Chapter 480: The Pervading Blade

    Chapter 480: The Pervading Blade

    Lan Jue didn't know what Jun Yongye's sword was, but he felt it. It was vibrant, full of steadfast intention. It was so complete that it cut right through space and time, not unlike the powers of the Wine Master. But this seemed more complete.

    Lan Jue's hands gathered together in the shape of a circle, and the yin-yang energies existing all around him were drawn together in tendrils of monochromatic lightning. The more it fed, the thicker the tendrils grew, converging to a point that fought to both expand and contract in equal measure.

    He was suddenly assailed by a tremendous pressure. It fell on him like a mountain, constraining his Taiji and keeping it from spreading too far. He fought back, focusing everything on his lightning and forcing it to the strongest he could manage.

    It was fearsome... like nothing he'd ever felt before. That pressure squeezed not just his body, or his Discipline, but collapsed upon his Core directly - even his soul. He had to fight against it with every fiber of who he was.

    No! I won't lose like this!

    Lan Jue bit the tip of his tongue, and the light in his eyes flared. He dropped his hands, and from the center of his chest - from his Core - a column of pure white light issued forth. A miniature symbol like the one that had covered the floor rotated against the center of his chest. The black and white that composed it flashed with its own power.

    Zeus was immediately surrounded by an aura of righteousness. He pumped his arms, attacking with his open palms nine times. With each push a blast of white light ensued which birthed an orb of energy. Those orbs quickly dissolved and rippled over, but would overlay one another in beautiful patterns

    Then, something strange happened. They spread out in a refractive pattern all but for the very center, where a single spot of black resided. Zeus' pupils contracted to a pinpoint as it fixed on that singular location. His right hand - a glowing white, pale as pearl - extended to point at that distant black spot.

    Time slowed to a crawl, stretching out impossibly as that tiny black dot was consumed in to the surrounding white. The collapsing world around them intensified, stabilized, like it was enough to drink up the whole planet.

    There was an explosion, and the entire Great Conclave Arena shook on its foundation.

    The audience looked on as the protogenic world the fighters had built collapsed. They saw the sword that was Jun Yongye thrown away across the field. The chaotic flow of Taiji also refused Lan Jue's control.

    In the next moment, though, another change overcome the battlefield. The first place where it was evident was around Lan Jue. The nine orbs he'd used had somehow served to stabilize him in this chaotic tempest. He pointed again.

    Lan Jue turned in to a superconductor, with bolts of feral electricity exploding out from him in all directions. Each bolt started as a deep sapphire blue, but quickly changed to gold, then silver, and finally pure white.

    A buzz came from Jun Yongye's sword. His metallic figure stabilized after being blown away, and hovered in a pocket of safe sky. He followed with three ripping swipes, trying to sever whatever invisible power was connecting him to Lan Jue.

    The force field rippled and strained. Its dome shape had warped, falling in on itself as whatever vacuum force from within sucked at it.

    "Not good!" The words only barely left the Terminator's mouth before he was soaring through the air toward the ring. The Epochrion was close behind.

    The Great Conclave Arena had a million people in the audience. Any problem could potentially spell disaster for a great many souls! As hosts especially, the North couldn't allow anything to happen. It had been made clear that they were unprepared when the first force field had been broken, so the Paragons reacted to make sure that unthinkable result wouldn't happen.

    The two Northern Paragons appeared above the ring in the same instant. They spread open their arms, and waves of Discipline radiated out over the ring.

    The Terminator and the Epochrion had been close compatriots for years. Of course they knew the ins and outs of each other's Disciplines without having to ask.  Ooperation was seemless, and the Epochrion's technicolor power joined with the jet black Force coming from the Terminator to create another shell.

    They finished just in time. The moment that shell was complete, everything beneath erupted in an apocalyptic display. The attraction even started to bend the Paragons' shield.

    The black eminence of the Terminator's power blocked vision of the ring's interior. The audience could only stare wide-eyed with baited breath. But what they could see was the image of a face, pressing hard enough against the shell to leave an indentation.

    The Terminator's face fell, and the Epochrion openly frowned. They could both sense it; this power was Paragon level. This wasn't near-Paragon status of Discipline. This was true protogenia, the same as either of them.

    It should be impossible for a normal Adept - it went against everything they knew about Protogenia! But as much as they could not believe it, the evidence was right in front of them. This Easterner really did possess this level of strength.

    The truly unbelievable happened after. The Paragon's protective shell continued to yield until the ringing sounds of cracking filled the air. Then the implosion reversed, and all the condensed energy beneath the shell changed direction. Everything moved outward. The shell expanded sharply outward like a balloon - but one that was quickly reaching its limit.

    The audience could see the danger and became afraid, and though they knew the power contained beneath the shell would obliterate them, they were too afraid to move. Was this... could a human do this?

    The look of the Paragons' faces weren't any more composed. The Terminator reacted, roaring an earth-shaking warcry. Behind him, the faint silhouette of a black figure could be discerned. It was enormous, with three heads and six arms each bearing a war hammer. All six of the jet-black hammers where thrust in to the sky.

    Reality cracked. A fissure the size of a building split the world, belching six black orbs. They fell upon the strained shell, bolstering it even more.

    The Epochrion did not dally, either. The ever-shifting halo of colors around her drained away to a pure white, while the image of a massive clock shimmered behind her. It was one of the ancient kind, with a pendulum below an ornate clock face. The pendulum slowed, and with it time seemed to get stuck. It was like moving through soup, densest around the shell.

    Everything that approached that lensed horizon slowed to a crawl. Meanwhile, the Terminator began to direct his overwhelming Force toward compressing the shell to its original size. A tempest could not last forever, so the raging explosion of power beneath had also begun to calm.

    It took two Paragons summoning the power of their Domains to keep that terrifying power at bay. They had to disregard the safety of the competitors or potentially sacrifice the audience.

    The Gourmet had long been on his feet. He hadn't moved to help because he'd have gotten in the way, the two Northerners were a well-practiced team. Yet he fretted for Lan Jue, even though releasing that power meant sacrificing a million lives! That wasn't even counting the area around the arena.

    The combined strength of the Paragons won out, as the chaos beneath eventually calmed. After a full minute, they let the shell fade away. The audience was a sea of gasps when they saw what lay beneath.

    The newly-repaired floor of the ring was a wasteland. Its alloy coating appeared to have evaporated, leaving a crater one hundred meters deep. In the deepest part of that pit, Lan Jue pulled himself to his feet. His once majestic clothing had been reduced to rags, thankfully sturdy enough to protect his modesty. His mask did not survive, and his beaten features were revealed to the cameras. His tousled hair and bruised face made him look like a wild man.

    Jun Yongye was nowhere to be seen, but the blue sword was. It hovered in the air in front of him. The weapon looked almost identical to before, but now its length was covered in faintly pulsing runes. The strange script flickered like ghostly writing.

    Wisps of gentle light spilled from the runes, coalescing in to the shape of the White Blademaster. He looked pale, like the fight had taken everything out of him.

    The two men looked at each other in silence, but the mutual respect was clear in their eyes.

    "I've lost." There was regret in Jun Yongye's voice.

    "The victory was hard won!" Lan Jue offered the swordsman his hand. The two shook then, with a laugh, had to stagger and hold each other up.

    Jun Yongye nodded at him. "But worthy."

    Lan Jue gave him a weird look, just for a moment. He was as crazy as his friend, full of nonsense.
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