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Chapter 602: Persuading the Pauper

    Chapter 602: Persuading the Pauper

    The Pauper shrugged. "It can't be said the parliament is entirely wrong. If they decide to evacuate, that'll displace more people than I can count - many will become destitute. If it isn't handled carefully that situation can very quickly turn into a riot. Besides it's like you said, we don't know where and when those aliens will show up, or whether they're impact the Eastern Alliance at all. In situations like this it's hard to be confident and quick in making decisions. My guess is the only thing they can agree on is to increase the military and prepare."

    Lan Jue nodded. "Subsequently we don't have any choices. Like them we can only strengthen Star Division and be ready to hit back when the aliens arrive. What do you say, join us."

    The Pauper hesitated. "Me? I'm spoiled after living by my own rules for so long. I won't fit." Then the light of understanding lit up in the Pauper's eyes. "Ah hah! I thought you were being kind asking me here to explain, Jewelry Master. Instead I find that you just intended on trying to sell me on the Star Division!"

    A grin spread across Lan Jue's face. "You're a Paragon. The Division isn't going to demand anything from you. Don't forget about the exuvium process, either. The East has already determined that military members who participate in preparing the process will be given the option to undergo it. A Paragon's life is limited, too. A few more years is just as important for you as it is for me."

    The Pauper chuckled. "Stop this nonsense. This process is being examined in all of the Alliances. I could go anywhere and as a Paragon they'd happily give me an opportunity. That's no reason for me to join your Division."

    "It's not my Division," Lan Jue corrected. "It belongs to Skyfire Avenue. You really won't join?"

    The Pauper shrugged. "I'll think about it. I've only just broken through, I need to stabilize my new abilities."

    "Who's talking nonsense now," Lan Jue retorted. "Your Discipline draws on the righteous dharma of the cosmos, it doesn't need 'stabilizing.' Cultivating normally will open the door to the Realm of Protogenia, don't think I don't know what's up. Relax, joining won't mean anyone can tell you what to do - think of yourself as an adviser. You'll have just as much freedom, you'll just have a military distinction."

    Lan Jue's former partner in crime pondered. He'd been a beggar, and he wouldn't trade it for a crown. He had grown used to the lazy lifestyle, and wasn't interested in any commitments. However, he couldn't simply ignore the aliens and the threat they posed to humanity. He didn't feel right refusing the invitation straight away.

    Their conversation was interrupted by the buzz of Lan Jue's communicator. He answered.

    "When are you coming?" Lan Qing answered in his typical, no-nonsense fashion.

    "I'm afraid it'll be a few more days," Lan Jue replied. "We just had another Adept ascend to Paragon here. Many of the Star Division soldiers are meditating on their findings and I want to watch over them. Then they come to I'll head right over."

    Lan Qing paused. "Another Paragon?"

    "Yup!"

    His brother's typically flat voice sounded a little pleased. "This is a good thing, but I'm telling you that I don't think I can wait too long. It can't be held back forever."

    It was Lan Jue's turn to take a pause in surprise. He was a smart guy, and quickly put two and two together. "Bro, are you about to break through?"

    "Yup." Lan Qing replied. "With father's instruction a lot has become clear to me. He's helped assuage some of my concerns. After these insights, it's become harder to keep the pressure from overwhelming me."

    Lan Jue took a deep breath. He sounded somewhat irritated. "I thought I'd be able to catch up to you, brother. I didn't realize I was so far behind. Hey! Do you think I could bring the Star Division troops? They're top-class Adepts, these protogenia-inspired epiphanies are very helpful for them. Last time I looked them over a tenth of them had come upon a profound insight. The others also got glimpses. Every Paragon's protogenia is different, and I'm sure your breakthrough will inspire a lot of people. It's important!"

    Lan Qing replied. "If you can be here within the week, then get here."

    "Aright. Talk to dad and see if he can help you resist for a little longer. I'll be there as soon as I can. Worst case I leave the meditating ones here and take the others. You'll definitely see me within a week."

    "Alright." Lan Qing hung up.

    Lan Jue's face was bright with excitement. His brother wanted him close while he broke through to Paragon. Indeed! Lan Qing had been a peaked-rank Adept for so long, it was about time. There was a moment of regret, where Lan Jue pined over his three years lost in depression. If he had kept to it, he certainly would not have been far behind his brother today.

    This was tremendous news. Star Division was about to get another leg up.

    The Pauper looked at Lan Jue in shock. "Your brother is about to break through as well? He is...?" He didn't know much about Lan Jue or his relationship with the man he'd called brother.

