Chapter 226 - I Will Protect You
Even now, Li Yao could clearly remember that, when they first met, Ding Lingdang looked at the refining profession with contempt.
How could he have ever thought that her father was actually a refiner? And if those two lifelike puppet warbeasts came from her father's hand, then he would have been a refiner of at least the expert-level; he would've been at almost the same level as Yuan Manqiu.
So, how could she dislike the refining profession?
With countless doubts circling around his head, Li Yao continued to watch the video.
The video was very long, spanning for a couple hours. It was a mixture of hundreds of videos, recording the scenes of the life of the three over a span of a few years.
While watching the video, Li Yao gradually came to know of another Ding Lingdang, one that was sometimes lively and sometimes quiet; a girl who would become extremely cute when she burst into laughter, a powerless, and always crying, little girl.
This little girl, under the guidance of her father, could rig up some common civilian magical equipment and become so happy that she would grin from ear to ear and dimples would appear on her chubby little face.
Li Yao took a glance at his surroundings and discovered that a lot of the magical equipment that appeared in the video were piled around, laden with dust.
The video came to an abrupt stop at Ding Lingdang's thirteen birthday.
'After she turned thirteen, why did she completely change into another person? Not only did her temper became fiery, she aspired to become a powerful body practitioner rather than a refiner.'
Li Yao's brain was suddenly struck by a flash as he recalled the words once spoken by Fiend Blade Peng Hai, "I've met another person just like you. At the age of thirteen, she was a super cultivation genius who had a Spiritual Root Development Quotient of 85%, but all of a sudden, her Spiritual Root Development Quotient fell to 11%. She could barely even stand up; she was reduced to a cripple. Everyone believed that she could no longer cultivate and would spend the rest of her life in bed!
"But this person, not only did she stand up again by putting in a hundred times more effort, an amount that no one could imagine. She once again stepped onto the road of cultivation. At the age of twenty-two, she reached the Pinnacle Refinement Stage!
"If I'm not wrong, after a year and a half at most, she will successfully build her foundation and become one of the youngest Building Foundation Stage Cultivator in the Federation. And If you give her thirty to fifty years... she will become the youngest Nascent Soul Stage Cultivator in the Federation!"
The person that Fiend Blade Peng Hai spoke of was none other than Ding Lingdang.
"What happened to you when you were thirteen?"
Lowering his head, Li Yao carefully observed the sleeping face of Ding Lingdang.
Her face was the epitome of overflowing heroic spirit and also had a bit of stubbornness to it. When compared to the chubby, round face from the video, it was almost completely unrecognizable to Li Yao.
Suddenly, God knows what nightmare she was dreaming, a slight frown crept over Ding Lingdang's face and the corner of her lips started quivering; revealing a sliver of panic.
'Don't be afraid, I will protect you,' said Li Yao gently in his heart before he suddenly became muddleheaded.
"Am I going crazy! Protect her? Protect Ding Lingdang? Protect this T-rex in human skin?
"How could I have such weird thoughts?
"I must have been too exhausted from the past two days; my mind must be so tired that I can't put my brain cells to good enough use. That must be it!"
The night went by very slowly. And everything that happened that night was far from normal. Having been hugged by Ding Lingdang, Li Yao's eyes went wide as thousands upon thousands of thoughts frantically circled in his mind yet none of them were related to refining. He kept forcing himself to think about various academic problems or complex and profound blueprints, and yet, after a moment, all of these thoughts would turn into the ever smiling and twinkling face of Ding Lingdang.
As dawn approached, Ding Lingdang's grip loosened a bit; Li Yao, on the other hand, was unable to hold on. His head fell down as he sank into his dreams.
He slept like a log, without a care in the world. Inevitably, he dreamt of innumerable wild fantasies which made him flushed red to his ears.
When he woke up, he found himself alone, lying with his hands and legs crossed on Ding Lingdang's bed.
Li Yao felt lost, nevertheless, "BANG BANG BANG BANG" sounds of something hitting came ringing next to his ears.
He turned his head to take a look, and found Ding Lingdang, dressed in gym shorts and a vest, hitting a sandbag that was crafted from Gray Dragon Crocodile skin which was several inches thick with full force. Each of her punches sank deep into the sandbag.
Her face was glowing with health and radiating vigor, not even the slightest trace of last night's weakness could be found; it was as if it was just a dream.
Shaking his head, Li Yao sat up before forcefully rubbing his face. "Maybe I was too tired and have been dreaming last night!? This is the Ding Lingdang that I know, how could she be weak-looking like last night?"
Just then, a gust of wind brushed his face as Ding Lingdang fiercely rushed onto the bed. Spreading his hands and legs apart, and holding him, she said ruthlessly, with eyes filled with hostility, looking from above, "Don't even think of talking about me crying last night, or I will kill you!"
Li Yao was shaken to the core; it wasn't a dream, she was indeed crying.
Suddenly, Li Yao's eyes were filled with curiosity and complex emotions which even he himself could not understand.
Feeling nervous from his look, Ding Lingdang smacked his forehead. "Don't look at me like that. I drank too much last night and was in a bad state, that's all. Who would have known that you, smelly brat, would silently slip in!"
Li Yao explained himself in a hurry, "I noticed the intense smell of Intoxicating Immortal Vine coming from your house, and I recalled that you never drink, more so getting dead drunk, I was afraid something happened to you, that's why I rushed inside!"
