Chapter 115 – Decision
In the days that followed, Shi Yuan often went to the wasteland.
Sometimes he would spend the night in the wasteland – of course, staying out at night is not something a good abyss should do, and he would tell Lu Tinghan in advance.
Lu Tinghan asked him where he was, and Shi Yuan always replied: “I’m outside the city! There is a big black rock here.”
Or: “I’m in a meadow with a lot of long grass. Wow, this fruit looks pretty good!”
Or: “I walked south, and then ran after a group of birds, I don’t know where I am.”
It was impossible to expect Shi Yuan to tell the location clearly. Lu Tinghan gave up this idea and asked Shi Yuan to turn on the positioning system at any time.
Fortunately, the main city was large enough to allow a road idiot abyss to grope its way home.
Lu Tinghan asked again: “What did you do all night?”
Shi Yuan replied: “I was playing with a snake and went to its lair, which was full of beautiful leaves. Yesterday I followed three foxes… Well, it should be called a fox, and arrived at the river.”
He forgot to say that the snake was bigger than the mountain, and the so-called “fox” had three heads, a mouth full of fangs, and its feet on the fire.
Lu Tinghan didn’t ask much, and simply said, “Well, it sounds fun.”
Shi Yuan would always show up at home the next day with his clothes stained with dew and grass, and his soles had mud and flower petals – he looked like he had been running wild in the mountains and fields for a while, mixed with different monsters, and occasionally there was a soft fur or bright feathers on his neckline.
“Lu Tinghan!” As soon as he saw his human, he rejoiced, “Touch!”
Lu Tinghan stretched out his hand and rubbed his head hard, and heard Shi Yuan purring in satisfaction.
Then Shi Yuan took a bath, and rolled up the quilt warmly, with his tail coiled around himself.
As before, he excitedly shared his story with Lu Tinghan.
He said how soft the lair of the giant snake was, and there were small snakes next to it, the whole body was crystal clear, and it felt cold to the touch; he said that there were monsters that looked like flamingos at the end of the meadow, and when they flew in flocks, they looked like a burning curtain of fire; he said that in the deepest part of the dense forest, the ancient trees were overgrown with eyes, gloomy and gray. At first, the ancient trees were very rude and refused to open their eyes. After a few more visits, he leaned against the tree trunk and listened to the sound of the wind that filled the mountains and valleys, and the trees gradually became willing to look at him.
Lu Tinghan hugged him and asked, “How did you learn to communicate with them?”
“I don’t know either.” Shi Yuan thought for a long time, his tail curled up tangled, “Maybe, I understand their emotions?”
“Well, just like I understand humans,” Shi Yuan said, “It’s like the day we saw the white dolphin.”
At that time, the lighthouse was alone on the beach, and the colorful sea water had not passed the calf. Shi Yuan stretched out his hand to the monsters all over the sky, the world was strange, and he burst into tears.
——Why are you crying?
Even he didn’t know the answer.
But, perhaps as Shi Yuan said, after understanding many human emotions, he slowly learned to get along with monsters.
Lu Tinghan touched Shi Yuan’s head.
They watched a documentary together that night about polar glaciers.
The city fell, too much data was lost, many materials disappeared, and there were not many documentaries left. This documentary was fortunate enough to be preserved and broadcast the exotic scenery. The vast ocean and giant glacier made Shi Yuan’s eyes widen.
He was fascinated and asked Lu Tinghan many questions.
When the emperor penguins jumped into the sea and the whales sprayed water in the distance, the documentary ended.
Shi Yuan couldn’t get enough of it, and asked, “Is there a documentary about camels?”
He hadn’t seen the camel yet, so he was brooding.
It took Lu Tinghan some time to find a documentary about the desert, he watched it with Shi Yuan.
Pyramids and circling eagles appeared on the projection, people covered themselves tightly with cloth to block the sun, and rode camels to the oasis.
The whole world was steaming hot, and the air was distorted. There were many shots of camels, and the photographer had repeatedly narrowed the lens to take pictures of them chewing on cacti – they were always calm and behaved, as if the only meaningful things in the world were water and cacti.
Shi Yuan watched it with relish at first, and kept asking Lu Tinghan questions.
Lu Tinghan answered as much as possible.
Later, Shi Yuan gradually became quiet.
Lu Tinghan thought it was because all his questions were answered perfectly. Until he turned his head and saw Shi Yuan sleeping sweetly with his tail in his arms.
It seemed that his love for camels couldn’t withstand drowsiness.
