“You’ve seen that beast tamer. What are your thoughts? What about Bi Fang and Ya Yu? You heard the discussion earlier, can we even handle him?” Bai Ze’s aid answered a lot of Li Yiming’s questions. As dusk was about to settle in, Li Yiming directed the topic of the conversation toward the more pressing problem at hand.
“I don’t know much about that beast tamer. I can tell that he’s very strong, so with Ya Yu under his control, I wouldn’t be so confident. Bi Fang shouldn’t be cause for worry though. I don’t think that anyone can survive an encounter with a sage without paying a high price, on top of that he’s not even in his own body. I also didn’t feel the aura of any other beasts on that tamer,” Bai Ze said.
“You mean that the only beast under his control is Ya Yu? But that’s impossible! If his talent really is beast control, then how did he subdue Ya Yu in the first place?” Li Yiming remembered the conversation with his friends earlier.
“You know, I was wondering the same thing. Unless he’s naturally gifted with that level of strength after awakening?” Bai Ze was also perplexed.
“Awakening?” Li Yiming seemed to have caught something.
“That’s pretty unlikely too. I told you earlier that the growth of guardians is a slow process that is very difficult to accelerate. It’s very improbable that Heaven’s Laws would commit such a mistake, and you can see that even a bug like you has to follow the rules and do it step-by-step.”
“What if he’s not a guardian?” Li Yiming smiled: he knew the answer.
“You mean that…” Bai Ze’s tone changed at the thought of what Li Yiming was proposing.
“A camouflager!” The verdict came out in unison.
* * *
“Where’s Li Yiming?” Eyeglasses appeared at the entrance of the suite as soon as dusk fell. His face was so pale, he almost seemed like a spirit, but he was clearly in a state of excitation.
“You’re awake?” Li Yiming opened the bedroom door. He had now learned to conceal his emotions perfectly.
“Are you okay?” Eyeglasses seemed a bit nervous.
“I’m okay. Let’s talk about the matter at hand, alright?” Li Yiming led the group to the table and each took their seat.
“It’s okay, I already know about it. I’m using everything I have access to for the search, but I haven’t found anything yet. Actually, I couldn’t even see how they arrived at the bridge earlier in the day, and I can’t figure out how they left, either.” Eyeglasses seemed a little defeated and self-reproachful.
“I think our goal now is to look for a snake rather than the beast tamer or Liu Meng.” Li Yiming looked at Eyeglasses.
“Snake?” Qing Linglong asked. She was reassured by the fact that Li Yiming had recovered his composure, else it would could his judgment and put the entire team in danger.
“Yes, Bai Xi, the one who created the dome of light earlier.”
“Bai Xi, the mythical beast? It was her?” Qing Qiaoqiao was surprised at hearing that their enemy was such a renowned being.
“You didn’t kill her?” Zeng Qian looked at Li Yiming, a little surprised. ‘He spared her? Or was he not able to finish her off?’
“It was beyond my capabilities. But I did take her inner pill, which is about the same thing.” Li Yiming knew exactly what Zeng Qian was thinking and explained himself immediately.
“Why are we looking for her again?” Qing Linglong asked with the bottle of beer in her hand. The thoughts in her mind were coming and going faster than ever.
“That tamer, he’s looking for her too. If we track Bai Xi down, surely we can find Liu Meng.”
“How do you know?” Qing Linglong questioned Li Yiming’s proposition again. Even though she had complete trust in Li Yiming’s abilities by now, she was still used to planning everything carefully before making a decision. Since Bai Xi had lost her inner pill, she would probably not be of much value to the beast tamer, who had plenty of alternatives.
“First of all, the tamer doesn’t know that I took her inner pill. Second thing, he’s looking for a quick way to increase his own strength,” Li Yiming answered confidently.
“Increase his own strength? But I thought tamers could only control up to a certain number of beasts? We just discussed how that tamer might have reached his limit already, since he seemed so strong.”
“No, you’re wrong. I don’t know about the level of that tamer, or how many beasts he can control, but I’m sure that he hasn’t reached his limit yet. It’s very possible that the only ones under his control are Ya Yu and Liu Meng. That’s because he has only just awakened recently.” Li Yiming offered a calm explanation that shocked everyone present.
“That’s impossible! How can he be that strong then?” Qing Linglong questioned Li Yiming once again. It was her habit to question every assumption and verify every premise before formulating a conclusion.
“That’s because he’s not a guardian.” Li Yiming stared at Qing Linglong with an intense gaze that suggested at his conviction. With the life-and-death experiences he had also came a sense of authority that was best left unquestioned.
“Not a guardian?” Qing Qiaoqiao was dumbfounded.
“He’s a camouflager?” Qing Linglong was the fastest to understand Li Yiming’s intimation. She remembered what happened in the domain back in Hangzhou.
A nod from Li Yiming was enough to bring awe to all of his friends. Camouflagers were amongst the most mysterious beings a guardian could ever encounter, and it was not rare for guardians to live their entire life without ever meeting one. Even the Fang sisters had only heard about them.
“A camouflager, Ya Yu, and Bai Xi. They’re not going to be easy to take down.” Eyeglasses smiled as he noticed Li Yiming’s confidence.
“There’s something else I wanted to tell you. Liu Meng’s consciousness has been sealed away. The one controlling her body right now, or the one being controlled by the tamer I should say, is Bi Fang.” Li Yiming put forward another shocking revelation.
“Bi Fang?” Fang Shui’er asked in shock.
