Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 137: Futile Persistence
Oliver felt strange now.
The terrible thirst that rubbed his throat and mouth like a file and hunger had turned into complete paralysis. They were mixed with the fatigue caused by his bondage and blood loss. The moment he opened his eyes, Oliver even thought he was dead.
But he wasn’t.
What followed was instinctive fear and bitterness. The wound left by the sword was faintly painful, like a dozen hot metal needles left in the flesh. He couldn’t laugh it off. Fatigue finally eroded his body and began to spread to his heart, but in contrast, a strange warmth was rushing from his heart to his limbs.
His will was struggling on the verge of death, but his body was slowly awakening. It was like a dilapidated dam had broken open and power gushed out uncontrollably, impacting all his nerves. Funny to say, Oliver had never felt so clearly that he was still “alive”. Although it wasn’t clear why, this wasn’t a bad thing.
The Gatekeepers who strengthened his shackles had already left, but their words didn’t fail to reach Oliver’s ears. Oliver couldn’t tell how he felt about it. Shaken? Sad? Perhaps. He didn’t want to think or talk anymore.
He just sat quietly in the dark corner, maintaining a blank state in his brain and supporting the operation of his body through instinct. If he was still alive, then someone would have taken the opportunity to attack.
Yes, he was still alive.
Oliver originally thought he would feel angry, desperate, or some more intense negative emotions, but now he was as calm as burnt-out ashes. Perhaps when people were weak, their thoughts would become simpler and purer.
‘He was still alive. He could still see Nemo. For this, he must continue to live. He kept his promise,’ Oliver thought in a daze. It was amazing that he had managed to hold on to the present.
Oliver subconsciously wanted to raise his sword, only to find that it wasn’t a murder weapon but a problem.
The man who wielded the meteor hammer was questioned with subtle condemnation and resentment. “Why?” he repeated. “Don’t pretend to be a saint in such a place. It’s disgusting.”
“You expect me to kill you?” Oliver harshly cleared his throat.
“Fuck off. What’s the difference between what you’re doing and stepping on my* face?” the man roared. “You’re not from the test zone, are you? You fucking gave up the opportunity I’ve been dreaming of! Listen, no one will accept your affection. Sooner or later, we’re going to die—”
*He’s referring to himself as [laozi] (老子) which when used like that is an arrogant way of saying this great one/your father. It could also be used out of anger or contempt (which is in this case). Note that during his dialogue with Oliver, when referencing himself, he’s using this term.
“Fifteen people never came back,” Oliver said. “I know.”
“No. You don’t know anything. You don’t know what’s going on in the test zone at all,” the big man roared, “and here—if you can’t stand out, no one can live here for longer than three months!”
“I want to kill you,” Oliver replied quietly, turning a deaf ear to the man’s yelling. “I’m not a saint. I want to kill you with every passing minute.”
The man choked.
“I’m not a saint. Far from it,” Oliver repeated hoarsely. “I just… Don’t agree.”
“The law of the jungle is the iron rule. It’s up to you to recognize it or not. This goddamn world is like this—worthless human lives are worthless.” The big man approached. The iron chain left by the meteor hammer dragged on the floor, making a series of harsh noises. “Even if you pretend to be noble here, nothing can be changed. The Gatekeepers don’t care about your conscience—”
“Noble.” Oliver couldn’t help but laugh. “Noble you say? ……You really think so?”
To be defined as “noble” for killing others for his own benefits just before he had the chance to do so?
“Then throw away that hypocritical panache and pick up your sword! Let me be frank, you make people very uncomfortable 300,000,” the big man hissed. “I know you look down on us bitches, a bunch of scoundrels…”
“Who defined it?”
“The Gatekeepers think you’re ‘worthless’ and you accept it.” The strangely dressed knight stood up, holding his sword sideways with both hands. “Why? I’m just more talented than you at killing people, so I’m a ‘valuable powerhouse’. Who defines it?”
In the peaceful life of Roadside Town, Oliver occasionally had the illusion that “everything was in line with common sense”. The law protects people, and people live peacefully. The trajectory of their lives followed the established route. What a wonderful illusion that was.
