Book 3 Chapter 12 - Sudden Change
Original and most updated translations are from volare. Please don't read elsewhere and stop supporting theft.
Li Yiming took back his unfinished sesame cake from Liu Meng and searched for the coin he put away in his pocket. He used his focus to inspect the object, and, a second later, his sesame cake fell to the ground.
“What is it?” Liu Meng asked, a little concerned.
“I think we’ve found a treasure,” said Li Yiming with a vacant stare.
He did not have time to check earlier, but he could finally analyze the information about the bronze coin now. “Dao equipment. Technique included: Thunderous Strike. One-use thunder-type attack activated by focus. Empties the user’s available energy into one single strike. The more energy available, the stronger the attack.”
This was perhaps completely useless for other guardians, but, for Li Yiming, the technique included within the bronze coin was nothing short of a dream come true. Although he had reached level four in spell, he did not know any techniques, and, unlike the other guardians, he also did not have his own talent. With this coin, his vein would no longer be wasted. This would be his last resort in a dire situation.
“Is it really strong?” Liu Meng was rather excited.
“I love you so much,” Li Yiming said earnestly when he remembered that it was Liu Meng’s idea to come to the antique market.
“Ah, stop it!” Liu Meng blushed and smiled. Li Yiming found himself once again drowned in Liu Meng’s loving features; the gentleness of her brows warmed him like a gust of wind in the sunny spring; her scarlet lips reminded him of the fiery fire of love; and her shyness, just like the rainfall after a long drought in the winter, brought life and charm to it all. For a moment, Li Yiming completely forgot about the bronze coin.
* * *
Li Huaibei calmly stood on the rooftop of a skyscraper, casting down a sharp look at the city of Shangbei below. His stare pierced through the skyscrapers and the buildings in the distance until it reached a red-haired young man who was chit-chatting with the shopkeeper of a newspaper stand. The young man had a cigarette between his ear and his head and a piercing on his lower lip. Together with the metallic spikes on his shirt and his spiky hair, which was dyed red, he looked like someone who had just dropped out of high school. However, upon closer inspection, one would notice that the young man would be quite handsome if he was to change his attire and improve his style.
The young man was busy joking with the middle-aged woman about the female celebrities that were on the cover of the magazines, about which one was the most attractive, and which picture was the most provocative one. His remarks made the woman, already in her fifties, laugh incessantly as the layers of fat on her belly rippled like the surface of a lake. Suddenly, the young man turned his head and threw a glance toward the rooftop of a building in the distance. His eyes had a coldness that should not have belonged to someone of his age, but a moment later, he shrugged his shoulders and continued his conversation.
* * *
Fang Shui’er and Zeng Qian sat in the terrasse of a cafe. The elder sister was talking on the phone. “You’re right Big Beard, they’re coming for us. There's six of them.”
“Seven, to be exact,” Zeng Qian added while sipping her coffee.
“Just hang in there. We’ll take care of it as soon as we’re done dealing with that fox.” The bearded man’s cold voice came through the phone. Fang Shui’er hung up and used the phone’s screen to look at her hair while reaching for her own cup for a sip of her own.
* * *
“Found it. There’s a basement in that house, that’s where the antique collection is hidden. When are we doing it?” Eyeglasses closed his laptop screen and took a bite out of the slice of pizza on the table.
“Let’s plan this out first. We’ll try to minimize the ruckus and act as soon as the opportunity presents itself.” Qing Linglong was busy applying her eyeliner right in front of the dressing stand.
“Stupid Li Yiming. We’re giving him things for free and he doesn’t want it.” Qing Qiaoqiao was curled up on the sofa and was slowly ripping apart the thick telephone repertoire found within the hotel suite. The floor was already covered with paper pieces. Grandma Wang, who meditated on the side, peeked at her and closed her eyes with a repressed smile.
* * *
After an entire morning spent in the antique market district, Li Yiming finally realized how lucky he was to have found the bronze coin right away. Despite their lucky find, they did not find a single item of interest in the hundreds of shops they visited later. Li Yiming rubbed his eyes that had become sore searching in all directions constantly. “Let’s go get something to eat, we’ll go to the north side later.”
“Sure!” Liu Meng was thrilled and seemed to enjoy wandering around with Li Yiming quite a lot.
“I’ve heard that the snacks here are great. Let’s go have a taste of what Shangbei has to offer!” Li Yiming was in a very good mood himself, already content enough to have obtained the bronze coin.
