Hastily, Zhao washes up, and finds the bandages and medicine on the coffee table. He closes his eyes, wraps bandage around for a few times, and takes a piece of paper and a pen from the nightstand. It doesn’t matter what kind of paper it is; he scribbles some messy symbols which are supposed to read “I’m going to No. 4 Bright Avenue”, then he leaves the apartment with cautious steps.
His heart which has been thumping since he woke up from the nightmare is now gradually quietening in his swift movements.
When the elevator stops at the first floor, Zhao adjusts his breathing, and concentrates all his energy to the third eye between his eyebrows. He walks outside with big, confident steps.
He sees a lot of people coming and going, very rapidly. Zhao can quickly work out that the figures with a glowing halo are people, as for those without, he clearly would not know what they are.
At first, for some reason, his vision is not very clear; he only sees a blurry layer of shadows and lights. And yet as Zhao slowly walks out of the small residential area, he seems to be gradually getting used to this way of “looking” at the world, and the figures are beginning to materialise.
Slowly, he begins to see the Samadhi true fire on everybody, and even the three flowers on their heads. Finally, Zhao sees very clearly from someone who passes by… the halo on a living person is really a layer of blurry “membrane”, covering the entire person from head to toe, with strange symbols written all over.
Zhao stands still by the road, and puts his hand out to hail a taxi. But after all, he can’t see, so all he can do is just keep his hand out, and try his luck.
When he does hail a cab, and finds his way into the car, Zhao can clearly see that the symbols written on people’s bodies aren’t exactly hieroglyphs, but they are words.
Incredibly small, and incredibly dense; changing every second. Zhao can’t help but stare at the taxi driver. The driver calls him twice, and he comes to, “Oh, sorry. No. 4 Bright Avenue, just bring me to the entrance.”
The taxi driver gives the bandages on his eyes a strange look, “Hey kid, what’s with your eyes?”
Zhao casually lies, “Hurt it playing basketball.”
The driver goes “yikes”, and continues, “Can you still see?”
“Applied ointment, can’t open my eyes.” Zhao says, “I’ll just have to be blind for two days.”
They chitchat along the way and finally arrive at No. 4 Bright Avenue. The taxi stops on the side of the road; Zhao ponders, and takes out his wallet, handing it to the driver, “I can’t see anyway, just take as much as it costs.”
The driver is stunned, “Ah? You trust me?”
Zhao smiles, “There aren’t a lot of money in there anyway, go on.”
The driver hesitates, prints him a receipt, and puts his hand into the wallet. At the same time, Zhao stares intently at the ever-changing words on his body. He hears the driver going through his wallet, making rustling sounds, and he also hears him take something out, hesitate, and putting it back. Then, he takes out another bank note, takes some change, and put them into Zhao’s wallet.
Zhao’s lips lift up on one side… his vision is getting clearer and clearer, and he can now tell the colours of the words. He sees both black and red. As the driver puts the change into his wallet, Zhao sees a line of small red characters passing by on his body.
So that’s what it means… he thanks the driver, and tells him there is no need to help him walk. Zhao realises that the small words indicate a man’s virtue: red is good, and black is evil. Turns out the driver didn’t take advantage of him just now.
Then, Zhao frowns, as he feels an apparent sensation that something seems to be awakening within him with an unstoppable speed. He cannot tell whether it’s a good or a bad thing.
This feeling… it started when the earthquake unearthed the Pillar of Nature.
Was that really a natural earthquake caused by tectonic movements?
The doorkeeper who’s sculpting bones sees him from afar, and merrily puts down the sickle, greeting him, “Hey, Chief Zhao! Oh? What happened to your eyes?”
“Accident.” Zhao says calmly, “Uncle Li, can you help me a little.”
Uncle Li has yet to come forward, and someone else already rushes up from behind. Shen grapples his hand, and suppresses the force in his grip and the tremble in his voice with might, “Why didn’t you wait for me? All I did was go out to buy breakfast, and you were gone when I came back. Do you know I was worried sick? If you do that again I swear I will…”
Shen takes several deep breaths, as his lungs are almost bursting in anger. And yet he can’t seem to finish his sentence.
