When Huang Ying opened his eyes, a cold darkness was all that greeted him, the hard sensation beneath him and the chilly wind caressing his skin the only sign that he was still alive and not in hell. The hard sensation beneath him was hard and coarse, his still somewhat groggy mind concluding that he was sitting on some stone. He tried to move his arms and noticed that he was no longer tied up, rubbing his head while muttering silently.
"Grampa Jun, how long was I out and where am I?"
In this situation where he knew precious little, he could only rely on the person that was always observing the world around him, Li Jun. After a short moment of silence, the voice of Li Jun rang out within Huang Ying's mind and told him of his situation.
"You've only been out for a day or two, the exhaustion from running like that must have been too much for you. As for where you are, the bandits threw you in a cell when they arrived at their hideout. I'm not sure where they placed the other villagers, but the men have probably been put to work while the women have... well, best not to dive into that."
Huang Ying shuddered at Li Jun's words, knowing full well what he was implying. Huang Ying took several deep breaths, silently thankful that the burning pain he felt earlier had receded to a dull thumping all throughout his body. His mind calmed down somewhat after he breathed in the chilly and somewhat damp air, allowing him to get down on his knees and fumble around with his hands as he crawled through the room, getting a faint image of how it looked.
His hand occasionally brushed past a few rocks of various sizes, but it was the dusty and bone-like items he occasionally touched that sent a shiver down his spine. After crawling around the entire room, he figured out that he was in a stone room that was about five meters in each direction, only a single metal door serving as the entrance and exit to the room. After figuring out the layout of the room, Huang Ying sat down and leaned against the wall, chuckling to himself while cursing quietly.
"Heh, things really seem rather bleak. Fuck, what the hell do I do now?"
In a situation like this, Huang Ying had no idea what to do other than laugh, so he did just that, he laughed and chuckled to himself while his mind raced. While he was trying to figure out what to do next, the somewhat hesitant voice of Li Jun rang out, providing Huang Ying with an option.
"I've seen plenty of people in your position before, so let me give you some unpleasant advice. Life in a cell like this is hell, and it will only get worse as time passes, you're also too weak to escape. If you want my honest suggestion, I'd advise you to make sure that you won't suffer in here, a quick end is better than what is coming for you. Biting off your tongue and swallowing it is the most effective method I've seen."
Li Jun's solemn suggestion caught Huang Ying so off guard and left him so speechless that he couldn't help but start laughing again. He quickly got his laughing under control, resting his head against the cold wall behind him while rubbing his temples.
"Tempting, tempting, but I think I'll save that one for later."
Huang Ying let out a heavy breath and sucked in deeply, the cool air further calming his mind. No matter how he looked at it, his situation right now was about as bad as it got, it was to the point that it could be called despairing. But oddly enough, Huang Ying found himself rather calm and composed, these past few years had already accustomed him to being in terrible situations.
Huang Ying gave it a bit more thought and decided that his first course of action would be to wait. He would see if anyone came to his cell to give him any orders or force him to do anything, and if that failed, he would at least find out how often people moved past his cell. So Huang Ying calmed his breathing and found a comfortable sitting position, gazing at the door that was slowly becoming visible thanks to the fact that his eyes were getting adjusted to the dark.
The first hours passed slowly, no one coming to his cell to order him around or do anything to him. The first day passed just as quickly, only one person walking by his cell and stopping in front of the door for a short moment. The person knocked on the door twice to get a response from Huang Ying, continuing to walk after he got a grunt as a response.
The second day passed a bit slower than the first, once again only one person stopping by his cell and knocking on the door until he received a response. The third day was a bit worse, hunger starting to eat away at Huang Ying and mixing together with the dull thumping he felt throughout his body. Li Jun once again offered his earlier advice, but Huang Ying still ignored it.
The fourth day felt as long as two days, the hunger and intense thirst causing Huang Ying to become dizzy and his barely functioning vision to become blurry. Just like the previous days, one person stopped by his cell and knocked on the door until Huang Ying grunted in response. He tried to ask for food, but all he got was a burst of disdainful laughter that then moved away.
