Chapter 20 – Sundering Nature
“I’m going to check inside.” Li Yiming decided. It was perhaps not that big of a deal for Ji Xiaoqin to be absent for a few days, since she could have gone back to see her relatives, or even have gone on a trip with Guo Xiang, but things were different for Fu Bo. Fu Bo had no relatives, no friends, therefore no reason for being absent for such a prolonged period. This unsettled Li Yiming especially after knowing that Fu Bo also happened to be Qing He.
‘What are you going to do? Break the lock or go through the windows?’ Bai Ze was also concerned, but less so because of Fu Bo’s friendship with Li Yiming, and more due to his importance in Mr. Kong’s request.
‘Nothing of the sort.’ Li Yiming closed his eyes. An instant later, he appeared with a flash of purple light in Fu Bo’s living room.
Li Yiming looked around; the room looked the same as when he visited. Li Yiming eventually opened the door to the study. ‘So this is the place Bai Ze and I were so… scared of.’ The room was nothing out of the ordinary, the furniture comprising of nothing more than a desk and two bookshelves. An aged celadon flower vase sat in a corner, and a laptop rested on the top of the work desk. The screen was folded down, but the power indicator was flashing on and off.
‘He’s been gone for a long time.’ Li Yiming swiped on the desk with two fingers, leaving traces in the layer of dust.
‘How would you know? I remember your desk back in Li City being a lot dirtier than this one, and that’s when you were living in the apartment.’ Bai Ze questioned the statement.
‘The dust layer is uniform. Just look at that corner compared to right in front of the computer. It must have settled in after Fu Bo left. Also, look at the garbage can there. I looked around in the living room and the bedroom, and the cans were all empty. Fu Bo seems to be a tidy person, so why would this one be full of trash?’
‘You’re right. The fruits are the exact same as those inside the bag Fu Bo gave you.’
‘Yes. This means that Fu Bo hasn’t returned here since that day. ’ Li Yiming pointed at the laptop. ‘For him to forget about taking out the trash and turning off his computer… he must have left in a hurry.’
Li Yiming looked around once again. Aside from the refrigerator, the power cable had been taken out of their sockets for every single electric appliance.“I’m afraid that something might’ve happened to him.” Li Yiming had a bad feeling, and he was starting to blame himself for have become so enthralled by Fu Bo’s novel that he had not noticed the author himself gone missing.
‘Do you think Ji Xiaoqin’s disappearance has anything to do with this?’ Bai Ze extended her senses and went to confirm Li Yiming’s conjectures.
‘Let’s go have a look.’ Another flash of purple light, and Li Yiming appeared in Ji Xiaoqin’s living room.
Li Yiming entered the kitchen. He turned around after noticing the molding food packages and the putrid scent that emanated from it. In the laundry basket in the bathroom, Li Yiming was surprised to find two rather daring underwear, but not the shirt that Ji Xiaoqin wore on the day they met back at the furniture store.
‘They both disappeared on the same day.’ Owing to his knowledge of Ji Xiaoqin’s habits, Li Yiming produced a definitive conclusion.
‘There’s trash in every single can here. How do you know?’ Bai Ze answered, undistracted by the stash of sensual underwears.
‘This is the shirt she wore at home when I visited her for the first time.’ Li Yiming picked up a shirt full of cartoon figures. ‘She probably took it off that night. I don’t see the shirt she wore on the next day, when I met her at the mall. I know her well enough to be able to say that she never wears the same shirt two days in a row. Also, the amount of underwear here shows that she hadn’t done laundry for a few days already. The food containers left outside are from the takeout order when she and that cousin of hers invited me over.’
‘Gone on the same day…’ Bai Ze knew that this was not a clue to be ignored.
‘I’m going to have a look at Fu Bo’s place again.’ Li Yiming suddenly realized that he might have missed something important. He returned to Fu Bo’s study with another Thunderflash; this was his advantage of not having to pay for ability usage with life marks.
The laptop screen lit up the moment Li Yiming raised the screen and moved the mouse around. ‘So it’s on standby. Luckily there’s no password.’ As expected, the desktop was also very clean, with nothing more than the system icons and a folder named “Sundering Nature”. Li Yiming’s curiosity about Fu Bo’s new book compelled him to click on the folder.
The names of the documents made Li Yiming tremble with fear. ‘The invitation, Pure Water Herb Hall… Meeting Guo Xiang Again… Phoenix Possession… Eden’s Secrets… The Awakening of Bai Ze… Xiang Liu’s True Form…’ Li Yiming’s breathing quickened, and his dread grew as he continued to scroll down the list of files. He then clicked open the first chapter.
