Chapter 17 – Lianyun City 2
As Li Yiming made his way into the city on the wooden cart, he noticed the name of the city written in crimson ink on a panel that hung above the city’s entrance. ‘Wait… Lianyun City?’
Instead of the guards that one would expect at the gate, a pair of giant lion statues sat at each side of the road. Unlike the half-man, half-snake monument outside of the city, these statues were very poor in quality. Moreover, unlike the lion statues Li Yiming was used to seeing, these two lions gave off a sinister air, with the bloody head of an unknown creature sitting at their feet. 1
The inside of the city did not look like what Li Yiming had expected. The buildings did not match the grandeur of the city walls at all; most of them consisted of some kind of square-shaped shared-house built with pale blue bricks, which gave the city a very neat and ordered feeling. Although it was still early in the morning, the streets were already bustling with people who somehow all had time to spare for a friendly greeting toward each other.
“Hey, where do you live?” The man who pushed the cart asked in a friendly voice.
“I…” Li Yiming scrambled for an answer.
“How about coming to my home? I’ll have a look at his injuries.” The old man interrupted Li Yiming with a worried voice.
“Thanks,” Li Yiming equivocated, trying his best not to betray himself. ‘This man seems to be well-respected and well-known, so if I make a mistake in calling him out, I might be in trouble. I need to gather as much information as I can… but there’s something wrong here… what is it?’
‘Crap…’ Li Yiming had been feeling uneasy ever since he pulled off his “show” at the gate, and he finally understood the reason. ‘The clothing of the people here… The style is already, but the colors… It’s all blue!’
“Quick, quick! The messengers from heaven have arrived. They’re at the Southern Gate!” A tall skinny man suddenly came from behind and shouted.
“Messenger from heaven?”
Most of the passers-by stopped what they were doing and rushed southward. A few even started to run in the opposite direction and helped relay the message.
‘Is that Liu Meng…?’ Li Yiming was aware that this was the appointed time for Liu Meng and Lin Lu to enter the city. ‘But are they simply going to believe him? No questions asked?’
“Messengers… I…” The man who pushed Li Yiming’s cart stopped and turned toward the gate, visibly hesitating. The flow of people in the city was already confluencing around that area.
“He…” The old man shook his head. He seemed to regret not being able to see the “messengers”, but he knew that Li Yiming’s injuries were more important.
“Actually, I feel a lot better now. I think I can go home alone. It’s a big thing for the messengers to show up, so maybe you should go and have a look.” Li Yiming jumped on the opportunity to escape the custody of the old man.
“Really…” The man who pushed the cart was already convinced.
“I’m fine. I think I can handle it from now on,” Li Yiming insisted.
“Alright. Take some time to rest then. If you still feel too weak to go home by yourself, go to the third house on the left right after that intersection. I work there. If you feel anything else after going home, please come and see me.” The old man said hesitantly after examining Li Yiming once again and glanced at the gathering crowd behind him.
“Alright. Thank you very much,” Li Yiming said and turned his head toward the city gate once again to send out his “hint”.
Upon seeing the two men leave, Li Yiming immediately jumped off the wooden cart which the young owner had insisted to leave with him, and pushed it to the side. After a few glances around, he rushed into an idle alley nearby. Li Yiming used his senses to find an empty home and jumped over the wall with ease and landed in a backyard. ‘Blue bricks… Earthen walls, hmmm, clothing!’
Li Yiming leaped toward the bamboo pole hanger in the corner and put the blue shirts and pants on himself, despite them not being completely dry yet. He also managed to find a rather broad belt and wrapped it around his head like a scarf to hide his baldness. ‘Phew.. now I can blend in… wait, the door!’ He suddenly noticed something just as he was going to jump out of the courtyard.
Li Yiming went to the wooden door at the entrance and pulled on it. ‘There’s no locks here… what?’ He then went to the next door that led to another building and ended up with the same result.
‘They don’t lock their homes here? Wait… it’s not even that, locks don’t even exist here!’ Li Yiming understood the meaning of his finding and made his way toward the Southern Gate as well.
* * *
“You saved me? Where am I?” Shen Jianming found himself in an antique-style bedroom. The room was dim, so he could barely recognize the young girl who was standing in front of him. Behind her, next to the window, was another woman whose face he could not see clearly.
“Saved? You pervert, you…” The young girl seemed rather angry and swung her fists while she spoke.
“Lirong!” The woman by the window stopped her companion’s outburst. Judging by her voice, she did not seem to be very old either.
The young girl let out a snort of discontent and retreated back.
By now, Shen Jianming’s eyes were starting to get used to the darkness and he was finally able to see the second woman clearly. She had long hair that hung to her waist, a slightly plump face and some freckles on her face. She could not be said to be very beautiful, but she had a placid smile that somehow made Shen Jianming, who was more used to bloodbaths than anything, feel uneasy.
“You’re from the outside?” The woman said with a voice that was oddly pacifying.
“Outside? Shen Jianming asked.
The young woman pointed at the head of the bead. Shen Jianming followed the signal and found his combat uniform, along with his weapons, in a neat pile. He then looked at himself. ‘I’m naked… what happened?’
“Your clothes are strange. You’re not from our city. That knife is also very sharp. Lirong almost cut herself when she put it away.” The woman said slowly. The words she spoke seemed to flow out of her mouth like a stream in the mountains.
“I…” It suddenly came to Shen Jianming that the two women were both dressed like actors in a historical show. At first, it seemed more natural than anything, given the way the room was decorated, but this was definitely the strangest thing of it all.
* * *
“Well, it seems like we’re in for something big…” Eyeglasses stood on top of a tree fork and looked at the giant stone statue and the stone walls in the distance.
“What is it?” Chen Quan looked at Eyeglasses, still shocked by the ease with which the latter had just climbed the tree. ‘This guy… even I would have a difficult time. Isn’t he supposed to be some kind of computer hacker?’
“You’re a tomb raider, right?” Eyeglasses suddenly jumped down the branch. He landed slowly, like a leaf, and did not leave any trace behind when he landed.
“Yeah. That should be written in the files.” Chen Quan glanced at Eyeglasses’ feet.
“You must have seen a lot of old graves then.” Eyeglasses sat down and took out his computer and some steel marbles from his bag.
“Yeah, you could say that. What about it?” Chen Quan also sat down and looked at Eyeglasses with curiosity. The circumstances of Eyeglasses were of no importance to him; all that mattered was the fact that they were now allies, not to mention the fact that his life had been saved by this man
“I don’t know about the biggest grave you’ve ever been into, but there’s a city that’s probably big enough for a few tens of thousand people here. Are you interested?” Eyeglasses threw the steel marbles onto the ground. After a few click noises, each of them transformed into a small robotic dragonfly and flew into the distance.
“A city?” Chen Quan was confused, but his curiosity was piqued.
1. People in China like to put stone lions in front of their doors as a sign of fortune.