Chapter 58.1 An excellent backup food reserve
Lin Yan faced obstacles in spreading his message, but he remained undeterred. He believed in the innate goodness of people. However, before fully grasping this concept, he witnessed a sudden eruption of violence from two individuals standing nearby. They charged towards the judges with a surge of aggression.
Among the judges, the one who appeared most delighted with the Juyou fish was caught off guard. Zhuang Lao swiftly delivered a forceful kick, sending him crashing to the ground. Immediately after, a dark gun barrel was aimed directly at his head.
The judge’s cheerful expression froze in an instant. “I’ve encountered people like you countless times, thinking that with mere…”
A sharp “bang” resonated as the bullet grazed his skin, leaving behind a noticeable trail of blood. The judge’s gaze turned vacant, and he trembled while speaking, “Who… who are you?”
Zhuang Lao responded, “We’ve descended from the heavens.”
The judge intended to voice further objections, but a gun muzzle silenced him. Zhuang Lao wasted no time, and demanded, “Quickly hand over the permit. Why should we be denied while that insignificant person gets it?”
The protesting contestant beside them was subdued by Lin Yan. Lin Yan wasn’t one to engage in mischief often. He swiftly put his mask back on and held the contestant tightly from behind, disregarding his struggles and cries. He made sure to comfort him, reassuring him not to fear, acknowledging that he wasn’t a good person, or rather, a bad one…
Meanwhile, Mr. Li kept the other two judges in check.
One person recognized Mr. Li’s identity and shouted, “You wicked creature, you dare to return?”
Mr. Li scoffed, “Why wouldn’t I dare to return?”
The judge: “You’ve been causing havoc and turning this place into a living nightmare!”
Mr. Li: “Leaving wasn’t my choice back then!” He grinned, revealing his sharp teeth, causing the judge’s back to tense up. “What about you? Do you also want to explore the depths of my belly?”
The judge fell silent.
Mr. Li, originally known as Li Yu, was one of the most formidable characters in their realm.
He belonged to a highly popular manhua series, where he played the role of a terrifying killer whale relentlessly chasing the protagonist. Later, he somehow entered the real world and ended up underground through a fortunate series of events. Unexpectedly, he underwent alchemical transformations and became human. From that point on, he reveled in his powerful abilities, indulging in extravagant feasting and drinking. He practically devoured every edible thing within the S Fusion Zone. No matter how hard people tried to kill him, they couldn’t succeed. Eventually, as a last resort, they proposed a deal, emphasizing the wonders of the outside world. They offered him money, suggesting he venture out and explore.
At that time, Mr. Li was regretful of his gluttony, having almost wiped out a clan of his favorite food. After reflecting on his actions, he agreed. However, little did he know that as the years passed, rumors about him became increasingly exaggerated. He became known as the Demon King banished by the Gourmet Association, which only raised the association’s prestige…
However, Mr. Li didn’t care about that. He had no intention of debunking rumors. Who knew these people lacked any sense of shame and didn’t even know their own capabilities.
“Take the pass, take it!” The judge pointed at by Zhuang Lao couldn’t take it anymore. “Let’s have a civil conversation. No need for violence.”
Zhuang Lao took the pass and examined it. “Is this real?”
“It’s real, I suppose,” Mr. Li replied indifferently. “If it’s fake, we can pay them another visit.”
“Alright then,” Zhuang Lao said. “If I had known… I wouldn’t have wasted a whole day here for nothing.”
“Indeed,” Mr. Li shook his head. “You should listen to me more. Participating in some ridiculous food competition. It would have been much simpler to wear masks and rob directly.”
The two turned around and left, leaving the judges sitting there, their faces pale.
The contestant whom Lin Yan had been holding onto was released. He cried and rushed to the judges. “My pass, my pass was taken by them…”
“We already gave it to you,” a judge replied. “You’re just a pathetic little fool. If someone snatches it away, what can you do?”
He waved his hand dismissively, showing annoyance. “If you’re a man, go and snatch it back yourself.”
The contestant sighed. How could he possibly snatch it back? The person who had just restrained him had almost crushed his ribs with the force he exerted…
To celebrate obtaining the pass through their abilities, the three individuals and their dog indulged in a lavish feast.
After finishing their meal, Lin Yan suggested they should leave promptly, fearing that members of the Gourmet Association might come looking for trouble.
Mr. Li didn’t care much, saying that they were welcome to come if they wanted. After all, they were just food…
Lin Yan couldn’t help but laugh and cry at the same time.
Despite their words, Zhuang Lao didn’t intend to waste too much time there. They quickly packed their belongings and, taking advantage of the approaching night, the three of them arrived at the entrance leading to the lower realm.
Initially, Lin Yan worried that their pass might be stopped by someone. However, it turned out to be unnecessary concern. Although the guards at the entrance didn’t recognize Zhuang Lao and Lin Yan, they were well aware of Mr. Li’s reputation. It served no purpose to block such a formidable figure, so they decided to send them off quickly. They even hoped that they would encounter some unexpected mishaps and save themselves the trouble in the lower realm.
Boarding the cable car that would take them to the lower realm, Lin Zhaohe asked about what it looked like down there.
