The setting sun’s light shot through the window frame at an angle, falling on Bai Huo’s face.
He frowned lightly and shivered under the blanket; his forehead almost soaked with cold sweat.
”He’s a white dragon, he can’t stay here.”
”White scales are ominous, that child, sigh…”
”The prophet said that he’ll bring disaster upon us.”
”No, Bai Huo, say something ah…Bai Hou, Bai Huo!”
The little dragon and the fat bird were finishing up a chaotic scuffle in the front yard. The little dragon frantically rushed into the living room, and before the fat bird could chase and catch up, he quickly climbed the sofa and skillfully burrowed into Bai Huo’s blanket.
”Scheming boy!” The fat bird urgently came to a halt, very angry at his cheating.
The little dragon ignored him and rolled around in the blanket, cheerfully using his furry head to boop Bai Huo’s nose.
Bai Huo sucked in hair, almost suffocating in his sleep, dripping with sweat, he woke up, his eyes meeting with the little dragon cub’s smoky gray round face, then he suddenly recoiled.
”What did you snack on? Hmm?” He raised his head, exposing his neck, panting slightly, covering his forehead with the back of one hand and pinching the little dragon’s face with the other, “Smells like fish.”
The little dragon had no plans to admit it, he blinked, trying hard to make a sincere “I really didn’t eat anything” face.
Bai Huo pretended to believe and got up to wash his face. Then he walked out into the front yard and found two complete sets of fish bones. It was already after dinner time; the little cub must’ve been too hungry and couldn’t hold back. Bai Huo looked at the small inconspicuous snow pocket on the ground, amused. He’d obviously sneakily eaten the fishes, then he’d buried the fish bones in the snow and thought Bai Huo wouldn’t discover it. As a result, the sun came out and melted the snow, exposing the evidence of the crime.
However, this episode was Bai Huo’s responsibility. Since he’d adopted this child, the child has never eaten a good meal.
Bai Huo has always treated himself well. How could he let his child be neglected? He immediately pulled out his phone and ordered a luxurious salmon set meal. Even the fat bird received some benefits, and got a serving of chestnut braised pork.
When the food was delivered, the little dragon saw the neatly cut, fat and tender fish fillets, and his jaw dropped for a while. He excitedly ran a few laps around the big platter, looking like a small beggar going to the city for the first time. Seeing this, Bai Huo felt distressed.
Poor guy, your dad is too useless, letting you live such a third-rate life.
While the little dragon and fat bird were gorging themselves, Bai Huo took out the tooth he’d picked up in the mine and placed it under the lamp to examine it.
”Fat chicken, how much do you know about Rock Wyrms?”
The fat bird swallowed a bite of pork belly and mumbled: “Rock Wyrms?”
Bai Huo placed the tooth on the table: “Take a look.”
The arrogant bird was very pleased with the meal, so it was unusually cooperative. He patted his belly and hopped around the tooth, but didn’t see anything special: “This fell out naturally, hmm … I’ll check the “Dapeng Mark” for more info.
Bai Huo watched him bury his head in his tail feathers, crossing his arms to ask: “I forgot to ask last time. Where did you get this “Dapeng Mark”? How come I’ve never heard you talk about it before?
“I also just discovered it recently. There wasn’t much written in it before, so I saw no point in taking it out. “
Bai Huo hmmed, “So, it seems that my fairy peas not only fed you, it also gave you something useful. Legend has it that the ancient Dapeng could fly a thousand miles a day and had extensive knowledge, it was highly intelligent. How did it become so watered down by your generation?”
”Shut up! “The fat turned red in embarrassment. “Everyone has different skills. I also have areas where I’m more talented than them.”
“That’s true,” Bai Huo nodded in agreement. “Like eating.”
The “Dapeng Mark” was all-encompassing, but there were very few records on Rock Wyrms. The fat bird translated: “Rock Wyrm… I see, the records say that the Rock Wyrm is a lower subspecies of the dragon race. In a modern analogy, it’s… it’s like the relationship between humans and monkeys. They’re uncultured, naturally aggressive, have strong attacking power, and an extremely long lifespan. “
”Is there any precedent for using Rock Wyrms as guardian beasts?” Bai Huo asked.
