Chapter 160: Unspoken Cooperation
Lan Jue simply stood, bolts of lightning coiling around his eyes. Behind him were his amazons, arrayed for battle; Mika, Xiuxiu, Lin Guoguo and Ke’er.
Across from them were the other two monarchs, Hua Li and Chu Cheng. A faint red aura surrounded one, a gentle blue the other; fire and water, opposing elements that flickered in close proximity. Neither directly impeded the other, but clear and striking fluctuations in their energy occurred where they touched.
“Don’t let them fool you,” Lan Jue said then. “Their Disciplines work well together.”
“A-Jue, what happens next, you asked for. I may not be pleased with raising my hand to a woman, but I won’t hesitate to put you in your place,” Chu Cheng challenged.
Lan Jue’s tepid response followed. “Bring it on. Tang Xiao, make sure you watch yourself.”
The final words were directed at the pudgy boy, a distance behind the two groups. He was in there with the others, as opposed to on the observation platform. In Lan Jue’s own words, he needed to experience what combat was like between top-level Adepts. In this way he’d be prepared when he was ready to join them. But that wasn’t now – now, all he had to do was make sure he didn’t get hurt.
And so, the overweight young man stood practically plastered to a wall, very nearly trembling.
An eight level talent, and the worst of the bunch. Not just ninth level talents, but several surpassed ninth level fifth rank. This was the sort of power that would dominate a battle field – much like they could have in the Shattered Starfields.
“Yes, Professor!” Tang Xiao’s timid voice whimpered towards Lan Jue.
“Commence!” The Jewelry Master’s voice rang through the arena. Instantly he was on the move. His hands raised, and two crackling bolts of lightning launched out towards Hua Li and Chu Cheng.
Hua Li reacted by lifting his own hands, and a gentle blue shield of energy bloomed to life before him. The purity of his water Discipline meant it was nonconductive, neutralizing Lan Jue’s powers.
Chu Cheng was possessed of a much higher strata of arrogance. His left hand traced a line through the air, which summoned a fiery serpent that coiled around him. It hissed malevolently, flaming drops of saliva splattering in all directions.
The two bolts found their mark, and subsequently vanished.
Lan Jue continued his assault. As he did, his Amazons were half a step behind.
Xiuxiu took a step forward until she was positioned directly behind Lan Jue. From where Hua Li and Chu Cheng stood, they couldn’t see her. Mika moved, too, huffing dismissively as her body became encased in fire. Her hands began tracing a circle, within which a swirling vortex of flame appeared.
At the slightest motion, countless balls of fire launched towards her targets.
Ke’er stretched her arms out in front of her. As she did, a dozen morphing gun barrels extricated themselves from her body and hovered nearby. A volley of white energy was spat forth, hurtling towards Hua Li. A blue light also began to coalesce around her chest, releasing wave upon wave of undulating energy.
Lin Guoguo’s pretty eyes had closed in the interim. She was as though in the midst of a deep meditation, with the whole of the arena lost to her consciousness.
But the moment she closed her eyes, both Hua Li and Chu Cheng were suddenly assailed by a sense of unease. It was a palpable sensation of fear and discomfort, a sense that made them both secretly anxious to employ the full might of their abilities.
Lan Jue rushed at Chu Cheng as his earlier bolts of lightning vanished. His body was again a living streak of electricity. In a flash he was in front of the red-haired young man.
Chu Cheng’s own reactions were quick, almost inhuman. His whole body flared like a match, releasing a golden red light. The molten balls of fire from Mika weakened and melted as they reached him. They vanished with a dismissive wave of his hand. With Lan Jue suddenly so close, he launched himself backward in retreat. But as he did, the coiling dragon of flame surrounding him chose that moment to strike. It’s flaming jaw distended as the beast shot out. First up, then directly down towards Lan Jue as it attempted to swallow him whole.
Lan Jue stepped to the side. His body congealed in to a golden bolt of lightning and arced away just in time to avoid the jagged fiery teeth. He appeared again in front of Chu Cheng, and pressed his palm against the man’s chest.
This was his power, the speed of light!
It was already too late for Chu Cheng to react. By the time he knew what was happening, his entire body was encased in electricity.
However, despite the success of the attack Lan Jue revealed no pleasure, took no joy. On the contrary, he balled himself up and made to retreat.
Just as the lightning raced from his fingers, the fiery dragon was racing onward at increased speed. In no time, it was before Mika. There was a flash of golden red light, when suddenly a figure reached out it’s hand towards her. It was Chu Cheng, and as he appeared the copy assailed by Lan Jue dissolved in to smoke and ash.
A false trail, trickery!
It took Lan Jue by surprise. This guy really was a bastard! All of that noise about refusing to hit women, and yet it was a woman he struck at first. Clearly his plan was to take care of them one by one.
All in all, the four women were not that far removed in power from Chu Cheng and Hua Li. With Lan Jue among them, there was no way they could win. The two Monarchs’ only available tactic was simple; as much as possible, weaken Zeus’ Amazons – then focus on Zeus.
