Yan Sanniang felt an abrupt chill down her spine. Just a moment ago this child Yang Chen had sincerity in his eyes, but now he looks like a different person. His facial expression shows only deception and sinister intentions now.
“What is it that you want to ask, Young Master Chen? I’d be willing to share anything I know.” Yan Sanniang on the other hand was straightforward with her approach. After all she had lived long enough to be able to read one’s intentions.
Yang Chen paused for a moment, and asked, “Grandma Yan, with your impressive prowess you must have overcome the bottleneck on the peak of Xiantian Full Cycle to be able to break through the next level. I just want to know about the bottleneck. How do I break through it?”
Yan Sanniang was about to speak, but Yang Chen interrupted by raising his hand to stop her.
“I must admit that I know what you’re going to say. You’re going to say there’s no set method of breaking through to my level of prowess, right?”
Yan Sanniang nodded and gave a satisfied smile. “Not bad. That’s exactly it.”
Bloody hell! Not this goddamn line again! Back then it was that drunkard Song Tianxing who said the same thing, and had me end up nearly dying before I understood the ninth level of Endless Resolve Restoration Scripture—Rebirth, and this hag Yan Sanniang who has the exact line up her sleeve! Does everyone in that level all practice the same catchphrase?
As he thought that, Yang Chen giggled and said, “I wouldn’t expect any solutions from you Grandma Yan, but I was thinking, since it’s not everyday that I get to meet a master like you, would you care to share a little on how you managed to accomplish it? I understand that everyone needs different insights, but your insight might just give me that starting point I need!”
Yan Sanniang was left muted. She did not expect Yang Chen to be interested in knowing these things. All she knew deep down were that insights were after all abstract and barely describable. What would be the point of sharing them?
But when she saw Yang Chen’s hopeful look, Yan Sanniang fell into deep thought again.
It came naturally to her that Yang Chen knew by now that the path to breaking through was not something that could be forced. But seeing how he was still stubbornly eager to know something, he must be trying to improve his prowess to a point where he could overcome his fear of Hongmeng.
However, she also wished for Yang Chen to be able to defend himself, especially after finding out just moments ago that the kid from the Lu clan had been assassinated. Even if Yang Chen wasn’t the one to step into the muddy waters of this case, someone would find trouble with Yang Chen nevertheless. If Yang Chen was to be able to leap past that stage, even someone from Hongmeng wouldn’t be able to touch him.
But, how am I supposed to help him?
Yang Chen noticed Yan Sanniang in deep thought and decided to silently wait for her reply.
The two of them just stood there in the empty meadows as light breezes blew through, bringing with it a refreshing chill. Meanwhile a huge rumble could be heard from the airport in a distance.
After some time Yan Sanniang abruptly looked up and paused momentarily before she lifted her finger and drew an arc around where Yang Chen was standing.
Shocked, Yang Chen was mesmerized as he watched Yan Sanniang draw a circle around him with no clue what power she was using.
The circle was made by flattening the surrounding grass, with Yang Chen looking around rigorously from within.
But she was not done. She used the same figure and started a new stroke.
Not too far from Yang Chen, an identical circle was drawn on the grass patches.
Yan Sanniang stopped, as she frowned and said, “Young Master Chen, the most this old lady can do is this.”
Yang Chen’s mouth twitched. Aren’t you just trolling me?!
You think you’re like Old Man Deng, don’t you? All you did was draw an extra circle, one surrounding me and the other isn’t. Now you’re telling me you’re done?!
Then again your circle drawing is amazing. But I don’t feel any special or Qi disturbances at all!
Yan Sanniang seemed to know that Yang Chen was lost as she shook her head in disappointment. “To be frank with you, these 2 circles are the best way of expressing my insights to you. Honestly, I’m not quite sure outside of these two circles how to explain it to you verbally.
“Young Master Chen, my old self cannot guarantee that these 2 circles would do you any good, but if you really cannot spot the anomaly from it then I guess you can consider me foolish for trying. Sigh…”
Yang Chen was almost going to cry. Please don’t sigh, you’re only making me feel hopeless…
Yan Sanniang glanced right at the look on Yang Chen’s depressed face and felt that it was no longer appropriate to stay. “Young Master Chen, if you have the time, do return to Beijing to visit the master. He misses you dearly. Any conflicts or misunderstandings between you both should not stand in the way of your familial relations. This old self here would love to see the day where you can come back to your roots. Farewell.”
After she was done talking, Yan Sanniang vanished into the air without waiting for a reply from Yang Chen.
Yang Chen felt terrible that instant, even if he had the experience of overcoming the Life and Death and Rebirth stages of the Endless Resolve Restoration Scripture, he knew that any further advancement he made would be a qualitative boost.
