Chapter 51: Song of The Wind (10)
Tang Cuo’s decision to go into the tunnel was actually inspired by Jin Cheng.
Jin Cheng wanted to trick Peter with a false message, while Tang Cuo wanted to find out about the surprises hidden in the tunnel that Aesop talked about. His main mission was to bring Bazz to the Greenvines Alliance office, but once they reached there, the mission might change. Under the restrictions of the system, Tang Cuo might not be able to come back to the tunnel.
So the best way was to enter the tunnel on the way to the alliance’s office.
But there was another issue here. Tang Cuo had already walked through the tunnel once, yet there was no turn and no trace of any magic circle either. Everything seemed normal, so where did those ‘surprises’ lie?
After the Greenvines Alliance took over the tunnel, they must have checked it carefully, but nothing had been found.
Thus, after Tang Cuo found out about Jin Cheng’s plan on the carriage, a thought came to his mind and he decided to use Bazz to solve the mystery of the tunnel.
Tang Cuo’s guess about the tunnel was likely to be the same thing that Jin Cheng had in mind. From last night until now, he has been thinking about where the missing corpses had gone to and where Peter was hiding, until he heard Aesop’s words.
If there was a network of tunnels extending to all corners under Flange, then everything would make sense. Aesop asked Tang Cuo to go back to the tunnel to check again, which meant that this tunnel might lead to other places.
But both Tang Cuo and the Greenvines Alliance hadn’t discovered any other passage in here, so it must be hidden very deep within the tunnel. The fastest way now was to let the enemy expose it themselves.
When the carriage was attacked, Tang Cuo led Bazz into the tunnel, which was totally reasonable. The Rose Sect shouldn’t have guessed that Aesop had exposed the secret of the tunnel, so they would most likely try to catch Bazz right here.
They probably thought they would surprise Tang Cuo.
But Tang Cuo also intended to surprise them.
In the stifling tunnel, Tang Cuo and Bazz’s shadows stretched on the floor under the light of the magic lamps.
Tang Cuo didn’t walk fast, and with every few steps he took, he would hit the wall with the hilt of his sword. Although he had set up bait to lure the enemy out, it remained uncertain whether they would actually turn up, so Tang Cuo decided to find it himself.
Bazz asked curiously: “Theodore, what are you doing?”
Tang Cuo: “There may be something hidden in the tunnel.”
“Oh.” Being here for the first time, Bazz started looking around. Tang Cuo’s deliberately slowing down also gave him time to examine the place, but after a long time, he still couldn’t spot anything out of the ordinary. He continued to ask: “Theodore, where is this? Why have I never heard of this before?”
Before Tang Cuo answered, he scratched his head and said: “Should I not ask too much?”
“It’s okay.” Tang Cuo didn’t have much comment.
The deeper he got into this story, the more he felt that this was like a real world. Bazz was different from Xiaoyuan or Li Ying Jun, and nowhere like the strange creatures in Demon City. He had his own story and his own emotions, which made it difficult for Tang Cuo to treat him as an NPC.
And it wasn’t just Bazz. Everyone in this dungeon was like that.
Perhaps the meaning of a role-playing dungeon was closer than reality than he thought.
“Bazz, do you remember how when we first met?” Tang Cuo asked.
“I do.” Bazz cheerfully turned on his talkative mode: “Theodore, you’ve always been a brave and kind knight. At that time, I was sick and had no savings, so I had to take up a long-distance delivery job. You know, it helps me earn a lot more than working in a tavern, but my physique wasn’t so good. When a heavy cargo was about to crush my back, you came to help me.”
Coming to this part, Bazz became excited: “A distinguished knight helped me deliver a chest of wine. No one believed me when I told them that. But it’s okay, Theodore, it doesn’t change the fact that we are friends. We are friends, right?”
Tang Cuo: “Yes.”
Bazz was very happy. He was happy to have a bard and a knight as his friends. He suddenly remembered the new jam pie from Beibei’s Cake House and asked again: “Theodore, have you tried the pie with Lancelot? It’s delicious.”
Tang Cuo shook his head. He and Jin Cheng were busy doing missions and didn’t have the chance to walk around looking for tasty dishes.
