Before noon on the first day, the chaos at No. 4 Guangming Road finally came to an end. One by one, the people, in a drunken stupor, wrapped themselves in their coats and left, forming a queue outside, waiting for taxis.

Only after everyone else had left did Lao Li wash his face and find cleaning tools from somewhere to slowly clean up the office, which had been turned into a mess by the commotion.

Daqing poked his head in and shrunk his paws at the sight of the mess on the floor. Lao Li quickly grabbed a cloth, wiped the chair surface, arranged them in a row, and respectfully lifted the Lord Cat onto the chair. “Walk on top, it’s not dirty up there.”

“It’s just you left. Young people nowadays, really getting more and more outrageous,” Daqing grumbled with an old-fashioned air. Carefully using the chair as a springboard, he jumped onto the desktop.

“I’m not the only one left. There’s still one more.” Lao Li pointed to the corner, and Daqing saw Guo Changcheng, who had just gotten up.

“Oh, good timing. Come here, kid. I’ve been looking for you.” Daqing glared at Guo Changcheng and found a coaster on Zhu Hong’s desk. Using his paw, he pushed it aside, revealing a red envelope containing several gift cards underneath. Daqing grabbed the red envelope and threw it at Guo Changcheng, grumbling, “Lao Zhao asked you to give this to your second uncle. Tell your second uncle that Zhao Chu said the leader is taking a rare break during the New Year, so he won’t bother him by visiting. This is a small New Year’s gift for your sister-in-law and the kids—ugh, stupid humans. How could they make me carry such a disgusting cat’s message?”

Guo Changcheng took a moment to react, standing there dazedly. He finally remembered where he was and smiled awkwardly. After picking up the red envelope and storing it away, he turned around and saw Lao Li laughing at them. Immediately, he rolled up his sleeves and went over, saying, “Li-ge! Let me help you, let me…”

Then he tripped over a chair leg and fell flat on the floor.

Daqing snorted and climbed onto a computer, extending his paw to turn it on. Awkwardly using his cat paw, he moved the mouse to open the browser.

Lao Li noticed and walked over eagerly. “What do you want to search? Let me help you.”

Daqing blurted out, “Shanhai…”

The word “hai” slipped out of his mouth and changed in tone, sounding somewhat like “he.” Then Daqing stopped himself, staring at the screen expressionlessly for a while before lowering his gaze. “Oh, I mean, I want to browse Weibo.”

Zhao Yunlan said he was going to do something “grand,” and he would come back to pick up Daqing later. So Daqing sat behind a computer that belonged to who-knows-who and opened the Weibo account for “Lord Cat, the Best in the World,” idling around and uploading a selfie with the webcam.

Lao Li and Xiao Guo silently tidied up the aftermath. In that brief moment, Daqing knew that it wanted to say something. It wanted to see what Twenty-Li Pavilion beyond Shanhaiguan was really like.

But the words of the elder of the Crow Clan made sense. Even if it saw it, what could it do? The dead were already dead, returning to dust.

With a click, Daqing uploaded its round face to the internet, adding the text “Peerlessly handsome meow.” Soon, some cat lovers left comments below, praising the cat’s pure fur color, while others kindly advised, “Blogger, your cat is too fat, pay attention to its diet, and take it for exercise to keep it healthy.”

Daqing quickly deleted that comment, thinking indignantly, “Stupid humans.”

The bell around its neck swayed with its movements, but it made no sound, only refracted golden light occasionally reflecting on the snowy white walls.

Lao Li couldn’t help but raise his hand to shield his eyes from the glinting light. He turned to look at the black cat that had fallen into a mood for no apparent reason. Just as he was about to say something, Chu Shuzhi walked out from behind the wall. It was said that on the first day of every year, it was the only time he was allowed to enter the library. However, he didn’t seem like someone who had borrowed a book or consulted any information. His expression was very strange, a mixture of mockery and an unconsciously displayed sorrow.

Guo Changcheng quickly stood at attention and greeted, “Brother Chu!”

Chu Shuzhi seemed not to hear and walked straight to pick up his bag. His mouth curled up even more, revealing an almost pitiful sneer. Without looking back, he simply raised his hand and waved the black wooden plaque in front of the cat’s face. Whether it was Guo Changcheng’s misconception or not, he felt as if there were fleeting characters on Chu Shuzhi’s face, right on his cheek, like the marks branded on ancient prisoners.

