Things fell to the ground with a crash.
No one dared to pick them up. Those who were hit didn’t dare to say a word, did not move. The study was so quiet that only the sound of everyone’s suppressed breathing could be heard.
At this moment, Lu Chong was like a ferocious beast that was ready to devour people, and no one knew who he would grab and tear apart next.
After a long time, Lu Chong closed his eyes and finally suppressed his anger, continuing: “My personal matters are not your business, and it is not your turn to interfere. I will not treat you badly if you do your own work, but if anyone messes with my people, don’t blame me for being rude.”
He said coldly and loudly, “Remember, this is a warning!”
“Go back to where you came from, do what you have to do, don’t say anything you shouldn’t. Ling Su stays.”
Ling Su was just about to take a step when he heard these words and his face turned white. He had always wanted to be able to work beside Master, just like Liu Weizhi and Zhou Yishan, but he was too inexperienced to be qualified for that. Now, it seemed that the opportunity had finally come, but he didn’t feel a trace of excitement and joy.
Lu Chong stared at Ling Su, looking at him for a while before saying, “You go to the house next door. You’re not allowed to set foot outside the house without my permission.”
From the information he got, this Ling Su was the most hostile to Wencheng. Although that was because he felt that Wencheng had harmed him and now that he was well, this hostility should’ve been eliminated, Lu Chong was still unsure about Ling Su. He had to monitor him for a while.
Ling Su muttered “yes” with a white face.
Everyone went out. Lu Chong turned in his chair and closed his eyes wearily in front of the large glass window. After a while, he said to himself: “Actually, there is one thing I said wrong. I didn’t hold him in the palm of my hand. I made him sad again and again. In fact, the person who hurt him the most was me, right, Ribs?”
Saying that name, Lu Chong froze for a moment and looked around his feet; there was no sign of the big cat. Yes, the big cat was gone, buried with his own hands three days ago.
And now, once again, the cat’s owner was nowhere to be found.
An old hanging clock in the study chimed twice. It was two o’clock in the afternoon.
Forty minutes to go.
Lu Chong felt that 2:40 must have some meaning. The closer he got to that time, the more panicked he felt, as if something very terrible was happening, not to him, but to Luo Wencheng. However, he could only watch time approaching minute by minute and couldn’t do anything.
In one of the counties under Haining, at the maternal and child health centre of the county hospital, because of the martial law all over the city and the need to undergo strict checks when travelling, there were especially few people today, and the nurses were chatting, somewhat bored.
A middle-aged man with a gentle and elegant appearance walked in, and the triage desk nurse stood up, “Aren’t you resting today, Director Li?”
“It’s boring to stay at home. How many women are giving birth today?”
“Okay, I’ll go and have a look.” Director Li said with a smile and walked to his lounge.
He was the most well-known doctor at the maternal and child health centre, who also served as the hospital’s vice president; but he had placed his lounge next to the delivery room, so that he could get there in time if an accident occurred.
After he swiped his card and entered, he locked the door, closed the curtains, pushed the sofa for resting out of the way, and surprisingly there was a small side door behind it. When this door was opened, there were stairs leading downwards. The more you went down, the brighter the light was. Below it turned out to be a small laboratory-like space.
No one would have thought that such a place would exist underneath the maternity ward of the maternal and child health centre.
The laboratory was a bit rudimentary, with various instruments scattered everywhere. It was obviously put into use while it was still under construction. A white man in a white coat and a Chinese man were doing something on the computer, and in a glass compartment in front of them, a person sat on a chair. His hands and feet were tied, and his head was inside a weird-looking large hood-like apparatus.
“Did Professor Delang have any luck?” Director Li asked as he walked over.
The old white man with messy blonde hair turned his head and said gleefully in English, “Excellent, this subject is fantastic, he is very sensitive to my medicine and the results are great!”
“Is that the drug that works on the human brain?”
“Yes, you know the human brain is very complex. To control someone, you know, we usually use hypnosis or something like that, but there are very few advanced hypnotists and the effects of hypnosis are often uncertain depending on the subject.
“But if we can completely erase a person’s sense of self and turn him into a blank sheet of paper, then it’s a very easy thing to scribble on that blank sheet.”
Professor Delang literally danced while saying, “And this subject, you know? After I gave him my medicine, all his emotions were gone, happiness, sadness, pain, grief, all of them were gone! There was only one left, and that was anger. It was as if he had become a robot, any stimulus, verbal, written, patterns, moving pictures, none of them could make his brain react, except for the ones related to anger. It’s fantastic!”
