Han Ye left the Great Compassion Temple and walked along the narrow alley of the Black Street. The sticky sewage water wetted his boots. The houses were piled up like blocks, and some of them were even hanging under others like cages, not much bigger than a carriage compartment. A family of three lived in such a small house. Han Ye sometimes felt like they were in prison, rotting in the small house.
The thugs from Paradise Pavillion followed him silently. “Brother Ye, did you really give up Boss Su’s Mechanical Arsenal just like that?”
Han Ye smirked and said, “Without Su Ru Hui’s crystal mirror, no one can control the puppets in the arsenal. Otherwise, why hasn’t the Secret Sect used them in so many years?” He took out a single-sided crystal mirror from his pocket and turned the copper legs of the mirror, on which several short thorns as fine as hair slowly extended. “The beast puppets are different from other low-grade puppets. They need to execute complex tactical commands, and simple commands cannot control them. When wearing this crystal mirror, the thorns will pierce behind the ear and import spiritual energy flow, establishing a channel between the manipulator’s spiritual consciousness and the puppet’s spiritual star array. Only then will the beast puppets obey orders.”
The thug suddenly realized. “Brother Ye is wise. With this crystal mirror in our hands, the Arsenal is ours no matter what.”
“You’re thinking too much.” Han Ye put the crystal mirror back in his pocket. “This mirror broke a long time ago. Nowadays, no one in the world can make a second one except for Su Ru Hui.”
It was barely dawn outside when Su Ru Hui returned home. He lifted his palm, and a small iron-armored spider climbed onto his fingertip.
“Back already?” Su Ru Hui smiled and said, “What did those strange people say? Tell me what you learned.”
He deliberately left his package in the corridor to let his Wind-Stealing Spider eavesdrop on their conversation. As expected, the spider moved its mouthparts and repeated word for word what the fake Jiang Xue Ya and Jiang Huai Cang had said after he left.
After listening, Su Ru Hui raised his eyebrows in surprise. He didn’t expect the real Jiang Xue Ya to not be with those weirdos, but where could she be? Fake Jiang Xue Ya could read minds, and this special power was quite tricky. Su Ru Hui put away the small spider and counted the items in his hand. He now had a pile of secret talismans, and even if he couldn’t defeat the Paradise Pavilion, he had plenty of escape options, so he wasn’t worried at all. But just to be safe, he still had to think of ways to arm himself as much as possible.
Suddenly there was a “beep” in his ear.
[“Find Jiang Xue Ya” mission failed. Host receives system degradation and insult X1.]
Su Ru Hui was surprised. What was this thing?
[“Su Ru Hui, you are an ordinary little trash.”]
Su Ru Hui: “……”
Die, useless system.
The corridor was cold and deserted. The windows and doors of Sang Chi Yu’s room were closed tightly, and Su Ru Hui thought he was still asleep. He didn’t disturb Sang Chi Yu and went straight to the kitchen to make breakfast. He first made two large rice balls, stuffed with golden-yellow salted egg yolk and finely chopped beef. Sang Chi Yu wasn’t picky; he ate whatever Su Ru Hui gave him. Even though Su Ru Hui knew he didn’t like meat, considering his weak body, he still had to stuff him with more meat.
He poured two cups of plum juice, and breakfast was almost ready. He listened outside the door of the room and there was still no sound. Usually, Sang Chi Yu would already be up by now. He had regular routines and was strict with himself, and he never slept until mid-morning. Su Ru Hui looked at the sun in the sky, frowned, and pushed open the door.
The room was empty.
Su Ru Hui was stunned and searched for Sang Chi Yu everywhere, but he couldn’t find a single strand of hair. All his clothes and shoes had been taken away. If the bad guy had abducted him, there was no reason for them to pack up his things. Sang Chi Yu left on his own. Su Ru Hui was so angry that he could spit blood. He thought that he and Sang Chi Yu had already made everything clear. They would leave in a few days as Sang Chi Yu wished. He didn’t expect this heartless guy to leave without saying anything.
This guy was covered in injuries and had a lame leg. Where could he go?
Su Ru Hui was so angry that he wanted to beat someone up. He calmed down and thought about where Sang Chi Yu could go and who he could turn to. Sang Chi Yu said he had no friends. Did he have to rely on himself to survive? He had been in Kun Lun Secret Sect since he was a child, rarely socialized with outsiders, and didn’t even know how dangerous the world was. He was the first disciple of Kun Lun, living a privileged life, and had never tried to make a living by himself. Su Ru Hui could almost imagine this idiot becoming a homeless person.
