Defiance of the Fall-Chapter 1148 - Lightning and Law
The source of this c𝐨ntent is 𝐟𝗿𝗲𝗲𝘄𝗲𝐛𝐧𝐨𝘃𝗲𝗹.𝗰𝐨𝐦
"You ready?" Emily's voice echoed from the control room.
Zac sent a mental tendril into the metallic throne beneath him to double-check. The temporary binding was solid, and there were no signs of it having been drowned in Tribulation Lightning just minutes ago. Everything was ready.
"Do it."novelbuddy.c om
A familiar hum shook the hall as the protective gates slid shut. It was a completely different experience being in the center of it. The first spike lit up, and Zac closed his eyes.
Rampant lightning coursed through his body, not sparing a single inch. It was painful, but Zac felt he was looking at the events as a bystander. A cleansing wave at this level couldn't breach his Void State. Zac was more interested in observing the white Tribulation Lightning to understand how the Limitless Empire replicated Heavenly Lightning's unique benefits.
The first impurities were already being uprooted from their entrenched positions and whittled down. Certainly, the method turned his body into a battlefield, where 800 were sacrificed to kill one thousand. Any Cultivator would take that deal. Injuries were temporary, but impurities could follow you throughout your life.
Zac believed every lightning cultivator had, at least once, tried to accomplish what was now happening inside his body. They'd all come to the same conclusion—it was impossible. Yet the Tribulation Throne proved you could actually emulate the effect, though how it worked differed from the real thing.
The benefits the lucky few reaped during breakthroughs could be considered an unintended side-effect of encountering a cosmic phenomenon of the highest order. Cultivation was to steal providence from the Heavens. Tribulations were the opposite and equal reaction to the Laws of Balance and Impermanence being encroached.
Those, like Zac, who had the strength to benefit from the tribulation, were essentially taking the opportunity to steal a bit more while they had the chance. Doing so was to tempt fate, but the Heavens weren't a true consciousness. It wouldn't notice when some piddling D-grade cultivator stole a bit more.
In the grand scheme of things, no laws were truly broken since the Cosmos would get even sooner or later. Most were forced to spit out what they'd stolen right away, while a few managed to hold onto it for a little longer. And if the running deficit became too big, the cosmos would forcibly clean the slate by ending the Era to reclaim all that had been stolen.
This cosmic phenomenon was impossible to emulate unless you grasped the Heavenly Dao and the Four Laws. The Tribulation Throne obviously took the laws into consideration, judging by the arrangement above, but it used them for a different approach. As they'd already seen, the main ingredients were the combination of the Earthly Peak and Faith Energy. Faith focused the lightning and imbued it with purpose. It acted like an antibody, directing the lightning's anger on the dregs hidden throughout all cultivators' bodies.
The throne was equally important. Even Zac would have been electrocuted if he'd taken on the onslaught without first forming a temporary contract. The Earthly Peak lived up to its reputation by adding a second nature to the Dao of Lightning. A seed of hope had been implanted in the heart of destruction. The idea was ingenious, but Zac felt there were more interlocking parts required to make the opportunity possible.
Zac's vision pierced the sea of lightning to take in the twenty-three spikes looming above. His instincts told him that comprehending the arrangement would deepen his understanding of the universe. How grand was the Limitless Empire once upon a time, to distill the world's essence into a random body-tempering chamber on a C-grade fortress?
It filled him with awe and then sorrow. The Tribulation Throne was an astounding feat, but so what? The Limitless Empire still fell, and their great accomplishments had become the toys of those who rifled through their ashes. Zac pushed the matter aside, focusing on making the most of his sole attempt.
The benefits from [Void Heart]'s refined lightning were undoubtedly much greater than what he currently enjoyed. Of course, he'd only started. One spike after another activated, and a frown appeared on Zac's face by the time the fifth added its punishment to the tally. Not because the pain was becoming hard to deal with—Zac was still just fine—but because his experience didn't line up with his disciple's.
Emily mentioned she was at the threshold of improving her core when giving up, but Zac couldn't feel a thing. The lightning was still busy accumulating through his body. It hadn't even touched his Cosmic Core or Soul Aperture yet. Zac didn't worry too much. It could be a good thing, proving his constitution was extraordinary.
A grunt of pain escaped Zac's lips upon reaching the eighth stage. His Void State could no longer block out the tearing pain of being submerged in a sea of lightning. However, good came with the bad as the torment came with the change he'd been waiting for. The accumulation of energy inside his body had reached the point where the Tribulation Lighting was forced into his Quantum Spaces whether they liked it or not.
The value of removing impurities from his Cosmic Core was self-evident, yet Zac looked forward to purifying his Soul Cores just as much. Moss Crystals and Natural Treasures had left his soul with a great amount of impurities. He had no choice; Soul Cultivation was simply too slow unless you had a special constitution like Vilari.