Director Li let out a glib, exaggerated “oh”. “Is that so? It’s the drug that you gave to dozens of people, only to turn them into idiots? Weren’t you about to give up on it?”
Professor Delang’s wrinkled face showed a hint of displeasure, but then he quickly smiled, “Yes, it’s that medicine, but this time it’s different, this time it will work!”
Director Li also smiled. This Professor Delang was a scumbag. He had a genius brain and invented all kinds of drugs. Most of those drugs had magical effects, but at the same time also had great side effects and needed to be repeatedly experimented and screened before they could be put into use.
The first experiments were done on animals, but the results were so different from those on humans that the old man thought it would be too much of a waste of time and his precious efforts and proposed to do experiments directly on humans. Over the years, his laboratories were set up in those grey areas abroad where people could be given a loaf of bread to volunteer, or easily coaxed into becoming subjects, and no one would care if there was one more or one less of them.
The experimental subjects that passed through Professor Delang’s hands basically had no good end. Those who died on the spot were lucky, and those who were half-dead suffered the most. Some even had to be tortured for years before they could die.
But what did it matter? The effects of the medicine that Professor Delang was developing dictated that there was a golden master willing to provide him with the conditions for such acts.
As a rule, Professor Delang wouldn’t have dared to come to China to do such a thing. But the proportion of Asian people among his experimental subjects was too small, especially the proportion of Chinese people, and Professor Delang frantically wanted such subjects.
The golden master behind him, that is, the boss of the boss behind Director Li, either couldn’t do anything about it or also agreed with this idea, and sent Professor Delang to China this time under some official name, mainly to examine whether such a laboratory could be set up in China.
Director Li’s laboratory here had been prepared a few years ago for this day.
But Director Li never expected that they would be so bold as to catch a person only a few days after arriving in Haining, and it would be the person who could turn the whole city upside down.
Director Li’s face was a little gloomy, but he had to listen to his boss to cooperate with Professor Delang. They were now in the same boat.
Director Li looked at the man in the glass cubicle who was receiving all sorts of stimuli through the apparatus on his head. Although he couldn’t see the man’s face, he could also tell from his body and his hands tied to the armrests that this was someone with excellent external conditions. Director Li couldn’t help but get a bit of a headache thinking about the fact that the city was boiling because of this man.
He asked Professor Delang what he was going to do next. Would he just keep experimenting?
“Yes, keep keep giving him the medicine and with the various stimuli, I will eliminate his last emotion, anger, as well and turn him into someone who is incapable of reacting emotionally or behaviourally to any stimulus. Then I will hypnotise him, and at that point, he will be the most obedient tool.” Professor Delang said smugly. “He’ll do whatever I want him to do. Just imprint on his mind that he has to obey orders absolutely, and that’s it.”
Director Li asked, “Is his memory still there?”
“Of course it’s there. I haven’t erased his past, I haven’t erased his identity, from the outside he’s still the same person he was before. But inside, in his mind he will become my complete slave. That’s what’s most perfect, isn’t it?”
Director Li frowned, “His background is not simple, and the man behind him is not someone we can mess with.”
Professor Delang said excitedly, “Wouldn’t that be even better? This person is well educated, looks good, has a shrewd mind, a clean identity and a powerful background at the same time. These are the unique values he carries as a person, wouldn’t it be a shame to erase them?”
“Are you sure he won’t remember what you’ve done to him?” Director Li still sounded uncertain when he heard it. Just like that? Would it really be possible to catch someone and brainwash and transform him, to make him completely obedient and retain his memories and identity at the same time, and then release him as a manipulated puppet with his original identity? Could it really be done unnoticed and hidden from the world?
Professor Delang smiled broadly and said, “So this experiment is really perfect. I’ve succeeded halfway in less than a day. As long as I find a good hypnotist, don’t worry, there will be no problem. Are the Chinese really a bit special?”
Professor Delang’s gaze swept over Director Li greedily, and Director Li smiled and let him size him up.
He knew the old bastard wouldn’t dare touch him. He had just arrived in Haining, and Director Li was the only person in the city who could cover up for him and help him. Without him Professor Delang and his assistant wouldn’t last a single day in Haining.
Director Li glanced at the man working on the computer.
“Zhang Qingsong, the whole city is looking for you now.”
