“How about you give it to her?” Liu Meng curled up on the old sofa at her mother’s place. She had been spending her last few days in a lackadaisical manner, choosing to relax in a place that brought back many memories.
“You should do it. She’s your mother after all.” Li Yiming said as he glanced at a plastic bag on the tea table.
“She’s also your mother now.”
“Well…” Li Yiming scratched her head.
“Come to think of it, what happened? I thought the top floor was enough. Was it really necessary to buy the entire building? She’s going to be more scared than surprised, you know.” Liu Meng said in an amused tone.
“That’s what I said to Fang Shui’er, but she…”
“Her again? I knew it!” Liu Meng’s tone turned sour.
“The guardian organization is gone, but the company can’t be dissolved so easily. Besides, I don’t think that the authorities want to see that happen, so it dragged on…”
“What are you two talking about?” Liu Meng’s mother arrived. Ragged breathing could be heard from her daily trip to the public square, where she danced to radio music with a group of friends.
“It’s nothing. I’ve bought you something.” Li Yiming glanced at Liu Meng and answered.
“Oh, you can put it on the table.” Liu Meng’s mother changed her shoes and headed for the bedroom.
“I’ll go have a smoke.” Li Yiming went to the balcony, and Liu Meng went back to her room.
Liu Meng’s mother finished changing and was about to head to the kitchen when she saw the plastic bag again and sat down in curiosity. Although she pretended to not care about Li Yiming’s gift earlier, she was curious about its contents.
Inside the bag she was a file folder loaded with papers. She felt let down, as it was not quite what she had imagined. After picking up her glasses and going through a few pages, her expression turned into one of confusion and frustration.
“Liu Meng… Can you come here?”
“What is it?” Liu Meng peeked out from her room.
“Can you tell me what this means? ‘Ownership certificate of Ou’Hai building?’ Isn’t he too old for jokes like that?” Liu Meng’s mother said as she hurled the file folder onto the table.
“He’s not joking.”
“What? He told you that this is real?” Liu Meng’s mother grew more irritated, as she now thought of Li Yiming not only as someone from a modest background, but also a liar.
Liu Meng nodded.
“Pfft! Who does he think he is? The owner of Pure Water Herb Hall?” Liu Meng’s mother was suddenly reminded of the news report she saw a few days ago, which mentioned that the founder of the organization was also a young man.
Liu Meng nodded again.
“You’re kidding me…” Liu Meng’s mother stared into her daughter's eyes. She knew full well that her daughter would not lie to her on matters like this.
“He really is…” Liu Meng repeated.
The scream was so sudden that Li Yiming nearly dropped his cigarette. The next second, Liu Meng’s mother showed up, panting heavily.
“Is this real?” Liu Meng’s mother asked as she showed the certificate.
Li Yiming looked at Liu Meng, who was laughing behind, and nodded.
“You’re really the chairman of Pure Water Herb Hall?”
“Seems like it…” Li Yiming said as he stared at the ground.
Liu Meng’s mother said nothing and gave Li Yiming the longest stare she ever gave to anyone.
“I… It should be written here…” Li Yiming hurriedly took out his business card.
“Chairman of the board?” Liu Meng’s mother took the card. From the golden and silver engravings and the flawless material, it was clear not cheap to make.
Her eyes went from the business card to Liu Meng, and then back to Li Yiming. Finally, she picked up the certificate once more and saw that the document had just been signed earlier in the day.
“So… that entire building is ours now?” Liu Meng’s mother muttered as she looked at the illuminated building in the distance.
“Yours, to be precise,” Li Yiming added.
“Why… why didn’t you tell me?” Liu Meng’s mother was still in disbelief.
“You didn’t ask.”
“Didn’t your parents say that you worked at National Security?”
“They don’t know that I’m working part-time there…” Li Yiming said.
“You’re lying… You have to be lying…” Liu Meng’s mother turned toward her daughter — it was simply too much to take in at once.
“Mom…” Liu Meng sighed. She was about to start explaining when her countenance suddenly shifted. After exchanging a glance with Li Yiming, both of them began staring at the sky.
“I knew it!” Liu Meng’s mother suddenly relaxed down when she saw Li Yiming and Liu Meng’s expression and tapped on Li Yiming’s shoulder with the file folder.
“Mom, it’s all real, but I need to head out.” Liu Meng quickly made for the exit with Li Yiming close behind.
“Where are you going? We’re eating soon!” Liu Meng’s mother asked, but Li Yiming and Liu Meng were long gone.
A flash of purple light was seen the moment the two walked into the stairs. They appeared a second later ten thousand meters in the air, holding their hands closely together as they stared above.
During that time, Li Huaibei had finally woken up from his drunkenness. The scent of wine he carried was quickly burned away as he picked up his sword, and his eyes lit up with a light that was just like those of the stars in the night sky.
As for Fang Shui’er, she was in the middle of an interview. Halfway through a question, she suddenly stopped talking and looked up at the sky. When the host and the audience looked up, they saw a surreal apparition in the sky — nine lotus flowers, drawn with a web of light, had appeared in the sky, visible to every single person.
“Wow! It’s so pretty!”
“Quick! Get the cameras! I want all of our camera teams recording this!”
“What happened?” The host resumed his question, but he found Fang Shui’er’s chair to be empty.
After amazement came panic. If anything was learned from Shangbei, it was that these wonderful natural phenomena tended to be a bad omen. After seven days and the disappearing of the lotuses, the authorities and guardians remained completely silent about the subject, despite the still ongoing rumors.
The phenomenon remained a mystery to the public. The guardians themselves did not come out with an explanation, not because they did not have one, but because they did not dare to speak out. From the moment the lotus blossomed, many familiar with the feeling knew that Heavens’ Laws had awakened.
* * *
“Do you know who has been spreading the information?” The president asked Pan Junwei with a sunken countenance.
Recently, a rumor had been circulating that guardians were, in fact, the ones responsible for the disaster in Shangbei. Instead of the noble heroes they had painted themselves to be, they were nothing but selfish individuals who put the world in danger for their own interests. If they were to be completely eliminated, then the supernormal phenomena would surely be put to a stop.
Although the theory had been put out before, it was only now that it began to gain traction, and it seemed like an organization was behind its propaganda.
“What if we use censorship?”
“It’s too late. At this point, it’s only going to prove their point. Besides, if Yun Yiyuan decided to spread this rumor, it’s not going to be so easy for us to shut him up.” Pan Junwei frowned.
This rumor sapped away all of the efforts they had made for establishing a new set of beliefs around the authority and righteousness of guardians. If guardians were not credible, then their teachings would not be either.
Pan Junwei’s worries, however, laid elsewhere. Through a conversation that he had just on the phone with Fang Shui’er, he had learned that the new ruler of Heaven’s Laws was Mr. Kong.
The phone suddenly rang. After exchanging a glance with the president, Pan Junwei picked up. His countenance quickly shifted and he rushed to get his tablet.
“What is it?” The president asked.
“Yun Yiyuan again…” Pan Junwei gave his tablet to the president. On it, the footage of two soldiers being tied to a wooden cart was seen. Exposed to the afternoon sun, they writhed in pain before completely burning to ashes.
“Cruel human experiments. Do not trust the authorities, who are colluding with guardians…” The president almost dropped the computer when he read the headlines.
“Where did you find this?”
“It’s everywhere on the internet.”
The president’s hand shook again. The public’s trust surely must have plummeted upon the release of the video. Even if the authorities were to deny the allegation completely, Yun Yiyuan, who had in his possession a significant amount of data regarding the experiments, could simply release more videos to fuel public outrage.
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