Chapter 408: The Future of

    Chapter 408: The Future of Skyfire Avenue

    The dramatically-named He Who Eats the Stars had sharp enough eyes to see what the Pharmacist had done. It had been a sort of dagger, dark gold and about seven inches long. Seven jewels were affixed to it, and they each glimmered with a strange light. The brightest was the first one, and with the dagger moving so quickly it almost looked like nothing more than a streak of light.

    Right now, it was stopped in place about an inch from his nose. The air around him sizzled and a hundred thousand tiny daggers shimmered almost invisible in the air around him. He couldn't move, he could hardly breathe. Any wrong move and those daggers could fall.

    He took gasping breathes, and in a quavering voice said, "I-I concede!"

    The Pharmacist lifted her hand, and the golden dagger obediently returned to her grasp. She walked away from the arena without a word.

    Another pair of eyes were carefully studying the fight. Constantine watched from the sidelines, quiet. As representative for the Pontiff's Citadel he'd been given an important task - win champion for the glory of the Pontiff.

    The recent losses suffered by his compatriots lately was far too bitter, both in cost and reputation. The infiltration by Jue Di's apprentice had undermined their authority terribly. It was just the people of the Holy City who were grumbling, but skeptical tones were coming from the Western government as well.

    Right now, the most important thing was to recover their standing among the Adept population. If he were able to come out with the crown, not only would the Pontiff look better but the earlier problems would quickly be forgotten. This was why his master made him come. He even let him bring the Spear of Fate. He knew his objective.

    There weren't very many who could stand up to Constantine, as far as he could tell. But the Pharmacist was one of them - probably the strongest of them.

    He remembered the Pharmacist from when they met on the Avenue. She had left quite the impression. She looked so young, but commanded incredible power. The likely reason for that was evident by her abilities. She used skills passed down from Former Era China... skills that were most famously used by the second strongest Paragon alive, Celestial Master Qian.

    Celestial Master Qian was the oldest known Paragon - he'd drawn breath for hundreds of years. Whether he was still alive was a matter of debate, but if he was that made him over four hundred.

    Jue Di was considered strongest, but he and Celestial Master Qian had never really fought to see who was strongest. The reality was that no one really knew just how strong he was, many still thought that he was never second to begin with.

    It was customary to remove a Paragon's name from the lists if they hadn't been heard from in over a hundred years. The cut-off was drawing near for Celestial Master Qian. If he didn't show himself within the next three years, then his name would be stricken from record.

    Constantine was even more sure of his estimations once he saw the dagger. The Flying Daggers - was that not a skill old-time cultivators mastered? The story went that during a time of great prosperity for these hermits, their numbers swelled so high they could have swept across the world and taken it for their own. They were the strongest living beings on the planet. Jue Di was said to come from Former Era China, too. The Taiji skills he employed were likewise remnants from that time.

    If he was right, then this was going to be a tricky fight. He wasn't scared of her, especially not with the Spear of Fate. If the two of them ended up on the same field, it would be a toss-up who came out the victor, from what he could see. They'd have to see when they got there.

    He did have to be careful, though. His people were already in trouble with one of Jue Di's Disciples. He wouldn't want to provoke one of Celestial Master Qian's. That would prove messy. The Pontiff was strong, but even he couldn't win a war on a dozen fronts. The most important thing for him was to find a way to deal with the situation, otherwise the Pontiff would never know peace.

    But not now. Now he had a job to do. The thoughts that troubled him passed away as he focused on the present. The first thing was to make the Citadel's name mean something again.

    The Pharmacist walked away without any word or action. There was no honor in boasting over the defeat of a first rank contender. Like any other fight, she made her way back up to the VIP viewing platform to retrieve Jun'er.

    When she saw her daughter in the Gourmet's arms, instead of with the Terminator like the last few days, she knew something wasn't right. Her eyes hardened.

    The Gourmet, seeing the look in her eye, immediately shook his head to warn her off. Nothing's wrong, the motion said, relax. And she did as she walked to the Gourmet's side and took her little one back.

    "Thank you so much, Your Majesties, for looking after her." She bowed politely to the two Paragons.

