As soon as Shao Xian opened her web browser, she was presented with a bold red font on the screen:
“The Divine Song of the Masked Challenger!”
“A New Queen of Music!”
“A Divine Voice to Save our World!”
Shao Xian could not contain her excitement and euphoria after browsing all of the major news websites — she realized that she had attained her lifelong dream of becoming a known figure.
Sai Gao picked up a nail clipper and began to work on his fingernails. Li Yiming frowned at the information on the screen, conjecturing about the reasoning behind Mr. Kong’s seeking Shao Xian to deliver the performance.
Shao Xian went onto the site she normally streamed from and began the log-in process, full of glee. Her web browser slowed down considerably, and it only took a few seconds to understand why: her inbox had been flooded with tens of thousands of messages. Shao Xian glanced back at Li Yiming and then scrolled through her inbox. Without exception, the messages all praised her amazing performance and expressed admiration. Tears began to roll down Shao Xian’s cheeks as it finally dawned upon her that she reached her life goal.
Li Yiming gave her a tap in the back to express his support. It was her moment of glory, and hers alone. He then exchanged a glance with Sai Gao, the two of them thinking the same question — ‘Why her? What is Mr. Kong up to?’
“What do you think of this song?” Sai Gao put down the nail clipper and scratched the back of his other hand lightly.
“I know the lyrics… It comes from the Scripture of Purity and Stillness, but this tune…” Li Yiming took a deep breath and listened to the song once more.
“The music is a spell. The Seal of Spirit and Heart,” Sai Gao whispered to Li Yiming.
“What kind of spell is that?” Li Yiming put the phone down on the table, replaying the song over and over again.
“Buddhism teaches us to attain enlightenment by ridding ourselves of our sin. Taoism teaches us to reach the Heavens by removing the three deaths which plague us. These are one and the same: they refer to human desires. This spell…”
“It can rid the world of such things?” Li Yiming noticed that he felt relaxed and at peace when he listened to the song. If the song really did have the potential of removing the twisted desires of humankind, then it would be a huge blessing.
“It can’t. Human desires cannot be defeated so simply. It’s a seal, and sealing the desires is what it does…”
“Even if it’s just sealing away, still…” Li Yiming said as he imagined a utopia without excessive desires.
“It’s not that simple. The harder you try at hiding it, the stronger it will become. It will ferment and grow under the lid… You know how domains are formed,” Sai Gao said.
“You mean…” Li Yiming was aware that domains are the result of the accumulation of wills of people. Sai Gao, being the physical manifestation of such a phenomenon, was the unquestionable expert on the matter.
“It will first seal your spirit, and then your heart…” Sai Gao sighed with a grave countenance.
‘What exactly is Mr. Kong up to? Sealing the desires of the entire world and let it erupt violently at a later time? What kind of consequences will that have?’ Li Yiming wondered.
“Could… Could we go to this festival?” Shao Xian suddenly interrupted the two. She looked at Li Yiming eagerly as she pointed at a message left in her inbox. The message stood out amidst the pile of ordinary-looking ones, with its scarlet font and fancy signature. It was an invitation for Shao Xian to perform at an upcoming music festival from one of the organizers.
Li Yiming looked at Shao Xian, confused by the sudden proposition.
“There are a lot of famous people who are going there… I don’t want to miss this opportunity,” Shao Xian said in an earnest tone. She was over the moon the moment she read the invitation, but it did not make her forget about the precarious situation that she was in. For safety measures, she sought Li Yiming’s approval.
“Alright then.” Li Yiming smiled back. The song had already been publicly broadcasted, and nothing more could be lost from Shao Xian performing once more on stage. Moreover, Shao Xian’s excitement was almost contagious for him, as he recently experienced the ecstatic feeling of being recognized for one’s performance and knew well well the crave for more attention and fame.
“Really?” Shao Xian jumped at the opportunity.
“Of course. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity after all.” Li Yiming nodded.
“Yay!” Shao Xian jumped up from her seat and dove into Li Yiming’s arms. The fruit of victory was best savored alone, but the happiness of achievement was something best shared with friends and loved ones.
“Alright, it would be best for you two to find another place to stay then. How about you go to my place?” Sai Gao was amused at seeing Li Yiming freeze as Shao Xian embraced him and proposed.
It was a sound suggestion as Shao Xian’s place was now too risky to stay at, even if the previous group of guardians had left the scene. Moreover, Li Yiming wanted to find a safe place for Shao Xian, as Mr. Kong surely chose her for a particular reason that escaped his judgment.
“Oh? Where are we going?” Shao Xian’s eyes went from Li Yiming to Sai Gao.
“My apologies for not introducing myself earlier. My name is Sai Gao. From today on, I’ll be your manager.” Sai Gao suddenly stood up straight and said in a serious tone.
“What?” Shao Xian was confused.
“Trust him. He’s much better than that old man Song,” Li Yiming said as he took a bite from the fried dough stick on the table.
After breakfast, the trio quickly made their way into one of the most luxurious residential districts of the city.
“I’ll go up with her first. You can come up later. The door number is 3A1102. I’ll keep it unlocked.” Sai Gao pulled out a rather large sun hat out of nowhere and handed it to Shao Xian.
“Put on the mask and sunglasses now. You should act like the famous person you are.” Sai Gao smiled and opened the car door for Shao Xian.
“No worries, I’ll be up there right away.” Li Yiming waved goodbye at Shao Xian while thinking of a path that would not let himself be spotted by surveillance cameras.
“Okay.” Shao Xian checked her disguise once again, gave her hand to Sai Gao and descended from the vehicle.
“Not so nervous now…” Sai Gao walked ahead and made a pose for Shao Xian to imitate.
Shao Xian burst out laughing at she looked at Sai Gao twist his waist in front of her. When the latter turned back to look at her in dissatisfaction, she waved at Li Yiming and caught up to him. It did not take long for her laughter to turn into awe as she realized that Sai Gao was giving an extremely good demonstration of how one ought to behave on stage.
‘Is he trying to teach me…? Wow… he’s really good, much better than me…’ Shao Xian was quickly impressed by the expertise of the “manager” she had just found.
However, the real surprise came when the two entered the elevator. Sai Gao approached a mirror and began to adjust his clothes. After straightening a folded collar and tightening his belt, he sighed in a lazy voice. “Ah… I put on some weight again… What a pity…”
‘Is this another demonstration…’ Shao Xian wondered.
As the elevator door opened, Sai Gao continued to lead the way. By now, Shao Xian was beginning to doubt whether Sai Gao had been really showing her how to act, or whether he was simply being himself.
“Come in.” Sai Gao put on his slippers, put his handbag onto the clothes hanger and stretched himself.
“Wow…” Shao Xian was completely stunned by what she saw. Although she had been to wealthy people’s homes, which were usually spacious, Sai Gao’s home was exceptional in that it consisted of only one gigantic room. What was even more eye-catching was the abundance of pink in the room. Everything, from the curtains to the sofa, from the closet to the hundreds of dolls which sat on top of them, was colored with a saturated pink palette.
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