Chapter 55.2 S Fusion Zone
On the deck of the ferry, waves of four or five meters splashed continuously, and the ship rocked violently, resembling a small boat on the verge of capsizing. With a leap, Mr. Li jumped into the river, amid the astonished gazes of the onlookers. The river water was pitch black at this moment. Upon closer inspection, it wasn’t that the river water had turned black, but rather a gigantic creature lurking beneath the ship’s hull. Its mere swimming caused such enormous splashes. If it truly intended to attack, this small cruise ship might have capsized already.
Mr. Li dived into the water, his agile figure gliding like a swimming dragon. At first glance, he seemed minuscule, but his speed was incredibly fast. Wherever he went, within moments, a scene of bones was revealed.
When Lin Zhaohe reached the deck, he saw the culprit that had caused the ship to sway. Perplexed, he asked Zhuang Lao, “How can a skeleton swim in the water? Is this some kind of new mutant zombie?”
Zhuang Lao: “You arrived too late, so you can’t see what it looked like when it was alive.”
Lin Zhaohe: “Arf?”
After a while, Mr. Li, having eaten his fill and satisfied his thirst, returned to the ship. There was not a drop of water on his clothes, but his damp hair indicated that he had indeed been in the water. Mr. Li held a large, crystal-clear piece of fish meat in his hands. Licking his lips, he smiled and tossed the fish meat to Lin Yan, who hadn’t eaten yet. “Give it a try.”
Lin Yan took it and asked, “Is it meant to be eaten like this?”
“The best flavor comes from eating it raw, but it’s also delicious when lightly pickled, stewed, or braised. The most extraordinary way is to make a soup with the spinal bones, but unfortunately, we don’t have the tools. Otherwise, I would have let you taste it.” He seemed like a connoisseur, effortlessly discussing various preparations for the fish.
With no one around, Lin Yan took off the triangular scarf covering his face and took a bite. As the fish meat entered his mouth, he immediately revealed an expression of astonishment, “So fresh and sweet.” The fish meat was tender and delicate, with a delicious flavor and a hint of a unique fragrance of herbs and woods. It was truly excellent.
Lin Zhaohe looked at it longingly, almost drooling.
Mr. Li laughed and said, “This fish meat has slight toxicity. I dare not let you eat it. If you end up with an upset stomach, your owner might skin me alive.”
Lin Zhaohe was not willing to give up and wanted to insist, but Zhuang Lao held his head down and whispered, “The S Fusion Zone has many delicious things. Let’s not try this fish.”
Helplessly, all the fish meat had to be given to Lin Yan to eat.
Taking advantage of this opportunity, Zhuang Lao briefly introduced the S Fusion Zone to Lin Zhaohe.
This area belonged to one of the earliest fusion zones. Due to its early development, the fusion level here was exceptionally high, almost reaching the S level. This degree of fusion had already affected all aspects, from the terrain and plants to the water sources and soil on which humans relied for survival.
At this stage, this place was no longer suitable for three-dimensional humans to live. Therefore, most residents have relocated elsewhere. Some who were unwilling to leave could only strive to find their own means of survival.
Mr. Li was one of the first residents to have fused from the two-dimensional world. His abilities were evident from earlier, and now he was tidying up his damp hair.
“We’re almost there,” Lin Yan said. “I’ve been here once before and tried to go to the lower level, but I wasn’t successful.”
“Why?” Zhuang Lao asked.
“To access the lower level, you must pass through a specific passage,” Lin Yan explained. “However, the entrance to the passage is guarded.”
Zhuang Lao nodded and said, “Oh, I see.”
“Those people are so annoying,” Mr. Li laughed. “Let’s just eat them all.”
Zhuang Lao: “This is their territory. There’s no need to create unnecessary conflicts.”
The S Fusion Zone was not without organization. There were several groups composed of two-dimensional humans that maintain order. Currently, the dominant group was a culinary anime judging organization.
This culinary anime was highly popular in the 3D world, which has led to its characters having maximum power levels. They frequently hold competitions, and only by winning these contests could one obtain a prize—the pass to the next level.
“You’re not particularly skilled at eating,” Zhuang Lao remarked. “Just bluff your way through.” He wasn’t afraid of those people. It was just that when accompanied by Lin Zhaohe, the simplest solution to the problem was the best.
Mr. Li huffed, saying that he and those people were not on the same level. They didn’t deserve to taste the food he prepared!
Zhuang Lao: “Then should I do it?”
Mr. Li’s expression stiffened, as if he remembered something. His demeanor changed, and his voice lowered a few degrees as he said, “No, let me do it…”
Zhuang Lao: “Fine.”
With that settled, the ship arrived at its destination without any issues.
The group disembarked and entered the interior of the S Fusion Zone.
Lin Zhaohe had seen many fusion zones before, but it was rare to come across one that was so well-organized.
On both sides of the street, there were bustling markets where various 2D beings with different hair colors, appearances, and even species went about their lives. Surprisingly, it was the seemingly ordinary group of people who became the center of attention.
