Chapter 6 – The One Who Always Shows Up
More and more people gathered around the Tower, and, although at first sight they didn’t seem any different from normal tourists, a closer look revealed an oddity common to all; instead of admiring the landscape in the distance or the tower itself, they were mostly preoccupied with observing those around them. Most clustered into small groups of three to five people, and a certain distance was always maintained. The people that looked at Li Huaibei had cautious and alerted expressions, save for a few who saluted him with a nod. However, when their attention shifted toward Li Yiming and Liu Meng, their cautiousness turned into curiosity.
“Quite a lot of people, I see.” Li Yiming had also noticed the flow of people around him, including those who were different. With his experience and acquired alertness, he spotted at least forty people.
“These are only the ones you can see easily. There are others who are even more prudent and hide themselves.” Li Huaibei eyes swept across the residential building around the square, halting briefly at a few windows.
Suddenly, a flash of light tore through the sky, illuminating the tip of Mingzhu Tower briefly. Then, a rainbow-like halo spread out above the city like the ripple on the surface of a lake. Everyone raised their heads to look at the supernatural manifestation.
“It’s starting.” A shout was heard from the crowd.
The characters on the giant advertisement panel beneath the tower twisted and wriggled until one single word remained: Survival.
Whispering was heard.
“A survival domain?” A few exchanged their worries.
“A survival domain?” Li Huaibei uttered. “Well, this is going to be interesting.”
The single word remained on the advertisement panel for about three minutes, then it slowly faded away and something else appeared. This time, it was a number: 30.
“Thirty days?” Another wave of surprised cries came from the guardians on the public square.
“Do you know what a survival domain is?” Li Huaibei turned around and asked Li Yiming.
Li Yiming shook his head earnestly.
“Usually, in a domain, you need to look for clues and figure out yourself what the goal of the domain is. However, with large-sized domains, things are a little different. I’ve said earlier that this is just like an examination, you’ll get plenty of mouth-watering rewards if you pass, and if you fail, well that’s just how it is. This survival domain exemplifies what I’ve said perfectly. The goal is simple: survival. That’s the will of the domain, and if you can survive for the number of days indicated on the panel, thirty days, then you’ll have succeeded in this domain.”
“I only need to survive?” Li Yiming was baffled. ‘Well that’s pretty easy isn’t it? All I need to do is find a place and hide for a bit.’
Li Huaibei chuckled at his question and lit up another cigarette. “The purpose of the large-sized domain is to filter out the weaklings. To make those who are strong even stronger. There’s a lot of opportunities that you wouldn’t want to miss. Also, look at those around you… Do you think that hiding will work?”
Li Yiming looked left and right and saw the gravity written on his peers’ faces.
“The rewards are very simple. If you can kill or subdue specified targets, you’ll be able to obtain life marks.”
“Targets?” Li Yiming looked around alarmingly.
“The targets aren’t the other guardians. Beasts or monsters, most likely.”
“Beasts…” Li Yiming thought about the Dragondogs. At least that was more agreeable to him than having to kill other guardians.
“But you shouldn’t let your guard down. Many guardians die in the hands of their peers in big-sized domains like this.” Li Huaibei reminded him.
“Why?” Li Yiming asked.
“Well, it’s only human to be selfish. Not to mention that each guardian usually has a treasure of his or her own.” Li Huaibei said in a voice that let through a little bit of frustration.
‘Kill for loot?’ Li Yiming thought about the storage ring he took from Xiao Hei.
“Oh yeah, one last thing.”
Both Li Yiming and Liu Meng stayed quiet and listened attentively.
“The law of survival, simply put, is the law of the jungle. That being said, don’t destroy the jungle itself.”
“Don’t destroy the jungle?” Liu Meng was a little confused as she raised her head to look at the skyscrapers around them.
“We should be careful to not disrupt the order of the city?” Li Yiming was a little faster.
“Right. If you disrupt the city within the domain, you’ll soon realize stronger enemies matching your carelessness will show up to confront you. So, if you show no self-restraint and cause havoc simply because you are able to, the other guardians will be the first ones to come and end you, since they’ll have to live with the consequences you’ve brought about.”
Li Yiming and Liu Meng exchanged a glance and nodded.
“Alright, I’ve told you what I needed to. I’ll leave you then.” Li Huaibei walked away to a garbage can nearby and extinguished his cigarette.
“You’re not staying with us?” Liu Meng was a little disappointed. ‘This guy looks pretty strong, and I thought that we could rely on him for a safe journey.’
“You’ve met Mr. Kong. You should know better than anyone that the rules need to be personally experienced. I think that I’ve done enough for you.” Li Huaibei looked around as he explained. “I don’t mean to brag, but my name does carry a certain weight. Remember your reward will be better if you can capture or kill many targets. Pay attention to your surroundings and try to not miss any opportunities that show up.” Li Huaibei waved his hand in their direction as a goodbye and left for the parking lot without lingering.
“Oh. I presume that you’ve heard of camouflagers?” Li Huaibei suddenly turned around and asked.
“Yes.” Li Yiming answered.
“Well, you can be sure to find at least one of them in the domain. Be careful.” With these last words, Li Huaibei left them for good.
‘Camouflagers too?’ Li Yiming looked at the giant number that flashed on the panel and turned back to look at Liu Meng. ‘Are we really going to be alright?’
