Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 19: City of the Dead
Ever since Zhu Rong perfected the player system, the Zhu family’s status had completely stabilized. After nearly three hundred years of recuperation, there had been, conservatively, at least ten generations of people. By the time of the previous Marshal Zhu, the relationship between several major families had become incredibly complex, and the Zhu family’s influence had reached its peak.
Thanks to his family background, Zhu Yanchen had been exposed to all sorts of shrewd people since he was young.
Although Shu Jun was intelligent, he wasn’t particularly slick. Zhu Yanchen saw that the other party was busy trying to change the topic and knew that Shu Jun didn’t want to go into detail. Considering their respective positions, Zhu Yanchen was able to guess the content of the “ordinary threat” that Shu Jun had mentioned.
There was no need to delve into it further at the moment.
“Let’s go east.” Zhu Yanchen allowed the topic to be led astray. “Do you know about X City?”
Shu Jun thought for a moment. “The one that was destroyed 200 years ago, right?”
“Mm. There is a border settlement to the southeast. We’ll go there to replenish some supplies, then head to X City.”
Zhu Yanchen was feeling a bit tired. Since his body had reached its limits, he had become increasingly fatigued. Shu Jun was right; perhaps he really did need more rest.
“Let’s go back to the cave first,” he said. “I’ll take a nap, and you can practice your swordsmanship…”
Shu Jun didn’t hide his frown. “Your voice sounds weak, and you don’t look comfortable.”
“I’m just a bit tired.”
“What cave? I’ll fly you over there. Missing sword practice for half a day won’t kill me.”
Shu Jun circled around Zhu Yanchen, and since he knew that this person only had two months left to live, he didn’t have the heart to hurt him. “Forget it, I’ll carry you. How far is it? I’ll try to fly steadily… Wait, don’t fall down yet! Give me a mask first. I look a bit conspicuous like this.”
Carrying a person on his back was something Shu Jun wasn’t used to. At the same time, he could feel the cold and stiffness coming from his back—after all, carrying a person who was slightly taller than oneself on one’s back should have at least provided some warmth.
Zhu Yanchen was really not feeling well. Shu Jun didn’t say anything, and with his greatsword hanging in front of him, he flew up into the air.
They didn’t talk along the way.
Marshal Zhu was quite resilient. Despite the strong wind, he slept soundly on his back. Shu Jun didn’t want to disturb the sick man, so when he saw a light below his feet, he gently landed and carried Zhu Yanchen towards the center of the settlement.
The border settlements were much simpler than the urban areas and larger than military bases. The people who came and went were all desperadoes searching for gold in the erosion zone, so they didn’t want to show their faces and garner extra attention. Given the place and purification was expensive, the environmental quality here was quite mediocre, but the accommodation was good enough. The market was lively, and it provided a good resting place.
When he was still a “player”, Shu Jun rarely came into contact with the settlements and had only heard some information before. Now that he thought about it, the United Government was probably worried that these desperadoes would talk too much and spread the truth, causing unnecessary trouble.
This was his first time entering a settlement.
Since it was a spontaneously organized base for people, the structure was easy to guess, so the best ones had to be in the center. However, Shu Jun wanted to keep a low profile, so he didn’t choose the best hotel. He had walked halfway, slipped to the side, and specifically picked one that was neither good nor bad. The boss was a big man with a bald head and a mask on his face. He had two black tumors the size of fists on both sides of his head, which looked a bit like panda ears at first glance.
Shu Jun: “… “It was hard not to be attracted by his appearance.
The big man had obviously noticed his gaze. “You new here?”
“Just arrived, just arrived. Keep your voice down,” Shu Jun had hurriedly said. “My friend is tired and sleeping. We’re looking for a place to rest. And you…?”
“The place is mine. You can call me Uncle Pan.” The big man stood up and patted his greasy apron. “How many rooms?”
“One room.” In various senses, he and Zhu Yanchen needed to take care of each other.
“Oh, do you want a cheaper one with bunk beds that can sleep six people, or a more expensive one for fun?”
“What do you mean?”
“For saving money, take the bunk bed room. It can hold up to six people and is cheap. As for how many people are staying there, that depends on your luck.” Uncle Pan had smacked his lips. “For those who are looking for fun, the rooms are naturally the best, suitable for relaxation, but the price is a little bit more expensive—”
“Then we’ll take the fun one.” Shu Jun didn’t bother to care about the ambiguous meanings. This was a necessity.
