Refining Divine Commences With a Splash… of Blood (Part 2)
Following another sleepless night, Shen Yiren’s body and mind felt exponentially more fatigued, forcing her to focus harder than usual to not drop. Alas, even her usual dominance was nowhere to be seen. She deflated once she boarded but maintained ready to fight at the drop of a hat – a state she learnt to enter when she was once hunted and had saved her on numerous occasions.
Shen Yiren didn’t change her makeup style to hide her poor condition as she was confident nobody could see through her; she did it out of spite. Psychologically, it acted as a shield against anyone reading her as Ming Feizhen was able to.
“It must be tough working your job. Living without a name isn’t easy,” Ming Feizhen said to the man with the bamboo hat. Ever since boarding, Ming Feizhen studied the boat as though it was some miraculous work of magic, discussing its materials, designs and whatnot.
Shen Yiren’s temper burned as she watched and listened to Ming Feizhen’s playful attitude while she was worked up last night after their spat. It eventually reached a point where she chose to close her eyes and rest.
Su Xiao was hoping to help Shen Yiren and Ming Feizhen reconcile once they were on the boat since they had nowhere to go. He was totally baffled as it was the first time he had seen the two pretending each other didn’t exist. “Miss Shen, are you tired today?”
“I am. Let me have a short rest.”
“You are tired, and Big Brother Ming is.”
“… What’s… his issue?”
“I saw him yawning by the bow. He must have not slept well. It does not make sense to me, though. Master told us to turn in early, and he never wakes up until noon. How could he be sleep deprived?”
Shen Yiren carefully and subtly opened one eye, wondering, “Could he…” She used Precision Scout to eavesdrop on Ming Feizhen’s conversation.
“Every man has his struggles, huh?” Ming Feizhen commented.
“That is very true,” replied the man with the bamboo hat.
“You mentioned every team lands on the island differently, right?”
“Everyone else also crossed by boat?”
“Which means that the difference is not ‘how’ we get to the island but where we land and what tie, correct?”
The man didn’t answer.
“Given your getup, you must follow the same code even if you are charged with different missions. I can safely assume that you are leading us to our destination by the same standard and wouldn’t make any ‘special’ exceptions for me because I’m the successor to Mount Daluo, correct? I heckled you with a plethora of questions, yet you weren’t bothered in the slightest. You answered every question without reservation. I’m assuming you aren’t that patient but was told to answer every enquiry, correct? There’s only one reason you didn’t answer my last query: your superior told you that you can’t talk about certain topics, correct? … Your silence right now is an answer.”
“… Mount Daluo never ceases to awe one. I can answer your questions; however, I can only answer them once we arrive. In saying that, as you have already figured it out, I can answer you now: your guesses are correct.”
“Hmm… The different ‘way’ also means that every group is landing at different times and locations.”
“Precisely. Both factors are randomised. We will disembark at the end of the east side – Dragonroot Island, which connects to Flying Fish, Flying Flower and Flying Islands.”
“Say what?!” Ming Feizhen mumbled, “One root and three flying… One rod and three…”
The escort: “…”
“Arriving at different times can mess with the program and tire themselves out before others get to them. I suppose it won’t be easy to find out comrades. If we’re going to Dragonroot Island, our comrades must be going to one of the three flying islands. Since Dragonroot Island is in the far east and we’re heading southwest, we should disembark north of the island. North should be the dragon’s head. The dragon’s root should connect to the fish’s tail. Our comrades will be landing at the rear of Flying Fish Island, I bet.”
The man with the bamboo hat was stupefied, to say the least.
Ming Feizhen chortled and yawned. A corner of Shen Yiren’s lips helplessly rose a tad.
Perhaps… he’s not as careless as I thought. Maybe… he won’t leave.
Suddenly, Shen Yiren felt her head throbbing, a sensation she was more familiar with than she would’ve preferred. She wanted to finish discussing her plan with Ming Feizhen last night because she wanted to grant herself time to compensate for her sleep deprivation.
Shen Yiren wanted to inform Ming Feizhen as her condition rendered her uneasy, and he was well-versed in medicine, but they had docked.
Exotic. Every sense of nature converged on Dragonroot Island, foiling numerous plans Shen Yiren set out prior to their arrival and introduced unknown dangers that could be hidden under the woven tree roots, bouquets of foliage above or forest of trees that nurtured a sense of claustrophobia.
“Fei…” By the time Shen Yiren reached the bow, Ming Feizhen had already disembarked. When she and Su Xiao got off, Ming Feizhen would take a stride every time she took one. When she stopped, he stopped, maintaining a constant distance that she couldn’t reach but could see.
They kept a consistent distance for ten kilometres, when Shen Yiren strode wide and heavily up to Ming Feizhen. When she confronted him, he shut his eyes and covered his face with his hands.
“What are you doing?”
“Someone told me to reflect. Our predecessors face walls when reflecting. I have no home, and nobody wants me, so I have to face my hands.”
How childish can you be?! I’d love to clock you right now.
“By the way,” the man with the bamboo hat suddenly verbalised. “Please do not forget that landing locations and times are randomised. In other words, some people are arriving now, while some have already arrived.”
Shen Yiren wrinkled her nose: “You mean…”
“There is an equal chance of one team never encountering another team as there is of them running into each other. Put another way, there is a chance that, as soon as we disembark…” – the pause came almost as though it was intended to let them notice the smell of iron and blood floating through the air – “we encounter hostiles.”
Three men leapt out from behind the trees, big broadswords at the ready. Shen Yiren and Su Xiao intercepted one each. Shen Yiren subsequently thrust her sword at the third assailant to convince him to back off.
“That one over there is Mount Daluo’s senior disciple! Get their leader first!” yelled the man stuck with Su Xiao.
The trio broke off from Shen Yiren and Su Xiao to make their way to Ming Feizhen. Ming Feizhen couldn’t evade at that distance, so Shen Yiren wanted to go to his aid, yet she could barely find her balance in the spinning world.
“…If I let you risk your life a third time, I’d be irredeemably stupid.”
“…We will be surrounded by danger on all sides starting from tomorrow. If your sleep deprivation affects you for even a second, you could lose your life…”
“Boss… You said that, no matter who I am, I am your reliable subordinate. Is that… true?”
Warm blood splattered across Shen Yiren’s face, but all she could see were red swirls telling her that she wasn’t dreaming. She saw him collapse, yet she was powerless to do anything.