Embers Ad Infinitum

Chapter 43: Invitation

Chapter 43: Invitation

Shang Jianyao and Bai Chen gradually came to a realization as they listened to Jiang Baimian’s explanation. They had actually discovered many of the hints, but they didn’t delve too deeply into them.

Jiang Baimian glanced at Shang Jianyao. “That’s not right? Shouldn’t you have long guessed that there’s a problem with this plan? When I didn’t speak and used my actions to hint at you to put a biscuit in your mouth to resist the Hungry Ghost Realm, didn’t you comprehend it rather quickly?

“I didn’t make a sound when it came to such an important matter. Furthermore, I didn’t even lower my voice when formulating the plan. You should have sensed something amiss. You could even guess that what I said back then might not necessarily be the truth.”

Shang Jianyao didn’t think before saying, “I thought you were afraid that I would end up memorizing the corresponding content if you explained using your voice. This might’ve led to difficulty in avoiding Jingfa’s mind-reading ability. After all, we don’t know how wide the range of this ability is.

“By converting them into actions and images, there is a process of interpretation. Even if Jingfa can see that scene in my heart, he might not be able to understand the true meaning.”

“...You read too much into it,” Jiang Baimian commented.

Bai Chen echoed Shang Jianyao’s words. “I also thought that you didn’t make a sound because of your understanding of Awakened. Although I’ve never heard of cases of an Awakened being capable of ‘hearing’ discussions about their powers and strategies to deal with them, I couldn’t rule out this possibility. I’m definitely not as knowledgeable in this regard as the large factions.”

“...Your thoughts are even more complicated than his.” Jiang Baimian laughed and praised herself. “Could it be that my performance was really flawless?”

“I just didn’t expect you to lie to us. Hence, I didn’t think in that direction,” replied Shang Jianyao immediately.

Bai Chen nodded in agreement.

Jiang Baimian looked around and changed the topic with a smile. “Therefore, coming out for training will allow you to accumulate experience quickly. It will also help develop the tacit understanding amongst ourselves. In short, regardless of what decision I make, all of you must believe that I will definitely not screw you up.

“Let’s go and meet up with Long Yuehong.”

“Alright.” Shang Jianyao and Bai Chen had already completely figured out the situation and learned a lot from it.

Jiang Baimian looked in the direction Jingfa had fled in and sighed. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to destroy Jingfa’s body and obtain the bionic chip inside. The corresponding technology is definitely worth studying. It can help the company overcome many obstacles. Besides, the Monks Conclave most likely has a certain level of understanding regarding the Old World’s destruction. Eternals were one of the most important projects before the Old World’s destruction. It won’t be easy for someone to inherit this inheritance.”

At this point, Jiang Baimian shook her head without Shang Jianyao’s reminder. “Haha, this is all my beautiful fantasy. If Jingfa’s body was actually destroyed, I wouldn’t have dared to take his bionic chip. An Awakened’s abilities are strange and terrifying. Bringing the bionic chip that bears his consciousness with me is equivalent to suicide. Things are already good enough. Things are already good enough.”

She then turned to look at Shang Jianyao. “Let’s go.”

Shang Jianyao looked at the tire tracks, silently turned around, and squatted down. “You sure are meticulous. You didn’t let us run on our own. I wouldn’t have been able to keep up with the exoskeleton.”

Jiang Baimian nodded in satisfaction and sat on the powerpack, leaving Bai Chen half the space.

After the two of them sat down and gripped the metal skeleton’s shoulders, Shang Jianyao straightened his body and strode forward. Amidst the slight sound of metal grinding, he followed the car tracks.

He didn’t run at full speed, so his footsteps weren’t loud.

About 15 minutes later, Shang Jianyao left the sparse forest and arrived in a grayish-black wilderness. This was a world of rocks and weeds. The soil was relatively hard, and the tire marks were light and numerous, making it difficult to tell them apart.

Using the comprehensive warning system, Shang Jianyao saw a jeep very far away. Its side wheel had sunken into a pool-sized quagmire. The entire vehicle was tilted, seemingly about to sink at any moment.

However, two ropes connected it to a wild-looking gray SUV.

The gray SUV’s engine buzzed as it tried to pull the jeep out of the quagmire.

Long Yuehong stood by the car with his assault rifle slung over his shoulder, chatting happily with a man and a woman.

