Chapter 485: The Blinding Stone

    Chapter 485: The Blinding Stone

    In those cases, many power gems were joined together. The result was greatly augmented or joined capabilities. Without something to bring them in line, so many power gems together would result in mutual destruction. However, putting an Emperor Stone in its center served to stabilize these erratic energies. It made them safe and effective. Even particularly powerful - and, thus, dangerous - gems were not a threat when the Emperor Stone was part of the picture. In short, it made whatever it was equipped to better - that was its purpose, stability and strength.

    Judging by the size of Jun Yongye's prize, it was good enough to power the gem lattice of a scout ship. It was worth more money than most people would see in their lifetimes.

    Emperor Stones were only produced in the Northern Alliance, and it was one of their chief strategic products. If the governments of the East and West needed them for their ships, they would need to pay the North for the privilege. Often the price didn't come in dollars, and instead were traded for resources or other gems.

    This was the second-place prize. What did they have in store for the champion?

    Lan Jue was a little speechless when he noted that Jun Yongye didn't appear to know what it was he was looking at. He took up in his hand with a blank look on his face.

    He swallowed nervously. Lan Jue wasn't a greedy man, but after seeing what his opponent earned, he couldn't wait to see what he would be going home with. The things he could do with Zeus-1 if it was equipped with an Emperor Stone, not to mention Thor. It would be something out of his wildest dreams. He had to think about whether there was anything he could offer the Blademaster.

    Lan Jue, lost in thought, almost didn't notice when the Terminator stepped in front of him. He also had a tray, with a red cloth hiding something a little smaller than Jun Yongye's award. It looked almost tiny in the eight-foot-tall man's hands. Size didn't matter, though, the worth of a thing did not always equate to its size. Second place had been given a top-of-the-line, S-rank power gem. What could his prize be?

    An anxious light blazed behind Lan Jue's eyes.

    "Congratulations on your victory, Champion. It looks like your daughter was right all along. You are the strongest." The Terminator's look had more meaning in it than the words let on.

    Inwardly Lan Jue felt his chest tighten. He smiled back at the Paragon. "A daughter's praise for her father is never honest. She guessed, and I got lucky." The cloth was removed as they spoke, revealing the crystal box beneath.

    At last the final award was about to be given. The crowd gave the Terminator their full attention. Their screens zoomed in on the prize.

    "Eh?" Lan Jue couldn't help but exclaim when he saw what it was. Surprised mutters rippled through the audience as well.

    The crystal box was the same as the one Jun Yongye's award had come in. But this one was empty.

    Lan Jue swallowed again, this time in apprehension. He offered a nervous laugh. "Is the Champion's reward the crisp Northern air, your majesty?"

    Laughter rippled through the stands, but there were was also some disgruntled chatter. Could the North be stiffing the tournament Champion on his reward? Would they dare? Hua Li had just finished telling everyone how their Lan Jue wasn't just the tournament champion, but a bona fide hero!

    The Terminator's meaty hand released the tray and pulled the top of the box open. There were no waves of energy, no sensation: the box was empty. But he reached in, and pulled his hand out again with his fingers wrapped around... nothing. He extended his hand toward Lan Jue.

    The Terminator sighed as he looked down at it. "If I had known you would be the champion we would have chosen something else. We prepared this for Titan. You do indeed have good luck."

    There was nothing there... he couldn't see anything. He when the Terminator put it in his hands, he could feel it. It was round and smooth like a power gem, slightly smaller than the one than had been given to Jun Yongye. He could hide it in his fist. However, he could feel absolutely nothing coming from it - no energies at all.

    Lan Jue's face lit up. "Thank you very much, Your Majesty. And I would like to offer my sincerest thanks to the Great Conclave as a whole." He said it with sincerity.

    The Paragon nodded. "The Champions prize! It is the Blinding Stone. Perhaps you could give us a demonstration, champion?"

    He'd suspected before the Terminator said it, but now that Lan Jue was certain his excitement catapulted.

    The Blinding Stone was an S-ranked power gem whose concealing properties were unparalleled. Emperor Stones were produced at least to some degree, but Blinding Stones had only ever been discovered a handful of times. It was the third rarest power gem on record.

