Chapter 357: Another Paragon!
The old man’s aura quickly shifted to a golden hue, and the shield he’d created withered and vanished. A look of utter shock was plastered on his face. In the space of that instance, somehow, his Discipline dropped in power by half! There was absolutely no reason for him to suddenly have grown so weak. It was like it had just been swallowed up in to nothing.
The second explosion, obviously, had come from the golden orb. The other seven adepts lost their joined Discipline powers and – despite his efforts – were sent smouldering through the air.
In the second the chaos afforded him, Lan Jue gripped Qianlin’s hand tight and morphed the both of them in to lightning. They flashed out from within the circle of adepts.
Fighting against numbers wasn’t that frightening if you knew how to handle it. The key is making sure you aren’t surrounded. There were eight adepts, and all of them seemed to possess the same Discipline. Had they been able to successfully link together, this situation would have played out much worse than it already had.
Thankfully, Lan Jue had been naturally equipped to protect against this. The combined discipline he possessed prepared him, with the lightning portion of his powers specializing in speed.
Lan Jue was confident. Despite the poor odds, the two of them hand in hand would not be at a disadvantage.
“Well no wonder you dared to come here. You two have a fair bit of strength.” The old man regarded Qianlin and Lan Jue with a sour frown. However, he made no move to strike. The other seven adepts regained their composure and stood at his back.
A crystalline red aura sprang up around each of them. The elderly man slowly lifted his right hand, and unfurled his fingers. Within his palm was a perfectly smooth crystal ball. It sparkled and reflected the red light that surrounded them all.
Suddenly, a sanguine light came piercing down through the mirror-like lake overhead. Lan Jue, seeing this, felt his heart seize. “Not good,” he muttered. Immediately he grabbed Qianlin in preparation to change again and streak toward the furthest reaches of this underworld.
But it was no use. Before they could flee, the world around them became a sea of red. They could feel the power around them making their movements sluggish. A staggering pressure bore down on them, as though they were being slowly crushed by the weight of an ocean, like the skies were crashing down right on to them.
A golden light flashed in Lan Jue’s eyes. Now things were desperate. This was their domain, and the fact that they’d attacked right away meant they would do anything to keep it secret. They had no qualms silencing both him and Zhou Qianlin.
Their priority right now had to be retreat. They would wait for the Wine Master, then return. They’ll be better prepared, then. With a Paragon at their side, there would certainly be nothing to fear.
Lan Jue tugged on Qianlin’s hand, and without a word she pressed herself in to his embrace. She lifted her head without hesitation, knowing precisely what Lan Jue’s plan was. Her face betrayed a slight blush.
It was Lan Jue who hesitated, but only for a moment. He leaned down and pressed his lips to hers. They were a little cold, but there was a strange sweetness to them. However, before he could really sense the kiss, Zhou Qianlin turned in to a ball of light that quietly merged with Lan Jue and vanished.
It was the second time, but Lan Jue already knew what to expect. Immediately his Discipline skyrocketed to the peak of ninth level. The world around them was still a soupy red deathtrap, so he had to react. Lan Jue lifted his right hand, and in response a golden light bloomed out from him in all directions. When his electric powers met with the overpowering red energy, the world began to shimmer as though on a hot day.
Eventually that golden light seemed to cover him entirely, exuding forth and transforming him in to his Ascension.
The old man’s face changed. “Protogenic powers!” He said, eyes widening.
Lan Jue’s commanding voice boomed. “Open!”
As his command rang out, the wine-red skies overhead shook violently. Thunderous blasts shook all around them, as a place overhead opened in a great fissure. Lan Jue then turned his eyes to the others in the distance. Calmly, he reached out his right hand as though to push them away.
A blast of golden lightning shot from his palm and through the air, right for the old man’s chest. The red world was burned away around the lightning’s passage. It opened a path right toward Lan Jue’s attackers.
The old man scowled, and raised his crystal ball. It swayed in his grip, and with the motion the world surrounding them grew even more dense and tight. Both the path cut by Lan Jue’s bolt of lightning and the fissure overhead were sealed.
Lan Jue was secretly very pleased with the results he was experiencing. After joining with Qianlin, his Discipline was now ninth level ninth rank – just on the cusp of Paragon status. With the addition of his Ascension, he was all the more terrifying in battle.
“Hmph!” Lan Jue dismissively regarded the man and his ball, when suddenly his body erupted in to a font of electricity. Bolts of electric power blasted out like a deadly spiderweb, hanging over everything.
Where the lightning passed, the world of red dispersed. Under it’s explosive power this man’s illusions could not sustain. Nor did the old man react right away – he was stunned at how powerful this intruder was.
