Dominion’s End Volume 4: Battle for Lan City
Original novel in Chinese by: 御我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 4: Shangguan Family, Part One—translated by Chizuru (proofread by Arcedemius; C/E edited by Miaka_Mei, Taffygirl13, lucathia, & Elkin)
I looked at Xiao Sha. He still had his guard raised, but from his expression, it seemed that he really did recognize the name “Shangguan Chenyang.” Since the word “Shangguan” was mentioned, the other party probably knew Xiao Sha.
Xiao Sha shouted, “Show your face!”
“I can’t! I don’t know how I became like this. I, I can’t get back to how I originally looked. That’s why I got driven out. They think I’m a monster!” The shadow’s shoulders sagged as he muttered, “I haven’t turned into a monster. It’s not like I eat people. I just, just…”
He didn’t seem to know “just” what he was, though I knew very well. This change was similar to that of the brainwight that we had encountered before. It was a physical evolution, and a significant one at that. He didn’t even have a human form any more. Looking pretty much like an aberrant, it would be hard for him to be accepted by humans.
Xiao Sha hesitated a bit. Then, he turned to look at me.
I grabbed Xiao Sha’s arm and timidly hid behind him as I asked, “Chensha, is this person really someone you know?”
Xiao Sha nodded. “Yes, the voice sounds like him.”
“It’s really me!” Shangguan Chenyang hurriedly said, “Tánggē, don’t you recognize your younger brother?”
“Your cousin?” I frowned, trying hard to play the role of a little boyfriend. I pushed him in discontent and complained, “Why haven’t I heard you mention him before? You never tell me anything!”
Xiao Sha indifferently said, “I have more than twenty younger cousins. I’m not very close with any of them, so there is nothing to talk about.”
“…” That’s a really big family. Props to you that you can still recognize this voice that belongs to some unfamiliar cousin.
Shangguan Chenyang retorted, “At least you’re more familiar with me than the others! We worked at the same company before, and I helped cover up for you when you skipped work several times. Have you completely forgotten me?”
There was a sour look on Xiao Sha’s face. He had no desire to reply, whether or not he remembered.
Skipped work? I glanced at Xiao Sha. This guy was an office worker? Which boss was as broad-minded as the sea, to have actually recruited such a cold and taciturn person?
“Why are you following me?” Xiao Sha frowned.
“I, I was just wandering around and saw you by chance, so I tailed you.”
Xiao Sha coldly snorted. “Sneaking around without showing your face? Are you trying to rob me?”
The shadow was silent for so long that Xiao Sha even started to grow wary. Finally, the shadow replied, “I didn’t dare to show myself. Everyone has been afraid of me, and I got driven out from the family.”
This time, it was Xiao Sha’s turn to fall silent. Who knew if he believed these words or not?
Shangguan Chenyang bitterly laughed and said, “Tánggē, when I’m in this form, I could pretty much rob anyone successfully, so why would I specifically try to rob you? It’s not like we’ve never fought before. When have I ever beaten you?”
Xiao Sha’s face eased a little, and he asked, “You got driven out despite having this kind of ability?” He stilled for a moment and seemed to cast a sidelong glance at me. He then said, “At least, Shangguan Chenhao should consider you to be useful.”
“The current Shangguan family is no longer the same. Several elders have died or otherwise turned into aberrants. You also know that most of the elders were supporting your big brother. Their deaths, along with the world falling to this kind of state, have allowed the military-oriented Chenhong to grow dominant. Your brother is barely able to keep standing alongside him. And there’s Chenyu, who isn’t simple either…”
I couldn’t understand what I was hearing. Is this the legendary power struggle among rich and powerful families?
Xiao Sha coldly snorted in disdain. “The Shangguan family has yet to disperse?”
Shangguan Chenyang wryly chuckled and said, “You really do hate the family, don’t you? Thanks to your big brother’s quick response, not only have they not dispersed, they’ve occupied a military base. As soon as he realized the situation, he contacted the base and even dispatched people to bring back the outlying family members. Who knows how he reacted so quickly? But upon arriving at the base, Chenhong immediately used his military background to seize half of the power.”
“Is that base in Lan City?” I cut in and asked. However, the shadow ignored me, and I couldn’t read the facial expression of the silhouette. He simply looked like a very dark and opaque shadow.
Xiao Sha asked, “Where is the base?”
Shangguan Chenyang finally said, “In the south, not far from Lan City. Are you going to find your big brother? In that case, I won’t follow you…”
Okay, even if I can’t see his expression, I can tell that this guy doesn’t want to answer me at all. Should I be thankful that my appearance really isn’t the least bit menacing? Even though I’m clearly carrying an ice spear behind my back?! Although it looks like an iron railing rolled up in plastic wrap, it should at least be more impressive than a broomstick, right? Sigh… I really miss the Ice Emperor’s spear!
