Epoch of Twilight – Chapter 22

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A Sudden Change

“It’s good to have this cannon-fodder,” the leader of the five said to Luo Yan while chopping down an escaping mutated rat’s head with a Kukri.The man was called Huang Yaoguang and he used to be a security team’s leader for a company. A few days after the company was closed down, he gathered some of his team members and started to stay at the landfill. If it wasn’t for Luo Yuan, who saved them during the last meeting with a large group of rats, they would have become bones already. Thus, he and his group had been following Luo Yuan tightly as soon as they departed.

 

“This crowd will disappear the moment there’s danger!” Luo Yuan said while looking into the far distance. The front was vague. Even though many people had left, there were still over a thousand or so gathered in the few square kilometers of landfill.

 

The group of rats was very large in size, and it was probably the largest group within the last two weeks. The deeper they went, the more frequent the fighting became, and more corpses could be found on the floor. Occasionally, some mutated rats could be seen chewing on the corpses while the intestines and inner organs were spread out on the floor. A mixture of smell of blood and the unique stink of the landfill had formed an odd, nausea inducing smell.

 

“Look, what’s that?” somebody in the front suddenly shouted out. The crowd looked in that direction and saw a piece of grey blanket coming over from about a hundred meters away. Then there were gunshots, and the fighting started. Some ran desperately back while more people ran forward it. The atmosphere became boisterous.

 

That wasn’t a blanket but a large group of mutated rats which had gathered together. They were covering a large area of more than a hundred meters and were moving forward like a big wave.

 

“Let’s go, the king of rats must be there,” Chen Haiyan shouted. He ran forward soon after finishing his sentence. The others increased their speed as well and went to the frontline. When they saw what was happening, they gasped in astonishment.

 

It was over-crowded with rats, they even covered the whole rubbish mountain area. Though they saw only parts of them, there were already thousands of them. If Luo Yuan hadn’t been surrounded by more than a hundred people who were continuously fighting, and many more who were still coming to join in, he would have already given up.

 

“Kill!” Chen Haiyan shouted and led their team into the fight. With only a few swipes of his knife, he had already killed some rats. As he moved around with his clever footwork and body movement, he hacked, pricked, chopped, swabbed, stripped, spread, pulled, cut and used other knife techniques. The rats couldn’t get close to him at all.

 

“Sir Luo, what shall we do?” As Huang Yaoguang and his team weren’t called in by Chen Haiyan and they also admired Luo Yuan, they didn’t attack immediately but instead asked Luo Yuan as to what to do.

 

“It’s just some rats, so they’re insufficient to pose us a real threat. You guys stand behind and help me stop them from both sides.” Luo Yuan felt slightly excited after he saw Chen Haiyan’s performance.

 

“Okay, we’ll do it. Unless they step through our dead bodies, we won’t let a single rat escape,” Huang Yaoguang promised immediately because he knew that this move would reduce the pressure on them. Luo Yuan nodded and walked forward with his knife ready.

 

After a long period of training, his knife skill had upgraded to 13-points and, thus, his ability was much stronger when compared to the time when he’d went to Yushui City. The knife in his hand was like a part of his body, which allowed him to control it easily. His knife’s blade was glowing radiantly and before the rats managed to get anywhere near him, their heads were already removed, fresh blood spattering the ground.

 

Compared to the knife skill of Chen Haiyan, he didn’t have too many techniques but each one he did have were very accurate and precise. The only specialty he had was speed. His hacking was so fast that a normal person could barely see his movements. Thus, Huang Yaoguang and the others who were following him had little to do.

 

Other than Luo Yuan and Chen Haiyan, that middle-aged man, Qian Dakui, was an eye catcher too. He roared, bent his body, held his shield up and rushed recklessly into a group of rats. He was very strong and together with his shield, which had many sharp blades welded-on, he knocked down all the rats before him. All of them were either dead or badly mutilated.

 

After rushing for a few meters, he stopped, spun his shield around his body and knocked down some mutated rats trying to attack from his sides. Then, he took out his knife and chopped continuously. Though his knife skill wasn’t as good as either Luo Yuan’s and Chen Haiyan’s but he could easily protect himself from the attacking rats.