Lu Tinghan helped Shi Yuan tuck the corner of the quilt and kissed his cheek.
Before turning off the screen, he looked at the glacier and desert on the cover, paused for a few seconds, and smiled silently.
Although he answered many of Shi Yuan’s questions and seemed to know a lot, it was a place neither he nor Shi Yuan had ever been. The world was very big, and after seeing the sea, he still wanted to see other things.
He turned off the screen, turned off the lights, and went to sleep.
The next morning, Shi Yuan sat up in bed.
He was half asleep, his black hair was a bit messy, and he thought for a while and asked, “…where’s my camel?”
“In the dream,” Lu Tinghan told him with his eyes closed.
Shi Yuan continued to go back and forth between the handicraft factory and the wasteland.
One day, he went to Professor Guan.
As soon as Professor Guan saw him, he was very alert and said, “Shi Yuan, I really don’t have any snacks at all.”
“I’m not here to find snacks,” Shi Yuan said, “I have a few questions for you.”
Shi Yuan had a lot of old cases, and Professor Guan didn’t let his guard down at all.
Shi Yuan sat across from his desk, holding hot water and asked, “Is there really no way for me to get to the bottom of the abyss?”
“This.” Professor Guan replied, “Haven’t we experimented many times? Once you come into contact with the black mist in the abyss, you will be repelled.” He smiled, “If it weren’t for this, things would be much simpler.”
Shi Yuan took a sip of hot water and asked, “What if I touch the black mist in a human form?”
Professor Guan scratched his head: “Well, from the research point of view, you are no different from humans when you are in human form – otherwise, we would have found out your abnormality a long time ago. So I think it’s okay.”
He suddenly realized something and added, “Don’t think about it. One of the most terrifying things in the black mist is “turbulence”, even the ship’s titanium plate and armor can’t withstand it, and the body is impossible to resist it. Besides, the bottom of the abyss may also be covered with black mist, and you can’t bet on what will happen if you are repelled.”
Shi Yuan: “Oh…”
He turned the cup in his hand.
Professor Guan’s expression was tangled, he took off his reading glasses, and slowly wiped them: ” And… furthermore, what if after you transform back into black mist, you can infect even other abysses? What should we do?”
“Ah, that,” Shi Yuan said.
His tail bent into a question mark, as if trying to think of something.
Professor Guan sent Shi Yuan to the door of the scientific research center.
He hesitated: “…Shi Yuan, I don’t know what you are thinking and what your plans are, but you must be careful. If you have something, go and discuss it with General Lu.”
Shi Yuan agreed.
Professor Guan wanted to say something, but in the end, he just sighed softly.
But Shi Yuan had been thinking about this question, too absent-minded, and the people in the handicraft factory had discovered it.
—Shi Yuan’s hands were working mechanically, folding out flowers, his eyes empty, staring straight at a certain point in the void.
“Shi Yuan?” Others called him, “Shi Yuan?”
Shi Yuan was expressionless, his eyes wandering.
“Shi Yuan! It’s on fire!” someone shouted deliberately.
Shi Yuan was unmoved.
“What is this kid thinking so hard about?” a few aunts muttered, “If he is this absent-minded, I’m afraid something happened at home.”
“That’s right… maybe it was a conflict with his partner.”
“Ah, Shi Yuan’s definitely not at fault then,” another aunt paid special attention to this matter, lifted up her sleeves and showed her stout arms, “If I knew what his partner did, I would definitely hit him hard.”
Lu Tinghan didn’t know yet that he had been beaten virtually.
Shi Yuan continued to be absent-minded.
He was so absent-minded that the monsters noticed too.
Go to the wasteland, go to the depths of the forest and mountains, all kinds of monsters surrounded him. Many monsters still didn’t dare to get too close. After a while, several cats hid in the treetops, raising their paws and licking their fur, and looking at him secretly.
Shi Yuan sat on the stump, holding a mutated colorful flower, unconsciously tugging at the petals.
One piece, two pieces, three pieces, and four pieces…
The petals fell one after another, and whenever they touched the soil, the color would suddenly spread, smudging the earth.
It was the sound of scales rubbing against the mountains again, and the giant snake came rolling in the clouds, spat out its tongue, lowering its head and looking at Shi Yuan closely.
Shi Yuan didn’t look at it at all.
The giant snake bared its teeth.
Shi Yuan did not respond.
The giant snake spat out its tongue again, and covered Shi Yuan with its head and face.
