The group was crouching amongst the bushes, trying not to move. After a long while, Qian Dakui raised his head to check their surroundings before quickly moving back into a crouching position.
“Brother Luo, it’s right there!” he said in a serious tone while he lowered his voice.
The leaves around them were hard and thorny. After about ten meters of crawling, every exposed part of Qian Dakui’s body was covered in bleeding scratches.
They had finally reached the highest point in the whole area. Luo Yuan stood up on his tiptoes and granced at a spot about a hundred meters away from where they were standing.
There was a very large lake there. Because of the water source, plants around the lake were a lot lusher; some of them had even evolved to grow aerial roots, not unlike those of a banyan tree, that sank deep into the waters.
Several large mutated beasts were drinking from the lake, their ears perked up to monitor their surroundings. Suddenly, a huge yellow-green beast creeped over. Its form faintly resembled that of a lizard and its heavy body left an imprint on the soft ground with each step it took.
Tail included, the mutated lizard was about 6 meters long. It was covered in layers of yellow-green scales, each scale large as a fist and featuring a black intricate pattern that looked like growth rings. The pattern seemed to have a life of its own. Whenever the scales moved, it followed the lizard’s movement as if it was a radial gradient with a black center.
What made it different from other lizards was the fact that its head had no scales. Instead, it had wrinkled brownish-black skin like an old tree bark, and facial features that resembled those of a mammal.
Once the mutated lizard got to the bank, chaos ensued. Every mutated beast in the vicinity ran for its life. The lizard raised its head and growled in content. Its long steel-like tail wiggled as it leaned down to enjoy a drink from the lake.
The black feathers on the owl’s skeletal remains by the lake had been scattered around, painting the corpse’s surroundings black.
Luo Yuan crouched back down, his heart thumping as he looked at the other three men, “I’m going. What about you guys?”
Qian Dakui shared a look with the other two before he said awkwardly, “We brought you here, but we’re going somewhere else to hunt. It’s not that we’re not loyal to you, we just really can’t afford to remain here any longer.”
Luo Yuan had expected this as it was indeed too dangerous a place to be. They were mere acquaintances. There was no need for them to put their lives on the line, even if it would be for personal gain. “Alright,” he said. “I still have to thank you. Hope to see you all again.”
While Qian Dakui did not believe that Luo Yuan would turn hostile over such a small matter, he was still very much relieved when the latter did not object. Waving his hand, he replied, “It was nothing, Brother Luo. Tit for tat. We hope you won’t hold a grudge anymore after this. We’ll leave the seized weapons and ammunition to you, but you should use them while you’re here. They’ll all be confiscated if you bring them back to the base!”
Zhang Dawei unfastened a backpack and left it on the ground as Luo Yuan nodded in answer.
“We shall take our leave now. Take care.”
The trio withdrew cautiously. When they were about 25 meters away, they straightened up and quickly left the dangerous zone.
Once they were gone, Luo Yuan checked the contents of the bag – five highly explosive bombs, a stun grenade, a sniper rifle, twelve HEAT warheads1 and hundreds of common ammunition.
Previously, upon Luo Yuan’s request, they had only been carrying a rifle and ammo as bringing along too many things would have only been burden. Most of the weapons, including the mortars, had been left behind.
Luo Yuan remained in a reclining position, intending to collect the feathers after the mutated lizard had left.
After a short while, the lizard had quenched its thirst, yet it was obvious that it was not keen on leaving. Maybe the environment was too comfortable, because the lizard headed to a tree by the lakeside, observed its surroundings for a few seconds, and then took a nap under the tree’s shade.
Luo Yuan waited for another half an hour, but quickly lost his patience.
“You’re the one with the death wish! Don’t blame it on me!” Had it been only him and his machete, he would have hesitated, but now that he had so many weapons, he was sure he could kill a blue rank creature.
Judging by the fact that the beast’s presence had sent all other creatures helter-skelter and that its oppressing aura was still present even as it simply lay down, Luo Yuan thought he had guessed correctly. This was indeed a blue rank mutated beast.
He picked up the rifle and loaded the HEAT warheads one by one before moving to lock the lizard’s position through the rifle scope.
Just as his killing instinct surfaced, a system notification rang.
“Level E Mission unlocked, Kill Rampage Lizard, 30 minutes time limit, Accept/Decline?”
Luo Yuan felt a little hyped. He was sure he’d level up after this battle.
He took a deep breath before he aimed at the lizard’s closed eyes through the rifle scope. A HEAT warhead would probably only cause it minor damage because blue rank creature defense was immensely high. If he wanted to kill it with the sniper rifle, he could only aim where its defense was the weakest – on its eyes.
Pondering all this seemed to work, as Luo Yuan calmed down after he took several deep breaths. A few seconds later, he pulled the trigger.
The creature’s danger instinct was a lot stronger than a human’s. Just as the trigger was pulled, the Rampage Lizard opened its eyes and lifted its head in alert as if sensing something.
Following the low sound of the rifle, a small pool of blood splattered on the animal’s back.
Its howl was long and haunting, tinged with a thirst for blood.
It got up immediately and let out a threatening growl, its sapphire blue eyes turning crimson red and its long thorny tail swishing around. In an instant, it had pinpointed Luo Yuan’s location.
