Chapter 6: The Duel
Tang Cuo was upset that he had to wake up. How upset could his ‘having to wake up’ upset be? He was so upset that his HP which just recovered to 8 fell again to 7.
He was repeatedly jumping at the edge of death.
But right now, he became even more patient and his volume became even lighter than usual. He was in a delicate balance of losing his mind and growing his urge to beat up someone.
“Speak, what the hell do you two want?” He asked.
No, I don’t want anything!
Wen Xiaoming roared in his heart but he didn’t dare to speak up. He couldn’t help but look at Jin Cheng to seek rescue. Jin Cheng delightfully shook his head and leisurely admired Wen Xiaoming’s desperate face before finally speaking.
He leaned back with both his arms on the armrest, his posture relaxed: “Let’s talk about the things between us first.”
Tang Cuo’s brows furrowed.
Jin Cheng asked: “No. K27216, is that you?”
Hearing that, Wen Xiaoming felt inexplicably familiar. He thought hard about it for a while and came to a big realisation ― wasn’t he the newcomer on the Blacklist?!
He stared at Tang Cuo in surprise, but Tang Cuo was staring at Jin Cheng.
Tang Cuo: “Is there a problem?”
Jin Cheng: “Of course there is. At this moment, I should be sleeping in a luxurious villa in Zone A. But because you annoyed Mr. Crow, instead of clearing my mission ― he vented his anger on me, so I ended up here.”
Tang Cuo: “…”
Jin Cheng: “This room was originally where I lived. If you look under the bed, you can still see a bottle of red wine I hid there last time.”
Wen Xiaoming’s jaw dropped. That was why ― Tang Cuo finally understood why the clown kept pestering him just now.
But so what?
Tang Cuo said without any guilt: “Oh.”
Jin Cheng wanted to raise an eyebrow, but he needed to keep his face still while wearing the mask, so he could only use his voice to express his annoyance: “What do you mean, ‘Oh’? Don’t you plan to take any responsibility? “
Tang Cuo: “Do you have any evidence?”
Jin Cheng: “Red wine.”
Tang Cuo: “Even if there is one, who can prove that the bottle of red wine is yours?”
Jin Cheng became delighted as he moved his legs to one side to a more comfortable posture. His elbow stood on the armrest, chin resting on his right hand. He looked at Tang Cuo with great interest and said: “So you are going to play around now?”
“No.” Tang Cuo looked at the broken window and smiled slightly: “If you like this room better, I can give it to you.”
Jin Cheng followed him: “If we exchange rooms and someone comes to trouble you, they will have my head, right?” “
Tang Cuo asked: “Didn’t you say you want to help me?”
Wen Xiaoming was completely stunned. What is this? Was this the ultimate showdown between the very top and very bottom of the Blacklist? What was happening with the newcomers in Zone F these days? Could such talents emerge from this weakest garbage dump?
At this point, Jin Cheng turned his words around: “Despite all that help, you still won’t be my friend?”
Tang Cuo: “No.”
“Why?” Wen Xiaoming was even more astounded than Jin Cheng. His cry had the other two cast their glances at him. He immediately withdrew himself but was still determined to finish his sentence: “I think you two are compatible. Let’s just make friends and stop arguing, can you?”
Jin Cheng lightly tapped his finger on the armrest: “Are we arguing?”
Tang Cuo couldn’t care any less. He didn’t want to make friends ― he just wanted to go back to sleep. But someone from above must be playing tricks on him today. Just as everything here was almost coming to a closure, suddenly a commotion could be heard from outside the window.
Wen Xiaoming was unable to sit still and immediately ran over to look down, then he exclaimed: “Boss, there is a fight downstairs!”
“What is it about?” Jin Cheng still held his legs crossed and had zero intention to move.
“Let me see.” Wen Xiaoming watched the situation downstairs for a while before finally concluding: “It seems to be an infighting within Zone F.”
