Chapter 168: Steady Advancement

I hastily understood that something wasn’t right and hastily took off my cloak, covered him entirely and tried to heal and warm him up.

The speed at which his body is deteriorating is terrifying! Just what in the world have they done to a child?! → Shen

I frowned as I tried my best to keep the young piglet alive. Feeling some warmth for once, the piglet opened his eyelids, but only two white eyes that wandered around in confusion appeared with no chance to see a thing.

He’s blind… → Shen

Reaching this conclusion, I sighed out a large breath of dark chi, trying to stay calm. Right after, a weak and hoarse voice resounded from between the boy’s dry and purple lips.

“W-who…?”

After I heard his voice, I tried to calm down and answer back.

“Don’t worry. We’re here to take you all out of this place. But first, I need to know more about just what in the world is happening here.” → Shen
“Y-you’re here… To take… us…?”

The young boy’s eyes opened wide, showing shock and surprise, then tears combined with blood dripped down his cheeks as he sobbed in a hushed tone.

“It’s too late…. Mister… My family… friends…. All… are not with me… anymore…”

His painful sobs made me freeze for a moment but I still answered calmly.

“That might be so, but you’re still alive. For every one that parted away, you still need to remain alive. To live and struggle.” → Shen

Hearing this, the piggled slowly turned his head left and right, making for some weird snapping sounds to resound.

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“What was that?” → Shen

I asked confused, only to feel his head heavy on my arms.

“See this… Mister…? My body… so weak… if move… It will break… down… Just now… my neck…muscles…snapped…”
“W-what…?” → Shen

I paled in the face as I thought that such a thing was ridiculous. To only turn your head and have your muscles snap? Just how weakened was his body? I then tried to feel with my aura to see in what state was his body, only to freeze in place. Then I took out the card and told him.

“You’re dying by the second. Hold on, I will put you back in this card. Like this, you’ll live for a longer period of time as time seems to have no-“ → Shen
“No..! Mister- snap!”

Just as I was about to do so, the young boy exclaimed with terror written all over his face then another snapping sound resounded then his voice was no longer audible. His vocal cords just snapped because he tried to exclaim. I hastily turned him on a side so he won’t choke from the blood that now flowed out from his mouth. I felt how my calm mind was slowly being corrupted by darkness while I tried to calmly heal the child. Although I was able to repair his vocal cords and snapped muscles, I already knew that his heart will be the next thing to snap as it was unable to pulsate blood for much longer. With his healed cords, the boy hastily tried to explain to me at the risk of having his vocal cords broken again.

“Mister… No… That card… will trap anyone… inside into… an endless… loop of… nightmares…! Please… don’t… put me… back…”
“Then what should I do? Your life is being drained by the second.” → Shen

My voice calm, while my heart was now drowning in frustration and helplessness, slowly losing my cool.

“If so… then let me… die… while feeling… warm… I prefer…death….over… pain and… cold… sufferings…”

I said nothing as I let the young boy rest in my arms, hearing his heart beating weakly and slowly. Ten, twenty, thirty, then one minute passed, and finally, the heart was unable to pump any more blood as it stopped for good, making for the young boy to leave out his last breath with a relaxed expression.

“…”

I stood like this for another five minutes as I slowly placed the young boy in my cloak then carefully enveloped him fully. I placed all the cards from the shelves inside my inventory then kneeled down beside the corpse to give out a prayer. However, just as I did such, a tall middle-aged man in a black cloak with his head covered with a hood opened the door while rambling on his own.

Tsk, another ineffective. We will have to open up the furnace to burn them once again-.. huh? Who are you- guh?!

I immediately grabbed him by the neck and in less than a second, I closed the door and slammed him on the hard floor, forming cracks everywhere in the room.

“Uh? Ghugh! Agh!”

While strangling him with one hand, my fingers started to grow as sharp nails penetrated his neck and my reddish-dark aura made him tremble and sweat. I slowly raised my head and looked at him from up-close, making him sink into the hard stone floor by the second. My eyes were deep red, my hair turned pitch black, my teeth turned razor-sharp as two long canines showed out in a ferocious manner through my eerie grin. The chains made loud noises as they materialized and tightened all over my body while emanating a burning heat, making even the middle-aged man feel as if inside a volcano. Even so, I ignored all that and simply smiled composed and said.

