Immeasurable Misery (Part 2)
The stalemate was sustained for around four hours. I urged Teng to retrieve his thread and rest because his face was as white as a sheet. He needed a short break before he could even speak.
Teng: “… I confirmed…”
“He confirmed there is a device in there as we suspected.”
Teng: “… Hmm?”
I elaborated, “But it really will be a challenge. Teng will run into the engraving one way or another, and that will impact his mental state. Even if I guide him, he will only be 50% faster. As you all saw, four hours is our limit even with three helpers. We now need a day to recover enough to make another trip inside.”
“That’s only the first problem. He missed a fair number of spots inside, so we’ll likely have to start again from scratch tomorrow.”
Teng: “… Why didn’t you just do it yourself…?”
“Because your internal energy is better than mine.”
“The situation isn’t uplifting. If we use the current method, we’ll need, at least, five days to determine the shape of the key. If we include the time needed to make the key… Even if Elder Lianhua knows how to make the key, it’s no easy task to combine black aurum and frost jade to make a key, not to mention the lack of tools here.”
Ouyang Xiucai: “The effort invested is in our hands. The outcome in heaven’s hands. Doing something is better than nothing, right?”
Lang Qing grinned. “Worst comes to worst, we die. Quaking in our boots isn’t going to achieve anything.”
Yuan Kou simpered. “Exactly. Everyone here lives life with their pants over their heads. Who here fears death?”
Stop trying to make yourself a hero! You’re about their level in combat. And, you’re more afraid of death more than anyone else! Also, why would you wear pants on your head?! Keep them over your legs! Stop trying to use pugilistic world proverbs without understanding them!
Lang Qing and Ouyang Xiucai did make good points, though. The worst outcome was death, and we controlled our efforts.
Ouyang Xiucai smugly pointed out, “Moreover, while we don’t have tools, haven’t the people with tools offered themselves up to us?”
I looked over to the group of Fiends’ Genesis members in the distance. Tian Xiaogua fidgeted and let his eyes dart around more than anyone else, so I marched over. “Perfect timing. We want to talk to you, too.”
Negotiations didn’t always go smoothly. Despite explaining the situation and Jiang Chen’s intentions, there were a surprisingly large number of Fiends’ Genesis members refused to join us, although the number wasn’t unexpected. Based on my observations, they were loyal to Fiends’ Genesis, or even something else, not Jiang Chen.
Based on what I had been told, Jiang Chen was a relatively foreign existence to Fiends’ Genesis’ members. Although he was the leader of the Seven Stars and acted as the brains of Fiends’ Genesis, he only ever showed himself or interacted with grunts to give out orders. His operations positioned Fiends’ Genesis as a mere disposable pawn. Perhaps it was his attitude towards them that galvanised them to treat him the same way. I, therefore, leveraged this point to persuade them to join our cause.
In my information, I spiced up information on Jiang Chen, switching perspectives to paint him as the bad guy. If you listened to my version, even if you didn’t know Jiang Chen, you’d likely want to skin him alive, let alone they who didn’t exactly like him.
In the end, they decided they wanted to discuss it amongst themselves further. Luckily, they agreed to lend us the tools for making a key, promised not to fight over the food for five days and to not sabotage us.
I went to wake up Elder Lianhua while Teng was resting. Elder Lianhua’s injuries weren’t a concern long ago; she couldn’t wake up purely because I sedated her. She just took the black aurum and frost jade once I filled her in. She didn’t even ask us what type of key she needed to make. I just assumed she knew what she was doing.
Teng was able to draw a much more detailed map after exploring the hole again the next day. Part of his success was attributed to his personality. Unfortunately, that was also an issue. Due to his personality making him extra vulnerable to mental attacks – and to a greater degree – the more detailed he wanted to get, the greater the engraving impacted him. As a result, his progress was slower compared to the first day. The second problem was that his internal energy regeneration rate was compromised. He emptied his tank yesterday; there was no way he could have a full tank again within a day.
Since Yuan Kou had to protect Teng’s consciousness on top of supplementing internal energy, he was even more fatigued than Teng despite his internal energy being more developed than Teng’s. I did my best to avoid passing the job to Ouyang Xiucai and Lang Qing as Fiends’ Genesis would have more fire power than us if the two of them were incapacitated. Elise, Su Qi and the others were competent in their own right, but a victory without damage wouldn’t be possible in a fight.
Frustration only mounted with the passage of time. I never thought Yan Jiangnan would be the first one to offer to help me.
“Senior, I wish to help in any meagre way I can.”
“And what can you help me with?”
“Everything I have now is thanks to you. How can I by and watch from the sidelines when you are doing everything in your power to help us escape this mire?”
Because he appeared so sincere, I hesitantly said, “You know… resurrecting someone is a pipe dr-”
“I know it is impossible.”
“Yes.” Yan Jiangnan bitterly smiled. “You are too kind.”
No, no, you’re truly at the end of your road. Even though I think it’s cruel, I still have to kill you later.
“You have always hinted it between the lines, so this one pretended to be ignorant. Resurrection is an uncertainty. I…”
I patted Yan Jiangnan on the shoulder. “I didn’t lie. Resurrection is actually possible. Having said that, the method and meaning of it probably isn’t what you imagine it to be. Whether it’s the resurrected or resurrect-er, neither of them will like the results. You shouldn’t research it or count on it.”
Yan Jiangnan looked downtrodden.
“What were you saying you would help me with?”
“Ah, right, I almost forgot. What is your current challenge?”
“What else but Teng’s state?”
“That is what I wanted to talk about. Your isolation caused your oversight. You have a treasure in your hands.”
“I do now?”
“Are your concerns not the slow replenishment of internal energy and vulnerability to the engraving?”
“See?! Have you forgotten how I recovered so fast from my injuries, developed my internal energy at an expedited rate and improved rapidly in my learning of a mental discipline?”
“Y-you’re talking about…”
“Yes!” Yan Jiangnan beamed. “Unknown pill!”