Xiao Sha coldly said, “I’m not interested in the Shangguan family.”
Shangguan Chenyang immediately asked, “Then, can I follow you?”
Follow “you”? He has completely disregarded my existence. In any case, I’ve at least got a super attractive face!
Xiao Sha frowned. He wanted to look at me yet didn’t dare to look.
I immediately turned into a little troublemaker boyfriend. In a dissatisfied manner, I pinched Xiao Sha hard and then dragged him away. I even shouted to the shadow, “If you dare to come closer to eavesdrop, I’ll order Xiao Sha to beat you up!”
There was a hint of helplessness on Xiao Sha’s cold face. But as soon as we walked far enough from that shadow, his expression instantly changed to an obedient one, ready to listen to orders.
In fact, I was slightly hesitant. Shangguan Chenyang’s shadow ability was quite terrifying. Xiao Sha didn’t seem intent on keeping him either. But I decided that, no matter what, we had to bring him in first before further discussion.
Based on Shangguan Chenyang’s words, it sounded like their military base was not far from Lan City, and they had quite a few people, many of whom were soldiers. The moment they ran out of food, they would definitely go out in search for supplies. At that time, they could possibly run into the Jiang Dominion. Thus, it was necessary to find out the exact situation their base was in. Shangguan Chenyang could be the key.
“Xiao Sha, is your relationship with your big brother bad?”
Xiao Sha’s face sank.
I said, slightly awkwardly, “Eh, it’s not that I want to hear about your personal matters. But if they’re not far from here, we might inadvertently encounter—”
Xiao Sha interrupted, “My father had three wives. He’s the eldest son of the first wife. I’m from the third wife’s household.”
…Big families are really chaotic. It’s no wonder there are more than twenty younger cousins. Turns out it’s not each person having multiple kids, but that there were many giving birth!
“I originally had three ‘older brothers.’” Xiao Sha sneered, “But there were two idiots who wanted to compete for power against Shangguan Chenhao. In the end, one of them died while the other was admitted to an asylum. So, I’m only left with one.”
This big brother is really dangerous! My family’s big brother is still the best. Even though our family’s deposit book, property deed, and land deed are all in my hands, Dàgē wouldn’t ever think of killing his dìdi!
I suddenly thought of the time when Xiao Sha had once gotten entranced by a brainwight. Back then, he had said something about his brother, and wasn’t it something along the lines of, “Dàgē, stop hitting me, I’ll listen to you”?
It didn’t sound like an estranged or hostile relationship. Ohhhhh, my curiosity is quickly breaking through the horizon!
Xiao Sha pledged, “I left the Shangguan family ages ago, and have no interest in the base to the south. Even if there ends up being conflict between the Jiang Dominion and the Shangguan family, or even Shangguan Chenhao, I would still be Boss’s man!”
He glanced at me and corrected himself, “What I mean is, Boss’s subordinate.”
Eh, it’s not like I misunderstood.
“We can’t bring that shadow along into Lan City. Tell him to wait here for five days. If he’s still there after five days, we’ll bring him back. By all means, don’t mention anything about Old Town or any other matter regarding Jiang Dominion.”
Xiao Sha nodded, and went back to talk with Shangguan Chenyang.
“You’re taking this boy into the city?” Shangguan Chenyang said in surprise, “Tánggē, you wouldn’t do such a stupid thing, right? It’s fine to spoil this kind of plaything normally, but Lan City is not currently a place to be fooling around in.”
…Can I take back what I said and not bring him home?
“Shut up!” Xiao Sha sternly said, “You’re not allowed to speak about him that way!”
It wasn’t until Xiao Sha glanced at me that I finally realized what I had to do. I angrily shouted, “Who are you calling a plaything? Xiao Sha, I’m warning you! If you let him come with us, I’ll ignore you from now on!”
After that, I immediately turned my head snootily and left. I only sighed in relief after hearing Shangguan Chenyang snort in disdain. Pretending to be a brainless pretty boy wasn’t easy. If I didn’t pay attention, I could let my IQ slip in. I hadn’t even bothered to retort to that provocation.
Before I’d walked for too long, the sounds of footsteps came from behind. As Xiao Sha caught up with me, he said, “He agreed to wait there.”
I made a sound of “mm” and said, “It’s late. Let’s look for a place to stay first. This place should be within Lan City’s boundaries, right?”
“Yes, but only on the outskirts. Lan City is very large. It’s divided into more than ten districts. This area is closer to the mountain, so it isn’t as prosperous as the other areas.”
No wonder I couldn’t sense any danger. There was no way a grand metropolis could be so safe. It seemed like it was due to there being fewer people here.
