There were no longer any sounds coming from underneath the cellar door. The younger boy, who was shorter than Dong Zheng, looked pale as he pushed down the barrel of the gun with his hand.
Dong Zheng was relieved, and this allowed him to suddenly realize how painful his entire body felt.
His bandaged wounds had broken open during the fight and escape and had begun to bleed all over again.
Dong Zheng couldn’t have dealt with the corpse himself. He nodded slightly to Cui Zuojing, who came in the nick of time, said he “Thank you.” Then, he immediately looked at Dong Linhai.
The teen was still lying on his back on the ground in the same posture, making horrible sounds like a tattered bellow squeezing out strenuous gasps. Frightening fingerprint-like bruises encircled his neck, just like the body of the ranger in the house.
“How do you feel?” Dong Zheng asked, squatting down beside him. Dong Linhai couldn’t answer. His vocal cords and trachea were damaged. He could only painfully blink at Dong Zheng. Physiological tears continued to pour out of his eyes, making him look utterly miserable.
What to do?
Seeing that his brother was so uncomfortable, Dong Zheng was naturally uncomfortable. He didn’t have professional medical knowledge and dared not move Linhai easily, but it wouldn’t be good to leave him lying on the ground like this.
Cui Zuojing took the opportunity to rummage through Dong Linhai’s body and successfully pulled out a box of medicine from his pant’s pocket. According to the setting parameters in beginners box, it should be fairly easy to brush out supplies, such as medicine, during crucial plot points.
He unpacked it, pulled out a pill and stuffed it into Dong Linhai’s mouth.
Dong Zheng reacted too late to stop him. He could only say, “He can’t swallow it.”
“It’s okay. He just needs to suck on it.” As Cui Zuojing said this, he pulled out another pill and handed it to Dong Zheng. “You also eat. Those injuries make me feel painful all over my body.”
With the bond of the blood contract, Dong Zheng’s pain was naturally divided into half and shared with Cui Zuojing. Since entering, thanks to Dong Zheng’s luck, Cui Zuojing’s initially clean white coat was now stained with blood.
His own blood.
Dong Zheng took the pill and the pill box from Cui Zuojing’s hands and went to read the instructions.
Cui Zuojing let out an unhappy sound.
However, it was indeed good character to have the most basic vigilance at all times. At least not like most newcomers, who were always dying in the box for some inexplicable reason.
There were only two very perfunctory words “Eat me” in the instruction manual.
Dong Zheng no longer hesitated and swallowed the medicine directly.
He was not idle while waiting for the drug to take effect. He took out the bullet box from Dong Linhai and loaded two shots into the hunting rifle. He asked, “Did that thing come over?”
Cui Zuojing knew he meant Henry. The bored youth stood with his hands in his pant pockets and kicked the grass with his toes, saying, “It shouldn’t come in a while. What did you take for it to keep chasing you?”
“After just entering here, it didn’t take long for our team to disperse. In the graveyard, we saw a coffin that was not covered with soil. Before that, there was a hint that the golden beads on it were the key props, so everyone took them.”
Dong Zheng pulled out two marble-sized golden balls from his coat pocket and showed them to Cui Zuojing, “After that, the thing crawled out of the coffin and started chasing us down. Maybe because I have two in my hands, it targeted us more. Linhai and I escaped from it once, but I was seriously injured so Linhai had no choice but to try to summon the prisoner card to see if it could save me…Sorry.”
“Do you know what the blood contract is?” Cui Zuojing asked. He was really annoyed. He’d spent more than three years in the Pure White Realm, and only saw two pilgrims sign a blood contract when they’d run out of other options.
Dong Zheng shook his head. “After I obtained the prisoner card in the novice box, the clown mentioned that the prisoner can share the master’s blood injury and can be a life-saving help at a critical moment. Other than that, we don’t know anything else.”
Cui Zuojing began to have a headache. He took a deep breath and patiently explained, “Blood contract is a form of contract that can be signed at any time regardless of the wishes of the prisoner. It does allow the prisoner to help share the owner’s injuries, but it also limits the owner to only one prisoner in his lifetime.”
“With the blood contract, the host has three compulsory commands but, when using the order, he also needs to pay a certain price.”
“A certain price?”
“For example, if you use the compulsory command to make me kill someone, you may lose an arm as the corresponding payment. The loss depends on the strength of the order.”
Dong Zheng was silent, having learned these things for the first time. There could only be one prisoner in his lifetime. This restriction was somewhat unexpected, but it was not surprising. Blood contract can play the role of sharing injuries, so there must be limitations.
Cui Zuojing asked again, “How did you get the Prisoner card?” The clown had said that the black-gold card that could summon him at present should only be in the hands of senior pilgrims.
“The novice level’s final reward box gave me the card. Later, someone who was also a novice said that he would exchange his card with mine, and so I changed it.”
