Chapter 90: Scapegoat

Luo Yuan dashed towards the door with his sabre in hand. He stabbed the tip of his sabre through the metal door which was three to four inches thick but was no match for his dark blue level weapon. It pierced through the door as easily as a hot knife cutting through butter. Uproar could be heard on the other side.

“Open the door or I will tear it down.” Luo Yuan demanded in a stern voice.

“OKAY! PLEASE! STOP! WE’LL OPEN IT!”

Luo Yuan backed away from the door and it slowly creaked open to them. A terrified group of people were watching helplessly as Luo Yuan and his followers walked in. A few men on the inside were armed with pistols and two of them even had rifles.

The leader, a tall and well-built man, had a scar that ran from the gap between his eyebrows to the tip of his lip. He was a terrifying looking man. He observed the sabre that Luo Yuan was holding and spoke, “Okay, man. We let you in, so you gotta follow the rules now, alright? If you’re gonna cause any trouble, don’t say that I never told you the rules.”

The crowd behind Luo Yuan was quiet at the sight of their guns. Even the young man who was furiously pounding on the door moments ago kept quiet.

“I love rules. They are what that distinguishes us from animals.” Luo Yuan smiled in reply.

His body released an intimidating aura that could easily scare light blue level mutants let alone a group of normal human beings who have all involuntarily spaced out. The leader was petrified, his face was pale and sweat was dripping from the tip of his forehead. He couldn’t move and gulped while trying to speak. Then, the aura dissipated.

“And, as for not opening the door, well, I understand the situation so I won’t go into that any further. I mean, we don’t know if the people outside are friends or foe, right?” Luo Yuan added.

The crowd sighed in relief and came to realize that they were drenched in their own sweat. Some of them were even shaking. They looked at Luo Yuan as if they’d seen a ghost. They then snapped out of their momentary daze and quickly followed Luo Yuan who had already made his way down the stairs. Scarface kept reaching for his pistol in the holster on his waist. He was undecided and confused as to what would be his next move but he eventually decided not to act because he knew that if he dared to pull out his gun, it wouldn’t be his opponent who would be dead. He instantly knew that this is no typical man… this man is much more terrifying than the mutants in the wild and could probably outfight all the men in here with his fists alone.

Luo Yuan reached the bottom of the stairs to find a corridor filled with tents. Despite how late it was (around 2 am) the sound of mutants and monsters’ howling through the night could be heard. They were terrifying. Parents were lulling their children, young couples were holding tightly to each other, no one dared to take more than a glance at Luo Yuan and the crowd.

“How many people are there?” he asked.

“A few hundred, give or take. People from the neighboring villages came to seek refuge when the explosions started yesterday.” Scarface reluctantly replied him from behind.

Luo Yuan nodded in acknowledgment, surprised by how crowded the place actually is. “Are there sufficient provisions?”

“Most bring their own provisions, three to five days’ worth. I’m afraid we won’t be able to provide if it’s any longer than that.” Scarface hesitated a moment before asking, “What is it like now…out… there?”

Luo Yuan walked on without replying.

Huo Dong decided to speak on behalf of Luo Yuan, “We didn’t want to say this but honestly, Hedong City has fallen and the military has retreated to the underground facilities after the mutants invaded. Jiangnan is also done for. We’ve got no backup and no miracles. I’m afraid we’ll be staying here for quite some time.”

Several women in the crowd began wailing, intensifying the already gloomy situation.

Luo Yuan spoke again, “I need two tents, have you got any left?”

“Of course! I’ll have my men bring it to you.” Scarface waved and a skinny chimp-like man ran into the crowd and prompted an outrage.

“WHAT THE F*CK ARE YOU DOING? You can’t do this! This is MY TENT! You’re robbing me! STOP IT YOU A*SHOLE!” a woman raged.

“You shut your mouth, woman! You should be grateful that we would want anything from the likes of you. Here’s some provision-tickets, my boss is buying your tents!” the skinny man grabbed a handful of the tickets and hurled it at the woman’s face.

“How dare you hit me, YOU F*CKING BASTARD! YOU DON’T MAKE NO F*CKING SENSE! F*CK YOU!”

The man next to the woman, presumably her husband, stared in disbelief. He gently tugged his wife and whispered, “It’s okay, honey. Just let them have the tent. We can’t afford to start an argument here. Okay?”

She shoved his hand aside, turned and assaulted him, “JUST A TENT? HAVE YOU LOST YOUR F*CKING BALLS? I only married you because everyone else said you were kind and honest. Back then, I didn’t want to say much because that’s the kind of man that everybody wanted to marry. BUT NOW? We’re being pushed around, our home has been taken away from us, and YOU’RE NOT EVEN MAD? Have you even thought about where we are supposed to sleep without a tent?!”

“C’mon, honey. There’s no point bringing my personality into it. We’re outnumbered here. Even if you did want to fight back, they’ve got guns! We can’t fight against that. Just let it go. The tents are just materialistic goods that we can do without anyway. Stop fighting against them. Let it go.” The husband replied.

She didn’t know what else to say or do, so she sat on the ground in despair. She cried.

