Chapter 215: Little Monster
The bluish-purple power enveloped him, Lan Jue could feel his discipline recovering. The phylactery stone embedded in his palm was the last bit of energy he could draw from.
And it was enough: phylactery stones stored enough to satiate Paragons!
The Bookworm glowered bad-temperedly as he watched the simulation unfold. But he was confident this eighth mecha would prove to be the young man’s undoing.
With a flash, Lan Jue’s silvery opponent vanished. Then, bolts of a strange black power bloomed to life all around him. Powerful vacuums pulled at him every which way, causing his suit to lose balance.
Inter-spacial Discipline! Tears in the fabric of space!
Lan Jue was stunned. He finally understood why his opponent had seemed so familiar – it was the Wine Master’s aura.
The silver challenger appeared once more in the sky above him. As he looked up, he was met with a silvery beam crashing down from on high. An orb of silvery light, containing with an unstable inter-spacial core.
In terms of explosive power, the inter-spacial disciplines weren’t quite a match for thunder. However, if you were to consider them by the metric of pure destructiveness the two were quite evenly matched.
The electric power surrounding Lan Jue’s suite fluctuated violently. The outer layer prepared itself from the oppressive strike of the orb.
Just before impact, the manifestation of Lan Jue’s power changed, adopting a brilliant golden hue. The majestic, battered mecha he commanded was suddenly surrounded by an overpowering golden aura.
“Skies, defend!” A commanding voice filled the arena. Everything stopped. It was as though the world had frozen, and now everything in their surroundings was painted gold.
The entire simulation.
“Moron, what are you doing!? Stop it!” The Bookworm quickly lept to his feet and sent a wave of light careening towards the sim pod. The errant power lay over the pod like a membrane, blanketing it.
Within the simulation.
The engineered world around him vanished. The Bookworm’s irritated face appeared in the darkness before Lan Jue.
“Ehm…” Lan Jue sheepishly avoided the old man’s irritated expression. He immediately allowed his Discipline to disperse.
Screeeetch. The sim pod’s hatch creaked open allowing a plume of dark smoke to billow free.
Xiuxiu and Lin Guoguo had raced over. They rustled to see inside and spotted Lan Jue’s sweat-soaked form. He looked fine, though, so the women visibly relaxed.
The Bookworm, who looked to be mostly dead most days, moved with a speed that was simply staggering. He effortlessly yanked Lan Jue from the simulator. His voice was furious. “Look at what you did! What the hell were you thinking?! Who told you to use proto powers? 1 Did I not tell you this machine can’t sustain Paragon level abilities?”
“Hack, cough!” Lan Jue coughed, giving the Bookworm an awkward and apologetic glance. “I’m very sorry, sir. It wasn’t intentional. I was caught up in the fight… I forgot it wasn’t real. You really made something incredible here. A damn miracle, almost. Ever since attaining God-rank, I felt like DreamNet had nothing more to offer me. Now, it has the capabilities to employ Discipline. It’s a game changer. Elder, you’re amazing. I’m sure your name will go down in history as one of the Three Alliances’ greatest scientists.”
The Bookworm’s face softened under the deluge of praise. He let go of Lan Jue’s shirt. “Change your clothes, you stink. This little… monster!”
Lan Jue chortled and trotted off. It had been two hours of joyful, carefree practice. Excitement still filled him with energy.
It had also been his first time tapping in to the phylactery stone. Every day during his meditations he’d inject some of his energy in to the stone, but he had yet to fill it entirely. One could only imagine the staggering amount of power it could contain. Just then it had taken him only a dozen seconds to have his power returned to just under half. It was a point he had to remember – It could heavily influence his combat time. Previously he had to be careful not to overtax himself, and be economical. Now, not so much.
As Lan Jue made his exit, the Bookworm stared forlornly at his ruined invention. He busied himself will diagnosing the problem.
His original hope had been to watch Lan Jue suffer a vicious beating in the simulation. But who’d have thought he’d actually break the damn thing. Though it was, after all, only a semi-finished product.
Zeus-1 steadily made its descent into the Skyfire public airship hangar. The Accountant was still in a coma as they touched down. Lan Jue had to sling him over his shoulder before disembarking. There were too many people to handle on his own, so Lan Jue had to hire another verti-car to fit them all. Thus they all made their way to the Avenue together.
The car stopped just outside of the Avenue. As they approached, Lan Jue used his Councilman’s batch to get Su He and the Bookworm temporary blue badges for entry.
“Elder, will you be visiting the Keeper right away?” Lan Jue asked.
The Bookworm’s face was strange. His expression was almost sentimental. There was something there, but whether it was regret or pure madness was difficult to discern. Eventually, he nodded his affirmation.
“Let’s go. I want to see if that wrinkled toad really is dying.”
Lan Jue and Su He exchanged a look. Lan Jue pondered for a moment, then spoke again. “I’ll accompany you. Xiuxiu, Guoguo, you guys head back. I’ll take the Tear now.”
