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Chapter 617: Together

    Chapter 617: Together

    Jue Di had told the Driver about the yin-yang lightning. He'd said that by its nature, it was typically only used from the outside. That meant it was used for battle and not normally transferred into one's own powers. However, because Lan Jue absorbed the thunder essence it had begun to evolve the nature of his energies. Now it was more like a derivative of empyreal lightning, far outstripping the capabilities of their taiyin and taiyang thunderbolts. It was small, but the wisps of mystical power stuck to them like glue, feeding them what they needed to grow as Adepts.

    The Driver was a strict believer of 'never let an opportunity pass.' The things he learned from Jue Di, and the things he was accomplishing with Lan Jue strengthened him beyond expectations. Becoming a Paragon one day didn't have to be a dream!

    "Fine, if you feel that strongly then we're all going together," Lan Jue answered.

    Lan Qing was not with his troops, but they were taken care of. The Coffee Master and the Bartender were left behind to care for Star Division while Lan Jue was gone. Rest was important, but they had also come to test themselves against the mighty Eastern army and learn from their training methods. The two groups were slated to drill together for mutual improvement. Everyone would return to Skyfire Avenue together once Lan Jue and his team returned.

    Before long, Zeus-1 was tearing through the sky like a blue hawk. A tail of water vapor traced its exit. Lan Jue had a soft-spot for this particular ship. They'd been through alot together.

    It wasn't as spacious as Majesty, but there were a few crew quarters to take advantage of. Jue Di and Luo Xianni would have one, obviously. The Pauper had helped himself to one already for cultivation, while Lan Jue and the Driver needed space to continue their process. With Jue Di present they didn't need to be afraid of losing control.

    That left one room open, and two Paragons; the Wine Master, and the Clockmaker.

    Lan Jue gave his old friend a knowing look when they realized the problem. The Wine Master stammered a response. "Perhaps I should find the Pauper, squeeze in with him."

    But Lan Jue's gaping expression stopped him. This old man was the leader of Skyfire Avenue, a master of space and time. How was he so stupid when it came to women? How was he not losing his mind over this chance that fell in his lap?

    The Clockmaker shot him a look. "You can come with me. You and the Pauper have different Disciplines, I'll help you find the road. When we go back you can try to create a dharma, too."

    "Huh?" The Wine Master's head shot up as he looked her way. The Clockmaker had already turned around and was heading back to her - their - new room.

    "Will you stop being so stupid?" Lan Jue looked at his friend with resigned irritation. "How can you ever hope to even hold a lady if you keep acting like this? You'll be a bachelor the rest of your life."

    "You don't understand anything," the Wine Master fired back. "She is a woman of high moral integrity. She has never agreed to contact with a man before. I respect her for that."

    Lan Jue was losing patience. "Crap. When you're chasing women you need courage, caution, and a thick skin. Respect is when you make them your wife. Until then the greatest respect you can show a women is how much you like her. Don't waste time pussy-footing around, you've got to get out there!"

    His voice was loud, enough so that the others could hear. He spied a pair of hard, sharp eyes sweep back toward him.

    "Ehm...." He felt the bitter, soft, but indignant eyes pierce him. Then he ran. Personal safety was more important than yelling at the Wine Master.

    The Wine Master couldn't help but chuckle as he watched him flee. It didn't hide the racing of his own heart. Did she... did she really invite me to cultivate with her in her room? He thought to himself. Like in most ships, cabins were very small. Space was limited, so two people together...

    He took several deep breaths, then followed after the Clockmaker with resolute strides. Lan Jue's words had motivated him.

    ζ

    "That nephew of yours is rubbish." Jue Di was lying on the best of his cabin, frowning at nothing.

    Luo Xianni was lying beside him with her head on his arm. She laughed. "You aren't? Who was it that made me wait so many years? You relax, when we get back I'll stay at Skyfire Avenue. Whatever you want to do, I won't stop you. I can't ask you to give up your freedom." She always knew in her heart that she would never completely control this man. It was better to stay close, and be together for as long as they could. At least she could see him from time to time.

    Jue Di pulled her close and sighed. "Maybe I really am getting old. I'm less interested in freedom these days, more afraid of being lonely. You know me, with my character do you think I'd be calling my sons back? I started to miss them, and discovered that all along I was missing someone else too. I let you down."

