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Striving for Science

Chapters List

Chapter 25: Heavenly Dao Is Unfair

Noticing Liu Mao's somewhat off expression, Shen Changan looked back and was startled to see Dao Nian standing at the end of the corridor. "Dao Nian, what are you doing here?"

How did he get upstairs?

"The elevator."

Only then did Shen Changan notice that there was an indoor lift behind him, cleverly concealed by bonsai trees, which made it easy to miss.

He walked up to Dao Nian and pushed his wheelchair. "You also live upstairs?"

"Mm," Dao Nian tore his gaze away from Liu Mao. "Let's have beef for lunch tomorrow."

"Great, braised or stewed?"

"Half braised, half stewed," Dao Nian pointed to the door of a room. "Here."

"So I'm staying right next to you." Shen Changan helped Dao Nian open the door and found the room completely bare except for basic furniture, giving off a desolate and barren feeling.

Some say a room's decor and style can reveal a person's character and attitude towards life. Does Dao Nian's sparse room suggest that he has no hope for the future and no interest in the present.

Noticing Shen Changan's change of pace, Dao Nian looked up at him.

"Your room is so big," Shen Changan said casually as he pushed Dao Nian inside and turned on all the lights. The room instantly became bright and cheerful, dispelling some of the emptiness and desolation.

"Do you want to take a shower now?" Shen Changan asked. "Do you need any help?"

"No, thanks." Remembering Shen Changan's earlier question about using the bathroom, Dao Nian frowned. "You should rest early."

"Alright." Shen Changan didn't insist, as maintaining a certain distance between friends is a sign of respect for others. He turned his head and glanced at Liu Mao, who was hunching his shoulders. What's going on with him?

Seeing him come out, Liu Mao smiled ingratiatingly and wanted to enter the room but did not dare to go in: "Sir..."

"Go out."

"Okay." Liu Mao didn't dare to talk more and quickly closed the door for Dao Nian.

"Mr Liu, Dao Nian said he wants to eat beef for lunch tomorrow, are there any fresh ingredients in the kitchen?" Shen Changan asked.

"Cow… beef?" Liu Mao stuttered a little.

"Yes." Dao Nian saw that Liu Mao looked a little embarrassed, "Does Liu Mao follow Taoism and doesn't eat beef?"

"No, no." Liu Mao quickly shook his head. "I will have everything ready for you tomorrow morning."

After discussing the ingredients needed with Liu Mao, Shen Changan returned to the room and carefully observed the furnishings. Although Dao Nian's own room was desolate, the guest room arranged for him was warm and inviting, allowing one to naturally let go of any restraint or discomfort. It was evident that Dao Nian had put a lot of thought into preparing the room.

How warm is Dao Nian's heart really?

After showering, Shen Changan lay in the soft, cloud-like bed and quickly fell asleep. That night, he slept exceptionally well and even had a strange dream where he could fly, traveling around freely between heaven and earth.

When he woke up, it was already bright outside, and he could hear the gentle pitter-patter of rain.

So, did it really rain as Dao Nian said last night?

After washing up, someone brought him a change of clothes, they were polite but not overly friendly. After just one night here, Shen Changan already fell in love with this place.

Going downstairs, he saw Dao Nian by the floor-to-ceiling windows enjoying the view. He walked over and greeted him, "Good morning, Dao Nian."

Taking his gaze away from the view, Dao Nian looked at him and said, "Let's eat."

Shen Changan didn't know what the breakfast was made of, but it was so delicious he ate twice as much as usual, leaving him sprawled on the sofa, too full to move.

Dao Nian reached out and poked his back twice, only to hear two hums in response.

He couldn't help poking him two more times.

"Stop poking me. If I were a balloon, I would have burst by now," Shen Changan slowly sat up from the sofa. "Dao Nian, does your family specialize in growing high-quality agricultural products? Otherwise why is the food here so delicious?"

"You can think of it that way," Dao Nian nodded.

When you go to work, you want to take a break, but if you really don't go to work, you'll get bored with nothing to do. Shen Changan turned on the TV and flipped through all the channels, but couldn't find anything interesting.

Seeing his boredom, Dao Nian glanced at Liu Mao and suggested, "There's a game room on the third floor. Let Liu Mao take you there to play."

