Chapter 11 – Water
‘Guo Xiang…’ Li Yiming ignored the mythical beast who had now become addicted to online games. ‘Guo Xiang is a key character in all of this. He wants to build a vacation resort, but the villagers didn’t want to sell their land… So he set fire to the mountain? He’s the culprit?’ Li Yiming drew the link between the several pieces of information he had. ‘But why would he kill Lei San’er? For fear of leaking his secret? I wouldn’t think that he would do something like that. How did he kill him? They said that only pieces of his body remained… Unless he hired someone to do it?’
“Why aren’t you going back to your room?” Liu Meng, who had waited inside the lobby for a while, came back out searching for Li Yiming.
“I’m thinking about something,” said Li Yiming.
“Then I’ll keep you company. The manager’s telling us to stay in the hotel since we’re all potential suspects.” Liu Meng settled right beside Li Yiming.
Li Yiming nodded and pulled out a cigarette from his pocket. He was about to light it up until Liu Meng snatched it. “There’s a kid here,” said Liu Meng as she took the pack as well and stuffed it into her own bag. “Also, you probably shouldn’t smoke that much, you might risk erectile dysfunction.”
“There’s a kid here,” Li Yiming retorted. Liu Meng grimaced and cast down a guilty glance at Bai Ze, who was still completely absorbed by her game.
“Where do you think Guo Xiang is right now?” Li Yiming suddenly asked.
“What are you thinking?” Liu Meng asked with alertness.
“Stop your wild thoughts, I have a few questions to ask him. It’s not what you’re thinking.” Li Yiming explained.
“He’s probably in the suite on the top floor? That one’s the most expensive in the entire city so it wouldn’t be surprising with his character.”
“Do you have his number?”
“Give him a call.”
“Why don’t you do it yourself?” Liu Meng did not want to comply.
“You think that he’d pick up his phone if the call came from a guy at this time?” Li Yiming pointed at the sky; it was already past nine.
“You really have something to talk about?”
“Yes, it’s very important.”
“Fine.” Liu Meng took out her cellphone and pushed down a button.
“No answer, seems like he’s putting me in the same category as you.” Liu Meng laughed in self-ridicule.
“Can you help me with something else?”
“Not if it involves escorting the emperor to bed,” Liu Meng recovered.
“There’s a kid here,” Li Yiming reminded her powerlessly.
“Shoot. As long as it’s not to damn someone else, and it’s not against the law…”
“Help me ask for Guo Xiang’s room number at the front desk,” Li Yiming stopped her run-off answer and said directly.
“Why don’t you go?”
“You think that I’ll be able to get an answer?”
“You really do want to see him huh.”
“It’s a matter of urgency,” Li Yiming answered very seriously.
“I’ll come along,” Liu Meng rarely saw such a look of concern on Li Yiming’s face, so she was worried about something bad happening to him.
“Deal,” Li Yiming considered the proposal and nodded.
With Lady Liu’s charm, although she did not have the guardian talent Qing Qiaoqiao possessed, the fact that she made her living as a performer on stage made it very easy to convince the clerk at the front desk to tell her what she wanted in a suggestive voice. Li Yiming saw Fang Shui’er car arrive at the hotel, and he quickly pulled Liu Meng into the elevator.
“You seem scared of Fang Shui’er?” Liu Meng asked Li Yiming in the elevator.
“Beauty brings disaster.” Li Yiming improvised.
“Oh? So you mean that I’m ugly?”
“You have big… Ow…” Li Yiming received a blow on his chest.
“This room, the door isn’t locked.” Liu Meng noticed the door being ajar when they arrived.
“Wait a second…” Li Yiming warned her and pulled her back. He signaled to Bai Ze, who crept up and slowly pushed open the door. ‘What? If there’s danger, let the little girl go first?’ Liu Meng was surprised.
The three prowled into the room without breaking the quietude within. “Look…” Liu Meng cried out, and Li Yiming saw Guo Xiang lying on the floor.
Li Yiming went closer and closer to him until Guo Xiang’s moans of pain became audible. “He’s alive.” He quickly knelt down beside him and put a hand on his chest; a weak heartbeat. “He fainted.”
“Pinch him,” Liu Meng was also nervous. It was one thing for her to dislike Guo Xiang, but another to not be a good Samaritan. Li Yiming obeyed her, and, since the knowledge passed down from ancient times was true, Guo Xiang quickly woke up.
“Water… Water..” Guo Xiang groaned before he opened his eyes.
“Quick, water,” Li Yiming repeated nervously.
“Water,” Liu Meng looked around and handed to Li Yiming a bottle of half-finished spring water she found on the counter. Li Yiming poured its content down Guo Xiang’s throat without waiting.
Guo Xiang’s next, more complete sentence only came out after his parched throat had been wetted by the liquid. “Water… It’s poisoned…”
“What?” Both Li Yiming and Liu Meng stared at the bottle of water vacantly. ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’ they cursed. They looked back at Guo Xiang and saw his lips whiten. A grey liquid dripped from the corner of his mouth. Li Yiming let go of him in a scare, and he fell down onto the floor with protruding eyes and visible veins on his neck. The sound of police sirens was heard in the distance.
Li Yiming looked at Guo Xiang, at the water bottle, and at the room’s door. “Let’s leave,” he picked up Bai Ze and pulled Liu Meng towards the exit. Instead of taking the elevator, they ran down the emergency stairs.
“Why are we leaving?” Liu Meng was perplexed.
“Guo Xiang was poisoned, and our fingerprints are all over that water bottle. That’ll be hard to explain to the police.”
