Earlier, everyone was chatting happily because they thought that they had discovered the secret of the forest: As long as they stayed away from it, they would be safe at night.
But what was going on now? The rattling of the chains being dragged was getting closer and closer. What creature would move around while dragging chains? Had it been chained up but broken free somehow?
Just what sort of a place was the Jing Mountains? Why was there such weird happenings here?
That rattling of the chains being dragged seemed to be attracted by the light in the cave. It slowly came towards the edge of the forest.
Ren Xiaosu, Yang Xiaojin, and Xu Xianchu each disengaged the safety on their guns and were prepared to shoot in the direction of the sound.
Almost instantaneously, Yang Xiaojin realized that Ren Xiaosu’s handling of the gun was too professional and even looked a little familiar!
This familiarity was somewhat baffling, but it made her feel extraordinarily comfortable. It was like how patients with obsessive-compulsive disorders felt after finally properly placing blocks of wood in front of themselves.
But right now, she did not have time to think about that. This was because the owner of the chains had crawled to the edge of the forest.
The people in the cave were straining to see what it was, but the other party kept itself hidden in the darkness and never showed itself.
When Ren Xiaosu heard a dripping sound from the forest, he felt nauseous as he realized it was the other party’s saliva that was dripping onto the leaves on the forest floor!
“The moment it shows up, shoot it.” Xu Xianchu said, “Our firepower will be quick enough to cover all of the directions that it can rush into the cave from. Then I’ll command my shadow clone to subdue it.”
“OK,” Ren Xiaosu answered softly. He thought, ‘If the creature turns out to be too strong, I won’t care about hiding my shadow clone anymore.’
Nobody knew where those cheetah-sized wildcats and the boars built like miniature mountains had escaped to, but Ren Xiaosu knew that only a stronger and more unstoppable force could send those ferocious animals running from the forest.
As Ren Xiaosu took longer breaths, his emotions calmed down. He no longer paid attention to his heartbeat and breathing, but listened attentively for any sounds or movements coming from the forest.
The secret of the forest might just reveal its true face at the very next moment.
But what they didn’t expect was that when the rattling chains rang out again from the forest, it was of the chains’ owner moving further away.
“What’s happened?” Xu Xianchu frowned as he said, “Could it be afraid to come out of the forest?”
The three of them were still holding their aim as they were afraid the other party was trying to pull a fast one on them. Ren Xiaosu gave it some thought and said, “It’s very possible that the other party isn’t willing to walk out of the forest. Otherwise, the wild animals from earlier wouldn’t have regarded this cave to be their refuge when it’s only about ten meters away from the forest.”
The rattling of the chains being dragged on the ground sounded further and further away. Ren Xiaosu and the two of them could finally relax a little. “It seems that we’re still too optimistic. We can’t explore the secret of the Jing Mountains with just our guesswork.”
“Something is definitely fishy about the forest, or there could be some other forms of terror in it.” Ren Xiaosu said, “Otherwise, it would be impossible to explain the disappearance of Xu Xia’s body without any clues.”
“Everyone, get some rest.” Xu Xianchu said, “I’ll take the first shift tonight. You guys can take over from me after midnight.”
But despite the words, Ren Xiaosu and Yang Xiaojin still tacitly stuck to their own two-shift rotation, with one keeping watch for the first half of the night and the other taking the second half.
Seeing this, Xu Xianchu gave a wry smile in his mind. It seemed that he was still an untrustworthy person to them.
Nothing else happened through the night. When the first rays of sunlight shone down in the morning, Ren Xiaosu could hear the shuffle of wild animals returning to the forest in the distance. From the looks of it, these animals were accustomed to taking refuge during the night and returning into the forest during the day. Could the wild animal with the chains from last night be a creature that slept during the day?
Ren Xiaosu stood up to stretch. But before he could even stretch his back, he heard a loud explosion come from the depths of the Jing Mountains.
The sound was so abrupt that Ren Xiaosu jumped in fright.
The people in the cave came out one after another. “What’s going on? What happened?!”
Someone asked, “Could a volcano in the Jing Mountains have erupted?”
“It doesn’t sound like a volcano.” Xu Xianchu shook his head. “It sounded more like the explosives that we humans use.”
If Xu Xianchu couldn’t confirm it, Ren Xiaosu and Yang Xiaojin could. Ren Xiaosu had copied the Advanced Bomb-making skill from Yang Xiaojin, together with an indeterminate number of experimental blasts she had carried out.
From that sound, Ren Xiaosu was sure it was the directional blast of a shaped charge 1 .
This sort of shaped charge would be similar to that of an armor-piercing projectile, which usually used violent blasts to create holes in a hard ground. It used the Munroe effect 1 to orient the wave of the blast to create huge holes in the ground.
The sound of this explosive was clearly different from that of a “satchel charge” and “mine-clearing line charge.”
” Satchel charges 1 ” were packed explosives with powerful shockwaves used for demolishing bunkers and other types of buildings.
“Mine-clearing line charges” were demolition devices like the Bangalore 1 .
Ren Xiaosu knew that if he could recognize the sound, Yang Xiaojin could definitely recognize it as well. Someone was excavating the depths of the mountains!
Why were they excavating? Could there really be some sort of huge secret buried beneath the Jing Mountains?
“Earlier, you said that there were also other squads that came to the Jing Mountains?” Ren Xiaosu turned around and asked Xu Xianchu.
“Yes, they were likely from the Qing Consortium as well.” Xu Xianchu said, “After all, Stronghold 112 is also controlled by the Qing Consortium, so it would be very hard for any other organization to get past them to enter the Jing Mountains.”
Ren Xiaosu flicked a glance at Yang Xiaojin. So her purpose for coming here under that guise was also because of the secret in the Jing Mountains?
Ren Xiaosu did not know what Yang Xiaojin’s trump card was even now. Other than her Perfect Firearms Proficiency, this cap-wearing girl must have had something else she could rely on.
“Let’s go, we have to hurry.” Xu Xianchu was not about to be left out of whatever was happening. “Based on this explosion we heard, the Qing Consortium might’ve sent out a massive military force from Stronghold 112. We have to rush there before they get to the secret.”
“Do you have a death wish?” Ren Xiaosu looked at Xu Xianchu in a speechless manner. “Knowing the Qing Consortium has already sent reinforcements, you still dare to rush in there?”
After a long silence, Xu Xianchu said, “But we’re already here.”
Ren Xiaosu and Yang Xiaojin looked at each other. For some reason, those words had a magical charm.
“Besides, do we have anywhere else to retreat to?” Xu Xianchu asked, “Since we can’t fall back, we can only go forward. If we don’t get an opportunity when we’re there, we’ll just go around the Qing Consortium and leave the mountains in the direction they came from. I believe the path they took here will be much safer than us turning back here.”
That was true. They knew even explosives had been used, so the Qing Consortium had probably cleared out an entire path to Stronghold 112.