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A true jungle; meandering; uneven; torturous and dense.
If it wasn’t for the advance party roughly hacking out a path, newcomers would get lost in the maze of trees.
Our team of 6 men and 6 horses are making use of such a road. Out of the 6 of us, only Alvin was experienced with this road and he naturally took the lead in this supply mission.
As we traveled under his command and instruction, we began to get accustomed to him. Soon, none of us held that day’s events against him.
Along the way, we would pass by other supply teams. They had one or two members leading a whole herd of 20 horses. I guess that’s what it means to be a veteran. I wonder if we’ll get to stage as well.
Alvin: The distance to the next transit point is about half a day’s worth of travel back and forth. So you can make a maximum of two trips back and forth per day.
Alvin: Make sure you watch your step, don’t be careless and end up falling down a slope.
Halfmoon Leak’age: Errm, what were those returning teams carrying?
Lee Sole’shot: Er? Couldn’t you just burn or toss it away somewhere?
Alvin: You wish to destroy the environment of this country’s future territory?
One’day High: There’s been no signs of danger up till now. Are you sure those “adventurers” are nearby?
Di Qi Ju: ……
The illegally armed robbers and bandits of the unexplored territories were otherwise known as adventurers. I had heard about it from Breman during the testing phase but back then I would’ve never expected to be the potential target for such people. This is worrisome…
Alvin: There was a report of a military supply convoy getting raided last night. Right now, they’ve added patrols along this route to stop these robbers.
One’day High: Then there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.
Lee Sole’shot: Can we use our personal weapons to kill them?
Upon hearing this, Alvin turned around to glare at Lee Sole’shot.
Alvin: As a laborer, why do you possess a weapon?
Lee Sole’shot: …I can’t?
Halfmoon Leak’age: Isn’t it easy to fashion a weapon out of the materials around here?
As he said this, he picked up a thin but sharp rock and waved it around like a dagger.
Alvin: There’s no need for it, you should have more faith in the military.
Alvin: Also…don’t we have a really reliable looking non-human among us?
At this, Mo Chuan who was at the back of the team, looked up at gave a piercing stare at Alvin.
Mo Chuan: Move your hands away from that wine jug.
Looks like he failed to fool Mo Chuan once more. This was the third time that this has happened.
Lee Sole’shot: Oh hoh, looks like the relationship between you two hasn’t gotten any better.
Lee Sole’shot: Is it something like “there only needs to be one burly character in this team!”..?
Di Qi Ju:…If you wish for your life to take a turn for the better, you had better learn to shut up and stop causing trouble.
This conversation continued for the following few hours as we made our way to the next transit point. By the time our useless banter ended, it was high noon and the sun was out in full force.
Alvin: From this point on, there will be no more patrols. Up ahead is the [Grand Ravine].
Di Qi Ju: What’s the Grand Ravine?
Alvin: Do you remember that natural trench around the city of Honor? While it isn’t completely connected, the previous expeditions found out that this ravine was a part of that trench.
Alvin: Furthermore…it’s a lot deeper than the trench at Honor.
Alvin: There shouldn’t be any adventurers here. Just being able to reach here would be a miracle for them with all the dangers along the road.
Di Qi Ju: Then…how do we cross it?
Alvin: Using the bridge of course.
The terrain in front experienced a drastic change; the vegetation in that area had become significantly sparser. By now, the edges of the cliff were visible to us. In the distance, a 200 meter wide ravine came into view. It split the earth in half like a giant scar running along its flesh.
Joining the two halves was a narrow rickety rope bridge which looked like it would collapse with the slightest of breeze.
One’day High: Well I’ll be damned…
Halfmoon Leak’age: This bridge…it’s at most two meters wide right?
Lee Sole’shot: How deep is that ravine…
As we got closer to the ravine, we spotted a lush woodland below the smooth cliff wall. As for the ground, it was nowhere in sight. This depth…it should be as deep as its width.
If someone fell from here, they would definitely die unless they sprouted a pair of wings.
Halfmoon Leak’age: There’s not even any railing on the sides.
Alvin: This was built by a military personnel who had the relevant wish ability and can accommodate a full team of 24 loaded horses and their caretakers. Weight isn’t an issue.
Alvin: There’s no report of strong winds right now and there doesn’t seem to be anyone crossing from the other side. Right now is the perfect time to make the crossing.
Lee Sole’shot: Even so…
Alvin: I’ve crossed this several times, don’t worry and just follow my lead.
Halfmoon Leak’age: …alright.
