Chapter 112: Pointers
Hua Li snapped his head around to glare at Lan Jue. “A-Jue, did you teach them this?!”
Lan Jue coughed uncomfortably. “Stop framing good people! Only you are responsible for your reputation. Come on, let’s get to the sparring arena. Ke’er should already be there with the Wine Master.”
He turned and began to make his way. As he did, hidden from view, a goofy grin nearly split his face. He couldn’t keep it hidden any longer.
When they arrived they spied the Wine Master waiting. He stood quietly before the gates of the Reaper’s Arena, meticulously put together and almost regal. Above ground he managed the Gothic Winery, but here the Reaper’s Arena was under his purview. Ke’er stood behind him, as she felt uncomfortable at his side or in front.
“Wine Master,” Lan Jue greeted when he was not far off.
“Nm.” The elderly man nodded to the Jewelry Master. “What are you planning to do in my arena?”
“I’d like to rent a ring, one with no surveillance. I have some pointers I’d like to share with these young ladies. Oh, and let me introduce my friend, Hua Li.”
The Wine Master ran his eyes across Hua Li, who likewise was sizing up the old man. However after a moment’s observation it was Hua Li who was struck with surprise, and a slight fear crept through him. Employing his energy awareness had revealed absolutely nothing before him – a void, like there was no man there at all.
“It’s nice to meet you, Wine Master,” he offered with a smile.
The Wine Master stared quietly at him for a moment before reacting. “Hello. You’re Poseidon, are you? From Gobi Entertainment.”
“I am.” Hua Li’s smile broadened. There was no way for him to truly conceal his identity. After all the Supersoldier of An Lun wasn’t the most well-known of the Divine Monarchs – it was in fact him, Poseidon. A name that was known throughout all the Alliances, as an artist. The most famous artist in the universe. His fame transcended borders, and through the help and advertisement of Gobi Entertainment he could not be claimed by any one faction – he belonged to his fans alone.
The Wine Master nodded once more. “Your father and I used to be close, once. I was surprised to hear he retired.”
Hua Li’s smile turned bitter. “Then you likely know the Gobi habit – striving to retire as early as possible. There’s nothing grand about being a high-profile figure.”
The Wine Master spoke no further on it, turning instead to Lan Jue. “I’ll give you an arena for use. No monitors or surveillance. It’ll cost you, though.”
The Wine Master turned and walked in to the Arena as though he hadn’t heard.
The others followed a few steps behind, but Lan Jue shuffled a few quick steps to catch up with his old friend.
“Wine Master, there’s actually something I’d like to discuss with you. It’s about the visit from the representatives of the Pontiff’s Castle and Dark Tower. They should be arriving soon, if I’m not mistaken. Unfortunately I’m not at my full strength currently, and I’m afraid I’d be little use directly participating in the exchange. Perhaps Hua Li could take my place, if you approve.”
The Wine Master’s brows wrinkled as he spoke. “Unacceptable. He isn’t a part of the Avenue, and as such can’t represent us. But you don’t need to worry, we’ve actually heard from the Pontiff’s Castle. For… reasons unknown, they wish to postpone the exchange for another month. Will you have recovered in that time?” He turned his head to look at his younger council counterpart, something curious in his eyes.
“Postponed?” His face revealed a sardonic grin. “That’s enough. I hope they have the nerve to show up.”
By then they’d arrived before a towering metal wall. The Wine Master lazily lifted a hand, waving it at the barrier before them. A moment later, the solid metal wall began to ripple like a curtain of water.
“Alright. This arena has been fully shielded, nor is there any surveillance. Head on in – here’s the key. “The Wine Master handed an Jue a metal orb inlayed with a sapphire power gem. “One c-ranked power gem per month.”
Lan Jue scowled. “Why not just rob me?”
The Wine Master’s response was chilly. “How much do you suspect a bottle of Romanee-Conti costs? Hurry and recover from your injuries. Don’t forget your promise to me.” He turned away then. He nodded once to Hua Li, and suddenly vanished from view – a void as empty as Hua Li had witnessed.