The only way he'd have a sliver of hope of keeping his soul up with the rest of his cultivation was to rely on treasures. This plan depended on regular baptisms from tribulations to keep going, but Zac had already realized his plan wouldn't work much longer. The impurities accumulated faster than he could break through grades, despite [Purity of the Void]'s best efforts to remove them before they fused with his body. He'd have to slow down his Soul Cultivation sooner rather than later.
But could he do so?
Maintaining balance aside, Zac was becoming increasingly aware of the looming threat lurking in his Soul Aperture. The four sets of remnants were growing stronger every day as they recovered from his ascent into Hegemony. The cage keeping them captive might as well have been made from sticks and strings.
Getting the fifth set and surviving the Atavism was supposed to stabilize the situation, but he wasn't ready. The Tribulation Throne was an opportunity to rekindle his momentum and continue his dash toward the Fourth Reincarnation. So long as he reached that point, Zac was confident in suppressing the remnants even if they broke out early.
He was still a long way off, but he wasn't lacking opportunities to make rapid progress. The Merit Exchange had items far better than the Moss Crystals, and who knew what kind of amazing treasures the upcoming inheritance held? Readying his Soul Cores for another leap in strength was the first step, but the white arcs of lightning weren't playing ball.
Zac could barely believe his eyes when they made a U-turn instead of targeting his soul. However, they didn't rejoin the sea of lightning inside his human body. Instead, the Tribulation Lighting poured into his Draugr body on the other side of the sector.
Confusion was soon replaced by elation. His Undead side hadn't eaten as many pills and treasures because of the Abyssal Pond, but he still had accumulated a significant number of impurities during the war. Getting a cleansing round for his other half was a welcome bonus, and the Tribulation Lightning should have no choice but to target his cores when both sides reached capacity.
The first arc was followed by hundreds, forming a pool in Zac's chest. Why wasn't it moving? Zac could tell something was wrong. The ancient Faith Energy became agitated, accumulating power while sending intangible ripples. Was it because it had sensed the body of an undead cultivator, or was it because it had lost the connection to its source?
Zac didn't get the chance to come up with answers or solutions. The growing thunder ball shot out a thick, radiant arc, like a viper striking its prey. At first, it looked like it would hit his Cosmic Core, but the streak passed it by and actually left his body. A painful jolt pushed him to his feet, and an immense pressure threw him off the perched spot he'd occupied for the last hour.
He only managed to resist the sudden pressure halfway down by releasing a storm of lightning-infused Miasma. He floated silently in the air, his abyssal orbs observing the twenty-three waves carved into the monolith and the changes they were going through. Each layer was made from a different type of rock, making the huge statue resemble a rainbow. The first time Zac saw it, he'd judged it a decorative structure bereft of spirituality.
He should have known better. What kind of decoration had the strength to resist the disintegration pulses of the Left Imperial Palace?
Nine waves at the statue's bottom were lighting up one after another, and the Ensolus Ruins were coming alive. Zac's eyes were wide with shock as he looked around as the winds of fate gathered over the long-abandoned city. At the same time, he knew he couldn't get distracted. Ninety seconds were almost up, which meant the tribulation was about to jump a notch in power.
Zac was wrought with hesitation but gritted his teeth and forced his way back to his spot atop the enormous block, inwardly thankful the Ensolus Ruins had already been emptied. Hopefully, the Tribulation Throne wouldn't mess with his other plans.
It hadn't taken more than a minute to figure out the fortress was the perfect place to deal with his bloodline. However, that realization came with some unanswered questions. Exactly how would his breakthrough work now that he had two bodies? Would each side form a set of treasure-eating vortices? His control over his bloodline had improved since practicing Heart Cultivation, but it wasn't perfect.
The Endemire Sage's War Fortress undoubtedly had enough treasures stockpiled to fuel the process, but Zac wasn't tired of his life just yet. At the same time, few environments had the energy and materials his bloodline required. If anything, that was why he'd been stuck with an E-grade Bloodline half a year into the war. Zac's best backup option was these ruins, which still held thousands of sealed buildings.
He didn't feel the pull of treasures like he did back in the War Fortress, but there should be enough to supplement while the tower became the main source. If nothing else, many of the ancient structures were made with high-quality materials, which might be acceptable as fodder.
Any errant thoughts were thrown out the window when nine became ten and white turned pale blue. As he'd expected, the activation of the second circle transformed the lightning. The first nine could be considered separate building blocks stacked on each other. The addition of the blue lightning arranged them into a singular whole before flooding it with more power and deeper truths.
Zac shuddered atop the throne as the lightning across his two bodies transformed. Golden hurricanes and rippling ponds fought back as the invading force dug into the depths of his cells. Bones turned into unwilling conductors, and Zac could no longer see the world beyond the limits of his Soul Sense. His vision had been replaced by a ubiquitous blue where closing his eyes changed nothing.