Cui Zuojing had a strange look on his face and immediately asked, “What kind of person?”
Dong Zheng thought for a moment. The furrows in his brows deepened. After a few more seconds, his expression grew blank. “…I forgot?”
He tried to think back to what happened at the time, but he couldn’t remember anything, even why he himself would agree to the exchange. With his character, it shouldn’t have been so easy…
“Don’t think about it anymore. Someone used memory clearing on you; he doesn’t want you to remember.” Cui Zuojing’s heart completely sunk. His return this time may not be as simple as he thought.
Someone else was meddling.
After a few seconds, Dong Zheng hissed softly, probably because the medicine finally began to work. The wounds on his body kept itching, and he could clearly feel that the flesh was gradually healing.
He immediately bowed his head to look at Linhai, whose bloodshot eyes and flushed face no longer looked so bad. The sound of his breathing became much more normal, and the finger marks on his neck subsided at a rate visible to the naked eye.
In just ten seconds, Dong Linhai was able to speak, although his voice was still abnormally hoarse. “Am I not dead?”
Cui Zuojing said, “I’m sorry, but you didn’t die. Do you feel quite regretful?”
“You won’t die.” Dong Zheng pulled the still dizzy Dong Linhai up and put his arms over his shoulders to embrace him before leading him into the house.
The teenager was so weak that his frightened legs couldn’t dredge up any strength. His whole person practically hung on his brother.
Thick fog pervaded the surrounding area, muting the lamenting cries of the crows in the distant trees and giving rise to an eerie, uncomfortable feeling. Cui Zuojing was on edge. He frowned and threw the stone in his hand. It was quickly swallowed up by the dark forest.
The world became silent.
Cui Zuojing glanced at the cellar that was tightly closed and then at the brothers’ backs. The wounds caused by the blood contract had disappeared. But, he’d been feeling restless since he came back here.
Just a little.
Dong Zheng took off all the bandages on his body and looked for water for Dong Linhai to drink. The young man was settled on the chair, stroking his neck that had been completely blocked with fear. The horrible sense of suffocation still remained on his mind.
Resting under that huge psychological shadow, he looked at Dong Zheng’s figure and said, “Brother, I left the lamp below.”
“It’s okay.” Dong Zheng brought him water. The kettle on the stove was half filled with water. Though he didn’t know how long it’d been left there, the water looked clear and had no odor.
Cui Zuojing leaned against the door and looked at this scene of brotherly concerns with cold eyes. He suddenly said coldly, “You two are not brothers.”
The two looked at him together. Dong Linhai opened his mouth and was just about to speak when Dong Zheng took the lead and said, “I am his brother.”
Dong Linhai swallowed back the “half-brother” and shut his mouth obediently.
—Brother was guarding against this prisoner?
“You don’t look very similar.” How could Cui Zuojing not see that Dong Zheng actually didn’t want to tell him such a private matter? Since the person didn’t want to say, he won’t force it. Anyway, he’ll know sooner or later.
His excessive curiosities had been wiped out during his last trip to the Pure White Realm. In this world, the more one knew someone, the easier it was to become muddle-headed.
The group settled down for a while to take a break. Dong Linhai rested and regained his soul, and from time to time he could not believe his untouched neck.
Cui Zuojing wandered aimlessly in the hut, while Dong Zheng counted their current supplies.
At present, they had a hunting rifle Dong Linhai had found in the cellar. There are a total of four bullets left in the two boxes of ammunition. After they’d eaten two of the medicines, they still had one left. According to the effects shown, it was absolutely life-saving.
There were also the two golden balls that Dong Zheng had taken from under the coffin, which are likely plot props that needed to be used later. The dagger, the only weapon in his hand, was now inserted in the mouth of the corpse in the cellar, and the horse lantern had also been dropped.
However, Dong Zheng found a flashlight from the ranger’s bedroom. Although the light was not too bright, seeming as if the battery was going to run out, it at least provided some illumination.
After doing all this, he read the ranger’s notes again, wondering about the clues it might contain.
The ranger’s method of death was clear. The monster came out of the cellar and strangled him, but the source of the blood was still unknown.
The monster seemed to have been held in custody in the cellar and was able to tear apart the rails to escape. Since the cellar suddenly appeared in the yard one night, it should have nothing to do with the ranger.
Dong Zheng repeated these speculations to Cui Zuojing and Dong Linhai. Linhai was still ignorant. “Oh,” he asked. “What then?”
Dong Zheng said, “Going southeast was repeatedly mentioned. Probably a hint of direction. The pendant given by the minstrel to the ranger is also likely a key clue, but I couldn’t find it.”
Cui Zuojing lifted his chin in the direction of the ranger’s body. “There’s still one more place to search.”
