Chapter 48 – Phoenix’s Love
“Are you sure about this? There’s no turning back from this, you know.” A skinny figure holding a knit bag on his left hand stood on top of the clouds, cast down a look at the ruins of Shangbei.
“Thank you for bringing me here. I have given it a lot of thought already. Doesn’t this remind you of what happened many years ago? People know about phoenixes, but do they know that we always live in pairs? If it weren’t for…” A voice which came from the man’s chest was heard; it was the voice of the phoenix Li Yiming had met back in Ning Village.
“I’ve lived for the sake of living ever since then, but I’ve lost my purpose a long time ago. I’ve just sensed the explosion of that fruit of Nirvana, and it made think. Maybe this is the reason I stayed alive, for this little girl. Maybe helping her will help me pay back some of the debt that I owe you. I can’t help you with what you want to do, but maybe she will be able to,” the phoenix said calmly. It was completely unlike how it acted back in Ning Village.
“Well, it’s your choice, and if you’ve thought this through.” Mr. Kong waved his hand and the cloud that supported him fell quickly.
“Thank you,” the phoenix answered sincerely.
Li Yiming gazed at the sky, hoping to see a miracle coming down from the clouds. It was not long before he really did see something.
“What is that? Bai Ze? Come look!” Li Yiming saw a silhouette drop down from the sky.
“Mr. Kong?” Bai Ze’s eyes were better than Li Yiming, and she recognized the newcomer. Mr. Kong’s technique only made it hard to remember him after meeting him, but once he actually showed up, the memories would come back easily.
“Mr. Kong? He was there all along?” Anger flashed in Li Yiming’s eyes. ‘If he was here the whole time, why didn’t he save Liu Meng?’ Li Yiming knew that it would have been very easy for Mr. Kong to save Liu Meng.
Mr. Kong stopped his descent right above Li Yiming and took out a red egg.
“What is he trying to do?” Li Yiming squinted and observed Mr. Kong’s movements carefully. The moment the egg appeared, the burning fire in the sky had reappeared and gushed toward the egg.
“This is a phoenix that’s about to be reborn! It’s the one at Ning Village! What is he trying to do?” Bai Ze recognized the object, but she was not quite sure what Mr. Kong was up to.
“The fire that vanished a moment ago quickly gathered around Mr. Kong as he landed on the ground.” Mr. Kong stood in front of Li Yiming with his countenance unchanged, phlegmatic as always.
“Mr. Kong.” Bai Ze greeted him first. She lowered her head, as it was typical for a beast salutation.
“Don’t look at me like that. I arrived after sensing Liu Meng’s sacrifice. There was nothing I could do.” It was as if Mr. Kong could read Li Yiming’s mind.
“Is there anything you can do for Liu Meng?” Li Yiming did not mind Mr. Kong’s remark. Instead, he looked at him helplessly; this was going to be his last hope.
“I can’t save her. But she can.” Mr. Kong raised the red egg.
“The phoenix? She can save Liu Meng?” Li Yiming was overjoyed.
“I’ve already gathered the fragments of Liu Meng’s soul. The phoenix has decided to sacrifice her own fruit and offer it to Liu Meng,” Mr. Kong explained concisely.
“Sacrifice? Offer her fruit of Nirvana?” Bai Ze was baffled. ‘The fruit of Nirvana… It’s the equivalent of the human heart for a phoenix! What’s going on today? Two phoenixes that don’t care at all about their immortality?’
“So Liu Meng can be saved?” Li Yiming ignored everything else and only focused on what was the most important to him.
“She won’t die, but a phoenix is a phoenix, and Liu Meng is still just a guardian. I don’t think that I need to explain how big of a difference that is. It’s going to take her a while to merge with the new fruit of Nirvana, and, if she was left alone, it would be impossible for Liu Meng to ever hatch from this egg.”
“What should I do then?”
“Someone is going to have to incubate the egg.”
“Incubation?” The word rung a bell in Bai Ze’s mind.
“I can’t help you with that, so you’ll need to do it yourself.” Mr. Kong looked at Li Yiming calmly.
“What do I need to do?” Li Yiming was growing more and more excited; he was ready to do anything to save Liu Meng.
“Sage-level. You need to reach sage-level. Only then will you have the ability to incubate the phoenix egg,” Mr. Kong said calmly.
“Sage? Yes, I’ll do my best and reach that level as quickly as I can.” Li Yiming said with a determined countenance, and he swore inwardly that he would do it as quickly as he can.
“Until then, I’ll keep that egg for you; you’re not ready to handle the energy contained within it yet,” Mr. Kong said. With a swift movement of his hand, he put the egg away into his storage space.
“How will I find you when I become a sage?” Li Yiming looked at Mr. Kong with determination.
“I’ll come for you. Until then, I need you to help me with something.” Mr. Kong smiled: something which was a true rare sight.
“Yes. I’ll help you if it’s within my capabilities,” Li Yiming answered enthusiastically; he wanted to help Mr. Kong back, since he had changed his life and even saved his life many times.
“I need you to go here and protect this person.” Mr. Kong took out a photo from his bag. On it was written an address and a name.
Second Wen District, Hangzhou. Qing He. 1
“For how long do we need to protect this person?” Bai Ze asked rather timidly. ‘What if we need to protect him for life? Doesn’t that mean that we’re done for? I hope Mr. Kong isn’t someone to make that kind of irrational demand.’
