Chapter 525: The Link

    Chapter 525: The Link

    The Clairvoyant paused, and dropped his eyes to look fondly upon Jun'er at his side. His face was full of contentment. "I'm grateful I got to meet our sweet Jun'er before I had to leave. I have already passed the title of Eye of Tomorrow to her and she will continue my legacy. Once I have gone she will be the proprietor of the Skyfire Museum, and the new Clairvoyant."

    The Gourmet quietly added his voice. "We will do everything in our power to protect the legacy of the Clairvoyant. The Eye of Tomorrow will watch over Skyfire Avenue for a long time to come."

    Nodding in appreciation, he continued. "I elect the Wine Master as your new Chairman, and the Jewelry Master will take the position he has vacated."

    Everyone's eyes fell upon Lan Jue. He anticipated this would happen, but nerves still fluttered in his stomach. He strode forward to stand by the Wine Master's side. "I won't let you down."

    The old Paragon sighed and then, under Lan Jue's shocked gaze, he bowed to the Jewelry Master. Lan Jue wanted to rush forward and pull him straight, but an enigmatic column of light fell from the sky and froze him in place, stopping him from interrupting.

    "This is.." Lan Jue shot back, surprised.

    The Clairvoyant straightened, a glint of something in his eye. "I've had my eye on you for quite a while, Jewelry Master. Longer than you'd probably care to know. All that time I have been quietly guiding you. By now I suspect you know I will try to guide your path again. I must start with an apology. No one's life should ever be under another person's control. I know the pain of it more than most. But I was left with no choice.

    "I saw the first signs of this disaster in a vision, fifteen years ago. Mankind was devoured beneath a tide of purple. Humans became extinct. I realized I was witnessing the end of our species.

    "These kinds of ominous visions are rare, and it was my first as a seer. I was so frightened - was this the way our people were meant to end? I was established in the East by then, of course. I thought, I must convince the East to find other planets to flee to. However, it was unachievable. The process was too long, and finding a habitable planet far enough from harm was difficult.

    "Later, I became less frantic. I remembered something my teacher told me. He said, 'Destiny is never certain.' There's no such thing as unavoidable extinction, and the more dire the danger the brighter the gleam of hope. If we could just harness that hope, we could save life from destruction. We still had a chance." Even near death, there was a fierce and fervent light in his eyes.

    He looked at Lan Jue. "I decided a way had to be found at any cost. Using the most powerful techniques I knew to perceive the future, I searched time for that one in a million hope. All the danger, all the cost, it all paid off. I found that one in a million chance. I found you."

    Lan Jue felt his heart seize. He's heard the Clairvoyant say things like this before, but now - after everything that had happened - it felt different. The Clairvoyant sensed this.

    Hi voice was low and soothing. "At first I didn't understand. A single person is capable of only so much. We don't live in a universe with grand Saviors. How could one lonely boy save us from our fate? But every vision led to you, so I went myself to see how you were different from the rest. I wanted to know what hope you bore.

    "Ultimately it came to me." He stopped, and pride overtook his bearing as he looked at Lan Jue. "You're the link! Even if you were as strong as your master you couldn't save us all by yourself. However, you could be the link. Everything you do affects the people, the places and the organizations around you. This connection and your good fortune could be used to give all of humanity its best shot to save itself.

    "Once I realized this, I started to exert my influence. With you at the center of my visions, our chances at survival were under twenty percent. It was apparent that I would need to make you a stronger link. Something radical would need to happen, and I would need to guide it - either directly, or indirectly."

    That pride was gone now, replaced with an expression of deep shame. His voice soft, he continued. "I cannot ask for your forgiveness. I only hope that you choose to continue to bear this responsibility. Would you grant me this?"

