Dominion’s End Volume 3: Ice-Bound Splendor and Majesty
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 8: The Three-Forked Road, Part Two—translated by Elkin, Ever, & lucathia (proofread by EvlNabiki & Lala Su; C/E edited by lucathia & Elkin)
Yeah, I can just push it all onto Jiang Xiaotian. In any case, there was something off about him, so it would be wrong if he didn’t have some awe-inspiring ability.
All the soldiers looked at the little kid, while the kid himself was glowering, with torrents of icy air pouring off his body. If we didn’t pursue Thirteen right this moment, the little kid would probably chase after him himself.
“You can help us first, then we’ll help you kill that aberrant later.” Ah Nuo seemed pretty desperate. It was clear that if he had the choice, he definitely wouldn’t beg an eighteen-year-old and a three-year-old kid for help.
I was certain I could just turn and leave, despite the soldiers’ unwillingness to let us go. I highly doubted that they would pull anything on us, but I didn’t want to treat them that way. They were acting for the good of the refugees; otherwise, they could just pack up their firearms and food and simply leave, instead of fretting over the problem of whether the refugees would die or not.
I said slowly and clearly, “Actually, my family’s in the east. My dàgē leads a troop of mercenaries and we’ve got firepower and supplies. My mèimei is tormenting herself like she’s gone mad, because she thinks I’m dead. So honestly? I really want to go eastwards. I really fucking do.”
Jiang Xiaotian lifted his little head to gaze at me, clearly biting back the words he wanted to say. But I completely ignored him. It was obvious that he’d just tell me to go home, and he’d run off to face Thirteen himself. He didn’t care the slightest about what would happen to him afterwards, and even if it spelled his death, he would just think of it as the opportunity of joining his siblings from the other world.
My heart clenched. Everything fell in place. Don’t tell me the reason why Jiang Xiaotian never brought up the possibility of parallel worlds is because…
I looked up sharply to see the soldiers in gloom, making it impossible for me to just immediately turn and go. Dammit, I probably can’t ever get over this Mother Teresa complex!
I sucked in a deep breath and continued my explanation, “I’m just eighteen. I’m not as strong as you think me to be. And I’m definitely not an expert fighter or anything. I only know some stuff thanks to Xiaotian. And right now, I know that Thirteen bastard will kill many people in the future. If I let him go now and later hear that he has caused a massacre, I won’t be able to live with myself!”
All the soldiers listened in silence. They were really well trained. If people like this were willing to come with me, I’d take as many of them as I could. But if they were the types of soldiers who could just abandon helpless refugees, I wouldn’t want them to come after all. Such a dilemma!
“Do you understand me? I’m not running away, and I’m not so cold-blooded as to be uncaring about the lives of thousands of people. But I absolutely must kill Thirteen, the future aberrant elite who would fucking trample over the corpses of countless humans!”
Right after I finished yelling, Ah Nuo suddenly gave a crisp salute, scaring the wits out of me. I didn’t know how to react.
Ah Nuo said solemnly, “Please kill that monster. I, Ah Nuo, thank you on behalf of all who are present here.”
All the soldiers followed him and saluted when they heard that.
If I hadn’t been here, these people would’ve probably all died? When I had found them, they were about to commit double suicide with Maternibaby, but the future Thirteen still had Maternibaby by his side… Oh yeah, in my previous life, the lieutenant probably hadn’t brought anyone with him into the lab, and without them, Ah Nuo and the others probably couldn’t have even gotten to the point where they could take down Maternibaby with them.
I really hope they will live on for much longer! I couldn’t help but blurt, “The monsters you keep talking about, I call them ‘aberrants.’ If you want to kill them, you must destroy their heads—but you probably know that already.”
They exchanged looks and nodded.
“After killing the aberrants, dig into their chest cavity. There will be a hard shell inside. Break that open and you’ll see this.”
I took the silver flask from my waist and tipped out a few evolution crystals. All the soldiers’ eyes fixated on the crystals as they swallowed reflexively.
“Eat this and it will improve your body, and also increase the strength of your abilities.
“It doesn’t matter what kind of special ability you have—don’t waste it. Although these abilities seem fairly useless right now, they definitely won’t let you down if you train them up!”
The soldiers’ eyes sparkled and they quickly clamored to ask, “Can we become as strong as you?”
“For sure,” I replied without hesitation. “You have good base qualities, so it’s not hard to achieve my tier.”
I had only reached tier two, and toward the middle of the apocalypse, a tier two was no big deal—I mean, even dogs were tier two! The dogman aberrants then were all around tiers two or three, and often appeared in packs, so people avoided them on sight.
