Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Practitioners were light sleepers and always alert, especially in an unfamiliar environment, and especially women. Li Han’er woke up automatically without Yang Shouyi calling.
She rubbed her eyes and looked at her watch, then quietly got up and walked over.
“Go sleep. I’ll stand watch,” she said to Yang Shouyi.
Yang Shouyi nodded and was about to get up when there was some movement coming from the forest behind him. It sounded like something had stepped on a branch on the ground, making a subtle sound, but both Yang Shouyi and Li Han’er keenly caught it.
The two glanced at each other. One went to wake the others up while the other got up and walked a few steps towards where the sound came from.
The direction of the forest was dark and couldn’t be seen clearly. A flashlight flashed, but visibility was limited.
The others were awakened one after another. Everyone moved quickly. They slept with their outfits on, and all held onto their weapons as they slept. At this time, when they crawled out of the sleeping bags, they were all wide awake.
“There was a sound just now, like someone or an animal stepping on a branch. It might be a false alarm, but I think it’s better to wake you guys up,” Yang Shouyi said apologetically.
“Be careful when sailing for a thousand years*. Anything can happen in this place. It’s right to be cautious.” Dong Zhi gave him a thumbs up, got up, and walked forward with his Changshou Sword. “I’ll go over and have a look. You guys wait where you are.”
*(小心駛得萬年船) Proverb referring to one can always be safe if one is careful.
“Let’s go together,” Li Han’er said. Everyone started following without saying much. Dong Zhi felt touched by the sentiment and let them do as they pleased.
Before leaving, William revealed a few important pieces of information.
First, on these islands, there were monsters from Western mythology and legends, such as harpies, female monsters that had eagle claws and wings. There were also the black roosters, Gullinkambi.
Second, William didn’t know much more. The above two were some of the monsters he knew about. There were other unknown dangers waiting for them, so they shouldn’t take things lightly.
Dong Zhi and the others had no idea about the fighting powers and true temperament of these ancient monsters. Myths were just myths after all. They would no longer be accurate after years of refinement and word-of-mouth.
Dong Zhi had personally encountered the Wuzhiqi, a legendary great demon who brought calamities and scourge, and discovered that not only was that inaccurate, but it actually kept its promise better than humans. For thousands of years, its enemies and friends had all died, but it was still guarding that stone tablet. If it hadn’t been corrupted by demonic qi, there would never have been the subsequent killings of those students at Shencheng.
But one thing was certain, these monsters were not to be underestimated.
They may often possess intelligence just as good as humans. The organizing committee thought they could control the competition within a reasonable range, but in fact, they may not. Dong Zhi had a vague premonition that the time spent on this island during the competition might slip into an uncontrollable abyss.
Just as he was thinking, several people slowly stepped forward to where Yang Shouyi heard the movement.
There was nothing, but indeed, there were branches on the ground.
Dong Zhi bent down to pick it up. The branch had been broken in half, but the bark was still stuck together.
“Be careful!” Liu Qingbo’s hand was already outstretched, grabbing Dong Zhi’s arm and pulling him towards him when he blurted out!
At the same time, just where Dong Zhi was standing, a hand popped out of the soil with sharp fingernails. It wanted to grab the back of Dong Zhi’s ankle, but Liu Qingbo interrupted, so it only grabbed air.
The reason Dong Zhi wasn’t paying attention to his feet was because he was distracted by what was at the top.
Yang Shouyi took out his sword and slashed the hand, directly cutting it off, but more hands emerged from the soil around them, trying to grab them.
“There’s something in the trees. Go back to where you were!” Dong Zhi suddenly yelled.
Right as he spoke, a dark shadow swept straight down from the trees, as fast as lightning!
Li Han’er and Zhang Song drew their swords at the same time. It was at this point that Dong Zhi witnessed Li Han’er’s dual cultivation of swordsmanship and talisman, which was indeed well-deserved. Her sword wasn’t slower than anyone else present. The light of two swords flashed, blocking the black shadow for a while, but it came too fast, blowing back Li Han’er and Zhang Song.