”Guardian beast? “The fat bird was shocked. “Isn’t that the beasts you dragons use to nurture your eggs?”
Besides the chaotic war, there was another important factor in why the dragon race’s reproductive ability was so low. The dragon egg’s hatching conditions were too harsh. If it was too hot, too cold, too dry, too humid, or too sunny, the dragon egg wouldn’t hatch. The eggs would rot in environments that were too hot and humid, and when the temperature was too low, the dragon eggs would stop growing and even hibernate.
Plus, the incubation period of dragon eggs was very long, from six months to more than a year. During the warring era, parents didn’t have the time to stay and monitor the dragon eggs. Therefore, they came up with another method: Find some docile and loyal animals, domesticate them, and use them as guardians for the cubs. Not only could they conveniently control the heat and humidity levels, they could also give the dragon eggs a certain degree of protection during the incubation period.
Most dragons chose docile and intelligent animals such as the Blackbirds, Bell Deer, and Blue Foxes as guardian beasts for their children. Many dragon cubs naturally grew close to these animals after birth, they were perhaps the best childhood playmates.
Of course, after the dragon race fell, the birth rates dropped sharply. After the war ended, the guardian beasts were no longer needed, and the practice gradually faded away. The dragons born after the founding of the association basically didn’t have guardians.
The fat bird flipped through its feathers for a long time before saying: “Wow, it’s true. The record says that thousands of years ago, the dragons tried to domesticate Rock Wyrms as guardian beasts, but they couldn’t be used in the end. They were too uncontrollable, sometimes even attacking their own masters. For safety reasons, the project was abandoned.”
”So that’s how it is.” Bai Huo nodded, there was precedent, but the danger-level was too high. Thinking of this, Bai Huo suddenly felt out of sorts, he didn’t know what the little guy’s parents were thinking, how could they give their child to such a beast? Fortunately, the child had met him right after birth, otherwise, who knew if he would’ve survived.
Although the Rock Wyrms were ugly, they were still subspecies of ancient spiritual beasts, Bai Huo thought about how all the murders occurred on unusually clear nights, and an idea floated up: “Don’t Rock Wyrms feed on the essence of the sun and the moon?”
”Yes, but not just that,” The fat bird said, sighing as he read, “Sheesh, those things are troublesome. When Rock Wyrms grow too old, they can suck essence from human blood to replenish their life.”
Bai Huo frowned, so, the cause and effects of the matter were all laid bare.
The two Rock Wyrms had probably been domesticated a long time ago, but their abilities obviously weren’t good enough. They didn’t dutifully protect the little dragon until birth, resulting in him being randomly picked up. Plus, the oldest Rock Wyrm seemed to have reached the end of its lifespan, resulting in the smaller one going out into the world to cause trouble. Stealing moonlight and blood essence to extend the old one’s life, which led to the three murders in Xi City.
Although the Rock Wyrm was naturally aggressive, after being domesticated, its obsession towards the object being guarded was relentless. After discovering that the little dragon had left their territory, the two had wanted to steal back the little dragon, but they were too scared of Bai Huo to act. Until that night, when Bai Huo left the little dragon alone, only then did they dare to come out. But unexpectedly, they were misled by the scarf Ji Bei carried, and targeted the wrong object, which led to their deaths.
Thinking of this, Bai Huo felt very sympathetic towards these two unlucky beasts, but the sins they’d committed couldn’t be erased. Killing humans was against heavenly law.
”How did you know that Rock Wyrms used to be guardian beasts? Rock Wyrms aren’t very common.”
”I didn’t know,” Bai Huo massaged a headache and said. “When I saw the tooth in the mines, the idea suddenly came up in my head. I feel like I’ve heard it somewhere before, but I can’t remember.”
The fat bird looked at him doubtfully.
The phone rang, and Bai Huo picked it up: “Officer Ji?”
