Dominion’s End Volume 1: Raining Stars at World’s End
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 7: The Coffee’s Not To Blame, Part One—translated by Elkin
Kneeling by the terrace on the second floor, I reached out to touch my waist and was immediately greeted with a sharp flare of pain. I was missing a chunk of flesh from my waist, and I had lost a fair bit of blood. Such a heavy stench of blood would attract aberrants, so I had no choice but to freeze the wound and blood.
I was such an idiot. My prized knowledge of the previous world had let me down—I never imagined that tier one aberrants would start appearing so early on. I’d thought that they only started appearing half a year in, so I had never imagined that one would make its appearance just one and a half months into the apocalypse. I had really been ignorant in the past.
Previously, around this time, Guan Weijun had spent every day fleeing for survival, with no clue about evolution crystals, so there was no way I would have gone hunting by choice. Therefore, I didn’t know that tier one aberrants had appeared so quickly. Thinking back on it, it wasn’t so strange at all. It seemed that I couldn’t completely trust my past experiences.
Even though this was a tier one aberrant, as I was now, it was still manageable. Right now, the strength of my current body and the power of my abilities should have reached tier one, going by the standards in the previous world. It was simply because I had underestimated my opponent that I’d sustained a serious injury. My wariness really hadn’t recovered to the same levels as when I was Guan Weijun.
That tier one aberrant was still looking for me down below. I’d injured his knee, so he was limping. He looked pissed off, like he wanted to rip me into shreds, deep fry them, and eat them with vengeance.
I assessed our injuries. Should I continue combat, or just leave?
After freezing the injury at my waist, it no longer hurt as much, but it would still definitely impact my fighting capabilities. So maybe I should just run away after all… No!
I started, shocked by that “No!” That sudden thought that had popped out of nowhere wasn’t like me at all.
I still remembered that Guan Weijun was always thinking about escape, thinking that if I could just find somewhere safe, I’d hide there for the rest of my life. But he, on the other hand, was very hot blooded. He always wanted to kill off all those aberrants and always wanted to become stronger, so that he wouldn’t ever need to run away again. So many times, I remembered ending up having to tow the defeated him along and escaping in a sorry manner.
But he actually started getting stronger and stronger, and soon, I was left far behind. Forget fighting shoulder to shoulder, even running away with him when he lost a fight became impossible.
One wanted to flee, and one wanted to fight. Neither person was right or wrong. If there hadn’t been a me who wanted to flee, the him who wanted to fight would never have survived for long, even if he had twenty lives. Then again, he ended up becoming an ability user far stronger than me.
Do we have to fight to become stronger?
I looked down between the terrace railings at the aberrant. He was getting closer and closer, so I had to decide whether I wanted to fight or flee. Otherwise, I would miss out on the best opportunity—regardless of which option I was considering.
It’s very rare for a tier one aberrant to appear just a month and a half into the apocalypse, so if we eat his evolution crystal, our abilities would grow a lot, right?
If it was him, he would definitely choose to fight.
But back then, he had the foolish Guan Weijun waiting to save him, whereas I had no one at my back waiting to save me. If I lost, I’d die.
I smiled faintly.
So, we have to fight to become stronger? If I fight a battle with no escape, would I then be able to surpass him, or even reach the level of the Ice Emperor?
I lifted the ice staff and slowly stood up. The aberrant had already reached the spot right below the house. This specimen definitely exceeded two meters in height, which was fairly enormous when going by the size of an average aberrant at the moment. He was also covered in a hard exterior shell, probably an evolution that resulted from someone shooting him.
Just now, I had misjudged the shell’s hardness. My ice staff couldn’t get through the shell, while his claw had ripped at my side. Fortunately, when I landed on the ground, I retaliated with a strike to his knee, so we were even.
Gazing down at the top of the aberrant’s head, I clenched my teeth and leapt down from the second floor terrace. My staff swung down toward his head, but he blocked it with an arm. This blow still didn’t manage to break through the shell, but judging from his complexion, he wasn’t completely fine either.
