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At night, the street lights were already on, and there were still many buildings shining with light. In the flickering neon, there was a toad in the darkness, motionless as if it was an actual stone carving. Its enormous body was illuminated by the neon light, emitting a kind of bewitching oddness.
This was the scene within Xu Yangyi’s eyes. In the eyes of others, there wasn’t anything here at the top of the building.
“Sir… You are?” The person at the front desk saw Xu Yangyi enter and didn’t obstruct him at all. Xu Yangyi’s police uniform was the best method of passage.
Xu Yangyi raised the official police credentials in his hand. “There’s someone in your company related to the serial-killer case. I need to enter at once.”
“S-Serial-killer case?!” The receptionist’s voice suddenly went high-pitched. In the past month, twelve people had died in a series of bizarre deaths. He’d even heard that cram schools at night had been canceled! Was this true? Was this a real police officer? Was there really a suspect in the building?
Tossing his credentials on the top of the receptionist’s desk, Xu Yangyi wasted no time and headed directly towards the elevator.
Ding dong… The elevator paused on the fifteenth floor. He stopped it precisely and looked around, discovering that the entire level was a conference room. Shareholder conference rooms, conference rooms for all kinds of groups, research conference rooms… His right hand lightly grabbed at the air, placing it before his nose and sniffing. He set foot into the shareholder conference room in certainty.
“Good evening, I’m rather sorry for the disturbance.” Pushing open the door, he slightly bowed in courtesy. “Could you appear in front of me? If you don’t want to die.”
There wasn’t a single soul in the conference room. An artificial bonsai plant could be faintly seen atop a table. Through the branches of the bonsai plant… the massive backdrop of the room’s glass window was visible. Outside, specks of light resembled the resplendent glow of a starry sky, illuminating this unusual night.
No one replied.
“Don’t get excited. I understand your worry. I just want to chat as peacefully and calmly as possible.” He smiled gently and grabbed a chair. Carefully lifting it up, he set it down. There wasn’t even a sound as it fell on the thick carpet. He slowly sat down and gently patted his police uniform. “You’ve been trudging along within human society for so long and finally seized a cooperation opportunity with a well-known company. Otherwise, you’d be worried because a demon’s appearance doesn’t change, and their bodies don’t age. Meanwhile, you’d have to change locations every few years because of your neighbors and classmates’ suspicions. You don’t have to worry about where to eat, as well. Plus, you’ve got your own stable hunting ground. You can even get a huge bonus. I get it.”
“But… my patience is limited. You see, this is my graduation exam. Can’t we understand each other…? Personally, I’m pretty anxious. When I get anxious, my temper isn’t too great…” He languidly fished out a lighter and lit a cigarette, taking a deep drag from it. He looked around the conference room that was as still as a mortuary, appearing as if he was talking to himself. After waiting three seconds, he laughed, “Now that peace has failed, I’ll use force. My courtesy has been exhausted.”
His face carried a thin, gentle smile as before. He grasped the lighter in his hand, which was now flaring quite a bit, and placed it on the meeting room table before him.
Crackle… The tangerine-yellow flame illuminated the entire room, serving to drape its shimmering, soft evening glow over the room’s corners in the darkness.
In the next second, a strange transformation unexpectedly arose!
What Xu Yangyi had used wasn’t a natural gas lighter, but rather one of the most common types. Just as the clock hand pointed to nine on the dot, the lighter flame suddenly flashed three times. Afterwards… it became as red as blood! On the table… hazy and strange, under the illumination of the flame, a demonic shadow was dragged out!
It wasn’t a man’s, but instead a gigantic toad’s shadow! Swaying gently in the darkness, the creature trembled as it rocked back and forth.
Crackle… In a split second, the formerly gentle flame popped off like a firecracker, akin to a hopping demon! It spewed out a hellish, dim light!
Woo…Woooooo… All the chairs in the room seemed as if people were sitting on them and simultaneously pulled out to the four sides of the room! On a heavy platform, a chair made from real wood boomed deeply as it was pulled out! The sounds resonated within the empty room!
