Chapter 1 – National Security
Ji Xiaoqin awakened from her coma on the very night after the battle at the Guo Mansion. When she opened her eyes, she found herself on the hospital bed, having forgotten everything and everyone she met since she entered university. Li Yiming called her parents and walked out of the hospital after leaving some money behind to complete her rehabilitation. He had a hunch that his stone might have caused all of this, but regardless, this was one of the best ending possible for Ji Xiaoqin.
Upon returning to his own apartment, Li Yiming found it hard to walk into the nicely furnished study again. He smiled bitterly, walked out of his home and wandered the streets for the entire night. The next day, he went to the real-estate agent who had sold him the apartment and sold the property back along with the furniture at a discount rate.
Just as he was finishing up the paperwork for the transaction, he received a call from the police station requiring him to show up; the young man from whom Li Yiming had stolen the scooter had called, claiming that he was actually Li Yiming’s friend, and he only filed a complaint to the police due to being upset after a fight. The investigation of Li Yiming’s involvement in the murder of Ye Lang was also withdrawn due to insufficient evidence. ‘I suppose I owe it to Li Huaibei…’
After he walked out of the police station, Li Yiming immediately headed for the train station and left Hangzhou.
Bai Ze awakened on the seventh day after Li Yiming returned to Lishui. As soon as she woke up, she came as close as she could to Li Yiming and stared at him as if he was some kind of apparition.
“Do you know what we call the state of your vein right now?” Bai Ze licked her lips. She seemed to want to swallow Li Yiming whole.
“Well, if I knew I wouldn’t be asking you, would I? Just tell me the answer.” Li Yiming had still yet to recover from his low mood, and Bai Ze’s remark only reminded him again that Fu Bo was the one who had granted him his new power.
“Five veins into one Dao. This is the Dao vein. Do you know what that means?” Bai Ze continued, without noticing Li Yiming’s dejection.
Instead of guessing again, Li Yiming ignored Bai Ze and picked up the pack of cigarettes on the table.
“That’s a sign of becoming a sage! Everyone knows it.” “Bai Ze exclaimed, clearly unsatisfied by Li Yiming’s lack of interest.
The cigarette almost slipped off from Li Yiming’s fingers when he heard her. He turned to look at Bai Ze and raised his right hand. A ping pong ball-sized light orb appeared on his palm. “You’re telling me that this is my boundary?”
“What the…?” Bai Ze jumped back. “You’re really a sage?”
“Unfortunately, that’s about as far as I can go.” Li Yiming closed his hand and rubbed it against his thigh; he was beginning to get excited about what Bai Ze was going to tell him.
“You… you…” Bai Ze returned into Li Yiming’s body with a flash of light.
‘Wait, this makes no sense… It still shows level five, a level five sage? Also, what’s wrong with your talent now?’
‘I had a stone ever since I was young…’ Li Yiming hesitated a little and told Bai Ze everything that happened after she fell unconscious.
‘The stone, Ji Xiaoqin, the glyph… and the fire?’ Bai Ze repeated the clues Li Yiming had just given to her and grew more and more confused.
‘Any ideas?’ Li Yiming asked.
‘But I thought you were…’
‘Don’t mention my name ever again.’ Bai Ze answered in frustration. It seemed like her wisdom has yet to become useful for anything when it mattered to Li Yiming.
“Well, I should thank you then. I’ve also grown stronger.” Bai Ze said slowly.
“You mean, you’re sage level now?” Li Yiming was overjoyed.
‘You think that I’m an anomaly like you? I’m still level five.’
‘Speaking of which, I didn’t receive any awards for surviving Heaven’s Punishment again, did I?’ Li Yiming suddenly remembered.
‘You’ve become a sage. What better reward do you want? I’d like to remind you that you aren’t just any level five guardian. All of your attributes have reached level five. I don’t even think that a normal level six guardian would be able to win against you.’
‘I guess you’re right. Hey, do I get any other perks?’ Li Yiming scratched his head. After a few days, a thin layer of spiky hair had grown from his scalp, but his eyebrows were much thinner than usual, so Li Yiming did not dare to head out for the last few days.
‘That’s it for the good news. I also have a bad one.’ Bai Ze let out a chuckle.
‘A bad one?’
‘Normally, after becoming a sage, one can’t use Progression Points anymore. Haven’t you noticed?’
