“Alright, this place seems isolated enough.” Li Yiming said after following the mobsters around for awhile in the alleyway. It had been a few minutes since he had seen the last passer-by.
“What do you mean, Mr. Li?” Huang Fei looked around and asked. ‘He knows our intentions, I wonder what he’s up to?’
“Yang He, did they threaten you?” Li Yiming inched closer to the boy so that he can protect the young boy if a fight was ever to break out.
“Did you know from the start that my bracelet was an artifact?” Yang He, who stayed quiet the whole time, suddenly raised his head to look at Li Yiming. His timidity and reluctance had been replaced by bitterness.
“What?” Li Yiming was surprised.
“Stop pretending. I know that people like this don’t exist. You gave me fifteen thousand extra because you felt bad about swindling a child, didn’t you?” Yang He could not hold it in anymore.
“Did they tell you that?” Li Yiming’s heart shook: he could not believe that what he perceived to be a timid yet strong-hearted child could stare at him so venomously.
Huang Fei kept his smile and backed off slightly. The mobsters spread around and surrounded Liu Meng and Li Yiming. Some of them had already begun to take out the metal rods they had concealed in old journals.
“No one told me anything. Don’t think that I’m an idiot. I’m not selling my bracelet anymore. Give me back my bracelet, I’ll give you back the money.” Yang He said with heavy breathing and flushed cheeks. He looked like someone who was rightfully angry at being deceived.
Li Yiming did not know what to say. He looked at the young man in front of him. ‘Is this… human nature?’
“Mr. Li, I’m not going to waste your time. I know that you sold the bracelet, so you can’t return it anymore. Just give us the money, and we’ll leave it at that, okay?” Huang Fei proposed to the two while keeping his smile, as if he was a fair mediator of the conflict.
“Hey, we didn’t force you to sell it, did we?” Liu Meng spat out angrily. She did not care so much for Yang He’s betrayal, only it hurt her to see Li Yiming’s goodwill be trampled on like that.
“My mother needs the money to stay in the hospital, and yet you’re preying on a defenseless child? That’s inexcusable,” Yang He retorted.
“You…” Liu Meng’s anger boiled, and she was about to say something, but Li Yiming stopped her with a pat on the shoulder.
“Just tell me what you want,” Li Yiming suppressed his rage and answered in a calm voice. He had to repeat the thought in his head. ‘This is a domain, not reality… This is a domain, not reality…’
“Give the money back to Yang He. As for swindling him, you can give us your bracelet and the ring on that girl’s finger.” Huang Fei took a step forward in an effort to intimidate Li Yiming.
“Oh? You want my bracelet?” Li Yiming suddenly burst into laughter. His odd reaction brought an ominous feeling to Huang Fei. ‘This guy is way too calm, smiling in this kind of situation. But the reward… Damn it, I’ll never get anything if I don’t risk it. At worst I’ll just run away after this and find another place to prosper.’
“Well, since we’re all here, you’d have to pay for our… displacement, wouldn’t you?” Huang Fei thought about the worst-case scenario and firmed his tone. He also started to look at Liu Meng in an effort to hint at the consequences of his demands not being fulfilled.
“You’ve gone mad from being poor, haven’t you?” Liu Meng was very uncomfortable from being looked at like that. She glared menacingly at Huang Fei and put her arms in front of her chest.
“Little girl, if I told you that I’d strip you naked and hang you from that pole, would you believe me?” Huang Fei looked at Liu Meng with undisguised lust.
“And I’m telling you that this is a toy, how about that?” Li Yiming said coldly.
Huang Fei froze. He looked at the gun barrel pointed at his forehead. ‘A gun? Wait a second, in our country? Do you think this is a movie?’ A defiant smile appeared on Huang Fei’s lips. “Do you think that I’ll be scared that easily? I…”
Instead of bickering further, Li Yiming aimed at Huang Fei’s leg and pulled the trigger. The sound of the gunshot, untempered by a silence, resounded in the alley way. It was immediately followed by an ear-piercing scream from Huang Fei. His followers backed off as soon as they saw what happened, and Yang He fell to the ground in the scare of the moment.
“How about now?” Li Yiming moved back his gun to Huang Fei’s forehead and repeated calmly. The screeches of pain were cut short.
Another gunshot. Another gun appeared in Li Yiming’s left hand, and, this time, the bullet flew into one of the mobsters who thought that it would be a good idea to attack him from behind. The mobster fell onto the ground with a silent thud.
“That’s what I thought, not even scared of death,” Li Yiming said coldly. He could no longer repress his anger. His goodwill had been rewarded with this, and he thought that it was very ironic that just a moment earlier he was thinking about finding Yang He and repaying the favor.
“Tell me, did he come to you, or did you find him?” Li Yiming looked at Yang He, very disappointed. He wanted to know the answer to his question for he had a last sliver of hope.
“He… he came to us.” Huang Fei said in a trembling voice. ‘A real gun! And he just killed someone. Who is this guy?”
“Really?” Li Yiming was disappointed. He turned around to look at Yang He, who was so frightened that he sat on the ground dumbly without being able to do anything.
“Yes, yes! The man who came with him also said that if we can take your ring and your bracelet, he’d give me ten million. Don’t kill me please, I was just following orders!” Huang Fei hurriedly explained.
“The man who came with him?” Li Yiming was shocked by the revelation. Suddenly, he felt a gust of wind come from behind. He wrapped around Liu Meng and dragged her down onto the ground.
A gunshot. But Li Yiming was not the one who fired. One of the mobsters behind Liu Meng fell to the ground, and the rest scattered away with panicked screams.
‘Sniper?’ Li Yiming peeked at the direction from which the noise came. It was the building facing them.
