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The singsongy whistle filled the air. The shock expression did not stay long on their faces as they heard a female voice tear over the air from the deeper side of the hall, "—Fall back!"
They seemed not to get it, but they knew the voice belonged to Magus. Without wasting any second, Qing Jiuliu picked the thick gla.s.ses and leaped back, and Ji Shanqing did the same. When they landed a few yards away, they peered at the ground where they previously stood.
Although the thick gla.s.ses couldn't grasp the situation, he saw his opportunity. He struggled with all his might, attempting to break free from Qing Jiuliu's clutch. He almost succeeded, however, Qing Jiuliu had recaptured him by grasping at the collar of his t-s.h.i.+rt.
Concurrently, without letting them take a break, Magus' second command came, "Leave him be. Run outside! Don't stay in the lobby! s.h.i.+t, this is bad—"
Qing Jiuliu's heart was seized. As he was retreating in a hurry, Ji Shanqing's voice sounded beside him, "Who's coming? Please help us!"
However, what Magus said next wasn't directed at them. She shouted, and they could sense her fury from her tone, "Don't move! I will not allow you to go downstairs!"
Obviously, she was talking to Lin Sanjiu.
Both of them exchanged glances, and they could see a similar perplexion on each other's faces. However, they both knew it wasn't a good time to get deep into that matter now. As they were speeding toward the entrance, the thick gla.s.ses continued to flail his legs like a pig that was on its way to the slaughterhouse, while at the same time yelling at the top of his lungs, "Let go of me, you psychos!"
The reason why he called them psychos was that aside from the two people who were on a frantic run, nothing was stirring around. It just so happened to him that the two guys had suddenly gone hysteric.
"What are you guys running away from? Let me go!" Although the thick gla.s.ses had lost much of his strength due to the blood loss, he was still a nuisance for Qing Jiuliu to keep him in check. He squirmed and floundered like a wriggling worm, which had, in turn, slowed down their sprinting considerably. When he almost caused Qing Jiuliu to trip up, the latter's eyes had turned scarlet with anger.
The moment they arrived at the vestibule, Qing Jiuliu succ.u.mbed to his anger as he pressed the thick gla.s.ses on the ground, tightening his grip. A hint of hostility flashed across his eyes.
Ji Shanqing, who was running ahead, turned back to them when he heard the commotion. Jerking at Qing Jiuliu's arm, he hollered, "Just let him go. We have no time for him now."
"That's exactly what this a.s.shole want from us!" Qing Jiuliu yelled without meeting Ji Shanqing's gaze. Then, a sudden pang of pain was spreading from his arm as he felt Ji Shanqing had dug his nails deep into his flesh. At the same time, the thick gla.s.ses had stopped resisting as well, staring in a trance at the air above.
The whistle slashed open the air, blaring literally just next to them as if it had been following them all the time. The intensity of the frequency was too high that it numbed their ears, and it sounded even less like a whistle.
The sharp shrill was merely the telltale of the even more horrible thing that was going to happen next — all of a sudden, an ominous gust of wind blast forth behind them. The gra.s.s, rubbles, debris, everything had flown into the sky. The wild blast of the storm had buffeted the trio, causing Qing Jiuliu to narrow his eyes in order to have a better view. He looked up, and then he froze.
The sky had been torn apart as a rift was gradually materializing before his eyes. He could see nothing on the other side of the rift but only thick, impenetrable darkness. Right now, Qing Jiuliu finally realized the origin of the whistle.
They could feel the air was being drawn towards the rift as it whistled down the seemingly bottomless abyss with an unfathomable speed. Time trickled by, and the rift was becoming larger and wider, more and more air was sucked into it and the wind turned stronger. Soon enough, the whistle had turned into a sobbing whimper.
When the rift had widened into half the size of a human, three of them started to feel the suction force of the rift. They couldn't even stand straight right now, much less escape. The gra.s.ses, soils, the statue at the center of the fountain, and the flagpole… Everything was being gravitated toward the rift before it vanished into the void. The world was a mess.
"Grab onto something!" Ji Shanqing yelled as loud as he could as the wind continued to howl madly. The strong gale distorted his face, and he couldn't be sure whether or not his exhortation reached his friend's ears. Squatting down, he clawed tightly at a pole with both of his hand as he made his way toward the next pole away from the rift.
Together, Qing Jiuliu and the thick gla.s.ses had taken cover behind an SUV. The four-wheel drive shook violent in the middle of the stormy wind as if it would give in to the suction force and fly toward the rift at any possible moment. Qing Jiuliu spared some of his focus and looked around; then his eyes fixed on a fountain not far away.