    Luo Xianni's body trembled. She looked up and stared into his face. She couldn't believe what she was hearing, that those words were coming from Jue Di's mouth.

    After so many years she knew this old man well, or she thought she did. This wasn't something the Chi Bupang she knew would say. She gently ran her fingers across his face. "You're not old," she said, "you'll never be old."

    He smiled at her, at the warmth she was giving him. "I've been too stubborn, and it's cost me a lot of wonderful things. Things get clearer as you age. When this alien business is over, come wander with me. We'll explore the universe together, find a nice planet for our kids. Maybe a place like Earth, rich in original qi - a trace of the immortal realm."

    She watched the determination rise in his eyes. "You... don't mind me coming?"

    He took her face in his hands. "So long as you don't abandon us, I want you to be the real mother of my children."

    Luo Xianni bit her lip to fight back the flood emotion, but lost. She threw her arms around her neck and pulled him close.

    She had waited for these words. Waited for so many years!

    Jue Di laughed. Now he looked back at his obstinance and thought it was stupid. He preferred this feeling, warm and sweet. With her it felt like he had a home.

    Ever since running into Luo Xianni on Ziluo, he'd felt out of sorts. He'd raised Lan Jue and Lan Qing, taught them, but since they left he'd been living on his own. He had always been a lone wolf, but emotions were a universal trait. He was just as susceptible to missing his children, but he couldn't tell them.

    He'd known all about Lan Jue's pain when Hera died. At the time he thought it was weak, it made him angry. He wasn't going to reward such weakness with his attention. It took years, watching Lan Jue pull himself out of it step by step, hearing about him from Lan Qing. Only until his amazing performance at the Great Adept Tournament did Jue Di realize how much he missed his family.

    He'd raised those two boys himself from the time they were children. They were his boys as much as they were his disciples, and he treated them like it. He was stern and unforgiving, but now as he got older he saw how these two young men fed his soul. Now, watching them continuing to improve every day was enough.

    Jue Di longed for a closer relationship with them, but he knew it wasn't in the cards. Who knew the strongest human ever recorded could be so sentimental.

    But that day hen Luo Xianni showed up with his son, it was strange. Something more appeared between him and his son when she was around. He'd heard someone say it in the factory once, and immediately recognized what it was. Without a mother, they never felt like a family. It had been an awakening for him. He saw the truth, a woman was the glue that held a family together.

    Later, as he learned more about Luo Xianni and his son, and how they worked together, he saw everything clearly. She made him so angry sometimes he couldn't speak, but he found he liked the life he led now. They spat barbs and their kids managed the casualties - that was family.

    The words he told Luo Xianni sounded simple, but they weren't. They were the result of long hours of thought, and difficult sacrifices. Now, with her wrapped up in his arms, he had no regrets. On the contrary, he was overjoyed with his decision.

    ζ

    That cabin was full of sweetness and honey. Next door the room was silent.

    When the Wine Master stepped inside he spotted the Clockmaker already seated on one side of the bed. Her eyes were closed, like she was meditating.

    He wavered for a moment, but steeled his resolve and walked over to stand in front of her.

    "Ah, ehm... I'm here." He stammered.

    Her eyes fluttered open. Nothing was said, she just looked at him with smoky eyes.

    Her look seemed to put him on edge. The Wine Master straightened. "I-if you feel like this is uncomfortable, I can leave."

    She let him flounder for a moment, then turned her eyes to the side. The Wine Master, crestfallen, turned to go.

    "Get back here!" The Clockmaker's voice was harsh.

    "Ah?" He turned around to face her.

    She glared back. "The Jewelry Master was right. Really a waste."

    The Wine Master grinned awkwardly. "I'm sorry, I... I'm afraid."

    The Clockmaker paused. "What are you afraid of? That I'm going to eat you?"

    The Wine Master sighed. "I'm afraid you'll leave. The last time you did, you were gone for years. My heart ached every time I walked passed that empty store. Missing you was a curse. I couldn't focus to cultivate. The only time I could think about you was when I drank. The beauty of the wine always reminded me of you. I developed a taste for the richness of it, and the way it dulled the mind. I missed you every day, so every day I would drink.

    *A note from TJSS; The fervor of youth alive in the hearts of the old! Even the Wine Master has his spring. Yes, for the Wine Master's Spring, I beg! 1

    1. I'm embarrassed to admit I don't know how his payment method works, but I think he asks for donations, so that's what he means here by beg.
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