Chapter 25: Conquering Demon City (2)
As the pistol was shot, the players flew past the starting line before they could even understand the rules of the game.
Indeed, they literally just flew, as if a pair of hands suddenly appeared and pushed on their backs. Qian Wei was pushed so hard he almost coughed out blood, and the flying motion had him almost collapse. He finally adjusted his posture and got ready to land. Then he glanced at his back and ―
Motherf**ker, aren’t those hellhounds?
Each track had a hound with scarlet eyes, exposed fangs and bulging muscles, ferociously in their attacking pose and ready to run after the players. Before they even got close, the players could catch a smell of blood floating in the wind. Looking carefully at their fangs, a few pieces of flesh were still hanging.
Qian Wei shuddered. As soon as he landed, he ran forward and immediately used the equipment ‘Powerful Feet Running Shoes’. As cheers broke out from both sides, Qian Wei’s heart was on the verge of jumping out as he knew that Peng Mingfan wasn’t as fast as him.
This first push actually gave the players a safe start by dropping them a distance away, but everyone landed at a different time. Qian Wei’s landing was neither too soon nor too late, while Jin Cheng, who was on his left, took advantage of his strength to fly even further away, but the unfamiliar player on his right seemed unsure of what to do.
“Shoo!” Jin Cheng shot one arrow, then followed with another arrow after landing. The first arrow hit the hound on his own track and the next stopped Peng Mingfan’s hound on its path.
Players couldn’t move between tracks, but they could attack from across.
Peng Mingfan fell down and rolled on the ground. Having no time to thank Jin Cheng, he quickly stood up and ran.
After being hit by the arrow, the hellhound only paused for a second. Jin Cheng’s arrow stuck in its leg had almost no effects on its running speed. An angry flame spewed from its mouth as it made a long howl.
The flame was like a shock wave, spraying out at least five or six meters away and chasing right behind Jin Cheng’s clothes. Jin Cheng retreated quickly, and at the same time, he shot another arrow to destroy the flame. The hellhound opened its jaw wide, its mouth as large as a basin of blood.
Qian Wei had neither Jin Cheng’s courage to face these creatures heads-on nor his capability to move and shoot arrows simultaneously. He could only run desperately. Qian Wei took a deep breath as he saw a turning point ahead, not daring to be even a bit careless.
He could still remember that this first round was called an ‘obstacle course race’.
Even with that awareness, he still felt like sh*t when the obstacle appeared, because the already uneven road now suddenly turned into a wavy road, its surface continuously moving up and down.
Qian Wei waited until the last second before he tried to stabilise his body with comical movements, as though he was dancing the ‘Four Little Swans’1.
“F**k f**k f**k f**k!” Qian Wei swore as he ran and turned to look at the big brother who was clad in a ghillie suit next to him. He had fallen on his face and was about to be sent right into the hellhound’s mouth by the road’s waves.
Qian Wei immediately got nervous: “Run!”
Ghillie Suit of course wanted to run. He got up with both his hands and feet on the ground, but he couldn’t maintain his balance on this road and fell down again, his lips kissing the ground.
At the exact moment his life was hanging by a thread, he suddenly took out a rocket launcher and shot at the hellhound. Whether he hit the target or not wasn’t important, because the impactful recoil of the shot instantly pushed him ten meters away.
“Just like that?!” Qian Wei exclaimed while still dancing his ballet.
Luckily, the hellhound was also affected by the road and its speed dropped. Qian Wei casted a hurried look at Jin Cheng, hoping that the boss could help him again, but what he saw had him stunned.
Ahead of him, on the wavy road, Jin Cheng stopped and turned around. He lifted his bow, mounted the arrows, shot three in a row and aimed them at the same part of the hellhound, all accurately and brutally.
“Ooowhooo―!” The hellhound’s waist almost snapped and blood was incessantly dripping down its jaw, but an NPC created by the system would never die so easily. He frantically ran forward, aiming for Jin Cheng’s leg.
Jin Cheng stomped on the transparent barrier between the tracks and dangerously made a backflip mid-air to avoid the attack. At such a close distance, there was no time to shoot arrows, so he flicked the bow over the hellhound’s head.
The bowstring rested on the hound’s neck, then turned over and strangled it!
“Contestant No. 4! Contestant No. 4 successfully turned the tide and made the kill!” The little demon above them enthusiastically gave out his commentary: “Oh my god, what an exciting contestant, let us look forward to its next performance!” [T/N: The little demon really uses the pronoun ‘it’, not ‘he’ or ‘she’, to refer to a contestant.]
The monsters on two sides of the track became very excited and stared at Jin Cheng with scarlet or green eyes, their hands waving and saliva dripping from their mouths.
