Skyfire Avenue, Chapter 425

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Chapter 425: Zeus vs. The Angel of the Moon

The last time Lan Jue had encountered Sariel they were on the same side. Now they were opponents – it was strange. Sariel did not feel the same, however, as she didn’t know this masked man was the same one who had terrorized the Pontiff’s Citadel. Lan Jue was perfectly happy with the arrangement, as he didn’t want to bring her any trouble. He acted as though he didn’t know who she was.

“Three, two, one. Begin!”

Sariel’s wings brought her in to the air. As she hung there above him, the Seraph’s power surged out in a golden wave of light. Lan Jue answered with vigor, in contrast to the strategies of his earlier fights.

There was a flash of electric light and Lan Jue appeared before the Angel of the Moon. There was nothing so fast as lightning, and Sariel didn’t even have time to summon her holy sword. She could only thrust her hands out in hopes they would deflect his attack.

Lan Jue reached out two barehanded, and a point of light was spat from each fingertip. The ten twinkling dots gathered together in a strangely specific order. Voracious Lightning! It was a skill even Chu Cheng’d never seen before.

Sariel wasn’t Lena. There was quite a power discrepancy between them, not to mention their diametrically opposed Disciplines. Zeus’ lightning-based powers were especially forceful against the vampire’s Dark Discipline, but were notably less so when faced with Light Adepts. In addition, she was also several ranks higher than he was. Winning this fight without some sort of secret weapon would be next to impossible.

The Angel wasn’t frightened or alarmed by the lightning attack. Ten tendrils of pure white light slithered from her own fingertips to cut off and reflect Lan Jue’s attacks away. A crescent moon was revealed a few meters above her head with a single silver light shining down upon her. The light was serving as a shield.

Boom-boom-boom-boom….” The careening orbs of lightning erupted one after the other in fierce blooms of light. The special quality of these strikes was their ability to devour outside energy. Explosions spread their influence farther.

Sariel right away felt a strange sense of detachment with her energy. She beat her wings and rose higher to escape. This encounter had her on her back foot. Her knowledge of Zeus was extensive, as was all of the Archangels in the Pontiff’s Citadel. After all, they had long-held plans to deal with the troublesome Mercenary. All of them were aware that he had this ability. It was used to catch his enemy off guard, not only with the explosions but the sudden loss of energy afterward. A fighter’s body suddenly felt drained, and sluggish.

There were drawbacks, though, as a miss meant a great deal of wasted energy on Lan Jue’s part. The Voracious Lightning didn’t do much if the attack didn’t land straight on. The cost to Lan Jue was great, in part because the skill covered a large area. Sariel felt like he’d managed to deplete some of her energy, but guessed that it wasn’t as much as he’d spent performing the attack. Pros outweighed the cons, so why did he make that choice?

Lan Jue made no move to chase her through the skies. Instead he pressed his hands together before his chest. The air crackled ominously before the whole ring erupted in to a web of screaming electricity.

The Forest of Lightning!

In no longer than the time it took to gasp, lightning covered every inch of the area, including Sariel and her shield. The rays of godly light that emanated from her ceased as she focused on keeping her shield intact.

Lan Jue turned his hands over until they made a circle in the center of his chest. Spider-web bolts of lightning raced along his arms and hands, joining together between his palms to create a roiling orb of electric power. Thick bolts of purple and blue snaked along the outside of the ball, but the core of it was pure, tumultuous golden energy.

The blaze of holy light filtered through the lightning as Sariel finally summoned her righteous blade. She held her position suspended in the air, ready. When there was a break in intensity, she was prepared to launch forward in an all-out assault. However, Lan Jue had different plans, for as the first wave finally extinguished a second enormous Forest of Lightning attack swept her up again.

The angel looked around her in disbelief. Could he really have so much energy that he could use this attack twice?  The most current intelligence put him at rank six or seven, the same as her. It made no sense that he’d have so much energy to waste.

Obviously, the discrepancy in total energy between ranks was most obvious in a fight. However that was only part of Sariel’s mistake. Her first was trusting in the Pontiff’s information about Lan Jue. She also knew that he had been strong enough to defeat Michael, which meant she started this fight behind. Still she wouldn’t have thought he’d come out of the gate so intense. Her final, and perhaps biggest mistake, was failing to see passed the intensity at the actual strength. If she did, she would see that a sixth ranked Adept would be quite a bit stronger.

