“Li ge, you didn’t have to come,” the Xiao Di16 with a stylish hairdo wore an expression of horror as he looked at Xiao Li. “It would have been more than enough if Lin ge and Hong Tou ge 17 came.”
Without saying anything, Xiao Li took a glance at the narrow entranceway of the abandoned living area in front of him.
Lin Zi, who stood to the side, slapped the Xiao Di’s head. “When Xiao Li makes a decision, don’t say any bullshit.”
“Are you positive he’s inside?” Xiao Li asked.
“Absolutely,” the Xiao Li quickly replied as he covered his head. “We’ve been keeping an eye on him for three days now. Lao Bing-Gui18 is definitely held up in there. But the place is really big, and the small alleyways are a complete mess with tons of twists and turns. We… since there are only three of us guarding the entrance, we were afraid that if we acted recklessly and didn’t pay attention, he’d slip away. That’s why we didn’t dare go in.”
“Lin Zi, take some men and guard this area.” Xiao Li calmly instructed, “I’ll head inside with them and search for Bing-Gui.”
Lin Zi glanced at the Xiao Di. In the end, he couldn’t help but to say a few words of nonsense to Xiao Li as well, “Li ge, you don’t need to go in, alright?”
“Don’t worry,” Xiao Li laughed. “I actually lived in his area for ten years, so I’m quite familiar with it.”
After they finished briefing their strategies, Xiao Li and several subordinates quickly dispersed into the alleyways. There were many old buildings that looked as though they were going to fall down at any second around them, but they carefully maneuvered through with much ease.
There were new and dead weeds protruding from the broken cement on the ground, shattered pieces of stones, bricks and glass were also thrown about. Both sides of the walls were caulked cracks, dirt, and other unnamed substances.
Xiao Li inspected two abandoned rooms before turning into another narrow corner.
Soon, he came to a stop in front of an alleyway that was blocked up by a collapsed wall. There were a ton of weeds and earth piling on top of each other, preventing him from going through. At the very top of it was the corpse of a cat that had been left to dry in the sun from some time ago. The grotesque smell had attracted a swarm of flies that refused to back off.
As he was about to turn away towards another path, he suddenly stopped. Then, in spite of the flies and the rotting smell, he approached the corpse and leaned in for a closer look.
Finding it strange, he carefully climbed up to the top of the debris and looked down only to see a courtyard on the other side. There were many abandoned buildings with broken windows were broken and smashed doors that had fallen to the ground.
Seeing that, he pressed his body into the wall at the top of the debris to determine whether or not it was solid. Afterward, he pushed his hand firmly against the wall which caused him to bounce forward and allow him to leap down into the area below without a hitch.
After moving the trash around him away, he stooped down and entered one of the buildings. To the further corner of the room and on the edge of the windows, were piles of large and small bottles, cans and jars that were all covered in dust.
Glancing from side to side without moving his head in the dim area, all of Xiao Li’s senses heightened. He quietly moved sideways to one side of the wall and made his way over to the window on the other side where the cans and jars were piled.
He stopped near the window and peered inside from the side of his eyes. As expected, he saw a man’s back facing him through the cracks in the bottles and jars that sat along the windowsill. The man was moving something around, completely unaware of Xiao Li’s present.
Xiao Li crouched down and quietly moved some bottles that were blocking him. While making sure not to make any sounds, he carefully inched closer as his hand slowly reached for the dagger that was hidden near his waist.
Suddenly, the phone in his pocket vibrated, taking Xiao Li by surprise right before he was about to rush into the room with his dagger.
Without hesitation, he quickly looked through the window and saw that the small man inside was already alerted. A second later, before Xiao Li could react, a huge shadow rapidly flew towards him and crashed right above his body.
Xiao Li rapidly lifted his arm up to block himself but then a bottle broke on top of his head. Before long, the once silent place broke out with rustling sounds as the two struggled.
Unable to check the wound on his head, Xiao Li let it be for the time being. Then as the man attempted to grab his arms, Xiao Li jabbed him in the stomach with his elbow and gave him a rough kick which caused the man to stumble several feet back. However, the man conveniently grabbed a nearby iron rod and charged forward again. In the eerie surrounding, the two continued to fight each other. Xiao Li was quick and versatile with his movements. He blocked with skills and ducked and danced around the man with strength and ease. In just a moment, Xiao Li was able to seize the iron rod and had even struck the man countless times with his ferocious fist until he ended up lying flat on the ground groaning.
All the while, his cell phone was still buzzing.
Xiao Li pressed his foot heavily on the man’s back for the sake of keeping him down before he took out his phone and answered it.
“Xiao Li, it’s Qi Xiuyuan.”
The person’s voice was gentle and sweet with an obvious hint of joy to the ear.
What great timing, Xiao Li commented mentally. “Hello, Qi Laoshi.”
A light chuckle transmitted from the other side before Qi Xiuyuan spoke, “I’m currently out of the city right for work right now, but I’ll be returning tomorrow. I wanted to invite you for a meal. Would you be able to come?”
When the man pressed below Xiao Li’s feet glanced around and spotted a piece of broken glass not too far from them, he tried to stretch his arms out as far as possible to grab it.
All the while, Xiao Li was still on the phone. “You don’t have to be so polite. If there’s anything, just say it directly.”
“I’m not being polite. I just want to talk with you about something.”
“Did something happen?”
“It’s really nothing. I only wanted to have a meal and chat, that’s all.”
Xiao Li hesitated for a moment. If Qi Xiuyuan said, ‘Thank you for helping me last time,’ he would naturally refuse and if he said, ‘I wanted to ask you for help,’ then he could try his best. However, the core of the matter was that no one had ever said such crafty words to him before. It’s possible for him to still have some matters that need my help, but he found it hard to say it out loud?
Xiao Li laughed, “Alright then. Tomorrow, I’m don’t have anything going on in the afternoon and evening.”
“Got it!” Qi Xiuyuan’s voice was bleeding with excitement.
“I’ll send you a text message of the specific time and place in a moment.”
“See you tomorrow.”
By now, the man that was still trapped under his feet had already hidden the broken piece of glass under the palm of his hand. He was about to grip it more firmly when he suddenly felt the pressure on his back lightened. He wanted to move, but before he could, a heavy footstep slammed down on his hand and crushed the piece of glass. Now, the glass and his hand had merged into one.
The racing pain seared the man’s hand, killing his nerves to the point that he was unable to make any noise. His whole body broke out in cold sweats as he gasped for air. All he could hear at that moment was the refined and courteous sound of Xiao Li’s voice.
“See you tomorrow.”
16 xiao di – lower rank member in a gang [literal meaning] – little brother
17 Hong Tou – literal translation is ‘Red Head’,
18 Lao Bing Gui – is ‘the demon’ from chapter four that gave drugs to Han Jia’s girls and he is also mentioned in the beginning of chapter 11 where Xiao Li’s beat up one of his own men to get the information from him about where Lao Bing Gui’s location is.