Bazz was a little saddened, but he quickly said: “Then the three of us can go to eat together next time. I will get my payment in a few days. Although it isn’t much, I can still afford a few jam pies!”
The tunnel was very long and they weren’t walking fast. After half an hour, the two of hadn’t gotten very far in. In the middle of the tunnel, Tang Cuo spotted a Rose Sect crest on the wall and asked Bazz if he knew it, to which Bazz shook his head.
To ordinary people, the Rose Sect was still a very foreign name.
They kept going.
Ten minutes later, Tang Cuo stopped. According to his estimation, they should already be close to the edge of the White Leaf District, but they hadn’t found anything unusual in the tunnel.
Did he make a wrong judgment?
Or was Aesop just deliberately teasing him?
At this moment, a gust of wind suddenly passed into the tunnel and blew out the magic lamps. Tang Cuo instantly became alert and drew his sword to protect Bazz behind him.
If something bad happened, it would likely take place within a blink.
“Ah!” Bazz suddenly cried out behind him.
Luckily, Tang Cuo remembered well who the enemy’s real target was. Without a word, he immediately grabbed Bazz’s wrist and slashed the sword behind him. Suddenly a passage appeared on the wall behind Baz, and a man wearing a black magic robe grabbed Bazz’s other wrist, trying to pull him away.
Tang Cuo struck the man with his sword, and the man had to retreat because he didn’t expect Tang Cuo to react so fast.
Right after that, the strangest thing happened. The moment the man retreated into the passage, it disappeared automatically. Only Tang Cuo and Bazz were left standing in the stifling tunnel, as if everything just now never happened.
“What was that? Magic?” Bazz was so startled that he completely forgot about the danger he had just encountered.
Tang Cuo frowned and didn’t answer. He could indeed feel subtle waves of magic when the passage appeared and disappeared, but now it wasn’t there anymore. Even if Tang Cuo put his hand on the spot where the the passage popped up, he couldn’t sense anything.
He slammed the sword at the wall again, but the wall only broke apart, revealing the hard rocks inside.
If the passage remained invisible, it might mean that it was still active at this very moment.
There was no way to determine the specific location of that mobile passage. No wonder the Greenvine Alliance couldn’t find anything. The secret to opening that passage was in the hands of the enemy, unless Tang Cuo could run into it right at the moment it appeared.
Tang Cuo held firmly to his sword, thought for a few seconds and decisively pulled Bazz away.
Now that the secret of the tunnel was known, the primary goal was to complete the main mission and let the plot move on.
But the enemy obviously didn’t want Tang Cuo to leave knowing this secret.
“Boom —” Another passage vaguely emerged before their eyes, where a magic attack was released at the same time and a raging fire was charging towards their face.
Having no time to retreat, Tang Cuo immediately raised his word to the front. The Holy Light glimmered on the sword and a translucent shield of light engraved with an intricate magic formation flew out of it, spinning and magnifying in front of them.
This was a skill triggered by Tang Cuo when he smeared his blood on the sword during the fight with Aesop. He later found out about it as he checked the system panel while resting in Bazz’s rented flat. Its name was very easy to understand ― Holy Light Shield.
The fire hit the shield and the impact strongly blew up Tang Cuo’s clothes, but no flame could pierce through the shield.
The enemy didn’t expect this move and a trace of surprise glared in his eyes, then he escaped into the passage again and disappeared. Tang Cuo didn’t dare to loosen his guard and shook his sword to withdraw the shield, his eyes continuing to look at all directions.
Tang Cuo turned around and swung his sword, just in time to hold off a broadsword that was slamming at him.
This time, the passage turned up right behind them.
Bazz hid closely behind Tang Cuo, afraid to stay too far away or too near to him. Seeing the cold light glowing on the enemy’s sword, his heart almost jumped out of his throat, his whole body scared stiff.
But the enemy came prepared, having a swordsman and wizard attacking them simultaneously. One tried to block Tang Cuo while the other came straight to Bazz. Neither of them knew what else was hiding in the darkness, as though danger was waiting at all corners.
“Theodore!” Buzz yelled.
Tang Cuo pushed away the swordsman with one move and turned to a defence posture. With speedy movements, he used Sprint to jump across the distance between them and pulled Bazz back in the blink of an eye.