I felt better when I saw looks of hope surface on the soldiers’ faces. As long as you had hope, you would have the drive to live. I really was worried that these soldiers who had embraced death wouldn’t be able to think things through and would stay here stubbornly to the very end, then end up being wiped clean by hungry aberrants.
“Disperse the refugees, and if you feel that’s not doing enough for them, give them most of the stuff as well. You are all very strong, and you definitely will have no problem scavenging for supplies. Aberrants out there aren’t so strong—well, at least the vast majority of them will be way weaker than the ones you encountered in the lab. You’ve already duked it out with lions, so don’t tell me you can’t beat down some dogs?”
The soldiers cracked up.
I chuckled myself too. It was good that they were able to laugh. Then, I sobered and said seriously, “When necessary, make sure to protect yourselves. I know abandoning civilians isn’t what soldiers should be doing, but in these apocalyptic days, humanity is in dire need of strong people.”
Especially strong people with good hearts. As for those bastards who are rotten both inside and out, please, go dig a hole and bury yourselves for the benefit of humanity.
“Have you remembered this properly?” I asked anxiously. I really hoped I was able to keep more capable and good-hearted people alive.
“Stick out your hands.”
Ah Nuo stared at me in confusion, but Chen Yanqing had already stretched out his hand. I tipped the silver flask and emptied all the crystals into the palm of his hand. There actually weren’t that many left, and there might not even be enough for every soldier to get one each.
“I suggest that you split this between two or three people. Pick those whose abilities are most useful, or those who are best at fighting, because the effect of a single crystal is too small. I suggest that you don’t share it so everyone gets one, or the effects might not be enough.”
Ah Nuo’s brow furrowed at my words.
Jiang Xiaotian pointed at Ah Nuo and Chen Yanqing and declared, “The two of you should just split it in half and eat them. A leaderless platoon is not much better than headless chickens. The others can only survive if you two are alive.”
The two balked and revealed looks of hesitation. They even glanced a few times at their fellow comrades. But Jiang Xiaotian shouted, “Eat it! If you don’t eat it within five seconds, we’re taking them all back. Five, four…”
Chen Yanqing stiffened, quickly poured half to Ah Nuo and swallowed the remainder. By the time Ah Nuo got the crystals, Jiang Xiaotian had counted down to “one” and had dashed forward to grab his hand, but Ah Nuo immediately threw the crystals into his mouth.
I gave Jiang Xiaotian an impressed look. This was a fantastic way of dealing with the situation. After we had left, Ah Nuo could have distributed the crystals evenly across all the people. Or worse, even if he had split them between Ah Qing and himself, the others might resent that. But this was absolutely the best way of distributing the crystals.
Since Jiang Xiaotian forced them to swallow the crystals by saying, “the two of you swallow them or no one gets any,” this extreme method meant that, even if the other soldiers didn’t like it, they couldn’t blame it on Ah Nuo and Ah Qing.
“Shuyu, let’s go,” Jiang Xiaotian said briskly, “the later we set out, the harder it’ll be to catch them.”
I nodded and followed after the little guy, but after a few steps, I gritted my teeth and dashed back, giving Chen Yanqing a big hug. I gave him a few pats on the back as I tried to recall in my previous life how men hugged each other goodbye… Hey, you guys to the side. Don’t make weird faces. This is friendship between men!
I glared at the others angrily as they stared at the sky, at the ground, and at imaginary ants, pretending that they saw nothing. You fucking idiots! How can still you act like morons even though it’s the apocalypse?
Ignoring that bunch, I whispered beside Chen Yanqing’s ear, “I’ll be staying at Old Town next to Lan City. Don’t tell anyone else besides Ah Nuo. Only you two can take people there, understand?”
Chen Yanqing had frozen. He stuttered, “Okay, um, your, your kid…”
I turned around hurriedly. Oh shit, Jiang Xiaotian looked so angry that he could spout fire. Please, you’re the Ice Emperor, not the Flame King!
I hurriedly scooped Jiang Xiaotian up and dashed away to keep Chen Yanqing from dying by the Ice Emperor’s hands before he got killed by an aberrant. Even though that would count as a kind of accomplishment, staying alive was still more important.
I dashed out of the camp, with Jiang Xiaotian’s one line of “no puppy love” still ringing in my ears, and the scenery that greeted me the moment I stepped outside triggered memories of the past.
The refugee camp was in shambles and everyone was hiding under things, wanting to flee but too afraid to do so. An eerie silence hung over the camp. Anyone who dared to make any loud sounds would be beaten to death with no remorse. Rather than having someone draw the attention of aberrants by wailing and causing many casualties, people would rather send them to hell so they could cry all they wanted.