“What do we do now?” For a first-timer like Liu Meng, it was a little hard to decide on a plan of approach right away. Most of the guardians had already spread out and slowly vanished around the intersections in the distance. Qing Linglong led her group into a high-grade restaurant right around the corner.
“Let’s eat first.” Li Yiming decided. ‘I’ll think of a solution when the problem shows up. All we can do for now is try our best to steer ourselves into a favorable situation.’ He followed Qing Linglong and her friends into the restaurant. He did not know how many stars the restaurant had, but based on the rows of luxury cars parked in the lot in front of it, a meal there had to be rather expensive. ‘Hmm, I still have around 8000 yuan on me, that should be enough at least for a dinner for two. With death coming anytime around the corner, I should at least make the most out of any time I’m alive. Wouldn’t want to die without having enjoyed my life. Well, in the worst case scenario I’ll go rob a bank after I’m done eating. If 8000 isn’t enough for a meal, then I’ll rob the restaurant first, and the bank second.’
Ever since she woke up from her slumber in the hospital, Liu Meng’s character had changed from her usually dominant self into one of docility, especially for Li Yiming’s decisions. As they passed through the entrance, a waiter with a tie came to greet them with a grin.
“Welcome sir, may I know if you have a reservation?” A polite inquiry, despite Li Yiming and Liu Meng’s plain garments.
“No.” Li Yiming answered coldly. He forced himself to keep his eyes straight ahead of himself, as to not let their wandering around ruin the impressive demeanor he purported.
“May I know how many seats you require then?” The waiter asked, polite as always.
Li Yiming extended two fingers: to say too much was a sure way to betray himself.
“Alright, please follow me.” The waited turned around. Aside from a quick glance at first toward Liu Meng, owing to his professionalism, he refrained from looking at her for too long.
Li Yiming followed him with his eyes always on the waiter, and the two soon arrived to a compartment seat near the window. Liu Meng sat down with a grin on her face. She knew that Li Yiming was acting like that because he was afraid to embarrass himself.
“Please take a look at the menu,” the waiter said with a bow and gave a tablet each to Li Yiming and Liu Meng.
‘Holy shit, even ordering food is done with a tablet here?’ Li Yiming thought, a little impressed. He only stretched his stiff neck after the waiter left them, and turned to look outside of the window. This was indeed the golden neighborhood for admiring the Mingzhu tower; from where he sat, Li Yiming could see it shoot up toward the sky like a spear, its wall glittering under the afternoon sun.
“You should have a look at that, I don’t really understand the fancy names.” Li Yiming put his tablet down on the table and said to Liu Meng.
“It’s also my first time in a place like this.” Liu Meng felt like laughing.
“Well, pick whatever you want, as long as it’s not all soups.” Li Yiming looked around in the restaurant, evidently not at all concerned by the choice of the meal. When he raised his head, however, and looked behind Liu Meng, he saw a someone staring back at him with a shocked expression.
‘Ji Xiaoqin?’ A couple sat around the table behind Liu Meng. The girl facing Li Yiming was Ji Xiaoqin, as for the one with his back turned against him… He did not recognize him right away, but it was a familiar figure…
“What is it?’ Liu Meng noticed Li Yiming’s stare and quickly turned around. She was on her guard as well, given their precarious situation..
“Guo Xiang? Ji Xiaoqin?” Liu Meng’s eyes met Guo Xiang’s, who had done the same after seeing Ji Xiaoqin’s baffled expression.
‘Why are they here?’ The same question ran through all of their minds.
“Coincidence?” The first one to snap out of the surprise of the moment was Guo Xiang, who had the least to worry about. Ji Xiaoqin was a little embarrassed with meeting her former boyfriend, while Li Yiming and Liu Meng were a little surprised to see Guo Xiang yet again. ‘Are you serious? This is a domain. What’s wrong with him? He was there for no good reason once, and he’s here again now? Wow, the author must really hate you.’
“It’s only the two of you?” Guo Xiang stood up with a smile and skirted around the table with a confident pace. “So, how’s life? Did you find a job? It mustn’t be too bad since you can actually afford to come here for a meal.” This was golden chance for Guo Xiang to humiliate the one who had refused him and the one who had looked at him with scorn. Since he was here with Ji Xiaoqin, how else would he prove to her that her decision was a great one?
“Guo Xiang…” Ji Xiaoqin stood up timidly. She knew well about his temperament, and Liu Meng’s burning stare made her scared and shameful.
“Ah, it’s nothing. We’re old friends. Since we’re all here, why don’t we eat together?” Guo Xiang pulled Ji Xiaoqin over forcefully. “Hey, would you mind adding two chairs here? We’re going to put our tables together. Can we get the same things here?” Guo Xiang yelled out to the restaurant staff in a loud voice. “Have you ordered? Don’t worry, it’ll be on me.”
“Please mind the chair, sir.” The waiter had already arrived with Guo Xiang’s chair just as he finished shouting: prime quality service. “Sir, the bill for this table has already been paid by the woman over there.” The waiter set down the chair and explained with a smile, but his thoughts were much less polite. ‘Wow, I guess I really shouldn’t judge people by their appearance. Just now I thought that he was going over his means when he brought that girl here, and then, only a few minutes later, and already two groups of people are fighting to pay for him?’
“Someone paid?” Both Guo Xiang and Li Yiming were surprised. They followed the waiter’s hand and saw Qing Linglong lift her glass in their direction from a few tables away.
Not sure why he’s here again x.x