83 Chapter Eighty Two - Attempting To Prevent Death

    Breaths were held, realities were shaken, it was the worst news for the survivors; one of their own had become infected.

    Thomas was a soldier, had not known this small man for longer than a few days and even then their interactions had not been more than shallow.  He decisively removed the gun from his waist, removed the safety and aimed.  There was only one bullet in the barrel, each soldier had been gifted a lone bullet.  This was the gift for being loyal the end, the chance to end their own life swiftly if the worse should happen.  Thomas had never thought to use this on himself, so didn't think that it might be a waste to use it on a civilian; he felt instead that this was a kindness.

    Monika automatically placed her body between the barrel of the gun and Jimmy's wounded body.  "No!"

    "Are you stupid?  He's been infected!" Thomas yelled at her, angrily.  "No matter which way you look at it, he's a dead man!"

    "I know... but..." her mouth opened, but her throat would not spill another word as if her mind had become blank.  Tears spilled from her eyes.  This was Jimmy, her colleague of old and her friend!  Could the bastard at least understand that?  And she was not the only one who felt the sting of pain within their eyes and hearts.

    "Monika," Jimmy gritted his teeth through the pain.  Dammit that rat surely had taken a bite out of him!  Rivers of agony shot up his leg causing him to grunt.  "Monika, he is right.  It's better this way."

    She bit into her lower lip, unwilling, but Arthur, whose eyes had reddened due to the salt of his own sadness gently tugged at her arm, easing her away.  Thomas once more lifted his arm to aim.

    "There may be another solution," Ren Zexian landed with Chang Min, having leapt over the wall moments ago to witness and quickly evaluate the situation.  Monika's expression twisted, agonising internally whether to grasp this olive branch of hope or not let her feelings rise too much less the disappointment make this ever so much more painful.  She was not the only one.

    "Can you really save him?" Harry asked, spitting out the words as if they were scratching his throat.  He... they all had witnessed too many people die in front of them.  None of them wished to see another life lost, but they knew what being bitten meant.

    Ren Zexian's coal black eyes examined the wound intently.  Indeed the edges were an unsightly shade, however he felt that the poison yin was not actually invading the flesh and blood of this man with the swiftness in which it tried to claim his body.  Perhaps it was the difference between being bitten by a lowly rodent that had not, or had only evolved a little, compared to a former Cultivator who had completed the Body Tempering Phase.  He shook his head inwardly before his attention was caught by the soldier wielding the blasting weapon, who was clearly pressing forward to end this.

    But he reluctantly yielded to pressure expelled by the oriental man and lowered his gun as if it's it weight had suddenly become too great.

    And then the Cultivator's attention fell upon a soldier behind him.  "How is your cultivation going?" He asked Zak, who looked startled at the diversion of subject.

    "We don't have time for this!" Thomas snarled.  "Tell you what, you want to play with your lives?  Fine, just don't bother playing with mine!"  He clicked on the safety function and placed the weapon back in his belt before walking off.

    Ren Zexian seemed unperturbed by the man's attitude, his gaze quietly remaining on the Light user, who became increasingly uncomfortable beneath his stare.  He glanced at Theo, close by him, who simply shrugged.  "It... seems to be working?"

    The oriental man nodded and beckoned him over.  "Show me."

    "Now?"  The soldiers all felt increasingly perplexed, however the survivors of this base showed no such signs, perhaps more used to the man's ways.

    "En," Ren Zexian replied to his query.  "I wish you to summon your light to your finger tips then place your hand... here."  He indicated Jimmy's knee.  Naturally, the soldier could not help but feel reluctant.  Although mutations tended to occur over several hours, he had heard that there were exceptions.  There had been a rumour on the army base about a woman who'd been bitten and had transformed in under an hour, though there was not enough evidence to support this, so it had just been hearsay.

    The survivors eyes fell upon him, flickers of hope within their depths, causing him to waver in the desire to refuse.  Zak stepped forward, clenching the weapon he held to his chest for a moment, before handing it to his comrade.  He took a deep breath and lifted his hand which began to softly glow before his eyes.  It trembled as it lowered to the man's leg and hesitated before lightly touching the Jimmy's knee.

    Jimmy groaned; the warmth of the light was so comfortable, but the pain was intensifying.  Yet it was also different, for instead of the pain shooting towards his knee, it seemed to falter, not rising so high but concentrated more at the wound.  It still seemed to be spreading everywhere else and now included his foot, however.  "Bring light to your other hand," Ren Zexian encouraged him, while he fumbled for the pouch upon his robe's belt.  "Then, beginning at his toes, bring your hand upward until you can grasp his ankle, ah, but do not touch nor rise your hand above the wound."

