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 Two—translated by Miaka_Mei (proofread by Arcedemius; C/E edited by Taffygirl13 & lucathia)
Xiao Sha sent his opponent’s kitchen knife flying with a strike from his dagger. At the same time, he delivered a single kick, knocking the other person a few steps back. The opponent clutched his stomach as he keeled over, groaning in pain. Xiao Sha turned to look at me, then ran straight back without a word or question. He glanced around before saying, “That one.”
I looked over. There was a row of townhouses, and all of them looked exactly the same. The external wall was made of stone and appeared fairly high-grade. The door was even sturdier, just like the gates of a city. Good choice!
After nodding with approval, the two of us quickly started to run toward the building, with Xiao Sha easily taking the lead. As expected of a user of the wind ability. He turned to look back and suddenly paused in his steps, seemingly wanting to run back to the rear.
I rolled my eyes at him. “Keep running! Think of a method to get inside first.”
Xiao Sha continued to charge toward the house again, jumping up and down to look for an entrance. I gained a moment of reprieve and so turned to look back. Three or four of the looters were collapsed on the ground, while the man in the puffer coat was still standing, his left hand tightly clutching his right. Needless to say, this method of applying pressure to staunch the bleeding was rather effective, as his hand was no longer spurting blood.
He was observing our movements with suspicion clouding his face. But this doubt didn’t last for long. Faint tremors ran through the ground, causing the both of us to simultaneously look in the same direction. Billowing smoke and dust emerged from the horizon, immediately followed by a distinct sound—the sound of footsteps. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say the sound of hoofbeats?
The clip-clop sounds did not seem as strong and powerful as a horse’s. They were more likely to be from creatures of a smaller size. But this also indicated how large in number they must be, to be able to cause such strong vibrations.
“Shuyu! Hurry up and get inside!”
When I looked back, Xiao Sha had already opened the door. Such astonishingly high efficiency. My dear friend, were you by any chance a thief before joining the JDT?
I remembered Dàgē saying that Xiao Sha had been picked up. However, he wasn’t an orphan, so I wasn’t sure what exactly “picked up” meant in this case. Back then, Dàgē hadn’t returned home for so long, and in the midst of a cold war, both Dìdì and Mèimei had refused to respond to his words. Afterwards, I had forgotten to ask further.
As the sound of powerful hoofbeats approached closer and closer with increasing intensity, I quickly ran inside the building. Hearing the sounds of footsteps from behind, I looked back and saw the man in the puffer coat running over, while also shouting to the others, “Let’s go! Hurry up and follow them—hide inside the houses.”
Well, he’s pretty smart. But what a pity, who said you guys could come in?
The man in the puffer coat shot Xiao Sha a glance. He then went around him cautiously and rushed toward the neighboring home.
Ok, I guess he’s very smart. The moment he noticed something was amiss, he pushed all other matters aside to go straight into hiding first. He had even chosen the same kind of building as us, simply jumping next door. Moreover, under tight time constraints, we’d most likely not confront each other again. What a perfect example of killing two birds with one stone.
Upon entering the house, I dragged Xiao Sha up to the third floor, which was right below the rooftop. If things didn’t work out, we could try jumping off the building to flee for our lives. After looking around inside, we ended up going straight into the wardrobe. In any case, the wardrobe was plenty large enough, with enough space to even fit two men lying side by side on the floor.
“Shuyu, what exactly are those?” Xiao Sha asked in confusion.
I raised a finger to my lips. “Listen.”
The clip-clop sounds were getting clearer and clearer. Although they weren’t as overpowering as those of a horse stampede, the lighter pitter-patter was more agitating, an extremely unsettling sound. It can’t be a swarm of cockroaches, right?
I frowned. I would be okay with that. For now, they wouldn’t attack any prey over a certain size. It was just a pity that a cockroach’s footsteps didn’t exactly sound like this.
The hoofbeats were almost within reach, as the tremors also reached their peak. This situation continued for about ten seconds, before the sounds gradually began to fade. I stepped out of the closet, feeling fairly certain about what was out there. After all, there was another clue aside from the footsteps: the cries.
I pushed the wardrobe door open and walked over to the window to look outside. I was right!
It was a horned mouse tide. They were very high in number, and looked pretty much like a black tidal wave that was advancing to engulf Lan City.
At this moment, Xiao Sha also walked over to the window, only to be shocked at the sight of the swarm outside. Fortunately, he had used a wind blade to kill off the horned mouse from before. If he had gotten stained by its blood, we might not have been able to escape so easily.
But in the end, a horned mouse was really “as timid as a mouse.” Intimidating them would be enough to send them fleeing in eight or nine cases out of ten. Although gathering in such a large group might give them more courage, I had a tier two ice ability. I could simply make some impressive looking but useless sounds and light effects to scare away the mice without much of a problem.
