Su Jin’s entire left arm had literally turned to nothing but dust, which seemed really unreal. If not for the intense pain that followed after, Su Jin would have thought that he was just dreaming.
The terrible pain made Su Jin curl up into a ball on the ground, but his rational side told him he couldn’t just lie here because the monster with the longbow was still around. Stopping to rest now would definitely result in his own death.
His survival instinct made him continue running despite the immense pain he felt. He looked like a mess, but when one’s life was at stake, who cared if you looked cool or not!
His arm didn’t bleed, which was probably a blessing in disguise. For some reason, after those sparkles turned his arm into ash, the wound looked like it had been cauterized, so it didn’t bleed at all. Otherwise, the amount of blood that he would lose from such a large wound would have sent him into shock, and he probably would have died from the sheer loss of blood.
But that monster didn’t run after Su Jin. He just pointed at Su Jin, and two people in black appeared from behind him and began running towards Su Jin. At the same time, two others in black were also running after Chu Yi. The monster just continued walking along at a leisurely pace.
Su Jin was panting heavily, and he could barely catch his breath, but he didn’t dare to stop. The pain in his shoulder seemed to have hit its maximum, so it actually didn’t seem as unbearable as before.
“I can’t just keep running like this. My body won’t be able to take it much longer, and I’m doomed if I suddenly collapse after running out of energy. I’ve got to find a place to rest.” Su Jin knew his own body well. The last time he ran more than a mile was when he was still a student. Over the past two years, all he had done was either work overtime in the office or sleep in his cellar, so his physical health was in terrible shape. The fact that he had been able to run for so long despite the major injury he suffered surprised even himself.
The two people chasing after him were still hot on his heels, so he had no choice but to keep running. Thankfully, there was a barn up ahead. After years of weathering, the barn was only left with its frame, but that was enough to block their view of him.
He quickly turned and entered the barn. He had barely caught his balance when he heard the two behind him catch up with him. When he hid in a corner and peeked out, he realized that he knew the two who had been running after him. It was Lin Yue and her father.
“It’s not that monster!” he thought to himself as he secretly breathed a sigh of relief. If the ones chasing him were like that monster, he was probably doomed.
After he quietly took in two deep breaths to calm down, he whipped his knife out. This wasn’t that blunt and rusty knife that he got from the first house they were in. This was that sharp knife that Auntie Li had been sharpening the entire time he had been unconscious.
He now had a knife sharp enough to kill, so he narrowed his eyes to watch what the other two were doing. After Su Jin suddenly disappeared in front of them, they immediately focused their attention on the barn. The two of them stood further apart in case Su Jin suddenly made a surprise attack.
But after they both walked into the barn, they frowned, because they couldn’t find Su Jin anywhere at all. The barn was empty, and there wasn’t any place around them to hide at all.
“I’ll go out and take a look; you search for him here,” Lin Yue said to her father. Her tone of voice was so emotionless. It was as if two robots were speaking to one another.
Lin Yue left the barn, while her father started walking aimlessly around the barn. But when he got to one corner of the barn, he stopped walking because there was a small pile of hay there.
An eerie smile spread across his face as he walked quietly towards that pile of hay and swung his arms to warm up. But just when he bent over to remove the hay, he felt something land on his back and something cold on his neck. Something started flowing out from his neck, and his fingers weren’t enough to stop the flow.
Su Jin licked his lips as he glanced around outside to make sure Lin Yue hadn’t discovered what just happened in the barn. Before the two had entered the barn earlier, he had managed to climb onto the roof of the barn in order to escape their detection. He held the knife with his mouth and used his one arm and two legs to hang onto the beams of the roof.
The beams were rotting away from years of weathering, so Su Jin felt that if he had to stay up there any longer, he would have landed right in front of them.
Thankfully, one of them left the barn, so he quickly took this chance to jump down and kill the father. Auntie Li’s knife was really sharp and killed him very quickly. He was initially afraid that he wouldn’t be able to kill the father quickly and quietly, since he could only use one arm. If there was a commotion here and Lin Yue came back in, he wouldn’t be able to deal with both of them at once, and would definitely be the one to die instead.
But it only took one knife and one slit of the throat. Lin Yue’s father couldn’t even fight back and collapsed quickly onto the ground. Su Jin noticed the green liquid on the blade and frowned. Even though he already guessed that Lin Yue and his family weren’t humans, the green liquid proved his conjecture was right.
Su Jin didn’t intend to fight Lin Yue head-on. He had been lucky enough to kill her father, since he had been caught unawares. Su Jin didn’t have the confidence to fight Lin Yue in a one-on-one fight.
He held the knife with his mouth, climbed up the barn again, picked up a rock and flung it hard against one of the pillars. The loud thud sound it made attracted Lin Yue’s attention, and she walked into the barn. He took this chance to quickly climb down the other side of the barn while keeping himself out of her line of sight. At the same time, Lin Yue had discovered her father’s body.
