Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 17: Bad Reputation
The atmosphere between the two had somewhat eased since the discussion. Since the matter was out in the open, Zhu Yanchen no longer hesitated and changed his shirt in front of Shu Jun.
“Uh…” Shu Jun said, looking uncomfortable.
Thinking that Shu Jun was bothered by his unusual scars, Zhu Yanchen quickly put on his shirt and apologized politely, “Sorry, I’ll be more careful next time.”
“No, no, no,” Shu Jun said, waving his hands. “I’m just… hungry, that’s all.”
Zhu Yanchen and Shu Jun fell silent.
The good mood that had just been brewing seemed to be destroyed by him.
He didn’t know why, but Shu Jun thought Zhu Yanchen looked more delicious than those mutant beasts for some reason. However, the thought of eating a human was too horrifying, and Shu Jun’s rationality had already screamed in refusal. This appetite was still easy to control.
But if Shu Jun had to choose, he preferred to avoid such terrible struggles altogether.
Zhu Yanchen remained calm and put on another coat. “Then let’s solve the problem with the Erosion Swamp quickly.”
Both of them turned their attention back to the Erosion Swamp, which had started playing dead again. Zhu Yanchen thought for a moment and said, “When I count to three, if it still doesn’t agree, crush its brain.”
He spoke with great certainty, and the Erosion Swamp shivered.
“But…” Without a brain, the Erosion Swamp couldn’t spew concentrated water, and the sword Shu Jun had planned to make couldn’t be made.
“I can study its remnants and try artificial concentration,” Zhu Yanchen said, tapping the Erosion Swamp lightly. His white gloves slid over the dark swamp body slowly and dangerously, like a python sliding over fallen leaves. “The process is complicated, but it can be done.”
The Erosion Swamp stopped trembling, and its fear was palpable.
Seeing that the Erosion Swamp was no longer moving, Zhu Yanchen flicked his finger. “Too bad. When we go deeper, you’ll have to kill larger Erosion Swamps. If this thing had a brain, it might absorb more information and produce some interesting changes.”
Zhu Yanchen’s tone was as cold and rational as ever, and he didn’t seem to be joking.
Although Shu Jun also felt a little regretful, he was convinced. “Okay.”
“Okay!” The Erosion Swamp shouted hoarsely, afraid that they wouldn’t hear it. “Okay! Okay!”
“……” Was it because he had too good of an attitude towards this thing that it acted like bullying the weak and fearing the strong? Even if it did fear the strong, shouldn’t it be the alpha Erosion Swamp inside him?
Zhu Yanchen hummed, not surprised by this result. “You can communicate the rest yourself.”
Marshal Zhu probably doesn’t get along well with children. Shu Jun couldn’t help but lament. The process of shaping was boring so as Shu Jun squeezed the Erosion Swamp, he carefully observed Zhu Yanchen who was busy with his head down.
Marshall Zhu accurately remembered his death timer, but instead of facing death, his expression seemed like he was waiting for an ordinary vacation, with no trace of emotion on his face. Shu Jun didn’t know why, but seeing Zhu Yanchen like this made him feel a little uncomfortable.
As soon as he felt uncomfortable, he couldn’t stop talking. “Sir, do you have any plans after this?”
Zhu Yanchen didn’t raise his head. “Take care of the matter in the Village of the Ruined first. We’ll discuss the rest after you’ve made the sword. I’ll give you 24 hours. You can—”
With a dull thud, Shu Jun interrupted him with a smile.
It had been less than an hour since the successful negotiation with the Erosion Swamp. Startled by the sound of a weapon, Zhu Yanchen raised his eyes.
A jet-black sword was inserted at his side. It was entirely black, reflecting dim light, and resembled the one Shu Jun had used before. The only difference was that a grayish-white “gemstone” the size of an egg was embedded in the hilt, surrounded by nerve-like tissues. Zhu Yanchen turned his head slightly to the side where the “gemstone” was, seeing it pouting in dissatisfaction. The gemstone spat out a soft hiss as Zhu Yanchen looked at it.
…A subtle sense of nausea arose.
“Not bad.” Shu Jun pulled out the sword and easily swung it around with the help of the wind.
“No need to adjust it anymore?”
“No need.” Shu Jun happily caressed the sword. “My sword is the thing I’m most familiar with in my life. I know the details even with my eyes closed.”
Is that so? I haven’t seen a sword with a mouth like that before. Zhu Yanchen slowly wiped his face.
