Dominion’s End Volume 4: Battle for Lan City
Original novel in Chinese by: 御 我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 3: Foray into Lan City, Part One—translated by Miaka_Mei (proofread by Arcedemius & Lala Su; C/E edited by lucathia)
We abandoned the car at the outskirts of the city. It was actually still a ten minute drive to Lan City from here, but along the way, we’d noticed a lot of suspicious activity, so it seemed like a bad idea to continue traveling by car. Although a car was fast, the target it created was too large and would easily attract the attention of aberrants. The enemies would be hidden while we were out in the open. It was too disadvantageous for us.
I glanced at Xiao Sha and asked, “Can you produce wind blades with sufficient destructive power yet?”
Before I got kidnapped by the bird, I had previously taught everyone in the JDT. At that time, their results were hardly anywhere near satisfactory. Although their ability had rapidly improved, they weren’t able to use much of it during actual combat. Contrarily, they were more efficient at using it for housework. This was both funny and extremely embarrassing.
Xiao Sha shot me a glance and made a casual flinging motion. I could faintly sense a sudden gust of wind. A squeaking noise sounded nearby.
I walked right over and lowered my gaze to see a mouse-like thing on the ground. It was just that its tail had sharp thorns growing all over it, and the head was hairless and seemed to have a hard, outer layer. Its four claws were black and shiny, and there was even a horn protruding from its forehead. This thing was called a horned mouse. They weren’t very strong but were very difficult to guard against. They’d often charge out of the dark, tear off a piece of your flesh with its horn, and then scamper away.
This mouse was split into two halves across the middle. Its limbs were still twitching, but there was no trace of the lethal weapon which had injured it. The wound was so clean that it seemed as if it had been caused by a single slice from a sword. So clean and precise. It seems that Xiao Sha has really made a lot of improvement.
“Not bad. Your ability has improved a lot.”
Xiao Sha replied with a faint smirk, “We encountered a few aberrants along the way, so everyone got better.”
I asked a bit confusedly, “Dàgē said you guys hadn’t come across any powerful aberrants.”
After a brief silence, he finally answered, “Back then, anything that blocked Boss’s path, no matter if it was strong or weak, he’d only say a single word, ’kill.’ If we didn’t get rid of whatever was blocking the way in five minutes, he would lose his patience and start firing bullets like they were free of charge. If guns were ineffective, he and Shujun would step in. The number of times that Shujun passed out was too many to count, while Boss ended up fainting two times. So we had to do everything we could, in hopes of finishing off the opponent within five minutes.”
I felt my eyes stinging with tears, but I resisted with great difficulty. This was the apocalypse, so there was no safe and sure way of getting stronger. I’m not even sure how many times I’ve collapsed. However, this was the only method to strengthen oneself. Only by forcing oneself to their limits, even to the edge of life and death, would one be able to attain new heights.
“Looks like I was right to take turns in bringing people out.” I lightly remarked, “Training at home is basically useless, so getting straight into combat is the right thing to do. You should prepare yourself. If you can’t keep up with my pace, I’ll have you stay and wait for me on the outskirts of Lan City to avoid dragging me down.”
Xiao Sha grew stern and quickly nodded. Then, he hesitantly asked, “But didn’t you tell Boss that you’d only be strolling outside the city?”
I rolled my eyes at him. If I hadn’t said that, would Dàgē have let me go? We might as well just lock the door and set Junjun on me, okay!
Xiao Sha seemed to tacitly understand. Nodding his head, he no longer spoke.
As we headed toward Lan City, I didn’t stay out of sight deliberately, but I also wasn’t stupidly walking in the middle of the road. I simply walked casually along the side of the road. But even that was brazen enough. From time to time, we could hear some activity coming from the buildings to either side, and several times, those sounds resembled voices. They were clearly humans and not aberrants.
As expected of a first world mega-city. Although the mortality rate was high, the amount of people who survived wasn’t small either. After walking for about half an hour, I could accurately pinpoint three locations with human activity.
I suddenly thought of something and hastily asked, “Xiao Sha, you guys must have encountered some people while traveling toward Old Town, right?”
Xiao Sha nodded. “Quite a few.”
As expected, the JDT members’ appearances hinted at their strength. There would definitely have been a lot of people who wanted to join our troop in the hopes of gaining protection.
“Then, why weren’t any new people taken in? Did you guys only run into scum?” Is our luck really that bad? I guess I’m not the only one with bad luck within the Jiang family.
“When we came across somebody, we didn’t check whether they were bad or good, because Boss would only say a single sentence: ‘Step aside or die.’”
We’re left with no option but ghosts. I was speechless.
