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"The project is ready at last. I’m bringing it to the boss tomorrow."

"Is your boss a man or a woman?"

"A young madam, of course. Hey, doesn’t that expression make a girl sound gentle and beautiful?"

"Yeah, losing the ‘young’ totally changes the effect though. A ‘madam’ is someone running escort services."

"Haha! The same goes for ‘elder brother’, which sounds considerate and with good manner, whereas a ‘bro’ is someone who delivers your take out."



"‘Little sister’ sounds so cute and clever, but ‘sis’ is the girl giving you a foot massage."

"That’s so right… Hey, what about ‘little brother’?"

It was the nickname for the male member! Obviously, Gu Yu could not point that out. He went speechless for two seconds, unable to think of a response for that intentionally inappropriate question and chose to change the subject. "You work for so many hours everyday, no wonder you lack energy all the time. If nothing else, you should at least have enough sleep."

"Sleeping is a luxury to me. By the way, I’ve just burnt a Wake-up Incense stick and am now resurrected with full HP. It’s like I’ve got a plug-in on." [1]

"Well, sounds great. I’m glad they work for you."

"The smoke was really pretty as well, too bad I forgot to take a picture. I’ll show you an image of the ashes later. The texture was amazing."

"Great, I haven’t even seen it myself yet."

Their conversation stopped there and Gu Yu did not get a reply after that. Jiang Xiaozhai probably had errands to run again. She was a standard urban female—fashionable, cheerful, fast-paced and with a positive attitude from head to toe.

Gu Yu, on the other hand, was a much plainer person. Other than the habit of hiding his excitement, he was almost a stark contrast to Xiaozhai. It actually surprised him that the two of them had gotten along so well, which proved that on some deeper level, their characteristics must have had something in tune with each other.

He put down his cell phone and sat there in boredom. ‘Ah, so bored.’

The television did not have a set-top box [TL/N: i.e. no cable]. Only three to five local channels had programs and the rest were nothing but white specks. Occasional coughing or footsteps could be heard in the hallway, probably belonging to other tenants here. It was pitch dark outside the window. Apart from dim streetlights and shadows of the passersby, Gu Yu couldn’t make out anything else on the street.

The town of Wudao River was as remote and deserted as its name suggested. [2]

After a few minutes, Gu Yu was so bored that he simply adjusted his mood and sat down in a proper position. He cleared his head and calmed himself down, resolving to assume a tranquil state of mind. As soon as he started meditating, he found the spiritual essence around him cluttered and wild, as if unruly musical notes were playing by themselves in a frenzy.

The spiritual essence on Phoenix Mountain was relatively mild and wasn’t even close to the savage kind here. Not prepared for the situation, Gu Yu almost dropped out of his void state of mind in the moment he felt it. Fortunately, he had a stable temperament and was able to slowly calm himself down.

Yet after he sensed the essence more carefully, something felt different. Within its restlessness, he thought he could hear a weird sound.

Something was making a gurgling and rustling noise.

It sounded both far away and very close. One moment it was barely audible and the next moment it was clear and distinct again, resembling the movement of tidal waves.

"Um…"

Gu Yu was finally distracted and lost his calmness. He opened his eyes abruptly, feeling both irritated and helpless, with an impulse to scratch the wall, ‘Who can tell me what the hell is going on here?

Spiritual essence existed in this world. Fine, I’ve accepted that idea. Why was it in such an agitated and bestial manner, then? Am I on the track of apocalyptic mutation, where I would upgrade through sleeping with other people’s girlfriends, collecting sex slaves, building my own harem and gaining enlightenment walking the path of Sawagoe Tomaru? [3]

Please, my kidneys would fail within no time!’

He scratched his head and soon gave up on giving vent to the sarcasm filling his thoughts. He took another look at his phone. There was still no message from Xiaozhai.

It was just past nine o’clock, which was not too late of an hour. After a brief moment of utter frustration, he finally decided to go out and find something to eat. He only had some bread and a soft drink before getting on the bus and they did nothing to fill his stomach.

Hunger set Gu Yu on the move, and he went downstairs immediately. The woman was still watching TV and asked in passing, "Where are you going?"

"Having dinner. When do you close up?"

"I don’t," the woman replied.

It meant there would be someone at the counter around the clock. She probably slept on that plank bed every night, which was a tough way to live. Gu Yu held up his umbrella and walked out. He tried to figure out which way was which, then walked towards the direction with the most lights on.

