Ghost Blows Out the Light Chapter 10-11
Chapter 10 - The Underground Lake
Every foot soldier was equipped with a standard German hand grenade. They were comprised of three parts: the upper part was made of a sheet of iron shaped of a cylinder and the lower part was a handle made of wood. Once triggered, the gunpowder inside would ignite the iron fragments that would slaughter enemies. However, it wasn't very powerful.
Giant left behind a single hand grenade while I grabbed another. Seeing that there were quite a few fireballs already rushing towards us, I pulled the pin. The wooden handle started to tick and white smoke filled the air as I threw the grenade.
Having detonated in billows of white smoke, thousands of blue fireballs that flew towards us exploded against the iron fragments. The fireballs fell to the ground, extinguished. However, even more waves of fireballs followed soon after.
With Luo Ning ahead, and us three at the back, we retreated whilst shooting off our semi-automatic rifles. The twenty or so bullets we each had were completely gone in less than two minutes.
Only gunshots worked against these strange blue fireball-looking ladybugs. With just a touch, the ladybugs had the potential to ignite entire bodies, so it was futile to use empty rifles. We might as well set ourselves aflame and attack them with our flaming bodies.
Giant threw his rifle away, pulled out his last hand grenade, and screamed to me: "Old Hu, it's about time. Go for it?"
Luo Ning and I carried Ga Wa. The four of us huddled around Giant's hand grenade. I eyed the hand grenade in front of me. If Giant pulled the pin, it would destroy everything in a matter of seconds. The end was in sight.
At a time like this, I didn't spare time to think about much else, as those fireballs were already closing in. There was just no time to overthink things. Not only that, but worrying too much about life and death would only have made me weak. I'd always wanted to be like the special forces hero, Yang Gen Si. But now, rather than having died on the battlefield, I would meet my end at the bottom of Mount Kun Lun for unknown reasons. I didn't want to go like that. I crossed my heart as Giant was about to trigger the hand grenade.
Luo Ning, who had already tightly closed her eyes, suddenly realized something. In the next instant, she pulled us aside. "You guys hear the stream? Below us, there's a river nearby. We have to quickly jump into the river."
I was too busy just now shooting off my rifle and was about to commit suicide with the hand grenade, so the whole underground river thing was at the back of my mind. Amidst the chaos, I didn't hear the sound of the stream. It was not until Luo Ning mentioned it that I realized there was still a way out. If we jumped into the river in time, it didn't matter how strong those fireballs were, they wouldn't be able to touch us.
Before we knew it, thousands of blue fireballs had already approached us. The four desperate survivors hastily ran towards the roaring stream.
Listening closely, it sounded like the water was tens of meters away. After taking just a few steps forward, past the dead end in the underground tunnel, a large waterfall appeared around the corner. There was a large natural underground lake beneath the waterfall.
Before I could take a closer look, a heat surged from behind - a heart wrenching, stomach wrenching type of pain spread. A fireball had probably struck my back. With just a single touch by these firebugs, it would engulf my body in flames. In a life or death situation like this, who had the time to think? I threw myself into the lake.
In the chaos of it all, Giant and two others were also on fire, screaming frantically as they leapt into the lake. I dove hurriedly into the water, instantly extinguishing the blue flames on my body.
Water and fire never mixed. It seemed as though the remaining ladybugs understood just how dangerous the water was, so they hovered two to three meters from the lake. They didn't dare charge forward.
I lifted my head up for air to find Giant had also resurfaced, but there was no sight of Luo Ning and Ga Wa. I was worried that they'd drowned in the lake. Taking a deep breath, I prepared to enter the water again to save them. Just then, Luo Ning emerged from the lake carrying Ga Wa.
As it turns out, Ga Wa had never swam a day in his life. After he had jumped into the lake, he choked and fainted. Luo Ning saw everything just in time and dove in to save him. Thankfully, Ga Wa had only spent a short time under. He coughed up some water and woke up.
