Deep Sea Embers

Chapter 293

Chapter 293 “Hunting and Fleeing”

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The moment Duncan said “ignorance is bliss,” the woman in the black dress had already reacted!

But this time, she didn’t attempt any futile combat actions. Instead, she tightened her grip on the chain beneath the death crow’s feet with one hand and waved the other behind her, conjuring a hazy black fog in the air. Then she turned around and sprinted towards the cemetery entrance!

She could no longer concern herself with her possessed companion or the two other accomplices engaged with the guardian. The strange events of the night had exceeded her comprehension. Even as a devotee of annihilation who had signed a contract to coexist with a shadow demon, she was nearing the limits of her sanity and courage.

She needed to leave this place, the farther and faster, the better! She didn’t want to remain in the sight of the invisible and indescribable intruder or continue to share space with the terrifying shadow!

Duncan furrowed his brow. He hadn’t fully adapted to the body he had just occupied. Although he could clearly feel that this body was in better health than the one in the coffin, he still had difficulty keeping pace with the fleeing woman.

Nevertheless, he pursued her, slicing through the eerie black fog she conjured while escaping, adapting to his new body, and focusing his gaze on her retreating figure.

As he watched her, the gas lamps she passed suddenly flickered, their bright and stable flames tainted with a touch of deep green.

The contaminated lamps seemed like invisible footsteps, trailing the fleeing cultist’s shadow swiftly towards the cemetery entrance and sprinkling a path of green sparks that grew closer and more numerous!

But just as the green flames scattered by the lamps were about to catch up with the cultist, the grotesque crow made of black bones suddenly screeched and took flight. Its jagged wings dispersed large swaths of smoke in the night sky while its piercing cry seemed to tear through a small area of space-time. Suddenly, Duncan saw large rifts in the darkness beside the cultist, which merged into a massive black hole.

The skeletal crow shrieked frantically and fearfully, recklessly charging towards the dark portal that appeared out of nowhere. The chain extending from its feet instantly went taut, and with a grating noise, the woman in the black dress was suddenly dragged towards the unknown.

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“Damn it! Stop! You bastard! You beast!” The cultist struggled desperately, shouting in an altered tone, her voice overflowing with uncontrollable fear and despair, “No, no, no! Don’t! Don’t take me to the abyss… Help! Help! No! No—”

With a final scream, the cultist was dragged into the pitch-black hole by the chain, and the hole closed with a howl, eventually dissipating into a trembling shadow.

A sprinkling of faint green light from the lamps on both sides illuminated the empty cemetery path.

“That’s quite a unique escape route,” Duncan observed the sudden scene with some bewilderment. It took him a while before the corner of his mouth twitched, and then he seemed to remember something, “That’s how Shirley and Dog escaped back then, isn’t it?… But I remember she wasn’t scared at all at the time, was she?”

He furrowed his brow, gazing in the direction where the cultist vanished, but after contemplating for a moment, he gained nothing and could only look away.

The greenish lamplights on both sides returned to normal as he averted his gaze, and the intertwined dim shadows gradually retreated to his feet as if retracting tendrils in the darkness.

At this moment, a faint crackling sound reached Duncan’s ears. Turning at the source with a puzzled look, he discovered it was in fact coming from his own body. Fine crackling sounds kept coming from various parts of his body, and between the gaps in his clothing, wisps of black smoke could be seen seeping and rising.

Duncan was momentarily stunned, uncertain of this unexpected situation. Then he suddenly pulled open his clothes near his chest and finally saw the changes happening to his body: his flesh was turning into a black, charred substance bit by bit, and many gaps had appeared on the wrinkled skin’s surface, from which black smoke and ashes emerged like they were coming from a pile of firewood.

If it weren’t for having accepted the “open-hearted” initiation from the beginning, this bizarre and terrifying scene would have definitely shocked Duncan. But he was now accustomed to such strange and sinister events and remained exceptionally calm, even reaching out to touch his neck.