“Not very long. Three months at most.” Mr. Kong looked at Bai Ze, still smiling. He suddenly tapped Bai Ze’s head playfully, like one would do to a little child.
“Alright, I promise you. Three months. As long as I’m alive, I won’t let him get hurt.” Li Yiming said with conviction as he put the card away into his own storage space.
“Alright. I’m not going to make you work for free. I’ll teach you a way to become stronger.” Mr. Kong’s eyes glittered.
“Oh?” Both Li Yiming and Bai Ze were surprised. ‘Mr. Kong’s about to teach us something? That’s an unimaginable opportunity!’
“It’s quite simple, really. Just get struck by lightning. You’ll be surprised once you find out what happens next.” Mr. Kong picked up his knit bag and turned back.
‘Just get hit by lightning? I don’t think I need you to teach me that. I’m a lightning-powered machine now!’ Li Yiming was not very impressed by Mr. Kong’s counsel.
“Are you talking about Heaven’s Punishment?’ Bai Ze asked once again to confirm. ‘It doesn’t make sense for someone like Mr. Kong to say something completely trivial…’
“That’s not what I said” Mr. Kong suddenly smiled. He scratched his back with his left hand. “Anyway, the rewards are about to come soon, and I’ll spoil the party if I stay. See you!” A flock of colorful cloud gathered beneath Mr. Kong’s feet, and he disappeared in an instant.
“Not Heaven’s Punishment? What does that mean? Is Mr. Kong saying that normal lightning would also work?” Li Yiming looked at Bai Ze hesitantly.
“I think so…” Bai Ze answered rather absent-mindedly. She stared at the direction in which Mr. Kong disappeared. She thought about Mr. Kong’s gesture before he left. ‘The way he did it…’
“The Source of Thunder is within my body. Maybe it really can work. How did I not think of this before?” Li Yiming clapped his hand. A huge burden was obviated from knowing that Liu Meng was safe and sound now.
“No, that’s not what I’m talking about,” Bai Ze said hesitantly.
“What is it?”
“I think that I know who Mr. Kong just might be.” Bai Ze’s body turned into a flash of white light and vanished.
‘What is it?’ Li Yiming understood why Bai Ze did what she did; some things could not be said out loud.
‘Mr. Kong’s power truly is impressive.’
‘Mr. Kong could also be a bug in Heaven’s Laws.’
‘Yes, we’ve talked about that before.’
‘Mr. Kong, that’s his name…’
‘What exactly did you discover?’
‘Well, you know what it means to be a bug. Think about it. From all of the stories and legends that you know. How many beings fall in such a category? Someone that doesn’t belong to any of the three realms, and someone that isn’t described by any of the five elements?’ 2
‘I… I only know one…’ Li Yiming’s heart skipped a beat and he held his breath.
‘That’s what being a bug means. Right?’
Both Li Yiming’s and Bai Ze’s voice began shaking.
‘And he’s also called Mr. Kong.’
‘Are you serious?’ It was as if Li Yiming’s mind was struck with lightning. ‘The Big Bro in shorts I’ve known for so long is you? …Wukong??’
‘Survival accomplished. Five hundred life marks awarded.’
‘Hidden mission complete. Xiang Liu slain. One thousand life marks awarded.’
‘Hidden mission complete. Xiang Liu slain. Adaptable guardian equipment obtained.’
Before Li Yiming snapped out of his shock, the usual voice from Heaven’s Law rung in his head. After a flash of white light, a longsword suddenly appeared in front of him.
Li Yiming was beyond excited. He picked up the longsword and examined it carefully. This was something he had dreamt about for so long. He had made it to this moment with the sheer good luck of nothing having to fight against someone with his trinket worth 698 yuan. He ignored the notification about the Progression points since those were useless anyways.
‘Wow! Look at this sword! Level five, Thunderous Mirage. With a technique to increase the attack of the weapon by covering the blade with lightning! Wow! That’s what I expected from a hidden boss.’ Li Yiming looked at the sword, and he habitually tried to print the rune within the weapon into his mind.
A metallic tink was heard, and the sword turned to dust.
‘Extraction failed? What the heck?’
‘What did you expect? You’re level four, and you just tried to extract a level-five item… You know, it would be easier for you to just go extract a level-nine item, and then you’ll be invincible! How about that?’ Bai Ze was speechless. ‘Well, that’s the danger with newbies. Move your eyes from them for one second, and they’ll do something stupid.’
Suddenly, the ruins of Shangbei collapsed like a mirror being broken into pieces. A moment later, when Li Yiming opened his eyes once again, he found himself standing at the bottom of Mingzhu Tower, Shangbei’s most famous landmark. Busy crowds skirted around him, with tourists visibly enjoying themselves and some of them talking selfies.
He looked around and found Big Beard unconscious, leaning against a tree nearby. The Qing sisters were down on a patch of grass nearby, but the poison scars had vanished. Li Yiming’s phone suddenly rang. He picked it up and heard Eyeglasses relieved voice.
Plot armor triumphes!
Also, the end of Book 3!
1. Note, funny how the author inserts himself into the story, since his pen name is Qing He Lao Shi (Teacher Clear River)
2. The three realms is a concept in Buddhism, and most likely the inspiration for titles such as Sovereign of the Three Realms