After the white head flew into the storeroom, the two of them realized that the head was actually connected to something that was flat and white like a piece of paper. At one glance, it looked like a large rectangular piece of paper with a white lantern hanging from one side.
Perhaps because they had been frightened too many times in a short period of time, but they weren’t really that scared to see that the head had made it into the storeroom. Chu Yi even picked up a wooden bat and started hacking at the head.
But the wooden bat went right through the head, as if the head wasn’t real. The two of them froze and didn’t know what to do anymore. They had no idea what to do with a ghost.
Just then, Zhang Jing started to struggle even more violently than before. She seemed very excited to see this ghost. The rope around her limbs quickly began to snap, and she managed to break free.
But after she had broken the ropes around herself, she ignored Su Jin and Chu Yi completely and pounced towards the ghost instead. The ghost seemed very afraid of her and turned in horror as it tried to fly out of the window again. But Zhang Jing was faster than the ghost. Her mouth bit down on the paper-like body of the ghost; then, she breathed in so hard that she managed to swallow the ghost down.
The door to the storeroom slammed open. Besides Lin Yue, her parents and her younger brother were also outside the door. The four of them glowered straight at the two inside the room.
Su Jin was suddenly hit by a wave of despair. It looked impossible to escape such a situation. But Chu Yi didn’t give up. He whispered to Su Jin, “Brother Su, just run for it, I’ll cover you!”
“What the hell are you saying? I’m a grown man! I should be the one covering you, rather than letting a child cover my ass!” Su Jin hailed from a family of farmers in the mountains and was proud of growing up as a brave and loyal kid. He wasn’t going to abandon Chu Yi just to save his own skin.
“You might not be as good a fighter as I am, you know?”
“Let’s compete then! No matter what, if we can survive this, we're going to survive it together! And if we’re going to die, we’ll die together!” The two of them had only known each other for barely two hours, but the crises that they had gone through during this short period of time were more than all the ordeals that they had gone through their entire lives. The both of them knew very well that even if only one of them did actually manage to escape, it was hard for one person to survive by himself too.
“Shut up, both of you. Nobody is getting away.” The gentleness that Lin Yue possessed earlier had vanished, and she seemed like a different person now. Her gaze seemed too threatening.
After she said that, both her father and younger brother pounced towards Su Jin and Chu Yi. They quickly got into a fighting stance because there was no way that they were going to let themselves be killed without putting up a fight. Besides, their attackers were humans and not ghosts, so they still stood a chance.
But before they could start fighting, they felt a pain in the back of their necks before losing consciousness. Before fainting, Su Jin realized that they had both forgotten about the crazed Zhang Jing behind them.
“Grandma, you’ve become so young,” said Lin Yue with a big smile as she walked towards Zhang Jing.
Zhang Jing was a lot friendlier now, and she smiled devilishly at Lin Yue and her parents.
After some time, Su Jin slowly regained consciousness. He didn’t feel anything else besides a dull ache at the back of his head. But he couldn’t move about freely, so he guessed that he had been tied up.
He opened his eyes very slightly and didn’t make any noise as he secretly observed his surroundings. He seemed to be tied up in the room that belonged to Auntie Li, and Auntie Li herself was sitting right in front of him. She sat on a low wooden stool as she sharpened a knife that looked like it was meant for slaughtering animals on a sharpening stone.
Chu Yi wasn’t too far from him and was also tied to a pole like he was. He noticed that Chu Yi’s eyelid twitched a little as Chu Yi glanced at him stealthily. He had regained consciousness too, but he was also pretending to be unconscious like Su Jin was.
“Are you preparing to kill us both?” Su Jin decided to stop playing dead and asked Auntie Li.
Auntie Li seemed to know that Su Jin was already awake, so she wasn’t surprised and continued sharpening her knife patiently. And as she heard what Su Jin said, she replied without any expression on her face, “You’re mistaken. I’m not the one who wants to kill you, so don’t put the blame on me once you’re dead.”
“Oh? But you’re spending so much time and effort into sharpening your knife. It would be such a waste if you didn’t use it to kill someone,” laughed Su Jin.
Auntie Li put the knife down, glanced at Su Jin, then turned and pulled aside the large plastic sheet behind her. Once she removed that plastic sheet, a foul smell instantly hit Su Jin’s nose. It was so gross that Su Jin furrowed his brow, and even Chu Yi’s eyelids started twitching despite his best efforts to look like he was still unconscious.
“You killed those people?” Su Jin looked at what was behind the plastic sheet, and saw that there was a pile of around 20 skulls or so scattered here and there. In other words, at least 20 people had died in this tiny room.
“As I said earlier, I don’t do any killing. I… just help them chop up the bodies.” Auntie Li’s eyes flickered for a moment, and then she went back to sharpening her knife again.
“Who are those people? Aren’t you in the same camp as them?” asked Su Jin in a low voice. He could sense something odd about Auntie Li’s behavior.
She shook her head. “They’re hunters, while I’m just their dog. Have you ever met a hunter who treats their dog as their equal? If I do anything that goes against their will, they’ll kill me and eat me without hesitation too.”
“If they’re hunters, does that make us their prey?” Su Jin continued with another question.
“You two? I would say that everything in Fengxi Town are prey for them. You two just came at a time you shouldn’t have,” Auntie Li replied to Su Jin’s question without any reluctance.
