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Chapter 517: Lan Qing’s Suggestions

    Chapter 517: Lan Qing's Suggestions

    Pirate fighting techniques? Lan Qing was, of course, referring to the clans of the Shattered Starfields. If that was the case, didn't they already have fighting pirates? Su Xiasu's figure flitted across Lan Jue's mind. She hadn't made contact since leaving Skyfire Avenue.

    Lan Qing continued with his advice. "Another important point. The number of Adepts isn't something to worry about. Remember that Adepts are also separated in to the strong, and the weak, The system is built so that those who are strong command faith. If you can earn the respect and obedience of the strongest Adepts, the others will fall in to line. That will make managing easier."

    Lan Jue was inspired. Yes! Lan Qing was right. He didn't need everyone to follow his commands, just the unit commanders. They could handle their own men. In this way, he needed the support of a lot fewer people.

    He only needed to look at the A.R.C. class, and recognize that he could turn fifty kids in to a crack mecha squad. With Tan Lingyun and Wang Hongyuan, the task had been easy. He'd pick out the strongest and make them leaders. Then, with enough faith and familiarity, command would be shared.

    Lan Qing recognized the look in his brother's eyes, and didn't interrupt his thinking with more pointless talk. He was confident his brother had the head for it.

    Chu Cheng, seated to the side, poked Lan Qing. "Bro," he said, voice low, "Look. You know Zeus is sitting all high and mighty with this championship he won. Don't you think you should challenge him? I mean, being the best has to feel great, am I right? It'll be an opportunity for you to see if your little brother's improved."

    Lan Qing stared at him with that stoic, stony expression, silent as a statue.

    A malicious expression touched Lan Jue's face, as he turned his eyes to Chu Cheng. "Your jaw sure is flappin' around a lot, A-Cheng. Maybe you need me to help you knock it back in to place?"

    A dark chuckle answered from the red-haired Northerner. "You think I'm scared of you? I've been making strides, too."

    Lan Qing appeared slightly confused as he addressed Lan Jue. "I sense that you're weaker than you were during the finals. Almost like before. What's going on?"

    None of them completely understood his relationship with Qianlin yet.

    He sighed, and spoke in a low voice. "My situation is somewhat special..." He then proceeded to give them the simple version how he and Qianlin fit together. He talked about how they were stronger when joined, and how cultivation was better together.

    All three of them, Lan Qing included, sat in shock as Lan Jue told them the story. The worst was Hua Li. He looked like he was half lost in a trance the whole time.

    "This is a thing? Re-cultivation? Has this always been a thing?" Chu Cheng's surprised questions came in rapid succession. "No wonder it felt like you were all funky, and I knew you were hiding something the whole time. This is cheating! I'm gunna report you!"

    Lan Jue just cast him an irritated look. "Go on, then."

    Chu Cheng snorted. "Why aren't I showered with infinite gifts, huh? No wonder you're with that broad every day. Speaking of, where is she, anyway?"

    "We're in a little bit of a spat," he said. "She ran off."

    He got no sympathy from Chu Cheng, who chortled back. "So, if we fought now do you think you could take me?"

    Lan Jue's eyebrows shot up. "You think my Discipline isn't high enough to do the job, eh?"

    His friend's expression seemed to ask, is that not obvious? "That's right. Without a strong Discipline, how could you be a challenge for me? Let's go! Let your older brother teach you a thing or two about kung fu!"

    A grin spread across Lan Jue's face. "Fine, let's give it a shot. Bro, you coming?"

    Lan Qing nodded. He'd seen all the videos, but being there in person was still more vivid, the details were clearer. Lan Qing wanted to see what his brother was capable of with his own eyes.

    For Adepts of their level, there was only one place nearby where they could really test their skills; the Wine Master's Reaper Arena. He ddin't mind troubling the old man with accommodating them. He'd caused Lan Jue plenty of trouble, lately.

    Lan Jue had the four women close up shop and come as well. It would be good for them to watch combat at this level and take notes. It was a good opportunity for their future development.

    They walked across the avenue to the Gothic Winery. Lan Jue entered without announcing himself.

    "You've all come," the Wine Master greeted. When he saw them enter, he gently relinquished a glass of wine on to the table.

    Lan Qing gave the Paragon a respectful nod. "Hello, Your Majesty, Cosmagus."

    "You've been working hard, commander," the Wine Master responded. "Let me get someone to arrange rooms for all of you."

