“Mr. Li, I believe you owe us an explanation.” Inside the intensive care ward of the hospital, Li Yiming was being questioned by the National Security agent - it took a lot of self-restraint for him to keep his voice low and stop himself from yelling at Li Yiming.
He now bitterly regretted not following Li Yiming to the sauna center against the orders of his superiors. Had he been present, chances are that it would not have turned into a bloodbath. It did not take long before the city’s police came to look for an explanation, especially given that they had just taken over a local station before the incident occurred.
Although the last year had been rife with paranormal incidents which had to be covered up from the public eye, the thirty or so witnesses that Li Yiming left behind made it extremely difficult to keep the lid on the affair, and mounting public pressure only increased the chances of a disaster.
“What did your superiors tell you?” Li Yiming was unsure how to answer the agent, as he himself did not quite understand how he could have lost control of himself fighting against a small group of mobsters. He had suspected a Heart Trial at first, but immediately dismissed the possibility, as he recalled being completely aware of what was going on. Simply losing control of his body was vastly different from the drunken fuzziness of his memories after being taken over by a Heart Trial.
“My superiors…” The young agent was speechless. As unbelievable as it was, his superiors had told him to do nothing at all. The only orders he received since the incident was to “wait until Lin Lu recovered.”
“I need to know what happened back there… If you really…” The young agent was not about to give up, as he had a feeling that Li Yiming had the answers which could explain many of the paranormal incidents that had transpired over the last year.
“I’m sorry, but the patient’s awake.” The door to the room was opened as the head nurse interrupted the two, all while avoiding looking at her two guests in the eyes. As the head nurse, she was exceptionally well-versed in profiling. On top of that, she knew from the non-disclosure act she signed the day before that she most definitely did not want to become entangled with Lin Lu, who clearly had an exceptional background based on the number of bodyguards she was able to hire.
“Why don’t you go have a look.” Li Yiming sighed and turned toward the hallway.
“You…” The young agent was clearly vexed, but he was in no position to force Li Yiming to confess.
The two agents stationed at the front door thought about stopping Li Yiming from exiting the hospital, but they did not dare to intervene. After all, if the information they received was accurate, two men armed with conventional firearms was far too little to restrict Li Yiming’s freedom.
As Li Yiming looked up at the azure sky, he took out the half-pack of cigarettes he had kept from a long while back, reminiscing the time he met Mr. Kong for the first time.
“Mr. Li… I’ve lost the tablets…” Chen Quan suddenly came running, having rushed back to the small convenience store to pick up what he had left there.
Chen Quan nodded with a grave countenance, very bitter about the lead breaking off when he was so close to finding out the truth.
“What did the owner of the shop tell you?” Li Yiming asked, fully aware of the importance of the tablet despite seeing it only once.
“That he lost it, nothing more,” Chen Quan said with a disappointed voice.
“Did he sell it off to make quick money?”
“They didn’t lie…” Chen Quan rubbed her hands together. Li Yiming instantly noticed the blood in his left hand’s ring finger’s fingernail.
“I didn’t harm them. I just used a special technique.” Chen Quan explained when he noticed the attention and shoved his hand into his pocket.
“Well, it doesn’t matter now. As long as you remember the content.” Li Yiming patted Chen Quan’s shoulder. He turned around, only to see two agents running toward him.
“Secretary Lin wants to see you…” One of the agents said nervously.
“I’ll go see her right away. Come with me, Chen Quan.” Li Yiming acquiesced and invited Chen Quan. He appreciated Chen Quan’s rather odd techniques and thought of them as being potentially useful, even though he was not a guardian.
Lin Lu was bedridden with a pale countenance and was abashed upon seeing Li Yiming after what she had just gone through.
“Thank you,” Lin Lu expressed her gratitude.
Li Yiming stayed silent and glanced at the young agent by her side. He pulled over a chair and sat down, ready to discuss the matter at hand.
“I’ve got orders.” Lin Lu went straight to the point, but she seemed hesitant to broach the subject to Li Yiming. Although what the latter did was undeniably intolerable, it was also partially for her sake, as she was the one who insisted on going to the stone exhibition.
“You can tell me. I know it must be hard for you.” Li Yiming said in an understanding voice.
“Remember the two people who attacked the military outpost?” Lin Lu struggled to sit up, and the young agent quickly rushed to aid her.
“One of them is dead.”
“You’ve tracked down the other one?”
“We’ll find his whereabouts soon.”
“You want me to kill him?”
“We need him back alive.”
Li Yiming sank into a long silence. Capturing the guardian alive was not the problem — rather, the intentions of the high-ranking officials in the military was where the problem was.
“If you can take care of him, we’ll take care of the incident at the sauna center.” Lin Lu offered her part of the bargain, despite her personal debt toward Li Yiming.
“Tell me about his specific location.” Li Yiming stood up and made for the exit of the ward. The world had been changed and perhaps covering up the existence of guardians like he used to do was the wrong approach.
“I’ll keep looking for the Shadowless Stone. My promise to you stays the same.” Li Yiming turned around right before leaving and smiled.
Lin Lu’s mood sank further despite hearing the good news.
“Oh yes, you’ve arrested that gang leader, right?”
“Yes,” The young agent replied.
“I want to see him.”
“You…” The young agent looked at Li Yiming alarmingly, as his first reaction was that Li Yiming sought to exterminate the gang completely.
“I want to ask him something… You know what? How about you ask him the question for me? He had three stone tablets. I want to know where he got them. He’ll know what I’m talking about.” After considering the matter, Li Yiming decided to let National Security handle the matter, as they were the ones who had more experience with these types of investigations.
“I’ll go take care of this personally and tell you as soon as possible,” Lin Lu used the opportunity to repay some of Li Yiming’s favor.
“Thank you.” Li Yiming said and left.
Chen Quan sat next to Li Yiming in a car which drove away from the hospital. He wanted to ask many questions but decided to keep quiet for the moment.
“Ask what you want to ask. You probably figured out a few things by yourself by now, haven’t you?” Li Yiming said as he leaned against the back of the seat, preoccupied by the “wise” words of the fortune-teller. ‘My palm lines have changed, and the clue to finding Liu Meng lies within that change… Is that why I lost control of myself as well?’
“Have I met you before?” Chen Quan finally asked, not knowing where to start.
“Yes.” Li Yiming decided to tell the truth.
“A year ago, in the Tianshan range. We worked together for about a month.”
“What?” Chen Quan had no recollection of ever going to that place.
“Also, we’ve met aboard the Pandaria. You invited me there.”
“I’ve invited you? What?”
“Well, I did get off the ship halfway.”
“Why can’t you remember? It’s going to be a long story. Before you hear it, I want to ask you something. Are you sure that you want to get involved in this? It’s going to change your life, and there’s no going back. You’ll risk losing your life.” Li Yiming sat up straight and looked at Chen Quan with a serious countenance.
“If you really do know me, then you should know that I never back off at the face of fear.” Chen Quan’s hands, which held the steering wheel, began to tremble.
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