Before leaving, Xuan Ji dutifully swept the entire building for traces of the butterflies one last time for Xiao Zheng.
It was strange because these past few days, Xuan Ji couldn't eat or sleep well.
Even Old Xiao said his state was like an old chain smoker. But his senses were becoming more and more acute, and his range of perception had increased exponentially since returning from Dongchuan.
Sitting in his office, he could scan the entire building with his divine sense.
As his divine sense passed through, a few sensitive special ability users subconsciously lowered their voices, not knowing why. The golden dragon in the lobby remained motionless on the stone pillar, bowing its head. The green ivy hanging in the neighboring department involuntarily curled its leaves.
After checking around and confirming that the headquarters' arrest operation had come to an end, Old Xiao and his team had completely taken control of the situation and began a systematic interrogation and investigation.
Xuan Ji felt like he had nothing to do with it and was ready to leave early for the airport. On one hand, he wanted to figure out the motives behind that old demon. On the other hand, Xuan Ji realized that ever since he waved goodbye to Sheng Lingyuan, he had been plagued by a "separation anxiety" similar to that of his beloved sword.
Even though he could find other things to distract himself during the day, the anxiety would intensify in his dreams - sometimes he was invisible, sometimes he was holding his sword, and he kept repeating the name "Your Majesty" like a broken record. He even called him by his nickname, "Lingyuan".
If he didn't solve this problem, Xuan Ji felt like he wouldn't be able to find a partner even if he had a higher position in the future!
There were no buses yet for those leaving work early. Luo Cuicui didn't want to miss the chance to suck up to his boss, so he bravely offered to drive him back to the city.
However, Xuan Ji didn't want anyone to know where he was going and didn't want to burden Luo Cuicui with the cost of gas for his beat-up car, so he declined and asked to be dropped off at the bus stop at the foot of the mountain.
Following the insincere social norms of office workers, they went back and forth with polite refusals until Luo Cuicui finally relented. He considered the fact that they lived in opposite directions and that rush hour traffic would cost him hundreds of yuan in gas money. He didn't want to be too "polite" to Xuan Ji, so he let him off at the bus stop.
Saving money was important, but etiquette was even more crucial. Luo Cuicui waited with Xuan Ji until the bus arrived and saw him off before driving home himself.
Driving from the mountain to the airport took two hours. Xuan Ji had planned to pass the time by playing games, but his fingers betrayed him and he opened the video that Old Wang had sent him.
He watched it seven or eight times before realizing what he was doing and defeatedly slapped his phone onto his own face.
What was wrong with him? Was he in the late stages of infatuation?
Just as he was crumbling alone, something touched his consciousness.
Xuan Ji looked up and scanned the west...towards headquarters?
However, by this time, he had already left the West Mountain Protection Zone where the headquarters building of the Bureau was located. The suburban roads were smooth, and the bus was driving like a rocket. In just a short while, he had already run at least six or seven kilometers.
Xuan Ji furrowed his brow and shook his head, feeling like he must have been sleep-deprived for days. If he could still sense any activity from the Bureau from this distance, he might as well be a human satellite station. Well, that would be convenient - he wouldn't have to pay for data usage anymore.
Just in case, he decided to call Xiao Zheng. But Xiao Zheng's phone was busy.
The entire Bureau was busy, in fact. The Bureau building was in chaos - the power system had suddenly failed, and the first backup system was down for almost a minute before the second backup system kicked in and set off a deafening alarm.
"Where is the alarm coming from?"
"The 60th floor underground! The prohibition has been triggered!"
Xiao Zheng had rounded up a group of people and was still in a state of shock. His mind instantly raced through seventy or eighty conspiracy theories - many of the extremely dangerous items sealed on the 60th underground floor could cause disaster with just a single hair out of place.
He quickly dispatched a team of elite field agents to protect Chief Huang and personally led them down the stairs.
"In Zone A, the protective shield is intact -"
"No abnormalities in Zone B."
