Chapter 125: Weed City
Around 9 a.m. the next day, Bai Chen drove the jeep that had been disguised. She drove the Old Task Force’s three other members and the Rootless camp’s Convoy Leader, Ferlin, toward Weed City in a caravan made up of five to six cars.
It was unknown if it was because of the rushed job or the fact that they were trying their best to make it look realistic, but the colors of many parts of the jeep were inconsistent after it was repainted. However, one could generally tell that it was an army-green camouflage.
This was very similar to most of the jeeps that traveled across the Ashlands. Once they bumped into something, they either had nowhere to repair it or just repaired it without much effort. There was no need to be so particular about the repairs.
The reason why Ferlin didn’t sit in his caravan’s car was that he felt that he would soon be separated from his good brother, Shang Jianyao, once they reached Weed City. He had to make the best use of his time to chat a little longer.
This resulted in the three men squeezing in the jeep’s backseat. Fortunately, the vehicle had plenty of space, so it did not affect the ride experience.
After leaving the camp and circling to the other side, Long Yuehong finally saw the most important facility in the area: a waterworks factory.
Green trees covered its surroundings. The environment was rather good, and it seemed like it had been ‘taken care of.’
After passing through the factory, a city ruin gradually unfolded in front of all the Old Task Force members. Nearly all the high-rise buildings here had already collapsed. The grayish-white or brown ‘mud bricks’ were haphazardly piled together with rusted steel columns that stubbornly kept the structure up. They were covered by yellow creeper leaves and various plants, with only certain parts of it vaguely revealed.
It was like countless people—who had been buried alive—had finally stretched out their hands before they died in an attempt to grab onto something.
Compared to the city ruin deep in the swamp, this place looked nothing like it did back in the Old World.
Even the Ruin Hunters had given up on this place. The remaining items were either difficult to gather or worthless.
If he had never entered the swamp’s depths or seen the Old World’s silhouette, Long Yuehong would, at best, sigh at such a scene. But now, his emotions were extremely complicated. He felt inexplicably heavy but also sad.
“Sigh…” Jiang Baimian—who was in the passenger seat—sighed softly.
Ferlin sat between Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong and looked out the window. “Back when my grandfather was still alive, he told me what kind of tourist city this was. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have driven an RV all the way here.”
Shang Jianyao didn’t answer or continue Ferlin’s conversation. Instead, he suddenly said, “I want to play a song.”
“‘Reminiscing the Past?’” Jiang Baimian asked in understanding.
Shang Jianyao nodded heavily. “Yes.”
“Forget it, forget it. It’ll affect the mood.” Jiang Baimian waved her hand. “This road is already difficult to drive through. It’s better not to disturb Bai Chen.”
In this city ruin that had been completely abandoned, many roads had been buried or cut due to the collapse of buildings and the sinking of the ground. There was no way to pass through them at all. The vehicles could only constantly change their routes and advance bit by bit.
Fortunately, be it Bai Chen, Ferlin, or the Rootless leading the way, they were relatively familiar with this place and wouldn’t end up getting lost.
During this process, Jiang Baimian sighed with emotion. “I really have to thank those Ruin Hunters for getting rid of the cars blocking the road. Otherwise, it would’ve been too much of a waste of time if we had to circle around this city ruin.”
“We contributed to this as well.” Ferlin smiled and stroked the white beard by his mouth. “Many of us obtained our cars here. They’re all of the same grandfather generation now.”
As they chatted, the convoy took more than an hour to slowly pass through the city ruins with the most damage. The road conditions gradually improved.
In front of them, they could even see a road being propped up by grayish-white columns. It was abnormally empty, and the signs of damage were not obvious. However, there were many withered weeds.
After an unknown period of time, the convoy arrived beside Turbid River.
The flowing water here was yellowish in color as if it had mixed with a lot of sand. This was a result of winter—many parts of the riverbed were exposed to the air and covered in mud.
Diagonally in front of the convoy, a medium-sized bridge—propped up by blocks—spanned across the river.
After crossing this new bridge and driving forward for about ten minutes, a grayish-white city wall—several meters tall—appeared in everyone’s eyes.
“That’s Weed City,” Ferlin introduced.
“They have city walls?” Long Yuehong asked in surprise and curiosity.
He remembered that the textbooks had written that the cities of the Old World were no longer like those of the Old Era, which needed tall and sturdy city walls built. At most, places like schools would have a low perimeter wall built around it to facilitate management.
If it was done after the Old World was destroyed, how big a project would it have been?
Ferlin smiled and said, “This is an accessory to the city ruin from before. It’s said to be an ancient city before the Old World was destroyed.”
“A tourist attraction? In order to restore the ancient vibes, they preserved and repaired the city walls?” Jiang Baimian inferred with her knowledge.