The dark shadow was about to pounce on them when two more swords from Dong Zhi and Liu Qingbo arrived!
A shrill sound pierced the sky as Liu Si’s whip lashed at the monster’s back, causing it to roar involuntarily.
Even though the monster was extremely fast and powerful, it wasn’t a match for the siege of five people. It quickly looked around and then escaped into the deep forest with a leap.
Zhong Song subconsciously wanted to pursue, but Dong Zhi quickly pulled him back.
The six hurriedly left the woods and returned to their original resting place.
The campfire was almost burnt out, with only a small flame left that was still strong enough not to be extinguished by the cold wind.
Everyone looked at each other. The situation was too sudden just now. Although it wasn’t close to death, it was still a bit shocking.
“It seems that the message the trees conveyed to me was correct.” Liu Si broke the silence. “It said that the forest is a place of death, and the deeper you go in, the more dangerous it’ll be.”
Li Han’er bent over and picked up some firewood and threw it in the fire, rekindling it and bringing back warmth to everyone again.
Liu Qingbo said, “But it also means that the possibility of the golden apple appearing in the forest is the greatest.”
Yang Shouyi frowned. “Why did those things look like zombies just now?”
Zhong Song curled his lips. “Didn’t you experience the zombie simulation when you were at the Special Administration Bureau? Those things are zombies, but I guess the Americans must have an upgraded version here. The thing that jumped from the trees and attacked us just now is probably the same as last time; the advanced version we encounter with preliminary intelligence.”
Li Han’er said, “At that time, Boss Song originally agreed to let me and Yang Shouyi experience the simulation, but the system seemed to be corrupted that day. They couldn’t fix the virus, so it was delayed.”
The corners of Dong Zhi’s mouth twitched. “How does a high-tech product from China and US cooperation get infected by a virus?! Could it be that the person who operates the system is watching porn every day with it!”
Yang Shouyi was helpless. “So what are we going to do now?”
Dong Zhi pondered for a bit, then said, “Now that we’re on the island, we have to go to the forest, but it’s too dangerous at night. We’ll set off again during the day. Before it gets dark tomorrow evening, whether we find anything or not, we must leave the forest. I found that there seemed to be a line between here and the forest. As long as we don’t cross the line, it’s safe.”
This opinion was the safest. Although Zhang Song felt the leader of the group was being too cautious, this was for everyone’s safety, so others naturally didn’t object.
Liu Si smiled. “Aren’t the Japanese also on the same island as us? Perhaps they’re struggling now!”
Liu Qingbo: “Let me just say, the Americans love zombies so much that they would definitely free up an entire island for them. Fuck, my prophecy has come true!”
Dong Zhi: “Thank you. Now predict that things will go well for us next!”
Liu Qingbo scratched his face. “I think it’ll be difficult. Perhaps we’ll meet a terrifying zombie… Mmph!”
Dong Zhi and Liu Si, who were sitting on either side of him, quickly reached out and covered Liu Qingbo’s crow of a mouth at lightning speed.
Even with Liu Qingbo’s quick reaction, he couldn’t avoid the two hands, so he could only brush their hands fiercely away afterwards and roll his eyes.
Li Han’er couldn’t help laughing out loud.
With Dong Zhi and Liu Qingbo, it seemed that no matter how big the problem was, it wouldn’t be frustrating.
In the second half of the night, everyone was able to spend it peacefully. In order to ensure everything was safe, Li Han’er also set up a simple talisman array around the area where they were resting. As soon as something approached, it would react immediately.
Due to the fog, day on the island came much later, and night came much earlier, which made the daytime short. As soon as dawn arrived, everyone packed up and started to enter the forest.