“Old man… Don’t even bother to explain yourself. I will gift you an experience worse than death, you know?” → Shen
“Mpf! Mpf!”

Fear and terror was written all over his face, this was only making me feel more amused and excited about what I’ll do to him.

[Omisus, you…]
Don’t stop me now. I won’t be able to sleep at night if I simply let these insects go just like that. → Shen

Second Will wanted to stop me but my furry was simply too strong to be tamed any longer. With a mad look in my eyes, I reached out my claws toward the man’s face, a grotesque grin forming on my face while a fear worse than death flashed through his eyes.  Around 30 minutes passed when I finally left the room with a wide smile on my face and my body turning back to normal.

“Alright. Now I feel great.” → Shen

I said so after leaving behind the middle-aged man with empty bloody eyes, droll and foam evading his mouth, together with tears and snot dripping down his eyes and nose. The dark hair he had before now turned completely white as even parts of his skin were now white just as the piglet boy. Even though his body was almost unharmed, except for the eyes, his mind was no longer there, now it was just an empty shell.

The best part about making an illusory world is that you can control if you wish to kill your victim or not, being able to torture them however you wish without worrying for their life. → Shen

At some points while I was impaling the middle-aged man into a long spear from between the legs to through his neck, I started to wonder just when have I turned so ruthless as to use the medieval era’s torture forms from my country. But after finally becoming aware of the dark aura around me, I then understood that everything was part of the devil’s essence. Although I felt somewhat used by the devil, I didn’t complain as teaching these bastards what true madness is was also a goal for me.

“I’ve been told not to kill. Alright, fine by me. Death is not the worst form of punishment, no worries.” → Shen

With a sharp glare, I slowly walked toward the next door that was just as well sealed as the first one. I placed the card on the door and the first thing I heard after it opened was a loud and shrieking scream. I immediately busted the door open, only to see a team of five hooded men, connecting some tubes through which flowed a purplish-dark liquid, right inside a tiger-woman with long white hair that still had a few yellow hairs. The tubes were coming from another machine that covered an entire wall and multiple cylinders filled with different types of liquids appeared to be pumped through multiple tubes from one side of the machine to another. It looked as if it would combine more types of liquids at some parts, while it would separate in another, making for more types to appear and circulate through the transparent tubes that, some of them were now even connected in a quite brutal form inside the woman.

 Her body in full view, she was handcuffed atop a cold stone table while around her neck, a dark collar suppressed her powers. On her chest, stomach, solar plexus, neck, and even on her forehead, such tubes were now implanted, infusing inside her the purplish dark liquid. I was able to tell just how painful it must be as her veins swelled, her eyes reddened as bloody tears fell down her cheeks, while even her teeth started to crack from how tight she clenched them. Because of the excruciating pain, she moved around and hardly struck her body on the hard table, cutting her skin here and there while blue and purple bruises appeared almost everywhere on her back.

[Stop]

I felt the veins inside my head throb at the view as I commanded while using my power-words, making for time itself to stop inside the room. Everything stopped moving, making for the liquid and machine to freeze in place, the 5 men to remain like statues, while even for the woman to stop completely, an expression filled with pain and anguish still visible on her face. I slowly walked toward one of the hooded men, the fact that made his aura to swirl and retract from panic. Although the time stopped, the mind was still as present and aware of what was happening. I stared in the eyes of the hooded man and while making the time move for him again, I said:

[Release her.]

He tried to resist, but this only made his innards to revolt and make him spit out a mouthful of blood. Going against power-words was like going against yourself: you’ll just damage yourself and upset your innards.

“W-who are yo-“

[Quiet.]

Mmmpf!”

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His mouth closed as he got down to work. With a mild smile, I followed him with my red eyes and tried to understand how the mechanism worked. He placed his card atop the machine where a magic-circle was drawn and stopped the machine completely, letting me restart the time for the machine and stop waste energy for it. The scientist man then took out the tubes that were inserted inside her with a thick needle, making for some of that liquid to splash around as it was still inside the tubes. The one from the forehead was inserted with such a precision that it went right through the opening between the two hemispheres of the brain.

