Huang Jiahui and Zhao Qianqian were running towards Luo Yuan, an extra group of men and women following closely behind them.
It should be noted that Huang Jiahui had not been standing idly during Luo Yuan’s battle with the beetle. She had actually been quite occupied. It had all started when two regular beetles got slaughtered while attempting to attack her. That was when she ran out of ammo, and picked up the rifle Luo Yuan had tossed aside earlier to continue fighting.
The crowd had thinned as most people had fallen prey to the green beetles, who eventually stopped their assault once they had had their fill, giving the remaining escapees a chance at survival.
“Xiao Luo, are you alright?” Huang Jiahui asked as she looked at his injuries with worry.
“I’m okay, I guess,” he said, relieved that the two of them were not in harm’s way anymore. He looked at the five people behind her and asked, “What about them?”
“They’d like to follow us.”
“Follow us? Follow us where? There was a military camp along the path we came from. It’s safer for them to go there.”
“You little brat! How can you be so unsympathetic?” exclaimed a middle-aged woman, who seemed infuriated by his rejection.
“Yeah, shouldn’t we all stick together during difficult times like these?” added one of the men.
“Sympathy would have cost me my life. Besides, none of you would have survived if you had been sympathetic to your fellow escapees. I’m sorry, but we can’t help you. It’s best that we go our separate ways,” Luo Yuan replied calmly. He was aware that having these people in his party would only slow him down. It would also attract unwanted green beetle attention. Plus, most of them had been severely injured and were uncertain of how much longer they would actually be able to survive.
He turned to Huang Jiahui and Zhao Qianqian, “Let’s go. We’re wasting daylight.”
He tried to take a step, but was suddenly forced to stop by a sharp pain in his calves. He almost fell over. An unsuspicious man took advantage of his weakened state and stealthily moved towards Huang Jiahui. He pulled a dagger from his waist and pointed it at her.
“Don’t move. Sure, we can go our separate ways. As long as you give us the rifle,” he demanded.
Zhao Qianqian was shocked by what was happening. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
“Shut your mouth, b*tch! Don’t make me repeat myself. Give us the rifle, or your friend dies.”
No doubt this man had been eyeing the rifle right from start. During such difficult times, a rifle would increase his chances of survival, give him less reasons to be afraid, and even potentially allow him to do whatever he wanted. He hadn’t made his move earlier because he had been terrified of Luo Yuan, the mighty warrior fighting against the giant guard beetle; but now, with Luo Yuan injured, he had seen a window of an opportunity and had grabbed it.
Huang Jiahui was not afraid. She was just angry that the people they had just saved had turned against them.
“That’s right, you piece of sh*t. While you’re at it, throw in your sword or your girlfriend will pay!” the middle-aged woman threatened confidently, seeing that the tide had turned in their favor.
The rest of them stayed quiet, looking anxiously at the situation that was unravelling.
“I’m confused. Didn’t you just save them?” Luo Yuan asked Huang Jiahui. Even though he hadn’t seen it with his own eyes, it seemed quite obvious considering she had been the one holding the rifle while they followed her from behind.
Huang Jiahui rolled her eyes at his remark, still raging at the idea that they had stumbled upon such ungrateful people.
“Just cut the bullsh*t and give me the rifle. Or would you prefer that I stab this pretty lady instead?” the man threatened loudly while he looked at Luo Yuan. It was clear that the stranger with the knife was the one in control of the situation. Luo Yuan touched the hilt of his sword before he started laughing.
“Give him the rifle, Lady Huang.”
Huang Jiahui was taken aback. She reluctantly handed the gun over to her captor, who kept the dagger against her waist while he accepted the rifle with his free hand.
“And the ammo. If you would be so kind as to put it on the ground,” the man demanded, licking his lips habitually.
She had no choice but to obey and put the pack of ammo on the ground. Her captor signaled for another middle-aged man to pick it up. The man hesitated at first before he carefully picked up the ammo while he eyed Luo Yuan in fear.
“You got what you wanted. Can we go now?” Luo Yuan asked patiently.
The captor laughed hysterically, his face somewhat twisted. He picked up the rifle and aimed it at Luo Yuan while he took a few steps back.
“Go? It’s too late for you to go anywhere now, buddy. I can’t sleep peacefully if I let an enemy like you just walk away! You’ve got your soft spot to blame. She’s just a girl. It’s all about power now. Besides, why would you worry about one girl when a rifle could have gotten you so much more? You’ve got yourself some really good squeeze here, you know that? Must have been really nice to tap an ass like that. But don’t you worry one bit, my friend. I’ll take good care of her when you’re dead.”