Anyway, Marshal Zhu was well prepared and was unlikely to drop the ball when it came to money.
“Oh, alright.” Uncle Pan took out the keys from the drawer and placed them gently on the iron counter. “I don’t provide food here, but you can give me some money for errands, and I can buy it for you, or you can buy it yourself. Just go out and turn two blocks to get to the market. Anyway, we can’t tell day from night here. There are always people around all day, so don’t worry about not being able to buy anything.”
“Thanks. Don’t worry, we’ll discuss it when my friend wakes up.” This area was already an erosion zone, so the food may not necessarily be clean. He could handle it, but he didn’t know if Zhu Yanchen could eat it.
But the room was nice.
There was a small purifier making a buzzing noise in the room, so the air was still okay. The floor was cleaned very well, and there was no strange smell on the sheets. Shu Jun locked the door and carefully laid down Zhu Yanchen. Then he put Monday beside the purifier and let it shiver.
As soon as Shu Jun changed his position, Zhu Yanchen woke up immediately. He looked around the room and felt a little dazed for a moment.
“Go back to sleep. It’s not even three in the morning, and you’ve only slept for a little over an hour. If you’re not at ease, you can lock me up with the handcuffs.” Shu Jun took off his mask and breathed a sigh of relief.
Zhu Yanchen looked a bit confused as he looked at him. Shu Jun didn’t waste any time and swiftly removed Zhu Yanchen’s mask, loosened his collar, and took off his coat—these things would only make it difficult for him to breathe.
“Take off your shoes yourself,” Shu Jun muttered while taking off his clothes. “It’s good not to be awake. Go to bed early and finish things early*. Then, I’ll argue with Monday.”
*(早睡早完事) (AKA Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.)
Zhu Yanchen hummed in response, indicating that he had just slept soundly and was still a bit groggy. He raised his head and gave Shu Jun a smile.
It was an extremely awkward smile. It was obvious that Marshal Zhu hadn’t smiled in a long time, and even when he was half awake, his smile was somewhat stiff. But seeing a smile appear on Zhu Yanchen’s face, Shu Jun was so frightened that he almost dropped the coat in his hand.
Perhaps realizing what he had done, Zhu Yanchen collected his smile the next second. He muttered a thank you, climbed into the bed, and laid down, even making sure to arrange his shoes neatly.
…Compared to the guys in his own team, Marshal Zhu was not only not delicate, but he was quite easy to take care of. Shu Jun was used to taking care of people, and he felt a little emotional for a moment. But he was startled by that smile, and his emotions quickly dissipated.
In the end, Zhu Yanchen didn’t handcuff him. Now that it was convenient without the handcuffs, Shu Jun took a shower, picked up Monday, who was trembling by the purifier, and sat down at the other end of the room.
He had intended to train Monday, but with time now available, he no longer had the mood to do so. That smile of Zhu Yanchen’s kept playing in his mind—it was a very nice smile, but that wasn’t the point.
Shu Jun’s intuition began to dance on his nerves again. He always felt that something wasn’t right.
Marshal Zhu… A’Yan was clearly not someone who smiled for no reason, even if they had been friends for a few years. When it came to the aborigines of this world, those who knew A’Yan longer than him must have passed away. However, whether it was watching the propaganda video, listening to the discussions of those who worshiped Marshal Zhu in his team, or seeing it with his own eyes, this person was always expressionless, like he had a face covered with glue that had dried up.
That was a relaxed smile, as if they were really close friends who could talk about anything.
Zhu Yanchen had been in the position of Marshal for a long time, commanding countless battles. He couldn’t be naive enough to be close based on a few years of texting… Was A’Yan really only hiding the “truth” and the “death date” from him?
The more Shu Jun thought about it, the more confused he became, and he hummed a few times in annoyance. He decided to go out for a few minutes to catch his breath.
Fortunately, he could now control the erosion a little bit. Shu Jun dug out a small piece from Monday, twisted it into a rope, and hung the door from the inside. Just in case, he also hung a “Do not disturb” sign outside as well.
“Are you going out? What about your friend?” Uncle Pan was still sitting in front of the counter leisurely listening to the radio.
“He’s resting in the room. I’m going to buy some food. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” Shu Jun greeted him. Although it looked safe here, he didn’t want to leave Zhu Yanchen alone for too long.
