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271 Landing Inside the Hellish Settlement, A Few Events Leading to an Unexpected Encounter

 Day 41 - 4:35 PM - Death Valley Settlement, Barangay Poblacion, General Nakar, Quezon

The four-legged whale rampaged at the eastern side of Death Valley Settlement just right past the Ungos River. The Mutators of the settlement desperately stood in front of the whale to fight but their attacks bared did any damage to the whale. Furthermore, the rain of thorns from the whale injured many of the defenders of the settlement along with a lot of people inside.

As they flew around the Death Valley Settlement, Mark observed the place. The settlement was situated in a rural town beside the Ungos River and the settlement took the southern half of the town which was the closest part to the river. That southern half was also divided into two areas. The eastern area consisted of several blocks of residential houses while the western part that was smaller was occupied by the General Nakar Central School.

The whole settlement was crudely maintained and unlike the Military Settlement and East Port Settlement that built some sturdy and reliable looking walls, the walls around the Death Valley Settlement was mostly made of the already existing walls before the outbreak combined with scrap materials put together.

Trash could be seen being drifted around by the flowing rain water and most houses were barricaded with various materials. The only different ones were the buildings within the school grounds which seemed to be maintained properly.

The school grounds were wide specially the multipurpose oval at the front of the school. Unfortunately, the former place for learning became the central area of the inhumane acts of the criminals of this settlement. At the school grounds, various facilities could be seen such as a small fighting area, trading stalls and even cages of different sizes. These cages were surely used to detain their "merchandise". The smallest could fit a child while the largest ones could fit about a dozen people.

Even right now, Mark could see slaves locked inside cages screaming to be freed. A lot of them were screaming in fear while some were curling their bodies in cold. It seemed that even though it was raining, they were not even removed from their cages and were left under the rain. The appearance of the whale destroying everything at the eastern side of the settlement added further fear and stress in the minds of these poor people.

Why did they seem to be overwhelmed by fear? It was because some of the unlucky slaves were hit by the stray thorns that the whale released in its previous attack. With the thorns about the size of a finger, getting hit with the speed that whale released it could spell death. In fact, some of the slaves hit by the thorns died almost immediately after the thorns pierced through the vital parts of their bodies.

Mark then felt a very weak tugging feeling inside him. He finally detected a [BloodChild]. The poor [BloodChild] was actually at the school grounds and its state was rather dangerous. The life of the poor critter was too weak that Mark almost did not detect it. Without further ado, Mark made Chaflar land unto the school grounds.

Without removing their [Optical Camouflage], Chaflar swept down towards the multipurpose oval. Even though they could not be seen, the strong wind that blew because of Chaflar's wings was felt by the people and the slaves. They however did not find it strange because the storm was still ongoing.

Chaflar landed in front of the place Mark felt the [BloodChild] was at. In front of Mark was a stall in front of a large tarpaulin tent. Looking at the cages and containers outside and inside the tent, it seemed to be a place where they traded various kinds of strange animals. In fact, although most of the cages and containers were empty, Mark could see that some still had some animals inside.

A cat with two horns, a worm as large as a house cat, a dog with red fur and a few more other animals with strange features could be seen. Unfortunately, none of these animals had intelligence developed enough for Mark to be interested in them. The only thing that caught Mark's eyes was the aquarium on the stall that was already filled with rain water due to being exposed to the rain.

The already dying [BloodChild] was in that container. Its condition was even worse that when he found Crimson and Cherry, the first and second [BloodChildren] he found. Mark left Chaflar who was covered with the [Optical Camouflage] and appeared like a ghost after conjuring a mask on his face. However, no one was there to witness his sudden appearance. When Mark scooped the poor thing from the aquarium, it did not even manage to protect itself and just slumped on his palms almost dripping out.

Mark looked around to see if there was someone around or inside the tent. If this [BloodChild] was here, the owner might know if there were others and where they could be found. While he fed the [BloodChild] with his blood, Mark entered the tent not fearing the growls and threat of the animals inside the cages.

Inside the tent, he found the owner. He was lying in the pool of his own blood while being soaked in the rain and with a few animals in their cages with the same state. Mark looked up at the roof of the tent and on the ground. The roof that dozens of holes while a lot of thorns could be seen sticking out of the cement and on the body of the dead owner. Now to think of it, this stall was at the eastern most part of the school grounds and close to where the battle with the whale was ongoing.

After absorbing Mark's blood, the [BloodChild] recovered a bit and clung to his hand like how the other [BloodChildren] did before. After the connection between Mark and the new [BloodChild] formed, he could feel its fear of people. It seemed that it had been treated too badly. It was really good that it managed to stay alive until Mark found it. He patted its gelatin like body gently and assured it that it was over.

