“Patriots Partnership?” Evidently, Li Yao had never heard of it.
“This is what happened. The Secret Sword Bureau’s brief says that three snipers were killed in a plaza next to the Federal Square, who were suspected to be the Children of the Nether World.
“However, one of the bodies looked familiar to me. I thought hard and remembered seeing it in a meeting of the Patriots Partnership half a year ago.”
“What is such a partnership about?”
“It was just a regular discussion group of thoughts. At that time, the news about the Flying Star Sector and the Imperium of True Human Beings had only just spread out in the federation. The world we lived in expanded countless times in an instant. You know that all Cultivators more or less have feelings for their homeland and want to do something for the people and the country. Regarding the solutions for the unprecedented change, many wise Cultivators proposed their opinions.
“The idea that the three Sector should collaborate and resist the imperium together was supported by some, doubted by some, and strongly objected by some. People holding different opinions formed different groups spontaneously.
“The Patriots Partnership was an organization that strongly objected to the cooperation with the demon race. It believed that demons were never to be trusted. Besides, the federation was a sacred country made of pure human beings. How could it be vilified by those evil beings?
“The only solution to the Imperium of True Human Beings is to conquer the Blood Demon Sector with the Flying Star Sector and send all the demons to the resource planets in the Flying Star Sector as slaves!”
Li Yao secretly clicked his tongue. Jin Tuyi was right again. A lot of people in the federation was indeed holding such a though!
“You used to believe in such an ideology?” Li Yao asked.
“I still do.”
“” Li Yao.
“Forget it. This is a conflict of belief,” Ding Lingdang said. “I cannot explain it to you right now. Anyway, all kinds ideologies were thriving in the federation after the shock of new worlds. Such a discussion group was not rare.
“What was rare was the criterion to join the discussion group.
“The Patriots Partnership was not open to regular Cultivators. It had two conditions for admittance. Firstly, you had to be above the middle level of the Building Foundation Stage and boast certain influence in society, your sect, or the army.
“Secondly, at least one of your family members had to have been killed by demons, and you had to have a deep grudge against them.
“It meant that the discussion group was one of a relatively higher level. That was why I joined it. Later, there was nothing particularly interesting. Partying, chatting, making friends, and all. Right. In one of the meetings, I saw the sniper of the Children of the Nether World killed today.
“I was among the firmest opposers. Also, since I was relatively young among them, my speech was sometimes very radical. As it turned out, one night, the founder of the group, who was a professor in the Capital Medical College, came to me. He said that the discussion there was not good enough and that there was a more advanced group where I would meet more friends that agreed with me. He asked whether or not I would like to join.”
Li Yao was anxious. “Did you agree?”
“No,” Ding Lingdang replied, “I had no disagreement about their opinion, but you know that I always like straightforwardness. I have never been interested in such mysterious things. Therefore, I simply said that I would consider it.
“Later, I thought that it wouldn’t hurt to make a few more friends in the new group. So, I told the founder that I would like to join, but he suddenly hesitated and refused to let me in. After a while, everybody was bored of the empty talk. The Patriots Partnership gradually dissolved.
“At that time, a lot of discussion groups were emerging and disappearing every day. I didn’t think much of it.
“But today, when I saw the body of the sniper, it suddenly occurred to me that the man was even more fanatic and extremely than me in the discussion group. It is possible that he was actually a Child of the Nether World, but is there another possibility?”
Li Yao pondered carefully for a moment and shuddered hard. “Are you saying that there was a certain organization that gathered a large batch of experts that hated demons’ guts, filtered them, and picked out the most extreme, fanatic, and unwavering ones?
“Even for someone like you, whose parents were killed by the demon race, an expert at the peak of the Core Formation Stage, was determined to be unqualified and rejected just because you considered for a night!
“In other words, it is very likely that there is a Patriots Partnership where numerous Cultivators who consider demons our mortal enemies and are even more radical, fanatical, and resolute than Ding Lingdang?”
“I’m not sure,” Ding Lingdang said. “When I went to the founder of the group later, he said that he was involved in a secret project of the military and that he would be on a long business trip. I couldn’t reach out to him later.”
“Hurry up,” Professor Mo Xuan interjected. “I feel that we are about to be locked onto. We’ll have to talk again in a different time and place!”
“One last question,” Li Yao said. “Jiang Hailiu, Zhou Hengdao, and Lu Zui, whose family member was killed by demons?”
Professor Mo Xuan thought for a moment. “Speaker Jiang’s brother died in a beast tide eighty years ago. Iron Commander doesn’t seem to have any.”
“What about Lu Zui? Does he have any?” Li Yao asked.
“Who was it?”
“Lu Zui is more than two hundred years old,” Ding Lingdang explained. “He doesn’t have many family members in the world. He only had a beloved wife who had grown up with him since childhood. Because of a congenital disease, she never had a child. The two of them accompanied each other for more than two hundred years.
“Because she was infertile, she opened an orphanage a hundred years ago and adopted many war orphans as her children. She was a famous philanthropist in the federation know as ‘Merry Mother’. After more than a hundred years, they raised more than five hundred foster children, many of whom were distinguished persons in their trade.