I was very strong now, and a staff was a blunt weapon to boot, so even if he had an external shell, he must have felt the blow after getting hit so hard.
He grabbed at the ice staff with one hand, his strength obviously much greater than mine. I couldn’t pull it back in time, and using this opportunity, he used his other hand to grab my foot. I was forced to let go of the staff, giving him the chance to fling the ice staff far, far away.
A look of glee crossed that face covered by a thick layer of brown shell. But right then, I twisted in mid-air and used my knee to smash apart his delight. In the same move, I also yanked out the knife tied to my leg and stabbed it down right into his abnormally large eye socket.
He howled in agony. His wildly flailing arms caught the injury at my waist again, which hurt so badly that my entire body started trembling. But I didn’t stop because of this, and immediately seized the opportunity to grab his fists and freeze them solid!
After sealing his movements, I stomped down at the knife stabbed in his eye, stamping and stomping and twisting…
He fell to the ground with a resounding crash, but still continued thrashing every so often. I immediately thawed my hands, leapt at the knife, and jostled hard at the handle, going up up down down left right left right. Really, the only things that were missing were the A and B buttons to complete the gaming experience. That did the trick and completely turned his brains into a pile of mush. Only then did the body’s movements reduce to mere twitching.
I defeated a tier one aberrant!
I felt damned good and couldn’t care less about my exhaustion or injuries. Everything was looking rosy. Just one and a half months into the apocalypse, and I was already able to defeat a tier one aberrant. Back in the Guan Weijun days, even three years in, I was still running away at the sight of a tier one aberrant.
Next was dissection time. That shell really was ridiculously tough. I smashed and chopped and sawed and kicked, and it was only when I was so worn out that the pain at my waist was starting to get to me that I was able to excavate the evolution crystal. But when I saw that the crystal was as large as the joint in my pinky, I felt that everything was worth it.
This harvest far exceeded my expectations, and together with the ever-growing pain of my waist injury, I decided to call it a day and go straight home.
I fired up the car, worrying about the waves of pain coming from my waist all the while. When I arrived home, the first thing I did was take off my clothes to check out the injury.
The injury was much worse than I’d thought. Starting from my side, three claw marks had gouged their way across two-thirds of my abdomen. The wounds were deep. If I hadn’t used ice to freeze them, it was likely that my guts would have started spilling out halfway through that intense battle. That was close.
Wiping away the cold sweat, I started bandaging the wound, and then gave myself a consolatory jab of antibiotics, although they had largely lost their effectiveness on a tier one body. After all, if the body itself was unable to fight off the infection, no amount of antibiotics would do any good.
Standing in front of the mirror, I treated the other visible, bleeding wounds and left the bruises and small scratches as they were.
I stared at the mirror, and a beautiful, young man looked back at me from within. His complexion was a little pale, probably a result of the wounds, and his slender body with a slight hint of musculature was covered in scars, but none of this lessened his overall handsomeness.
The current “Jiang Shuyu” had completely recovered. Shujun said I was more or less back to the state from before getting hit on the head by a tile, and that I even seemed more toned than before.
Every day, when I habitually checked out the mirror to inspect my body’s condition, the handsome man in the mirror made me feel like I was going blind from his beauty. If I revealed a smile, his smiling face gave a sense of mysterious allure… What the hell! I’m just smiling randomly, so where is the mystery and allure coming from?!
I didn’t dare to look too much at my body during my daily showers. I was really worried that, someday, I’d admire myself in the mirror to the point of nosebleeding, like some kind of insane level of narcissism.
Even in my current miserable state of injuries, I’d still make people go “aww” at how heartbreakingly pitiful I looked. Really, enough is enough!
Yawning widely, I quickly changed my clothes and headed out to find Shujun. I had to quickly finish my tasks for the day and get some rest.
