Chapter 64.2 – Duolan Mountain (4)
On the return journey, there was a slight change from when they arrived. Hu Li warmly invited Jiang Yujin to join a car ride, utilizing the time to gossip along the way.
Everyone in the car was a colleague, familiar to each other. Jiang Yujin seamlessly blended in without any awkwardness, enjoying the gossip as if he had been dying to crack open sunflower seeds.
As it turned out, gossip was a remedy for motion sickness.
After witnessing a gruesome scene, initially feeling queasy, the gossip conversation cleared their minds, eased their breathing, and even made their injuries less painful. Someone prone to motion sickness cuddled with an unidentified pillow, his eyes shining brightly.
As the vehicle returned to A City, upon disembarking, the camaraderie among the occupants was evident, bidding farewell reluctantly to Jiang Yujin, who was about to leave.
Someone hailed a cab, and they stood by the roadside, watching until the vehicle departed before turning away.
One rubbed his chin, saying, “I feel like I’ve heard that voice before.”
It seemed familiar, like a memory lingering on the edge of his mind, yet he couldn’t recall it immediately.
Xu Gao patted his shoulder, “He’s been to the HQ a few times before. You might have heard him then.”
Nodding, the person rubbing his chin said, “Probably.”
They lingered by the roadside for a while until a gust of wind prompted them to slowly start walking back.
When they returned to the gate, they coincidentally met Xu Tonggui, who was returning from a task. They didn’t dare to proceed and waited stubbornly until Captain Xu entered the building before resuming their steps.
“I remember now!”
The person who had found the voice familiar stopped, finally recalling, “The voice I heard at the hotel sounds a lot like his voice.”
As it had been some time, the once clear voice had become fuzzy in his memory. He had forgotten precisely how the person’s voice sounded, but hearing the departing individual’s voice earlier had sparked a sense of familiarity.
It dawned on Xu Gao that this person was the lucky one selected before to go to the hotel for the task and witnessed the sensational scene.
Recalling the almost-forgotten task given by Hu Li, his eyes widened, “Seriously?”
The other person hesitated before nodding, “But it’s been a while, I’m not entirely sure. It just seemed similar.”
If their demeanor hadn’t been entirely different, he might have entertained dangerous thoughts.
Xu Gao nodded, preoccupied with thoughts, and walked away first.
Later that evening, Jiang Yujin had returned home, taken a shower, and was lounging on the couch, engrossed in a soap opera when his phone vibrated.
His eyes remained fixed on the TV as he didn’t check the caller ID but directly answered the call.
It was Xu Gao on the line. The tone didn’t sound like gossip-sharing.
Without shifting his attention from the TV, Jiang Yujin asked, “What’s up?”
“Well,” the caller pondered their words, pausing before continuing, “I’m currently looking for someone, let’s call them Xiao Ling.”
“The person who rode in the same car with us today is the only one who has heard Xiao Ling’s voice.”
Jiang Yujin: “Why don’t we change Xiao Ling to Xiao Yicheng?”
Xu Gao readily accepted the change, saying, “He mentioned that your voice sounds a lot like Xiao Yicheng’s.”
Tapping the edge of the couch with his finger, Jiang Yujin replied evenly, “And then?”
Xu Gao continued, “Xiao Yicheng has a good relationship with Captain Xu. I just remembered that you also know Captain Xu.”
This person had previously delivered a big goose to Captain Xu. And he hadn’t sent one to him!
Jiang Yujin remained silent, waiting for the other person to continue.
Xu Gao said, “I know this might not be the best thing to say, but I still want to mention…”
“Do you know if there’s someone around Captain Xu whose voice sounds a lot like yours? Or could you record a clip for me? I’ll use the voice to find someone.”
Xu Gao pleaded like a young girl, “Please, please, this is really important to me.”
Jiang Yujin: “…”
Jiang Yujin said, “You’re a real genius.”
Thinking his talent for finding people had received praise from the boss of this dedicated agency, Xu Gao modestly responded, “It’s not that impressive.”
Following the request, Jiang Yujin recorded an audio clip for him, expressing sincere wishes for him to find the person soon.
