Luo Yuan was carrying his groceries in a burlap sack and walking back home when he saw a man and a woman coming out of his apartment. He watched them walk away before he went into the kitchen. After setting the groceries on the table, he asked Huang Jiahui, “Who were those people?"
“You’re back!” she exclaimed as she was finishing mopping the floor. “Oh, they’re members of the community. They just dropped by some documents that we need to fill in. They wanted to discuss re-enrolling children for classes.”
“Classes?” Luo Yuan shook his head in disbelief.
“I don’t want to go to school!” Wang Shishi threw a tantrum, tossing around on the couch in denial. After being with the two of them for so long, she was starting to be more open around them, especially around Luo Yuan.
“So what will you be doing then?” Huang Jiahui countered while she put the groceries away. “Now that the situation has been stabilized, you’ll have to head out into society eventually and you’re gonna need a degree to get a decent job. Besides, learning is not that bad.”
Once Huang Jiahui was out of sight, Wang Shishi rushed stealthily to sit next to Luo Yuan. She wrapped herself around his arm, silently begging him with her puppy eyes.
Luo Yuan took her side, “I think we should wait it out. I mean, there’s no need to rush back into all of this yet. Besides, she’s still young. It wouldn’t make much of a difference if she enrolled a year or two later.”
“THANK YOU, BROTHER LUO! YOU’RE THE BEST!” Wang Shishi screamed while she jumped up and down in joy.
“Okay, fine. It’s none of my business anyway,” Huang Jiahui replied from the kitchen.
Luo Yuan looked at Wang Shishi and they both giggled childishly. Suddenly Wang Shishi blushed, as if she had recalled something.
“Well, I’ve got some stuff to do,” Luo Yuan said as he carried the burlap sack into his room.
As he closed the bedroom door, Luo Yuan was filled with an unexpected feeling of excitement. He quickly unloaded the dark owl feathers onto the study table and rushed to retrieve some clothes from his wardrobe for the experiment. He picked a pair of track pants.
Injuring one’s legs in the wild was a matter of life or death; hence, it was imperative to be equipped with an enhanced pair of pants. He chose a pair of pants first as his upper body would be protected by the bulletproof vest.
He took a deep breath. Holding the pants in one hand and a feather in the other, he began chanting silently while carefully bringing the two items into contact. The feather started to heat up as he finished the incantation. It gradually softened, and then turned into dust once it came into contact with the pants. The process of transfiguration never ceased to amaze him, no matter how often he performed it. He picked up another piece and continued transfiguring the feathers one by one, merging them in one with the track pants.
The colour of the track pants gradually changed from light blue to black, the colour of the dark owl feathers. To measure the changes in the track pants, he cast an evaluation spell after every successful transfiguration. The pants reached a rarity level of light blue after the eighth feather and were later upgraded to a rarity of blue after the twenty-eighth feather.
Despite the fact that he had underestimated the cost required for the transfiguration, Luo Yuan was still very excited by its success – the feathers on the track pants alone had cost him a 200-gram rice coupon. He decided to stop combining the remaining feathers with the track pants. From his experience transfiguring his sword and vest, he had learned that once a piece of equipment had reached a rarity of blue, it was not worth transfiguring any more. Its rarity would remain the same, and there would only be a slight improvement in terms of its properties.
“I’m in no hurry. Besides, if Qian Dakui is really telling the truth, I’ll have plenty more of these feathers to transfigure tomorrow!”
“Agile Feathered Track Pants”
“Materials: Dark Owl Feathers, Nylon”
“Additional Effects: Speed +3”
“Minimum Requirements: None”
“Evaluation: Agile track pants with enhanced defense against swords and bullets, and improved aerodynamics that reduce wind resistance”
Luo Yuan checked the track pants properties and noticed that despite their rarity of blue, they were still not comparable to his snakeskin bulletproof vest. The vest, while also blue in rarity, had a considerably more prominent advantage. Nevertheless, the enhanced track pants were light and soft, and their fabric had turned into a light-absorbing shade of ebony, which would come in handy during combat. Most importantly, they would enable him to maneuver swiftly without having to fight against the force physics, or more specifically against wind resistance.
Seeing that he had twelve feathers left, Luo Yuan decided to transfigure his military boots as well.
“Agile Military Boots”
“Materials: Dark Owl Feathers, Leather, Rubber”
“Rarity: Light Blue”
“Weight: 0.5 kg”
“Additional Effects: Speed +2”
“Minimum Requirements: None”
“Evaluation: An agile pair of military boots with improved aerodynamics that reduce wind resistance”
When Luo Yuan arrived at the market entrance the next morning, Qian Dakui was already there waiting for him. Two other men were with him, one of them a slightly fat and short middle-aged man with a clean complexion and smiling eyes, and the other a lean, tanned man with thin lips. Their armour was in unexpected shades of bright colour, and the car parked beside them was shaped like a loaf of bread.
“Goodness, am I late?” Luo Yuan asked apologetically.
Qian Dakui laughed, “Don’t worry, brother, we just got here. Allow me to introduce you to Yang Dawei and Zhang Cao, both old friends of mine.” He turned to the two men while he pointed at Luo Yuan. “We’ve all been to Chengdu’s Disposal Site, so this man requires no introduction. I’m sure you know Brother Luo?”
The two men looked very alarmed when they saw Luo Yuan. They were just realizing why Qian Dakui had refused to tell them who the surprise new member was. It was the man who had killed Brother Zhou. The news of the incident had only recently began to circulate among their inner circle as they had previously been too busy dealing with the green beetle invasion.
“We’ve heard so much about you. Pleasure to make your acquaintance!” Yang Dawei greeted with a smile.
“Hello, nice to meet you,” Zhang Chao smiled stiffly.
Luo Yuan laughed, “I’m surprised we’ve all been to the Disposal Site. Never too late to make an acquaintance. Don’t call me Brother Luo, though. I’m not worthy of such a title! Just Luo will do.”
The two nervous men sighed in relief, and the ice broke. The party of four hopped inside the vehicle and set out on their excavation. Luo Yuan and Yang Dawei sat in the backseat and talked quite a lot. Apparently, there were lots of people from the Hedong District setting out into the wild, especially refugees from Donghu City. It hadn’t taken long for the people from Donghu City to join in the hunting arrangement. They had caught up real quick with the locals. Although it was not spoken of, Luo Yuan was certain that there had been many incidents of conflict between the two parties while they hunted. He knew enough to know that he should be more worried about the people from Hedong City.
About an hour and a half later, the car reached the outskirts of the city, where fields of grains and trees as tall as skyscrapers spread as far as the eye could see. Luo Yuan stared out the window and finally recognized what was indeed a cornfield. Despite how densely the field was covered with corn plants, not a single cob of corn could be seen. He thought that maybe they were all covered by the green parts of the plant, but he had never realized how dire the plant production was until this very moment.
The plantation might have been a great defensive measure on its own, but the city had also built outposts within every few corners as an extra measure. Each outpost was occupied by seven or eight fully uniformed soldiers patrolling their designed areas for any potential danger. After driving through the fields and several desolated cities in between, the car finally stopped in front of a heavily guarded Defense Report Centre.