Skyfire Avenue Chapter 891-900


Chapter 891: Golden Immortal Monarch

He’d waited for this this day – this moment – for many long years. He’d hidden like a rat from the fury of universal protogenia ever since his power became too great to hide. He’d wracked his brain day in and day out, trying to find a way to protect himself.

At last he had found his answer. In joining with Queen and Consort they’d created a realm of their own, and a singular entity to rule over it. He had arisen to the status of a Golden Immortal.

To his knowledge there were no other beings like him in all of the universe.

So this is what the ancient human immortals felt, he told himself. It was glorious, and one more step toward the ultimate power of Da Luo Golden Immortality.

Upon becoming a golden immortal, Monarch enjoyed the protection of the immortal realm. He no longer had to fear retribution from universal protogenia. To be finally unfettered was comforting beyond expression. With the immortal realms protection he could employ his full power without hesitation.
After the brief display of his abilities he felt that nothing could stand in his way. These humans – even the Photographer for all her power – were no more than insects before him.

It was true that there was a faint sense of danger from the Banishing Blades. However, as the greatest living creature in all of space and time he need not hide any longer. The time for shrinking away had passed, and the danger he perceived only increased his fervor. It was an opportunity to flex his new muscles.

Changes had come over the Violet Prince and the three headed abomination as well. It was clear as they rushed forward to deal with the humans. Like Monarch they were protected from universal protogenia by the presence of their immortal realm, and thus were able to use their full strength. The benefits were especially evident for the hydra, whose powers had risen beyond that of the Infinite and approached immortal-level.

For the humans, Luo Xianni led the defensive charge. She was joined by the Wine Master, Clockmaker, Driver, Keeper, Bookworm and the Gourmet. There was also the newly arrived Hua Li and Ch Cheng, as well as the Pauper, and the two Gods of Wine. Twelve all together, with the singular aim of protecting Lan Jue and his three companions.
Luo Xianni’s face was a somber mask. She knew that the appearance of a golden immortal reduced their chance of success tremendously. She did not understand why Monarch didn’t hurry to destroy the Strategy himself, but she wasn’t going to give up an opportunity to fight back.

With this determined passion in her heart she led the way. The pink camera in her hand flashed again and again. She couldn’t stop them, but she could at least slow her enemies down.

Without Lan Jue and the other sword bearers, these twelve Paragons were in dire straights. Indeed Luo Xianni was with them, but besides her only the Wine Master and Clockmaker were Reflections of Heaven and Earth. The Driver was next, at the upper borders of the Realm of Protogenia.

Against two creatures who no longer had to fear universal protogenia, it seemed like more than they could handle. Battle broke out in dramatic fashion, with the light of their clash blasted through the area as the Paragons fought for their lives.

Monarch turned and swung his attention toward the four bastions, which had since regrouped. He held himself with an almost playful air. Tyrannosaurus had been severely damaged
but could continue fighting. Of course, at this point all their guns were useless.

None of their attacks had any affect against Monarch. On the contrary the energy from them seemed to make him stronger. They were forced to look on, silent and ineffectual.

Monarch narrowed his eyes, focusing on the shifting forces within him and the perfection of the immortal realm he’d created. After its creation was complete, his internal environment was ever changing – affected by the presence and power of Europa. This was a special sort of protogenia, one he’d studied for years locked in human genetics.

In many ways he’d build this place based on the ancestral memory of the human immortal plane. That mythical land was the foundation he would build upon. His immortal realm would continue to grow just like him, evolving as more immortal creatures took residence within.

Monarch had only just stepped through the door. He searched the collected knowledge and experience of the human species, gathered through their DNA, looking for a way to quickly improve their strength.
The answer came to him quickly. The quickest route was the power of faith.

In the days of the immortal they continued to grow and expand their immortal realm through the faith of the common man. The stronger these past immortals became the more they lent to the realm itself, which in turn protected them more effectively.

That was then.

Monarch became to outline the makings of a plan. Suddenly it seemed destroying the human race was not the most effective use of his powers. Devouring them would help him minimally, if at all, even for someone like Luo Xianni. Consuming another’s life force would only help him if he were feeding on other immortals.

In addition, his immortal realm required more denizens, not less. Killing those with the most potential was counter intuitive. It was better to subjugate these humans and become their master. Through their faith he would be made greater.

Suddenly he was less willing to turn his hand against his
future subjects. He had enough power now to capture these Paragons. Once they were made more pliable – reeducated, as it were – they could become the first caste of immortals in the world he had built. Monarch was pleased with the idea.

Realizing these plans would not be difficult. As for the Banishing Blades, he figured they had to be relics from the human’s ancient gods, passed down through the years. Admittedly part of the reason he did not move to stop them was because he was curious. What were these weapons capable of, these creations of the old pantheon? When they came under his control, how could he use them to his benefit?

As an immortal his perception was near omniscient. He saw that the four sword bearers were yet to unleash the true power of these weapons. And so, he chose to watch and commit their process to memory.

Indeed Lan Jue and his companions had come upon a problem. The demands of the swords were growing to be more than they could offer.

Thanks to Qianlin’s Queen of Heaven powers they were recovering energy quickly, but they were still overwhelmed. What’s more they were not blind to the chaos around them,
speed would ensure the greatest effect against their foes. They also feared the backlash if Monarch interrupted their process.

The light from the four swords had almost completed arranging itself, but fear still broiled in the hearts of Lan Jue and his friends. Once the arrangement was complete the Banishing Strategy would unleash its true power. Monarch would surely sense the threat to his life and would have to respond with his full might. This was before they considered how much energy the strategy would drain from them in order to complete the ritual.

“We have to finish it, even if we must sacrifice ourselves.” Lan Qing shouted.

Li Ke had not revealed it to them, but Lan Qing had discovered mysteries of his own while researching the strategy. He discovered a method by which they could complete the ritual even if they didn’t have the needed power. Self-sacrifice. They could offer up their own life force to fuel the Strategy’s completion.

Of course this was a tragic prospect, but one they had to consider. There were no other choices, and the cost of failure was too high. Thus the sword bearers joined with the weapons,
and in so doing made themselves into fuel for the terrible fires of the Banishing Strategy.

The hydra-beast came at the Paragons flailing its six weapons, pushing them back one by one. Were it not for the Driver’s Primordial lightning and the danger it presented, the monster would have quickly cut them all down.

Meanwhile the Photographer was struggling to contain the Violet Prince. She was struggling against the threat of universal protogenia, and was still a novice to the powers of the Infinite. In contrast the Prince fought back without fear of consequence. In addition the immortal realm was constantly feeding him energy. It was only a matter of time before Luo Xianni was overcome.

Tens of thousands of soldiers were forced to watch. There was nothing they could do. The fight was also being live streamed all across human space. Official channels had been shut down across the North and East, however, as the situation unfolded. Politicians, who’d witnessed Tyrannosaurus being swatted away, had lost any hope of victory. Many were preparing to flee.

Perhaps, these people thought, if they got far enough away there was a chance they could survive. Staying would be waiting
for death. This new creature and the world it had created was beyond their darkest nightmares.

Tendrils of light continued to gather, layer upon layer painted in the four hues of the Banishing Blades. The foundation of the Banishing Strategy was complete. However, pulses of energy revealed that it had become unstable.

“Truly pathetic!” Monarch felt something, some inexplicable sense that put him on edge. He waved his right hand and two waves of golden light washed over the Violet Prince and the hydra.

Both alien champions experienced a mighty surge in power. Luo Xianni took a head-on punch from the Prince that sent her sprawling. For the others the situation was worse. The Pauper got caught by a direct strike from the abomination and was cut down. His body exploded into dust and was no more. Skyfire Avenue had lost another Paragon.

There was no time for sorrow. The three-headed, six-armed monster did not let up. The Keeper and Bookworm exchange a silent but telling glance as their bodies began to glow. Lan Qing had stopped them before. Now it seemed like it was finally their time.

Chapter 892: Suppression

Suddenly a thick and oppressive aura filled the air.

Four beams of light split the sky as they shot up. Turquoise, white, red and blue seemed to paint all the universe. A primitive, almost primordial sensation poured from the columns as they appeared.

Four figured previously hidden by the glare were again revealed.

Hovering above Lan Jue’s head was Captus, whose length was covered in golden runes. Much like the first time his dharma manifested itself as the Middle Heaven Great Emperor of the North Star of Purple Subtlety, all of the sword’s powers were brought to bear.

Lan Qing, Zhou Qianlin and the Pharmacist appeared in similarly resplendent fair. Like Lan Jue, their swords appeared overhead and blazed with golden runes. The cocoon of light that had enveloped them was replaced by a bizarre and motley display. Pure chaos reigned all around them.
Monarch, who had just thrown aside caution for curiosity, watched in awe. His pupils contracted to tiny pits of black, for suddenly the nagging sense of danger had become a screaming alarm. The ethereal aura of Europa that he relied on for protection was in danger of scattering like a morning mist before the light of the Banishing Blades.

What was this power, that even immortal qi was rendered ineffectual? Did these humans actually possess a way to harm a god?

All throughout this conflict with the humans Monarch had carefully planned every step. Even Lan Qing’s victories were part of the alien master’s schemes. Everything had followed the path he laid out. The only thing outside of his control were the Banishing Blades.

