(The scene at the end of this chapter may make you feel sad or uncomfortable. I felt uncomfortable while working on this chapter. Please consider skipping the end of this chapter)
This room was furnished sparsely. The floor was just compacted soil with white paint peeled off the wall. The furniture was just a bed, a table, and two stools.
The bed was rumpled; obviously, someone had slept on it a while ago. Ying Qiao lifted the bed cover and found a wrench. The stools were knocked to the ground.
Ying Qiao surveyed the room and fixed his gaze on the window frame.
The old wooden window frame was splattered with dried blood. Under the window, a patch of white paint was freshly peeled off, as if someone had hidden here and scratched off the paint by accident.
Ying Qiao tried to make sense of what he just saw.
He knew Jiang Lan traveled to the Three Water Village with Xue Meng. When Ying Qiao entered the village, he saw a car parked under a big tree. He recognized the car as the official car belonging to Jiang Lan’s office. But one tire was flattened. He speculated that they must have been forced to spend the night in the village after their car broke down and the phone signal went down. And this room was where they had stayed.
And they must have run into danger afterward. Ying Qiao thought this while looking at the pools of blood and scattered feathers outside the window. Recalling the reported sighting of Du Diaos in the Three Water Village, Ying Qiao guessed that Gu Diaos must have attacked them.
Xue Meng was an ordinary human, but Jiang Lan was a lion monster. Despite being just a cub, the little monster had shown bravery rare in cubs of his age. Judging by the scene here, Ying Qiao thought Jiang Lan must have fought fiercely with the attacking Gu Diaos.
What happened to him after the fight? Was Jiang Lan hurt? Where was he now?
Ying Qiao tried to suppress his anxiety and forced himself to think calmly.
Their two teams would come work here in shifts. If Jiang Lan ran into danger and was trapped in the Three Water Village and lost contact with the outside world, he would definitely hope the next shift tomorrow would come looking for them and leave some clues to help the rescuers.
Ying Qiao scanned the room and began to search through the room again.
Finally, in the gap between the table and the wall, he found a powered-off phone. Ying Qiao knew the phone Jiang Lan was using. This phone was not his, then it must belong to Xue Meng.
When he turned on the phone, the battery indicator was at 10%, and the screen was not locked.
An audio file named “My will” was placed in the center of the screen by the owner. When Ying Qiao saw the file name, he paused before opening the file.
The audio file started to play. A piercing noise was followed by Xue Meng’s voice, mingled with his weeping sound.
He tried to describe what they had gone through from start to finish. But because he was obviously under immense stress, his account was very incoherent. In the background, there was constant noise. Listening closely, Ying Qiao could hear the peculiar infant crying sound.
This must be the sound Gu Diaos made.
Looking at the peeled-off white paint by the window, Ying Qiao speculated Xue Meng had recorded the audio clip there.
The audio clip was still playing. Xue Meng’s sound was very coarse. Finally, he got to the important part.” Jiang Lan asked me to hide in the room and he went out.”
“The room is very dark, I can see nothing, only hear….then I smell the intense smell of blood. I hide under the window and try to look out. I saw a horned strange beast ripped off the head of that strange bird…blood everywhere….I couldn’t see Jiang Lan….only found his clothing discarded in a corner…..”
The voice paused before continuing. Xue Meng’s voice was even coarser than before.” That is definitely Jiang Lan’s clothing. He must be eaten by those strange creatures…..I will soon follow him…….”
Then the recording stopped playing.
Holding a crumbled phone, Ying Qiao stood there like an expressionless sculpture, motionless.
His remaining sense told him he shouldn’t simply conclude that Jiang Lan was dead, just based on a piece of discarded clothing. But emotionally, when he heard the voice claiming” he was eaten by those strange creatures,” he was on the verge of total collapse.
The accumulating anxieties and worries instantly turned into wrath at that moment.
On his handsome face, the dragon scales were now faintly discernible. His human eyes were replaced by the dragon’s golden eyes. Throwing away the phone, he walked towards Secretary Huang…..
The brewing storm finally broke out.
In the ink-black clouds, a bolt of dragon lightning was circling. Suddenly it struck down with tremendous force. Followed by the thunderous crash, the lighting exploded in the black mist and tore open countless gaps.
