In less than three seconds, they had to make a decision. Behind them was the basement that had just exploded, and next to them was the small gate in the backyard of the Yuan Manor.
Ling Shu pulled Shen Renjie and quickly hid in the doorway. Luckily, he was quick-witted and just as their bodies were shielded by the wall, two gunshots rang out from outside.
The bullets were half a step too slow and hit the door frame, just half a step away from them.
Shen Renjie was gasping heavily and trembling as he spoke in fragments, "You, you need to untie the bomb on me first!"
He felt like he was carrying a grim reaper on his back, with the reaper's hands still around his neck, ready to strangle him at any moment.
But there was no time left. The sound of footsteps grew closer and the two men were already running towards them.
They could only hide in the small building. In its heyday, this small building was home to Yuan Bingdao's sisters and concubines, and its decoration must have been impeccable. With three floors and rooms on each level, it was a grand residence.
As soon as the two entered, they headed straight for the third floor.
Ling Shu quickly whispered, "When we get up there, we'll split up. One person will go out the window on one side, and you don't have to worry about anything, just run towards the concession!"
Shen Renjie replied, "I don't want to split up with you. Don't leave me behind!"
Ling Shu sighed inwardly. If it were a young and beautiful girl speaking, there might be a hint of romanticism in their escape, but looking at Shen Renjie's round face shimmering with tears, he couldn't help but feel sorry for him.
"It's settled then. We have to split up to have a chance at survival. I have to go back and save the person with the surname Yue!"
Ling Shu was too exhausted to say anything more. He felt like he hadn't had a peaceful day since the night before Chinese New Year's Eve when Du Yunning had an accident and the real culprit had been exposed. He had to run for his life everywhere, fearing that he could be shot dead at any moment.
His head was pounding, and even without electricity, he could feel himself spinning like a drunk person. He felt light-headed, as if he were walking on clouds. If it weren't for the fact that he still had a tight grip on the stair railing and was climbing up, he would have fallen down long ago.
Shen Renjie held onto this lifeline tightly, not daring to let go for even a moment. He was so close to making a lifelong commitment with Ling Shu.
The pursuers were almost upon them.
Ling Shu had just climbed up to the third floor and, from the stairwell, he could see a dark figure entering the doorway. The sound of leather shoes on the wooden floor could not be concealed, even if the other person tried to walk quietly.
"Why is there only one?" The question arose in his mind, but before he could think too much, Ling Shu pushed Shen Renjie into a nearby room and pointed to the window inside.
Shen Renjie couldn't resist him and had to let go of his hand. As he left, his silent and reluctant eyes were caught in the light outside the window, giving Ling Shu goosebumps.
He deliberately increased his own footsteps and ran to the room at the end of the corridor. He took off his shoes and walked quietly before bending down and entering the second to last room.
A young man walked into the small building.
His steps were not slow, and his pace was even, as if he had experienced this many times before on countless nights.
There were no lights in the small building, but he still instinctively pulled down the brim of his checkered cap.
He had intended to reach out and turn on the light, but quickly dismissed the idea. Sometimes, it's easier to move around in the dark.
Although the other person didn't seem like a big threat, Hua Gezi was accustomed to treating every enemy with caution.
He slowly made his way up the stairs. His leather shoes made a rhythmic and pleasing sound on the wooden boards, just like the moment he pulled the trigger.
Especially when the bullet hit the prey and they let out a scream, it made him even more delighted. In his mind, Hua Gezi had already paired the scene with a waltz, but his face remained calm.
He held his gun steadily and aimed it at the empty corridor before standing still for a moment, then walked towards the first room.
The door was slightly ajar.
Hua Gezi kicked it open with one swift motion. The door slammed against the wall and bounced back, making a loud noise.
Bathed in the moonlight outside, the room was fully visible. There was only a small bed, taking up the entire space.
Hua Gezi's gaze swept over the spot behind the door, then turned to the next room. One by one, Hua Gezi checked each room, but they were all empty.
Only one room remained.
The silence was eerie, but Hua Gezi was certain that the person couldn't have escaped in such a short time. Besides, his companion was still outside. Even if the person had fled through the window, they would have noticed immediately.