Contrarily, the cockroaches that I had just thought about were much more terrifying. But nothing compared to an ant tide or a bee tide… Actually, best not to think about those any further. In any case, those are matters for the future. At the current stage, accumulating en masse to prevail was the most common practice. Such swarms were not yet likely to attack humans, since these species weren’t aggressive originally.
But I hadn’t expected that horned mice would gather to form groups so soon. Moreover, they had such overwhelming numbers. No wonder they were heading toward the major city; they had most likely gnawed through everything in the vicinity of the town already.
“Shuyu, are we still entering the city?” Xiao Sha asked worriedly.
“Why, are you scared?” Such a reaction was only natural. Seeing as a group of horned mice this large could simply crush people to death, it was obvious that nobody would want to try to face them head-on.
Xiao Sha’s expression turned cold, and he said, “I still can’t find the guy on our tail, and now this massive group of horned mice is entering the city. Going to Lan City at this time would not be a good choice.”
The person tailing us was indeed quite troublesome, and made me feel a bit on edge. I had the sudden urge to start something to force him out of hiding, but this would be too unwise. Since we didn’t have any knowledge of the other person’s strength, we were already at a disadvantage.
“I can guarantee you that there are definitely other things inside of Lan City that are more terrifying than the colony of mice just now.”
Xiao Sha was stunned for a moment. But he nodded and did not have any further objections.
Just thinking about the aberrants that would emerge in the later stages of the apocalypse was enough for me to imagine how horrifying the situation in a first class city would be. Even though Asia eventually had the Ice Emperor and the Thunder God, first class cities remained in a state of unexplored wilderness.
The Thunder God had started in Zhongguan City. That was a second class city, but that was already enough to keep him busy. Meanwhile, the Ice Emperor had put his life on the line to return home. If they had occupied a first class city from the very beginning, would they have been able to secure a large stronghold for humanity?
But then again, maybe I wasn’t being cautious enough. Perhaps the reason they had been able to live long enough to become the twelve top elites was because they hadn’t gone to first class cities to court death.
I took a deep breath. Courting death and becoming stronger, why is there such a small difference between them?
“Don’t be too afraid of that guy tailing us. He most likely developed a perception and concealment-related ability. We need to be more alert. If we get the chance…” At this time, I looked around at the room behind me. No matter how powerful this person was, he couldn’t possibly hide inside the room. Only then did I whisper, “Immediately kill him on sight!”
Xiao Sha nodded, and his eyes flashed fiercely.
As soon as I exited the house, I sensed somebody’s gaze. When I raised my head, I saw that the man in the puffer coat was currently standing on the balcony next door. He was staring at us with an expression mixed with both surprise and suspicion. He’s got quite the nerve. Xiao Sha had single-handedly beaten the shit out of ten people, yet this guy still dared to stand within our line of sight. Is this courageousness? Stupidity? Or is he just too fond of Xiao Sha’s jacket?
The opposite party was solely focused on Xiao Sha, an evident expression of reverence on his face. There was no place for a guy like me in his eyes. Fine then, I’ll just obediently stay as the ‘weak and beautiful youth’ beside the strong one. And now I’m even moonlighting as the little boyfriend. The longer I live, the younger I get.
“You still wanna go?” Xiao Sha coldly spoke.
The expression of the man in the puffer coat immediately changed, and he strongly shook his head. After some hesitation, he then shouted, “Why are you going into the city? Everyone is leaving from there. No one is going in! Besides, didn’t you see those mice?”
Xiao Sha held his tongue and simply threw me a sidelong glance.
I leaned on “my boyfriend” with a frightened expression, and said with trembling lips, “Just tell him to ‘fuck off’ coolly with the air of a pro, and then let’s hurry to the city before it gets dark. Unless, of course, you feel like sleeping in the open right in front of the aberrants’ noses?”
“…” Xiao Sha indifferently glanced at the man in the puffer coat, and dropped the words, “None of your business,” before swaggering off with his “little boyfriend.”
After walking a good distance, Xiao Sha asked with uncertainty, “Was that what you meant by ‘air of a pro?’”
I thought it over. He was still a bit lacking in grandeur, coolness, and arrogance. But taking into consideration the fact that Xiao Sha was, in fact, the cold type of pro, being taciturn and lacking in communication skills might actually be fitting. Besides, having Dàgē alone was enough to fill the role of a domineering and mighty Boss.
“Not bad,” I praised.
Xiao Sha released a big sigh of relief. Which part of him looks like a highly skilled pro? He’s clearly more like a student who’s just submitted his exam paper and is terrified of getting a zero…
I was a bit speechless. The moment I got my memory back, the almighty Dàgē became an invincible airhead, and the cool guy transformed into a young school-boy. It’s no wonder that people say memories are the most beautiful pictures, while losing one’s memory elevates everyone even more to the cool and proud.