Su Ru Hui thought sadly that he should go to the poorest part of the town or slave mine in a few days to see if he could find him.
As he was thinking, he saw clothes flash by the corner door. Su Ru Hui was startled and shouted, “Sang Chi Yu!”
No one answered, and Su Ru Hui intentionally screamed, “Ah! I twisted my foot.”
The courtyard was quiet for a while, and a black figure appeared outside the corner gate. Sang Chi Yu wore a black robe and stood quietly in front of the gate.
Su Ru Hui had nothing to say. The fact that such a clumsy lie could fool this kid showed his naivety. If he walked out of the house and took three steps, he would be taken down by bad guys.
“What are you doing?” Su Ru Hui was helpless. “Where do you want to go?”
Sang Chi Yu did not answer, staring at his foot, as if judging whether he had really twisted it.
Su Ru Hui looked at him standing normally, and frowned. “Your leg is okay?”
Sang Chi Yu saw that his foot was fine, slowly raised his head, and answered with a “Hmm.”
“… ” Su Ru Hui’s face became very ugly. “Did you take the secret medicine? Are you crazy? Did you get hit in the head?”
“No,” Sang Chi Yu answered indifferently.
Su Ru Hui didn’t know if he was saying that he hadn’t taken the secret medicine, or that his head hadn’t been hit.
“Come here,” Su Ru Hui beckoned to him.
Sang Chi Yu didn’t move.
“I’m leaving,” he said.
Su Ru Hui was so angry that his eyes went black. This heartless bastard was well-fed and well-cared for, as if he was a Buddha. But he was leaving just like that. If Su Ru Hui hadn’t seen him leaving from the corner of his eye, he probably wouldn’t even say goodbye.
Su Ru Hui tried to calm his anger and asked, “Where are you going?”
This guy really took the secret medicine. Su Ru Hui was completely furious. “Why are you going there? Do you know what the Black Street is? I really can’t believe you. I thought you had a clue, but it turns out you’re clueless. The Great Compassion Temple recruited you, right? I heard everything from that old dog earlier. Hei Guan Yin of the Great Compassion Temple recruits many monks and nuns every year. Do you know why? Because many people die under his hand every year, and no one knows why they died, but most likely it’s related to the secret medicine given to them by Hei Guan Yin.”
“Yeah, I know,” Sang Chi Yu said.
His indifferent attitude seemed as if he didn’t care about life or death. Su Ru Hui had never been so angry before and wanted to beat Sang Chi Yu. But he thought for a moment and realized that it was understandable. Sang Chi Yu had suddenly turned from a genius to a waste, and if he didn’t care, he wouldn’t have been so dejected for so long.
“Come back, don’t go,” Su Ru Hui said seriously, speaking to him for the first time in earnest. “I’ll figure out a way to counteract the effects of Hei Guan Yin’s secret medicine, so come back to me.”
Under the bright sky, Sang Chi Yu’s eyes were still as water. He had always had this demeanor. When Su Ru Hui first met him, he thought he was an obedient and gentle little girl.
“Su Ru Hui,” he suddenly said.
Su Ru Hui was startled. Did he hear it wrong? Sang Chi Yu called him “Su Ru Hui”!
“Why did you come back to life?” Sang Chi Yu asked.
Su Ru Hui felt embarrassed that his identity was exposed. How did this guy know it was him? And after figuring it out, he didn’t even say anything!
“I won’t tell you,” Su Ru Hui muttered.
This little guy Sang Chi Yu had become so sly. He pretended as if nothing had happened, even though Su Ru Hui had been calling him “Husband” for so many days. Su Ru Hui was so embarrassed that he wanted to dig a hole and hide in it. He thought it might be better to end it all. There was nothing left for him in this world, Su Ru Hui thought in despair.
Sang Chi Yu whispered, “Thank you for these past few days. However, there are things I must do, so please don’t try to find me or worry about me anymore. You should stay away from me and forget me. Nobody except me knows that you are Su Ru Hui. The Sang family’s house is yours now. You can carve wood, plant flowers, and do whatever you want here. From now on, no one will disturb you.”
