Dominion’s End Volume 4: Battle for Lan City
Original novel in Chinese by: 御我 (Yu Wo)
Chapter 4: Shangguan Family, Part Two—translated by Miaka_Mei (proofread by Arcedemius; C/E edited by Taffygirl13, lucathia & Elkin)
Xiao Sha thought about it and said, “There may be mini department stores nearby, but I’m not sure about it. Based on my memory, the nearest shopping mall is still a slight distance away, and we may have to walk for a day.”
As expected from a man—he didn’t even know where the closest shopping mall was. If it was a woman, she could probably circle all the various big and small shops nearby on a map, and would even be able to tell me which was best for buying clothes, or which was best for shoes. As for the things that I wanted, she would have screamed out “I’ll take you there” with shining eyes!
Sadly, I only had a man with me. Beggars couldn’t be choosers, so we probably had to walk around a bit more.
“We still have two days to spare, so let’s head in that direction. On the way back, we can grab a vehicle on the outskirts of Lan City to save time.”
Xiao Sha reminded me, “It’s a small shopping center. Although there wouldn’t be as many people there as in large shopping centers, it would be no small number either.”
“The apocalypse occurred in the middle of the night, and it was also the same day that the black fog spread. There wouldn’t have been crowds in the shopping centers. That area would usually have been noisy too, so there probably weren’t many residents living around there either.”
The realization struck Xiao Sha, and he nodded.
“Let’s hurry to bed and set out early tomorrow.” If we hurried, we could possibly make it home within five days. Then Dàgē wouldn’t get mad at us. “Do you want to keep watch the first half or the second half of the night?”
“I’m not sleepy, so the first half of the night.”
With this response, I lay down comfortably on the bed. Xiao Sha was sitting on a floral-patterned single sofa by the window. It was even pink in color, making him look funny from every angle.
Xiao Sha frowned, and said, “Shuyu, has the temperature inside dropped?”
“It’s the energy I’m releasing. It has a warning effect.”
When I saw Xiao Sha nod, I finally relaxed and fell asleep. However, I was jolted awake by a fluctuation of energy. Before I even reacted, I realized…
“If you want to learn how to keep your guard up by releasing energy, I can teach you during the daytime as we travel. Don’t play around now, or else I’ll have to give up on sleeping.”
It was silent for a while before an awkward “sorry” could be heard.
Come to think of it, teaching Xiao Sha this skill was the right thing to do. The wind ability could be better than the ice ability for keeping watch. Although an average person wouldn’t notice the slight temperature drop, this mercenary, Xiao Sha, had still detected it. After all, it was too unlikely for the temperature inside the house to be lower than the outside. But if the house had a slight breeze, it would be far less noticeable.
But no matter how easy or not it was to be noticed, I could at least guard against people who were approaching in my sleep. So everyone in the Jiang Dominion should learn this skill. Nevertheless, it was a very difficult skill to master. Back then, I had learned how to sleep while maintaining energy under the torturous training of the Ice Emperor. Now, what method should I use to torture others?
“Shuyu, it’s gotten a bit cold.” There was a slight tremble in Xiao Sha’s voice.
“The fault doesn’t lie with the temperature being low. This level of temperature is not enough to make you feel very cold.”
Eating all those crystals wasn’t for nothing. We were entering winter of the first year of the apocalypse. The average person would have already started to wear a coat, but the members of JDT wouldn’t even have to put on extra layers yet. Xiao Sha and I were wearing coats just because we didn’t want other people to notice anything strange. I also had to hide the ice patterns, as they were too eye-catching.
“It’s my power that makes you feel uncomfortable. You can cope with it by releasing your energy.”
“But didn’t you say you wouldn’t be able to sleep?”
I was momentarily speechless. I had only been thinking of training others, but had forgotten that the one that needed the most training was me. On the way here, Xiao Sha had detected that shadow, Shangguan Chenyang, while I hadn’t. If the Ice Emperor knew of this matter, he would definitely suppress his reluctance to severely reprimand me, giving me a hard training session while scolding me.
“I was wrong. If I can’t sleep because of this small thing, I might as well not sleep.”
I simply got up and carefully guided Xiao Sha on how to use energy.
“Not like that. You’re using too much energy. You won’t be able maintain it until morning. You’re not preparing an attack, so there’s no need to condense so much energy. Only a little bit is necessary, and it’s best if it’s even lighter than the breeze. That way, the enemy won’t be able to detect any difference. But even I haven’t mastered this part yet, which was why you could easily detect the temperature change.”
Xiao Sha shook his head and said, “I noticed because I was sitting still, and was close to you. I simply thought that some window hadn’t been closed.”
I placed the pillow behind my waist and said comfortably, “Be sure to practice until you can sleep while maintaining the output of energy. The farther you can project it, the better. That way, you can instantly detect when someone approaches you.”
Xiao Sha nodded and immediately began to work on it, trying hard to reduce the release of energy. Though quite unstable, this was the typical case for beginners. I had only been slightly better in the beginning, since I’d had experience from my past life. On the other hand, Xiao Sha was a complete novice starting from the very beginning.