I displayed the fruits of today’s labor in front of Mèimei. Before getting a hold of the tier one evolution crystal, I had also gotten three pieces of normal evolution crystals, making a total of four pieces. The crystals were all fairly substantial in size, especially that tier one crystal… Ahem, all right, I confess to showing off a little.
“Why’s this one so big?” Shujun asked with a little surprise, “Even the mercenary troop has never brought home such a big one before!”
“This is a tier one aberrant’s evolution crystal. It beats the normal ones. Eat the small one first…” Here, a sharp stab of pain at my waist forced me to pause a moment, “Then make three cups of tea.”
Shujun didn’t respond and just looked at me. I couldn’t tell what she was thinking. Just as I was guessing at the possibilities, she said, “All right, I’ll go make tea. The small ones are for Uncle and Auntie, and the big one is for Dàgē, right?”
After some hesitation, I decided to take the opportunity to chat a little with Dàgē. I hadn’t seen Dàgē for quite a while, and I was feeling fantastic after beating a tier one aberrant.
“Just make tea for Uncle and Auntie. I’ll go make a coffee for Dàgē.”
When Shujun heard that, her eyes started sparkling, and she quickly said, “Yup yup, that’s right. Èrgē, you go make some coffee. I’m sure Dàgē will be very happy.”
Humming a little ditty, I made a cup of coffee for Dàgē. Lately, I’d been busy hunting and Dàgē had his hands full as well. It seemed they were a bit short on ammunition, so they were preparing to drive out farther afield in search of guns. The residential areas around these parts at most had one or two guns or rifles, which simply wasn’t enough for them.
Dàgē was in the middle of cleaning his guns, and he looked a little surprised when he saw me come in.
I gave a small smile, saying, “Dàgē, I made you some coffee.”
Dàgē looked at the coffee mug in my hand and nodded, continuing to clean his guns all the while. I placed the coffee on the table, and just as I was about to speak to Dàgē, he gave a helpless sigh.
“Shuyu, you’ve been going out every day. Just where have you been?”
“Looking for supplies,” I could only repeat the same old excuse again.
“Really?” Dàgē looked down and continued to polish his guns.
I could only use this excuse, and anyway, I was in fact bringing back supplies. Because the farther I went, the deeper into the suburbs I got. The supplies were in more plentiful supply there than these parts, so I always came back each time with a few backpacks of supplies. It was just that I didn’t want them to become reliant on guns, so I never brought back any guns.
Seeing Dàgē continuing to clean his guns, I glanced at the coffee on the table and couldn’t help but remind him, “Dàgē, why don’t you drink the coffee?”
“Just leave it there. I’ll get around to it later.”
Hearing that, I became even more flustered. This was a tier one crystal, which was very difficult to come by, so I absolutely had to watch him drink it all before I relax. I could only urge him again, “Can’t you drink it now? I made it especially for you!”
Dàgē looked up and explained, “I just drank some water, so I’m not thirsty. I’ll drink it later.”
I gaped like a goldfish, unsure of how I could make him drink it right now.
Dàgē looked at me and set aside his work. He asked seriously, “Shuyu, is there anything about the apocalypse that you haven’t told us yet? If there is, it’s better if you told everyone.”
Anything I haven’t said? Does he really expect me to explain every single little detail of my ten years in the apocalypse?
And more importantly, even if I explained a lot of the stuff, it wasn’t something they would understand. Things like tier one aberrants were, at the end of the day, just stronger aberrants. It was just that humans split them by tiers for easier categorization. If you hadn’t encountered them before and really fought with them, there was simply no way of understanding what level of strength that represented. Describing it was a complete waste of time and would just make people worry needlessly.
Besides, I was also worried that I would get things wrong. For example, a tier one aberrant had appeared just today, only one and a half months into the apocalypse, whereas based on my understanding, this should happen half a year later. What if I told them something wrong?