Should we take in some new people to join the Jiang Dominion on the way? In any case, it was quite delusional for the members of Jiang Dominion to build a base of operations with our current numbers. Plus, we didn’t have a need for it at all. We’re building such a huge territory, yet we were lacking in personnel, so much that even guarding it was a problem. Dàgē should also be considering taking people in.
Looking at those three spots, I hesitated for a moment but still ended up giving up. Xiao Sha and I both looked to be two youngsters around twenty years of age. Our figures didn’t look strong or robust, and we were even heading toward Lan City. And yet, those people didn’t make a sound to stop us, so the chance that they weren’t good people was high.
However, the probability of an error of judgment was there as well. After all, Xiao Sha and I were acting oddly. In this kind of situation, everyone was escaping out of the city, while we were doing the opposite by heading inside. It was suspicious no matter how you looked at it. It was also possible that the other party didn’t dare to call out to us.
The harder I thought about it, the more my head hurt. I should just stop thinking. It was only day one, and I still wanted to explore the ins and outs of Lan City. Honestly, it was too bothersome to take some strangers along the way, and the other party was unlikely to be willing to enter Lan City, nor wait for me at their original spot.
Xiao Sha suddenly stumbled and grabbed the corner of my shirt to prevent his fall. I was a bit stupefied. Stumbling isn’t anything unusual, but how could Xiao Sha act so clumsily? He spoke with a low voice, “Someone’s following us.”
I knitted my brows. I wasn’t able to detect anyone.
Xiao Sha quietly said, “The enemy is very skilled at tailing. I’m completely unable to see his figure. If it wasn’t because of my wind ability letting me occasionally sense faint breathing behind us, I might have been unable to detect him.”
I pretended to help him up and quietly asked, “Mercenary?”
“Not necessarily. It could be a soldier, policeman, or even a detective.”
I pondered for a while, then purposely asked with worry, “Chen Sha, are you all right? Did you sprain your leg?”
Xiao Sha’s mouth twitched briefly, and he spoke with a frown, “My ankle hurts a bit.”
Putting on a distressed look, I said, “You should have been more careful! Come take a break over here.”
Xiao Sha awkwardly said, “Sorry.”
I supported him as we limped toward the side of the road and sat down. Then, I took out water and crackers and passed them over to him.
Xiao Sha took them without batting an eyelid. Ignoring his slightly bulging waistline, he worked hard on gobbling up the water and crackers. The guy who’d just said he was so full that he felt like vomiting ate and drank one mouthful after another. His expression was filled with craving and satisfaction, looking exactly like a guy who’d gone hungry his whole lifetime. He was quite the accomplished actor.
While staring at the food in his hand, I intentionally gulped, acted like I was holding myself back from eating, and only drank a few sips of water.
“It’s been getting so cold lately. I think there’s something strange going on. It’s only almost November, and it hasn’t been this cold around this time of year in the past.” I anxiously said, “I’m afraid that this winter might be colder than before. If we don’t look for more food, life might get harder later.”
Hearing this, Xiao Sha stopped eating. He lowered his head and looked at the crackers. A look of hunger was on his face, but he still passed the crackers over to let me put them away.
He said, “There’s probably food inside Lan City. I know the location of a supermarket’s warehouse. I’ve previously worked part-time there. That warehouse isn’t eye-catching on the outside, so it might not have been discovered.”
I nodded my head and sighed. “I hope so. The stuff outside is pretty much all gone, while the places that haven’t been looted all seemed rather fishy. It’d be really bad if there were monsters inside.”
“Yeah. We shouldn’t take risks just for the sake of a few bites. Do you still remember that Chen Qianru? She died in such a miserable way.”
“I know, right? Her whole person was… sigh!” Why had that girl been so stupid? I couldn’t help but regret it for real. I said self-deprecatingly, “But aren’t we exposing ourselves to danger by entering the city?”
“The warehouse is located just on the outskirts of the city.” Xiao Sha said with a frown, “We’ll move around the outskirts and avoid going too far in.”
“Well, that’s our only option.”
After sitting at the side of the road for a little while, there was still no movement. Is the opposite party being too cautious, or do they truly not have any ill intentions?
Xiao Sha shot me a questioning glance. I calmly asked, “Does your leg feel a little better? If it’s fine, then we should move on.”
He shifted his leg, stood up, and said, “No problem. It’s probably just a little sprained.”
“I’m so glad you’re okay!” I also stood up, then threw myself into his embrace, and softly said, “Let’s role play as a gay couple. It’s easier to speak closely.”
Xiao Sha agreed. He hugged me without even a hint of awkwardness. Professionals were naturally skilled at adapting to the situation. Thinking back to my past life, at my side, I only had office workers who would rush out and attract monsters randomly, shrieking children, and weeping elderly women. There were so many foolish teammates that I wanted to ditch but couldn’t even finish washing my hands of them. Now that I have such a godly teammate, this is pretty much a cheat!