As the two walked side by side, Li Yiming’s fingers grazed Liu Meng’s. The momentary sensation of touching Liu Meng’s hand made Li Yiming’s heart skip a beat: this was completely different from when they were dancing together. Li Yiming kept his eyes straight, but his thoughts were in turmoil. ‘Should I hold her hand, or not… Is she going to hit me if I try?’
Li Yiming was still undecided when he suddenly felt a warmness climb up his fingers: Liu Meng had clasped his fingers tightly between her own. ‘What a joke, is this really happening again? I should be more of a man and make the first move instead.’ Li Yiming thought lowly of himself, but had his smile of a shy teenager betrayed his happiness.
“Yiming, look.” Liu Meng suddenly stopped.
“What?” Li Yiming turned his head and saw Liu Meng stare at the intersection ahead with excitement. It was a busy intersection in the district, and an endless flow of people traversed through it, but what caught Li Yiming’s attention was a boy, about sixteen or seventeen years old, not very tall, with disordered hair and plain clothes standing in the middle of the crowd. He was shy and nervous, and, by the looks of his gestures, he was trying to sell something wrapped in a scarf to the passers-by. However, one could notice, by the expression of defeat he had, that his endeavor was not successful. To sell something on the street like that was something shunned upon nowadays, especially for a boy like that, since others could rightfully assume that the merchandise he had came from a dubious source. No one even bothered to stop for him, and even those who were curious enough to spare the slightest amount of attention for the young boy turned away after an instant.
“Let’s go have a look.” Li Yiming pulled Liu Meng by her hand. His face had reddened and he could feel his own heart thump in his chest, but he was not sure whether it was because of Liu Meng’s hand or the scarf surrounded by a halo of light in the young boy’s hand.
“Hey sir, do you want to buy a bracelet?” The boy asked shyly when he saw Li Yiming in front of him. Liu Meng’s beauty made him even more reserved.
The object wrapped in the scarf was a jade bracelet. The crystalline stone had a beautiful color and seemed to be of the highest quality, but there were three spots where the jade was surrounded by a layer of gold. The gold itself was decently sculpted, but, most likely due to age, the pattern was a little worn out and even seemed somewhat dirty.
“How much is it?” Li Yiming asked after examining the object carefully. A faint halo of light surrounded the accessory, but it was, without doubt, a guardian’s equipment. Li Yiming’s main concern was now its price. By the looks of it, the price would certainly not be a small sum, and, if it was out of his means, he would have to consider a different way to “acquire” it.
“Ten… twenty thousand,” The boy said hesitantly.
“Ten or twenty thousand?” Liu Meng came closer Li Yiming. It was better that she handled things like that.
“Twenty, no bargaining.” The boy said after gritting his teeth.
‘Twenty thousand…’ The price was not unreasonable, or at least a lot lower than what Li Yiming had thought. Li Yiming was worried about an outrageous price like hundreds of thousands or even millions. As to whether the item was authentic or not, this was not Li Yiming’s concern, since there was no way to fake that halo of light. ‘Well, even if it’s fake, I doubt anything will beat this four yuan bronze coin…’
“You want twenty thousand for the bracelet?” Liu Meng frowned. “The gold is for reparation, isn’t it? The bracelet must have been shattered.”
“I, I don’t know, but the bracelet was given to me by my grandmother, and it’s been my family’s heirloom for a long time, so it must be an antique.” The boy seemed a little nervous, since Li Yiming was the first person of the day who actually bothered to ask him about the price.
“I think the bracelet has been broken into three pieces and repaired using gold. Judging by the looks of it, the thickness and the quality of the gold has a lot left to be desired,” Liu Meng made a reasonable guess about the state of the item and tried the best she could to make the boy lower his price.
“But it’s really an antique! My grandmother left it as a treasure of the family.” The boy’s eyes turned red, and he seemed very worried by the fact that he was not going to be able to sell his bracelet for the intended price.
“You want twenty thousand for this thing?” Someone else overheard the conversation and asked in curiosity.
“Yes, twenty thousand and I won’t bargain.” The boy regained some of his confidence when someone else asked him about his ware.
The man stopped to examine the bracelet the boy was selling and took a step back with a smile. This was common decency for antique deals: one would not interfere while two other parties bargained, but the man had an obvious smile of waiting for something interesting to happen instead of someone genuinely interested by the bracelet.
“Why are you selling it if it’s been passed down in the family?” Li Yiming’s heart was touched by the boy’s pitiful look. He reached for Liu Meng’s fingers and signaled her.
