Chapter 23 – To Each Their Own Thoughts
“Thank you, Mr. Li.” Fang Shui’er bowed down to Li Yiming after seeing their enemies leave.
Li Yiming finally had recovered enough strength to put his sword away and put his hands behind his back. He stayed quiet and looked coldly at Fang Shui’er, just as one would expect from someone as “powerful” as he was.
“We’ve been injured from the chase earlier and need some time to recuperate. Would it be possible to ask Mr. Li to help us a little more and protect us while we’re recovering? It won’t take longer than an hour.” Li Yiming’s cool stare made Fang Shui’er shiver, and the first thought she had was to leave immediately after thanking him. However, she changed her mind when she thought about her current situation; both her and Zeng Qian were injured, and their former “teammates” were nowhere to be seen. It would be very hard for them to succeed in the domain now, unless they received help, and Li Yiming would be a perfect partner, given his amazing performance in both Ning Village and just now. ‘He seemed like someone kind enough to lend us a hand. How did someone as naive as him survive all these domains and even reach this level of strength though?’
Li Yiming had to repress his grimace when he heard Fang Shui’er proposition. ‘Does it look like I can refuse? Judging by Zeng Qian’s bottom line, who knows what would happen to me if she knew about my situation.’
Li Yiming nodded with a slight frown. He kept quiet and sat down with his legs crossed and eyes closed. Liu Meng would have kicked him if she saw him feigning “elegance” like that.
“Thank you Mr. Li,” Fang Shui’er answered in a reverent voice and tried her best to hide her joy. She called Zeng Qian forward and sat down right next to Li Yiming. Zeng Qian seemed a little surprised by the events, especially so when she looked at the seven storage items which lied untouched on the ground. ‘I’d think that the belongings of these seven people are not insignificant in the slightest, especially if they’ve been robbing other guardians. But this guy isn’t even looking at these things, does he not care for such little treasures, or… could this be a test?’
Li Yiming tried his best to maintain his posture, but it was not long before an unbearable fatigue reached him. He was struggling to maintain his regular breathing. However, the beads of sweat that rolled down his forehead were out of his control. As he continued to sweat, his back became soaked and he was becoming more and more nervous despite keeping his facade of calmness.
“Are you injured?” Fang Shui’er, who had been paying attention to Li Yiming the whole time, asked with a curious expression when she saw his pale countenance and the sweat.
“I fought with Bi Fang yesterday. He got away.” Li Yiming improvised an explanation.
‘Bi Fang? Ran away? He didn’t admit that he was injured, but that’s Bi Fang, nonetheless!’ Fang Shui’er was amazed by his answer once again. ‘Despite his injuries, he was still that strong?’ It never occurred to Fang Shui’er that Li Yiming might be lying, since honesty was crucial to maintaining one’s mental fortitude on the path of cultivation. In addition, even if Li Yiming was really injured, he would most likely have some kind of last resort technique that would be way beyond what she and her sister could handle. ‘Yes, the best thing we can do is to work earnestly together.’
“This is a Ki Recovering Pill we’ve obtained earlier. It’s not really useful to us now, so please use it to recover. We owe you at least this much for saving our lives.” A small, plain-looking wooden box appeared in Zeng Qian’s palm. This was something they had obtained previously. It was not very common, but nor was it an amazing treasure. But it would be what Li Yiming needed, and both Fang sisters were masters at developing relationships with others.
‘Ki Recovering Pill?’ Li Yiming took the box hesitantly. ‘Wait, this is a chocolate marble!’
The pill was about as large as Li Yiming’s thumbnail and its surface was uneven. It looked just like a chocolate marble from both texture and appearance. In fact, this was a chocolate marble: Fang Shui’er was simply looking for a snack when she bought a bag of chocolate, but found this surprise instead. Inside a large size domain, anything was possible, and even four yuan could open the way to a treasure. Who said that chocolate was incompatible with cultivation pills.
‘Should I really eat this? Isn’t Zeng Qian full of poison? But I wouldn’t think that she’d try to poison me right now, and if not with this, when would I be able to recover? I can’t afford to spend more time in such a state…’ Li Yiming threw the pill into his mouth after thinking about it shortly.
The pill melted as soon as it touched his tongue without producing any flavor in particular. Li Yiming felt a coolness that reached his stomach, and then a comfortable warmth that reached the extremities of his limbs. He could feel his strength recovering.
Fang Shui’er was happy when she saw Li Yiming take the pill. ‘Yes, we have insurance now. People like him usually don’t like to owe favors, and although he saved our lives earlier, I’d think that he’d consider this a favor he’d want to repay.’
More and more ordinary people came to the park as it became later in the morning. The black crater was enough to attract a few curious onlookers, but not enough to elicit a big reaction, since lightning striking the ground in itself was nothing to be surprised of. The seven storage items stayed on the ground. The populace of Shangbei, thoroughly educated through the internet about the dangers of picking something up for free, especially when there were three suspicious figures sitting down right next to the objects, left the items untouched.
Owing to her dirty garments and the stains on her body, no one recognized Fang Shui’er. Li Yiming slowly opened his eyes after sensing that the effects of the pill fading away. It was indeed effective: Li Yiming had recovered more than half of his strength.
