Chapter 15: Blood of Premium Quality
“Do you see it now? You can’t restrain it.” Seeing Shu Jun struggling in the distance, Lao Wei smiled especially gleefully even though Zhu Yanchen was pointing a gun at him.
He stretched his neck and tried to look far away, the melting flesh on his face twisting together: “Young man, people with status won’t come here. Even if you work for the government, why do you have to risk your life so badly? Why don’t you just take back your weapons and we can talk slowly?”
Zhu Yanchen stood like a statue and didn’t respond to Lao Wei, showing no sign of wanting to take back his gun.
Most people had gathered around Shu Jun, but a small group of villagers holding knives and guns and a few mutated monsters had also surrounded Zhu Yanchen. Even if they were sick people at the verge of death, their number couldn’t be underestimated.
Compared to Shu Jun, who looked a lot less like a normal human, Zhu Yanchen seemed to be an easier target. At first, Lao Wei was a little flustered seeing the Erosion Marsh being trapped in the net, but now, he had once again put on an arrogant look. Convinced that Shu Jun was at a disadvantage on the other side, Lao Wei turned around to look at Zhu Yanchen standing behind him.
At this moment, he couldn’t help shivering.
To be honest, Lao Wei hadn’t paid any close attention to this person before. Shu Jun’s eye-catching and intriguing appearance coupled with the leadership aura that he exuded easily drew anyone’s attention. In contrast, this tight-faced young man just seemed a tad boring.
Except for when he needed to explain something, this young man never talked much. Lao Wei specially noticed that this person was rather comfortable talking to Shu Jun, which made it seem like he was a man with no significant status. Perhaps Shu Jun was raised by some big guy in the city, while this man was just an accompanying technician who happened to have received some combat training.
Having said that, those who dared to come to an erosion zone these days were definitely no weak men. Although this young man’s combat power was good, it wasn’t anything outrageously incredible. As long as they could deal with Shu Jun first, this man could be taken down easily.
But now, looking at the eyes behind the goggles, Lao Wei instantly realised a problem. I’ve made a terrible mistake —
This man was definitely not a mere technician.
In those eyes, there was neither coldness nor killing intent, and neither compassion nor disgust, only a bleak aura of death. When the three of them moved together before, this person’s eyes clearly looked ordinary.
Normal people would likely be scared, while those who had a little more guts should have their guard up by now. In any case, the old man felt a surge of emotions sweeping by him.
Lao Wei had an illusion that — although it was rather strange to say it out loud — he was being watched by a dead man.
“You have been feeding it with corpses and erosive substance, and it’ll soon grow up.” Zhu Yanchen’s tone was so calm it could send chills down anyone’s spine: “If you don’t handle it well, one day it’ll eat all of you. Now is still not too late to tell your people to stop.”
His voice was neither high nor low, just enough to be heard by the villagers circling around him.
“I, I…” Frightened by Zhu Yanchen’s gaze, Lao Wei started to stammer: “I don’t believe you… Don’t listen to him! Can you prove it? You have no evidence, you just want to trick us to take the marsh away…”
The villagers panicked for a second, but none of them put down their weapons.
“Indeed, where’s your evidence?”
“Have the people who appeared from this Erosion Marsh said anything other than calling your names? Have they ever appeared at a time other than during your ‘feeding’ time?”
“That can’t prove anything. This is our research!” Lao Wei roared. “We’ve been working on it for many years and there’ve been no problems. Do you think that we’ll buy any nonsense you bluff?”
LaoWei didn’t want to think about the meaning of Zhu Yanchen’s sentences. He had to believe in his own theory; actually, he could only believe in his own theory.
“Kill him!” Lao Wei then added: “As for the one over there —”
“But you said before that…”
“They don’t seem to be very close with each other. Listen to me! Don’t worry about me, just throw my body into the marsh…”
This time, he couldn’t finish talking. Amidst all his suspiscion and anger, Lao Wei heard a soft sigh.
Zhu Yanchen fired. Rather than killing Lao Wei, he shot at a spot that was extremely painful yet not lethal. Lao Wei let out an agonising scream as he fell to the ground, his blood slowly seeping into the muddy ground.
“I’ve explained what I need to explain.” Zhu Yanchen threw a firm sentence at the old man as his hand continued moving steadily. Seeing Lao Wei screaming and falling to the ground, the villagers subconsciously shifted to his side, but those who dared to raise their knives were shot by Zhu Yanchen.
The circle of villagers around Zhu Yanchen was so tight that blood started splashing on everyone. These sick people obviously couldn’t be better than a man who had gone through strict army training, so within a few seconds, they soon erupted into chaos and loud cries. A few men didn’t give up and still tried to attack Zhu Yanchen, but the latter didn’t go easy on them and fired without hesitation.
People quickly discovered the pattern. Except for the screaming Lao Wei on the ground, all the others were first shot on their arm or leg, then on the forearm, followed by another shot on the shoulder.
After receiving three violent warnings, no one wanted to know where the fourth bullet would end up at. This person seemed to have eyes growing behind his back and they just couldn’t catch his blind spot.
Catching the smell of blood, the dozen mutated monsters that were standing among the villagers started losing their formation. No one knew if it was because the Erosion Marsh was busy dealing with Shu Jun and forgot about controlling them, but the monsters began to show their fangs at the villagers — Many villagers had to start attacking the monsters instead, and the whole scene blew into a horrifying mess.
Shooting down several mutated monsters, Zhu Yanchen picked up his briefcase and squeezed into the frenzied crowd, dexterously marching towards Shu Jun’s direction.