 

Boss Zhou and his two subordinates were staying behind and only shot occasionally to kill the escaping rats. To them, each bullet was precious and, thus, they couldn’t kill unscrupulously like the rest. Besides that, they hadn’t brought many bullets with them, so they could only use them during a crucial moment.

 

As the crowd moved forward, corpses were left behind. There were corpses of both mutated rats and men, but mostly the rats. After about ten minutes, the group had moved about a few hundred meters and the number of people following them had also increased to more than a thousand. The size of the rats’ group had gradually become smaller.

 

Suddenly, there was a growling sound coming from afar. It didn’t sound like a rat but more like the roaring of a ferocious beast. Upon hearing it, the mutated rats started to retreat like a tide water.

 

“Oh no! The king of rats is escaping. If we lose this chance, the beast will be more difficult to kill next time!” Luo Yuan shouted out, rolling his eyes. If the king of rats managed to escape, he would fail his mission.

 

“Go after it! We must not let it run away.” The crowd heard it and became excited. But the people were soon divided, only about a hundred chased after while the rest decided to remain behind. After all, not everyone was ambitious. Most of the people came here just to earn something without taking too high of a risk. With so many corpses of mutated rats lying about, it was sufficient for them to live a stable life for a while.

 

After a few minutes, a giant rat was seen. Perhaps it was the reflection of the moonlight or because of its fur characteristic, it looked silvery white. Its body was about one and half meters long and looked smoother than those of normal rats. Its slender tail was hanging straight and swung slightly along with the body movements. The animal seemed like an elegant king, surrounded by a group of mutated rats and retreating unhurriedly.

 

The eyes of Luo Yuan glowed; the body of this mutated rat wasn’t over-sized. Comparing it to the giant snake and the giant dog, it was small. Other than it having thousands of mutated rats surrounding it, which made it somewhat troublesome, it wasn’t comparable to the blue level animals he’d met previously.

 

“Have you the nerve to try?” Luo Yuan asked the recently formed team.

 

“If we don’t, we would have stayed at home. Why should we fight desperately here? It’s either die from hunger for being a coward or die from overeating for being daring. Let’s die from overeating this time,” Huang Yaoguang responded. He could see that Luo Yuan, Chen Haiyan and the others seemed to have a strong urge to attack. Though he didn’t know exactly why, it had to be due to the value of the king of rats. He remembered a hearsay, and his heart suddenly throbbed faster.

 

“Yes, right. You may quit now if you don’t want to go.” After Chen Haiyan finished his sentence, he looked at everyone.

 

“We’re already here, so wouldn’t it be a joke if we quit now? Just count me in,” said Qian Dakui in a pant, curling his lip and putting one end of his shield heavily on the floor. Though his stamina was good, it still wasn’t easy to carry along such a heavy weapon.

 

“Boss Zhou, what about you three?” Chen Haiyan asked the other three.

 

“We will not quit but I’m more worried of the others trying to take advantage of us. After all, we’re not the only ones here!”  Boss Zhou said with a smirk, stroking his handgun and  looking toward the other people nearby.

 

Luo Yuan didn’t particularly care. His goal was to kill the king of rats to complete the mission. And how many people were to divide the capture, it would only matter later. Of course, he would be glad to receive more, but it didn’t matter if he received less. After all, he had already decided to go to the other places to hunt for blue level organisms. So he should not argue with others for peanuts. Besides, if there were more people, they could share the risk and increase the probability of completing the mission. However, he couldn’t say all of that aloud. He thought for a while and said, “Perhaps we can talk to them and set some rules. I don’t think many will dare to go.”

 

“I’ll do it. I know the leaders of the larger groups!” said Chen Haiyan after hesitating for a moment.

 

“Sure, you do it then,” Luo Yuan said indifferently. He could see that Chen Haiyan was a very ambitious person. He was very proactive and had been in the leading position along the way. However, it was none of Luo Yuan’s business. In fact, it was beneficial to him if the man was more proactive.

