Chapter 16 – Lianyun City 1
“We… we’ve transmigrated?” As Li Yiming’s group trailed the group of men through the forest, the road gradually widened.
Although Li Yiming expected something spectacular, he was still surprised by the sight of a giant stone statue of a man with a serpent’s tail at the end of the road. Unlike the stone lanterns, even the most intricate of details were carefully sculpted onto the statue, including the veins on the man’s arms and even the scales on his tail. When Li Yiming looked into the eyes of the statue, he had the feeling that it could become alive anytime.
“Hey, do you think that we transmigrated?” Lin Lu asked again with confusion. Behind the giant statue was an imposing wall built out of stone that has blackened with age. Even with modern technology, it would be quite the construction project to undertake.
‘The strange occurrences, the whirlpool… and now transmigration? Are we in some kind poorly-written novel?’ The sequence of events hammered away at Lin Lu’s sense of reality.
“We should be careful.” Li Yiming looked at the people walking through the city’s gate. All of them wore blue clothing and cloth shoes. The villagers were carrying wood, stone, and fruits and vegetables with their wooden carts, just like the ones that Li Yiming was tailing.
Li Yiming exchanged a glance with Liu Meng and led the way back to the forest.
“Are we going inside?” Liu Meng asked.
“We have to.” Li Yiming looked at Lin Lu, who still seemed distraught from the shock. He had recognized the statue: it was Teng She, a mythical creature related to Bai Xi. This meant that there was no mistake about them having entered a domain. ‘I need to follow this lead and find Bai Ze.’
“How can you be so calm?” Lin Lu asked in shock.
“I’ve told you earlier that I’ve been through things like this, didn’t I?” Li Yiming hesitated, but finally decided to reveal part of the truth to Lin Lu.
“You… you mean you’ve transmigrated before?” Lin Lu’s eyes widened. She had her guesses about the reasons behind Li Yiming’s recruitment for the mission, and she thought that she had given him enough credit already. ‘Are you serious…’
“Yes.” Without a better explanation, Li Yiming went along with Lin Lu’s guess. He could not bring himself to abandon her, so he needed to at least explain himself somewhat.
“Which… which dynasty did you travel to?’ Lin Lu followed with another question.
“I don’t think now is the time for that… Listen, we’re going to be facing things that are much more dangerous that what we’ve seen in the forest. If you come along…”
“I’ll be obeying your orders, sir.” Lin Lu suddenly straightened her posture and saluted Li Yiming with fiery eyes.
“Oh…” Li Yiming was caught a little off-guard by Lin Lu’s sudden change of behavior. ‘No wonder she decided to become a soldier when she could have been a model… Well, so much for the excuses I’ve prepared…’
“Alright then. Starting from now, no matter what happens, you’ll need to keep control of your curiosity. We’ll answer your questions when the time is right.” Li Yiming nodded at Lin Lu.
“We need to find some clothes in order to get into the city then…” Li Yiming turned back toward the gate and then looked at the combat outfits they wore.
“I… I have some clothing, but you…” Liu Meng hesitated.
“Wait, what?” Li Yiming was confused.
“You know, on our way to Tianshan… I bought some costumes from that TV show. You know, that transmigration show…”
“Really! Let me see.” Li Yiming was excited at hearing the news. The show Liu Meng was talking about was the most famous historical-themed musical show in the country. Every student who studied dance knew about it, and Liu Meng had even performed a choreography related to it during her college entrance exam.
Liu Meng grimaced and took out two Han-style robes.
“You…” Lin Lu’s eyes widened, but she remembered what Li Yiming had told her and showed discipline, opting to stare at the ground silently instead.
‘Great. Try it on then.” Li Yiming from a single glance that it was the kind of clothing they were looking for, since he was also very familiar with the show.
“Yes.” Lin Lu suddenly exclaimed and began to remove her clothes. It seemed like she had also received training for dressing herself; by the time Li Yiming reacted to what she was doing, only her underwear was left. Lin Lu looked at the robes Liu Meng took out. ‘Bare shoulders?’ Lin Lu reached out with her backhand.
