Chapter 52: Lying In Wait
Jiang Baimian’s mouth instinctively took the shape of an exclamation, but she quickly shut her mouth and didn’t make a sound.
She cast her gaze ahead again and smoothly stepped over a bush. Then, she smiled casually.
“I keep having the feeling that I might have a hidden talent—one that makes people feel close to me. They will feel at ease when they are by my side, and they will be willing to share some of the worries that have built up in their hearts.”
“It’s not like there’s anything that needs to be strictly confidential.” Shang Jianyao didn’t quite agree with Jiang Baimian, but he had escaped from the mood created by their earlier conversation topic.
“Haha, I’m joking.” Jiang Baimian nodded as if she were in thought. “Actually, we have experienced two dangers together, and you exposed the secret of being an Awakened. Therefore, we have pretty good trust in each other. Have you heard of this saying? ‘The way to quickly knit a closer relationship between two people is for them to share a small secret.’ Also, we can be considered friends who have been through thick and thin.”
The serious Shang Jianyao suddenly laughed. “How can you be sure that this trust was not created by me with my Awakened abilities?”
“…” Jiang Baimian thought about it carefully and realized that she couldn’t eliminate the possibility. After all, the scene of Shang Jianyao shaking hands with the mechanical monk, Jingfa, left a deep impression on her. Besides, Shang Jianyao had said that the affected person could hardly rely on themselves to sense anything abnormal if he could create a perpetual loop of evidence around that person’s social activity. Only when Shang Jianyao left the corresponding environment could one discover anything amiss.
“Haha, I’m joking,” replied Shang Jianyao, mimicking Jiang Baimian.
Jiang Baimian turned her head and rolled her eyes at him. “Did you know that I almost drew my gun?”
She retracted her gaze and muttered to herself, “Although you are indeed joking, I have to be careful of such situations… Can I set up a few logical validations?
“Yes… The easiest way is to record key information on paper or in a chip every day and read it before sleeping. This way, one can immediately come to a realization if they notice incongruence before and after. I have to say, diaries are very useful.”
Shang Jianyao then added, “An Awakened’s ability is not omnipotent.”
Jiang Baimian didn’t say anything else and continued searching for clues in this hilly area with Shang Jianyao.
About an hour later, she looked around and said, “The surrounding area is just too large. The terrain is also complicated. It will take us half a month to complete an effective search on foot.”
Shang Jianyao didn’t speak because he saw a lingering smile on his team leader’s face. Obviously, she had an idea.
Indeed, Jiang Baimian looked at him and smiled. “Let’s go back to the hill where we released the emergency flare.”
Shang Jianyao’s heart palpitated as he vaguely grasped something.
Jiang Baimian continued speaking. “We’ll definitely encounter many Ruin Hunters and wilderness nomads there. It’s a good opportunity to ask them for information and see if any large bandit groups or dangerous teams have appeared in the surrounding areas recently.”
At this point, she gave the same smile she had after she severely injured Jingfa. “If you are the attackers’ leader and see an abnormality occurring in the area where you previously carried out a huge operation and deliberately wiped away any traces, will you send some unrelated people to the area where the emergency flare was released to investigate? Anyway, a large number of Ruin Hunters and wilderness nomads will definitely go over. No one will be able to distinguish them if they are mixed in.
“When the time comes, you can also prepare some countermeasures in advance if you can use this opportunity to figure out which large faction was behind Blackrat Town’s massacre.”
Shang Jianyao came to a realization. “They won’t send their core members over to investigate, nor will they use their vassals. The greatest possibility is that they will directly hire real wilderness nomads that are active nearby.”
This way, nothing would go wrong even if it was a trap. It was just like how nobody could find a drop of water that was intrinsically unique but didn’t superficially appear abnormal in a lake.
After Shang Jianyao figured it out, he asked in confusion, “Team Leader, you should have thought of this long ago. Why didn’t we just stand guard over there?”
“How can those Ruin Hunters and wilderness nomads possibly arrive so quickly? There’s no point in waiting there. It’s better to train your familiarity in clue-searching.” Jiang Baimian flipped her wrist and looked at her black electronic watch. “It’s about time. Let’s go over.”
When they returned to the hill where the emergency flare had been fired, Shang Jianyao realized that their search direction was nearby. After the two of them changed directions slightly, they arrived at their destination in just ten minutes on foot.
In other words, Jiang Baimian did not think of such a problem at the last minute. She had long planned it. Even the search route was planned in advance.
After observing for a few minutes, Shang Jianyao and Jiang Baimian found the best spot. They climbed a tree and monitored the few paths that led to these hills.
After about 15 minutes, Ruin Hunters and wilderness nomads arrived one after another as they headed towards the hilltop.