The little demon also focused his attention on Jin Cheng, his tone exaggerated: “Oh, it hasn’t stopped yet, let’s see which cute little hound will suffer this time ― it is No. 12!”
No. 12 was Tang Cuo.
Before the game officially started, Tang Cuo immediately opened the character panel to add points, and all his remaining 6 points were added to [Strength]. The addition took effect instantly and Tang Cuo could clearly feel that his physical fitness had improved, including his grip strength and and jumping ability.
Coupled with the ‘Sprint’ skill, although the hellhound had been only 3 meters behind him, it never managed to take a bite.
‘Fireballs’ seemed to be a trigger-based skill and wouldn’t appear unless the hellhound attacked him.
Reaching the wavy road, Tang Cuo, just like Jin Cheng, stomped on the transparent barrier. After all, he was a ‘disciple’ under Jin Cheng’s guidance.
This martial arts move was commonly dubbed ‘flying over the wall’2.
Each track was about 10-meter wide. One side of Tang Cuo was the transparent barrier and the other side was a stack of building blocks. He continuously pivoted on the barrier and the walls of the blocks to jump forward in a zigzag pattern, only touching the ground briefly when his jump couldn’t make it far enough.
Tang Cuo ran very rhythmically without any hurry, because he knew Jin Cheng was here. This instructor was notorious for his bad temper, and also notorious for covering up his recruits’ shortcomings.
Jin Cheng supported him from a hundred meters away, and “Whoosh”, he launched two arrows at the same time like a goddess bestowing flowers on her worshippers. The hellhound had nowhere to hide as the arrow pierced through its eye, delivering a pain so brutal that it howled fire at the sky.
Tang Cuo swiftly avoided but the heat wave still caught him, burning a few strands of his hair. He opened the system panel to see that his HP had dropped by 2 ― this was because of ‘Li Ying Jun’s curse’, where his defence against fire had been reduced by 80.
He turned his head to look at Jin Cheng.
Jin Cheng shrugged, raised his bow and sent an arrow to Meng Yufei.
“F**k off, Jin Cheng!” Meng Yufei couldn’t get used to Jin Cheng’s leisurely way of doing things. As if the whole thing isn’t already so chaotic, this motherf**ker is still free enough to attack me?
When could he ever get his revenge?
Meng Yufei turned around and shot a wave of lightning orbs at Tang Cuo.
Tang Cuo was three tracks away from him, and when the lightning orbs finally reached Tang Cuo, there were only one or two left while the rest had fallen on the tracks in between.
Now even bystanders also had to suffer from the three’s dispute.
“I ask you, can you stop fighting?!” Track No. 10 was a sturdy lady with long hair. Three lightning orbs were sent her way, almost scorching her hair entirely.
She dodged the orbs in a blink, and two of the three lightning orbs hit the hellhound behind her, blowing it up and sending flesh flying everywhere. So the orbs were actually a blessing in disguise.
No. 9’s and No. 11’s hounds suffered the same fate one after another, making Meng Yufei extremely depressed.
On the other hand, Jin Cheng launched two arrows to the hellhound behind Qian Wei and Peng Mingfan, releasing them from their dire situations, but because of that, he himself fell to the last position.
It was only six minutes after the game started.
“Aaaaaah!” Suddenly a cry was heard from the left side.
Everyone turned their heads to see that No. 1 had finished the wavy road and run to the forefront. The ground had become levelled again but steel thorns suddenly popped out, immediately piercing through his feet.
“F**k.” Qian Wei realised that he was almost reaching there and braked abruptly, but his speed was too fast and his inertia was too strong to stop. He gritted his teeth and stomped on the barrier like Jin Cheng and Tang Cuo did.
“Be careful!” Peng Mingfan screamed when he saw this.
Qian Wei was indeed careful. He didn’t push far enough and couldn’t fly past the steel thorns, so he drew his sword and slashed angrily. The tip of the sword touched the ground and its body bent, bouncing back on him and sending him into the ground.
Even after falling on his face, he didn’t care one bit about the injuries on his body, rather, he checked his sword quickly to find that it really sustained a lot of cracks.
Qian Wei wanted to cry, but the others started to use their magical abilities after seeing his and No. 1’s examples, all leaping smoothly over the steel thorns. Tang Cuo’s method was very straightforward as he just simply kept at ‘flying over the wall’.
To his right was a wall with a window, behind which lay all kinds of strangely-shaped audiences hungry for drama. Tang Cuo was almost touching the ground due to the missing distance, so he had no choice but to grab one of the protruding long noses and swung over.
“No. 12! What a shocking baby!” The little demon slapped his wings and laughed himself silly, while the long-nosed monster hugged his nose with distress, desperately trying to locate Tang Cuo with killing eyes.