“It’s best to make ourselves look unusual,” Mr. Li suggested, “otherwise, we might attract trouble.”
Lin Zhaohe was curious and asked if this place didn’t welcome 3D people.
“There’s nothing we can do about it,” Mr. Li, who could communicate with Lin Zhaohe without any barriers, explained. “After all, they couldn’t find jobs out there and were forced to come back. Having faced discrimination outside, they naturally want to vent their frustration here. As a result, three-dimensional people became the ones being discriminated against in this place.”
The three of them looked too normal, and as they walked down the street, they immediately drew many curious gazes. Mr. Li, on the other hand, had a peculiar set of teeth. Zhuang Lao and Lin Yan had normal hair colors, normal appearances, and no characteristics of the two-dimensional world.
As expected, Mr. Li’s concerns proved valid. Not long after they turned a corner, they were cornered by a few rough-looking individuals in a secluded corner. These individuals were several meters tall and had muscular physiques resembling kangaroos. Even Mr. Li, who stood at just under two meters, appeared small and delicate compared to them, like a porcelain doll.
“Oh, you guys from the 3D world, huh?” the bald leader smirked, his greasy gaze scanning the group.
Mr. Li raised an eyebrow. “Are you here to rob us or for some other reason?”
The bald man scoffed, “Tsk, we’re not that shallow!” His gaze fell upon Lin Zhaohe, who was nestled against Zhuang Lao’s chest. “That little dog is quite cute. Let me borrow it for a few days.”
Lin Zhaohe blinked in confusion. “???” Are you guys okay? You came all this way just to snatch a dog to play with?
Zhuang Lao’s expression changed, but before he could make a move, Mr. Li grinned widely. “I’ve just finished digesting the fish. How about I use you guys to fill in the gaps?”
The man noticed the teeth in Mr. Li’s mouth and his face immediately paled. He exclaimed, “Tiger Shark!” He turned to run, but Mr. Li grabbed his arm in an instant. The next moment, the man let out a miserable scream as his arm contorted in Mr. Li’s grip. He fell to his knees, begging for mercy, and crying, “I was blind! Spare our lives, please…”
Mr. Li: “Sparing you is not out of the question.”
The man revealed a pleading smile.
Mr. Li: “First, treat us to a meal.”
The man was taken aback. “?”
Twenty minutes later, Lin Zhaohe and the group found themselves seated in what was said to be the most expensive local restaurant.
Lin Zhaohe had been fortunate enough to taste some food from the two-dimensional world before, but this was his first time encountering a restaurant within the fusion zone.
It was widely known that the fusion zone was a dangerous place. To have a restaurant operating normally here, with chefs serving customers, meant that the owner of this establishment had some skills.
The group of burly men who had earlier intended to snatch the dog now sat next to Mr. Li, meek and submissive. They resembled a group of oppressed individuals, timidly handing over the menu and softly saying, “Mr. Li, please order.”
Mr. Li took the menu and quickly flipped through it. He rattled off dozens of dish names in one breath. With each dish he mentioned, the color drained from the men’s faces. Unable to contain himself any longer, one of them choked out, “Mr. Li, I… I have elderly parents and young children… Please, have mercy.”
Mr. Li glanced at him and said, “The sooner you die, the sooner you’re reborn?”
The man: “I think these dishes sound good…”
Lin Zhaohe couldn’t help but wag his tail happily. The atmosphere of this restaurant was incredibly unique. It was situated inside a massive cave, with colorful mushrooms growing on the cave walls and a hint of dampness in the air. Mr. Li ordered every dish on the menu, introducing them with satisfaction. He explained that this was the most expensive restaurant in the area, and while it might be costly, the ingredients were perfect—sourced from all over the world and guaranteed to be fresh. The flavors of the food were also quite distinctive, but that wasn’t the most important aspect. The crucial part was that they would get to witness the average level of competition here.
“Try the food here to mentally prepare yourselves for the competition,” Mr. Li advised.
“Are we really going to participate in that competition?” Here, most of the creatures were from the 2D world, and only a few recognized Lin Yan. He took off his mask, revealing the scar that crossed his cheek. “Do we have any chefs among us?”
“Well, I am,” Mr. Li volunteered confidently.
The burly man eagerly chimed in, “That’s right! Mr. Li is the most renowned chef… no, gourmet, in our area.”
“Oh?” Lin Yan raised an eyebrow in surprise. “I couldn’t tell.”
The burly man awkwardly explained, “Mr. Li’s culinary skills are famous around here.” Of course, he didn’t dare mention that Mr. Li’s greatest claim to fame wasn’t his cooking but rather his immense appetite.
Mr. Li smiled gently and spoke in a warm tone, “Have you tasted my cooking?”
The burly man replied, “I haven’t, but I have a friend…”
Mr. Li: “Has he tasted it?”
The burly man: “He had the privilege of experiencing your cooking.”
Mr. Li: “……”
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