The street lights were turned on when they walked out of the restaurant.
To aid digestion, they decided to stroll along the pavement.
Around 7-8 pm, neon lights flickered outside a shopping mall. The street was lively, with a thronging crowd and moving cars. With his backpack over his chest, Jiang Lan let Suan Ni’s head out to watch with him the bustling street scene.
Jiang Lan loved the hustle and bustle of human society. This liveliness was absent in his past life, only to be had in the human world.
Ying Qiao watched him and felt he was easy to please. All it takes to put him in a good mood were a lollipop, a hot pot dinner, and a stroll in a bustling street.
When he smiled, his eyes were sparkling, with the reflection of the whole bustling world.
They strolled along the pavement. Jiang Lan appeared to have no intention of bringing up last night’s events. But Ying Jiao decided to mention it to confirm his speculations.
” Last night….it was me being narrow-minded. I shouldn’t draw a conclusion about the Tao Tie based on mere rumors.”
A little surprised, Jiang Lan turned to look at him. Blinking his eyes, he forced a smile.” It doesn’t matter. After all, you didn’t know the Tao Tie. The blame should go to those spreaders.”
His reaction confirmed his suspicion—this little monster like the Tao Tie.
With his hands in his pockets, Ying Qiao spoke in a casual tone.” You seem to know a lot about The Tao Tie? Do you like him? I heard many ancient high monsters have a loyal following not only among humans but also among monsters.”
Of course, I knew him a lot. I am the Tao Tie, after all.
Jiang Lan thought to himself proudly while saying.” I can’t say I know a lot about him, only a little bit about him which suggested that the Tao Tie was not as brutal and horrible as rumors made it out to be. He was, in fact, kind and easy-going. And…..the Tao Tie was so powerful. Is it normal that people like him?”
He wanted to say more to portray himself in a positive light. But he felt so uncomfortable with this self-flattery that he couldn’t go on while his cheeks became flushed.
Ying Jiao noticed his flushed cheeks. But he took it as signs of his excitement at the mention of his idol’s name.
Ying Jiao liked his simple-minded nature, but his naivety worried him.
It didn’t need to be well informed to see that describing the Tao Tie, an ancient evil creature, as kind and easy-going was a little far-fetched.
Ying Jiao had never crossed paths with the Tao Tie, but the fame of “Four Devils” was prodigious.
In ancient times, gods and humans mingled together. At that time, the human race was weak and subject to the dominating gods and monsters. In the eyes of ancient humans, gods and monsters were grouped together, referred collectively as” Witch Gods.”
Witch gods were powerful and predatory. They only respected the rule of the jungle. Mortal struggles broke out periodically among them while humans and weak witch gods were consigned to the fate of being the food of powerful witch gods and being stamped on as if they were ants.
And “Four Devils” were the culmination of this rule of the jungle.
They were feared by not only humans but also weak witch gods.
Perhaps the most fearsome among” Four Evils” was Tao Tie. Born with the capability to devour everything, a Tao Tie deemed everyone who was not his equal in power to be his potential food, regardless of race.
That was the reason why the passage of thousands of years hadn’t erased his bad name. Any high monsters with the knowledge of that part of history would never believe a Tao Tie would change his evil nature.
Ying Jiao went so far as to speculate that the Tao Tie joining the Special Service Branch was merely trying to lay low, compelled by the new situation to pretend he had changed.
After the fall of gods, the era of Witch Gods had long ended. No matter where they stand, the surviving high monsters were all trying to lay low under the scrutiny of the Heavenly Law.
Being kind was just a kind of camouflage.
It fools no one except this little monster.
Ying Jiao let out a sign. But keeping in mind what he had read in the book, he didn’t try to contradict him.
After a pause, he changed the tactic.” It’s good to have a role model. But humans have an old saying which says no one is perfect. This also applies to monsters. Perhaps you should find more role models to follow, so you could filter out their weaknesses and focus on their strengths.
Jiang Lan thought he had a good point.
But except for his older brothers, he didn’t know any high monsters he could look up to.
His thoughtful looks made Ying Jiao smile.” Except for the Tao Tie, do you have any other role models?”
Jiang Lan admitted he had none.
Ying Jiao.” May I recommend one?”
Jiang Lan looked at him sincerely.” Who?”
“Ying Dragon” Ying Qiao was the last surviving member of the Ying Dragon clan.
Ying Jiao said with a little pride.” Ying Dragon was a god coming to earth. As an auspicious monster, he deserved to be followed as much as a Tao Tie.”
Jiang Lan looked troubled. After a pause, he said cautiously.” I heard there is only one Ying Dragon left in the whole Ying Dragon clan.”
Ying Jiao nodded.” True. There is only one from heaven to earth.”
Jiang Lan.” I also heard that This Ying Dragon is foul-tempered…….officious and likes to ask others to do the hard work while he stands aside and watches…..” He swallowed the rest after noticing Ying Jiao’s face grew grim.
He just repeated what he heard from his fourth brother Bi An.
It all started from Peng City on the coast where Two Jiao蛟 was a legendary dragon-like creature who usually lived in river and lake. After a thousand years of cultivation, they would try to break into the ocean and turn into a dragon, hidden from the scrutiny of the Heavenly law, secretly cultivated their power. In the end, they successfully transformed themselves into dragons and made it to the ocean. They made waves in the seas, leading to tornadoes and tsunamis. Because Ying Dragon and Bi An were both dragons, they went together to Peng City to crush their trouble-making.
They got off on the wrong foot on the way to Peng City.