    Zak looked puzzled and did as instructed.  Beads of sweat began to form at his temple as he concentrated; this was harder than sustaining the light within one hand.  Plus he'd already used the ability earlier, but stopped when he felt a bit tired, worried that weariness would cause him to make a mistake.  Right now he felt as if he was draining his body of the rest of its reserves.

    "Alright," Ren Zexian nodded, his words holding a tone of praise for the man as well as encouragement, while Jimmy bit hard his lip trying not to move and ease the agony that was now pulsating through the flesh of his calf muscle and leg bone.  Ren Zexian suddenly pushed a pill into the infected man's mouth, which melted on contact with his tongue and he swallowed automatically.  He suddenly as if he'd sank into a soothing bath; he still felt as if his body was telling him that his leg hurt, but he felt dissociated from it enough to feel relief.  That said, he did not feel as he was in any way without other faculties, meaning, he did not feel under any questionable influence.

    "That's a good painkiller," he joked, lightly, causing his friends to smile slightly.  Really, he could still joke at a time like this?

    Ren Zexian also smiled, but it lacked the sadness of the others, just filled them with a calmness they did not feel before.  "Now, Zak, slide your hand from his knee towards the wound."

    The soldier did so and the blood began to flow, pushing past the blackened flesh.  At first it was dark crimson, but it became a shade something like a dark, rotten olive, along with a taint of black-brown and this liquid oozed out of the wound and onto the ground, where a concentrated burst of black flame dealt with it in the next moment.  Zak had jumped back at this point, the light vanishing from his fingers as he avoided the contaminated blood.

    Monika grasped Arthur's hand as she witnessed this and couldn't help but blurt out; "Will he be fine now?  Is he cured?"

    To her disappointment, Ren Zexian frowned and sighed.  He glanced towards Zak, who instinctively knew what he wished to ask, but the soldier could only shake his head.  He didn't even think he had enough energy to rise to his feet right now, let alone summon more light!

    Jimmy also sighed.  Although the pain was no longer affecting him, he still felt its presence and it was slowly increasing along the length of his leg, now unheeded.  It's pace was reduced, but nonetheless it was growing.  He reckoned that the soldier's ability had probably bought him a few more hours at best.

    Ren Zexian felt the same and pondered over the dilemma.  Jimmy could not prevent the spread of the infection in the same way that Ren Zexian had suppressed it; Jimmy was an ordinary man without cultivation nor the ability to cultivate.  In that sense it was hopeless.  He had hoped the light would repel it in the same way that darkness could attract it.  He paused upon this point.

    He'd always believed that the cursed root was derived or mutated from something other than darkness, but perhaps that  theory hadn't been right or at least there was more to it than he'd originally thought.  He still did not feel that he was completely wrong, but really, he didn't have time to dwell on that point now.  What he was considering was that it was not due to just who infected himself that caused the swiftness of its spread, but his own cursed root attracting, no stirring into a frenzy, this unpleasant poison.  This was why he could not force it to leave his body.  It was different to how the dark zombie attracted others; he theorised that if he had been the one to turn, he would not only attract other monsters, but feed off of them to increase the amount of poison yin in his body and those zombies would literally throw themselves upon his plate.

    The only reason the intelligent zombie and its king remained wary of him was due to them being aware that his strength being higher than theirs.  Likely they fled due to this and his smouldering flames.  But not all zombies had developed the instinct to avoid him and Chang Min hence they still had to deal with numerous undead.

    All this ran through his mind in one second and in the next, he took out a fasting pill and knife with a sharp jade blade, the former he swallowed and the latter was ran over the length of his palm.  "Master!" Chang Min gasped as his fresh blood began to drip and stain his pale skin.

    "All will be well, Chang Min," Ren Zexian smiled at him. "However, I may have to go into closed cultivation for a while.  Look after Nathan for me.  Tell him, I'll see him soon."  And with that, he knelt upon the ground and placed his open wound upon Jimmy's ankle.  Sure enough, he sensed the poison yin excitedly shoot back down through Jimmy's veins and abandon his dying calf muscle for his cursed blood.  His skin paled as he focused on holding the poison in his palm with his spiritual energies, nodding to his disciple who quickly lead him to the large and empty mansion not far away.

    The others watched him leave, completely unable to fathom what had just happened and all glanced down at Jimmy's bitten ankle.  The wound was still quite raw and open to the elements, blood still oozed from the flesh, but it was a healthy red.  It was as if blackened edges and gangrene had never existed.  Arthur gently pushed Monika aside and ripped a length off of his T-shirt to wrap around the wound.

    "Unbelievable," Theo stated in one word how they all felt.
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