"Zone C is under light ban and infrared network... Oh no, the infrared network is resetting after the power outage."
The 60th underground floor was on high alert, with an atmosphere as tense as a Black Death quarantine zone.
After arriving, Xiao Zheng's first reaction was to check on the mutated Mirror Flower Water Moon Butterfly. Seeing the butterfly still playing with its changing face inside the glass cover, he breathed a brief sigh of relief.
"How could the power be cut off? What are those useless logistics people doing?"
At that moment, a voice came through the broadcast: "Lock down the damaged exit, lock down the damaged exit..."
"Repeat, in room 14 of sector W, requesting support from all departments!"
"Sector W?" wondered one field agent as he rushed over. "Isn't that where they collect scrap metal?"
Sector W, located on the 60th underground level, stored items that had been processed but still posed a certain level of risk.
Xiao Zheng strode into the management office of Sector W and immediately noticed something was off. The protective shield was clearly not recently damaged, and there was no residual energy in many areas.
Xiao Zheng's cold gaze fell on the administrator.
"What's going on? How long has it been since the shield was inspected?" The administrator shrunk his shoulders, his chin poking deep into his chest as though he was trying to commit suicide. He stuttered, "The dangerous materials in W district have all been processed, so..."
"So you can relax now?" Xiao Zheng suddenly raised his voice. "When was the last time it was inspected? Bring out the inspection records."
"Director Xiao, take a look." A field agent had already pulled out the maintenance report for the protective shield in W district. "The protective shield hasn't been inspected for almost three years."
Xiao Zheng: "..."
The field agents were playing with people's lives with the butterflies, and the logistics staff were neglecting their duties. What kind of mess did the old chief leave behind?
Just as Xiao Zheng was about to explode, a careless voice came, "Hey, fresh news. W district can still be stolen? I haven't been back to headquarters for a while. How come stealing scrap metal has become a new trend in the capital?"
"Wang Ze," Xiao Zheng's temple veins bulged as he spoke, "what are you doing here causing chaos? If you're not going to help, then get lost."
Wang Ze peeked his head in the doorway and asked, "What's going on, Director Xiao? Have you found out what was stolen?"
"We're still investigating," replied one of the field agents who was currently at the scene.
Wang Ze rolled his eyes and strolled in, wrapping his arm around the trembling administrator's neck and advising, "W District is just a scrap collection station. It's likely that the thief got lost and took something by mistake. Even if something was really stolen, it wouldn't cause any serious consequences. It's dry and hot these days, so take care of your health."
"I found it!" exclaimed one of the field agents. He shone his flashlight over to the W section, where rows upon rows of small boxes resembling coffins were stored. Each one was painted white and had a seal engraved on it. The agent pointed to a corner where one box was missing, like a missing tooth.
Xiao Zheng and Wang Ze followed his gaze and their expressions changed simultaneously.
"Reporting: the lost item is the fragment of the broken sword Zhi Chun," announced the field agent.
Yan Qiushan woke up in his hotel room in Yuyang, his pupils like stones soaked in despair. He stared at the bleak ceiling for a while before his soul, still trapped in a nightmare, returned to his body.
He lay back on his pillow, exhaled a breath, and reached for the metal fragment on his chest. The fragment was warm to the touch, as if it had absorbed his body heat.
Zhi Chun was an ancient sword spirit. Even though the sword body had been destroyed, it was still imprisoned and heavily guarded in a sixty-floor underground cell, with no freedom in life or death.
This half-inch fragment was all that remained of him.
As evening approached, the commercial district began to bustle with activity. The sound of an xun could be heard from somewhere, its penetrating power lingering in his ears.
Yan Qiushan listened intently for a while, feeling that the melody was at once melodious and soothing, yet also filled with a sense of loneliness and desolation, like a lone traveler sitting in the vast expanse of the world, gazing down at the thirteen provinces, lost and unsure of where to go.
It was so annoying, no wonder it had given him such a restless dream.