"Huh?" Liu Mao was momentarily stunned, then nodded. "Yes, we have one."

"I'm not a five or six-year-old kid, why would I play games?" Shen Changan was a little tempted but still politely declined for the sake of adult dignity.

"Gaming is now included in competitive sports so there's nothing wrong with adults playing it," Liu Mao said with a smile. "Anyway, if you have nothing to do, playing some games will pass the time."

"Alright then, Dao Nian, let's go together," Shen Changan stood up. "It's boring to play alone, so why not accompany me?"

Since Dao Nian lacks interest in life, I can drag him along to develop some interests.

Dao Nian was stunned. "I don't know how to play games."

"That's okay, I'm not very good either," Shen Changan pushed Dao Nian's wheelchair towards the lift. "But we can't fear challenges and must boldly explore. Maybe after playing for a few days, we might become good at it."

Just as they were talking, they suddenly heard a loud bang at the front door, as if someone was forcefully breaking in.

"This is private property, you can't trespass!" Liu Mao looked towards the door, the smile on his face completely disappeared as he stood up to block the intruder. "Please leave immediately."

"Get lost, you four-hoofed horned beast," the rude intruder shoved Liu Mao aside and furiously glared at Dao Nian. "How much more until you're satisfied?"

Four-hoofed horned beast?

Shen Changan frowned. Did this person just insult Liu Mao as a beast? He subtly stood in front of Dao Nian, as someone who dared to brazenly intrude into someone else's home and speak this way could do anything.

"After all these years, you..." Seeing Shen Changan, the intruder seemed to have encountered a bizarre monster. The mix of anger and astonishment twisted his face into a strange expression, looking extremely weird.

"A human?" He tried to see Dao Nian's expression but Dao Nian was blocked by Shen Changan, and he couldn't see anything.

The room suddenly fell into an eerie silence. Shen Changan noticed that the intruder was staring intently at him, so he couldn't help but touch his own face. He was still handsome and hadn't mutated, so what did that look mean?

"Get lost," Dao Nian pulled Shen Changan, who was blocking him, aside and gently spat out.

He still remained expressionless and concise with his words, but his choice of words wasn't particularly polite.

Seeing Dao Nian's face, the intruder's legs trembled slightly but he didn't back down. Staring stubbornly at Dao Nian, he said. "For more than a decade, our clan has achieved nothing. I don't know if it's a coincidence or your intention?"

Dao Nian ignored him. "Changan, go rest upstairs."

Shen Changan carefully sized up the man a few times, then bent down and whispered in Dao Nian's ear, "I'll be right upstairs, call me if you need anything." After saying that, he placed a fruit platter in Dao Nian's hands. "If he dares come near you, use this plate to hit him. Anyway he illegally trespassed into a private residence, so you're acting in self-defense, it's not illegal."

Looking at the fruit platter in his hands and Shen Changan's expression that seemed to say 'talk if you can but don't hesitate to act if needed,' Dao Nian nodded solemnly.

Only then did Shen Changan straighten up to say to the visitor, "Sir, take your time to speak. If you resort to extreme words or actions, I'll have no choice but to call the police."

The visitor had a subtle expression, his already twisted face becoming even more twisted.

After Shen Changan went upstairs, Dao Nian ignored the man and leaned lazily back in his chair, holding the fruit platter and eating fruit, his impatient expression clearly saying 'don't bother me, get lost.'

"Your Excellency," the man stared at Dao Nian for a while before suddenly dropping to his knees before him, prostrating himself. With his head and hands on the ground, he said word by word: "Your Excellency, please have mercy."

Liu Mao, who had been shoved aside, rubbed his arm and sneered coldly. Even when dealing with a bull, one must consider the owner. Just now when he barged in, he was so aggressive that he couldn't be stopped by ten thousand men, so why was he kneeling now?

"For nearly twenty years none of our bird clan's younger generations have been able to pass the transformation tribulation. I don't know what great sin my clan has committed to deserve such punishment." The man's eyes glistened with tears as he groveled before Dao Nian, shoulders shaking uncontrollably.

"If you don't even know what mistakes you've made, so what are you begging me for?" Dao Nian looked at him, his eyes seeming to see through everything in the world, devoid of any emotion.

"The Heavenly Dao… Heavenly Dao is unfair!" The man's shoulders shook even more severely. He was scared, so he didn't dare to look at Dao Nian directly; instead, he just howled while kneeling on the ground.