Of course, such an abrupt use of skill made him a little dizzy. He ran too fast and stopped too abruptly, his head spinning in a daze.
With that, Tang Cuo’s face turned slightly pale.
Bazz’s face was as white as a sheet, because Tang Cuo’s sword was resting on his neck. If he only lowered his head a little bit, his neck would sweep by that cold and terrifying blade.
“Huh, Theodore?” Buzz felt his throat going dry.
The enemy was flabbergasted and looked at Tang Cuo with incredulous eyes.
Tang Cuo remained expressionless as his hand that was holding onto the sword tightened a bit, his tone icy cold: “Don’t move, I’ll kill him if you move.”
The whole tunnel became so quiet that if a needle dropped, everyone would hear it.
But the “ding, ding” warnings were crazily fired in Tang Cuo’s mind. This was the system telling him that he had violated his character settings. But Tang Cuo totally ignored it, staying utterly calm and composed.
At this moment, the wizard suddenly wiped off his surprised expression and said with a laugh: “Don’t bluff me, you don’t have the guts to do it!”
But as soon as his voice fell, a crimson slit appeared on Bazz’s neck. Tang Cuo raised his eyebrows, an indifferent provocation flashing on Theodore’s handsome, upright face: “You can try.”
“You!” The wizard’s face turned blue: “What do you want to do? He’s your companion!”
Tang Cuo: “It’s better to kill him than to let him fall into your hands. What do you want with him? To continue your evil doings? I don’t think he’ll feel better to fall into your hands than to die.”
As the words left his lips, the warnings in Tang Cuo’s mind slightly weakened.
Reaching the important point, Tang Cuo continued: “I won’t let my friend become a tool for your evil. I’d rather kill him and avenge him later.”
At the same time, Tang Cuo’s other hand sneaked behind Buzz’s back, writing a few words that said that all of this was just a ploy.
After the words were written, the “ding, ding” sound completely vanished.
The enemy was furiously infuriated now, not because of Tang Cuo’s threat, but because of the fact that he kept using the word ‘evil’: “You fools, you can never see the real light. Your friend is already dead. He died in misery on that cold winter night in the White Leaf District, but he’s still standing here now. Don’t you know why?”
“Because the Undead King has given him an eternal life.”
Hearing this, Bazz was so shocked his eyes opened wide, totally forgetting that there was a sword on his neck and desperate to know what was going on. He made a slight move and his blood leaked out even more, releasing a faint scent of the Well of Time.
“Really?” Tang Cuo’s tone remained frosty, but he grasped hard on Bazz’s hand and used some force to pull him back to his senses. He could feel that Bazz was panicking. His hands were shaking and he wanted to turn around to catch a glimmer of hope from Tang Cuo, but the sword was still on his neck.
What should I do next?
Tang Cuo tried to calm down, his gaze fixed on the enemy: “How do I know if what you’re saying is true? I’m a knight who only goes after the truth.”
“We can let you see it with your own eyes. You’re lost, but as long as you’re willing to turn back, you can earn the blessing of eternal life and follow our Undead King, and together we can build a great and immortal cause.”
Perhaps it was Tang Cuo’s question that caused the wizard’s rage to die down. He opened his arms wide and smiled bewitchingly. When the words ‘the Undead King’ were said, the reverence and fanaticism in his eyes were like a wildfire, looking as though it could burn down everything in its entirety.
The two sides came to a deadlock and it became hard to breathe.
After a long moment, Tang Cuo coldly said: “I want to see it with my own eyes.”
By this point, the passage hadn’t been closed. The wizard and the swordsman looked at each other and moved to the side to let Tang Cuo and Bazz walk in. They remained very cautious, their hearts bubbled with pleasure but also doubts at the same time.
Tang Cuo also remained cautious and held tightly onto Baz, but this actually allowed both of them to feel a little relieved.
The two deliberately kept a distance apart from each other.
Right when Tang Cuo and Bazz couldn’t see them, the wizard dangerously winked at the swordsman ― Where is reinforcement? What are the others? How come there are only two of us?!
The swordsman was also nervous. The reinforcement that should have arrived hadn’t turned up, so they must’ve been delayed by something. This suddenly gave him a bad feeling.
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”.