”Are you free right now? Come eat with me.”
Ji Bei sat in a family restaurant.
Bai Huo walked in holding the little baby dragon, noticing that almost every patron was parents taking their children out to eat.
Ji Bei had arrived first, sitting by a window. He didn’t wear his uniform at night, instead wearing a large down jacket, a sickly red blush on his cheeks and a fever patch on his forehead. Although he looked sick at first glance, his eyes weren’t exhausted, instead, they were full of spirit.
”Officer Ji has recovered very quickly.” Bai Huo declined the high chair brought by the waiter, and directly placed the child on the chair by his side. The little dragon cub was very short, his chin was just even with the table.
”No need to humor me, call me Xiao Bei.” Both people knew what Bai Huo was referring to. Ji Bei didn’t mention it, only saying, “There’s nothing to be done, it’s our job after all. Even if we see the sky falling with our own eyes, we just have to take it all in and go out to maintain order.”
Bai Huo sensitively glanced at the police car outside the window. The black window was rolled down half-way, and inside of the car, a bit of cigarette spark could be seen.
Ji Bei followed his gaze and smiled bitterly: “Don’t take offense, he’s been like this since I woke up this afternoon. He won’t leave my side more than ten meters, the only reason he agreed to wait outside was because I agreed to sit where he could see me.”
”You guys are close.” Bai Huo nodded in understanding.
Ji Bei didn’t speak, sliding the dessert menu towards Bai Huo: “Why don’t you order something to eat? This place has a great custard tart.”
”I ate before coming out.” Bai Huo saw the little dragon stretching his neck out to see the menu and handed it to him. “There’s no fish.”
The little dragon looked very disappointed. Bai Huo rubbed his head and ordered him a cup of banana milk.
”He…” Ji Bei hesitated, looking at the two’s interactions, then took the plunge. “He looks no different from other children.”
Bai Huo shoved a hand into his pocket and pressed down the little dragon’s bomber cap with the other: “He was born less than a week ago.”
Ji Bei’s eyes expressed amazement, but he quickly pushed it down.
“This scarf belongs to its rightful owner.” Ji Bei pushed the bag on the table towards Bai Huo, seeing the other man seizing him up, he sighed and said, “Director Bai, it’s better to take out whatever you have in your pocket.”
Bai Huo couldn’t help but chuckle, pulling out a small pill bottle and placing it on the table.
”Is it poison?” Ji Bei’s expression was complicated.
Bai Huo nodded; his face unreadable: “It’s very poisonous.”
Ji Bei’s eyes dimmed a bit: “Can you let me say a few words first?”
Bai Huo readily agreed.
Ji Bei’s state of mind was difficult to pacify. He closed his eyes, and when he opened them again, his eyes had recovered their calm. He spoke unhurriedly: “To be honest, because of my experience in the mine, I’ve already made some guesses about you guys’ identity. I called you out today to confirm it.”
Ji Bei had prepared a pile of evidence, and was planning to list each one out, who would’ve expected that without even waiting for him to continue, Bai Huo would straightforwardly smile and nod: “Yeah, you’ve guessed it. We’re not people – ah, that should be, not humans.”
So, what Xiao Shu had written in that manual turned out to be true… Ji Bei’s face turned pale, then he let out a long sigh: “You’re really a dragon ah. “
Bai Huo fiddled with the pill bottle, feeling that this reaction was a bit strange. It didn’t seem like shock, in fact, it felt like a sigh of relief.
”Director Bai, to tell you the truth, many strange things have been happening in Xi City the past few years. Others might not notice, but as a detective, I see everything. There are so many cases that’ve remained unsolvable for decades. Before he retired, the former director used to burn incense for peace and safety at home every day.” Ji Bei looked at the man siting opposite him with a complex mood. “When I saw you today, I realized that everything could finally get a reasonable explanation.”
”I admit that we completely don’t understand the world you live in. It’ll probably be best if everyone minded their own business. But that balance has already been broken. The DNA results prove that the three residents of Xi City were killed by those beasts. Those people can’t be resurrected. Even if I’m dead, the Xi City police need to give the victims’ families and the rest of the citizens an explanation.”