Dong Zhi said, “I remember that when I participated in the zombie simulation, those zombies all had grades. The most common ones should be the ones that emerged from the ground last night. The second level is the one that ambushed us in the trees. Its mobility is quite fast, and it has low-level wisdom. There is also one, which Li Ying and the others encountered. They have higher intelligence and can pretend to be ‘invisible’ like a chameleon. I suspect that the Americans have also studied the third kind of zombie heavily, so we must be extra careful. After entering the forest, try not to get separated.”
Li Han’er thought for a while and took out a few bells from her backpack and distributed them to everyone; one for each person.
“This kind of bell can sense an enemy attack. It will ring the moment the enemy attacks you, but the time is very short, but at least it’s better than nothing.”
Even if it was only a second or half a second, it could ensure they were quickly prepared and reduce casualties.
Everyone put the bells on them and entered deeper into the forest.
Every once in a while, Liu Si would try to communicate with the trees, but according to him, this forest was covered by the aura of death, and the roots of the trees had gradually decayed. These trees couldn’t provide any useful information. They could only tell Liu Si that the Americans were likely using this island as an experimental base for cultivating zombies. Later, it was found that the situation had gotten out of control, so they decisively abandoned it, leaving all the creatures here infected with corpse poison.
When Liu Qingbo heard this, he scolded. “I knew the Americans were worse than us. They threw all their shit here and now we have to clean it up!”
Dong Zhi smiled. “Maybe the situation on William’s side is worse. At least we haven’t encountered a harpy. Our leaders didn’t send us to die. If they did, there wouldn’t be another such exchange conference in the future. Boss Wu and Boss Long wouldn’t sit idly by!”
Liu Qingbo rolled his eyes and was about to say when the entire group was wiped out, the day lily would already be cold, so what was the point of revenge? After thinking about it, he felt this would destroy his prestige, so he switched topics. “By the way, Boss Long and the others, are they on another mission?”
Dong Zhi thought about it. They were on an island in the Atlantic Ocean that was 180,000 miles away. Whether they knew it or not, there was no possibility of secrets being leaked out. When they returned, Long Shen and the others should have already completed their mission, so he nodded. “Yes.”
Zhang Song suddenly asked, “Boss Wu and Boss Long went to Japan?”
Dong Zhi was shocked. “How did you know?”
Zhong Song: “Before we left, only Boss Song showed up and spoke to us. In normal times, a person who loves to perform so much, like Boss Wu, will definitely not let a chance like that go. This time it’s so abnormal that they must be on a mission.”
Dong Zhi: …That makes sense. But it still left him speechless.
Everyone couldn’t help but look at the “loves to show off” Boss Wu’s nephew.
Yang Shouyi said, “Continue. I didn’t hear anything.”
Zhang Song said, “We have been looking for the stone tablets for a long time now, but there have been no clues. Everyone is saying, rather than catch a thief, just catch the king. The leaders must have thought this too. Only by finding that motherfucker Otowa Yasuhiko can everything be settled.”
Dong Zhi gave a thumbs up. “A modern day Di Renjie*!”
*A Chinese politician of the Tang and Wu Zhou dynasties, serving as chancellor twice during Wu Zetian’ reign. He was one of the most celebrated officials during Wu Zetian’s reign. Supposedly, he’s an amazing detective and is featured as a great detective in many works of fiction, which is what Dong Zhi is referencing Zhang Song as (due to his inferences).
Liu Qingbo laughed.
Although everyone was chatting, they had been highly focused and didn’t relax for even a second.
At this moment, Liu Si’s, who was walking at the end, bell suddenly rang!
Immediately after, Dong Zhi’s, who was at the front, bell rang as well!
The enemies were attacking them in both directions!
This thought rose in Dong Zhi’s mind. In the next second, there was a noise in the air that was so subtle that if you didn’t listen carefully, you would miss it—a figure suddenly jumped out of the tree closest to Dong Zhi. Its body was like the bark of a tree and had no aura at all, so Dong Zhi passed by it unaware!