"I know, otherwise you would have already been beaten to a pulp!"
"But last night, you actually..."
Ding Lingdang retreated and sat on the bed, holding the pillow in her arms. After a while, she took a long deep breath and said calmly, "Forget it, I will tell you anyway. Anyhow it's not a big secret, many of the professors in the institute know it already.
"Last night was the death anniversary of my parents."
Li Yao's eyes went wide.
"My mom was a professor of the Grand Desolate War Institution's Combat Department and my dad was an army refiner. I inherited the blood of them both and showed a talent for creativity as well as for combat at an early age.
"However, my mom thought that it would be hard for a girl to take the road of combat. She'd had it hard from an early age; naturally, she didn't want her daughter to suffer like her.
"So, my parents wanted me to be a refiner, and in my childhood, I also liked refining very much.
"The year when I turned thirteen, a new city was being built in the depths of the Wasteland and my dad was also stationed at the military base outside the city.
"When the city was finished, a grand ceremony was held, and my mom and I were invited as well to attend the ceremony.
"Unexpectedly, at the inauguration ceremony, we encountered a massive beast tide outbreak. Countless powerful demon beasts under the command of Demon King encircled the entire city in the blink of an eye!
"Originally, the city would have been able to defend for a while until the reinforcements arrived with the help of its self-defense system in the outer ring of the city as well as by controlling the countless pieces of magical equipment.
"However, the city was built recently and its self-defense system hadn't undergone rigorous debugging, as such, there were many problems with the self-defense system.
"During the highly intense battle, the flaws in the defense system were quickly revealed and the Demon King, taking advantage of the opportunity, ruthlessly bombarded the control center, exploding it to nothing!
"As a result, all of the unmanned magical equipment failed one after another, while the beast tide advanced straight into the city unchecked and wantonly massacred. My mom and dad died in the battle.
"Although I survived, my spiritual roots development quotient fell to the bottom; I became a cripple. I had to start from the beginning.
"Since then, I realized one thing.
"When magical equipment is no longer reliable, we can only rely on ourselves. The strongest fist is the most reliable piece of equipment!
"Therefore, when I once again embarked on the road of cultivation, I did not hesitate to choose to become a body practitioner.
"I firmly believe that only this road can allow me to take revenge!
"The appearance of the Demon King is still etched into my brain, Demon King Night Hail. Even on the 'Ominous Demon List', his notoriety is well-known. He's commanded many beast tides and attacked the Heaven Origin Sector. Every time, before he retreated, he would kill two Golden Core powerhouses. Among the high-level demon clan, he is one of the most problematic figures for the federation.
"However, someday, he will die by my fist. I want to punch him into a patty!"
Li Yao listened to her quietly; he was rendered speechless.
In his heart, he was deeply shocked, so shocked that it could not be described with just words.
He didn't expect that this girl, who would always be radiating light and heat like the sun, would actually have such a dark past.
Although she was playing it down, Li Yao could imagine the scene; a lonely little girl, in a city filled with a demon beast, watching her parents being torn apart by the demon beasts.
'Last night, after she drank until she was dead drunk, she must have returned to the year when she turned thirteen, returned to the time when the demon beasts were everywhere in the town, that must the reason why she so was panic-stricken and so powerless,' Li Yao thought in his heart, which his eyes did not conceal.
Ding Lingdang was completely infuriated by the compassionate and protective look in his eyes. As short-tempered as she was, she said, waving her hand, "I did not tell you these things just so you take pity on me, I was afraid that you would think some nonsense, that's all!
"I don't need any sympathy from anybody. You'd better forget what I have said a moment ago and what happened last night. Forget about everything and what you should do!"
All Li Yao could do was nod.
As he himself was someone from the Magical Equipment Graveyard, he could relate to the delicate mentality of Ding Lingdang as a fellow sufferer.
When he looked at the time, his countenance changed. "It's already 12 PM? Oops!
"I have a meeting with the teacher in the early morning, we decided to discuss restarting the Project Mystic Skeleton!"
Li Yao jumped up and hastily went downstairs. Having bidden her farewell, he anxiously made his way out of the villa.
Closing the door, the extremely calm look on her face collapsed all of a sudden. Her face which was laced with a murderous look, in the blink of an eye, blushed.
"It's over, I don't know how I should act around him anymore!"
As Ding Lingdang leaned on the door, wriggling her graceful body, an embarrassed look appeared her face before she covered her face with her hands, and her mutterings escaping from the gaps between her fingers, "So embarrassing, that stinking brat has completely seen my shameful appearance. How am I going to face him in the future? I have completely lost my prestige as elder sister!
"And you two!"
Ding Lingdang, with one arm on her waist, while the other pointed at the snake and the parrot, said angrily, "Why did you let him come in?"
The snake and the parrot looked at their mistress very innocently. Their crystal eyes became sluggish, completely still.
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK!
The knocking on the door rang behind her head.
It completely scared the hell out of Ding Lingdang; her heart was crazily pounding. Having calmed herself down, she opened the door, only to find Li Yao standing there.
"What is it?" Ding Lingdang asked snappily.
Li Yao looked a bit flustered, "I suddenly remembered one thing: last night you said, 'don't leave me again', you thought I was your parents and asked them not to leave you again, right?"