Volume 2 - Bloom of the Other Shore Flower, Chapter 46: The Hunt
A girl suddenly burrowed out from a shrub. Her features were ordinary, but her figure was slim and graceful, and she had two twisted braids draped over her chest. The moment she lifted her head, she saw Qianye and was momentarily startled into jumping. However, after she saw Qianye clearly, color returned to her face, and she called out, “Qianye!”
“Mimi!” The name instantly sprung from Qianye’s heart.
At this point, Qianye was holding a simple and crude dagger that had an incredibly sharp edge. The grooves of the blade were decorated, but it was the only usable weapon he had. He was a youth, in the midst of a life-and-death examination. The rules were simple but cruel, one had to kill one of the other examinees to pass the test.
Mimi hesitated, and then walked towards Qianye. There was fog all around them, coming from an unknown place. As Mimi’s footsteps headed toward him under the cool light of the moon, they created ripples in the fog as if it were water.
She spoke softly, “I’m very scared! Will you kill me?”
“Never!” Qianye was resolute.
After hearing Qianye’s reply, Mimi let go of a breath, and quickly walked over to Qianye and spoke quietly, “Let’s deal with the others together, then our chances of passing will be greater.”
Qianye was still hesitating, when he suddenly felt a flash of coldness at his hip! Many years of brutal combat training caused him to immediately fall forward, and roll away a few times, creating distance from the secret assailant. Qianye turned around to look, but only saw that the girl’s hand and dagger were stained with fresh blood!
Qianye was angry and confused, and as he grasped at the wound by his waist, he called out to her, “Why!?”
The girl’s face was expressionless, and her voice mechanical. “Because I want to pass the exam, because I want to get rewarded!”
Facing the girl who was pursuing him closely, Qianye could only rapidly retreat. Blood rapidly hemorrhaged from between his fingers as he was unable to keep it down with pressure.
Mimi viciously pounced at him, mercilessly stabbing away with her dagger, going so fast that her strikes left afterimages. Every single slash aimed at his vitals. Qianye’s heart cooled and he grasped his dagger tightly. He suddenly ignored all of the knife thrusts aimed at him, and wholly focused on stabbing Mimi’s heart!
This one stab struck air, and then all the fog was suddenly violently blown away. Qianye found himself on top of a lonely cliff that stretched all the way up into the sky. A few thousand fathoms below him, he could see little black lines snaking along in a large valley. From those lines that looked like little rows of ants, he could clearly make out instructors Long Hai, Zhang Jing, Yin Yin, Shen Tu and the others.
There was another man on top of the high cliff. He was dressed in scholar’s clothing with broad sleeves, the traditional dress code of the upper echelon aristocrats of the Empire. He stood one step away from the very edge of the cliff, his clothes flapping in a breeze as if he was about to ride the winds.
Song Zining turned around, and his smile was still warm like jade. “Qianye, you see, that is my great way.”
At this time, all of the images suddenly twisted, and the entire world followed suit, cracking, and shattering into infinite pieces. Qianye was jolted away, but the image of the dream was still deeply imprinted on his mind. It was incomprehensible.
From outside the cave came the extremely faint sounds of movement, almost indiscernible against the howling of the night winds of the wasteland. It was this that had woken Qianye. The resonator underneath him, which had been covered with a cloth, had vibrated with the passing of some living thing. However, the sound was a little distant, and there was still some distance to go before they arrived.
Qianye quietly walked out of the cave, and climbed up the slope, heading toward the skeletal remains of the top of a crashed airship, carefully peering into the distance. Nights in the wasteland were both quiet and disquiet. A small blip in the corner of his sight aroused his attention. It was a slow-moving body that looked like some sort of strange, little creature as it relentlessly made use of the topography to close in.
Qianye immediately recognized it as a hunter, and on top of that, a hunter whose skills in camouflage were remarkable. He had practically melded into the environment surrounding him. If there was one thing could be considered a failings, it was that this particular hunter was still a little anxious. Because it was now in the deepest of night, just before dawn, most of the wildlife would be incredibly exhausted. In contrary, he was moving a little fast. Hence, with Qianye’s night vision, it was as if he were advancing very obviously.