Swish! The window curtains suddenly scattered open! The blowing of the night wind gushed into the room like a breached dam!
“Your patience is shorter than I thought…” Xu Yangyi stowed his lighter, laughing grimly and blowing the flame out. “Speak not of the spent wick but the rootless-water lighter fluid. It’s tasteless and odorless to humans, but to demons, it’s the most disgusting stink, even unbearable to smell. I didn’t think you’d last so long.”
The flame was suddenly extinguished. In a flash, the world returned to the control of darkness. With such an extreme contrast of vision, many people would feel terribly uncomfortable. However… such an unsettling feeling just didn’t fit Xu Yangyi.
Within the darkness, a glimmer of light appeared. It wasn’t the light of a lamp nor was it any artificial illumination. Moreover, it wasn’t a light that appeared in front of Xu Yangyi but rather atop his head! The light was blood-red, only a single sliver, it was…
A demon’s pupil, something that Xu Yangyi couldn’t be even more familiar with!
“You got a death wish,” he laughed grimly. In the next second, the strange sound of wind coming from an incomprehensible angle rang out, cleaving through the air!
Wind Edge Technique… Distance: 0.65 meters. Strength: 70 kilograms… Speed: around 70 meters per second… His brain was like the most accurate calculator, listing out a great string of figures in an instant.
There was no light within his eyes, but there was a fathomless deepness, like a pair of glittering gemstones on a dark night. His eyes were as calm as usual, seizing each one of the most minute changes within the darkness.
A slight ripple came into view at the left flank. This formless power combined with a berserk speed to push apart both air and drag resistance! This ripple was the indication that the wind edge was on the cusp of slamming into him!
Swish! Piercing through the air, a crisp sound like the reaper’s sickle rang out near his ear!
Thunk! In the next second within the darkness, a sound akin to a blade chopping into a wooden stake could be heard. Soon, within the room’s vacuous darkness, a man’s surprised shout echoed. “Huh?!”
It was in this moment that Xu Yangyi moved.
The sound of wind or footsteps were both absent, like a cheetah walking in the forest and using the thick pads of its paws to trod on the wind and set foot on the clouds. There was no noise of movement, only the whistle of soft wind. If one didn’t listen carefully, it was the kind gentle whistling as wind came through the window and blew on the curtains.
“Argh!!!” A blood-curdling screech came out from the darkness. Following a soft noise, the lighter shone once more.
Xu Yangyi forcefully tightened his hand around a person’s throat in a death grip. He didn’t have such strength at the police station, but now his veins were completely exposed. There wasn’t the slightest doubt concerning his level of hand strength.
“Urgh… Urgh!” The person being lifted up could only dry heave from his throat. He was a youth around seventeen to eighteen years old, yet he was wearing a Versace T-shirt and trousers. He was clearly rather well-off in terms of finances. Nevertheless, his blood-red eyes and golden vertical pupils were things that a normal human simply wouldn’t possess.
Xu Yangyi glanced over at his left hand in passing. There, a large opening had already been cut into his police uniform. The cut hung suspended, starting from his shoulder and halfway down to his sleeve. The slash was incomparably even, like a blade had cut through the cloth.
A handful of blood had already started flowing down along the cut on his police uniform, trickling onto the floor and dripping aloud. Under the lighter’s dim radiance, Xu Yangyi’s appearance was terribly frightening.
“Do you know…?” Xu Yangyi’s other hand seized the youth’s chin, and he used the strength of his hand to push back, forcing the other’s head to raise upwards by a great extent. The youth’s legs kicked against his body, but it was like kicking against stone. Neither slowly nor hurriedly, he said to the youth whose eyes began to blanch. “You know, each person in Heavens Law has their own unique nickname. Guess, what’s mine?”
Even three seconds later, there was no response. The youth’s throat felt as if it was being gripped by a vise. He was basically unable to answer. The only sound he could make was restrained choking. Both of his hands tried to break off Xu Yangyi’s hand for dear life, but it was like grabbing onto an iron hoop; he was unable to break off by even a fraction.