    The Terminator smiled at her. "You have quite the extraordinary daughter!"

    "Huh?" She didn't understand. Perhaps he was joking? "You're too kind, Your Majesty."

    The Gourmet rose to his feet. "I'll explain later," he said. "Your Majesty, we'll be heading back first." He shot the Pharmacist a dire look then motioned for them to go. He followed behind protectively.

    The Gourmet had a lot on his plate, and found it difficult to think of much else. Jun'er predictive powers were very important for the Avenue, and word had to be sent back right away. A reliable method had to be sought to bring the little one safely back. He also had to let the Clairvoyant know - he would tell them what to do about her future lineage.

    The Terminator didn't stop them, or make any effort to complicate things. If he were in their position he would do the same thing. The reason the gourmet hadn't left upon immediately discovering her abilities was because the Pharmacist was still fighting. Now that her day was done, they had work to do.

    Behind them, Lucifer and Metatron watched . They hadn't seen what happened, but they knew something was going on. What would make the Gourmet take Jun'er back all of a sudden? What would make them so quick to leave? It was incredibly disrespectful to their host, the Terminator. However the Paragon didn't seem bothered by it. Curiouser and curiouser, they thought - could the East and North be this close?

    By the time the three Avenue denizens left the sports arena, Lan Jue was waiting for them. He had already changed his clothes, and removed his mask. Qianlin remained inside to watch the fights, so as not to confuse or trouble Jun'er. It was very good for her to watch these powerful Adepts compete, since she'd just started to study combat herself.

    Upon seeing the gourmet accompanying them, Lan Jue also had an inkling that something had happened. He didn't say anything at first, and greeted them warmly.

    "You're so great, daddy!" Jun'er swung her arms wide as Lan Jue picked her up, then draped them around his neck.

    He smiled and bounced her a little on his waist. "So are you! What brings you out here, Gourmet? It seems wrong to leave so early... did the Terminator go as well?"

    The Gourmet looked at him and shook his head. "Not here."

    His suspicions were confirmed. The Gourmet's discreet bearing meant something had indeed happened. He didn't press the Paragon any further as they returned to the hotel.

    The Gourmet's station was enough to demand the Presidential suit, which they now inhabited. They filed in, and he shut the door behind them.

    His eyes became a boundless grey, and in that instant the whole room was submerged in a murky aura. Everything was muted, colors and sounds - Nether Isolation. Anyone passing by from outside would get the distinct sense of death hanging over the room.

    Lan Jue's face was grave. "It's this serious?"

    The Gourmet nodded adamantly. "It concerns the future of Skyfire Avenue."

    Jun'er knew it, too. She was calm on the outside, and sat quietly on the sofa. Her eyes said something troubled her, however.

    The Pharmacist was less reticent to speak. "What in the world is all of this about, Gourmet? Why are you and the Terminator acting so strange?"

    This caused the Infernal Vanguard to sigh. "You should thank your lucky stars Jun'er and the Terminator got on so well. All of this has to do with her. Unless we both were wrong - and I don't think we are - then Jun'er's Dsicipline has awakened.


    Both the Pharmacist and Lan Jue were stunned at the revelation, and pleased. Both their faces bore smiles of delight. An awakened Discipline at five years old meant she would be very strong.

    The Pharmacist immediately went to her daughter and gave her a hug. "But that can't be the reason for such a big reaction from the two of you. There isn't any Discipline that would make you so skittish."

    The Gourmet fixed her with his gaze. "What if it was a prophetic Discipline?"

    Lan Jue's eyes nearly popped out of his head. The Pharmacist looked at him with her mouth hanging wide open.

    "Pro.... Prophetic? So, like the Clairvoyant's? Wha-..." The Pharmacist trailed off. Now she understood why the Terminator and the Gourmet were acting so strange.

    Truly prophetic beings were very rare in the realm of humanity. Exceedingly rare, but possible. The ones that did appear were usually half-prescient, like those who could commune with the spirit world. Fully prophetic abilities never really awakened before the age of twenty.

    Jun'er wasn't even six. If this was a full-prophetic Discipline awakening within her, it was completely unprecedented! By comparison, the Clairvoyant had been ten when his Discipline awoke.
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