“Infighting?” Jin Cheng couldn’t help raising his eyebrows and the mask on his face instantly wanted to protest. He lifted one hand to smooth it, thinking, damn, it has gone dry.
Wen Xiaoming continued to give his live commentary: “It’s quite a fight. At least five or six groups are in it. I’ve probably heard about that guy who’s dressed up like Gu Huo Zai1. Recently he’s gotten a name in Zone F. It looks like he’s an unarmed martial artist, oh, he beats the crap out of them with one punch, does he use qi?! But the gunman opposite him doesn’t look familiar. Where is he shooting? It’s making my blood boil… What’s going on with the newcomers? Do they think they can just swing a knife around and hope to win?”
He looked back at Jin Cheng: “Boss, do we bother?”
Jin Cheng walked to the window and looked at the scene downstairs nonchalantly, his expression even colder than the night at Yong Ye City. Wen Xiaoming deeply understood his boss’s personality, so he continued: “The newcomers this time are weird. One by one, they look as weak as a shrimp, but they know how to resist. I think tonight’s fight happens likely because those dumbass gangsters try to pick on the newcomers.”
Wen Xiaoming’s words were almost right at the heart of the truth.
After Blonde Hair’s five-member group ran away after being beaten up by Tang Cuo, they didn’t say anything to anyone in order to protect themselves. But Zone F was a chaotic place and every single move could cause a stir. No one knew how many pairs of eyes were staring from the dark. There would never be too many things to snatch away.
It wasn’t uncommon for everyone to get together then get into a fight, but tonight’s fight was caused by the newcomers. The newcomers were usually scared off to one corner and just sat tight, waiting to be exploited. Whoever won, they would follow that person. But today, as everyone fought and fought, something unusual came up.
“F**k, who just cut me!?”
“How did these newcomers get their weapons?!”
“A kitchen knife? Are you okay?!”
After looking at the clamoring downstairs, Jin Cheng glanced at Tang Cuo again and raised the corner of his mouth. Most of the newcomers must be learning from him. However, only two or three of them had the nerves to actually resist, while the rest quickly got beaten. It was miserable to fall down like that, but at least it showed their unwillingness to yield.
Jin Cheng impatiently pulled at the mask that was drying out and asked Wen Xiaoming: “Did you bring anything? Make them shut up, they are disturbing everyone’s sleep.”
“Sure.” Wen Xiaoming immediately went to open his bag. He brought a large bag of things from Zone A. Besides Jin Cheng’s laundry and daily necessities, there were plenty of strange, small props.
He picked up two items that looked like Pokeballs, then threw them downstairs with a cry.
“Watch the ball!”
The crowd was startled by his voice and many people quickly looked up unanimously.
“Bang — Boom —” The two balls landed and exploded instantly, filling the entire cobblestone street with smoke. The people subconsciously covered their mouths and noses, but in just a few seconds, the smoke quickly spread out and coughing sounds could be heard from all corners.
“What is this?!”
Wen Xiaoming snapped his fingers proudly and showed off to Jin Cheng: “Smoke Egg No. 2, with increased coverage, colorless and tasteless. It penetrates through pores, has a strong impact and gives an instant effect, but is actually a failed product. I will soon come up with No.3, and by that time we will be able to put it into the Inventory Bar.”
Jin Cheng declined to comment. Anyway, if this kind of thing had no other uses beside making people cough, he absolutely would refuse to use it.
These earth-shattering coughs made the scene even noisier than before.
Jin Cheng looked back at Tang Cuo. He was still sitting on the chair and staring at the cleaver with a dull face. He really didn’t look well, both emotionally and physically.
“You…” In the middle of the sentence, Jin Cheng suddenly felt his throat itchy. He figured out something at once, and looked back, casting a sharp glance at Wen Xiaoming then at the scene downstairs: “Is your coverage juts horizontal or overall?”