The streets were filled with small puddles. He jumped around them and reached a restaurant. Inside sat another customer, who was none other than the beekeeper, Old Li.

Three times in one day, that was one hell of a coincidence.

"Hi there, what can I get for you?"

The restaurant belonged to a middle-aged couple. Gu Yu browsed through the menu and made his order. "Rice served with shredded pork and green pepper, please."

"We’ve ran out of green pepper."

"Rice served with eggplant, then."

"No eggplant either."

He went speechless and lifted his eyes. "What do you have, then?"

"Only some fried pancakes left."

"I’ll have that."

"No problem!"

With that, pans and spoons clanked and clattered in the kitchen, accompanied by the rushing sound of stir-frying. Within a few minutes, a plate of tasty fried meat with shredded pancake was on the table.

He asked for a glass of water and ate his food while sizing the old beekeeper up.

Old Li was not that old, but had a withered look to his face, which was shrivelled from all those wrinkles. He was a swarthy man and was wearing very old clothes and muddy-colored rubber shoes. The dishes on his table did not look very appealing—nothing but a glass of liquor, a plate of peanuts and a plate of dried bean curd.

The old man was quite familiar with the shop owners. After serving Gu Yu, the three of them resumed their chitchat.

"As I was saying, it was just too weird. As wild as the bees are, they can't fly around stinging people all day long. Stinging someone who was messing with their beehives is one thing and such people deserve it, but they would even go after random people walking on the street. D*mn!"

The old man was obviously in a bad mood. He nagged on foul-mouthed and gulped down some more liquor.

The owner tried to soothe him. "Don’t be angry. Didn't the experts say it was raining too much and there were a lot of cloudy days this year…?"

"Experts my ass. I know better than they do."

"See, there's that temper of yours again."

Gu Yu listened to their conversation and was becoming all the more curious. Apparently, creatures on Phoenix Mountain were getting weirder everyday. The same thing was happening to Wudao River, which was 35 km away, and the situation here seemed even worse.

He wanted to have a look himself, but needed an excuse. He then chimed in, "Uncle, are you a beekeeper?"

"Huh?"

The old man was still nursing his grievance and paused at his question.

"Do you have any honey left? I want to buy some raw honey."

"Do you live in town? I don't think I’ve seen you around before," the old man asked.

"I’m from Bai Town. I’m here to run some errands."

"Well… I still have some left. If you really want to buy, I’ll sell you at 15 yuan a kilo."

"Um, is it ok if I take a look first?"

"You people from the city always have questions. My honey is the purest. Other people collect honey daily, but I collect once a week. It's the best!"

Despite his chattering, the old man did not refuse Gu Yu. "It’s too late today. Come tomorrow. I eat breakfast here everyday, we’ll meet up here."

"Great. Sorry for the trouble," Gu Yu smiled.

Before Gu Yu realized it, he had stayed in the restaurant for quite some time and had long finished his fried pancake. After deciding on his plans for the next morning, he stood up and was ready to leave. The old man stood up with him and mumbled, "Ok, that’s enough liquor for tonight, or I won’t make it back."

By the look of it, he was already tipsy with an unsteady gait.

The two paid their bills and walked out, the old man ahead of Gu Yu. While pushing the door open, the old man lost his balance and stumbled. Gu Yu hurried to his side and steadied him. "Uncle, are you ok?"

"I’m fine. Can’t drink as much as I used to, that's all."

The old man waved him off and smacked the door open.

The light outside the restaurant was on, which dispelled the darkness of the rainy night in a small area. Old Li was standing at the edge where the light met the shadow. His rough face was covered by a half-lit and half-obscured effect, as if wearing a bizarre mask.

Right at that moment, Old Li suddenly twisted his neck in such a way that it seemed his bones were completely shattered and his flesh was turned 180 degree around. A grin emerged on his face as he made a creepy smile at Gu Yu. "Young man, the streets are slippery on rainy days. Be aware of where you're going!"

[1] ED/N: Plug-in as in like one in an internet browser etc. As for HP, I’m explaining for that 1 person in 1000 readers who has question marks floating around their face now, it means Hit Points or Health Points and refers to health of a character/player in a game.

[2] TL/N: Wudaohe Town = "Five Rivers" Town

[3] ED/N: A character from a Japanese series of games and anime, of which the most notable would likely be School Days. Yep, yandere harem one, or so I’ve heard since I dropped it after 2-3 eps, bored. As for the last sentence, it’s likely a much broader reference.

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