Chapter 18 - Running Mushroom
After waking up, Fang Shui’er found herself inside a small room resembling a jail cell. The walls were made of cold stone with only one small opening in one of them serving as the window. A table, a chair, and the stone bed upon which she lied constituted the only furniture which decorated the room.
Fang Shui’er walked toward the dilapidated metal door and examined it carefully. Normally, she would have no trouble breaking through it, but as of now... She clenched her fist and released them. ‘Still sealed? Looks like the rules in this domain haven’t changed. I’ll need to figure them out.’ She knew from her wealth of experience that the rules which governed the domain would the key to success.
Fang Shui’er walked to the window and gazed at the sky from the minuscule opening. ‘Li Yiming… Mr. Kong…’
Shao Xian curled up on her stone bed and put her arms around her knees. Unlike the other women who had been taken prisoner, she had full confidence that her prince charming would come to save her. She remembered Li Yiming’s long silver hair and his radiant smile, and it warmed her up.
Li Yiming was a little confused by the talk about princesses, but even more so by the sight of the plight of stairs right in front of him.
The Mr. Kong look-alike had vanished along with the dancing stage, and the chaos which had been caused by the kidnapping of the female guests finally settled as all the other male guests, including Chen Quan and Yu Runkai, disappeared.
As the landscape shifted from a beach at the edge of a forest to a rocky valley devoid of any vegetation and source of light, Li Yiming remained calm as he pondered over the meaning of all that had just occurred. ‘So the dancing machine was a game, and then there was karaoke… Such as the rules of this domain. I’ll have to figure out the rules for this new game if I want to keep progressing.’
‘So the women have been kidnapped, and the men split up. Princes, princesses… Am I supposed to fight a dragon or something?’ It was obvious that he had been pulled into some kind of new game, but he did not quite understand why he had suddenly acquired a red shirt along with bib pants.
Li Yiming easily reached the stairs with a jump as he still retained his strength and speed. He stomped on the step to test it out and found it to be surprisingly firm. Upon further inspection, he noticed the stairs to be made of red bricks, which was a material that was surprisingly unfitting with the surroundings.
A low roar was suddenly heard coming from behind. Li Yiming turned back, only to see what looked like a giant turtle slowly crawling toward him. It had a dark greenish shell decorated with dangerous thorns and giant, menacing eyes.
‘What?’ Li Yiming looked at the turtle, which was over a meter tall. Although it certainly did look threatening, Li Yiming did not feel any sense of danger. He had the impression that he would be able to knock the turtle into the air by simply touching it, but his intuition seemed hardly believable.
As Li Yiming hesitated, the turtle continued to creep closer. ‘Time to give it a shot…’
Li Yiming put one foot behind, clenched his right fist and launched a blow at the turtle’s head. He had put quite a lot of strength into the attack, so he was confident that he could break even the shell if he landed the blow.
The punch hit the turtle right in its head, causing it to tremble violently, but the attack seemed to have caused the turtle to grow even larger.
‘Of course it wouldn’t be this simple…’ Li Yiming jumped back after his fruitless blow. ‘Looks like my punch did nothing but make it angrier and bigger…’
‘Was it because it absorbed my energy?’ Li Yiming asked Bai Ze. The turtle would be a difficult opponent to beat if it did indeed possess such an ability.
‘It’s not that it grew bigger. You became smaller…’ Bai Ze explained while sounding as if she was snickering.
“What?” Li Yiming looked back at the creature and then looked at the surroundings. To his stupor, Bai Ze’s revelation was undeniably true.
‘Crap!’ Li Yiming ran back further and looked at the turtle, which was still crawling toward him slowly.
‘Watch out, there’s another one coming!’ Bai Ze remarked.
Li Yiming turned back and saw another turtle coming up from behind.
‘I can’t let them catch up to me… Up!’ Li Yiming looked at another floating stairs above and decided to make a run for it. It was the only answer he could think of, since his attacks did not seem to have any effect against the creatures. He would not dare to risk another move until he figured out what was happening exactly.
Li Yiming leaped toward the red-brick stairs, but to his dismay, he found out that he did not possess his usual strength anymore. It could have been due to the fact that he “shrunk” in size, but whatever the reason, his jump did not allow him to reach his refuge.
Li Yiming decided to extend his hand to reach for the stairs, confident that he would be able to pull himself up if he was only able to get a solid grip.
To his surprise, the bricks he thought to have been quite solid just moments ago shattered into powder just as he grazed them with his fingers.
Li Yiming made a roll as he landed right in front of the turtle. He had the opportunity to land another attack again, but chose not to after the result of his previous punch. He continued rolling as quickly as he could to get away from his enemy, his long, silvering hair moping the ground behind him.
‘I need to get up there…’ Li Yiming looked at another turtle which was getting dangerously close. He made another jump and took off like a cannonball.
However, the second time was no exception. Li Yiming ran out of speed as he was about to reach the stairs, causing him to wave his arms frantically as he tried to grab onto it.
‘Please, don’t break…’ Li Yiming begged. As miracle would have it, his desperate plea seemed to be effective, as the red bricks were unusually firm this time, not even crumbling a single bit at the contact of Li Yiming’s fingers. However, the next moment, it bounced back up, shaking Li Yiming’s hand off.
Li Yiming looked at his reddened fingers once he landed back down. ‘That thing… It’s not read bricks, it’s some kind of metal!’
The stairs which he had touched earlier had changed color, going from red to dark grey, making it stand out amongst the other blocks.
‘Yiming! That mushroom!’ Bai Ze suddenly cried out.
“Mushroom?” Li Yiming dodged a charge from the turtle. He noticed a giant, colorful mushroom fall down from the stairs and sliding away into the distance.
‘Don’t let it escape!’ Bai Ze yelled ardently.
It was now or never for Li Yiming, and so he dashed toward the mushroom as quickly as he could. He soon caught up to it, his speed having apparently not been subject to any kind of limitation.
‘Got it!’ Li Yiming put his hand on the mushroom, which disappeared as soon as he touched it.
‘What?’ Li Yiming looked at his hand. ‘I’m big again…’ Li Yiming noticed his growth as soon as he touched the giant mushroom.
Li Yiming stood back up and dusted off his clothes. He looked the turtle, who was charging toward him once again, and then at the still-floating plight of stairs.
‘I think you know how to deal with these turtles now, don’t you?’ Bai Ze teased him.
Li Yiming pursed his lips and pulled on his suspenders. ‘Well, at least I don’t have a mustache now… To hell with the prince charming fighting a dragon… I’m a plumber now, and you can call me Mario…’