“He’s gotten away!” There was no sorrow in Lin Yue’s eyes at all. She walked out of the barn without even looking back. Once she had ascertained which direction Su Jin had escaped in, she started running after him again.
Thanks to that short break, Su Jin had regained a bit of energy. The headstart he had gotten also meant that he didn’t have to run so hard anymore either.
That was the first time Su Jin had killed anybody, and normally, it should have been very hard for him to come to terms with what he had done. But when faced with a life and death situation, he had to force himself to accept this reality by telling himself that the one he killed just now was a monster that was no longer human.
After a short while, Su Jin arrived at the foot of the mountain. The mountain wasn’t very high, and it was probably less than 300 feet to the peak. He could roughly make out the silhouette of a temple in the moonlight.
He didn’t waste any more time and started running up the mountain. Shortly after he started his ascent, he heard some footsteps behind him. He held his knife in his hand and hid behind a large tree.
The sound of the footsteps came closer and closer. Suddenly, someone appeared in front of him, and Su Jin raised his knife but didn’t bring it down because he realized that this person was actually Chu Yi.
“Brother Su! You’re okay!” Chu Yi looked pleasantly surprised. He had seen how Su Jin’s arm had literally turned to ashes, and he thought that Su Jin was doomed for sure. He was happy to see that Su Jin had not only survived but had also arrived at the mountain ahead of him.
“Not gonna die so quickly. Was someone running after you just now?” asked Su Jin.
Chu Yi nodded, and his gaze lost its focus. Su Jin noticed a familiar-looking green liquid on his arms and patted his shoulder. “You got rid of them?”
“There were two of them, Lin Yue’s mother and younger brother. I lured them to an open field, then… I killed them both,” said Chu Yi as his expression faltered and went into a daze. Taking the life of another person for the first time was something that struck fear into a person, regardless of whether that person had been trained in combat or not.
“No… Lin Yue’s mother and younger brother were both… they were both very weak… they were just an ordinary teenager and middle-aged lady with no technique or strength, so it didn’t take a lot of effort,” said Chu Yi sadly. If the two of them had been powerful monsters, he might not have felt so guilty about taking their lives.
Killing two monsters who were weaker than himself and still looked like humans threw Chu Yi into emotional turmoil, because he felt like he had seriously just killed a child and a woman.
“I don’t know what they are, but they’re definitely not human. Have you ever seen a human with green blood? Have you ever seen any humans who don’t age or die even after decades have passed? Besides, they were trying to kill you, so you had to defend yourself. Do you get what I’m trying to say?” Su Jin patted Chu Yi’s face and hoped that Chu Yi could pull himself together.
“Brother Su, how’s your arm doing?” Chu Yi looked at Su Jin’s shoulder and was surprised that the wound looked like that. The blackened wound where an arm should have been looked really frightening.1
Su Jin smiled bitterly and shook his head, then held out his knife to Chu Yi. “You can hold on to this. I only have one arm now, so I can’t get much done.”
Chu Yi hesitated, but after Su Jin nodded at him to take it, he took the knife from Su Jin. “So, do we continue going up the mountain?”
“Yeah. I hope the two veterans are already up there. It’s not cool, but looking for someone else to protect us is our only option now.” Su Jin knew how bad his own condition was. If he left his wound to fester, it was definitely going to get worse. It was already bad enough, so if it got worse, he was going to die from an infection instead.
As Chu Yi helped him up the mountain, Su Jin started reading the Handbook again. He had taken it out several times throughout the night, but there wasn’t any change in the contents. But this time, his eyes immediately lit up because there was something new written inside.
“The sound of the bells! It is the sound of death, but it is also the sound of hope! The shadow in the darkness is an attacker, but he is also a victim! How should one walk down this path that goes up and down and round and round?”
The additional content that had appeared in the Handbook wasn’t much, but it was still something. However, the content was a little abstract and looked more like a riddle of sorts.
“What’s the point of this? Is it a riddle?” Chu Yi sounded defeated because he had hoped that the Handbook would give them clear information on how to survive the night. But Su Jin had never counted on the Handbook to give them any clear and direct answers. Besides, the new content in the Handbook did give him a few clues.
He started to break these words down as much as possible. The bells mentioned were probably referring to the sound of the bells that came from the temple on the mountain. “Sound of death” probably referred to the sudden and frightening changes that happened within Fengxi Town, while “sound of hope” was probably exactly what Su Jin had guessed earlier. Once the bells rang for the fourth time, this crazy night was going to finally end.
Since the first two lines carried a deeper meaning, the last two lines probably meant something too. The attacker was also a victim? Su Jin’s eyes slowly began to light up, as if he had managed to make sense of this mystery.
“How’s your arm doing” – How do you think? He doesn’t have one anymore. Mans really a clown fr. ↩️
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