Every new stage comprehended was markedly different from the previous.
Just by witnessing how Yan Sanniang could come and go as she pleased without him sensing it in the slightest, shook Yang Chen up quite a bit.
He decided not to overthink it and glanced down at the ring of more than a metre in diameter encircling him as well as the other seemingly identical circle with furrowed brows.
Two circles? What could this possibly mean?
Back at the Lin residence in Guo Xuehua’s room on the 2nd floor, the atmosphere was tense and uptight.
Guo Xuehua had just awoken and was sitting by the bench. She stared blankly into the air, her pupils red and face fatigued.
Next to her was the distressed and worried An Xin, standing silently next to her bench, still as a sculpture.
That moment, Wang Ma came through the door with a glass of water, walked towards Guo Xuehua and passed her the glass. “Xuehua, have some warm water. It will help you calm down. I’m sure Young Master is fine.”
Even though there was an age gap between Wang Ma and Guo Xuehua, the times that they had spent together allowed them to gradually develop a sense of sisterly kinship. They were even on a first-name basis.
When An Xin, Wang Jie, and Zhao Teng sent Guo Xuehua back home, Wang Ma was significantly stunned at the turn of events. It was not until An Xin briefed her about them that she found out about the monstrous problems that had occurred. If it wasn't for the experiences in her youth, she would have been greatly affected.
Guo Xuehua forced herself to receive the glass and smiled bitterly. “Yulan, you know too well how much Yang Chen means to me, and I have no idea how he’s doing now. What if something really happened, the aftermath… I don’t even want to think about it!”
Wang Ma was not too informed about such high-level disputes and felt only pity for Guo Xuehua, hoping to find a way to convince her to stop overthinking. She was confident that there must be a way that things could turn for the better.
Right this instant, Guo Xuehua’s phone rang, much to her surprise. She instantly went over and picked it up, only to discover Yang Jieyu on the other side of the line.
“Hey Jieyu, how’s Yang Chen?” Guo Xuehua urgently asked with no time to spare, with her usual gentle and elegant self nowhere to be seen.
Yang Jieyu curtly said, “Sister-In-Law, everything has changed and it’s not for the better. The good news is that rascal Yang Chen didn’t make it to the airport and didn’t manage to kill Lu Min… but we have bad news—Lu Min still ended up assassinated!”
“What?!” Guo Xuehua blankly stood there, not too sure what to make of this situation.
Yang Jieyu explained, “I also just recently found out from the informants in the Yuan clan that Lu Min died of poisoning at the airport. I heard that the poison might very likely be a specially synthesized poison serum used only by a certain group of international spies. Wei and I were guessing that the perpetrator was targeting Yang Chen. Even though Yang Chen didn’t make it to the airport, many will know that he’s the most likely perpetrator given the method used to kill Lu Min.”
“How did it turn out like that…” Guo Xuehua was distraught. To know that her son was fine was relieving, but she also found out that Yang Chen was framed by others. Her mood took a nosedive once again.
An Xin saw the look on Guo Xuehua’s dispirited face and tried to subdue her fear. She grit her teeth and went up to hold Guo Xuehua’s hand. With her bright eyes looking straight at Guo Xuehua, she said, “Aunt, you must stay strong. Yang Chen’s so amazing and he’ll definitely be fine.”
Though her words were but hollow, Guo Xuehua looked like that was exactly what she needed to hear at that moment.
She lifted her head and finally reached her hand out to gently pat An Xin on the back. With a smile, she said, “Thank you, An Xin.”
Wang Ma watched speechlessly from the side. There was a hint of concern in her eyes.
Yet another outstanding young lady. When will the lady of this house become like these girls and get along with their mother-in-law? thought Wang Ma.
All of a sudden, the thunderous boom shattered the overcast sky.
The clouds had filled the skies since early morning. Finally, the rain started to pour.
At the abandoned meadow near the airport, the symphony of pouring rain and the abrupt thunder gave the scene an eerie ambience.
A ray of indigo-violet light sliced through the sky, splitting the storm clouds into half.
A faint light shone on the person who sat lazily on the ground.
Yang Chen was just casually sitting on the meadow as the rain mercilessly poured down on him, on his hair, his clothes, and his face.
He could have used his abilities to stop the rain from reaching him, but he didn’t. More like, he forgot.
Right after Yan Sanniang left, Yang Chen settled down on the meadow. Now that Lu Min was dead, he didn’t know what else to do. So he sat down and started to ponder on the two circles and their meanings.
It had been quite some time since he thought about training, but not everything would go out of touch after not using it for a long time. Yang Chen still had the ability to analyze insights.
He immediately went into deep concentration, shutting out all stimulus from the outside world. He willed for the thunder, the rain and his wet body to become non existent in his mind.
