Chapter 110: Realm of Mortals (13)
Warden Xiao Tong’s transaction was definitely not something ordinary people could easily fulfil. No matter what the reward was, the price must be huge.
Tang Cuo didn’t know what happened between Jin Cheng and Xiao Tong, but combined with what Xiao Tong said to Jin Cheng when they met just now and the changes that happened to the bald girl after she went to jail, Tang Cuo suspected that — this transaction Xiao Tong mentioned had something to do with Jin Cheng and the little girl.
“Are you interested in staying in Zone G and becoming The Warden?” Xiao Tong asked.
Although Tang Cuo didn’t think that Xiao Tong was looking for a successor, this wasn’t too out of his prediction either. He asked back: “It shouldn’t be that Yong Ye City needs you to find your own replacement?”
“It’s not compulsory, but since it’s a position that used to belong to me, I want to make the decision myself. Yong Ye City —” Xiao Tong suddenly smiled: “Do you want to listen to Yong Ye City for everything? To leave your life and death in its hands?”
Tang Cuo: “It’s not the same thing.”
“The way I see it, it’s the same thing.” Xiao Tong shook the stick slightly, stretched it out and let it touch the ground, at which moment it turned into a walking cane. Leaning on the cane, he looked over the entire cemetery and said: “I can see that Jin Cheng and you are the same kind of man. Don’t you both want to know the secret of Yong Ye City? As long as you become The Warden, you can get close to that secret, and you could even — become its master.”
Master. These two syllables made Tang Cuo’s heart tremble a little. It seemed that there was really something hidden in Yong Ye City, but so what?
“Since the great Warden knows that we are the same kind of man, you should’ve guessed it. If he rejects you, I will too.” Tang Cuo said.
Xiao Tong: “Don’t you want to hear about the bargaining chips I have to offer?”
Tang Cuo: “The [Twelve Movements]?”
Hearing this, Xiao Tong finally raised his eyebrows. From this moment to the next, Tang Cuo always seemed to know beforehand what he was going to say, coupled with that face full of righteousness. If Tang Cuo were his opponent, he might be so angry that he would vomit blood.
“The [Twelve Movements] can’t move you, can they?” Xiao Tong’s tone was relaxed. He didn’t use his aura to suppress Tang Cuo, and he didn’t look angry either.
“Blame Jin Cheng,” Tang Cuo said.
This overly concise sentence made Xiao Tong raise his eyebrows again. He vaguely understood the overtones of these words but didn’t want to continue. Tang Cuo politely explained to him: “I’ve seen them a tad too often, couldn’t be wowed anymore.”
Xiao Tong smiled angrily.
Now he could quite understand why Jin Cheng and Tang Cuo were together. Looking at this manner of speech that really annoyed people to the core, the student had actually gotten better than the teacher. What a perfect match.
“It seems that I’ve made a fool of myself.” Xiao Tong wasn’t angry; he was really not angry at all. He actually knew that Tang Cuo would definitely not agree, but he wanted to give it a try nevertheless. Wouldn’t teasing a little friend bring a bit of fun to his boring life?
Moreover, this little friend was rather rebellious, the type that always tried to avoid meeting his elders. This little friend wasn’t happy to play games with him at all. Xiao Tong went through so much trouble to catch Tang Cuo, so how could he be contented without letting this little friend shed a few tears first?
The calmer Xiao Tong seemed to be, the more vigilant Tang Cuo became. Especially when the corners of Xiao Tong’s mouth tugged up again, Tang Cuo’s alertness reached its peak.
He couldn’t help but squeeze the hilt of the sword, and at this point, Xiao Tong finally let out these words: “Three minutes. As long as you could stand against me for three minutes, the game is cleared.”
As his voice fell, Xiao Tong made a ‘please’ gesture at Tang Cuo. The stick hadn’t moved, but the string of tiny golden bells on his wrist clinked as he raised his hand.
Somehow, Tang Cuo was reminded of Aesop The Rebel. These two felt very similar, but there was no doubt that Xiao Tong was much more terrifying than Aesop.
Amidst the ringing, the stick was raised, then it heavily clanged against the ground.
As a massive pressure spread out, Tang Cuo’s expression changed at once. He wanted to mobilise his spiritual power to fight, but the bells’ ringing permeated his mind with ease, sending his spirits into chaos.
Tang Cuo couldn’t use all his strength to resist the coercion, and his whole body seemed to be crushed by a heavy load, feeling much weightier than usual.
But Tang Cuo didn’t hesitate. He swung his sword and forcibly broke out.
Xiao Tong directly faced Tang Cuo’s sword tip, not trying to hide at all. When the tip of the sword was about to pierce his chest, he dodged to the side. His whole movement looked as though he was walking leisurely through a garden, but during the whole time, Tang Cuo’s sword couldn’t touch him at all.
