Chapter 25 - Human Nature
Liu Meng tied her hair into a ponytail and changed into sportswear, hiding her attractive curves beneath long white pants. She also wore a pair of sunglasses and a hat which covered most of her forehead.
After exiting the residential neighborhood where the taxi driver lived, Liu Meng had decided to change her outfit to prevent her judgment from being influenced by the way people looked at her. Her thoughts were flustered from the realization she had earlier in the night, prompting her to be more cautious in the case of an irreparable mistake.
This was the true test of the domain. The mission could not be completed without taking another’s life, and yet a single mistake would spell doom.
As dawn broke, the streets gradually filled up with people, most of them being employees or students going through their daily commute. Liu Meng followed the flow of the crowd to a bus station.
There, Liu Meng found a young, beautiful woman who was nicely dressed listening to music as she waited for the bus. The girl had a bag of fried chicken, and she lightly tapped her foot to the beat of the music she was listening to.
Whenever someone would glance at her, attracted by her youthful charm, she would flash a smile.
‘A life free of worries… I miss those times.’ Liu Meng thought to herself.
“Excuse me.” A voice interrupted Liu Meng’s train of thought. She turned around and saw a woman in her thirties dragging a little kid along with her, looking impatient.
Liu Meng nodded and walked back. ‘Looks like she’s bringing her kid to school...’
The boy moved around incessantly, throwing grimaces at the people around. The mother seemed worried about her child’s safety around the oncoming vehicles as she tightly held her son’s hand.
After a short wait, the boy noticed the fried chicken that the girl had, staring at it curiously.
“Mommy, I want fried chicken!” He said after finally being unable to resist the temptation of the succulent-looking chicken.
The young mother was preoccupied with her phone. She looked at the young girl and jokingly said to her son, “Why don’t you ask her over there? Maybe she’ll give some to you.”
Unabashed, the boy immediately raised his voice. “I want fried chicken!”
The young woman, who was still listening to her music, did not hear the boy’s plea. She removed her earphones and stared back at the boy, confused.
“I want to eat fried chicken.” The boy repeated in a petulant voice.
She frowned at the way the boy talked to her, glanced at the young mother, and put back her earphones.
Although the mother was a little embarrassed at first, she eventually caught a foul mood from trying to appease the childish tantrum of her son. She directed her irritation at the girl and said in a low voice after looking at the latter’s low collar. “I bet she’s involved in shady work.”
Liu Meng frowned at the remark.
Just as the bus finally arrived and the crowd gathered toward the edge of the station, the boy, who still had tears hanging by the corners of his eyes, suddenly threw her mother’s hand away and approached the young woman with a venomous expression. The latter, who was still listening to music, did not notice him approach from behind.
The boy gave her a shove from behind, just enough to make her slightly off-balance, but given that she was standing on the edge of the platform, she fell onto the road, right in front of the approaching bus.
Liu Meng extended her right hand helplessly toward the young girl, but she could not catch her in time.
The fried chicken was spread onto the asphalt as the young girl sat there dumbly, the horror in her eyes growing as the bus came closer and closer. Fortunately, the bus driver, who had been highly vigilant as he approached the bus station, was able to stop the vehicle in time.
The crowd quickly acted, despite the suddenness of it all, and dragged the girl back onto her feet, onto the waiting platform. However, the damage was already done; her face was ashen, and her lips almost purple. The young mother was also panic-stricken at first by what her son had done. However, as soon as she saw a taxi driver who had stopped his car nearby to see what the commotion was all about, she instantly dragged her son into the vehicle and urged the driver to leave the scene.
Liu Meng approached the girl, who sat on the ground of the waiting platform, still crying from the shock of what just happened. She knew that the incident would end without long-term consequences since no one was hurt in the end, and the culprit was but a mere child.
As Liu Meng’s thoughts wandered, a soothing voice suddenly came from behind.
“I used to think that a child is good-natured at birth.”
Liu Meng jumped forward and turned back with red lights glowing at her fingertips.
“Sai Gao?” Liu Meng asked as she recognized the visitor. Despite her temporary alliance with him back in Tianshan, he was not someone she could trust, especially after he had attempted to seize control of the phoenix within her body before. However, Sai Gao had already clamped his hands around her wrists, stopping her from attacking.
“This is no place to fight.” Sai Gao smiled and let go of Liu Meng’s arms.
“He’s just being childish…” Liu Meng looked at the young girl and said.
“Childish? Whether human nature is good or evil has been a subject of endless debate, but I believe both exist within a person’s heart. Only the good is encouraged while evil is buried deep within. For every single person, there will come a day when that evil is revealed, and oftentimes it will be too late to stop them from hurting someone else,” Sai Gao said as he looked in the direction of the taxi.
Liu Meng did not know how to rebuke the statement.
“The scary thing is that no one knows when the evil intentions that lie within us might cause us to make an irreparable mistake. Li Yiming is a good man. I hope that you’re the same,” Sai Gao said before walking away.
Liu Meng once again sank into her own thoughts as she mulled over Sai Gao’s words.
As the victim’s mood finally recovered, a street cleaner riding a tricycle stopped next to the fried chicken. As the cleaner picked up the food, he cursed the person who had the audacity to litter publicly. After the young girl had finally recovered from the shock enough to resume her day, Liu Meng continued to stare blankly at the street as the buses came and went.
Suddenly, the wailing of a siren was heard in the distance. Liu Meng turned her head in the direction where the sound came from, and an ominous feeling compelled her to dash forward. As she approached what seemed to be an accident scene where a crowd had gathered, her chest tightened upon seeing the wreck of a taxi against a billboard pillar.
“Not taking the responsibility to educate her child, death.” Liu Meng shivered as she heard a voice coming from the distance.
Smoke came out of the vehicle from the collision, and the driver was trying to explain something to a bystander in an agitated voice. The spoiled boy was being held in the arms of a stranger, petrified and staring forward blankly.
The billboard had been deformed by the shock, the stainless steel frame torn into pieces. One lone segment of steel pipe, along with the electric wires, pierced through the windshield of the taxi like a spear. The young mother of the boy, who sat on the passenger seat, was impaled with wide eyes.
‘Not taking the responsibility to educate her child, death?’ Liu Meng shivered.
* * *
Li Yiming progressed slowly through the river, as he imagined Fang Shui’er and Yu Runkai being subjected to all sorts of torture, having had their talents sealed off.
“Fang Shui’er has slain an enemy. Assist awarded to Yu Runkai.” A voice suddenly resonated.
‘What?’ Just as Li Yiming heard the announcement, a monkey suddenly jumped out of a bush. Although the monkey was bruised and hesitated to attack, it still directed its staff toward Li Yiming’s head.
Li Yiming quickly put up a defensive stance with his sword.
However, before the staff could reach him, a giant cask of wine fell from the sky, detonating right in front of the monkey and knocking him back with an explosion of crimson liquid. Just as he was about to land, a giant crystal blue arrow pierced him and caused an explosion of ice shards.
“Fang shui’er has achieved a double kill. Assist awarded to Yu Runkai.” The voice came again.
“Why are you here?” Fang Shui’er looked at Li Yiming.
“Just passing by…” Li Yiming looked at the monkey’s corpse, which had yet to disappear, and then at the crystal bow, Fang Shui’er was holding.
“Defend your turret, and stop dying.” Yu Runkai said coldly, as he still showed some hostility toward Li Yiming despite the circumstances.
However, Li Yiming’s attention was wholly occupied by the giant cask of wine Yu Runkai held over his shoulders.
‘A wine barrel and frost arrows… So I’m the only one who doesn’t have anything?’ Li Yiming thought bitterly.