Translator: sophiaxlm Editor: Kurisu
Iron Mountain was under a complete lockdown and off-limits to all unauthorized personnel. Yet here he was, a pale and haggard teenage boy whose identity was as plain as the nose on his face. Of the vast area this mountain took up, Gu Yu and Xiaozhai just happened to run into him first. That was sheer blind luck.
"He looks a mess. This is awkward."
"He can't help it. After all, he's been running all this time."
"I think he's hungry. You got any food?"
"I think so."
While they were talking in whispers, Li Suchun remained in the same position as when he tumbled over, overcome with horror.
The creepy clown and painted face masks aside, just by standing there together, these two people were giving him a desperate feeling, which told him that there was no use trying to run away.
Without the zombie, his combat capability was really… wait a second!
Blinking, Li Suchun slowly got up to his feet and inconspicuously reached to one side of his waist while acting all natural. He asked, "Who are you people?"
The two did not answer. The clown, however, fumbled in his bag and dug out something, which he threw at him, "There you go!"
Without realizing it, he caught the thing and was dumbfounded. It was a bar of chocolate.
"Who on earth are you?" He asked again.
"Eat. Then we'll talk."
The painted face seemed to have chuckled, who then asked, "Do you need some water?"
What the heck!
Exactly what was going on here?
Li Suchun was all jumpy and jittery before this, but this sensation had been interrupted by these two and he felt his head was spinning for no reason. Unable to tell whether these two were friend or foe, he moved a few steps away from them, tore open the package and downed the chocolate in two bites.
The sugar and energy from the chocolate somewhat soothed his discomfort and those two did not even move a finger during this time, which led him to let his guards down a little bit.
"I think you've realized by now that there is a whole mountain of people chasing you. How about we talk somewhere else?" The painted face said.
"Fight with me or let me go. I have nothing to say to you," he said gruffly.
"Go? Are you going to get your little zombie?" The clown asked.
"You're with them! I knew it!"
His eyes wide open, Li Suchun took up the gun in a whoosh. He was about to point it to the front when he felt something heavy on his wrist. Lowering his head, he found a green snake coiling around his right wrist. He had no idea how it got there.
The snake hooked its tail around his finger, which completely stopped him from pulling the trigger. Fixing its dark yellow, horizontal pupils on him, the snake hissed with its blood-red two-pronged tongue, as if ready to bite.
The teenager had seen his fair share of twists and turns, but never was he pinned down in the matter of seconds such as right now. He was, nonetheless, exceptionally bold, and managed to keep his hand completely still, which in turn did not give the snake an excuse to make a move.
"What exactly do you want from me?" Li Suchun asked in a coarse voice.
"Don't be nervous. We just want to take a look at your 'work'," replied the painted face.
"Suppose I say no to that?"
"They're searching the mountain right now. It's just a matter of time before they find it. All we need to do is sit aside and watch," the clown was indifferent.
Furrowing his brows tightly together, the teenager fell silent for a few seconds before giving in. "Ok, I'll take you there."
"Well, smart move!"
The clown crooked his finger, beckoning at Li Suchun, who replied with a snort and tossed over the pistol.
As a matter of fact, ideas such as acting on behalf of the Gods to perform righteous deeds, or "justice should always be served" had never crossed their minds.
This teenager had doubtlessly been a killer, but there was a string of distinctive causalities behind his acts. The intrusive demolition led to the death of the old priest, which was why the developers were killed. After that came the fleeing and hunting… just as the saying went, Karma is a bi*ch and it's a small world, after all.
They had no intention to judge right from wrong in such an event; it was beyond their capability. All they wanted was to see the zombie.
Their earlier guess had been vague. They suspected creatures from infant ghosts and undead insects to even the Five Ghosts. However, after some probing around, they decided it was a zombie.
"What's your name?"
"Which Lower Mao Mountain sect are you from?"
"Where did you get the corpse?"
The teenager led the way in the front, unable to show the slightest resistance. Our two fellows walked on either side of him, teasing the boy from time to time. He would only reply to a few questions and ignore the rest, as if completely resigning to his misfortune.
In fact, he was secretly very curious himself. After a while, he could no longer hold back and asked, "Are you Taoist disciples as well?"
"Why are you looking for a zombie?"
Li Suchun crinkled up his face wryly. 'How can someone as capable as you two be so childish!'
It was strange. Although he had been subdued, he did not feel much animosity towards the two. For him, these two people were much nicer than the developers, the police, or even that Liu Changhe.
The three of them threaded through the woods, taking great care to evade the pursuers with precise movements. The hiding place seemed to be incredibly secretive. The road took them zigzagging down a slope towards somewhere around the reservoir.
While they were still walking, the painted face slowed down to a halt. The clown asked, "What's wrong?"
"Something's not right. The further we walk in that direction, the stronger an evil aura I can feel."
"An evil aura?"
"I don't know how to describe it. Maybe an evil energy?"
"Are you sure it's evil energy?" Unexpectedly, Li Suchun was startled by these words, and asked hastily.
To refine a corpse, one had to know Feng Shui and the terrain. He had learned bits and pieces from the inheritance of his sect, but his knowledge was nowhere near that of an expert such as Wang Ruoxu. He was able to find a proper burial site, but failed to detect the evil energy.
"I think so."
Suddenly realizing his question, the painted face asked, "Don't tell me your zombie is buried over there?"
"What would happen when a zombie absorbs the evil energy?" The clown also asked.
"I really can't say. Maybe... maybe it would mutate," he was even more vexed now.
"Don't miss the area over here. You, go check it!"
"Keep focused! Don't fool around!"
Around the perimeter of Iron Mountain, a team of police officers was scanning the area carefully. At the command of the official, all available units had been dispatched here, enhancing the strength of the task force significantly.
The team consisted of over a dozen members. The leader was called Guo Tao, a junior level officer of the police station. They were in charge of sweeping the west side of the reservoir, which was a rather heavy load.
The reservoir was as big as a lake—it spanned for 5.7 km, with a water storage capacity of 2890 cubic meters. As the third largest water conserving project in Shu Zhou, the lake was Y-shaped with a few small isles in it, which were all barren.
Their lengthy search was in vain. Those on familiar terms with Guo Tao complained, "Brother Tao, it's getting dark. How much longer do we have to keep at it?"
"Just hold on for a bit longer. Our buddies in other teams are still working hard. We can't be left behind!"
"Then at least we have to know what we are looking for. After all this time, we don't even know what the target it…"
While they were bickering, some team member called out from not far away. "Brother Tao, we found footprints here!"
Guo Tao rushed to the spot. Brushing aside some thick growth of withered grass, he arrived at a big tree, where a pair of faint shoe prints was. One could easily miss them if they did not look closely enough.
A team member was squatting down and measuring them with special equipment. "The dirt is very fresh and these were made very recently. They should belong to a male—not very tall and a light person… it's a preliminary match for the suspect."
"Good! This is great!"
Guo Tao was excited and rounded up his men at once. The team flustered around, preparing for the next move. Some even took out their guns.
The scattered footprints trailed into the distance. Following the traces, the team walked on for some time before stopping at a place.
Guo Tao frowned. Somehow, this place was making him extremely uncomfortable. All plants were withered and the hills seemed shattered. There was not a single trace of life.
Up ahead on a level ground with a relatively open view, they could see a spot with obvious signs of digging.
Shaking his head, he chased away the uneasiness. Great excitement took over him now.
'I've hit the jackpot!'