In my previous life, Guan Weijun was an ordinary person who fled wherever was safest in the first year of the apocalypse, so many things that she knew may not be wholly accurate.
“Just my past life experiences in the apocalypse, but these aren’t things that can be explained easily.”
Dàgē nodded and didn’t question any further. It seemed he wasn’t planning on saying anything more to me. He didn’t touch the cup of coffee either.
Feeling uneasy, I suppressed the idea of just taking away the cup of coffee. I reminded myself that Dàgē’s power was healing and that he was repaying the others for the crystals that I had eaten…
Taking in a deep breath, I told myself that, no, Dàgē was always very honest with me.
“Dàgē, remember to drink the coffee.”
Returning to my room, I spent a little while sitting on the bed, spacing out. The injuries today were really very severe, and I should be getting some rest as soon as possible to help speed up my recovery. This way, I’d be able to continue to go out hunting. Besides, my eyes kept drooping and I could barely keep them open. But I still couldn’t dispel my worries.
After some hesitation, I ended up climbing off my bed after all and, resisting the pain at my waist, walked to the back garden. My strengthened body’s five senses were much more sensitive than before, and very soon, I could detect a whiff of coffee in the air.
I walked and searched. By the wall of the house, I lifted my head to find Dàgē’s room window. Then, I looked down at the ground.
Where the smell of coffee was coming from.
I was wrong. I should have just let Shujun bring the tea, just like before, instead of letting a tier one crystal go to complete waste. Maybe I’d also raised his suspicions, so Dàgē would no longer drink even Shujun’s tea. If so, what should I do?
I dropped to my knees and dug up the soil that was soaked in coffee, taking it in one gulp after the other.
I can’t let it go to waste.
I ended up with a stomachache that evening and spent the entire night running to the toilet. I barely got a wink of sleep, and after the restless night, the injuries at my side took a turn for the worse. When I opened my eyes the next day, I couldn’t even get up.
Lying on the bed, I could feel that my face was flushed but my body was icy. If anything, my entire body felt as weak as a kitten. So, I was positive I had come down with a fever, and a pretty bad one at that.
In the past three weeks, I had been sneaking out every day in the afternoon, and sometimes I would even go out in the dead of night. As expected, having to harvest five people’s share of evolution crystals was tough work, especially Dàgē’s share, since he needed to eat two people’s portions. Because his healing ability couldn’t increase his combat powers, he needed to rely on the crystals even more to strengthen his body.
Every day, I wrung out every last drop of power, so despite Jiang Shuyu’s superb health and the wealth of crystals I had eaten, it really ended up being too much of a burden on the body…
A knock came from outside, and Shujun asked, “Gē , it’s time to eat. Why aren’t you down yet?”
I thought quickly. It was impossible to hide my sickness from Shujun, so the only thing I could say was, “Junjun, can you bring it up? Just say I don’t feel like going downstairs to eat.”
If Dàgē discovered I was ill and did a quick check, then I wouldn’t be able to hide my injuries anymore. And if Dàgē discovered that I had been sneaking out to fight aberrants, I really didn’t know how he would react.
After a moment’s silence from outside the door, there came an “Okay.”
Soon after, Shujun brought over the meal. I struggled hard to get up and dragged my heavy feet to the door to let her in.
Shujun brought in the food and quietly sat to one side, watching me eat. She didn’t speak until I was done eating and had set down the chopsticks and bowl.
“Gē , you’re sick. Can’t I tell Dàgē about this? He’s got healing power, so he can heal you.”
I shook my head, refusing outright. “Don’t.”
Shujun stopped that line of inquiry but suggested without giving up, “Then, I’ll make you chicken soup today. You have to promise to finish it all.”
I faltered for a moment. For a tier one body, chicken soup had long lost its effectiveness. But if it put Shujun’s heart at ease, I would nod, say “Yes” and then down the soup when it came.