Dong Zhi quickly realized that this should be the kind of zombie that Li Ying had encountered. It was extremely intelligent and would pretend to be “invisible”. Dong Zhi didn’t expect to run into it so soon.
The opponent was extremely fast, but Dong Zhi already had his sword in hand. He drew it the moment he heard the movements. The sword pierced into the zombie’s flesh and left a gaping hole in its chest. However, the monster didn’t retreat and kept swiping its claws at Dong Zhi. The pressure of its body quickly pressed against him, forcing Dong Zhi to repeatedly back up.
At the same time, Liu Qingbo’s sword swept heavily across. With the power of the Fumo Sword, the monster’s head was directly chopped off from behind.
However, this wasn’t the end. Liu Si also encountered a high-level zombie on his side. Li Han’er was working with him to deal with it. The others had no time to rescue them as countless ghostly hands suddenly stretched out from the ground and grabbed them. The fingertips were sharp, and each claw could penetrate through their clothes, straight into the skin. On closer inspection, the nails were purplish black, indicating typical corpse poison. Once the skin was cut, it was possible to be infected and gradually become a zombie.
During the last training period, Dong Zhi had lost several teammates in the simulation environment, but that was only a simulation. Now these zombies really existed, but compared to that time, they were much stronger, so naturally it wouldn’t be easy to deal with them.
At this time, the six people spontaneously occupied a position not far from each other, so as to facilitate rescuing and being rescued at any time.
The high-level monster that attacked Liu Si was extremely difficult to deal with. It had wisdom similar to that of humans. Seeing that Liu Si and the others were prepared and strong, it quickly made a decision to retreat and disappeared within a second. With the concealment of its aura and the vast forest around them, even Liu Si couldn’t sense its existence.
Others were cleaning up the ghostly hands that came up from the ground. Zhang Song’s fire talisman had an extraordinary effect at this time. When the talisman landed, fire ignited. Those ghostly hands struggled and wailed in the fire and were quickly burned to a char.
Liu Qingbo said casually, “It’s better to set fire to this forest and let it burn quickly to destroy all those damn zombies!”
The corners of Zhang Song’s mouth twitched. “Do you want to tire laozi to death? How much talisman fire do you think it will take?!”
Dong Zhi smiled bitterly. “Brother, don’t be ridiculous. This forest won’t burn down even if we burn it for three days and nights!”
Since they still had time to chat, it could be seen that although these zombies were annoying, they didn’t pose much of a threat. This was also due to the fact that there were no weak teammates among them. Zhang Song’s talisman fire happened to be the nemesis of the zombies. If this team switched to another, things might not end up going as smoothly.
Zhang Song fired a few talismans and burned at least a hundred ghostly hands. The ghostly hands seemed to know what fear was and finally stopped appearing. Even those high-level zombies that could turn invisible didn’t come back out.
Even so, Dong Zhi still reminded everyone to be vigilant because no one knew if there were zombies watching them in secret. The bell given by Li Han’er wouldn’t ring as long as the enemy wasn’t close.
Because some of these zombies possessed intelligence, they became tricky to deal with. They had enough patience to lurk and wait in the dark until the humans relaxed their vigilance. That was the moment when they would succeed. They were destined to outlast the will and endurance of ordinary people, which would naturally grow tired over time. The invisible zombie just now was quite strong. The sword Dong Zhi pierced into it didn’t hurt its key points, and since zombies felt no pain, it kept attacking him. In just a brief moment, their explosive power was barely manageable for someone like Dong Zhi, let alone an ordinary person.
Calm returned to the surroundings. Li Han’er found that there wasn’t even the sound of birds in the forest, as if everything had lost its vitality. It wasn’t so much calm but more so like dead silence.
She was about to express her feelings when she realized her companions had already noticed. Liu Si said, “When those trees couldn’t provide me with information, I felt that besides us and the Japanese, there were no other living things.”