Xu Gao thanked him for the wishes and hung up the phone.
As the call ended, the soap opera went to commercial break.
Then, there was a knock at the door.
The high schooler had called, mentioning he’d stay at the hospital to accompany a friend and wouldn’t return today. Jiang Yujin got up to open the door, surprised to find an unexpected visitor outside.
The barber shop owner stood there, expressionless. He had no intention of entering; instead, he stood outside and pulled out his phone.
Jiang Yujin took a look at the phone the man handed over.
It was a photo, quite blurry, but showing vast undulating hills.
Or rather, sand dunes would be more accurate. Some parts had vegetation while others bore extensive scorch marks.
Jiang Yujin’s eyes slowly lowered.
“It’s a photo someone sent,” the barber said, “taken in the heart of the Lacuo Desert.”
Though mostly covered in sand, there were still recognizable features, a place they had frequented in the Game, where the sun rose.
Jiang Yujin raised his gaze, asking, “When was this photo taken?”
“I saw it today,” the barber shop owner said, “there’s an issue with the vegetation there. The SIU has been notified, and Xu Tonggui will go there.”
“He’s forgotten everything from before, but that doesn’t mean he won’t remember again,” he inquired, “What really happened back then?”
Jiang Yujin glanced at his hands before tucking them into his pajama pocket, saying, “Nothing much.”
The barber shop owner looked at him, retrieved his phone, lit a cigarette, and left.
After closing the door, Jiang Yujin returned to the couch, sat quietly for a while, and then hugged the big goose.
After the commercials, the excitement continued; the next episode of the soap opera began.
The episode depicted the male protagonist recovering his memory after seeing a familiar scene and gradually resolving issues with the people who had deceived him before.
Jiang Yujin found it increasingly odd as the episode progressed. Eventually, he decided to change the channel, tuning in to a children’s channel to watch stories about a few sheep.
Watching the sheep story made him feel drowsy. Ultimately, he stood up, put on a coat, grabbed his house keys, and left, planning to buy a couple of small bottles of liquor.
Instead of heading to his usual spot, he took a detour and went to the convenience store where he had previously bought a wig. Even though he hadn’t used the wig, the items here were genuinely inexpensive.
The store was still open when he arrived. The owner was behind the counter, still doing bookkeeping, and looked up when he entered.
Jiang Yujin adjusted his clothes and asked for two cans of alcohol.
The liquor was on a shelf behind the owner, so he slowly stood up and retrieved two cans. His left hand seemed to have some issue; he couldn’t raise it, so his sleeve hung down, making him use his right hand to take one can after another.
Jiang Yujin handed over the money, thanked him, and left.
That evening, Xu Gao, occasionally driven by a conscience to focus on work, repeatedly listened to the audio messages sent by the gossip group.
“Next month, I’m getting married to him, right on the green grass field.”
The person probably just finished watching the soap opera and casually recited a line from it. Xu Gao repeatedly listened to it, feeling as though he hadn’t watched the soap opera, yet he was completely immersed in it.
Someone passing by asked what he was doing. He looked up and immediately responded, “Next month, on the green grass field.”
Hu Li’s eyes twitched as he replied, “I asked what you were doing.”
Xu Gao took off an earphone and said, “Listening to audio messages.”
“The person who went to the hotel for the mission told me today that Boss Jiang’s voice is quite similar to the person you’re looking for. So, I called Boss Jiang and got him to record an audio clip for me.”
He said it nonchalantly, displaying a calmness that comes with being a skilled finder.
“What did he say?”
Xu Gao rubbed the back of his head, a bit shyly. “He said I’m a genius.”
Hu Li chuckled. “Really?”
He patted the person sitting next to him and added, “You’re a real genius.”
Receiving consecutive praises for being a genius, Xu Gao showed a proud yet modest smile.
“I’ll listen to it several more times. If I encounter this person in the future, I’ll definitely recognize them right away.”
Hu Li smiled back but didn’t respond to his words.
Xiao Ling = Little Zero; Xiao Yicheng = Little One