“Huh?” Wen Xiaoming couldn’t react at first. When he finally understood, a cough suddenly broke out: “Cough cough cough cough, shit, cough cough cough…”
What did it mean by ‘lifting a rock to drop it at your own feet’? ― this, of course!
Jin Cheng was still being tolerant. He let out a long cough while trying to stop himself from throwing Wen Xiaoming out of the window. From the corner of his eyes, he glanced at the broken window and felt ironic ― wasn’t this window broken by him and Wen Xiaoming, one after another?
In the room, Tang Cuo was also being tolerant.
F**k, I can’t bear with this.
“Cough, cough…” He held one hand at the edge of the table while the other had reached out for the handle of the cleaver. Frowning, he opened the character panel to see his HP drop from 7 to 5 again.
The reason why it fell so fast was because Tang Cuo had a history of low blood sugar. In just one night, he lay dead on the street, went through The Wheel of Fortune then fought with a gang of scammers. As he was finally able to lie in bed to rest, someone had to break the window and wake him up.
This world had a grudge against him.
“A gentleman only uses words and not violence.” Jin Cheng came to the table in one stride and reached out one hand to hold down the cleaver. He looked at Tang Cuo with eyes that he thought were the most sincere and gentle, but to Tang Cuo’s, with that fast-drying mask, he just looked like a ghost whose skin was peeling off.
His head hurt. Looking at such a face, Tang Cuo really felt a pain in his brain. He was losing his mind as he couldn’t breathe. He endured the coughing and exerted his strength to pull out the cleaver, then replied: “This man uses violence and not words.”
His words went slow but his hand moved fast. Tang Cuo decisively slammed at Jin Cheng’s shoulder.
Jin Cheng held a helpless smile on his face, but down below his feet moved smoothly and shifted his body to one side. He escaped so neatly that even the mask on his face didn’t budge. But at this moment, Tang Cuo suddenly raised his left hand and the thick ‘brick’ appeared out of thin air. As a heavy blow came at him, Jin Cheng was caught off guard.
A trace of surprise crossed Jin Cheng’s eyes but he effortlessly remained calm and avoided the ‘brick’ at an unearthly fast speed. He leaned back and supported his body with one hand on the edge of the table, then flipped to one side and sneaked behind Tang Cuo in a split second.
Tang Cuo also quickly turned around and threw a side kick, his move as sharp as a blade.
This is called venting his anger, and also called testing his opponent.
He was a random experienced player claiming to be from Zone A, whose origin, personality or purpose remained a complete mystery. His whole body from head to toe, even his hair, screamed ‘suspicious’.
“Bam.” Jin Cheng raised his hand to block the kick, and he caught Tang Cuo’s ankle with a turn of his wrist. Tang Cuo’s face suddenly changed, because the moment he kicked up, he noticed something strange ― Jin Cheng’s arm was as hard as metal and couldn’t be shaken off.
As his ankle was held tight, there was no way he could withdraw at this point.
“How now? Do you still want to try?” Jin Cheng could easily expose his intention.
Tang Cuo smiled. Although his face was pale and sweaty, his eyes were remarkably bright. He pivoted on his right leg and flung his full body at Jin Cheng.
As his balance was broken, Jin Cheng was forced to let go and the two fell backwards at the same time. They both rose back as fast as they had fallen; their bodies hadn’t even touched the ground, yet with the light support of just one hand, they stood up again.
At one glance, they seemed to come to a draw.
But one was gasping for breath and one was moving around with ease, so Tang Cuo knew he had lost. When he was about to hit the ground just now, he clearly saw Jin Cheng’s movements pause for a while, looking as though he was simply following the situation rather than actually falling on the ground.
His physique, reaction speed and sense of combat were probably all above Tang Cuo’s.
In this circumstance, he also hadn’t even used any special abilities, martial techniques or weird tricks. He was an experienced player and an elite of Zone A. His real strength might be unfathomable.
Yong Ye City was really a place of hidden dragons and crouching tigers.