In the back of her mind somewhere she noticed, but she never thought to question why he felt weaker than expected. Perhaps it was a diversion, or some other sort of trick. As a precaution she chose not to rush in.

Lan Jue’s condensed orb of lightning was released in to the flood. Where it passed, the forest of lightning was devoured in to it, empowering it. A tail of ionized air gushed passed, propelling the orb toward Sariel.

Boommmmmm! The grand-shaking rumble drowned out all other sounds. Sariel put all of her power behind maintaining the shields against the orb. She knew this one, another special attack unique to Zeus; Thundercharge.

The Thundercharge hit with enough force to make her shield sputter. It was weaker than he was capable of before, and Sariel felt it. His power was explosive but not as terrifying as she was lead to believe. Was he holding back? Sariel’s mind raced with uncertainties.

Lan Jue used the cover of his attack to retreat. He stopped at the far end of the ring, while Sariel suddenly found herself in a very unenviable position. She could pit her hopes on her shield which was strong, or evade. She could not do both, for though durable her shield restricted movement. It’s strength was greatly reduced while she was on the move. No… there was only one option, and that was the Rite of the Holy Spirit. It would render all her previous effort pointless, but it was that or defeat.

The moon over her head blazed with ethereal silver light. Sariel’s massive wings beat against the air and sent her soaring toward her foe. She steeled her resolve with the knowledge that Lan Jue must be near spent. Two rounds of his forest of lightning, the Voracious Lightning orbs and the Thundercharge could only mean he was almost drained.

 

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Metatron’s enigmatic gaze was fixed on the fight. His organization had a keen interest in Zeus, in no small part due to his insistence on protecting the Stygian Succubus. The refusal could only mean he stood against them, and was deemed an enemy. They knew he was a member of the Avenue – their ‘Jewelry Master’ – which made it curious that he had chosen to participate as Zeus rather than with his fellows.

There had been more interesting fights earlier in the tournament, and Metatron had assumed there was little more to learn about Lan Jue that they hadn’t already discovered. The times he had chanced a gaze, it looked like Zeus was mostly toying with his opponents. However, something seemed strange this time – off. It drew his attention in a way his other fights hadn’t. He knew Sariel like she was one of his own children, in fact it could be said he taught her everything she knew. It also meant that he knew how much punishment she could take. From what he knew of Lan Jue’s skills, the result of their clash should have been radically different.

“When did Zeus become so weak?” Metatron muttered to himself.

Lucifer chuckled softly at his side. “Maybe he’s luring her in to a false sense of security!” Lucifer certainly bore no love for Lan Jue, but his hatred for the Pontiff and his crew outweighed everything. He didn’t hesitate to wish the worst on Metatron’s people.

The master Archangel shot his dark counterpart a flat glance. He didn’t respond, although he was ever more curious for an answer.

 

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Pulsing waves of holy light flung out from Sariel, and met with Lan Jue’s Forest of Lightning. The Mercenary and jewelry salesman stood with his feet planted and a golden spear of lightning clutched in his hands. Sariel restored her focus to her shield, which she knew now to be enough to protect her.

Tendrils of vicious lightning struck all around her but could not penetrate her defenses. She pierced through the undulating sea of electricity on a collision course with Lan Jue.

He smirked. Lan Jue didn’t advanced or retreat, but there was a flash and suddenly he appeared on the far side of the field. The alternative storms of electricity helped him move. The air was charged, and helped conduct him across distances quickly and unseen while transformed in to lightning. It was like a temporary, small-scale Domain of his own creation. It sure cost him to maintain, though.

Sariel paused as she lost her target and looked around to find him. She was protected from the unceasing attacks from the lightning, but every moment she was out there she was spending energy. Sariel had so many questions, but the fight was first.

She charge ahead again, but just like before Lan Jue vanished as she came near. What was the point of this? Why was he running?

Ariel wasn’t the only one confused. The excitement of the fight was beginning to wane, and the audience had begun to sense something was strange too. Muffled conversation fluttered through the bleachers.


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8 thoughts on “Skyfire Avenue, Chapter 425” - NO SPOILERS and NO CURSING

      1. I’m well aware, all the more reason to want to read the next chapter. The fact that they are realizing this probably has some implications for the future as well, with him sitting on the Pontiff’s shitlist.

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