“This district had caused the previous generation of the Shangguan family to suffer a huge financial loss. No one bought out their developed district, and it became a ‘dead zone.’” Xiao Sha said curtly, “At that time, Shangguan Chenhao was the one that recovered the financial situation, and then rose to power as a result and became the head.”
I’m more curious about why you aren’t willing to call him your big brother even once. You just keep saying, “Shangguan Chenhao.” I only shout “Jiang Shutian” when I get really enraged, so Dàgē is most afraid of hearing me call his name.
“If the JDT wants to fight against the Shangguan family, we don’t have enough people.” Xiao Sha seriously said, “Nowhere near enough.”
“Yeah, but we’re not in a rush to gather so many people.” I said with a faint smile, “A base which houses numerous powerhouses would never be short of manpower.”
Xiao Sha hesitated, but still couldn’t resist asking, “Just how strong can humans become?”
I thought about it and summarized by saying, “Toppling mountains and overturning seas.”
Xiao Sha’s eyes stretched wide.
I truthfully said, “Of course, only a small number of people can reach that level. The majority of people are not so powerful.”
“I’ll never be in the majority!”
I smiled, casually reached out my hand, and said, “Hand them over.”
Xiao Sha stilled, looking at me in confusion.
“All of your knives.” I thought about it and spared him, saying, “Except for that dagger on your waist.”
Xiao Sha stared blankly before asking, “All of them?”
“Why are you hesitating?” I impatiently said.
Thus, Xiao Sha began taking out the knives. He first took off his coat, which fell with a clang on the ground. It was basically like a metal coat. It was followed by the straps below his torso and on his thigh, and a small knife hidden in his boots. Four square pieces of metal with extremely sharp edges came out from the buckle of his belt, a tiny blade similar to a hair clip was pulled out behind his ear, and a fingernail-sized blade was spit out from under his tongue. Finally, his hand reached into the crotch of his pants and pulled out a thick needle.
“…Actually, just keep that thing in your pants.”
I had absolutely no desire to take the needle that was being offered to me. After I ordered Xiao Sha to put the needle back in the crotch of his pants, I gathered the rest of the knives and tied them to my body. If I had not eaten quite a few crystals, I might not have had the strength to carry these things. Xiao Sha, even if you were popping crystals like candy, did you really need to turn yourself into a walking knife drawer?
“From now on, you have to figure out how to use your abilities in actual combat. You have to train until you can use them like actual throwing knives.”
Xiao Sha hummed in agreement. Afterwards, we found a house to stay in. There was only a small group of cockroaches in it, the kind that was covered in scales. However, they didn’t actually take the initiative to attack. Upon seeing us, they first vibrated their wings in attempt to intimidate us. Then, they scampered away after I sent over a breath of cold air.
“If you run into insect-type aberrants, scaring them away takes precedence. At the current phase, they wouldn’t attack prey of a much larger size. If you really want to kill them, don’t get their blood on you; otherwise, the consequences will be very troublesome.”
Xiao Sha nodded his head in understanding. We picked the third floor of the house that was neither too high nor too low as our temporary place to stay. The room with a window was set up as a small living room, which happened to be the perfect area for eating. We were starving after walking for so long, so as soon as the food was brought out, we both devoured the food without a word.
Lan City had looked so close. It was just at the foot of Old Town, but it had turned out to be lot further than I’d expected. However, this was also a good thing, as being too close was actually worrying.
Having eaten and drunk to our fill, I glanced outside to see that it was completely dark. From time to time, there were different cries and howling, a lot of which sounded very familiar. In my previous life, I had spent countless nights drifting in and out of sleep in constant terror of these sounds.
One day had already passed. Taking into account the travel time, we didn’t have much time to continue exploring. Before we left, I had promised Dàgē to return home within a week’s time. At that time, the look on his face had been extremely unsightly, and he had only been willing to give me three days. After a lot of wheeling and dealing, I had finally gotten a five-day limit.
I asked, “How much longer do we need to walk before reaching a more prosperous area?”
Xiao Sha contemplated for a moment, then said, “An hour at the most. There are not many prosperous places in Lan City. The place where we came from was close to the mountains. In the daytime, there would be quite a few people here. Most of them would have been travelers, as there’s a pathway here. However it was late at night when the apocalypse occurred, so there may not have been many people here.”
“Are you very familiar with Lan City?”
“I used to live here for a while,” Xiao Sha admitted. “The Shangguan residence is here.”
Things were a lot easier with someone local around. I thought about it and asked, “Do you know where the nearest shopping mall is?”
Xiao Sha looked at me strangely and said, “I do know, but the shopping mall is big, so it might have already been looted.”
“No worries. The things I want are definitely still there.”