    Lan Qing was the one to answer. "That won't be necessary, thank you. We've arranged for our own accommodations. We would like to trouble you for use of the Reaper Arena, however."

    "Arena?" The Wine Master's eyes immediately went to Lan Jue. He looked strange.

    Lan Jue's face was stern. "As future commander of Skyfire Avenue's forces, I feel that my personal abilities are far below adequate. Sparring with other Adepts of similar rank is sure to have a positive bearing on my development. You said that we would have whatever we needed from the Avenue in the establishment of this fighting force. This is therefore an official request. In addition, I have brought in Commander Lan Qing for consultation, and as this is an official function I expect the Avenue won't require payment."

    The Wien Master's voice was thick with aggravation. "Fine! If you don't want to spend money than just say it! I didn't need the self-righteous diatribe."

    Lan Jue sighed. "Didn't I learn it all from you?"

    The Wine Master could clearly sense the young man's resentment. He had no recourse. "Very well, I'll go along with you. I have to make sure you don't destroy my arena with your horsing around."

    The Wine Master led them down to the underground. Before long they were at the Reaper Arena.

    Business here had also flourished in recent days. There was no small number of Adepts who came to test themselves and help each other improve.

    The elderly Paragon waved a hand, and his astrum scepter appeared in a flash of silver light. A pale light filled the corridor, and on the far side was revealed a doorway.

    This place sat amid many dimensional pockets, divvied out to Adepts as they came to test their strength. Lan Jue had been here a few times, but he'd never seen this silver doorway before. It was a large, and silver, with hinged double doors. The surface was engraved with old style patterns. Most importantly, space-time was strange here. The energies were thick and potent.

    The dazzling dimensional scepter gestured toward the far door as the Wine Master waved his hand. The great doors opened inward. What was revealed, was a portal of undulating energy that warped space.

    The Wine Master turned to face the four of them. He nodded. "Come with me."

    They walked through in, into a space between. Then, in the next moment, they were somewhere else.

    It was different from the Reaper Arena Lan Jue knew. His first sensation after walking through, was that this place was real.

    The other pockets he used always felt a little surreal, and it was clear that you weren't in the primary reality. This place, by contrast, felt very stable. He could hardly tell it apart from the reality he lived in every day.

    Sweeping their eyes around the space, they found it to be no less expansive than the Great Conclave Arena, with nothing but a void all around them.

    "Who's come in here to bother me?" A sweet, melodious voice wafted over to them.

    When the Wine Master heard the voice, he was struck with surprise. Then, a helpless smile spread across his face. "Aunt... how did you get in here?"

    Lan Jue was well aware of who 'Aunt' was. The others, however, had no idea. Even Lan Qing, who was about as expressive as a rock, looked taken aback. The Cosmagus was a Paragon, and while not as old as the Clairvoyant or Keeper, he was still on in age. For him to call out Aunt, while the voice sounded so young... what was going on?"

    A flash of light, and suddenly there was another in this pocket dimension. Luo Xianni.

    The woman almost completely ignored the Wine Master. Her attention went immediately to her 'son.' She quickly became a bubbling font of joy. "Ahhh, my adopted son! Have you come to see your mother? And you've brought friends, so lively! Which one of these lovely young women is your wife? Or, are they all?"

    The line of questioning immediate turned every Amazon's face red, but curiosity kept their eyes on this woman. She couldn't have been past her thirties!

    Adopted son? Since when did their boss get a new mother?

    Lan Qing was particularly speechless. However, it wasn't her words that struck him. It was her power.

    Lan Qing was the strongest of their group aside from the Cosmagus. That was, until Luo Xianni appeared. When his perception fell upon her, he was struck by the flood of energy radiating out of her.

    No matter how hard he looked, Lan Qing could not sense the depths of her strength. That could only mean one thing; she was a Paragon. Only the breadth of a Paragon's power felt this vast.

    Skyfire Avenue actually had another Paragon?

    Luo Xianni, as though sensing Lan Qing's thoughts, turned to him and pressed a finger to her lips. "You have to keep secrets. Ey.. why do you look so much like my son? You must be Chi Bupang's other adopted charge. He speaks so highly of you."

    Lan Jue was afraid his brother might not react properly, and rushed to his aid. "Yes, mother, you've guessed right. This is my older brother, Lan Qing. Brother, this is dad's very close lady friend. Our mom." He caught his brother's eye, silently pleading with him to go along.
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