Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 12: Genius and Monster
“Why does it have to be us?” The red-haired young man fiddled with the tin badge on his chest and sat carelessly on the branch. Dozens of palm-sized light screens floated in thin air in front of him, and countless images of living or dead people flickered on them. “Hey, Fenrir. I’m talking to you. Only a third-rate mercenary group like yours would be able to stand it.”
The man who had just preached the rules frowned. “Stop complaining, Thorne. It’s just once a season. It’s just bad luck.”
One of the light screens suddenly went out, and Thorne smacked his lips.
“That Savage killed another surveillance bug. Speaking of, I heard an interesting rumor. It’s said that Horizon invited her last year?”
“That’s right.” Fenrir didn’t seem to want to say more.
“Come on, I’m going to be bored to death. Aren’t you old acquaintances? If you join Horizon, you can get official status directly from the king; isn’t this the ultimate goal of the black badges? Why doesn’t she want to?”
“I don’t know,” Fenrir said coldly. “We don’t know each other well. I just happened to preside over several tests when she took them.”
“Could she be that kind of—” After confirming that the light screen returned to normal, Thorne made a bad gesture. “The kind of person who pits newcomers for fun? She’s taken more than 20 tests. It doesn’t make sense.”
“There are some people who don’t like big organizations.” Fenrir looked around vigilantly. “Shut up.”
“You’re protecting her—ack.” Thorne asked, “Do you have a crush on her?”
“No.” Fenrir drew out his scimitar and forced back the giant snake that was about to bite him. “I just know she’s not that kind of person.”
He remembered it very clearly.
Ann Savage was only fourteen years old when she took the test for the first time, and she was among a group of teenagers. It wasn’t uncommon for children of this age to take the test. Most likely, they came from a town that had suffered a disaster. Young Fenrir didn’t care about her at that time. He oversaw inspector work, like Thorne now.
Back then, he thought the group of children would be the first victims.
However, the maroon-haired girl was undoubtedly a genius, with first-class combat awareness and magical abilities. It was more than enough to survive at this level. It was a pity that Ann Savage wanted more than just to survive. She led the children to form a team to resist the attack of demons, and she actually did an outstanding job. Naturally, countless calls for help rushed to her, and her team kept growing. The time for the end of the test was getting closer, and everything seemed to be going well.
Fenrir still remembered the scene at that time.
The organizers of the test weren’t fools and naturally expected this kind of cooperation. An overcrowded group had attracted the previously released Seymour Worm. Its huge body trampled over the hopeful people, leaving behind a mixture of only bones and flesh.
Only Ann Savage survived.
When she tested for the second time, she began to consciously control the number of rescues, but she misjudged the degree of the worm’s hunger. The third time, she went directly to attack the worm. The bloody lesson proved that it was really prepared by the test organizer. The real strength ceiling, the strength of the Seymour Worm, was considered to be the top among intermediate monsters. Even for a group of experienced high-level mercenaries, they must work closely together with sufficient weapons to kill it.
But she had no expensive weapons, no teammates with the same heart, and so there always remained only one person standing.
The fourth time, the fifth time… Until now… Eighteen years later, she appeared here again, but…
“Her two teammates’ looks are good; very handsome*.” Thorne was still observing Savage’s group with interest. “But they don’t look like warriors at all. Can she really bear those two burdens?”
*[xiao bai lian] (小白脸) It’s a specific term used to refer to men who rely on women for financial support (AKA a gigolo) or men who are very handsome and fair-skinned. || In this context, He’s referring to both, as they looked handsome and daintily, but are also dependent on Ann for support.
“If it’s you, would you be able to protect two ordinary people in a place like this?” Fenrir glared menacingly. “I’m going to start reconsidering your application to join the group.”
Thorne quickly shut his mouth. Less than five seconds later, he forgot all about it and started broadcasting in real time again, causing Fenrir to sigh.
“It seems like a ‘hero’ has appeared again in this issue, ah!” he said in an amusing tone, not taking it too seriously at all. “There are still a lot of people gathered, and they’re heading to Savage’s side. This will be a good show to watch.”
