Xia Lei looked over as soon as he heard the sound. His left eye twitched and everything that was blocking his line of sight disappeared soundlessly.
The sound was coming from the stairway. The stairway was empty, devoid of people.
Suddenly, a black cat came out from behind a flower vase. There was a broken branch of a leafy green plant next to the flower vase.
The black cat quickly disappeared from view but Xia Lei’s nerves were still tense, and he could not relax.
There were also broken twigs and dropped flowers on the floor next to the flower vase.
That sound earlier was of the black cat breaking things, and had not been made by a person.
But no matter what the cause was, he was all tensed up and unable to relax. He looked at his watch. The woman who had called him had told him to leave in 60 seconds. Another ten seconds had passed.
Who was that woman?
What was the danger that she spoke of? And what level of danger?
How did she know that he was here?
How did she know that sort of danger he would be in?
Should he leave, or follow his original plan and stay here to kill Gu Kewen?
This questions in his head bothered him, and he had only 30 seconds to make the right decision.
He wasn’t very willing to just give up like this. He had planned everything, and this was a rare chance too. It would be difficult to find another opportunity to kill Gu Kewen without drawing any trouble to himself if he missed this, but if he didn’t leave, and if that danger really came to be… wouldn’t it be too late to regret it?
Xia Lei’s gaze went to the gun in Hattori Masao’s hand.
At that moment, the lights in the study were suddenly extinguished. It wasn’t just the lights in the study, but all of the lights in the villa.
A soft sound came to Xia Lei’s ear.
Xia Lei looked over at the doorway of the study.
The sound was getting closer. It was faint but clear in this very quiet setting.
And, what was most odd was that Xia Lei had obviously heard a voice, and that darkness did not affect his X-ray vision, but he could not see who was in the corridor outside the door!
The strange sound stopped at the study door.
Xia Lei burst into action a second later, heading for the window as quick as he could.
Bang! The study door behind him was knocked open.
Crash! Xia Lei smashed through the window, and dropped to the ground in a shower of broken wood and glass.
The instant his feet touched the ground, he bent his legs, and shifted the centre of gravity of his body forward to go into a roll, lessening the force of the fall. He rolled close to the ground, and he looked up at the second-floor window as he rolled.
A thin figure suddenly appeared in the window.
He could not see his face — an inky blackness, a robe, shrouded his body. The robe was very similar to a priest’s robe, with a hood. That hood covered the person’s head, and his face. What was even stranger was that the robe he wore seemed to absorb light, and Xia Lei could not see his face, even with his abnormal vision.
The thin figure stood in the window, looking like a spirit from a dark world. He could be seen, but he was not real.
Xia Lei stopped rolling.
The person in the black robe swayed for a bit, then disappeared.
Xia Lei’s left eye looked through the wall but he’d lost sight of him.
Who was he?
A shiver went down Xia Lei’s spine and cold sweat popped out on his forehead. He had quite a few wounds from the broken glass but he did not feel much pain. He did not want to admit it, but terror had very definitely had a hold on his body.
“Boss! What happened?” Amanda’s voice came over the receiver, full of anxiousness.
Xia Lei moved quickly as he said, “Did you see the person in a black robe? If you do, shoot him!”
“What guy in a black robe?” Amanda’s voice was full of surprise and nervousness.
Xia Lei’s heart sank. He was sure that that black-robed man had appeared in the window. Amanda was the sniper who was going to kill Gu Kewen, so she should be watching his area all this while. How could she not have seen that black-robed man?
He abruptly remembered what he had seen outside the door with his X-ray vision when he was in the study. That black-robed man had obviously been behind the door but he had not seen anything, had he?
So did that black-robed man really not exist? It was just a hallucination? How was this possible?
Xia Lei couldn’t help looking back as he moved quickly. At that moment, the black-robed man appeared soundlessly in the doorway of the living room on the first floor.
He still couldn’t see his face. The hood seemed to be hiding not a face, but a part of darkness.
“Do you see him now?” Xia Lei shouted, “Shoot him!”
“Boss, you…” Amanda sounded confused and doubtful.
Xia Lei halted in his tracks and looked back at that black-robed man.
“What happened, Boss? What are you doing? Gu Kewen is going to arrive soon!” Amanda was sounding panicked now.
Xia Lei did not seem to hear her. His gaze was fixed on the black-robed man. He was very sure that the man was in the doorway of the living room on the first floor. He could see him clearly, but Amanda did not see him!
The black-robed man moved suddenly, dashing out of the doorway. But he retreated again.
What was going on?
Xia Lei looked instinctively up at the sky, then glanced at the streetlight above his head. The night sky was clear tonight, and the moon and the stars could be seen clearly. The streetlight above his head was bright too and quite a few moths were dancing around it, throwing flutterings shadows on the ground.
‘Could he be afraid of light?’ thought Xia Lei all of a sudden.
