Embers Ad Infinitum

Chapter 354: Eternal Draw
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Chapter 354: Eternal Draw

Jiang Baimian quickly helped Shang Jianyao smooth things over. “Investigating this matter gave us an additional 50 Oray.”

Phocas—whose nickname was Lion—nodded. “Explain your investigation in detail.”

He walked back to the desk and sat down. During this process, he didn’t invite Shang Jianyao and Jiang Baimian to find a seat for themselves. It was as though they were only two subordinates who had come to report the situation.

It’s really not easy to earn some money... Jiang Baimian perked herself up. She began recounting how they ‘chanced upon’ Zhao Yide and took on this mission. It went all the way to waiting for Shen Kui and subduing him, confirming that the Anti-intellectualism Church was really behind this.

As for how they figured out which ‘strangers’ were the ones mentioned by the Zhao family’s steward—Zhao Shouren—and how they got Shen Kui to explain the situation truthfully without taking the initiative to expose the fact that he had been captured, Jiang Baimian only vaguely mentioned ‘we used some tricks.’ She openly assumed a position of having secrets in this regard.

To many Ruin Hunter teams, this was not a rare situation. Everyone had things they didn’t want others to know so as to ensure their safety and survival.

Phocas stroked his chin and suddenly asked, “Why didn’t you monitor the Zhao family manor’s surroundings instead of choosing a far-away road?”

As expected of someone who has gained experience through steel and blood. He has very strong acumen... Jiang Baimian smiled and replied, “We were worried that the Anti-intellectualism Church would pay special attention to the areas around the manor that are conducive for surveillance.”

Phocas fell silent for a few seconds before chuckling. “The Hunter team that previously investigated the manor and found strangers entering and leaving was really lucky.”

“That’s right.” Shang Jianyao agreed deeply.

Upon seeing that General Phocas easily realized the problem she had deliberately posed, Jiang Baimian heaved a sigh of relief and said, “The Anti-intellectualism Church has a precedent.”

She then roughly recounted the operation planned by the real Father in Weed City.

Phocas quietly listened and revealed a slightly mocking smile. “Are they plotting to deal with me?”

Without waiting for Shang Jianyao and Jiang Baimian to answer, he stood up in an imposing manner. “I do want to see what they plan on doing. Can you recognize all the suspicious ‘strangers?'”

“Yes,” Shang Jianyao replied frankly.

Phocas smiled. “That’s good. Meet up with my guards here at 9 a.m. in two days. We’ll capture them directly!”

He didn’t seem worried that they would step into a trap.

“Aren’t you going to choose an auspicious hour?” Shang Jianyao asked.

‘Auspicious hour’ was a term in Ashlandic. As Shang Jianyao was speaking the Red River language, he didn’t know if there was a specialized term, so he used ‘lucky time’ to express his meaning.

“Lucky time?” Phocas asked in confusion.

“For example, when everyone is asleep at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m.” Shang Jianyao gave an example.

Phocas roared with laughter. “There’s no need; they aren’t worthy of such treatment.”

There’s often no good ending to saying such things... General, don’t jinx it... Jiang Baimian tried her best to change the topic. “We’ll receive the corresponding payment after participating in this operation?”

As she spoke, she swept her gaze across the two guards on duty in the study.

“This isn’t something I should answer. It’s up to your employer,” Phocas said confidently. “But I think it won’t pose a problem.”

Without waiting for Jiang Baimian and Shang Jianyao to ask again, he sat down wearily. “You may leave. Be punctual.”

Shang Jianyao said in surprise, “Aren’t you going to keep us for lunch?”

Phocas sized him up and suddenly smiled. “Is that the price you paid? I’ll invite you to a celebratory feast when the operation is successful.”

“Deal!” Shang Jianyao replied with bright eyes. He then left General Phocas’s residence with Jiang Baimian and returned to the gray SUV.

Jiang Baimian looked at the rearview mirror as she drove. “I even suspect that he’s related to you by blood; he actually chose to rush in.”

Shang Jianyao stroked his hair. “I don’t think so. But if there’s a need for the relationship, it’s not a problem.”

Jiang Baimian immediately laughed. “You want to inherit his estate?”

“I’ll let his assets be used in more meaningful places,” Shang Jianyao replied sincerely.

Jiang Baimian scoffed. “For example, filling your stomach?”

