Chapter 33 – Trouble Yet Settled
“Bai Ze?” The woman looked at the innocent-looking little girl in front of her fearfully. She rattled her silvery tails as she made ready to strike.
“You know, Bai Xi, based on our lineage, we are technically blood-related, aren’t we?” Bai Ze blinked at the woman. Bai Xi was a reputable figure herself, being one of the direct descendants of the Empress Nüwa herself. 1
“I was wondering why this kid had so much confidence. Now I see, it’s because he thinks that you’ll be able to protect him. But what about you? Are you absolutely confident that you can take me on? He’s not going to be able to help you, you know?” Bai Xi had recovered from her shock and gradually regained her composure.
“And you think that I’ll give you the time to cast one of your illusions?” Bai Ze threw the question back to Bai Xi like a peevish child talking back to her mother.
Bai Xi jumped back, the ground beneath her had begun to shake, and her body was about to sink beneath it. Bai Ze’s lips pursed into a smile as she dashed toward Bai Xi and wrapped her hands around Bai Xi’s tail. She pulled as hard as she could, and, with a loud thud, managed to drag Bai Xi completely out of her hiding spot. This time, unlike when Bai Xi moved into the earth at her own will, a huge crater was produced, along with flying rock debris and a cloud of dust. Bai Ze swung her arms over her head and threw Bai Xi into the air. She looked at Bai Xi’s tail, which stiffened as she fell back down, and snatched it. She then pitilessly smashed her toward the ground.
Bai Xi waved her arms helplessly as she collided against the ground. A cavity whose shape matched the allurings curves of her body was imprinted. Before she could react, however, she felt herself lifted up once more.
Another collision that made Bai Xi’s head spin. She opened her mouth in an attempt to yell out an insult, but once again, the sensation weightlessness came. Bai Ze seemed to have found a hated enemy in the ground beneath her feet. She whipped it repeatedly using Bai Xi’s body, and, from her expression, one could see that she was enjoying herself greatly in the task.
The ground splintered and puffs of dust clouds emanated from it as loud thuds continued to reverberate within the tiny light dome. Bai Xi could do nothing but worry as Bai Ze happened to counter her techniques perfectly. It was just like Big Beard, who could have easily slain Bai Xi if he was to meet her face-to-face, but was doomed to a slow death in one of her crafted illusions. Now, the tables had turned and she herself was going to meet the same fate unless a miracle was to happen.
The conclusion to the game of whack-a-mole left Bai Xi laying still on the ground, looking dirty and flustered while Bai Ze’s pressed one of her small hands against her chest. When she opened her eyes once again, she saw a face with delicate features come closer and closer to her own.
“Give me your inner pill, and I’ll let you live.” Bai Ze smiled earnestly.
“You’re asking for my life here. I’ll lose everything I have.” Bai Xi spat out. Although Bai Ze’s attacks had created a big ruckus, it was not enough to harm her seriously. Bai Ze had only intended to intimidate Bai Xi and have some fun for herself.
“It’s not easy, but at least you’ll be able to recover one day. Think about it carefully, I wouldn’t mind swallowing you whole.” The smile still hung on Bai Ze’s lips, but the tint of purple in her eyes and the fading projection of a white lion with wings on its back made it obvious to Bai Xi that she was not joking at all.
“You’ve been through Heaven’s Punishment?” Bai Xi was shocked. Being a mythical beast herself, she was extremely sensitive to anything that had to do with the scent of lightning.
“What do you think?” The purple glow in Bai Ze’s eyes brightened and her smile faded away.
Bai Xi hesitated a little more, but finally, under the overwhelming pressure, she had to opt for the painful decision. She opened her mouth and spat out a white glowing marble. Bai Ze immediately exhaled a stream of purple smoke on the object that wrapped around it like a tentacle and pulled the pill back into her own stomach.
“Alright, leave.” Bai Ze cleaned away the dust stuck on her clothes with a few pats and walked away from Bai Xi. When she turned her head away, signs of deep relief appeared on her face.
Bai Xi crawled up from where she laid, visibly weakened by the donation of her inner pill. When she saw Bai Ze spit out the purple fume, she gave up all hopes of recovering her pill. Just as she had expected, that was the aura of Heaven’s Punishment; she had lost it all now. Bai Xi threw one last glance at Li Yiming, who was still on the ground with his eyes closed, and crawled all the way to the shores of the Shangbei River. A small splash later and she was completely gone.
When Li Yiming opened his eyes, he saw a pretty but angry face right in front of him.
“Bai Ze?” Li Yiming was overjoyed. He quickly snapped out of the emotions of the illusion.
“Hey, would you mind being a little smarter?” Bai Ze waved her fists in anger. “You know you would have died if it wasn’t for me? What’s wrong with you? First, the phoenix and now Bai Xi, don’t you know how to pick enemies that you can handle?”
“You killed her? Bai Xi, was that her name? Have you recovered?” Li Yiming ignored her outburst and looked at the devastation around him; by all indications, a terrible fight had just occurred.
“Recover my ass! It’s Heaven’s Punishment, you know.” Bai Ze’s exasperated outburst had gone down a pitch when she remembered that it was Li Yiming who saved her life.
“Then how did you…?”
“I bluffed her.” Bei Ze pursed her lips, visibly satisfied with her achievement. “I scared her into giving me her inner pill, so there’s nothing she can do to us now. But there’s so much power inside that pill, I’ll need all my strength just to keep it contained. Be careful, okay?” Bai Ze vanished after a streak of white light that shot toward Li Yiming’s chest.
“Hey! I still have a lot of things to ask you!” Li Yiming yelled out, but Bai Ze did not answer him.
‘Bai Xi’s illusion destroyed. Bai Xi repelled. Bai Xi’s inner pilled obtained: Path Progression obtained, thirty points.’ Li Yiming heard a familiar voice in his head.
