Volume 1 – Between Daybreak and Evernight, Chapter 4: Welcome to Hell
Time flew, and soon enough, a month had already passed.
Outside a perfectly ordinary valley, a bassy roar suddenly sounded out as a large, heavy military truck spewed thick clouds of black smoke, thundering past. The roads outside the valley itself were unpaved, and in every direction, natural trenches littered the endless plains. But to the giant, man-sized tires of the truck, they weren’t even a hindrance.
The truck rushed toward the valley entrance and then all of a sudden hit the brakes. Its giant, beast-like body shook violently and swerved to the side, etching a crescent-shaped scar before finally coming to a rest. In the vehicle’s engine compartment, a cacophony of noises could be heard, and while the large exhaust pipes stopped belching black smoke, the valves spurted out a large cloud of steam.
As the driver-side door opened, a thirty or so year old man stared, and then, with a single jump, he leaped off the two meter high drivers seat, placing the boy that had been in his arms on the ground.
The little boy had clear and pretty eyes, and his soft, black hair was plastered to his forehead, wet with sweat. His face was pale, and he wore an expression that looked like he was holding back the contents of his stomach, evidently having been battered by the manic driving. He shook, bracing himself, and wrapped his black cloak around him tighter, blocking the whistling, frigid winds.
At the entrance to the valley stood a man with only one eye.
In that piercing, frigid wind, he bared his chest with his hands tucked neatly behind his back, legs shoulder-width apart. This was one of the things the army drilled in first, and it made this man look particularly imposing.
He alone blocked the entirety of the road toward the valley.
The middle-aged soldier carried Qianye, only stopping a few meters before the one-eyed man. He then stopped, saying, “Long Hai, you haven’t changed.”
Long Hai grinned, revealing a mouth full of silver and gold teeth. “Shi Yan, you’re three minutes late.”
“We met with a team from one of the dark races along the way, and for the sake of exterminating them, we were delayed a little,” replied Shi Yan.
Long Hai laughed coldly. “A single dark team can make you late? It looks like your strength hasn’t improved at all over all these years! Have you been the dog of the Lin House for too long that you’ve even thrown away your capability?”
These words didn’t anger Shi Yan in the slightest, and he only blandly said, “Marshal Lin is one of the cornerstones of our Empire. For me to be his personal assistant already satisfies me plenty. Things like this, there’s no way you’d understand.”
Long Hai snorted and didn’t argue further with Shi Yan. He turned his eyes to Qianye, saying, “So this is the kid that the higher-ups have been talking about? Why, he looks just like a little girl! Is he even going to be useful?”
Shi Yan laughed. “Since he’s going to be under your tutelage, if you don’t like him, who can stop you from sorting him out?”
Long Hai gave another huff. “You should know that here, regardless of their identity or background, all are treated equally.”
“On that point, I’m naturally aware.”
“Then stop wasting time, let him come over!”
Shi Yan squatted down in front of Qianye, and his stony face squeezed out a whisper of a smile while patting Qianye’s head. “Go on, follow Instructor Long. Remember, number one, no matter what they ask of you, do it immediately! Number two, is that I hope that after a few years I will be able to watch you come out alive.”
Although Qianye was a little taken aback, he heard the gravity in the man’s words and nodded his head gravely.
Shi Yan smiled. On the journey in, he had already greatly warmed up to this little fellow.
Qianye was a quiet child most of the time, but he possessed an incredible grit to the point of stubborness; once he promised something, he would definitely achieve it.
Seeing this, a hint of surprise emerged on Long Hai’s face. “For the twenty years I’ve known you, I’ve never seen you smile so many times!”
When he stood back up, Shi Yan’s face had resumed its stony, unfeeling look, and he said, “How could I ever smile when I look at you?”
Immediately following those words, some of the veins above Long Hai’s temples popped out momentarily.
A short while later, the heavy transport truck roared away, and Qianye followed Long Hai, walking toward the valley. The mountain roads were rocky and winding, and after nearly two hours, it still felt like there wasn’t an end in sight.
Qianye looked to either side and suddenly spotted a row of words written in large, bloody letters: WELCOME TO HELL!
Qianye couldn’t read all of the words, but his eyes were seemingly drawn to it, unable to look away. He kept walking, turning his head all the way until he couldn’t see that line anymore. Although he could no longer see it, deeply impressed in his young heart was the image of every stroke and letter dripping with blood!
Time passed, and the sky gradually darkened. The valley was like the mouth of a giant beast that awaited Qianye.
It was only later in the wee hours of the night that Qianye realized that he had landed himself in a place that was worse than hell, the Yellow Springs Training Camp.
The hands of the clock moved toward midnight. Normally, at this time of night, many would be entering dreamland, but for the children of the Yellow Springs Training Camp, this was merely their first day in hell.
In a bitter, cold great hall, Qianye and a hundred or so children of similar age to him were herded together, carefully listening to Long Hai’s lecture.
Long Hai paced himself back and forth in front of these children, occasionally stopping; his terrifying gaze would then sweep across them. “In here, you only need to remember three things. One, is absolute obedience. Two, is absolute obedience, and three, is still absolute obedience! Here, orders will only be given once, and so will your chances to obey! Now, everyone line up with your backs against the wall, and you are not to move nor speak before new orders have been given!”