Zhang Qingsong was the man Luo Wencheng had been following. He had a very upright and spirited name (qingsong – pine tree), but his whole personality was ordinary and had no characteristics. Hearing Director Li’s words, he turned around and smiled, revealing a bruised and swollen face, “It’s alright as long as I don’t go out. So I’ll still have to trouble you more in the future, Director Li. Just provide us with food and water and that will be enough, we already have all the equipment and medicine here.”
Director Li snorted softly, and at this moment, the young man who had been sitting there quietly suddenly moved. He struggled frantically in the chair, but he couldn’t move because he was tied up. His upper body bent and twisted, and a harsh scream came out of his mouth, as if he was suffering from great pain.
All three of them were taken aback. Professor Delang immediately asked Zhang Qingsong what he had done. Zhang Qingsong hurriedly said, “I didn’t do anything!”
Professor Delang rushed over and removed the apparatus, revealing the pale, sweaty, handsome face of the young man. His head was tilting to one side, his neck hanging weakly. His lips were blue and purple, his eyes closed and motionless.
Professor Delang checked his pulse and breath and jumped to his feet: “Dead! How can that be? How can he be dead?”
Director Li was relieved instead. The man was big trouble, it was better if he died. He let out a laugh, “This isn’t the first subject to die under your hands anyway, no need to get so excited.”
“Anyone can die, but not him! The experiment is halfway done, where am I going to find a more suitable subject if he dies!”
If he couldn’t find a subject, his project on the human brain would definitely be aborted; in fact, it was already a semi-aborted project that had been shelved for years, so the excitement in Professor Delang’s heart at having found this subject was indescribable.
But how could this person suddenly die when he had been so careful?
Zhang Qingsong suddenly remembered something: “When I fought with him yesterday, he almost killed me, but suddenly seemed to have a heart attack, so I used the opportunity.”
“You stupid bastard, why didn’t you say so earlier!” Professor Delang yelled, “No, he can’t die, bring me that medicine.”
“Professor, do you want to use that thing?” Zhang Qingsong said in shock.
“Go quickly!” Professor Delang scolded and turned to Director Li, “Prepare the surgery room!”
Director Li frowned, “He’s already dead.” And this was a maternal and child health centre, right next to a county hospital, it was simply not equipped to perform such a life-saving operation.
“The heart that stopped is not the same as being dead! If it’s not ready in five minutes, he’ll really be dead!”
As he said this, Professor Delang tore off the shackles on the young man, moved him to the floor and started cardiac compression, yelling at Director Li, “Go! Do you know how much benefit this project will bring to the boss if it is successful? If this experiment is abandoned, I will put all the blame on you!”
Director Li frowned tightly and looked at the blonde old man gloomily. Although he hated this threat very much, he had to admit that he was afraid.
In the eyes of those who were high and mighty, if someone got in their way and made them unhappy, they would make others unhappy in turn. He didn’t want to be the scapegoat when the time came.
He raised his hand to look at his watch, “It’s 14:40. Within five minutes I’ll have everything ready, but if this man still dies, then it’s not my fault.”
Luo Wencheng’s mind was muddled. He remembered following the man to the underground passage and then fainting because his heart suddenly failed. But it wasn’t like he was completely unconscious; he could hear that the man had called someone to transport him to another place.
They fed him some kind of drug, tied him to a chair, put a lot of patches on his head and then put a helmet-like thing on him. They seemed to be using this thing to stimulate his brain and said they were going to use him for some kind of experiment.
Luo Wencheng then realised vaguely that he must have been taken to Fang Bude’s lair.
He was angry and unwilling, but there was nothing he could do; he had no control over his own body. It was as if he was trapped in a small place, unable to see anything or make any sound. After some silent hissing and cursing, he was tired and calmed down, waiting to see what that madman Fang Bude would do to him this time.
But he had no fear in his heart. He was dying anyway, what was there to fear?
He waited for a long, long time for any movement. He couldn’t control his body, but he still felt it. He knew he was tied to a chair and he kept sitting there, as if forgotten. He wondered what it was all about.
Time passed minute by minute. He didn’t know how long it took when a sharp pain enveloped his heart as if it was squeezed, and he was finally able to scream out in agony. The terrible pain lasted for more than ten seconds, and after it finally stopped, Luo Wencheng could no longer feel his body. He knew he was probably dead.
Fang Bude had gone to a lot of trouble to get him here, but he had died before he could start experimenting. It probably made Fang Bude vomit blood. It was a little comforting to think of it this way.
After a while, Luo Wencheng realised that nothing had changed about him. He still seemed trapped in some unknown place, he could not see, hear, speak or feel anything, but he did not dissipate either. Was this how one felt after death?
