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Mao Lu felt overwhelmed as he admired the whopping figure. He’d never seen so many zeros in his life. He laughed feeling a bit giddy. He was so happy that he ran in circles around his small apartment.
“I’m rich! I’m rich! I’m rich! I’m rich!”
This childish excitement lasted for around half an hour until it disappeared.

Mao Lu knew that despite how happy he was, this money had come with great costs, the benefits paled compared to his massive responsibilities.

Mao Lu bounced slightly on the balls of his feet. Even with such a small movement, he felt an unfathomable amount of energy coursing through his body. If he jumped now he was certain he’d propel himself through his ceiling.

When he focused his gaze he could see the slug sized life essences crawling on his skin. Their blue colour seemed to have a green tinge.
“Are they changing colour?”
“The life essences are the source of your life energy. Their appearance reflects your health and current life span. When they were baby blue and small it meant you were mortal and had a lifespan up to 100 years or less, now that they’ve increased in size and have turned cyan blue it represents that you are no longer mortal. The cyan blue is a lifespan between 500-2000 years, lime green is 10,000-30,000 years, dark green is 50,000-100,000 years and so on.
Your current lifespan is between 500-2000 years. The more you train and interact with your life essence the more it will increase.”

Mao Lu’s eyes widened. Even though so many surprising things had happened he still felt stunned by everything. “500 to 2000 years! That… That is crazy.”
Gates laughed slightly. “Not at all. Most people below the age of 6,000 aren’t even at the Immortal stage yet. In the other realms, such a lifespan is pitifully short. Most of those Guests you interacted with just now were more than 50,000years old.”

“That old!” they had all appeared very youthful, to think their age was so shocking.
“Mortal civilisations rise and fall but Practitioners have been around since this realm was created. You must understand that as one trains time passes very quickly. Truly the age you thought was significant is really not much.”

Mao Lu paused to process that information. This meant that now he would easily outlive his friends and all the people he knew. In the future how would he explain to them why he wasn’t ageing. Mao Lu wasn’t like those protagonists in novels who would probably leap with joy at their newfound power and lifespan. Instead, he thought through all the complications it represented.
Mao Lu had a disciplined character and although he was initially excited he now became much more solemn.
The future most definitely wouldn’t be easy.
He laid on his pillow but he didn’t feel tired, he was too energised to sleep.
“You mentioned an immortal stage earlier, what is that?” He asked Gates.

“On the Path of Power, there are many stages that practitioners must go through. A Gatekeeper must also pass such stages.
The first stage is Awakening. This allows you to see the essence and converse with it. Then the stages go differently for practitioners depending on whether they’ve taken the path of a Mage/Witch/Warlock, a Martial artist/Cultivator, or a Gatekeeper. The stages only become the same again for all practitioners at the Nascent stage.

For a Gatekeeper the stages are Awakening, Merging, Wielding, Enlightenment, Nascent, Immortality, Dao seeking, Dao Reaching, the Dao, Ascendance, Allfather, Ancestor, Ancient, Supreme, and God stage. There are stages above God stage but I can only tell you about them after you reach the God stage. If you do, that will make you the first Gatekeeper of this realm to make it to such a level.”

Mao Lu was amazed, there were so many stages. He had only just Awakened. He wondered how long it would take until he- if he ever did reach the God stage.
“Well, those are thoughts for the future.” He mused to himself, it seemed that he was going to be busy from now on.

Since he felt so energetic Mao Lu found some paper in his apartment and spent the night writing letters of resignation. He was grateful for all those that hired him over the years. It was only right that he gave them prior notice before he quit.
….
9:00 AM

Many hours later at the convenience store, Mao Lu’s boss looked at him with wide eyes.
“You’re quitting!?” Feng Qui couldn’t believe it, she never thought her best part-timer would come in and give her a letter of resignation. “Are you okay? Did something happen? If it’s due to some unavoidable circumstances then you don’t have to quit. You can take some leave, no matter how long you’ll always have a job here Lu.”
The old woman looked dotingly at Mao Lu, Lu was so handsome and he made her store very popular in the neighbourhood. Many of the girls even in the next district came all the way to this convenience store to see Mao Lu. Not to mention that Mao Lu was so hardworking. Feng Qui really didn’t want to let him go.

“No, you see a new job has come my way and it’s a really incredible opportunity that I can’t skip out on. I am grateful for all you have done for me over the years Miss Qui. However I really must resign, but I will make sure to work all the shifts I’m scheduled for this week, you don’t have to worry about that.”
Feng Qui saw from the serious look on Mao Lu’s face that he wasn’t messing around. She couldn’t help but sigh, “You know it’ll be hard finding someone to replace you Lu. This old lady will miss you. You better make sure to pop by after you quit, no matter how busy you are.”

Mao Lu smiled brightly at her. “Of course”
….
At 17:00 when Mao Lu walked out of the store he saw Zhao Detong’s silver Mercedes Benz waiting.

Sighing Mao Lu got into the back seat.
The moment he buckled his seat belt the car began driving.

“Where are we going?”He asked.
Fei Bing Bing looked over from the front passenger seat. She looked gorgeous in a body-hugging Bardot mini dress. She had her hair in slightly wavy curls and a red-tinted lipstick painted her lips.
“It’s nearly dinner time, you must be hungry after your shift right, so we’re going to a small eatery nearby. I hear the hotpot there is brilliant.”
Zhao Detong glanced at him from the mirror, “Are you sure you’re feeling okay?”
“Yh I’m fine. Don’t I look fine?” Mao Lu smiled.

