Chapter 35: Mika’s Fire
The owner of the brown gem was a tall man, who wore a green hoodie to conceal the majority of his face.
“The gem belongs to you?” Lan Jue queried.
The man nodded in affirmation.
Lan Jue’s face spread in a slight smirk. “You’re aware of Skyfire Avenue’s rules,” he said, not really asking.
Again the man nodded, but said nothing.
“Then we can proceed with the deal. Mika, give the man his money.”
“Yes, sir,” Mika replied. She produced a handful of yellow notes; the highest denomination of NED available, ten thousands dollars a note. She gave the man five.
The hooded man took his money, his face hidden in shadow. Wordlessly he turned, and made to leave.
“Wait a minute,” Lan Jue called after him.
“Our business is concluded,” the man replied. His voice was strange, clearly altered by a voice modulator. “According to the rules of Skyfire Avenue, we have no further association.”
Lan Jue nodded in agreement. “Absolutely, but if I offered to pay you for information about the origin of that stone, we’d be entering in to another business arrangement.”
The hooded man seemed to sigh, and shaking his head pushed open the lightning-emblazoned door of the jewelry shop. However, he did not pass through it. In the contrary, he retreated several steps, his body rigid.
From without three men entered through the door he’d opened.
The foremost man was clad in black leather, a hooded jacket over all and a black mask. All that was revealed was a pair of shining, intelligent eyes. The two men behind him were dressed similarly, though they wore no hoods.
“Where is it, Oliver?” The resonating voice of the leader asked the man in green. Though he asked, his eyes caressing the box set before Lan Jue revealed the question as rhetorical.
Without warning, the man in green side-stepped the leather-clad intruders and threw a single punch at the leader, trying to knock him out.
Bang! The black-hooded intruder raised his arm to block the attack, and in that moment a squall of wind tore through the store.
“Enough!” Mika’s clear voice rang through the shop, and she approached them indignation clearly written on her face. “Are you not aware of the rules here?!”
The two hooded men dropped their hands. The one in black growled, “Mind your own damn business. I know you can’t fight in Skyfire Avenue. But we aren’t on the Avenue, are we.”
Lan Jue, sitting a short distance from them, sighed faintly. “It would appear our safeguards against rule-breakers have been insufficient of late. Where are all you troublemakers coming from. Mika, if you would please show them the door. Have the enforcers deal with them.”
Her right leg shot out. In her tiny skirt, the gentlemen thought they might be granted a quick peek. However, before they could have the opportunity to appreciate the view, they found the world before them engulfed in red.
All of them, including the man in green, found themselves enveloped by the flame-red light to the point where they didn’t even have room to struggle before collapsing to the floor.
Mika waved her left hand, and in response the door to Zeus’ Jewelry Shop opened of it’s own accord. One by one, she literally kicked the four prostrate men from the store.
Mika strode towards the door, hands on her hips. She shouted out in to the street. “Are the enforcers all on lunch break? Come fetch this garbage!” She turned, disregarding the host of stares earned from the Adepts wandering the street, and walked back inside slamming the door behind her.
“So fierce,” Lan Jue teased, covering his face with his hands in feigned discomfort.
Lin Guanguan giggled. “You’ve spoiled her, boss!”
Lan Jue chortled. “A little fierce is good! You have to protect yourself from bullies. I must say though, Mika, you should employ a different method next time. Kicking your legs in such a short skirt is so unbecoming of a lady.”
Mika responded with a flirtatious look. “Oh boss, they didn’t see anything… I just wanted to give you a show.”
“No thank you,” he said, standing. “I’m terrified you’ll burn me too. I’m heading out, but by the way I ran in to Chu Cheng a few days ago. You know he thinks about you all the time! Would you not give my poor older brother some consideration?”
Mika’s playful expression shifted, a bitterness crept in to her voice. “If you aren’t interested don’t throw me away to just anyone. If you force me to go with him, I might as well die right now.”
“All right! Pretend I didn’t say anything,” Lan Jue said, rubbing his forehead. He felt pity for his brother. But more, if his brother was just ‘anybody’, what did that make him? Ugh, this girl!
Lin Guanguan and Mika accompanied Lan Jue to the surface elevator. Mika spoke to her counterpart. “Look after the store, Guanguan. I’ll go to the enforcers and follow up.” For many things she was able to make the proper decisions and didn’t require Lan Jue’s direct instruction. Among Lan Jue’s four employees, she was certainly the most qualified in all aspects.
Lan Jue returned topside, the lead casing clutched in his hands. This power gem would require some careful research to verify.
The elevator went directly to Zeus’ surface shop, but didn’t stop, instead moving on until it reached the Library. He and the Keeper had made an appointment.
Despite his good disposition from obtaining the gem and Harlequin Silver, his mood darkened when he remembered what he wanted to speak with the Keeper about. More than two years he thought, two years of my life!
The Library situated on Skyfire Avenue’s upper level was very small, about the same area as Zeus’ Jewelry Store. But compared to the Winery, or the Museum, it was miniscule.
What the unaware would never suspect, however, was that what lay beneath the surface was a building dedicated to the cultivation techniques of all the Avenue’s Adepts. And it was massive.
The Keeper sat upon a recliner, rocking back and forth before the door of the Library. A rattan tea table was situated beside him, and on it sat a dark red teapot. In comparison to the pot Lan Jue’d used at the Luo Yun teahouse, this one had a thicker and smoother lacquer coating, making it clear it was used quite often.
“Come, take a seat. Now what reason would you have to come talk to an old man like me! A young fella like you, I doubt you’d come knocking for no reason.” The old man smiled amicable towards Lan Jue as he spoke. No matter the guest, the Keeper always greeting everyone with a smile.
Lan Jue offered a small smile of his own. “Originally it had been only one thing. Now I’m afraid there’s a second matter I need to ask about.”