As Mark went out of the tent, Mark heard some shouting. He turned his head and saw a girl on her early twenties wearing a dog collar and ragged clothes that almost revealed her private parts shouting at a naked girl a few years younger inside a cage. The girl shouting was injured as blood trickled out of her wound on her left arm while she desperately bashed the lock of the cage with the knife she held on her right hand. Looking at the wound, a finger sized thorn was still stuck.

"Naomi... Just leave. I already gave up."

The naked girl spoke with an emotionless tone.

"Why should I?! We finally had the opportunity to escape! There's no chance that I will leave you here!"

Mark looked at the naked girl curled up inside the cage. The poor girl must have been tormented until the point of mental breakdown. Her eyes were empty and she was curled there only because she felt cold. She was not even covering her modest sized chest and her shaved below. There was no care about her own left inside her mind. Her eyes looked blank after all. In her state it was already good that she was still able to converse to the other girl properly.

A girl that would not leave her friend and a girl that had already given up on life. It was quite a combination.

"Naomi, what are you doing? Let's go!"

Another slave came and shouted at the injured girl with the knife. This time, it was a boy about the same age as her.

"But Tullia is still inside! We'll escape this hell together no matter what!"

The boy sighed and approached the cage.

"Give me the knife."

The boy said and the girl called Naomi reluctantly gave him the knife. With the knife on his hand, he replaced Naomi in trying to break the lock. However, it would surely be difficult for them to break the lock because of their weakened and emaciated bodies.

PAKIN!

The blade of the knife broke to their dismay.

"Sh*t!"

The boy cursed. Still, the two outside did not give up. They tried to look around for anything they could use to break the lock and open the cage Tullia was in.

Mark turned away from the three and looked at a different direction. He saw several people coming towards the three being led by a fat man with an umbrella and a monocle.

"You f*cking slaves! What do you think you are doing?!"

The fat man screamed with a voice close to a pig's squeal.

The armed men beside the fat man immediately pointed their guns at the Naomi and the boy.

With the threat in front of them, the boy moved in front of Naomi to protect her.

"Aaron... What are we going to do?"

Naomi said with a worried expression.

"Just stay behind me."

Aaron said as he grasped the broken knife in his hand. Tullia on the other hand only glanced at the threat before returning to her previous position.

"Just give up you heaps of trash. You two think that you'll be able to escape?"

The fat man spoke as he fixed the monocle in front of his red colored eye.

While Naomi and Aaron were in a dilemma, a voice entered their ear.

"Need some help?"

The two turned their heads to the side and the other group also did the same.

There, they saw Mark who stood there all along and no one noticed him. It was not because he did not show himself but because of his attire. The slaves in this place mostly wore ragged clothing or things that their owner's preferred. As for those who did not, they should be residents of this settlement which meant that they were criminals. Not to mention that he wore a suspicious mask on his face. The three slaves did not see them while the criminals thought of him as their people and thus, they did not bother to look at him.

Now that he spoke however, it became an issue.

"Don't poke your nose into our business! Don't you know who I am?"

The fat man spoke with a threatening attitude. With the fat man's behavior, he was surely one of the pillars in this settlement. Furthermore, Mark could tell that he was a strong Mutator.

Without minding the threat, Mark walked forward between the two groups and faced the criminals.

"Of course I don't know you. I'm not from this garbage dump after all."

Mark spoke with a nonchalant voice but what he said froze everyone that heard him. He was not from this garbage dump he said. This person was not from this hellish settlement. It only meant that he was...

"Are you an intruder? Just how did you manage to get in here?"

The fat man spoke in a cold tone.

"Well, yeap. In your terms, I can be called as an intruder. As for how..."

Mark pointed his thumb to his back towards the direction where the whale was rampaging.

The fat man did not speak anymore and signaled his men with his eyes. The men started to cautiously spread out to surround Mark. Unlike the other enemies he encountered before, these people were not reckless.

"Hey you three, wanna join my base? I you do, I'll help you leave this place."

Mark ignored the men and spoke to the three behind him.

"We do! Please help us!"

"Yes! Please!"

The two immediately grasped the last straw given to them while Tullia did not answer.

"How about you?"

Mark glanced at the girl inside the cage.

"She will also join! Please help her too!"

It was Naomi who answered for Tullia.

"Well then..."

Mark turned around and swung the [Slicer] in his hand a few times.

CLANG! CLANG!

The cage was dismantled into pieces which made everyone froze once more.

It was then that Mark felt a malicious stare. The same stare that he felt when he helped Karlene's group at the highway before.

Soon, he saw the source of the stare approaching together with several men.

"To think that you're still alive." Mark spoke and stared at the leader of the new group. He was not too familiar with the guy but Mark knew him. "Sherwin Ferrer..."