    Lan Jue nodded. "... also an Easterner. His name is Lan Qing, have you heard of him?"

    The Pauper shook his head. Lan Jue laughed. "It's really like you've been living under a rock. Look up 'An Lun super soldier' when you have a chance. My brother is part of their army."

    The Pauper was stunned. "There are Paragons in the army? This is excellent!"

    Lan Jue felt something stir in his chest. "Your Majesty Arhat, you've just broken through to Paragon but I can feel that you don't need time to secure your power. What do you need is someone who can guide you through the next steps. None of the Paragons here are suitable to help you, because they aren't familiar with the ancient martial ways. I know someone who might be able to help. At the very least he'll make your path easier."

    The Pauper was both surprised and curious as he regarded Lan Jue. Then he smiled. "Jewelry Master, you don't need to resort to baseless boasts to get me to join your army. Just wait for my response."

    The Pauper wasn't intending to be flippant, but he really didn't believe there was anyone around who could instruct him. There were many strong Adepts on the Avenue, but none of them were suitable for what he needed. He really couldn't think of who he could turn to.

    A sense of disquiet filled Lan Jue's heart. Father, I'm sorry. I'm going to have to do some name dropping.

    "You probably know my father's Paragon title. Jue Di." Lan Jue softly revealed.

    The Pauper's smiling face froze. He looked like he was having a stroke.

    "Jue... Jue Di." Taming the Dragon Arhat knew who Jue Di was, and his wisdom in regards to ancient martial styles. If there was anyone who could truly help him take his next step, it was Jue Di.

    For most Adept Jue Di was more legend than man; the greatest Paragon to have ever lived, a peerless weapon of mass destruction. The Pauper was now a Paragon himself, but he felt he could never match the likes of Jue Di. If someone would have said one day he'd have an opportunity to be trained by the man, he'd have laughed. Jue Di had been gone so long.

    Lan Jue earnestly nodded his head. "This is not something I'd ever joke about. He's with my brother now. You can come with us."

    Skyfire Avenue's new Paragon audibly gulped, but waved his hand. "There was absolutely no offense intended, Jewelry Master."

    His friend chuckled. "We're all family, that doesn't matter. Humanity has suddenly found itself faced with a terrible foe. Every capable human is a treasure for the species. Trust me, father isn't going to be too stingy with what he knows. You're aware that he is a master of many martial arts, one of which is based on Buddhist faith. I'm sure he can help you."

    Promises of instruction by Jue Di were very tempting. A few brief moments of thought convinced the Pauper to join Star Division. He did live here, after all. It had proven a fine shelter for many years, a place that had given him the peace he needed to break through.

    Many were the Adepts that reached the final bottleneck and never broke through. It needed a lot of luck, and a lot of resources. Lan Jue and the Wine Master had guided him to what he needed, but without them would he ever have succeeded? If he were not on the Avenue, would there be five Paragons watching over him?

    One important aspect of an Adept's transformation into a Paragon was the process itself. To some extent it went against the laws of nature. There were dangers. It was possible he could have lost his mind. An opportunistic enemy could have chosen that moment to strike.

    However, the Pauper was lucky in that moment of vulnerability to be watched over by five great men and women. All of this was what Skyfire Avenue gave him.

    Star Division's primary directive was the defense of Skyfire Avenue. Obviously there was more they were involved in, but that main reason was enough for him once he thought about it.

    On top of that Lan Jue was dangling the tasty prospect of one-on-one training with the strongest human ever.

    When Lan Jue realized he'd convinced the Pauper, he was very pleased. The Gourmet's sudden hermitage meant they were suddenly short one Paragon for the Division. The Keeper and Bookworm were too old and crazy to even consider. The Wine Master was busy keeping everything running. And as for the Epochrion, Lan Jue deigned not to ask. She'd just come from the North, after all. Who knew what she was thinking.

    Lan Jue's mother was always available, of course. Having attained Nirvana, however, there were restrictions regarding what she could get involved in. Having another Paragon like the Pauper would be exactly what Star Division needed.

    Lan Jue sent the Pauper off then made his way to the Gothic Winery. As expected the Wine Master and Driver were there. The Epochrion's presence was unanticipated.

    The Driver had been granted glimpses of truth through the Pauper's breakthrough. Especially after his experiments with yin-yang lightning, and considering the fact that the Pauper's protogenia didn't match his, glimpses were plenty.

    "Did you succeed?" The Driver asked with a smirk.
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