Monarch even knew when Lan Jue and the Pharmacist had snuck into his planetary person. He’d been curious as to their purpose, what would cause them to undertake such a risk? Why was that sword so important? He hadn’t taken them for granted either, and left his strongest avatar to protect Ultus. However, much to his surprise the sword itself revolted and allowed itself to be pilfered from his very heart.
It was the only circumstance to fall outside of his control. The consequences of this oversight was coming back to haunt him.

The time for playing with his prey had passed. Monarch leaped forward to try and interrupt the Strategy. Still the size of an average human, he pressed out with his hands toward the chaotic flows amongst the four sword bearers.

The golden light emitted from his strike was not overly spectacular. However, the pulse of energy released from him was so intense that all of the Paragons – and the two aliens that aided him – were knocked backward. So intense was the shockwave that the human ships swayed dangerously and threatened to be crushed.

They were lost!

To Luo Xianni everything went dark. Clearly the Banishing Strategy was not yet completed and Monarch had had time to interrupt it. All was lost, the Strategy was defeated. Humanity’s final hope was too late and the alien home worlds had won!

A terrible scream tore through her mind. She felt waves of shock wash over her, including from the Violet Prince and the
three-headed avatar. Luo Xianni steeled herself and forced her attention toward the site of the Banishing Strategy where she was greeted with an incredible scene.

Monarch’s arms were outstretched and the golden light from his palms hung over the area of the Banishing Strategy. Underneath the canopy of that light the chaos continued to swirl, gently at first until with a thunderous burst it broke free.

Even as powerful as Monarch had become, in the moment the power broke through his containment he found himself sluggish – frozen. Unable to move, the flood of pure chaos smashed into him.

In the moments following an even stranger spectacle emerged. The golden light that demonstrated Europa’s protection vanished, like snow on a spring morning. It was suppressed! The thought struck Luo Xianni as she watched, and once more hope sprang to life in her chest.

The Banishing Strategy was not yet completely set out, and yet even still it was effective. More than effective – it was able to contend against a golden immortal’s direct attack! It meant humanity was not yet doomed.
The Violet Prince and his companion gaped at what they witnessed. Both of them had felt the terrifying might of that chaos. Before Monarch had been swallowed up by it they’d felt his intention telling them to attack the sword bearers.

Once Monarch had fallen into their clutches Lan Jue and the others began to blaze with light. That realm of unbridled chaos began to shrink once its prey was captured, as though Monarch had been captured in a universe that was rapidly decaying.

With a dangerous flash in his eye Lan Jue indicated with his right hand. Captus, which was ringing with the power of the Strategy, released a gust of red power into the stream.

Zhou Qianlin was next, and Demortus’ blue light joined. As it mingled with Captus’ intent both were made more powerful. The Banishing Strategy’s already magnificent strength was magnified.

Lan Qing and the Pharmacist followed their example, channeling the essence of their swords into the stream. From the outside the Strategy was a riot of color, including the flickering golden light from Monarch. However, that golden light was quickly weakening.
Lan Jue and the others stared with intense focus, even as their bodies began to become transparent. With every change of their swords, every burst of light, the results were reflected in their bodies. As the Strategy grew stronger so did they, as though they were bound to it body and soul.

The Banishing Strategy became a tempest, fully established and with Monarch the center of its harrowing focus. Next was to let it loose.

The Banishing Strategy was stratified into several levels. Lan Jue and his companions were aiming to accomplish only its simplest manifestation. While to the Paragons outside everything was clear and bright, to Lan Jue and the other sword bearers their weapons were insatiable pits that drank everything in.

As they continued their struggle to summon the power of the Strategy, the pressure suffered by the Paragons outside only grew. With Monarch caught, the Prince and the avatar fought like wild animals.

With the Pauper dead the defenders were reduced to eleven. Luo Xianni was a mighty power on their side, but she could feel universal protogenia imposing its limits on her abilities. It was
increasingly more difficult to keep the Violet Prince at bay. And if it was difficult for her, the situation was far more dire for the ten paragons tasked with containing the three-headed avatar.

The Driver had emerged as the leader of their defense. He continued to pummel the hydra monster with Primordial lightning, and his Domain spread across the field. It was only thanks to the empyreal quality of his abilities that the avatar was prevented from killing all of them.

However, every time that beast attacked it took all ten avatars to beat it back and keep the Domain stable. They were quickly growing tired.

Whether it was the Wine Master’s dimensional abilities or the Clockmaker’s control of time, all were limited in their effect on this beast. It was only getting more difficult with time to keep themselves from being destroyed. The slightest mistake could lead to disaster.

Suddenly figured emerged on the outskirts of their battlefield.
Starlight glinted off the metal hulls of countless mecha suits.

Su Xiaosu’s voice rang through every cockpit. “This is it
people, life or death. For our families, for our species – with me!”

A six-winged mecha streaked passed the encirclement and into the fight. Hundreds of glittering metal warriors followed.

They were soldiers from Star Division, from the Bloodiron Khans, and the convert army of the North. They’d already proven themselves in the battle against the alien horde, and now they were on the front lines again.

Every one of them knew it was a suicide mission. They were too weak to do anything against an enemy like this. However, if their deaths bought the Paragons even just one extra minute they were glad to die for the cause. Su Xiaosu had made no attempt to hide from them the truth of this mission. If they chose to join the fight, it was likely they wouldn’t make it back.

Nonetheless one fifth of recruits answered the call. For Star Division that number was closer to one in three, and among those were every single one of Lan Jue’s former students. An Lun’s Bloodiron Khans also showed up in full force.

Indeed none of Lan Qing’s warriors shirked what they felt to
be their duty. Though they did not have the individual power of Star Division’s soldiers or the Northern converts, they charged into the fray with a fervor that outshone them all. For their country and their people, they were more than willing to give up their precious lives.

At Xiaosu’s call it was the Bloodiron Khans who rushed in first. They arranged themselves into a human wall and cut off the aliens from the Banishing Strategy. They diverted all power to shields and flooded their suits with Discipline.

Star Division and the converts were a step behind. They formed up, ready to give their all.

Chapter 893: Faith and Fervor!

Soldiers throughout the armada looked on with eyes red from emotion. But the surprises were not over.

Scores more mecha suites were dispatched from the twelve fleets. All four bastions released their remaining drones to join the fight as well. Every fleet and bastion had a contingent of ground troops and mechas to equip them with. Together with the drones they were a flexible and dynamic fighting force. Yet, their mission was clear in the minds of every pilot; they were cannon fodder.

In a matter of moments these brave soldiers created a ring on the outer edge of the Banishing Strategy. They arranged themselves so that the representatives of each adept army were protected as well.

Every man and woman, whether in the cockpit of a mecha suit or drone, stared grim faced and red eyed at their foes. They did not attack, for they knew that they could not positively affect this battle beyond using themselves as human shields. Every ounce of energy was poured into shields in preparation for the attacks to come.
In this moment they did not fear death.

A stifling silence hung over the worlds of man as they watched on their screens. In high-definition they saw these brave warriors preparing to sacrifice their lives for the cause. And a sacrifice it would be, for even though there were only two the soldiers knew they had no hope of defeating enemies that powerful.

Despair settled in the hearts of the ruling class, especially the politicians, and many had already fled. However there were some who remained, to wait and see what would happen. These public servants were determined to meet their fate with their constituents.

The East’s Chairman Zhou Xueguan was together with the parliament. His hands were curled into tight fists. By his side was the speaker of the parliament, and both men glared ferociously at the images of the screen before them.

The parliamentary hall was full, with every representative in attendance. They’d been invited to watch the operation together. They’d cheered Zhou Xueguan as their armies won victory after victory against the alien horde. Now however, with the ascent of Monarch and the display of his might, the
hall was silent.

When the battle started to turn there were some in the room who sought to slip away. But before they could, the doors to the hall were flung open and soldiers flooded in. They were fully armed, and trained their guns on the politicians.

The speaker addressed his comrades with frigid promise, stating that they would die with their people if it came to it. No one would be permitted to leave. They would not be allowed to abandon the East.

All of this had been prepared in advance, arranged by Zhou Xueguan and the speaker. They had to assure the people, and they couldn’t do that if the political class was in turmoil. If the leadership could show steadfastness and solidarity, the people’s faith would remain strong.

The scene from the parliamentary hall was streamed along with the battle, in a small box on the bottom right corner. In a joint announcement Chairman Zhou and the speaker reassured everyone that their leaders were not going to leave them to their fate.
It had the desired affect and the people calmed. They earned no praise, but it did allay fears that they would be abandoned. In their minds if the politicians were in the same situation they were, there was still a chance things could be turned around.

Video of Eastern mechas putting themselves in harm’s way were streamed into every household. Pride and tears filled the eyes of citizens as they saw the signature yellow of the Bloodiron Khans arrayed against overwhelming odds. They weren’t afraid, and so neither were the people. Like the soldiers who fought for them they were filled with passion.

Eastern soldiers were doing right by their duty to all of humanity. They put themselves in the line of danger, putting down their lives so that their species might have a chance to fight back.

Heroes. Every single one of those brave warriors were heroes to all of mankind. Tears flowed down a countless number of faces and many citizens were out in the streets to watch the fight together on enormous screens on the sides of buildings

A silver-haired woman in her twilight years pointed to the enormous screen and cried out. “My son’s out there! He’s one of the Bloodiron Khans!” Her face was wet with tears but she stood
tall. Her words, quavering with emotion, betrayed her pride.

