The rest of them abruptly paused in their steps.
They gazed into the darkness ahead, bewildered.
What lay ahead?
The two corpses had appeared out of nowhere in the cell.
If so, what about everyone else? Where were they? Could anyone guarantee that in the lit areas ahead, what appeared before them wouldn’t be their own corpse? Could anyone guarantee that they wouldn’t disappear in the next moment like the short-statured man for having seen their own corpse?
No longer did anyone dare to venture ahead.
It wasn’t until two full minutes later that the brawny blonde hesitantly took a step forward.
He didn’t have to worry about encountering his corpse, for his corpse was already lying quietly behind him in the cell.
After the brawny man took that step, Bai Song behind him also took a tiny step.
Only the big-nosed man remained rooted to the spot.
“If you’re afraid, you can stay behind,” Yu Feichen said.
The short-statured man had also stayed through the last night there unharmed.
The corners of the big-nosed man’s mouth twitched stiffly.
He glanced back at the two smiling corpses lying flat on the ground of the cell.
His facial muscles twitched several more times before he ultimately followed them.
“Their smiles are too eerie.” After everyone started to make a move on, Bai Song seemed to exhale, saying, “I won’t return there even if you whack me to death, that—”
His words suddenly ceased, changing into a meaningless “ug”, like a duck that had suddenly gotten its throat caught in a chokehold from the back.
Because when Anfield walked forward to the neighbouring cell, the illumination of the oil lamp revealed another corpse.
It was the corpse of a slender young man.
A deep welt ran from the side of his face to his neck and buried into his clothes.
Most strikingly, the corners of his lips were similarly raised in a faint smile that caused chills to run up their spines.
The subsequent few cells were empty.
Then came a cell where the corpse was facing them, clutching to the iron bars of the cell in a deathly tight grip.
His smile was plastered to the door and even though his eyes were closed, due to the extreme vividness of his expression, it appeared as though he was watching each of them as they passed by him.
“Was he trying to open the door and escape?” Bai Song muttered.
And as they proceeded even further down, several cells contained corpses.
Some had only one, whereas others had two or three.
The corpses were in varied poses, but most had collapsed close to the door or were clutching the iron gate.
The bars cast shadows on the corpses, leaving inky black streaks on their smiling skulls.
In the end, the gates still bound them to their deaths.
“Good lord.” The brawny blonde’s voice was slightly hoarse.
Yu Feichen’s gaze shifted away from the smiling corpses and scanned across the rest of them.
He was from outside this world.
As such, no matter what he witnessed, he could maintain the rationality and composure to carry out the mission.
However, Bai Song and the others weren’t.
At the sight of the tragic and bizarre deaths of their fellow Koroshans, their eyes widened and their faces turned pale, plunging into tremendous dread and grief.
As for Anfield—
Anfield walked at the front.
His silhouette was soft under the warm orange light of the oil lamp, and even his long hair seemed to glow.
Just like that, he carried the single lamp through the deep dark corridor lined with grisly corpses on both sides.
His gait was steady and no emotion could be told.
But when his lowered gaze moved away from the corpses to the dimly lit road ahead, faint compassion that transcended the military camps and race surfaced before Yu Feichen’s eyes.
They walked through the corridor and pushed the door open.
A chilly wind lifted Anfield’s cloak, its howl calling to mind a mournful cry or a wailing whistle.
Yu Feichen took one last look at the barracks.
“I have a faint impression of some of them,” he said.
“They had been abused by the foremen to the point of collapse.”
When the prisoners went out to work, those who had been beaten so badly that they were incapacitated were unable to leave and were still locked behind the bars.
In other words, on this day in the future, the brawny blonde and the short-statured man had also been tortured to the point of collapse in the cell, unable to head out to work.
Then, on this day, something horrific happened, and everyone died with smiles on their faces in the cells.
“How did they die?” the big-nosed man asked.
“Is it witchcraft?”
If the chemistry teacher, Gerold, was here, perhaps someone could answer his question.