Looks like there was no way out of this. I guess this is what it means to have a job: if it’s within the jobscope, you just gotta suck it up and do it.
Di Qi Ju:…
Di Qi Ju:……
This feeling…it’s like someone is knocking on my heart.
Di Qi Ju:……
Mo Chuan: Ju?
Alvin: Di Qi Ju, why did you stop?
Di Qi Ju: Err…
Di Qi Ju: I’m not feeling well, can you give me a minute?
Alvin: You have acrophobia?
Di Qi Ju: No…one minute is all I need, just one minute…
Did my “ability that allows me to distance myself from fatal danger” activate?
Exactly what kind of danger is waiting for us ahead?
Alvin already said there shouldn’t be any adventurers here so…
I looked at the rope bridge; nope, it didn’t seem to be shaking.
An attack from the air? I looked up and nothing could be seen for miles, not even a fly.
An attack from below? Perhaps some wild beast. But with this depth, can anything even make it up here?
Is it an earthquake?..But if it’s an earthquake, how do I predict when it will happen?
Di Qi Ju:…
Alvin: Alright, let’s go.
Alvin: If you can’t take it, just close your eyes and hold onto the horses, I’ll lead the way. Whether or not there are fencing won’t matter if you don’t slip.
Alvin: Just take it like a man.
As both my feet stepped onto the narrow bridge, I knew that there was no going back.
The bridge wasn’t shaking in the least and looking down didn’t cause the same kind of irrational fear one had from acrophobia. But that pounding on my heart hasn’t given up one bit.
Don’t tell me God has made a mistake?
Exactly what kind of danger was waiting for us?
Mo Chuan: …Ju? What’s the matter?
Behind me was the last member of our convoy, Mo Chuan. He tossed me a worried look as he asked me. However, I didn’t know how to answer him.
This feeling of being powerless and weak…it’s something I hadn’t experienced in my school life.
Suddenly, the convoy stopped.
The leading horse suddenly knelt down on the ground. Soon, the horses behind it did so as well.
One’day High: …What’s going on?
This kind of behavior…they must’ve been trained to do so. Without a person commanding them, they wouldn’t do so.
Halfmoon Leak’age: There’s a situation.
As the horses knelt down, the situation ahead became clear—
Alvin was kneeling on the ground as well, his body swaying slightly as he desperately tried to maintain his balance. However, he ended up collapsing to the ground.
One’day High: Ah—-!
Halfmoon Leak’age: …!!
Lee Sole’shot: What is this?
Di Qi Ju:……??
The three in front of me simultaneously looked at the side of their feet. Curious, I did so as well.
What greeted me was the sight of a pair of human hands hanging onto the sides of the bridge. Each pair had a dagger with an ominous looking sheen on it.
Alvin: It’s a “cannabis tranquilizer”, once it enters your body, you’ll be paralyzed in seconds!
??: Thanks for your explanation, but you can shut up now.
Suddenly, four men leaped up from below the bridge. They were dressed in typical guerilla fashion, and with just one look one could tell they were up to no good.
*bam bam bam* Lee Sole’shot, One’day High and Halfmoon Leak’age collapsed to the ground in succession. At their feet, was a slight gash where the cannabis entered their body.
With a quick stomp of their feet, they knocked out everyone except for Alvin who managed to struggle a little.
They are adventurers! The rumored armed robbers of this world!
Adventurer A: Damn it, such a perfect time for a robbery and yet it had to be a convoy with so many people and so little goods.
Adventurer A: Based on this amount, it will barely cover the cost. Looks like we have to do one more job.
Di Qi Ju:…..
The so-called life threatening danger was this?
To think they would hide below the bridge and wait to ambush someone…such a suicidal move…
Adventurer A: The guy at the back, stop dawdling and knock them out.
Di Qi Ju: —–!?
I finally noticed the person facing off against Mo Chuan. He was pointing his weapon at Mo Chuan while maintaining his distance, forcing the battle into a stalemate. As I looked down, I saw the gash on Mo Chuan’s left foot. He seemed to have taken a hit as well.
I guess I’m the only who wasn’t attacked? It’s a 5 vs 6 so they probably assumed I would pose no threat to them.
Adventurer E: Boss…this guy’s a seasonal wolf!
Adventurer A: What?! Why would there be a seasonal wolf among these laborers?
Adventurer A: Get him! It’s fine if you cripple him!
Adventurer E:…Got it!
He took out a short sword that was shorter than the knife they poisoned us with, and struck out at Mo Chuan in an overhead chop.