Nemo hadn’t had the chance to talk to Oliver about his thoughts. He was indeed worried about the abnormalities in himself, but it wasn’t easy to open up. They needed a suitable time and place where they could discuss things tactfully and seriously as two adults. He didn’t want his state to affect their plans, if being part of the Black Chapter was part of it.
Ann had no intention of being their companion, but it would be different if Oliver left because of this. No matter how he looked at it, he was the worse one off; a demon worshipper wasn’t welcome anywhere, and his knowledge of the outside world only came from books. What was more, Oliver’s own crime was still unexplained. He was ultimately the one who had implicated them both.
Fortunately, Oliver had just declared solemnly, “I’ll never leave you behind.” He himself didn’t want to be left behind, so he regretted his questioning words just now.
However, he didn’t expect Oliver to be so… direct. He showed a nervous smile, as he tried to draw his hand away but found that it was gripped tightly.
“Thank you.” Nemo stopped trying to struggle. “I really didn’t feel offended. It’s natural for people to have doubts in this case. I’m the one who should be sorry… Uh, hand… Oliver, your hand.”
Oliver solemnly released his hands, and then stared at them as if he had achieved something major.
“I won’t leave.” He seemed to have made some determination. “At least I won’t leave until you figure out what’s wrong with you.”
“My goodness.” Ann couldn’t bear it. “Do you want me to help you get a room?”
“Is this a proposal?” The grey parrot said. “My limited knowledge of humans tells me that this is. Are you getting married?”
Nemo coughed heavily. “We’re not—”
His words were interrupted by screams not far away, followed by the sounds of chaotic footsteps that were getting closer. Ann frowned and made a gesture to be silent, then quickly pasted herself against the cold and wet stone wall.
“There’s a place to hide over there!” The voice coming from outside sounded very young. “Hurry up—Hurry up. This way. Keep up!”
“Shit,” Ann scolded very unceremoniously. “Trouble is coming.”
She rushed out, holding her hunting spear. Nemo and Oliver glanced at each other and followed cautiously.
“Disband your team immediately.” As soon as they left the gap, they saw Ann pointing a hunting spear at a young man who was casting his gaze down, looking dumbfounded. “Or stay away from here.”
“I can’t!” exclaimed the young man. “They’re all injured and can’t continue the test alone. If we leave them alone, they will most likely die—”
“Then maybe a few lucky ones will survive.” Ann’s icy tone reappeared, causing Nemo to swallow hard. “You have too many people. If this continues, the Seymour worm will kill everyone.”
“You don’t know that. I have bought information. The monsters they prepare are different every time—”
“Unfortunately, I know,” she whispered. “Dissolve or leave. It’s up to you to choose either one.”
Nemo glanced at the team behind the young man and found that the young mother they had seen before was still alive. The child was still firmly tied to her chest, but she herself looked pale, with blood stains on one sleeve, and she looked a little out of it.
Ann and the young man were still talking when a scorpion-tailed wolf took the opportunity to jump out of the forest and charge at the crowd. The wounded screamed and scattered like frightened sheep and rushed towards their saviors. The young mother reacted slowly and even turned around subconsciously…
Nemo found that the previous agreement he had made with Oliver was useless, because at that moment, they both rushed out together. Advancing against the flow of people was quite difficult as Nemo was bumped into several times by the desperately wounded and was almost knocked to the ground, causing the grey parrot to hurriedly fly away from his shoulder. Oliver didn’t dare to draw his sword in such a densely packed crowd, so the two could only push forward with their physical advantage, eventually catching up, only to find that the words “catching up” weren’t accurate, as they found the scorpion-tailed wolf’s intention wasn’t to attack them but was also running for its life.
“Bastard!” Ann shouted into the crowd, desperately pushing away the people who were rushing up. At this moment, the young man had already been squeezed out and became panicked. “Spread out!”
Yelling at a time like this was never useful. Ann propped her hunting spear on the ground, jumped beautifully into the air, and rushed towards the two idiots that were at the forefront.
