Dong Zheng was in so much pain that he was on the verge of passing out. He resisted with great difficulty, until his forehead nearly bulged with blue veins. He controlled his gasping breaths, and the sounds of it echoed in the narrow cavity on the cave wall. His pain was so thick that it felt as if it could infect other people.
—In fact, Cui Zuojing was in the same amount of pain. He leaned against the cave wall while the stitched-heart bear treated him. He could hear himself and Dong Zheng breathing heavily; they were indeed closely linked.
Dong Zheng forced himself to sink into his kernel world. The data on the dark green information highway was no longer moving so uniformly. These data representing his concrete thinking ability collided aimlessly. Some of them were completely off route and were crashing layer after layer into the firewall and the protective shield above. The world of his inner core was also trembling unsteadily.
Even though the stitched-heart bear had treated the wounds, the pain would not immediately disappear. It would remain on the wound until the brain slowly filtered it away.
After all, the Pure White Realm would never allow the real “SCP Stitched-Heart Bear” to exist and disrupt the balance in the box.
Dong Zheng found the port representing pain and its many pathways. He directly closed the one with the largest flow.
The effect was nearly instantaneous. The pain that whipped through his nerves all the way to his brain lessened significantly. This was the first time Dong Zheng tried doing this. He didn’t know whether there would be any side effects, but he really couldn’t bear it. He was afraid that if the pain persisted, the body’s instinct for self-protection would cause him to faint directly.
They must not stay in this dangerous place.
After he was finished, Dong Zheng took a deep breath. He propped himself up weakly on his arms and looked at the pale faced Cui Zuojing on the side. He whispered, “How do you feel?”
By this time, the youth’s wounds were also completely healed, but he was still suffering from the painful repercussions. Unlike Dong Zheng, he couldn’t consciously control his pain receptors, so he could only force himself to endure.
Cui Zuojing was very uncomfortable. He’d said from the beginning that he was very afraid of pain and easily became emotionally unstable after being injured. But, he still insisted on replying, “Not bad….Thanks.”
Dong Zheng saved his life.
Cui Zuojing’s forehead was covered in sweat from the pain. Both of them were drenched in water so it was difficult to see it, but Dong Zheng still keenly noticed that the corners of the youth’s eyes were red.
He listened to the voice in his heart, took the initiative to lean in, and embraced Cui Zuojing, letting the youth rest against himself. .
Compared to the uneven, hard, and bone-piercing chill, Dong Zheng’s body was more comfortable. Cui Zuojing wasn’t polite. His shorter height was exactly right for placing his head on the man’s shoulders.
He pressed on the newly healed wound on the middle of his stomach and asked in a low voice, “Aren’t you in pain?”
Dong Zheng stroked Cui Zuojing’s wet forehead, pushing back the hair still dripping with water and revealing a smooth and bright forehead. He said, “I entered the kernel and turned off the pain receptor where the most acute pain was coming from, so I’m okay.”
“Eh? You can do this?” Cui Zuojing was surprised that his program kernel could have such an ability. Wasn’t that too much?
After his initial surprise was gone, he said, “You cheated.”
“I just tried, but I didn’t expect that it would succeed.” Dong Zheng helped the stitched-heart bear wring out the water on its body. Afterward, the little bear laid on his lap. Having followed Dong Zheng through so many ordeals and diligently treating the two of them, it also seemed to be very tired.
“I’ll be fine in a bit.” Cui Zuojing let out a long exhale and said with sincere gratefulness, “Fortunately, we have the little bear. Otherwise, things would really be troublesome.”
Dong Zheng said, “You guys didn’t have healing items back then?”
“We did, but the effects were pretty average. Most of them were disposable items. Besides, we have Uncle. By the second half of the pilgrimage, Uncle’s ability had evolved a great deal, much better than how it is now in his cat body. So, it was enough to have him alone.”
Dong Zheng asked, “To what extent?”
“Injuries, pain, poisoning, hypoxia, physical exhaustion. Almost all negative situations could be purified. And it also worked for those filthy things, such as ghosts.”
Cui Zuojing continued, “If we must name the most indispensable person in our team, then it would be Uncle. When it came to fighting strength, aside from me, Nana and Luo Yan also weren’t lacking. None of us lacks any brain. Although we weren’t as smart as Fu Zhe, we won’t be inexplicably killed because of insufficient IQ, at any rate. Only Uncle’s role is vital to the health of the team.”
Although Cui Zuojing wasn’t aware of it, talking diverted his attention and so he wasn’t in as much pain.
The Afternoon Tea Party during those years was a grand and splendid legend for many people in the Pure White Realm. For Cui Zuojing, this was especially true.
Even though the final ending was so tragic and they fell one after another, it was full of epic heroism and sorrowful majesty.
But now he, Victor, and Fu Zhe were reunited. There were some clues about Luo Yan’s whereabouts, and he also firmly believed that Cheriyu Nana was out there somewhere, strong and alive and waiting for a reunion.
Everything would be fine, wouldn’t it?
Dong Zheng was very curious about the experience of the Afternoon Tea Party. Since Cui Zuojing was willing to talk about it now, he must ask carefully.
“I’ve seen Luo Yan, and there’s only your last teammate left. What kind of person is she?”