Yan Qiushan got up and pulled out a crumpled soundproof charm from his coat pocket.
He checked to make sure it was still effective and casually stuck it on the window, blocking out the sound of the xun. After washing his face, he glanced at himself in the mirror and noticed that his eyes were tinged with blue and his eyeballs were bloodshot. His beard had also grown out wild and unkempt, making him look like a fugitive.
Unable to bear the sight, he took out a multi-functional knife from his pocket and began to shave his face.
Just then, there was a knock on the door and the blind man's voice came from outside, "Mr. Nian, dinner is ready."
Yan Qiushan was lost in thought and accidentally cut himself on the chin. He instinctively said, "It's nothing."
After speaking, he paused for a moment, feeling a sense of unease. The scene that had just flashed in his dream suddenly became clear - he used to be a person with an irregular life. When he was still with the Wind Gods, he was always awakened by emergency tasks, and he would splash himself with cold water, and then he would put on some clothes and run out.
For so many years, he maintained a decent appearance outside, all thanks to Zhi Chun's care.
Zhi Chun would neatly fold the clothes he needed to wear every day, with the front facing up, and place them on the bedside. This way, even if he blindly put them on, he wouldn't wear them backwards.
Sometimes, Zhi Chun would even shave him while he was asleep. At first, he was clumsy and awkward. Electric razors weren't popular back then, so sometimes Zhi Chun would get lost staring at his sleeping face, and Yan Qiushan wouldn't stay still while sleeping, accidentally cutting his chin.
Then Zhi Chun would feel guilty and couldn't forgive himself for the whole day. After Yan Qiushan got used to it, whenever his chin would hurt in his half-asleep state, he would casually say, "It's nothing."
The blind man at the door asked in confusion, "What's nothing?"
"Nothing," Yan Qiushan's eyes turned cold as he casually splashed some water and wiped away the bloodstains, "Let's go."
"The boat is ready, we'll leave early tomorrow morning," as they went downstairs together, the blind man whispered to Yan Qiushan, "Whether it succeeds or not all depends on you..."
A beam of sunlight swept in, causing the soundproof charm on Yan Qiushan's window to tremble without any wind. His room was on the fourth floor, and a black mist floated in mid-air outside the window, casting a faint shadow of a person.
The person reached out their hand, and several imperceptible black gases flew out of the room, like thin threads, bypassing the charm on the window and flying back into their palm.
The black mist and the shadow disappeared together.
Two minutes later, Yuyang's "newly crowned internet celebrity" - Sheng Lingyuan - quietly walked out of the back door of the hotel where Yan Qiushan and the others were staying, enjoying the coconut-scented breeze as he strolled back to the coffee shop to "earn" his room fee.
It turned out that this "Mr. Nian" with the Mountain bloodline was the legendary Yan Qiushan in the Bureau.
As Sheng Lingyuan incorporated the witch's spellcraft "Retracing" into the "Dream Inducing Song," Mr. Nian's memories became a book that opened before his eyes.
However, this "book" was rather disappointing, as there wasn't much substance to Yan Qiushan's dreams, which made the emperor quite irritable.
Impatiently, Sheng Lingyuan coldly chewed on the dream he had just witnessed.
Yan Qiushan was born into a family known for their special abilities, with a lineage that was a mix of Mountain people and several types of demons.
However, it had been two generations since anyone with special abilities had been born, and they were now living ordinary lives. Only Yan Qiushan, for some reason, had inherited exceptional talent.
Sheng Lingyuan estimated that his potential was close to that of the half-demons from the first few generations of the Qingping Division. He was still young, but if he could diligently practice for a hundred or two hundred years, he might become a force to be reckoned with.
Unfortunately, this person was born with a wild and passionate nature, and his moral compass has been destroyed. He will never achieve anything in this lifetime.
Zhi Chun is an ancient sword passed down through the Yan family. Due to several breaks in its lineage, the sword's origins are now unknown. Its spirit has been dormant, kept as an antique in a glass cabinet by the Yan family.