After he released both her legs and arms, he turned my way, as if waiting for future orders, sweating bullets and trembling uncontrollably.

[Break your own arm.]

“W-wha-“

-SNAP-

“GUAAGH!”

His body moved on its own as he suddenly took his own arm and snapped it by using his own knee. He bent down from pain and groaned pitifully. I looked at him coldly then said.

“Are you deaf? I said to release her.” → Shen
“B-but I did-“

Not even let him finish his words, I grabbed him by the hair and smashed his head on a corner of the stone table where the tiger-woman was still laid on. Slowly time started to flow once again as her pained expression started to relax, while the faces of the others started to distort from fear and confusion. Although I observed the changes, I gave it no mind as I dragged the man by the hair toward the woman’s neck and showed him the collar.

“If you released her, then just what the f*** is that? Are you thinking that I’m dumb enough to not know how a collar looks like?” → Shen
“Aaah~! N-no! No sir!”

Barely able to talk after having one bone-cheek smashed, the man cried out while trying to explain.

“T-the collar only limits their… powers! They are still… able to move… on their own! I swear!”
“I don’t care. Take it off.” → Shen
“Y-yes…”

He hastily tried to take off the iron collar by placing the silver card atop of it then making it fall on its own.

“Good job. You deserve a nap.” → Shen

I grabbed him by the head once again then smashed it on the stone-table, this time breaking the corner of the table and making him pass out. Although they worked with ridiculously strong entities, these guys were no stronger than Energy Fighters, two power-ranks above a normal human from my world. Time was already in slow motion and the other four men turned toward me while trying to run backward. With a snort, I ordered [Sleep]. And all four of them lost consciousness and fell in slow motion. The woman stared at me with shock, surprise, some hope and even with some fear and panic. I stripped one of those bastards off their cloaks and covered the woman with it after I made time flow normally once again. With wary eyes, she weakly took it from my hands and tried to cover her bruised and naked body. No time to heal her, I simply took out a healing potion and gave it to her.

“Drink.” → Shen

Feeling like she had no other option than to follow my words, the woman took the red potion and gulped it in one go, praying for it to not be another drug or poison. However, after she felt her vitality return, she looked amazed at her healed body then at me. That potion was one of the potions created by elves. It would enchant the regenerative powers of a living being to be almost like Ashura’s for a short period of time. Feeling her vitality recovering, she looked again toward my masked self and asked weakly after she had the hole in her neck healed.

“Just… who…?”
“For now, just another angry person.” → Shen
“…”

She looked somewhat confused but just as she got down from the table, she felt how she stepped on something wet. When she looked downwards, she observed how she stepped on the blood of the one with a broken face. Seeing her stare so intently at him, I said.

“Calm down. He’s not dead.” → Shen
“No… He’s… not…”

She weakly said as hate and bloodlust flashed through her eyes, trying her best to control her wish to strike. The aura of a Core Warrior emanated from her as her nails turned sharper and longer. She then flinched and, with quite a wild look she glanced at me, thinking that I might do something to her if she moved without my accord. At the sight, I could only laugh as a terrifying smile formed on my face.

“Don’t look at me like that. All I did was to release you from your shackles. Now you’re free to do whatever you wish. I won’t order you anything.” → Shen

Hearing my words, her eyes reddened as all that pent-up frustration, fear, pain, sorrow and rage, were now unleashed on the five in just an instant. Blood gushed out the next moment as even I felt like leaving the place for now.

“Oh my…” → Shen

I hastily turned around and left the experimenting room, not wanting to look at the bloody mess the woman will do out of the five.

Although I hate them as well, I’d rather not poison my own heart with others’ miseries. → Shen

After 10 minutes of constant agitation, the woman finally stepped outside the room with light steps like a feline, all bloody with her sharp eyes seemingly bestial, still under the influence of her own wild instincts. Her white hair was now stained with blood while her body was as if smeared with the same nuance. The cloak was just as bloody as it still dripped from her sharp claws and sleeves which she slowly licked like a wild lioness.

“Jesus Christ… Can’t you at least keep yourself clean? Look at the mess you’ve become.” → Shen
“…Sorry.”

After glaring at me for a moment, she calmed down and said in a hushed tone while licking away the blood from her stained hands.