“Li Yiming was standing under a tree. The sight of a couple laced in a tight embrace, leaning against a red Maserati, made Li Yiming’s hand shiver as it sought the support of the trunk. Shock, anger, helplessness and confusion swirled within his eyes. One of the young woman’s arms rested on the man’s shoulders, while she gently traced circles on his chest with a finger from the other hand. Her face was red with shyness, and her eyes, watered by lust…”
Li Yiming was completely aghast after reading only the first few lines. He then opened the second chapter, the third, the fourth… Finally, he looked at the title of the last chapter in the folder, “Catastrophe in the Sky”. This time, he did not even need to check to know what he would find.
‘Bai Ze…’ Lost for words, Li Yiming folded the screen back.
‘I know who Fu Bo is.’ Unlike Li Yiming, Bai Ze sounded like she was excited by the finding. ‘He’s a Recorder. A Recorder of Heaven’s Laws!’
‘Yes. Just like the historians that write works about events which transpire in the mortal plane, the Recorder bears witness to the history of Heaven’s Laws. Fu Bo must be the current Recorder, he just doesn’t know it yet. I didn’t think that that would be the reason Mr. Kong asked you to protect him.’ Bai Ze said.
‘You mean that everything in Adventure to the East is real?’
‘Exactly. Adventure to the East must be real. Think about what you’ve just read. There are a lot of things that could not be known by anyone other than you. This can’t be a coincidence.’
Li Yiming closed his eyes. His whole mind was now just a swirling chaos of thoughts.
‘The only thing is…why you? There are thousands and thousands of guardians out there, why would the Recorder write down your story?’ Bai Ze asked.
‘Probably because I’m just like Mr. Kong…’ Li Yiming recalled his meeting with Li Huaibei. ‘Why did he risk going against Heaven’s Laws to help me?’
Beep Beep… Li Yiming’s phone rang.
“Hello, are you Mr. Li? We’re the delivery team…”
“Yes, I’m here. Please come up.” Li Yiming hung up after a terse answer. He picked up the laptop and put it into his bracelet. Fu Bo was gone now, but what this laptop contained was of utmost importance.
* * *
While the delivery team was busy preparing to carry up the furniture, in a building across the street, a tough-looking man slowly put down his binoculars and picked up his transmitter.
“Li Yiming has returned. He’s setting up some furniture in his home. He visited Ji Xiaoqin’s apartment and the apartment below his floor earlier. It was too fast to be a break-in, he must have the keys.”
“Continue the surveillance. Keep your distance and report timely.” The voice of a woman with a glacial tone came from the speakers.
“Understood.” The man put down the transmitter and picked up his binoculars again, paying close attention to Li Yiming, who was smoking a cigarette on the balcony.
* * *
Bing Shuai looked at the door of the tightly sealed basement and let out a smile of frustration at the rash mistake he had made. Ten days ago, after confirming that Li Yiming was a representative, the thought of observing him more closely somehow came to him. Bing Shuai rode his car to Li Yiming’s neighborhood, only to bump into Fu Bo by coincidence. The latter had received ten extra yuans from the shopkeeper when he bought his fruits, so, kind-hearted as he was, he rushed to return the money since he was worried that it would be forgotten the next day.
Fu Bo frowned when he passed by Bing Shuai’s parked car. Bing Shuai thought he had met his worst enemy. He could feel the terrifying powers of Fu Bo’s technique, especially when he was focused on fighting it.
“It’s him, he spotted me!” Bing Shuai’s reaction was to strike first to ensure that he would not be at a disadvantage. He leaped out of the car’s window and delivered a blow to Fu Bo’s head from behind. However, as soon as he made contact, he realized that something was wrong: Fu Bo was going to be decapitated if he did not retract most of his strength instantly.
‘Wait a second. That’s it?’ Reality only hit Bing Shuai after Fu Bo collapsed in his arms. The plan had been ruined due to a misunderstanding, but he no longer had a choice. Bing Shuai quickly brought Fu Bo back to his base of operation. However, a quick interrogation revealed that Fu Bo did not know a single thing about Li Yiming, which puzzled Bing Shuai greatly. ‘He’s telling the truth, no doubt about it. But what are these people thinking? Why would they put someone like him on the frontline? His technique is powerful, but he’s completely harmless!’
Bing Shuai’s plans were ruined. Not only had he most likely caught the attention of the people behind Li Yiming, but he committed to kidnapping a valueless target. Simply disposing of Fu Bo would prove to be an unwise choice, since the latter could prove to be very useful with his abilities. However, Fu Bo was no ordinary prisoner. Aside from himself, who could lock his own memories of Fu Bo with his sage powers, everyone else, from the guard to the people delivering the food, would forget about Fu Bo the next moment. This left Bing Shuai with an unpleasant dilemma: he was going to have to be the world’s first save-level jailor if he wanted to keep his prisoner.
An important point. If Sundering Nature is Li Yiming’s tale, then Adventure to the East has to be Mr. Kong’s, which makes sense given the previous conjectures about his identity.