In the mind of Yang Chen was the two circles from before, nothing else.
“Inside the circle… Outside the circle…”
Yang Chen persistently mumbled that again and again, seeming like he was trying to remind himself of something.
Time flew but Yang Chen’s expression didn’t change the slightest. He didn’t even blink once.
Yang Chen was deep inside his own mind, while the people at home were anxious and worried.
It remained so all the way from noon, to evening, till night.
The rain eventually stopped. The rhythmic pitter-patter on the roof was juxtaposed against the silence of the house.
Wang Ma made some simple dishes and moved them into the living room, but all she saw were two people staring at the clock on the wall, paying no heed to the food that was served.
Wang Ma quietly observed the two, frowned and shook her head.
Back when they found out that Yang Chen did not make it to the airport, the couple brought Guo Xuehua all around Zhonghai in search for Yang Chen. They had tried but failed to reach his cell. Assuming nothing happened to him, either his phone had been shut down or was drained of power. His Jeep, which was last reported to be in close proximity to the airport, was nowhere to be seen!
It was as if, Yang Chen’s very existence had disappeared into thin air!
Who would have guessed that Yang Chen was just sitting on the abandoned field outside without trying to avoid anyone. Who would have guessed that he was merely lost in his own thoughts?
Later that night, Guo Xuehua snapped out of her daze and saw that An Xin had been waiting alongside her for the return of her son throughout the day. Guo Xuehua felt a sense of pity. Even though the girl’s relationship with her son wasn’t considered a proper one and the fact that this house belonged to her daughter-in-law made Guo Xuehua feel guilty, but her motherly senses refrained her from sending An Xin home this late at night.
“An Xin, it’s past midnight. I know you’re really tired too. Go get some sleep,” Guo Xuehua said with a bitter smile.
An Xin drowsily shook the head. “I’m worried…”
“It’s alright, dear child, you told me to have faith in Yang Chen, didn’t you? You wouldn’t lie to me, would you?” Guo Xuehua sighed lightly as she held An Xin’s soft hands, and said, “Nevermind. Why don’t you follow me upstairs? Yang Chen’s room is vacant now, so sleep in his room tonight. I’m going to get some sleep too, so let’s just rest and hope for the best, alright?”
An Xin found it impossible to reject this time, as Guo Xuehua gave her the permission to sleep in Yang Chen’s room knowing full well of her position as a mistress in the relationship. If she refused this it would go against the care she showed her.
Even though she knew it would be hard for her to fall asleep that night, she still obediently nodded.
Throughout the night, Zhonghai was filled with the Jiangnan scouts who were part of the Yuan clan in search of Yang Chen. But due to the heavy downpour, and the added fact that they had been trying to locate a Jeep, nobody thought of searching in an abandoned field, missing Yang Chen right under their noses.
During daybreak, Yang Chen sat in the middle of the abandoned field and finally decided to halt his thoughts. He was like a sculpture that was solidified for too long. He turned his stiff head around to look at his surroundings and felt the chill from his drenched body, only to realize that it had been raining for the better part of last night. His clothes had partially dried through the long night.
Forcing a laugh, Yang Chen shook of the raindrops from his head. He guessed that he probably looked like a homeless vagrant.
He was stuck deep in thought, thinking that he could achieve Xiantian Full Cycle and finally break through. For him to be stuck in that state just because of those two circles meant that there must be some sort of secrets to be unfolded.
But right now Yang Chen finally realised that his understanding could not be further from the actual insight. He didn’t manage to understand anything at all.
It felt like a ray of golden light shining through the door creak, but somehow he was not strong enough to force the door open. This just pissed him off greatly.
But no matter how dissatisfied he was, it was useless. He could only accept that the time wasn’t right, and for now all he could do was go home, draw himself a warm bath and fetch a new set of clothes.
Right at that moment however, Yang Chen’s focus got caught up by a slight bulge on the grass…
That was a pit built by a colony of black ants. It might look like a small protruding pile of sand from above, but underneath it lied an expanding networks of interconnected tunnels, in which the ants moved in and out from day to day, transporting food.
This nest of ants was obviously here all this while. Yang Chen just failed to notice it.
As a consequence to the downpour the night before, a large portion of the ant pit had been severely wrecked, flooding the interior, leaving the ants with nowhere to stay. They circled the bulge of soil they once called home. With their habitat devastated, they were now presumably contemplating to rebuild their homeland or wait for the weather to clear and the ground to dry before deciding what to do next.
What seemed like an ordinary occurrence for the ants, hit Yang Chen’s mind like a truck. He was mind blown!
“Inside the circle and outside it… Ants… and their colony…” Yang Chen mumbled once again as his once dull pupils shone like the brightest stars in the night sky!