The crowd of children messily pushed past one another, and all of them lined up against the wall, not waiting for the next order.
Long Hai clasped his hands behind him, strode out of the great hall, and then, with a loud slam, locked the steel door.
The first ten minutes, everyone in the great hall was quiet. But after another ten minutes, some of the more active children couldn’t hold it in any longer.
A little boy next to Qianye looked at him and whispered to him, “I’m Liu Kai, and my family runs a business in Jianzhang Province. I’ve heard that this place is very terrifying, so let’s be friends! My father says that banding together makes it easier to survive than alone.”
But at that moment, all Qianye was thinking of was Shi Yan’s parting message: He must obey Long Hai.
And Long Hai had just said that they weren’t to move, nor talk.
Seeing that Qianye had no response, Liu Kai next to him refused to give up, “ Oi! Nobody’s looking at us! At least tell me your name?”
Upon seeing Qianye standing there like a statue, not even twitching his fingers, Liu Kai muttered something or another under his breath helplessly.
Half an hour went by, and a few of the children began to whisper to one another while others were swaying left and right, stretching out their aching legs.
One corner of the great hall suddenly became noisy. Some of the children had begun to argue for some reason, which then rapidly devolved into fighting one another, noisily arguing without rest.
The disturbance had already become so huge, and yet, no instructors had come out to stop them. Hence, the children became even more relaxed. Having fought one round, several of the fighting children separated and returned back to their original positions. At this point, more of the children began to chat and move, and the great hall gradually became noisy.
As the clock struck one, the steel door suddenly opened with Long Hai walking in. Behind him was a team of vicious and ferocious-looking men, every one of which was holding a whip.
The temperature in the hall immediately plummeted, and the faces of all those children who had previously been having fun and were cheerful turned pale, even starting to shiver.
Long Hai’s eye swept across all of them as he nodded. “Good! Very good! Some of you were fighting, some were talking. I was originally worried that I hadn’t left a deep enough impression on all of you, but now that I see it, my worries were extraneous!”
Long Hai’s face suddenly darkened, and he pointed to the children who had been fighting. “Catch them, and show the rest what happens when they disobey orders!”
This sounded a little odd, and many of the children were at a loss, but some of the smarter children immediately understood what was going on and were almost paralyzed on the floor by the even greater terror that was now welling up within them.
The six children who were fighting were thrown to the center of the hall like little chicks, lined up in a row.
Long Hai promptly revealed a ferocious smile. “Here, disobeying orders will only result in one thing… death!”
One of the men behind him leveled a strange rifle-like object and aimed it directly at one of the children. The gun’s barrel was so large that it could fit a child’s fist inside it!
The gun suddenly shot out a wide beam of red light, and the sound reverberated throughout the great hall, almost deafening everyone!
As the red light flashed, that boy’s upper body had entirely vanished; only his legs still remained on the ground! Fresh blood spurted everywhere in excess of ten meters, even splattering onto the opposite wall.
The man revealed a bloodthirsty and cruel smile, and moving the barrel, he aimed it at the next child.
That child whose face was initially unruly was now full of panic as he shouted out, “No! I don’t want to die, my uncle is one of the Empire’s generals! He…”
The gun exploded once more, and cut the remainder of his sentence short.
“Empire General? Hehe, even if it were the Empire Marshal’s son, as long as he entered here, the consequence of not obeying orders would be the same!” the man said coldly exclaimed.
The guns continued fire, and after six shots had gone by, the center of the great hall had already been painted red in blood and eviscerated flesh.
At this point, Long Hai said, “Now, all of you who opened your mouths just now, step out now, remove your clothes, and then go prone! Your luck is good today, just three lashes is considered the whole of your punishment. However, if anyone wants to continue to lie to me, then you will end up like those six little bastards!”
The children looked at one another, and many of them trembled as they walked to the center of the great hall, stripped, and then honestly proned down. The ones who had been left standing at the wall were not more than twenty.
“Is there really nobody else?” Long Hai asked again.
Two of the children originally standing by the wall walked out, shaking.
Long Hai nodded. “The two of you, five lashes each!”
The two children’s face went pale, but it was too late for regret.
Long Hai suddenly stretched out his hands and pointed at four children who were standing by the wall, his voice frigid, “You four actually dare to lie to me, then go to hell.”
The four crying children were tossed into the center of the great hall, and then four ear-shattering gunshots resounded once again.
Just like this, in the first night that they spent at the Yellow Springs Training Camp, Qianye already clearly understood what the consequence of violating orders would be. In that same night, this new batch of students had already been shaved off by a tenth.
At three in the morning, Qianye and the other children were together, driven into a large room.
In it were rows of bunk beds, and each child quietly picked a bed to lie on, upon which they immediately slept. Nobody said a single word, and nobody cried.
Qianye habitually laid down like he always did, but he sprung up from the sudden shooting pain coming from his back.
In the darkness, the cries of the children’s pain could constantly be heard, but evidently, everyone was trying to keep as quiet as possible.
Qianye flipped about and carefully climbed onto the bed, trying to prevent himself from touching the tender wound on his back.
Qianye had also been whipped once.
And the fifteen, just like him, who had strictly followed the orders, were given a special treatment: They were only whipped once each.