‘Bai Xi? As in that half-snake Bai Xi? Bai Ze bluffed her?’ Li Yiming looked around and went to help Big Beard, who laid on the ground, barely alive. Luckily, the light dome vanished soon after Bai Xi left, and the others on the outside quickly joined them.
“Yiming, are you okay?” Qing Qiaoqiao was ahead of her friends. Li Yiming reacted quickly enough to catch her shoulders and stopped her from jumping into his arms.
“I’m okay, just have a look at him, I’m not good this kind of thing.” Li Yiming directed his friends’ attention toward Big Beard.
“He’s exhausted, that’s all. But the two others…” Zeng Qian examined Big Beard promptly.
Li Yiming shook his head to mean that he was sorry. He had not seen the corpses ever since waking up. Bai Xi must have disposed of the two before leaving.
“Thank you.” Fang Shui’er stepped forward and expressed her gratitude.
“We’re on the same team, don’t say things like that.” Li Yiming’s mind was still preoccupied with what had happened within the illusion. What he had learned from it was invaluable.
“What did you see?” Qing Qiaoqiao, sharp as she always was, noticed the change in Li Yiming’s air. He seemed a lot more distant, and there was also something deadly about him now.
“It’s okay, I’d rather not talk about it. How long have I been inside?” Li Yiming tried to change the subject of the conversation, since he did not really want to share the details about his past with anyone else, especially Qing Qiaoqiao, whose intentions were obvious to everyone in the group. In fact, he wanted to avoid talking to her about that at all costs.
“Almost five days.” Qing Linglong came forward and put a hand on her younger sister’s shoulder, signaling her to stop asking further. She could also feel the subtle change in Li Yiming’s temperament.
“Five days?” Li Yiming was surprised. He knew that he had spent quite a bit of time inside the illusion, but five days was still beyond his initial estimation.
“It seems like I’m late again.” A soft voice was heard. Li Yiming lifted his head and saw three people standing on the bridge above them. One was dressed stylishly, although it was hard to tell whether it was a woman or a man, the other was an old man with a hunched back, while the last had an alluring figure and had her face hidden behind a veil.
“Liu Meng?” Li Yiming jumped up. Even with her face hidden, Li Yiming recognized her instantly.
“Ya Yu?” Qing Linglong pulled out both of her knives and walked in front of her sister.
“He’s the one who brought Ya Yu away,” Qing Qiaoqiao said loudly while pointing at the man who was more beautiful than most women Li Yiming had ever seen. Meanwhile, Fang Shui’er took out her bow and a swarm of bugs flew out of Zeng Qian’s body, wrapping themselves around herself and Big Beard.
“Don’t worry, you’re not my target.” The effeminate man smiled as he cast down a look on the group from the bridge. Fang Shui’er could now see why Qing Qiaoqiao had such a hard time describing the man, since he was such a chaotic mixture of distinctive and sometimes conflicting qualities.
“Liu Meng, are you okay?” Li Yiming did not move his eyes away from Liu Meng. Seeing her unharmed brought great relief to him.
“You know each other?” Liu Meng stayed silent, and, instead, the man who headed the group asked Li Yiming.
“Who are you?” Li Yiming noticed the oddity in Liu Meng’s behavior. She expressed absolutely no emotion at seeing him again and was simply staring vacantly at the distance.
“You’ll know about my identity soon enough. Well, since I’m late, I’ll leave you to yourselves. I hope that you’ll stay alive for at least a little while, you’re quite the interesting people.” The man waved his hand as if he was saying goodbye to old friends and disappeared with a smile.
“Liu Meng!” Li Yiming rushed toward the bridge. However, the nearly thirty meters of elevation was beyond what he could reach by jumping, so he had to look for a way to climb up.
“Wait, calm down!” Qing Linglong warned Li Yiming, but, instead of stopping him, she followed with her weapons in hand. She knew that Li Yiming was not the kind of person to give up that easily, and the rest of the group knew as well, so they all followed him cautiously.
By the time they had reached the top, Liu Meng was long gone. The road was completely empty, without even a single car. “My bugs have lost them, they knew.” Zeng Qian put Big Beard, who had yet to wake up, into a car. She herself was lagging behind her teammates, and although she had sent her bugs to trail Liu Meng, they were to no avail.
“Liu Meng, she looked really… weird.” Li Yiming turned back to look at his friends.
“I think she’s under the influence of some kind of spell. It doesn’t look like a focus-based technique though.” Qing Qiaoqiao looked at Li Yiming, who seemed worried sick, and her own mood sank as well.
“Very odd indeed. I don’t think that normal focus-based technique would be enough to control Ya Yu. A cruel beast like him has barely enough mental substance to formulate a thought beyond the desire for blood, I doubt that it could ever be made to stay calm like that,” Qing Linglong said with a frown.
“Where’s Eyeglasses?” Li Yiming took a deep breath. ‘Whether she’s hypnotized, or under the control of someone else, at least she’s still alive, and that’s already good news.’ He found at least some reconciliation in that fact.
“In a hotel ahead.”
“We should go there and rest briefly. We’ll need his help.” Li Yiming knew that just being worried would accomplish nothing, and Eyeglasses would the best help he could obtain for finding Liu Meng.
I’m a little sick right now x.x . Hopefully this won’t degenerate into a fever.
1. Nüwa is the Gaia figure in Chinese mythology, who is credited with the creation of mankind of mud. For that reason, she’s obviously very famous and holds an important position. She’s usually depicted as being half-human with a snake’s tail, kind of like the naga. The blood-related Bai Ze talks about is probably due to the common Bai that her and Bai Xi shares, but beyond that, there’s nothing that suggested at an actual relationship between Bai Ze and Bai Xi.