“No, don’t lick it now! God damn- just come here!” → Shen

I walked in front of her and wanted to activate a spell, only to see her growl at me threateningly. I ignored her reaction and used [Cleanse] to wash off the blood from her body and clothes. Suddenly feeling clean and moist with no more blood on sight, the woman calmed down once again and bowed her head in gratitude and apology. Afterward, she took out five cards and gave them to me.

“I think… you’ll need…?”

Still not fully healed, her hushed tone resounded as she handed the cards to me.

“ Hm? Is this a golden one?” → Shen

I looked at the cards and observed how one of them was made of gold. I took that one card then started asking questions.

“Do you know where the rest are being held? How many of these guys are still around and where are the other facilities?” → Shen
“I… know… ah…”

She suddenly fell on her knees, coughing in pain. She started breathing heavily as her pulse skyrocketed in just seconds.

“What is it now?” → Shen

I got down and tried to inspect her health by examining her pulse. I circulated my own chi through her and detected foreign energy which seemed to destroy then repair her body. I was confused at first, only to remember that Ashura was the same in this aspect. Although Ashura could now regenerate even severed limbs, this woman still needed the liquid from the tubes to evolve into something similar to him. At the moment though, she was only another Core Warrior that had a hard time controlling her powers.

Her body suddenly stopped receiving that weird energy and now it’s revolting and fighting it back. Her body is that of an adept, while only her powers are of a Core Warrior. If nothing is done, her body will disintegrate slowly. → Shen

I tried to infuse my own chi inside her body to give her the necessary power to fight the corroding energy. Only after 20 minutes was I able to stabilize her body back to normal, but that didn’t mean she was fully healed.

“This is difficult…” → Shen

Sweat fell down my forehead as I was just as tired as her now. I got up and tried to walk, only to feel one of my legs being grabbed onto. The woman trembled in fear as she weakly whispered.

“Please… don’t leave me… here…”

I looked at her with a neutral face then sighed again. I took her in my arms and walked back toward the main hall.

“… Boss.”

A voice resounded from my right as a bandit suddenly appeared with a dark expression on his face from through the shadows. He was the veteran Sabin chatted with all the time.

“Yes. I want you to take care of her while I continue my patrol. It might take longer than anticipated.” → Shen
“Yes, boss. But we got news…. Bad news…”

Then other bandits appeared from through the shadows, hateful and ferocious expressions etched on their faces. Those younger or newer ones, although not as affected by what they discovered, they still wore serious expressions on.

Seeing everyone like this, I immediately made them report. Without saying much, they walked me toward a door. Behind it, more such hooded men were already beaten to death, hidden for nobody to see. Around four of them were present at the moment.

“What did you find?” → Shen

I asked surprised to see how they didn’t make them explode like the soldiers, activating the blood oath that was visible on their left hands. However, I was able to see a slight cut on their throats, perhaps making them stop talking just in time before activating the blood oath.

“Yes, Boss… We asked mostly about what happened 15 years ago when more people suddenly disappeared from the slums, some of our friends and families were also victims… From here, we found two pieces of information. Bad and good.”
“What’s the good news?” → Shen
“They were kidnapped into this facility and some are still alive.”
“Oho~? And what’s the bad news?” → Shen
“Just a small part of them are still alive…. And even those alive are in a state worse than death… saying that they’ve been placed inside some cards for quite some time now…”

His face turned somber as I was unable to say anything kind enough to make them feel better. I already had the cards with me but if they were in the same state as the piglet, then it was better for them to not know anything. I then placed the woman down beside a wall and ordered.

“I want you lot to take care of her in my absence. I will go out once again. Just as before, let nobody find you out.” → Shen
“… Boss.”

The veteran then called out again with a heavy tone, making me turn and stare at him intently. He closed his eyes, breathed deeply, then looked my way and said firmly.

“Boss. My men and I wish to take part in exploring these cursed laboratories. Like this, maybe we’ll be able to find the captives faster.”
“I understand how you feel. But we still need people to guard the entrance.” → Shen
“We are almost two hundred. We can form a group of at least 50 to go through the halls and search around.”
“We only got a total of eight cards if we combine what you lot collected with what I have now. Most of these doors need such cards.”
“Actually, seven. Sabin came back to take one from the ones we killed. But don’t worry, Boss. We can always share it between us.”


