Chapter 9: Every dog has its day

After Bai Qingqing had upgraded her space to level three, she had not had time to find vehicles or other means of transportation, and the two of them could only head to Zhou Village on foot.
Fortunately, the distance was only about two kilometers and for ordinary people, it would only be a half an hour walk.

A tall wall had been built outside of the village, itself protected by wooden thorns and iron, making it difficult for both zombies and humans to enter the closed town.
People had to get the leader’s permission to be able to walk on their road and the watchman picked up his gun vigilantly when he saw two shadows slowly approach.
“We are no zombies but two human beings.
A man and a woman.”
Fu Chen stayed at safe distance with Bai Qingqing and raised his voice.
He added: “We have friends in your village, can you let us in?”
Once sure they were not zombies, someone came over and opened the door for the two of them to enter.

Ancestors of Zhou Village had relied on the mountains for generations for food and water.
The village had its own indigenous culture and it was divided into two mountains, the north and the south, and households were located on both sides, separated by a watershed road. 
From ancient times to nowadays, this place had been known as a paradise, yet people were scared of it; anybody who would get lost in these mountains would not be able to escape.
The houses of Zhou Village also had their own style; they were all built with wood, and Japanese bananas and camellias were planted in every courtyard, making people want to stay and relax.
The locals were also dressed up with their ethnic characteristics; men wore silver ornaments on their ears and surrounded the two newcomers with machetes in their hands.
“What is your name?”
Fu Chen replied: “I have friends in your village, I am here to look for them.” 
The guard’s face was indifferent and he directly asked for money: “Whoever enters the village needs to pay.”
“How much?”
The man looked at the two of them and said: “Twenty thousand each.
Only cash, gold, and silver are also accepted.”
The village was barren hills and wild rivers1 and the leader had closed the place.
Anyone who was trying to cross the road or stay would be allowed for a certain amount of gold.
If they had no money, they would have to make other arrangements.

Fu Chen led Bai Qingqing to the side and she took out gold and silver from the space.
After a while, he showed it to the gatekeeper and asked: “Is it enough? Can we go in?”
Bai Qingqing followed him obediently and did not say a word.
With Fu Chen’s strength, as long as she stayed with him, she would stay safe wherever they’d go.
The gatekeeper took a bite of the gold to check its authenticity and laughed: “It’s real, come on in.
What is your friend’s name?”
“Xiao Yang.”
A strange light flashed in the gatekeeper’s eyes and he smiled brightly: “So it turned out you were a friend of Brother Xiao Yang.”
“Can friends not pay?” Bai Qingqing asked.
The man looked a little embarrassed but answered: “No, the rules cannot be broken for anyone.” He put away the gold and added, “Your friends are on the northern mountain.
But if you want to stay, you have to follow me to see our leader.”

The man led the two of them into the village and as soon as they entered, they noticed their giant modified car.
The tires were locked by chains and no one could drive it away.
It looked like the Thunder Squad’s members really were in Zhou Village, they just didn’t know in what state.

There were no people walking around in the village, only a handful of sturdy men were patrolling with weapons out and looked up when they saw newcomers arrive.
Bai Qingqing felt very uncomfortable under their gazes and moved closer to Fu Chen.
He took her hand and whispered: “Don’t be afraid.”
“I’m not afraid, I have my brother by my side.”
Fu Chen tightened his grip and they followed the gatekeeper into an ancient building, which was the ancestral hall of Zhou Village.
Few people were inside, including a gray-haired old man who was sitting in the main seat.
He looked over 80 years old and the others around him were 50 to 60 years old.
“Are you outsiders?” The Elder asked.
“Yes,” Fu Chen answered.
“I have a few friends here.”
“What is your friend’s name?”
“Xiao Yang.” Fu Chen’s voice was calm, “We accidentally got separated and I am looking for them.”
The leader spoke to a younger man behind him: “Huzi, take them to find their friends.”

The man named Huzi nodded: “Yes, Clan Elder.”

As soon as they left the ancestral hall, Bai Qingqing felt a little more comfortable.
She had felt that something was very weird inside, feeling like merchandise put on display.
Huzi was dressed in a sleeveless vest and short pants, a silver necklace with complex runes hung above his collar, and red and cyan marks were painted on his face.
As he walked, he said: “Your friends arrived the day before yesterday.
They are living here and are not planning on leaving.”
Surprise flashed through Bai Qingqing’s eyes; how could their team be willing to stay here? Surely, something weird was happening here.

