Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 139: Hero of the Moment
Oliver thought that what was waiting for him would be the severe pain of burning or his limbs being torn apart, but unexpectedly, no form of pain appeared. He felt as if he was swallowed into the abdominal cavity of a giant behemoth, and a hot and humid smell instantly enveloped him.
The moment Oliver realized that he was falling, his hard armor hit something slippery. His feet touched the ground one step first, and he almost instinctively made a buffering roll to prevent his bones from breaking on impact.
The heavy armor was undoubtedly a burden at the moment, as it took Oliver a lot of effort to stand up from the soft “ground”. He was extremely vigilant against abnormal stability. His brain seemed to have solidified in an abnormal high fever and thinking became a particularly hard thing to do. He didn’t dare open his mouth and take a big breath for fear that the thick air would make him vomit.
He was still alive, but this time Oliver wasn’t happy about it.
Endless exhaustion and sadness overwhelmed him. People could muster the courage to take a step at a certain moment to throw themselves off a cliff, but after that short moment, it became particularly difficult to give up again.
He had reached his limit. His will was like deadwood that was moth-eaten and empty. It could collapse at any moment.
A strange touch climbed onto the back of Oliver’s neck, instantly causing the hair on the back of his neck to stand up. He ignored the aching muscles and didn’t hesitate to wave his sword without hesitation. With splashing pus and blood, a sharp fleshy hand shrank back. It was as thin as a child’s arm that was intertwined with several underdeveloped arms.
It only had time to pierce the side of his neck and scrape off a shallow layer of flesh.
A burning pain immediately followed. Oliver hadn’t had time to think about what those things were when an unknown raving noise sounded, and more fleshy hands leaned over from one side. He could only cut them mechanically and try to ignore the small wails from the darkness. As the attacks of the hands became more intense, he subconsciously retreated to a place where the hands were scarcest and almost stepped into thin air.
It was getting hotter, and his already extremely dehydrated body was sweating out what little remained inside of him. Oliver began to feel suffocated, not knowing if it was because of a simple increase in temperature or a loss of air. He felt like he was going to be roasted to death.
But for some reason, the temperature suddenly dropped a little at a certain moment, and the air became more refreshing. The cool air was like the key to heaven, blowing from a certain direction then quickly dissipating.
After draining his strength and launching another wave of attacks, Oliver bought himself time to look at his environment. He stepped back warily and leaned in the direction of where the light had just blown out.
In the faint light, he finally saw the space where he was. Perhaps this is what Randy called the “flesh-and-blood furnace”. The top of the semicircle was hidden in darkness, and he was stepping on the slightly trembling fleshy platform full of holes.
It looked like a fleshy plate with countless holes poked through, or an organ with lesions and hyperplasia. Dense fleshy hands protruded from the bottomless holes, constantly attacking all living things. Outside the slightly raised edge was a blankness from which came bone-chilling sounds of chewing and a whispering of the void.
A little further away seemed to be the wall of the furnace. It was so far apart that Oliver could only discern a little twisting pattern in the dark. Then his attention was attracted by a light source…
The phosphorescent sarcomas slid around the filaments covering the furnace, like dew moving along spider silk. Each sarcoma illuminated a face of horror and despair.
These things were locating them.
Yes, he wasn’t the only one here. Oliver recalled what Randy said; “Waiting for you below” probably referred to the body, but the situation was much worse—the people who had been in the same cell with him were still alive.
No, it should be said that most of them were still alive…
The people around him were entangled with the fleshy hands. Oliver subconsciously wanted to split the weird flesh and blood that were ill-intentioned, but his legs sank like lead. Before he could lift his feet, the fleshy hands suddenly stretched out, pulling the person away and pressing him towards the furnace wall.
He failed to save himself, and this time he didn’t have time to save others.
The continuously rising temperature dropped again, and the sarcoma that had illuminated the person suddenly went out. He didn’t know if it was his hallucination, but the wall of the furnace seemed to be closing in.
The people subconsciously gathered in one direction.