“This mouth isn’t my aesthetic taste. It insisted on keeping it.” Seeing Zhu Yanchen’s subtle expression, Shu Jun quickly explained. “With the brain exposed, it’s easier to control. Actually, I think it’s a bit…”
“As long as it works.” Zhu Yanchen interrupted Shu Jun in time and changed the subject. “Does it have a name?”
He remembered that Shu Jun’s original sword was called “Qianjun*,” which was a good name, but unfortunately, it was destroyed by the Erosion Swamp.
*Thousands of miles.
“Well, I was just thinking about it. It’s not suitable to call it the Erosion Swamp Sword.” Shu Jun had begun to use strips of cloth to twist a rope and make a sword belt. “This thing spits out one word at a time, and it’s annoying as hell…”
“How about calling it ‘Monday’?”
Zhu Yanchen: “…” This artistic conception is too far off.
After obtaining the sword, Shu Jun’s face brightened by a lot. “Come on, I’ll take you to test the sword and get something to eat. If we’re fast enough, we can solve the matter in the Village of the Ruined today. You’ve got 24 hours? After the matter is resolved, you have to promise me one thing.”
“You’d better use the extra time to sleep.”
“I can’t. Time—”
“I need time to familiarize myself with the sword, so I definitely won’t sleep. If we both stay awake for a long time, the next shift will be even harder.”
Then, Shu Jun cleared his throat and spoke earnestly. “Don’t worry. I won’t eat you while you’re asleep. If you really don’t trust me, you can handcuff your wrist and lock my other hand at the entrance, so I can’t reach you…”
Seeing this person started to be difficult again, Zhu Yanchen felt a headache coming on and had to give in. “If there is extra time.”
The conclusion of the Village of the Ruined was both simple and difficult. Faced with a group of people who were determined not to stay in the city, Zhu Yanchen originally turned a blind eye and allowed them to fulfill their dying wishes. Who would have thought that they not only failed to live peacefully but also roamed around and even resorted to stealing erosion substance to raise their own Erosion Swamp?
Thus, Zhu Yanchen couldn’t ignore this group of people.
These people had relatives and friends in the city. If they died in confusion and anger, they were bound to become seeds of chaos. The survivors had already endured enough hardship and could not afford any more internal consumption to handle this matter.
Zhu Yanchen originally had his own fixed plan for this situation. It might take longer, but it would definitely be effective. However, Shu Jun was undoubtedly a good leader, and since he was so confident, he probably had a few good ideas in mind.
As long as Shu Jun no longer jumped into the Erosion Swamp, it was fine.
For the first time in so many years, Zhu Yanchen vaguely felt some emotions close to anticipation.
“Put your hand out and put this on,” Zhu Yanchen took out a wristband used for data monitoring.
[Fusion degree: 25%; Resonance skill level: 7; Vital signs stable.]
Meanwhile, inside the city.
A young woman sat at a research table, ignoring the clock that was about to point to one in the morning.
In the huge room, there were quite a few people. The air was filled with the smell of poor-quality tobacco and alcohol. This wasn’t a regular hospital, and no one took cleaning seriously. Blood-stained bandages and gauze were everywhere, adding a fishy smell to the already pungent air.
There were few guests at dawn, and the men were making a lot of noise behind the research table.
“It’s been two days. Zhu Yanchen must have already died.”
“Yes, such a delicate little young master—how long can he survive outside? Even heaven is on Marshal Yi Ning’s side. Marshal Yi, well done. As the saying goes, among the lords and officials*…”
*The full sentence is: Among the lords and officials, how many have real courage? (王侯将相宁有种乎) It’s a famous quote from ancient Chinese philosopher and poet Tao Yuanming. It’s often used to express the idea that not everyone in a position of power or authority has true courage or virtue. || In this context, it’s basically saying Zhu Yanchen only got his Marshal title through strings pulled and not through actual merit.
“Shh, shh. You can’t say that.”
“Why can’t I? Zhu Yanchen is already 28 years old. Apart from being strong in tactics, what else can he do? He’s barely seen, and no one knows what he’s doing… Oh, speaking of which, have you heard? There’s an old man surnamed Dong under Young Master Zhu who helped with all those beautiful tactics. I don’t know where the previous marshal found such a guy. He probably wants to save some face for the Zhu family…”
The woman frowned slightly, and the pliers in her hand fell on the table with a clang. The men briefly paused their conversation and looked at her with a hint of fear.