He wondered about it as time seemed to pass, a long, long time, and finally, another cheer reached his ears, “Alive! He’s alive!”
Luo Wencheng was amazed. He was alive? How could that be?
But he did hear the sound and felt his body that was so weak and heavy that he couldn’t move a finger.
Someone parted his eyelids and shone a blinding light into his pupils, and he blinked uncomfortably, whereupon the delighted voice in his ears became even more delighted.
Blinking weakly, Luo Wencheng vaguely saw two lamps above him and not far away from him were several people who were talking animatedly. He recognised two of them; one was the man he had followed all the way and almost killed, and the other, with a messy head of blonde hair, was, needless to say, Fang Bude.
Luo Wencheng had only one thought, to lunge forward and kill the man, but he couldn’t move. The heaviness and drowsiness came over him like a tidal wave; he struggled a little and was forced into a dazed sleep.
This time, after falling asleep, he came to a place that was different from the invisible and untouchable place before. This time the space was filled with a glowing blue light, very soft.
As if floating in the air, Luo Wencheng looked around and saw a bright screen in front of him, from which the dazzling blue light in this space was coming.
“Hello, target.” A cold electronic voice suddenly said.
This voice was familiar to Luo Wencheng. It was the same voice that had him reborn and helped him save Lu Chong.
“It’s you, you’re the voice? Where is this place? Why am I still alive?” Luo Wencheng inquired. Although he asked questions, neither his tone nor his heart had much sense of curiosity. It was not the effect of the unknown drug, but the fact that he had lost his normal human emotions since he woke up after the car crash.
Hope was something that might seem ethereal, but after a person completely lost hope, he would become misanthropic and apathetic, and nothing would interest him anymore. For Luo Wencheng, the only thing left was really only the negative emotion like anger.
“Hello, target. I am the system that changed your fate for you. You can call me System. You are dead, but because of my existence you have three chances to be resurrected. This is the third time. If you die again, this time it will be complete death, so please, target, cherish this life.”
“The third time? Isn’t it the second time?” Luo Wencheng asked.
“That’s because I once sealed a piece of your memory according to the rules, and now I can return it to you.”
After this voice said these words, Luo Wencheng felt a powerful suction. The scene changed and he appeared in a room. The room seemed somewhat familiar; he looked at it for a moment before he realised that it was the room he used to live in in the Luo family’s house.
With a click, the door was opened from the outside and a teenager walked in, flung himself onto the bed and began to sigh.
Luo Wencheng’s eyes widened as he recognised who this person was. Wasn’t it himself? It was himself who was many years younger.
“Hey, it’s so annoying, I’m not allowed to go here and there, what’s so interesting about Haining alone?” The teenager grumbled sullenly as he flopped down on the bed.
Luo Wencheng recalled for a while, then looked at the layout of the room again, and remembered that this should be the time when he was fifteen years old.
Back then, he especially wanted to leave Haining to play somewhere else, but neither Luo Kaifang nor Luo Wenhao allowed it.
The two of them never allowed him to leave Haining. He could play as crazy as he wanted in Haining, but they just wouldn’t let him leave the city. They said that if he left Haining, they wouldn’t be able to take care of him if he got into trouble, and that Haining was the only safe place.
While understanding their intentions, Luo Wencheng was very depressed and bored, so he, Zhao Jiandong and others spent time eating, drinking and having as much fun as they could.
“Hello.” Suddenly a cold electronic voice rang out in the room. Luo Wencheng was startled. His younger self on the bed was also startled, saying in a slightly childish voice, “Who is talking?”
“Hello, I’m here to change your fate. I don’t have a name, you can call me System.”
“Change my fate? System?” The young Luo Wencheng rolled over and sat up, looked left and right, then began to look all over the room, muttering as he did so, “Could it be that Dad and Big Brother see that I’m too bored and play pranks on me?”
The cold voice said, “No need to look, you won’t find me, I have no entity.”
The teenage Luo Wencheng pricked up his ears and listened, finding the voice was really three-dimensional and didn’t seem to be coming from any direction. But he still searched the room and found nothing before sitting down on the edge of the bed.
“Are you really not made by Dad or Big Brother? What the hell are you?” The teenager, unafraid of anything, didn’t show much fear when such an inexplicable voice suddenly appeared inside the room; what he felt was novelty.
“I am here to help you change your fate. You will go to prison at the age of eighteen, and after three years in prison, you will return to society, homeless and with no one to turn to. Suffering and cornered, you will eventually die a horrible death at the age of thirty-one,” the voice said calmly.
