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Chapter 458: Give It All You’ve Got!

    Chapter 458: Give It All You've Got!

    Constantine was anxious to pit himself against the strongest. For Xuayuan Shishi, though, it looked like just another encounter. He grinned at his foe with a congenial smile and engaged in some light warmups. He looked like he was preparing for a foot race.

    "Please. Give it all you've got!" Constantine's low voice called over as he offered a nod to his opponent.

    Shishi smiled back. "We'll have to see if you can handle it."

    On the VIP platform.

    Mo Xiao turned halfway in her seat to look at the Terminator. "Your Majesty, who do you suspect will win this next fight?"

    "Mm, tough to say," he growled. "Xuanyuan Shishi did not show us his full power yesterday. It's difficult to know how strong he really is. Constantine is also an amazing talent, and I'm sure he has some secrets of his own. In the end, I'd say there's a fifty-fifty chance for both of them.

    She blinked in surprise. "Shishi is that much of a threat?"

    The Terminator went on. "There is something that perhaps you missed. Xuanyuan Shishi wrote his title as 'The Ten Thousand Swords Become One.' I suspect he will be at his strongest when that happens. We'll have to see. Xuanyuan Shishi will likely have to use his full power if he hopes to best Constantine."

    "Three, two, one. Begin!"

    The buzzer called a start to the biggest fight of the day! Whoever won was going on the finals.

    Shishi waved his hand, and at the gesture a soupy mist arose. In response, the High Inquisitor muttered a few words and shot his right hand toward the sky. A resplendent golden light flared outward and enveloped him.

    Blessing of Holy Light! One of the Citadel's strongest light-based defenses. It was so bright it blinded the eyes, so pure it caught the spectators' breath.

    Shishi continued to strengthen the mist. It became thicker and spread out farther, spurting out from him in attempts to smother that light. The inquisitor didn't seem to care or notice. His risen hand dropped and pointed in to the roiling mist. From the digit, a beam of light exploded out.

    The light pierced right to the heart of the mist, but the heavy air responded by surging around the intruder. Constantine's light widened while the mist splayed like the maw of some enormous beast.

    The two powers met straight on, and it was soon evident which one had the advantage. The mist began to slowly recede before the power of the High Inquisitor's holy light. It was an indication of their strength disparity.

    The golden light was as dense as it was bright, and Constantine's eyes shone with the same flood of energy. Where he had been a foreboding figure in his fight against Blackmoon, Constantine looked like a saint today. Waves of divine power rippled from him.

    Suddenly, there was a fierce howl. The thick, low-lying clouds vanished without warning as a hundred thousand blades of mist appeared. It was just the same as last time, with the strong blades tearing through the holy light unimpeded.

    The light blazed stronger, hoping to destroy the swords outright. They would not be denied. Burning with seraphic fire, the blades descended upon Constantine faster than he could blink.

    Six motes of light appeared beneath his feet as, with a hefty grunt, the holy light solidified around him in to a protective shell. Wave after wave of Xuanyuan Shishi's swords pummeled him, but they only produced ripples on his shield. They were cast back with such force they went sailing all through the ring.

    Holy Spirit Aegis! A powerful light-based shield.

    A hundred swords were useless against the Aegis. Shishi, though, had a hundred thousand. An endless tide of living blades dashed themselves against Constantine. They would be blasted back only to return. Over time, the Inquisitor's shields grew brighter and brighter.

    The Pontiff's man stood in the center of that blazing light, calmly experiencing everything around him. He was searching for Xuanyuan Shishi. His foe's swords weren't enough, but if Constantine wanted to end the fight he'd have to find his target first. Anything else was fruitless.

    Somewhere in the dense sea of swords, a faint light pulsed. There was sunlight radiating from it, and at its urging the swords beat against Constantine like rain against a tin roof. Halos of reflected light were beginning to appear around the shell.

    The mistblades swirled among one another like angry eddies, and under that gentle sunlight they began to fuse. Two swords would ferociously clash midair and unite. Their combined strength put even more pressure on Constantine. No two attacks were the same, either. Some swords came as spirals, others crosswise or straight down from overhead. There were even some that tried to drill up from underneath - probing for a weakness.

    The relentless assault continued while the sounds continued to join. Now, the majority were the combination of two swords. When ten or so of those drew close they would join as well, in to a single monstrous saber.

    Those halos were more frequent now, and were pulses of energy from Constantine he used to bolster his shield. Xuanyuan Shishi's magical - if strange - display opened up the audience's eyes. This must be the peak of perfection.

    The Pharmacist especially, watched the ring with avid attention. Her burning eyes never moved, unwilling to miss any detail. . She muttered to herself, "The Way of Changes! I never thought I'd see it in person. I remember master saying it was among the strongest sword styles in ancient China. If paired with-"

    She trailed off as the situation in the ring swallowed up her full attention.

    Constantine's face wasn't the calm façade it was before. He'd continued to search, but could find no trace of Xuanyuan Shishi. At first he suspected his foe would hide within the press of misty weapons, but Constantine quickly discovered that every sword bore a trace of the swordsman's aura. This feeling seemed to intensify when the swords combined.

    Could it be? Were the swords his foe? How could this be?

    Just as Constantine was struggling with his disbelief, every blade stopped in midair. For half a second they simply hung there, but then suddenly began to rearrange themselves. The buzzing aura around them grew ever more potent. Their misty surfaces hardened to be more like a proper blade. Someone was taking things more seriously.

    The High Inquisitor took a deep breath. He couldn't leave his circle of protection to find Shishi, so his only recourse was to completely obliterate all of those swords. The swordsman had his limits, and Constantine had a Talent advantage. He wouldn't even need to leave his shield.

    He pressed three fingers of his right hand to his forehead. His left hand lay lightly upon his chest. There was a heaving blast of holy energy, and the faint silhouette of some majestic figure could just barely be discerned behind the Inquisitor.

    The figure was an enigma but for its opulent robes. The force fields rippled from the blast impact. Xuanyuan Shishi's swords reeled out of control like a routed army.

    "Is this... the Second Coming?" Mo Xiao gasped.

    "The legendary ability of the Pontiff's Citadel, revealing the image of God." The Terminator's rumbling voice explained.

    The Pontiff and his Disciples sought protogenia in a fashion altogether different from their peers. Every one of their Adepts were light - and more importantly, Faith - based. Their path to Paragon would be paved with Faith.

    Constantine was no exception. This was the penultimate display of Faith - the Second Coming!

    The swords shrank before the encroaching blaze of light. Soon there was nowhere to hide as the whole of the ring's entire was painted gold. The Pontiff's representative simply maintained his prayer and posture.

    Behind him, the hazy image of God started to solidify. Waves of light as pure as God Himself crashed against the mistblades. Those closest to the Constantine were immediately destroyed, and the others were forced back.

    Power would force his foe's hand!

    The High Inquisitor earned his position in part through self-awareness. When faced with this problem, he returned to basics - which often proved the best decision.

    Terrible blasts of holy energy tore through the ring. The ruined swords dissolved back in to puffs of mist, though they didn't dissipate. Instead they joined together with the nearest sword.

    This took Constantine by surprise. He was capable of this, too? Even when faced with the glory of God, those swords would not be vanquished.

    "Hmph!" There was a cold grunt. The swords reacted with some unheard signal, and gathered together like they were being swept up by some great sea-bound river.
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