“Sister Huang, look! Brother Luo has also bought some new clothes.” Wang Shishi looked like an excited puppy. “Look how good he looks in them!”
Huang Jiahui shifted her gaze towards Luo Yuan. She would not have noticed if Wang Shishi hadn’t pointed it out. She was still distracted by the image of that mutated earthworm in the residential area earlier.
Black jacket, black pants, black shoes, a total black outfit. There were thousands of shades, but none of them could match the black color of the black owl’s feathers – a deep, mysterious, attractive shade of black. Combined with Luo Yuan’s fair, rosy complexion, his tall height and his laid-back yet edgy attitude, the black color further highlighted his handsome look and gave him a mysterious aura.
Huang Jiahui’s gaze wandered before focusing again after a while. Suddenly, she gave an unfriendly hum, “Shishi, can I sleep with you tonight?”
Wang Shishi blinked. “Sure, I love falling asleep hugging Sister Huang!”
Huang Jiahui turned her head and fumed silently. Clothes were very expensive in stores now that raw materials were in shortage. Plus, neither of them had a job. One million might have seemed like a lot at first, but it wasn’t going to last long. If they converted it all to food stamps, they would only have 70 – 80 thousand.
Luo Yuan was a meat lover, and their daily food expenses were already more than 30 catties of food stamps. Huang Jiahui had never bought any clothes in order to save money. She had even intended to sew patches on some of her old torn clothes. Who knew he would buy clothes for himself without batting an eye. She felt wronged just thinking about it.
Luo Yuan seemed to have noticed as he smiled wryly, “Would you both believe me if I said I didn’t buy these clothes either?”
“Sure, why not. They must have been dumped by someone else and you just happened to pick them up!” Huang Jiahui said in disdain while she side-eyed him.
She was thinking, “Do I look like an idiot to you? I’d have taken your word for the car. Lots of cars are being treated like junk these days anyway. But clothes, especially this new… People would never just throw them away.”
Luo Yuan thought for a bit. He felt that he had nothing to hide anymore. It would also be a great excuse for him. “Actually, I’m evolved!” he said.
His words struck them like a lightning. Wang Shishi screamed in ecstasy while Huang Jiahui was barely able to keep her cool.
After a while, Huang Jiahui regained her composure and realized that what Luo Yuan had said was completely irrelevant. “What does you being evolved have to do with you buying clothes?” she asked with a straight face.
“You know that evolved people have strange abilities. Some were completely useless so I felt too embarrassed to talk about it.” Luo Yuan kept talking nonsense, “My ability is useless, I can just synthesize different materials into things. You remember those black feathers, right? I synthesized them into my clothes so they couldn’t be penetrated by regular bullets. I still have some of those feathers left, I could synthesize some clothes for you guys, too.”
Huang Jiahui looked at his clothes suspiciously and realized that they were indeed the same clothes he had been wearing before. They only looked brand new because of their weird sense of beauty. Her suspicion went away at once as she exclaimed, “Why didn’t you say so earlier? This is not something bad. You don’t have to hide it from us, we won’t expose your secret.”
She didn’t look worried at all as she looked at Luo Yuan. She knew that while his ability could not help them in battle, he alone would still be more useful than 10 battle-gifted evolved humans put together. Once he was discovered by the government or the military, he would immediately be recruited. She wasn’t sure whether that would be good or bad.
She spoke to Wang Shishi seriously, “Shishi, you mustn’t tell anyone about this, okay?”
“I won’t!” Wang Shishi promised. She could differentiate between good and bad. She had already grown up.
Luo Yuan laughed, “You guys don’t have to be jealous. I was just luckier. Everyone has a chance to evolve.” As he said this, Luo Yuan took the Rampage Lizard’s meat and bloody innards out of his rucksack. “Wash these. We’ll eat them tonight!”
Huang Jiahui did not pay much attention at first. She thought that he’d just gone to the market on his way back. She was about to head to the kitchen with the meat when she asked, “Should I marinate them so we can have them tomorrow? I’ve already bought food for dinner.”
Luo Yuan stopped her instantly, “Don’t. That’s not normal meat. It’s like the green beetles we had last time. It could make you evolve. Wash it and slice it. We’ll try it out later.”
Huang Jiahui and Wang Shishi felt disgusted just hearing him.
Huang Jiahui gritted her teeth, “Okay, I’ll clean it up. Hopefully we’ll really evolve this time, because I’m not eating it ever again!”
She carried the meat into the kitchen, but came out soon after with a frown on her face. “This meat is too tough, I can’t cut it. Lend me your machete. And what’s that bloody lump? It’s already turned into goo.”
“That goo is liver. It’s the good stuff. If it were to be sold, people would probably buy it for 1,000 catties of food stamps per catty!” Luo Yuan said with a smile as he handed her his machete.