“You’re not sleeping?” Xiao Sha glanced at me curiously.
“I will. But my task is to identify your energy so that it doesn’t disturb me. That way, I can continue to sleep.”
Xiao Sha’s eyes shone, and he said, “I’ll also practice this in the second half of the night.”
I smiled. Still gonna practice, huh? Being able to hold out for the first half of the night and not faint will already be worth applauding. Damn, I suddenly don’t feel like sleeping. I want to wait and see him faint. It’s a shame that I haven’t found a Polaroid. Otherwise, I would definitely snap a photo and tease him over it in the future.
Wait a minute! The person who’ll be going out with me next time should be Cain. I’ve decided! A Polaroid will now be considered the second most important item in our search of goods. It doesn’t matter if I can’t take a photo of Xiao Sha. But I must get a photo of Cain fainting!
As for the most important item, cough, without a doubt, it’s the “King’s garment” of my family’s Dàgē.
As I let my imagination run wild, I found myself truly unable to fall asleep. If Xiao Sha practiced his ability until he fainted, it’d be bad if there was no one to take watch.
During my training back then, the Ice Emperor would instantly kick me with his little foot when I was about to fall asleep. During that time, was he ever able to sleep?
Taking a deep breath, I then said to Xiao Sha, “I’m not sleeping tonight. I’ll watch you practice your ability and sleep tomorrow night. It’ll be the same in the future. You’ll practice for a day and not practice for the next, until you’ve learned to steadily use the ability to keep your guard up.”
Xiao Sha glanced over. “Won’t it affect our operations during the day? I can practice after we go back. Safety is important.”
“It’s nothing.” I shook my head. We can’t play it safe like that. When I was being trained up by the Ice Emperor, I hadn’t slept for who knew how many days. In comparison, being able to practice safely, even going to sleep when tired felt too easy and comfortable without any imminent danger.
The only good way of training was under the pressure of kicking the bucket if you didn’t get your power down pat. As the saying went, man’s potential always appeared in times of stress!
Hearing my reply, Xiao Sha no longer opposed the idea. He only said, “I will master it as soon as possible.”
I rolled my eyes at him. You haven’t practiced yet, so you have no idea. Once you faint from practicing, try saying “I will master it as soon as possible” again.
However, Xiao Sha’s current energy seemed stuck around tier one. It wasn’t quite stable. Hopefully, he would be able to raise his tier while we were in the city.
“There’s too much energy. It’s blowing like a hurricane!”
I threw the pillow over. Xiao Sha didn’t even dare to dodge it and got hit straight in the face. He casually put the pillow away while trying his utmost to suppress the escaping energy. Such a good kid. Which alley was he picked up from, Dàgē? Hurry up and tell me. I wanna pick one up too!
I stood up, nonchalantly pulled out a sheet of toilet paper, and put it on top of his head. Once my hand let go, it instantly floated up and circled through the room before getting blown to the side of the door. It stuck fast against the door, unable to fall to the ground.
“There are a few stages that you should train. The first stage is getting that toilet paper to hover in the air with a constant and stable orbit.”
Xiao Sha frowned, but he didn’t say anything.
“The second stage is being able to settle that toilet paper on top of your head. At most, it can only have a slight tremble. The third stage is being able to stop it wherever you want it to. And I’m talking about stopping it in mid-air. You got that?”
“Your difficulty level is higher than mine. Wind is formless, so it’s much harder to control than ice.” Patting his shoulder, I said, “No rush. These three stages of training aren’t so easy to master. If you really could succeed in mastering it all, you would have to at least be tier three already.”
“Tier three?” Xiao Sha asked in bafflement. Just then, it came to me that I had never explained to everyone about the tiers in detail. I’d have to find the time to explain it after getting home—
I abruptly turned to the window. Xiao Sha started as well, before quickly jumping up from the sofa. In an instant, I stretched out my hand to start condensing a thick layer of ice. Right as the ice wall took shape, there was a flash of light, and the glass window suddenly shattered completely. The deafening explosion was so huge that the whole house shook violently.
Xiao Sha was about to push me away from the shards of broken glass, his hands already outstretched. However, when he realized that the glass shards were all stuck in the ice wall, he retracted his hands.
The sounds of explosion continued, but they were all small ones, nothing compared to the explosion just now. I walked to the window and looked out. Fires were blazing everywhere. Approximately three or four streets away, raging flames were releasing black smoke into the air. Even from here, it was possible to detect the heat, not to mention the heavy smell of smoke.
“The gas station exploded.” Xiao Sha looked over and said in discontent, “Such a waste. What did those aberrants blow up the gas station for?”
I cautioned him, “Listen carefully.”
Xiao Sha pricked up his ears. “Human voices?”
I nodded. Although it was far away and obscured by explosions, we could still vaguely hear human voices. In a city filled with aberrants, sounds that could travel this far had to be screams. It didn’t sound like a small number of people.
“Let’s go and take a look.” I looked at Xiao Sha and carefully stated, “But that doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll save anyone. If necessary, we’ll have to just watch with our arms folded to avoid getting ourselves into trouble.”