Mo Chuan: Hrggh—-
Mo Chuan shifted his center of gravity onto his right foot and pivoted around in an unimaginable spin combined with a left hook. Before that short sword even descended, his fist had already crashed into adventurer’s abdomen.
Adventurer E: *cough*–!!
After a violent bout of staggering, he collapsed to his knees.
This kind of inhuman movement could only be done with a seasonal wolf’s superior body; a normal human would’ve never have been able to do so. I finally understood why the people around us were afraid of Mo Chuan.
Adventurer E : *cough* *cough*…
Adventurer E: I’ll—-kill you!!
He tried to get to his feet but Mo Chuan’s fist had caused more damage to his body than he had expected. His body refused to listen to him as he tried to regain his posture.
Adventurer E: …What?!
It hadn’t occurred to him at all that as he staggered, he was slowly leaning off the side of the bridge.
Adventurer A: Hey! What are you doing!?
Adventurer E: Eh Ahhhh—-
Adventurer E: Ahh——–……
As he descended into the abyss, only his voice remained as it echoed within the cliff walls.
Di Qi Ju:……
No one present had expected his fists to be so effective. The recipient was now lying dead at the bottom of the valley. Death, that was something alien to me as I grew up, but having gone through that disaster, I no longer held this view. Death could strike at any moment, whether it was from your surroundings or from above…
Adventurer A: Ready your weapons! Flay that mutt alive!
Adventurer B/C/D: Ahhh—!!!
They completely ignored me as they stepped onto the backs of the horses and supply chests and leaped at Mo Chuan. Those short swords all had a strange sheen on them that one did not usually find on cold weaponry. If he ate those head on, he probably wouldn’t be standing for long.
Flay…such a terrifying method. Strangely, I was pretty calm at this moment. These people…weren’t a threat at all. Compared to the bestial wrath, they were too weak. If fear couldn’t force my body into action then only anger could.
Di Qi Ju:……
I quietly looked at the head adventurer charging in my direction; my gaze locked on his weapon. He completely ignored me as well, as his hatred filled eyes locked onto Mo Chuan. As he passed by me, I stuck out my right arm.
Adventurer A: My…sword?
His previously whole sword was now a pile of scrap metal, a portion of which was still in my hands.
As I looked at my hands, I saw several deep gashes on it. Black blood flowed freely from those wounds, as my hand slowly turned black.
While it looked like I had been poisoned, I knew that this was just an illusion. My hand hadn’t been pierced at all. By now, I was familiar with this disguise ability that not only fooled others but myself as well. I coldly stared at the adventurer, my disdainful image clearly reflected within his eyes.
Adventurer A: You little…brat!!
The last thing I saw as I fell off the bridge was his outstretched leg…I had been kicked off!
It was a kick that a pampered high school kid like me couldn’t react to. Behind me, the several hundred meter deep abyss welcomed me with wide open arms. As I turned around, I saw the dense woodland below closing in on me like a giant mouth waiting to devour its prey.
Ah…I finally get it.
This was the so-called life threatening danger…
As the forceful arms of gravity pulled me down, I was struck with the sensation of freefall. That clear empty sky, devoid of any clouds or birds…if it hadn’t been for the sun hanging above, it would’ve looked just like an ocean of blue…
That towering and terrifying tsunami…
I was reminded of that moment of despair as I plummeted downwards with a look of defeat on my face.
That moment where no help was in sight.
I guess in the end, whether it was fear or anger, it was all the same…
The same…unchangeable fate.
Mo Chuan: —-Ju!
The plummeting stopped as a strong hand grabbed onto my wrist
I looked up, stunned. I was greeted by the sight of a familiar burly arm and the familiar fanged face of Mo Chuan.
His arm grabbed me in the nick of time stopping my fall. As for the other, it was tightly grasping onto the side of the bridge.
Mo Chuan: Don’t just give up!
Di Qi Ju:……
Mo Chuan: I’m going to toss you up! Work with me!
Adventurer A: “Toss”? What are you talking about?
A barely noticeable red line was drawn on his arm which rapidly expanded as blood began to flow from the gash. He had been cut!
Adventurer A: Go accompany my friend in hell.
The sensation of free falling filled me once more, but this time Mo Chuan felt it as well.
The bridge withdrew into the distance as it rapidly turned into a tiny line in the horizon.
As the wind rushed past my ears, the world was silent except for the constant buzzing of the air.
In the end, you can’t change anything…
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.