“Make it 10 now.” → Sabin

Just as we talked, Sabin returned with a wild smile on his face as he showed another three bloody cards with one hand, while dragging other tree corpses by the hood with the other.

“I found these fuckers while they brought another specimen and bring it into the experimenting rooms. The brat ran away but at least I got these 3 fellows.” → Sabin

He said while throwing the corpses on the stone-wall, painting it with blood and cracking it from the impact. His words attracted everyone’s attention as the veteran bandit turned toward me with a firm gaze.

“Boss, you heard what Sabin said. It seems a child has been set free inside the laboratories. If we don’t act soon, those bastards will become aware of our presence while we’re still only searching around. We can form a rescue party right here and now while the boss continues to search around on the other part of the underground facilities.”

I stared at his firm eyes and asked.

“What’s your name?” → Shen
“Trunk.” → Trunk
“Well then, Trunk. Are you aware that you might get backstabbed by the ones you’ll rescue? They went through inhuman experiments for who knows how many days now and their minds are barely standing, some might have already been turned insane. You don’t know what psychopath is behind you, ready to strike, thinking you might be just another monster he has to defeat or something else viewed as an enemy. Knowing all of this, are you still inclined to take the risk?” → Shen

The white-haired woman lowered her head in sadness, knowing that he was also referring to her, while Trunk stared in space then he said solemnly.

“With all the respect, Boss. Even if you tell us that now, it won’t change the fact that we accepted this mission to rescue the victims and eradicate the trashes. If there are psychos, we’ll immobilize them. If they are beyond saving, we will let them rest from their sufferings with no pain. In case there’s someone we can’t deal with, we’ll ask our boy Sabin to deal with them.” → Trunk
“So you’re ready to kill… even if that person beyond saving might be a loved one?” → Shen
“… We’d rather put them to sleep than let them do things they’d never wished to do.” → Trunk

Just like his name, his resolution was unmoving as his eyes didn’t shift from mine even when I asked about the possibility of killing a dear one. I was unable to trample on his wish to form more parties so I simply agreed with a sigh.

“… Alright. But focus on saving, not killing. The moment you find someone who seemed to have lost their minds, first try to put on them a telepathic ring. I’ll try my best to bring them to their normal state if they’ll still have a mind to bring. And in case not even Sabin can help you, contact me. Here are the rings I talked about.” → Shen

After I gave him all the silver cards I had and keeping the golden one, I also gave him a few other rings of telepathy. Although I took with me only 2 telepathic rings, I was able to craft some more while I was locking in my own room.

Never have I thought I’ll use them in such moments… I’m really thankful at my random intuition at times. → Shen

Afterward, I walked toward the tiger woman and gave her a similar ring, asking her to tell me through telepathy the way toward the other victims.

“Are you… going alone…?”

She seemed worried for some reasons but I simply turned around while saying, aware that I don’t have the time to chat.

“No need to worry. Now please put on that ring and focus on the mental connection with me. I’ll depend on you to show me around.” → Shen
“Yes… Understood…”

Her weak voice resounded as she placed the ring on her finger then tried to connect with my mind. At first, her mind was just as chaotic as Alexander’s, making me able to hear her fears, doubts, and hate.

Focus. → Shen

I firmly said in her mind and her thoughts diminished in intensity, making her aware of her own thoughts.

Thank you. I’m fine now.
Good. Now, I’m at the exact same place you showed me before. I suppose you already heard the conversation I had with Trunk? → Shen
Yes. They discovered the Room: A with experimenting subjects… I came from Room: C.
How many are there? → Shen
From what I heard from the hooded people while they were strolling around, I think there must be around 3 rooms. I heard only about Room: A, Room: B, and Room: D.
Wait. Three rooms? Where is Room: C, then? → Shen
Room C? Is possible for there to be another room. But why B?
What do you mean “why”? Isn’t it normal to place them alphabetically? → Shen
Alphabetical-… sorry, but I don’t understand what you mean?
Oy oy… for real…? → Shen

I was left dumbfounded to finally understand that she actually didn’t know about the alphabet.


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