Embers Ad Infinitum - Chapter 492: Old Friend
Chapter 492: Old Friend
Just as the Old Task Force had expected, there was a quick knock on the door. The young monk named Danro had delivered oatmeal and toast.
“Today’s breakfast.” The monk’s expression was no different from before.
Did he not see the gray-robed monk’s corpse on the stairs? Long Yuehong muttered inwardly.
Of course, he definitely wouldn’t ask this directly. Wouldn’t that be exposing himself?
“Do you have any plans today?” Jiang Baimian asked with a smile.
Danro gave her a strange look. “Apart from not being able to leave this floor, all of you are free. Any plans will be up to you.”
Shang Jianyao tersely acknowledged it. “Has the new Chief been chosen?”
“Not yet,” Danro replied truthfully. “Right now, important matters are decided by an internal discussion between the Enlightened.”
“I see…” Jiang Baimian nodded slightly and got Bai Chen and Long Yuehong to enjoy breakfast.
Danro returned to the staircase and walked toward the lower floors. He still didn’t seem to see the corpse of the gray-robed monk—who had died of suffocation on the stairs leading to the seventh floor.
After breakfast, Jiang Baimian and the others left the room and approached the staircase as though they were taking a stroll after dinner while waiting for Danro to collect the cutlery.
They looked over and realized that the place where the gray-robed monk’s corpse had been lying was empty. Even the dirt caused by death had disappeared.
Who dragged the corpse away and even cleaned the stairs… Furthermore, this looks like an ordinary matter. It’s as though it’s not worth informing the Enlightened on duty today… Long Yuehong retracted his gaze. If not for the discomfort in his neck, he would’ve suspected that what he experienced in the morning was an illusion.
As they walked back, Jiang Baimian and the others heard grunting and thumping sounds coming from behind Sikhara Temple.
A few days ago, they had actually vaguely heard such a commotion. But at that time, they hadn’t obtained permission to walk on the sixth floor, so they couldn’t observe the specific situation.
With a sweep of his gaze, Shang Jianyao entered an open and empty meditation room opposite him.
They came to the window and looked outside.
Through the colorless glass window, the four Old Task Force members saw gray-robed monks scattered in different places on the enclosed square with the cremation furnace. They were doing all sorts of things.
Some of them held black semi-automatic rifles and shot at targets in the distance. Some held two guns and practiced their marksmanship. Some lowered and lifted barbells repeatedly. Others ran around the perimeter of the square and chased each other. Some put on boxing gloves and practiced with their peers…
Long Yuehong was stunned. He felt that something was amiss.
There was nothing wrong with these matters, but when put together with the gray-robed monks, it appeared rather strange.
Shouldn’t the morning classes in Buddhist temples be about meditation and paying respects to Buddha? Why did it become shooting and combat training? At this moment, Long Yuehong suspected that a muscular monk with glistening muscles would jump out of the temple at any moment holding a machine gun in hand with a bullet strip around his body.
Moreover, he would be chanting something like ‘Namo Gatling Bodhisattva.’
“Doesn’t the Crystal Consciousness Church focus more on spiritual cultivation and think that the body is just a mortal coil?” Jiang Baimian muttered to herself.
Just as she said that, Zennaga’s voice sounded in the four Old Task Force members’ minds. “Before one’s mind is accomplished, the body is still very important. Just like before you learn how to swim, lifebuoys are equally important. Blindly giving up your body and letting it weaken will only cause you to sink into the water.”
“Then, why do you still need to practice shooting?” Shang Jianyao asked further. He was asking purely out of curiosity.
Zennaga calmly replied, “Spiritual cultivation isn’t something that can be accomplished through pure meditation. When the monks of our sect reach a certain stage, they will leave the temple and travel to different parts of the Ashlands. During this process, if your body isn’t strong enough and you aren’t proficient in weapons, you will easily lose your life. You won’t have the chance to train your mind.
“Only when one reaches my age and gains some insights in the Buddhist Dharma will the requirements on the physical body be relaxed.”
How pragmatic… Jiang Baimian muttered.
At this moment, Long Yuehong couldn’t help but think of another question. Could it be that Master Zennaga—who is so thin that he’s almost out of shape—was a bald, strong man who could kill someone with one punch when he was young? Or could it be that a monk with a bullet strip around him and a machine gun in hand—along with glistening muscles—just happened to have Master Zennaga’s face?
Such a scene was too splendid. Long Yuehong didn’t dare to imagine any further.
But judging from Zennaga’s black motorcycle, those scenes were indeed possible!
After watching the Crystal Consciousness Church monks’ morning training, the four Old Task Force members returned to their room.
On this day, they still failed to find an opportunity to escape.
At night, the Old Task Force prepared a telegram for the scheduled moment and sent it back to the company. They mentioned that they had been ‘lured’ upstairs and heard the word ‘Holm,’ but they didn’t mention their guesses.
In a city ruin with lush plants around the North Shore Wastelands.
The vines that wrapped around the remains of a building were abnormally thick. They were green and had red fruits. They were like venomous snakes that were entangled with each other—slippery and ferocious.