Zhao Qianqian looked horrified, but Huang Jiahui seemed unfazed by the threats.
Luo Yuan found the situation both funny and infuriating. He looked at their captor like was a dead man.
“You really think you can take me on? Guess I’ll just have to remind you that your rifle’s safety is still locked!”
The captor looked at the rifle in his hand and turned pale.
In the blink of an eye, Luo Yuan shifted, tearing the healing wounds on his calves and spilling fresh blood as he moved.
He sheathed his sword back into place.
The sound of fluid squirting and bubbling, and the thud of a rifle falling were heard. Then there was the sound of a man choking, gasping, and drowning in his own blood.
The captor’s bulging eyes were filled with horror. He attempted to cover the cut on his neck with his hands, but blood kept bursting uncontrollably between his fingers. He took one last look at his killer, looking pained and remorseful.
The other civilians shuffled backwards. A woman with thick makeup fell to the ground, sickened by the gore.
Luo Yuan looked at the man who had picked up the ammo. The man stuttered and struggled to speak, “Pppplease… Dddon’t… dddon’t kill me! It wasn’t mmme! I don’t kkknow this man!”
“Give. Me. The. Ammo.”
The man crawled hurriedly towards the ammo pack, and handed it over apologetically to Luo Yuan. He got on his knees and lowered his head to the ground. Luo Yuan turned and glanced at the woman, who had crawled several paces away. She was still shaking, but she managed an awkward smile.
Luo Yuan took a deep breath, “I still stick to my word. It’s best if we all go our separate ways.”
“Yes! Yes of course!”
No one dared utter another word. They ran as fast as they had from the beatles. The woman struggled to stand, thanking Luo Yuan once again before she ran off.
When the scene was clear and the commotion was finally over, Luo Yuan could not stand still any longer. He violently spouted dark blood, turning very pale. Huang Jiahui ran to support him.
“Xiao Luo, are you alright? It’s all my fault. If I’d known the type of people they were, I would have let them become beetle food! How could I be so stupid?” she started tearing up.
“I’m fine, really. Could you pass me the luggage?”
He had already suffered an extensive injury during the battle and another one later when he had fallen. That sudden move had only made his condition worse. He was only standing by sheer willpower anymore.
Zhao Qianqian broke out of her stupor and rushed to drag the luggage over.
“Open it and take out the fried meat strips.”
She did as she was told, and turned the luggage upside down to find a pack of fried meat strips sealed in a yellow paper bag. She held the bag, but wasn’t sure what to do with it.
“Are you hungry?”
Luo Yuan ignored her and snatched the paper bag. He tried to tear it open, but he was too tired. Huang Jiahui rushed to help him by untying the knots sealing the paper bag. The sweet scent of meat whiffed out. The girls couldn’t help but drool.
Luo Yuan frantically stuffed several strips inside his mouth and started munching them down, swallowing the meat. He ate so quickly that almost half the pack had vanished in a heartbeat. His body was heating up from the food, and he was starting to feel stronger. Flesh from light blue animals contained a concentrated amount of nutrition, even more so than the nutrition a well-aged ginseng could provide. It was very effective at healing injuries.
Huang Jiahui felt his body temperature rise when she put her hand on his forehead. “Zhao Qianqian, get a bottle of water! Quickly!”
Zhao Qianqian nodded and took out a bottle of water from the luggage.
Luo Yuan grabbed the bottle, took a couple of sips and shoved Huang Jiahui aside. “I’m feeling much better now.”
“But you might be coming down with a fever,” she said, sounding worried.
Luo Yuan laughed.
“These are fried meat strips made from high-level monsters. Consuming them is bound to make anyone’s body temperature rise. You try one! Just a little, though. Your body might react differently. You might even get a nosebleed.”
That kind of meat was considered very valuable among commoners. Not to Luo Yuan, though. There was still an abundance of it in the storage area of his house.
Huang Jiahui looked at him skeptically, noticing how much he already seemed to be recovering. She looked inside the paper bag. “No wonder they smell so heavenly!”
Zhao Qianqian had already started feasting on the fried meat strips before Huang Jiahui had even realized it. She handed the paper bag over to Huang Jiahui. Minutes later, the two of them started feeling a warm sensation all over their bodies while their complexion glowed with an unexpected blush.