“Ooee,” Hua Li uttered in surprise. “That one’s scary strong. I’m guessing he’s the Cosmagus?”
Lan Jue nodded in affirmation. “A ceremonious but adorable old man. Come on, in we go. The cost of this is three times higher than normal – so inhuman. Someday I’ll spend a week in his cellar, see the look on his face then.”
Hua Li chortled. “You won’t see any face. He’ll just immediately shred you to ribbons. It’s rumored his true power is in folding space. I wonder how many interspatial fissures you can endure.”
They passed through the rippling barrier and as promised, everything was concealed. Darkness enveloped them, but a moment later the world beyond the curtain was revealed. Suddenly, they found themselves standing in a massive, open area.
“Well!” Lan Jue’s voice matched the surprise in his eyes.
The arena was circular, rising over two hundred meters to a ceiling. It was roughly five hundred meters in diameter. They felt insignificant in it’s vast expanse. It may have cost Lan Jue three times the going rate, but compared to normal rented spaces it was monstrously large.
“Extravagant,” Hua Li hummed. A place like this was enough to practice even mecha combat. He, too, knew that a c-ranked gem a month wasn’t cheap, but they would be hard pressed to find a better sparring arena. Mecha piloting, Discipline training… anything they liked, without fear of collateral damage. Lately the authorities had become far more strict in this area, and finding a private space to train for any period of time was exceedingly difficult.
If you really wanted to improve in combat, the best way to do it was to give it your all, and hold nothing back. Thus this sort of space was indeed expensive.
Lan Jue stepped forward a few paces, then turned to face the four women.
“Our last foray in to the Shattered Starfields I think left us all with a very strong impression. I will always do my best to keep you safe – but I am not the strongest person out there. Each of you possess great talent, and with training can grow to become incredible powerhouses. These last three years, I’ve been far too lazy, far too indifferent, and it’s held you four back. Starting today, we’re all going to snap out of this funk, and work on getting stronger.”
“Xiuxiu,” Lan Jue said, looking at her.
“Boss.” She stepped forward.
“Your talent has reached the peak of eighth rank,” he addressed her. “Ninth rank is within sight. Your Discipline, Sharpness, is enough to overpower most in combat. Even so this last time Uriel managed to damage your Asura. It is my hope you break through to ninth rank within the year – then we’ll see a substantial increase in your abilities.”
“For all four of you, cooperation is the key to successful cultivation. If you work together, covering each other’s weaknesses, even a Paragon couldn’t stand against you.”
“Ke’er,” Lan Jue turned his head to the blue-haired young girl.
She almost leapt forward. “Boss.” Her rush forward caused her full chest to jiggle 1.
“Your Discipline’s focus is raw physical attack and explosive power. Different from Xiuxiu’s. She excels in close combat, and you from a distance. I know because of your history, you’ve avoided further cultivation, but…”
“Boss!” Ke’er suddenly interrupted his thought. The corners of her eyes had grown slightly red. “Boss, not to worry. There will be no further problems in my cultivation. I’ll work hard to improve. I am also nearly ninth rank, and will break through. I want to protect you.”
“Eh…” For a moment, Lan Jue lost his momentum, but quickly recovered. “Excellent! Our Ke’er knows what needs to be done. Keep it up!”
“Right!” She emphatically nodded her head.
Lin Guoguo stepped forward, a smile on her pretty face.
“Mind control… your potential is huge. But you lack perseverance. In the face of enemies you grow timid and overcautious. This locks your mental powers, preventing them from reaching out to the fullest. Your abilities and the willpower of others are closely tied. It’s in this way you must strive to improve. For you, your specialization is in control. In conjunction with Ke’er and Xiuxiu, you are a terror. You’re already ninth ranked, but first degree. We’ve got to get you to the second.”
“Yes, boss!” She stuck out her tongue. Timidity was always her weakness.
Finally his eyes fell to Mika, and a hesitation was revealed in their depths.
Mika’s eyes, however, grew hard. She took the initiative, and stepped forward. “Boss. What do I need to do?”
- Swear to God, that’s the translation. ↩