Chapter 415: Dance of the Three Monarchs

    Chapter 415: Dance of the Three Monarchs

    Hua Li huffed, then produced two pipes from his clothing and gave one to each of his friends. "The trials of the good always go unsung. Here you are threatening me and all I want is to lift my brothers up."

    They were odd aluminum pipes that ere half yellow, and half black with small white dots. The sight of them immediate put a smile on their faces.

    "It's all good, reparations have been made. Getting your hands on a 1966 is pretty incredible. You're the one who gave Lan Jue the one from before right? Why is it you never treat me so well.?"

    "You?" Hua Li scoffed. "It would amount to reckless waste. Lan Jue is a man of taste - you'd probably use it to pick up chicks."

    "I don't believe we've been introduced," Lina interrupted. She looked expectantly at Chu Cheng.

    He looked back as he answered. "Ah, yes. This is another brother of ours, Hua Li. Since you know Lan Jue so well, do you want to take a crack at him?" A moment later he shot an accusatory finger at Hua Li. "And don't take off your mask."

    "Ah! You... you're Poseidon?" He underestimated Lina, who immediately sussed out Hua Li's identity after the Lan Jue hint. Suddenly excited, she barreled onward. "Can I get an autograph?"

    Chu Cheng's face fell - this wasn't the reaction he'd hoped for. "This is why handsome guys have no friends," he complained. "Hua Li, I love you brother but sometimes I want to pinch your face off. Stop coming around here, alright? This happens every time. I never get to have fun when you're around."

    Hua Li pulled a pen from his pocket as though he'd done it a million times, plucking a napkin off of the table. He scribbled his name and handed it to Lina. "If you want that cigar you're gunna have to deal with it."

    "Don't forget the cognac," Lan Jue warned. "If you try and sweep it under the rug you won't like my reaction."

    Chu Cheng's  voice turned bitter. "You guys are mean as hell. I'll send someone to deliver it. But we can't just drink it - let's stir some stuff up! We never get to hang out."

    Hua Li deflated. "Dance? I dance so much I wanna puke."

    "So what," Chu Cheng challenged. "Here we are, three brothers together again. Have you forgotten the trouble we used to get in to? When did you get so old, A-Li?"

    Hua Li dragged his eyes to Lan Jue, who shrugged indifferently. "If he wants to dance then why not. Just be careful not to encroach on his majesty's domain, I guess."

    This earned a chuckle from Chu Cheng. "I like a little competition. You're in for a treat Lina - you get to see what it means when the three of us start raging. Waiter! Call the DJ over, and tell the Red Rat to come by as well."

    A few moments later a middle-aged man in a suit came bowing and scraping. "Master Chu, what can I do for you?"

    Chu Cheng looked pained. "Go fetch the 1929 Tesseron from the house. Ah, the injustices I suffer. Go."

    "Sir." The 'red rat' shuffled away without another word. He knew precisely of what his master spoke, and what it cost. However now that the master was entertaining friends it was important to give him face. No hesitation would be tolerated. They would have a treasure to drink while they enjoyed the night, that was certain.

    The young and talented DJ appeared in the spot Chu Cheng's man vacated. "Brother Cheng! What's up? You still plan to keep this party bus rollin'?" It was clear the DJ and Chu Cheng had a familiar relationship. How else could his earlier dance have been so well choreographed?

    Chu Cheng approached and whispered a few sentences in to the young man's ear. The younger man offered a knowing nod, then left without a word.

    Qianlin looked toward Lan Jue with a curious expression. "Are you going to dance?"

    Lan Jue plucked the 1966 Cohiba cigar from its tube. Carefully, he snipped a bit off the end, and lit the other end with a lighter.

    "I can try I suppose. It's been a long time. We're all having a good time so why not?"

    Hua Li smiled. "I think it must be more than seven years since we've last got together to cause some trouble."

    A sentimental look crossed Lan Jue's face. "Sounds about right." That was when he first met Hera. There was no more need for him to go out trawling the clubs after that.

    Now Hera's spitting image sat right next to him, but even though she looked the same everything was different. He wasn't at all like the man he'd been seven years ago.

    Lan Jue plucked the cigar from his mouth, and as if on cue a low buzz rumbled from the dance floor below. It was followed by the DJ's voice, altered by computer to sound like an android. His rousing voice called out to the crowd.

