Chapter 32 – The Awakening of Bai Ze
Li Yiming parried another metal rod strike directed at him and tackled his attacker. He reached for the man’s knee, grabbed his leg and used his body like a weapon. After sweeping all of the enemies in front of him to the ground, Li Yiming threw the man into the crowd, bringing another few ones down.
Li Yiming looked around coldly, he could not count the number of men in black that surrounded him. He could see, in the distance, an endless sea of men yet still coming out of the alleyways. Finally, he looked at those who were on the ground, moaning in pain, and readied himself to kill; he had no choice now, since the men in black no longer had long metal rods, but machetes. He had failed to dodge a strike earlier, although luckily for him the cut on his right arm was not that deep.
The mobsters, who had been forced to retreat by Li Yiming’s throwing of one of their comrades into them, closed in again. Li Yiming picked up a machete and dove into the sea of blackness. This was a rather familiar experience similar to when Li Huaibei fought wave after wave of beasts back in Eden. Li Yiming’s movements quickened, but he waited longer before striking, despite the number of opponents increasing, and had more and more time to think about what he wanted to do. Whatever Li Huaibei intended to teach him, he would use this opportunity to fully digest and internalize. Whether this mirage was a coincidence or preordained by fate, he did not know, but he would not let this precious chance escape him.
Slowly, it got to the point where Li Yiming could only see the machetes that the mobsters held and their exposed necks. He only required one blow directed at the throat for each enemy. It was a simple sequence: dodge, strike, rinse and repeat. After receiving his ninth wound, Li Yiming had begun to perfect his routine. By the time he sliced open the one hundred and thirty-seventh throat, it was nothing more than instinct.
The droplets of blood that splashed onto his cheeks were warm, and when the cold steel of the machetes cut through his own flesh they brought a cold, stinging sensation. Li Yiming could barely keep track of how many wounds he had sustained, or of how many enemies he had slain. He continued his routine amidst the sea of mobsters. Not too long ago, he would not even have dared to kill a chicken, but now, with no other choice, he was cutting his enemies down as if they were grass.
As more and more men in black fell to the ground, their corpses piled up around Li Yiming. However, the bloodbath did not stop more of them from coming forth to replace their comrades. They formed an endless stream, waving their machetes and stepping on the corpses of their comrades. As dusk settled, the street lamps lit up, only to dim down a moment afterward. Even the wind that began to blow failed to carry away the pungent scent of blood, and in the middle of it all, one could see Li Yiming standing there like a devil, his body entirely showered with blood.
Li Yiming had already swapped machetes many times. He stood in the middle of the pile of corpses and turned his head to look at Liu Meng, who was the only light that could guide him back to his humanity. This was the seventh time. He saw her tremble silently in the gusts that blew at the top of the tower, her voice had died out a long time ago from screaming and her heart already numb with dread. She had just lived the most important night of her life, and yet, instead of happiness and bliss welcoming her on the day after it, she found a living nightmare.
‘I won’t let anything happen to you.’ Li Yiming firmed his will and turned his head away once again. From the first time he turned back to look at Liu Meng to the seventh, he had gradually lost the need to raise his head: the pile of corpses beneath his feet had now accumulated to nearly the height of the tower itself. He was starting to lose his strength, but his machete was still sharp and his technique was never closer to perfection.
The mobsters had finally stopped their onslaught. However, they still surrounded the scene of the massacre and had no intentions of backing off. Li Yiming finally had some time to rest. He dropped down his arm and looked at the distance while carefully adjusting his breathing pace.
“Quick and pitiless. You’ve done beyond my expectations. Tell me, what have you gone through ever since becoming a guardian?” A familiar voice was heard. The sea of mobsters split up. A figure appeared at the end of the newly formed path; it was a figure that occupied many of Li Yiming’s thoughts and appeared in many of his dreams. Her svelte form seemed ever so alluring as she walked out of the darkness. However, Li Yiming could not recognize her anymore.
“Who are you?” Li Yiming asked calmly as he gazed coldly at Ji Xiaoqin. He knew that everything he found in this world was an illusion, things that were even faker than the things in a. That was why he was able to be as ruthless as he was. Ji Xiaoqin was fake, and so was Liu Meng. To protect Liu Meng was about perpetuating his own will and making up for his past mistake more than anything. Even if it was just an illusion, he would not allow anything to happen to Liu Meng.
“Why, I’m Ji Xiaoqin, of course.” Ji Xiaoqin arrived at the bottom of the mountain of corpses. Four mobsters kneeled down docilely on the ground, and Ji Xiaoqin, in all of her grace, sat down onto the chair built with human flesh rather lazily. She raised her right leg, exposing quite a bit of skin from beneath the folds of her skirt, and swayed it back and forth in the air. She was possessed with an air of lustfulness that Li Yiming had never seen before, with her wandering eyes lost in a long stare at the distance. Li Yiming would never have thought that the same visage could become so different, and so alluring with a simple change.