Similar scenes played out all across the East. Panic was gone, replaced by the undaunted fervor reflected in the eyes of those soldiers. They were a people of singular purpose and unity!

People on what remained of the Western Alliance planets were also emotional as they watched. Their government was gone, but after Guanyin the Queen of Heaven saved their fellows
– channeled through Zhou Qianlin – they’d felt more inclined toward the East.

The stream they were receiving came from the East. When they saw that the Eastern parliament was not fleeing they hung their head in shame.

Many of their leaders and politicians had fled Europa even before the aliens attacked. Most of those left behind as victims were common folk without the ability to run. They were forced to wait for the end to claim them.

No one wished for the end of this conflict more than the Western people. They had suffered awfully and were tired of conflict. They prayed for the success of the four sword bearers
from the East, prayed that they would be victorious over this hated foe. Their hearts were just as impassioned as the narration from the Eastern streaming video.

“Look, what are our young comrades doing? They are giving all of themselves so that all of us might be safe. These are our Bloodiron Khans, our An Lun soldiers, our Eastern countrymen. Majesties from Skyfire Avenue fight on the front lines while Star Division and Bloodiron Khan soldiers stand at their backs. Nor do they stand alone, for soldiers from our Eastern army have come to bolster their numbers. I am not a believer, but I pray for these brave souls – pray for our people and our future. Join me in cheering them on and our combined faith will help them win the day. Our enemies will be destroyed.”

The rousing speech reverberated all throughout the East and inflamed passions. Through their actions the government and military inspired the people and gave them faith. Even in defeat they would stand in solidarity.

This was not the case in the North. They were the mightiest of nations, and as such were rife with powerful political, military and business families. When the situation began to deteriorate these influential people prepared for their exodus. The government did not inspire the same confidence in its people as the East. Though many took faith in the images from the live
stream, they were not unified in the way the other Alliances were.

As the conflict increased the differences between these alliances became more stark. However no one paid much attention as all eyes were trained on the front lines and the battle that would determine the fate of humanity.


Boom! Layers of pink shattered like glass, a dimension fractured. The Photographer was flung away and spat out a mouthful of blood. Her powers changed constantly to match the ever-increasing Domain of Creation and Destruction, barely managing to keep it at bay.

The Violet Prince paid her no further mind. He switched directions and launched himself toward the location of the Banishing Strategy. He was loathe to obey Monarch’s command but the newly ascended immortal was master. If Monarch perished the immortal realm they build would disappear. He was also acutely aware that he could not contend against his father’s tremendous power.
He witnessed what everyone saw on their screens once he turned toward the Banishing Strategy; it was hidden behind a sphere of metal. Countless mechas and drones were tightly organized so that there was no way to get at the sword bearers except through them. Only the stream of chaotic power was left unguarded, the same stream that had swallowed up Monarch. The Prince had no illusions that he would fare better if he chose that route.

The Violet Prince narrowed his eyes as he surveyed the landscape. He grunted and chastised humanity for its naiveté. Did they believe they could stand against him?

He rushed forward, fist outstretched. A burst of purple light emerged.

A hundred defenders exploded immediately, reduced to burning slag. However the Prince was slowed ever so slightly as he was struck with a surprising thought. These humans were not disheartened. Even in the face of death they persevered!

The aliens were adept at psychic communication. He could feel their courage and conviction as clearly as though it had come from him.

Chapter 894: Sacrifice

A hundred thousand thoughts flooded the Violet  Prince’s mind, all the same: Humanity forever! For the North! For the East! Cry after cry of devotion, each one small but together a cacophony. It was so intense it gave him pause.

He only managed one attack before Luo Xianni caught up with him.

In the same instant two incandescent beams of light exploded forth. The dazzling beams were birthed from what appeared to be binary stars burning one beside the other. The focused fury of their dual supernovae were focused on the three-headed avatar.

The mad laughter of the Keeper and the Bookworm hung in the air, audible to all. Their dharmas appeared beside them, for in the final moments of their lives as they channeled their vital essence into the attack they broke through to a new level. Like the Pontiff their sacrifice empowered them to be Reflections of Heaven and Earth.

Tears wet the eyes of every member of Skyfire Avenue, Paragon and Division soldier alike. These men were pillars of
the Avenue, of the East as a whole. Echoes of their contributions would persist far into humanity’s future – if they had a future.

It was the two of them who first puzzled out the secrets of the exuvium process, using vital crystals to extend life. It was them who pushed the East forward technologically so they would not fall too far behind the North. Now, they used the last light of their lives in a final service to their people.

The splendor of their sacrifice shone all across the universe.

The hydra abomination was shocked by the turn of events. By itself the beast could defend against the blasts, but the will and spirit of these old men surged tenfold. Faced with such conviction, the avatar paused.

Half a moment later the beast was swallowed up by the beams of light. Under the blaze its body was torn apart and put back together half a dozen times.

The Wine Master watched, holding tightly to the Clockmaker’s hand, his face pale. He’d known the Keeper for so long, the old scientist was more senior among the Avenue’s leadership. When the Clairvoyant passed, it should have been
the Keeper to take over the duties of chairman. However the Keeper refused, stating only that he didn’t have the time. Thus the responsibility passed onto the Wine Master.

He was selfless. He put the prosperity of Skyfire Avenue and the East as a whole before himself, to the very end!

The Wine Master cast a glance to the Clockmaker at his side. “I’m sorry.”

She smiled back at him, her free hand fiddling with the small clock she carried with her. She gripped his hand tighter. “What are you saying? You think I’m less dedicated than you?”

He smiled back. “I’ve loved you my whole life. It took me an eternity to earn your heart, but it is my greatest achievement. If another life awaits us I will meet it gladly, and I’ll be more brazen the second go-round.”

As they spoke, looking deeply into one another’s eyes, light began to flicker around them. Flashes of silver radiated from the Wine Master and his scepter. A smear of multicolor light hung over the Clockmaker. She flung her small clock into  space where it dissolved into a golden beam, and was caught in the
flows of space-time that surrounded them.

The avatar was too strong. Though the scientists’ sacrifice had managed to contain it temporarily they could not destroy it. More power was needed.

When the Wine Master said sorry to his love he’d made up his mind. He was the chairman of Skyfire Avenue’s council, he had a responsibility.

Sacrificing one’s life for humanity was a fine period on the final sentence of his life. His only regret was leaving the wonderful woman by his side. Her calm in the face of the end, her small comforting smile, eased the sorrow in his heart. They were together at the finale of their lives, two hearts beating as one. Together they would deliver a crushing blow on behalf of mankind.

“This sort of thing is the responsibility of us old folk.” The words were almost lackadaisical, delivered from another figure standing on the Wine Master’s other side. A crystalline vine, pulsing with protogenia.

“You’re a lover of wine, and our legacy has to be passed on.
It’s a treasure that belongs to everyone.” Two streaks of light flit passed the Wine Master, one purple and one red. They raced toward the dual columns of white.

The Gods of Wine, Bize and Aubert.

“I finally feel like I’m worthy of meeting Henri in the afterlife. I’m a hero, now – he can’t steal you away from me. Hahahaha!” Aubert’s laughter was coarse, making Bize’s cheeks red.

A deep purple light spread forth form Aubert, turning the branches sprouting from him into crystal extensions. A rich scent of wine filled the air. In all his life the Wine Master had never smelled anything so wonderful.

Purple and ring intermingled, and as they drilled into the light they became a magnificent spear.

POP! A sound like a balloon exploding rang out. The whole area seemed to shake as red, white and purple sparkled so brightly it painted the whole galaxy.

Boom--! A ripping explosion followed.
The lights dimmed and a body hung in space. It was the three- headed avatar. The Keeper, Bookworm, and the two Gods of Wine were gone without a trace.

But did their target still live?

Four Paragons gave their lives to destroy a single creature, but it still didn’t seem enough. It spoke to how terrible its power really was.

However their sacrifice wasn’t entirely in vain. The three- headed monster had but one head remaining, two thirds of what had created it were destroyed. Its power was still roughly equivalent to the Infinite, but compared to the near immortal level might it’d commanded before this was a sharp decline. The remains of its battered body continuously leaked a thick purple fluid and branches could be seen embedded in its back. The wounds and branches leached out the lifeblood of the monster, making it weaker.

“Kill it!” The Wine Master shouted. He charged in to put the beast down.

The Pauper was gone, as was the Keeper, the Bookworm, Bize
and Aubert. Only six Paragons were left, standing between the enemy and the Banishing Strategy.

The Gourmet, Driver, Wine Master, Clockmaker, Hua Li, and Chu Cheng were all that were left.

They dashed forward, a flood of rage, sadness and determination. Chu Cheng swiped at the avatar with Hade’s Falchion, which glinted with a bitter and forlorn glow. With no time to recover before the Paragons were on it, the beast was cut deep by the weapon.

Orbs of blue and gold erupted from Hua Li’s trident. They surrounded the creature and slowed it down. Primordial lightning, dimensional daggers and weaponized time-element struck all at once.

Blood shot out like a geyser, but the avatar still stood. Even heavily damaged it contrived to summon what remained of its Domain to block the brunt of the attacks. It knocked the Wine Master away.

Things were looking bad for Luo Xianni. Her powers were suffering after the wound she’d sustained from the Prince. It
was only getting easier for her foe to cast off her attacks and turn his focus on his real target.