‘Yeah, I’ve noticed. That number is gone.’
‘Well, that means that you’ll need to learn things on your own, just like the other sages out there. There’s no quick way to strength anymore.’
‘Not even when I get struck by lightning?’
‘Probably not. Heaven’s Laws won’t let you grow indefinitely.’
‘But I’m only level five.’ It suddenly came to Li Yiming that the road ahead was going to be even rockier than it already is.
‘Well, it doesn’t seem like it matters. Also, you won’t be able to use the party purchase system anymore. That thing is made to assist newcomers.’
‘Are you serious?’ Li Yiming finally understood the implications of Bai Ze’s so-called “bad news”. It was his biggest “bug” to be able to extract the abilities out of the items he purchased, but it seemed that the easy path to ascension had been closed off.
‘What are you going to do now?’ Bai Ze went back to being serious again and asked.
‘Haven’t thought much about it. There are still two months left until the appointed day with Linglong. Maybe I’ll spend some time investigating that talent glyph.’ Li Yiming reached out for his captain’s badge and checked the whereabouts of his teammates. The Qing sisters and Eyeglasses were in their hometown in the north, whereas Big Beard was overseas. All seemed to be enjoying the long vacation. Li Yiming checked the purchasing interface one last time: just as Bai Ze told him, he lost the right to purchase items from the marketplace.
‘Whatever then.’ The mention of the glyph seemed to have piqued Bai Ze’s pride, and she went quiet after quick answer.
‘Two months… What should I do? Mr. Kong said that I’d be able to save Liu Meng if I become a sage, but in my current situation… I can only wait.’ After living on the edge for a few weeks, Li Yiming had difficulty settling down to a calmer everyday life.
‘Yes, my driver’s license!’ Li Yiming remembered. It was too much of a disadvantage to not know how to drive, so he was going to use his free time to obtain his license. Li Yiming picked up his coat and made ready to head out.
The moment Li Yiming opened the door, he bumped into three men who were staring at him coldly.
“Who are you?” Li Yiming was alerted by the presence of the three strangers and slowly moved his left hand behind his back. ‘They don’t look like criminals or anything, but this smell of blood…’
“Are you Li Yiming?” One of them asked.
Li Yiming nodded calmly.
“National Security. Can we have a chat with you?” The man who spoke first showed his badge to Li Yiming.
“National Security? What do you want to talk about?” Li Yiming scrutinized the golden emblem and was somewhat amused. ‘Well, I can’t tell for sure if this thing is real or not, since I have the exact same thing in my bracelet…’
“Let’s go inside, shall we?” The man smiled and pointed at the door.
Li Yiming hesitated a little and opened the door. He walked to the sofa and sat down, not showing any of the manners that he reserved for real guests. The three men followed inside and sat down on the sofa as well after a brief examination of the living room.
“So…’ Li Yiming asked with a frown. Suddenly, one of the men jumped up and sliced at Li Yiming’s throat with his fingers.
Li Yiming snatched the man’s wrist with ease and looked at his visitors coldly.
“What’s the meaning of this?” It was a blow which would have been unblockable by a normal person, but Li Yiming did it effortlessly. If it weren’t for the fact that the two other men were still sitting instead of helping their friend and gave a satisfied smile instead of assisting in the attack, Li Yiming would not have stopped at parrying.
“Alright, you can let go. It’s him alright.” The man who talked to Li Yiming first said again, but his friend could only smile bitterly; it was not that he did not want to let go, rather, he was completely at Li Yiming’s mercy.
“National Security needs your help.” The man who gave out the order realized what was going on and seemed even more surprised than before. He rushed to diffuse the situation.
“My help? National Security?” Li Yiming let his opponent go and looked at the three men with surprise. He could tell that they were not lying, and nor did they had malicious intent.
The agent who attacked Li Yiming pulled back his hand and rubbed his wrist; five red marks were clearly seen around it. His two friends seemed utterly shocked at the sight of them.
“We’re working on a case with important implications for this country, and we would like to ask for your help. I should introduce myself first. My name is Zheng Wei, and these two are my subordinates, Zhang Dong and Liu Ke.” Zheng Wei pointed at the man who struck at Li Yiming first and then at the third agent.
“Why me?” Li Yiming knew that it was hard to refuse right away, given that he had just demonstrated the extent of his abilities, but he still wanted to know why he was chosen in particular.