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80 An unbeaten road

Somewhere at the universe's far ends

In the exact middle of a vast hall, a figure was levitating. She was cross-legged and her slender hands lay on her knees. A majestic inscrutable energy was revolving around her. She was a woman of bewildering beauty, whose narrow eyebrows and lips gave her an extremely elegant look. Her posture gave off the most mystique charm.

Before her glided an exquisite bow finely worked. The white veining of the inlaid bow streaked a totally black frame. The bow's Aura seemed to resonate with that of the woman, as if some tacit sentiment bound them together indissolubly like a resistant thread.

Her calm contemplation was suddenly interrupted by a voice bursting in. "There was a fluctuation, Siche! I lost contact with one of my legacies." The voice belonged to an enchanting woman dressed in total black, the main body of the Black Phoenix. Despite her unheard of beauty, she couldn't compare the magnificence of the other. "Could this mean that a big shot just destroyed it?" the woman in black added. "Wouldn't be the first time they do something like that."

Siche opened her eyes slowly. She unclosed a profoundly contemplative gaze. "Our master used this hall to train his pupils. Who would have ever dared burst in here so hurriedly, at that time?"

"The master is long lost. Very few of us are still here to face his enemies. There's no point in clinging to memories when much more urgent issues require our attention," Jeanne replied.

Siche glared at her and scolded her again: "When out master returns, I will tell him personally about everyone who violated-"

"Oh, please. Stop. I know how much you care about this place, and I'm sorry. I'm sorry, okay? But what are we supposed to do anyway?" said Jeanne as she rolled her eyes.

Siche landed gently on her tiptoe, her purple dress flapping about. She took a deep breath.

"Nothing, for now. We need to delve deeper before acting. If the Forces of Life have really tried to destroy our legacies, I'll come and visit Qinguang personally."

Jeanne became alarmed: "No, I didn't mean we have to seek conflict! Don't do like last time! We risked a war after you slaughtered all those disciples of theirs!"

Siche shot her a disdainful glance. "Our master wouldn't have allowed anyone to step over him. Last time I did, I lost what I care most about in the whole world." Siche lowered her gaze and looked at the bow, brushing it tenderly. "The day I am afraid of that bunch of idiots, I'll stop following my master's footsteps."

Jeanne, on the brink of despair, pondered out loud: "I was the one leading riots, once. I used to consider myself as a fierce daredevil before I met you. But if you called yourself the second fiercest daredevil in the universe, who would claim the title of first?"

Siche shook her head. "Let's find out more, Jeanne. We'll analyze the situation and wait for what comes next."

***

Inside the Shrine of the Black Phoenix

The shard of Jeanne's Soul glanced behind the Devil's shoulders, where a shroud of darkness was floating through air. According to what her master had said, that darkness enveloped his last and most important pupil.

"What plans do you have for the boy, master?" Jeanne asked.

The kid raised an eyebrow and gave a sigh: "No point in hiding this from you… I will delete your memories anyway, even if I've already erased every connection with your main body. The great war left unresolved, my distress, my feud will come to an end with this new disciple. He will engage in the battle I have not been able to win. Who knows if Shithead will live up to his task…"

Jeanne shot her eyes wide open, deeply moved by her master's esteem for that boy. Judging by the burden he had placed on his shoulders, he must hold him in very high regard. The Black Phoenix glanced again at the shroud of darkness as she fell deep in thought. She kept silent, waiting for a more thorough explanation. She didn't have to wait long.

"If I'm here, Jeanne, it's because that Shithead might benefit greatly from a meeting with you. He's still unaware of the feuds devastating our universe, so there's a couple of details you'd better omit. However…"

The Devil told Jeanne about Helial's Dao of Mana, about his choice to wield both Life and Destruction, and about the goals he had set himself.

"Is it even possible to reach Immortality by following this path? Whoever tried it has failed miserably. We all know that your knowledge guides you either towards Life or Destruction, and you then begin to develop the principles of the one you've chosen. Our centuries-old experience though has taught us that you can't cultivate them both, not at the same grade and in the same time."

"Jeanne," the kid's voice resounded imperiously, even more profound that what it should have been, "When, Jeanne, have I stepped on a beaten road? When has anyone among us ever chose a path already traveled by others? Look at you, look at Siche, look at any of us. Did you forget who you're talking to?" An imposing titan had taken the place of the child and was now standing before Jeanne, or at least that's what she felt like. He seemed ready to squeeze the entire universe with a single move of his hand.

Jeanne nodded: "You're right, master. You must forgive me." After a short hesitation, she said: "Take me to your pupil."

With a wave of his hand, the Devil dissolved the darkness that had been locking up Helial. "Well, Shithead…"

Helial couldn't even look about himself. He was immediately astonished by an overly beautiful female figure who was scrutinizing him a few inches from his face.

"Say hi to Jeanne, one of my disciples," the kid went on. "I was a very good teacher, so much that her knowledge on Black Flames has outdone mine."

Helial stood still, without taking a step back. He could feel the woman's warm breath upon his skin as she smiled warm-heartedly.

"Nice to meet you, boy," said Jeanne as she tousled Helial's hair. "Hierarchy suggests that I'm a step above you, but just call me Jeanne anyway. I hate formalities."

Helial went straight: "Who are you?"

A beaming smile spread over Jeanne's face from ear to ear. "I'm a shard of the Aura of Jeanne, the Black Phoenix…" Jeanne started introducing herself, but Helial paid her little attention and gazed at his master instead.

The Devil glanced back at him and slowly nodded. "Jeanne will teach you the principles of her Black Flame. If you grasp them, the power of Body of the Qilin will advance to a new level. It's always useful to learn all the principles despite having chosen either Life or Destruction. But in your situation, I think it might be more than just "useful". It's a nice path you've chosen. A path out of the ordinary will definitely bring things out of the ordinary."

Jeanne swiftly stretched a hand towards the brazier inside the room; she wanted to waste as little time as possible. "Unfortunately, this shard has already given away its legacy, but my knowledge is still here."

"But aren't Black Flames weaker than White Flames? From what I've heard, White Flames contain the principles of both Life and Destruction, while Black Flames don't. That's why the Black ones are on a lower level," Helial said, puzzled.

Jeanne put a finger on Helial's forehead.

ROAAAAAR!

A vision seized Helial's mind. He saw an enormous creature with white scales and two big horns. It looked like a dragon, yet had no wings. It only took Helial a few seconds to recognize him; that was Kirin! Kirin was engulfed by Origin of the Universe. Suddenly, a dark beam flashed and a terrifying flame hit the web of flames that were enveloping him.

Incredible!

That flame had just overwhelmed the defence of Origin of the Universe – of Kirin's flame, the most powerful one in the whole universe. But not only! It had also hit the hip of the Ancestral Creature, opening up a huge wound in his body!

On one side, a huge black phoenix was sneering…

The vision suddenly stopped.

A bunch of pitch-black characters appeared before Helial's eyes.

Hell

Hell was the name of Jeanne's Black Flame.

"The destruction generated by my black flame is second to no flame of Life, because my Black Flame renounced to the greatest gift of my race; the ability to reborn. As long as a single particle of a phoenix's body exists, a phoenix will always be able to reborn. No regenerative properties can compare those of a phoenix!" Jeanne proudly informed him.

Qilins have the most terrifying physical strength, Dragons have the best natural control on Mana, Black Turtles have the most powerful defence, and Phoenixes have the most outstanding ability to regenerate!
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