"Even if it's unfair, so what?" Dao Nian's eyelids lowered slightly. The way he looked at this person was no different from looking at a flower or a stone. "Prosperity and decline, every drink and peck has its own destiny. The world was never meant to be fair."

"You came to beg me now, it is only because you feel that the Bird Clan has drawn the short stick, yet at the time of your Bird Clan's great prosperity, did anyone in your clan come to me and say that this is not fair?" Dao Nian's mouth curved, though it was more a mocking sneer than a smile. "I'm in a good mood today, so back off."

"You now favor the human race, so naturally you don't want to spare a glance to other clans." This person seemed to be driven mad by anger and began to speak without any restraint, "Unfortunately, humans live as long as mayflies and have sinister minds. If they knew what you are, revealing their greed and desires, how would you react?"

"Favor the humans?" Dao Nian's brow twitched slightly. He never favored anyone, he just watched a race rise and then destroy themselves on their own.

Nothing in the world stays unchanged forever.

Shen Changan played with his phone in the room for a while. The soundproofing of the room was very good, and he couldn't hear any sounds from downstairs. Worried about Dao Nian, he opened the door and peeked out.

Huh?

Why is that aggressive man now kneeling before Dao Nian with a prostrated posture?

He wanted to silently turn his head away, pretending not to see this awkward scene. But the man kneeling suddenly raised his head, and their eyes met, both frozen in silent stillness.

Dao Nian also turned his head to look at him, standing by the railing on the corridor.

"Uh...please continue, don't mind me," Shen Changan backed up two steps and smiled awkwardly. "I won't disturb you guys."

"Come down," Dao Nian gestured with his finger, "There's milk pudding, come and have some."

"Okay." Shen Changan jogged downstairs to see a bowl of double-skin milk on the table. He picked up a spoon and was about to dig in, but paused when he noticed the kneeling man was looking at him. "Do you want some too?"

Dao Nian's brows furrowed slightly.

The man quickly averted his gaze.

"Leave," Dao Nian stopped looking at the man, who got up from the floor, bowed deeply to him, then left hastily.

"Dao Nian, does this person... also owe you money?"

"Mm," Dao Nian tossed the empty platter to Liu Mao and maneuvered his wheelchair to Shen Changan's side, "He owes a lot."

"The property management is pretty irresponsible letting people like him break in casually. What if he brought a weapon?" Shen Changan sighed. "Weeping, shouting, kneeling, threatening suicide - classic deadbeat tactics used by debtors who refuse to pay."

"It's fine," Dao Nian's dark pupils reflected the figure of Changan, "Repaying debts is the heaven's law and earth's principle."

Shortly after finishing lunch, Shen Changan saw Liu Mao bringing in an old man with gray hair. Before the old man even spoke, he knelt down in front of Dao Nian with a thud.

Shen Changan was startled and pushed Dao Nian aside to avoid the man, wondering if this was an attempt to scare or cause trouble. What if he fainted or something happened? Who would take responsibility?

"Kong Ying committed a grave mistake. I have come to beg for forgiveness," Seeing that Dao Nian did not accept his gesture, his face became even more terrified and he changed his position and continued to kneel. Shen Changan helplessly pushed Dao Nian's wheelchair away again.

After shuffling back and forth this way several times, worried the old man would hurt himself from kneeling, Shen Changan finally left him be.

The elderly man had a quite calm demeanor. He glanced at Shen Changan, who was standing next to Dao Nian, and began apologizing, "Kong Ying has an impulsive personality and is young and ignorant. He has been severely punished at home, please forgive him."

He also kneeled with full prostration. Unexpectedly, despite his age, his bones were still very strong. Shen Changan guessed that the "Kong Ying" in the old man's mouth was the man who came to make trouble in the morning. This family must owe a lot of money to Dao Nian, otherwise why would all the old and the young prefer to kneel rather than pay back the debt.

Shen Changan was a sympathetic person but he disliked people taking advantage of pity to act shamelessly and just throw themselves around without a bottom line. So, seeing this scene, he grew a bit impatient and simply decided to go upstairs to find some peace and quiet.

The Civil Affairs Department had a work group, and Shen Changan opened the group chat when he returned to his room. He saw a message from Gao Shujuan in the group so he asked about the situation on her side.