“Ah ah ah ah ah —” The Horror Doll let out a scream, temporarily blocking the sounds of the bells. But Tang Cuo also didn’t hope that he could deal damage to Xiao Tong with a single strike, instead, taking advantage of the second Xiao Tong was ducking, he jumped away to keep a distance from the man.
He turned around and pulled out a card, and a gusty ‘Meteor Rain’ fell down.
This was one of the cards in the [Immortal Poet Li Bai] series, and there was only one last use left on it.
Meteors rained down from the sky, dragging with them dazzling tails that shrouded everything within five meters from Xiao Tong. But Xiao Tong raised the swinging stick, and before anyone could even catch what fancy moves he was using, the black stick neatly smashed a meteor.
One after another, those meteors couldn’t get close at all. In the next second, he shot a meteor towards Tang Cuo, which moved almost twice as fast as when it was descending from the sky.
Tang Cuo leapt up from the tombstone with full force as he held the sword in both hands, then he slashed down and busted the meteor into pieces. In a blink, Xiao Tong’s figure broke through the area that the meteors were covering, and the sight of that black stick continuously magnified in Tang Cuo’s eyes.
“Clang —” The moment the stick and the sword smacked against each other, the sudden impact lifted all the smoke and dust around them.
Tang Cuo felt his arms go numb and his chest felt as though it had received critical damage, while the inside of his mouth picked up a tinge of sweet, bloody taste. All that happened even when the stick never hit him directly.
“Swoosh.” With Xiao Tong’s force, Tang Cuo was firmly knocked into the air and his back landed heavily on a cell phone tombstone, allowing the momentum to stop.
He raised his hand to wipe the blood off the corner of his mouth as his remarkably bright eyes stared at Xiao Tong without a hint of fear, drenched in fighting intent.
At the same time, the fight between Zheng Yingying and the hospital director Boss also intensified.
Meng Yufei was the main attack, while she wandered outside, using a fire extinguisher as a long-range weapon to keep the opponent in check. Of course, she had to add some components to the fire extinguisher, otherwise it wouldn’t be possible to deal much damage to the boss.
Eventually, she found an opening and rushed over without the slightest hesitation, fiercely stabbing the Boss’ abdomen with the dagger. In order to prevent the dagger from escaping her hands in case the Boss’s defence was too high, she tied the weapon to her hand with a cloth strip.
Sure enough, not only the Boss’ defence was twice stronger than that of the previous monster doctors, but Zheng Yingying also had to put almost all her weight on the dagger. Thanks to the [Nameless Dagger]’s incredible attributes, it still broke the boss’ skin and viciously pierced straight into its flesh.
“Ahhhhhh —” The Boss roared in pain and tried to hit Zheng Yingying. Zheng Yingying wanted to pull the dagger out but couldn’t do it at the moment. However, she also couldn’t leave her weapon behind, so she could only take advantage of the Boss’ huge body to hide and hook herself on its body.
With a single punch, the boss almost smashed Zheng Yingying’s shoulder even through the [Infinite Forms] cloak, but at the same time, he accidentally injured himself. Meng Yufei took the opportunity to strike, blasting a bloody hole in the Boss with two slashes in succession.
In the First Gate, after experiencing various choices in life, Jin Cheng finally saw the last sign — ‘Death’.
This road was different from the previous roads, which were divided into many forks and the players had to choose. Yet now, many forks converged here and made a single road.
How many forked roads converged here? That was uncountable, because there are forked roads above forked roads, just like the lush, endless branches of a giant tree.
“Different paths all lead to the same goal.” Leng Miao, who had been silent all the way, spoke the eight words.
The five players who were supporting each other behind stared at the countless side roads, and they couldn’t help feeling a sense of relief. Different paths all lead to the same goal. No matter what was said, they all came to the end.
The five of them sat on the ground gasping for breath, each riddled with a lot of serious injuries, struggling to keep themselves straight.
For more than five hours, they kept fighting and making choices, never having even a chance to catch their breath. Not to mention that this was completely a simulation of a person’s whole life. They had walked the hardest way, fought the hardest monsters, and now, looking back at the path they took, no one really knew how they managed to make it until here.
For the first time in their life, they almost burst with joy the moment their eyes landed on the word ‘Death’.
“Catch it.” Suddenly, Jin Cheng threw a few flasks of healing potions over, precisely one for each person.
The players had no more energy to be overly polite at this point, so they drank quickly, for fear that Jin Cheng would throw tantrums and walk ahead first. Ironically, they weren’t afraid that the enemy was too strong, rather, they feared that their teammate was too tough.