“Ah.” The little demon cleared his throat. “We now see that contestant No. 1 has stood up and run forward again. The injuries on its tiny body really makes me sad. Do our lovely residents of Demon City want to stealthily ICK3 it? Please give it the support it deserves!”
The sound of hisses overwhelmed the scene.
Cold sweats streamed down his face as No. 1 caught the hissing sound. He endured the pain and ran forward, and when he turned his head, the hellhound was still closely behind. With a leap, he passed through the steel thorns.
He quickly conjured a potion and took a sip. Seeing that everyone was about to run ahead of him, he got nervous and shouted at Jin Cheng, “No. 4! No. 4, help me!”
But Jin Cheng ignored him.
In front of him was a nearly 90-degree upward slope, its surface as smooth as a mirror. Jin Cheng climbed to the top in just a few steps, then suddenly stopped.
Behind the slope was a steel cable, and under the steel cable was a fathomless abyss.
Down the abyss, dozens of gigantic creatures were squirming inside, their mouths full of teeth pointing upward, eagerly waiting for the contestants to fall down. A bone-chilling breeze blew through, carrying with it a bloody stench.
Caught between the creatures and the hellhounds, No. 2 and No. 3 took out their weapons, coming to the decision that they must defeat the hellhounds first. Jin Cheng’s acts just now at least proved that these hounds could be killed. If they got chased by the hellhound on this steel cable, they might as well jump off for a quicker death.
No. 1 didn’t understand why they had to turn around. He continued to endure the pain in his feet and climbed on the cable, determined to never come back down. The hellhound followed closely behind, the sound of its claws scratching the slope surface screeching through the air like the harsh sound of nails scraping on glass.
“Help me, please help me! Help me!” No. 1 stared at the hellhound, his legs desperately kicking in an attempt to push the monster down while the corner of his eyes hopelessly turned in Jin Cheng’s direction.
Jin Cheng neither advanced nor retreated. He just looked at No. 1 in silence, a faint smile forming on his face. But the moment No. 1 almost collapsed and the last nerve in his head was about to break, Jin Cheng suddenly shot an arrow at the hellhound.
After all this, he never once looked at No. 1.
By this time, Qian Wei, Peng Mingfan, Tang Cuo, Meng Yufei, No. 6’s Ghillie Suit and No. 10 girl had reached the steel cable. They put out one foot just to try, but none of them actually dared to step on it.
“Don’t look down, don’t look down, don’t look down…” Qian Wei seemed to be chanting to himself. He had changed his shoes back again, because if he had to hear a hundred lame songs from the other shoes when walking this cable, it would be lethal.
Taking advantage of the slope, Ghillie Suit put the rocket launcher on his shoulder and shot at the hellhound. After a few hits, the hound was finally killed. He even shot a few at the ones chasing behind Qian Wei and Peng Mingfan.
Suffering from both Jin Cheng’s arrows earlier and now the rockets, the hellhounds behind Qian Wei and Peng Mingfan must be either already dead or at least severely disabled. There was no way they could climb the slope.
Now, the long-haired girl on No. 10 took out an item that looked like a paper boat. But a second later, her expression changed: “Flying is forbidden here. There’s no way to fly over.”
At this very moment, the hellhound on Tang Cuo’s track jumped at him.
“Ooowhooo!” The hellhound rushed up the slope, opening his giant mouth and biting towards Tang Cuo. Tang Cuo jumped on the steel cable without saying a word, then stabilised after a few shakes and quickly moved three steps forward.
The hellhound howled at him but didn’t follow.
Arriving at the cliff now and seeing that the hellhounds would have them soon, No. 9 and No. 11 gathered all their nerves and jumped on the cables. But they weren’t on the same level as Tang Cuo’s, so when the wind blew, they could only hug the cable tightly and shiver like a leaf.
The little demon hovered in the air and announced with a tinge of disappointment in his tone: “None of them has died. The contestants this time seem to have some luck, but unfortunately they don’t seem to have much killing intent, totally not in line with our Demon City’s style. But the steel cable isn’t so easy to walk. Do you see the cute little bugs underneath? They will be very angry if they don’t get their food and our Demon City will suffer an earthquake again. So, for the sake of safety, who of you will voluntarily jump down?”
As his voice fell, all the players were silent.
Tang Cuo narrowed his eyes and looked at Meng Yufei again.
Meng Yufei couldn’t help it anymore and said angrily: “Do you have any grudge against me?! Is Jin Cheng your father, why do you have to help him every time?!”
Hearing that, Tang Cuo was unamused: “You’re so annoying.”
Meng Yufei’s rage was caught at his throat but he could neither spit it out nor swallow it, his face turning into a scary shade of red. But after wreaking havoc in the low-ranking zones for so long, he wasn’t the type that could easily lose his cool, so he held down the urge to attack Tang Cuo.