    Lan Jue looked at the storied Paragon calmly. "If you want me to reply from the heart, then no. I am not a hard-working man, on the contrary I love life and I love to enjoy life. If I had my choice - a real choice - it would be for lazy days without stress. But you succeeded, and I'm stuck in this storm whether I like it or not. I will acknowledge that your guidance has brought me here with all these friends, and a life I'm proud of.

    "Once my goal was to experience everything the universe had to offer. Now I've experienced a great many things I never would have without your meddling. It never contradicted my desires for myself, so after some thought I decided it wasn't all bad. You can relax, I'll keep walking this path because now there are a lot of people I want to keep safe. For them, for me, I won't stop."

    He didn't mention humanity in his impassioned speech. He stuck to simple, and he stuck to true to convince the Clairvoyant of his commitment.

    "Thank you," the dying Paragon replied.

    Lan Jue shook his head. "If anyone should be thankful, it's all of us. The words alone aren't enough. You have been an unparalleled defender of humanity. But if I may make a small request..."

    The Clairvoyant urged him on. "Of course."

    Lan Jue looked at him in earnest. "You've been watching for so long, please tell me who hurt Hera. I know Hera is dead, it was all real, but there was never any trace."

    His voice went low. "I will tell you, once we've finished here."

    He turned to the others, then. "I tell everyone this, because it is my hope you will help him through. Our organization is loose, and free, but when it counts I believe we will unify. The exuviation technique has also inspired many. You stand on the cusp of a major step in human evolution.

    "If we survive this dark time, mankind will enter into an unprecedented golden age. It will be a step toward becoming the true masters of the universe." The fiery resilience from before blazed in his eyes again as he looked at each person in turn. "We must band together, and face this foe with our full strength."

    Everyone nodded. The Keeper chimed in. "Clairvoyant. What have you seen in your final visions?"

    The question made him sigh despairingly. "I've seen all that I was meant to see. That which I see now only confirms what we know. I'm as blind to the future as you are. Opportunities are there, but all I can do is my small part in making them better and easier. I am finished, I guess you'll have to see if those opportunities arise."

    The Paragons were unpleasantly stunned by what they heard. They had expected more instruction before the Clairvoyant's passing, but he had nothing more to impart.

    He gently patted Jun'er's head. "Go to your mother, sweetheart."

    "Yes, teacher," Jun'er answered respectfully. She then quickly tottered over to her mother's side. Her eyes were bright, but it still seemed she was blind. Lan Jue rushed forward to take up one of her groping hands and lead her to the Pharmacist.

    "Little Jun'er has more Talent at her age than I did when I was older. She wasn't in any of my visions. It appears as though the universe has its own ideas of providence. She was a gift."

    He watched Jun'er for a moment longer before returning his attention to the adults with a smile. "It's time for me to bid you all farewell. If we have the chance to meet again, someday at the end of time, that would make an old man happy."

    "Your Majesty." The collected Adepts and Paragons bowed low to the Eye of Tomorrow. Only the oldest - the Keeper and Bookworm - declined to bow. However, they nodded at their compatriot, with eyes full of respect.

    "Thank you, I ask that you all return to your homes. Zeus, Prometheus, Hades, Poseidon. If you would stay. And the Pharmacist as well."

    "Hey, you old scoundrel, I'm not staying?" Luo Xianni looked at him ready to disagree.

    The Clairvoyant looked back, and seeing her set expression could only sigh in resignation. "You stay too then, I suppose."

    She sniffed. "Right. As it should be."

    The Wine Master shook his head. When it came to his crazy aunt, there wasn't anything he could do. Adepts and Paragons filed out. They weren't sure why, but after seeing the Clairvoyant the sorrow that clouded their hearts seemed lifted. Now they felt disappointment, like saying goodbye to an old friend for a long time.

    The Clairvoyant turned his attention to the Four Divine Monarchs. He waved a hand through the air, and four distant points of light twinkled in response. They rapidly grew larger and more defined, separating into four dazzling flashes of green, red, gold and blue that in front of the four Adepts.
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