Chapter 54 - Meditation
With beads of sweat rolling down his forehead, Li Yiming stayed crouched while examining the nine foot steps Aunt Wu had left behind.
“Don’t come here!” Li Yiming yelled out to stop an elderly man who was passing by on a bicycle.
The sudden shout almost caused the old man to fall off his bicycle. As he looked ahead of him, only to find nothing, he began cursing at Li Yiming.
“Don’t come!” Li Yiming shouted again with a severe countenance.
“Crazy!” The old man grumbled as he took a different path to avoid trouble.
“Chen Jiawang!” Li Yiming called out.
“I’m here!” Chen Jiawang, who had been observing his boss from inside the shop, instantly answered the call.
“Quick! Get a fence around this place!”
“See these footprints on the ground? We need to get a fence around them to prevent people from stepping on them!” Li Yiming said.
“What is it?” Fang Shui’er also came out. Although she did not dare to eavesdrop on the conversation between Li Yiming and Aunt Wu, she did pay close attention to the interaction between the two, and she was curious as to what caused Li Yiming to stay kneeled down.
“The Nine-Step Sword!” Li Yiming exclaimed.
“Aunt Wu’s Nine-Step Sword?” Fang Shui’er instantly joined Li Yiming in staring at the ground.
Although Chen Jiawang had no idea what Li Yiming just said meant, he nonetheless rushed into the tea house and picked up tables and benches to put around the footprints.
“That's not going to work, boss.” Chen Jiawang said when he looked at the makeshift fence he had made after emptying half of the tea shop. “It's right in the middle of the street. Plus, what if it rains? It would be nice if we can get a tent, but I don't think that the police are going to allow it…”
“If we don’t own it, buy it…” Fang Shui’er said with a frown.
“Buy it?” Chen Jiawang was caught off guard by the idea.
Fang Shui’er took out her cell phone and began giving orders to her assistant, while Li Yiming remained focused on the footprints. The next day, a construction team arrived and built a tent right in front of the tea shop. Due to Li Yiming’s disruption of the operations of Yunyu Corporation, it only took a few days for Fang Shui’er’s connections to secure the property rights of that segment of the street. After all, construction was scheduled to start soon at the hands of Yunyu Corporation anyways, so the paperwork was already half-done.
A week later, a few temporary cabins were built right outside of the tent. On one of the houses hung a panel which indicated that construction was underway. Circling it was another fence to prevent any accidents.
Over the next few weeks, Li Yiming stayed kneeling down, trying his best to decipher Aunt Wu’s demonstration. Having learned one of Wu Yun’s moves earlier, he knew very well how powerful these kinds of techniques were, and he strived to gain the power necessary to save Liu Meng.
Although Li Yiming vanished from the sight of the public, the rumors about the organization he had created were brewing. This stood in stark contrast with the Star Alliance and Yunyu Corporation, both of which seem to have become invisible. It was not long before other guardians showed up at the door of the tea house, looking for a safe place to stay in the chaotic world. During Li Yiming’s absence, Fang Shui’er, with Bai Ze’s authorization, became the interim leader of the organization, as she was the only one strong enough to assume the role.
Another reason why many guardians chose to join Pure Water Herb Hall was due to Fang Shui’er fame as an international star — guardians were not immune to stardom, after all. Headlines were soon inundated by the news of Fang Shui’er’s retirement and her heading into the real estate sector of Hangzhou. Fang Shui’er used the opportunity to further consolidate her position within the organization, and also to buy off more land from Yunyu Corporation. The sealing of the deals with Yunyu Corporation only reinforced the rumors of Yun Yiyuan’s being scared of Li Yiming.
In contrast with the fast progress at Pure Water Herb Hall, on the other side of the city, in the military encampment reigned an atmosphere of doubt.
“What is Li Yiming up to… He's been very active recently.” Lin Lu’s father asked Pan Junwei with a frown.
“I don't know. He hasn't shown up for some time now…” Pan Junwei shook his head.
“Should we send Lin Lu over there to see what’s going on? You seem to be under quite a lot of pressure recently,” Lin Lu’s father remarked as he glanced over the file folders on his table.
“You call the shots.” Pan Junwei nodded. In reality, he was indeed overwhelmed by the paranormal occurrences recently. There had been significant breakthroughs in the artificial guardian program, but they were still far from attaining their goals. Just three days ago, an entire city in the North had been nearly wiped out by monsters who appeared out of nowhere. Even though he had sent nearly half of his troops to exterminate the threat, he could not help but fear that the situation was only going to get worse.
“Alright then. I'll give the orders right away. I hope Li Yiming isn’t our enemy. What’s going on with Yun Yiyuan? Is he going to fight Li Yiming? We can't really afford to have a conflict erupt between the two.”
“Don’t worry. We’ll be fine.” Pan Junwei had a cold smile. ‘Invincible amongst sages? Look at you now… Do you dare fight Li Yiming? And that’s not even considering Bai Ze and Fang Shui’er...’
“Good, then.” Lin Lu’s father said as he gazed at a wooden box that rested on the table. Although none of his staff knew where the box came from, they had guessed that it must be an item of importance, as Lin Lu’s father always kept it near him.
“Anything from Mr. Wu?”
Pan Junwei also stared at the box as he heard the question. He knew that the box contained nothing more than a dirty, oiled-up work glove.
‘Heaven’s Blade… Wu Yun...What are you up to?’
* * *
“How are they?” Qian Mian asked before Li Huaibei even entered the room.
“It's not looking good. The same for all of them: veins shattered, and powers gone.” Li Huaibei shook his head with a severe countenance.
“How much time do we have left?” Qian Mian sighed as he looked at one of the stone tablets. It was the one with the giant monkey, the phoenix, and the man on the sword. Beneath them was a wasteland ravaged by combat. Although the identities of the three figures being depicted were easy to figure out, it was much harder to guess their intentions. Were the man and the phoenix fighting together to defend the world against the monkey? Or was the monkey intervening against the evil deeds of the swordsman?
As for the two other tablets, Qian Mian did not even want to think about them.
“We don't have much time left. Pan Junwei won't last very long.” Li Huaibei lit up a cigarette.
“But boss told us…” Qian Mian understood what Li Huaibei was implying. The Star Alliance, with how much resources it possessed, could do great good. Instead, they were sitting there and watching the world burn down as groups of soldiers mutated using a virus were fighting with their lives.
“Maybe that's exactly what's going on in the stone tablets.” Li Huaibei said coldly before he left, glancing once at the tablet of the swordsman piercing through the woman's chest with his weapon.
“He’s just angry. Don't mind him,” Tian Yan said.
“Yes. I suppose I should go have a look at the boss,” Qian Mian sighed and left.
When he opened the door, he was faced with a beautiful woman with a cold air. Although Ying Mei greeted him, Qian Mian ignored the salutation and made off on his own.
“Sis Ying…” Tian Yan said. It was she who had insisted on bringing back Ying Mei.
Ying Mei closed the door, and put a transparent bag on the table in front of Tian Yan. Within the sealed bag was a small slip of paper.
“What is it? You can't find anything?” Tian Yan said as she picked up the bag.
“I've tried everything I could…” Ying Mei said with a severe countenance.
“I told you that it wouldn't work.”
“If that person truly exists, then he’s the one who changed Wu Jia’s fate!” Ying Mei suddenly said as she stared intensely at Tian Yan, smiling when she saw the latter’s shift in countenance.