It seems bad on his side, Zhu Yanchen thought as he clenched the gun tightly in his hand. If the situation required, he must intervene no matter how high the concentration of erosive substance over there was.
On the other side, Shu Jun’s situation was indeed bad.
The Erosion Marsh had been entirely concealed by a thick circle of villages. He seemed to be at a loss and could only roughly send those standing at the outer layers fly away. But he couldn’t reach the people at the center of the circle, where the marsh was hiding. After such close contact with people, Shu Jun had suffered several stabs on his left arm, and the blood was dripping into a small puddle on the ground, which quickly turned pitch-black.
He himself was seemingly losing his fighting spirit as each second passed by. His movements were getting slower and his breathing was becoming heavier. Seeing his stagnant movements, a pitch-black arm quietly stretched out, shoving through the gap between the villages and towards the puddle of Shu Jun’s blood.
Before its eyes was a puddle of premium-quality liquid mixed with irresistable erosive substance plus a weakening opponent. Faced with such a combination, the Erosion Marsh really took the bait.
Shu Jun raised the corner of his mouth and his movements suddenly quickened.
He snatched a knife from a villager next to him and blew up a gust of wind, pushing his own body towards that arm like a cannonball. Before the arm could retreat, Shu Jun pulled it hard.
Then he twisted his whole body in mid-air, stepped on the outermost layer of the crowd of villages and kicked against it with all his strength.
Perhaps because she was now surrounded by a wall of people and felt more at ease, the woman wasn’t holding the marsh as tightly as before. Shu Jun moved incredibly fast with an extremely strong force, and before she could even react, the marsh in the shape of a little girl had been violently pulled out by Shu Jun.
Amidst the woman’s piercing scream, Shu Jun swung the knife, trying to chop off the Erosion Marsh — In its current state, as long as he could locate the half with the brain and throw the other half far enough, the Erosion Marsh would be severely weakened and could no longer condense into human form.
His plan was beautiful but the reality was cruel.
Knowing it was about to be chopped off, the marsh squirmed for a second and suddenly squeezed out a lot of clear liquid. Shu Jun fiercely slammed down the knife, and with a loud clang, the marsh broke into two pieces, which continued to make a sizzling sound of things being eroded. Letting out an annoyed chuckle, Shu Jun took the chance to thrust his hand into a soft spot behind the marsh’s back, before it could completely squeeze out all its liquid.
If his few earlier attempts felt like touching wet cement, this time, it felt like reaching into a sand pile, which made it even more difficult to move. Luckily, he roughly remembered the position of the brain. The marsh had become so thick that the brain wouldn’t have much space to move around.
The soft brain of the Erosion Marsh lay at the end of several tendons, about the size of an egg.
As soon as its brain was grabbed, the marsh lost its human form and turned into a coal-like lump, which hung stiffly on Shu Jun’s arm. This thing was now pretending to be dead, which had Shu Jun wonder if he should laugh or cry.
With just one grip, he could destroy this thing’s brain. But…
Shu Jun shook the weight on his hand and a crazy idea came to his mind. He wasn’t hungry for battle anymore. He turned around and ran away, leaving the frantic villagers behind.
Then he almost bumped into Zhu Yanchen, who was also running towards him.
“A Yan?” Shu Jun strungglingly braked with a heavy object hanging from his arm.
Zhu Yanchen glanced at the Erosion Marsh dangling from Shu Jun’s arm, then at Shu Jun. His eyes no longer carried that sense of death, only a bit of doubt. However, before he was done looking at Shu Jun, Shu Jun picked him up and both of them flew into the sky
“Let’s run away first.” Shu Jun smiled: “I have an interesting idea.”
“Your idea in the last game is also very interesting, please be reminded of the result.” Zhu Yanchen said with a rarely-heard gloomy tone as he stared at Shu Jun’s left arm that was still bleeding.
“…That’s not the same thing. This is just a surface wound. Speaking of that, didn’t you inspire me? And what happened to your arm?”
“Please don’t change the subject, you didn’t act as planned. Why do you want to keep it alive”
“Don’t you want to fully examine this thing?”
“I’m not joking with you.” Zhu Yanchen’s voice sounded a little more helpless.
“Actually, I want to formally tell you this. After all, this matter involves our trust for each other — if there’s really such a thing between us.”
Zhu Yanchen didn’t respond.
Seeing that the guy had fallen quiet, Shu Jun smiled and continued on his own volition: “I’ve never seen other Erosion Marshes squeezing out water to reduce their size before. This thing has this ability because of its tiny brain, right?”
“Yes, but it’s a special circumstance. Say, you also have a brain, but you can’t do it.”
…Sometimes you don’t have to be so serious. Shu Jun thought for a few seconds but couldn’t figure out whether Zhu Yanchen was being sarcastic, so he simply gave up: “Anyway, because of this, I have an idea and need your help.”
“I don’t think you have any plan to return to the city soon. If you really want to continue wandering in the erosion zones, for your safety and my safety, I need a weapon.”
Shu Jun glanced at the Erosion Marsh that was still stiff and pretending to be dead.
“I need a sword, one that can cut through other Erosion Marshes.”
Translator and reviewer at Strictly Bromance blog. In essence, she lives to indulge in plot-driven stories sprinkled with camaraderie and slow-burn drama-free romance, especially more so if they belong to adventure, mystery or supernatural genre. A trope that she always thirsts after: “Comrades who go through life and death together”.