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Chapter 552: Chu Family
Lan Qing wasn't qualified to offer an opinion on the Clairvoyant. But his little brother's face swam up to his memory. "I don't know why, dad, but I feel like these past couple days things have felt off. I'm afraid A-Jue might have run into some trouble again. I've got no way to get in touch while he's in the Starfields."
Jue Di shook his head. "It’s fine, you don't need to worry so much about him. That shyster was bold but skillful. If your brother was destined for an early death, the bastard wouldn't have put so much responsibility on his shoulders. Take care of yourself first. Enough of that now, it's time for some exercise. Let's see where you can improve."
Planet Luo. Chu family estate.
Chu Cheng sat alone in a dark room, unspeaking, unmoving. He hadn't moved since coming back from Skyfire. The chamber was composed of stone. More specifically, it was composed of power gems - a fact that would deeply surprise your average Adept. They weren't the best gems, but making a room out of them was extravagant.
The benefits were in the fact that the internal energies couldn't escape. Even a pulse of protogenic energy would be leached away by the thick stone walls.
He was clad in simple, thin clothing. Around him a flickering aura of red would appear and then vanish. The flashes of red were in the shape of a lotus flower. Emberblossom - the Clairvoyant's pendant - burned bright against his chest.
Outside, two men watched. They looked through the translucent layers of stone as Chu Cheng meditated.
"This kid… when the time came, he stepped up. I'm surprised the Clairvoyant saw this in him." The one speaking was a craggy old man with waves of white hair, somewhere in his eighties if his looks were anything to go by. Old though he was, he was not lacking in vitality. There was a quiet strength within him, and an even temperament.
"Unstable, but consistent improvement. This revelation will help him lay a solid foundation." He was talking to a middle-aged man who stood nearby. That was Chu Cheng's father, the patriarch of the Hades bloodline and the Gourmet's older brother."
He was overjoyed beyond words to see his historically lazy son so engrossed in cultivation. He was at least a hundred times more proud than he had been during the tournament.
The old man was Chu Cheng's grandfather, former patriarch of the family Chu Yun. He himself was a peak-level Adept.
In the North, the Cheng family enjoyed a fine reputation and some considerable clout. The Perennial family enjoyed abundant riches and influence that extended to all three Alliances.
Chu Yun smiled. "Of course he's doing well, I taught him after all. He'll at least be stronger than that bastard brother of yours. It won't be long before we wrest back control of the Dark Citadel."
Chu Dong's face was even, but he didn't dare speak what was in his heart. He harbored an unspoken criticism of his father. Yes, it was true his son was taught by the elder Chu, but what did he teach him? To indulge in the unimportant, and shirk your duties. He was born with potential and if he had worked hard from the beginning, he'd have a chance at Paragon by now.
"You still blame me, don't you? I know you do. You understand nothing." He only had to glance at his son to see the disapproval on his face.
"No, how could I blame you?" The question sounded insincere.
Chu Yun scowled. "Enough. You're my son, you think I don't know what you're thinking? You say you don't blame me, but you do. I do, too. I saw so much go wrong with your brother. He was too pure, too easily deceived. If he'd had more experience in society, more time with people, then the results would be better today. The wound he suffered was too deep, and it cut him to his soul. We were blessed with Chu Cheng, a second great Talent in as many generations. If I didn't try my best to correct after a loss, I would have been unworthy as a leader of the family."
"A-Cheng may have learned the distractions of life from me, but he has been a part of interstellar culture since he was small. He's experienced a lot, sown his wild oats as it were, of course he'd be resistant to settling down with a woman. Even if it becomes a problem later, he's more capable of handling it than Xi was. He won't be like him, a single setback won't tear him from his path. No matter what you think the proof is before your eyes. A-Cheng is much better than Xi was at his age. My guess is he'll awaken from this meditation at ninth rank. With his comprehension of Hades Blade and protogenia, I suspect he'll break through in no more than three years' time. Then the sky’s the limit, ha ha ha ha!" Chu Yun threw his head back and cackled at the heavens.
Chu Dong winced. Ah, father… all of Chu Cheng's idiosyncrasies he learned from you. If you could just…
Lately Chu Yun's mood had been particularly good. He was well pleased. And for good reason. The Hades bloodline had been under Satan's thumb for generations. They've had to watch as he reaped the benefits of his pillage. It had been so long Chu Yun had begun to give up hope. You didn't get where they were without knowing some shortcuts, and they employed the experience and wealth of the family to get them this far.
But there were no easy roads to Paragon. You needed understanding, luck, and talent.
The Gourmet was Chu Yun's second son, Chu Xi. He was their great hope. A symbol for the return of the Hades bloodline. Who could have fathomed a woman would come and drive him away to distant parts of the galaxy. Vanished, for years.
After that, Chu Yun sunk into depression for a long time. He relinquished management of the family's affairs. He shook himself from the fog once Chu Cheng began to display tremendous talent.
And now? His grandson was on the cusp of that coveted title, and his estranged son had broken through in secret. He was part of the Paragon list - low on the list, but that didn't matter! He just broke through, who didn't start from the bottom? What was most important was that the family had a Paragon.
The Gourmet didn't have the stomach to face them and didn't come, but Chu Yun didn't care. At least he gave himself the name 'Infernal Vanguard.' I meant he would remain in self-imposed exile and keep watch over Hades. He still thought about the family, and if there was a problem he would come to their aid. To Chu Yun, that was enough.
If Chu Cheng broke through soon they would have two young Paragons. With enough time they could recapture the Dark Citadel from Satan's control. It was within his sight. Just thought often woke him up at night, giddy with anticipation. He was mad with joy.
Chu Cheng was not aware of how long he was in meditation. He sat alone, engulfed in the fires of Hades. Emberblossom had shown him a glimpse of fire's true face. From the instant the pendant fused to his skin, a deluge of knowledge filled his mind. In the center of it all was that single kernel of deep understanding.
Hades' Hellfire was made of the stuff of death, but was not death itself.
Legends told of Hades' realm, the world of the dead where souls ran rampant. Hades existed to control them. Just as the end of death was life, the Dark Citadel would burn bright again with the light of hellfire.
Life and death, dark and light. The deeper his thoughts ran the clearer it became; his Path. He was already in control of his Hades form, and the bottleneck that was keeping him burst to a new level of comprehension.
This feeling was as profound as it was wonderful. He needed more time to find it, and so the moment he returned from Skyfire he sunk back into meditation.
The deeper his understanding became, the more he could see the connections between life and death, light and dark. He felt remade body and spirit by the revelation.
This was an incredibly important event for Chu Cheng. Hypothetically speaking, if his potential capped at Paragon, now he had a chance at finding his specific Domain. It wasn't confined to the realm of Death. There was more to it than that.
The blue planet circled quietly in the depths of Western Alliance territory. It got its name because of its striking hue.
Ninety-five percent of the planet's surface was covered in ocean. They were remarkably similar in composition to the seas on mankind's original planet. What few splotches of land did exist were spread apart as various islands.
Although Cobalt was within Western territory, it wasn't a part of the Western Alliance. In fact it belonged to all three Alliances, and one single powerful family. Or rather, group - the Poseidon Group!