Chapter 2-Come from the Darkness
In Zhongzhou State, as a city that was the second only to the capital Youzhou in importance, every corner of Huating was full of busy scenes during a whole day.
This was especially true at the station.
With the steady rise of the status of Zhongzhou State in the world, Huating’s development seemed to have reached the climax. More and more people began to seek opportunities in this bustling and prosperous city. The station was filled with people hurrying to and fro. Crowds of people could be seen in every corner of the station.
So many people!
This was Li Tianlan’s first impression of Huating.
With a paper bag in his hand, he wore clothes of coarse cloth and followed the crowd out of the station, feeling like a fish out of water from head to toe.
Too many people hurried to and fro. And that was his only feeling.
This city seemed to radiate an invisible pressure at any moment and everyone around him was walking in a hurry. This super-fast pace was like a terrible infectious disease which could easily infect everyone. Thus, everybody did things faster and faster, as if they wanted to exhaust themselves.
Li Tianlan’s mind settled as still water. Since he was new to the city, it would not be so fast for him to be assimilated by the pace of this city. He walked out of the station and took a sip of the mineral water that cost him one yuan. Then he stood still and waited for someone else to pick him up calmly.
While he was on his way an hour earlier, he pulled out the card from the paper bag and dialed the number on it.
He was a country bumpkin who newly went out of the primeval forest. The mobile phone he used to dial the number was borrowed from a friendly-looking old woman. The phone was answered by a woman who called herself Flaming Fire with a voice that seemed young and chilly. It was a very strange name which was opposite to the cold tone of her voice. The two agreed to meet at the exit of the station in one hour. Li Tianlan guessed that the woman should have arrived here by now.
He suddenly chuckled.
To him, this name meant something.
A young girl who happened to walk past him heard his laughter. She took a few steps away from him subconsciously and slightly frowned at him with an undisguised dislike in her eyes.
Li Tianlan was not ugly, but he was by no means handsome. At this moment, dressed in coarse clothes, he was carrying a bottle of mineral water and grasping a paper bag with apparently no money in it. All this made him look like an uncultivated bumpkin. Nobody would have a good mood if such a person giggled at them for no reason.
The plain-looking young girl stared at Li Tianlan before she turned around to leave.
Li Tianlan took a sip of water and laughed it off.
For this city, he was a real bumpkin because he had spent most of his life in the primeval forest. However, he didn’t feel ashamed. Having a grandfather whose life was filled with ups and downs made the 19 years of his life rough and full. Deep inside his heart, Li Tianlan never felt inferior to his peers for he had possessed an arguably perfect starting point now. He firmly believed that he could possess whatever others had sooner or later if he was given enough time.
And it would not take long.
A brand new black Audi pulled slowly into the station and finally arrived at the exit. It stopped in front of Li Tianlan.
When the door on the side of the driver’s seat was opened, a beautiful woman with a cold face got out of the car and walked straight toward Li Tianlan. She said expressionlessly, “Are you Mr Li? I’m Flaming Fire.”
“My name is Li Tianlan.”
Li Tianlan smiled and observed the woman in front of him carefully.
This pretty woman was in her thirties and was less than 1.7 meters tall. She wore no make-up and gave others a feeling of cleanness and agility. The only pity was that her expression was so cold that it chilled the heart of anyone who looked at her. If her expression could be a little more relaxed, it would absolutely not be difficult for her to attract the attention of males when walking in the street.
The nearby pedestrians also began to look this way, intentionally or unintentionally. Although Flaming Fire’s temperament chilled them, anyway, she was a beauty. When such a beauty and a famous car suddenly appeared in front of a silly-looking bumpkin, all this looked really incongruous. And that was why these pedestrians would like to pay more attention to them.
Flaming Fire turned a blind eye to the strange lines of sight around her. After confirming Li Tianlan’s identity, she nodded and said, “The boss is here to pick you up. Get on the car.”
Just as she finished speaking, there came a small noise behind her.