The ground rumbled and shook, and the sound of broken tree trunks could be heard. A monster nearly ten meters high poked out of the soil. It was so huge that Nemo and Oliver could only see the front; a large round mouth was embedded in its black slimy skin, surrounded by sharp teeth.
At this moment, the scorpion-tailed wolf and the mother fled together, leaving only the two of them standing stupidly on the front line.
Oliver reacted faster and drew his sword. In the next second, huge icicles exploded from the monster’s mouth. Unfortunately, the thing was too big, and the damage Oliver did only further aggravated it. The monster shook its tail angrily and let out a low roar. Its breath was like a hurricane and the smell almost made Nemo vomit.
“Run away!” Nemo stated unequivocally. “We can’t do this shit—”
However, things didn’t go in the direction that they had hoped. A red thread of light pierced out from the ground, surrounding them and the people that were huddled behind them, creating a cube-shaped cage out of thin air.
“Don’t touch anything!” Ann shouted sharply behind them. “There’s still time—come here!”
The Seymour Worm didn’t care what it ate for lunch. It moved towards the crowd without hesitation. Although today’s pre-meal exercise was unsatisfactory, the meal itself was quite rich.
No one cared about face at this time. Nemo and Oliver turned around and ran away when someone passed by them.
The young man who was arguing with Ann had rushed out of the crowd with a broken iron sword in his hand. He rushed towards the monster clumsily and attacked, only to have the tip of his iron sword slide off the monster’s slimy skin.
“You can’t deal with it!” Ann, who had stopped not far behind, shouted.
“I know,” the young man retorted. “It was my misjudgment that hurt them—and you. The least I can do is something—”
Before he could finish, he disappeared. The monster’s skin seemed to have turned into water, and the young man fell into it, like falling into a lake. In a few seconds, there was minced meat and bone residue left. There was no miracle, no heroic scene, not even a scream. He didn’t even get five seconds.
On the other side, people were still running in all directions. Some of them slammed into those strange red filaments and were directly cut into pieces; some of them collapsed on the ground, staring blankly at the Seymour Worm that was squirming towards them.
Behind was death, and ahead was hell. Without prior warning, everything was happening so fast that nothing made sense. The usual tough and enthusiastic ordinary life was like crumbled biscuits left on a table. With a gentle brush, it disappeared completely.
Twenty-six times. If Ann had experienced such a scene more than twenty times, then witnessing a person’s death wouldn’t faze her any longer. Why does a civilized world allow this kind of thing to happen? Nemo ran frantically, his lungs aching sharply like they had been stabbed with two hot knives, as vague thoughts floated around in his mind.
Was this monster prepared in advance? Why did they do this kind of thing?
The screaming was about to pierce his eardrum.
“Sorry,” Oliver suddenly said, slowing down. “I may have to violate the agreement.”
“Oh? There are still those who want to act like heroes.” Thorne turned up the light screens where the Seymour Worm was located and commented without emotion. “It seems that they are really not Ann Savage’s pets.”
Fenrir didn’t say a word.
“Don’t look like that. I don’t like this scene at all. One had just obviously died, so why not learn a lesson from it…” He couldn’t continue.
The image on the light screen had turned snow-white.
The near ten-meter worm was sealed by thick frost, and the silky cage melted and disappeared. The people around did not stop to wonder what happened but rushed over the corpses on the ground and fled frantically for their lives. Oliver’s new sword shattered into dust without suspense as he propped his hands on the ground, panting with difficulty.
“Let’s go—!” Ann’s voice was a little hoarse. She rushed over to carry Oliver. “We need to seize this opportunity. Hurry up!”
“What are you talking about? Isn’t it already—” Nemo tried to catch his breath. “Didn’t Oliver—”
Behind him came the sound of ice cracking, accompanied by an extremely angry and deafening roar.
The author has something to say:
Oliver, who finished holding Nemo’s hand: I have overcome my instinctive fear! ε-(°ω° ; )
First step: holding hands. Check.