Chapter 30: Another Skyfire Avenue
“No thanks,” Lane Jue replied. He wasn’t in his best mood, and as a result wasn’t the least bit interested in the Barber’s challenge. He turned to face the library and made to leave.
Whoosh, a figure rushed passed him. The Barber appeared before Lan Jue blocking passage forward.
Lan Jue stepped aside, but the Barber matched him, denying progress. It didn’t matter where he turned, the Barber would surely be in front of him.
“I’m not in the mood,” Lan Jue said, stopping.
The Barber, in contrast, smiled. “But my mood is just fine.”
Lan Jue gave a half-hearted chuckle. “Well now that we’re done sharing our feelings, I guess we’ll get on with it.”
“How amusing, I’ll judge!” The Beautician’s giggles wafted towards them.
The three returned to the museum, each feeling for the emblem pinned to their chests. Each badge was silver, inlaid with eighteen colored gems. Together they made the image of a flame which glittered majestically in even the slightest light.
They made their way to the unimpressive elevator set beside the museum’s spiraling staircase. The Beautician lifted her hand and placed it on the marble to one side.
Instantly a light emanated from the top of the elevator, sweeping over their figures, glittering off of their badges. Afterward it issued a slight di di of approval.
Soon the doors opened, revealing the five square-meter interior.
The three entered, and though there were no buttons the doors shut behind them.
An electronic voice fills the elevator. “Welcome Councilman Jewel Master, Councilwoman Beautician, and Councilman Barber.”
A slight sensation of weightlessness overtook them, indicative of the elevator’s speedy descent. The sensation lasted a good minute before dissipating, then the doors opened soundlessly. Immediately a cacophonous ruckus met them from outside.
Before stepping out, the three almost in tandem removed the badges from their chest. The emblem represented their membership in the council. In a place like this it held an impact, It was a status symbol. None of them had any desire to draw undue attention to themselves.
Exiting the elevator they were met with another sort of street, wide and comparable in many ways to Skyfire Avenue above. Both sides of the street were lined with numerous buildings. Looking up, eyes were met with a blue sky and lazily flowing clouds. Closer inspection, however, would reveal that the sky and clouds contrasted with the free and natural world outside by having their own set rules – that it was in fact the backdrop of a massive dome.
In further contradiction to the Skyfire Avenue above, this place was bustling and lively. Scores of people wandered back and forth among the busy shops.
Indeed this was also considered Skyfire Avenue, another Skyfire Avenue, a world of Adepts. Any Third-Level Talent, be they Intuitive, Derivative or Convert was permitted to enter so long as they paid the fee.
Here, there were Cultivation Areas, high-grade Adept products, specialty Mecha items on auction, a fighting arena, a casino, shops, and a mission board. You name it, it was here. But this place had it’s rules, and declined any criminal enterprises. It was, after all, run by the Skyfire Council.
Of course no one dared to violate the rules, for no one wished to upset the combined might of the best Adepts the Alliances had to offer.
Every shop topside had an elevator leading to the underground, but only shop owners possessed the badges necessary to use them. Outsiders needed to find other channels in order to enter. Even if you were a shop owner, you could only enter through your shop’s personal elevator. Only the eighteen members of the Skyfire Council were permitted to use any elevator they saw fit.
Exiting the elevator, the Barber, Beautician and Lan Jue tacitly made their way towards the left. Unlike the avenue above, the buildings on either side of the street were even more elaborate, but still retained that old world charm. In it’s infancy the two avenues had been the same. You could go so far as to say that the Skyfire Avenue situated above them came about through the one underground. It was the Adept’s Utopia, and countless Talents arrived to gain power, earn money, and realize their every desire.
The trio proceeded unabated, until they were faced by a brawny bald-headed figure coming their way. The massive man was over two meters tall, and wore only a vest to show off his physique. His bulging arms were larger than the Beautician’s waist. When he walked down the street it was like being confronted by a road roller. Strangest of all, however, was the metal casing that covered his head and half his face. The red glow from his metallic eye was particularly unsettling.
The rule of thumb was that pedestrians were expected to stick to the right whilst walking. The giant, however, walked contrary to the foot traffic with a palpably threatening demeanor and long strides. Every Talent present almost subconsciously moved out of his way.
In this place people didn’t look for trouble. Skyfire Avenue didn’t permit public conflict. If you wanted a fight, it had to be in the arena. However, it seemed like Big Baldie wasn’t familiar with this particular rule. It was only a few short moments before he was standing before the trio.
Lan Jue, the Barber and the Beautician, of course, weren’t in the habit of getting out of people’s way. Seeing the three unwilling to part, his metal face twisted in to a sadistic leer. He moved towards the Barber, situated directly in front of him.
The Barber straightened and, turning his head towards the Beautician, muttered, “There’s always that one who thinks the rules doesn’t apply to them.”
Crash! before he’d even finished his sentence, Big Baldie had smashed right in to him.
However, by the time the surrounding Adepts had stopped to look, Big Baldie’s enormous bulk went flying dozens of meters and crashed in to the ground like a sack of garbage.
Lan Jue had watched as speed and power in equal measure collided, and in that moment it was like the Barber had become some ethereal glimmer, his shoulder smashing in to Baldie’s stomach.
The Beautician covered her small mouth with a hand, her eyes wide and full of faux astonishment. “Why Little Clippers, you brute! That looked like it hurt!”
The Barber rolled his eyes. “You really shouldn’t, Big Sister. My body count pales in comparison to yours.”
Lan Jue looked on impassively, but hearing the Barber’s words he could help but feel a shudder. For an assassin of his caliber to say something like that…
The Beautician’s eyes fluttered towards Lan Jue just in time to catch his reaction. Giggling, she said, “Don’t listen to his nonsense, Little Brother. A cowardly little woman like me, how could I possibly murder anyone!”