He couldn’t keep warding off these blows directly. With a grunt, another beam of light exuded forth, casting a half-boom shaped bolt of energy spiraling forth to meet the encroaching wall of lightning..
Boom–! The lightning exploded outward in a million simultaneous explosions. The old man and his colleagues radiated electrical energy as they were thrown backward. Some strange of that protogenic power became gripping chains, which captured and retrains the attackers.
Now, with a large swath of the under ground world free from the red taint, Lan Jue lifted his head to the faux sky. He shouted as loud as as strong as he could. “I command the skies to open!”
As if in response, a deafening roll of thunder echoed through the the area. Two massive golden hands appeared, and viciously ripped open a fissure in the skies even larger than the last.
Lan Jue fixed the eight captured Adepts with an imperatorial glare. Then, turning away, he transformed in to a golden bolt of energy and flew toward the newly made exit.
Even Lan Jue could not have imagine how much powerful his Ascension’s commands were upon reaching this level of cultivation. It was almost like when he’d taken the entire Fantascia Genetica decoction on Taihua. The feeling – like he was strong enough to take on the universe – made his understanding of the protogenic world that much deeper. Struggle always leads to improvement.
But just as Lan Jue was preparing to escape, he heard the faintest sigh. It was sudden, and sounded as though it was right beside his ear. The world of red had been obliterated by his forest of lightning, but now the whole of reality seemed to crystallize.
An odd fragrance hung in the air, and as Lan Jue watched everything began t change. Reality warped like he was staring at the world through a pane of glass. The giant hands summoned by Zeus’ command vanished in to smoke.
In fact, everything around him vanished. Once again, Lan Jue was lost in a very familiar universe of red. That fragrance grew stronger, penetrated through him, until Lan Jue felt like he was drunk.
To Lan Jue, though, it wasn’t aromatic. It was bitter.
A Paragon’s Domain!
Since when did these damn guys become a dime a dozen?! But this power was different from the Paragons he knew.
Lan Jue thought back to something the Clairvoyant had told him once; find the Paragons spread throughout the universe. It was looking like one of those hidden paragons was right here among the descendants.
The sigh was craggy and ancient, born from an old throat. Even just through the brief sound, Lan Jue coul sense a sort of genuine quality. He made no further moves to escape. He was in a Paragon’s grasp now, and the only way out was to beat them in a fight.
However, as before Lan Jue would simply wait for destruction. No matter how or what, he had to do whatever he could to survive, especially with Zhou Qianlin’s life in the balance. The situation was dire, but he had to try.
“Stay your hand!” The ancient voice called out, loud and clear.
Lan Jue felt as though the entire world was crushing down around him, like he was at the center of a collapsing star. He found himself in the middle of a terrifying vortex, with a pull he recognized from when he and Qianlin were in the lake. It was strong enough to completely stop him from moving forward.
He certainly couldn’t say it was a comfortable situation to find himself in. He was struck dumb with amazement at the sheer scope of this power. After all, though he knew a few Paragons it was always incredible when another was revealed. The power they exuded was staggering and enlightening, every time.
Of all the great masters he’d met, the strongest aside from his own teacher was the Clairvoyant. He’d never experienced the full scope of the old soothsayer’s power, though. Still, he was sure it was as great and boundless as the universe itself. That was easy to tell.
Their own master, the one they call Jue Di, had been known far and wide as the most powerful Paragon to have ever lived. However, Lan Jue never actually felt any protogenic powers from his master. That was because Jue Di never had to use it, and the torment he put he and his brother through was done without its need. For as far as he ever saw, Jue Di was nothing more than a common man with an exceptional love for martial arts.
What he felt now was different from the Clairvoyant’s power, but he could sense that this invisible Paragon’s strength was greater even than the Wine Master’s, or the Keeper’s. Whoever this person was, they’d have given the Clairvoyant a run for his money.
Lan Jue couldn’t do it. He couldn’t continue to fight, especially with Qianlin under his protection. The vortex he was suspended within perhaps wasn’t as damaging as Hua Li’s, but nonetheless he couldn’t handle it.
Suddenly the whole of reality appeared to shudder and change. Everything was backwards: Yin became yang, and up became down. Lan Jue stood, helplessly watching as the mad world around him changed. He was unable to do anything, especially when he realized his power was slowly draining away. Every passing second saw him more incapable of defiance.
He was almost at Paragon level himself, with Zhou Qianlin’s powers combining with his own! Still, the end result was failure. One could only imagine how strong this unknown Paragon was.
“We did not come here with ill intent.” A familiar voice said.