Daqing perked up its ears and widened its eyes. Chu Shuzhi’s fingers clenched tightly around the wooden plaque, his knuckles turning pale, and the veins on the back of his hand bulging with an indescribable ferocity. Then, without saying a word, he strode out. Daqing immediately turned to Guo Changcheng and said, “Xiao Guo, get a taxi and send Chu-ge away!”

Seeing Guo Changcheng’s bewildered response, Daqing emphasized, “He’s drunk. Take him home, make sure he’s okay before you come back, got it?”

Guo Changcheng quickly grabbed a tissue and wiped his hands. He hurriedly followed, taking Chu Shuzhi’s bag. Chu Shuzhi seemed somewhat dazed, allowing Guo Changcheng to take away his belongings without any reaction.

His figure was extremely thin, and for a moment, he seemed somewhat fragile.

Shen Wei had just left with the heavily drunk Zhao Yunlan. The director of their school, who was fat and only knew how to flatter, unexpectedly called Shen Wei, claiming to urgently need a document.

Shen Wei found it very strange and was about to inquire further when the director on the other end seemed to have ants in his pants, hastily giving some instructions and hanging up the phone.

Shen Wei had no other choice but to bring Zhao Yunlan, who clung to him and refused to let go, back to his seldom-occupied, cold little apartment. Just as he stepped inside, by some coincidence, the director’s urgent call came again, insisting that Shen Wei deliver the items to the west gate of Longcheng University.

Zhao Yunlan rolled around on his soft couch, half-drunk and bleary-eyed, slightly opening his eyes. “On the first day of the lunar new year, did that fatty at your school take the wrong medicine?”

Shen Wei looked for things while reaching out to support Zhao Yunlan’s forehead, preventing him from hitting it on the coffee table. He also grabbed a pillow and placed it behind his head. “I have to go somewhere, I’ll be back soon. You…”

“I want to sleep for a while.” Zhao Yunlan’s words were almost stuck together, like his eyelids.

Shen Wei asked in a low voice, “Do you want some water?”

“Mmm…” Zhao Yunlan turned his head to avoid it, gently waving his hand to push Shen Wei’s away. “No.”

His eyes glistened with a watery light, his thin lips rosy, his long eyebrows arched upward, almost disappearing into his hair. With his head tilted slightly back, a slightly tense line appeared on his chin. The unbuttoned shirt revealed his elegant neck, exuding an indescribable charm.

Shen Wei’s breath hitched as he carefully brushed aside the hair on Zhao Yunlan’s forehead. He pulled a blanket over him and lightly ran his thumb over Zhao Yunlan’s lips, gently caressing them. Bending down, he kissed his forehead, then took the items and car keys that the director wanted and turned to leave.

A moment later, Zhao Yunlan heard a soft door sound.

Zhao Yunlan, who had just been drunkenly slouching, immediately sat up straight like a puppet. He took out his phone and sent a text message, “Delay him a bit,” and then called the moving company he had previously arranged.

The little brother from the moving company probably had never received such a bizarre order before and hesitated, saying, “Uh… If the owner is not present, should we…”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Move it for me,” Zhao Yunlan said domineeringly, “He’s already on my household registration. Should I write two addresses on one household registration? It makes me angry just looking at his pile of disposable items. Get here within five minutes, got it?”

Zhao Yunlan hung up the phone and took out a stack of sticky notes from his bag. He quickly made a list—what to take with him and what didn’t matter if it was thrown away. He planned to buy new ones for him.

Suddenly, Zhao Yunlan’s pen stopped, and a very perverted idea sprouted in his mind. He pondered it with wild imagination. Where did Shen Wei keep his underwear? Especially the ones he had worn… Although Shen Wei had been squeezed into his own small apartment under his coercion during this period, he still managed to maintain the noble tradition of “starting with affection and ending with courtesy” in such a cramped space where they couldn’t help but see each other.

Zhao Yunlan rubbed his hands together, chuckling to himself, and then went to Shen Wei’s balcony. It seemed that it hadn’t been used for a long time, as the clothes rack was still there, but there was nothing hanging on it. Zhao Yunlan wasn’t discouraged. He opened the closet in the living room, only to find shirts, pants, coats, and several pairs of similar-looking shoes. There wasn’t even a pair of socks.