Ferlin tersely acknowledged her words. “I heard that many survivors early on considered the previous ruin when they were preparing to build a settlement. However, the damage there was too serious. There are city walls here and a waterworks factory. They are also close to the hydropower station.”
At this point, he chuckled and said, “Although the city walls can’t defend against cannons or bombs, they can at least block beasts, monsters, and Heartless, giving everyone a greater sense of security.”
As he spoke, the convoy arrived at the entrance of Weed City.
It was a little congested here, so the jeep slowed down.
Long Yuehong rolled down the window and looked out, only to discover a crowd at the city gate.
They were wearing tattered or old clothes. Their faces were pale in the winter wind, and their lips had turned a little blue.
Most of these people were young or middle-aged men and women, followed by children. None of them were elderly.
Their expressions were more or less a little numb as they mechanically moved forward alongside the rest.
“What’s this?” Long Yuehong looked back at Ferlin.
Ferlin propped himself up and tried his best to look at the city gate. He then quickly sat down and sighed. “These are wilderness nomads without winter food. They came to Weed City to try their luck.”
“Can they find a job here?” Long Yuehong asked habitually, given his background as a company employee.
Ferlin laughed self-deprecatingly. “The ones with the best luck will be taken in or bought by the Hunter’s Guild as a direct descendant. Those with lesser luck are chosen by nobles and made slaves. A little worse, and they will be brought to the surrounding manors to be serfs.
“Those who aren’t too lucky are bought by those in the flesh business. The most unlucky ones become miners…”
After hearing Ferlin’s description, the jeep became extremely quiet. No one spoke for a long time.
Long Yuehong watched the vehicle gradually overtake those people, but he didn’t know what he could do. He retracted his gaze and glanced at Shang Jianyao, only to see his good friend wearing a solemn expression.
Finally, Jiang Baimian broke the silence and repeated a word in a mocking tone. “Nobles…”
“It’s a result of learning it from First City? It’s a part of First City, after all.” Ferlin didn’t mind.
Long Yuehong composed himself and continued asking, “Why are they still lining up at the entrance?”
He remembered Bai Chen mentioning that Weed City was relatively open and had no entry fees.
“There are so many nomads. Who knows if they are carrying any infectious diseases? At a time like this, we definitely have to do a basic inspection. Otherwise, everyone will be doomed.” Ferlin was rather familiar with such procedures.
“Mm.” Long Yuehong nodded and asked, “Eh, why aren’t there any old people…”
Before he could finish his sentence, he suddenly came to a realization. “I got it.”
In such a cold season, with them lacking in clothes and food, the slightly older ones would definitely have failed to reach Weed City. They might as well end their lives and reserve any resources for their descendants. This might even include their corpses.
This realization pained Long Yuehong.
Ferlin patted Long Yuehong on the shoulder. “Sigh, get used to it. This is the Ashlands. Things will only get worse after the first snow.”
At this point, he looked north. “I heard that it’s already snowing in the Blackmarsh Wilderness…”
“A snow disaster…” Bai Chen—who was driving—seemed to recall something.
Jiang Baimian then consoled her. “Fortunately, Moat Town doesn’t have to worry about these problems anymore.”
After moving slowly for a while, the convoy finally passed the inspection and entered Weed City.
Long Yuehong subconsciously looked outside and realized that the road was paved with green or grayish-white stone bricks. They looked very neat, but they were a little cramped. They barely allowed two cars to pass through.
The buildings by the side of the road were not too tall. They were at most five stories tall, and the top was arched with eaves.
At the bottom were rows of outlets facing the street. This was very similar to the city ruin deep in the swamp. Similarly, they all had their own signboards.
Long Yuehong looked over and saw the names ‘Time-Honored Noodle Restaurant,”A’xiu’s Subsidiary Food,”Zhang Ji Food Oil,”First City Office,’ and ‘Shooting Internet Cafe.’
Even the electric poles by the side of the road had pieces of paper pasted on them. On it were the words ‘Specialize in Treating Diseases.’
In addition to these, Long Yuehong also saw many signs written in Red River text. This included words like ‘Restaurant,”Club,’ and ‘Bread.’
It was only at this moment that Long Yuehong deeply realized that Weed City was part of First City. Almost half of the pedestrians on the road had black hair and brown eyes. The rest either had blond or brown hair and blue or green eyes.
Of course, as it was winter not many pedestrians were outside due to the biting cold.
“It looks lively,” Long Yuehong sighed with emotion.
“That’s not all. In the past two months, driving has been impossible,” Ferlin said with a smile. “The roads here weren’t designed for vehicles to begin with. They’re narrow, and it’s easy to have a jam.”
“Is that so…” Long Yuehong nodded and looked out the window again, just like Shang Jianyao.
On the electric poles, all kinds of wires were randomly strung in different directions. They looked very messy as if they were splitting the sky.
As the car drove forward, Long Yuehong saw another signboard: ‘South Street Slave Market.’
Long Yuehong fell silent.