Tang Cuo was a little excited, feeling pleased that he could duel with a skilful player, but his face became paler and his coughing couldn’t be held back anymore as it worsened, as if he would spit out blood in the next second. In the Character panel, his HP had fallen to their last 2, thinning the line between life and death even further.
Jin Cheng frowned: “You don’t look well.”
“Yeah.” After the test just now, Tang Cuo had simply determined that the other man didn’t have any malicious intention. His attitude was much more casual than before, so much so that finally, he let out the important question at the verge of death: “Is there a hospital near here?”
Jin Cheng laughed angrily.
Wen Xiaoming coughed like his lungs would fly out, yet he rushed over to wait for the orders. No one knew how long it had been since the boss last called him by his name ― this was terrifying.
“Medicine.” Even his words were getting shorter.
Wen Xiaoming quickly took the medicine from the bag. Tang Cuo had fallen on his knees, holding onto the edge of the bed and coughing violently. Jin Cheng’s eyes became colder and swept over Wen Xiaoming: “Who told you to give those experimental products? Use the healing potion.”
“Okay!” Wen Xiaoming was dumbfounded for a moment. After all, this was to save people, using potions officially produced by Yong Ye City must be safer. But he couldn’t help but mumble in his heart, I never saw Boss being this nervous before. Did he finally decide to be a good man after getting punished so many times?
With a swipe of a finger, a light blue tube of potion popped up in Wen Xiaoming’s hand out of thin air. He opened the cap and wanted to feed it to Tang Cuo, but he was caught halfway by Jin Cheng.
Wen Xiaoming was stunned, his eyes blinking in confusion.
Jin Cheng didn’t care about him as he placed the potion at Tang Cuo’s mouth. Although he was smiling, his tone was cold: “Open your mouth.”
Tang Cuo raised his head and looked sideways at him.
Jin Cheng: “What are you looking at me for? Do I have the word ‘medicine’ written on my face?”
Tang Cuo: “Your face reads ‘looking for death’.”
Jin Cheng: “Are you looking for death or am I looking for death?”
Tang Cuo: “Both.”
Wen Xiaoming frowned and hurriedly came in the middle: “Two big brothers, please stay calm, stay calm. We are all friends, don’t argue.”
Jin Cheng put the potion into Tang Cuo’s hand and asked back: “Are we arguing?”
Wen Xiaoming closed his mouth tightly, turning all pitiful and helpless. He was just an innocent middleman trying his best. He knew nothing, he saw nothing.
After Tang Cuo drank the potion, his HP which was dangling at 1 finally stopped dropping and his coughing slowly came to an end. His bodily functions also gradually recovered.
The healing potion produced by Yong Ye City had a good effect.
“Thank you.” He stood up again with a calm expression.
“Thank Wen Xiaoming.” Jin Cheng didn’t turn his head as he walked to the window and looked at the situation downstairs: “So noisy.”
Wen Xiaoming suddenly had a cue thrown at him, then suddenly had to see the boss lose his temper. He was totally lost. But being with the Boss for a long time had taught him the ways of survival, so he immediately responded: “The Smoke Egg’s damage is stronger than I thought. No matter how powerful the people downstairs may be, they are after all just residents of Zone F. I’m afraid they can’t continue fighting now. Let me go down to deal with it right now.”
Finishing his words, Wen Xiaoming took flight at once.
If I don’t escape now, then when?
But as soon as he reached the corridor, he was stopped by Jin Cheng: “Wait, help me prepare a mask tomorrow.”
Wen Xiaoming braked and turned around: “Boss, what do you want the mask for?”
Jin Cheng stood in the corridor, the door behind him closed. He tore off the face mask and tossed it into the trash bin. His figure illuminated by the dim light looked strangely enchanting.
“Give it to me first. I’ll tell you later.
Also, don’t let people know that I’m here. I plan to stay here for a while.”
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”.