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Chapter 524: The Last Clairvoyant

    Chapter 524: The Last Clairvoyant

    He remembered Qianlin turning to light and being absorbed into him. He remembered her eyes; no pain, no despair, just satisfaction. Happy to protect. Zeus was supposed to be the one protecting her, but she was willing to pay her with her life to save him.

    "Where is Zhou Qianlin? Have you seen her?" Lan Jue asked Xiuxiu, standing by the bed.

    This gave his Amazon pause, and a subtle change overcame her expression. She recovered with a quick shake of her head. "Nope, haven't seen her. The Pharmacist was the one who brought you back."

    "You up?" Lan Jue looked passed Xiuxiu to the door when his three brothers came walking in.

    Each of them had dour expressions, especially Hua Li. Lan Jue had never seen the singer so upset before. When he saw Lan Jue sitting up, though, his mood improved.

    The Jewelry Master nodded. "How long was I out?"

    "Two nights and one day," Lan Qing responded. Lan Jue wanted to follow up, but his brother cut him off. "Don't talk too much right now. If you're feeling alright, we need to see the Clairvoyant."

    Lan Jue fought the tearing urge to make them tell him where Qianlin was. How was she?! But as he awoke and calmed down, his perception widened. He could sense Qianlin, somewhere. She was alive... she was still alive.

    "Wait for me outside. I'll change and then we'll head out." He was, of course, aware of the fact that beneath the covers was nothing to protect his modesty.

    Xiuxiu's face reddened as she walked out of the room. Nothing I haven't seen before, she said to herself.

    Lan Jue felt weak and woozy as he got us from bed, like he'd lost a lot of blood. Fumbling with his clothes, Lan Jue thought about what happened. Astral Phantom! One day I'll pay you back a thousand-fold for the pain you put me and Qianlin through!

    He remembered the thoroughly bizarre process by which Luo Xianni had saved his life. He couldn't understand by what power she'd managed to do it. It had felt like he was cut into sheets and put back together while the poison was drawn out. It was not a feeling he wanted to experience a second time. Far, far too painful.

    He changed into some clean clothes and joined the others outside. Lan Qing was by the door, and when his brother emerged the super soldier placed a hand on his shoulder. An infusion of energy swept through Lan Jue. After a second, the Eastern general removed his hand and nodded. His face was calm, but there was the promise of violence in his eyes, and it was clear who that homicidal intent was meant for.

    Chu Cheng's angry voice filled the shop. "Astral Phantom... there will come a day when him and his little group of faeries will be wiped from existence!"

    Hua LI's voice was low, but no less harsh. "We won't stop with them. The Blood Phantoms are a business. Whoever paid them for this job is the most important target."

    "Who else could it be? There are only a few people with the capital to hire the Astral Phantom." Chu Cheng's voice was cold and calculating. "The North or the West, the Great Conclave or one of the Citadels. That's about it."

    Hua Li nodded thoughtfully. "It's gotta be one of those. How are you feeling, A-Jue?"

    "I'm fine," the former mercenary said. "We'll talk about this later. Let's go see the Clairvoyant."

    The four of them left Zeus' Jewelry Shop without any further discussion, and headed for Skyfire Museum. As they walked, Lan Jue took the opportunity to examine his internal state more carefully. His energy felt plentiful, and there didn't appear to be any after-effects. It was the second time Qianlin had saved his life.

    The attack had been so sudden and so fierce. It had nearly killed them both, but it also shattered something inside of him. There was resolution in Lan Jue's eyes.

    Skyfire Museum was as quiet as the name implied, and as empty as one might expect. That is, except for the person waiting for them by the front door.

    When they got close enough, the Wine Master nodded to the four of them in greeting. He never said anything as they pushed through the doors and made their way to the back of museum. As they made their way through, Lan Jue could sense a strange energy lingering in the air. It was soft, but confining - soothing for mind and spirit.

    Lan Qing, Huali and Chu Cheng felt it too. Their furious thoughts eased as they passed through the eddies of pacifying energy. Footsteps were the only sound as they ascended a flight of stone stairs.