“Fifteen years ago, after a beast tide outbreak, his wife went to the Grand Desolate Plateau to search for and rescue orphans as usual, but she was ripped into shreds by a demon beast hiding in the debris.
“Not counting his foster children, Lu Zui only had one family memberhis wife. So, wasn’t his entire family killed by demons?”
Li Yao was silent for a long time. Taking a deep breath, he found it difficult to type. “Five hundred foster children, all distinguished persons in their trade?”
At three o’clock in the morning, it began to rain. At dawn, it was pouring.
In the No. 2 public cemetery of the capital city, below a giant pine tree, the rainwater was sprinkling on a tiny monument.
The monument was so small and deeply buried that it was barely noticeable.
Below the moss was two tiny wordsMerry Mother.
It was the tree burial, the most environmental and cheapest of all.
In front of the monument, an old man wearing a black raincoat stood in silence.
A streak of lightning ripped apart the dark night, illuminating a pale face that was covered in raindrops. It was Lu Zuian admin-type Cultivator in the Nascent Soul Stage, the guardian angel on the black frontline of the federation, and the director of the Secret Sword Bureau.
Lu Zui was carried a mottled lunch box. He took off his coat and sat in the mud below the pine tree. After taking the few dishes out of the lunch box, he poured old wine into two neat cups.
Spraying one cup of the wind on the roots of the tree, Lu Zui refilled it before sipping from the wine in the other cup and enjoying the food slowly in the raging storm.
While eating and drinking, Lu Zui touched the wrinkled pine tree and spoke softly. “Honey, I’ve been too busy recently and had no time to visit you. Today, I finally made a few dishes. All of them are your favorite food.
“I was too hasty and didn’t make them well. The skin of the fish is broken, but the braised pork is decently cooked. Also, this is your favorite litchi wine. Enjoy it.”
“Honey I did something yesterday. You would’ve criticized me if you knew it. You always told me that the demons and devils are not worth my anger.
“But I promise you that this is not about anger or revenge. I just don’t want Wei Ming, Da Gang, Mao Mao, their children, and the children’s children to live together with the vile monsters.
“Our children are so weak, so innocent, and so kind. They will be taken great advantage of when they are around the children of demons, who are born brutal!
“The little ones always horse around when they do not know what they are doing. It’s the responsibility of the old people to watch over them, right?
“Alright. Take them slowly. There are many dishes here. I’m leaving for work.
“Maybe I will be able to visit you again, but that’s alright. Wei Ming and Mao Mao will come. Their children and grandchildren will come to visit Merry Mother, too.
“Just wait for me for a few years. If it is quick enough, perhaps I will be meeting you in a year or two. Leave the door open for me!
“I am leaving, honey. Goodbye.”
Lu Zui touched the wrinkled bark in a trance. He then picked up a handful of moist mud next to his wife’s monument and stuffed it into his clothes from his neckline.
When he stood straight again, his soft eyes suddenly turned as sharp as an eagle and as cold as a blade!
Holding his chest so that the cold mud could warm up his heart, which was even colder, he staggered out of the cemetery.
His eardrum suddenly vibrated. After a telepathic thought, a conversation began.
There was not a sound from the other speaker, except for cold breathing.
“What’s the matter?” Lu Zui asked.
A tough voice came over. “Don’t pretend. You know what. We agreed to assassinate the spineless Jiang Hailiu. Why did you blow up thousands of innocent civilians?”
Lu Zui laughed, his teeth glittering in the lightning. “You are a soldier, and this is a war. How can there be no casualties in a war?”
The other speaker gnashed his teeth. “You crossed the line.”
“I did. Do you want to shoot me?”
“I will,” the other speaker stated. “When everything is done, I will shoot you first and then myself, as sacrificial offerings to the innocent victims!”
He cut off the communication directly and walked to the gate of the cemetery.
Huala! Huala! Huala!
The darkest night before dawn was occupied by incessant lightning, which illuminated more than ten black shadow wearing black raincoats like statues.
Greetings echoed below the black raincoats, occasionally mixed with other form of address. “Grandfather!”
Lu Zui picked up the bottle and threw it over. “This is your mother’s favorite litchi wine. We didn’t finish it. Come on. Let’s share it!”
The ten or so black shadows raised their wine cups in the tempest at the same time.
“It is our responsibility to slay the evil. Being shattered is the sweetest death!” one of the black shadows shouted.
“The big demon Jin Tuyi and the little demon Li Yao are joining hands, trying to introduce demons into the federation. Our great land will be tainted. Our magnificent country will be tarnished! In times of peril, all the Cultivators should not hesitate to fight!” another black shadow roared with him.
“Hahahaha!” Lu Zui laughed hard, with tears flowing on his eyes. “Good. Good. Good. You are all my good boys. You are all good boys of the honorable human beings of the Star Glory Federation! Come on. Bottoms up!”
Lu Zui and the black shadows drank all the remaining wine before they smashed the wine cups into pieces on the tough rocks as their deafening declaration echoed in the pouring storm.
“Slay the demons, save the federation!”