On the fifth day, Huang Ying found himself unable to talk, his throat and mouth as dry as a desert. His limps had already started to lose strength, Huang Ying's sitting position slumping down. The stench in the cell was also becoming unbearable after five days, Huang Ying's waste creating a small puddle in one corner.
On the sixth day, Huang Ying heard voices he knew weren't real, voices of people that weren't in the room. His stomach grumbled non-stop, the sound nearly driving him to insanity as it continued to echo out. The sixth day alone felt like an entire weak, tearing at Huang Ying's mind.
But on the seventh day, when Huang Ying felt himself arrive at death's door, he felt the first desire he had felt in several years, the desire to survive and leave. He didn't want to die here, he wanted to leave and experience the world, he wanted to find his parents and ask why they left him, he wanted to find the gods and ask why they abandoned him, he wanted to show them that he didn't need any of them to make it. Only here, in the depths of the darkness and at the edge of death, did Huang Ying find his own desires.
Huang Ying's arm stretched out, fumbling around the ground for the item he knew was lying not far from him. His hand eventually grabbed onto a somewhat triangular rock that fit snuggly in his palm, the slightly sharp tip pointing downward. Huang Ying's eyes were burning with determination as his other arm stretched out, picking up one of the smaller bones from the ground. He placed the bone in his mouth and bit down on it, using the sharp end of the rock he cut off the left sleeve of his robe, tying it tightly around the bottom of his right thigh.
Once the cloth was tied tightly around his leg, he raised the triangular rock as high as he could and then brought it down with all his might. The sharp end dug into his right leg just above his knee, scraping the bone and causing blood to pour forth as Huang Ying grunted in pain and bit down on the bone. Huang Ying's eyes blazed as he raised the rock again and then brought it down on the same spot, repeating the action again and again, biting down on the bone so hard that it shattered and he was forced to grit his teeth to prevent himself from yelping in pain and biting his tongue. He would survive, survive and escape, no matter what he had to do.
Huang Ying lost count of how many times he stabbed into his own leg after the 20th time, but eventually he shattered the bone and tore all the flesh, his lower right leg separating from his body. Huang Ying panted heavily as he looked at the severed leg, his body completely ignoring the intense pain coursing through it as he grabbed onto the leg and placed the bloody top of it against his mouth.
He greedily drank his own blood, not bothered by how thick it was and how metallic it tasted. Once he drank his fill, he opened his mouth and bit down on the leg, tearing out chunks of flesh and holding back his vomit as he swallowed the raw meat. His expression distorted fiercely as his stomach revolted, but he closed his mouth and forced back down any vomit that came up, he could not afford to throw up now. He needed the energy he got from eating and drinking, even if that energy came from his own flesh and blood.
He ate the flesh and drank the blood with a grim expression, a mad plan slowly forming in his mind, his burning gaze locked on the door in front of him. One chance, he knew that he would only have one chance, failure meant death. Then again, he was certain that even success meant a likely death, but a likely death was better than guaranteed death, so he chose to risk it.
He crawled over to the door, sitting down at the side of it and piling up bones and stones in front of the door. He glanced at the stump that remained of his right leg and tore off even more of his robe, covering the wound like a bandage to stem the bleeding even further. It was a shame to ruin one of the robes that Xing Tang had bought for him, but it was necessary right now so he was certain that she would forgive him.
Once his wound was tied up and enough bones and stones were stacked in front of the door, Huang Ying proceeded to wait again, closing his eyes and straining his ears as much as he could. After what felt like hundreds of hours passed, he heard the familiar sound of footsteps coming from outside and approach the door. Once he figured that the person was close enough, Huang Ying banged on the door as hard as he could from the side, loudly taunting and cursing the person outside.
"Hey, you gutless little cuck! Could you open this door so that I can let your wife out? She's starting to smell and she's too exhausted to continue. Oh, and while you're at it, can you send in your sister and your daughter, I need a few more people to have fun with. You don't mind, right?"