“Nonsense.” The teenage Luo Wencheng raised his eyebrows, “My family is the richest in Haining, my father and brother are the most powerful people in Haining, how could they let me go to prison and die tragically? Do you mean to say that the Luo family will collapse in the next three years?”
He didn’t believe it for a second and once again felt that the voice must be a prank played by someone.
The voice didn’t waver at the challenge, still calm and cold, “I can’t provide too much information, but if you want to change your fate, you must believe me.”
“Is that so? But for me to believe you, you have to come up with something to convince me, right? You just come out of nowhere and say that I will die a horrible death in the future, and you want me to believe you… that’s not how you fool people.” The teenage Luo Wencheng was completely unconvinced by the voice. He leaned against his desk, holding a headphone cord in his hand, spinning it around in a leisurely manner.
The voice fell silent, and after a while said, “What would it take for you to believe me?”
The teenage Luo Wencheng thought for a moment, “If you are some kind of system, and you can predict my destiny and help me change it, then you must be very powerful, right? Do you have any special skills? For example, take me through time and space.”
The voice fell silent again. “I have limited energy. I can only travel ten years to the past or to the future.”
“Is it really possible? Ten years, let it be ten years, let’s give it a try.”
The voice then asked him if he wanted to go ten years to the past or ten years to the future. Luo Wencheng thought for a moment with a serious look on his face, “You have said that I will be miserable in the future, so what am I going to do ten years later? You can send me back to ten years ago.”
“Sending you back is fine, but you have to promise two things.”
“First, you can’t do anything to change the trajectory of your life, so it’s best to stay away from the environment you lived in as a child. Second, you must not get hurt in the past, especially if it’s a life-threatening injury. After crossing over, the most my remaining energy will be able to do is to save your life and send you back to the present. If you are really seriously injured and dying, I will only be able to enter a dormant state when my energy runs out after sending you back, and block all your memories about me.”
The young Luo Wencheng smiled and said, “Okay, okay, I promise you, I promise all of it.”
“Do you want to cross now?”
“The crossing is about to take place, please lie down on the bed. After you go back to the past, you can only stay for a maximum of three months. If you want to come back, you can come anytime. After you come back, it will still be the same time as now.”
The teenage Luo Wencheng complied and lay down on the bed. He still thought it was a prank and wasn’t nervous at all, wondering what kind of scene the other party had prepared for him from ten years ago.
The next moment, however, his entire body disappeared on the bed.
Luo Wencheng watched the empty bed, his face expressionless. He was sure there was no such memory in his mind. If this image was true and such an event had really happened when he was fifteen, then it could only prove that after crossing, he had done something that changed the trajectory of his life, or suffered a serious injury that was certain to kill him.
The next moment, things in front of him turned around once again, and he was outdoors at night, outside the Luo family’s villa. Judging from all those old style iron gates, railings and street lights, he must have followed his younger self on a crossing, that is, back to when he was five years old.
“Oh my god!” There was a cry of surprise, and Luo Wencheng then saw his fifteen-year-old self standing behind the corner. He looked at everything in front of him in amazement, touching everything around, “Oh my god, I really came to ten years ago, you didn’t lie to me?”
The voice said coldly, “Remember, don’t do anything that could potentially change the trajectory of your life, and don’t let yourself get hurt.” Then there was no more sound.
Only the young Luo Wencheng was left standing alone. On a quiet night, on the quiet street, he was the only one. After staying for a while, he seemed to finally accept this fantasy-like fact.
He walked around the villa and wanted to go in and have a look, but was worried that he could accidentally change his life. This system seemed really powerful, so if it said he would be miserable and down on his luck all the way to his death after he turned eighteen, then it should be true. He didn’t want to live that way, didn’t want to end up like that, so naturally he couldn’t lose this system.
He walked most of the way around the villa, muttering to himself, and was about to leave when a suppressed cry suddenly came from a room on the first floor, followed by a woman’s curse: “Crying again, I’ll show you crying! You useless thing! You’re not my son, get out of my sight!”
Then the sliding door of the balcony was opened and a woman came out holding a child by the ear, twisting his ear and shaking him back and forth. The child was pulled up and unsteady on his feet. Then the woman let go and pushed him so hard that he fell to the floor. She kicked him some more, went inside and poured a basin of water over him, then closed the door of the balcony: “Stay outside tonight.”