“Is that person still there?” I asked softly.
Lowering his head, Xiao Sha moved closer to the side of my ear. An indifferent look was on his face, but his eyes were filled with gentleness. Truly a spitting image of a devoted, cool guy. This acting skill was so excellent that I couldn’t help sighing as I compared myself to him. He whispered, “Still there. The instant I sense them, I can determine their general location, but there’s a chance that I’m wrong. Should we kill him?”
My godly partner is just too godly. Wanting to take someone down just from catching sight of them is quite the dilemma, too! “Try to avoid lowering the population of humans on Earth even more. If he doesn’t make a move, we can ignore him for now. If he really does follow us for too long, then it won’t be too late to take action later.”
“If the enemy has a gun and strikes when we’re off-guard, we could possibly die.”
“Wasting precious ammunition to shoot dead two passersby is quite the meaningless thing to do.” I coldly uttered, “Besides, it’s hard to say whether a single gunshot is enough to kill me. But if he dared to strike at us, as long as he isn’t able to kill me in a single hit, then he’d be the one to die!”
Xiao Sha briefly contemplated this and said with a nod, “He’d probably not kill you since you’re good-looking. He’d likely kill me to take you away.”
Fuck! This is actually possible. But I thought about it. Xiao Sha’s waistline was only thicker than mine by an inch. He was slender and had long legs, while his facial features weren’t very coarse.
“Probably not. Isn’t it more useful to keep you?”
“Usef…” Xiao Sha’s face distorted for a moment. Then, he skillfully resumed his indifference and “passionate boyfriend” look. He faintly said, “It’s time to go. We need to find a lodging place before night falls.”
“Okay.” I straightened from his embrace and obediently nodded.
We spoke a lot just now to draw the person out, but he still refused to come out. He probably wasn’t going to show his face for now. Who knows how long that person would continue following us? I suddenly had a wicked idea. Let’s head straight into the city and see if he still dares to follow us.
We hit the road for a while. An enormous road sign with “Welcome to Lan City” was hung lopsidedly, giving the impression that it could fall off at any moment. Even a part of the lower right of the signboard had scratch marks on its surface.
I stared at the sign with my head tilted and felt slightly unhappy. Lan City was going to be my family’s territory in the future! The sign was crooked and had even been scratched. How unsightly! We have to get this sign changed in the future!
Plus, we also have to rename it, since Lan City sounded too girly. It was totally discordant with my family’s ferocious, invincible troop! Mm, what should we name it—I’m such a fool. It has to be “Jiang Dominion!” This is my family’s territory. Even the pun is marvelous. A hundred times more imposing than OO city or XX metropolis!
“Shuyu.” Xiao Sha called out to me, warily looking at the underbrush beside the road sign.
I mumbled “Mm.” I had noticed ages ago. With such poor hiding skills, there wasn’t any need for Xiao Sha to step in, since even my knees could sense where they were hiding. Compared to that guy secretly stalking us, these guys’ camouflage skills basically earned them a big fat zero.
Xiao Sha glanced at me, while I was also looking at him shyly, perfectly acting out the powerless, clueless, and useless pretty boy. Xiao Sha’s face briefly twisted. Tsk, your acting skills are pretty good but still lacking in consistency.
The leader was pretending to be weak, so Xiao Sha could only volunteer himself and yelled, “Who’s there!”
The people over there seemed to have given up on hiding. While Xiao Sha was shouting, they had already stood up from the bushes. They were all tall and bulky men, each carrying a knife or staff in their hands. The one leading them was wearing a puffer coat and was even holding a gun. They looked like they were getting by pretty well.
They were staring straight at my backpack, with hunger on their faces. Only the man with the puffer coat was showing suspicion on his face. He asked doubtfully, “You guys actually want to go into the city? You crazy?”
At this moment, the rest of them showed realization on their faces. After taking a look at the city behind them, a look of fear clouded their faces.
Someone muttered, “No wonder something seemed off. The direction is all wrong. We always rob others while facing Lan City. But strangely this time, we can’t see the city because it turns out that our backs are to it.”
I see. So this bunch of people specialized in robbing civilians who were fleeing from the city. They’re quite smart people. Most of the people escaping from the city would be carrying a lot of supplies. Although those citizens may be armed and would be alert to danger, compared to starving, freezing to death, or getting killed by aberrants in the city, those people would likely be less of a threat to them. If the ones doing the looting weren’t killing everyone off and taking away everything, then those civilians who had just escaped from the city might just wish not to fight them over it.
The man in the puffer coat frowned and pondered for a while. Then, he said, “Whether you want to enter or leave, you need to pay the toll. You’re free to go wherever you want. The toll that I’m referring to ain’t paper money. You guys get that, right?”