When they confirmed the woman didn’t look back at them, the men continued to buzz. “The Zhu family is really getting worse and worse. Back then, Zhu Rong single-handedly pulled up the player system… When it came to the previous marshal, he optimized the entire system again. But what about Young Master Zhu? He doesn’t show up, there’s no contribution to the system, and no one knows if he’s the one who came up with the tactics. He doesn’t even look like the previous marshal.”
“Do you think Marshal Yi Ning could be the seed of the previous marshal? Look at his emphasis on further improving the system and focusing on developing the city. Isn’t that the style of the Zhu family? The previous marshal couldn’t possibly have just one woman, and the marshal’s wife is so much younger than him—”
At this point, several men chuckled. But before they could finish laughing, a bloody scalpel flashed, wiping out one of their cigarettes and extinguishing it.
*Sister (姐) When used with a name, it usually refers to addressing a woman who’s older/higher rank than oneself in a familiar or friendly manner (similar to ge, which is the male equivalent).
The woman stood up. She was of average height but looked quite tall due to her slender figure. Her face was delicate, with a touch of impatience in her eyebrows, making her look a bit arrogant.
She tied up her hair and put it into a neat ponytail. “If you’ve got nothing to do, leave now. Don’t talk nonsense around here. If you have a bit of brain, just sweep the floor and remember to keep your mouth shut while doing it.”
Seeing that the owner of the clinic was angry, the men scattered and ran away.
Ai Xiaoxiao sneered and closed the door of the clinic.
The apocalypse had created a knowledge gap. Even though humanity had recuperated for hundreds of years, experts in cutting-edge fields were still in short supply. Medical professionals were highly valued, and aside from a few anomalies, very few individuals would venture out to open their own clinics.
Ai Xiaoxiao was one of those anomalies.
As for why she chose to leave her comfortable government job and start her own business, everyone knew the reason—compared to regular hospital doctors, Ai Xiaoxiao was skilled in handling terminal cases and performing reparative surgeries.
This was a current gap that had little demand.
Medical resources were scarce, and the government wouldn’t administer large amounts of purification medicine to patients on their deathbeds just to alleviate a bit of pain. Skilled surgeons were almost all assigned to the military, and the rest would only perform life-saving operations. It was impossible to have the luxury of performing cosmetic surgery on patients just to make their bodies look better.
No one could do it, no matter how much money was offered. In this regard, the medical organization of the United Government was quite fair.
But Ai Xiaoxiao was unfair. As long as the money was there, she could get anything and everything done.
Since she gathered her own materials for medicine and performed her own surgeries, she was walking a fine line between legality and illegality. Her fees for treating common illnesses weren’t high, so many people with headaches or fevers would go to her, relieving some of the burden on nearby hospitals.
In addition, the Ai Clinic hadn’t had any malignant incidents, and over time, the people above gradually stopped paying attention to her—since there was a gap in the policy, it wasn’t wise to shut down all avenues.
However, Miss Ai had earned quite a bit of money and had become rather willful. When she wanted to close shop, it would close. If a rude customer said something offensive, she wouldn’t treat them. In this regard, she was quite nonchalant.
Now, she had just driven away a group of customers.
Ai Xiaoxiao locked the door and absentmindedly turned the key, walking into the inner room.
The mutant beast had already delivered the chip to her room, and its body was lying on her table. This kind of creature couldn’t survive for long, and after being modified, it became a completely disposable messenger.
After all, there weren’t many messengers these days who could cross erosion zones unnoticed, so their choices were limited.
Ai Xiaoxiao skillfully connected the chip to the computer and grabbed a cup of coffee while chewing on a piece of candy in her mouth. The room was dark, and the jumping data was reflected in her eyes.
“After working hard for more than ten years, risking your life, in the end, no one still believes you.” She clicked her tongue. “How pathetic, Marshal Zhu. What are you trying to do?”
But this data was indeed extremely precious. Zhu Yanchen himself was an excellent researcher, and his explanation of his own condition was quite detailed.
If the previous marshal knew the true condition of his son, he would probably be furious.
Thinking about this, she found it funny again. But before she could laugh out loud, the doorbell of the clinic was frantically ringing.
“Who is it?” She irritably pushed away her chair and secretly decided to drive away this guest.
“It’s me,” an old man’s voice came in. “Dong Lao, Marshal Zhu’s subordinate. I have something to discuss.”
The author has something to say:
The Marshal is a little older than Shu Jun√
Shu Ge, the eater of people, always eaten all the time (?
My guess on why Shu Jun named his sword Monday is probably because he hates school and Monday signifies the start of the week and the start of school and work, which he considers annoying.
You and me both Shu Jun… you and me both.
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