Chapter 257: The Clairvoyant’s Farewell
Half of the strongest Adepts known to man, gathered in one place. Under such circumstances, even a meeting of the Eastern parliament wouldn’t register as important. The fact was, that even the parliament wouldn’t be privy to what was to be discussed among the great Paragons – they would be reduced to begging for scraps of news. This was the world of the Adepts, and normal man held no power here.
The Clairvoyant walked slowly down the vaulted hallways of the Museum, and even the impetuous Satan didn’t dare rush him. The young-looking king of devils never once let his eyes stray from the fortune teller’s back.
A long table had been set up in the main hall, with enough space for fifty to sit in council. The Clairvoyant, naturally, took his position at the head. The Pontiff and Satan sat to his left and right respectively. The Wine Master sat at the next position down from the Pontiff, and the gourmet beside Satan.
As the Gourmet was taking his seat, Satan eyed him in curiosity. His look curdled, fixing upon the Gourmet with a dangerous light. The perennial chef didn’t appear to notice, or chose not to pay any mind. It was as though everything occurring around him had no interest with him. Uncertainty and violence roiled in the depths of Satan’s eyes, but it was short lived. A moment later, and it was as though nothing had happened.
The other gathered Adepts separated and sat according to their camp and designation. Metatron sat beside the Wine Master, while the imposing man with pure black eyes took up post beside the Gourmet.
Lan Jue sat nearer to the rear of the large table. He watched the others, paying especially close attention to the black-eyed man. He knew that he must be the Dark Citadel’s second-in-command – the Fallen Angel, Lucifer. The rumors held that, as his name suggests, Lucifer was once a member of the Pontiff’s coterie. The hatred the Pontiff’s men held for Lucifer, especially the Archangels, surpassed even their loathing for Satan himself.
Once everyone was settled, the Clairvoyant addressed them with a smile. “Skyfire Avenue is honored by the presence of the two great Citadels, who have come together to call upon us. It brings me great joy to see you both again, as I near the end of my days. This will be our opportunity to bid each other farewell.”
Everyone – be they from the Citadels or Skyfire Avenue – sat in stunned silence as the Clairvoyant’s words hung in the air.
Even though it had been the goal of the two Western powers to determine how the Clairvoyant and Keeper were maintaining, it was still a surprise to hear it from the lips of the man himself. It had been completely unexpected.
A solemn silence hung over the table. The death of a Paragon was no matter to be taken lightly, nothing to be joked about. This was especially true for this grand Prophet, the Eye of Tomorrow.
The Pontiff was first to break the silence with a sigh. “This is certain?”
This caused the Clairvoyant to chuckle. “At my age, how much more certain can we be? As the both of you are I’m sure aware, death may not be the end for us. Perhaps it is a new beginning, we cannot say. It is the natural way of things; I rose to prominence before the two of you, it is just that I should succumb first to exhaustion.”
Not everyone could understand what the Clairvoyant was expressing. He was actually a generation older than the most recent manifestations of the Pontiff and Satan – and half a generation older than the Keeper. A hundred and fifty years before humanity took to the stars, he was already a Paragon.
His predictions and assistance saved humanity from innumerable loses during their first years traveling through the cosmos. Henceforth he was considered a priceless treasure to all three Alliances. Years later, at the height of his career in office, the Clairvoyant retired and established the Avenue. He was the founder of the great Adept’s Paradise many of the people at the table called home, and everyone present respected. No other Paragon living or dead, had contributed as much to humanity as the man who sat at the head of this table.
Claiming death was not the end was something only a Paragon could truly grasp. Exhaustion was also not a term thrown around lightly. As old as the Clairvoyant was, he should have left the worlds of man long ago. Moreover, the things he learned and secrets he revealed took a great toll on his body. He relied on his own powers and several special methods to extend his life to this point, but how could a life like this be enjoyable?
Though the Pontiff and Satan both ached for a Skyfire Avenue without the Eye of Tomorrow – the loss to the autonomous Adept organization would be immeasurable – they took the news with heavy hearts. His death would be a loss for humanity as a whole.
Satan’s deep voice interjected. “If His Majesty were to come back to the Dark Citadel with us, I’m sure we can employ some of our own life extending techniques to help.”
The Clairvoyant met the suggestion with a smile, his drawn face becoming an endless array of wrinkles. “I thank you. The fact that my situation has inspired Satan himself to extend the offer is something to be proud of. However, the fact of the matter is nothing can be done for it. It is not just my life that draws to a close, but my soul as well. But it is nothing to fear. I imagine both of you are curious as to how much longer I will draw breath. Today, with my two old friends here with me, I will reveal that secret. Once you leave here after our exchange, I will be gone within three months. The title of Chairman of the Skyfire Avenue council, will fall to our Wine Master.”