Xiao Sha nodded, looking completely heartless. It almost sounds like I’m berating him. Anyways, professionals know how to weigh the pros and cons. There is no need to explain such things again; these mercenaries don’t need to be reminded.
Clutching my ice spear, I put on the jacket packed with knives, and we jumped straight down from the balcony. This little bit of height wasn’t much of a problem to us. The only difference was that I landed noiselessly, while Xiao Sha still made a sound.
He gazed at me with a mixture of admiration and envy.
“Don’t be jealous of me. You have the wind ability, so your mastery in mobility will only surpass mine in the future. Let’s go. If we don’t hurry, we might not even manage to catch a glimpse of the commotion.”
I sped up but didn’t form ice blades for gliding. For one, Xiao Sha wouldn’t be able to keep up with me. Second, as long as it wasn’t necessary to use my full strength, it was best to hide it. Although I hated the MORC’s very existence, their style of operations was worth learning.
We had only run two streets over, but we could already feel the rise in temperature. The flames were burning more and more intensely. Without firefighters to put out the fire, this blaze would at minimum burn down the entire street. I felt a sharp pang in my heart, as this would be my future home.
When we were still one street away, I stretched out my hand to stop Xiao Sha from getting any closer. Instead, I pointed at a building nearby and climbed up, even turning midway to check on how Xiao Sha was doing. Although he wasn’t able to use his ability for assistance, and his climbing speed wasn’t very fast, there was no sign of him stumbling. He continued to heft himself up step by step, his movements extremely smooth and agile.
Having eaten a lot of crystals, our strengths would also increase. Just two fingertips would be enough to lift one’s body weight. Even without the help of an ability, climbing up a building was merely child’s play.
After climbing to something like the sixth floor, I emerged on the balcony. Xiao Sha hopped up after me, close on my heels. He looked toward the gas station and pointed to a road not too far away, remarking, “They’re over there. I see eleven people, with something chasing after them. They’re not moving that quickly.”
I was, however, looking in another direction. Patting his shoulder, I said, “Look over there.”
In the other direction, a large group of people was quietly hurrying across the road. The people weren’t fast, and they weren’t moving in any kind of formation. Most likely, those were civilians, not some specialized organization. There were at least fifty or sixty of them, but it was hard to see clearly from this distance.
Xiao Sha balked and asked in confusion, “Don’t tell me these people intentionally blew up the gas station to draw away the aberrants’ attention so the others would have a better chance of getting away? Are they soldiers?”
They could very well be. Right now, none of the civilians were capable of pulling this off, and at most had only improved to the stage of being able to flee without screaming or crying. But these people didn’t quite look like soldiers, as they were wearing all sorts of random stuff. Or maybe they grabbed whatever was at hand because of the cold weather?
They were fleeing with aberrants chasing at their heels. There were fewer aberrants than I’d expected, only twenty at most. Although the raging blaze would attract the aberrants’ attention, they wouldn’t approach the scene of a fire. Blowing up the gas station is actually a pretty good idea. If it weren’t because a first class city had too many aberrants, their chances of escaping unscathed would have been very high.
The closer they approached us, the farther away they were from the other group, their directions exact opposites. The more attention those people drew, the safer the other group became; however, the price of being the bait was their own lives.
Not three minutes had passed since I’d started observing when someone got knocked down by a pouncing aberrant. He let out a pitiful wail before he got shredded and devoured by the aberrants that caught up.
Even though it was a bit cruel, his death allowed his companions to take a breather. Just who is the leader of this group? Even with their companion screaming so horribly, it wasn’t enough for any of them to look back, or to wildly take a shot. Perhaps Xiao Sha had guessed right, and they could be soldiers.
“Shuyu, should we hide?” Xiao Sha asked. “They’re too close to us and there’s more and more aberrants following them now. We might get discovered.”
He paused, and then changed his line of questioning, “Or do you want to save them? We might lose, though.”
That was true. Even if I could beat the current number of aberrants, there were plenty hidden away that were observing the scene. Fighting would create a commotion that would also attract even more aberrants, leading to a never-ending battle.
While I was still hesitating, those ten people dashed toward the crossroads and scattered in all directions at the same time. Turning left or right was nothing surprising, but someone even pulled a manhole open and jumped down it, while another one was climbing up a house alone. Those skills weren’t bad at all, belonging to someone wearing what looked to be protective goggles, but it seemed rather high-tech, so I wasn’t really sure what it was.
“Well done!” Xiao Sha praised, “Indeed, splitting up is the only way to survive.”
Indeed. Although it was unavoidable that someone would get caught and killed, it was way better than everyone getting wiped out together. Splitting up to flee could possibly result in someone fortunate enough to survive and live another day.
The only person who had scrambled up a house was throwing stuff down to draw the aberrants’ attention, obviously to give the others the opportunity to escape. Seeing this scene, I called out to Xiao Sha.
“Come, time to save someone!”
This fellow is brave, clever, and willing to sacrifice oneself for others—exactly the kind of person I want to recruit into the JDT!