Having eaten my fill, I lay down and slept for a bit more. When I awoke, I originally planned to continue forging my knife, but the moment I used my ice powers, I was instantly struck by a splitting headache. So I gave up on that and just spent the entire day eating and sleeping and eating, hoping that I would be able to recover just a little bit faster.
To my surprise, on the third day, I was still extremely groggy and the dizziness actually worsened. When I opened my eyes to look at the time, even the clock was spinning in my vision, and it was with great difficulty that I could make out what time it was. Oh boy, it was already one thirty in the afternoon. If not for the chattering outside my door, I’d likely have continued sleeping.
“Is he still throwing a tantrum about not coming down to eat?”
This is… Dàgē’s voice?
“No, Dàgē. Èrgē’s just being a sleepyhead. He went to bed quite late last night.”
“What’s there to do so late at night? Don’t tell me there’s still television to watch in the evening? There are aberrants outside, so we can’t even switch on the lights. Aside from sleeping, what else is there to do at night? Shujun, stop helping him make excuses!”
“Dàgē, no, it’s not that, Èrgē, he…”
“Jiang Shuyu! Open the door right this instant!”
Open the door…
But I can’t get up anymore…
In my daze, I watched the room door being kicked right off its hinges. Jiang Shutian stormed in with fury. At the sight, I started panicking, to the point where my entire chest felt tight.
Yes, with my knowledge of the apocalypse, I believed I would be able to survive even if I left this place. But I simply didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to leave this family behind.
But the mercenaries hated me, and now even Dàgē was starting to dislike me. He even threw away the coffee I purposefully brought over without drinking it. Just how much does he suspect that I am not his younger brother?
If I don’t leave, am I really intending to wait until Jiang Shutian’s suspicions exceed the breaking point, and he would just come strangle me to death?
But Junjun, Dàgē, Uncle, and Auntie…
After being reincarnated, even though it is still the apocalyptic world, I have family and friends. I really don’t want to leave, so what should I do?
Dàgē rushed over to my bed and looked down at me, and in that moment, his expression of anger froze. As for myself, I was terrified. Is he going to strangle me?
“Dàgē, you idiot!”
Shujun ran in and started pummeling Dàgē—Girl, this is our mighty Dàgē, you know? You actually dare to hit him however you like?
“Dàgē, you stupid idiot! You jerk! I saw it all; you poured away the coffee Èrgē brewed for you. That had an evolution crystal Èrgē fought hard to get. It was the size of a thumb!”
Junjun, you’re exaggerating too much. It was at most the size of the joint of a pinkie.
“Dàgē, did you know, Èrgē ate up all the soil where you poured away the coffee?!”
She saw? My wariness really shouldn’t have been that bad. After a moment’s thought, I abruptly recalled Auntie’s search powers and realized what had happened. So it seemed Uncle and Auntie also knew about this already. Shujun, really…
Shujun shoved Dàgē away forcefully and came to my bedside, looking at me heartbrokenly. Tears trickled down her face, dripping down one by one.
I’d lost count of the number of times I had made her cry. In the span of just over one month, those almond-shaped eyes had become puffy too many times.
“I noticed a few days ago that Èrgē was walking strangely. It was even more noticeable than his previous injuries. He hasn’t even been able to get up at all these few days. I knew it. His injuries this time are very serious. He had finally just gotten better, and now he’s become so weak again.”
Dàgē looked at her, asking in astonishment, “He’s hurt? Not sick? But how did Shuyu get hurt—wait, you said he was fighting? To get evolution crystals? Who went with him?”
Shujun told him the entire truth, her words barbed with accusation and blame.
“The tea I made for Dàgē always had evolution crystals in it. Even me, Uncle, and Auntie had our share. And Èrgē was the one who got them all! He was out fighting aberrants every day, both day and night. He wouldn’t even tell me if he got hurt, but all I had to do was look at the way he was walking to know he had injured himself again!”
So it turned out Shujun knew after all. I had even prided myself on my acting skills, but as it turned out, her acting skills were way better than mine.