Without waiting for Shang Jianyao’s answer, she turned the steering wheel and said seriously, “When the time comes, we definitely won’t be the main target. Even if something really happens, we will at most be within the implicated area. The danger level isn’t too high. Yes, get Old Ge to follow us, cloaked. He’s the nemesis of most Awakened.”

At this point, Jiang Baimian smiled. “Phocas is reckless, but he should be very strong. Zhao Zhengqi should’ve mentioned to him that you are an Awakened, but he only arranged for two guards when meeting us. Either the entire building is under the observation of a certain powerhouse, or he’s that powerhouse.”

A powerhouse at that level would find it insulting to act as a guard in the study. They could simply sit beside Phocas.

“He’s very arrogant.” Shang Jianyao voiced his opinion. “But he’s still alright. He actually agreed to treat us to a feast after the matter.”

Jiang Baimian tersely acknowledged his words and made the gray SUV drive to the roadblock on the street ahead.

...

Green Olive Zone, Labe Street, Ugo Hotel.

Jiang Baimian brought Shang Jianyao back and asked the boss about the latest situation. “Were there any Heartless cases yesterday?”

Ugo shook his head. “No. You can move back if there aren’t any more cases after two to three days.”

His expression was normal, showing no signs of abnormality.

“I hope so.” Shang Jianyao sincerely expressed his anticipation.

After leaving the hotel, the two of them went to the rented apartment at Iron Medallion Street as planned and met up with Bai Chen, Long Yuehong, and Genava.

After exchanging the results of their operations, Jiang Baimian laughed self-deprecatingly. “I’m quite silly too. I treated them as beginners in the Red River language who had undergone the company’s systematic education. Let’s organize another introductory Ashlandic textbook later. We’ll use the first grade in primary school as a blueprint.

“There’s no rush. Let’s take an afternoon nap.”

After lunch, Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong slept in the top bunk.

Long Yuehong was just about to complain that the other party was occupying too much space when Shang Jianyao raised his right hand and massaged his temples.

...

In the Sea of Origins, on the island with the golden elevator.

Shang Jianyao looked at himself—who was sitting cross-legged at the elevator door in a gray camouflage uniform. He shook his head in pity and also sat down.

He sincerely said, “You are me, and I am also you. We are an inseparable part of each other. Everyone has moments when they struggle internally, but we can’t split ourselves and go to extremes because of this.”

Upon seeing the other Shang Jianyao quietly listen to his words at the elevator door, Shang Jianyao laughed and said the last word. “So...”

The other Shang Jianyao raised his hand, dug his ears, and smiled. “What did you say? I couldn’t hear you. I stuffed my ears, afraid that I would be affected by Inference Clowning.”

Shang Jianyao frowned and looked at him. He then raised his hand and dug his ear.

After a few seconds, Shang Jianyao sighed. “We really are alike. We both made the same choice. I still want to accept you and let you receive the best treatment in the hospital we built.”

The other Shang Jianyao continued, “Defeating the last fear is your only way to the Mind Corridor. Since we are afraid of losing our companions, we have to create an opportunity to lose them and find an opportunity to defeat our fear during that process.”

Shang Jianyao thought for a moment and said, “The nine of us get along well, so why are you the only one that’s anti-social? Is there a problem with you? Let’s discuss it. Maybe we can come up with a solution.”

The other Shang Jianyao smiled. “After entering the Mind Corridor, you will undergo a qualitative change and have the ability to complete your ideals. By creating an opportunity to lose our companions by yourself, you can still control it to a certain extent and have a chance to make up for it. However, you might not be able to turn the situation around if you passively wait for an opportunity to descend.”

Shang Jianyao sighed again. “I suddenly don’t know what to say. I’ll wish you a happy new year ahead of time.”

The two of them had their ears stuffed as they conversed like whistling in the wind. In secret, they were both attempting to use Corny Person to get the other party to remove their earplugs and listen to them.

The two of them jumped up at the same time and threw their earplugs at each other.

Once again, Shang Jianyao and Shang Jianyao ended in a draw.

...

After leaving the Sea of Origins, Shang Jianyao took a nap until 4 p.m.

“How was it? I think you entered the Sea of Origins,” Long Yuehong asked in concern and curiosity.

Shang Jianyao sighed. “We know each other too well, so there’s only one outcome.”

A draw.

In the lower bunk, Jiang Baimian thought for a moment and said, “Why don’t you leave everything to me, and I’ll formulate a plan for you?”

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