    In lieu of a flashier display, Lan Jue simply lifted his hand in to the air. His fingers, wrapped around the invisible treasure, were the first things to become transparent. It spread to his arm, his shoulder, and then he vanished completely in to thin air.

    Jun Yongye was standing but a few inches from the spot where Lan Jue had been, but he felt no trace of the man.

    The Terminator's booming voice rattled the arena. "Channeling energy through the Blinding Stone will enable its concealing affects. There are no current technologies that can penetrate this cloak - making them effectively, blind. Only a Paragon's reflection of their Domain can recognize its use. It is a power gem of the highest grade. Unfortunately, this stone is too small to conceal an entire ship - but installed to a mecha, it would completely wipe it from radar. This will make Thor a ghost."

    He needn't explain any further. Lan Jue reappeared, and bowed toward the Paragon to show his appreciation.

    This was a truly deserving gift! The implications of a mecha completely undetectable to radar were staggering. He could also use it on himself and no one but a Paragon would be able to find him - and even then, only if they were channeling their Domain! It wasn't like they walked around with it 'turned on' all the time.

    Of course, this didn't overcome a Paragon's crisis awareness. If he used the stone to try and conceal an attack, a Paragon would recognize the threat immediately.

    Lan Jue was satisfied. But, if he could get an Emperor Stone like Jun Yongye's, then his planned upgrades for Thor would be complete. The miracle battle against Star Alliance had underlined the need for new hardware. After all, he had gotten stronger. Thor would need to be stronger to handle it.

    The tournament had come to a close. The final prizes had been given out. Once Lan Jue and Jun Yongye collected their prizes, the announcement was made that the festivities were over. The audience left in orderly fashion, without fuss. Any residual excitement they had was gone. Humanity was under threat, and even the military didn't seem capable of handling it. An entire fleet had been destroyed in moments, and those same planets were headed their way. What sort of havoc could they wreak on civilians?

    At least on Luo they felt a degree of safety. The news had reached hundreds of planets, though, and many of them did not enjoy the same protections the Northern capitol did. All three Alliance governments had been made aware of this early, and so measures had been taken to ensure the crowds remained peaceful. For their safety.

    "If you don't have any pressing business, I'd appreciate a talk with the two of you," Lan Jue said to the White Blademaster. Jun Yongye immediately agreed, to Lan Jue's surprise. Xuanyuan Shishi said nothing. He appeared happy to follow Jun Yongye's lead.

    Lan Jue, the Pharmacist, Jun Yongye and Xuanyuan Shishi left together. They followed the route designated for them to exit the arena.

    "We're returning to the East. What about you two?" Lan Jue turned his head to ask Jun Yongye.

    He nodded. "Let's go back together."

    Lan Jue felt the whole thing a little strange, but nodded nonetheless. "Perfect."

    They couldn't leave right away, so they hung around for a minute until the Gourmet came. Jun'er bounced in his arms. The rest of the Skyfire delegation was close behind. They filed on a maglev bus that had been arranged beforehand, then made their way to the public air hangar.

    They'd planned this before the tournament's end. The North's influence stretched far, and the earlier they left the better. The Northern government could, if they desired, blow them out of orbit. But the Avenue had prepared for this eventuality as well.

    When they got on the bus, Lan Jue went to the back and changed his clothes. Jun Yongye hadn't brought any, so he lent the Blademaster some of his own.

    Qianlin was still joined with him, and he didn't want to release her so soon. He would wait for more safety and privacy.

    The streets were clogged with traffic, making their trek to the hangar slow going. The mood within was solemn, though it wasn't because of the potential danger. They'd seen the same thing the audience had in that arena.

    The Barber was the first one to break the silence. He turned to the Gourmet. "Are they really that dangerous?"

    The Avenue's Paragon nodded slowly. "It's real. They'd kept this little bit hidden, but it only highlights how life-threatening the situation has become. The Clairvoyant was right as always. We've entered a dark period of human crisis."

    The Gourmet looked at Lan Jue. The Clairvoyant had also told him that their Jewelry Master would be humanity's only chance.
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