”So, what do you want to do?” Bai Huo narrowed his eyes dangerously.
”I want…” Ji Bei looked up at him. “I want you to give me a chance. I want to cooperate with you.”
”Cooperate?” Bai Huo was surprised.
”Yes, humanity is too weak. In some aspects, we can’t compete with you. We’ve already seen the evidence of that in the mine.” Ji Bei was an outstanding negotiator; all his words were logical and sensible.
“But as you can see, human technology advances every day; global satellite monitoring, surveillance cameras with extensive coverage, streaming, instant messaging… these things are getting more and more common. Humans have built civilizations for thousands of years, yet there are very few records about you. I think you guys must’ve protected your identity with great care, but if mankind continues to develop, it’ll get increasingly more difficult for you to survive.”
”Take this incident, for example. We could declare that the two beasts were mutated by the polluted sewers. Captain Luo and I can also report to the superiors with collaborated stories. Some people will still doubt it, but most of them will believe. In the end, except for me and Luo, no one else saw them when they were alive, so no one can know for sure.”
“This time, I was the one kidnapped, but next time, what if someone around you exposes their identity in public? Maybe you can use your own methods to clean up the scene, but what if they were recorded and posted onto the Internet? Can you clean up the internet?”
The carelessness on Bai Huo’s face retreated, replaced by a somewhat grim look. In fact, the points Ji Bei brought up were exactly what he’d been worried about. After picking up the little baby dragon, he became even more anxious.
”Cooperate with us, I can make some things convenient for you.” Ji Bei’s eyes were full of entreaty. After speaking, he looked at the little dragon, saying meaningfully, “For example, I can solve your child’s household registration problem.”
Bai Huo and the little dragon looked at each other, Bai Huo asked: “If I cooperate, what will you need me to do?”
”I just need to know a little more precise information about you,” Ji Bei said, “And in the future, you can provide us with some assistance if necessary.”
In the small family restaurant, noisy children ran around tables, and the parents tried to control them. On the side with the playground, several children were shrieking excitedly. On the other side, a young couple were arguing in harsh whispers about how best to scold their children.
Bai Huo stayed silent for a few minutes. When the little dragon had drank all his milk, he looked up and asked: “Why should I trust you?”
”Look at this.” Ji Bei took out a physical evidence bag while Bai Huo watched attentively, inside was a white scale that emitted a faint light. “This is something I accidentally found in a subordinate’s notebook. He must’ve stashed it.”
Bai Huo’s complexion changed, and he looked at Ji Bei hesitatingly.
”Don’t worry,” Ji Bei pondered, then offered, “I’m the only one who has seen this, the subordinate… If you want to know his name, I can tell you, but you must promise not to kill him.”
Bai Huo looked at Ji Bei, who was sitting stiff and upright, sporting a heroic expression like he was ready to die a martyr. Bai Huo suddenly smiled and took the scale, enclosing it in a fist. When he opened his hand, there was only some fine dust left in the physical evidence bag: “Hey, Officer Ji, do I look like a homicidal maniac in your eyes?”
“Huh?” Ji Bei asked, puzzled.
”Pfft, hahaha!” Bai Huo laughed, then he leaned down and hugged the little dragon who was starting to nod off. “I’m going home, my son is sleepy.”
”Aren’t you…” Ji Bei got up, about to speak when he caught sight of the small pill bottle that was still on the table, Bai Huo hadn’t taken it away.
”Take it.” Bai Huo hugged his son and waved at Ji Bei with a wide smile, then he walked out, saying without looking back: “You’ll need it someday.”
If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering how the rock wyrms killed those people. Well, I don’t know either lol. The author says several times that the crime scenes were sealed, and I assume there weren’t any big ass holes leading underground, or busted in windows and doors, those seem like important things to mention. So how the heck did those things get in, tear them apart, and leave no trace behind? I really hope this is an oversight from the author, and not a mistranslation from me. Oh well, let’s blame magic or something.