Chapter 378: Jue Di?
Uriel’s attack was not aimed at killing his foe. His hope was, instead, to create any opening for him to escape.
Unfortunately the man responded by expanding the scope of that black and white power. A pale white light bloomed from behind him. At once the room filled with a gentle and pure radiance. But the light was more than light – it was warmer, and softer than light was supposed to be. And the gentleness wasn’t gentleness – it was softer, all-encompassing. Uriel felt his whole body begin to slip in to a relaxing calm.
Who can fight effectively if they’re completely relaxed?! Like a fetus in amniotic fluid, he was relaxed to his very bones. Vestiges of the energy began to congeal on the surface of his skin in the appearance of hoarfrost. He almost looked frozen.
His jaw jerked – he wanted to bite his tongue, hoping the pain would keep him alert. However before he could, the orb of intermingled yin and yang energies shrunk from over one meter in diameter to a single point of light. That vacuum force returned, stronger this time. It yanked Urial forward like a rag-doll. No longer able to control himself much less his Discipline, the hail of light from his weapon spiraled off in all directions.
Uriel’s face fell, settling in to a grim acceptance. Just then, a light burst from his eyes just as a white-hot flame spat from his every pour.
Holy Fire! It was one of the most powerful light-based skills the Citadel taught. The terrifying manifestations were a result of the Adept actually setting his Core energy ablaze. Six pearlescent wings stretched out from within the column of flame.
The deceptively gentle sensation strengthened suddenly. Uriel could hear the sounds of chanting, as clear as though they were being sung right beside him. A stupefying haze clouded his mind that extinguished the holy fires. His wings, too, began to wither and molt until they dissolved in to pure white light. Soon they vanished as well.
Uriel could only soar helplessly through the air. In the space of a blink, he was right in front of his assailant. He was met with an outstretched palm that looked as though it were composed from a black hole. The consuming energies easily defused the light from Uriel’s Discipline, to the point where the light of holy ‘holy soul’ began to be pulled out from within him in strands of white light.
Poof! The palm collided with Uriels arms, risen to ward off the blow. At first it felt like being struck with a pillow, but half a second later, the hidden power within was revealed.
Bang! Uriel was thrown away, smashing with bone-jarring force in to the far wall. There was a flash, and Lan Jue traversed the room to Uriel’s side before he could even register the collision. The excruciating pain came soon after, and it felt a though his organs had all been set on fire. Then, it was gone, replaced immediately by that sublime relaxation. It was too much too fast – the agonizing pain and the blissful comfort blended in with one another, and Uriel could no longer distinguish one from the other. Unable to cope, his mind shut down and he fell in to a deep sleep.
Lan Jue looked over the prostrate angel for a moment before raising his hand. A silvery light fell over Uriel, and when it receded the Cherubim was nowhere to be found.
Just as Uriel vanished like breath in the wind, a terrifying oppressive force surged through the Cathedral. A deep, regal voice boomed through every corner. “Who dares!”
Uriel’s meeting with the wall had apparently expelled more energy than his meditation chamber was capable of masking. That, and the sudden disappearance of Uriel’s energy, had invariably gotten the attention of a world-bending power. This consciousness hung over everything like the eye of God, searching.
There was another flash of golden light, and Lan Jue reappeared at the outside edge of the Cathedral grounds. However, he was not fast enough. The consciousness swept over him, and Lan Jue felt like a tiny ant caught beneath a giant’s boot.
His face went ghastly pale. The only thing keeping him from collapsing underneath this staggering psychic pressure, was his enhanced power. His fusion with Qianlin kept him standing.
Lan Jue was ready, dire though the situation was. The dual forces of light and dark sprang out from him once more, accompanied by an aura of material disinterest and spiritual connection. At the very top of his head there appeared a strange sort of vortex that released an aura of enlightenment. 1
“Jue Di!” The Pontiff’s booming voice was thick with shock. The oppressive powers receded like frost before the rising sun. It was a split second, but in that moment Lan Jue took a string in hand that was hanging from overhead. There was a flash, and he disappeared.
The Pontiff’s psychic force came rolling back in like a tsunami. However, by then there was no one there.
Two hundred meters from the Cathedral’s gardens, a figured appeared in a dark corner. The extension cable hanging from the eaves of the building burned black, and was blown away as ash on the wind.
Lan Jue didn’t move. He slipped in to the meditative state of Wholeness and constrained any signs of his presence. Escape through the extension cable had been wise. It was fast, but also concealed his abilities as much as possible. He could reach light-speed himself without its aid, but the subsequent release of energy could be clearly seen for miles around. It wouldn’t take much for a Paragon to find him then.