“What do you want?” Li Yiming moved his eyes away from Ji Xiaoqin. He looked at the mobsters, who stood still with military discipline, and estimated the amount of time he would last against them. He did not regret entering the dome of light in blind self-confidence in the slightest, since it led him to discover the truth that mattered the most in his entire life. He had doubted the veracity of what was shown to him in the mirage, but when he thought back about the careful distance that Liu Meng maintained around him, about the occasional dejection she displayed, about the word “bro” that she said so often, and about the hair she had cut short, he could now easily see the reason behind it all. Li Yiming did not know how the mirage managed to replicate all of it faithfully, but this had to be the truth, Li Yiming was sure of it.
“I wanted both of you to die. But I’ve changed my mind now.” Ji Xiaoqin raised one of her long, pale fingers. She pointed at Liu Meng. “Give her to me, and I’ll let you go. We can even be together once again.”
Li Yiming turned around to look at Liu Meng, who stood still like a lifeless statue. Her hair billowed in the wind and her limbs shook in the coldness.
“I won’t let you lay a single finger on her, not until I die,” Li Yiming replied calmly, but the firmness of his voice made his resolution unquestionable.
“Why? Weren’t we happy together? Two years of sleeping side by side, and yet you choose her over me and your own life? I know you still love me, why won’t you accept me again? Is it because I once betrayed you?” Ji Xiaoqin stood up slowly and stepped on the corpses while twisting her sensual waist.
“Making one mistake was enough. Even though this is all fake, I won’t walk down the same path again.” Li Yiming stared at Ji Xiaoqin as she trod toward him. Although it was clear now that their relationship had start as a result of a misunderstanding, the two years they had spent together was enough to make Li Yiming think fondly of Ji Xiaoqin; there was no denying that.
“Don’t you think that I’m even more attractive than before? I can make you feel like you’re in heaven.” Ji Xiaoqin opened her mouth and licked her teeth slowly, suggesting at an enticing reward if Li Yiming agreed.
“You always did make me feel that way.” Li Yiming looked at Ji Xiaoqin, who was now right in front of him. He moved his machete slightly, but then dropped it back down.
“Why?” Ji Xiaoqin was surprised. “If you killed me, perhaps all of this would be over.”
“You don’t understand.” Li Yiming dropped his machete and jumped onto the tower. He gently pulled Liu Meng into his arms.
“I don’t know where you are, and I’m really worried. I know that I should try my best to get out of this illusion and go look for you, but I don’t know how. It might be easy to kill her just now, but I know that she must have something up her sleeve if she dares to approach me directly. I don’t want to burden myself further, I really did love her, even if it’s no longer the case.” Li Yiming slid his finger beneath Liu Meng’s long hair and grazed her stiff shoulders.
“The illusion reflects the weakness in my heart. Even if I can take lives like one reaps the grass, I don’t think that I’ve changed fundamentally. I know that you also don’t want to see me become like that. I didn’t have much of a choice since I’ve been dragged into all of this domain stuff, but this time, I want to make my own choice and see what’s inside my own head.” Li Yiming lifted Liu Meng’s face and tried his best to show to her how much he loved her.
“You won’t get a chance,” Liu Meng, who stood still as if she had lost her soul, suddenly said with a cold voice. Li Yiming felt a sudden tightening of his chest. The tip of Liu Meng’s fingers lit up with a metallic tint as she thrust her hand into his flesh.
“It’s okay, I owe you that.” Li Yiming closed his eyes, ignoring the pain that tore through his chest, and wrapped his arms around Liu Meng.
* * *
The rocky ground melted as a beautiful woman with barely any clothing on her emerged from below. Below her waist, instead of her legs, one would find a giant tail covered with silver scales. Her tail contorted and relaxed as she slowly made her way toward Li Yiming.
“The lonely music of zither and flute in the smoke; and the sigh mourning the departure of that feeling which none can rival. If Wentian loved me half as much as you did for that girl, I wouldn’t be here today.” The snake-woman stopped still in front of Li Yiming and scraped his face gently with the sharp tip of her nails.
“Who are you? You walked through my barrier as if it was nothing. You kill without hesitating and stay impassive in front of a mountain of corpses, and yet you are weak emotionally and you refuse to leave her. How did you survive and grow in the domains?” The woman’s nail had moved to where Li Yiming’s heart was, and she traced circles on his skin, as if they were caresses of love. With a little push, she would be able to pierce his heart. The jade pendant which hung from Li Yiming’s neck had been reduced to dust a long while ago.
“What an interesting guardian. I’m almost tempted to spare you.” The snake-woman had a charming smile and seemed to hesitate about finishing Li Yiming off.
“You should consider yourself lucky to have hesitated. Give me your inner pill now and I’ll let you go.” The voice of a child suddenly came out of Li Yiming’s chest. The woman backed off, her beguiling smile changing into an expression of fear of seeing her worst enemy.
A small figure appeared in front of Li Yiming. She wore a white one piece and had long leather boots. Her black braids, slightly plumpy cheeks, and the rosy skin of her arms gave her an air of a play doll. She stood in front of Li Yiming with a childish, innocent expression.
Drum rolls! :3