Oliver was close enough now that he could see the thing clearly. In the middle of the fleshy ring full of blood vessels and mucus, there was a narrow table the size of two books side by side. The material looked hard and glittered, and the relieving coolness and fresh air were blowing from there, but it quickly dissipated.
Oliver’s heart went cold. He probably guessed the Gatekeeper’s plans. If he wasn’t wrong…
“Even though you are the lowest-level ant, you still have a chance.”
A distant voice floated from nowhere.
“Only one person can survive. Those who can survive can go directly to the mobile barracks. We still cherish talents, so don’t believe in the so-called no one survives.”
Oliver thought numbly. Something was wrong with this situation. If it was just to maintain the furnace with the lives of losers, they didn’t need to arrange for him to fight with Randy, let alone wait for him to fall before starting all this. After all, Randy wasn’t as stubborn as he was, and he wouldn’t hesitate to kill people. No matter how he saw it, the utilization value was higher than him.
In the situation just now, he was likely to kill Randy on the spot, but when he was about to make his move, the Gatekeepers didn’t have any special reaction, but it didn’t seem like he was given special treatment. Randy’s first few attacks were intended to kill him, yet the Gatekeepers still didn’t respond.
Instead, when he conceded defeat and Randy had another chance to kill him, the Gatekeepers threw him into the furnace.
It was like… They were sure he would win and were waiting for him to admit defeat.
Why did they want to do this? Oliver thought with difficulty. This wasn’t the treatment of the so-called “waste”. Now the situation was more like a stage that was set up in advance, more sinister and crueler.
But his mind began to become more sluggish.
Is this what they want? Oliver looked at the sword in his hand. He was tired, very tired. He just wanted to rest. He didn’t want to think anymore, didn’t want to persist anymore.
But on the other side, the Gatekeepers were encouraging people to devour each other in despair. They recognized those that fought each other for the only peace left until only one remained.
If this was what the Gatekeepers wanted, then they were about to succeed. He did feel wronged, confused, and desperate. Everything in front of him was irritating. If the environment continued to deteriorate, if those people attacked him again, he would probably truly lift his sword, fight a bloody path by instinct, and then wait for his death in a relatively comfortable environment.
But he couldn’t figure out what the other party wanted from him.
The temperature was getting higher, and the air seemed to be boiling. The heavy armor seemed to become an instrument of torture. Almost all the water in Oliver’s body had evaporated. The young knight twisted the corners of his mouth but didn’t succeed in laughing. He didn’t know if the Gatekeepers were watching all this, whether they were hoping he would break everything, that he would kill people—or do something else.
Then maybe he could really give up, in the quietest way possible, just like his father, choosing to end it himself before the worst came.
Choose a dignified death as the last resistance.
The fleshy hands stretched out to touch Oliver’s neck again, but this time he didn’t avoid it. Oliver let go of all of his strength and tried to break the collar—but not surprisingly, the pain caused by the collar made him kneel on one knee.
As he thought, there was no miracle.
This was indeed the last, awkward, painful, silent death. His vision gradually blurred and Oliver simply closed his eyes.
He still had a lot of things he wanted to do and say, but at least he still had time to leave his last message, which made the upcoming death not so difficult.
Since people’s deaths could bring a moment of stability, why was the temperature of the air still rising?
The pain from the fleshy hand did not come.
Oliver laboriously opened his eyes and tried to look around. In his sight, which was blurred because of weakness, those bright lights were still flashing. His cellmates were watching him quietly from the darkness. Just like the first day, they continue to observe patiently, like insects hiding in dark cracks.
No one moved. No one rushed to the only oasis. No one killed each other.
“Yuri Killian,” a voice said. It was extremely close and unexpectedly familiar.
The burly man who used a meteor hammer threw a broken hand on the ground and spat with difficulty in the increasing hot air. “I still hate you, kid. I still can’t figure out why you don’t do it… But it doesn’t matter.”
“It’s gotten to the point where it’s pointless,” he said, “but I do have a name. Yuri Killian.”
“I have to be more like a man than you, kid.” He raised his head and slit his throat. “Fuck you Gatekeepers. You want me to be obedient to the end? Fucking dream on!”