Li Yiming had seen girls with athletic bodies before, especially back in college, but he had never seen a body as well-sculpted as Lin Lu’s. The tanned skin, the well-defined muscles lines around her abdomen, and her attractive curves… Li Yiming was stunned at seeing a body comparable to a work of art in front of him.
“Turn around!” Liu Meng shouted in irritation. If it was not for the fact that they were in a domain, Li Yiming would have been greeted by a wall of fire.
Li Yiming turned around with a red face from embarrassment.
After a while, and most importantly, with Liu Meng’s consent, Li Yiming turned back. ‘The wooden hairpin, the jade pendant, the long-sleeved robe…’ Li Yiming remembered the Liu Meng, just like a fairy, flew from one corner of the stage to the other.
Li Yiming then looked at Lin Lu, who seemed to have become a different person: her beautiful eyes and the gentle smile that hung on her lips… ‘Wow, I didn’t think that she would be like… this after changing attires.’
“Are you done?” Liu Meng looked at Li Yiming with jealousy in her eyes. ‘Is she better than me?’
“Yes… perfect. What about mine?” Li Yiming looked away, a little embarrassed.
“You know, that show doesn’t have costumes for men…” Liu Meng was not expecting the question.
“I bought this as a souvenir, so why would I get a man’s outfit?” Liu Meng had also bought clothing for Li Yiming, but they weren’t the type of clothing that existed back then.
Li Yiming touched his head. ‘Well, at least I’ve got a little bit of hair.’ He looked at the gate once again and decided to try his shot.
Lin Lu’s expression changed when she saw Li Yiming take out a pair of grey pants out of his ring. ‘This again.’
Li Yiming ripped off parts from his pants and measured them on himself. Seemingly satisfied with the result, he did the same with the other side as well.
“What are you doing?” Liu Meng was unsure what Li Yiming was doing.
“It’s better to be naked than wearing what I currently have. I’ll find a way to get some clothing once I’m inside.” Li Yiming continued to work on his pants.
“Wait.” Li Yiming saw Lin Lu’s expression and ran for the woods.
When Li Yiming reappeared, his pants were now mere cloth ribbons that only hid his most “vital” parts.
“Are you really going in like that?” Liu Meng blushed at the sight of Li Yiming’s new outfit.
“It’s okay. I’ll just pretend that I ran into some kind of danger in the mountains…” Li Yiming picked up some dirt from the ground, rubbed it on his face and even used a rock to create traces of an injury.
Liu Meng smiled when she saw the almost comical way in which Li Yiming behaved. Even Lin Lu, who showed nothing but a stern expression since the start of the mission, cracked a smile.
“I’ll go first while there aren’t that many people. I’ll find you guys later.” Li Yiming waved at Liu Meng and Lin Lu and walked toward the gate.
At the entrance to the city, the friendly greetings of the people who were walking in and out were cut short by Li Yiming’s showing up.
“Oh! What’s wrong with you?” One of the villagers who was pushing a wooden cart ran toward Li Yiming and gave his arm to support the latter, who limped on purpose.
“Did you run into danger?”
“Come on, sit down.”
“Have some water.”
A crowd was now forming around Li Yiming near the entrance of the city. Everyone was talking about how they could be of help to him. Some offered Li Yiming their outer coat, some helped him stand up, others gave him waters and one even offered to diagnose Li Yiming’s “injuries”.
“I ran into some bandits in the mountains…” Li Yiming said with difficulty, his face completely red. ‘Wait, this isn’t going according to plan… I thought they would want to ignore someone who’s half-naked and looks dirty! Why are they all gathering up around me…? They all seem sincerely worried about me…’
“A bandit? What’s that?” Someone asked with a confused expression after donating his outer shirt to Li Yiming.
“I’ve never heard of that.”
Every single person shook their head.
“We don’t have time for such things right now. His body is weak. We should help him. Can you do that?” An old man, who volunteered to check Li Yiming’s pulse, signalled to two other men to help him carry Li Yiming into the city.
‘They don’t know what a bandit is?’ Someone helped Li Yiming up a wooden cart. As the latter continued to pretend being hurt from his “injuries”, he caught onto the hint from the conversation.