Ten minutes ago, a case was reported on Changyan street, located east of the City Hall. Song Qingxiao rushed over as soon as she heard the news.
That area was at the heart of the Imperial City. It was located close to the University of Science and Technology that the Shi family members attended. If the riot affected the school, it might cause the displeasure of the Shi family, who was part of the royal family.
In that day and age, the constitutional monarchy system's birth had significantly reduced the royal family's influence, but they still possessed great reputation, status, and wealth. With the help of their noble blood lineage, the Shi family was situated firmly at the top of the social pyramid.
All the students studying at the University of Science and Technology were the most gifted young people of the Empire. Everyone who studied there had distinguished bearings. Even the security guard who stood outside the university carried himself with a sense of superiority. When he spoke to Song Qingxiao, he seemed to be displeased with her.
"I've received an alert that someone is causing a disruption thirty meters away around that corner. You must know that's where the University of Science and Technology is located."
The guard sounded a little haughty as he spoke to her.
"This disturbance must not affect the university," he continued, "Otherwise, the municipal government will receive a complaint from the university."
The guard suspected that the woman who stood before him was incapable of solving the problem.
Song Qingxiao wore an ill-fitting patrol guard uniform. Furthermore, she was skinny and weak-looking, and her complexion was pale. Her thick, long fringe covered most of her eyes. When she spoke, her voice gave off a sense that she was fragile and feeble.
No matter which aspect he considered, her appearance was completely at odds with her role as a patrol guard.
Of course, there were other female employees within the Empire's guard system. However, all the women who entered the system were primarily clerical workers and had nothing to do with patrol duty or resolving riots.
A few women from noble backgrounds or those who showed outstanding talent would be selected during their schooling days to undergo additional training. That was so that they could work in specialized departments.
There were other women in the patrol guard department, but all of them were forces to be reckoned with. Their strength was equal to any of the other men in the team.
That was why the university guard could not understand why the patrol guard department had accepted such a pitifully weak-looking girl into their team.
Song Qingxiao could see that the middle-aged guard looked unhappy with her. Her lips quivered, and she said in a quiet voice, "I won't let the riot affect the peace here."
She promised him that because it had been so difficult for her to obtain her job. She had strived hard for ages before she got hired.
What she studied at university was completely unrelated to her job as a patrol guard. She had just graduated the past year. While at university, she had studied hard, and her grades were excellent. However, none of it had been any help in helping her find a job.
Even though the times changed rapidly, Song Qingxiao's destiny was still incompatible with a comfortable and secure job within the city's municipal department. Everything was stacked against her. From her low status, her ordinary bloodline, to her father's criminal record. Her father had committed a crime at a young age and was left with a permanent record. All of it was a stain on her resume.
Her mother was a drunkard, and her family had racked up a huge debt. Song Qingxiao desperately needed a job to support herself. The job as a patrol guard involved long working hours, low wages, and considerable danger while on the job.
Hence, they always lacked the manpower and were forced to relax their recruiting standards. That was how Song Qingxiao managed to avoid being rejected from the position despite her father's record.
She had fought extremely hard for the chance to have a two-month probation. However, all the other people on the team were extremely displeased with her. Her team leader had previously warned her that if she could not complete a single job or received a complaint, he would instantly toss her off the team.
"I'll solve this problem as soon as possible."
She looked up as she spoke. Even though her voice was soft, there was a determination in it that was hard to miss. Failure was not an option for her. No matter what, she had to solve the issue!
The sun was blocked by voluminous grey clouds, seemingly about to rain. The buildings belonging to the Shi family at the University of Science and Technology entrance were extremely tall. They seemed to tower into the clouds, and it made Song Qingxiao feel small and insignificant.
She turned around and raced towards the location of the disruption, brushing shoulders with many of the geniuses within the university compound. She was like an ant—completely inconspicuous.
When she was young, she had previously dreamt of getting into the university, which was the best in the Empire. She dreamt of becoming a top scholar who would be highly sought after by all the leading companies.
It was a shame that some things could not be realized merely through hard work and effort. It was an impossible dream that she would never be able to achieve.
Song Qingxiao sprinted quickly. The voice of that university guard was like an alarm bell in her head. It only took her a couple of minutes to get to the location of the disturbance.
Changyan street was located to the east of Imperial City's city center, the western exchange hub. The most western part of the city was a rough and chaotic area. It was called the city slums. It was known for being dirty, messy, and terrible. Various forces struggled for power there, and crimes occurred frequently. Things were so bad that even security guards were not always willing to enter the area when a report was made.
During normal times, the various gangs were wary of the government and would never cause trouble beyond their own territory. Neither would they go near Chanyan street.
After all, the University of Science and Technology was situated there, and everyone in the Empire considered that place to be the Shi family's domain. Hence, no one dared to create any disturbances there as they did not want to attract any trouble for themselves.
A group of gangsters were gathered there. By the looks of them, they all looked fairly young—still wet between the ears. They seemed fearless and overconfident in their own abilities as only the young could.
Song Qingxiao's heart sank. If the people making a ruckus here were adults, she could have scared them off by just mentioning the Shi family. However, since the people who were causing the disturbance here were immature youths, things would be a little more tricky.