He let out a sharp and piercing grin. “My name’s Yuri Killian! I like big-ass women in Willard’s Tavern—”
The burly man kicked Oliver in the knee. Oliver, who was about to be dragged off the platform by the hands, staggered and fell forward. The opponent’s kick was so hard that it almost exhausted his last physical strength. Oliver held the slippery flesh with both hands and almost fainted. The burly man walked carelessly to the edge of the flesh platform…
Then jumped down.
After a few seconds, the sarcoma that followed him went out.
“Samantha Gru.” After a long silence, a trembling female voice sounded from the darkness. “I’m just a refugee. I… I have nothing. I’m afraid. I don’t want to be killed by you, but I also… I don’t want to kill. I don’t like to kill. I don’t like…”
She shook her head as she bit into her lower lip. The neurotic woman glanced at Oliver.
“I don’t like it!” She screamed and then jumped down.
“Nicole Naylor. Garland national, prisoner of war. I’m sure I won’t live to the end… But I want to go home. I really want to.”
“Hackett Dalton. They said that only the dead and murderous walk out of here, so you’d better fucking get out of here, Ramon… Your name’s Ramon, right?” The man screamed. “Show them!”
People took the first step by throwing themselves into the darkness. Oliver wanted to stand up and say something, but his eyes were rapidly weakening, and he could only see the dim light of the fire.
The lights were decreasing, one after another.
He wanted to shout something, but he couldn’t make a sound. Do something, he thought. He couldn’t accept it. At least stand up first… At least…
“Philip Sportt, fuck this world.”
“Lilin… Only Lilin. I like the color blue.”
In the end, there were only two bright lights left.
Oliver stabbed his sword into his right ankle, hoping the pain would keep him awake. This can’t be, he thought vaguely. He had decided to escape, but he was nailed into a bitter reality.
He can’t stand it.
A pair of feet appeared in front of him. Oliver tried to raise his head to see the other’s face.
“I don’t want to die,” the man said tremblingly. “I’m afraid. I don’t want to die!”
“…But you know? Just—just for a short while, you and I are completely equal.”
Oliver swallowed the air as the low figure approached him abruptly. It was just that what came out was not an attack but a trembling hug.
“Micah Draper,” the mole-like man said. His voice was getting weaker. “I’m sure I’ll regret it. How stupid. How could I die for just a bottle of perfume? But…”
“Thank you for… Trying to save me.”
There was only one bright light left.
Oliver knelt blankly on the empty platform. He wanted to die. He was so weak that he would die at any moment. The blur in front of him fluctuated a little, and it seemed that there was liquid flowing along the skin.
[Son, as long as you live, the voices around you will not stop. What’s right and what’s wrong. What’s good and what’s evil. What’s meaningful and what’s not…]
[…Who has the value of existence, and who doesn’t. But you have to think, is that really the case?]
That’s right. He could still cry.
[When I think of a hero, it’s not necessarily because of what they did, but sometimes because of what they chose not to do. It’s not necessarily because they chose the kindness and rules we all know, but sometimes because they didn’t stop thinking and questioning the “rules”.]
[Because it’s really easy to stop thinking and choose to obey. But Ollie, I hope… You can take a good look at the world with your own eyes.]
Oliver inserted the sword into the flesh, dragged his body, and struggled towards the middle of the empty platform. He could recover some strength there. Although all this may be a lie, a joke, he could still live for a second longer.
Those who were defined as despicable and worthless, those evils that were deemed impossible to change; they finally chose to resist at the last moment. Perhaps not out of kindness, but at least in that short moment…
Perhaps there is no such definition as a “good person” and a “wicked person”. People were just choosing. He ignored this—everyone was constantly choosing—choosing to pay or plunder, and the price they brought.
It wasn’t the “roles” of good and evil that were defined in advance, but the “states” that are intertwined by choices. In that silence, there was no need to make a choice… They were just “people”.
Chaotic, selfish, and free.
He didn’t save anyone in the end. He was the one who was rescued by these heroes.