    "Today is your lucky day people! Our very own dance god of Crescent club, Chu Cheng, is gunna show us all how it's done again. But this time he'd brought along a couple buddies who're just as badass on the dance floor. I can promise you guys are not gunna forget what you witness tonight. We're calling it the Flight of the Monarchs!"

    Clunk! All the lights shut off, plunging the club in to darkness with the DJ's final word. The three Monarchs rose to their feet.

    There was a sharp snap, and a ball of fire was born. It roiled like a small angry star in Chu Cheng's palm. The sudden light drew every eye.

    "Brother Cheng! Brother Cheng! Brother Cheng!"

    With a wave of his hand the ball of flame raced out to hang over the crowd. Chu Cheng himself rose in to the air and followed. Just as he reached the ball's location it exploded, reforming in a great phoenix that hang over Chu Cheng's shoulders. Squeals and screams ensued. Even if they didn't know Chu Cheng this would solidify him as a legend.

    The screeching phoenix descended toward the dance floor. Behind it there appeared another light, this one blue. An orb of water like a planet orbited overhead, and as they watched the crust slowly solidified in to a dazzling mother-of-pearl.

    Hua Li soared through the air and settled upon the orb, allowing it to bring him slowly to the dance floor as well. The flashy gentlemen occupied either side of the platform.

    Red versus blue. The glimmering lights clashed and set the stage ablaze with color. Though no further illumination was needed beams of light covered both, matching their respective element.

    The atmosphere buzzed with anticipation. BOOM! A crack of thunder took everyone by surprise, and a golden bolt of lightning struck the platform dead center. All three colors blazed bright as a supernova.

    The massive speakers exploded with electrifying rock music. Three figures flashed gold, red and blue upon the stage as they broke in to synchronized dance. 1

    The three men all danced the same steps, but with vastly different feeling. The thudding music and dramatic light set the atmosphere of the club ablaze. The excitement was almost oppressive.

    Lina was no stranger to the spotlight as she'd shown. She even used her Discipline to spice things up as they did. However she could only stare with disbelief at what she was watching. Compared to them she was like a child.

    These guys...

    Zhou Qianlin wasn't any better. Her face was a picturesque expression of embarrassment and excitation. She stood next to Lina at the banister near their booth and, just like the crowd below, shouted their approval.

    It was a unique experience for Qianlin - the first time she'd visited a place like this. It was a true shock to see Lan Jue's wild side.

    Chu Cheng writhed like a demon, lit all around by columns of fire. Hua Li flitted through a mist of twinkling water like a sprite. Only Lan Jue's moves were a marriage of strength and beauty. Every thrust of an arm and swing of a lag brought a contrail of sparks in its wake.

    The three auras of their Discipline battles incessantly around them. Each clash elicited a violent firework display which would dissolve only to be reborn again. It was similar to what Lina had done, just dialed up to a thousand.

    Eventually the raging flood of music subsided, and with it the lights around the three men. Once more the floor was cast in to darkness, but where before there was silence the screams now threatened to bring the roof down. The DJ hadn't been lying - they wouldn't be forgetting this night for a long time to come.

    When the lights came back on the dance floor was empty. Chu Cheng, Hua Li and Lan Jue stood by the railing on the second floor with glasses of champagne raised to the spectators below.

    The crowd went wild.

    A big grin was plastered on Chu Cheng's face. "It's been a long time since I've had this much fun. I gotta say, this makes me happy. Come on Hua'Li take that mask off - aren't you suffocating?"

    Hua Li bumped his friend's glass with his own. "Say something useful from time to time, would you?"

    Qianlin shook her head and laughed. "Who knew you were such a party animal!"

    Lan Jue winced just as Chu Cheng burst in to loud guffaws. "No doubt, party animal is right! When he was younger it was like taking a beast out on the town."

    "Shut the hell up!" Lan Jue was ashamed to irritation, as his face betrayed.

    Hua Li didn't react, only turned his head away and pretended like he couldn't hear anything.

    Champagne is a drink for celebrations, and it put people in the party mood because the carbon dioxide brought the alcohol right to the head. In a place like this champagne was the drink of choice.

    It took the five of them no time to put down several bottles. By the time the Tesseron arrived they were well in to the drink. When Hua Li expressed only tepid interest Lan Jue decided to put it away for another time. Just as Chu Cheng was about to beg for a sip or two, the DJ's excited calls came from below.

    1. TJSS describes it as 'synchronized dance full of manliness.'
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