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Chapter 717: The Monarchs Gather
Suppressing the surprise he felt the Terminator handed Lan Jue some food. Steak, bread, water. Simple but nutritious fare.
He looked on with a conflicted gaze as Lan Jue ate ravenously. Though he clearly didn‘t possess the strength of his older brother, his marvelous display of skill had left a deep impression. What’s more, experiencing this sword style had cleaved a fissure in the barrier between him and Nirvana. It was clear with each chop of the sword, as though cut into his own heart.
It felt boundless! As boundless as the potential of this young couple.
The Terminator couldn’t help but feel jealous of the East’s good fortune. If only his own alliance had this kind of talent. But hopes and wishes was all he had.
After eating, Lan Jue tenderly wiped his mouth. “Your majesty, I think it’s time we got going.”
“Forgive me if I don’t send you off,” the terminator said. “I learned a lot from this exchange and must meditate on what I learned. Someone else will see you out. On behalf of the Northern Alliance I hope we can continue to work closely.”
Lan Jue and Lan Qing exchanged a happy glance. These words coming from the Terminator meant more than from any politician.
The two brothers returned to their hotel.
“How likely do you think it is that everyone will cooperate after this conference?” Lan Jue asked as they arrive back at their room.
Land Qing thought for a moment. “30%.”
30%?“Lan Jue said in astonishment.
Lan Qing smiled softly. “How much do you think? They are all looking out for their own benefit. Believing politicians is like believing Hua Li has gotten more reliable.”
As though to punctuate his brother’s remarks, Lan Jue communicator started to buzz. “Speak of the devil. A-Li.”
“A-Li.“ Lan Jue connected the call.
“Hey are you guys back? Is it alright if I come over?” Friends didn’t need to rely on small talk.
“Come on over.” Lan Jue sent him the address.
Ten minutes later, Hua Li appeared at their door. Another person they hadn’t seen in a long while arrived with him, Chu Cheng.
After ascending to Paragon, the air around Hua Li was completely different. His stunning appearance never changed, but the vibrant aura was gone, replaced with something deeper and more mysterious. In a word, he seemed more manly.
Chu Cheng, on the other hand, was just as coquettish and free-spirited as he’d always been. However, closer inspection revealed a constant eruption of fire behind his eyes while he himself was surrounded by a sense of deathly stillness.
The four Divine Monarchs were together for the first time since the Clairvoyant’s departure.
They sat, and Chu Cheng flicked his wrist. A bottle of whisky appeared in his hand. “This calls for a good drink, don’t you think?”
Hua Li lifted a finger and four crystal blue glasses materialized. They weren’t real glasses, of course, but constructed by Hua Li from elemental manipulation. They were thin and chilled, perfect for a good scotch.
Chu Cheng poured them each a glass. For a time they simply sat, smiling and enjoying each others’ company. No words were necessary.
No matter what transpires in the world, the bonds of friendship never changed.
Lan Jue swung his eyes toward Chu Cheng. “You’re close to a breakthrough, right?” He was sensitive to the flows of protogenia now, and could clearly sense the aura from his friend. It felt like a volcano on the cusp of eruption, like he could take the plunge at any moment.
Chu Cheng nodded. “I’m under constant guard lately, do you know how hard it was to leave? If you Easterners assassinated me the North would be deprived a great Paragon!”
Lan Jue couldn’t help but laugh at Chu Cheng’s exaggerated expression. The guy was cracking jokes, so it seemed his future breakthrough wasn’t going to encounter any problems.
But then the Hades heir put away his smile and sighed. “Now that I’m here I finally understand what you told me. It’s hard to hold back, I was too eager and the pressure is becoming more than I can withstand. I’m not sure how much longer I can hold out, although I know the longer I can withstand the further I’ll ultimately get. I can see my road, but this revelation came too late.”
“Before I used to think simply breaking through was enough, but now I’ve come to my senses. If I’m sure to break through, what’s to stop me from getting stronger? Do you have any methods that can help, A-Jue? Some sort of seal or block maybe?”
Lan Jue rolled his eyes. “If only it were that easy. Short of taking your life you’re just going to have to let nature take its course. Now that you’re here you shouldn’t get in your own way. What’s most important is capturing your path and walking it without hesitation. Wandering will only delay growth.”
Hua Li chuckled. “You sound like an old wise man. When did you become a spokesmen for the sages, eh?”
Lan Jue shot his brother a glance. Lan Qing sat stony faced and didn’t utter a word.