Xiao Sha’s face darkened with a deep frown. Since his outward appearance wasn’t imposing enough, he actually didn’t appear all that fierce. He just looked like someone with a bad temper, cold-hearted and hard to approach.
“Chen Sha, just give it to them.” I timidly hid behind Xiao Sha, thinking that we should treasure all life. We’re all one human race. Giving away some food didn’t really matter, so let’s just give them a chance. As long as they leave after taking the stuff, I can treat this as a contribution to humankind’s survival. In any case, it’s not like I’m lacking in food and drink.
“Fine.” With great reluctance, Xiao Sha took out chocolates and some canned beverages from the backpack. I also took out several crackers, letting him throw them all to the opposite party.
Those people probably hadn’t expected us to cooperate so readily. They were somewhat confused when receiving the food, but soon after, quickly began a tug-of-war. They only stopped when the man in the puffer coat shouted at them.
The man in the puffer coat gazed at me. I shrank back and hid behind Xiao Sha, praying that they’d leave quickly. Please don’t get seduced by this face of mine! Since ancient times, a pretty, red face was often the flood of disaster. A blue face was all the more of a severe flood, and even resulted in freezing. You better run away if you wanna live!
However, he only shot me a glance and shifted his focus to Xiao Sha.
“And take off the jacket you’re wearing.”
Xiao Sha’s face turned even uglier, and even I couldn’t help sighing. It’s not that we were reluctant about a single jacket, but Xiao Sha would turn into a lethal human weapon once he took off the jacket. With a whole body covered in knives, can we still part amiably?
“Take it off already!”
Xiao Sha turned his head and glanced over. I shrugged. “Take it off if you want. It’s not so often that someone else tells you to do that instead of me. You gonna do it?”
“… I feel that lately, your words have been particularly infuriating.”
After recovering my memory, I became completely unrestrained. To put it in a nutshell, I’ve got the Jiang family. I ain’t afraid of nobody!
“Still chatting!?” The man in the puffer coat roared furiously.
Xiao Sha glanced indifferently at him. As the man wished, with one pull, off came his jacket, and just as expected, everyone’s eyes widened while the man in the puffer coat stared blankly. Soon after, his facial expression quickly changed, and he swiftly lifted his gun up. But he obviously couldn’t beat Xiao Sha’s speed. At this moment, Xiao Sha was already flinging his arm, throwing out a knife, which pierced into the back of the man’s hand with peerless accuracy. While the man in the puffer coat shrieked in agony, Xiao Sha leaped ahead and easily picked up the gun. When he stood back up, the muzzle of the gun was already aimed straight at the enemy’s head.
The man in the puffer coat immediately snapped his mouth shut. Although the blood on his hand was spurting out like tap water, a sight that made you wince just from looking at it, that mouth of his was rather tight lipped.
But, what happened to not using guns? I glared at Xiao Sha with discontent. Seemingly having realized it, he turned and quickly tossed the gun over. I briefly inspected it after grabbing it. This was a modified gun, and its craftsmanship was just so-so. Trying to kill me with this? You might as well just aim straight at my head and fire three shots… Er, people must never be overconfident. Let’s go with two shots.
Xiao Sha pulled out his daggers and faced the other ten people with them, looking every bit like he was going to “beat up all ten” by himself. On the other hand, the entire bunch stared blankly at him. Then, they looked at the gun in my hand, and an expression of joy came across their face, as if the gun in my hand was just a stick for tending fires. Tsk tsk. My appearance is just too deceptive—I wonder if I should make full use of this…
Dàgē would arrogantly proclaim himself as king, and even Junjun could act bossy and domineering to avoid being taken lightly and bullied. As for me, I would just lay low and hide my real strength. Just like how the MORC did it, so no one knows the true depth of their waters!
So that when the time came to take action, I would suddenly transform from a delicate pretty boy into an unrivaled little Superman—just this little bit was enough to mislead the enemy into thinking that the other members of Jiang Dominion might also be hiding their true powers. The more I thought about it, the more I felt that it was a pretty good idea…
I abruptly turned and looked behind us, but there was only the main street and the city. There was no movement whatsoever, though I could somewhat make out human shapes in the windows. They were paying close attention to us. Are they the family members of these robbers, or just unrelated people?
But right now, none of that was my main focus. Even if the enemy behind us started a fight, they still wouldn’t be able to divert my attention.
Far away, there was something there, and it was approaching closer.
My heart thumped with alarm. This wasn’t a panic that arose without rhyme or reason. As your tier rose, so did your sensitivity to danger. A tier two would just feel a hunch, but even with just that, I was still able to detect danger. Just how terrifying is this thing, to be able to make me, a tier two, feel a sense of dread?
“Xiao Sha!” I decided not to risk it. I turned and shouted, “Get inside the next house, quick! Something’s coming!”