Just as I thought that, someone actually cried out. She ran up to me, stumbling as she did and received a lot of angry glares from the others. I immediately covered her mouth and gave the people around us a warning look.
I said quietly, “Auntie Chen, don’t cry. I need to leave now. If you keep wailing like this, the others will bully you.”
Though tears were still rolling from Auntie Chen’s eyes, she didn’t look like she’d wail anymore, so I let go of her mouth and heard her sob, “Who cares about being bullied? Beibei’s gone anyway, so I might as well be dead!”
Shocked, I asked, “How’s that possible?”
As soon as I asked the question, my face immediately darkened with anger. Was she also taken to be aberrant food? But no, Beibei’s so little. There’s so many people in the refugee camp. Why would they take Beibei instead? She’s not even enough for a meal.
“I thought that he was human! A bunch of monsters suddenly rushed out, and my husband had gone off somewhere. I had no idea where he was. I couldn’t run fast while holding Beibei. A whole bunch of people were caught and monsters were running just next to us!”
Is Auntie Chen talking about the first batch of aberrants that broke free, or was it Thirteen’s crowd?
“The man just stood there looking at Beibei. I thought he wanted to help, so I handed Beibei to him, pleading for him to flee, but those monsters surrounded us. I thought we were goners, but that man actually spoke with the monsters. That was when I saw he had a tail.” Auntie Chen spoke until she choked up with sobs. She said remorsefully, “I wanted to beg him to return Beibei to me, but I couldn’t say a single word. W-Why couldn’t I say anything then?!”
She was scared shitless. I could understand.
“He took Beibei?”
Auntie Chen nodded while crying.
Thirteen actually took Beibei with him? This is really a bit strange. Can it be that with his slim stature, his appetite is also small, so snatching a girl is enough?
I frowned and informed Auntie Chen, “I’m going to track him down right now. Auntie Chen, take care of yourself. Do not go around crying.”
Joy came back to her face. She wiped her eyes, looked at Jiang Xiaotian, and asked with good intentions, “How about I help you look after him?”
I shook my head and said, “I’m leaving now. Auntie Chen, be careful. Go with the soldiers if you can, even if your husband doesn’t. Understand?”
But Auntie Chen immediately said, “I’ll wait for you to return with Beibei.”
I frowned and said, “I’ll meet up with the troops. Just follow them.”
Only then did Auntie Chen nod.
I carried Jiang Xiaotian and left quickly. I didn’t know if it was my ice spear or something else, but no one dared to stop me. I left the refugee camp just like that.
Jiang Xiaotian sprawled on my back and berated me unhappily, “Shuyu, you’re as wishy washy as a woman. You have to change that. Be more decisive. Who knows how long it’ll take to track him down now after wasting time like this? If we give him time to recover his ability to control the aberrants, killing him won’t be easy.”
Don’t I know it? If not for the apocalypse, Guan Weijun would probably have been destined to be a mother before a wife, and the partner would probably still have been Xia Zhengu. I might even have played the game of wife versus mistress, haha.
“Dàgē, why the hell did Thirteen grab Beibei?”
“Who cares? That girl is likely ‘done for.’”
My face fell. Thinking of cute Beibei, a wave of pain stabbed my heart.
“If you want to save her, focus. The faster we catch up, the likelier it is we can save her.”
True. I immediately got a hold of myself, following the tracks left by Thirteen. However, the tracks were very scattered. The horde of aberrants that had run off in all directions had left behind a sea of footprints, and it was difficult to determine which direction Thirteen had gone.
Fortunately, as Jiang Xiaotian had said, Maternibaby had a distinct smell. On top of that, she had left a trail of blood, and it even had the smell of milk.
After following the trail for a while, I actually made a huge discovery.
“Isn’t this my motorcycle?!” I was super moved. I didn’t think I’d be able to see this baby here. I was so sad when I took the bus and had to leave this behind!
Jiang Xiaotian gave it a glance and said, “If you can steal other people’s vehicles, of course other people can also steal yours. Besides, you left it on the street, so it’s not strange that someone would’ve grabbed it and rode it over. But it’s probably out of fuel. Get some fuel from some car. Need me to teach you?”
Are you kidding me?! A commoner like me, who does everything myself, is definitely better at this than the Ice Emperor who had countless underlings!
“Hm, this motorcycle uses 95 unleaded petrol. Don’t get it wrong.”
Dàgē, who cares about 95, 98, 99, or 100 during the apocalypse! When you need fuel, even sewer oil will do!
I cried on the inside as I watched Jiang Xiaotian seriously looking for a car with 95 unleaded petrol. The Ice Emperor wouldn’t even relent on his choice of fuel. No doubt he had no lack of resources in his previous life. It’s hell comparing with him!