Chapter 100: Evernight Parish
“Shen Du wanted to betray the parish, and he has already suffered divine punishment.”
The dim yellow light scattered unevenly on everyone in Li Zhen’s house, bringing with it different shades of light and darkness.
For nearly ten seconds, nobody spoke. Even their breathing didn’t seem to exist. It was as if someone had pressed the pause button for the entire room.
Finally, Ren Jie broke the silence. She raised her arms like she was cradling a baby. “Thy mercy be praised!”
Just as she said that, rapid and heavy breaths sounded in the room. They seemed to have been held in for a long time.
“We praise thy tolerance!” All the members of the parish bowed—they were more pious than ever.
Shang Jianyao joined in and meticulously did the cradling action. His voice did not waver at all.
Ren Jie then said, “Sinner Wang Yafei also suffered a divine punishment.”
With that said, she slowly looked around, making everyone bow their heads.
Ren Jie stopped mentioning Shen Du and Wang Yafei and began to preach. This time, she spoke of the Arbiter of Fate’s grandeur and holiness.
As she came to an end, she scanned each member again. “Our Lady is tolerant and dignified. ‘She’ has always been watching the world. The Doctor of the Church has always been paying attention to us. No one can hide from him.”
Ren Jie had just mentioned the Life Ritual’s internal structure for the very first time.
Newcomers were considered Newborn. After they made some contributions and managed to bring in more believers, they could be promoted to a Guide. Above the Guides was the Doctor of the Church.
Ren Jie did not mention if there were any others above the Doctor of the Church.
“We praise thy tolerance!” The Newborn once again did the cradling action.
As this was a last-minute gathering, and there was no Holy Communion, the parish members quickly got up and left in batches.
Shang Jianyao was just about to leave when Ren Jie stopped him.
The Guide smiled at him and said, “Don’t be too afraid. The Arbiter of Fate is tolerant. As long as you do not blaspheme or betray the parish, ‘She’ will only give blessings, not divine punishment.”
Ren Jie’s attitude toward Shang Jianyao was much friendlier than before.
“I praise thy tolerance,” Shang Jianyao replied sincerely.
After leaving Li Zhen’s house, he held the flashlight and approached the wall, walking forward at a moderate speed.
As far as he could see, he saw Jian Xin and Zhuo Zhengyuan—who were the cause of Wang Yafei’s death.
The light from their flashlights was very weak as if new batteries were needed.
The couple walked very anxiously in the dim, swaying light as if they were afraid a monster would pounce out of the darkness.
Shang Jianyao’s pace quickened slightly before he returned to normal. He watched as the dim figures representing Jian Xin and Zhuo Zhengyuan disappeared around the corner.
Room 14 on the 647th floor, 7:50 a.m.
Shang Jianyao didn’t wait for Long Yuehong and first went to the room assigned to the Old Task Force.
As expected, Jiang Baimian had already arrived. She was sitting in her seat, holding a fountain pen dazedly.
Upon sensing Shang Jianyao enter, Jiang Baimian waved her hand. “I found something.”
Shang Jianyao immediately jumped over.
“… There’s no need for such exaggerated actions.” Jiang Baimian’s expression was a little dull.
“My brain had a spasm,” Shang Jianyao explained seriously.
“Alright, I know you have a doctor’s certificate.” Jiang Baimian sighed helplessly. She then said seriously, “Preliminary clues point toward an Awakened that is very likely a resident of the 478th floor, or someone who works there.”
Before Shang Jianyao could speak, she roughly explained the source of the clues and the basis of her judgment. Finally, she said, “You can try asking the person in question, Jian Xin, to see if she noticed any resident on that floor not going to work on the day of Wang Yafei’s death. Or perhaps, which employee of the Rec Center, primary school, and Order Supervisory Department approached the Supplies Allocation Market before and after Wang Yafei’s death.”
“What if there’s none? None at all?” Shang Jianyao asked in response.
Jiang Baimian smiled. “That would mean that the Awakened might very well be a member of the Supplies Allocation Market on the 478th floor. When the time comes, find a friend who lives on that floor, have a meal, and go over to take a look around to see if there are any abnormalities among the employees.
“You can also get some understanding of this through Jian Xin.” At this point, she reminded him, “But don’t go there for the time being. It’s best to wait a few days. Find a quiet corner in a place like the Rec Center to ask when there are many people around. Also, be tactful. Don’t be so direct. It will scare the other party.
“I know you’re not afraid of attracting danger to yourself, but you have to consider if this will bring danger to the other party. You don’t want Shen Du’s matter to happen again, right?”
Shang Jianyao frankly said, “I’m scared too. However, there are things that we have to do, no matter how scared we are.”
Jiang Baimian tersely acknowledged it. “Alright, go read the information. Forget about this for the next few days. Don’t think about it anymore.”
Shang Jianyao turned around before returning. “I have another question.”
“What?” Jiang Baimian suddenly felt a little scared. She was worried that something major had happened.
Shang Jianyao thought for a moment and inquired, “How can a person defeat the fear lurking in their hearts?”
Jiang Baimian’s eyes widened as she subconsciously shrank back. She looked at Shang Jianyao suspiciously. “Why are you suddenly asking this question?”
Shang Jianyao boldly said, “Have you forgotten? Du Heng said that one has to face the fear in their hearts after entering the Sea of Origins and defeat them one by one.”
