Shrouded Seascape

Chapter 540. Change



Chapter 540. Change

About fifteen minutes later, the barren semi-desert appeared before Charles once more. Once an eyesore, the wasteland now felt like a beacon of safety as it indicated that they had escaped from danger.

Screeeeech!

As the tires ground to a halt, Charles stopped the car at the border between the desert and the semi-desert while waiting for the others to arrive.

It didn't take long before he saw two other cars pulling up. However, the car Bandages was in remained unseen.

Recalling Bandages mentioning that they had a stuck tire earlier, Charles stayed calm. They'd take a bit longer time to arrive, but as long as they were in the right direction, they should appear soon.

Charles waited, and waited, but no car emerged from the blanket of yellow sand.

"Bandages! Reply if you hear me!"

"Bandages, roger... wait a moment... almost... there..."

Bandages seemed to be having a bad connection as his voice was accompanied by major static. Car Four seemed pretty far away.

"Why are you taking so long? Check the compass in the car. Are you in the right direction?" Charles asked.

"East 16... Correct... wait a little more... reaching soon... the sand dunes... became... larger..."

"Identify yourself again."

"Bandages. Position:... First Mate. Duty: To assist the Captain in organizing work plans... and responsible for compiling... the cargo loading schedule. Helmsman covering the... 1200 to 2400 shift! Today's secret code is...."

Hearing that Bandages was indeed okay, Charles' heart was at ease, and he continued waiting patiently.

Just then, Cook Planck placed a pot down on the ground and said, "We've been eating canned food daily to save time. Since we have time now, let me cook up something good for everyone."

Charles cast a glance at him but didn't stop him. Indeed, they had been eating cold canned meals to save time. But now that the exploration was over, there was no need to rush. A little relaxation would serve them well. After all, it wasn't sustainable if everyone was always on edge.

Freshwater was poured into the pot before cans of meat and vegetables were added. Cook Planck and his assistant kept themselves busy for a couple of moments and soon presented a rudimentary stew.

Though the ingredients were from cans, the dish smelled and tasted different after Planck added seasoning and combined them together. The enticing aroma had everyone drooling.

Ever since they entered the desert, they had been too preoccupied with the dangerous environment that they hadn't been able to eat properly. Soon, everyone huddled together and feasted as they waited for the last car to arrive.

Bandages' signal seemed to be getting better; he was getting closer and closer to Charles' location.

As he took big bites of the stew, Charles occasionally checked on Bandages' position with the intercom. Halfway through his meal, Charles let out a soft sigh as he gazed wistfully at the desert beside them.

Putting down the piece of meat in her paws, Lily's voice carried a hint of curiosity as she asked, "Mr. Charles, why are you sighing?" T0pp 𝒏𝒐v𝒆l updates on n/(o)v𝒆lbin(.)com

"I'm sighing because why can't this place be like a lair infested by dangerous monsters? Why can't it be like a simple dungeon where we just simply kill the monsters and take their loot?

"Be it that 'mirror', desert, or whatever that was, everything is so... so strange! The creatures in this surface world are even weirder than those in the Subterranean Sea! What kind of fucked up planet is this?" Charles grumbled.

Lily looked up at Charles, but she wasn't sure how she should respond.

The simple meal swiftly ended, and the pot was licked clean. There was not even a drop of soup left for those in Car Four.

"Bandages, are you here yet?"

"Yes... I smell... food."

"You can smell it?" Charles asked with a puzzled look as he squinted into the yellow sand. There was still no sign of any vehicle.

He was about to speak again when a flurry of panicked cries came through the intercom.

"What's happening, where are you?" Charles anxiously took two steps forward.

Immediately, the sound of tumbling came through the intercom. Car Four seemed to have encountered serious trouble.

Just as Charles was about to take the third step, Lily's shriek pierced the air.

"Ahhhhhhhh!"

The shimmering golden mouse scurried to Charles' foot, nudged it away, and frantically dug into the sand. Soon, she unearthed a small truck in the sand. Carefully cupping it in her tiny paws, she peered into the vehicle with her tiny, beady eyes.

"Mr. First Mate! You... all of you have gotten so tiny! Thank goodness I saw you, or Mr. Charles would have crushed you under his feet!"

"What... the... fuck..." Charles' face was painted with astonishment as he scooped Lily into his hand and stared at the tiny truck in her paws. He then squinted his eyes to look at the even tinier Bandages inside, who was barely larger than a grain of rice.

Car Four and all its passengers had shrunk; the truck now was no bigger than a finger.

The others hurriedly gathered around, dumbfounded by the baffling scene before them.

As Charles tried to replay the events that transpired in his mind, he felt a surreal sense of realization.

Could it be that the mirror's reflection wasn't growing? Instead, it was us that were shrinking?

However, this wasn't the time for him to dwell on this. Charles' brows furrowed as he stared at his open palm. Bandages was holding the miniature intercom in his hand.

"No... abnormalities... we just... shrunk... Probably because... our tire got stuck in the sand...and we missed... the recovery... window," Bandages' voice crackled through the intercom.

Perched on Charles' shoulder, Lily fiddled curiously with a tiny gun no bigger than a grain.

"Mr. Charles, if they can become smaller, then can I become bigger? Like as large as a human?"

Charles didn't have the time to entertain Lily's question. He carefully placed Bandages back in the passenger seat of the tiny truck. He then turned to the others and ordered, "Get in the cars! We must find the mirror again and turn them back to normal!"

Everyone complied immediately. The engines roared to life as the cars sped back into the desert.

Charles had hoped they could quickly retrace their tire tracks back to the "mirror." But despite traveling for two days, they found nothing.

That night, another problem presented itself: they were running out of fuel. Even if they were to use their remaining fuel strategically, they still didn't have enough whale oil left.

How could it have disappeared? It should be right here... Charles' brows were furrowed in thought as he stared into the endless yellow sand. The sand giant was nowhere to be seen.

Bandages seemed to understand Charles' dilemma and suggested, "Captain... why not we... return... and make another trip after... it's just shrinking in size... I can wait..."

Charles shook his head. "For now. But we don't know if there might be other risks. We can't leave hidden risks till later. There's another solution for the lack of fuel. We'll squeeze it!"

Quickly, they abandoned Car Two and redistributed its fuel and passengers among the remaining vehicles.

Though it was cramped within the car, this gave the remaining cars enough fuel.

Pungent black smoke billowed from the exhaust and darkened the sand in its trail as the two cars searched for the special "mirror" in the sea of yellow sand.


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