Yue Dingtang was not someone who liked to joke around, but in private, he would still make witty remarks and engage in verbal sparring with himself.
Yue Dingtang had good manners, especially after years of studying abroad and returning as a gentleman in the Western sense.
Although Ling Shu muttered behind his back about him being pretentious, Yue Dingtang's skills were impeccable.
On the surface, Yue Dingtang appeared calm and collected, but in reality, he was very curious.
Whenever he encountered something, he would dig deep to uncover the truth.
That's why he agreed to help He You'an last time, even though they both knew the situation was not as simple as it seemed.
Ling Shu had never seen Yue Dingtang fight, but he had seen him shoot a gun.
His marksmanship was mediocre at best.
If he had some free time, Ling Shu could squeeze out a paper's worth of vocabulary to mock and ridicule Yue Dingtang's marksmanship.
But at this moment, Yue Dingtang's hand holding the gun was very steady.
Standard, stable, without any errors.
Ivanov's flashlight fell to the ground, shining on the walls of the corridor, reflecting a faint light, also illuminating Yue Dingtang's cold and stern expression.
Ling Shu was a little dazed.
He almost thought that this person was not Yue Dingtang, but that he was seeing things.
Or maybe he hadn't woken up yet?
Thinking of this, he murmured, "Old Yue, I'm not dreaming, are you alive?"
He was alive.
Because the next moment, the gun was directly pressed against his forehead, and the mechanical and cold touch made Ling Shu shudder.
"Where is the pagoda?" Yue Dingtang asked in this way.
It was not a dream, nor a case of mistaken identity.
It was indeed the voice of Yue Dingtang, cold and stern in tone and expression.
Ling Shu even wondered if Yue Dingtang would shoot him if he claimed ignorance.
Despite this, he could not provide a second answer.
"I don't know," he said.
Ling Shu felt the gun pressed harder against his forehead, the barrel digging into his flesh and causing a slight pain.
But compared to the other injuries he had sustained, it was nothing.
"I'll ask you again, where is the pagoda?"
Ling Shu sighed. "I can only give you the same answer. Ivanov took the pagoda and you killed him, so I don't know."
Yue Dingtang sneered. "I asked you before if you knew Old Yuan, and you said you didn't. But you lied to me." "So I have every reason to suspect that this is a play you and Ivanov are putting on together."
"Do you think I won't kill you?"
I lied to you, and you lied to me.
We're even now.
Ling Shu didn't say these two sentences out loud. He squinted at Yue Dingtang's dimly lit face.
Moments from the past flooded back to him.
Eating at Yue Dingtang's house, with Yue Chunxiao eagerly serving dishes while Yue Dingtang always looked disgusted, but never stopped her.
Ling Shu had a fever and was lying in Yue Dingtang's bed. Yue Dingtang wrinkled his brow and told him to wash his pillow and blanket the next day, but never brought it up again.
The two of them snuck into a noodle shop at night and almost got themselves killed. They were both injured and helped each other back.
Ling Shu had just left the hospital when he turned around and saw it explode. The sudden shock tore at his heart. Going back in time -
In his youth, he was reckless and competitive, always comparing himself to others in academics, sports, and even in winning the affections of women. He even had his eye on the same girl as his friend Yue Dingtang.
He enjoyed teasing Yue Dingtang, but Yue Dingtang would also play tricks on him. Their classmates in middle school called them "Canshang Erxing," meaning they were like two stars in the constellation Canis Major, constantly competing with each other and unable to coexist peacefully. Whenever they met, sparks would fly and those around them couldn't help but be entertained.
But those were just fleeting memories.
In reality, he had wanted to say something to Yue Dingtang a long time ago.
Back then, he was young and foolish, and Yue Dingtang would always get so angry that his eyes would turn red. But he didn't mean any harm, he just enjoyed teasing people, especially Yue Dingtang who always acted so self-righteous.
Unfortunately, times had changed and Yue Dingtang had become a sly old fox. They now constantly tested and circled around each other, but Yue Dingtang rarely came out on the losing end.
He couldn't quite figure out Yue Dingtang's true intentions, but Yue Dingtang may not be as clueless about him as he thought.
In the end, he was slightly inferior.
"Mr. Yue, have you met an old friend?" A third voice appeared behind Yue Dingtang.
Ling Shu could even feel Yue Dingtang's hand opening the safety catch.
It was only one step away from pulling the trigger.
Ling Shu closed his eyes.
