TLDP Ch. 90: The Invitation

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When I was sure Jiannan was down there, I dialed 911.

Emergency services came right away, they spent 20 minutes getting Jiannan out of the well and to the hospital for all kinds of tests.

Jiannan twisted his left ankle bad enough to be hospitalized. Standing next to his hospital bed, I thought to myself, how crazy is this guy? Who twists his ankle while taking a piss? Although, years ago, I almost electrocuted myself when I was peeing… Guess we’re brothers after all.

Jiannan looked tearful. “Brother, can I file for workers’ compensation?”

“Nah. Why did you drink so much at dinner?”

“What about my medical bills?”

“I’ll take it out of your pay.”

He seemed crushed. “That’d take so many pairs of shoes…”

I had no patience for this. “Did you not see the big hole in the ground?”

“Bro, I was rushing so I didn’t look.” Jiannan looked pathetic. “If my girlfriend found out, she’d kill me.”

My phone rang. It’s He Xue. She just left 20 minutes ago, what now? I said, “What’s wrong?”

He Xue spoke in a low voice. “Ma Xiujun is at the hotel.”

“What? The hotel?”

“Yes. He’s standing at the door to my room. Looks like he’s waiting for me. Good thing he hasn’t noticed me yet. Can you come now?”

“Yes. Don’t do anything stupid, wait for me!”

“Okay, I’ll see you at the hotel parking lot.”

I hung up and told Jiannan. “Rest up. He Xue ran into some trouble, I’ll go help her.”

“I’ll go too!” Jiannan got up from the bed.

I patted him. “You’re too hurt right now, if you fell into a ditch or something, no one could save you.”

I left the hospital and got a taxi to the hotel. I was puzzled. Why is Ma Xiujun looking for He Xue? It has got to be for revenge. A nasty fight is coming. We can’t fight in the hotel and not hurt innocent people, I have to lure him out of the hotel.

I rushed to the hotel and met up with He Xue in the parking lot. “Did he leave?” I asked.

She shook her head. “I didn’t see him come out.”

“Okay, let me lure him down from the room. If we fight in the hotel, it’d be too hard.”

“Be careful.”

I nodded and walked toward the hotel lobby.

I made my way to the fourth floor and stood near the wall. I snuck a look into He Xue’s room but got a big surprise. Ma Xiujun actually stood right in front of He Xue’s room and was smiling at me.

He saw me!

Ma said, “I waited a long time for you.”

Waited for me? Does he have a crush on me? I asked, “What do you want?”

“I need to find out something.” Ma said. “Can you control fire?”

“How did you know?”

Ma Xiujun’s face had the usual beatific smile. “I could tell from the snow. I checked that place in the forest again. The paper puppet is all gone, but there is a melted track in the snow, like something burned by fire. I just want to know if you made that fire.”

I was even more leery. “What do you want exactly?”

Ma Xiujun sighed. “Guess you don’t want to answer me.” A paper puppet appeared in his hand.

Another paper puppet? Does he want to fight here? I started to run downstairs. I have to lead him to somewhere deserted or the puppet could attack a regular person and really hurt someone.

When I got to the second floor, I could hear some footsteps. I turned and saw the puppet had almost caught up to me. Ma followed his puppet. Why does he want to know about my powers? What is he plotting? As I frantically ran downstairs, a couple walked up toward us.

Darn it. If that couple was hit by the puppet, they’d be hurt for sure. I didn’t want to expose my powers but I have no choice now.

I turned around really fast, then shot a stream of fire at the puppet with one hand.

Ma Xiujun just waved his hand for a gust of wind to turn my flame back! I withdrew my invisible power and backed up, but then the paper puppet used the chance to go for my head with its arm!

I had already backed up to the area between the first and second floors, my back was to the wall, and I had nowhere else to run. I had no choice but to use my left arm, the part with the metal shield, to hit back!

“Pow!” The collision felt like a train hitting my arm, my shoulders were so sore. I reached out with my right hand to grab the paper puppet’s arm, which turned into fire. Then the puppet started burning and stopped moving.