It was Tibetan custom to not take baths in the lake. Ga Wa recited prayers and begged for the Buddha's forgiveness.
Blazing glows from the endless fireballs shone brightly above the surface of the lake. The four of them huddled together. Even though it was early spring, the water underground wasn't cold at all. It was rather warm as the geothermal energy had heated up the lake.
"F*ck! The rifle's gone! It sunk to the bottom of the lake!" shouted Giant.
"We don't have any bullets, so there's no point in having rifles. Right now, we have to quickly think of an escape plan. Keep your head down and keep an eye out for charging bugs." I reminded him.
Giant didn't believe that the bugs covered in fire could plunge into the lake. The wide, silly grin on his face quickly froze at the sight of thousands of flashing blue fireballs which gradually formed a colossal ball of flames. With a loud cry, it surged down and bore into the heart of the lake.
I took a deep breath, thinking about heading down myself. Seeing that Ga Wa beside me was scared stiff and naturally afraid of the water, I could only push his head down. Forcefully dragging his arm, I swam deep into the lake.
Once it touched the lake, the large fireball that spanned over tens of meters vaporized. Though the fireball was powerful, the lake was vast. The ladybugs risked their entire army with the last attempt, but it resulted in a suicidal attack as the lake effectively drowned them one by one.
The bottom of the lake was originally dark, but with the rays of light from the fire above, it revealed tens of meters of clear water around us. Countless fish were slowly swimming deep in the water. These fish were completely different from any other fish I had seen before in my life. They bore a striking resemblance to chum salmon, but had long whiskers like a catfish. Their eyes only consisted of two white dots, as their eyesight had deteriorated after having spent their lives in complete darkness.
Frightened by the strange fish, I swallowed some water. I took another look at Ga Wa whose hands and feet were waving around in panic. He couldn't hold his breath any longer and desperately needed air. Just then, the bottom of the lake suddenly became dark. I suspected that the bugs had mostly died out, so I dragged Ga Wa and swam up to the lake's surface.
There was a pitch black layer of dead ladybugs floating on the surface. Their lights were out. I shouted at Giant, "Hey Giant! Do you still have a flashlight?"
"They're all gone. Nothing's left. Let's go back into the dark," answered Giant.
Suddenly, something caught my eye. Luo Ning had also emerged from the lake. She wiped her face with her hand and in her other, she clutched a military wind-up flashlight. "I'm carrying the last two. Luckily, I kept them in my pocket all this time. They didn't fall to the bottom."
We helped each other climb up onto land. After over ten hours without food, we were hungry and tired, with no energy to move. Let's also not talk about the blood and flesh. Even if you were made of steel, you wouldn't be able to hold up either.
Then, Giant jumped back into the lake, and stabbed a fish with a bayonet. He recklessly scraped off the scales and cut a few slices. I took the first bite. The taste of raw fish was alright as it was not too overbearingly fishy. Though it was slightly bitter, when you chewed it a while longer, it tasted quite nice.
Only Ga Wa refused to eat it; some soldiers in the army still followed local religious laws that forbade them from eating fish from these Tibetan lands. Mount Kun Lun was located at the border between Qinghai and Tibet. Technically, we were still in Qinghai, and there were more Hui people than Tibetans in Qinghai, so eating fish here wouldn't count as breaking the law. Well, even if they really broke the law, now wasn't the time to worry about such things. We were so hungry that our eyes had turned blue. Desperate times called for desperate measures.
The three of them wolfed down the large raw fish. Still feeling hungry, Giant dove back into the lake to catch some more. Luo Ning examined Ga Wa's leg wound, and I circled the lake looking for a way out. Since the stream from the waterfall was so large, it had to be diverted somewhere.
Luo Ning predicted that it was a ten foot fall down the large waterfall. The river before us should lead to the Yarlung Tsangbo's underground tributary. Furthermore, there could be a volcano deep underground, which would explain why the lake water was so warm.