As everyone had simultaneously died in the cells and simultaneously attempted to escape, there could only be one possibility—gas.
In the silence, Bai Song suddenly gasped.
He said, “The things we saw in the chemical plant… those canisters! Those metal canisters didn’t contain coal gas… When I served at the harbour, they said that some armies would use toxic gases as weapons, stuff similar to tear gas.
They must have been poisoned in the barracks.
But why are the corpses smiling? And why would they want to poison us to death? We—”
Once again, his voice came to a screeching halt.
This was because as everyone walked onwards, the oil lamp illuminated an area that revealed two corpses.
They were guards of the concentration camp.
They weren’t injured.
Yet their faces also carried faint smiles, and their postures were contorted.
Yu Feichen bent down to examine the two bodies and affirmed that they were indeed guards from the concentration camp.
“Keep moving,” he said.
“We should make a trip down to the chemical plant.
I suspect that there was a massive leakage of their toxic gas.”
Why else would even guards of the concentration camp die?
No one raised any objections.
They increased their pace.
On the way, they found several corpses of soldiers and local foremen.
When they arrived at the chemical plant, every single one of their breaths caught.
Under the ghastly white moonlight lay hundreds of bodies on the ground.
Women, children, elderly, guards—everyone, irrespective of their status.
Their placements were also in disorder, but all of them smiled towards the sky.
“That confirms it; a leak has caused everyone to die.
We were possibly at the brick kiln at that time, also dead.” Bai Song looked over, saying, “But the women and children shouldn’t be here.
Shouldn’t they be in the other barracks?”
Yu Feichen said, “Go to the experimental floor.”
They walked past the corpses and the warehouses where the chemicals were stored to the two-storied laboratory building they explored yesterday.
The ground floor still held those canisters.
Anfield weaved between the massive reactor and the metal gas canisters, coughing a little more frequently.
He neared the canisters and pipeways, finally stopping in front of the largest, two-person-high metal canister.
“Help me up,” he said.
He didn’t specifically point out anyone, but Yu Feichen had a hunch that it was probably him.
He effortlessly leapt on a slightly shorter canister, crouching down slightly, reaching down towards Anfield.
Anfield first passed the oil lamp to him, then held out his right hand for Yu Feichen to pull him up, borrowing his strength to climb up the canister in a clean, fluid motion.
Then, he used the oil lamp to shine a light on the mouth of the largest canister.
Yu Feichen looked inside as well.
In this primitive world of limited technology, even the strongest gas canister had a valve that could be forced open.
The valve of the canister in front of him had been opened, revealing a black hole.
Not only that, but the metal around the valve showed irregular signs of being corroded.
“Someone opened the valve then used a strong corrosive liquid to destroy it.
The valve couldn’t be closed in the short term,” Anfield concluded.
Yu Feichen crossed his arms.
“Maybe another chemical was also added to trigger and hasten the dispersal of the gas.”
Anfield nodded slightly, then coughed a few more times.
“You…” Yu Feichen glanced at him, asking, “Are you okay?”
This was the source of the gas leak.
It was hard to determine if there was still residue gas left behind.
He was fine, but Anfield already had a lung condition.
Anfield said tersely, “Still okay.”
His face was pale and the corners of his eyes were faintly red from coughing; this could be termed as not-so-okay.
But Yu Feichen felt that he had done his due courtesy by asking and didn’t persist in asking.
“We should go take a look upstairs,” Yu Feichen said.
He gauged the distance from the ground to the top of the canister where they stood.
Since the senior officer was unable to come up by himself, he naturally shouldn’t be able to go down by himself as well.
So, Yu Feichen went down first then half-supported, half-carried the other man down.
Once back to the ground, Yu Feichen released the arm that was around the senior officer’s shoulders.
Anfield’s expression was completely blase as he turned towards the stairs.
Yu Feichen stood on the spot for a moment more, confirming that he had indeed just been used as an escalator.
And that senior officer’s nonchalant attitude was practically like he had just used a personal ladder.