The child whimpered, not daring to cry loudly, and hugged himself into a ball, shivering.
The teenager outside the villa, Luo Wencheng, watched in silence, for a while gritting his teeth and clenching his fists as he lowered his head and kept saying to himself, “Luo Wencheng, hold back, don’t be impulsive. You can’t go, you can’t help him, you have to take your chance and change your fate when you get back.”
And Luo Wencheng, who was floating in the air, looked with a cold face at the child on the balcony. That would be himself at the age of five, and the woman just now was He Mei, his mother, or his adoptive mother who had taken him away from his real parents.
He Mei died when he was over five, almost six years old. Before that, he had been abused by her day after day. He couldn’t remember many details of it or how He Mei threatened him not to tell anyone about the abuse or he would be thrown out of the house.
He only vaguely remembered that he was very unhappy every day and always had many wounds on his body under his clothes. But he didn’t dare to tell anyone and no one else in the Luo family found out about it.
At this moment, in the room next to the child, the door was opened, and a young man walked out and looked at the child curled up on the balcony through the opening in the carved wall, showing a mocking smile.
In an instant, Luo Wencheng understood everything. Yes, living in the same house, even in the next room, how could Luo Wenhao have never noticed that He Mei abused him? He was aware of it and took pleasure in it.
Even Luo Kaifang should have known, but Luo Kaifang only valued his eldest son from his original wife and despised his youngest son from his former mistress, so he would just pamper him superficially and not put in much thought.
Luo Wencheng looked at the travesty in front of him and thought of how he had been running after Luo Wenhao for over ten years, calling him Big Brother. He felt that he was really ridiculous.
The fifteen-year-old Luo Wencheng hadn’t realised all this yet. He lowered his head for a while, rubbed his red eyes and turned away without looking up again. He wanted to save his five-year-old self, to give him courage, to shout at him to cheer up, but he couldn’t do that, he had to leave.
Luo Wencheng followed slowly behind, looking at his downcast self in front of him.
At that time, Haining was not very lively yet. There were not many people on the road at night, and suddenly it was raining lightly. The teenage Luo Wencheng was in a bad mood and did not look at the road much, so he walked all the way to a slum area.
He didn’t recognise where this was, but Luo Wencheng did. This was the edge of Beicheng. There were many poor people living in Beicheng back then, and the houses they rented were either those particularly shabby one-storey bungalows or shacks they had randomly built themselves. The conditions were miserable, hence it was called slums.
The young Luo Wencheng hesitantly turned his head, about to walk back. There were no street lights here, only dilapidated houses. The rain wetted the ground and it looked very dirty. It seemed that something unexpected would rush out of the shadows at any time.
Yet at that moment a furious scolding came from somewhere: “Running again, I’ll show you running! Try to run one more time and I’ll break both your legs!”
The scolding sounded so similar to He Mei’s curses that the teenage Luo Wencheng hesitated for a moment and cautiously approached closer.
It was a small courtyard with three bungalows next to each other. From the one on the far right came the sound of punches and kicks and the man’s cursing, but there was no crying or begging for mercy.
After a while, the door opened, and a strong man walked out carrying something like a rope, turned around and locked the door, then threw the thing in his hand on the ground, and walked into the house on the far left.
The young Luo Wencheng looked over the fence and saw that the object thrown on the ground was not a rope or a soft belt, but a hard steel whip made of many wires twisted together. It was stained with bright red blood, flowing down under the drizzling rain.
He covered his mouth at once and crouched there, not daring to move, until he was sure that the strong man was not coming out again after entering the house. Only then did he dare to stand up carefully.
He didn’t know whether it was out of curiosity, or compassion, or simply because he was a newborn calf not afraid of the tiger, but instead of leaving, he wanted to see what kind of person was being abused in that shack on the far right.
Then he found a small window, moved a few stones to step on them and leaned over the edge of the window to look in. Luo Wencheng also drifted behind his younger self and looked in. Through the thin curtain of rain and by the faint moonlight, he could see that there was a person lying weakly on the ground, a teenager by the look of his figure.
Around fifteen or sixteen years old, his eyes were blindfolded, his mouth was gagged with a ball of rags, his hands were tied behind his back and his left leg was oddly twisted. His body was beaten bloody, and he lay on the ground motionless, almost as if he were dead, if not for the slight rise and fall of his chest.
Luo Wencheng choked; even though the light was dim, even though the distance was a little far, even though the man was blindfolded, he recognised at once that the man inside was Lu Chong.
Lu Chong in his teenage years.