Chapter 58: Phantom of Lightning
Lan Jue’s appearance caused the gathered Enforcers to heave a quiet sigh of relief. Outsiders may not know have known of his status, but they certainly did. One of the eighteen Council members, newest of their ranks, but in a short time capable of rising to great heights. It was a poignant display of ability.
“Jewelry Master,” the Enforcers respectfully greeted.
“You’re the owner of this establishment?” The golden hooded man’s voice sounded almost metallic, strange and tinny.
“That I am!” Lan Jue appeared at ease, a lopsided smile on his face. He turned then to the Enforcers. “Take the wounded for treatment. I’ll handle things from here.”
“Right away.” From among the gathered Enforcers a few stepped forward to gather the injured. The remainder waited respectfully behind the Jewelry Master, awaiting his orders.
“Relinquish the stone from the other day, and we’ll leave immediately.” The golden man’s voice was as cold as ice.
Lan Jue shook his head. “I’m afraid that’s impossible. You’ve hurt my people. To leave now would be running away from the consequences. As for the stone, it’s already turned to dust.” As he spoke the final sentence he couldn’t help but feel a twinge of regret in his chest.
He hadn’t lied, for in fact the stone had been reduced to powder. Such was the result of the Keeper’s experimentations, in finding the stone’s limitations.
“What did you say?” The golden man took a menacing step forward. It was a small motion, but one that spoke volumes. A step that spoke murder. Though no face was visible, the man’s homicidal intentions were palpable as he faced Lan Jue.
To enter Skyfire one had to possess awakened Talent. In the face of this man’s dark aura, everyone present – be they Enforcer or onlooker – allowed their Disciplines to exude forth.
Standing beside Lan Jue, Mika’s brows raised at the scene. She made a motion as though to engage, but was cut off by her employer.
As ever, Lan Jue’s face only betrayed that signature indifference. His right hand lifted, slowly and purposefully, to snap his fingers. At once an azure photosphere appeared floating in the air. But it did not rush towards the golden man, instead floating to about a meter before Lan Jue before bursting in to oblivion.
At the sight of the explosion a pale red flame hung in the air. Stranger than that, however, is the fact that the flame raced towards the golden man as though it had a life of it’s own. At was as if an invisible cloud of gasoline had ignited in the air, and the flame was racing back to it’s source in the golden man.
The murderous aura suffocating the area dispersed almost immediately, like the fires had burned it away. The golden man howled and retreated a step, his right hand raised and flailing to shield himself. A sanguine light cut through the link the fire had established.
“Phantom of lightning, who are you!” The golden man lifted his head, revealing the contours of his face. Unfortunately, it was further hidden by a golden mask, but a pair of light-blue eyes were visible. The pupils dilated, then began to stretch vertically, emitting a palpable field of fear.
Still Lan Jue held his lazy smile. “I see you are of the Moonfiend Empress. Each of you shall leave a finger, and five million in medical expenses. Then you may go.”
“Now that you know our identity, you should understand the Way of the Moonfiend Pirates. Give us Oliver and the stone, or we’ll hunt you until death even if you are phantom of lightning!”
As the name of the Moonfiend Pirates hung in the air, nearly all the onlookers took a collective step backwards. The crowd that had surrounded Zeus’ Jewelry Store had suddenly grown thinner. No small number of lookers wordlessly dropped their heads and fled.
Flippantly, Lan Jue responded. “You came today of your own accord, am I right?”
The golden man was taken aback, but responded harsher than before. “I’ll ask for the last time, give up the stone!”
A sigh fell from Lan Jue’s lips. “Disasters from the heavens can be forgiven and avoided, but the sins of man must have consequences. Even were it the Moonfiend Empress herself standing before me, she’d lose more than a finger in payment. Do you believe even you, relying on your ninth-level Talent, can afford to cause trouble on Skyfire Avenue?
At this he turned to a spot in the gathered masses and nodded. “Wine Master, if you would indulge me. These gentlemen are subordinates of someone I know. I intend to exact payment.”
“Very well,” responded a deep voice. Though it came from a great distance, it was as clearly heard as though it had come from right beside him.
Suddenly, the sky grew dark. Skyfire Underground’s controlled climate never saw such shifts, but in this moment the entirety of the avenue was plunged in to darkness. On that dark canvas suddenly bloomed a great purple light, spreading like an enormous halo.
For an instant it was as though the whole of Skyfire Avenue warped violently, and just as quickly all was bright was more, back to as it was. All except for Lan Jue and the hooded assailants, who had vanished.
“Back to your duties,” a harsh voice commanded. A silver-clad woman had appeared from nowhere, and stood before the Enforcers barking commands.
She was tall, slim, and symmetrical. Beautiful, with silver hair cut at her ears. Her eyes bore the same metallic shine, and a shimmering aura of energy surrounded her lithe frame.
“Yes, Captain.” The gathered Enforcers snapped to attention before slinking sheepishly in to the crowd.
Adepts native to Skyfire knew to retreat with the appearance of the silver-clad woman. To them seeing her was like facing a nightmare. Those who were not familiar still stood, mouth agape in wonder and fear at the strange singularity they had witnessed.
“You think you can react any slower?” Mika stared sardonically at the young woman.
The silver woman shot her a hard look. “I was topside.”
Mika’s lips curled. “Well you can head out. It looks like things have been handled.”
She shook her head in response. “I’ll wait for the Jewelry Master’s return. This needs an explanation.”
Mika raised a brow. “You expect an explanation from our boss?”
“I do,” came her response, without hesitation.
Mika’s eyes shown devilishly. It was as though a fire was alive in their depths. “And who are you?”
The silver woman lifted her hands to pull down the hood of her trench coat. Those shimmering silver eyes then grew transparent and dark, like dual whirlpools of tarnished silver swirling in their sockets. Fearlessly she stared back at Mika. “I am the Vice Captain of the Skyfire Avenue Enforcement Team. I have the authority to monitor all of the shops here.”
Mika snorted irreverently, and her body grew covered in ominous hyacinth flames. The overpowering scent of gunpowder arose suddenly between the two great beauties.