Allen let out a hoarse cry full of desperation. He could clearly feel the parasite’s ice-cold body as it re-entered his body and clung to his spinal vertebra.
In a split second, the red insect was directly over their heads. It’s two huge, compound eyes reflected countless images of them.
Even if Allen continued to climb up, he would only continue to try to hurt Dong Zheng once the parasite regained control of his body. By that point, he would definitely be delaying their escape.
In the moment just before the parasite’s legs could connect with his nerves, Allen drew out his only weapon–the dagger hanging at his waist. He slashed the mountain climbing rope around his waist and ruthlessly swung it at the arm above him.
Blood spurted out.
The two brothers that had been using all their strengths to pull Allen back up suddenly felt their arms lighten. They fell backward and in their hands was half of Allen’s right arm, spraying blood and staining the snow red.
Tears instantly swelled out from Wang Que’s eyes. She stretched out her hand to catch Allen but only managed to catch a few drops of blood that was falling from the air.
“No! Brother Len!”
Dong Linhai rushed forward and recklessly scrambled to the edge of the cliff, shouting. Tears rolled down from his eyes, and he could only watch as Allen fell into the white fields below. His conspicuous, fiery red hair got further and further away until it finally disappeared altogether.
At this moment, Dong Zheng felt as if the whole world had gone cold. He clutched Allen’s severed arm, the blood trickling down at his feet.
Wang Que and Dong Linhai cried, pushing themselves as far along the edge of the cliff as possible, reaching out their hands in vain to save Allen. Their heart-broken sobs rang in his ears, but no tears came.
The surging grief in his heart was abruptly suppressed by something that felt as cold a freezing rain. Now matter how much it surged, it couldn’t burst out.
It was the energy that Chang Hui had sent into his body in the secret realm of the Labyrinth of Time.
At this moment, it was suppressing the overwhelming emotions in his heart.
The giant insect was right above their heads, so close that Dong Zheng could smell its stench and feel the wind generated by it’s flapping wings. There was no time to delay!
Dong Zheng put Allen’s severed arm on the ground and reached out to grab Dong Linhai and Wang Que, shouting, “Go! Hurry up!”
Wang Que stared at the cliff where Allen was no longer visible and wailed. She made no response when Dong Zheng dragged her away. Dong Linhai clung tightly to Dong Zheng’s arm, his face full of tears. He screamed incoherently, “Brother Len! Brother Len fell! That parasite is still there! We have to save him!”
These two children had never experienced the parting of a companion’s death and were completely overwhelmed with violent grief. They tried to free themselves from Dong Zheng, wanting to find a way to save Allen. Dong Zheng pulled them over, raised his hand, and slapped them.
“Right now, I’m saving you two!”
His slap was neither heavy nor light. Wang Que was so shocked by the slap that she could only look at him in stunned surprise. Dong Linhai screamed. His two eyes were very red. But his grip on Dong Zheng’s arm gradually loosened.
Dong Zheng dragged a sobbing Wang Que with one hand and Dong Linhai with the other. He forced the two of them to the side of the path and hid them under the protruding rocks.
Allen’s severed arm still lay where it fell, but it no longer bled. The giant insect was deeply attracted by the blood. It stayed there for a while, but when it couldn’t find its target, it followed the smell of blood on Allen and flew straight down the cliff.
Wang Que covered her face and cried softly into her hands. Dong Linhai clenched his fists and slammed them into the ground. He gritted his teeth as tears streamed down his face.
Allen, the clown in their team, who could always brighten up the atmosphere. He never seemed to be sad, but just moments ago, Dong Linhai clearly saw the tears in Allen’s eyes.
In order to give them time to escape and to prevent the red insect from catching them, Allen directly cut off his arm and used his own death to create an opportunity for them.
Yes, Wang Que was certain that Allen’s fall would only result in death. At the moment when the parasite crawled back into Allen’s body, she clearly sensed that it had rushed directly into Allen’s brain.
She…She couldn’t imagine how much Allen was suffering at that moment.
Three minutes later, the red insect’s figure soared up from the valley and flew into the distance. Dong Zheng couldn’t see whether there was any blood on it’s mandible so he couldn’t tell whether it had found Allen at the bottom of the cliff.
“Don’t run around.” After throwing this sentence to the two of them, Dong Zheng ran back to the cliff by himself. He put Allen’s severed arm on the inside of the path to prevent it from falling off and took out a new mountain climbing rope. He found a rock strong enough to tie it on and made sure it was secure.
He tied the other end of the rope to his waist, took a deep breath, and climbed down the cliff with his back facing outwards, trying to find Alan.
The cliff was steep and was covered with snow and ice, making it difficult to climb. Dong Zheng didn’t have a climbing pick, so he could only use his bare hands. If he didn’t pay attention, he risked slipping.
Every step was dangerous, and he had to be extra careful. Finally, Dong Zheng landed on a bulge more than 20 meters below the cliff. He looked around and found that there was no way for him to go down.
There are still sporadic blood stains on the rock wall, which had frozen and became part of the icy snow. The red is dazzling. It was Allen’s blood.
The ice-cold snow was still falling down and was blown by the wind into Dong Zheng’s face.