We slowed down as we walked further. Tall buildings were gradually emerging in our surroundings. The road was packed full of vehicles, and the ground was black and red. It was clear that we had officially entered Lan City’s turf. I no longer dared to blatantly go on. Advancing stealthily was the most logical action.
Along the way, I continued to question Xiao Sha. Sometimes he couldn’t detect the stalker at all, while at other times, he could sense the enemy’s aura again. The most recent time that he felt it was just a few minutes ago.
“He actually has the cheek to follow us into the city?” I frowned. Just what is this guy trying to do? He’s just sneaking around without doing anything. Are Xiao Sha and I actually conspicuous enough to the point where someone would be that drawn to us? We each only have one backpack and don’t have that many supplies. Unless they fell for our lies at the beginning about that fabricated warehouse store?
No. The terror of Lan City definitely far exceeds the allure of a warehouse or market, especially when we haven’t yet entered the phase of food shortages.
Entering a dangerous zone like Lan City while having a person stealthily following us, was really an unwise action…
Just as my killing intent emerged, Xiao Sha suddenly rushed out, fully releasing his murderous aura. I blankly watched as his throwing knives flew out even faster than he shot out. However, the knives pierced into the shadows by the side of the road, which appeared empty.
Although I didn’t know what was going on, I had to at least follow my partner’s lead now that he had already made a move. I swiftly twisted my arm back to draw the ice spear on my back and hurriedly followed.
Xiao Sha charged forward and swung his daggers toward the shadows.
I knitted my brows. Xiao Sha hadn’t used wind blades from start to finish. As expected, when placed in a critical situation, he had instantly forgotten about his ability. Although I wanted to remind him of this, I suddenly remembered that Xiao Sha’s opponent was probably the concealed person. In that case, it’s better to just let Xiao Sha finish off that kind of dangerous guy as quickly as possible.
But I still couldn’t see anything within the shadows…
I was stunned. The dagger in Xiao Sha’s hand was stopped in midair at a deadlock. Although faint, a silhouette slowly came into view. That’s a hand!
The hand, which was as dark as the shadows, was also holding onto a dagger. Only now could I gradually start to see the enemy. He was a murky figure, which made it extremely difficult to detect him in the shadows. Without looking closely, he was undetectable, which was how he had followed us all this way.
The two daggers rebounded off each other, but Xiao Sha clearly had more remaining energy than the enemy did. He had probably been the one to break off first, ending the stalemate before charging in again. The clashing sounds of daggers continuously reverberated, practically song-like.
Tilting my head, I assessed the enemy. He was quite strong, and even knew how to use the surrounding shadows to conceal himself. There were quite a few times when I was suddenly unable to sense any trace of him, and could only pinpoint his location afterwards. His movements were not bad at all. Matched together with his weird shadow-like body, he was truly the ideal candidate for tailing.
However, our family’s Xiao Sha was much stronger. No wonder Dàgē had called Xiao Sha a hidden elite. Even when facing up against this shadow-like person, he could still pretty much follow the opponent’s footsteps, and even stay one step ahead by predicting their movements. Several attacks had probably landed on the enemy, but I was uncertain because he was just too dark.
That ability to transform one’s whole body into a shadow was just too strange. If the enemy’s ability was this strong, and could be maintained for a long time, he would definitely not be at a disadvantage in a fight. Although there were some ability types more suited for battle and some less suited for battle, the power of an ability also reflected the strength of one’s body. However, this guy’s strength and speed really didn’t seem to be greater than Xiao Sha’s.
Unless… I frowned and loudly shouted, “Xiao Sha, use your ability!”
There was no sluggishness in Xiao Sha’s movements at all as energy waves started to fluctuate around his body. Gusts of wind condensed to form numerous wind blades one after another, hovering in midair. Wind was colorless and formless, which actually made it quite hard to detect. Had I not ascended to tier two, I probably wouldn’t have been able to see it so clearly. Rather than “see,” it was more accurate to say that I could “sense” the energy waves.
If Xiao Sha was truly able to integrate wind blades into his fights, he would surely number among the JDT’s finest battle experts.
After shooting out the wind blades to block off all escape routes, Xiao Sha lunged forward with his daggers. The opponent stiffened, seemingly at a complete loss. Looks like this strike will undoubtedly be successful…
“Tánggē!”1 The black figure screamed with a shrill voice.
Xiao Sha froze in shock. His hand twisted a little, causing the wind blades to scatter outwards and turn the roadside cars into honeycombs.
I shouted sternly, “He’s bluffing!”
Xiao Sha turned cold. As he raised his daggers with caution, he once again gathered up wind blades. His speed at gathering those is quite impressive.
The black figure hurriedly jumped out of the shadows, but only a humanoid silhouette could be seen. A “clang” was heard as something dropped to the ground, probably the dagger, which was also wreathed in darkness. Such an odd ability.
“Tánggē, I-I’m Chenyang! Shangguan Chenyang!”