“Which one, which one~? I wonder who’s the lucky bastard that gets to go first. The suspense is killing me.”
Sneering, Zhuo Fan snapped his fingers and a wood piece floated out of the box.
A tiny character was etched on it.
“Oh, it’s four.” Zhuo Fan’s face split into a wide and very malicious grin. Then he asked, “Remind me again, who was number four?”
Yan Fu spoke with reverence, “Steward Zhuo, number four is Forest Fleeting Dragon, Lin Xuanfeng.”
“Oh, it’s that gimp dragon. What rotten luck! Among Six Dragons and One Phoenix, I seem to recall having already taken my ire on him twice so far. Now providence has spoken and has placed him first in my path. Ha-ha-ha, I can’t help but wonder, has his crimes earned him such ill-fate or is he just so down on his luck, so cursed, to suffer hell first?”
Laughing, Zhuo Fan said, “Whatever, in his case, he truly must be ill-fated, ha-ha-ha…”
Zhuo Fan pointed at the sky.
A flare shot up and exploded into four fireworks bathing the Beast King Mountain in red.
The frantic Huangpu Qingtian, scurrying in the forest, looked up at the sound, “Four fireworks means number four. Lin Xuanfeng is such an unlucky dog.”
Huangpu Qingtian shook his head, rejoicing inside.
Zhuo Fan was really playing by the rules and wasn’t targeting him specifically. Or more likely than not, he’d be after him the first chance he got.
With Lin Xuanfeng playing the first victim, it bought him precious time to find the keys.
Tightening the red crystal in his hand, Huangpu Qingtian took a deep breath and sped up in the search for its pair.
He needed yin and yang keys to be home free.
He had to work even faster now. Who knew how fast Lin Xuanfeng would fall and who’d be the next poor schmuck to follow?
On the off chance it was him, that would mean death!
Although he breathed easier for a moment, the anxiety only mounted…
Yan Bangui and You Yushan noticed the flare with their nerves stretched taut. This meant Zhuo Fan’s death game had started.
But they relaxed soon after, seeing Zhuo Fan going after Lin Xuanfeng. Their safety was assured, for now.
Though they also knew that once Lin Xuanfeng fell, Zhuo Fan would go after them. And with their cultivation sealed up, Zhuo Fan would pick them like ants.
And so, their speed mounted, as did their will to live…
The pressure had grown on the three who lucked out but the last one was showing quite a different reaction.
“Hell yeah! I got the wood exit keys. My luck is off the hook!”
In a particularly glum and dark corner of the forest, Lin Xuanfeng clenched the two green crystals and danced in joy.
Even with a number of close to thirty thousand people wandering Beast King Mountain’s forest for a month now, the wood exit keys were never found. And here he was catching a lucky break.
[This luck is godlike!]
All he had to do was get to the wood exit and he’d be back in the safety of Dragon Cloud City.
This would make his survival, by Zhuo Fan’s game rules, providence. Zhuo Fan couldn’t touch him.
Zhuo Fan may be a very sore loser, but every elder in Dragon Cloud City, along with Dugu Zhantian and Fang Qiubai keeping the peace, would make sure to prevent any foul play.
He would be safe!
Filling his lungs with air, Lin Xuanfeng felt the urge to bow before the mighty power of heaven, to offer his gratitude for actually caring, for once, about his fate. All previous resentments were wiped clean as his luck had finally turned.
He was looking at the dawning sky with a smile on his face when a sudden flare exploded into four fireworks. The crimson sky reflected perfectly on his equally red face.
“The heavens are giving me their blessing, ha-ha-ha…”
Lin Xuanfeng was still trapped in his fantasy, giggling away. But then his smile froze.
[How can old heaven get up and burst for no rhyme or reason? That’s man-made.] With the four having their cultivation sealed, it only left Zhuo Fan.
[Is that the signal starting his death game?]
[The sky had four fireworks. Doesn’t that paint a target on #4…]
Lin Xuanfeng’s face twitched, looking rigidly at his chest and the holes in it. There they were, in all their bloody glory, four holes bored into him precisely three days ago.
[F*ck, I’m that #4!]