In response, he followed the glass oil lamp forwards, also expressionless, taking it just as nonchalantly as if he was using a personal torch.
Up the concrete stairs, the second floor was still the same, and the dissection tables were still present.
Only, there were people crammed over the tables now.
The albino and pregnant woman they had seen before, as well as people they hadn’t seen before, were all securely bound to the tables with ropes.
Some died with smiles on their faces, whereas some died with fear on their faces, their deaths obviously occurring before the gas leak.
In the corner of the room by the window, a doctor in a white coat was lying on the ground, his glasses fallen to one side, likewise with a smile on his face.
They had seen him before too; he was the one who had led the patients and the pregnant women away.
Yu Feichen leaned over and pulled a work log out of his pocket.
Yesterday, they had gone through the second floor, trying to find work logs, experimental records, or suchlike in vain.
Unfortunately, they had all been destroyed.
Today, it was found with ease.
There was a lot of information that remained on the office desk.
They went through them, sorting out the important information.
“We have finally recreated the accidental discovery that caused Koroshans to die of poisoning with smiles on their faces.
“They faced the sky and were cleansed and absolved of their crimes.
This is undoubtedly the will of the God of Truth.
Sinful people were finally restored to purity.
Colonel ordered the execution of Koroshan captives by mass purification rather than by a firing squad, so as to not place psychological burdens on the loyal Black Badge soldiers.”
Translated on ninetysevenkoi.wordpress
“12.21 The first batch of Koroshan captives were purified in the confessional.
Their bodies were incinerated, ascending to the sky and returning to the embrace of the God of Truth.
“12.29 The second batch of Koroshan prisoners were purified in the confessional.
“1.03 The third batch of Koroshan prisoners were purified in the confessional.
“1.14 The fourth batch of Koroshan prisoners were purified in the confessional.
“1.18 Arrival of new Koroshans.
Young and strong prisoners were temporarily dispatched for necessary labour.
“1.18 Orders from Tin Cloud for the various concentration camps to explore effective management systems in preparation for the construction of a larger concentration camp.
(I believe that non-labouring Koroshan prisoners should be eliminated first to prevent unnecessary consumption of resources.)”
Translated on ninetysevenkoi.wordpress
“1.19 The fifth batch of Koroshan prisoners were purified in the confessional.
“1.20 The sixth batch of Koroshan prisoners were purified in the confessional.
By this point, Bai Song’s voice was quavering.
January 18; it was the date that they had arrived here.
“1.23 The seventh batch of Koroshan prisoners…
“1.25 The eighth batch of Koroshan prisoners…” By this point, tears had welled up in his eyes.
He murmured, “I remember… I remember Leanna telling us that people would disappear every day.”
Yu Feichen was looking at another record that detailed the range of experiments they conducted on the physically disabled and pregnant women.
Actually, he didn’t need to read it.
He walked up to a dissection table where a crippled man had his leg cut open.
All the tissues of the leg and the snow-white leg bones were exposed in plain sight.
On another, a dwarf was dissected along the spine.
As for the pregnant woman—there was a long gash on her abdomen.
Her belly was deflated, and the fetus was nowhere to be found.
Yu Feichen pondered it for a moment before flipping the experimental record to the last page, which detailed the experiment conducted on a pregnant woman.
The subject’s name: Leanna.
It was this time that he noticed out of his peripheral vision that Anfield’s body hadn’t moved in a long time.
He walked over.
Anfield was standing before a dissection table.
Leanna was lying on this dissection table.
She too had a gash in her abdomen and a smile on her face.
But she wasn’t the only one there.
Yu Feichen looked down to see a man gripping her hand, kneeling in front of the dissection table, his head resting on the table surface.
With a smile on his face, his forehead was resting against their joined hands, his hand carrying burn wounds.
It was the corpse of the chemistry teacher, Gerold.
They had died together.
Everyone gathered around in silence, looking at this scene.
“I think I know what’s going on here,” Bai Song muttered.
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