Since she seemed so cooperative, Su Jin quickly seized the chance to gather more information. Even though it seemed useless for them to know more in this situation, it was still better to find out more anyway.
“Why are you telling me so much? Aren’t you afraid that they’ll kill you too?”
“It doesn’t matter. Both of you are going to die soon, anyway. Once they’ve killed you, the two of you will be turned into human jerky. How much you know before you die is inconsequential.” Auntie Li said as she threw him a mocking smile.
Su Jin’s lips twitched as he tried to sort and put the most useful information he had together. After looking around, he asked, “By the way, when we were tricked into coming here, we heard that you were living here with your family. Where are the rest of your family?”
“Right next to you.” Auntie Li casually pointed to an area next to Su Jin.
He turned, and his eyes widened. There were two more similar poles next to him with one large skeleton and one smaller skeleton tied to them.
“They killed the rest of your family?”
She didn’t reply to him and just quietly nodded as she continued sharpening that knife, even though the knife was clearly sharp enough to slice through human flesh already.
“Why don’t you take revenge?”
“Take revenge? Have you ever come across an adult dog taking revenge on its owner for killing its child?”
“You’re a clever one. So by becoming a loyal dog to them, you've been able to stay alive, and you're both fed and kept safe here. Compared to the two who are already dead and useless, this is a better choice.” Su Jin’s expression was solemn, as if he really agreed with Auntie Li’s decision.
Auntie Li got up and walked over to Su Jin with the knife. She held the knife against his neck and glared angrily at him as she said, “I’ve never had to kill one of the hunters’ prey, so don’t force me to break that now.”
“Haha! You’re a person who doesn’t even dare to avenge your dead family members! So how could you dare to break the hunters’ rules? What a joke!” sneered Su Jin with a mocking look on his face.
It seemed like Su Jin’s attitude had really angered Auntie Li. The blade was about to cut into Su Jin’s skin, so he tried his best to stretch his neck away from the sharp knife.
"Don't get so agitated. You should know what you can do, what you can't do, and… what we can help you do,” said Su Jin in a low voice. He had purposely agitated Auntie Li not because he was hoping to get killed, but to try and rile up her anger towards Lin Yue and her family for killing her family members. That was the only way to make an obedient and loyal dog turn on its owners.
Auntie Li clearly understood what Su Jin was implying. She kept the knife away and stared straight into his eyes.
“What do you mean?”
"Simple. Help us to get out of this place, and we'll help you take revenge," said Su Jin in a serious voice.
She stared at him in surprise for a while before scoffing. “The two of you? Help me? If you were capable of dealing with the hunters, you wouldn’t end up in this state now.”
"No, you're mistaken. We ended up like this not because we were incapable of dealing with them, but because we didn’t get a chance to show what we were capable of. You just need to do us a small favor, and you'll get the chance to take revenge. That’s a really good deal for you.” Su Jin seemed to have become a wily salesman as he tried to tempt Auntie Li into striking a deal with him.
“It’s a small favor in terms of what I have to do, but it could cost me my life. And if my life’s at stake, it’s not a good deal anymore.” Auntie Li shook her head and didn’t seem convinced.
Su Jin smiled as he stretched his neck nonchalantly and said, “Looks like you still don’t realize how much you’re worth. Think about it. If a hunter had a group of hunting dogs and one of them made a mistake, the hunter would definitely punish that dog. But if the hunters only had one dog… what does Aunty Li think the hunters would do?”
Auntie Li froze for a moment and seemed to waver, so Su Jin quickly continued, "I know you're not very confident of us, but at least you have got a chance now. If you miss this chance, who knows how long you'll have to wait for another chance to come by? Would you even get another chance?”
She remained silent for a moment and seemed to be struggling internally. After some time, she suddenly looked up and said to Su Jin, “They’ve gone hunting around town, so you two don’t have a lot of time to run. Also… if you two get caught, you must never say that I was the one who let you go.”
Su Jin secretly breathed a sigh of relief as he nodded and said, “Don’t worry, we have no reason to drag you down with us.”
She nodded and used the knife in her hands to cut through the ropes around Su Jin’s limbs. Then she went over to cut the ones around Chu Yi’s limbs and said with a sneer, “You can stop pretending. You regained consciousness earlier than he did, didn’t you?”
Chu Yi stopped pretending to be unconscious and opened his eyes to smile sheepishly at Su Jin. After the two of them were freed, she said to them, “You know what to say if you get caught, right?”
“Don’t worry about that. You were ambushed by us, and that’s how we got away.” Su Jin nodded and said to Chu Yi, “Knock her out!”
While Chu Yi was hesitating about whether he should knock out an older lady like Auntie Li, Auntie Li said, “They’ll return once the bells start ringing again, so you only have around 20 minutes at best. I suggest you check their rooms to see if there’s anything that could be of help to you.”
“Thanks for the suggestion. But do you know what the bells in Fengxi Town represent?” Su Jin was really puzzled about the ringing of these bells and what they signified.
“I’m not sure either. I just know that every time the bells ring, both the hunters and the town will go through a change of some kind.” She then nodded at Chu Yi to go ahead and knock her out.
After she gave him permission to do so, Chu Yi didn’t hesitate any longer. He struck her on the back of her neck, and she collapsed onto the floor immediately.
“We’ve got to hurry. Let’s go to Lin Yue’s room first,” said Su Jin to Chu Yi before running out of Auntie Li’s room.
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