Chapter 24 - Denunciation
“Death to him! Death to him!” The crowd chanted as Ying Mei finished reciting the list denouncing Li Yiming’s crimes:
“Mistakes evil for ability, and inflicts injury on others; defames the virtuous, and behind their backs, slanders his ruler or his parents; does not distinguish right from wrong, and turns his back on those whom he should befriend; treats and punishes a trivial matter as though it is important and on seeing an execution adds to its suffering; ambitiously seeks power, and ruins others in seeking success; sells and buys empty glory, but conceals treachery in his heart; when in power, persecutes and coerces, and even violently kills and maims; violently seizes things or makes demands, who enjoys fraud and theft; tempts the masses with lies and polluted their minds; holds the heavens in derision and the rules in contempt.”
Many of the crimes announced deserved death, some of which the public were not even aware of. The protesting crowd’s fury reached its climax as Ying Mei finished her speech.
“What is she up to? How is this going to make Li Yiming come out?” Qing Qiaoqiao asked in confusion. Although an arrest warrant had been made public for Li Yiming, she could not imagine how it would lure him out.
“It’s psychological warfare. She’s forcing him to come out and confront her here,” Qing Linglong said.
“Li Yiming has always been one to care for the entire world. He’s strong enough to take care of himself, that’s for sure, but what if the world abandons him?”
“She’s going to destroy Li Yiming’s beliefs,” Big Beard concluded.
“The world wants Li Yiming dead now. You could say that even Heaven’s Laws want him dead. If a fight erupts, the other guardians will not be able to help him. Li Yiming will be alone,” Qing Linglong said as she observed the guardians within the crowd, most of whom seemed to be observing the scene indifferently.
“This makes no sense though. It would be impossible for Yun Yiyuan and Ying Mei to win against Li Yiming and Liu Meng!” Eyeglasses exclaimed.
“She must have something else prepared. Wait, what’s that?” Qing Qiaoqiao noticed a small group of people climbing to the stage. They started roaring with anger as soon as they got the chance to speak on the microphone.
“Li Yiming, you animal! You killed my son!”
“Li Yiming, you murdered my husband!”
“Li Yiming, you deserve to die!”
Most of the people on stage were relatives or friends of Li Yiming’s victims from Yunyu Corporation, the Merry Couple Gang, or simply paid actors. Ying Mei, with a smile, went on to introduce each candidate and emphasized how Li Yiming had shattered their former lives. The stories told on stage stirred the emotions of the crowd, causing the people to cry for their lost loved ones, cries which soon turned to cursing and chanting.
“We also have a special guest today,” Ying Mei announced as the crowd slowly regained their composure.
With her signalling, the group of people on stage suddenly retreated in an orderly and calm fashion, which would have been a strange observation to the calm observer. However, the crowd was nothing but a kettle of raw emotion ready to explode.
After the relatives came a single middle-aged woman, who stood on the stage with a face that showed no emotion.
“Coward!” Big Beard spat out. If Eyeglasses was not holding him back, he would have rushed to the stage himself.
“This is the mother of Li Yiming’s fiance,” Ying Mei revealed, and the crowd immediately went to an uproar.
“Li Yiming, you liar!” The woman suddenly fell to her knees and screamed at the top of her lungs.
“Give my daughter back… Give my daughter back…” Liu Meng’s mother repeated, as the last few days were nothing short of an emotional shock to her. Her joy at seeing Liu Meng return safe and sound and her surprise at discovering that her daughter was engaged to a successful young man were all shattered the moment she learned the truth about Li Yiming.
“Mom…” Liu Meng’s voice was suddenly heard as she appeared on stage in her black silk robe.
“My daughter… Honey! Come home, let’s just go home, okay? I need you to be with me. You’re the only one I have left…” Liu Meng’s mother jumped up in surprise and repeated over and over.
“Mom… It’s not how you think it is…” Liu Meng started to tear up.
“Come home… come home…” Liu Meng’s mother kept repeating the same words as she tried to drag her daughter down the stage. Liu Meng had no choice but to put her to sleep by giving a light tap in the forehead.
“So you’ve all heard it. This is Liu Meng, Li Yiming’s fiance,” Unfazed by Liu Meng’s cold gaze, Ying Mei continued her speech and continued stirring up the crowd’s emotions.
“Liu Meng, have you heard your mother’s words? Are you still going to protect him?” Ying Mei asked.
“I’m going to be his wife. If he wants to dedicate himself to his work, then I’ll keep his home clean and tidy. If he wants to retreat back to the mountains, then I’ll work on the land and weave clothes for him. If he wants to save the world, then I’ll risk it all for him. If he wants to see all of you dead… then I will make sure that only ashes remain,” Liu Meng’s last statement chilled the bones of the protesters like a bucket of icy water. Only now did they realize that a demon that has slaughtered millions would have no problem adding a few hundred thousand more to the list.
One person in the crowd began crying when he heard Liu Meng’s statement. It was Wu Jia, who was crying tears of happiness for the love that she was not able to have. “No wonder you didn’t answer my feelings…”
“Wow… This is love…” Shao Xian said as she leaned against Sai Gao, the two having just walked out from the local city hall with their certificate.
“Do you envy her?”
“Well, you’ll need a man first.” Sai Gao shrugged his shoulders and pulled on his silk lace.
“Your son is a lucky man.” Li Huaibei complimented Li Yiming’s parents, who were standing right next to him.
“My son, he…” Li Yiming’s father asked worriedly.
“He’s a hero who saved the world,” Li Huaibei said before casting a spell to bring Li Yiming’s parents to somewhere safe.
"Ahahaha! Did you hear her words? This how Li Yiming and all guardians think of you!” Ying Mei roared in laughter.
“Li Yiming, are you really going to hide and cower behind the skirts of your fiance?” Ying Mei yelled out.
Right as Ying Mei finished her sentence, Li Yiming appeared on stage with a flash of purple light.
“So you’re here…” Ying Mei’s lips curled up.
“That’s him?” Most of the people in the crowd had difficulty believing that the young man possessing delicate features and a calm demeanor was a merciless butcher.
“You monster, give my son’s life back!” An angry scream was heard from the crowd.
“Them again…” Qing Linglong squinted. At this point, she was sure that the “family members” were most likely paid to cause a commotion.
“Pay with your blood!”
Once again, all rationality and composure were quickly lost as the crowd turned into a gathering of savages full of fuming emotions.
“So, what’s your answer, Li Yiming?” Ying Mei asked.
“Just like you, I’ve wondered about the role guardians should play in the world. I used to think that we exist to purge the evil desires from this world, but I often forget that human nature is not complete without its dark side. Just as there is compassion, love, and solidarity, there is greed, jealousy, and violence. How can gods exist without demons?”
Li Yiming explained calmly, but his voice reached the ears of every single person. The crowd did not seem to understand the meaning of his words, but his speech was certainly an epiphany for the guardians among them.
“I say, we should simply fight for what we trust in. I owe nothing to the Heavens or to this world. If disaster comes one day, I’ll be here, fighting to stay alive and to keep those who have faith in me alive. If you want to take my life, then I challenge you to do it.”