I carried Luo Ning's wind-up flashlight and found a crack in the underground lake, where the water flowed. This waterway lead to a seven to eight meter tall cavern. Everything beneath it was complete flooded, there was no way out. If we wanted to continue ahead, we'd have to swim.
I returned to Luo Ning's side and explained our situation. Luo Ning lost her map and compass, so she had to go with the intuition she'd earned from years of experience as a navigator. She estimated that we were not too far from the icy springs now. The icy springs were infamous for its waters that never froze even in the harshest of winters. This proved that there was lava underground. The problem was that this was the way back to the surface. Continuing to walk around underground was not viable. The only plan we had now was to follow the path down the river, because as long as there was a river path, we wouldn't reach a dead end.
Giant came back with a glum look. This time, he didn't catch any fish. We didn't want to stop anymore. Three of us who could swim carried Ga Wa between us and followed along the stream and swam towards the far end of the underground cave.
Though the underground river wasn't very wide, the eddy was very strong. It wasn't draining to swim if you used the stream's current to your advantage. However, this path was far too long, and the water temperature was hotter than before. Taking a whiff, the air smelled like sulphur, and for some reason, even with our bodies submerged, our mouths were parched.
Giant was a little anxious, as he swam and complained, "This time, we've gone and made a grave mistake. We've swam for so long now. How come we haven't reached the end yet? The stream here is so rough. There isn't a single place where we can rest our feet. How about we retrace our steps and head back?"
I criticized Giant, "What were you doing earlier? We've swam so far ahead now and you're asking how long we have until the end? Are you still doubting whether our revolution will be victorious? Are you wavering just after the first step on the Great Wall? You better grit your teeth and pull yourself together." "How could you say that? Aren't I out here trying to support the revolution? Look at yourself! Who's the one fooling around, causing the revolution to lose out?" complained Giant.
Mid-sentence, Luo Ning gave a frightening screech: "Is that some kind of animal behind us? It looks like a... water beast."
I also heard something strange lurking in the water behind us. As I turned around whilst shining the flashlight in my hand, water sprayed us from behind. A giant shadow darted nearby. The flashlight failed to shine very far, so I couldn't see what it was exactly. However, it couldn't have possibly been anything good. We pulled out our bayonets, ready to fight.
Chapter 11 - Overlord Salamander
The hidden current grew stronger and stronger. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't gain control over my movement. Instead, my body was carried forward by the rush of water, while the enormous monster followed right behind.
Most of its body was submerged, creating massive waves in the water. The cavern was too dark to see much else, as such, I could only hearand not see. Based off of the noise, its body was at least seven to eight meters long.
Towards the final section of the river, the current was at its strongest. All four of us were afraid of being separated and so we held each other close, tumbling towards the next cavern.
Below us was an enormous underground river. The temperature of the water was abnormally high and there were several other smaller currents that were similar to the one we passed through that sprouted from the walls of the mountain. They almost looked like enormous pipes that converged into one main river. On both sides, there were several protruding rocks that released hot white steam. Some of them even had a faint red firelike vein. Looked like this was the volcanic region that Luo Ning was talking about.
The river water's temperature was getting too hot. We struggled to climb up onto a large rock that was beside the river, only to find out that even it was fairly warm. Since there was firelight nearby, we turned off our flashlights to save the precious little battery we had. I asked the others, "Did you guys see clearly? Just what was that behind us? It had an enormous head."
Giant and Luo Ning both didn't get a clear look at the beast and shook their heads. Ga Wa was the most miserable. He drank a whole belly full of river water, and his stomach was even distending from all the liquid. When he opened his mouth to speak, he ended up vomiting water. As he held his stomach, he said, "I done saw that there f*ckin bear. It was right behind us, but it done fell somewhere mid way down the river."
Just to be cautious, Giant kept his weapon at hand. He stood up and examined the situation in the water, "What water beast? There's nothing here." As he finished talking, he turned around to walk back. Suddenly, a red tongue emerged out of the water. It was two meters long, and it furled around Giant's two legs. It dragged his feet from under him and pulled him towards the river.
