Chapter 6 - The Reality of Things
“What is this place?” Li Yiming looked around in confusion at the bustling city streets.
“Are you stupid? What are you doing standing there?” An angry voice was heard from behind, as a middle-aged man carrying bags of groceries had his path blocked off by Li Yiming.
“Sorry.” Li Yiming nodded and moved out of the way.
‘This place… It’s Shangbei!’ Li Yiming realized where he was upon noticing the iconic landmark in the distance. ‘Are the gates to the Realm of Ghosts just teleportation portals?’
Li Yiming scrutinized his surroundings and noticed nothing out of the common. The citizens of Shangbei were all busy minding their own businesses, not stopping a moment to care about him.
‘There’s nothing here… Maybe if I get a bird’s eye view…’ As Li Yiming made ready to activate Thunderflash, cries of horror were suddenly heard from the crowd. All of the passersby stopped in their tracks and stared at Li Yiming with bloodthirsty eyes.
‘This… This is a domain…’ Li Yiming dispelled his Thunderflash.
The sound of glass breaking was heard. Li Yiming turned around, ready to defend himself, only to see a chair being flung out of the window from the third floor, falling down with an explosion of glass shards.
“What the hell are you doing? If you don’t want to live together anymore, then get out of my house!” A man yelled out as he peeked out from the hole in the window.
“You’ve said it!” A woman’s shriek was heard, followed by a loud thud from a door being flung shut. A slightly chubby woman wearing high-heels dashed out of the apartment building, her face red with fury.
“What are you looking at?” The woman yelled at Li Yiming before leaving the scene.
‘That was… a lover’s quarrel?’ Li Yiming looked at the glass shards on the ground. Had he been ten more meters ahead, he would have been hit on the head.
He looked up at the window and noticed another woman on a balcony on the opposite side of the street contemplating the scene as she slowly consumed her snack.
Li Yiming shook his head and quickly left the alleyway.
“Hey! Could you help me, young man?” Li Yiming ran into an old man holding two large cardboard boxes.
“Sure.” Li Yiming rushed forward to catch the heavy-looking boxes right before they fell to the ground.
“Thanks… Ahhh!” The old man suddenly exclaimed as the box on top slid forward.
Li Yiming, who was busy holding the box below, held back his powers so as not to expose himself. He watched as the box landed on the ground with a clink. ‘Whatever is inside… It’s already broken…’
“Ah! You! How could you!?” The old man’s smile suddenly changed into an expression of remorse and bitterness.
Li Yiming snorted at the situation and did not know what to say.
The small incident soon caught the attention of other pedestrians. Many stopped to hear the tale of the old man, who repeated to them that although he was grateful to Li Yiming for his help, the latter had inadvertently broke a vase inside the box, which had been left to him by his partner. It was not long before a crowd formed, with many criticizing Li Yiming for his mistake.
“How much is it worth?” Li Yiming smiled as he slowly put down the box.
“Five… five thousand…” The old man said with an ostensibly desolate voice as he subtly peeked at Li Yiming to see his reaction.
“Give me your card number.” Li Yiming took out his cell phone.
“I… I’m not good with technology…” Annoyance flashed past the old man’s eyes as he did not expect Li Yiming to comply so easily.
“Cash then?” Li Yiming took out his wallet and counted the money; he had learned his mistake from the past domains and always carried a sizeable sum of money on him now.
“Young man, you have a kind heart. I shouldn’t have asked you to pay, but this vase…” The old man sighed as he took the money.
“That’s my lesson for the day. I’ll be taking my leave now.” Li Yiming said and quickly made his way through the crowd.
‘There’s nothing unusual… It’s just an old man scamming people…’ Li Yiming extended his senses. ‘But this doesn’t make sense… The gate leading to Shangbei? I wouldn’t even have suspected this to be a domain if it wasn’t for what happened earlier… What’s going on? Where’s Liu Meng?’
As Li Yiming pondered about the situation while walking down the street, a young man bumped into him.
“I’m good. Are you okay?” Li Yiming asked.
“I’m fine. I’m fine. Sorry about that,” The young man said and left in a hurry.
Li Yiming stared at the back of the man who walked away.
‘This is the third one… and they’re all coming for the cash I put… There’s more of them hanging around.’ Li Yiming noticed his surroundings.
Li Yiming soon arrived at an intersection and saw a fashionably-dressed young woman with heavy make-up drinking her bubble tea. The woman, upon noticing Li Yiming’s attention, snorted in discontent and laughed.
‘This girl… She was behind me when my money was stolen and kept quiet… And now she’s laughing at my misfortune…’
The sudden screeching of tires interrupted Li Yiming’s train of thought. A middle-aged woman was seen standing in the center of the street, mortified.
“What’s your problem?” A man whose face had gone from pale to flush with anger rushed out of his car.
“My problem? Don’t you know that you should give priority to pedestrians, you idiot?” The woman yelled back as she continued walking forward. Li Yiming was dumbfounded as he looked at the visible red light above her head.
“You’re more of a suicidal imbecile than a pedestrian. It won’t take long before you die!” The man cursed as he hopped back into his car.
Li Yiming trailed the woman as she boarded a bus at the next intersection.
As soon as she entered the bus, she immediately caused a scene as she yelled at a schoolgirl, telling her that seats should be given to the elderly, and forcing her to yield her seat.
Li Yiming was starting to grow irritated at the sequence of morally repulsing scenes he had witnessed in the short span of his arrival.
To add fuel to the fire, he suddenly noticed that the young girl who was forced to give away her seat was fidgeting about uncomfortably. A closer look revealed that the man standing behind her was subtly groping her.
‘You bastard…!’ Li Yiming stared at the man angrily. Right after deciding to intervene, he noticed a young teenager, no older than a high school student, filming the scene.
Two more men could be seen observing the scene, one which was also filming, while the other seemed to be amused. When Li Yiming looked back at the high school student in front of him, he noticed him typing on his phone.
Sexual harassment found on a bus! Please help expose this bastard! was the title of the video that the student had uploaded on a forum. It was quickly followed by many posts of self-righteous condemnation and insults.
Li Yiming sank back into silence as the young girl who had been victimized twice during her bus ride escaped from the bus. ‘This is a domain about human vices… The small things which lurk within the heart of every man…’