Hua Li was the next to heave a sigh. “I thought I would have been the first. I’d clear the way for the rest of you to follow, but the Big Brother blazed the trail. That’s some real talent! You shouldn’t be depressed, A-Cheng – you’re in a better spot than I am. I’ve known my path since birth, and the potency of the Poseidon bloodline is inexhaustible. Still it seems there are barriers I can’t pass. There hasn’t been a Reflection of Heaven and Earth in my family for over a century. If it weren’t for these aliens I would have taken more time, but I wasn’t left with a choice.”
His three companions knew what he meant. A Paragon was a treasure to a family, and this was especially true for Hua Li. He not only represented the next generation of leadership, he was the new leader of the Poseidon Group.
“Ah, by the way, I’m getting married.” Hua Li casually dropped the bombshell.
The other three gaped at him
“Married?” Lan Jue and Chu Cheng cried in one voice.
Hua Li’s face was calm, bearing only a small smile. “Yeah! What, you think I shouldn’t?”
Lan Jue gave him a strange look. “Is it that girl you told me about? If it is you sure screwed up never bringing her by for us to meet.”
Hua Li shook his head. “No, not her. Mo Xiao.”
“So you finally came around,” Lan Jue teased. “She’s an excellent choice. That girl would die for you. Seems becoming a Paragon made you grow up.”
Hua Li’s face changed, bearing something that seemed very unnatural for him. Disappointment. “Yeah, I guess I did.”
“So when’s the wedding?” Lan Jue asked.
Hua Li took a sip of his drink. “A month.”
“Mnh. If I can’t make it I’ll send my gift with A-Jue. Congratulations.” A rare smile touched Lan Qing’s lips.
Hua Li nodded. “Thank you.”
Chu Cheng looked at him with skepticism. “You say you’re getting married but I don’t see any of that newlywed joy! Mo Xiao’s one hell of a woman! Ach, what a shame. Who knows when I’ll find the love of my life.”
Contempt was thick in Lan Jue’s voice. “Are you capable? I’d be careful, with as many women as you’ve scorned hell will come calling one day.”
Chu Cheng snorted. “I am chasing the realm of the stars! No woman can stop me.”
Lan Jue looked at his brother and scowled.
Lan Qing replied. “A-Cheng, you’re about to break through. Restraining yourself won’t be as effective as letting us help you. It’ll galvanize your potential and improve your end result.”
Chu Cheng’s face fell. He knew what he meant. “Look man I didn’t offend you. Why are you threatening to beat me up?” He knew Lan Qing well enough to be very wary of his calm façade.
Lan Jue chortled darkly. “Because that’s the exact same sentiment he has.”
Suddenly Chu Cheng was all flattery prose. “Honored brother, forgive me. I’m just looking for a special woman. When I find her what’s ambition by comparison? Right?”
Lan Qing cast him a withering glance. “I’m not kidding. Prepare yourself – tomorrow I help you break through.”
“Damn… are you for real?” Chu Cheng looked back warily.
Hua Li shamelessly gloated at Chu Cheng’s fate. “When have you ever known Big Brother to kid? Congratulations in advance, Hades.”
Chu Cheng seemed unwilling. “Big Brother.. I mean, look… your own brother hasn’t broken through yet you know? You shouldn’t bother with me – you should be helping him! Playing favorites isn’t in your nature!”
“He doesn’t need my help,” Lan Qing calmly replied. “You do. If you keep whining we’ll start right now.”
“I –“ Chu Cheng looked to Lan Jue to save him.
Lan Jue, meanwhile, fluttered his lashes innocently at his beleaguered friend. “A-Cheng, are you familiar with the phrase ‘you reap what you sow?’ I think you should go and get ready. This is a great opportunity! I trust my brother, and if he says he can help you then I’m sure he will.”
“I knew I shouldn’t have come,” he griped indignantly.
Hua Li chimed in. “Let’s focus on the positive. Big Brother, the Poseidon Group is thinking about joining the East.”
“How do you intend to help?” Lan Qing inquired.
Hua Li explained. “We’ve recovered the Poseidon-class Bastion from the West and are in the process of refitting it. We’ve also got two interstellar fleets and enough resources to keep ourselves going for a hundred years.”
“We’ve transferring everything we can from our home planet to the Bastion – including Poseidon’s Palace.”
Lan Jue’s heart skipped a beat. “It sounds like you’re getting ready to evacuate.”