When Yan Qiushan was two years old, he fell seriously ill and suddenly awakened with an explosive power, melting all the metal objects in his home into avant-garde art pieces. This shocked the spirit of the ancient sword, which had been sleeping for thousands of years, and it recognized him as its master.
Zhi Chun has a long and storied history, and its spirit is in its prime.
However, for some reason, it seems as if it has never entered the mortal world before.
At first, it was naive and innocent, like a blank sheet of paper, unable to speak and with an intelligence level on par with its young master who was just learning to talk. They were both equally innocent and no one thought the other was foolish.
One person, one sword, relying on each other, from innocent childhood to the turbulence of life, from near to far, and then to the point of uncontrollable love...Sheng Lingyuan had no objection to the trivial matters of love and romance between men and women, but in Yan Qiushan's dream that lasted for half an hour, it was all about these things, making the dreamer extremely bored, almost wanting to wake him up and make him sleep again.
However, the sword named "Zhi Chun" in his dream was quite interesting.
"Tian'er", the last skilled craftsman of the Mountain people, was the adopted son of the Mountain king buried in the Yuyang Sea. He had once been a hostage in the hands of Sheng Lingyuan, and the Mountain king gave him the surname "Wei" and the name "Yun".
After Wei Yun's death, the scarcity of mermaid blood and mermaid oil made the art of refining gradually decline.
Later, Sheng Lingyuan exterminated the Mountain royal family and burned all 3,000 volumes of refining techniques when he retired twenty years later. By then, the art had been lost.
'Zhi Chun,' such a beautiful sword spirit, must have been crafted before that era.
It must have been around for a long time. For over three thousand years, the blade remains undamaged, and the sword spirit is no different from a real person.
The pile of weapon spirits in Chiyuan may look damaged, but they have survived for so many years and still have their senses. They must have been the best of the best back then. With the state of "Zhi Chun," it is undoubtedly a "peerless divine weapon."
But why had he never heard of it before?
Whose masterpiece could it be?
As the evening breeze blew, it wasn't particularly cold, but Sheng Lingyuan began to feel a faint headache. He couldn't quite remember when this migraine had started, but it was like a festering sore that came with life and left with death, never-ending.
And ever since he returned from Chiyuan, the headaches had become more frequent.
He couldn't help but walk faster and suddenly, with a "crack," Sheng Lingyuan's footsteps paused slightly. He looked down and found that he had actually cracked a seam in the stone slab beneath his feet.
"The 'Retracing' spell does have some effect on the curse master, but that Yan Qiushan is just an ordinary person who has only been practicing for two or three decades. In the eyes of Sheng Lingyuan, his divine consciousness is not much stronger than an ant, and he cannot possibly affect him.
Moreover, this emperor is indifferent by nature and a natural anti-social person. He has long cut off his seven emotions and six desires. The joys and sorrows of the world can only make him feel drowsy if he doesn't concentrate.
How could he be moved in the slightest?
What could have suddenly made him so restless? Is it the thin bloodline of the Mountain people in Yan Qiushan's body?
Sheng Lingyuan turned his head and looked in the direction of the South China Sea, smelling the unique smell of the sea, forcibly suppressing the surging killing intent in his heart.
Yuyang...formerly known as Gaoling, this is truly one of the places he least wants to come to.
Yuyang was about to become one of Xuan Ji's blacklisted cities.
He was mingling with a tour group, deep in thought about how to greet Gu Yuexi, who was staring at him in surprise from a meter away.
Team Leader Gu, what a coincidence?
Just finished with a mission, and you're also taking advantage of the weekend to escape the cold in the south?
Yes, indeed. I was just trying to save money, so I took a red-eye flight overnight.
No matter how he thought about it, the situation was awkward. Xuan Ji had no choice but to accept his fate.
He forced a smile, feeling as if he had a case of periodontitis, and awkwardly waved at Gu Yuexi.
"Damn it, I should have just flown over myself," he muttered.
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