They were all relatively careful. They kept a clear distance from each other, but they did not attack each other. After all, it was not certain if they would gain anything from the anomaly. It was foolish to start a fight.
After a while, Jiang Baimian patted Shang Jianyao’s shoulder and pointed to the left. She didn’t speak because she couldn’t determine how loud her voice was. Therefore, she could only gesture.
Shang Jianyao looked over and saw two male wilderness nomads acting suspiciously.
Their exact age couldn’t be determined from their appearance. The thing they had in common was that their skin was rough, dry, and tanned. Their hair was greasy and messy. It was unknown how long it had been since they last shaved their faces, but their skin was stained with all kinds of unknown marks.
One of them wore a tattered, dark-blue sweater. Inside was a shirt so greasy that it had hardened, its original color indeterminable. Draped over him were black clothes that didn’t reach his waist, clearly not fitting. He wore army-green rubber shoes. Secured on his waist was a black pistol that shimmered with a metallic luster. In his palm was a long, thin knife.
Shang Jianyao felt that the knife resembled a watermelon knife in the textbooks.
The other person was tightly wrapped in an old, black cotton coat. Through the obvious holes, one could see that the cotton inside was compressed into a lump, black and tight. He didn’t seem to have a gun. Latched onto his waist was a sharpened dagger. In his hands was a baseball bat, and there was a dirty, extremely shriveled pocket on his shoulder.
“I-is there a problem?” Shang Jianyao asked in a low voice.
They looked almost no different from the wilderness nomads that had passed by previously, except that they were a little shabbier.
“I…” Jiang Baimian let out a sound, her tone clearly questioning.
Shang Jianyao immediately understood what his team leader meant and quickly said, “Slightly lower.”
After two ‘adjustments,’ Jiang Baimian finally suppressed her voice to an appropriate volume. “Don’t you think these two wilderness nomads’ equipment is a little too terrible?”
“Isn’t it normal for wilderness nomads to have poor equipment?” Shang Jianyao asked in response.
“Yes.” Jiang Baimian didn’t deny it. As she looked at the two nomads, she deliberated and said, “The point is that their actions are in conflict with their equipment. Under normal circumstances, wilderness nomads with only a small pistol and a few cold weapons won’t dare to be the first to rush to an anomaly. In the event of a battle, they have virtually zero ability to protect themselves.
“For wilderness nomads like them, they will come back half a day—or even a day later—to see if they can pick up any leftover spoils. When the time comes, the opponents they will be facing will be about the same. They won’t be completely defenseless.”
Shang Jianyao nodded slightly. “This is similar to how many animals eat the rotten corpses left behind by ferocious beasts after a hunt. In other words, there’s a chance that these two wilderness nomads were forced here by someone?”
Who would force two powerless wilderness nomads to investigate the anomaly for no reason?
Jiang Baimian was putting education into practice, and she smiled. “Yes. Can you make them friendly and get them to tell us the corresponding situation directly?”
Shang Jianyao looked at the two wilderness nomads approaching and frankly said, “It won’t be a problem if there’s only one. If the two of them are here, there’s a high chance that they will validate each other’s actions, causing the ‘inference’ to fail. If we split them up, I can influence one of them first before getting the two together. I can then carry out the influence on the second one—this works too.”
Jiang Baimian gave an ‘OK’ gesture. “That’s simple. Swap guns.”
With that, she exchanged the grenade launcher for Shang Jianyao’s assault rifle.
The next second, Jiang Baimian suddenly jumped down and landed in front of the two wilderness nomads. After landing, she quickly raised her assault rifle and coldly pointed at the man in the tattered sweater—who had a pistol lodged at his waist.
Almost at the same time, she rotated her waist slightly and kicked out with her right leg like a sudden whip. This kick undoubtedly did not land, but it scared the man with the baseball bat into retreating and falling to the ground.
He looked at the assault rifle in Jiang Baimian’s hand and abandoned his companion without hesitation. He rolled, crawled, and stumbled into the distance, not daring to look back.
The assault rifle kept pointing at the man with the watermelon knife. He didn’t dare move.
At this moment, Shang Jianyao jumped down and smiled. “Don’t be nervous. We mean no harm.”
As he signaled for Jiang Baimian to lower the muzzle, he took advantage of the man’s confusion to say, “Look, you are here to search for information, and so are we. You are humans, and so are we. So…”
The man’s expression gradually changed before he finally smiled. “We are brothers!”
When he made this address, he subconsciously looked at Jiang Baimian. He saw that she had already put away her assault rifle and didn’t show any hostility. Therefore, he trusted his inference and judgment even more.
“Brother!” Shang Jianyao mimicked the other party and greeted him enthusiastically. “Who got you guys to come over?”