Thankfully, Ga Wa reacted quickly and he pierced his bayonet right into the tongue. The monster retracted its tongue from the pain and let go of Giant. Its lantern-like eyes glared at us as it began to crawl out of the water.
It looked very similar to the salamander that Giant had initially opened fire upon. Its head was like a frog, while the rest of its body looked like a skinless alligator. It's just that this salamander was f*cking enormous. It was actually a dozen meters long. The scales on its body reflected a menacing light. It swung its enormous tail and ferociously glared at us.
I hurriedly asked Luo Ning, "Mrs. Luo, are you sure that it doesn't harm people? Why is it so big?"
Luo Ning's face was completely pale. Her voice trembled as she replied, "I… I was talking about the last one… this… this is… the Overlord Salamander. It's extremely aggressive… But it went extinct during the Ice Age. I never would have imagined there'd be one here."
Of course, nobody would have been able to expect something like this. After all, this was practically an alternate dimension, to actually have a beast that supposedly already went extinct was impossible.
Fire-bellied salamanders were typically cold-blooded animals. The abnormally high temperature had pushed the Overlord Salamander before us into a frenzy. Furthermore, Ga Wa had stabbed its tongue. The iron taste of blood in its mouth only further increased its aggressiveness. Not to mention, we had fired upon and killed the other fire-bellied salamander. Who knows if it was some grandson or niece of this Overlord. All in all, we were faced with a deathmatch.
I threw a glance at both Giant and Ga Wa, hinting at them to attack the salamander from both sides. The three of us would create a pincer attack, giving us an advantage.
The Overlord Salamander hissed and began swinging its claws and biting at the three of us. It didn't even wait for us to make the first strike. It swept out its tail, flipping Ga Wa onto the floor. It then grabbed Ga Wa and opened its jaws for a bite. The fire-bellied salamander didn't have any teeth, but there were three rows of sharp fangs lined on the top and bottom. If it bit Ga Wa, he wouldn't escape with his life.
Giant and I saw that the situation was making a turn for the worst. We lunged forward and worked together to pull apart the Overlord Salamander's jaws. No matter what, we could not let it bite down. Otherwise, Ga Wa's head would be gone.
As long as it had nothing to do with religion and superstition, Ga Wa incredibly strong. Even though the salamander's tail was wrapped around his waist, he could still move his arms. When he saw that the monster's skin was thick and resistant to the elements, he saw that his only way out was to be cut into the mouth with his sharp blade.
Once the Overlord Salamander took a slice to its mouth, it was both stunned and enraged. It reared up into the air, throwing the three of us onto the ground. That b*st*rd was incredibly strong. I was thrown onto a rock, making my head whirl from the hit. Gold flecks spun before my eyes as the world rocked. As I tried to clear my head, Giant was thrown into the river. He quickly climbed up onto shore as white steam rose from his body and he wailed from the burns he received.
Trying to defeat this Overlord Salamander with just three weapons was no different than trying to break a rock with an egg. The four of us yelled to each other and quickly ran off, while the Overlord Salamander chased behind.
The floor was covered with magma rock and ash. Stepping across the surface felt soft and squishy. But in order to lose that beast behind us, we ran across the volcanic rock and climbed up along the wall, as far as our hands and feet would take us. I had climbed halfway up the wall before I heard Giant shout out to me, telling me to be careful. I glanced down and saw that the Overlord Salamander was climbing up, just like a scorpion. It swung its tail in my direction. It was but three meters away. It stuck out its long tongue, almost touching my bottom. I wanted to jump in an effort to escape but I was too far. I didn't have the confidence to jump into the river. If I made the slightest mistake and hit the rocks on the ground below, I would be f*cked. I cursed loudly and pulled out my sword with one hand, preparing for battle against the monster. If I had to die, I would at least drag this beast down with me.
The other three watched as the Overlord Salamander caught up to me. However, the wall was too steep, and there was no way they could catch up to us and help. All they could do was clench their teeth in nervous suspense, unable to do anything.