“Thank you, Mr. Li. It’s the second time you’ve saved us.” Fang Shui’er noticed the change in Li Yiming and rushed forward to voice her gratitude. She was also pondering about how to approach him for the partnership.
“It’s just a coincidence. I should thank you for the medicine,” Li Yiming answered earnestly. The most important thing to him was being able to defend himself in the short while.
“It was used for the best purpose. What are you planning to do now?” Fang Shui’er was struck with a secret joy. ‘This is exactly what I was hoping for.’
“I need to look for someone.” Li Yiming’s mood suddenly sank.
“Look for someone?”
“Yes, Liu Meng’s gone.” Li Yiming hesitated, but still decided to tell the truth just in case a clue might be obtained from Fang Shui’er and her sister.
“Gone?” Fang Shui’er was puzzled. ‘Gone with your abilities?’
“I went after Bi Fang alone when I found him last night. When I came back…” Li Yiming was getting better at using the tale as an excuse.
‘What a heaven-sent opportunity!’ Fang Shui’er quickly voiced her proposition. “If it’s just a matter of finding her, perhaps we can help. You know, with Qianqian’s talent…”
“If you can help me, then it would be greatly appreciated.” Li Yiming’s eyes lit up with hope. He remembered the bugs that flew out of the sewers: this would be much more efficient than him wandering the streets aimlessly.
“It would be our pleasure to help. We were just wondering about how to repay our debt to you.” Zeng Qian offered her help while artfully concocting a flattering speech.
“I appreciate the help. We should perhaps find a place to change clothes first.” Li Yiming hesitantly proposed while looking at Fang Shui’er and Zeng Qian. It was one thing to be in a rush, but another to ask them to help him in such a state, especially when Fang Shui’er was a national idol.
“Sorry,” Fang Shui’er wiped away a stain on her face, a little embarrassed.
“Let’s go, my car is parked over there.”
“Mr. Li…” Zeng Qian hesitated. She turned her head toward the storage items on the ground.
“Oh, right! I forgot.” Li Yiming bent down and put the items into his pocket with a casual smile. He did not have the time to spare attention for the items when he was weakened, especially with Liu Meng’s disappearance occupying his mind.
Fang Shui’er and Zeng Qian exchanged a glance, thinking the same thing. ‘He was indeed testing us… Good thing that we didn’t fall for it…’
Fang Shui’er seemed surprised when she saw Li Yiming’s car. An old, derelict SAIC-GM-Wuling with rust marks and a half-opened window. A parking ticket was stuck between the windshield and the wiper. ‘Is this… some kind of personal preference as well?’ 1
“Get in.” Li Yiming was not shy in the slightest. It was the first car he owned after all.
“Please allow me to drive. I’m used to doing it as an assistant.” Zeng Qian dove into the driver’s seat before Li Yiming could open the car door. She would not dare to let Li Yiming be their chauffeur.
“Alright then.” Li Yiming shrugged his shoulder: he was actually hoping for that to happen, since he did not have a driving license. If a police officer was to stop him, he would need to resort to something ridiculous like his special agent ID.
They found a hotel nearby and Zeng Qian reserved a room. After ordering breakfast, Fang Shui’er quickly headed into the shower and emerged from it soon after, since she had noticed Li Yiming’s repressed eagerness. Zeng Qian followed her, but she would inevitably take more time due to the whole-body camouflage she wore. The breakfast arrived soon after, and Fang Shui’er was the one to open the door. The hotel clerk was visibly stunned when he saw her, and even more so when he saw Li Yiming sitting on the sofa. The thought of Fang Shui’er being alone in a hotel room with another man made the fire of curiosity burn within him, but Fang Shui’er quickly took over the meal cart and closed the door.
The meal was simple, but well prepared. Li Yiming gulped down his portion quickly without any reserve. Fang Shui’er poured herself a cup of milk and picked up a piece of pastry. Her movements were quick, but quiet and elegant. Zeng Qian walked out of the bathroom in her usual business outfit. Her mask had been cleaned up, and she even applied some make-up onto it. Instead of coming to her meal, Zeng Qian went to the window and put one of her hands on the sill. An endless stream of bugs climbed out of her sleeves and disappeared into the distance.
Zeng Qian turned back, nodded at Li Yiming, and sat down to start her breakfast. Li Yiming could easily see that the Fang sisters were still very reticent and nervous around him.
* * *
Li Huaibei was at the window of an apartment, staring at the street in the distance. His countenance was still pale, and his right hand trembled from sporadically. ‘Save, or not save? I could do it easily, even in my current state, but what then? Are they going to last by themselves until the end of the domain? It’s just the beginning right now.’
He slowly retracted his hand and sat back down on the sofa, clasping his hands together and crossing his legs. His breathing, along with his thoughts, slowly settled down. ‘Being a guardian is all about protecting the way, seeing the way and focusing on it. If Heaven’s Laws shows you the way, then what is there to doubt, even when facing death? Good luck.’
Not entirely sure why Li Yiming agrees to work with people who are “evil” enough (at least to him) to have massacred a village. But hey, who needs principles when they are inconvenient.
1. SAIC-GM-Wuling, a joint-venture between SAIC Motor, General Motors and Liuzhou Wuling Motors Co Ltd.