In the wasteland, meeting a stranger was always fraught with danger. Even the hunters themselves were divided over whether they should be cautious of the legitimacy of another hunter’s identity. The vast majority of hunters liked to move independently. Not only for the sake of personal freedom, but also because they were all afraid of being stabbed in the back. Even if there was a mission that necessitated a large group, there would be very few hunters who would let a complete stranger join in. A captain like Yu Yingnan was considered a rare find.
This was why Qianye was actually on high alert after determining that this was a hunter. Looking at the other party’s trail as they headed forward, killing intent emerged on Qianye’s face.
The movements of that hunter followed an incomparably familiar route. In fact, it was the exact route where Qianye had left markings the night before. Originally, it was supposed to be for Fei Niao. But as it seemed now, this solo hunter was clearly also pursuing Qianye.
Qianye quietly climbed up the skeleton of the airship, and snuck toward the appointed position.
A while later, that single hunter had already found to the cave where Qianye had previously sheltered himself. It would seem that his tracking skills were incredibly good. The hunter’s movements became even more careful as he quietly moved into the cave, not making a single sound.
At this instant, a rock that lay by the hunter’s leg suddenly let out a crisp “pa” noise. He immediately stopped.
This was a little trap meant for early warning, and with Qianye’s expert camouflaging skills, he had even managed to fool this experienced hunter. However, he hadn’t exactly lost out, either. If he could see through all of the setups, he would have discovered that a semi-circular web of information protected the center of the cave, and that there was only a three or four meter distance between each trap.
From the cave came Qianye’s voice, “Who goes there?”
The hunter’s body trembled once, and he then made a snap decision to stand up, speaking out with a very normal voice, “It’s me, Li Lunzhe. We once went on a mission together. Is that you, Qianye?”
The voice of Qianye inside of the cave relaxed a little. “Oh, it’s you. What brings you here?”
“I was out on a mission, and just happened to come by. I spotted some of the markings you left behind, so I came to take a look. Right, Qianye, I could use your help on this mission, and we could discuss how to split the reward…” As Li Lunzhe spoke, he put down the barrel of the origin gun that he was holding, and walked lightly into the cave.
At this instant, Li Lunzhe waved his left hand that had been hanging by his waist, and three grenades flew into the cave!
The cave lit up with a sudden flash of light. The light even spread several metres out of the cave, and after an ear-shattering boom, the ground shook, and a thick cloud of smoke slowly spilled out.
A flash grenade, a stun grenade, and a tear-gas grenade. Under the attack of all three combined, it didn’t matter how many people were waiting in ambush inside the cave, they would temporarily be disarmed.
Li Lunzhe pounced like a leopard, his origin gun’s channels lighting up fully, completely charged. He didn’t even look, and instantly shot towards the cave! Another three grenades then appeared in his hands!
This one shot wasn’t meant to hit something, it was merely a form of suppressive fire. If Qianye had really managed to bear through the initial assault, and wanted to retaliate, then he would crash into this one shot. Li Lunzhe’s assault was a perfect cycle, extremely vicious and unforgiving, and designed to smash an opponent in a single stroke. It already had a little bit of the style of Yellow Springs Training Camp.
Three more grenades were tossed into the cave, but it was as if Li Lunzhe had suddenly been struck by a heavy hammer, involuntarily blown away. He could only watch as his right shoulder departed his body, flying into the air.
What happened? Li Lunzhe was both shocked and angry, and then everything went black.
Qianye stood up from outside of the cave, and after putting down the Butcher which barrel was still warm, he dragged the unconscious Li Lunzhe into the cave. As a grade three firearm, Butcher’s power was four times that of an ordinary grade one firearm, and with the Heavy Caliber modifications made to it on top of having fired from such a short distance, one shot had heavily injured the rank four Fighter Li Lunzhe.