I kicked the burning paper puppet toward Xiujun and yelled at the couple. “What are you waiting for, get out from here!”

When they finally realized what was happening, the chubby middle-aged man ran downstairs so fast he took four steps at a time. Amazing the potential everyone has in a moment of crisis! Meanwhile, the young woman tried to follow, crying, “Wait for me, Director Chen–”

When they left, I shot a “rocket of flames” at Xiujun, he didn’t duck, so the flames swallowed his body.

Yet, his voice was still calm as he said from inside the fire, “It’s not hot enough, give me your best shot!”

Is he trying to be tough? My flames may not be the strongest but it’s at least 1000 degrees in there!

I kept it burning for three seconds but stopped; I didn’t want to burn him to death. But after I withdrew the flames, I was shocked to see Xiujun was totally fine. It was as if he wasn’t just on fire a few seconds ago. Seeing my surprise, he calmly said, “How long can you do your last trick for?”

I frowned, thinking if I’d have to resort to Sword Thumb power with him. Who is he exactly? He’s way too strong, even stronger than that one-eyed elder in Qingtian City. But who knows if he’s as shrewd as that old rascal… I answered, “We’re enemies, why should I tell you?”

Xiujun waved his hand. “Nah, we are not enemies.”

I frowned and stayed cautious.

He continued. “I’m about to leave this city soon. I had two things to do here, one, talk to that young woman detective, two, I want to invite you to join our organization.”

I frowned even more.

A document appeared out of thin air in his hand, which he tossed at me. I took the file and stared at him. “What’s this?”

“Why don’t you check it out? Relax, I won’t ambush you.” He then retreated and said he won’t attack me while I read the document.

This was when He Xue jumped out. She pointed a gun at Xiujun and shouted. “Don’t move! Get on your knees, put your hands behind your head, or I’ll shoot!”

He Xue took out some handcuffs to cuff him, but I stopped her. “Officer He, please wait, you watch him while I read this.”

I had to stop He Xue because Ma Xiujun’s power was too strange and powerful, even with a gun, He Xue could do nothing to this wizard. Years before, those Purple Haired Zombies were even able to resist the faster-than-a-bullet Sword Thumb power, and Xiujun is probably just as strong!

With He Xue guarding Xiujun, I started to read the file. There’s an ID photo of a middle-aged man, who died in that hotel room a few days ago, and some more detailed information about him.

Cui Guangdong, male, of Han ethnicity, born in 1971, cover job is insurance salesman, actually a poison maker who makes a huge profit, has already murdered 37 people, to be killed.

After the brief bio, the other pages listed the details of his crimes, including the locations and the names of the victims.

So he deserved to die?

But He Xue and I were also poisoned, so did we also deserve to die? I gave the file to He Xue and looked to Xiujun. “He Xue and I also got the poisoned, how do you explain that?”

“That was an accident. There was a small mishap, when I realized what happened, I removedtook off the poison right away. That’s why even though tons of people had the breakfast at the hotel, Cui Guangdong was the only one one who died. I took care of the poison in you two as soon as I knew about it.” Explained Xiujun. His face was as impassive as ever.

He Xue continued to read the document. She wrinkled her eyebrows. “Even if that poisoning was is like what’s printed here, how do you explain the case in Qingyun City?”

Xiujun conjured another document out of thin air in his hand. He tossed it at He Xue. “This one has the answer you want. You’re quite irritating, chasing me all this way, did you really think you could beat me? Go read it downstairs and you’ll understand. I have something to discuss with him.” He pointed at me.

I nodded at He Xue, indicating that it was okay for her to go downstairs. I will talk alone with Xiujun.

After she had left, Xiujun asked, “Where did you get your power? Which school do you belong to?”

“I’m just an ordinary taoist priest, my teacher is Niu Jingtao.”

“Taoist priest? So you aren’t part of any leagues yet?”

I nodded.

Xiujun said, “Why don’t you join mine then? The Phantasm Rain Pavilion.”

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