“Looks like you don’t like interacting with people too much.” Xu Yangyi flicked away cigarette ash. His action was neither slow nor hurried, but cultured and refined. Despite the youth beginning to foam at the mouth, he laughed, “Remember it clearly. My nickname is… The Grinning Reaper.”
“Isn’t it pretty awesome? To be honest, I like it too…Don’t roll your eyes, I’m not lying to you.” Xu Yangyi’s smile vanished. He moved closer to the side of the other’s ear and whispered, “In my entire life, there hasn’t been a single demon of the same stage that’s dared to take the initiative to reveal their demon pupil in front of me.”
Bang! He casually tossed the youth away, and the youth landed on the ground like a sack, rolling for about two to three meters. Xu Yangyi wiped his hands, sat down peacefully, and coldly watched the youth who was clutching at his throat. Frantically coughing, the youth covered his flushed throat to prevent his hacking from rising up.
“Cough, cough, cough!” Like he wanted to cut open his lungs, the youth suddenly grabbed the teacup in front of him and downed it in a single gulp. He shut his eyes to rest for a good couple seconds and opened his eyes while gnashing his teeth in fury. “To dare act towards me like this… Sanshui City’s Cao Family won’t let you off!”
Xu Yangyi puffed out a mouthful of smoke and laughed, “Venture Pharmaceuticals? The Cao Family?” The youth gasped for breath, not replying. Xu Yangyi flicked away cigarette ash and said, “What can they do?”
“Seven years ago, the Cao Family emerged as a new force to be reckoned. Their all-encompassing health supplement was heard so much that the entire nation’s citizens could recite it by heart. In a few years, they grossed a few hundred million. The name of Venture Pharmaceuticals has a proper ring to it, too…” He paused as if he was sorting out this information. He laughed at the youth, several seconds later. “But… you know, there are some mad scientists in Heavens Law that are always sitting on their hands. Especially when they’re perfectly aware of some other intelligent organisms. When there’s no way that they could be even more bored…”
“Dew Congealing Grass.” He looked into the youth’s eyes, and the other was evidently stunned. “I asked myself, how could the new health supplement be so good? Well… if you add in cultivation materials, even a little bit, the effect on mortals will be as clear as day. You and the Cao Family got something really good going on. I guess… you’re their technology director? That’s the pretense you joined them with?”
“So, even if the Cao Family looks on as you don’t age over the course of seven years, they’ll turn a blind eye. On the contrary though, wouldn’t they completely cover up your existence? It really is a harmonious symbiotic relationship… like a rotting animal and the maggot on its body. It's sickening.”
“So what?” The youth’s form was that of a young man, yet he was totally calm at this moment. His manner of speaking and movements were unlike that of a young man. Against expectation, he was like the water of a deep lake… Tranquil and murky in its depth, a lake that had long endured distress.
“Demons stay young forever and don’t age. Is there anything wrong with me looking for a host?” He glanced somewhat fearfully at Xu Yangyi. “The Shennong Forestry Convention is still in place. You human cultivators just can’t interfere in the internal affairs of our demonkind’s business without cause. That’s going beyond your authority! I have the qualifications to go the Nantong Province’s highest cultivator court to sue you! You’ll be faced with at least 50 years of imprisonment!”
Xu Yangyi’s head leaned against the chair, and he lifted his hand and waved to cut the young man off. He said without a single change in his voice, “I only want to ask you one question.”
He smiled at the toad-demon. “Tell me, if a normal person had just entered, what would’ve happened?”
1. 先礼后兵: Literally “courtesy first, soldiers after”. Meaning is to use force after peace. (in event peace fails)
2. 无根水 - noroot water or rootless water. From what I was able to research, this is actually a medicinal material that ancient Chinese used in medicines.
3. 微笑死神 Literally Smiling Death God. I think Grinning Reaper sounds cool.
4. Shennong Forestry Convention: 神农架公约. Shennong as in the farmer god in Chinese mythology.
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