Huang Jiahui looked a little skeptical, “Really? That thing is that expensive?”
“How much does a catty of meat cost in the market now?” Luo Yuan directed the question back at her.
“About 5 – 6 dollars per catty, but it’s getting even cheaper these days,” Huang Jiahui replied.
“That’s just first level mutated meat. Second level meat is resold for 30 catties of food stamps per catty while third level costs 80 catties of food stamps. How much do you think the resale value of fourth level meat would be?” Luo Yuan asked.
“That would depend on supply and demand. If fourth level mutated beasts were rare, then people would buy their meat no matter how expensive it was,” Huang Jiahui pondered, finally understanding. “Are you saying that this is fourth level beast meat?”
Luo Yuan nodded his head and Huang Jiahui covered her gaping mouth.
“Then… then we’ll be eating away thousands of dollars a day!” Wang Shishi was shocked.
“Something like that. But both of you would probably get nose bleeds if you had too much of it,” Luo Yuan laughed.
“What’s the level of the big green beetles we ate the other day?”
Luo Yuan entertained their curiosity, “Regular green beetles are second level, guard rank green beetles are third level.”
Wang Shishi looked dumbfounded as she asked, “What kind of a creature is fourth level? You must have seen it. Right, Brother Luo?”
“It’s better that you don’t know. You might have nightmares!”
Luo Yuan could still feel fear as he thought about the dragon snake. It was as if the creature existed in a mythical world.
Of course, dragon snakes were in no way related to mythical dragons. The system typically identified mutated beasts by the names given to them by the authorities, but judging by how the authorities had also named the creature a dragon snake, it was evident that they had found a resemblance between the dragon snake and the mythical creature.
Huang Jiahui had already been suspicious when Luo Yuan had brought third and fourth level meat that could not be found in the market. The fact that Luo Yuan had now come across a fourth level creature made her even more sure of her assumption. Her voice trembled as she asked, “Did you go into the woods?”
Luo Yuan hesitated before meeting her eyes and nodding.
Huang Jiahui wanted to ask him not to go on an adventure in the woods again, but meeting his assertive gaze, her words turned into a sigh. She was suddenly worried that Luo Yuan might not return home anymore after leaving for the day.
Flustered, Huang Jiahui covered it up by saying, “I’m going to the kitchen!”
She left before she had even finished her words.
Luo Yuan understood after a moment.
Ever since he had been to the woods and escaped death, the pressure had been building on him to level up quickly to get prepared for the worst. He had already met a blue rank creature by just wandering around the outskirts of the woods. If the area spread over the whole Jiangnan Province, or the whole country even, the number of these creatures out there would probably be inconceivable.
What was more, there could already be creatures that had mutated even further.
Although Hedong City was peaceful, it was like an isolated island facing the woods that extended beyond the horizon. Anyone could predict that the city would be in grave danger down the line. Its technology could not keep up with the world’s mutation. It might even deteriorate because of it. The city’s downfall was only a matter of time.
It was better to be a dog in times of peace than a man in times of chaos.
If he could, Luo Yuan would go back to leading a 9 to 5 life like he used to before, and not struggle to survive each day like he was now.
Huang Jiahui came to the living room carrying two plates, her eyes rimmed red like she had been crying.
Luo Yuan took a glance at her and said, “Do you know what the biggest food supply for mutated beasts is?”
Without waiting for an answer, he went on, “It’s humans. The world has about 60 – 70 billions of population. Of course it might be less than a third of that now, but the number is still large. To a beast, a city looks like a giant food container. Once they can overcome its outer defense, they can have all the goodies inside. Hedong City is much safer because the military is here, but other places have probably fallen just like Donghu City. Mutated beasts will only continue to evolve and evolution doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon. Their domain will only expand over time, and if humans don’t have another tech boom soon, we will only be able to survive by mutating just like the beasts. I hope this time both of you can evolve!”
Luo Yuan’s calming voice was laced with a chill. Both girls were bothered by it. They had already chosen to ignore the chaos taking place outside and leave the memory of living in the dark like alley rats behind them. They’d been living in peace for some time now.
The atmosphere in the living room seemed to become charged at once.
Perhaps the green beetle meat had been more disgusting, or perhaps it was because they were experienced this time around but, even though they kept frowning as they ate, none of them puked.
Barely a minute after eating though, Wang Shishi claimed to have a headache.
Luo Yuan was not really concerned in the beginning. A headache was nothing to worry about after all. However, Wang Shishi’s face flushed redder as her headache got more painful before she finally fainted and fell to the floor. Just as Luo Yuan was about to lift her up, he suddenly felt goosebumps all over his body.