Zhao turns towards him, and through the vision of his third eye, which is becoming increasingly bright and clear due to unknown reasons, he sees rows after rows of bright red characters on Shen’s body, representing good virtue.
And yet they do not last. Like a rush of waves, swiftly surging up, then immediately drenched in a tsunami of darkness and rinsed away. Like a beach on which no markings can ever remain.
Zhao’s eyes are sore, but he doesn’t understand where the unexpected surge of soreness comes from. It is like an ancient memory that had been buried for centuries, and finally a violent gust blows away countless inches of floating dust, unveiling the naked body underneath, the inevitable corner of truth. His heart is pierced with sorrow.
“That’s because I knew you would catch up with me in no time.” Zhao almost loses control. He puts on a smooth-talking pretense, but his voice has a subtle tremor that is not easily noticeable, “Just in time, go in with me.”
Zhao makes his grand entrance without telling anyone in advance, which sets the office in utter chaos. Da Qing has gone off sulking somewhere, so up until now, the folks of SIU finally realise that their Chief who disappeared for two days wasn’t out having fun, but had an accident.
Zhu’s hands shiver as she unties the bandages, and when she sees the bright yet unfocused eyes, her eyes redden.
Zhao moves his hand, but realises that since he cannot see it would be inappropriate to touch a female colleague blindly. He embarassingly puts down his hand and says heplessly, “Is it you or me that’s blind now, I’m not even crying so what are you getting so worked up about?”
Zhu hurls the bandages on to his face, “You crying? If only you knew how to cry! There is not a place in this world that you dare not go to, and there is not a person in this world whom you dare not mess with, is there? You really think you’re the younger brother of the gods of above, don’t you? Moron!”
Zhao stays silent for a while, and replies, “Aye, the moron heard you.”
No knifes and guns can hurt him, and no words, whether harsh or kind, can get to him. Zhu gives up on trying on him, and glares at Shen. And as if she ate gunpowder, her words fire like machine guns, “Don’t you like him? Aren’t you an expert? What were you doing when this happened?”
Chu and Lin stare at each other in silence; this situation really seems to be somewhat… awkward.
Zhao can hear it too. He instantly feels embarassed, and tries to cover it up with a joke… Zhao pulls at Shen’s sleeves, and tries to wear a pretentious smile, “You like me? Why you never mentioned it? I say, Professor Shen that’s mighty odd of you, if you like me why did you tell her first…”
Zhu does not want an easy way out, and interrupts him, “You shut up!”
The smile on Zhao’s face looks like a drawing, and it instantly wears away, “That’s enough from you, I got into an accident on my own, what the hell does it have to do with him? Do we have to be tied together twenty-four-seven? Tell me that when three-legged races enter the Olympics!”
Zhu’s gaze almost becomes hostile, and Shen can’t help but interrupt, “Actually it was my f…”
Zhao frowns and waves his hand, domineeringly ending the conversation, albeit stiffly, “I don’t want to discuss this now. We can discuss trivial matters later. Shut up for now.”
Then, he takes out a Guardian Order, and lights it up. He says, “Da Qing, come over here.”
With the rings of a kitten bell replacing his voice, Da Qing emerges from the corner of a wall, and silently passes by everyone. He jumps on to Zhao’s legs, and examines his eyes.
Then Da Qing jumps on to the table, “I thought for a long time, and went through some books. I roughly know what’s wrong with your eyes now. You said you summoned Hell fire, burning the little crow, and then he sacrificed himself and entered the golden bell, right? The sound of soul crashed with Hell fire, and the amount of dark energy must have skyrocketed. You were standing too close, so you’re eyes were injured, and you’re temporarily blind.”
Zhao nods subtly, but Shen notices what the black cat said, “Temporarily?”
Da Qing confirms, but then looks at Zhao.
In fact, it feels like Zhao already knows something.
But Shen does not notice. He panics when he is anxious about Zhao, and he keeps asking, “When can he recover? What medicine does he need? Where to find it?”
