Chapter 32: Small Town’s Lighthouse [Volume 2 - Bloom of the Other Shore Flower]
Although it had been twelve hundred years since the end of the War of Daybreak, grudges were ever increasing, every minute, every second, everywhere.
During the past twelve hundred years, the dark races and humans had never stopped fighting, and bloody conflict was always raging on in every inch of contested land.
Although the Evernight Domain was already an abandoned land of the Empire, as the dark races returned, this continent instead became full of battlefields everywhere. Moreover, the situation was incredibly complex.
Humans and the dark races were engaged in a struggle to the death. In addition to that, there were still internal conflicts that arose within the ranks of both sides. Furthermore, perhaps because the orbit of this abandoned land was too far from the sun, even terrifying extraterritorial monstrosities would occasionally appear.
It was as if the only meaning of life’s existence here was struggle and war.
The fire of battle engulfed everything, and on the gray colored of the Evernight Continent, the least valuable was life itself.
At this moment, on a desolate plain, a squad of around seven to eight was lined up in a row, walking quickly. Their clothes were incredibly messy and disorganized, entirely made of scrap cloth and leather haphazardly sewn together. Some of them even inlaid several rust-stained plates of metal over their vitals, considering it as armor.
All of them were carrying huge rucksacks. These were the most commonly seen people on the Evernight Continent: scavengers. They use their lives as the gambling stake, braving the desolate plains and the depths of the ruins, in search of things that might just worth a little something. Their rucksacks held everything they possessed.
In front of this small party, a faint silhouette of a small town had emerged, and they all subconsciously stepped up their pace .
The most striking structure of the town was a single tall lighthouse. It was a structure that almost made entirely of welded metal plates, with several bulky pipes running up its external walls.
From afar it was easy to see the fire burning on the top of the lighthouse. Hence this place was named Lighthouse Town. At this moment, the lighthouse suddenly released an enormous amount of steam, as enormous cogs exposed by the damaged areas of the shell begun to strenuously turn, slowly winding up the bell striker, then slamming it onto the old-fashioned bronze bell, reverberating out a prolonged and rich sound of the bell.
DONG! DONG! DONG!
The sound of the bell traveled far, and those scavengers stepped up their pace even more.
One of the burly men looked up to the sky and said, “It’s only three o'clock and the sky is about to turn totally dark already, this is just too damn much!”
Yet, the old man walking at the very front of the group replied somewhat nonchalantly, “Aren’t dark seasons all like this?”
The burly man once again looked to the sky. Several huge shadows blocked out the sunlight, making the surroundings as dark as nightfall when it was only three o’ clock.
He spat out with force, and said with half envy half jealousy, “If only I could live up there for a few days, even dying ten years earlier would be fine with me!”
“Stop dreaming, ol’ Bucktooth Six! That’s a place only big shots can go, don’t count on it during this lifetime of yours. Just collect garbage as you should here!" said another scavenger.
Before Old Bucktooth Six’s temper erupted, another valve also opened from the other side of the faraway lighthouse, spurting forth a tremendous amount of steam. In an instant, the entirety of the lighthouse’s mid section and above was completely enveloped by the white fog. The flame on top became murky, and a sharp and drawn out steam whistle suddenly sounded, pricking at people’s hearts and making it throb.
“They’re closing the gates this early?!”
“What’s that baldy playing at?”
The scavengers panicked right away. Speeding up their pace even further, they dashed their way toward the town. Fortunately, they were fast enough and rushed through the gates in time.
The exhaust vents at either sides of the city gate towers were currently belching black smoke, the huge gears and winches began to turn with creaking noises. With that, the thick foundry-iron gate lowered slowly, and accompanied by an earth-shaking noise, it smashed into the steel slot, firmly sealing off the small town.
The scavengers were all heavily winded from running, and one of them stood on the street, heaving great gasps of air as he held his knees with both hands. Immediately after, he raised his head and yelled at the gate tower, “Why are you closing the gates so early? We were nearly trapped outside!”
From the tower, a greasy, shining bald head with ferocious features popped out.
He pointed toward the sky, and bellowed with no hint of courtesy, “I’ve long since told you guys that the outside has been incredibly unsafe recently! Look at the color of the moon up there! If you guys want to throw your lives away for the sake of a few copper, then dying serves you right!”
In the sky was an enormous round moon, and the moon’s edges were already a shade of dark red like blood. Given a couple more days, it would turn into a blood colored full moon.
In the nights of the Crimson Moon, all of the living beings in the wasteland would become restless and incredibly aggressive. Legend has it that everytime the moon turned blood red there would be a disaster happening somewhere, and only after enough blood has been spilled would the gods of disaster leave in satisfaction.
The scavengers were cursing, but these mad dogs of the wasteland as a matter of fact really didn’t dare to do anything to the baldy in the tower. He was the town’s only guard, and furthermore, as a rank one Fighter, beating a team of mad dogs like them was as easy as lifting a hand. Thus, the scavengers could only grumble as they slowly walk toward the the small town’s interior.
There was a bar in the town, which was also the only bar in the town, and there was even a few guestrooms behind it. It was where the scavengers were headed to, and it was also the only little piece of heaven that could bring them happiness and women.
For the sake of conserving energy, the town practically didn’t have any lighting. Thus, under the night sky, the misty dim glow of the bar’s signboard was even more eye-catching, even though only the single syllable “Li” was lit on it.