“Oh, about that. I thought…” Jiang Baimian shut her mouth in time and suddenly came to a realization. “You’ve entered the Sea of Origins?”
Shang Jianyao nodded.
“When was this? Did your abilities change?” Jiang Baimian blurted out a question.
Shang Jianyao was very honest. “No.”
“That’s true. You haven’t overcome even one fear in your heart…” Jiang Baimian nodded thoughtfully. She hesitated for a moment and decided to be direct. “What fear are you facing now? I can only think of a suitable solution if I know the exact situation.”
Shang Jianyao didn’t say anything. He took out a folded piece of paper from his pocket and handed it over.
Jiang Baimian reached out to take the piece of paper and quickly unfolded it.
Many disorderly blue lines were reflected in her eyes.
These lines—created by a ballpoint pen—seemed to form a shadow, which surrounded a circle and ‘eroded’ it.
At the edge of the paper—above the messy lines—were two other circles. Apart from that, there was a large blank space.
Jiang Baimian looked at it for a while. Coupled with Shang Jianyao’s information, she had some ideas.
She deliberated and said, “I’ll try my best to think about it in the next two days. I hope I can give you some suggestions as soon as possible.”
After saying that, she seemed to recall something and curiously asked, “Is this the drawing you drew in the car when Qiao Chu ordered you to draw?”
“You still remember?” Shang Jianyao didn’t hide his surprise.
The smile on Jiang Baimian’s face gradually became obvious. “I’ve said it before. I’ve always been a very petty and vengeful person.”
Shang Jianyao was just about to respond when Bai Chen and Long Yuehong entered the room one after another.
Jiang Baimian stood up and smiled. “We have two days at most before we know what items we can keep and how much compensation we can get.”
Shang Jianyao and the others spent the day reading information and doing all kinds of training. It was mundane but fulfilling.
After dinner, Shang Jianyao returned home. After some thought, he walked to the Rec Center.
He glanced over and saw Long Yuehong chatting with a beautiful girl with short hair in the corner.
Shang Jianyao couldn’t help but shake his head.
At this moment, a clear female voice sounded in Shang Jianyao’s ear. “Do you also think Long Yuehong is stupid? He actually decided to have a chat at the Rec Center on his first date?”
Shang Jianyao turned his head and realized that it was Meng Xia.
This girl was the same age as Shang Jianyao, Long Yuehong, and Yang Zhenyuan. She also lived on the same floor, so she definitely had a classmate relationship with him. He was relatively familiar with her.
Meng Xia was tall and had a clean and exquisite face. She wore a long, camel-colored coat and looked much more mature than before.
Beside her was a man in his twenties. He was more than 1.7 meters tall and about the same height as Meng Xia. He looked decent, but his skin was a little tanned. His face showed signs of the elements, and his eyes were rather sharp.
Meng Xia and the man held hands as if they didn’t want to be separated for even a moment.
“That’s right.” Shang Jianyao replied to Meng Xia’s evaluation of Long Yuehong.
Meng Xia immediately smiled and said, “My husband just said that it’s very normal. Seriously, it’s so noisy here. It’s better to take a walk on a quiet street.”
Shang Jianyao nodded. “It’s useless for him to be doing this. He should’ve sung a song the moment he met her.”
“…” Meng Xia didn’t know how to respond.
Fortunately, Shang Jianyao didn’t continue the topic. He looked at the man beside Meng Xia and questioned, “Your husband?”
He remembered that Meng Xia’s husband was a wilderness nomad and was currently a D4 employee. Therefore, Meng Xia had already moved to his apartment on the 622nd floor. It was usually very difficult to meet her here.
“Yes, Zhang Lei.” Meng Xia introduced him. “This is my classmate, Shang Jianyao. He’s the one who just went to the surface.”
Zhang Lei took a step forward and stretched out his right hand. “Hello.” He habitually shielded Meng Xia behind him.
“Hello.” Shang Jianyao shook hands with him. He then asked Meng Xia, “Why are you back?”
“Something happened to Uncle Shen, so I came back to visit Mom and Dad.” Meng Xia sighed.
Shang Jianyao thought for a moment and suddenly asked, “Can I have a word with your husband?”
“Huh?” Meng Xia was confused.
Shang Jianyao politely explained, “I have something to ask him.”
Meng Xia laughed. “Go ahead. Don’t borrow him for too long.”
Shang Jianyao and Zhang Lei went to an empty corner in the Rec Center. After sitting down, Shang Jianyao directly asked, “Do you know anything about the Kalendarium and Awakened?”
Zhang Lei raised his eyebrows. “Xiaxia said you’ve been to the surface. It seems like you know a lot. Yes, I’ve wandered the wilderness for many years, so I know some things.”
Shang Jianyao thought for a moment and inquired, “Have you ever encountered an Awakened who can affect other people’s hearts?”
Zhang Lei’s expression gradually turned serious. “Yes, but it wasn’t me. It was a friend of mine. Back in Weed City, he made a bet with a member of the Ever Noctium Parish in a game of arm-wrestling. But just as he was about to win, his heart suddenly palpitated crazily. He almost couldn’t calm down.”
Shang Jianyao thought for a moment and questioned, “Who does the Evernight Parish believe in?”
Zhang Lei looked around and answered in a low voice, “The Arbiter of Fate.”