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“What do you know about all of this, about Chàng Bo, about these creatures, about what exists beyond the 400 realms, all of it. If anyone knows all these secrets it is you! Start explaining!!” Mao Lu’s icy words resounded throughout the Grand Hall.

Argenti was taken aback for a second. There was a wave of intensity that radiated off of him, the likes of which she had never felt from him before, and a strange energy lingered around him. She wondered what ability he had chosen at the Potential stage, from what she could sense it was far superior than any other Gatekeeper ability she had encountered before, perhaps even superior to her own.

“Mao Lu,” Argenti purred gently, “let’s discuss this in private, this really isn’t the time or place to be having such a conversation.”

Argenti was one of the oldest Gatekeepers, she had survived so long because she trusted her instincts and was very crafty. She wasn’t going to enter any form of conflict with Mao Lu until she gauged what his new ability was, and there was no way she was going to spill secrets that she had been keeping for aeons just because the boy had demanded it.

She rested her hand on Mao Lu’s shoulder, ignoring the sword that he pointed at her, and gave him a meaningful look. She expected Mao Lu to understand her meaning, she expected him to quiet down, but she underestimated just how angry he was.

He shoved her hand from his shoulder and pointed the tip of the Golden Quintessence blade right against her chest.

“DON’T FUCK WITH ME!!” he yelled.

His shout made all the observing Gatekeepers gape in shock, no one had ever dared to yell at Argenti like that, had Mao Lu gone insane.

Obsidian sat up from his throne, he was about to intervene, but Argenti gestured at him to stop.

“I’m not fucking with you Mao Lu, like I said this is neither the time or the place, so I suggest you save your―”

“Not the time!? Not the place!!? YES IT IS! It is the time and it is the Goddamn place!” Mao Lu was so angry that his face was beginning to turn red, his chest pumping up and down. “You have been fucking with me for such a long time! First with the Irregularities, which you knew could have been easily dealt with! You let people in my Realm suffer and die for something as irrelevant as training just because you wanted to gauge my abilities!”

A vein pulsed on Mao Lu’s temple, “That is fucked up. When you first told me I was still shocked from the previous battle. I didn’t even notice how fucked up it was, until now. I may have benefited from the stress of it all, I entered the Wielding stage so quickly because of it, but I would have rather suffered several more years of training than let those people die! You had no right to make such a choice!”

“Mao L―” Argenti tried to interject but Mao Lu spoke over her.

“Then you lied to me again, and gave me that fucking Silver ring! You told me it was to stop Sense of the Realm from distracting me as I trained. I thought you were helping me, I was a fool, I know now that that’s a fucking lie. You did it to distract me as you did something to Chàng Bo!”

Argenti’s mouth was a grim line; the Quintessence sword probably couldn’t kill her in Mao Lu’s hands, he had only just entered the Enlightenment stage whilst she was a Sovereign stage Time Gatekeeper, his level was still far beneath her, but the Quintessence blade could still give her a serious injury.

She had to calm him down.

“I admit that I did that Mao Lu, but it was for your own good, you will thank me eventually. That Chàng Bo would have brought you nothing but trouble. I fear he is connected with the Outsiders, they pose a threat to the 400 realms, he could bring a catastrophe worse than the Creatures we just faced.”

Mao Lu’s hands were shaking with anger now, “You have such a silver tongue; you twist words and your lies are thick! We determined that the people chasing him were dangerous, he had no connection to them. HE WAS THE ONE IN DANGER!”

As Mao Lu yelled in anger, as he shouted Reality Control swam out of his body.

Reality Control was the size of a Cruise Ship, the Gatekeepers gasped as they saw its translucent purple scales that glistened with gold, silver, and platinum lights. Hiding under its skin were the Creation and Destruction essences, swimming about, clearly visible to all.

“That!” Argenti gasped, was that Mao Lu’s Essence Manifestation of his ability, it was huge, it easily outshone her own Rainbow coloured Essences, and even had Creation and Destruction Essences inside of it! How was this possible, what had he received?

Argenti had assumed Mao Lu had survived against those Creatures solely because he had the Quintessence blade, but it seemed that wasn’t the case.

“Where is Chàng Bo!?” he yelled, “Bring him to me!?”

When Argenti saw the look in Mao Lu’s eyes she didn’t need to use her senses to know he would be pissed at her answer.

“He” she paused for thought, “He is fine Mao Lu, he left, he escaped, I don’t know where he is.”

“BULLSHIT!”

“He di-”

“If he had escaped he would have gone back to my Realm for me, no matter what, and I don’t sense him there” his tone was cold.

Mao Lu was never the type to strike first, but he was so enraged that he swung the Quintessence blade at Argenti as he shouted, “STOP LYING AND TELL ME WHERE HE IS!”

Argenti immediately side stepped, her movements smooth and she dodged Mao Lu’s strike. “Mao Lu calm down, we can easily come to an understanding!”