Li Tianlan saw the rear door of the Audi was opened slowly and a slim and tender leg wearing one black stiletto gently knocked on the ground.
A tall young figure alighted from the rear seat of the Audi and looked at Li Tianlan.
Li Tianlan only saw a pair of eyes as bright as the stars at this moment.
Flaming Fire turned around and looked at her boss who suddenly got out of the car with a surprised look on her face.
The young woman who voluntarily got off the car took two steps forward gently. Her stilettos stepped on the ground and the clear voice her shoes made knocked all men’s hearts.
Li Tianlan looked at the young woman with a dull look in his eyes.
The woman, however, returned him a complicated look.
After a short silence, she reached out her hand and said, “Qin Weibai.”
Flaming Fire looked more and more surprised. Throughout Huating, those who acquainted her mysterious boss were aware that her boss never shook hands with any male. Why would this bumpkin be treated so well? Did the sun rise in the west?
“Ah? Oh, I’m Li Tianlan.”
Li Tianlan suddenly came to his senses and grasped Qin Weibai’s hand. It was small and tender, just as the rare warm jade.
Li Tianlan was utterly confused and his face flushed with shyness.
In the 19 years of his life, he was most proud of his state of mind. Even judged by the exacting demands of his grandfather Li Honghe, it still deserved the remarks of “flawless and as calm as still water”. But such a kind of state of mind was disturbed and surged with huge waves at this point.
Li Tianlan took a deep breath and finally fixed his eyes on Qin Weibai’s face again.
The woman in front of him was the most perfect one he had ever seen in his life.
Slender and tall, she was at least 1.75 meters tall in her stockinged feet. Her height was enough to put most men to shame after she wore a pair of high-heeled shoes. Her exceedingly beautiful face was of sharp and delicate lines. The most striking parts of her body were her bright eyes. Calm and deep, they were able to make all men be willing to sink into them.
She stood quietly in front of Li Tianlan and allowed him to hold her small hand with a deadpan face.
She looked like the snow on the horizon.
And she also resembled the moon in the clouds.
She was ethereal as if she was a fairy who would ride the wind away the next second.
She remained aloof from the world and was indeed an unsurpassed beauty of her own generation.
Li Tianlan grasped her hand a little tighter subconsciously.
The look in Flaming Fire’s eyes suddenly turned cold as she noticed this detail. She was emitting a murderous aura.
Li Tianlan was so perceptive that he was already aware of his gaffe before Flaming Fire spoke. He let go of Qin Weibai’s hand and said, “Sorry, Boss Qin.”
“It doesn’t matter. You can directly call me Weibai in the future if you would like to.”
Qin Weibai calmly withdrew her hand and said softly.
“Boss Qin, your name is not so good. You are not ‘whitish'(English meaning of the name ‘Weibai’), you are rosy and graceful.”
Li Tianlan forced himself to calm down and opened his mouth with a smile.
Flaming Fire turned her head away and resisted her urge to shout at this rude man. She was already extremely dissatisfied with the bumpkin who dared to take liberties with her boss.
Qin Weibai was in a trance. At this moment, even Li Tianlan could clearly feel that this perfect woman’s mind seemed to have drifted somewhere else. But she soon came to her senses and chuckled, “Let’s get in the car first.”
Li Tianlan nodded his head. He got into the back row of the Audi with Qin Weibai in the envious eyes of the pedestrians around him.
Flaming Fire’s face grew colder. She fired the engine and drove the car out of the station. The car soon drove down one of Huating’s wide and tidy streets.
Qin Weibai picked up a heavy and thick notebook with a blue cover that looked old from her side as soon as she sat on the rear seat. She opened it gently and browsed it. Each piece of the already somewhat yellowing paper inside the notebook was dotted with handwriting. Qin Weibai closed the notebook and asked gently, “How about we go get something to eat?”
Li Tianlan directly nodded. He had only a few hundred yuan with him when he left Li’s Village. When he had finished buying his ticket, he was left with only 3.5 yuan in his pocket. However, a portion of boxed lunch on the train would cost him fucking 50 yuan. He was really hungry now after having nothing for such a long time.
