Demon Hunter - Chapter 3
Dusk soon approached. The rotting wolves that slept an entire night in hunger woke up and released long howls. They began to wander about like ghosts in search of things to fill their stomachs.
Old Hans pushed open the small house’s metal gates and walked out. His eyes squinted as he looked at the sun that was about to set. He felt much better after taking a nap. The mines were already completely deserted, for the workers had long left. They had finished their portions, so they returned to where they lived. Once the sun dropped below the horizon, the messy mines would be covered in vicious meter-long rats. These creatures were ridiculously ferocious, with sharp incisors that could easily bite through steel rods over two centimeters thick. Even the toughest rocks were useless before the rats. Once the sun rose, the vicious rats would dig underground and go into slumber, leaving the miners with most of the day to excavate ore.
As soon as the sun was about to completely disappear, the small figure appeared from the mine entrance. Behind the boy was a basket of ore that was almost as tall as himself. He was currently walking over unsteadily.
Old Hans’ eyelids jumped a few times. There wasn’t a single word or movement from him as he watched the small child make his way to the small mountain of ore and pour the contents from the basket on his back. He then slowly walked over while holding the slip of paper he received from the foreman. The strips of fabric wrapped around his body were splattered with large patches of red, yellow, and various dark colors from the mines.
Seeing the boy walk over, Old Hans moved towards the back of the house. There was a large shed next to the metal house. Crippled Peter, who was missing half a leg, moved his body that exceeded a hundred kilograms in weight with difficulty and shouted, “Boy, come here!”
The boy arrived before the shed and handed over the paper slip. When Crippled Peter swept his eyes over it, he couldn’t help but release a whistle. “Youngster, not bad! You’ve done more than a lot of the others.”
Peter used his thick finger to point towards a long list of items, and the boy began to look at the list as well. His gaze stopped momentarily at the words ‘drinking water’, and then continued to look down until it was blocked by Peter’s thick finger.
“Just this one.” The boy pointed at the list with a cloth wrapped finger.
Peter immediately cried out, “Ah ha! Grade three drinking water! Youngster, you are definitely from nobility, right? I’ve heard that the nobility’s bodies are so weak that they can only drink pure water. It has to be water without any impurities or the slightest bit of radiation!”
“Just this one.” The boy pointed at the list. His voice did not fluctuate in the slightest, making others doubt if this really was the voice of a manual laborer.
Peter shrugged. From the wooden chest behind him, he brought out a beverage with a similarly unrecognizable production date and threw it towards the boy. “Here! Grade three drinking water, extravagant brat.”
The boy carefully placed the small can carefully into the blanket and turned around to leave. Crippled Peter shook his head and brought out a fist-sized piece of bread that was as large as a fist. He threw it towards the boy and said, “Youngster, mining is a strenuous task. You won’t last long if you don’t eat. Take this and remember that you owe Crippled Peter five cents. I’ll take it out from your payment tomorrow!”
The boy caught the bread and carefully put it away in a similar fashion. He then bowed deeply towards Crippled Peter before leaving into the darkness.
Within the dark wilderness, ten pairs of wolf-like eyes focused in on the boy. Whispers continuously rose and fell.
“That brat seems to have done quite a bit of work. Why don’t we take a look to see how much he exchanged for? There might even be half a loaf of bread.”
“I bet he has a large piece of roasted rat meat!”
From the side, a lazy yet fierce voice interrupted their conversation. “Hey, stupid newcomers. Don’t you know Old Hans’ rules? Within his territory, no one is allowed to rob exchanged items.”
The voices from before didn’t seem to be convinced. “Old Hans? What is he going to do about it? I can beat up ten old farts like him!”
The seemingly lazy person laughed. “Just you? You aren’t even qualified to lick his ass!”
Those that were called stupid newcomers became indignant. Just when they wanted to fight back, who would have guessed that the other individual suddenly lost interest and shouted, “Guys, chop these fellows who want to cause a disturbance into pieces and feed them to the rotting wolves!”