The change seemed to have started from the throat—the place where the shadow demon had once coexisted and connected to the chains.

Duncan immediately thought of the self-immolating jellyfish-like shadow demon from before.

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After he had taken over this body, the “jellyfish” seemed to have gone on strike due to being unable to withstand the pressure, and now the cultist’s body began to collapse from the place where the chains coexisted… Could it be that the body would collapse once the coexisting demon dies as well?

Was this a characteristic of the Annihilation Cultists?

In an instant, Duncan thought of the most likely possibility and even considered Shirley and Dog—were their relationships similar as well?

He could have a good chat with Shirley when he got back.

But first, he needed to think about what to do now.

Duncan looked helplessly at his rapidly deteriorating body and couldn’t help but think of the body he had occupied when he first emerged from the coffin.

Although the reasons for the collapse differed, that body also seemed to have experienced a breakdown of flesh in the end.

“…How can finding a usable body be so difficult?” he couldn’t help but sigh, lamenting his bad luck. “It was much smoother back in Pland.”

He looked up at the iron fence at the edge of his field of vision—the cemetery entrance was up ahead, and a vast, desolate area lay beyond the entrance. Only after crossing that empty space would he reach the brightly lit bustling city.

Frost’s civilized world was just before him, but this constantly deteriorating body might not be able to make it that far, and even if he ran into the city right now, his smoky and crumbling appearance would hardly help him gather any useful information. On the contrary, he would surely attract the attention of night patrol guards.

He glanced back at the cemetery one more time.

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There were quite a few bodies in the morgue—but first, it was difficult to ensure he wouldn’t encounter another low-quality one. Second, opening the boxes took a considerable amount of effort.

This was a true blind box opening, and he had already spent enough time messing around tonight.

After briefly weighing his options, Duncan lifted his head and looked towards the light coming from another direction on the path.

That should be the direction of the caretaker’s cabin.

Duncan still remembered that there were two cultists disguised as Death Priests who went to the cabin with the caretaker. Although the caretaker seemed stubborn and unsociable, he was at least a dutiful person in comparison.

Cultists were not good people, and there’s no reason to let bad people roam about.

There seemed to be some noise coming from outside.

In the cozy caretaker’s cabin, the kettle on the stove was making a hissing sound, and a gas lamp beside it brought bright light to the room. The old caretaker was leisurely tinkering with the bottles and jars on the wooden shelves, and his trusty double-barreled shotgun hung on an iron hook next to the shelves.

Two men in black clothes were observing the old man’s actions in the cabin, one standing at the door and the other by the window.

But their attention was not entirely on the caretaker.

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They were paying attention to the movement at the cemetery entrance, waiting for a signal.

However, they didn’t get the “mission accomplished, withdraw” code. Instead, they only heard some faint, unclear, and strange noises coming from the direction of the path.

The last faint scream was particularly unsettling.

“Did you hear any noises?”

The old caretaker suddenly stopped, looked up at the window that seemed dirty and dim due to the passage of time, and listened to the sounds outside—only the hollow sound of the wind seemed to remain in the darkness of the night.

“No noise,” the tall, sturdy man standing at the door said immediately after hearing the caretaker’s words. Although he was somewhat uneasy, keeping the caretaker in the cabin was a higher priority at the moment, “Probably just crows.”

“Oh, crows,” the old caretaker muttered, “Crows are very annoying creatures. They steal your food and then stand on tree branches, laughing loudly… I hate thieves and uninvited guests the most, and crows have taken both.”

The two men in black looked at each other in confusion, seemingly thinking that the stubborn old man’s words were somewhat inexplicable.

The old caretaker didn’t seem to care about their reactions and continued, “By the way, do you know why I followed that lady’s advice and brought you two to my cabin?”

The shorter man in black seemed to be on guard, staring into the old caretaker’s eyes, “Why?”

The old caretaker finally found what he was looking for among the bottles and jars. He unscrewed the lid, poured some crushed herbs into the stove, and casually said, “Because generally speaking, two people are easier to deal with than four.”

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