He suddenly seemed to understand why he had tried to rush back to the ward after the explosion, regardless of everything else.
But whether he understood it or not, it didn't matter.
He and Yue Dingtang, despite their seemingly harmonious relationship, were still strangers.
Different paths cannot converge.
Ling Shu was waiting for the gunshot, waiting for another bullet hole in his head.
He heard Yue Dingtang answer the person's question.
"It's my subordinate who wanted to steal the pagoda."
The other person's voice was getting closer and closer.
"I didn't expect Mr. Yue to encounter such a treacherous subordinate. I am also very sorry. No matter how you deal with him, I will not interfere."
But before the gun could be fired, the barrel moved away from his forehead.
"Ivanov tried to resist just now and I accidentally killed him. Now, only he remains. This person is likely working with the Russians. We can try to extract the location of the treasure from him," said Yue Dingtang.
Another lantern was carried closer and closer by someone.
It was a middle-aged man they had never seen before.
He wore a suit and carried a gun.
Yue Dingtang called him Mr. Liu.
"We need to move quickly!" said Mr. Liu, his words muffled.
Yue Dingtang seemed to understand and nodded in agreement.
"Ling Shu, you have a way out now. Lead us to the treasure, and I'll let you go. Tell us everything you know."
His vision blurred, and his eyes felt hot and sticky with sweat from his forehead, dripping into his hair and eyes.
Ling Shu had no idea what Yue Dingtang was planning, but at this moment, he had no other choice.
"Ivanov said the treasure is in the deepest part of one of the forks, but it's not like the Qing Dynasty treasure. It's all left behind by Tang Yulin, one of the two tigers of Northeast China. He intended to use it as a way to escape, but he left it behind in a hurry."
Mr. Liu said, "Tang Yulin? I know he loves money and cherishes his life. He's decisive in small matters but indecisive in big ones. This sounds like something he would do."
Ling Shu coughed a few times, unable to sustain long and coherent sentences.
He spoke in short bursts, pausing intermittently to catch his breath.
Despite Mr. Liu's impatience, he remained patient with Ling Shu's slow speech.
"So, what's the deal with the treasure in the pagoda?" Mr. Liu asked.
"That's the clue that old master Guan left behind. After intercepting the treasure from Tang Yulin, old master Guan kept it hidden. He intended to leave it for his favorite son, the Fifth Master, who was abroad at the time. But Fifth Master returned too late and missed his father's final moments. Old Yuan saw an opportunity for personal gain and tried to move the treasure. I caught him in the act and proposed a partnership. We split the spoils, and you both know the rest."
With Ivanov dead and Old Yuan nowhere to be found, there was no one to oppose their protest. Ling Shu began spouting nonsense, mixing various dubious clues together to create a dazzling hodgepodge.
When one believes their own lies, others will believe them too.
Ling Shu said, "I can hand over the treasure, I just hope you spare my life. I'm just a little greedy, I can't meet the standards of you two gentlemen."
Mr. Liu smiled slightly, "That depends on your performance. Also, you are under Mr. Yue's command, whether or not we spare you is not up to me."
Yue Dingtang had only one sentence.
"Get up and lead the way."
Ling Shu slowly stood up, leaning against the wall.
His chest was throbbing with pain, a lingering reminder of his fight with Ivanov. He couldn't see a doctor, so he had to make do with the discomfort.
The past few days had been damp and rainy, and his old injuries were acting up like demons unleashed from their cages.
The deserted stone staircase echoed with the footsteps of only three people, and the occasional cough from Ling Shu.
He walked slowly, and Yue Dingtang didn't urge him to hurry. But Ling Shu knew that the gun was still pointed at his back.
He had already prepared himself for death, but he didn't expect to continue living.
Ling Shu was tired and wanted nothing more than to lie down and sleep.
But that was clearly impossible now.
At the end of the staircase, there were three paths.
Without hesitation, Ling Shu chose the middle one.
Mr. Liu was getting impatient.
"Hurry up," he urged.
But Yue Dingtang said, "Hold on!"
He wasn't defying Mr. Liu, but addressing Ling Shu.
Suddenly, Ling Shu turned around and lunged at Yue Dingtang!
Without hesitation, Yue Dingtang pulled the trigger!
With a crash, the lantern fell to the ground and shattered into eight pieces.
All light was gone, and darkness returned.
The author has something to say:
Tomorrow, we will gradually uncover the truth, including Ling's past and the relationship between the two. It will be a breakthrough in this volume.