The pain was still within his tolerance levels, but those limits were being tested as another spike added to his suffering. It only took two second-layer spikes to push the energy density across his bodies to the levels when it all was concentrated in his human half. Even then, the agony was far greater. Comparing the two was like comparing identical attacks where one was fueled by a Dao Fragment and the other a Dao Branch.
The third spike activated, and his thoughts briefly scattered. His Soul Aperture had finally gone from being used as a warp gate to becoming the Tribulation Throne's target. The enormous swirls of Life and Death crackled and condensed as impurities were expunged. The cost was the heart-wrenching agony of having his soul electrocuted.𝑓𝓇ℯℯ𝓌ℯ𝑏𝑛𝘰𝑣ℯ𝘭.𝘤𝘰𝘮
The next thirty seconds felt like an hour as every inch of his aperture was flooded. Thankfully, the Void Mountain showcased a surprising foresight by retreating into the mists at the edge of his mind. Meanwhile, the Tribulation Throne provided a much-needed reminder it was a man-made opportunity. Whenever the lightning encountered the subspaces holding his inheritances and the prison, it was like the Faith Energy marked those spots off-limits.
With nothing else to inundate, the lightning finally flooded the intricate pathways of his Cosmic Core. By the time all eight spikes formed a complete cycle, Zac could no longer tell where the lightning ended and he began. Even his Soul Sense had become lightning, officially sealing him from the outside world.
Then came the laws.
Zac screamed, he rolled, he cried. At least, he thought he did. It was impossible to tell over the devastating wave of pure, unadulterated lightning that crashed into him. The light blue had been strangled by the dark depths of the Heavenly Peak as azure destruction shook Zac to his very core. Not even his path or beliefs were spared when they faced such a monstrously refined Dao of Lightning.
It was like the Tribulation Lightning had become the arbiter of the Law of Truth, and it was judging everything heterogenous as unlawful. It was a horrifying rejection that felt like an exile separating Zac from the cosmos. His Dao Heart might have shattered then and there if not for his unique connection to the Void. He was already an outsider, so expulsion from the Heavens didn't hit nearly as hard.
The attack on his heart was deflected, but the twice-evolved lightning was deadly enough that it didn't need any tricks. Zac furiously fought back, knowing he was so close to completing the cycle. Just fifty more seconds, and he would have surpassed the ancients. And he could tell the benefits had taken a huge leap after being subject to a bolt imbued with one of the four laws. His body was being tempered and aligned with the cosmos.
Would he become a perfected being if he passed the whole trial?
Greed and anticipation were quashed and replaced with horror when the nineteenth spike woke from its ancient slumber. The Law of Balance joined the Law of Truth as the azure blue deepened. A piercing scream of mortal danger pierced through the storm, only to be swallowed up by the crackling roar of his soul. The Tribulation Throne was replacing his essence with lightning in a twisted act of equal exchange.
Should he give up?
He could tell he'd already benefitted greatly, and he had to remember this was just a pitstop on their way to the real mission. Emily's words rang in the back of his head. Zac refused to sacrifice his body in search of answers, and he couldn't let personal gain cloud the true purpose that brought him here. Not any longer, at least.
The fortress was a rare chance to make significant contributions that would impact the whole war effort. The sudden appearance of the Technocrats or the revelation of the 'project' hadn't changed that. If anything, it made his original goal more important. Being blinded by lightning had let him see the situation more clearly than before.
Unknowingly, he had been steered off-course by fate's siren call. He'd become the moth to the flame, pushing the war effort aside as he jumped from treasure to treasure like he was possessed. How was he supposed to face his soldiers if the Technocrats got their hands on the beacon while he was busy looting dusty dorms and training rooms?
His rational mind had spoken, but an unwilling and uncompromising flame had ignited in Zac's chest, the same one that had pushed him beyond common sense many times before. It was the flame that urged him to keep going, to seize fate and create a better future than the one you could expect by playing it safe.
Zac could tell something was building within. The nine seals laid the foundation. The eight pillars added power and stability. Now, the four truths were forcibly aligning his body with the Cosmos. It was yet incomplete. He was still incomplete, like an array missing its core. The only way to reap the true reward of the Tribulation Throne was to reach its terminus.
Each law-empowered tribulation added more torment than half the second-circle spikes. He had already reached Emily's stopping point, where his body couldn't keep up with the punishment. Zac steeled his heart. The lightning had shocked him awake, but there was one more thing he could try before throwing in the towel. He'd be selfish for just another thirty seconds.
His two constitutions roared in defiance, and Life and Death rose to meet the heavenly punishment. The curtailed cyclones and the suppressed ponds no longer silently endured the onslaught. They reached down and connected to that hidden space somewhere in the depths of his body. The sole place the lightning had not yet overwhelmed. The Azure catastrophe froze in hesitation instead of pouring into the new passages. They had sensed the danger in the darkness.
It was too late. Predator became prey as the lightning was dragged into the Void.