Huang Ying's voice was hoarse and rough, he was only barely able to talk thanks to the fact that he had wet his throat using his own blood. His taunts were coarse and petty, but it was the best he could come up with to draw the attention of the person outside, now he could only silently hope. And for once, things actually went his way, someone furiously kicking open the door and shouting.
"You fucking brat, are you looking to get killed a bit earlier!?"
Thanks to the bones and stones stacked up against the door, the blue-haired and golden-eyed middle-aged and somewhat lanky man who kicked open the door thought that he had kicked away Huang Ying, taking a step into the dark cell. This was the exact moment Huang Ying had waited for, so he struck.
The triangular rock he used to crush off his own right leg swung out with all the might Huang Ying could muster, the sharp end crashing directly into the man's left knee. The man's leg bent backward and he fell forward, a short scream of pain escaping his lips as he fell face-first onto the ground. Huang Ying didn't relent his assault, throwing himself onto the man's back and raising the rock high again, bringing it down on the back of the man's head with all his might.
Just as he did when he severed his own leg, Huang Ying raised the rock high and brought it down again and again, only stopping when the man stopped twitching and his head was reduced to a messy paste of shattered bone and crushed brain. Huang Ying panted heavily, his eyes bloodshot as he looked at the man that was now no more than a ruined corpse. His stomach churned slightly, but it was far from as bad as Huang Ying expected, his first kill ending up being surprisingly easy on him.
Huang Ying rolled down from the man and picked up one of the larger bones in the cell, one that looked like it used to be the leg of a grown man. He used the bone as a crutch to support himself and wobbled over the corpse of the man, stepping out of the cell and into a two-meter wide and three-meter tall tunnel lit up with several torches. The tunnel continued on in two directions, both directions splitting off into multiple paths at various places.
Huang Ying simply picked a random direction and started to walk, completely forgetting to ask Li Jun which path the bandits that brought him here took. But it seemed like whenever the world gave Huang Ying something, it would also take something from him. He had only managed to walk a few tens of meters when a somewhat short but brawny black-haired man suddenly rushed out from one of the side tunnels that branched off from the one that Huang Ying was taking.
The man was looking in the direction of Huang Ying so it seemed like he had been close enough to hear the sounds of the short scuffle as Huang Ying killed the man. The man's gaze moved past Huang Ying and landed on the cell several meters behind him, his eyebrows twitching when he saw the limp pair of legs stretching out from the cell. The man drew the sword at his waist, pointing the cold tip directly at Huang Ying while glaring at him.
"Brat, get on your knees, or knee in your case, and I'll at least give you a clean death."
Huang Ying looked at the weapon pointed directly at his throat, the man only had to push it a few centimeters forward and it would pierce into Huang Ying's throat. Death was right there, staring him in the eye, and yet Huang Ying found himself perfectly calm. He moved his head slightly, but there was nowhere to go, the man would be able to kill him before he managed to make a single move. He couldn't even move one of his fingers, it really seemed like this was the end for him.
Memories and images moved past Huang Ying's gaze, his entire life up to this point flashing in front of his eyes, reflected in the tip of the sword. The situation was completely hopeless, so Huang Ying did what he always did in hopeless and despairing situations, he laughed and gave his answer.
"Haha, acting meekly and accepting things time and time again, I've lived my entire life on my knees, but I won't die on them."
Huang Ying's eyes blazed as he raised the bone he was using as a crutch, aiming to knock away the sword and jump forward to attack the man. But just like he thought, the man could kill him before he could make any move. The sword moved the moment Huang Ying started to raise the bone he was holding, the tip piercing through his throat and then quickly angling downward, piercing into his chest.
As the pain of getting stabbed mixed with the dull thumping coursing through his entire body, there was only one thought in Huang Ying's mind. Next time, if there was a next life, he would live as freely as he pleased, he wouldn't bend and stay on his knees as he did in this one. Darkness and coldness enveloped Huang Ying as the hands of death grasped onto him, the deep and muddy voice once again resounding throughout his entire body.
"A blessing or a curse, I wonder what you'll consider this, I wonder what path you will take the power of Baku down."