Chapter 8 - Old Woman
The door to the interrogation room cranked unpleasantly as Li Yiming led Chen Jiawang out into the hallway.
“He needs to come with me,” Li Yiming said as he looked at Lin Lu.
“Go with you?” Lin Lu smiled awkwardly as she found Li Yiming’s demand hard to comply with.
“He didn’t break any laws, did he? Why are you retaining him?” Li Yiming said as Chen Jiawang looked at him with reverence.
“This isn’t something I can decide myself,” Lin Lu answered truthfully.
“I know that it’s hard for you to accept my request, but he’s still just a kid. Look, in return, I promise you that I’ll lend you a helping hand if you get into trouble,” Li Yiming proposed.
“Really?” Lin Lu’s eyes lit up, as Li Yiming’s offer effectively meant that he was joining National Security, albeit not officially.
“I’m sure that we’ll be able to agree on what constitutes ‘trouble’.” Li Yiming shrugged his shoulders. Although he had made the offer to help out Chen Jiawang, he did have a genuine desire to do whatever he could it in order to bring some good to the world.
Li Yiming had initially thought of the paranormal incidents to simply be caused by guardians who sought to selfishly benefit from their powers. After witnessing Chen Jiawang’s case first-hand, however, he realized that that was not the case — not only was the awakening of guardians unsystematic, but so was the power bestowed upon them. A person like Chen Jiawang could do little harm to society, but Li Yiming shuddered when he recalled Zeng Qian’s talent, which could kill millions in a few hours.
“Could you please wait for a bit? I’m going to contact my superior.” Lin Lu turned and ran away. She had overwhelming confidence in Li Yiming’s capabilities, and to trade someone like Chen Jiawang for his assistance was unquestionably worth it.
Li Yiming walked on the streets outside of the building he was in with Chen Jiawang after refusing the lift that Lin Lu had proposed.
“Let’s go to my tea shop. There are two rooms on the second floor.” Li Yiming slowed down his pace as he thought about what he could do to take care of Chen Jiawang..
“Uhmm… Mr. Li… What’s your talent?” Chen Jiawang asked rather shily, both impressed and intimidated that Li Yiming convinced the people at National Security to release him.
“You can call me by name. Or how about ‘captain’?” Li Yiming noticed the wariness in Chen Jiawang’s voice, which reminded him of his first encounter with Li Huaibei.
“Yes. Most guardians have their own teams. I used to be part of one.” Li Yiming sighed.
“What about the other teammates?” Chen Jiawang quickly got comfortable with Li Yiming. It was not a surprise, given that Chen Jiawang was the kind of person who had attempted to sell his golden cellphone at the antique market.
“They’ll… be back soon.”
“Oh, that’s good to hear. Can you tell me about them?”
“There’s a big sis type. Her name’s Qing Linglong. She’s the mastermind of our team and wields dual blades. Her sister, Qing Qiaoqiao, is really good at hypnotizing people. Then there’s Eyeglasses, who’s a hacker…” Li Yiming mumbled to himself as he reminisced the times he fought side by side with his teammates.
“A hacker? Is that considered a supernatural ability?”
“Let’s just say… it’s easier when he’s doing it.”
“Cool!” Chen Jiawan exclaimed as he imagined himself meeting his new teammates. With Eyeglasses’s ability, he would be able to get a lot of things on his bucket list done.
“Oh yeah, if you like big machines, you’re going to love meeting Big Beard. He drives a mecha, but he has a weird temper, so you might have to be a little careful around him.”
“Mecha? Like the ones you see in movies?” Chen Jiawang was ready to jump with joy, as anyone his age was naturally fascinated with such things.
“It’s much cooler in real life.”
“Wow! Amazing! Anyone else?” Chen Jiawang was completely fascinated.
“Also… Liu Meng…” Li Yiming suddenly stopped.
He saw an old couple walking together, pushing a large tricycle on which there was a coal stove, a wooden roll for spreading dough, and a small kettle containing oil. It was a small mobile breakfast shop, and the smell of coal being burnt could be detected from a far distance.
“We have to hurry! It’s going to be dawn soon.” The old man, who pushed the tricycle from the steering head, said.
“How about you walk faster? You’re the one leading the way!” The old lady in the back said.
“I’m worried you wouldn’t be able to keep up. Else I’d be there a long time ago if I was alone.
“Really? You’d still be trying to get the fire going on at home!”
Li Yiming stood in place and watched the old couple disappear into the distance. Curious as to what could have aroused Li Yiming’s interest, Chen Jiawang looked at them as well.
The old couple reminded Li Yiming of his past with Ji Xiaoqin, who liked being called sweet nicknames. However, Li Yiming knew that although it was an easy thing to say sweet words, it took a lifelong love to be able to keep quarreling in old age. Such thoughts made him yearn for Liu Meng more than ever.
‘I’ll find you, no matter where you are.’
* * *
“Boss… When you say that someone will take care of it, do you mean Yun Yiyuan?” Qian Mian helped Stargaze stand up.
“Yun Yiyuan? He has no time to mind the newcomers. He’s probably in a bad mood right now.” Stargaze chuckled.
“Alright, enough about the newcomer. How is he doing?” Stargaze asked.
“Li Huaibei? He’s drunk again with broken blade of his. It’s been like this for a year now…” Qian Mian said, not hiding his derision.
“You don’t understand what he has seen.” Stargaze sighed and looked at the horizon, which slowly became enveloped by a halo of golden light as dawn broke.
“Oh right, Tian Yan has grown stronger again. You were right about practicing to increase one’s talent when the limitations are removed.”
“Isn’t that obvious? Practice makes you better, that’s the new rule. Go tell the others, and tell them that it’s worth the effort.”
“What about Wu Yun? Nothing?”
“No. It’s as if he vanished from this world after the music festival. But then again, if someone like him wants to hide, it’s unlikely for us to be able to find him.”
“Alright. You go do your tasks. I’ll continue with mine…” Stargaze stretched herself lazily and sat down once more in a meditative stance.
“Boss… It’s been a year already, maybe it’s time to let go….” Qian Mian said hesitantly.
“I need to find her, alive or dead. I have a feeling she’s going to be key in the change about to come,” Stargaze dismissed Qian Mian’s proposal and closed her eyes. A near-imperceptible shadow emerged out of her head and flew into the sea of stars in the sky. Although the astral bodies were slowly becoming less visible under the bright light of the sun, a ray of silver light quickly flashed in the horizon the moment Stargaze connected herself to the cosmos.
Qian Mian looked at Stargaze, not understanding Stargaze’s persistence. He thought that Stargaze surely would have been able to find Liu Meng after an entire year if she truly was still alive. The only explanation left would be that Liu Meng had been long dead.
Qian Mian turned around, sighed and finally left. However, he did not know what Stargaze was using her usual perceptive powers, but rather a new one she had awakened, one which allowed her to see through the flow of time.