The black-robed man stood in the doorway, motionless. He could not see his face but he was sure that he had eyes. Also, the man had been looking straight in Xia Lei’s direction. That gaze of his must be very sinister indeed.
“Boss!” Amanda’s voice again. “The CIA’s cars are here. What are you still standing there for? Are we still going to proceed as planned?”
Xia Lei came back to his senses. He moved in retreat, and said as he walked, “Give up on the plan. Withdraw.”
“Give up and withdraw!” Xia Lei repeated. His gaze was still fixed on that black-robed man.
“Roger.” Amanda ended the communication.
While he was talking to Amanda, the black-robed man tried to dash out of the doorway again but he retreated yet again. What Xia Lei saw further convinced him of his fear of light.
‘Why is he afraid of light? What sort of person in this world is afraid of light?’ Xia Lei thought of skin diseases which were related to inflammation due to exposure to light, then thought of vampires. The likelihood of the first thought was practically zero because it was night now, and the man was wearing a robe which covered him from head to foot. Even if it was some light-sensitive skin disease, it wouldn’t be so serious that even moonlight and streetlights would affect him, right? The second thought was even more improbable. How can there be vampires in this world?
A seven-seater Ford Explorer came zooming over suddenly and it stopped next to Xia Lei.
The door opened and Park Taeyong poked his head out. “Get in, Boss! Hurry!”
Xia Lei stopped moving backwards and turned to get into the car.
Park Taeyong burnt rubber out of there; he stayed not one second more.
Xia Lei watched the ancient villa through the window. That black-robed man was still in the doorway. He could not see his face but he could feel that man staring at him.
The black-robed man raised his hand and drew it slowly across his own neck.
The black-robed man disappeared from the doorway after he made this gesture.
Xia Lei’s brain quickly replayed his meeting with the black-robed man. He still did not understand how that man had entered the villa, and could not figure out why he had not been able to use his X-ray vision to see him.
His strongest ability was his X-ray vision, so if that black-robed man could get to his side without him seeing him with his X-ray vision… He would be in real danger!
This enemy was, undoubtedly, the most powerful and most difficult to counter of all the enemies he’d met, and he did not even know his identity!
Park Taeyong drove the car off the main roads and onto a smaller, remote road. The Ford Explorer had only just entered the small road when three Chevrolet Suburban off-road vehicles zoomed past on the main road.
The CIA agents were finally here.
Xia Lei glanced at his watch. 0020hrs, 30 seconds. The CIA convoy still needed 30 seconds to get to the villa. In other words, it was the same as what he had calculated earlier. 0021hrs, on the dot.
At 0021hrs, Gu Kewen would enter the range of Amanda’s sniping in 30 seconds. He had planned everything, but he had not planned for this ghost-like black-robed man. He had ruined his plans!
“Boss, what happened?” Park Taeyong broke the silence in the car. “I heard what you guys said. Is that guy from the FA Organisation?”
“It’s not clear.” Xia Lei’s response was simple. He was sure, though, that the black-robed man was not from the FA Organisation.
“Amanda actually didn’t spot that person. The enemy must be very skilled,” said Park Taeyong.
“Be careful for the next two days. Sleep with your lights on,” said Xia Lei.
“Huh?” Park Taeyong couldn’t help giving Xia Lei a look. “Boss, why would the light need to be on when I’m sleeping at night? Is it very important?”
Xia Lei nodded. “Very important.”
Park Taeyong shrugged. “Sure. I’ll sleep with the lights on. But I’m not going to bother nagging those guys.”
Ear-piercing police sirens came from the main road. Xia Lei looked out the window and saw a long line of French police cars, and military-use French Special Forces vehicles. The vehicles were heading to the villa in a mad rush. He did not look at his watch this time. What was the use in having things happen exactly as timed? This plan to assassinate Gu Kewen had failed.
Park Taeyong turned the steering wheel and drove the car into a small alley. There were no streetlights in the alley and it was pitch black. The light of the car chased away the shadows of the alley and Amanda, Bagu, Marcus and E’er Demutu appeared from the darkest corner of the alley.
The four people quickly came over and got into the car.
Park Taeyong started the car again, and went through the alley, in the direction of the Heart of Paris hotel.
“What happened earlier, Boss?” asked Amanda, who was sitting right in the back.
Xia Lei smiled wryly. “I said I saw a person in a black robe. Did you see him?”
Amanda shook her head. She looked at Xia Lei with worry in her eyes.
“Did you see him?” Xia Lei asked the others.
Bagu shook his head.
E’er Demutu shook his head.
Marcus shook his head too.
Xia Lei spread his hands. “Then take it as I’ve said nothing. Also, from today on, you guys must have the lights on when you sleep.”
“Huh?” Amanda paused, then asked in concern, “Are you okay, Boss? Do you need to go to the hospital?”
Xia Lei was speechless.