He took out a talisman, and the golden light on the yellow paper flickered. The talisman turned into a vortex of light and shadow.
“Hey!” Su Ru Hui shouted to him.
“One last piece of advice,” Sang Chi Yu said. “Don’t wear strange clothes.”
After he finished speaking, he stepped into the vortex and didn’t look back. Su Ru Hui chased after him, but only managed to touch a twisted line of light before the vortex closed with a loud boom in front of him, and Sang Chi Yu disappeared without a trace. Su Ru Hui faintly smelled the scent Sang Chi Yu had left in the air, a cold, snow-like smell that lingered wherever the man had been, no matter what season it was, always like a harsh winter.
“Don’t wear strange clothes?” Su Ru Hui looked down at himself and realized that he had forgotten to change out of Bai Cai Ping’s dress that he had put on to disguise himself. He felt embarrassed and angry at the same time. What was wrong with him wearing strange clothes? He would even run naked next time! This annoying thing made him so angry. Su Ru Hui couldn’t calm down for a while. “Go ahead and leave. Don’t ever come back! I swear I won’t care about you again, or else I’m a stupid donkey and a foolish pig.”
When did Sang Chi Yu find out that he was Su Ru Hui? Su Ru Hui couldn’t figure it out and felt a little guilty. The two of them used to be enemies, and Sang Chi Yu hated him the most. He couldn’t believe that this kid had been so unaffected with him around for so many days, calling him “Husband” every day. After feeling guilty, Su Ru Hui felt suffocated again. He had cooked for this kid for so many days, but he was so heartless, just leaving like that. Su Ru Hui had never cooked for anyone before. When he first learned to cook, his teacher mysteriously told him that there was a strange curse in his cooking – the first person to eat his food would become his wife. He stared blankly and asked, “What if a man eats my food?” The teacher knocked him on the head with a spoon and called him stupid. Although he later found out they were just teasing him, since then, whenever he cooked, he would just throw away any food he couldn’t finish. Jiang Xue Ya and Zhou Xiao Su would never get a chance to taste it.
Just then, his stomach growled, and he cleared his mind and went to the kitchen to get breakfast. When he got there, he found that there were only two cups of plum juice left in the red lacquer plate, and the rice balls were gone.
Su Ru Hui couldn’t take it anymore, and he angrily smashed the plate. “If you want to leave, just leave. Why take my rice balls? At least leave me some!”
What the hell, it was just the Black Street, wasn’t it? Did Sang Chi Yu think he couldn’t make it there?
Su Ru Hui pulled out a stack of talismans with a fierce momentum and pulled out the Gate of Nothingness talisman. He was about to use the spell by holding up the talisman, but hesitated for a moment and then put it away sullenly. This long-distance teleportation magic was the best escape talisman, and there was only one, so he decided to save it for later.
He searched the dilapidated courtyard for a while, thinking that A Qi was from the Paradise Pavillion and should have a pass to the Black Street, but he didn’t know if it had been destroyed in the explosion that day. After searching for a while, he couldn’t find it. He was starving, so he went to the kitchen and made a big rice ball to relieve his hunger. Suddenly he noticed that the brick next to the stove was loose. He broke it open and found the pass hidden inside.
It turned out that A Qi had hidden the pass in the kitchen. Su Ru Hui blew on the wooden pass in his hand and put it into his pocket. After finishing the rice ball, he put on his hood, covered his face, and rode his horse out of the mansion.
The carriage entered the city, and Su Ru Hui rubbed his chin, thinking that he needed to get something from the Black Street before going to the Secret Sect.
Hmph, he was not going to find Sang Chi Yu. Let that heartless man live or die on his own.
He turned onto the suspension bridge and walked along the path to the slums, where he found an inconspicuous grocery store. The store had a dark storefront, and a bronze god of wealth was enshrined in the guest hall. Su Ru Hui got off his horse, knocked on the counter, and a bearded man behind the counter straightened up weakly and said, “Pass.”
Su Ru Hui shook the wooden pass in front of him.
The bearded man looked at it, pointed with his right hand, and a small vortex of light and shadow opened in front of Su Ru Hui.
Su Ru Hui raised his eyebrows and said, “Do you want me to crawl through that dog hole?”
The bearded man rolled his eyes and said, “Don’t use it if you don’t want to.”
