The Creatures That We Are - C.433: No.7 Winery

The Creatures That We Are

C.433: No.7 Winery

“Walk slowly on the way to the netherworld. I promise you that the philanthropist will be right with you soon.”

Gao Yang pulled the trigger.

A muffled gunshot rang. Richard fell silently, his blood splattered on the wall behind him.

Nainai stood on the side, lips parted and eyes widened.

Gao Yang stood up and took out a napkin to wipe the fingerprints on the gun before putting the gun in Richard’s stiff hand.

Even if he didn’t kill him, Richard would’ved died soon of Hyena’s binding curse like Dick had. It was better to make him regret his sins before his death and meet a quick, less painful end.

Gao Yang rose to his feet. Nainai was completely still, her expression strange. He asked, “What? Haven’t you killed a wanderer before?”

“No, no...” Nainai finally came back to her senses. She looked at Gao Yang with bright eyes. “How did you come up with the line? It’s my personal goal to sound like that! It’s elegant, so elegant!”

Gao Yang paused. “What line?”

Chen Ying facepalmed. “The one about the netherworld. It does sound a little chuuni.”

Gao Yang humored Nainai carelessly, “It’s easy. Forget about techniques and tap into your emotions.”

Nainai didn’t entirely understand, but she was shaken. “Can...can you teach me?”

“You’ll have to show that you deserve it.”


Gao Yang, Chen Ying, and Nainai quickly left through the back door of the bar, walking into the narrow and dark alley filled with garbage.

In the shadow at the corner, Lithe Snake was wearing a gray windbreaker and a checkered deerstalker, his sunken face looking cold and unapproachable. He looked like a veteran turned private eye.

Leaning against a telephone pole, he played with a throwing knife.

“Done?” Lithe Snake asked Gao Yang when he spotted him.

Gao Yang handed him the slip Richard had written the address on. “Hyena had shoes made at this shop. Go interrogate them with Nainai. You may find something.”

“Leave it to me.” Lithe Snake took the slip of paper and had a look before waving Nainai over.

Nainai rushed toward him, jumping while quickly shrinking and diving into the pocket of Lithe Snake’s windbreaker with precision.

Lithe Snake turned around and leaped, stepping between the walls before disappearing.

“How about us?” Chen Ying asked.

“Let’s head back to the hotel and wait for their findings.”

Half an hour later, Gao Yang and Chen Ying returned to the hotel. They briefed Officer Huang and Qing Ling on what had happened. Then Gao Yang, Officer Huang, and Chen Ying each reported back to their respective organization.

Afterwards, they had some food and turned in.

Gao Yang and Officer Huang shared a bed, while Qing Ling and Chen Ying shared the other.

Three o’clock in the morning, Lithe Snake still hadn’t returned.

Gao Yang hadn’t actually fallen asleep, but merely resting with his eyes closed.

He opened his eyes and confirmed that Chen Ying was asleep before quietly patting Officer Huang’s shoulder. Officer Huang woke up, alert.

Gao Yang made a gesture to hush him, reaching over the gap between the beds to pat Qing Ling’s shoulder.

Her eyes fluttered open, glinting faintly in the dark.

Gao Yang hushed her too, gesturing at them to follow him. Then he went up to the window and opened it.

Qing Ling and Officer Huang got out of bed, following him.

Gao Yang grabbed each of their elbows and took a deep breath, using Teleportation.

The three of them disappeared from the room.

Five seconds later, Gao Yang had taken Officer Huang and Qing Ling to the rooftop with three teleportations. It was quiet save for the soft breeze. With the night settled in, the city seemed like an impressionistic painting.

“What’s wrong? Why the secrecy?” Officer Huang took out a pack of cigarettes. It took him a few tries to light one up.

Gao Yang didn’t immediately respond. He extended his senses and searched through the rooftop and its surroundings to make sure there were no unwanted eyes. Only then did he say, “I have a long-term plan I’d like to talk to you about...”

“Let me guess.” Officer Huang stopped him by raising a hand. “Are you thinking about starting your own organization?”

Gao Yang paused before breaking into a smile. “Is it that obvious? Do I have that written on my face?”

“Haha, not necessarily, but I know you, better than the back of my hand.” Officer Huang knocked him on the shoulder with a fist.

Gao Yang didn’t say anything, waiting for Officer Huang to express his stance.

“You should’ve long gone down that path, Gao Yang.” Officer Huang’s eyes were determined. “I’ve been waiting.”

“And you, Qing Ling?” Gao Yang turned to her.

Rather than giving a direct answer, Qing Ling said coolly, “I can’t learn much more from War Tiger. Outside of his blade, there’s nothing I want.”

Gao Yang smothered a laugh. You sure are honest.

“Haha, Teacher War Tiger is gonna be heartbroken if he hears you,” Officer Huang teased before turning to Gao Yang. “Why now?”

“I wasn’t strong enough and didn’t know enough about the Mist World, so I wanted to grow stronger while keeping a low profile.” Gao Yang looked at the two of them in turn.

“Even now, I still don’t think I’m strong enough, but I can’t wait much longer. I’m pretty certain that the three organizations have different end goals in mind. Once the Guard Rune Circuit, the last Rune Circuit, is found as well, a civil war is inevitable.”

“Dragon is willing to sacrifice anything for his dream, the Twelve Zodiac Signs likely included. Qilin seems proper in every way, but he’s mysterious and must be hiding something. I still don’t know what his goal is. Surnamed Li is a cunning fox too and isn’t as friendly as she seems. None of the three organizations is a good place for us.”

“Ha, we agree on that.” Officer Huang shook off some ash from his cigarette.