Perhaps there used to be, but they were all wiped out by the zombies. The Americans had fenced off the forest, so the zombies couldn’t leave, which meant that if other living things entered the forest and were infected by corpse poison, they too wouldn’t be able to leave.
The inside of the forest and the outside were like two worlds.
Not long after everyone walked forward, they heard a woman’s panicked voice.
Li Han’er said, “It seems that the Japanese are shouting for help!”
Liu Qingbo said slowly, “Move slowly. Let them fend for themselves. It’s best to wait for them to die before we pass.”
Because of Otowa Yasuhiko’s affair, everyone had no affection for the Japanese. Although the others didn’t speak, they all had the same thoughts. After pondering for a while, Dong Zhi decided to go and have a look. He blocked the other people’s opinions with one sentence.
“What if they have the golden apple?”
The call wasn’t far from them. Everyone hurried over, and after a few minutes, they saw a young woman trapped between two second-level zombies. She was holding a long stick with a rope wrapped around it and struggling to fight them.
The second-level zombies were agile. Although they weren’t “invisible”, they moved quickly and had strong attack power. It was difficult for her to defend herself against the two zombies, but the zombies also seemed to be afraid of the long stick in her hands and dared not come closer. When the woman’s physical strength was exhausted, that would be when she became their prey.
Her skills were actually quite good, but ultimately, she was outnumbered. One of the zombies rushed up, was smacked in the head, and was instantly decapitated. Unfortunately, the other zombie took the opportunity and jumped from behind her. When the woman heard the movement, she hadn’t had time to recover from her attack and felt despair as she thought she couldn’t escape this onslaught.
In fact, she had already caught a glimpse of Dong Zhi and the others not far away, but she didn’t think the Chinese would be willing to save her. Perhaps they were just waiting for her to be killed by the zombies before they took action to resolve the zombies themselves. Thinking of this, Yoshida Noriko didn’t ask for help. She closed her eyes and waited for death to come.
But it didn’t arrive as scheduled, and her neck wasn’t bitten off by the zombie.
A talisman fire swept from the other direction and landed directly on the head of the zombie, who was pouncing on her. Together with its upper body, the zombie instantly caught fire. The monster fell heavily to the ground as Yoshida Noriko opened her eyes and watched it burn as it crawled towards her. As she yanked her stick over, she couldn’t help but take a few steps back. The burning zombie was instantly smacked away, while the other zombie’s head that was decapitated was pulled away by Liu Si’s whip.
The feeling of escaping death made Yoshida Noriko’s face blank for a moment before her palpitations quickly calmed down.
“Thank you very much. My name is Noriko Yoshida.” She bowed to Dong Zhi and them as she spoke in rigid Chinese to thank them.
Zhang Song curled his lips. If it weren’t for Dong Zhi’s request just now, he would never have done it.
“You’re welcome,” Dong Zhi said.
Of course, he didn’t have much affection for the Japanese, but between humans and zombies, only humans could be allies. If those zombies killed Yoshida, they would be next. For zombies, the killing would never stop unless there were no more living things in the world. Their arrival undoubtedly smelled delicious to the long-hungry zombies on this island.
“Where are your companions?”
Yoshida’s face changed and hurriedly said, “We got separated. I still have a companion who was overtaken by zombies not far ahead. Can you come with me to save him?”
Liu Qingbo sneered. “If your companion was overtaken by zombies, why are you here, leaving him to fend for his life alone?”
Yoshida hurriedly explained, “No, we were running for our lives and got separated accidentally. There were two other people, but we had a disagreement, and I left with another person…”
She was being vague, which only made Dong Zhi more wary of her, so he didn’t agree to her request to save her companion and instead said, “We have to move on. If you want to come with us, you can, but I’m not guaranteeing we’ll save your companion.”