People were standing around them, spectating, but no one dared to stand too close. Frustrated by his failed acquisition, the skinny man drew a metal baton from his back and marched towards the crying woman.

Huang Jiahui could not stand it anymore and pinched Luo Yuan’s arm. He sighed at what had transpired, knowing that he’s not that cold-blooded. “STOP!” He yelled.

The skinny man shuddered and stopped in his footsteps. He turned to look at Luo Yuan.

Luo Yuan looked conflictingly at the couple. He couldn’t stand what was happening as he too had come from a civilized society and in this case, he was the one at fault.

“Come back and just leave them be. It’s not right to harm innocent people. Just give me two of your tents!” Luo Yuan told Scarface.

Scarface froze, resisting the urge to shout back at Luo Yuan to tell him it is unfair for him to bully them.

“So? Do you have it or not?” Luo Yuan asked again.

“Why of course. Of course we do!”

“Then why are you still standing there? Bring them over. NOW!” Luo Yuan demanded.

Scarface reluctantly ordered, “Xiao Cao! Luo Ping! Bring two of our tents here for this man now!” As a leader, it is only natural that he would not personally deliver the tents. He has men to do his dirty work.

“Roger that, boss Hao!” they both replied.

The two selected men, embarrassed, left unwillingly and returned shortly with two tents. Under the instruction of Scarface, they set up the tents in a vacant corridor.

“You smoke?” Luo Yuan took out a wrinkled cigarette and asked. Ever since the change, his addiction has been getting worse. He takes a smoke at every chance he can get during stressful situations.

Scarface nodded and Luo Yuan gave him a cigarette. He refrained from sharing it with the others as this is his only box left.

“What’s your name?” Luo Yuan asked as he lit his cigarette.

“Su Jianhao but people here call me Boss Hao.” He inhaled deeply and gently puffed.

“If you’re planning to kill me, I’d suggest you do it at night.” Luo Yuan said and then paused as he looked around and pointed, “This spot right here. It’s a good spot. It’s a great spot for a stealthy entrance. Moreover, the straight pathway means there is nowhere to run or hide. All you need is a gun and a good aim. Would you like me to demonstrate?”

Su Jianhao panicked and tried to run from his seat but it was too late as a dark blue level blade was already resting on his throat. He had no choice but to sit back down. His face was discolored, and the hand he used to hold the cigarette began to shake. The chilly sensation on his throat functioned as a reminder that if he tried to move, the blade would cut right through without hesitation.

His throat moved as he gulped, “But, sir. I…I think you’ve misunderstood my intentions.”

One of Su Jianhao’s men saw what was happening and pulled out his pistol, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? Put down your weapon or…” Schink!

Before the man could finish his sentence, Scarface noticed that his captor had gone out of his sight, and within a second, blood splattered all over his body. He looked at his comrade gripping tightly on his own throat but was unable to cover the wound that kept bleeding profusely. He fell to the ground and he eventually died.

Su Jianhao was in shock- his mouth was wide open, his heart was pounding in his chest, and his eyes were tearing.

“If anyone tries to pull a gun at me again, that would be their end.” Luo Yuan threatened as the air around them seemed to have turned chilly. Another follower of Su Jianhao’s who was present surrendered. He put his gun down on the ground and his hands were up in the air. He was too afraid to move.

The kill happened so fast that it was barely visible to the naked eye. It took him no more than a second to kill and return to his initial position. Wang Shishi was shocked by what she just witnessed and held back a scream with her hands covering her mouth. Huang Jiahui sighed as she held her tightly.

“Good boy. Now, where were we?” Luo Yuan giggled.

“Mm-mmmisunderstanding. Th-thi-this was just a big misunderstanding. I never had the intention to kill any of you. I SWEAR!” Su Jianhao struggled to speak calmly as he remained petrified. As the blade drew closer to his skin he realized that he had never felt death so close to him before. He was drenched in his own sweat and almost wet his trousers.

“Misunderstanding – schmisunderstanding. If you have a death wish, all you have to do is ask and I’ll kindly oblige by gently moving my blade. I suppose you know what you should and shouldn’t do. You have only once chance and you clearly only live once. It’s all up to you, got it?”

“Y-yy-yes sir” Scarface replied.

“Very well. Take the body away and clean up the damn mess before you leave. DON’T forget to bring us our breakfast tomorrow.” Luo Yuan instructed as the tents had been set up.

“Yes sir!” he replied again.

After the mess was cleaned up, Su Jianhao and his men left – only the group that followed Luo Yuan stayed behind.

“I knew from the very beginning that they weren’t good people! They think themselves kings within these walls! You’ve made one of their men a scapegoat now. We might have to be careful tonight. Since we won’t be able to sleep, we’ll stay up and take watch of the entrance.” Huo Dong suggested aloud.

“Yeah, the day’s almost breaking and we won’t be sleeping much anyway! Let’s just take watch for a night.” Someone in the crowd agreed.

In an apocalypse, power is everything. As Luo Yuan had now demonstrated his abilities, many had begun to follow him.

“I understand your concern for me but there are more families out there that could use your help.” Luo Yuan replied.

“As you wish, Brother Luo. We’ll leave you to rest for the night.”

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