Every time the Prince repelled her he lashed out at the Banishing Strategy. Each attack destroyed hundreds more mechas and drones. Were it not for Luo Xianni’s persistence he would make quick work of these piddling defenders.

Yet as their comrades died more mechas and drones surged into the breach to take their place. They were ready for a glorious death, to give themselves for victory. The Banishing Strategy was in the midst of establishing mankind’s last chance. The least they could do – the only thing they could do – was whatever they could to see it succeed.

“Die!” The Violet Prince roared. He sent Luo Xianni flying once again. Her chest was visibly collapsed, her protogenia could no longer protect her. Her camera was damaged beyond repair.

Her expression crestfallen, a bronze light flickered as Jue Di’s former weapon appeared in her grip. She clutched the Compliant Rod desperately.
“Chi Bupang, I’m coming to join you. Don’t forget me.” She whispered through lungs rapidly filling with blood.

Luo Xianni threw the rod into the air. Then, aiming her camera, she focused on the Prince as he raced toward the Banishing Strategy. As he began to tear through the mechas and drones, she muttered through gritted teeth.

“Take… advice… from Luo Xianni. A camera… is all you need.”

She fought to speak the words, each syllable causing her small pink camera to grow more dim and intangible. A fading violet light arose from her concave chest and merged with the fading astrum.

Chapter 895: One Final Photograph

Blood trickled from the corners of Luo Xianni’s mouth and dripped onto her camera. Suddenly it flashed with an intense pink light that made her stand out against the darkness of space.

The Violet Prince, in the midst of his charge, sensed something and spun around. When his eyes fell on Luo Xianni, his pupils contracted.

Ka-cha! The unmistakable sound of a camera shutter clicked.
Everything froze.

The Violet Prince was stuck with a hand raised, ready to launch another attack at her. He fluttered through invisible gravitational waves as a two-dimensional image.

Luo Xianni’s body was pink from head to toe and somewhat opaque. It made her all the more beautiful and ethereal, like an angel. Strangely she also looked much younger, perhaps only fifteen or so.

“Chi Bupang…. Chi Bupang you bastard, you dare jilt me. You just wait, I’ll fight for you all the rest of my life!” She smiled as
she muttered the words, a recollection from years ago.

The Prince’s picturesque image floated over to her and with great difficulty she lifted her arms. Pinching the top of the photo she began to tear.

A flood of energy so intense it was frightening poured from the photograph, a sign of the Prince’s struggle. Luo Xianni’s pink-hued body shone brighter.

Crack! The dainty camera she carried with her shattered into dust.

Ssshhhrrrip! She tore off one edge of the picture, containing the Prince’s arm. She cast the torn section away and it dissolved into ash.

She pinched again and began to pull. Her aim was his head.

“Aaaarrrrrgggghh!!!” A bloodcurdling roar burst forth, followed by a surge of violet light that tried to smother Luo Xianni’s pink glow. Her body warped in response and flickered with a rose tint. The violet aura solidified and was blocked from
expanding, she refused to let him escape.

“My children, this is as much as your mother can offer. Don’t give up!” Her voice was not pained, or sad. Instead she sounded almost jovial. She sounded relaxed. Indeed, she was off to find her love, she hadn’t been happy since Jue Di’s passing. At last she could put down her burden and look for the partner she’d lost.


Within the Banishing Strategy.

Tears flowed freely from Lan Jue, Lan Qing and Zhou Qianlin’s faces. They put their all toward establishing the Strategy, but they saw everything that was happening outside. They were forced to watch silently as soldiers from Star Division, the Bloodiron Khans and the convert army gave their lives. They were acutely affected by the deaths of the Keeper, Bookworm, and the Gods of Wine.

Every one of them gave their lives to buy them time. They sacrificed themselves for final victory!
The Banishing Strategy fought perpetually against the might of Monarch. But this Strategy was designed to contend against the strongest immortals in history, one of the greatest forces of the universe. Even the simplest manifestation of it was a threat to Monarch’s life.

Unless the Strategy failed, Monarch wasn’t getting away.

The Banishing Strategy had only been attempted once before, by four of the greatest warriors to have ever lived. Among them were legendary Celestial Masters Yuanshi and Taishang!

Lan Jue could feel himself weakening. His protogenia, energy, and life force were being drained by the sword. But he was ready
– they were determined to give their lives for the Strategy to succeed.

However it was difficult beyond words to watch his friends, his family, his soldiers fall one after the other. The burden it put on him was crushing, and reached its peak when he heard Luo Xianni’s parting words. Even Lan Qing, always a rock in the most unstable times, had tears running down his face. But they couldn’t help, all they could do was continue to focus all of their strength on the Strategy.
Light from the four swords continued to oscillate around them. They carved out channels of energy as they build the foundation. Erratic tempests of deadly sword energy whipped all around. When they brought it under control, the Strategy would be complete.

Upon being captured by the power of the Strategy, Monarch was filled with fear. Immediately he sensed the aura of immortality protecting him get stripped away. He was left exposed, and if the universe discovered him he would be subject to the terrible power of universal protogenia.

However as time stretched on he found that universal protogenia was no threat to him under the cover of the Strategy. On the contrary, he sensed something altogether different here. The energy that assailed him was completely different from anything he’d experienced before. Its burden was incredible, outstripping even his own Domain. The revelation opened his eyes.

What in the world was this mysterious power? Its turbid, agitated influence was capable of locking out everything outside and yet offered no physical threat.

Monarch and his species were adept at consumption and
adaptation. He’d grown to these lofty heights thanks to this skill. Naturally his first instinct was to try and absorb this power for himself and see if it could be used to his benefit.

Starting small, he drew in a portion and tried to assimilate it but hastily cast it back. Although the small dose was weak he could sense the grade of this energy was towering beyond limit. Taking in even the slightest amount was met with a violent and immediate rejection that threatening to destroy him from inside.

What frightening power! If only he could somehow command it, he wondered, to what heights would he climb?

Monarch mulled over the problem, searching for some way to consume this inexplicable force. As he did, the tinge of fear that had assailed him before was gone. After exploring his surroundings with his senses he did not fear for himself, not against these four insignificant humans. He was a god amongst men, and with Luo Xianni’s demise none among them commanded the power of the Infinite. Even this strange power that had him temporarily suspended was causing no damage. Who remained to stand against him?

Monarch was a creature of supreme ambition. His target was
to supplant the universe itself. He was both curious and fascinated by this new type of energy and thus did not hurry to free himself from it. Instead he followed its ebb and flow, confident that he could discover its secrets. Secrets that would guide him on the path to domination.

As a result Lan Jue and the others did not sense Monarch struggling. Little by little, they were free to establish their Strategy. However it was more than just the death of Luo Xianni that filled their hearts with sadness. Despair was beginning to set in.

They could not complete the Strategy! This unspoken fear grew within each of the four sword bearers. They were nearing their limit and yet not even a third of the Strategy’s foundation was complete. Even if they spent every drop of vitality remaining within them they could not see a way to give what the Strategy demanded. In the end they would be consumed by the power they sought to command, Monarch would escape unscathed.

Half of humanity’s mightiest had already fallen and they were failing. After all of this, was it truly the fate of mankind to be destroyed by these monsters?
Lan Qing’s voice called to the other three. “Do not give up, even to the last moment. Give up everything and we will see what can be accomplished. His aura of protection is gone, and even if we only succeed in injuring him perhaps universe protogenia can do the rest.”

“Alright!” Lan Jue answered. His eyes, burning with resolve, never left Zhou Qianlin.

While Monarch couldn’t see through the chaotic flows of energy, to the sword bearers it was clear as water. It was carried by the swords, but was present at the creation of the universe. Lan Jue’s Five Lightnings were a derivative of this primordial power. This pure chaos was a profound and eternal aspect of reality. Of course Monarch would know nothing of it.

Lan Jue took a deep breath and from his Core a bright light emerged. An image of the Middle Heaven Great Emperor of the North Star of Purple Subtlety appeared behind. Hundreds of twinkling star-like lights appeared upon Lan Jue and set his body ablaze.

He offered himself as a sacrifice to the Banishing Blade, urging it to give them more power. Lan Qing, Zhou Qianlin and the Pharmacist did the same.
In response all four swords flared and burned like four suns. The Strategy began to arrange itself faster. Monarch, who had been carefully examining the power, felt it suddenly press heavily upon him. The load it placed on him took his breath away.

“Impossible!” It was the first thought to cross his mind. How could this insignificant creatures summon something so exceptional?

Golden light radiated from him as he fought to stave off the pressure. The chaos around him rippled but was otherwise unchanged.

Something like fear flashed in Monarch’s eyes. No, he couldn’t hold back any longer. If they were allowed to use even a fraction of this power against him it would threaten his life.

Chapter 896: The Definitive Moment

In the space of an instant everything changed, and Monarch discovered that this chaos was far more profound than he’d thought. Even if he were ten times stronger this power would remain incomprehensible to him. The only explanation was that this was part of the fabric of the universe, but how could it appear here?

Curiosity no longer superseded the fear that was creeping up within him. With his eyes dual points of golden light Monarch thrust his arms overhead to protect himself. He raced off to find an exit.

He aimed to rely on his immortal-level powers to break out of this encirclement. Once he broke free it would be far easier to clear away these pesky humans. Once they were dealt with he could carefully begin to examine the intricacies of this chaos. Perhaps he could use it as a weapon in his quest to overcome the universe.