Su Ru Hui: “…”
This was the most common way for people to return to the Black Street. The specific location of the Black Street was highly confidential and was generally only known to the core members of the gangs. When ordinary thugs entered the Black Street, they were given a clearance pass. With the pass, they would go to a secret contact location in the city, and the gatekeeper would open a Gate of Nothingness for the holder of the pass. Previously, Su Ru Hui had a Gate of Nothingness special power user with him, and he could directly open the door to return to the Black Street. At worst, he could use a talisman. He rarely returned to the Black Street from a contact location. Unexpectedly, the gatekeeper of the contact location could only open a dog hole. That was reasonable, because if he could open a door, he would not be a gatekeeper here.
Well, Boss Su could bend and stretch. Couldn’t he just crawl through the dog hole?
Su Ru Hui crawled into the dog hole of nothingness, and suddenly the scene in front of him changed. He had arrived at Black Street. The narrow street was almost touching the eaves on both sides, and various lanterns shed a magical light. Prostitutes and men with rank badges were smoking pipes on the street, their bare chests exposed in the light. The smoke they exhaled made them look ethereal. Passers-by hurried along the street, like phantoms. A damp smell filled his nose. It was the familiar smell of decay.
If you looked down on the Black Street from high above, you would find that it was actually a huge city. The population was too dense. There were many houses, and they were squeezed together, so the streets were very narrow. Also, because the houses were so high, it was hard for light to reach the bottom, so the streets were dark all year round. The residents of Black Street were like snakes, rats, insects, and ants, entrenched in this dark corner.
Few people knew where the Black Street was located. Su Ru Hui happened to be one of the few who knew.
It was a mobile city. Every three months, the star formations in all four directions of the city would open. The star formations were powered by spirit stones, had no attacking power, and were usually used to enhance the effects of spiritual powers. The one on all four sides of the Black Street was an enlarged star formation. At that time, people who had the Gate of Nothingness special power in the Paradise Pavilion and Great Compassion Temple would cast their spells simultaneously. Under the enlarging effect of the star formation, the world’s largest Gate of Nothingness would appear under the Black Street, and the Black Street as a whole would be moved to the next hiding place. When the Secret Sect invaded, it was because the hiding place was leaked, and the Secret Sect coalition army waited at the target location and caught them off guard.
Su Ru Hui found the largest bank in the Black Street, Heng Tai Bank, which had a sealed counter with several small windows, revealing the smiling faces of the clerks. The counter was covered with talismans, mostly for defense purposes. Anyone who dared to do business on Black Street must have some tricks up their sleeve. Su Ru Hui walked through the crowded guest hall, passed through a small central courtyard, and entered a red-painted wooden partition in the back. He knocked on the crossbar window panel three times in a row, pausing for a moment, and then knocking again.
The wooden board creaked open, and a voice came from the dark window hole, “What’s your name?”
Su Ru Hui lazily replied, “The number one bastard in the world.”
This response was random, and the voice inside paused for a moment, followed by the sound of flipping through the pages of a book. “It’s been more than seven years since you last came?”
“Yeah,” Su Ru Hui said carelessly, “I was caught by someone and just escaped.”
People in the Black Street were notorious for their wrongdoing, and it was common for them to be captured, imprisoned, or even executed. Seven years in Black Street was not uncommon. The person inside asked, “What’s the password?”
“Not caring about tomorrow’s suffering, only seeking pleasure in the present.”
A locked box was moved out from behind the window hole and handed to Su Ru Hui.
Su Ru Hui carried the box out of the partition and suddenly found the guest hall quiet. The people who had been doing business earlier were all gone, replaced by the gangsters of Paradise Pavilion. They carried black guns, were adorned with colorful tattoos, and had oily faces with unfriendly expressions. In the middle of the courtyard, a purple sandalwood armchair was placed. Han Ye sat cross-legged on it, with his hands crossed on his knees. Sunlight spilled into the courtyard, soft as feathers, and settled on his fair and clean fingertips. It was a pleasant sight, but unfortunately, the steel ring on his thumb was flashing wildly in the light, adding a touch of hostility.
“A Qi.” Han Ye laughed mischievously. “I told you we would meet again.”
Seeing that the situation was not good, Su Ru Hui ran away.
The author has something to say:
Sang Chi Yu: I’m leaving, and I’m taking my wife’s little rice ball with me.