Dàgē wore a hurt expression, and his tone carried an even deeper pain as he slowly said, “Shuyu, why did you hide this from me? Do you not believe in me? Is Dàgē not worth believing in anymore?”
No! I just don’t want to join those mercenaries who hate me, and I would even have to share my evolution crystals with them. I simply don’t want to split the crystals evenly with them! They even refuse to give any to Shujun, Uncle, and Auntie, so how could I possibly share the crystals with them!
I would rather go crystal hunting myself and bear the risk myself. I was fine as long as I could keep the crystals to share with my own family. But if Dàgē found out, he would never be willing to let me go hunting by myself, which was why I had kept it to myself.
I couldn’t tell him anything and had no choice but to keep fighting aberrants over and over again. But no matter what I did, I couldn’t get enough crystals. So for the crystals I got today, who should get priority over them?
Tier one aberrants had appeared. And if I were to encounter one of the stronger tier one aberrants, would I be able to win? If I couldn’t win, would I be able to escape?
If I ran into Dàgē at home today, what kind of expression would he use when looking at me? How much did he suspect me?
Junjun, don’t be sad, I’m not hurt, I’m fine, really…
The unfairness of it all, the pain, the fear and, most of all, the unwillingness to give up—all sorts of emotions suddenly welled up inside of me. I knew I must be burning up really badly, otherwise why would I be assaulted by so many and such complex emotions? Even in the mess of my life in the previous world, I had never encountered such complicated feelings before.
Dàgē frowned deeply. It was an indescribable expression, but the moment I saw it, my heart ached. He said very quietly, “Xiao Yu, don’t cry. It’s all Dàgē’s fault.”
“You didn’t drink my coffee.” I mumbled the fact that caused me the greatest pain and fear above all, “You poured it away. Dàgē, were you afraid I would poison it? Did you think I would want to harm you?”
“Sorry.” Dàgē kept wiping away the tears that spilled nonstop from my eyes, and repeated, “Sorry. In the future, no matter what you give to me, Dàgē will drink it all.”
I cried. I didn’t know why, but I kept crying and the tears wouldn’t stop falling. Just when can I become a man who sheds blood instead of tears? I was always crying like a woman, wasting Jiang Shuyu’s good looks.
Dàgē suddenly lowered his head and touched his forehead against mine. Then, he said in a voice heavy with worry, “Xiao Yu, you’ve got a really bad fever. Where did you hurt yourself?”
I was crying so hard I almost couldn’t speak, but I managed to squeeze out one word. “Waist.”
He pulled away the covers and ripped open my shirt, then carefully undid the bandages.
To one side, Shujun sucked in a sharp breath, then immediately covered her mouth, not daring to make a sound. Is my injury really that bad? Never mind, Shujun’s reaction isn’t a good measure. Even if I had a bruise the size of a thumb, she would still look on it with anxiety and worry, and would even insist on helping me gently massage away the bad blood.
Dàgē’s face was very ashen as he spoke. “The wound is infected.”
No wonder I had a fever. I already had a tier one strengthened body. For a wound that was treated to still get infected meant that the tier one aberrant wasn’t for show either. Even after it died, it was still trying hard to drag me down to hell with it.
A sudden warm, soothing sensation came from my waist. That was Dàgē’s healing powers. It had been a very long time since I had last experienced this feeling—I’d almost forgotten how good it felt to be healed.
“Shujun, go boil a basinful of hot water to wipe down Èrgē.”
After being healed, my body finally felt better. Although I was still feverish, at least the pain at my waist had lessened significantly. Next, Dàgē and Mèimei used hot water to wipe me down, and it felt so comforting that I became extremely drowsy.
From one ear came Dàgē’s voice, a low but reassuring voice.
“Xiao Yu, sleep well. When you wake up, Junjun will cook a good meal for you.”
I made a “mmm” sound and slipped into deep slumber.