He fixated on the idea as he charged, looking for a way to escape.

Much to his surprise, however, there was no border in site. He
could travel thousands of kilometers in a blink, but no matter how far or how fast he moved there seem to be no exit. He didn’t know where to go, or which way to focus his power. Despite his god-like strength his attacks struck nothing but empty space wherever he directed them. Through his perception this reality he found himself was as stable as it was infinite, and there appeared to be no breaks for him to exploit. He found himself trapped in a never-ending expanse, a hostile territory with no border he could assault.

What to do?

The gravity of his situation began to dawn on him. He continued to fly in a direction chosen at random, all the while lashing out with his power.


After two whole minutes the Violet Prince managed to extricate himself from Luo Xianni’s dimensional prison. He looked haggard and monstrous, and was missing his left arm.

It was the result of Luo Xianni’s final photograph. Though she did not kill him, she’d managed to injure him greatly.
Elsewhere the avatar and the six remaining Paragons were near to the end of their conflict.

The four who gave their lives had succeeded in wounding the beast terrible, especially the final push from the Gods of Wine. Their addition continued to drain the monster of its vitality while the living Paragons pressed the attack. By now its power was reduced to Nirvana levels, and it continued to sustain injuries.

The six remaining Paragons were not having it easy, however. From the very beginning they had attacked this monster with their strongest abilities, never letting up. Exhausted, they were battling against a beast with its back against a proverbial wall, fighting for its life. No one was without considerable injury, but the humans were gaining ground.

With the Violet Prince free from Luo Xianni’s constraints, things turned bad. He chose not to assault the remaining Paragons and instead charged right at the site of the Banishing Strategy. Without Luo Xianni’s help none of the intrepid soldiers could survive against this monster, the Prince would have already broken through their man-made barrier.

Now, although the Prince was gravely injured, Luo Xianni was
no longer there to dissuade him. He crashed into the defenders, killing dozens of soldiers with every wave of his hand as he searched for a way through.

Humans watching from home felt their hearts leap into their throats. They knew the definitive moment was near, when it would be determined if humanity would continue or be snuffed out. Prayers were said for the North, the East and the West. They were spoken for the soldiers and the battle, for the Banishing Strategy. They didn’t even know what the Banishing Strategy was, only that if it succeeded their species would be saved.

Boom! A huge number of mechas and drones went flying in all directions. When the Prince crashed into the front line he sent them soaring with a vicious punch.

The soldiers managed to ward him off for only a  few moments. However, with the area of the Banishing Strategy nearby the Prince stopped cold.

The Strategy was in its middle stages. Already the aura it produced sent a chill down his spine. He hesitated, but the consequences of inaction won out and he continued his charge.
The stakes could not be higher. If Monarch perished the humans could use this terrible power to destroy everything they labored to build. Their immortal realm could be wiped from existence and all their dreams destroyed. More importantly the Violet Prince was not himself a full immortal. He still needed Monarch’s help.

Interestingly, in Chinese this is ‘without lips the teeth suffer cold.’

He made the prompt decision that, no matter the cost, he had to help Monarch escape.

This Banishing Strategy was the creation of just four humans. The one the monster Prince chose to deal with first was not Ultus’ bearer, but Lan Jue. Of all these humans Lan Jue was the one he was most familiar with. There was no sense of kinship among the aliens, but the Prince and Princess had worked closely for years. She had been slain by his hand. It was also Lan Jue’s deception that helped them abscond with Ultus, right from under their nose. He was the reason they were in such a precarious position.

For these reasons the Prince hated Lan Jue, loathed this arrogant human meat sack. He had to die.
In a flash he appeared before Captus’ bearer. His face was savage and feral like a wild animal and he swiped at Lan Jue with his remaining limb.

Recognition of the danger flashed in the Jewelry  Master’s eyes, but he did nothing. The mechas raced toward them to help but they were too slow. They had the heart but not the ability. Although Lan Jue was in many ways Captus after their joining, in the midst of the Banishing Strategy he could not defend himself. All he could do was pour all of himself into his task and hope it was enough.

The light of his vitality blazed around him like an inferno. I was so intense it affected the Prince. But just as the beast’s attack was about to find its target it was not the fires that stopped him. A figure flashed into view, appearing from nowhere and standing between them.

A shield of rippling waves shattered beneath the Prince’s attack. His fist buried itself in the newcomer’s chest.

BOOM! The blue silhouette was flung away like detritus, smashing into Lan Jue’s body but blocked by Captus’ power.
“A-Li!” Lan Jue screamed.

His friend had leapt in to take the blow for him. Crippled and bleeding, he regarded Lan Jue with a forced grin.

“How about that, eh? Just in time.” He smirked at his brother in arms, even as the sound of shattered glass echoed from his chest. It was the sound of his Core breaking.

No one survived a deadly blow to their Core – not a human, not an immortal. A broken Core was a death sentence.

Lan Jue’s tears came again, bitter and profuse. Yet Hua Li regarded him calmly. Five more figures were  quickly converging on their location. They’d finally managed to defeat the avatar and had come to fend off the Prince. Injured from his conflict with Luo Xianni he was once again caught in a struggle he couldn’t free himself from.

Hua Li struggled to turn himself around, facing Lan Jue. “You’ve already sacrificed so much for us. Now you’re giving up your life!”
Anguish was clear in his voice. “Aren’t you doing the same? We would give it all so our people can continue. To the last drop of blood.”

“No,” Hua Li retorted. “I’m not like you. I cherish my life. I’m not giving myself up for all people, or my family. Poseidon Group can find some quiet corner to survive, and I could have gone with them. We would have made it work. But I didn’t… I stayed. My sacrifice isn’t for humanity. It's for you.”

Hua Li’s smile spread wide across his face, as though he were finally free from some unspoken burden.

“There’s a lot I never dared to tell you, A-Jue.”

Hua LI’s expression surprised him. Lan Jue’s voice was hoarse as he answered. “Don’t say it A-Li. I don’t want to hear it.”

But Hua Li shook his head. “No, I need to say it. This is the only opportunity I’ll get.”

“Hera… I killed her.”
Hua Li spoke the words softly. But to Lan Qing, to Lan Jue, to Zhou Qianlin it was like a blast of thunder. Qianlin swayed and threatened to topple over. It was inconceivable that her sister would have been slain by one of Lan Jue’s closest friends. Lan Qing and Lan Jue may have been family but his relationship with Hua Li was just as close.

They were lifelong friends. Brothers!

Chapter 897: Hua Li and Mo Xiao

For a moment the smile on Hua Li’s face appeared  more forced than genuine. He saw Lan Jue’s shock and it filled him with an indescribable regret.

“I’m the one who killed Hera. I didn’t know it would hurt you so badly. But, I had to.” His smile warped into a pained scowl and he clutched his chest. Were it not for the inherent vitality of his bloodline, the Prince’s attack would have destroyed him outright.

“Do you remember when you asked me why I don’t like Mo Xiao? You said she was a good woman. You’re right, she is. She’s always been good to me, but I don’t like her in that way. I told you I have someone that I love, someone I’ve always loved. Just Like Xiuxiu who always loved you but was never loved in return. We’re very similar this way. We just have… different tastes.”

Hua Li’s eyes were red from the emotion. “The one I love has almost superhuman talent, an open mind, and a good heart. They’re strong, and always willing to give help where and when it’s needed. From the moment we met I knew this was the person I was meant to love.”
“But life had other plans. They loved someone else and I knew I would never have a chance. I could only remain silent, give my blessings, and hope they were happy. But the pain never got better. I saw that wonderful face in my mind every day. I longed to be near whenever I could, as often as possible. But he was always with a woman. He never knew how I felt.”

“One day I couldn’t take it anymore. I convinced myself I had to kill her, that it was the only way I’d have a chance. Jealousy poisoned my heart and caused me to make a terrible mistake.”

Lan Jue couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He gaped at Hua Li, stunned beyond words. He’d never suspected… never expected to hear anything like this from his closest friend.

Hua Li looked deeply into his eyes, his expression oft and sorrowful. “I’m so sorry, A-Jue. I want to give my life to pay for the awful thing I did. I hope it can mean I don’t owe Hera. I knew our different orientation would mean we’d never be together but it never stopped my love. I didn’t want to leave without you knowing the truth. If there is a next life I hope I can come back as a woman, as beautiful as Hera or Qianlin, and I hope I meet you first.”

Lan Jue shut his eyes tightly and muttered through grit teeth.
“A-Li, I –“

‘No! That’s not true!” The cry came a navy blue mecha that came their way. A petite figure emerged and tightly wrapped her arms around Hua Li.

“It wasn’t him! He didn’t do it!” Mo Xiao, president of the Poseidon Group, sobbed as she held onto her husband.

Hua Li’s face changed, growing pale and fatigued. “What are you doing here? Go, quickly. You need to command Poseidon.”

Mo Xiao looked at him sadly. “I knew this would happen. I knew you were going to make this choice, that’s why I didn’t want you to go. You’ve always felt like his life is more important than yours. But you don’t realize I feel the same about you!”

She snapped her head around and looked at Lan Jue. Her lips trembled.

“It wasn’t him. Hua Li didn’t kill Hera. He loved you so much, how could he hurt you in any way? It didn’t matter how sad he was he never wanted anything bad to happen to you. I knew
how he felt about you but I liked him ever since I was young. That like grew into love, and nothing was going to change it. I… I’m the one who killed Hera!”