Zhao Detong and Fei Bing Bing analysed Mao Lu, and he did indeed look healthy. Actually more than healthy, he was practically glowing. His hair was more glossy and his complexion was more bright.
“What moisturiser are you using Mao Lu, your skin looks brilliant. You must tell me!” Fei Bing Bing demanded.
Mao Lu laughed, “Honestly I haven’t used anything. I just had a good sleep and now I’m all rejuvenated.”
“Sleep!” Fei Bing Bing sighed, “I’m jealous when I sleep my skin doesn’t look that amazing.”
“Don’t be jealous your skin is fine Bing Bing.”
The journey was filled with general light-hearted conversation which continued even when they got to the eatery and ordered.
“This place seems really nice. You made a great choice Bing Bing” Mao Lu couldn’t help but praise as he looked around. The restaurant resided in a closed off area in a Hutong, the layout was rather simple but it had an amazing charm around it. Especially with the added calligraphy and scrolls across the walls. Mao Lu also liked the nice touch of the gorgeous porcelain cups that were sitting on their table. He was sure this place probably served some brilliant tea.
“I know right. I heard the atmosphere here was very calming but I hadn’t realised it would be this serene.” Bing Bing smiled.
Whereas Zhao Detong looked seriously at Mao Lu. “Lu, Bing Bing and I have decided not to pressure you any more about working for me. All we want you to do is to consider it.”

“Way to ruin the mood Detong weren’t we going to bring this up when the food came out, you’re such a dummy” Bing Bing complained.
“It’s better that we say this now.” He looked Mao Lu in the eye, “Lu we are brothers, we aren’t friends, we’re family. Your pain is my pain. If you need any help you know that I’ll be there for you. If you have anything to share, you should know that I’ll hear you out and never criticise you. I’d do anything for you Lu so you don’t have to carry any burdens by yourself. This is your chance to rely on us.”

Mao Lu felt very warm inside and he felt small tears at the corner of his eyes. He was blessed with such amazing genuine friends. And with all these crazy things happening he really needed to hear such comforting words.

“You don’t have to cry Lu!” Bing Bing exclaimed.
“I’m not crying.” Mao Lu wiped away the tears at the corner of his eyes, “I’m just really happy. And you’re right I should share things. You know there have been a lot of things I’ve been meaning to confess to you guys. And now I finally have the courage to do it.”
He sat straighter and looked calmly towards Bing Bing and Detong. “First of all, I want you to know that I completely refuse to work for you Detong.”

Zhao Detong’s and Fei Bing Bing’s expressions froze.
“It’s not because of pride. Actually, I was able to get an amazing inheritance recently, and through it, I was able to pay back all my debt. Not only that but I got scouted by this company and I’ve got a great job waiting for me now. I’m giving in letters of resignation to my part-time work so that I can focus full time on this new job that I have. So I generally can’t work for you.”
Zhao Detong frowned, “You paid off all your debt, what kind of inheritance?”
“Yesterday I got a letter, a distant relative of mine named Wang Cao died. I didn’t know him and we are very, very distant relatives but as his only living relation I ended up inheriting his fortune. The money was so much that I was able to pay off all my debt and keep some. Not only that, but I even inherited property in Longsheng. I went to the law firm yesterday after I saw you Bing Bing, and I verified all of it. I’ve generally gotten very lucky.”

Fei Bing Bing and Zhao Detong’s mouths were hanging open and for a moment they stared at Mao Lu.
“Omg Omg Omg Omg Omg Omg Omg Omg Omg Omg Omg Omg Omg Omg Omg Omg Omg Omg Omg Omg Omg!!!!!!” Fei Bing Bing started shouting, “Congratulations Mao Lu!”

“Hell yh, that’s freaking fantastic!!!!!” Zhao Detong yelled.
They both broke into chaos as they furiously congratulated Mao Lu.
“I’m so glad. I’m so relieved” Bing Bing began to cry “After all you’ve been through finally things are going right. I’m so glad.”
As Bing Bing cried Mao Lu also felt a well of emotion suddenly floods out of him, like a Dam in his heart had collapsed. Tears were flooding down his face before he knew it.
“Why are you crying you, idiot, you should be happy for me.” Mao Lu said as tears streaked his cheeks.
“Don’t say that when you’re also crying you, hypocrite.” Bing Bing snapped back. And then they both began to laugh as more tears came down.
Zhao Detong soon joined them in the flood of tears and laughter.

When the waiter finally came with their hotpot he was shocked at the group of crying and laughing fools.

When the hotpot came they finally calmed down.
“So what’s this job that you’ve got set up then?” Zhao Detong was very curious.
Mao Lu gave a mysterious smile and said, “It’s a pretty crazy job. I’d tell you the details but I’m not sure if you could handle it.”

Zhao Detong paused and then burst into a series of giggles. “I swear Mao Lu sometimes you’re so full of shit. Fine don’t tell me if you don’t want to.”

“Forget about the job” Bing Bing interrupted, “How much did you inherit?”
Mao Lu smiled a little smugly as he pulled out his phone and showed them his current bank balance.
Both Zhao Detong and Fei Bing Bing sharply sucked in some air.

“That’s incredible.” Zhao Detong’s eyes were round.
“That’s beyond lucky.” Fei Bing Bing’s mouth hung wide, “Your distant relative was super rich.”

Both Zhao Detong and Fei Bing Bing were in shock. Mao Lu was now a billionaire. They were both from wealthy families but even they had never seen so many digits.
Mao Lu had definitely struck gold.

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Alexia

September 2019
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