Similar mutated plants could be found everywhere in this heavily polluted area. Dangerous mutated animals and hidden Heartless walked among them.
Genava had already turned off the sound of the pollution detector. Otherwise, the beeping wouldn’t stop until the battery ran out.
“Get some rest. We have to leave this place tomorrow morning,” Genava said in a professional tone. “Otherwise, there’s a high chance that there will be repercussions later. Although you guys aren’t in good condition now and don’t care if it worsens, you have to think about the future. If the fatal problem is resolved and your life is extended, it won’t be good if you contract a bunch of difficult-to-treat diseases that don’t end up killing you quickly.”
Although Genava’s words sounded a little harsh, Han Wanghuo had to admit that what he said made sense.
Han Wanghuo looked at Zeng Duo. “Go rest in the car. If there are any accidents, we can move immediately.”
The danger level of this area wasn’t low; Hunters were everywhere.
As his battery reserves were still sufficient and Han Wanghuo and Zeng Duo had made another arduous trip and weren’t in good health, Genava got them to rest at the same time.
Han Wanghuo checked his condition and didn’t insist.
After another period of traveling, Han Wanghuo, Zeng Duo, and Genava received a telegram from Jiang Baimian and the others. It said that after a careful test, they had a better understanding of the duo’s conditions. There was hope of treatment via regular means, but the premise was that they had to return to First City immediately and undergo a comprehensive and detailed examination.
Zeng Duo and Han Wanghuo were pleasantly surprised. With the mentality that there was no other way, they decided to give it a try. Together with Genava, they used the seriously polluted area to escape their pursuers and circled back to First City.
They remembered that Jiang Baimian and the others had been ‘invited’ to the Crystal Consciousness Church’s Sikhara Temple as guests. They didn’t blindly head over, afraid of encountering an accident.
“Let’s go to Xiaochong’s place.” Genava’s red eyes swept to the sides. “Big White said that if something happens on their side and need help, we should look for Xiaochong first once we are back in First City.”
“Is that so?” Han Wanghuo asked in confusion. Although he felt that this was very reasonable and was a countermeasure that he could imagine, he didn’t seem to have heard Jiang Baimian mention it herself.
Genava moved his metal neck. “When I was on night duty.”
Han Wanghuo no longer had any doubts. Although they didn’t know Xiaochong’s exact identity, they could tell that this child wasn’t simple just from the fact that he could ‘communicate’ with the mutated creature and obtain such high regard from Jiang Baimian and the others.
Zeng Duo followed Han Wanghuo and Genava all the way to Xiaochong’s rented place and led the child to Sikhara Temple.
As a Ruin Hunter who had been around First City for a long time, Zeng Duo knew where the temple was.
When the seven-story tall building with a yellowish-brown base that was dotted with green and black appeared in front of them, the sky suddenly darkened.
It was as if it were the onset of a rainstorm.
Zeng Duo suddenly woke up and looked outside the open car door.
A thin mist filled the surroundings, and the faint smell of blood wafted over.
According to her experience, a hunt and counter-hunt between mutated creatures or a confrontation between mutated creatures and the Heartless should’ve happened not far away.
This required vigilance. After all, those dangerous creatures would definitely have no scruples hunting two more humans.
Han Wanghuo also woke up. He and Zeng Duo took their guns and approached Genava.
I actually had a dream that my illness could be treated… In the dark night, Zeng Duo sighed in her heart as she walked forward.
It was another morning.
The Old Task Force—who had finished breakfast—gathered in the sixth-floor corridor, looking for exploitable opportunities.
After circling around a few times, they suddenly heard footsteps. It came from the seventh floor, and the footsteps were coming down.
This… As Long Yuehong’s gaze froze, Jiang Baimian said, “Two people.”
“Not including ghosts.” Shang Jianyao gave his affirmation in a strange manner.
Bai Chen stopped and cast her gaze at the staircase warily.
Shang Jianyao cleared his throat and got into position. Upon seeing Jiang Baimian look over, he smiled and said, “So that I can shout for help at any time.”
Ten seconds later, two figures walked out of the staircase.
One of them was Zennaga, who was so thin that he was almost out of shape. The other was actually an acquaintance of the Old Task Force—the handsome, long-haired, and middle-aged man Du Heng, who was wearing a black robe!
This man who called himself an antiquarian and had a mysterious background actually appeared in Sikhara Temple and went up to the seventh floor.
“Teacher Du Heng!” Shang Jianyao shouted.
Du Heng turned his head and said with a smile, “Why are you guys here?”
“Master Zennaga said that we would bring chaos to First City, so he captured us and wanted to imprison us for ten days.” Shang Jianyao spoke frankly, not hiding anything just because Zennaga was beside him.
Du Heng looked around in amusement. “Then, do you have anything urgent that needs to be done in ten days?”
Shang Jianyao thought for a moment and replied very honestly, “No.”
“Then, staying here for ten days might be a good thing. You can save money on food and accommodation, right?” Du Heng said in a joking tone.
Jiang Baimian understood what he meant and asked, “Teacher Du Heng, what are you doing here?”
Du Heng turned to look at the stairs leading to the seventh floor and sighed. “I’m here to visit an old friend.”