“Nana?” Cui Zuojing softly said, “She’s from Japan. When we met for the first time in a challenge box, she was surrounded by thousands of corpses that she herself killed.”
Even now, Cui Zuojing could still recall that werewolf night. Under the full moon, the woman’s sword flashed, her long hair fluttering behind her and her eyes full of a firm and unyielding conviction.
“Before we met her, we’d all heard about her. She was a lone wolf and hadn’t joined a single team in the two full years she’d been in the Pure White Realm. She relied on her own strength to walk into the inner circle of the Pure White Realm.”
“Later, when we were in a famous pilgrim organization—It was called Shiratori. You’ll know about it when you enter the top of the giant tree. Shiratori should still be there now.”
“We met Cheriyu Nana again. At that time, Luo Yan had not yet joined our team, and I was the only pure combat unit. So Fu Zhe invited her to join us.”
“She didn’t agree immediately. We ended up together in another box, and she finally joined the team after truly determining everyone’s ability.”
“Fu Zhe originally thought she would decline and was prepared for a long campaign, but it was easier than he thought. She is proficient in many things, has thousands of techniques and swordsmanship skills, and has always refused to tell us her true age.”
“Later, we got closer, and when we talked about it, Nana said the reason she was always alone was because she hadn’t yet found a team where her teammates would never leave her.”
“She was most afraid of the people around her leaving, afraid that feelings would deepen, only to have the teammates die and leave her all alone.”
“She is a deeply sentimental person,” Dong Zheng commented.
“Yes, to be precise, we are all sentimental people,” Cui Zuojing said. “You might not feel it, but my heart is actually very soft.”
Otherwise, one of the first things he did after coming back wouldn’t have been to hand over his feelings to the clown for safekeeping.”
But Dong Zheng said, “I can feel it.”
Cui Zuojing smiled. “Don’t lie to me. If you’re saying this to deliberately coax me, I won’t be happy.”
Dong Zheng smiled and stopped talking.
The pain had gradually dulled to the point where it wouldn’t get in the way. Cui Zuojing tried to stand up and moved about. He picked up the Tang Sword and stuck his head out to survey their surroundings. The water in the river had calmed down significantly, and Leviathan was nowhere to be seen.
“Should we go?”
“Would it be a problem?”
“I’m not that delicate.”
Taking along the stitched-heart bear, they walked along the edge of the river channel again, wading knee-deep in water. They followed the direction of the water flow, which was the direction where Leviathan had left in. As the crystal ores around them gradually increased in numbers, Cui Zuojing finally began to see clearly. Dong Zheng had also restored the visual port with deliberately increased acuity. At this time, his eyes had withstood too much pressure and shifted from a dull pain to sharp stabs of pain. His head was also somewhat dizzy.
This was a sign of excessive mental wear. When entering the box, each of them wore clothes with many closed pockets. Dong Zheng took out the cat-like paw that had been in his pocket for a long time.
It was the gluttonous beast Gulon’s front paw that Cui Zuojing had cut off in the engine room. It was said to be able to treat dizziness and tinnitus. Dong Zheng put it on top of his head. After a while, he really did feel a cool and mysterious energy deeply soaked in through the top of his head, clearing away his dizziness.
Up until now, Cui Zuojing wasn’t in much spiritual discomfort. When he first became Dong Zheng’s prisoner, he’d just fought a few rounds with Henry, who became a zombie knight, and Dong Zheng’s spiritual force wasn’t able to support him, compelling him to return to the prisoner’s space.
In less than three months, Dong Zheng had made such rapid progress.
Cui Zuojing was very satisfied. He had a faint feeling that, with Dong Zheng’s awakened ability and his dedication to hard work, in the end, his growth might exceed everyone’s expectations.
They walked intermittently for nearly an hour. After making a turn, their vision suddenly widened.
In front of them was a huge underground cavern. It was about a hundred meters high, and at a glance, it appeared to be about two hectares wide. The vast lake was quietly resting in this underground cavern, like a secret place.
On top of the cavern was a large, open hole that revealed the scattered stars in the night sky. Moonlight poured through the opening, reflecting on the surface of the underground lake and creating shimmering ripples.
Dong Zheng looked up at the night sky. The sky, the stars, this huge underground cavity, all these natural and magical creations only made him feel his insignificance and awe in his heart.
Cui Zuojing stood beside him, raised his head with him, and quietly soaked in this rare tranquility.
Even the little bear crawled out of Dong Zheng’s pocket and lay on his shoulder.
Soon, Dong Zheng came back to his senses. He took a deep breath and re-focused on the situation before him.
The protruding stones on both sides of the cave wall had traces of being crushed. Dong Zheng picked up a palm-sized hard scale beside one of the stone protrusions; it must have fallen off Leviathan naturally.
The monster came here not too long ago and dived into the lake. This lake was probably connected to the sea surrounding the island.
The underground river could be regarded as Leviathan’s temporary lair. It may have been awakened by the ground shaking and so it went out to forage for food. During this time, the cave should be safe.
They circled around the cavern but they couldn’t find a way out. After a while, they found a hidden corner to sit and rest.
Eight hours had passed since they last took a break.
After wringing out the water on their clothes, the two of them sat down together and finally had time to rest, unanimously feeling deep exhaustion.