Chapter 1 - An Unexpected Gues
Original and most updated translations are from volare. Please don't read elsewhere and stop supporting theft.
The widened eyes of the middle-aged woman at the cash register trailed Li Yiming as he walked out of the supermarket with two grocery bags full of snacks. He walked through the metal fence gate of at the entrance to the residential neighborhood, then through the little alleys he had passed by so many times before. It seemed like it had been ages since he last did take this path.
Li Yiming noticed a familiar scent as he pushed open the door to his apartment. He was not quite sure what it was, but he knew that it was the smell of home. It was why despite being able to afford a bigger apartment, Li Yiming stuck to his old one.
Li Yiming threw the grocery bags onto the sofa and gulped down a cup of cold water. He had bought some drinks from the supermarket, but Li Yiming had the habit of drinking from the tap whenever he came home. The faint odor of chlorine and the cold sensation as the liquid traveled down his throat made him somewhat nostalgic for his nor.
Li Yiming removed his clothes and walked toward the shower. His plans for the day were to take a cold shower and sleep in until the next day.
Someone knocked at Li Yiming’s door.
Li Yiming peeked out from the shower room, his hair still covered with foam.
The knocking continued.
Li Yiming frowned. Since he was not in a position to answer the door, he extended his senses and found the visitor to be Lin Lu.
“I’m coming!” Li Yiming said loudly and wiped away the foam on his hair. He did not have time to properly wash his hair so he wrapped a towel around his head and hurried to get dressed.
Li Yiming took a deep breath as he put his hand on the door handle and hesitated. ‘Why is she…?’
Li Yiming found Lin Lu, looking sharp as ever and standing upright when he opened the door. Instead of her usual combat outfit, she wore a military uniform. The formal attire made her seem more reserved and polished, but the light frown she wore suggested that she was not at ease.
“You…” Li Yiming was unsure of what to say to her.
“Can I come inside?” Lin Lu said.
‘Oh no…’ Judging from her tone of voice, Li Yiming knew it to be bad news.
After leading Lin Lu into his home, Li Yiming offered her a can of soft drink.
“Thank you!” Lin Lu gulped down her drink without being overly courteous. She ended her long sip with a light burp.
“I’m here to give you something.” Lin Lu took out an envelope from her pocket.
“My driver’s license?” Li Yiming looked at his license. He could finally drive legally now, but he wasn’t exactly happy about it. He put down the license on the table, and the room once again sank into a long, awkward silence.
“Shen Jianming retired…”
“What?” Li Yiming knew that Lin Lu shared that information with him for a purpose.
“He went to Xianyun Abbey after we came down the mountains.” Lin Lu glanced at the thread of silver hair which was protruding from the towel around Li Yiming’s head.
Li Yiming stayed expressionless, but what Lin Lu said definitely shocked him. ‘She remembers? But I thought Eyeglasses and Qing Qiaoqiao cleaned up? After so many times, you’d think they’d be able to do their jobs well enough…’
“I’ve received orders from my superiors to never talk about it again, but…” Lin Lu rubbed the callus between her thumb and her index finger.
Li Yiming opted to stay silent, unsure of what to say.
“But something tells me that I need to talk about it with you…”
“Talk about what?” Li Yiming looked at Lin Lu, alerted by her question. He did not know what were the consequences for him if someone figured out his true identity.
“We went into the mountain ranges, found the remnants of the corpses of the previous teams, who died at the claws of wild beasts. After losing all communications with the outside world due to a strong local magnetic field, most of us were poisoned, but Chen Quan managed to save us with his home-made medicine… Is this really what happened?” Lin Lu looked straight into Li Yiming’s eyes.
Li Yiming let out a long sigh of relief. Li Yiming adjusted his posture and settled down on the sofa.
“But I remember that…” Lin Lu seemed to be confused and in pain.
“You need a therapist. I don’t think that you should have trouble finding one.” Li Yiming rushed to stop Lin Lu from pressing him.
“I…” Lin Lu looked back.
Li Yiming frowned, opened a bag of chips, and started to munch on it rather loudly and impolitely.