Charging towards him, the lizard looked like a heavy tank running through a battlefield, knocking down any trees that stood on its way. Its advance forcefully cleared a wide path as trees fell around it like weeds.
Luo Yuan threw the rifle aside and stood up. His shooting skill was hopeless anyway, so he had nothing to regret.
“Looks like we have to end things the old-fashioned way,” he mumbled to himself as the lizard approached with deafening stomps. “But these are not bad either. They can save me a lot of energy if I use them wisely!” He took out two grenades and threw them after pulling the pins.
Then he crouched and launched himself towards the Rampage Lizard.
He had exceptional control over space and his own body, so both grenades formed a beautiful throwing arc before they dropped and exploded accurately in front of the lizard. A blinding white light and a ball of fire rose at the same time while Luo Yuan squinted his eyes. He did not slow down.
The stun grenade and explosive bomb had both exploded.
The Rampage Lizard lost its balance as its eyes were blinded by the bright light. Its heavy body bulldozed through the trees along the way, following the momentum of the highly explosive bomb.
Luo Yuan was already by its side.
His high-level knife skill had not only awarded him an exceptional knife technique, but it had also gifted him with multiple techniques and ways to exert his force. One of them was high-intensity explosive motion.
His veins protruded and he suddenly seemed to grow an inch taller. Face flashed, he accelerated his steps, generating enough force to match a typhoon, while dust and fallen leaves rolled around him like a wave.
His bloodshot eyes locked in on the Rampage Lizard’s throat as a chilling, murderous aura radiated from him, freezing the air all around.
A jade green light flashed across the air as he approached the lizard, wielding his knife within the blink of an eye.
A flash of the machete.
A slash through the throat.
Luo Yuan did not stop until he was about ten meters away. Dropping to the ground, he huffed and puffed, sweating profusely as his protruding veins vanished at once.
A white rank mutated beast would have easily killed him now. The short-lived battle had exhausted all his remaining 11-point Energy.
He supported himself by holding on to his knees, his stare not wavering from the dying Rampage Lizard.
It was struggling to stand up, growling hoarsely as blood spurted from its throat like a compressed fountain. The gradual loss of blood made its struggle weaken until its legs finally gave out and it fell to the ground.
A few seconds later, a series of system notifications rang.
“Level E Mission: Kill Rampage Lizard, Completed.
Completion Time: 1 minute 15 seconds
Mission Rating: Excellent.”
“Rewarded Basic: EXP 1600!”
“Excellent Rating: EXP +1600!”
“You have leveled up and been rewarded with 1 Attribute Point and 5 Skill Points. You are now at Level 6!”
“Your Energy and Damage have received substantial recovery!”
“I’ve finally leveled up.” Luo Yuan was delighted as he felt his weak state recover instantaneously. The addition of 3200 EXP to his previous EXP of 4100/4800 had been more than enough for him to level up.
However, his excitement subsided a little as he thought of the 9600 EXP that was required for the next level up. It seemed that leveling up would only get harder in the future. Plus, because of the shitty system, once a higher-level difficulty mission had been completed, a lower-level difficulty mission was never assigned again.
When he had completed his mission of killing a guard beetle, a similar mission had not appeared again no matter how many regular green beetles he had wiped out. The mission difficulty level had only increased after that.
Calming himself down, he opened up the attributes window.
Character: Luo Yuan
Strength: 12 (10)
Dexterity: 12 (10)
Physique: 11 (10)
Intelligence: 13 (10)
Sensory Perception:12 (10)
Willpower: 13 (10)
Skills: Science 16, Math 14, Chinese 19, English 16, Finance 17,
Arithmetic 9, Dancing 1, Drawing 3, Gaming 6, Negotiating 9, Socializing 7, Cooking 3, Driving 1,
Hand-to-Hand Combat 4, Specialist Knife Skill 0,
Gun Skill: 1
Unique Skills: Identification, Synthesis
Unassigned AP: 1
Unassigned SP: 5
Uncompleted Mission: None
Luo Yuan hesitated in distributing his AP, not sure whether to assign it to Physique or Dexterity. It had become apparent that he could not last in a battle any longer than one minute. If he had charged in high intensity explosive motion, the duration would have been even shorter. If the enemy came in greater numbers or he had to engage in a longer battle, he would be in grave danger.
If he were to strengthen his Dexterity, he would probably last an even shorter amount of time. If he strengthened his Physique though, the increase in his attributes brought about by the level-up would seem insignificant, most likely allowing him to last a little longer in a battle.
This was a double-edged word. However, Luo Yuan, who believed in short-lived battles, decided to add his AP to Dexterity. As for his Physique, he would think about it later. Maybe he could increase it through some high-intensity training.
Following the subsiding of a warm flow inside his body, Luo Yuan once again had the illusion that the world had become slower. A 13-point Dexterity would mean that his reflexes would get quicker than the average person by 3.375 times. That included his vision.
If there were still television programs or movies, he would have tragically realized that he could now only see separate pictures in motion instead of a complete motion picture.
1 High-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warheads are a type of shaped charge explosive that uses the Munroe effect to penetrate armor. The warhead functions by having the explosive charge melt a metal liner to form a high-velocity superplastic jet.