Changan: Aunt Juan, how have you been recently?

Gao Shujuan: Not too good. The situation is really bad. If nothing unexpected happens, I should be able to come back in a few days.

Could it be that the matter at her sister's house couldn't be handled? Shen Changan was not in a position to ask more questions, so he only said a few words of comfort.

Ding Yang: Changan, aren't you home today? I came over at noon to look for you, but I couldn't reach you on your phone and there was no response when I knocked on the door.

Changan: I'm at a friend's house today, what's the matter?

Ding Yang: Nothing major, Director Du asked me to inform you that we will resume regular work on Monday. Halloween is coming up in a few days and the departments are worried some youngsters' costumes might be too shocking, and frighten some passers-by with weak hearts. They're also concerned criminals may take advantage of the situation to cause trouble, so all departments need to increase patrols. Our area's police are short staffed so we have been temporarily assigned to help.

Shen Changan looked at the comfortable room and couldn't help but sigh. It's true that it's really easy to go from frugality to luxury. He had only stayed here for one night, yet he already felt a bit reluctant to part with this place.

Changan: Alright.

In a valley in a certain northern region, a filthy aura accumulated and gradually condensed into a humanoid form. The cultivators standing on the mountaintop watched in despair, at a loss over what to do.

"Venerable Yan Yin, what should we do now?"

Venerable Yan Yin spat out a mouthful of blood from his heart, his complexion turning much paler. "Nothing else can be done now, we can only resign ourselves to fate."

"I've notified security to prepare epidemic prevention measures ahead of time," said Grandmaster Gao, her Dharma hat having fallen off revealing her curly chestnut brown hair. However, the curly hair looked a little lackluster because it had not been taken care of for several days.

Just as they were speaking, the mountaintop suddenly began to shake violently, and a thick miasma surged through the valley, as if something was about to be born.

"A demon!" one of the grandmasters screamed out. "A demon is being born!"

They watched in the coalescing fog, the filth that was gradually condensing and taking shape slowly stretched out its limbs and head, and laughed maniacally as it departed in the gusty wind, not even giving them time to react.

"This is bad, quickly deduce where it's heading and notify the local government to prepare."

"The divination is chaotic, I can't figure it out. Something seems to be blocking the celestial secret!"

"It seems to be heading south." But as soon as a heavenly master with advanced cultivation finished these words, the tortoise shell he was using for divination cracked into pieces. Even he himself vomited a few mouthfuls of blood before collapsing to the ground, his face turned pale as wax.

"Heavenly Master Zhang!" Everyone was shocked. Even the successor of the Zhang clan is helpless?

Off to the south?

Is that southeast, or southwest, or due south?

How could one prepare for such a large area?

"Send word to the association and ask all practicing disciples to be vigilant. Report immediately if any sign of demons is found." Master Yan Yin supported Master Zhang with a grave expression.

In fact, they all knew that this kind of demonic creature was born from the impure Qi of heaven and earth. If an ordinary disciple encountered it, being sucked out of their spiritual energy would be the best outcome, as they might not even be able to keep their souls and spirits intact.

Such a monster was recorded in ancient texts as a "Plague Ghost" or "Epidemic God." If it had appeared a hundred years ago, it would have surely caused countless deaths and injuries.

Fortunately... with the advancement of medicine now, even the Plague Ghost's power would be greatly reduced under the siege of various vaccines. The only concern was if it realized that the epidemic it brought was not effective enough and started devouring human souls, that would be troublesome.

Halfway through dinner, Shen Changan noticed Dao Nian frowning, and asked, "What's wrong?"

"A small bug flew in, and I don't like it."

"If you don't like it, just kill it." Shen Changan glanced outside the window. "With so many plants and trees in the community, there's bound to be more insects."

"Mm," Dao Nian nodded. "People nowadays have many methods to kill insects, so it's fine."

"Oh." It was rare for Dao Nian to say a few more words, but they all ended up being about bugs. It seems like he really dislikes bugs.

I should find a chance to ask Aunt Juan about which insecticide is effective and works well without harming people, and then buy a few bottles to bring over.

Wait, why was he, a guest, thinking about how to kill and remove pests in someone else's home?

Doesn't this go against the etiquette of being a guest?

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