It was a marble fountain which had a basin built into the ground around half a meter deep. Judging from its architecture, Qing Jiuliu surmised that it would be the perfect spot to give them breathing s.p.a.ce from the onslaught of the savage storm.
"Over there!" He barked, but his voice had been carried away on the bl.u.s.tery wind. He raised his voice and yelled again, "Go to the fountain!"
A mult.i.tude of flotsam and jetsam from the universe was being drawn toward the rift behind them. Qing Jiuliu couldn't tell whether or not Ji Shanqing heard his call but he was sure that the thick gla.s.ses heard him just right, as he saw him quickly made his way to the fountain.
Gasping, Qing Jiuliu slowly inched toward the front b.u.mper.
He was the nearest to the rift compared to the other two people, and the side of the door he was holding right now was facing directly at the rift. Hence, the safest route he could think of was to go around the front b.u.mper and dash to the fountain from the rear of the SUV. However, after much contemplation, Qing Jiuliu realized that it was almost an impossible deed.
This was because aside from the rearview mirror, there wasn't any protrusion that he could grapple on along the distance from the front wheel to the other side of the car. It was as if he was crossing a single-log bridge connecting an impa.s.sable gulf... One step wrong, and he would fall himself to death.
The SUV was rocking side to side more and more vigorously, leaving Qing Jiuliu no choice but to duck his head to avoid being hit by a large flower pot that just so happened to graze past his head. He turned his head to see that the flower pot had been crushed into mere rubbles by the suction force when it had gotten near the rift before being sucked into it and disappearing.
Seeing this, Qing Jiuliu knew the SUV would soon tread in the footsteps of the flower pot, and he knew he had to act fast. Gritting his teeth, he bobbed down and dove forward, clutching tightly at the front wheel. Suddenly, he saw something and his eye glowed.
He didn't have to take the risk of grabbing the smooth car front if he wanted to get to the other side of the SUV.
He clung to the tire using one of his arms while stretching his other arm into the bottom of the automobile. When he finally secured his grip on something, he released his other arm, slipping under the vehicle. Almost at the same time as he fixed his clutch at the cha.s.sis, the rift suddenly widened. The wind speed doubled, and the SUV almost got blown into the air.
After he took a short break under the vehicle, Qing Jiuliu began to move forward again. Fighting with all his might, he put every ounce of strength he had against the pulling force as he inched himself toward his destination—the other side of the SUV. The thick gla.s.ses was lucky. He had left the SUV and was now crawling toward the fountain by stabbing his nails into the tiles.
Just when Qing Jiuliu popped his head out and before he could take a breath, a sense of weightlessness struck him hard as the world in his vision turned upside down. The blood rushed to his head and his sight blackened. It was not long before the realization dawned on him that he was being sucked toward the rift along with the vehicle.
Ji Shanqing turned his head, and his delicate face instantly turned pale. However, color soon returned as his eyes lit up. He yelled, "Let go your hand!"
Ji Shanqing's word cut into Qing Jiuliu's mind as the latter released his grip without thinking twice. Under the strong suction force, he didn't fall to the ground as normally would but instead, he flew with the vehicle toward the rift. Qing Jiuliu reacted instinctively, howling as he was getting closer to the darkness at the other side of the rift.
Then, in the next second, his body hit the car and dropped to the ground.
Not only Qing Jiuliu, everything that was picked up by the wind had also fallen to the ground as the wind went still.
"Now is our chance!" Ji Shanqing clambered up the ground and yelled as he sprinted to the hotel. "Quick! Go back to the hotel!"
Qing Jiuliu took to his heels before looking back. Then, he saw the light as to why the storm suddenly ceased to exist. The SUV had fitted perfectly into the gaping hole. Looking from the ground, it seemed the vehicle was being held in the air by an invisible string.
Suddenly, both of them heard something that made their hearts tighten, something like the crunching of metal twisting and grating against each other. Eye-widened, they saw that the SUV was shrinking with speed visible to the naked eye, releasing an ear-a.s.saulting screech into the air. When the visual of the crushed flower pot came unbridled into his mind, Qing Jiuliu's face sunk.
…Right now, they were a few hundred meters away from the hotel.
As long as the SUV could buy them another three to five seconds, they would be able to reach the hotel in time and would be safe. After all, no matter how strong the suction force was, it would never be able to uproot a huge building.
Even though both of them had a relatively low combative power, they were still posthumans. As such, they could cover a hundred meters in a breeze, and in the blink of an eye, they both had pounced through the pillars in front of the hotel entrance.
The high-pitched squeal emitted by the SUV was getting louder—
"Don't come in!"