But this wasn’t a fair or ideal world, and now Oliver understood it well.
The so-called goodwill would not necessarily be rewarded, and villains would not necessarily be punished. People are sometimes amazingly smart and sometimes terribly stupid. Many times, right and wrong were blurred into a ball, and the persistence of principle seemed meaningless. The world was cold, chaotic, crazy, and unreasonable.
But it was precisely because of knowing this unreasonable madness that occasional miracles became more precious.
It was like not all people who were hurt would be repaid with malice. It was like in a desperate situation where there was no way out, some people would succumb, and some people would continue to persist. Just as some demons would eventually part ways with fragile humans, some… would not.
Leaving aside meaning, putting aside gain and losses, those lives that were stubborn and stupid, who insist on moving forward in pain; they didn’t operate in accordance with the so-called “rules”, “standards”, and “logic”.
This wasn’t a world that could be easily defined by others, and he didn’t want to bow to such fabricated rules.
“I said, I want to kill you, every minute and every second, but I’m making choices every minute and every second,” the knight’s voice slightly trembled. “I’m not a martyr. It’s not because I’m fucking noble or despicable. It’s because I have a reason to insist.”
Of course he would be disappointed and bitter, but the person he fell in love with was extremely gentle—Oliver hoped that the other person could continue to live like this, without scruples, and he wanted to be qualified to be the other person’s chain and armor, so he would not be lost to hostility.
And a self that would bow to desire and liberation couldn’t do this.
“…It’s just that you chose to do it, and I chose not to, and then we each bear the consequences.”
This was true every second.
“We’re the same,” Oliver said. His throat hurt like he had just swallowed a glass shard. “Fuck this value. My name is Oliver Ramon, not ‘300,000’… You also have a name, right?”
But his enemy did not answer. The big man returned to the shadows, spit on the ground, and didn’t speak again. For a while, there was only numb and soothing breathing in the room again. People continued to peep from the shadows, just like the day that the weird knight had just arrived.
No one approached, no one made a sound; people just looked at him coldly.
But no one attacked.
Oliver almost managed to sleep, and when he opened his eyes again, it was a new cycle for the day. Oliver routinely kissed the scar on his wrist that had begun to heal. He could feel his strength surging under the restraint, stretching the shackles and collars of his limbs.
A thread of hope, like spider silk, hung in his hand.
Things seemed to be moving in a good direction. Oliver guessed that the anxiety and thirst had reached the limit of death, but he was able to keep a trace of sanity. He even started to try to break the shackles on his body. The composition of the new collar was very complicated, but under the continuous test of his great power, Oliver gradually began to get clues. For some reason, his power had increased several folds. Right now, he only needed time. Another week or two, at most a month, and he could definitely handle it.
The night had become less difficult. After the conversation of that day, Oliver’s cellmates no longer attacked him and preferred to treat him like air.
His persistence seemed to have paid off.
Until three days later, Randy stood in front of him.
It should have been a normal and crazy day as usual. It was just after the fight was over. The blood-soaked soil of the arena rose into the air and enveloped Oliver. When he saw the light again, the field was still wide, but there was only one person on the opposite side.
The eyes of the assassin on the other side were complicated. He clenched his heavy shield tightly. His lips pursed, and silence floated in the air for a long time.
“Only one person can come out alive,” the tall assassin finally spoke, then sighed. “I’m sorry, Ramon—It was nice to meet you. May we have a good fight.”
After that, Randy took a few deep breaths and lowered his center of gravity. He looked like a beast that was about to attack. The murderous aura was like a quietly blooming flower, which spread out with icy precision.
‘He’s serious,’ Oliver thought blankly.
“We can cooperate,” Oliver said quickly. His voice was completely hoarse. He was still out of shape—There was no notice, no preparation. Oliver almost forgot to draw his sword. “It’s not just either life or death. Randy, I’ve been trying to break through…”
The heavy shield pierced his ear and almost shattered the skeleton helmet on his head.
“Do you know where we are standing?” Randy’s tone was still cold. He retracted his heavy shield and jumped close again like a lion. “Below is the flesh-and-blood furnace. They have a crush on you, Ramon. We can’t escape.”