    A set of large but simple double doors stopped them when they reached the top. Several others were already waiting. All of the Star Alliance was present, along with the Keeper, Bookworm, and Gourmet. Many of the Avenue's councilors were also here, along with the Pharmacist.

    When Jun'er's mother saw Lan Jue approach she waved him over. "Relax," she said when he came close, "Qianlin is fine. I sent her back myself."

    Lan Jue had suspected as much, but hearing it from her did help settle his worries. He nodded his thanks and tried to get his emotions under control.

    Everyone was quiet, and somber. There was no idle conversation or chatter as they awaited the Clairvoyant's appearance. No one looked happy to be here, for they knew what this gathering meant. Three months ago they were told this would be their leader's final revelation. Afterwards, he would die. Silence prevailed as they waited, with many going so far as to bow their heads before the double doors. The atmosphere was as bleak as a funeral.

    Half an hour passed, but no one seemed eager to get on with it. Most of the Avenue's denizens hoped this day would never come - or at least not for a while longer. That was the hope they kept quietly to themselves as they waited.

    Finally, a familiar old voice whispered through the hall. "Come in, everyone."

    The Clairvoyant!

    Heads rose, and people roused from their contemplative stillness. The old seer's voice was as gentle as they remembered, but everyone heard the notes of grief. The enormous double doors slowly opened. Waves of ultraviolet light flowed out like a breeze.

    The mourners entered, led by the four Paragons. Next followed the Avenue's leadership and the Four Divine Monarchs. What greeted them was an extraordinary scene. Crossing the threshold took them into the center of an infinite universe. It was spectacular. The door vanished to reveal the glittering expanse of the cosmos laid out in all its splendor.

    Everyone's reaction was different. For Lan Jue, the sea of stars was a backdrop for a lightshow, with rays of brilliant light radiating from the highest point above him. Whatever it implied, it had something to do with him.

    Raising his head brought everything into sharper focus. He peered deep within the galaxies as their light washed over him.

    A change of perspective helped everyone forget their sorrow for a moment. Hearts eased as eyes swept the majestic cosmic vista. Then a single point no brighter than any of the others intensified, scattering the others like snowflakes. Three figures stood out against the blazing starlight.

    Two were tall, and one small. The small one was little Jun'er. She'd been dressed in a pretty yellow summer dress that made the adorable child look like a pixie. What struck Lan Jue wasn't her clothes, though. There was a sparkle in the little girl's eyes that wasn't there before. There was also a silver crystal between her eyebrows, a third eye.

    The child felt her father's gaze. She looked right at him and smiled the sweetest smile, but obediently stayed in place. Leading her was a gallant looking man in his fifties. He was dressed in a flowing robe littered with twinkling gemstones. Two deep black eyes reflected the image of the universe around them.

    Standing beside him was the Photographer, Luo Xianni, clad in a pink dress that made her appear even younger and more vibrant than usual. Her expression, however, was calm and impassive.

    He's...

    Lan Jue didn't know this middle-aged man who stood in the center, but he knew his aura. That infinitely deep, almost surreal aura.

    "You're... the Clairvoyant?" Lan Jue asked.

    He smiled. "I allowed my body to show signs of aging so that I might save energy for living. That's no longer necessary, and I like this look for me."

    It was him, the Clairvoyant. The gathered luminaries of Skyfire Avenue bowed in respect.

    "There's no need for that." He smiled affectionately as he addressed them. "I can feel your sadness, but I will tell you there is no need for it. Abandon your sorrow, because for me this is a liberation. I can give up my burdens to you and join what I have watched for so long. A prophet's soul never dies, so long as you continue to believe the Eye of Tomorrow is watching over you.

    "Is there really no other way?" The Wine Master sighed.

    The Clairvoyant gave his old friend a sad smile. "Why? I am losing nothing, what have I to regret? I have only one final responsibility, and I have called you here today so that I may pass it on to you. My time has come to rest, but the Avenue - and humanity - still need all of you."
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