The door to the last room was tightly shut and wouldn't budge. It must have been locked from the other side. The person was definitely in there.
Hua Gezi sneered silently, aimed his gun at the lock, and fired. Then he kicked the door open!
This room was much larger, probably the former owner's bedroom, with a big bed, a wardrobe, and even an en suite bathroom. At first glance, the room was empty.
Hua Gezi approached the wardrobe and opened it, then went to the bathroom to check, but found nothing. Immediately, he ran to the window and looked out. There were no footprints or signs of climbing, indicating that the culprit did not escape through the window.
That left only one possibility - Hua Gezi quickly bent down to look under the bed! Almost simultaneously, a cloud of incense ash hit him in the face!
Hua Gezi's eyes were blinded, but his hand on the trigger immediately fired!
He didn't hear any screams, and his heart sank. His wrist was twisted and he felt a sharp pain, causing him to drop the gun.
He was then kicked hard in the head!
All of this happened in a flash, no more than a second! Hua Gezi realized that he had underestimated his opponent, but quickly grabbed the bedpost and rolled on the ground to get up. If the culprit wanted to attack him, he would have to crawl out from under the bed.
As expected, at the moment when Ling Shu appeared, he twisted his elbow and fiercely smashed it towards the opponent's head!
But the other party reacted extremely quickly and actually dodged it in an instant, which made Hua Gezi feel a bit strange.
Their mission this time was not only to obtain the things in Yuan Manor, but also to silence Boss Li. But now things have changed, and Hua Gezi suspects that there are other forces involved.
Otherwise, did Boss Li already know his fate and bring in reinforcements to resist?
While pondering, the two of them had already exchanged several moves.
Hua Gezi, who was skilled in combat and killing, quickly discovered a secret.
Although the opponent's reaction was fast and his skills were not bad, his right hand obviously couldn't exert any force, and all his punches were made with his left hand.
So as long as his left hand was disabled... Hua Gezi narrowed his eyes and a thin blade as light as a cicada's wings appeared in the palm of his right hand, swiftly sliding towards his opponent.
Shen Renjie felt that his luck was truly terrible. He could only stand on the small stone steps with great effort, grabbing onto the window ledge to avoid falling. This was the third floor. Even if there was a lawn below, falling would still be fatal. Moreover, he was carrying explosives.
Thinking of the explosives, Shen Renjie felt a pang of sadness. In the cold wind, he pressed himself against the wall outside the third-floor window, trying his best to imitate a gecko. On the other side of the corner, Hua Gezi's accomplice was approaching.
With a quick glance, Shen Renjie was in a panic and attempted to crouch down and slip into the second-floor window. With explosives tied around his waist, he dared not bend over too much and could only stretch out his hand to reach for the window ledge. As the story goes, with his physique, it was a bit difficult for him to accomplish this move.
But he only had three seconds.
After three seconds, the other person would come over and as long as they looked up, they would see Shen Renjie.
That would be his death sentence.
Shen Renjie counted silently, gritted his teeth, and lunged forward, grabbing onto the edge of the window with both hands. His hands slipped and he fell!
Oh my god!
He almost screamed out loud, quickly grabbing onto the window sill and firmly planting his feet on the wall to stabilize himself.
But the person in the duckbill cap had already walked over.
With his rich experience and expertise, he naturally looked up and saw Shen Renjie.
After a moment of shock, the person in the duckbill cap raised his gun, his movements swift and his safety catch simultaneously released.
It's all over.
Shen Renjie thought.
He had completely given up resistance and was ready to die. As the bullet hit him, it exploded instantly, and what awaited him was not a normal death, but a gruesome one where his flesh and blood were torn apart.
It was too tragic.
Shen Renjie felt that the biggest regret of his life was when his neighbor wanted to arrange his chubby daughter to marry him two years ago. He didn't like her and thought he was still young. He wanted to establish his career before settling down and find a more beautiful wife.
Now he regrets it.
Regardless of whether the girl was chubby or ugly, at least she could have given him a child.
