“Don’t worry, I’m really here to buy myself a set of clothes. Take my card, go check how much money there’s left in there, you’ll see. There’s no password.” Li Yiming smiled and tossed his debit card to the employee.
“Go!” The manager said with an angry tone as the employee stood in place dumbfounded.
“Sir…” The employee soon came scrambling back.
“Speak.” The manager said with a sullen face. He was beginning to surmise about where Li Yiming might have picked up the card. Plans of how to tell the stories to security were already brewing inside his head.
“There’s twenty-seven million left in the card…” The employee said with a shaking voice. She clasped onto the card so tightly, her finger joints turned pale — it was as if she was holding diamonds rather than a piece of plastic.
“What?” The manager could not believe what he heard.
“Twenty-seven million and eight-hundred-fifteen thousand…” The employee suddenly stepped forward and returned Li Yiming’s card while bowing down respectfully.
“Now, can I continue shopping?” Li Yiming smiled and looked at the manager.
“Yes…” The manager tried to squeeze back a smile, but it only contorted his features further in shame.
“With how dirty I am, I’d rather not touch anything here. How about you give me one set of every outfit you have in the shop.” Li Yiming said as he took the jacket the manager snatched from him and covered his upper body.
“Everything?” Deng Xin’ai’s eyes widened. There were more than hundreds of clothing articles, which would signify an incredible sales record for a newcomer like her.
“I’m a bit of a hurry, so I’d appreciate it if you could make it quick,” Li Yiming said as he thought eagerly about a rematch with Sai Gao.
* * *
“How’s Li Yiming doing?” Pan Junwei said as his back wounds were treated by a woman dressed in a military uniform.
“He went to Xie’s Clothing this afternoon with that young singer. There was a third person, most likely a guardian,” A man who sat facing him answered.
“Yes. Yun Yiyuan, Ying Mei, Fang Shui’er and Mr. Xie were all there.”
“What happened after?”
“Li Yiming followed the man who was with him into the deserted hallway and came back out thirty minutes later. It seemed like they fought each other. The man then left for a salon while Li Yiming went to the clothing store owned by Number Three’s girl.
“Oh? He has a girl now? What do you mean?” Pan Junwei stood up.
“It started a few days ago. A widow who’s managing a shop,” the man explained.
“At this point and time?” Pan Junwei pursed his lips as his back ached from standing up so suddenly.
“What did he do in the shop?”
“He bought a hundred and forty-three pieces of clothing. Spend more than two hundred thousand.”
“What?” Pan Junwei sat up again. “Are you sure?”
“Call Number Three over.” Pan Junwei frowned.
“I told him to get his girlfriend. Li Yiming had apparently interacted with the new employee and the floor manager. She’ll know how to deal with them.”
“I couldn’t possibly think of this as unintended. Is this some display of goodwill? Or a warning?” Pan Junwei signaled to the woman treating his wounds to stop.
“Most likely a warning. No guardian can possibly be short on money.”
“He’s showing off. He knows our every movement. Even what we do in our private lives…” Pan Junwei took a deep breath as his countenance sank.
“Makes sense. Also, we’ve investigated the girl you saved the other day. Her name is Liu Meng. She’s Li Yiming’s girlfriend.”
“As I expected. Only Li Yiming would be able to attract a sage’s attention.”
“The people who showed up on the scene were Li Yiming’s teammates. The guy wearing glasses is the person responsible for logistics and surveillance.”
“Tell all of our informants to back off. There’s no need for further complications before the start of the show,” Pan Junwei said after a long silence and lied down on his chair.
* * *
Li Huaibei opened the door to the bedroom of his hotel suite and shook his head when he saw his visitor.
“You are in quite a good mood, aren’t you? Drinking first thing in the morning?” Li Huaibei looked at the child who sat on his sofa.
“You’re awake? I just like good wine in the morning. Can’t drink in public though. Want some?” The child smiled while offering a wooden cup to Li Huaibei.
“I couldn’t possibly refuse.” Li Huaibei smiled and sat down facing the child.
“Special brew from our village.” The child rolled up his sleeves and poured a cup for Li Huaibei.
“I wouldn’t dare to drink too much of this. I won’t be able to enjoy anything else after this.” Li Huaibei sniffed the wine before drinking.
“Hold it on the compliments,” The child said as he emptied his cup cleanly.
Li Huaibei only took a small sip.
“I presume you’ve listened to the song?” The child opened the TV. It showed an entertainment news segment, and Shao Xian happened to be the subject of the report.
“Yes.” Li Huaibei nodded.
“What do you think?” The child asked.
“Not a good thing.” Li Huaibei answered after a moment of thinking.
“It depends on your standards.” The child squinted and said as he poured himself another cup of wine. “There are three types of principles people follow to achieve discipline. The first is law: rules society imposes upon us; the second is ethics: rules that our collective consciousness imposes upon us. Finally, we have beliefs, the rules we impose on ourselves.”
“I understand…” Li Huaibei took a deep breath.
“No, you don’t!” The child slammed his cup on the table and suddenly shouted.
“If you really did understand, you wouldn’t have such a soft heart. If you understood…” The child pointed at Li Huaibei’s right wrist, “You wouldn't be afraid to move forward.”
“My sword…” Li Huaibei looked at his right hand. The tip of his blade emerged from his palm for a brief moment.
“What are you going to do when your beliefs collapse, your ethics disintegrate and the laws are disregarded? You knew about this when you made Li Yiming bear witness to the events in Eden.” The child said as he stared right into Li Huaibei’s eyes.
Li Huaibei clenched his fists and he trembled.
“To take a single life is an unforgivable crime, so why is it that we sing songs that praise generals who have murdered thousands? Surely you understand the reason. You follow the way of the sword. Tell me, which sword is faster? The sword that aims to take someone’s life, or the sword that aims to save someone’s life?”
Li Huaibei stayed silent. Unable to save a life with the sword would mean the death of two lives, and he knew that all too well.
“You say that you seek the truth, but when it’s laid bare in front of you, you don’t even have the courage to look straight at it.”
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