“Yes, the one I encountered before.” Li Yiming looked at her right in the eyes and nodded once again.
Beads of cold sweat rolled down the foreheads of Li Yiming’s teammates. ‘What’s wrong with this domain? Camouflagers and mythical beasts everywhere? If it weren’t for him, maybe we wouldn’t be able to survive this domain…’
“What are your plans then?” Zeng Qian had also noticed Li Yiming’s unusual calmness while facing the seemingly dire situation.
“Bai Xi lost her inner pill, so she’s powerless right now. She won’t be able to cast any illusions, so it shouldn’t be hard to find her. Once we track her down, we can simply wait for the camouflager to appear. Bi Fang has sustained grave injuries before taking control of Liu Meng, so I don’t think that he’ll be much of a challenge. We should be able to handle the camouflager by ourselves, as for Ya Yu…”
“Leave Ya Yu to me.” A low voice was heard from behind. Big Beard appeared, shirtless, with his body resting against the door frame. The scars hidden beneath the hair on his chest were grim reminders of his past struggles.
“You’re awake!” Fang Shui’er stood up, happy at seeing her teammate’s recovery.
“I’m not that good with words, but I know how to pay back a favor.” Big Beard ignored Fang Shui’er’s interjection and stared at Li Yiming. It had been a while since he had woken up, and he caught the start of the conversation. He knew about Fang Shui’er and Zeng Qian’s strengths, and he could easily see through that of the others present, but only Li Yiming remained a complete mystery. ‘The person who saved me from Bai Xi. It had to be this guy.’
“You can handle him?” Li Yiming was unsure about Big Bead’s proposition. His initial plan was to have Bai Ze buy some time against Ya Yu so he could find an opportunity to save Liu Meng.
“If it’s only him, then it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.” Big Beard seemed eager to unleash some of his power as he was still frustrated at not being able to fight back against Bai Xi and losing his two friends to her.
“He’s a level five mecha pilot,” Fang Shui’er said.
With Fang Shui’er’s addition, Li Yiming and his friends understood where Big Beard’s confidence came from; with the appropriate mech, a level five pilot could go head-to-head against a level six enemy. Li Yiming nodded and turned his head toward Eyeglasses.
“I’ll go change my target to Bai Xi right away.” Eyeglasses disappeared with an impressive speed that was characteristic of vampires.
Although the plan was set in motion, contrary to Li Yiming’s hopes, he did not receive any news of Bai Xi for the following five days. It seemed like both Bai Xi and the camouflager had vanished from this world. Although Li Yiming and his friends attempted other search methods, they did not dare to split up when they were facing an enemy as strong as the beast tamer. The frustrating delay extended until the sixth day.
“Still nothing?” Qing Qiaoqiao took out a metallic box out of her storage ring and gave it to Eyeglasses: it was human blood she had stolen from a hospital nearby.
“Nothing. Eyeglasses opened the lid and grabbed a bag of blood. He bit open a corner and sipped it like yogurt without shifting his eyes away from the screen for even a second.
“You should go rest. It’s almost dawn.” Qing Qiaoqiao sat down in front of the computer. Over the past few days, Fang Shui’er and she had learned the basics of manipulating the municipal surveillance system in order to replace Eyeglasses during daytime.
“I’ll just finish eating here.” Eyeglasses smiled in self-derision and looked at the greying sky outside.
An alarm was suddenly heard. Eyeglasses, who had been sinking into dejection, threw the bag of blood to the side and began typing rapidly on the keyboard.
“Is it the camouflager or Bai Xi?” Qing Qiaoqiao looked at the screen nervously.
“Guardians?” Eyeglasses was surprised by what appeared on the screen. The displayed location was Bingshui Park, the park with the biggest man-made lake in the entire city.
“Guardians?” Qing Qiaoqiao saw the team of the five people who were busy setting-up around the lake.
“Call the others,” Eyeglasses said while adjusting the camera angles. The rest of the group soon showed up.
“What are they doing?” Zeng Qian squinted and tried to read the guardians’ movements. The group of guardians seemed to be dumping something into the lake.
“There’s something in the lake, look!” Qing Linglong’s eyes were sharp enough to notice that an unnatural ripple ran down the surface of the lake.
“It’s Bai Xi!” Li Yiming cried out when he saw a long, silvery shadow beneath the surface.
“They’re going after her. We have to hurry!” Fang Shui’er darted toward the door.
“Bai Xi doesn’t have much power left. She’s not going to last long. We’re going to go there first. You guys get the car!” Qing Linglong yelled out to the rest of the group as she followed Fang Shui’er out of the room. She and Fang Shui’er were the only speed-focused guardians in the group. In a city filled with skyscrapers, they would be able to move at lightning speed.
“Qiaoqiao, Zeng Qian, can you guys ride the car with Big Beard? Eyeglasses, you should stay here. It’s going to be day soon. I’ll follow Linglong.” Li Yiming shouted out some orders and followed suit.
Qing Qiaoqiao, Zeng Qian, and Big Beard ran out of the room in a hurry and headed for the parking lot. Big Beard did not use his mech to cover the distance more rapidly, since its power came at the price of obvious burdens to his body, which was an unwise tradeoff when combat was a foreseeable need. Eyeglasses looked at the brightening sky outside and smashed the wall in frustration.
Ahh, seeing Li Yiming’s growth is so satisfying. Also sorry for the irregularities in the past week, I had exams followed by a cold, which made my days very unenjoyable. I promise that I’ll work assiduously and make up for the delays from now on 🙂
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