“I should leave.” Lin Lu sighed and turned toward the door. Before leaving the apartment, she turned around and saluted Li Yiming. It was quite obvious to her that Li Yiming did not want to talk with her, most likely due to a confidentiality act or something of the kind.
After closing the door, Li Yiming unwrapped the towel and started wiping his hair.
‘Well, looks like Eyeglasses didn’t do a perfect job...’ He thought alarmingly before removing his clothes and headed toward the bathroom.
Someone was knocking at the door once again.
‘Are you serious? What am I, a therapist?’
“Wait a moment!” Li Yiming yelled and resumed his shower. This time, it was Chen Quan.
Li Yiming took his time with his bath, washing his body with soap twice and humming three songs before getting out of the shower. After drying his hair thoroughly and putting his pyjamas, nearly an hour had elapsed.
“Sorry, I was taking a bath.” Li Yiming did not even look at Chen Quan when he opened the door. He crashed down on the sofa and picked up the bottle of skin toner from the table.
“We need to talk.” Chen Quan closed the door behind him and sat down next to Li Yiming.
“What is it?” Li Yiming continued to apply skin lotion, but he was growing a little irritated with people showing up at his door one after another. ‘Seriously? I thought Qing Qiaoqiao and Eyeglasses nailed it when it came to erasing people’s memories!’
“This.” Chen Quan took out a pile of photos after staring at Li Yiming for a while.
“Where did you get this from?” Li Yiming froze when he saw the picture, his irritation subduing to complete coolness to allow for faster thinking.
“Tell me what this is first.” Chen Quan’s hand was trembling.
Li Yiming squinted as he scrutinized the photo. It had been produced quite recently, and the quality of the picture was exceptional. It was a golden wok cap sitting on a piece of black cloth.
“Why are you asking me this?” Li Yiming asked with an inscrutable expression.
“I’m not going to ask about Tianshan. I know that you won’t tell me, but I can say that I have a natural resistance to poison. I have been drinking a drugged wine since I was a child. I don’t buy the explanation that I Iost consciousness after inhaling some kind of poisonous gas,” Chen Quan said with glittering eyes.
Li Yiming’s chest once again tightened.
“I’ve seen a wok in Tianshan… well, it turns out I’ve also seen the cap before…” Chen Quan clenched his fists as his body shook uncontrollably.
“I don’t know what this is…”
“But surely it’s something important?”
“Yes,” Li Yiming said frustratingly. This golden wok cap undoubtedly formed a set with the golden pan he had seen in the domain. He remembered what Mr. Kong told him. ‘Golden body…’
“I know where this cap is.”
“Really?” Li Yiming glanced at the photo again.
“You do know what I do for a living, don’t you?” Chen Quan knew from Li Yiming’s reaction that he was onto a lead, and he grew more excited.
“You mean you’ve seen this in an old grave?” Li Yiming guessed.
“I got my hands on it, in fact.” Chen Quan let out a surprising revelation.
“What? You have it with you right now?’
“I sold it,” Chen Quan said bitterly. For the first time, he was regretting setting an artifact.
“To whom?” Li Yiming pressed on.
“Who is it…?” Li Yiming stopped when he read Chen Quan’s expression.
“Alright, what do you want?” Li Yiming knew that Chen Quan wanted something in return for pointing him to the right person, and he was ready to pay the price for a clue of such importance.
“I found this in a cave on the Northern side of the country three years ago. I couldn’t tell what this was made of, so I tried my best to make some idiot buy it off. Of course, now the person I sold it to realized that this might not be valuable, so he’s trying to sell it off.”
“He’s selling it?” Li Yiming caught onto the keyword.
“Yes, at an auction.” Chen Quan confirmed.
“An illegal one. Some things can’t be sold in broad daylight.”
“You know the place and the time?” Li Yiming squinted as he guessed the conditions on which Chen Quan would allow him to join.
“As an old customer and seller, I do have an invitation, yes,” Chen Quan answered.
“I could bring you along, but…”
“Speak.” Li Yiming said.
“I need to stay with you. It’s a private event, and due to how sensitive it is it wouldn’t take much time before they spot a newcomer.”