Zhao Yunlan’s eyesight was not very good at the moment, so he didn’t notice a small storage box hidden under a long overcoat. While adding “clothing” to both the “take with” and “purchase” categories on his list, he couldn’t help but gaze at Shen Wei’s bedroom, which was always tightly closed, as if it contained a different dimension.

The door had no handle or visible lock. Zhao Yunlan took out a small flashlight and scanned the gap between the door and its hinge, but he couldn’t find the hinge or a hidden lock.

He felt puzzled and tentatively placed his palm against the door. With his heavenly eye, he could see faint patterns on the door, as if there was some kind of energy flowing within the pitch-black panel. The flow was serene and dignified, meticulously seamless.

Zhao Yunlan pressed his hand against the door and felt it for a moment. Suddenly, a sense of familiarity washed over him, and he remembered, “Kunlun lock?”

During these days, he had secretly collected information about Kunlun with the help of Sang Zan. However, apart from it being an impressive and ancient mountain, and some schools and techniques named after Kunlun, he didn’t find anything valuable.

The Kunlun lock was mentioned in one of the books he had accidentally come across while scanning with his heavenly eye. According to legend, the Kunlun lock had a round upper part and a square lower part, symbolizing the heavens and the earth. In the middle, there were fourteen seals, harmonizing the eight directions. At that time, the sixty-four hexagrams had not yet emerged, and there were only the interplay of yin and yang, without the complexity of later generations. In a sense, it was more mysterious and unpredictable, harder to grasp.

What would require a Kunlun lock in the room?

No… What does the Soul Slayer have to do with Kunlun? Why is Shen Wei so familiar with this ancient seal?

Uncertain, Zhao Yunlan stood at the door for a moment, then tentatively reached out his hand, accumulating spiritual power in his palm, and gently manipulated the Kunlun lock. The Kunlun lock immediately responded, with the fourteen seals moving in succession, the interplay of yin and yang. It was overwhelming for a moment. Zhao Yunlan had too many thoughts, scattered and unfocused. Sometimes he let his imagination run wild. So, he wasn’t as skilled with these intricate things as Chu Shuzhi.

However, when faced with the Kunlun lock, he didn’t know why, but he had an inexplicable sense of familiarity. Every change seemed to be in sync with a rhythm that resonated within his heart.

Zhao Yunlan’s fingers swiftly moved across the door, as if someone was guiding his fingers.

Tianmen, Dihe, Fangyuan, following the thirty-six pillars, until…

A “click” sound, and the pitch-black door slowly slid open, revealing a narrow crack. There was no light inside, and Zhao Yunlan stood at the doorway, hesitating.

For some reason, he regretted pushing open this door.

However, after a moment of hesitation, he still detached a small flashlight from his keychain and cautiously entered.

The walls were covered with objects, and Zhao Yunlan strained his eyes in the light, freezing on the spot.

The entire wall was filled with big and small frames, angry and laughing faces, all… Zhao Yunlan’s hand trembled, and the flashlight almost fell to the ground. The drunken haze in his mind vanished instantly.

After a moment, the beam of the flashlight landed on a large ancient painting on the south wall of the room. It was a huge painting, occupying almost the entire wall. Zhao Yunlan didn’t know what material it was made of, but it was as thin as a cicada’s wing, smooth and snowy white. On it was painted a person.

The person was depicted with delicate features, exuding a lifelike aura. Their long hair trailed down, wearing a simple, yet elegant, green robe. Slightly tilting their head, their mouth seemed to be smiling… Zhao Yunlan almost felt like he was looking in a mirror.

Beside the painting was a line of small characters, not in modern simplified or traditional script, nor any other font he was familiar with. It was something unseen, yet for some reason, with just one glance, Zhao Yunlan understood what was written:

Deng Lin’s first encounter with the Lord of Kunlun, a fleeting glimpse, stirring my heart’s melody. Written by Wei Bi.

Ten minutes later, the mover knocked on Shen Wei’s door, but a strange man walked out instead.

He didn’t offer any explanation, only saying that there was no need to move anymore. He took out his wallet and paid the full moving fee, apologizing for making them come for nothing.