The assassin had never stopped killing in the arena. His recovery had never been interrupted. Although magic was blocked, Randy still looked energetic and in excellent condition, with sharp killing intent in every movement. His actions were fast and flexible, which meant Mora wasn’t by his side.
…That meant his opponent had nothing to worry about, which wasn’t good news for him.
“There will always be a way!” Oliver shouted hard, not knowing whether to convince his opponent or himself, or was just trying to stay sane. He wasn’t in good condition to fight physically. What Adrian Cross had taught him was a sword style to capture the enemy, not a killing move that could take someone out in a single blow. “Even if it’s the flesh-and-blood furnace…”
Honestly, Oliver didn’t know what the flesh-and-blood furnace meant. He was completely confused about the current situation, and the only person who knew something was busy killing him.
“They didn’t tell you what the flesh-and-blood furnace is, did they? Of course.” Randy’s attack speed was getting faster. The heavy shield edge rubbed against Oliver’s chest. The latter held on to his standing position with difficulty, and was repelled a few steps, almost spitting out a mouthful of blood. “It’s like they won’t tell you that the time limit for the cell you were sent to has arrived.”
“Time limit?” Oliver just stood upright for a few seconds. His sword-swinging movement stagnated for a moment, and he was almost hit squarely by the shield.
“Exactly what I mean,” Randy tugged at the corners of his mouth, as if intending to use the information as a means of attack. “The flesh-and-blood furnace needs to be maintained by flesh and blood. Why do you think they chose such a cell for you? Haven’t you been attacked a lot at night, Ramon?”
“They’re all dying. They are the ones meant to die. They were originally your opportunity, and you were also their opportunity,” the assassin announced cruelly. “Now they are waiting for you down there.”
“Yes, waiting for you. I’ll never fall.” Randy’s voice sounded a bit bitter and self-depreciating. “How lucky I am that my opponent is an upright person.”
Oliver raised his sword and took a deep breath. His hands trembled a little. “Fall?”
“A boring experiment by the Gatekeepers. Only one piece of information is certain. All the people who fell before were torn apart and swallowed alive. I told you a long time ago that it was much easier to kill someone at random.” Randy stared at the sword warily. “To tell you the truth, I admire you very much, Ramon, but now we’re destined to have one person fall, whether it’s a corpse or in a half-dead state.”
“My lover is waiting for me. I can’t die,” the assassin murmured. A trace of soft emotion flashed across his stiff face.
“Unfortunately, so is mine.” Oliver licked his lips. His gaze was still floating around the arena, trying to find flaws, but he found nothing. He didn’t dare destroy the collar at this time—Randy’s killing intent hadn’t faltered. If he couldn’t break it and was attacked by the collar, he would be killed by the assassin in the next second.
‘His persistence may be meaningless,’ Oliver thought. He still had the confidence to keep his life before, but now…
The armor on his chest was smashed and deflated. He should have broken a few ribs. Oliver tried his best to turn his heavy head, trying to judge the injury based on the pain. Randy was different from his previous opponents. If his condition was normal, it would be fine, but as it stood now, he couldn’t end it in a draw.
It was either kill or be killed. There were no other options at this moment.
In any case, he seemed to be unable to fulfill his original promise to Adrian Cross. Either live and admit that you’re a coward who would abandon your bottom line for selfish desires, or die and follow the unfinished agreement.
But he was so close to freedom. As long as he persisted in thoroughly understanding the structure of the collar, he could break the shackles and escape. He only needed a little more time. He clearly overcame the pain of dying…
It was time to choose again, second after second, again and again, and this time, he finally lost the confidence to successfully resist. Oliver glanced at the engraving on his left wrist. His eyes became a little sour. He took a step, almost instinctively, and for the first time, he put on an offensive posture.
He was stronger than Randy. Oliver knew this.
He could win. He could, but…
“That’s it,” Randy said. His sharp eyes were moving with the tip of the sword. “Like men, let’s fight in a dignified manner.”
The author has something to say:
Countdown to reunion: 3–! ╰(:з╰∠)_
The writing, especially in this chapter, is beautiful!
Don’t do it Ollie! You must maintain your innocence!