Darkness greeted Li Yundong the moment he stepped into the apartment. "Princess, I'm home," he hollered, shutting the door behind him. He stood at the door, waiting for an answer. There was none, only the echoes of his own voice.
He moved away from the door and stopped beside the couch. The TV was turned off and the remote was lying on the couch. "Princess?"
Had she gone to bed already? Li Yundong frowned and padded into the kitchen. That made no sense; it wasn't her bedtime yet. It was only 9 PM when President Yin dropped him off.
Li Yundong placed the bag of takeout boxes on the dining table, then walked over to the fridge. Most of the food in the fridge was gone, which meant that Su Chan most likely had her dinner already. He placed the two cups of ice-cream beside the Greek yogurt tub before shutting the fridge.
A slow smile spread across Li Yundong's face. "Su Chan… You can come out now, you know. I know you're trying to scare me. It won't work." His smile grew wider when he remembered the last time she had tried to sneak up on him. They were still staying at their old apartment back then. She tried to scare him while he was cooking in the kitchen but got startled by him instead.
"Come on, Su Chan… Enough games. Come out and eat! I've bought supper!" he yelled, fully expecting to hear the pitter-patter of Su Chan's footsteps as soon as those words left his mouth. Food always worked on Su Chan. Always.
Not this time, apparently.
Seconds turned into minutes. Still, there were no signs of his princess. A sinking sensation formed at the pit of his stomach. Where the hell is she? He left the kitchen and headed for her room. He knocked on her door a few times. When he didn't get an answer, he tried the door knob and found that the door was unlocked. Su Chan's scent assaulted his nostril the moment he pushed the door open. He walked in and came to a halt when his eyes landed on the empty bed. The sinking sensation grew.
"Come on, Su Chan… Quit messing around!" Li Yundong yanked open her wardrobe, half-expecting to see Su Chan pouncing on him or tackling him to the floor. However, instead of a beautiful girl with childlike innocence, he was greeted by the sight of dresses and blouses—an entire row of them, hung neatly on hangers.
If this was her idea of scaring him, it was working. It was f*cking working.
He slammed the wardrobe shut and glanced around frantically. He hurried towards the corner of the bedroom and drew the curtains apart. Light from the city trickled in, highlighting the evidence of Su Chan's absence: the neatly-made bed; her pajamas hanging on the clothes rack.
He unlocked the sliding door, then poked his head out. No signs of Su Chan on the balcony either. "F*ck… Where is she?" he muttered. He shut the sliding door, then leaned his back against it. Maybe she's in the bathroom...
The thought had him scurrying out of the bedroom. Moments later, he stood outside the bathroom with his heart in his throat. He'd checked both bathrooms and came up empty.
What if she left the apartment to look for him? He ran back into the kitchen and then grabbed his phone from the kitchen counter. With shaky hands, he switched on his phone. The phone pinged with dozens of missed call notifications, thanks to his "fans." He ignored the notifications and dialed Su Chan's number instead. Horror filled his chest when Su Chan's ringtone drifted into the kitchen. He exited the kitchen, following the sound of the ringtone.
A soft glow lit up a corner of the living room near the curtains. No… No… F*ck… No… He bent down and picked up Su Chan's phone from the floor. The back cover was a little loose, and there was a chip on the phone's edge.
Something must have happened here. Was Su Chan attacked? He glanced around like a maniac, looking for any signs of a struggle or forced entry. But the living room was immaculate. Nothing seemed out of place. So why would she drop her phone here? And where the hell is she?
Li Yundong got to his feet and started pacing the living room. Alright man… Calm down and think… Suppose that Su Chan was indeed attacked. And right now, he couldn't find her anywhere inside the apartment. What did that imply? Obviously, Su Chan was no longer inside the apartment, so either she had managed to escape from the apartment, or someone had kidnapped her. He prayed that it was the former. He prayed and prayed as he moved past the living room towards the front door. His throat constricted the moment he checked the shoe rack.
Su Chan's shoe was still there, which meant she hadn't escaped. She'd been taken. Someone came into the apartment and took her. The intruder must have knocked her out because there were no signs of a struggle. That must also be why Su Chan dropped her phone. A swish sounded above him, throwing Li Yundong into high alert. He'd heard that noise before, like someone waving a flag or a piece of cloth.
Who indeed? Lin Youfa? Those Zhengyi wackos?
Another swish. This time it came from the kitchen. Li Yundong eyed the door of the apartment. Should he make a run for it? Okay, say he managed to get out of the apartment. And then what? Go to the police and report Su Chan missing? That thought made him sick to the stomach.
Again, another swish. The bathroom! Without ado, Li Yundong charged towards the bathroom—the one beside Su Chan's room—and slammed the door shut before locking the door from the outside.
Got you now, you son of a bitch…
"Where is she?" Li Yundong yelled from outside the bathroom. "Where the hell did you take her? I know you—"
Wait a minute… Wait a f*cking minute…
Li Yundong backed away from the bathroom and hurried back into the living room. If the intruder had succeeded in kidnapping Su Chan, why would they still be here lurking around in the apartment? Hope kindled inside Li Yundong. The intruder is still here. Which means… Su Chan might still be hiding inside the apartment. Li Yundong moved his Qi to his Shenting and walked to a spot in the living room where he knew would put him right at the center of the entire apartment.