Jin Cheng and Tang Cuo didn’t make any moves either, since they had no doubt that Meng Yufei would drag everyone to death with him.
The tension came to a stalemate as they were only a hundred meters away from the opposite side. But the wind blowing up from under the abyss was getting stronger and stronger, causing the steel cables to sway unceasingly with a frightening screeching sound.
Tang Cuo carefully observed everyone’s reaction. In fact, walking the cable wasn’t difficult for someone like him, and if there was pulley, he could hang directly onto it and slide over without much effort. But none of the players present here seemed to have such equipment, nor did they ever go through such training.
The little demon let out a weird laugh mid-air, as if expecting something to happen, while the monster audience on both sides of the cliffs made blaring noises as they poked their necks out one by one.
Suddenly, No. 9 made a misstep and fell down.
The monster audience instantly cheered.
In the next second, No. 9 quickly grabbed the cable and dangled dangerously on it.
The monster audience sighed with disappointment.
Everyone’s hearts almost jumped off their chests as they watched the scene. No. 9 tried to get back onto the cable but couldn’t gather any strength, while above his head the bone-chilling wind was still blowing. If he kept hanging like this, he would definitely not last ten minutes.
As he looked back, the hellhound standing at the edge was staring at him intensely.
No. 2 and No. 11 knew him and almost lost it when they saw the situation, but one was too far away and the other was also standing on the cable, so both of them wouldn’t dare to act rashly.
At this moment, an arrow flew through the air and knocked the hellhound down the slope, and the girl next to No. 9 also immediately threw a piece of rope to him. As No. 9 escaped successfully, the hellhound on No. 11 was also done for.
But perhaps the creatures under the abyss couldn’t wait anymore. Suddenly, the entire abyss shook uncontrollably, almost having No. 9 and No. 11, who had just climbed back on, fly off the cables.
Tang Cuo stood on the steel cable and looked down at the huge bugs that kept clanking against the cliffs, then looked up at the little red demon.
The little demon continued in a luring tone: “As long as one person jumps down, everyone can pass.”
Tang Cuo thought of something while squinting at Meng Yufei.
Being stared at by such bright eyes, Meng Yufei’s heart dropped a bit. He suddenly turned his head to look at Jin Cheng. Jin Cheng also stared at him, even starting to pull the bow in his hand.
“I dare you!” As every single strand of hair on his body stood on its end, Meng Yufei took out the scimitar. “If you dare to do it, I will dare to bury everyone here with me!”
Jin Cheng pouted his lips. Boring.
Tang Cuo also felt unamused, then he looked away as though nothing had happened.
Only Meng Yufei was left anticipatingly holding his scimitar like an idiot.
Meng Yufei’s face was as white as a sheet, but he didn’t actually have the nerve to make any move here, so he had to put away the scimitar and suppress his temper.
However, Jin Cheng dismantled the mechanical bow into two pieces with a “Click” and walked back to the edge, then he cut off the steel cable without saying a word. He grabbed the broken steel cable and started shaking it to have a feel, and, to everyone’s astonishment, he jumped down.
“Big brother!!!” Qian Wei was so scared that his heart almost lept out.
The next instant, the steel cable was stretched straight and Jin Cheng, like a pendulum, swiftly swung across the abyss to arrive at the opposite cliff. The big bugs underneath thought their food was coming, all of them craning their necks and opening their mouths waiting to be fed, but Jin Cheng just simply flew over their heads.
“Bang!” He stomped his foot on the cliff and bent his knees to relieve his force, but still ended up blasting a big hole into the cliff wall. The crushed rocks rolled down with a rustling sound and Jin Cheng seemed to sustain no injuries at all. He started climbing up without any obstacles on his way, his posture sturdy and his movement extremely fast.
The big bugs were extremely displeased and started smashing into the walls again, making the players on the cables sway left and right, but Jin Cheng was still climbing steadily.
“No. 4! Gosh, look at our cute No. 4!” The little demon exaggeratedly covered his mouth, giving the impression that Mr. Crow had possessed him for a split second: “It has done an interesting thing yet again. This is really the most exciting gameplay I’ve ever seen! No. 4, please remember No. 4, it’s such a cute one!”
The monster audience was also extremely thrilled. Regardless whether they could actually see or not, they all squeezed to the front of the windows, seemingly ready to jump out anytime.
“Oooh oooh oooh!”
Amidst unintelligible cheers and screams, Jin Cheng climbed to the other side under everyone’s eyes. He casually patted the dust on his trousers, dropped the steel cable and gestured to Tang Cuo.
Are you coming?
Tang Cuo was expressionless. He thought Jin Cheng’s move was cool, fast and efficient, but also too much of a show-off.
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”.