“Ah!” Shi Yuan was directly knocked to the ground by it, stood up, and woke up from the daze.
He raised his head, looked at the white snake’s glazed pupils, and said, “I’m fine… I’m just thinking about things.”
The white snake naturally didn’t understand.
But it liked Shi Yuan.
It coiled itself, stayed in the clouds and misty mountain, and accompanied him quietly.
If there were people passing by, they would be too dumbfounded by this scene: the light traveled through the forest leaves and fell on Shi Yuan’s body in scattered spots. Many monsters were hidden in the mountains, silently and patiently looking at Shi Yuan—
It was like the audience in the dark, looking at the stage.
The only stage light source was exceptionally bright, hitting the boy from top to bottom, as if he was their one and only protagonist.
When the wind blew, the flickering spots of light on the clothes swayed and fluttered, dazzling and illuminating the entire mountain and forest.
The giant snake moved its body, its scales gleaming in the light.
It disappeared among the peaks and mountains, and came back after swimming for more than half an hour, with a sturdy branch in its mouth and small white flowers waving in the wind on it.
It was like the gift Shi Yuan gave it that day.
It sent the branch to Shi Yuan.
“Wow!” Shi Yuan was very surprised, “Thank you, I like it very much!”
The branches were too heavy for him to take back, so he could only pick more than six or seven white flowers.
It’s getting late, it’s time to go down the mountain.
Shi Yuan held the flowers and stepped on the stream, stepping on the clatter of fallen leaves. The monsters followed him from a distance, a mighty and lively parade, until he returned to the foot of the mountain.
“See you again,” Shi Yuan said.
The mountains were silent.
On the way back to the city, Shi Yuan got lost again. The wasteland looked the same everywhere. He walked around and stopped, and it took him a long time to reach the gate of the city.
However, the white flowers in his hand were also infected and could not be brought in. He found a flat place sheltered from the wind and planted them.
They fluttered in the wind.
Lu Tinghan did not come back this night.
Shi Yuan heard that the creatures infected by him had awakened again, and Lu Tinghan went to deal with it.
—Shi Yuan tried to come into contact with those creatures.
Survival, reproduction, and expansion are their first instinct. Those monsters regarded him as a god and were willing to give everything for him and die for him, but it was impossible to stop the conquest.
Or perhaps, all monsters were like that. Even the white snake in the mountains was a terrible enemy to mankind.
Gunfire rang out in the distance, flames exploded, and the aircraft soared across the sky with the sound of breaking wind.
Shi Yuan stood on the balcony looking at the wasteland.
This was a small-scale battle. After the Alliance army killed the awakened monsters, they contained them as much as possible before they recovered.
They couldn’t guarantee the confinement of large monsters, but fortunately, large monsters were slow to recover.
The main city still had time.
Although it was just a little bit.
In the evening of the next day, Lu Tinghan came back.
He hung up his coat, took off his white gloves, and called out, “Shi Yuan.”
Shi Yuan didn’t rush over and asked him to pat his head as usual.
On the contrary, there was a tail bent into a question mark behind the sofa, swaying again and again.
Lu Tinghan’s expression couldn’t help but relax, walked over, smiled, and said, “Shi Yuan, what are you thinking about?”
Shi Yuan was lying on the sofa, holding his head with both hands, still thinking seriously.
“Tell me about it.” Lu Tinghan sat next to him, “Let me help you think about it.”
“No,” Shi Yuan refused, “I want to think on my own.”
He thought about it until before bedtime.
Lu Tinghan was sorting out the documents in the study, Shi Yuan pushed the door in and said, “Lu Tinghan, I have thought about it.”
“Thought about what?” Lu Tinghan asked.
Shi Yuan said, “I want to go to the bottom of the abyss with you.” He added, “I asked the professor, if I keep my human form, I can go down.”
Lu Tinghan: “……”
The movement of his hands stopped.
His expression was not too surprised, as if he had known that Shi Yuan could also go to the abyss, and slowly said, “…You know what I will say.”
“I know how dangerous it is,” Shi Yuan continued, “But I think I can find my “answer” there.” He took a half step forward, “I want to give it a try.”
Lu Tinghan’s gray-blue eyes looked at him.
The room fell into a deathly silence. There were various complex emotions in Lu Tinghan’s eyes, such as helplessness and tenderness, reluctance and affection. After a long while, these emotions sank away. He leaned back against the chair, his facial features appearing particularly resolute and cold under the light.
He said: “This time is different from before. Shi Yuan, it’s impossible for me to support your decision.”