When the familiar buzzing returned to his ears, Li Yundong began to sort through the ambient noise. The noises from the neighborhood were muffled since all the sliding doors were closed. If he heard anything at all, it would most like come from inside the apartment.
Clock ticking… the fridge's humming… Come on, princess… make some noise… Water dripping… That goddamn swishing sound again… His own breathing… Come on…
Then he heard it. A whimper. He focused harder and isolated that noise from the rest. Oh God…
Li Yundong charged into his bedroom and yanked open the door of his wardrobe. Su Chan's limp figure fell out and collapsed into his arms. Her face was pale and her forehead was covered in sweat. She was barely breathing.
Li Yundong's mind was racing. Never in his life had he felt so terrified. His heart was beating so rapidly that it was like his chest could burst open any second. Cradling Su Chan in his arms, he ran out of his room and placed Su Chan on the couch. Hang on, princess. Please hang on… With all the haste he could muster, he opened the living room's sliding door and hurried back to the couch.
Then, he picked up Su Chan's limp form and placed her on the floor, where he got her into a meditative posture. Using his knees to keep her body upright, he pressed his fingers on Su Chan's head and performed the Three-Pronged Flower Gathering technique. Barely a minute into the massage, Su Chan whimpered and slumped sideways to the floor. Li Yundong dropped to his knees and tried to help her into a sitting position again. Su Chan groaned.
"Shh… Hold still, I'm not done yet," he whispered.
Su Chan pushed his hands away. "No…" she said weakly. "R- Run… Leave me…"
"Don't be silly!" he growled. "I'm not f*cking leaving you."
There was that annoying swish again. What the f*ck? Li Yundong's gaze snapped to the bathroom, whose door was still closed. "How the hell did it…"
Li Yundong's body skidded along the floor after Su Chan shoved him away. The explosiveness and strength behind that shove took him by complete surprise. Before he could react, Su Chan's body flew across the living room and crashed into the wall at the far end.
"No!" Li Yundong was up on his feet in an instant. When he reached the wall, Su Chan was coughing and struggling to sit up.
"Su Chan… Are you alright? Tell me where it hurts?"
Su Chan shook her head weakly. "E- Eyes… on… t- the… the enemy…"
Li Yundong rose to his feet, making sure to put his body in front of Su Chan. What the f*ck happened? Something had clearly struck Su Chan, but he didn't see anything just now. It was like some kind of invisible force had rammed into Su Chan. And what the f*ck was causing that swishing noise? I thought I'd trapped it inside the bathroom… Could there be more than one intruder?
Get out. They had to get out of the apartment first.
Li Yundong crouched down and picked up Su Chan's body from the floor, then made a dash towards the front door.
"You're not going anywhere, you demon witch!"
All of a sudden, Su Chan's body was ripped away from his arms. Next thing he knew, he was falling forward as though he had tripped over some kind of invisible object. Light exploded behind his eyes when the back of his head smashed into the wall.
By the time Li Yundong climbed back to his feet, Su Chan's body was floating in midair, her arms dangling limply from her shoulders. Long strands of her dark tresses hung down vertically like a dark waterfall around her head.
A ball of heat formed inside Li Yundong's lower belly. "Let. Her. Go!"
"Stay out of this, you filthy man! My business is with this demon witch, not you. And if you get in my way, I'll destroy you too!"
Li Yundong growled. "Give her back!" Li Yundong jumped forward and activated Xianjue at the same time. Su Chan's body drifted to his left, just like he'd predicted. He wrapped his arms around Su Chan's waist and yanked her towards him with all his strength. A loud swish sounded and Su Chan was once again back in his arms.
He placed Su Chan down on the floor and jabbed his finger into her Renzhong. A moment later, Su Chan gasped and blinked her eyes open. The loud swish sounded in three rapid successions, like it was angry.
"You will regret this, you prurient fool!"
The curtains fluttered harshly.
"You have two options," Li Yundong said coldly. "You either show yourself or you get the hell out of our home."
A strong gust of wind ripped through the living room. Then, he saw it. Something materialized in the air slightly below the ceiling. It was a piece of red cloth. No. Not just any cloth, it was a piece of damask, a three-foot-long damask which glowed in a greenish light.
A familiar voice came out from the red damask. "I'm going to say this one last time, demon witch. Hand over the Renyuan Jindan! Or suffer the full wrath of the Zhengyi School!"
"We don't know any Renyuan Jindan," Li Yundong said coldly. "Now get the hell out!"
A contemptuous laugh blared out from the damask. "Another lecherous fool that this demon slut had bewitched…"
Anger flared inside Li Yundong. "Watch your mouth…"
"And now you're about to die for that demon witch. How pathetic."
There was a sudden flash of red light. The red damask whizzed forward like an arrow travelling at the speed of a bullet.