All sorts of thoughts exploded in his mind, and Shen Renjie was in disarray, like a pile of rubble shaken by an earthquake. He didn't even feel the pain of the bullet hitting him.
After several seconds, he realized that it wasn't his mind trembling, but the house shaking. To be precise, it was the ground beneath the house that was shaking!
"An earthquake?!" Shen Renjie looked down without even thinking about the gunman, towards the direction of the explosion.
He quickly bent down and flipped himself into the room through the window with all his might.
Shen Renjie was still trembling with fear when he remembered the source of the explosion.
It was the place they had just come from.
Had there been a second explosion in the underground vault?
After saving his own life, his mind began to race again, but he feared that Yue Dingtang's chances of survival were slim.
Mr. Li was ruthless and suspicious, and Shen Renjie truly doubted the possibility of Yue Dingtang surviving in the hands of the other party.
He sighed quietly and peeked his head out of the room's doorway, planning to quickly find reinforcements before anyone could escape. Blood flowed down his arm, winding and twisting, almost dyeing his entire hand red, and dripping onto the ground with a steady tap-tap-tap.
Struggling to climb up from under the corpse, Ling Shu's movements tugged at the wound in his abdomen, causing his body to stiffen uncontrollably.
After a long while, he finally let out a gentle sigh.
Ling Shu couldn't remember the last time he had exerted himself like this, to the point where even his bones had become sluggish, almost costing him his life.
In the past, he had suffered more serious injuries, but those were visible opponents. Now, what was this?
Dealing with ghosts that lurked in the darkness, never seeing the light of day?
He took a few steps, picked up the gun that had just been kicked into the corner, grabbed onto the bedpost to steady himself, and walked towards the window.
Outside, a dark figure rushed towards the source of the explosion.
Ling Shu raised his gun and fired without hesitation.
The other side fell in response. He was certain that he had hit his opponent, but he couldn't be sure if he had hit a vital spot.
In the bitter cold of winter, Ling Shu was sweating profusely, his chest soaked with either blood or sweat, his clothes sticking to his skin and making him uncomfortable.
Stars seemed to be flying around in front of his eyes, and every time he closed them and opened them again, it was a difficult struggle.
Ling Shu slowly made his way downstairs without looking back, saying, "Help me, I've been injured."
Shen Renjie, who was sneaking behind him, wanted to ask if Ling Shu had eyes on the back of his head, but he wisely said nothing and quickly helped him.
The explosion sent flames shooting into the sky, and the fire spread quickly, soon engulfing the small building on the ground.
The criminal lying on the ground didn't move a muscle. It seemed that he had been killed by Ling Shu's gun.
Shen Renjie bent down and reached out to the other's neck.
Suddenly, the other person flipped over and revealed a gun hidden on their body!
The gun was pointed at Shen Renjie in an instant!
A shot rang out!
Shen Renjie trembled!
There was a bloody hole in the center of his forehead, and his body fell backwards.
Shen Renjie collapsed to the ground.
He had experienced too many life and death moments tonight to count.
"Ling Shu, my friend..." he weakly called out, "let me rest for a while!"
Shen Renjie couldn't walk anymore.
He knew he should go to the explosion site to see if Yue Dingtang had any hope of survival, he should hurry to the police station to get help, and he should have Smith mobilize everyone to come rescue them.
But his body wouldn't listen to him.
Ling Shu couldn't respond at all.
He opened his mouth, feeling the sticky blood in his throat. Despite this, he managed to maintain consciousness through sheer willpower.
Squinting his eyes, he looked towards the towering flames. It seemed as though someone was slowly emerging from the blaze, their silhouette illuminated by the fire like a phoenix rising from the ashes.
Was it Yue Dingtang or Boss Li? Ling Shu couldn't tell. He tried to lift the gun in his hand, but found himself falling backwards instead.
His last conscious thought was of the thick smoke above him and the half-moon peeking out from behind the dark clouds. Perhaps when he woke up, it would already be morning.
Ling Shu slowly closed his eyes.
The author has something to say: The first volume comes to a close, and all unanswered questions will be addressed in the second volume. I apologize for the delay in posting due to some typos that needed to be corrected.