Up to now, he seemed to be ineligible to die easily.
…It went well. The manager of the test zone thought so.
Everything went well, beyond their imagination. The life reaction was constantly dying out, and in the end, there was only one left. Under the continuous cruel impact, that weak life response didn’t disappear.
It must be Ramon. He finally made his move. This development was so perfect that the manager of the test zone trembled. Now his spirit should be fragmented. After the impact, the negative array needed to be adjusted to the highest value…
“Success!” There was a scream of disbelief. “God, the power impact is complete! …Ramon isn’t dead!”
“The power of the magic array was adjusted to the maximum. The emotional readings were being monitored in real time.” The manager wearing glasses waved his hand and a light joy lifted him up. He seemed to be drunk as the air was filled with an amazing sense of happiness. “Now we can bet. Guess, Tela, what form will the creation take? A huge piece of meat, or—”
“You’re so optimistic,” the middle-aged man said in a salty voice. “Take a good look at the emotional readings.”
The manager glanced casually, then took off his glasses in disbelief, wiped them, and put them on again. He instantly woke up from his slight drunken happiness and fell into an ice cave.
“Why is his consciousness still there?!”
In an instant, cold sweat permeated his clothes because in the next second, the researcher himself came to a conclusion…
If there was no negative emotion that could be expanded, then he naturally couldn’t be destroyed.
There was no anger, no fear, no despair, no hatred.
There was only one emotion, and its reading exceeded the upper limit of the counter. It was a rare emotion that they hardly paid attention to…
“Destroy the flesh-and-blood furnace,” the manager ordered as he trembled. “I will start the bone jade bomb right now and completely destroy the furnace! Drive the defense to the maximum!”
They couldn’t control him. No—They weren’t sure if that thing that survived still had any normal sanity. Protective measures have been taken in advance. The power of the bone jade bomb was enough to blow up most of the Withered Castle.
They may not survive, but that wasn’t the point.
He gritted his teeth and quickly confirmed the complex activation spell. When he completed the last rune, he even had a moment of joy of near despair. That thing had just been born, and it was estimated that it wouldn’t have a grasp on its powers yet. If they wanted to destroy it, it could only be now—
Yes, they had successfully created a creature outside the law. Even if it only existed for a short while, this was undoubtedly a great breakthrough. Using the most insignificant parts of human garbage, they had created a miracle that transcended truth.
The bone jade bomb. It would explode in the next instant, and the dense abyssal magic would devour all living things.
Then as a pioneer, even if he died at this time…
Everything was still quiet.
“What’s the matter? Why didn’t it explode?!”
“No…” The red-robed old man swallowed with difficulty. “It exploded.”
“Could it be Ramon—”
“No.” The middle-aged man buried the pile of books stood up, showing an intriguing smile. The magic pressure over there was too strong for the surveillance bugs to approach, but he would never make a mistake about that feeling. “It’s abyssal magic.”
The bone jade bomb. Its style was extremely eloquent and could even be placed in the study of a noble. This piece of bone jade was especially huge, like a baby’s head. Layers of magic array rotated around it, and countless magic stones were embedded in it.
It did explode. It was just after the explosion spread out about a centimeter wide, it dissipated like a cloud of smoke.
Nemo patted the ashes in his palm and stood quietly in place for a few seconds.
“Thank you both,” Nemo said softly, bowing to the strange man and woman who led the way beside him. His voice was calm, but his body trembled uncontrollably. “Next, please stay away from here. The farther the better.”
“Ramon is still in the furnace. That’s the thing in front of you.” The tall man subconsciously moved away from the black-haired young man. The scars on his face seemed even more hideous. “You really don’t—”
“No. He doesn’t need my help… At least not now.”
The black furnace went straight into the sky. The edge was coiled around the spiral steps, so wide it couldn’t be seen from a glance. Now it was divided into two, and the upper part slid obliquely to one side. Gray mist poured out of the gap and wrapped around the furnace.
In the next instant, it ceased to exist, leaving no trace behind.
These past three chapters were the most painful so far, but the best writing. So fucking good.