Da Qing silently glances at Shen, and sees that he is genuinely concerned. With a sigh in its heart, it continues, “The Flower Fairies usually stay hidden from the rest of the world. But they have an extraordinarily precious kind of honey, the Thousand Flowers. Legends say that this kind of honey is made from thirty three kinds of flowers from the Heavens, thirty three kinds on Earth, and thirty three kinds from Hell; taking the purest essence from the nectar of each flower to make. It can cure all kinds of toxins, it heals and revitalises, and is the most suitable for eye injuries… if you want to find them, probably…”
Zhao softly continues, “In the fairy market at the end of the year.”
Da Qing asks bluntly, “How did you know?”
Zhao pats its head, but doesn’t answer. He seems to be pondering something. Then, after a while, he says with a low voice, “You’re done now, so it’s my turn to say something… First, from now on, whoever contacts Hell must send
me a transcript, don’t leave anything out. Second, No. 4 Bright Avenue is now strictly forbidden for unrelated persons, those who come with gifts during the New Year can just stop by the reception office. Third, tell other departments that we’re entering the finalising period at the end of the year, so unless the Commissioner hands down a case directly, try not to take any cases. Fourth, if anyone under the Guardian Order cannot come to work on time or has to take leave of absence, I must have signed and approved it. I need to know your whereabouts at all times.”
Zhu loses focus for a little, and asks, “So the fairy market…”
“That’s not a big deal, Shen Wei can go with me.” Zhao pauses, “I will have them set up a room for you on the third floor, if you need to rest you can go there.”
He doesn’t care about other people’s reactions, and stands up holding on to the desk. He walks towards the library in the wall, “I need to talk to Sang Zan. Shen Wei wait for me. The others inform the other departments of what I just said.”
The library is brightly lit, yet without a ray of sunlight, so Sang can freely work inside even during the day. He sees Zhao, and happily greets him, “Hallu, Shiev Zhao studdera!”
Zhao stays silent for a while, and comments, “What the heck, who taught you that?”
“Cat studdera.” Sang knows his pronunciation is not accurate, so he diligently practises, “Shie… Chies… Zhao studdera!”
Zhao smiles, and doesn’t mind him. He looks around with the third eye, and finds that he can see the shape of most of the books. He searches around for a while, and says to Sang, “Get me the book I read the other day.”
Sang swiftly takes out the Book of Souls. It’s quite impressive that although he doesn’t know the words, he clearly remembers where each and every one of them is.
Zhao clearly “sees” the words “Book of Souls” on the cover. And before he moves, the book opens itself, and he sees something he didn’t notice before… a
page has been torn off, and under the vision of the third eye, the torn page seems to be dripping with violet blood.
Zhao slams the book shut. Sang peeks at his expression, and Zhao does not say a word.
After a long while, Zhao asks in a deep voice, “Do you believe there are perfect ‘coincidences’ in this world?”
Sang makes much effort, and after some time he finally figures out what “coincidence” means. Because he cannot speak with clarity, he always appears a little dumb. But after all, he isn’t actually dumb, everybody knows that.
Sang shakes his head, and says with rare accuracy, “I don’t.”
“Neither do I.” Zhao says slowly, “The fairy tribes seem to be friendly with Hell, but they really aren’t. I hold the Guardian Order, and all I really want to do is fulfill my own responsibility and protect the realm of the living, then enjoy my happy life with the wifey and the fat cat. But some people just don’t want to give me an easy time.”
Too much was said, and it was far too complex, so Sang doesn’t understand. And yet he gives Zhao a look of realisation, and asks directly, “How can I help yar?”
Zhao lowers his eyes, “Hand me a piece of paper.”
He writes down what the raven fairy said the other night. Turns out he was feigning ignorance; in fact, he can remember every single word. Then, under the final line, he writes “Kunlun” with broad characters, and a heavy turn of the pen at the last stroke.
“I want all books with this word.” Zhao says, “Don’t tell anyone about this, including Wang Zheng. Thank you brother.”
Sang treats him as half a saviour. Though he used to be a cunning and manipulative schemer, deep down he knows good from evil. He promises Zhao formally, “Don’t worry, Chief Zhao studdera.”
Zhao says half-jokingly, “Good, I will kick dat fat fuq’s fat ass for ya.”