Ten more figures responded and surrounded this place.
Miserable cries sounded briefly, and the wilderness became peaceful again. Everyone wanted to rest as much as possible to mine out another piece of ore tomorrow.
From the shed, Crippled Peter could no longer see the boy’s figure. He scratched his nearly bald head and muttered, “Where is that youngster going? If he gets eaten by the rotting wolves, then I would’ve lost those five cents. Hey, Old Hans, do you think that I’ll lose those five cents?”
Old Hans, who was leaning against the shed, raised his hands and said, “Who knows.”
Crippled Peter stood up with difficulty and began to clean up the food and inventory list. His remaining leg was thick and solid enough that it could support his body that was over a hundred kilograms in weight without crutches. He picked up the slip of paper he received from the boy and was about to throw it away when he suddenly remembered something. He looked at it again and said to himself, “Grade three drinking water… I really don’t know what he needs such a thing for. The radiation inside the mine is many times more powerful than the sewage outside. This isn’t something that drinking a bit of clean water can get rid of.”
Old Hans took the slip of paper from Peter and looked it over. After sweeping his eyes over the number, he crumpled it up and threw it into the fire pit outside the shed.
Old Hans coughed a few times and spat on the ground. “Peter, go and tell Mad Dog Mida to deduct ten less kilograms from the child’s basket. If he can work here for a full month, then count it as the full amount.”
Peter said, “That seems a bit unfair.”
“He’s raising a kid.” Old Hans lit a cigarette that only had half of its length remaining. His voice sounded a bit gloomy.
Peter was somewhat startled and raised his head. “What? With his age, how could he be raising a child?”
Old Hans blew out a smoke ring and said, “If a child under three years of age only drinks water without radiation and eat clean things, right, if only ridiculous things like grade three water and food are consumed, then there won’t be any mutations when growing up.”
Peter’s eyebrows jumped. “Heavens! I always assumed that everyone would mutate. How do you know this?”
Old Hans calmly replied, “Because I have also raised a child before.”
Peter was shocked. “You never spoke about these things before! How old is he? He should be about twenty now, right? Lord have mercy, he absolutely cannot turn out as ugly as you.”
Old Hans chuckled and said, “I was very poor then and couldn’t find enough clean water and food. Mutation happened when he was five, and he wasn’t able to make it.”
Peter didn’t know what to say. After a moment of silence, he said, “Old fellow, sorry about that. I shouldn’t have said those things. You know that… I have never encountered a woman that has been able to give birth in this lifetime and never had the chance to raise a child.”
Old Hans deeply inhaled the smoke and gazed into the faintly green night sky. “Partner, you don’t need to say things like that to me. Back then, if it wasn’t for you, I would have became food for the rotting wolves already. I wouldn’t be in this position as the company’s agent either.”
Peter lifted a fifty kilogram storage trunk. His sole leg bent, and he immediately jumped over a meter into the air to gently place the trunk on the highest shelf. He then shook his head and said, “I didn’t intentionally save you… You have to remember that I was a wrestling expert. My defense strengthening was already at the second level, so that wolf king couldn’t bite me to death no matter how hard it tried. However, it was different for you. For frail people like you magic users, it could tear off half your bottom with a single bite!”
Old Hans gave the remaining bit of the cigarette to Peter and patted his shoulder. “Partner, don’t sleep too late. No woman would come here at this time.”
Peter sucked in a deep breath and held it within his lungs. Only when he couldn’t hold on any longer did he exhale. Old Hans had already returned into the metal house. Only a thump could be heard, implying that he had already thrown himself onto the bed. Peter brought out a green metal box from below the main table, and from within, he carefully brought out a magazine that seemed to be on the verge of breaking apart. Borrowing the bonfire’s light, he began to flip through the page one by one, his breathing gradually getting heavier.