Qing Ling nodded.

Gao Yang continued, “The only ones I can trust are the two of you—and Wang Zikai, but unfortunately, he’s a monster, and there’s no telling what will happen going forward. As for Fat Jun, we’ll have to observe him more.”

“What do you need us to do?” Officer Huang asked bluntly.

“Start making preparations. I’m not going to force a split unless absolutely necessary.” Gao Yang smiled bitterly. One did not simply antagonize both the Twelve Zodiac Signs and the Qilin Guild.

“Do you mean we should start keeping an eye out for those who may share our views?”

“Yes,” said Gao Yang. “Remember, quality over quantity.”

“Of course. I’ll list some criteria for our companions. Let me know what you think.”

Officer Huang stroked his chin bemusedly for a while before extending a finger. “First, no killing the innocent and no starting a fight without reason, be it with humans or monsters.”

“Second, work for survival without sacrificing the harmony of the group. Securing victory and survival through selling out, using, cheating, and sacrificing companions is strictly prohibited.”

“Third, opening the Gates of Closure is merely a means to an end rather than an end itself.”

In case Qing Ling didn’t understand, Officer Huang explained with a smile, “Although we believe at the moment that only by opening the gates would we survive, if it turns out that not opening the gates will better ensure our survival, we leave the gates closed. Whatever we do, we do it for survival, rather than an elusive end goal.”

“I agree.”

Qing Ling had pursued strength in order to protect her sister and survive. She was curious about what lay behind the Gates of Closure, but that was it.

“I agree too.” Gao Yang nodded. While he was also interested in the world behind the Gates of Closure, his priority was protecting his companions and family. Everything else came after.

“Okay.” Officer Huang smiled. “Then we’ll keep an eye out for potential companions with the criteria.”

Gao Yang nodded. “I hope that things won’t get to that point, but if it does, we’ll go independent.”

“Yeah.” Officer Huang nodded. So did Qing Ling.

Officer Huang scratched his cheek with the hand holding a cigarette. “Among the Twelve Zodiac Signs, in addition to Fat Jun, I think Heavenly Dog, Songstress, and Mischievous Monkey may be recruitable, but not Dead Pig, White Rabbit, Lovely Lamb, or War Tiger.”

“Yeah, in the Qilin Guild, I can probably take my team, but not the others.” Gao Yang didn’t have much to offer at the moment, either.

“What about the Hundred Rivers Union?” Qing Ling asked.

Officer Huang joked, “Maybe you can seduce Amon into joining.”

Qing Ling didn’t deem that a response, and she didn’t find it funny.

“Chen Ying would make a good companion,” Gao Yang said regretfully. “Unfortunately, she’s loyal to Surnamed Li. It won’t be easy to recruit her.”

“Oh.” Officer Huang seemed to have remembered something. “Can Lithe Snake be trusted?”

“Although he always looks and sounds like he’s eaten a fly, he’s dependable.” Gao Yang turned to Officer Huang. “Why? Do you find him suspicious?”

“Well, there’s something strange about him.” Officer Huang curled his lips. “When we got here, I noticed him cutting off his pinky secretly and dropping it into a trashcan.”

Gao Yang frowned. “With Gecko, he could regenerate his appendage. But why would he cut off his pinky for no reason? What’s that for?”

“Two possibilities.” Officer Huang’s gaze darkened. “First, he’s a masochist. Second, he’s leaving clues for the enemies, selling us out.”

“The second is unlikely to be the case.” Gao Yang had used Lie Detection on Lithe Snake before, and the fifth team had been through life-and-death situations together.

“I’m not trying to drive a wedge between you.” Officer Huang sighed. “Anyway, be careful.”

“I know. I’ll keep an eye out.”

Then Gao Yang’s phone rang. It was an encoded message from Nainai.

Gao Yang looked up with a faint smile. “Lithe Snake found Hyena’s hideout.”


Four o’clock in the morning, they ‘borrowed’ a car parked by the road and drove to Zone 4.

They were briefed on the way.

Lithe Snake had found the clothes shop and easily gotten his hands on the list of clients who had ordered custom-made dress shoes over the past two years. Based on the types and sizes of the shoes, he narrowed the list down and found the philanthropist—Hyena.

It was said that the poor old tailor Lithe Snake had grabbed for interrogation at midnight was so terrified that he spilled out all he knew without having a hand laid on him.

According to the tailor, the philanthropist was a mysterious middle-aged man. He visited the shop only once with a mask on, and he asked the tailor to take measurements for him, ordering shoes, suits, pants, shirts, vests, tailcoats, tuxedos, fedoras, and umbrellas to be custom made here. He was polite and generous when paying. The tailor thought he was a magnanimous man.

Afterward, the philanthropist would always send two bodyguards in black to the shop to pick up his clothes and shoes at the agreed times.

Once, the old tailor had failed to finish a tuxedo because of personal matters. As a result, the two bodyguards pointed their guns at him and had him quickly finish the order.

That day, the two bodyguards talked for three hours while watching him work. They accidentally let loose where the philanthropist lived.

As the tailor remembered, it was a place called No.7 Winery.

Chen Ying opened the map and quickly found No.7 Winery, located in Zone 4 of A City. It seemed that the place wasn’t covered up, but left in plain sight.

Zone 4 was a suburban area with many ranches. A lot of rich people built luxurious private mansions there.

The team drove to their destination.

Gao Yang was in a dark mood. Although it was merely an accident, it felt like a bad omen for his codename, Seven Shadow, to share the same number as the bastard Hyena’s winery.

That left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m gonna destroy you.

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