Yoshida was a little disappointed, but she knew that she was incapable of forcing them. Now she was alone. Naturally, it was safer to follow a larger group, so she immediately agreed.
She seemed to sense that the others didn’t like her very much, so she only followed Dong Zhi.
Dong Zhi saw her stick tied to a rope wrapped around her hand and asked, “Are you a miko*?”
*Shrine maiden. A young priestess who basically are like shamans, performing tasks ranging from sacred cleansing to sacred dances.
Yoshida nodded. “Yes, I’m a miko of the Meiji Shrine.”
Dong Zhi gave a wry smile. “Then you should know who Fujikawa Aoi is, right? I heard that he’s a famous priest* and onmyoji among you Japanese practitioners.”
*Shinkan. A government official in Japan, who worked at a shakaku ranked Shinto shrine, and had been appointed an official position. Commonly, shinkan were officially appointed kannushi.
Yoshida whispered, “Since ancient times, priests and onmyoji have been two distinct occupations. Mr. Fujikawa is a master that can practice both, so he is a model in the Japanese practitioner world.”
From these words, Dong Zhi couldn’t tell whether her allegiance was with Fujikawa Aoi or not, so he didn’t inquire further.
“Mr. Dong…” Yoshida wanted to say something, but as soon as she opened her mouth, she was interrupted by a movement not far away.
Before she could react, Liu Qingbo, Zhang Song, and the others had already taken out their swords and collided with the second-level zombies who were rushing towards them. The two sides quickly fought as a group. Just as they were dealing with the zombies, two more third-level zombies were hidden in the dark. Taking advantage of Liu Qingbo and Zhang Song’s distraction, they set their sights on Dong Zhi and sneaked around, attacking unexpectedly from behind.
Their movements were extremely fast, but since Dong Zhi was wearing Li Han’er’s bell, he was already prepared. He turned around and swung his sword. The sword’s energy directly pushed the zombies away, but they were much stronger than ordinary zombies. After half a second, they grabbed his sword with one hand and tried to aim for his head with the other. Dong Zhi bent over to avoid it and was about to slash one of the zombies when the end of Yoshida Noriko’s stick swung over and directly hit its side. This further enraged it, causing it to switch targets and pounce on her.
Li Han’er was facing a second-level zombie. It was fast, but it couldn’t hide itself. Her opponent not only had sharp claws but also fangs that could cut through gold and jade. From time to time, it would open its bloody mouth, spewing saliva everywhere. It looked disgusting, and Li Han’er didn’t want to be splashed by its spit. At the beginning, she was more defensive. The monster thought she had figured out its attack pattern and decided to rush in the direction she habitually didn’t avoid. Unexpectedly, Li Han’er slashed her sword at this moment as Zhang Song’s sword light came from behind. Li Han’er made one cut after another, finishing off the zombie.
“There’s someone there!” Li Han’er gasped.
Zhang Song looked in the direction she pointed out and saw a piece of cloth protruding out from the corner behind a tree, as if someone was leaning against it.
The two walked over and saw that it was one of the Japanese who was with Noriko Yoshida.
Yoshida ran over with a pale face.
The other’s chest had a bowl-sized hole open, revealing dense white bones inside. The flesh appeared to have been ripped off directly by the monster. Judging from the painful and frozen expression on his face, it was conceivable what kind of torture he had experienced before his death.
Zhang Song bent down and found Watanabe’s right hand was clenched into a fist, as if he were holding something. He stretched out his hand to break it, but the other party’s grip was so tight that he couldn’t open it. Zhang Song had to put in some effort before finally pulling out two silver coins from the man’s palm.
The author has something to say:
Boss Long’s part won’t be skipped. There’s also an important battlefield over there~
P.S. In case anyone forgot, the golden apple is the prop to win the competition, and the silver coins are the second prop that determines the ranking. If no one finds the golden apple, whoever has the most silver coins will determine the victor. If the golden apple is found, whoever has it will be in first place.
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