Chapter 6 - Punishmen
‘Liu Meng, we need you to return to the team. We know what Yiming is up to. We’ll talk to him once we see him.” Big Beard, who had now replaced Li Yiming as the captain of the team, looked at Liu Meng.
“I…” Liu Meng bit her lips and glanced at Li Huaibei, seeking his counsel.
“You’ll need all the help you can get to brave through the danger ahead. It would be wise for you to join forces.” Li Huaibei caught on to her hesitation.
After taking a deep breath, Liu Meng looked at the others and nodded. The members of Team Dissonance nodded in relief, happy to see her return, not only for her strength as a spellcaster, but also a friend who had gone through life and death together.
“Could you add me while you’re at it…” Li Huaibei sighed at the joyful expressions of team Dissonance. He had never thought that he would join a team again.
“What?” Big Beard thought he heard wrong.
“I still owe Li Yiming a favor. I’ll ensure your safety before I see him again.” Li Huaibei said calmly, staring at the distance blankly as his thoughts went back to Lianyun City. Although he was genuinely angry at Li Yiming at first, the latter’s efforts to preserve the city did not escape his eyes. He witnessed Li Yiming’s duel against Yun Yiyuan and the final judgment delivered by Mr. Kong.
Although Li Yiming’s efforts did little to change the outcome of the residents of Lianyun City, Li Huaibei still thought in earnest that he owed him something in return.
“What about me? You don’t mind adding a burden to your team?” Stargaze smiled and brushed her hair.
“You… You…” Qing Linglong’s eyes went from Stargaze to Li Huaibei. ‘Those are two sages! And they’re offering to join our team? With Li Yiming, that’s three sages…’
“Don’t be too happy yet. I don’t think that we’ll have it too easy.” Stargaze raised her chin up.
“Ms. Wang is right. Back in Tianshan, we were the ones who made the domain more dangerous for you.” Li Huaibei looked up at the cloudless sky above.
“We’ve made our own choices and it had nothing to do with Li Yiming,” Big Beard suddenly said with a serious countenance.
“You know better than us what it means to be part of a team. We wouldn’t have the face to see Li Yiming again if we abandoned him now.” Eyeglasses pushed up his glasses,
“I still can’t agree with his decisions, but he’s our captain.” Qing Linglong reached out for her sister’s hand and glanced at Liu Meng.
Li Huaibei smiled in contentment at the support shown for Li Yiming. ‘You do not disappoint me.’
“How long until it starts?” Li Huaibei looked at Stargaze, who had taken out a chair from her storage and sat down.
“In about ten… nine…” Stargaze closed her eyes and started the countdown to the start of the domain.
* * *
Li Yiming returned to his room. After taking off his shoes, he walked to the window. ‘I used to be excited about a gig for five hundred, and now… how things have changed. More importantly, I need to figure out what’s up with Fang Shui’er and that Yun Runkai. What are they doing on this cruise ship? Are there any other guardians?’
‘Crap! Yiming, I think I made a mistake!’ Bai Ze’s voice suddenly rung out in his mind.
‘What is it?’ Li Yiming’s train of thought was disrupted.
‘I forgot about something.’ Bai Ze seemed worried.
Li Yiming sat down silently at the sofa and waited for the rest to come. It was rare to hear Bai Ze talk in such a tone.
‘When you failed your mission in Lianyun City, your life marks were taken away as punishment. It’s going to be a disaster.’
‘But I’m fine for that, right? We did experiment with it last time…’ Li Yiming frowned. As someone who was not a guardian, strictly speaking, he did not suffer such consequences.
‘You’re right, but Liu Meng…’ Bai Ze hesitated to tell Li Yiming the hard truth.
Bai Ze’s revelation hit Li Yiming like a hammer. He realized how big of a mistake he had made when he left Liu Meng. ‘Even the others, Linglong, Big Beard, Eyeglasses, Qiaoqiao…’
‘How… how will they be punished?’ Li Yiming asked with a trembling voice. He clenched his fist and punched the air, and then his own cheek.
‘The life marks are used to reign in guardians, so they’re compelled to do Heaven’s Laws’ bidding. Liu Meng and your friends will be sent into a punishment domain. They’ll have one last chance to prove themselves…’ Bai Ze knew that she herself was partly to blame for this blunder.
‘A punishment domain? So it’s not over?’ Li Yiming took a deep breath and regained his composure.
‘Yes, but…’ Before Bai Ze could finish, Li Yiming bolted out of his room.
Knock knock knock!
Chen Quan peeked out of his room wearing nothing but a towel.
“I need to make a call.” Li Yiming said; his cellphone had been taken away during security clearance.
“Is it urgent?” Chen Quan could see that Li Yiming was in a rush.
“As urgent as it can be.” Li Yiming spat out. He knew that he needed to get in touch with Liu Meng as soon as possible.
“Follow me.” Chen Quan knew enough about Li Yiming to trust him on such important matters and made straight for the hallway without even getting changed. Li Yiming followed closely behind as the two quickly climbed to the upper deck. After a quick explanation to the staff, Chen Quan brought Li Yiming to the office of the vice-captain.
“I want information about that man today. I refuse to believe that you don’t have it.”
“But Mrs. Qiang… You know about the rules for our cruise ships…”
Li Yiming recognized Mrs. Qiang’s voice instantly from the other side of the door. Chen Quan already had his hand on the door handle, but after a moment of hesitation, he decided to knock instead, not wanting to interrupt a possible private “discussion” between a guest and the vice-captain.
“Please enter.” A stern voice was heard. It sounded like whoever was talking was relieved by Li Yiming’s interruption.
Chen Quan pushed the door open and entered the office. It was a sumptuously decorated room, with a giant painting depicting two maidens taking water from a river, which was undoubtedly produced by a famous artist. Across the office desk sat a rather overweight man, with Mrs. Qiang sitting facing him.
“You?” Mrs. Qiang turned toward the door and recognized Li Yiming’s long silvery hair.
Her humiliation at the pool put her in a foul mood ever since, despite Ximen Song’s best efforts. After a moment of reflection, she decided to exact her revenge on Li Yiming, since Fang Shui’er was out of her reach and the model was much too insignificant to even appease her anger.
However, Li Yiming’s confusing mixture of characteristics made Mrs. Qiang waver from her decision. He seemed to be nothing more than an ordinary young man, and yet his actions proved that he had great wealth. Furthermore, his appearance alone was rather intriguing, offering a vivid contrast between his rather ordinary attire and his magnetizing long, silvery hair.
However, Mrs. Qiang had not expected Li Yiming’s arrival in the company of Chen Quan, who was practically naked.
“What is it, Chen Quan?” The vice-captain recognized the newly arrived guests and stood up from his seat.
“We need to make a phone call.” Chen Quan glanced at Mrs. Qiang, paying no mind to her since he was unaware of the drama that had just unfolded in the swimming pool.
“You don’t have a phone?” Mrs. Qiang interrupted the vice-captain before the latter had a chance to answer. ‘He… This guy doesn’t have a cellphone, after throwing away three million just to humiliate me?’