As Chu Cheng moved to attack, Hua Li joined him. As he raced forward, he lifted his arms to the sky. Instantaneously a blue aura surrounded him and short outward in all directions like a powerful ocean wave. It served not only to temporarily obstruct Lan Jue, but also to knock back Lin Guoguo and Ke’er. The waves naturally parted when they reached Chu Cheng.
The two had been veritable brothers for years, fighting side by side. This sort of cooperation wasn’t verbally expressed – they just knew what had to be done, and when.
Mika did not appear phased by Chu Cheng’s advance. Her fiery red hair had fought free of its bonds and flared around her head like an inferno, changing to an angry crimson red color. Behind her appeared the monstrous figure of a demon. The beast was at least six meters in height, and indistinct. A stifling, corrupted aura poured from it, and the only thing that could be clearly seen were its two fiery, blood-red eyes.
“What? The Prince of Demons?” Chu Cheng’s eyes narrowed at the revelation. The new information made him slower to react.
He also missed it when, suddenly, a large piece of artillery appeared at Mika’s shoulder. It launched a beam of staggering blue energy half a meter thick. A beam that raced right towards Chu Cheng’s chest.
Chu Cheng was no slouch when it came to his Discipline, but nonetheless the surprise change in battlefield circumstances took its toll. His own attacks landed, striking Mika, but he took the blast directly as a result.
The blue light flashed and moved away, revealing Ke’er at Mika’s shoulder. The other Ke’er, a short distance away, vanished in a puff of smoke.
Hua Li was similarly surprised. To make matters worse, the sudden shifts were precipitated by a stifling sense of dread that he couldn’t shake.
Lan Jue had made no effort to rescue Mika, in part because Chu Cheng’s attack was covered by Hua Li’s waves. As the waves raced towards Lan Jue, though, they parted before a flash of infinitely sharp white light. Lan Jue vanished and, in a flash, appeared in front of Hua Li.
His body flickered a few times and disappeared, before a tight net of dazzling blue light fell in place around the celebrity.
For Hua Li’s part, his body adopted a spectral quality. Countless rays of golden-blue light shot out from within him, paired with a roar like crashing waves.
By the time Lan Jue reappeared, Hua Li retreated through the crushing trap. The golden light he emanated were a sight less powerful than they were a moment before.
Lan Jue flicked his wrist, sending an orb of pale golden light outwards. Hua Li’s features changed drastically as he juked to one side, followed immediately by a blast that made the whole arena shake.
It was the power of Lan Jue’s Discipline, his speed of light and lightning, that they faced. All one could see was Hua Li and Chu Cheng being unceremoniously cast away.
“Hey, honored teachers, I thought I’d share something with you – something awful that happened to me. I was eating at school when, while digging in to my braised pork I noticed it had started to grow some mold. So I plucked that piece out…”
Chu Cheng and Hua Li were busy with Zeus and his Amazons, when suddenly the strange voice arose clearly through the arena. It bore a distinctly sordid tone.
“What the -” Hua Li reacted first, surprised and irritated by the verbal harassment. He was also fairly sure he recognized the voice. Tang Xiao?
The same saying was different coming from the kids mouth, rather than Lan Jue’s. His compatriot couldn’t speak like the young man, didn’t have the same oomph. Hua Li, luckily, had already experienced this trickery once so was not so taken aback. Chu Cheng, however, was surprised at the sudden conversation, and the respect with which it was delivered.
Still, the half-second hesitation was all Lan Jue needed to wrap Hua Li up in a net of electricity. He was crouched, his hand slapped firmly against the ground. The cage that kept he and the entertainer in place was narrow and confining.
Chu Cheng shook himself awake and, ignoring temporarily the threat of Mika and Ke’er at his heels, raced to Hua Li’s aid. He knew quite well that if Hua Li was taken out of the equation it would be one against five. Those were, frankly, impossible odds.
“… I painstakingly removed the mold from the piece. I wasn’t going to throw out such sumptuous food so I popped it right in my mouth. And shit, wouldn’t ya know it – it was a piece of ginger!” Tang Xiao’s punchline was delivered just as Chu Cheng was making his attack.
The words cut a searing path through Chu Cheng’s brain. He couldn’t help but snort in a fit of laughter, and the loss of control caused his Discipline to slip.
A self-satisfied, dismissive huff was heard from behind.
The overwhelming force of a psychic blast hit him straight on like a sledge hammer. Suddenly, he felt his mind devolve in to disarray as his thoughts all crashed together. While the effects weren’t physically damaging, he was suddenly too dizzy and distracted to pay proper attention. It was enough of a lapse for Mika and Ke’er to catch up. Chu Cheng went flying as their attack caught him.
The cage shimmered. For most, especially those whose powers were focused on speed, confining oneself in a cage seems like a bad idea. But Lan Jue felt differently.
Hua Li’s inherent self-defense capabilities were among the strongest in their group, and so the arcing bolts of lightning that assailed him in the cage were easily dealt with. However, the steady bursts of sharp light emanating from Lan Jue caused Hua Li to expend much more thought and energy to evade.