“My, my mother was caught in a car accident, and I don’t have enough money to save her.” Tears seeped out of the boy’s eyes as he explained, and his hands, which until now held onto the scarf tightly, trembled.
“Car accident? What about the person who did it?”
“He ran away.” The boy bit his lips. Anger flashed through his teary eyes.
“What’s your name?” Li Yiming asked with a gentle voice. He looked at the boy standing in front of him; he was angry, anxious, stubborn and perhaps more than anything, helpless. His story moved Li Yiming enough to make him throw a slightly reproachful glance at Liu Meng for pushing him so. Even after a few adventures of life and death and becoming a guardian, Li Yiming was, at his core, someone who had a romantic mind.
“Alright, Yang He, we’ll buy your bracelet.” Liu Meng was a little upset at being looked at like that. ‘That’s an old, rotten story if I’ve ever heard one. Do they even do things like that in K-dramas?’ But, given the value of the item as a guardian equipment, she decided not to dwell on it further.
“You’re buying it?” Yang He smiled and quickly wiped away his tears.
“Yes. Are you okay with transfers or do you need cash?” Li Yiming answered the boy’s smile with a smile of his own. He caressed the back of Liu Meng’s hand, and, although she moved her arm around a bit to evade him, she did not retract her arm. 
“Transfers are fine.” The boy took out his cellphone merrily.
“You’re buying it for real?” The onlooker was very surprised. The bracelet itself looked fine and would have actually been worth that price if it had not been broken and repaired. However, in its current mended state, even with its age, unless there were special circumstances, there would be no way that the item would be worth such a price. ‘The damage on the gold pattern too… Well, these two are idiots.’
Not only him, a few other people who had stopped in their tracks to look at the transaction as it happened sighed at Li Yiming’s ostensible stupidity. Some even wondered about whether it was possible for them to sell something unworthy of its price to Li Yiming, since he seemed like the obvious idiot who was rich enough to pay to boost his ego in front of his girlfriend.
“How much money do you have?” Li Yiming asked Liu Meng. He himself did not have enough.
“About thirty thousand.” Liu Meng made the count inside of her head.
“Lend it to me.”
“All of it?”
Liu Meng took out her cell phone and prepared to make the transfer. Li Yiming, likewise, took out his own to receive the payment. It was harder to operate their phones with one hand, especially for Li Yiming, with his brick-sized phone. However, both did not want to let go of each other’s hand.
“What’s your account number?” Li Yiming moved his sore thumb around after receiving the money from Liu Meng.
Yang He spelled out a string of number with eager anticipation.
“Here’s thirty-five thousand. Just confirm to make sure that you received it.” Li Yiming inputted the boy’s account number and the amount of money. Liu Meng had given him thirty thousand and he had about seven thousand on his card. ‘Oh, looks like we’re going to have to rob someone tonight.’
“Thirty-five thousand?” The boy was beyond surprised, and even Liu Meng herself was baffled. However, the boy was quick to see the number on his phone. “But… I was selling it for twenty…” said the boy in an incredulous voice.
“It’s okay, just keep the rest for your mom’s injuries. Can I have the bracelet now?” Li Yiming smiled to the boy. The heartwarming feeling of doing something altruistic satisfied him greatly.
“Thank you, you’re a good man.” The boy’s eyes filled up with tears once again, and he gave the bracelet to Li Yiming with shaking arms.
“You should go. Your mother is still waiting for you.” Li Yiming looked up at the sky and suddenly felt that he himself had become much taller than he really was.
“Thank you, I’ll remember you forever.” The boy looked at his cellphone once again to confirm and quickly ran away.
“You…” Liu Meng hesitated.
“I think we should do what we can, it’s easy for us anyways.” Li Yiming rubbed on the bracelet with his finger and used his focus to inspect the item. “Level one virus purification.” The information about the bracelet reached his mind. It was a rather useless ability, but Li Yiming did not regret his act in the slightest. There were twenty-nine days left in the domain, and he did not even know whether he was going to get out of here alive, so he might as well as do as much good as he can.
Liu Meng shrugged her shoulders and smiled sweetly. ‘This is the Li Yiming I know.’
The people around him remained speechless. They would have laughed at his stupidity if he had really spent twenty thousand yuan on a broken husk, but add fifteen thousand and it became charity more than anything. If Li Yiming himself did not mind, who were they to laugh at him or be against it?
“Hey, young man, can I have a look at your bracelet?”
Li Yiming entering junior high mode... And one of the most interesting developments (in my opinion) so far, soon to come!