“Oh, I just bought some pancakes for another room. I bought too many, do you want some?” Uncle Pan didn’t miss this opportunity to promote his business. “Lao Zhang’s pancakes are really something. I saw the last batch, and I bought them all. They’re not expensive, just give me 10% for the errand fee.”
As he spoke, he took out a pancake, pushed aside his mask, and started chewing. The room was suddenly filled with the smell of pancakes.
Shu Jun yielded. “Is the pancake clean?”
“Very clean. If you’re really worried, take it back and heat it up on the purifier—though that’s a waste of the purifier in your room.” Uncle Pan quickly ate a piece and put back on his crooked mask.
Zhu Yanchen hadn’t eaten anything decent these past few days, so buying him a few pancakes wouldn’t hurt. Shu Jun took six and instinctively put them in his pocket to keep them warm.
Uncle Pan exclaimed, “You’re quite good at taking care of people. Actually, I also have some soybean sauce for the pancakes…”
Shu Jun didn’t listen to what Uncle Pan was saying next.
He was good at taking care of people—from his teammates’ children to his injured teammates that many people had mentioned to him before so he had grown accustomed to it, not taking it to heart.
But now, he thought that his accustomed life had been turned upside down and every detail was worth rethinking—he had lived alone since he was eight years old and continued to live alone until he started working. So when did he start getting used to “taking care of others”?
For a moment, Shu Jun had a ridiculous idea: perhaps he and Marshal Zhu had known each other for a long time, but his memory had been buried deep in his mind. But then he remembered that he had been working with the Blackbirds since he entered <Erosion>. If he had any private contact with Zhu Yanchen, the timing didn’t match up.
Moreover, he seemed to have been good at taking care of people before entering <Erosion>.
…Well, maybe it was just one of his talents.
“I’ll take some sauce too.” Shu Jun took out the pancakes, pushed up his mask a bit, and ate mechanically.
“Where are you guys going?” Uncle Pan tossed him a bag of sauce that was wrapped in thin plastic like a tiny heart.
“East,” said Shu Jun vaguely.
“But that’s a heavily eroded area, and you guys don’t seem to be short of money. Why bother?” Uncle Pan took a deep breath. “Didn’t something happen there recently? Fewer ships are going there now, and the road isn’t easy to walk.”
“Something happened recently?” Shu Jun listened with interest. The events in X City were all 200 years old.
“Don’t you know? The higher-ups organized a ‘competition’ there a while ago, with a large Erosion Swamp as the target, but the captain of the Blackbirds was defeated.”
The Blackbirds captain himself: “…”
“But the most bizarre thing is this.” Uncle Pan’s tone gradually became more like a storyteller. “I’ll tell you, such a large Erosion Swamp disappeared right in front of everyone’s eyes! You know, like unplugging a bathtub—it just seeped into the ground. Who has ever seen such a situation like that before? Everyone’s saying something was wrong with the Erosion Swamp in the east.”
“So did they find it?” Shu Jun asked nervously; said Erosion Swamp was inside his body.
“Who has time to look for it when Marshal Zhu was suddenly kidnapped by a mutant beast shortly after that. The higher-ups are in chaos, and I heard that the old Marshal Zhu is furious.”
…Said Marshal Zhu is staying at your inn. Shu Jun almost choked on his pancake. “Let’s talk about the Erosion Swamp. After all, my brother and I have to make a living, and practical problems are the most important.”
“Oh.” Uncle Pan rubbed the black lump on his head. “The next piece of information will cost you money, young man. What do you say?”
Shu Jun gradually got used to this man’s routine. “You… Go ahead and tell me.”
“Dealing with sensible people is refreshing.” Uncle Pan rubbed his hands and chuckled.
“So the two of you are heading east. Someone died on the outskirts of the City of the Dead a while ago.”
“The City of the Dead?”
“X City!” Uncle Pan said. “Of course they didn’t go inside. That group of people just wandered around outside looking for some rare things to bring back to sell. And then, guess what? They found a monster corpse that had never been discovered before, which reportedly looked about 75% human.”
Shu Jun stopped chewing. “And then?”
“And then they were cursed by that monster’s corpse.” Uncle Pan lowered his voice. “Everyone died, and it was a terrible death. People found out by reading their diaries.”
“Young man, you can head east, but stay away from the City of the Dead. That place is evil.”
The author has something to say:
Marsha Zhu was kidnapped by a mutant beast ×
Marsha Zhu was kidnapped by Shu Jun √
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One thought on “Access Denied Ch19”
Thank you for the update ❤️💯