The corners of Lin Xuanfeng’s mouth sank and tears threatened to burst out of his eyes.
He had a good thing going here, this close to renewing his lease on life. But providence had a different plan in mind, sending Zhuo Fan on a man hunt for the first target, him.
He plunged from the glorious halls of paradise, into the infernal abyss.
[My luck has turned, worse than ever!]
[Old heaven, could you please not tease me?]
Lin Xuanfeng’s heart shuddered, his eyes hot from tears, feeling victimized. Not forgetting the fact that he wasn’t even included in the plan to kill the lass. That was all Yan Bangui and You Yushan’s doing, prodded by Huangpu Qingtian from behind.
[He should be going after those three for revenge!]
[Why! Why is it that the first one that monster is hunting is me? It’s so unfair!]
Lin Xuanfeng wailed, asking the heavens with his pitiful eyes, [What do I do now?] At this very moment, he felt like the most miserable and wretched man in this whole wide world.
Nevermind the leg Zhuo Fan snapped off of him, or the hand Zhuo Fan disintegrated. Zhuo Fan was now hot on his heels for revenge. Yet he, the only one innocent in this whole matter, was the first target.
Just what magnitude of bad luck was this?
Lin Xuanfeng’s eyes opened the floodgates.
However, he didn’t have time to wallow in self-pity. With two keys in hand, all he had to do was get to the wood exit and he’d be the winner.
Lin Xuanfeng broke into a mad dash, short of one leg, granted, but not slower than in his prime.
His title, Forest Fleeting Dragon, was granted for his amazing speed after all.
But with a flash of golden light, there came Zhuo Fan popping not a hundred yards from the man, “Lin Xuanfeng, you saw the flare I assume. Indeed, you’re my first victim. Be good and stand still, would you.”
[Isn’t it too soon? How did he find me so fast?]
Lin Xuanfeng whipped his head back and sure enough, Zhuo Fan had a positively killing smile, “Bro, can’t you cut me some slack? Huangpu Qingtian planned on killing the girl. And the other two executed it. I was in the dark when it happened. If you want revenge, go take it out on them. I’m innocent here!”
Lin Xuanfeng hopped away in panic, a sniveling mess, as he begged. But the dread only grew and the despair deepened.
Smiling, Zhuo Fan looked down on the man but never got closer. He always stayed within a hundred meters, “You’re right. Among the four, you can be called innocent. But how is it my fault your number came up? I made this game and will respect its rules. You only have old heaven to blame for your hapless fate, ha-ha-ha…”
Face sinking deeper in sorrow, Lin Xuanfeng gave his all in hopping forward, but could never shake Zhuo Fan off.
[Since it’s fate, I can only resign to it. Why must I suffer so?] The hunter could collect on his life any time he wanted, but wasn’t doing it for his own amusement.
Since death was certain, a quick one was preferred.
Lin Xuanfeng sighed and slowed down.
Zhuo Fan knew what he was thinking from a hundred meters away, “But you are also right in being innocent. Here’s a thought. I see you have the wood exit keys so I will make an exception. If you can reach the wood exit and Dragon Cloud City within a day, you win and I will consider the matter settled.”
The resigned Lin Xuanfeng found a glimmer of hope and his speed shot up again. Zhuo Fan’s cold tone came from a hundred meters away again, “I’ll be right here, behind you. If your time is up and you’re still here, I’ll make my move.”
Lin Xuanfeng bobbed his head, “You said it, so you better not go back on your word!”
“Ha-ha-ha, I am playing the game by the books and with no regrets.” Zhuo Fan’s eyes glinted.
Lin Xuanfeng’s heart burst with joy and he put more power in his leg. At some point, sweat poured down him like rain and his leg seared with pain.
After hopping for half a day, he found that he still had a lot of ground left to cover. He ignored the pain and pushed through at full speed.
Zhuo Fan was always behind him, coldly staring and sharpening his bloodthirst.
[Humph, Forest Fleeting Dragon, did you really think I’ll let you live? I only chose the best way to kill you. Not a single person related to Ning’er’s death will be spared!]
Zhuo Fan scoffed internally…