By night, the plaza was still bustling with middle-aged women practicing their daily slow-paced exercise dances. They chatted with each other as the last song concluded and began their walk home shortly after.
One of them, who had short hair, stayed behind and turned her attention toward a dark corner of the plaza. Her warm smile and smooth skin made her look younger than her age, although she did suffer from being slightly overweight.
In the corner sat a man who was smoking while gazing at the night sky. He held a plastic bottle in which he disposed of all of his cigarette butts. Judging by how many there were, he had been waiting for quite a while already.
“Have you been waiting long?” The woman slowly walked to the bench in front of the man and sat down.
“Does it matter? I’m always waiting.” The man smiled as he put his last cigarette butt into his bottle and shoved the bottle into a knit bag.
“Are you ready?” The woman took out a fresh peach out of her shopping bag and put it on the stone table next to her.
“Everything is set.” The sight of the peach enticed the man to pick one up and take a bite out of it.
“I was going to keep one for my grandson.” The middle-aged woman said with a smile.
“Now that it’s happening, I’m suddenly not so sure anymore.” The man finished his peach and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
“I’ve waited forty years already, I can wait for forty more. Don’t take my last peach, I need to give one to my grandson or else he’ll be upset.” The woman put her shopping back behind her.
“It doesn’t cost much, does it?” The man puckered his lips and took out a cigarette out of habit, but put it back in right after.
“Enough small talk. Let’s get to business. You didn’t come here to look at me dance and take one of my peaches, did you?”
“I met a young man.”
“The one you mentioned last time?” The woman asked.
“What about him?”
“He went to Donghai.” The man turned his head toward the east.
“Donghai? That doesn’t sound right... Shouldn’t he be…”
“He didn’t go. He went to Donghai.” The man smiled.
“He knows?” The woman seemed confused.
“I’m not sure,” The man said, “I can’t see through his thoughts.”
“But there’s only one thing that could interest him in Donghai…”
“I have a feeling that this young man might be him.” The man looked up with a serious countenance.
“It can’t be...” The woman jumped up from her seat in terror.
“We’ve lost our setup in Tianshan…”
“Lost it?” The woman’s expression turned from showing fear to surprise, with a hint of excitement.
“Who else could it be? Who else but him could take that item away?”
“So he’s back?” The woman stepped forward and stared at the man intently.
“I’m not sure.” The man slowly closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
“You want me to go see him?” The woman asked.
“Li Huaibei is teaching him how to fight with a sword,” The man said.
“You want me to teach him how to use a sword?” The woman’s voice jumped up.
“I want you to make him your pupil.”
“You’re kidding.” The woman rolled her eyes and sat back down.
“He probably doesn’t know it himself, but it doesn’t matter. We need him right now.”
“What if it really is him? What if he remembers...” The woman suddenly exclaimed.
“Shit! I’m in. Alright, deal!” The woman suddenly said with excitement. It was a dream come true to even have a chance at becoming the master of that person.
* * *
Li Yiming looked ahead with a grim expression as a small iceberg emerged from the ocean. Although he was confident in defeating Yu Runkai, Bing Shuai was beyond his league.
“Who are you? How did you enter the Island of Eternity without my permission?” The Mr. Kong look-alike suddenly shrieked out with rage.
“I’ve been here the entire time.” Bing Shuai said.
“That’s impossible! You cannot escape the games of the Island of Eternity.”
“Sages do have certain privileges…” Bing Shuai commanded a view on “Mr. Kong" from where he stood.
“Sages? They’re worthless!” The man answered while pulling on his own collar.
“Do you really think that you’re him? You are but a will of this domain, a worthless replica. If you were really him, I’ll end myself right away.” The iceberg behind Bing Shuai suddenly shattered, turning into innumerable ice shards that covered the sky.
“You… You…” The Mr. Kong look-alike could not say anything back.
“Stay quiet. After I take care of this kid, I’ll play some of your ridiculous games with you.” Bing Shuai slowly approached Li Yiming.
‘You have no chance of winning.’ Bai Ze reminded Li Yiming as he stood up with difficulty.
Yu Runkai emitted a low roar and transformed into a giant pile of flesh which stood at over three meters tall. His skin turned emerald, with green liquid occasionally oozing out from his open mouth.
‘Zombie Apocalypse… Yu Runkai is the same level as you are…’ Bai Ze remarked. Li Yiming looked at Fang Shui’er and noticed that at least she still did have her arrows pointed at Bing Shuai.
Yu Runkai suddenly started running toward him, leaving behind a trail of rot.
Li Yiming was not willing to give up yet, not even in the dire situation he found himself in. Feeling immense pain throughout his body as he moved at a fast pace, Li Yiming’s eyes slowly became bloodshot as he approached Bing Shuai with his sword drawn.
Li Yiming had learned that being a guardian meant fighting against the odds.
Bing Shuai looked at Li Yiming and smiled in contempt. The ice shards behind him flew toward Li Yiming with a simple gesture of his hand.
Li Yiming raised his sword and continued his charge, dodging the first ice shard and hacking the second one into two. Fragments rained down from the sky as more shards were being broken.
“I’ll end your life right here!” Bing Shuai squinted at the unexpected speed of which Li Yiming moved at despite his grave injuries. ‘Teleportation, summoning, lightning techniques… He hasn’t used any of them yet.’
As soon as Yu Runkai made his way to Li Yiming, Bing Shuai prepared an attack to finish the latter off immediately, so as not to repeat the mistake he had made when he tortured him.
Ignoring Yu Runkai, Li Yiming went directly for Bing Shuai. At the same time, Bai Ze emerged from Li Yiming’s back as a white winged-beast and blocked Yu Runkai’s attack, locking the two in a vicious battle.
A blue glow wrapped around Bing Shuai’s palms as he thrust his hands forward at Li Yiming.
An arrow was then unleashed by Fang Shui’er, traversing the sky in a streak of colorful light. Knowing that he needed to make good use of Fang Shui’er’s supporting attack, Li Yiming decided to move left to thrust his sword at Bing Shuai’s wrist.
The clashing of metal was heard as a thin layer of ice covered Bing Shuai’s fingers and he reached out for Li Yiming’s sword.
Li Yiming took out his metal orb and launched a second attack at Bing Shuai with his shapeshifting weapon. Bing Shuai frowned and grabbed Li Yiming’s second sword with his left hand.
‘Now!’ Li Yiming seized the opportunity. He grabbed the hilt of his sword with both of his hands and lifted it high in the air, forcing Bing Shuai to do the same.
As the whistling of Fang Shui’er arrow became louder, Li Yiming prepared to deliver a fatal blow the moment Bing Shuai would need to block the incoming shaft.
However, as the sound of the arrow piercing through flesh reached his ears, Li Yiming looked down in bafflement at the arrowtip which emerged from his own chest.
‘Fang Shui’er…’ Li Yiming turned back to stare at Fang Shui’er in incredulity.
Being the target of Fang Shui’er’s arrow was the last of his expectations. Having placed so much trust in her, Li Yiming synchronized his attack to the best of his abilities and even sacrificed his own defense to create an opportunity for her to land her attack.
“Don’t look at me like that. I told you that I was a friend of the captain.” Fang Shui’er said coldly.
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