“Stay here.” Li Yiming yelled to Liu Meng and climbed onto the fence at the end of the alleyway. He dashed toward the entrance of the building.
A bullet landed right behind Li Yiming, missing him by an inch. Li Yiming raised his head and looked at the fourth floor. He saw someone pull back a rifle from the window.
Li Yiming accelerated his pace and as he got closer to the balconies, he crouched and pushed as hard as he could with his legs, shooting up like a cannonball onto the balcony of the second floor. Li Yiming pulled on the railings of the balcony to give himself another push upward using the air conditioner that hung by the window. The metal grid outside of the window of the third floor helped him climb up yet another floor, and, when he arrived at the window of the fourth floor, he pulled on the metal bars and split them apart with his level three strength. 1
Huang Fei had a gaping mouth as he watched Li Yiming dive into the opening in the metal. For a brief moment, he forgot about the excruciating pain from the bleeding wound on his leg. He then glanced at Liu Meng, who seemed a little nervous, but unfazed. He secretly decided. ‘From now on I’ll be a good man. The world of evil is far too dangerous.’
When Liu Meng saw Li Yiming disappear behind the window, she gritted her teeth and ran toward the entrance of the building as well.
Li Yiming ran toward the door of the apartment unit once he entered the building. He saw the door leading to the corridor swaying. When he caught a shadow moving toward the stairs as he rushed past it and fired a round in its direction. He was met with a blow to the face right as he entered the stairs. Li Yiming ducked as quickly as he could, avoiding a scrape that left a deep marking on the wall behind him and sent pieces of it flying around. However, before he could react, Li Yiming was sent flying back by a kick to his chest. He dropped his handgun during his fall and nearly had his breath knocked out of him when he collided against the wall.
“A newcomer?” He could now see his opponent clearly: a short, skinny man with his head shaved except for a single spot, where the long hair had been woven into a braid. Oddly, his arms were extremely long for his height.
‘A guardian?’ Li Yiming crawled back up and stared at the man’s yellow irises. The blow he had just received was vicious, but not enough to hurt him seriously through his level three stamina.
“Give me your bracelet and I’ll spare you.” The short man said.
Li Yiming lunged at him without hesitation. The man was not quick enough to dodge his tackle, and Li Yiming wrapped his arms around him tightly. This was a tactic Li Yiming had thought of after his encounter with the cook at the restaurant. He knew that he lacked the experience in hand-to-hand combat, therefore he resorted to the simplest method of outlasting the stamina of his opponent. He was confident in his abilities despite the fact that his opponent was no ordinary person either.
Li Yiming held onto his opponent and sprinted forward. They broke through the wall of the building and fell toward the ground together. The man seemed terrified and punched Li Yiming’s back repeatedly, but Li Yiming held on as hard as he could.
The two landed on the ground. The impact of the collision made Li Yiming loosen his grip. The man spat out a mouthful of blood, but managed to roll sideward and freed himself from Li Yiming’s grip.
“Crazy bastard!” The short man wiped away the blood around the corners of his lips and looked at the holes in the wall.
Li Yiming stood up with a sword in his hand. He knew from experience just how of little use guns were against guardians.
“I surrender!” Li Yiming was surprised when he heard the cry. He was about to push his advantage when the man suddenly raised both of his arms and knelt down on the ground.
“Surrender?” Li Yiming did not know what to do. He kept his weapon in the air with caution.
“Yiming?” Liu Meng approached them from the opposite direction. She threw a worried glance at the crater on the ground and the hole in the wall of the fourth floor.
“Die!” The man on the ground yelled and jumped toward Liu Meng. As he neared Liu Meng, his figure transformed into a fuzzy shadow of yellow light.
“Liu Meng!” Li Yiming cried out. ‘Oh no! I hesitated. If something is to happen to her…’
A flash of red light suddenly shot out of Liu Meng’s body. A pillar of flame emerged from the ground and the man, already in the air, collided against it and emitted an ear-piercing screech. The fire reminded Li Yiming of the scenes back in Ning Village. Li Yiming’s eyes went from Liu Meng to the silhouette struggling in the fire. He stood there and looked with surprise as the flame died out and a charred corpse fell onto the ground.
“Long-arm monkey eliminated. Path progression rewarded: five points.” A voice was heard.
“These are our targets, beasts?” Liu Meng looked at the carcass of the man, which slowly dissipated, as if it was made of smoke.
“I think so,” Li Yiming answered hesitantly, still a little unsettled from the fight.
“How many points did you get?” Liu Meng was a little excited, since it was the first time she received an award.
“I got ten.”
“Well you were the one who finished him off, so that’s not surprising. Your talent is fire?”
“Yeah,” Liu Meng answered.
“Alright, just don’t tell anyone else, okay?” Li Yiming nodded.
“Alright. Are you okay?” Liu Meng glanced at the hole in the wall of the building once again.
“I’m okay. I can take a few hits. I didn’t think that it was a beast though.” Li Yiming answered, his voice still somewhat shaken.
“Your talent is Bai Ze?” Liu Meng’s thoughts had shifted to somewhere else.
“Yeah.” Li Yiming thought that this was the best way to explain his situation.
‘And he said that I shouldn’t tell anyone else about it. Haha, I’m not just anyone else it seems.’ Liu Meng was very happy at becoming Li Yiming’s confidant.
“What level is your vein for spell?” Li Yiming suddenly asked.
“Level two after that equipment we got.” Liu Meng answered candidly.
‘Level two and she’s that strong? Then level four…’
Not gonna lie, that transition from uh kind-hearted fool to cold-hearted murderer was a little abrupt… (although domain lives don’t really matter apparently(?))
1. The windows of apartments in China, especially on lower floors, are often protected with a metal grid to protect against thieves.
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