As she went on her voice became more and more hysterical. “Hua Li was never going to give me his heart, but I couldn’t stand to see him so sad all the time. I had to help him, and so long as Hera was alive Hua Li would never have his chance. So I killed her, for him. I came up with the plan, arranged everything, and in the end I succeeded. In doing so I destroyed you, too.”

“Hua Li never dared to tell you everything and you continued to sink into depression. I killed Hera, not A-Li. A-Li never once did anything to hurt you. Once he found out what I did he alienated me but, A-Li, everything I did was for you. I just wanted you to be happy and I was willing to do anything to make it happen. I never expected you to love me, but to be the mother of your child would be enough. Yet you wouldn’t even give me the opportunity to be with you, to see you every day. Why?! Why would you chose to give your life for this man who never knew your heart? You idiot!”

Hua Li stroked her long dark hair. “Aren’t you just as foolish? To say I wasn’t involved in Hera’s death simply isn’t true. If it weren’t for who I am and who I loved, Hera would still be alive.
I never told A-Jue, even after I figured out it was you. I didn’t do anything to try and make it right. In the deepest parts of my heart I know I’m just as responsible for what you did to Hera. I had to try and pay her back. Mo Xiao, go back. All of this will be solved when I am gone. We have a child, and you have to take care of him. Flee now, while Monarch is still captured.”

Mo Xiao smiled. “You’re finally concerned for my well-being. That makes me happy. But do you really think that if you die I will continue living?”

“No!” Hua Li struggled, knowing what was to come, but with his Core shattered there was nothing he could do.

Mo Xiao deftly slipped a dagger into her own heart. With a soft grunt she looked up at him, a smile on her face and tears in her eyes. She hugged him tight.

“In the end, I’m happy to die in your arms… A-Li…”

Hua Li’s lips moved but no sound came out. He lifted his head and looked at Lan Jue, his face forlorn and unaccepting. Motes of blue light began to rise from Hua Li and Mo Xiao’s body. Eventually they both disappeared into an enormous bubble and
floated away into space.

Lan Jue was stupefied by all that had happened. His mother and father were gone, now Hua Li had perished. But not before revealing that terrible secret.

However, even before the battle Lan Jue knew who had a hand in Hera’s death. He’d been struggling with it since he found out, but told no one.

The storage device Xiuxiu had left him had contained a lot of information. The worst of it detailed Xiuxiu’s collaboration with Mo Xiao. They’d conspired to earn Hera’s faith, and orchestrated her murder. It was why Xiuxiu’s last words were an apology. Lan Jue never suspected the people closest to him were responsible for one of the most terrible periods in his life.

Xiuxiu’s reasons her simple; love. When her suffering and Mo Xiao’s met, the two women came up with their plan. However Xiuxiu’s revelations did not reveal Hua Li’s special affections. Now it all made sense, why Mo Xiao would do what she did.

After Hera’s death Lan Jue was consumed by anger. He swore to hunt down the monster that killed her and tear them apart.
But now, how could he let that anger go? There was no target for this deep-seated loathing.

Xiuxiu was dead. Hua Li, Mo Xiao – dead. Xiuxiu and Hua Li gave their lives to protect him. What was he to do with this resentment? When he looked at Qianlin he found no enmity or anger in her face. Instead he saw concern.

It was done. The past was the past, and it had to remain there. The only way left was forward and nothing else was important.

Lan Jue focused anew on the task at hand. Determination hardened his face and the light around him burned brighter than ever. He became a pillar of crimson light, the same as Captus. In choosing to give his life for humanity all past grudges were given up. Right now there was one thing which demanded all of him, and that was completing the Strategy so that Monarch might be destroyed and peace could return to the worlds of man.

Within the flood of energy the Strategy required, all distractions melted from Lan Jue’s mind. However a bone-deep weariness sunk into his soul, like he was being consumed from within. He could feel that his body might give in at any moment and be destroyed, but this was to be his fate. When he died all of
him – body and soul – would be sacrifice on the altar of the Strategy so that it would succeed. It had to, so that Monarch could be defeated.

Mankind’s Paragons had lost another, and without Hua Li the fight was that much more perilous. Luckily Luo Xianni had injured the Prince gravely and in doing so made managing his attacks easier. Even so the remaining Paragons were being beaten back. It would only be a matter of time before more lives were taken.

Chapter 898: Too Little Too Late?

The Violet Prince watched all that transpired while he fought at the edge of the Strategy. Unbeknownst to the humans he was weakening. Luo Xianni’s powers had not only deprived him of his arm, but had also created fissured within him that were blocking his channels and tearing up his body.

This was certainly to the humans’ benefit, for if he’d not been so gravely injured how could they contend against an Infinite- level creature such as he? How could someone like Hua Li have completely blocked his attack?

He waited for Monarch to break free of containment, just as fervently as the humans were waiting for the Banishing Strategy to be complete. He wanted to see his master retake control of this situation and bring these lesser creatures to their knees.

This had been a battle of tragedies. More than ten Paragons were reduced now to single digits. This was before considering the very real possibility that Lan Jue and the other three sword bearers would be required to give their lives. If they did, only five Paragons would make it home.
Had they reached their limit? Lan Jue could feel that his body was near to bursting. It felt like his spirit was cracking, like crystal under too much pressure. Similar and equally uncomfortable sensations consumed Lan Qing, Qianlin and the Pharmacist as well. Worse, in fact, as they had reached their limit long before!

Li Ke appeared behind the Pharmacist. He did nothing – he could do nothing. He watched his wife with a tender gaze as she struggled mightily, and she looked back. She continued to fight, to struggle against the demands of the sword. Even without speaking she could see what was in her husband’s heart.

Keep fighting – for Jun’er!

Yes, for their child, their beautiful daughter, for all the mothers and daughters on every human world. They had to hold on until the last possible moment and keep this monster from destroying everything.

But Occisus demanded more. Its hunger for energy was fearsome and insatiable. Every moment sucked what little energy remained, pushing them to the edge of ruin. Powerful as the will of humanity was, it did not translate into energy. She wanted victory desperately, more than anything, but if she did
not have what was required she would be destroyed all the same.

None of them expected to survive. They just wanted to hold on, long enough that their sacrifice could galvanize the Banishing Strategy.

All the pilots in mechas and drones, all the soldiers in distant warships bore witness to the battle. Prayers and desperate hope filled every heart.

Qianlin struggled as well, in some ways worse. Though her cultivation was not inferior to Lan Jue’s her Domain was not intended to be used in combat. Her inheritance wasn’t some almighty ancient god. In that way she was the weakest of the four, her spirit never having been tempered. She was the first one in danger of giving in.

A-Jue, I can’t hold on. She whispered the sad and desperate thought in her heart.

Lan Jue sensed it: Go, Qianlin. Wait for me on the other side. I’ll be there soon. It doesn’t matter where, we will always be together.
A small smile played on Qianlin’s face. Yes! So long as he was with her, not even death was something to be frightened of.

Tendrils of white light arose around her like threads of silk. They were cracks, coalescing together around her dharmic image as it began to break apart. She was one with her image, and once it was destroyed she would die as well, forever gone from this world.

Qian was ready, she’d prepared for this. She quieted her mind, and even Xuanyuan Shishi was silent. They put all their focus into the sword and Strategy. They were committed to dedicating all of themselves, no matter the result.

Suddenly, Qianlin felt a warmth flow from her limbs toward her center. It started gently at first, but became more intense as she neared her final moments. For some reason it reversed the pain she felt, going so far as to ease the pain in her soul.

She opened her eyes and looked toward Lan Jue. It was then that she saw all around her were dots of brilliant white light. They sank into her body. Demortus’ demands were lofty beyond what she could offer and though these motes of light were weak individually, there were too many to count. They were filled with the unique power of faith, and it served to slow her

This… this was…

The power of prayer. Qianlin understood immediately. The prayers of humans everywhere were sustaining her. And yet she was not filled with joy. Instead her eyes betrayed panic.

Perhaps this power would save her, maybe even survive. But what of Lan Jue? The people did not have the same faith in him. If he were to perish what would she do?

Her eyes desperately searched for Lan Jue’s form. When she did, to her surprise Lan Jue was also surrounded by small specks of light. They were pale blue, and through her perception she could sense that they were empowering him as she was being empowered.


She was at a loss? What was it? Could it be…
Yes. It, too, was faith. The faith of all the people!

When they saw Lan Jue and the others fighting, saw the Bloodiron Khans defending them, and heard the impassioned pleas of that Eastern announcer they were moved. People all throughout the galaxies began to pray. They prayed for  the sword bearers and for all of mankind.

All of that faith united around them.

Lan Jue, Lan Qing, the Pharmacist, Zhou Qianlin. All the soldiers, the Paragons, the mechas and drones. They weren’t alone – they fought together on behalf of their species. They represented the determination of their people in seeing tomorrow. They were the instrument of every human’s desire to fight!

They had the strength and faith of everyone at their back.

The first wave of faith had come from Angel. Those hundreds of thousands saw their conviction manifest first. They wanted to see their representatives succeed from the bottom of their heart. They prayed loudly and earnestly for the Banishing Strategy to emerge.
This was the first time since the Banishing Blades appeared in the world of man that everyone wished to see its Strategy conquer the enemy. It seemed almost natural that it began to absorb the power of this faith, and not just around Qianlin but with all four of them.