He slowly sank to his knees. He looked at the valley below and finally shed his first tears.
Tears dripped onto the snow, melting into small pieces of snowflakes.
The energy that Chang Hui left in his heart gradually faded. With the restrain loosening, his suppressed emotions were released little by little, building into an indescribable sorrow.
Allen, his best comrade. They were good brothers that had supported each other all the way to now. From Hamelin, where they’d escaped the dungeon together, to when fate reunited them in the Labyrinth of Time.
Dong Zheng still clearly remembered that in the mist-shrouded forest, a young man with dazzling red hair and blue eyes tentatively approached and asked him and Dong Linhai if he could sit with them.
Every memory was so clear.
He closed his eyes and slammed his fist into the rock wall a few times, unable to help the tears streaming down his face.
He spurned his own uselessness. Why couldn’t he have dragged Allen up before the giant insect arrived? If he was stronger, as strong as Cui Zuojing, then when the red insect pounce on them, he could solve it so simply and neatly. Allen wouldn’t have to cut off his own arm and fall down the cliff just to keep them safe.
Why did Allen have to bear that inhuman suffering?
At this moment, Dong Zheng had completely forgotten that he’d only been in the Pure White Realm for half a year. At this time, many people were still wandering the novice area, having failed to collect enough points to buy tickets to other districts.
Dong Zheng thought of Cui Zuojing and Lin Hangzhi. They were chasing them non-stop, preparing to go to the research institute to perform surgery on Allen. He thought of Fu Zhe. Every time they set off to enter the box, Fu Zhe would send them off in the living room. When they came back, he would close the book in his hand and smile and say “Welcome back.”
But now, he’d lost Allen.
Dong Zheng knelt on this small protrusion and wept uncontrollably.
He was crying so much that he failed to hear his name being called. Finally, he heard a voice coming from above his head.
Dong Zheng raised his head. Cui Zuojing was poking his head out from the edge of the cliff above, looking at him. Lin Hangzhi was by his side.
The moment he saw Cui Zuojing, Dong Zheng fell into a daze. He didn’t know how to tell Cui Zuojing and Lin Hangzhi about Allen.
“Aren’t you coming up?” Cui Zuojing asked. He grabbed the other end of the safety rope tied around Dong Zheng’s waist and said, “Come up first. Hangzhi and I will pull you up.”
Dong Zheng finally took a deep breath. He pulled himself up against the rock wall and rubbed his numbed knees. Then, without a word, he grabbed the mountain climbing rope and began to climb back up with their help.
Dong Zheng climbed back to the path and sat on the ground, feeling as if he’d lost all his strength.
Lin Hangzhi had heard their voices from the communicator and had already guessed what had happened. He had refused to draw a conclusion without seeing it in person, and so he and Cui Zuojing had rushed over with all due haste.
But, in front of him was Allen’s severed arm, and Dong Linhai and Wang Que were huddled together, crying like two small wounded animals.
Lin Hangzhi’s face was already full of tears.
In the end, they had ran out of time.
Cui Zuojing looked at Dong Zheng calmly and asked softly, “Did Allen fall down?”
Dong Zheng looked at the young man in front of him, his eyes blurred with tears. He didn’t want to show such a fragile side in front of Cui Zuojing, but he really couldn’t endure it. “I couldn’t find him.”
Vast sorrow surrounded him like a thick substance, wrapping all around Cui Zuojing. But he had handed his feelings over to the clown and had lost the ability to grieve.
He calmly assessed that, after being parasitized, cutting off his arm, and falling off the cliff, the probability of Allen surviving was almost nonexistent.
He once again witnessed the departure and death of a companion.
Cui Zuojing also wanted to cry like them, and he also wanted to feel sorrow at Allen’s departure, but he really couldn’t. He even felt the urge to tell Dong Zheng to open up the emotional transfer between them so that Dong Zheng could share the grief in his heart.
In that moment, he began to wonder for the first time whether he’d made the wrong choice when he’d handed his feelings over to the clown.
At that time, Cui Zuojing truly believed that strong emotions may affect his judgments. So, he’d left only hatred to support him on his journey. But now, was this cold and ruthless person truly him?
Dong Zheng didn’t notice the fluctuations in Cui Zuojing’s heart. His eyes were closed, and his head was full of the moment when Allen decisively cut off his own arm. He sucked in a breath. “I’m too useless.”
Tears streamed down his cheeks.
“No, you’ve done a good job.” Cui Zuojing held Dong Zheng’s face with both hands and wiped away his tears with his thumbs. This man, who was barely 27 years old, once again showed him his fragile side.
“This is a box. Every one of us may die in the next second.”
Cui Zuojing patted Dong Zheng’s shoulders and wrapped his arms around Dong Zheng in a tight hug. He heard a sound come from Dong Zheng’s throat, sounding just like a wounded beast.
“Don’t cry. Adjust your mood. Let’s move on. There’s not much time left.”
Cui Zuojing raised his head and told Dong Zheng and Lin Hangzhi, who was also silently crying, “Death doesn’t mean the end of life. Allen could become an npc or a manager. At that time, he may have lost his memory and would no longer remember us, but we might still see what he’ll be like in the future.”