Li Yundong slipped into Apartment 20A, closing the door behind him. Darkness and quietude greeted him at the doorway, a mark of Zi Yuan's absence.
He and Zi Yuan had parted ways shortly after Ruan Hongling left the gazebo. Right before she left, Zi Yuan had asked him for her phone back, saying that she needed it to make some urgent calls. She seemed to be in a hurry to leave too. When he asked her what the problem was, she gave him a cryptic smile and told him that she had to deal with the ramifications of tonight's incident, even more so since it had occurred right in front of so many civilians.
"There is a reason why good Cultivators tend to keep a low profile in the mortal world," Zi Yuan had told him back at the gazebo. "Too much exposure incites challenge, and challenge incites trouble. And trouble, as a general rule, hinders Cultivation."
And he agreed with her completely.
He had learned that lesson the hard way during his pilgrimage to Tibet.
When he asked her afterwards how she was planning to deal with the ramifications, she had kept her answer vague. Apparently, she would "do everything in her power" to prevent the incident from turning into a full-scale media storm. To be honest, he thought that it was a rather futile enterprise, one that was doomed to fail. Like, come on, what could she possible do to shut the mouths of those gossips? Memory-altering spells?
Regardless, Zi Yuan seemed pretty determined about it. She hadn't outright told him, but Li Yundong had a feeling that Zi Yuan blamed herself for tonight's incident.
Li Yundong lowered his backpack onto the floor, then leaned it against the couch. Standing in the middle of the dark living room, he replayed the attack earlier.
He had to be more careful starting from now. Discounting those bouts with Lin Youfa and the robbery attempt by the Yin Yang Sect, this was the first real attempt on his life. And it definitely wouldn't be the last.
With a sigh, he sat down on the floor and folded his legs into a meditative posture. Then, he closed his eyes and tried to meditate.
About a minute later, he opened his eyes with a loud huff. He kicked out his legs and lay down on his back to stare up at the dark ceiling.
He couldn't stop thinking about what happened tonight.
The sword. Zi Yuan said that he was meant to wield the sword, that it was the work of unknown forces, and that the sword was brought to him by powers beyond any of their control.
Even more bizarre was the fact that he remembered seeing his personal god wielding a sword the first time he achieved Ishvara. And it wasn't just the sword either; his personal god was wielding a tessen as well.
And then there was that creepy thing involving his blood.
The sword had absorbed his blood. But why? Why did it do that?
Li Yundong pressed a hand to his neck where the blade had grazed him earlier. The wound had already healed up, so he couldn't feel anything there.
Li Yundong sighed and dropped his hand from his neck. Good thing Zi Yuan had explained to him about the correlation between the Jindan's Aura and the speed of his Qi flow; otherwise, the wound would've triggered the activation of the Jindan's Aura, and they would end up with even more problems on their hands.
Li Yundong sighed and climbed to his feet.
This wouldn't do. He needed answers before he drove himself nuts. There were so many things that he didn't know, too many unknowns surrounding this string of events.
Like hell he was going to sit around and wait for the answers to come to him. He'd been lazy for over a decade, and he was so done with it. This time, he was going to take the initiative to seek out the answers he needed.
He strode towards the sliding door and opened it. At the balcony, he came to a halt. He turned around and stared at his backpack beside the couch. Half a minute later, he sighed. Might as well bring it.
The backpack floated from the couch towards the balcony, and straight into his waiting arms.
After pulling the straps of the backpack over his shoulders, he glanced towards Ruan Hongling's apartment. The lights in the apartment were still on, so Zi Yuan was probably awake.
Gripping the straps on his shoulders to secure his backpack, Li Yundong closed his eyes and waited until he felt his feet levitating off the balcony.
Once he had cleared the railing, he stopped and hovered in the air for a while. He looked up at the sky and kept his gaze there. Much to his relief, he didn't see any storm clouds coming, nor did he hear the sounds of thunder.
Guess this altitude should be okay.
Feeling more confident now, he guided his body forward.
Slowly and steadily, his body drifted through the night air towards the opposite block. Lately, he had begun to wonder about flight speed. Su Chan, Zi Yuan, and Ruan Hongling always seemed to be capable of flying at such high speeds. And their flights were always accompanied by a burst of green light. He wondered why.
Guess he should add two more items to his "questions that he needed answers to" list.
He landed soundlessly on the balcony. The curtains in front of the sliding door were half-drawn, so he could see the inside of the living room. The room was well-lit, and there was a long table set up at a far corner of the living room. Beside the table stood a large floor lamp whose light illuminated the surface of the table.
There were no signs of Zi Yuan.
Li Yundong mobilized his Zhenqi to his Shenting and activated his telescopic vision, zooming in at the table.
The table was neat and uncluttered with a sheet of paper was spread over its center. An ink stone sat on the paper's right-hand side. A small calligraphy brush lay across the pad of the ink stone. The tip of the brush was soaked with ink, so he knew that it had recently been used. Maybe this was where Ruan Hongling had been practicing her calligraphy skills. Then again, Ruan Hongling had gone back to her sect, so it had to be Zi Yuan practicing calligraphy tonight. He zoomed out and tried to open the sliding door.
It was locked.
He knocked on the glass a few times, then waited for a moment for Zi Yuan to show up.
Where is she anyway?
The lights were on, so she was probably in.
He zoomed in on the table, focusing his gaze on the ink stone. Yeah, the ink definitely didn't look dry. He sighed. He should just wait for a while. Maybe she was in the shower or somethi—
He froze when he caught a glimpse of the first two Chinese characters written on the piece of paper: Jindan.
He zoomed in further.
It was some kind of poem. Maybe a psalm?
The Jindan's coming ordains thine fate.
The sound of the first thunder shall complete thine soul.
The mirror shall sunder, for the mortal hath sinned.
The sword cometh! But the true celestial path shall ne'er be severed!
Behold! Behold the ocean of clouds!
Seek! Seek the summit where the elderly awaits thee!
Hearken to me, O Seeker of the Truth!
Forth! On to the great Obelisk, before which the Truth speaketh!
Purge thy envy and free thyself!
Vain is envy! Bitter is its taste!
For fate shall take its course.
Li Yundong zoomed out and stepped to the side behind the curtain. After a few moments, he released the breath that he didn't know he'd been holding.
It was the prophecy. It had to be.
A silhouette moved behind the curtains. Li Yundong stepped to the side again and peered into the living room through the glass.
Zi Yuan was standing at the table now, and she seemed to be running the brush over the pad of the ink stone. A moment later, she raised the brush and bent herself over the table slightly.
Her hand hovered above the paper.
Are there more verses?
Li Yundong zoomed in once more and waited for the brush to move.
Seconds later, it did.
Zi Yuan added another line at the bottom of the paper. It was short line which consisted of only three Chinese characters.
It wasn't another verse. It was a name.
Wang Yuanshan... He'd never heard of the name before, but he'd guess that it was the name of Zi Yuan's master.
The brush was moving again.
Another name was added onto the paper, right beside Wang Yuanshan's name: Li Yundong.