Chapter 29 - Gathering
“Hey, big author. I don’t think that this is the place. Are you sure you didn’t make a mistake?” Sai Gao said as he surveyed the venue where the gem exhibition was to take place.
“Is there something wrong?” Fu Bo, who until now pretended to not know Sai Gao, suddenly turned around and asked. However, when he saw the purple jacket, tight white jeans, and silver scarf Sai Gao wore, along with the silver handbag he held, he could not help but take a few steps back.
“There’s something strange about this place. I can’t sense things that are more than three meters away…” Sai Gao said as he pursed his lips.
“Yes, someone or something is preventing me from sensing my surroundings. I’ll have to rely on my eyes starting from here on,” Sai Gao whispered to Fu Bo as he approached him and pinched his arm.
“Over there…” Sai Gao suddenly pulled Fu Bo toward the stage, on which many strange-looking stones rested on wooden stands. “Maybe it’s one of those things over there.”
“What else do you see?”
“Nothing yet. But do you see all those people around here? They’re all aware of our presence. Are you sure that we absolutely need to come here?” Sai Gao shrugged his shoulders as he continued to approach Fu Bo.
“It's hard to explain, but I have a feeling something big is going to happen here. Wait? What are you doing?” Fu Bo suddenly asked irritatedly as he felt Sai Gao slip his fingers into his hand.
“What's wrong with my hand?” Sai Gao raised his right hand.
“I'm talking about the other one…” Fu Bo was visibly annoyed.
“My left hand? Oh, I'm just worried about your safety…” Sai Gao smiled as he moved his waist around.
“Let go of me!” Fu Bo shouted.
“Oh… You’re not going to fall sick from that…” Sai Gao rolled his eyes and pulled back his hand right after scratching Fu Bo’s palm.
Fu Bo trembled with disgust. He wiped his hand vigorously with his own sleeve, but just as he was about to resume his complaints, he noticed a middle-aged couple looking at him with baffled eyes.
“They’ll forget about me soon... They’ll forget about me soon... They’ll forget about me soon…” Fu Bo repeated the sentence over and over again to calm himself down as he made for the exhibition hall. Sai Gao smiled at the couple and followed suit.
* * *
“Brother Qian Mian, are you sure that this is the place?” Tian Yan sighed as she received the instructions from Qian Mian about Chen Quan.
“Is there a problem? I don’t see how we could have made a mistake.” Qian Mian had recently received news from one of his subordinates that Chen Quan entered the exhibition hall two hours ago.
“It’s nothing. Thanks.” Tian Yan shoved the phone back into her pocket.
“Doesn’t seem like he knows about it.” Li Huaibei said with a severe countenance.
“Looks like we caught a big fish.” Tian Yan said as she relaxed against the back of her wheelchair and straightened the folds of her skirt.
“Are you sure you want to go with me?” Li Huaibei was worried, as he could feel someone blocking his senses, which most likely signified danger.
“Otherwise what? Are you going to send me home?” Tian Yan smiled and put away the small strip of paper. ‘Blocking senses… Is it you?’
Li Huaibei smiled in frustration and pushed Tian Yan forward, but the latter suddenly knocked at the handles.
“What is it?”
“Over there…” Tian Yan pointed at an alleyway to the left.
“There’s an express entrance over there. I should get priority.”
* * *
The stone exhibition, although originally intended for the display of precious jades and a variety of other gems, attracted a group of people who had a common interest in traditional culture. Li Yiming noticed one prominent example of a banner which had little to do with stones right at the entrance: Fortune telling.
It was a simple banner, traced with black ink on a white canvas. Right beside it was a little stand under which sat a short, overweight man who wore a traditional outfit and held a wooden bracelet. Li Yiming stopped in front of the banner, as the sight reminded him of the little Taoist child he had met previously.
“Could you go inside first? I'll catch up right away.” Li Yiming said to Lin Lu and Wu Jia, both of whom were walking ahead of him, keeping an awkward distance between each other.
“What is it?” Wu Jia glanced at Lin Lu. She was in disbelief when she saw Lin Lu waiting for them at the entrance to the venue, believing that she surely would not have been able to get her hands on an invitation.
“Is it going to take long?” Lin Lu asked.
“I’ll be with you right away.”
“Okay! I’ll be looking around then.” Lin Lu acquiesced and glanced at the two agents who were trailing Li Yiming, understanding that he needed some privacy.
“Call me when you’re done.” Wu Jia smiled. She wanted to stay with him, but did not want to give off a bad impression by overly insisting.
Li Yiming took out his cell phone and walked toward the fortune-telling stand.
“Is he going to ask about his fortune? What?” Wu Jia did not expect Li Yiming to be the kind of person to be interested in such practices.
“Would you like to know your fortune?” The man who sat at the stand opened his eyes as Li Yiming approached him.
“Yes please.” Li Yiming sat down and focused his senses on the man. ‘This weakness… Is this some kind of camouflage?’
“What is it going to be today? Love or career?” The man lowered the pitch of his voice to give off the air of a reliable figure.
“Career,” Li Yiming answered.
“Very well. Please write down your name and birth date.” The man straightened his back to make himself seem taller.
Li Yiming obeyed and wrote down the information on the piece of paper which the man gave to him.
“Do you know the exact time of your birth?” The man looked at the piece of paper.
“Six in the afternoon.”
“Very well.” The man nodded and scrutinized the piece of paper. Li Yiming tried once more to spot any abnormalities with the short man as he handed over the piece of paper, only to find nothing. Despite that, owing to the experience he had with Aunt Wu, he knew better than to let his guard down.
Li Yiming extended his senses and was instantly taken aback by his findings — he was unable to reach the fortune teller, meaning that the latter somehow blocked his sense completely.
“So…” The man nodded again. He grew more nervous as he noticed Li Yiming scrutinize him. After letting out a long sigh, he took out a tablet computer from beneath the table.
‘What?’ Just as Li Yiming wondered what the purpose of the item was, the man opened an app called “Divination Tool” and began to enter in the information Li Yiming had provided.
“You’re using this?” Li Yiming was completely astonished.