‘Wait… he’s not after me!’ Owing to his combat experience, Li Yiming had a shocking realization. He immediately made a turnaround and dashed back toward Liu Meng.
Liu Meng’s attack left a gaping hole in Li Yiming’s chest, but he knew that the worst was still to come. A silhouette of a blade was being directed towards him and he gathered all of his energy in the hopes of fending it off.
Li Yiming’s arm was instantly bent backward. His chest caved in and his skull cracked, and he fell toward the ground, limp.
“You…” Liu Meng reappeared, perplexed at Li Yiming blocking the attack for her on his own volition. She had anticipated for Li Yiming to block her attack, and for both of them to perish under Wu Yun’s. Death would release her from the guilt and sorrow of taking Li Yiming’s life, despite her having been forced by Heaven’s Laws.
“You’ll die…” Liu Meng raised her hand in Li Yiming’s direction.
“He’s mine!” Mr. Xie roared. A rainbow of light burst forth from his thumb ring and spun around Li Yiming, opening up a hole beneath him that swallowed him whole.
“In your dreams!” Liu Meng flapped her blazing wings and flew toward Li Yiming. Right before he disappeared into the hole, she reached him and was swallowed as well.
“Where’s Liu Meng?” Qing Linglong asked.
Mr. Xie instead turned toward where Wu Yun supposedly was and bowed down. He then said to Qing Linglong, “You were after his life, and he is now dead. Mission accomplished, is it not?”
Qing Linglong frowned and exchanged a glance with Eyeglasses.
‘What was bowing down all about? Is that to thank whoever’s there? Or to apologize?’ Qing Linglong conjectured.
As the fight concluded, Sai Gao, with a shove of his tail, shook off Big Beard’s mecha and approached. After concluding that Li Yiming had indeed disappeared, he escaped into the darkness.
“We’ll wait here and leave once we’ve confirmed his death.” Big Beard said as he landed his half-broken mecha.
The guardians who were fortunate to find themselves still alive finally realized the extent of their greed and stupidity as they looked at the ravaged stadium. Out of the forty-seven who came to profit from the situation, only nine still remained standing with empty hands. However, amidst all of the chaos, there was one spot that was left untouched. It where Mr. Kong sat. The young employee sat there dumbly, still clinging to the knit-bag given to her. With Li Yiming no longer in sight, she was unsure when or how she was supposed to accomplish Mr. Kong’s task.
Spacetime Illusion was Mr. Xie’s biggest asset, and it was the sole reason he was confident enough to steal prey from a powerful sage such as Wu Yun. It was a formation he had obtained when he was young, and fortunately he possessed just the right talent to activate it, providing him with the strength of a sage despite not being one himself.
Upon activation, the flow of time in a designated area could be controlled. Although Mr. Xie was not strong enough to bring about the full effects of the formation, it was more than enough to trap a single person inside an illusion which lasted until their demise.
“He was at death’s door before he was pulled into my illusion. He has no chance of survival. Sorry, my illusion is a one-way trip,” Mr. Xie said as he looked at Big Beard’s mecha. His followers were beyond excited as their leader was soon to ascend to the top rank of guardians.
“You promised me…” Ying Mei freed herself of Yun Yiyuan’s grasp.
“Why so impatient? The show has just started.” Yun Yiyuan chuckled and looked up at the sky, and then at the young woman who held Mr. Kong’s bag.
Qing Linglong and the rest of Li Yiming’s former teammates exchanged a glance and sat down where they were, choosing completely ignore Mr. Xie’s answer.
‘I’ll make you feel my anger once I become a sage…’ Mr. Xie thought with great irritation.
The stadium now sank into a dead silence, sharply contrasting with the chaos just moments ago. Mr. Xie was waiting for his reward, while Qing Linglong’s group was waiting for the confirmation of Li Yiming’s death.
Far above them, Mr. Kong and his comrades stood as they watched the golden orb in the sky brighten. He looked back at the ground and sadness briefly flashing past his face.
‘You never change… If only you called for help when you confronted the millions of soldiers sent from Heaven…’
“Are you sure that he’s okay?” Aunt Wu was still worried about Li Yiming.
“He won’t become the person we’re waiting for if we come to his aid. Dawn will come, regardless of whether the rooster crows or not. The only thing that matters is who’s going to be awake when that moment comes,” Mr. Kong said.
“We didn’t count on him for this since the start. Let’s take care of what’s facing us first,” An old man with a cane standing behind Aunt Wu lectured her.
“It’s coming!” The young Taoist child whom Mr. Kong visited exclaimed. His features flashed between that of a young child and that of an old man.
“Oh, can you shut up,” Aunt Wu rolled her eyes at the old man with the cane. Her nine swords merged into one and shot toward the golden orb.
The rest of the group followed. The old man with the cane, after nodding at Li Huaibei and Stargaze, also vanished in a puff of black smoke.
Li Huaibei, who stood on his flying sword, followed as he caressed a piece of broken metal, while Stargaze shortly vanished into the light of the stars after a deep breath.
* * *
Li Yiming woke up and immediately jumped from his seat. He found himself to be in a taxi car, and the driver was taken aback by his sudden movement.
“Where am I?” Li Yiming asked.
“Hangzhou’s Teacher’s College! Didn’t you ask me to bring you here? Thirty-one yuan for the fare, and one for the fuel tax. Thirty-two. Are you going to pay cash or with your card?” The taxi driver said as he pointed as the giant panel right in front of the taxi.
‘Kids nowadays… How did he even get into college? I’ll have to worry more about my kids…’
“Teacher’s College?” Li Yiming repeated with a frown as he checked his body for any wounds, only to find none. He then recalled the words that the taxi driver just said. ‘The fuel tax... That thing was abolished over a year ago. So I’m trapped in some kind of illusion of my past?’
Li Yiming paid the taxi fare and descended from the vehicle, his sense on high alert.
“Your luggage!” The driver yelled. By now he was wondering how Li Yiming managed to make it all the way to the city’s train station in the first place.
“Luggage?” Li Yiming looked at the backseat, on which two suitcases rested.
‘That suitcase…’ Li Yiming frowned as he remembered that he had only used one of the suitcases once in his life, when he arrived at college for the first time. One of the handles broke as he climbed the student residence’s stairs, and he left it in his dorm ever since.
Liu Meng stood alone by the running field, wearing a white one-piece which gave off such an air of elegance and beauty that those who passed by could not stop themselves from admiring her. She kept her eyes low and frowned as she looked around.
‘Where is this place? Where is he?’
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