That signboard was originally a piece of the bearings taken apart from the bottom of the cabin, and the bar owner, by some unknown means, inscribed the words onto it and even rubbed on some powder of Luminous Stones. Though, after weathering and rain, it would always gradually fade.
The townsfolk all knew that the bar’s name was called “Red Spider Lily,” but nobody knew the meaning behind these three words combined together as a phrase. Plus, among these several thousand people, there weren’t even five that were educated enough to recognize all the words on the sign.
In the bar, the lantern lights were dim, the tables and chairs were very worn out, and the entirety of the walls were covered with various graffiti. To one’s surprise, there was a strange sense of aesthetic charm to it.
The bar counter was made of riveted steel plates, but it gave an impression of being fashionably rustic. All of the bar’s materials could be found in the wasteland. In reality, the abandoned lands’ most worthless items were scrap steel and metals; they were everywhere in the wasteland’s rubbish heaps, and the airship cemeteries were just mountains of metal.
The smell of cheap alcohol, tobacco, and the stink of sweat permeated the bar. Several dolled-up women even emanated the stinging smell of perfume, making anyone who smelled it all thoroughly nauseous.
Behind the countertop was a young man of a thin, tall build, whose skin tone was somewhat sickly pale.
The young man wore an old, worn out jacket and long pants, and his long black hair was tied into a ponytail behind him. His face was beautiful, extremely beautiful. Moreover, it gave off an excessive sense of youthfulness, and at first glance, it was that kind of bashful but endearing look of a next-door-neighbor boy.
He stood behind the countertop, quietly watching the ten-odd guests who were clearly venting their stress and desires.
Just going by appearances, nobody would have thought that this young man would be this bar’s owner. He was barely, no, he clearly wasn’t even eighteen.
At this point, the bar’s half-height doors were pushed open, and that troop of scavengers who had just entered the city flooded in. The moment they entered, the bar immediately quieted down a few notches, and many people were watching these scavengers warily.
In the wasteland, scavengers didn’t have a good reputation; they went by many names: vultures, decomposers, mad dogs, etc...
The scavengers were always treading the line between life and death and had practically no sense of shame or trustworthiness to speak of, being capable of doing anything. Many scavengers had their own little cliques and secret communication methods. If any outsider rashly got close to this bunch, they might bitten to the point where not even their bones would remain.
Although this little town called Lighthouse Town was mostly reliant on the large numbers of scavengers for wealth, but the town’s original inhabitants didn’t welcome the scavengers, and would never truly accept them.
Where there were scavengers, trouble would follow. In the wasteland, the word, “trouble,” would often mean that a bunch of people would lose their lives; otherwise, why would they call it “trouble”?
This particular troop of scavengers weren’t first-time customers of the Red Spider Lily. They found a place to sit and then started to loudly call out their preferred beverages. The young man behind the counter turned and retrieved several bottles of liquor, after which he began to mix a cocktail with a well-practiced hand.
The stainless steel cocktail shaker danced under his slender fingers as if it had its own soul.
Right at this moment, a scavenger with a big knife scar on his face walked over,leaning heavily on the counter, and with a strong nasal voice, he hollered, “I heard that this bar has some red something lily that’s got a good kick! Gimme a big glass of that!”
The young man didn’t even twitch, and just said, “One imperial silver.”
“Hoh?!” The scavenger called out exaggeratedly, “Did my ears fail me? One imperial silver!! Am I drinking virgin’s blood? Alright, since I’m here, I gotta try it and see if your drink is as good as you say it is! Kid, your daddy here don’t have any silver, but I’ll use this to settle the cost if you’re willing to take it!”
And with a bam, the scavenger pulled out a flintlock pistol and slapped it down onto the countertop.
The gun was loaded with gunpowder and a bullet, ready to fire at any time. The handle was wrapped heavily in metal, in addition to being stained black in a few places with dried blood, along with other stains that couldn’t be identified. This heavy flintlock evidently wasn’t just for firing a bullet; its handle was also a weapon, and one couldn’t say if the club end or the barrel end had been used more.
The bar suddenly quieted down, and everyone’s eyes were on the scavenger and the young man.
The young man had already finished mixing the cocktail, and carefully pouring the drinks, he put his hands on the countertop, looked at the flintlock, and mildly said, “Since you’re dining here, I’ll count it as half a silver. You sure you want to use that as your collateral?”
The corners of the scavenger’s eyes twitched, and he slowly leaned forward toward the young man, until the two almost were nose-to-nose. He said, “So what’ll happen if I don’t pay?”
The young man didn’t move an inch and said in that same old peaceful voice, “Then I’ll blast open your head.”
The scavenger looked the young dead in the eyes. In those deep black eyes, there wasn’t even the slightest sign of wavering, just like two bottomless lakes. The scavenger looked down at the young man’s hands. They were a pair of hands so clean that it was odd, completely without calluses, and unbelievably smooth skin. Completely devoid of any signs of having done cultivation or hard labor.
The young man’s hands were on top of the counter. It was an awkward position that was far from everything. Even if the young man had hidden a weapon under the counter, it didn’t look like he would reach it in time.
The young man’s rough shirt was only buttoned with two buttons, revealing a giant ugly scar across his chest, which was completely out of sync with the rest of his appearance.
The scavenger’s eyes twitched continuously. For some reason, the chill in his heart kept getting stronger by the moment, and sweat suddenly rolled down his body. This was the danger instinct of a mad dog who had survived in the wasteland.Previous Chapter Next Chapter