“But it’s not as if we killed him. We tried to save him.”
“There’s no time to explain,” Li Yiming accelerated. He really wished Eyeglasses was here; why would a secret agent from National Security need to run from petty prefectural police?
Liu Meng was puzzled by his answer, but still obeyed since Li Yiming seemed so nervous. They left the hotel and made for a small alley nearby. Li Yiming’s first priority was to leave the place. However, the moment he stepped into the alleyway, he froze and placed himself in front of Liu Meng with anxiety. In front of him, under the dim streetlight, someone waited for him, and his figure seemed especially terrifying in the darkness.
“Can we talk?” A voice came from the shadows.
“Director Zheng?” Liu Meng had also noticed the presence of the man, but she was baffled upon hearing his voice: it was the director, Xiao Hei.
“Tell me your intentions. Maybe we can join forces,” Xiao Hei did not mind Liu Meng, and instead stared at Li Yiming.
“You’re a guardian?” Li Yiming squinted and his fear grew.
“You don’t know? Okay, I won’t waste my time with you. Tell Bai Ze’s master to show himself, and we’ll have a talk. This domain isn’t as simple as you imagine. We could work together.”
“Bai Ze’s master?” Li Yiming was shaken by his proposal. ‘How does he know about that?’
“Ugh… Qianqian was right, you’re a cautious man. I’m not going to lie to you, I saw through her disguise right away, she’s not even human,” Xiao Hei sighed.
“You cannot see through my technique,” Bai Ze suddenly stepped forward and said in a voice that made her unrecognizable.
“Well, the first time I saw you, I knew that you were no ordinary little girl. You are perfect, and that simply isn’t a human characteristic. So I spent life marks to use my ability and pierced through your illusion. Just as I thought… And with your name, it was quite easy, really.”
‘So that’s how it is,’ Li Yiming thought.
“Stop wasting time, tell your master to come out. We need to talk.”
“He is my master.”
“Stop kidding around. I know that that kid isn’t just anyone, either, otherwise he wouldn’t have you protect him in person. As for him being your master? For a mythical beast like you, even a single summon would consume an astounding amount of life marks, not to say longer term. It’s impossible for him to have that kind of capacity.” Xiao Hei deduced.
‘He doesn’t need to spend any life marks at all, okay?’ Bai Ze mocked him inwardly.
“Did you kill Guo Xiang?” Li Yiming suddenly asked.
“No, you killed him,” Xiao Hei had an almost diabolical smile.
“You poisoned him.”
“I did poison him, but I controlled the amount very well. One mouthful and he would go unconscious, not die, but you were the one that gave him the lethal dose.”
“You… I…” Li Yiming had no answer.
“If you hadn’t killed him, maybe I wouldn’t even be here right now.” Xiao Hei seemed very irritated. “He’s the key to the domain, if you kill him, it would be as if you terminated the domain. Now we must seek an alternate way.”
‘Terminate the domain? Isn’t that a good thing, unless… They have something else in mind?’ Li Yiming wondered at the meaning of Xiao Hei’s complain. “What do you want exactly?”
“An object. As to what it is precisely, unless the person you work for show up, I won’t tell you,” said Xiao Hei. He suddenly paused and bent his head slightly, as if he was listening to someone else speak to him.
Li Yiming realized what he was doing: live communication with his partners. ‘Who is it? Fang Shui’er, or Zeng Qian?’
“You have no choice,” A smile surfaced on Xiao Hei’s face, “If it weren’t for the person behind you, we wouldn’t even bother with you. You wouldn’t even be able to make it out alive.”
“Where do you get the confidence to say that?” Bai Ze stepped forward and asked in a glacial tone. Xiao Hei frowned slightly: it seemed like he was quite wary of her. Bai Ze suddenly stopped in her track, looking grimmer than ever, and she shifted her attention to the darkness behind Xiao Hei.
In the small, quiet alleyway, beyond the blurry shadows projected by the faint road lamp, the pitch blackness seemed like the opened mouth of a terrible beast, ready to swallow them whole.
Tap— A sound came from the darkness beyond, and Bai Ze came closer to Li Yiming.
Another noise, Xiao Hei turned around in severity.
Li Yiming could now distinguish the sound as being footsteps, light-footed but steady.
“Careful,” Bai Ze whispered a warning. Li Yiming reached out for Liu Meng’s trembling hand.
Tap— Tap— It came closer and faster.
“It’s already here? Has it already begun?” Xiao Hei muttered, he stared into the obscurity in the distance firmly, but the corners of his lips twisted into an odd smile and he slowly lifted his right arm until it was parallel with his shoulders.
Tap— Tap— Tap— The noise neared and its pace accelerated. Li Yiming could see movement in the shadows; something that looked like a large dog racing toward them.
Xiao Hei bent his knees slightly and clenched his right hand into a fist. The skin of his arm was suddenly colored by a metallic tint; a layer of alloy assembled around his arm, and a moment later, Xiao Hei was armed with a giant bionic arm. The silhouette in the distance had already come close, and it ran at a steady, but speeding pace. Li Yiming could finally distinguish it: a dog, a husky, but with intimidating fangs, reddened eyes and hair that stood up like a porcupine—it cried out danger.
Rarrgh— With a low roar, the husky suddenly accelerated, and leaped towards Xiao Hei by pushing its hind legs against the corners of the alleyway.
For those of you who might have missed the post, I’ve made a mistake yesterday and only uploaded about 90% of Chapter 10. It’s fixed now, so you can scroll back (hopefully its’s not too late at this point) and read the last few lines before continuing! x.x