"Okay, break it up. Leave the area!"
Song Qingxiao raised her voice and shouted loudly, "You are not allowed to cause a disturbance in this area. Please leave immediately!"
Her yelling caught the attention of the youths there, and they subconsciously turned to look toward her.
Every single person there was bigger and stronger than her. When the group of arrogant youths saw her standing there in her guard uniform, they found the sight hilarious. When they recovered from their surprise, they burst out into laughter.
"Get out of here! Mind your own business!" snarled a youth with a fierce expression.
"This is Changyan street. It's right next to the University of Science and Technology of the Shi family…"
The group of young people started to circle around Song Qingxiao. She did her best to stand tall and keep her back straight, but she looked like a deer caught in the headlights.
Due to the disturbance, several cars a distance away were blocked from moving. There was a black car right in the center of those cars. A youth sat inside and casually glanced outside the window when he noticed the girl surrounded by a group of savage-looking teenagers. She looked like she was going to be torn apart by them in the next second.
He was about to turn away since he did not have a strong sense of curiosity and was not the type of person to stick his nose into other people's business. From what he saw, he could gather what would happen next. Unless something unexpected happened, it was almost inevitable that blood would be spilled.
He could see that Song Qingxiao was clearly terrified, but her actions were at odds with her scared expression.
A woman was seated across him in the car. She noticed him staring out the window and followed the direction of his gaze. She observed the scene happening before them and lazily stretched out her arms.
'That woman is dead meat!' she thought to herself.
However, in the next moment, she heard the youth say, "You Qi, go and settle that problem out there."
A respectful acknowledgment could be heard from the front of the car. The car door was opened, and the woman who sat across the youth frowned slightly.
An error had occurred in her previous prediction. She watched as that group of youths who gathered to cause a ruckus ran off in all directions under the powerful intervention of You Qi.
Song Qingxiao—who was in that oversized guard uniform—looked as white as a sheet but wore an expression that showed that she was grateful and elated to be rescued. The woman returned her gaze to the car and looked at the youth in the corner. Her gaze went cold as she closed her eyes.
Song Qingxiao nearly ended up in big trouble on her first day on the job. Thankfully, things were settled without any issue. Her stomach was in knots the entire day, but she did not receive any complaints in the end.
The day finally came to an end. Song Qingxiao let out a sigh of relief when she left work after spending the whole day in a state of unease. It was already dark when she was about to head home.
The weather had been unusually hot and humid, and the weather forecast predicted a thunderstorm. She needed to rush home before it started to rain. She was penniless, so it would be a huge burden if she fell sick after being caught in the rain.
There were two more little alleys to pass through before she reached home. It was extremely dangerous on the west side of the city after dark, so she sped up her footsteps.
The sound of thunder resounded in the sky. It grew louder and louder, signaling that a massive storm was imminent!
A loud crash of thunder rang out, and a bolt of lightning streaked through the sky, illuminating the pitch-black alleyway. Huge droplets of rain began to rain down from the sky. Song Qingxiao barely had the chance to raise her hands to shield herself from the rain before seeing a figure dressed in a raincoat running towards her through the rain puddles, guided by the light from the lightning.
At that moment, in that place, a person dressed like that could not be up to anything good. All she could do was lower her head as the rain and wind pummeled against her body.
Song Qingxiao shivered involuntarily. 'He' gave off a chilling aura that made her hair stand on end. A sickly sweet scent hung in the air that was reminiscent of blood.
Song Qingxiao's body was wound up tightly. As the person drew closer towards her, 'his' strapping tall figure made her feel like there was no place for her to hide in the alley. Song Qingxiao knew better than to offend a character who dared to roam the alleys alone in the nighttime. She hunched her shoulders and tried to make herself as small as she could.
As that person came closer and was just about to pass her, Song Qingxiao continued to clench her fists tightly. In the next second, that person raised his arms, and all she could feel was as if a giant python had wrapped itself around her neck.
She reached out her hands in an attempt to pull the hands off her when that person pulled out a dagger. He thrust it towards her, aiming for her throat.
She felt like a helpless grasshopper with no ability to retaliate. The tip of her fingers clung to the long fingers of that person. 'His' hands were drenched from the rain. They were so cold that they seemed devoid of any warmth.
The thumb that was pressing firmly against the dagger seemed to have an extra joint. Song Qingxiao looked at it in confusion. That person spun the dagger and was clearly about to end her life.
That person looked extremely self-confident. With a single strike, the job was done, and he turned to leave. A huge gush of blood flowed out of the wound on her throat. The blood spurted violently and was rapidly washed away by the rain.
Song Qingxiao's body convulsed on the ground. Thunder boomed relentlessly, followed by lightning streaking through the air. She stared at that person's retreating figure. A corner of his raincoat was turned up, and that person left while humming a little tune. From the sound of his voice, it seemed like he was a young man of about thirty years old.
Who was this person, and why did he want to kill her? Numerous questions filled her mind and made her eyes go wide in confusion. Her severe blood loss made her pupils dilate. Was she about to die?
That thought flashed across her mind, only to be quickly followed by another explosive thought.
'Will you enter the Trial of God?'