The Pontiff didn’t utter a sound, but hung his head in solemn consideration. Satan looked on, his brows furrowed. Denizens of the Avenue were openly sorrowful at the revelation.
The Clairvoyant’s smile never wavered. “I would also like to express to all the people of Skyfire Avenue, my most heartfelt thanks for their support of our home. Do not grieve for my passing, and know that Skyfire Avenue will only prosper after I am gone.”
The Pontiff sighed once more. “We should not have come. Please accept my apologies Your Majesty.”
The Eye of Tomorrow shook his head. “On the contrary, you both arrived right as you were meant to. There are things we shall need to discuss. If the two grand masters would attend me.”Once more the Clairvoyant stood, and headed towards the far end of the hall.
Satan and the Pontiff exchanged a glance, then stood. Their eyes did not bear animosity or disdain, but fear.
Had they not known that the Clairvoyant was nearing the end of his days, perhaps Satan and the Pontiff would not have reacted as such. However, here was a paragon in the twilight of his life – it was not inconceivable that he might employ the last vestiges of his power to deal with them. It was a mortal threat they couldn’t ignore.
As though sensing the fear in their hearts, the Clairvoyant stopped and turned back to face them. He chuckled. “You mustn’t worry, friends. The future needs both of you. I have no interest in bringing ruin upon either of you. Please, come with me.”
It was as though he’d read their mind, for after the Clairvoyant’s assurances, both the Pontiff and Satan were visibly relieved. It was somewhat of a surprise to both that they would harbor such fear, being Paragons themselves. Neither had expected it.
The three mighty Paragons disappeared through a small door near the back of the hall. The remaining adepts remained where they were, watching in silent curiosity. None could guess what the Eye of Tomorrow had to say to his two contemporaries.
Their silence was interrupted when the Lord of Archangels, Metatron, rose to his feet. All eyes fell on him.
But Metatron’s eyes, they went immediately to Lan Jue. He offered a nod. “Zeus. I speak for the Pontiff’s Citadel, and would like to extend His Holiness’ personal apology for… recent events. We humbly ask you forgive our transgressions. We are committed to ensuring no further issue remains between our organization and yourself.”
Metatron, second only to the Pontiff in command of the great Citadel, punctuated the sentiment by bowing low at the waist to the Jewelry Master.
Lan Jue did not rise, and when he spoke he did so with furrowed brow and chilly tone. “Your organization should be relieved no harm came to my people. The Citadel paid it’s price, consider the matter settled.”
Not everyone knew Lan Jue, but there wasn’t a soul present who wasn’t familiar with the name Zeus. In fact, the majority of the Avenue’s denizens weren’t aware of Lan Jue’s history before he arrived. Upon hearing Metatron address him as Zeus, there were no small number of surprised stares. The one King of the Mercenaries was their very own Jewelry Master!
There was also the news of the God-team battle, which had been spread far and wide, and here sat one of their protagonists. Zeus the Lord of Lightning, one of the Four Divine Monarchs.
Metatron smiled and nodded, but said nothing further. He returned to his seat.
“You’re Zeus?” A second voice called out, deep and strange. It almost seemed to reverberate through the area.
Lan Jue’s eyes swept towards the origin of the voice. “That’s right, I am.”
The question had come from the man who sat besides the Gourmet, known as the Fallen Angel Lucifer. The intimidating man stared at Lan Jue with hard eyes. “Finding you was one of our reason for coming here. I trust the Princess is in good health?”
The Gourmet’s eyes shot immediately to Lan Jue.
The Jewelry Master gave an indifferent smirk. “Mika’s very well. But if you’re here to bring her back with you, there’s no point in discussing the nonsense.”
The exceptionally burly man who had accompanied the others of the Dark Citadel’s forces glared murder at him, and suddenly an overbearing sensation filled the air. Those yellow eyes filled with a crimson red light. Meanwhile the woman in the pine green dress watched Lan Jue as though admiring a work of art, while the tuxedo-clad man only smiled and scratched his face with a pallid hand.
“Excellent,” Lucifer said, and left it at that.
As they waited, several rounds of drinks, fruit and snacks were offered by a host of white-clad servants. The Wine Master lifted a cup of water. “Welcome one and all. Forgive my lapse as host.”
Metatron smiled pleasantly. “There is no need to stand on ceremony, Honored Cosmagus. We are honored to come visit the stories Skyfire Avenue. It is our sincerest hope that this exchange will strengthen the ties between our two great organizations.”
“Such hypocrisy from the Pontiff’s lackeys,” the large yellow-eyed man rumbled. He snatched up an apple from on the table and, with a quick squeeze, broke it in to pieces. As juice and pulp flew every which way, he slowly licked his fingers clean. Those dark eyes never left Metatron.