decided to play around with genetics. In our respective goals it can be said we've succeeded. The East chose a different tack, using science to stimulate natural talent and evolve along a more natural path. It was this disagreement in direction that made me leave Skyfire Avenue. Now, it appears that they were right. Ancient China was full of incomprehensibly strong things."

    "Are you having second thoughts?" The Terminator looked at her with solemn eyes.

    She shook her head. "No. I'm firm in my belief, there is no looking back. It just seems like the Eastern Alliance has been making miracles. It's a great thing for humanity, but not necessarily for us."

    Once more, the Terminator sighed. "Alas, I am only the Northern Paragon and do not represent humanity. I hope they can forgive my selfishness."

    The Epochrion's dazzling eyes fixed him with a serious look. "I know your character. The ends do justify the means, so long as your ends are just. I will continue to support you. We keep an eye on the two young gentlemen. After all, it is definitely no easy feat to grow as powerful as Jue Di.

    The Terminator lifted his eyes to Yan Ningya. "Ya. What did you learn, today."

    Her answer was quick. "Concentration. At first I didn't feel that his abilities were that strong, but once he fixed his concentration on the sword he began to resonate with it. That was when his power exploded. Perhaps there was protogenia, but I couldn't feel it."

    The Epochrion sniffed. "Your loss wasn't from a weaker Discipline, but from understanding. He hadn't even used a fraction of his skill, I think. He's much stronger than you suspect. He may not be a peak-ranked Adept, but has the understanding of a Paragon in regards to Domain. He has one foot through the bottleneck already. Barring any further surprises, I suspect he will be our champion."

    Yan Ningya shook ever so slightly. It was unsettling to hear her teacher praise the foreigner so highly.

    "I will end him!" Titan growled from behind the Terminator. "Master - I want to complete the experiment!"

    The Terminator turned back to look at him, and furrowed his brows. "But if you do, then you will lose any real shot at becoming a Paragon."

    Titan's voice was low, guttural. "You have taught me that man can conquer nature. Nothing is impossible. This tournament is destined to be won by the Great Conclave, but I need more power."

    The Terminator turned back. Silently, he nodded his head.

    **

    Lan Jue immediate settled down to meditate once returning to his hotel room. He wasn't joined with Qianlin this time, he was just seated in quiet thought. He focused on the changes in his body.

    His Core was more stable after being under such high pressure. Crystal-like threads of purple electricity danced around it. It was smaller, but he could feel the strength within it surpass what it had been. He had a great deal of trust in what he felt.
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