What his fourth brother said was.” Ying Dragon is such an officious prick. Thanks to his reincarnation as a dragon, he has managed to survive this far without being beaten to death while trapped in a sack. Otherwise, the people he wronged would line up to deliver mourning wreaths while dancing at his grave.”
What exactly happened between them, the fourth brother didn’t say. But after that, a mere mention of his name would make him curse.
Since then, Ying Dragon’s image has dimmed in Jiang Lan’s mind under the influence of his brother.
So it worried him that Ying Jiao appeared to idolize Ying Dragon, not because Ying Jiao might follow Ying Dragon on the wrong path. He was just afraid that Ying Jiao would become disillusioned after he discovered the truth.
Recently he read some trending topics on Weibo about popular idols’ ruined reputations that shattered their fan’s illusions, causing many agonies. He felt he needed to help him.
The snake clan always worshipped dragons. But Ying Dragon was not the only dragon. The dragons in his Dragon Palace were all outstanding.
But he didn’t say these. Sensing Ying Jiao’s darkened mood, he feared he might jeopardize their friendship if he just said what he had in mind.
With widened eyes, he tried to comfort Ying Jiao in a labored voice.” Actually…..Actually, what I heard probably isn’t true, just like what you heard about the Tao Tie isn’t true…..”
The Little Monster’s eyes were darting from side to side, just the kind of behavior when you say something you don’t mean.
Ying Jiao became even more depressed.
He thought to himself that he must get to the bottom of this slander on his character. He said with a forced smile.” You are absolutely right….after all, we have never had the chance to meet these high monsters in person. We can only trust what we see while taking what we hear with a pinch of salt.”
Jiang Lan was visibly relieved at these words. He nodded eagerly.” Yeah, you are right.”
They never brought this up again the rest of the evening. Ying Jiao accompanied him to his apartment and left.
After he left the apartment complex, he immediately called Cheng Hua with seething anger.
“Do you know anyone who spreads rumors about me behind my back?”
Cheng Hua.” What rumor?”
Ying Jiao described what he heard from Jiang Lan through gritted teeth.
“It accused me of being foul-tempered, officious.”
It was very accurate. How come it was called a rumor.
You had no idea what you are like?
But he didn’t dare say these in Ying Jiao’s face. After a pause, Cheng Hua decided to play dumb.” Is that so? I have never heard about these. Where did you hear it from?”
“Jiang Lan heard this rumor from someone else.”
Oh, he immediately understood why he got so angry.
Cheng Hua took immense pleasure in his fury, thinking that now Ying Jiao had finally reaped what he had sown.
“Except for Ren Min Bi人民币， People’s money. Official name of Chinese Currency，nothing could please everyone. It would reflect badly on you if you always take this gossip seriously. No one dares to talk in this way in your face anyway. Since when did you start to takes this gossips seriously?”
Ying Jiao thought to himself furiously. Indeed no one had the guts to bad mouth him in his face, but someone had enough courage to whisper these in the little monster’s ear.
Were these a direct assault on his character?
How could he set an example for the little monster after this? If he fails to do that, how could he raise the cub properly?
Cheng Hua didn’t think this gossip matters. But these gossips gnawed at Ying Jiao.
He had to figure out a way to boost his image in the little monster’s mind.
“Could you please find out if there are any tricky cases left in the Bureau? I will take charge of them.”
Ying Jiao squinted his eyes, thinking that when the little monster got wind of Ying Dragon’s recent exploits in solving some important cases, he would come to the conclusion that Ying Dragon was an idol worthy of his adoration.
The Tao Tie would, after that, take a second place in his mind.
Their differences that night didn’t leave much of an impression in Jiang Lan’s mind. Tomorrow was the weekend, and he was much more preoccupied with how to spend the weekend.
And on Friday, the atmosphere in the office was very relaxing. The workload wasn’t too much, and they had only a work report to work on. It wasn’t a whole week since he came to the office, so he didn’t have to write a work report. Instead, he read the local news on his phone while chewing the beef jerky Suan Ni gave to him.
When he was bored, he liked to read the local news.
Hanyang District was an old city district without a booming economy. Most local news was mainly concerned with trivial matters. Jiang Lan read them as a way to unwind himself.
But today’s headline was not trivial.
He read the news and asked others in the office.” A person died in the Hong Jing Department Complex, do you know?”
Because of the four deaths caused by the Tai Su recently, he was very sensitive to news concerning death.
“Yes, it happened last night, didn’t it?” Xue Meng answered.” My grandpa lived there. He said the victim was a young girl, less than thirty years old. A Manhole cover was stolen; perhaps the offender took it to sell for scrap metal, while the adjacent poorly-maintained street light went out. She walked right in without seeing the danger ahead. When she was lifted out, she was already dead with a severe injury sustained in the head.”
Xiao Xiaoyu was angry.” The thief was so wicked. No one had placed a roadblock or warning around the manhole?”
Xue Meng shrugged.” Perhaps no one had discovered the manhole cover was stolen in time to prevent this.”
After hearing Xue Meng, Jiang Lan thought he must have overreacted. These days, the news of death tends to bring up the image of a scheming monster in his mind. Patting his forehead, he put the phone in his pocket.
|↑1||Ying Qiao was the last surviving member of the Ying Dragon clan.|
|↑2||蛟 was a legendary dragon-like creature who usually lived in river and lake. After a thousand years of cultivation, they would try to break into the ocean and turn into a dragon|
|↑3||人民币， People’s money. Official name of Chinese Currency|