“It’s quite dark, and you can only see the sun for four hours a day,” Mr. Li replied, enjoying a unique type of nut from the 2D world. It was round and had a taste resembling a combination of pine nuts and peanuts. He didn’t even bother removing the shells. He crunched on them with his teeth. “There are many troublesome creatures and plenty of delicious things to eat.”
Lin Zhaohe asked, “Is it dangerous?”
“Dangerous? It’s not too bad,” Mr. Li said. “Although the last time I went was two years ago, so I’m not sure if there have been any changes.”
At that time, people from the upper realm had just discovered the existence of the lower realm. They were all like treasure hunters, eager to explore downward. However, the deeper they ventured, the more frightened they became. Unlike the chaotic S Fusion Zone above, it seemed that the lower realm had fused even earlier, and as they went further, the level of danger increased. Within a short period, countless people went missing, never to be seen again.
Mr. Li had ventured into the lower realm before and had found a way to become human in a village that practiced alchemy. However, instead of continuing to explore the dangerous central areas, he chose to leave directly.
Inside the dark tunnel, the cable car moved slowly. The previously warm air began to turn cold, and a damp, sticky odor lingered faintly. The tunnel seemed endless, as the cable car continued its steady descent for two hours without reaching the end. Lin Zhaohe was held in Zhuang Lao’s arms, his dark eyes fixed on the outside. Amidst the darkness, he spotted some shimmering green lights. Upon closer observation, he realized these were various unidentified insects quietly clinging to the tunnel walls. The further they went down, the darker it became, and the more numerous the lights appeared.
“Beep!” The cable car emitted a piercing warning sound. Mr. Li, engrossed in cracking nuts, perked up and said, “We’re almost there.”
True to his words, after another ten minutes or so, the cable car clattered and came to a stop.
The three of them stepped out of the cable car.
They found themselves in an abandoned old house, faint traces of human habitation still visible. However, the discarded items of daily life and scattered footprints spoke of the panicked departure of the people who once lived here.
Lin Zhaohe insisted on walking with his own short legs, so Zhuang Lao reluctantly let him down. As a transformed little dog, Lin Zhaohe had a heightened sense of smell. He sniffed to the west, then to the east, and inside the house, he caught a whiff of a putrid, bloody scent, as if it hadn’t been long since something had happened.
Mr. Li also detected the smell. He squinted his eyes and surveyed the surroundings. “There’s something here.”
“Hmm,” Lin Zhaohe barked, “I smell it too.”
Mr. Li said, “Let’s go out and take a look first.” He walked ahead and pushed open the dilapidated door of the shelter, which wavered precariously.
As the door opened, Lin Zhaohe caught sight of the scene outside.
In the sky hung two enormous moons, one white and one red. The white one appeared no different from a regular moon, except it was much larger, and one could faintly make out the shapes of its craters. The red moon, on the other hand, gleamed vividly like blood, casting a crimson glow that blanketed the entire land. Everything within sight took on a faint hue of blood.
Lin Zhaohe saw a vast plain beyond the door, scattered with sparse clusters of vegetation resembling bushes. It was only upon closer inspection that he realized those were not plants but clusters of mushrooms with black spots.
They grew densely, extending as far as the eye could see. Amidst the mushrooms, no tall trees could be seen. Wherever they spread, no other living creatures could survive.
Lin Yan crouched down and pressed his foot on one of the mushrooms. As soon as he applied pressure, the mushroom emitted a sharp, high-pitched sound, and red liquid oozed out.
Startled, Lin Yan quickly lifted his foot and exclaimed, “Are these mushrooms alive?”
“Seems like it,” Mr. Li said. He used a knife to split one open and surprisingly found intact internal organs, bones, and a row of thin, closely packed teeth—structures typical of living organisms.
“Do you still remember the way?” Zhuang Lao asked Mr. Li.
“I used to remember it, but this place has changed too much,” Mr. Li replied. “Give me some time to find it again.”
He stood up and declared, “We definitely can’t take this path.”
“What’s that?” Lin Zhaohe pointed with his tiny paw at a white line on the roadside.
Zhuang Lao looked closely and noticed that none of the mushrooms had crossed the white line. He bent down, pinched a bit of it, and sniffed. “It’s a powder made from bones. Someone is controlling the growth of these mushrooms.”
“But who?” Mr. Li pondered. “Could it be the people from the Gourmet Association? It doesn’t seem like something they would do…”
As they were discussing, they suddenly heard human cries not far away.
“Help! Help!” The voice, young and filled with fear, clearly belonged to a child.
In such a dangerous place, when faced with a cry for help, people would usually think twice before rushing to assist. However, among them was a person named Lin Yan, whose compassionate nature remained unchanged even in the 3D world. So, the next moment, Lin Zhaohe saw Lin Yan’s serious expression as he stood up and said, “Did you all hear that? There’s a little girl calling for help!”
“Are you sure it’s a little girl and not something else?” Mr. Li expressed doubt. “Can there really be a living girl in this place?”
“Regardless, we have to go and check it out,” Lin Yan said. “I can go alone, and you can wait here.”
“Forget it, let’s go together,” Zhuang Lao said. “After all, we all need to find a way out of this place.”
If you enjoy this novel, support the Translator ginevre on her ko-fi account :))