A while later, Qianye finished cleaning up the remaining signs of battle outside, and returned to the cave. He took out the little copper wine flask and drank a sip. He then spit it all out and sprayed it all over Li Lunzhe’s amputated arm, making him howl in pain as he instantly came to.
Li Lunzhe struggled, and howled again. His ankles and wrists had all been punctured and nailed to the wall of the cave. With every bit of movement, he was immediately wracked with wave after wave of heart-rending pain.
“It looks like the mission you took was related to me.” Qianye spoke carefreely.
“You... how did you…” Li Lunzhe hadn’t even finished his sentence before he saw Qianye pointing his thumbs towards the left side of the cave. Unexpectedly, there was a copper pipe, and its opening had clearly been modified. It was split into seven or eight little gaps that opened outwards, and the other end of the pipe was deeply embedded into the wall, going somewhere.
Li Lunzhe was hit by a sudden revelation: Qianye had used this copper pipe to carry his voice, letting him think that he was still in the cave.
Li Lunzhe’s face sank. “I’ve lost an arm, and even if I get it back, my combat ability will suffer greatly. On top of that, I can’t even afford the fee to get it done. I doubt you will let me off, but don’t expect to get anything out of my mouth. Just kill me quickly!”
“Indeed, I don’t intend to let you off, but I’m in no rush to kill you either. I think you’ll be spilling the beans very, very soon.”
Right in front of Li Lunzhe, Qianye took out a small leather pouch from his bag and opened it, revealing a full row of precision tools. Among them were various curved needles, hooks, as well as other strangely-shaped little scalpels and the like. The pouch with tools included various metals, so these were clearly not some industrial products, but rather things that were hand-made.
Li Lunzhe’s face became deathly pale as he instantly recognized what they were.
Those were torture tools! A complete set of torture tools!
These types of torture tools were intricate and complex, and the more of them there were, the more effective they were. The number of tools that Qianye had taken out was well into the tens, and from the looks of it, they were all self-made. This clearly indicated that he was definitely an expert in torture and interrogation!
Qianye looked at Li Lunzhe with a little bit of regret. “I was preparing to use these on the Sky Snake Gang, but unexpectedly, I’ll have to use it on you first.
In the blink of an eye, Li Lunzhe’s pitiful howling echoed throughout the cave.
Li Lunzhe had still underestimated Qianye. Qianye’s level of attainment in torture and interrogation had already broken past the level of a mere expert, heading straight into the level of a master!
The Yellow Springs Training Camp had a specialized course in interrogation. One half of it was dedicated to improving the students’ ability to resist torture and interrogation, while the other half taught them specialized skills and various techniques for interrogating and torturing others. Actually, for the better part of this course, the instructors were performing the different forms of cruel torture on the students. As a result, he himself had repeatedly experienced it, so he knew each and every technique’s varying strengths and weaknesses. Of course, this training would also let them improve their willpower and ability to resist pain.
When this particular course had first started, the class had been a horrific mess. Many students fainted on the spot, were forcefully woken, and were then tortured to the point of fainting again. A year later, in contrary, the class was completely silent, and with the exception of the occasional person softly groaning, there wasn’t a single person who fainted. There were even others who would gaily hold light conversations while suffering the cruel torture. Hence, every single graduate of the Yellow Springs Training Camp was an expert in torture and interrogation.
After entering the Red Scorpions, Qianye had come into contact with the elite corp’s interrogation techniques, and his ability had improved yet again.
Li Lunzhe lasted a mere three minutes, and then he spilled it all.
Qianye constantly changed his angle of interrogation, repeatedly questioning him until he was sure that was he had gotten was the truth. In the end, he sighed. “Sister Nan is actually pretty nice to you, but you don’t suit her.”
“If it weren’t for you, she would have been mine! If I can’t have her, nobody can!” Li Lunzhe suddenly had an outbreak of hysteria, and kept calling him names as if his life depended on it.
Qianye shook his head, squarely aiming the Butcher at Li Lunzhe’s forehead. “Seeing that as you’re a fellow Fighter, I will let you die from an origin gun.”
A boom echoed out from the cave.
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