After drinking the healing potion, these players heaved a sigh of relief, finally able to afford a mind to think about the other players. Those people took a different path from them; perhaps they had been scattered at other forks. No one had any idea where those players were now, or whether they were even alive.
Thinking of this, some people subconsciously looked at the other forked roads, but it didn’t seem like anyone was coming.
“Let’s go.” Standing before them, Jin Cheng indeed didn’t allow much time to rest. After the sentence, he decisively embarked on the journey of ‘Death’.
The players helplessly tried to catch up, and after walking for about five or six minutes, they finally saw the final Bosses.
Two green monsters, one standing on the left and the other on the right, were blocking the way. They were huge and burly, with a height of more than three meters, sturdy calves and big ears. Their two hands were sickle-shaped, and their two feet were gigantic.
Jin Cheng slightly narrowed his eyes — speed-type Boss.
Among all types of Bosses, the type that had agile attack, impressive speed and instant critical power was the last thing Jin Cheng wanted to encounter. Because for a long-range archer like him, such an opponent would tremendously reduce his hit rate.
Fortunately, he brought Leng Miao.
“My dear friends, it’s time to be lazy.” Jin Cheng turned his head, smiled and blinked at the players behind him: “If you don’t want to die, it’s best to hide away. Coming up next, it’ll be Leng Miao The Great Mage’s showtime.”
Leng Miao glared sideways, truly wishing he could beat Jin Cheng till death. As he looked behind, in his icy eyes, the five players simultaneously made three steps back, then they smiled self-deprecatingly and took another five steps back.
Within just two breaths, the five people had returned to the intersection.
“What’s the matter, The Great Mage? It shouldn’t be that you need their help?” Jin Cheng said playfully on the side.
“Shut up.” Leng Miao’s face turned black.
“But I can’t keep my mouth shut.” Jin Cheng shrugged. He took out the mechanical bow, weighed it in his hand and squeezed it, the corner of his eye glancing at the two monsters: “You use magic to limit their range, I’ll act as the main attack.”
Leng Miao, who was proficient at space-type magic and famous for his skill ‘Air Cage’, was the nemesis of speed-type Bosses. The real reason why Jin Cheng took him along was because of his skill ‘Mega Rift’. If Xiao Tong insisted on not letting them go, he could use the ‘Mega Rift’ skill to teleport to another space. No matter how powerful Xiao Tong was, there was no movement that could confine such a massive force that enveloped an entire zone. If they wanted to escape, they would be able to.
But he didn’t expect that in this last level, Leng Miao’s magic could be of great use.
Although Leng Miao had a bad temper, he was very direct when doing things with his own hands. Seeing that Jin Cheng had already had an idea, he stopped talking nonsense with the man, and a staff slipped out of his sleeve. An ‘Air Wall’ appeared, completely separating the two Bosses.
Then he conjured another ‘Air Cage’, covering one of them.
Provoked, the monster immediately waved its two sickle-shaped hands at the cage at extremely fast speed, and merely a few swings later, cracks started to appear on the transparent cage. But at the same time, Jin Cheng’s metal split arrow was shot
Leng Miao cast him a look that almost seemed to say ‘not bad’, and just as the metal arrow was about to enter within five meters around the monster, he immediately removed the cage and gave way to the arrow. The monster’s reaction wasn’t slow either, but no matter how swift it moved, it couldn’t be as fast as a split arrow coming at it from three directions.
“Puff!” An arrow thrust into the monster’s shoulder, almost piercing through its body.
The five players who retreated to the intersection saw the two big bosses easily take the First Blood1, Even though they had been following these two closely this whole time, their faces couldn’t help but reveal such awed expressions.
On the other side, Tang Cuo’s HP had fallen to 21.
At this time, only 30 seconds had passed since the start of the battle.
In just 30 seconds, Tang Cuo’s brain had seemingly turned into clockwork, his every move the result of countless plans.
This was also attributed to the increased Intelligence given to him by the dozens of soul light balls. Although it couldn’t improve his actual IQ, in that short second, the flow of Tang Cuo’s spirits seemed to slow down, allowing him to think more.
Three minutes sounded very short, but Xiao Tong’s attack power was too high. As soon as he hit Tang Cuo with all his might, Tang Cuo’s HP might directly drop to zero.
What did Tang Cuo have?
[Horror Doll]? This had limited effectiveness in resisting the string of golden bells.
‘Sprint’? ‘Air Walk’? ‘Fireball’? These little tricks didn’t seem to be very useful against Xiao Tong. The card had been used up, while the revolver and [Gatling Gun] couldn’t cause any harm to Xiao Tong. All that was left was —
A sudden wave of magic and a strike from the legendary-grade equipment made Xiao Tong retreat quickly. At this juncture, Tang Cuo couldn’t afford to save more tombstones. The ‘Moonlight Tide’ chased Xiao Tong away, and everywhere it spread to was turned into dust, dissolved into the moonlight.