Huzi took them along the road, towards the north of the village.
They climbed halfway up the mountain and met a group of people carrying wood.
However, after only two days, the Thunder Squad had drastically changed.
Cheng Rui and Xiao Yang were bare-chested, with black trousers and cloth shoes, silver jewelry hanging around their necks.
Bai Qingqing looked at them with appreciative eyes and teased: “Brother, it really looks like they don’t want to leave.
They are planning to become Zhou village sons-in-law.”
Fu Chen blocked her sight and stared at his teammates, “When do you have time?”
The men lifted the timber again and answered: “In half an hour.”
Fu Chen nodded slightly and looked at Shen Mingxuan and Liang Zhiyu coming down the mountain.
The two of them had not been spared either and had changed into ethnic costumes too.
These men looked very handsome and capable, and because of their constant workout, their bodies were comparable to male models.
They also had their own distinguished features and adorned into these outfits, they all were very eye-catching.
Bai Qingqing discreetly chuckled, she had not expected to ever see these big bosses of the apocalypse lost in a small mountain village, carrying logs.
Shen Mingxuan noticed Bai Qingqing standing next to Fu Chen.
A strange look flashed across his peach blossom eyes but he did not target her with his habitual poisonous tongue.

After bringing them to see their teammates, Huzi led them to a wooden house.
“Unmarried women and men live separately in our village.
Men live in the north and you girl, you will have to follow me to the south.”
No wonder they had not seen Bai Tiantian.
The men were working and she didn’t know if the women were coerced to do anything; Bai Qingqing showed a panicked expression and looked at Fu Chen: “Brother, I don’t want to be separated from you!”
“Little girl,” Huzi said, “Don’t make a scene, the rules are unbreakable.”
Fu Chen’s pitch-black eyes were deep and he told her: “Do as you’re told, go.”
Bai Qingqing lowered her eyelashes and pouted: “Yes, brother.”

She followed Huzi down the mountain and looked at the whole village on the way.
As the sun was about to set, the beautiful scene of earlier looked a little gloomy.
Huzi led her through the village and told her to go up the south mountain by herself once they arrived, so she could find the house with the corn and chili.

[Host, there is a side task, do you want to do it?]
Bai Qingqing was walking and she asked: “What are the benefits of doing a side mission?”
[The points awarded for completing a side mission can be exchanged for mutant plant seeds.]
Bai Qingqing stopped.
“Are you talking about seeds I can plant in the space?”
[Yes, host.]
[Starting side quest.
Mission one: Help Awang to meet with A-mei.
Mission two: Help their love come together and have them become a family.]
“…” Was the system messing with her?
Who was Awang and who was A-mei? Did she actually have to play matchmaker during the end of the world? This was ridiculous.
Forget it, she had to endure it for the mission.

Bai Qingqing found the wooden house described by Huzi and pushed open the fence before walking into the courtyard.
She saw an old woman slowly carrying a bucket of water up the stairs and rushed over.
“Old lady, let me help.”
The woman heard her voice and smiled: “Thank you, you must be the new girl.”
“Yes, my name is Bai Qingqing.” She took the bucket and carried it up the steps, before entering the room and put it down next to the water tank.
The old woman staggered into the house and asked in a gentle voice: “Miss Qingqing, have you had dinner yet?”
She and Fu Chen had snacked on some dry food along the way but had not had a meal in a while.
She was indeed a little hungry and timidly shook her head.
“No, not yet.”
The old lady took corn out of a pot and said: “Here.
You can eat it while I cook the rice.”

Bai Qingqing took a bite, the sweet and tender corn was delicious and praised it aloud before nibbling at it.
“Grandma, let me help you.”
“No, no, this old lady can still move, how can I let my guest do it?” She gently refused her kindness and Bai Qingqing kept on eating her corn as she looked around.
The room in the wooden house was simple and the furniture was old but it was very clean.

During dinner, Bai Qingqing asked the old lady: “Grandma, do you know who Awang is?”
The woman put down her bowl and replied: “Which Awang are you looking for?”
Bai Qingqing had a bad feeling.
“It can’t be the men in the village are called Awang, right?”
The old lady laughed and said: “Little girl, which boy are you in love with? Didn’t he tell you his full name?”
“…” So it was true.
“What about A-mei?” she asked again, “Are all the girls called A-mei too?”
“No, they’re not.” The old lady pushed a plate of bacon, “You are too thin, eat more.”
Bai Qingqing was very focused on her side tasks and kept questioning: “How many Awang are there in the village?”
“Let me think.” After a long time, the old lady listed three families.
Bai Qingqing guessed she did not have a very good memory and stopped asking.


The next day, she got up early and did not plan to have breakfast before going out to investigate.
Zhou village could have been developed into a tourist attraction; the air was fresh, the mountains were beautiful and the water was clear.
The golden sunlight fell down on the village and it looked particularly beautiful under a layer of mist.
The crowing of a rooster could be heard and white smoke came out of the roofs of several houses.
Bai Qingqing didn’t know how long Fu Chen planned to stay in this village but she was aware she had to complete her task as soon as possible and hurry to find the two targets.
She first went to the house closest to the old lady’s and after walking for a few minutes, she reached it and looked inside through the fence.穷山恶水 (qióngshān’èshuǐ): lit.
barren hills and wild rivers (idiom) / fig.
inhospitable natural environment

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