“We shall go to Yu’s Restaurant to eat private home cuisine and I’ll prepare some articles of daily use for you. I will take you to the Sky Academy to arrange your admission for you tomorrow. Tianlan, you can call me for anything in Huating and I’ll try to solve it. My mobile phone will be available to you for 24 hours, and you can call me at any time.”
Stroking the notebook in her hand and looking at Li Tianlan beside her, Qin Weibai said all this in a very earnest tone.
Li Tianlan’s heart beat faster again as he smelled the faint fragrance came from the beauty beside him and looked at her dreamlike face. He forced himself to look away and nodded, saying, “I understand. Thank you, Mr Qin.”
Qin Weibai frowned. Apparently, she was not satisfied with the address “Boss Qin”, but she did not say much.
Li Tianlan fell into silence as well. He looked at the Huating’s scenery outside the car window abstractedly.
He saw row upon row of tall buildings, cars moving to and fro, well-dressed pedestrians walking in the street, and the elderly holding the hands of children, laughing.
And the balmy sunshine that he rarely felt at the border.
Scenes of flourishing age continuously moved back as the car advanced forward.
Li Tianlan was absent-minded. His pale face looked perplexed and sad.
He again thought of his father who he had never seen.
His father was one of the top Special Warfare Members in Zhongzhou State 20 years ago. But at the climax of his career, he died in the most humiliating way on the border between Zhongzhou State and Annan State.
The charge was treason.
And the evidence of the charge was irrefutable.
If the most influential case of treason in recent years had not happened, his life would probably have been different since childhood.
He might have lived a good life as or even lived a better life than the people outside the car window.
He didn’t find the tall buildings and the cars outside the window very inviting. But for the first time, the country bumpkin who had lived in a lush forest all year round felt that the place with sunshine and happy laughter was somewhere people should live.
The scenes of prosperity in front of his eyes were beautiful scenes he had never dreamed of.
Li Tianlan suddenly thought of the campsite at the border, the old soldiers who had banished themselves to the border with his grandfather for years after his father had committed treason, and Ye Dongsheng’s words.
Ye Dongsheng said he could try his best to clear his father’s name and reverse the verdict for him.
“If my father was really innocent, then who should be responsible for the treason case in those years?”
“Who killed my father?”
“Who are they? What on earth did they want to do? What did they do all this for?”
Li Tianlan didn’t know who they were, but he was certain that if they did exist, they absolutely had the strength to stand on the top of this city, or even on the top of the entire Zhongzhou State.
The scene outside the window grew more prosperous.
Li Tianlan pursed his lips tightly. He was under pressure, but he was filled with an endless fighting will.
“What are you thinking about?”
Qin Weibai, who had been fixing her eyes on Li Tianlan next to her, suddenly asked.
“They shouldn’t be living in that kind of place, really.”
Li Tianlan muttered to himself as his eyes were fixed on everything outside the window.
A smile crept over Qin Weibai’s cold and delicate face. She seemed to have understood what Li Tianlan meant but seemed not at the same time. “Some people say that Huating is a city of miracles that welcomes a brilliant century after every depressed millennium. Tianlan, how do you feel if I describe you with this comment?”
“Welcome a brilliant century after every depressed millennium…”
Li Tianlan looked at the scenery outside the window calmly and said with a smile, “How am I capable of doing so?”
Qin Weibai sighed gently next to him and opened the old, thick notebook in her hand subconsciously.
Hundreds of words appeared vividly on the yellowing paper and looked like someone’s diary.
To be fair, the handwriting on the paper was not beautiful. However, it carried an air of overwhelming sharpness. Each stroke of the handwriting was written with a great force and each one of the words seemed like a sharp sword.
Qin Weibai fixed her eyes on the last two sentences of the diary and was lost in thought.
“Everything under the sun is fantastic and absurd. I come from the darkness with eternal majesty.”