“Yes boss,” Xiuxiu responded. She immediately fished the Tear from her luggage and handed it over.
He Bookworm’s eyes flashed as he watched the exchange. “You bought it, eh? From the auction?”
Lan Jue smiled. “I have a use for it, elder. You’ll see later, I suspect. Shall we? This way, please.” As he spoke, Lan Jue urged him on with a welcoming motion.
The Bookworm slapped his hand away. “I know this place better than you do,” the crotchety old man rumbled. He stomped off down the Avenue with big strides.
Lan Jue and Su He fanned out behind the old man. The Accountant bounced along on Lan Jue’s shoulder.
As always, a permeating sense of peace and calm surrounded the library. Anyone who came here to actually read the books understood that there were a number of strict stipulations. For instance, damaging a book required the culprit to offer another of equal value, or otherwise you paid with your life.
As one can imagine, the result was very few visitors. The books were all in pristine condition, though.
Upon entering the Library, the Bookworm ignored all that and stomped directly to the stairwell. Still his nose twitched incessantly as his did, taking in the particular aroma of an old book shop. He bore an expression of regret.
Returned at last. But why, he pondered, did he not feel any joy over it?
He moved through the place without even having to look around. He was as familiar with it as he was his replica back on Lir.
Once he got to the Keeper’s office, he didn’t even knock. He simply pulled open the door and walked inside.
As the door opened, the large swivel chair behind the enormous office desk swung around. An old, craggy face came in to view.
“I was just wondering who would be so uncivilized as to just barge in, then I remembered you were coming,” the Keeper’s frail voice called out.
The Bookworm spat out his response. “Who are you calling uncivilized?! You’re the uncivilized one! And a soon to be dead swine as well. Hurry up and die, piss off, give my library back to me.”
Lan Jue pushed his way in, the Accountant still slung over his back. He eventually maneuvered him on to a nearby chair.
“What did you do to my grandson,” the Keeper grumbled.
“I poisoned him,” the Bookworm replied.
The Keeper sighed. “You’re a senior citizen. Can’t you act like a normal human person?”
“Bullshit,” the old man said crassly. “What’s not normal about me? I’m a hell of a lot more normal than you! You shit Paragon, mister Arcane Magus, you can’t even extend your own life. What right have you got to talk.”
“I was lying,” the Keeper said in that same quiet voice.
“Lied? Pfft-“ The Bookworm’s response was automatic, but after a second the words sunk in and his pupils narrowed. When he spoke again his voice was monstrously enraged. “W-what?! You lied? You’re not dying?!”
The Keeper chuckled, unfazed. “Mmhm! By the time you’re dust I’ll still be stomping around.”
Lan Jue suddenly had the sense he should leave the two alone, and escape while he still could. It was getting more dangerous by the second!
He stooped down to pick up the Accountant once again when he heard a voice from behind him. “It’s fine, leave him there,” the Keeper said. “Give me that Tear of Neptune.”
“Eh?” Lan Jue straightened and faced the old man. “How did you know I was bringing you the Tear?”
The Keeper chuckled, this time bearing a note of polite disdain. “We think alike. I heard that this s-ranked gem had been sold, then remembered you were in Lir. Then since I was already looking, I checked through the Tear’s information. By coincidence, I tapped in to the auction feed just in time to see you purchase it. Not bad, it holds promise.”
Lan Jue was speechless. Coincidence? He was expected to believe that? People could just willy-nilly tap in to auction house video feeds?
“I’ll kill you myself, then, you rotten bastard!” A figure raced wildly at the Keeper.
“Wait!” The Keeper shot out a hand, and the Bookworm skidded to a halt. “Let me show you something, then you can continue with your murderous rampage.”
The Keeper produced a box as he spoke. Within lay the energy core they’d ripped from the Tai Hua monster.
It immediately drew the old exile’s eye. The anger, however, remained. “I’ll tear you apart in a little while.” With a flick of his wrist, an instrument of some sort appeared in the Bookworm’s hand. He swept it over the box.
With the crazy old men occupied, Lan Jue felt it safe enough to approach and hand over the Tear, safely nestled in its crystal box. The Keeper smiled in thanks, then wordlessly motioned for him to depart.
Lan Jue smiled in return, proud at completing his mission. Indeed, it seemed the Bookworm’s ‘anger’ wouldn’t result in any misfortune.
Lan Jue soundlessly made his exit, pulling Su He along behind him.
His former classmate looked worried. “You think the two of them will be ok?”
Lan Jue smirked. “They’ll be fine. If your teacher was really as angry as he let on, they wouldn’t be pouring over research material together. I also believe, now that the Keeper has convinced the Bookworm to show up, he’ll find a way to convince him. Let’s let the two old friends work it out on their own. Let’s go, I’ll show you where you’re staying.”
- Lazy translating. I believe earlier I translated the ability to fundamentally alter the rules of nature/physics as ‘protogenic’. If you guys have nothing better to do you could help me confirm 😛 I can’t find the chapter I first referenced this in. ↩