No matter how fast Xiao Tong retreated, he couldn’t be faster than the wave that was rippling out in sheer seconds, and in the blink of an eye, he was flooded by the moonlight.
Tang Cuo didn’t dare to let his vigilance down as his mouth kept chanting an obscure spell. After a few breaths, many small fireballs gathered around him.
Because of the increase in his Intelligence points, coupled with the blessings given by the [Magic Stone That Is Of No Use], he was now able to create fireballs very quickly, almost instantaneously, and chanting the spell was only a minor aid. Facing Xiao Tong, he didn’t have the nerve to relax even one bit.
About 15 seconds later, the moonlight scattered away, and Xiao Tong’s figure reappeared in the cemetery. Although his clothes were damaged in many places and there was a trace of blood on his cheeks, he stood upright with his stick thrust into the ground, a smile tugged at the corner of his mouth, looking all so very calm.
“Anything else?” Xiao Tong asked. He watched Tang Cuo’s first two battles and knew that Tang Cuo must have a trump card, but he didn’t expect that it would be taken out so early. That was a big move.
A legendary-grade equipment was truly exciting.
Despite his mental preparation, Tang Cuo’s heart sank when he saw Xiao Tong appear almost unscathed in front of him. To say that these three minutes was a fair-and-square battle was as good as telling a joke.
Even though Tang Cuo didn’t answer, Xiao Tong wasn’t bothered by one of two seconds that had been wastefully dragged. He glanced over the fireballs around Tang Cuo, a mischievous shade exuding from his face: “Are they the kind of sparks that can cause conflagration? No, they’re just tiny fireballs.”
What could some small fireballs make? Xiao Tong was looking forward to it, but Tang Cuo wasn’t moving, so he had to strike first.
“Swoosh!” Tang Cuo only felt his eyes wobble, then Xiao Tong, who was originally standing at the other end of the cemetery, appeared right in front of him. The swinging stick hit his head like an electric light.
At the critical moment, Tang Cuo unexpectedly turned his body sideways, and at the same time, he raised his sword to block. But the impact of this blow was too large, to the extent that the instant his [Sword of Judgment] came into contact with [Ruleless], Tang Cuo felt a huge force engulf his entire body, as though all his bones were breaking. Not to mention, because of this attack, the string of golden bells around Xiao Tong’s wrist started ringing again.
Tang Cuo immediately bit the tip of his tongue and forcibly kept himself calm, and simultaneously, the fireballs surrounding him suddenly exploded.
Even if there were a thousand of these tiny fireballs, Xiao Tong wouldn’t pay them any mind, but at the moment they blew up, Xiao Tong caught a troubling smell from the flames.
Xiao Tong looked at Tang Cuo again to find that he had suddenly regained his strength and broken out of the flames’ range by borrowing the momentum of Xiao Tong’s blow.
He’s got something up his sleeves.
Xiao Tong immediately withdrew, but just as he stopped ten meters away, he suddenly felt his head going giddy. And even with his immense powers, he couldn’t rid his spirits of this dizziness in a short period of time.
“What is this?” He looked at Tang Cuo.
Tang Cuo leaned on his sword as he knelt on one knee, turned his head and spit out a mouthful of blood. Then he looked up at Xiao Tong and replied: “Some illusion-inducing stuff.”
It was [Tears of The Secret Lake] obtained from the dungeon [Forest of The Elves], a gift from the unicorn Ammo. This is a high-quality material with a strong hallucinogenic effect. It was meant to be used to make potions or equipment, but Tang Cuo, one who never walked the path of a common man, had mixed a drop of tear into one of the fireballs that exploded earlier.
A high-quality material of Yong Ye City wouldn’t evaporate simply because of his mere ‘Fireball’ skill, but a big fire could cause the tear drop to evaporate into a mist, which spread out at the speed of light.
At this point, one minute and 46 seconds had passed by.
Xiao Tong’s spirits had been gravely disturbed, and Tang Cuo took this opportunity to gulp down his last potion. He had no other way, for his HP had dropped to 3 after receiving a single blow.
But as his points increased, the proportion of HP that a healing potion could replenish decreased. After a full flask of potion, it recovered to only 95.
“There’s still more than a minute left, how are you going to make it?” Xiao Tong lightly tapped his forehead. He still felt a little light-headed, but this didn’t stop him from teasing the little friend.
Tang Cuo: “Embrace myself.”
Xiao Tong didn’t expect that he would really answer that question. This response was really the style of a true warrior, and at this moment, another five seconds had passed. Xiao Tong shook his stick and smiled: “We’ve delayed it long enough. I’m going to make a real move next.”
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”.