Magus' voice came from the inside of the hotel. The SUV had succ.u.mbed to the crus.h.i.+ng force and flew into the rift. Before the two could go into the hotel, Magus' Higher Consciousness, manifested as an invisible force, had blasted them out. There was nothing to stop the rift now; it became larger and the storm had become twice as strong as before. In the twinkling of an eye, it had sucked both Ji Shanqing and Qing Jiuliu toward it.
"What the h.e.l.l were you doing!" An exasperated female voice cut through the tempest, "—Quick! Hold onto this!"
Before Lin Sanjiu's voice could get carried away by the wind, a long and huge shadow was suddenly thrown out of the window from the hotel. She didn't need to make her aim as the dark figure was too absorbed toward the rift. Qing Jiuliu and Ji Shanqing grabbed each other hands, and only after they had caught the shadowy figure, then they realized it was Lin Sanjiu's bone whip.
Like a greedy monster, more and more air was getting drawn into the dark hole. Even Lin Sanjiu, who was inside a building, had a hard time resisting the suction force. The bone whip was stretched taut. As it emitted a shriek that would make people blood cold, the bone whip was getting nearer and nearer to the rift.
"You know what?" Qing Jiuliu suddenly turned his head and forced a smile on his face as he spoke, "This is such a lame way to die."
"Shut up!" Ji Shanqing retorted, "Just hold tight!"
The moment those words were spoken, a fretful voice came from within the hotel, "I'll bring you guys to the fountain, hang on!"
The bone whip, which couldn't move in the wind, was lifted by an unknown force. Although Magus did that not out of her heart and soul, they were relieved when she decided to help them. With Magus' help, the bone whip was getting further away from the rift. Even though Lin Sanjiu was in great pain when pulling the two, she was finally able to transport them safely to the fountain.
Leaning their back against the inner marble wall of the fountain, the crisis of getting sucked into the rift had been lifted. As soon as they sat in the basin, a woman's voice, filled with rage, boomed from the hotel.
"I'll just say this once, so p.r.i.c.k up your f*cking ears and listen carefully." This was the first time Magus' voice was so thick with impatience. It was as if she was resisting the urge to exterminate the three of them for good, "...This thing is called dimensional rift. Once it appears, there's nothing we can do aside from wait for it to disappear by itself."
Ji Shanqing exchanged glances with Qing Jiuliu. Both of their faces were still pale from the near-death experience. After a short pause, the grand prize asked, "Why don't you let us enter the hotel, then?"
"n.o.body has any inkling about what is a dimensional rift, but judging from my experience, it's very likely to move along with posthuman. If any of you bring that thing inside the hotel, the entire hotel will collapse. At that time, not even I would be able to survive!" Magus had directed her fury at Lin Sanjiu, "... What you were trying to do just now would get all of us killed, do you understand?!"
Her exhortation sounded much clearer this time. Feeling weird, Ji Shanqing turned around and he felt relieved when he saw that the rift was closing. The grand prize jabbed at Qing Jiuliu, who was sitting next to him, and his voice was laden with exhilaration, "Look, it's vanis.h.i.+ng!"
Magus became silent.
In the faint moonlight, the rift was finally gone, leaving behind the blanket of a night sky. The sound of the wind was getting smaller.
"This is bad," Magus said softly.
The grand prize was stunned. In the next second, the sky above the fountain cracked open as the rift suddenly reappeared. The direction of the air flow had changed; they were now getting sucked up vertically and there wasn't anything in the fountain they could cling themselves to.
Even though he knew it was pretty pointless, Ji Shanqing refused to submit to his fate as he clawed tightly at the edge of the fountain. He closed his eyes, and Lin Sanjiu's heart-wrenching yell drifted into his ears. Suddenly, he felt the person next to him move.
Qing Jiuliu had been drawn up!
The grand prize' heart skipped his beat as he opened his eyes. Just like the picture in his mind, Qing Jiuliu was floating in mid-air. However, he was not the only one.
Stabbing his fingers deep into the neck of the thick gla.s.ses, it seemed more to Ji Shanqing that Qing Jiuliu purposely sprang up rather than the rift was siphoning him. The thick gla.s.ses groaned and he was losing his consciousness due to the rapid blood loss. Ji Shanqing blinked his eyes and they suddenly clicked; he knew what Qing Jiuliu planning was and his face turned ashen white.
The thick gla.s.ses screamed in agony. His body had blocked the rift and the wind stopped for the third times.
"A posthuman has merged with the dimensional rift, so it won't follow us now. Drag him inside while we have the chance!" Qing Jiuliu hollered the moment he touched the ground.
"You too! Grab it!" Lin Sanjiu disregarded Magus and swung out her bone whip.
"Him first," Qing Jiuliu took out a cigarette and placed it in between his lips. His hand was trembling, "... In case this guy couldn't last long."
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