Chapter 41 - You Are Not You
Inside the room, Li Yiming crashed on the sofa as Bai Ze sat by the bed, pulling at the bedsheets to vent her frustration.
“So Heaven’s Laws is no longer what it used to be, and Liu Meng’s nowhere to be found. Is that right?”
“Pretty much it.” Li Yiming found a more comfortable position by turning around, only his back was nearly touching the ground.
“Well, I have bad news for you. Even if she’s still alive, it’s not going to be an easy task to find her. We should focus on your... condition first.” Bai Ze threw the piece of fabric she was playing with to the side and stood up.
“Yes.” It pained Li Yiming to recognize the truth in Bai Ze’s words.
“You’ve changed.” Bai Ze said after taking a deep breath.
“Yes.” Li Yiming thought that Bai Ze was talking about how out of control his mood was; he went from an emotionless robot to a bloodthirsty maniac, and finally to a lazy cat.
“I’m not sure if you understood what I’m trying to say.”
Bai Ze looked at Li Yiming right in the eyes, clenched her fist, and the space around it ruptured like a mirror breaking into pieces, creating a gaping black hole.
“You’re a sage?” Li Yiming’s eyes lit up, and he finally took on a serious expression.
“Not only that, but I’m still growing stronger…”
“What?” Li Yiming distinctively remembered Bai Ze’s telling him that the ceiling of her power was that of a sage.
“We share the same soul, and so the same fate as well. Do you get it?” Bai Ze approached Li Yiming and grabbed his hand. “Your palm lines have changed because your fate has changed. You’re no longer the person you used to be.”
“What does that mean?” Li Yiming stood up with a dumbfounded expression, the revelation seemingly being too much for him to handle.
“To exchange your body for a fresh start, and to split your soul from it… You still remember this, don’t you?
“You're saying that…”
“The golden body referred to the staff. It was split into three, one of which is at Lianyu Peak, the other on the Island of Eternity...”
“The last one became Mr. Kong’s knit-bag…”
“Yes, and you… You’re the soul of that very staff. To hide from Heaven’s Laws, you were reincarnated as a mortal…”
“I’ve collected the golden wok in Lianyun Peak, the cap on the Island of Eternity… What about Mr. Kong’s bag?”
“It’s also in you. You’ve already collected all of them. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have become so strong. Now, the question is, how did you get the bag? Did Mr. Kong give it to you, or did something else happen at the music festival?”
“I don’t know… I’m sure Mr. Kong was behind all of this…” Li Yiming rubbed his temples and remembered the skinny man in his flip-flops.
“If Fu Bo’s book is accurate, then it would all make sense.”
“Mr. Kong… Wukong… I need to figure out what happened.”
“It’s likely that he had more people involved in this since it’s impossible for him to have done it alone. I think that if you just ask the right people...”
“Li Huaibei?” Li Yiming’s eyes lit up as he realized that surely, with Li Huaibei’s power, he must have an idea of what transpired.
“Well, I don’t know about him, but I’m sure that there’s one person out there who knows the truth.”
“The one who has been watching our world for decades…”
“Stargaze!" Li Yiming said as he pulled out the bill that Qian Mian left behind, which had his number written on it. Just as he was about to give Qian Mian a call, he was interrupted by a loud banging at the door.
“Mr. Li, are you in here?” Chen Quan said with a voice full of excitement.
“I’m coming.” Li Yiming stood up and went to answer the door.
“Look at this! I…” Chen Quan stopped his sentence abruptly as soon as he saw Bai Ze after rushing into the room.
“Don’t worry… She’s my… cousin.” Li Yiming looked at Bai Ze, who seemed rather surprised by Chen Quan’s extraordinary appearance.
“Have a look at this!” Chen Quan squeezed out a smile toward Bai Ze, only to frighten her instead.
“This... this is the stone exhibition?” Li Yiming examined the card that Chen Quan handed to him. It was a promotional pamphlet about the stone exhibition which had been brought in by Wu Jia, which Chen Jiawang had kept until now.
“Look at the bottom left corner on the other side.” Chen Quan took a deep breath to calm himself down.
“Oh.” When Li Yiming turned over the card, he saw the picture of an ordinary-looking yellow jade. It seems like even the owner of the stone knew that it had very little value, so not only was the size of the picture very small, but it was also taken hurriedly, without any kind of set up to provide a proper background. However, this made it possible to see the article displayed behind the stone.
“Is that the fourth stone tablet?” Li Yiming frowned, noticing the slate to be of similar size as the other three tablets.
“I’m confident that it is. Unless it's some kind of intentional imitation,” Chen Quan had the same guess as Li Yiming.
“So this is one of the stone tablets you were talking about?” Bai Ze approached and scrutinized the pamphlet.
“Do you see anything in particular?”
“It seems like these stone tablets were made to record an event…” Bai Ze said.
“Writing isn’t the only method to record history.” Bai Ze said as she glanced at Chen Quan.
“But what could this possibly be recording?” Li Yiming said as he remembered the three stone tablets. He did not have time to examine the two which were at the exhibition, but he did remember the scene of the Phoenix, the giant monkey, and the man flying on his sword inscribed onto the first tablet. The fourth tablet seemed to be depicting the scene of a man worshipping a giant stone.
“Fu Bo is not the only recorder…” Bai Ze said as she watched Li Yiming sink into a long silence.
“You mean that…”
“Yes.” Bai Ze interrupted as she returned to sitting on the bed.
“How old do you think the stone tablets are?” Li Yiming asked Chen Quan.
“At least ten thousand years.”
“We need to go.” Li Yiming made for the door with a grave countenance.
* * *
With a loud thud, the expensive rosewood table was turned into dust.
“I let her go only because I trusted you, and now you're telling me that she's been kidnapped?!” Qian Mian roared in anger as he glared at Li Huaibei. He would have attacked Li Huaibei out of anger already if the latter was not a sage.
“You’re not being your usual self.” Li Huaibei said calmly.
“My usual self? Do you know how important Tian Yan is?” Qian Mian only grew more furious from Li Huaibei’s frivolity.
“I am aware, and that is why I’m not worried about her.”
“Bullshit!” Qian Mian spat out.
“Stargaze knows how valuable she is, and so do the other guardians. I think she knows how to take care of herself. What's more interesting is that she wasn’t very far away from me when it all happened, and I only know a few people who are capable of this.”
“Are you talking about Yun Yiyuan?” Qian Mian asked. Even though Tian Yan might have been safe for the time being, saving her would prove to be a difficult task.
Qian Mian’s countenance sank again as he remembered the looks of the woman Tian Yan had known since her childhood.
“I’ll go get her out in one piece, don’t worry. I want you to have a look at this.” Li Huaibei said as he took out a parcel wrapped in a black cloth.
“What’s this?” Qian Mian froze when he saw the three tablets. The first one was the one Li Yiming saw, depicting the man, the Phoenix, and the monkey. The second showed a long-haired woman sitting in the clouds, while the entire world was engulfed in flames beneath her. Finally, the third showed a man thrusting his sword through the chest of the woman from the second tablet.
“This…” Qian Mian immediately thought the tablets would prove to be useful for Stargaze.
“Give them to her.” Li Huaibei said as he glanced at the third stone before standing up and leaving.