“How is it? Do you see the jeep? I sense quite a number of people over there.” Jiang Baimian pressed down on the exoskeleton’s shoulder and stretched her neck to look into the distance where Long Yuehong was.

Shang Jianyao nodded. “I see it.”

“Is Long Yuehong alright?” asked Bai Chen when she saw that Shang Jianyao’s pace had clearly slowed down.

Shang Jianyao smiled. “He’s fine. He has even made a few friends.”

Jiang Baimian chuckled and said, “Let’s go take a look.”

Shang Jianyao accelerated and ran toward the jeep.

Thud! Thud! Thud!

Shang Jianyao deliberately increased his footsteps’ loudness so that Long Yuehong and the man and woman beside him could hear him from afar.

The man, woman, and Long Yuehong almost simultaneously turned their heads to look over.

The moment they saw an iron-black military exoskeleton approaching, the man and woman’s expressions changed. They did not hesitate to roll back and return to the gray SUV’s vicinity.

At this moment, the jeep had already been dragged out of the small swamp by the gray SUV.

Long Yuehong smiled and took a few steps forward. “How is it?”

After shouting, he recalled something and quickly turned his head to shout at the gray SUV, “Don’t worry; they’re my companions!”

“Who are they?” Shang Jianyao had already arrived.

Both the people inside and the man and woman outside the gray SUV were highly nervous and vigilant.

Long Yuehong quickly replied, “I wasn’t familiar with the road and ended up driving the car into the quagmire. After they discovered my predicament, they offered help. They’re very friendly!”

Jiang Baimian and Bai Chen looked at each other and chortled softly. “This doesn’t seem like something ordinary wilderness nomads would do...”

With that said, she patted Shang Jianyao’s shoulder. “We should also show our friendliness.”

Shang Jianyao immediately stopped when he heard this.

After Jiang Baimian and Bai Chen jumped off the powerpack, picked up their respective guns, and prepared themselves, he walked to Long Yuehong’s side and shouted, “Help me take off my exoskeleton.”

Upon seeing that Shang Jianyao was indeed removing the exoskeleton, the people in the gray SUV clearly heaved sighs of relief.

They discussed for a moment and agreed to let the man and woman—who had been conversing with Long Yuehong—walk over again.

The man looked to be in his thirties. He had a square face, and his skin was rough and weathered. He had black hair and brown eyes. He wore what the Old World called a formal suit, and he stood up straight. Of course, the formal suit had definitely been modified to make it easier for him to move.

Unlike the wilderness nomads that Shang Jianyao and the others had previously encountered, his clothes didn’t appear tattered despite being old and patched up.

The woman was in her twenties, and she was also black-haired and brown-eyed. She wore a military-green camouflage uniform. Her facial features were not bad, but her face was completely expressionless, giving off an ice-cold feeling. At the junction of her neck and clothes was a faint bluish-black tattoo.

The man and woman each carried an automatic rifle on their backs and held black pistols. They stopped when they were four to five meters away from Jiang Baimian and the others.

“Thank you for your help!” Jiang Baimian shouted.

“This is what any moral person should do,” replied the man in his thirties calmly.

Jiang Baimian immediately smiled. “In the Ashlands, morality is a luxury—no, a rarity.”

“We can’t abandon morality just because the Old World is destroyed.” The man was a little proud of his persistence in morality. Then, he asked loudly, “Are you guys also going north of Yuelu Station?”

“Are you guys going to look for someone?” Jiang Baimian’s eyebrows twitched. “How may I address you?”

The man frankly replied, “Wu Shoushi, an Intermediate Hunter.”

He paused and said, “It seems like you still don’t know that an Old World city ruin was discovered north of Yuelu Station. It has never been discovered before.”

A city ruin that has never been discovered? Shang Jianyao, Long Yuehong, and Bai Chen couldn’t help but look at each other.

Jiang Baimian frowned slightly. “How do you know?

“Something abnormal happened deep in the swamp two nights ago.” Wu Shoushi looked at his companion and didn’t hide anything. “Someone entered the city ruin and discovered many things. They modified a radio transceiver from there and informed Weed City’s guild.

“You should know what an undiscovered city ruin means.” Without waiting for Jiang Baimian and the others to answer, he answered his own question. “Danger and opportunity! The items, information, and secrets there are enough to satisfy thousands of Ruin Hunter teams several times over. You don’t have to worry about people killing each other for them.

“In contrast, the dangers inherent in city ruins are more direct and terrifying. Having more companions means having additional strength to resist them.”

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