 

When the hundreds of them were facing thousands of mutated rats and the king, many hesitated as expected. Those who persisted were only about fifty people and they were divided into three rough teams. After they delayed, the group of rats had gradually crossed over one of the rubbish mountains. Seeing them about to disappear soon, Luo Yuan was very worried but he couldn’t do anything.

 

After a while, Chen Haiyan finally came back. He looked toward the front and said quickly, “Because of the limited time, we’ll talk on the way.” He started running, and explaining quickly, “The results of the discussion were this: three teams will attack from three different corners. The team who kills it first will receive half of the capture, the other two teams will evenly divide the other half. The benefit of this arrangement is that we will still receive some even if we don’t manage to kill it!”

 

“That’s good. Otherwise we may be cheated even if we kill the king of rats. After all, those who can survive here aren’t easy to deal with. They’ll do anything for a profit,” Qian Dakui said with a nod.

 

The landfill was a mess and a cruel place, it seemed like a different world from the orderly city area. Human lives had no value here. There were hundreds of people who died or disappeared every day. Some were killed by mutated rats while others by other people. The corpses would become bones even before dawn. When people were eating mutated rats, the mutated rats were eating people too.

 

If the terrestrial species did not have strict discipline, their speed would be reduced when they moved in large numbers. After about ten minutes, the team managed to catch up to the group of rats.

 

The fight started quickly. After a few skirmishes broke out among the group of rats, they suddenly stopped moving. Maybe they noticed that the number of their enemies had reduced and, thus, it was a good opportunity to attack. So they started to come over like a sea wave.

 

At that moment, Luo Yuan felt tension increase suddenly. He stepped forward and back, swayed to both right and left, and waved the Zhanmadao with his hand like a mirage under the moonlight. Those mutated rats which did not fear death were cut by the intangible knife as soon as they jumped at him. He was defending himself from the mutated rats’ attacks. With his sharp blade, he tore open the group of rats. Each difficult step he took left corpses of mutated rats and the ground spattered with fresh blood.

 

“Beep, one point for knife skill.”

 

Luo Yuan didn’t notice the message. He was focusing solely on the fight, and his body was radiating a breath which made people’s hearts throb. This breath also caused every rushing mutated rat to shudder slightly, interrupting their movement.

 

It was only less than a minute but the team members were already reduced. As boss Zhou and the other two were using guns, they were left behind. If it was just a small group of mutated rats, they would be safe. Unfortunately, it was a large group of rats and they came from every direction.

 

One rat bit at a leg of one of them from the back, and as soon as the man killed it, there were another two rats rushing toward him. He kept shooting to kill the two rats in a flurry and then found out that he had been separated from the team. More rats poured in, and he could only yell out once before being devoured by the group of rats.

 

“Damn it!” Boss Zhou wanted to save him but it was too late. He cursed and his face became gloomy. He then winked to his last follower, and they squeezed into the middle of the team.

 

Huang Yaoguang and his companions followed tightly behind Luo Yuan, sharing Luo Yuan’s pressure by blocking the mutated rats from both sides but soon it became too difficult to continue as they started to get wounded in the fight. When Chen Haiyan and Qian Dakui saw the situation, they joined in quickly and formed a ten people circle to block the attacks from the mutated rats.

Then, there were gunshots from afar. The group of rats were shocked and they rushed in another direction. “F*ck! Is it the army?” Chen Haiyan turned back to take a look and suddenly felt furious. He grinded his teeth and said, “If I knew who gave the notice, I would kill him.”

 

There were about ten soldiers shooting toward the group of rats with rifles. The surrounded mutated rats rushed toward them, reducing the number of enemies at Luo Yuan’s side.

 

He looked for a time with a changing facial expression, then finally sighed in disappointment. “Let’s go, with the existence of these people, we won’t be able to even drink some soup. They will never let any leader leveled mutated animals off.”

 

“We’ll just leave like this?” Huang Yaoguang asked in disbelief, touching his wounded arm.

 

“What else can we do? Fight with the army for food?” Qian Dakui vented his anger by knocking down a mutated rat with his shield and then spitting in fury. Having worked so hard and then seeing the almost caught prey being taken away, anyone would be full of distress.

 

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