She tried to negotiate but Mao Lu wasn’t having it.

“Enough of your lies and your trickery, TELL ME THE TRUTH” he swerved around and rapidly sped up.

Argenti was shocked, she almost felt like she was facing a Gatekeeper at the Ancient stage, it was as if Mao Lu had suddenly jumped through levels, his speed nearly matched hers. He swung the sword around at her so quickly that she barely jumped back in time.

The silver frills of her skirt were sliced off and fluttered to the ground.

There was a long silence, everyone was frozen in the hall. Obsidian couldn’t believe his eyes, the power radiating off Mao Lu was unprecedented. Everyone else in the hall stared in shock, to be able to even touch the fabric of Argenti’s garments was an incredible feat.

Argenti was praised for being untouchable. If this fight had happened at The Gatekeeper ranking tournament, that strike alone would have qualified Mao Lu to rank in the top 20 of all the Gatekeepers.

The question on everyone’s mind, was how did he become so formidable in such a short time?

Argenti had been taken by surprise, otherwise she would have never let him get so close, but Mao Lu’s latent talent was far greater than she had ever imagined. She could see him surpassing her in less than a century. She needed to act now and clip his wings.

“Mao Lu you are insolent, I have been patient with you and you do this. Striking against me, with the intention to kill, do you mean to break the rules!”

“I have no intention of murder I just want answers!” Mao Lu spat.

“Insolent!” Argenti shouted, she ran at him in anger, as she ran her long staff came out of her palms. Rainbow essences the size of tuna fish surrounded Mao Lu and his Reality Control

Before Mao Lu could react Argenti moved faster than he had ever seen anything move before, she teleported in front of him in an instant and whacked him hard with her Staff.

When she whacked him, Mao Lu felt a formidable force come his way, he felt like a Deer caught in headlights, even though he saw her attack coming it was as if all his thinking had become still.

The next moment he was flung across the Hall like a pinball, he felt his ribs crack with a grating metallic sound, he smashed head first into the wall, his body went still.

Argenti looked at Mao Lu’s limp body and smirked, “This is what happens to Insole―” she began to say before she quickly dived to the ground, strands of her silver hair falling around her as they were chopped.

Argenti eyes became wide and round, she hadn’t even sensed him.

“You’re the one who’s insolent.” Mao Lu said coldly as he wiped his bloody nose with the back of his sleeve, he was now standing over Argenti as he pointed the Quintessence blade at her.

Shock ran through Argenti, Mao Lu had advanced towards her so quickly, his aura almost matched that of a Saint stage Gatekeeper.

“How are you doing this? Tell me!” she demanded.

“You’re the one that should be answering my questions.” Mao Lu answered, his tone so cold that Argenti physically felt the temperature drop.

She spun on her heels and created a barrier around Lu.

Mao Lu was caught in an Essence barrier made of lights. Argenti smirked, she was certain that he couldn’t get out of this trap. Her barriers were her ability, she used Unfettered to make impenetrable barriers created from Time Essences, it was impossible to leave her time barriers that warped the Realm no matter what ability Mao Lu had received.

She was smirking to herself, her smug expression growing wider until she froze.

There was a crack on her barrier. At first it was small but as she watched it, it became bigger and bigger. The cracks spread rapidly, and Argenti could only watch in horror as her barrier exploded with a “POP!”

She went flying backwards “What the hell!” she shouted.

“You’re underestimating me, you should start taking me seriously, else you’re gonna be in trouble.” Mao Lu said calmly as he swaggered towards her. Gone was the previous weak and kind-hearted boy Argenti had known before. Now there was a powerful monster who defied all she knew about the laws of Essence. She feared they were evenly matched.

Mao Lu was pushing her into a corner, but if she went all out Mao Lu than that would lead to a death battle, one of them wouldn’t survive. It was against the Gatekeeper rules to kill another Gatekeeper, whoever won this fight would end up dying regardless.

“Mao Lu this is a senseless battle, we don’t have to do this.” Argenti argued.

“You’re right,” he stepped forward, “It is a senseless fight, that could be easily solved if you gave me some answers.”

At this point Obsidian rose from his seat, he appeared in-between Argenti and Mao Lu. When Argenti saw him she physically relaxed, with Obsidian by her side she could easily diffuse the situation.

“Mao Lu stop this madness,” Obsidian stated, “Argenti does owe you some answers, which I will make sure she gives you, but you need to put your weapon away and calm down first.”

**********
I dedicate this chapter to my loyal and amazing Patreon subscriber Fionnbharr Larkin.
Without this cool creature I probably would have taken a slower time getting back to this novel. Thank you for the support!

I am dumping a whole bunch of new chapters onto my Patreon so if you want early access become a member: https://www.patreon.com/WritingPilgrimage

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Alexia Barrett

Journalism student at Cardiff University. Aspiring Broadcast Journalist, Foreign Correspondent, and Novelist.

January 2020
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