Lan Jue’s eyes swung back toward the Cathedral, where a golden light had risen over the ancient building. Though it blazed like the sun, it was not – it was the Pontiff, soaring high overhead. He was clad in resplendent golden robes, and bore the opulent crown of his office.
In his right hand was born the traditional Pastoral Staff, held aloft. His eyes searched the grounds, full of worry and doubt.
“Is that you?” The Pontiff was a man fabled for his saintly calm. Now, however, his heart beat so hard it threatened to rattle his rib cage. Unpleasant memories of that battle from so long ago sprang to mind, clear as they day they happened. He feared these memories would become reality once again.
Orbs of light appeared scattered around the Pontiff. Five of his Archangels emerged; Metatron, Michael, Gabriel, Sariel and Ramiel. Metatron looked at each of them in turn before speaking.
The Pontiff had his answer, delivered in a deep voice barely containing his fury. “He’s been captured.”
Every one of the Archangels stared at him with wide eyes. Uriel… captured?
The Cherubim was not considered among the strongest of these Archangels. In a fight, he was far less experienced than Michael or even Gabriel – to say nothing about Metatron. Where Uriel flourished, however, was intelligence. But even despite his lack of combat prowess, this was the Holy City of Reims! The very heart of the Pontiff’s Citadel, with the Pontiff himself in attendance! Their commander had been unable to stop this nightmare. Could it mean they faced a Paragon?
If it was a Paragon, one who concealed themselves to strike from the shadows, than this truly was an unmitigated disaster!
The Pontiff stared in to the distance, with brows knit tight. “Relay my commands: Reims is under martial law. All modes of transportation, public and private, are forbidden from leaving the planet. I will find this person myself.”
“Your Majesty!” The Archangels replied. The anger in their leader’s eyes light a fire within them as well.
The old priest held his astrum aloft, and from it’s dazzling length a beam of golden light tore through the night sky toward the heavens. It bloomed outward in all directions until Reims was bathed in light that would shame the sun.
Many out among the town stopped in their tracks as they looked overhead. Night had become day at the Pontiff’s hand – it was a miracle! Many fell to their knees in prayer. Lan Jue didn’t move, even as the golden light fell over him. It was warm, but the comfort was deceptive for within was hidden a divine power. The anointed energies reached to all corners of the city.
Lan Jue, in his state of Wholeness, managed to almost completely extinguish his Core. He hardly breathed, as though locked in suspended animation, an even deeper stupor than Uriel had experienced. As the moment stretched on he hoped… he believed, that the Pontiff couldn’t maintain this for long. He was bound to alert the rest of Eurmania if he did.
Next, orbs of milky-white light appeared within the illuminated streets. They started in the center of town, then moved and expanded outward toward the borders.
Even in his nearly dead state, Lan Jue could feel the change. Divine Faith! It could be nothing else. For a moment, he was too shocked to think… the entire city was laid out as a massive rune! Any unbeliever would be revealed, like a body eliminating a virus.
Metatron lead the others in splaying out around the Pope, as sweeping white lights roamed the city. As they looked on one of those illuminating orbs did stop, about a hundred meters away from the Pontiff.
It was Constantine, leader of the Inquisition. “Your Majesty, what’s happened?”
The Pontiff’s face was as smooth as the surface of a lake. “An enemy stole in to the Cathedral and captured Uriel.”
Upon hearing this, even the famously calm Constantine couldn’t help but stare slack-jawed at the Paragon. As Head Inquisitor, this was his responsibility.
“The failure lies with me, Your Majesty. I ask I be punished!” He immediately fell to one knee.
The Pontiff waved a hand, and at the motion a white light appeared before Constantine to lift him to his feet. “Our foe is cunning. But, he is no Paragon. A ninth level at his peak I suspect, who will be found as a heretic beneath these lights of faith. Take your men and find him – bring him to the Reims Square. That is, if I don’t find him first.
- Acupuncture was based off of Daoist principles. One of which is man’s connection with the divine. Near the top of the head, about where the fontanelle was located when you were a baby, lies an acu-point called 百会 – the hundred meetings. Here, the yang qi of the body coalesces. In qigong it’s seen as the house of the corporeal aspects of the Soul (Souls are complicated in TCM). It is also connected to the upper dantian from Taiji practice, which is connected to human consciousness. So in short, the area of this point – DU 20, as it’s called in the west – is man’s connection to the spirit, heaven, and to God as the ancient Daoists perceived It (‘Absolute Truth’). ↩