Dong Zheng immediately understood and frowned. “You mean…”
Dong Linhai looked at them blankly, and then looked at the ranger. “Didn’t we search the body already?”
“Who said the search is finished?” Cui Zuojing smiled at Dong Linhai. The smile did not look good. “Do you know where the best place is for hiding things in people?”
Dong Linhai: ……………
I really don’t want to know.
But wasn’t not over yet. It seemed Dong Linhai’s expression really amused Cui Zuojing. He smiled and pointed at the ranger, saying, “Would you like to search? Want to keep hiding behind your brother for protection, and don’t want to do it? Do you want to contribute?”
“I’ll do it,” Dong Zheng said as he squatted down, wrapping the blood-stained bandages that he removed earlier around his hands. He untied the ranger’s worn coat and took a deep breath.
“Let him do it.” Cui Zuojing stood in front of the body and stopped Dong Zheng. He placed his hands back in his pockets, looked at Dong Linhai, and laughed. “Such a big person, only hiding behind others when encountering things. Here, the unweaned children can’t live for long.”
This psychological method really worked. Even before he finished speaking, Dong Linhai already stood up. He was raised very well. Not yet 18 years old but was already 1.8 meters tall and was, in fact, a head taller than Cui Zuojing himself.
The teenager reluctantly wrapped the bandage on Dong Zheng’s hand around his own hand and muttered, “I’ll do it, I’ll do it. Still, scolding me, you’re obviously younger than me.”
Cui Zuojing reminded him “in good faith.” “But I didn’t hold back. In fact, your lives were saved by me.”
“I won’t hold back either.” Dong Linhai squatted beside the body. He saw the terrible pinch marks on the ranger’s neck, recalled his experience just moments ago, and couldn’t but feel his own throat become itchy.
He coughed a few times, rubbed his neck for a while, and finally made perfect psychological preparations. Gritting his teeth, his hands stretched out.
The ranger’s body had been rotting for a long time, and the flesh would cave when touched. Dong Linhai couldn’t help but want to vomit as soon as he touched the cold and greasy inside. He resisted the impulse to escape and continued to dig in, feeling for something like a stomach.
Shredded chicken, shredded beef, shredded lamb, shredded pork leg.
Linhai used the ultimate self-hypnosis on himself. He turned his head and stared at his feet. After stirring for a long time in the stomach of the poor ranger, he finally touched a hard object.
“I found it!” Dong Linhai pulled his hand out immediately and threw the thing to the ground. But, it was more than he could bear. He hurriedly pulled the bloody bandages from his hand and rubbed the pieces of meat on his arms. Backing away, he saw the corpse’s disfigured body, held his breath for two seconds, and then vomited violently with his head down against the corner of the wall.
Dong Zheng had been watching silently beside him. The youth was right. In this place where he couldn’t even protect himself, Linhai couldn’t just rely on the protection of others. The sooner he grew up, the better.
This was why he didn’t stop Cui Zuojing from stimulating Linhai.
Dong Zheng picked up the objects on the ground and wiped off the blood stains using the ranger’s clothes. This looked like a small chess piece in the shape of a “soldier.” It had the thickness of a little finger and had a thin string, which also indicated that it was once a pendant.
“This should be an amulet, but it’s unclear what role it plays. The ranger swallowed it directly in order not to lose it or be taken away by others,” he said as he put the thing away.
On the other side, Dong Linhai also finished vomiting, gargled his mouth with water, and the whole person seemed to be wan.
Dong Zheng said, “This is not a good place. After a short rest, we should get ready to leave.”
After resting for four or five minutes, Cui Zuojing, who was just about to relax, suddenly opened his eyes.
Something was coming.
The two brothers also felt the earth’s tremor. The screams of a war horse penetrated the night. It was as if there was some behemoth coming for them. Each step was so heavy that the rooftop shuddered, causing a lot of dust to fall.
“No, it came again?” Dong Linhai wailed.
Dong Zheng took the opportunity to put the ranger’s notebook in his pocket and waved his hand, whispering, “Go! Go over the wall and go out.”
“You go first.” Cui Zuojing said, staring thoughtfully out the window. The two scarlet dots were getting closer, “I’ll sort this out and catch up after.”
Dong Zheng nodded and said no more nonsense. He no longer doubted the strength of this accidentally summoned prisoner. At least, not now. Arabidopsis’ strength may even surpass the zombie knight. They would only drag his hind legs.
They need to worry more about themselves.
The brothers quickly disappeared out the back door and into the courtyard. Dong Linhai also took a kerosene lamp. Cui Zuojing went into the kitchen and picked up a pair of chopsticks, a spoon, and the only table knife.
“Let’s get this over with,” he murmured as he gently kicked aside the ranger’s corpse. Then, he pushed open the blood-stained door and walked out of the hut.