Heavenly weapons were possessed of their own intelligence, and the Banishing Blades were the greatest heavenly weapons ever created. Of course it yearned to absorb the pure power of faith. More than any other energy, the faith of the masses could help to establish the Banishing Strategy – and maybe beyond.

Seeing their bearers earn the respect of all mankind, the swords were pleased. The esteem of these arrogant weapons soared. With these blessings the Strategy stabilized and began to grow again. It was nearing completion.

When he saw the light appear around them, the Violet Prince sensed things were spinning out of their control. At first it was insignificant but with time grew exponentially, feeding the swords and the chaos that they wielded. The first indicating Lan Jue and the others were consuming their own life force had been extinguished.

More frightening was the revelation that these four humans
were getting stronger. All of a sudden their level of cultivation had surged to several times their original power. In a matter of seconds they were nearly ready to push through to the Infinite.

Each of them were surrounded by a halo of polychromatic light. It wasn’t coming from them, but from the Strategy itself. The flows of chaos also saw this mottled hue emerge within it, giving it a strangely beautiful appearance. Monarch, who was captured within it, was speechless and did not even attempt to escape.

How could this not cause the Violet Prince to be afraid? If Monarch perished he would be the last of his people. Caught amidst all of these humans he certainly would be unable to escape.

The Violet Prince made a prompt decision and acted on it without delay. A fiery purple light blazed from his chest and all of a sudden he was as strong as he ever had been. He knocked the Driver before him away with a single punch.

Even with the protection of Primordial Lightning the Driver’s bones cracked from the blow. He spat a mouthful of blood from the severe injury.
The Prince didn’t slow. In a flash he appeared once more before Lan Jue and threw a punch at the hateful human’s head.

No one expected the Prince to regain his power so suddenly. Among the five remaining Paragons the strongest were only Reflections of Heaven and Earth, hardly a match to a creature who commanded the powers of the Infinite. No one could match him for speed either, and by the time they reacted the alien’s attack was already reaching its target.


The Wine Master despaired – all their effort, too little too late!

However, just as the Prince’s fist reached Lan Jue the halo around him flared. He didn’t move and his body became instantly translucent. Thrown off balance by his zealous assault the Violet Prince toppled through Lan Jue and into the chaotic flows of the Banishing Strategy.

It all happened so suddenly everyone stopped.

The Clockmaker was first to snap out of it. Loudly she cried.
“Everyone, pray for them! Pray the Banishing Strategy will work. Our unity is our strength, that is how we win the day.”

Chapter 899: Turning the Tables

She saw that what was coalescing around Lan Jue and the others was the power of faith. Pure and strong, it was easy to absorb and best to strengthen their efforts.

Of course it was only a temporary boost. Once that faith was gone the power would vanish. Their cultivation would return to the levels they were previously.

The Pontiff’s Citadel relied on this faith to boost their abilities. Part of the Pontiff’s failure to grow stronger had laid in the limits of the faithful who followed him. His influence extended only throughout the West, while the faith of Northerners and Easterners was separate and unique.

Lan Jue and his fellow sword bearers, however, were bestowed the faith of all of humanity!

It went without saying that this was a tremendous boon. Through the live stream, and the heroism of the Bloodiron Khans and Star Division, people worlds away were inspired by their acts. How could they not have faith in their champions?
Only the purest, most sincere faith could manifest in this way. It was not constrained by either time or space and appeared instantly where it was needed.

The Queen of Heaven Guanyin, Qianlin, was the main focus of that faith. Westerners especially placed their belief in her after what she did for their people. But beyond her they said their prayers for the Banishing Strategy itself and the courageous Paragons who were willing to sacrifice everything.

With their own eyes spectators watched as Paragons were felled one after the other, mostly in giving their own lives so that others can continue the fight or to weaken the enemy.

There was a universe of difference between a normal person and a Paragon. To the common man Paragons were living legends, hardly believable except for the fact that they were often in the public eye.

All of that power still was not enough for many of them, who were slain or gave their lives against an enemy that still threatened their species. This fact put a stark point on the fact that this enemy was powerful beyond belief.
They had to be united. Unity is strength!

This was the key the Clockmaker pointed out. All the soldiers of the armada bowed their heads in prayer, hoping against hope for the Banishing Strategy to overcome their foes. Those  in other worlds who had yet to lend their faith did so at the Clockmaker’s demand.

Influenced by this universal favor, Lan Jue and the others continued to grow stronger. They no longer worried about failing to sustain the Strategy, even as its bottomless hunger continued to feed unabated.

Within the Strategy itself the multicolored light became more intense. An archaic and mysterious diagram was beginning to appear between the sword bearers.

Li Ke, who stood beside the Pharmacist, was shocked to discover that some of the people’s faith was directed toward him. His first instinct was to flee, but the gravitational power of the Pharmacist’s halo held him fast. He could feel the energy of prayer seep into him, nourishing his soul. It was comfortable beyond words, a sensation he hadn’t felt since being captured by the monsters.
The Pharmacist’s face went from strained to peaceful. She could see her late husband’s spectral body becoming more corporeal before her very eyes. He looked almost whole.

The people were not stingy with their prayers. Seeing this spirit beside the Harbinger Faerie, helping her, they assumed he was as important to the Strategy as she was. They had prayers enough for him as well, and thus did he benefit from this disaster.

The first to break through was, of course, Lan Jue. There were no dramatic signs to mark it, all of a sudden he just felt like a veil had been lifted from his eyes. Suddenly there was more to everything.

The universe became a rich and complicated tapestry. Everything he saw and felt was completely different than it had been before. His consciousness felt boundless and untethered.

The Infinite! Was this what it felt like to truly be one with everything?

In contrast to the dangerous instability of his breakthrough to Nirvana, now he felt only comfort. With this breakthrough all
the damage he’d done in burning away his vitality was reversed. His spirit was restored, and even his Core underwent a qualitative shift. Instead of a solid, crystal-like center it became gas-like, suspended as a cloud of energy in his chest. Its power flickered to life amidst the many-hued halo that enveloped him.

Stranger still, Lan Jue could sense something in the depths of space calling out to him. Whatever it was, it felt as though it were gathering around him.

They were fragments of memories. Somehow he knew that they were pieces of the old masters left behind. Shards of what had been the Middle Heaven Great Emperor of the North Star of Purple Subtlety.

A stream of purple light extricated itself from him – the image of the Great Emperor. However the depth and wisdom in his eyes was more profound than it ever had been. He was towering, stately, and radiated an aura of godliness.

This was the true Emperor of the North Star! A piece only, yet still possessed of the great power the immortal once commanded. Lan Jue could see that as the mighty spirit gazed upon the Strategy there remained a lingering fear of the destruction it manufactured.
In the time of his reign the Emperor was slightly more than half again as powerful as Celestial Masters Yuan Shi and Taishang. If the Emperor in his fully glory was present, the Strategy may not have been enough to destroy him outright but would certainly have been a threat.

The next one to break through was Zhou Qianlin.

In the moment of her breakthrough a heavenly chorus rang out through space. As the soothing tones reverberated, ripples of white light radiated out around her. It continued to spread until it enfolded Lan Jue, Lan Qing and the Pharmacist as well. Thus connected the four bearers felt more intimately joined. Each of them absorbed faith different up to this point, Qianlin enjoying the most benefit. However, with her breakthrough it was now evenly distributed among all of them.

A tiara of water drops glittered like crystal against her forehead. Her dharma also appeared, but like Lan Jue’s was different than before. Her head was covered by a white gossamer veil, and a lotus flower bloomed beneath her feet. In her right hand she held a willow branch, and in the other a jar of pure water. Though just a shadow of the beloved Goddess of Mercy, her appearance was stunning.
Guanyin, one of the most beloved of the Buddha. It was nothing short of amazing that Qianlin’s dharma would be revealed as this ancient goddess upon breaking through to the Infinite. Her Paragon title was more apt than ever.

Lan Qing and the Pharmacist broke through at nearly the same moment.

Vairochana’s image appeared from Lan Qing in all its glory and split, replete with an aura of benevolence. Three mighty Buddhas of the past, present and future shone with divine light. Lan Qing opened his eyes, and from them emerged an ethereal golden mist to match the aura that encased him. He was surrounded by the soothing hum of chanting.

The Pharmacist’s change was more sensational. Her dharma had always been herself, but that appeared to have changed. In breaking through her abilities assimilated some inexplicable power, and instead of a dharma she was surrounded a burning garnet hue. The contrast was striking when set beside Lan Qing’s luminous aura.

Within the borders of that red light was a terrifying scene. Mountains of corpses and seas of blood stretched far and wide. Ghouls and spirits wandered the hellscape howling in rage.
Other figured, visible only barely, wandered aimlessly throughout.

“So long as hell hath sinners, I will not ascend!” Ten words boomed into existence like a voice from the depths. The frightening vision of hell subsided and was replaced by the stern visage of the Pharmacist’s dharma. Its hands were pressed together before its chest, and the being was clad in the simple garb of a monk. Her dharma was revealed as Yama, King of the Underworld!

One after the other their breakthroughs were complete. It took only a matter of moments.

The four sword bearers revealed their legendary lineages, manifest by the power of faith; Middle Heaven Great Emperor of the North Star of Purple Subtlety; Vairochana; Guanyin; King Yama. Each one a figure from the highest echelons of the ancient pantheon.

Among them Vairochana held the highest status, though the others were considered lesser by small degrees only. As the fragments of these all-powerful beings stood in attendance, the vast powers of the universe gathered to their  side.  The Banishing Strategy grew ever more powerful.
Lan Jue and the others had arisen to the vaulted heights of the Infinite, and yet they were not assailed by the threat of universal protogenia. However this was not due to the protective aura from Zhou Qianlin. It simply wasn’t present, as though it ignored them entirely.

The polychromatic light of the Banishing Strategy was an energy that was born at the creation of the universe. Even the immortal qi surrounding Monarch dissolved under its all- pervading dominance. This was similarly true of universal protogenia, a derivative of this energy. So long as they remained within the embrace of the Strategy, the Lan Jue and the others did not need to fear destruction at the universe’ hands.

A real blessing in disguise! None of them expected this Strategy that they were ready to give their life for would protect them in this way. Slowly the Strategy was nearing completion, their plans finally coming to fruition.

They’d expected to only accomplish the minimum of what the Banishing Strategy could do, and use that to kill Monarch. Now, with the power of faith, it was growing stronger than they thought they could manage. Whether or not they would succeed was no longer the question, it was to what extent. This was, after all, the greatest weapon under heaven!
Upno sensing this critical change, Lan Jue delivered a message to the Wine Master. “Tell everyone to fall back to Angel. We’re fine from here on out. The Banishing Strategy will be complete any moment, and Monarch will be slain.”

When he heard this the Wine Master breathed a sigh of relief. It was finally going to end. However, in his eyes there was also sorrow. They had lost so many.

Satan, the Pontiff, the Terminator, the Keeper, the Bookworm, the Pauper. Jue Di, the Photographer, Poseidon, the Gods of Wine. They had all perished to see this war won.

Chapter 900: The Complete Banishing Strategy!

Only nine Paragons remained. They were all that was left of humanity’s greatest Adepts.

The Wine Master quickly relayed Lan Jue’s command. He also told Kang Hui aboard Tyrannosaurus, which thankfully could still fly. As commander of the armada it was his responsibility to give the order to fall back.

“Pass on my directive. Everyone is to fall back to Angel. Bastions take up the rear. Leave a couple reconnaissance vehicles behind.”

No more need be said. Everyone could see the dancing lights within the Strategy. Compared to when they first started the energy surging from it was inconceivable. Even laymen could tell that they were on the cusp of completion. Victory was eminent.

The five remaining Paragons stayed behind to bear witness while Kang Hui and his soldiers began to retreat.
Even though the soldiers were falling back, there was no decrease in the faith afforded to the four sword bearers and their Strategy. Though, it wasn’t just their Strategy anymore. Everyone, all throughout the galaxies, had a hand in its completion.

Monarch would never have believed that he would be caught by the wiles of man, but such was the case. He struggled and railed against his prison, sure that he could escape if only he found the right place to attack. Before his attacks felt blocked, like they were caught in a mire of that chaotic energy. Now that sense was gone. All of it was gone.

The confusion was gone and reality came back into focus, free from the flows of chaos. This lauded Strategy had its limits, he was glad to discover. Monarch was pleased that his golden immortal abilities were able to defeat their ploy. He grinned arrogantly to himself.

He glared at his surroundings as they once more became clear, and reached out with his perception. To his North was Ultus; to his South, Occisus; on his West arose Captus; at his East was Demortus. Before him arose a gate, and from it issued a murderous aura and an evil wind.
This is…

Something flashed behind his eyes. He wasted no time, moving quickly toward Ultus. It was the sword he was most familiar with, the one he’d left his mark upon. It would likely be the easiest one to conquer.

However as he moved forward to take the sword a portal appear. He slipped through, and was transported back to where he started. He hadn’t gained any ground toward Ultus.

The Banishing Strategy’s suffocating pressure had dissipated once his surroundings became clear again. It led him to believe the danger was passed. But he was wise, and understanding was clear in his face. Instead of moving forward to seize the weapons himself, instead he lashed out with a punch in each direction.

Faced with Monarch’s all-mighty powers the swords simply flickered. Monarch’s explosions of energies vanished without foundation. He was the most powerful being in a millennia, so he sensed the flows at they reacted to one another. He felt it as the manifestation of his power was shattered and swallowed up like it was nothing.
His manufactured human heart sank. Without question, he no longer possessed the power to threaten the trap he’d been caught in. It was in this moment a flash of purple caught his eye. It caught him off guard and he nearly fainted away, but turned fast enough to catch who it was. The Violet Prince was at his side.

The Prince was ablaze in violet light. Monarch recognized that he was consuming the essence of his Core to empower his abilities.

“Monarch!” The Prince greeted weakly.

The immortal regarded his progeny with an ominous glare. “Why are you here? Did I not order you to destroy the Strategy?”

“The humans staunchly resisted,” the Prince explained. “Moments before I could break free and attack the sword bearers, the Strategy changed. I was caught.”

Gazing upon the lesser alien’s beaten and crippled body, he knew it to be true. It meant that the humans had obtained some unknown power to aid them. Whatever it was, it had been
enough to help them complete the Strategy.

Even now Monarch found it difficult to believe that his strength was incapable of breaking them free. The humans were no greater than Nirvana-level, how could they possibly contend against him?

It was well known that the gulf between an Adept of Nirvana and a denizen of the Infinite was vast. The difference between the Infinite and Immortality was larger still. The potential of an Immortal was vast as the heavens themselves.

At his level of cultivation it would require another ten thousand years before he arose to the next degree of domination. If crossing the threshold from one Paragon rank to another was a herculean task, rising in status as an immortal took eons.

Monarch’s face darkened. Finally he realized that perhaps he’d overestimated himself. At the final moment, when he thought victory was his, human beings proved their strength.

There was nothing in the genetic material he stole from mankind that told him what this trap was. How could it? There
were so few humans who knew of the existence of the Banishing Strategy.

“Monarch, what should we do?” The Prince asked.

Monarch fixed him with a serious gaze. “The only thing we can do is try to break free. Perhaps we can overwhelm their ability to hold us here. I don’t believe these humans can maintain this trap for long. The amount of energy required to hold me here must be immense, and the moment they begin to falter that will be our chance. It’s a test of endurance, how can they challenge me in such a trial? This trap they’ve lain has only kept me stationary – it does not cause any harm.”

The moment these words left his lips, the four Banishing Blades glowed brighter. As more portals appeared all around them reality became less distinct. The areas around them started to change.

All of a sudden the swords seemed leagues away.

A deep and booming voice thundered through the interior of the Strategy. “In all of history you are the first to assume this trap lacks bite. Monarch, you must know what it is you face.
Regardless, I shall tell you: it is called the Banishing Strategy. In the days of immortals it was called the greatest weapon under heaven. Is it not your goal to attain the highest state of immortality? I may as well tell you, even if you succeeded this very moment the Strategy would reduce you to dust. Were this not so, would its title be so audacious? What you face terrified the gods of old. You – will – die.”

The voice was Lan Jue’s. It was cold and callous, full of dark promise.

Monarch responded with a dismissive sniff. “Very well! I’m eager to see what your so-called super weapon is capable of!”

“Monarch. Are… are you sure we’ll be fine?” The Prince at his side sounded less than convinced.

Scorn dripped from Monarch’s voice. “This is nothing more than a trick to shake our confidence. Greatest weapon under heaven… they have no means to kill me-“

His haughty affirmation were cut short when suddenly reality began to tremble. In the distance eight glimmering portals revealed themselves. Shimmering around them the rainbow of
color started to fluctuate. Monarch shook and the Prince quailed. The lights went out.

When the Prince looked at his master he was surprised to see shock on Monarch’s face. Before his eyes miniscule cracks appeared upon the immortal’s body, spurting golden light. They started on his head, but quickly spread until they criss-crossed every inch of him.

With a loud clap, Monarch’s body broke apart.

A beam of golden light escaped from where its head had been. It tried wildly to flee in any direction it could. However the flows of sword-energy that had vanished suddenly reemerged from the darkness. The moment the golden light crashed into these lights it froze, and revealed its true nature.

It was Monarch, though a miniature copy. The tiny golden homunculus was nimble, but was now frozen with an expression of disbelief writ plain on his face.

“No! Don’t kill me. I’ll surrender the immortal realm. I can teach you how to make one of your own. I can –“ Before he could finish Lan Jue’s voice rumbled from within the tempest.
“Your pleas are useless. Did you think we would allow you to live, after what you did to our people? With every murder you only thought about consuming more – you never spared a thought for those not of your ilk. Goodbye, Monarch.  You should be proud to die by the might of the Banishing Strategy.”

As the last syllable hung in the air, an unending torrent of cutting light descended upon him. Monarch’s immortal spirit was cut to ribbons and drifted away to nothing in the emptiness of space.

The Violet Prince witnessed the whole scene. His face had gone ghastly pale.

Monarch – the ascendant, he who consumed the power of both Queen and Consort, the master of their immortal realm – was dead!

How was this possible? How could they have killed a god?

He stood still, frozen in place, shaking ever so slightly. No thought of confrontation entered his mind, for in the face of that terrifying storm he felt insignificant.
When it swept through the Violet Prince was rent asunder until nothing remained. He was beneath even a final word from Lan Jue.
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