Then a great downpouring fell from the sky.
Cheng Hua and a group of people watched this violent weather in awe and shock.
“This….” A Taoist monk in the group stared at his compass spinning wildly and then looked at the sky. His shock was so great that he couldn’t find the word.
Wiping off the rainwater on his face, Cheng Hua shouted in the thunderclaps.” Let’s retreat!”
No one wanted to endure this weather a moment longer. Everyone pulled back without knowing the cause of this horrible weather, except for Cheng Hua.
Ying Qiao was so worried about Jiang Lan that he didn’t wait for them and came here first. And only Ying Qiao had the power to summon lightning and control weather.
Something must have happened to Jiang Lan.
Cursing, Cheng Hua didn’t have time to explain to his group and jumped through the gap torn open in the black mist.
These two Gu Diao were much more powerful than the other Gu Diaos he had encountered so far. Jiang Lan took a while longer to snap their necks.
But he was in no hurry to feast on these two Gu Diaos. He hung them upside down on the dead tree.
The intense stench of the blood filled the air. Standing under the tree, Jiang Lan gazed at that tower. Jiang Lan had already sensed something was lurking in that tower, and his gut feeling told him it must be something even more terrible, and its presence made him uncomfortable.
Jiang Lan didn’t try to break into the tower rashly. Instead, he wanted to lure that thing out.
Blood was dripping from Gu Diao’s broken necks and absorbed by the soil.
All of a sudden, the tranquil ground started to tremble. It looked like something was breaking out of the soil. First, four horns emerged from the earth, followed by the head. Finally, the giant body…
A strange giant creature with a body in the shape of a sheep came into full view. Walking forward, it crushed the stone tombs under its feet. Weeds and twigs hung from its four horns, and the hairs on its body were mingled with dirt and dried blood.
Jiang Lan was surprised and said excitedly.” Tu Lou?”
He didn’t expect that a little Three Water Village had nurtured so many man-eating creatures.
This Tu Lou watched Gu Diao’s body with greed. It was lured out by the scent of Gu Diao’s blood. Now its fear of Jiang Lan was all that stood between this Tu Lou and the Gu Diao’s body. But soon, this fear gave way to its urge to eat.
Letting out a strange loud howl, it lowered its head and pointed its horns towards Jiang Lan, then it charged towards Jiang Lan.
Jiang Lan squinted his eyes and flashed its horns, then he moved forward to meet its attack.
Two muscular bodies collided with a big bang, with horns twisted together. The Tu Lou’s four horns snapped instantly. Roaring painfully, this Tu Lou was thrown to the ground by Jiang Lan. Applying more force, Jiang Lan managed to pierce its skull with his sharp horns.
This Tu Lou struggled to its feet with blood streaming out of broken horns and the holes on its head.
Jiang Lan roared and charged forward. With its neck between his teeth, he threw the Tu Lou at the feet of that silent tower.
The ground trembled under the impact, and dust was falling from the tower.
Looking up at the dark entrance on the top of the tower, Jiang Lan picked up the Tu Lou, who hadn’t stopped breathing yet, and climbed up the tower.
The inside of the tower was even darker. Scanning the remains of many young ones at the bottom of the tower, Jiang Lan didn’t find the thing that made him uncomfortable. He rubbed his feet on the ground and threw the Tu Lou down, then he also jumped down.
The soil was very soft at the bottom of the tower, the kind you could find in the swamps. On the ground were scattered many layers of young one’s bones. His monster form was half sunk into the soft mud-like soil. He lifted himself up and transformed into his human form.
The bottom of the tower was totally covered with the remains of the young ones that he couldn’t find a spot to place his feet. He had no choice but to climb onto the body of that half sunk Tu Lou.
Without anything blocking his view, he took in everything that was at the bottom.
Except for bones, he could also see half-rotten rope and bamboo baskets. The function of this tower was apparent to him.
This was the place where people abandoned their young ones, called the baby tower.
This land was plagued by wars and catastrophes since time immemorial. Each time a catastrophe struck, even adults had a hard time sustaining their lives and had no food to feed their young ones. That’s why there were so many newborns abandoned by their parents. The majority of them were small girls.
More and more people abandoned their children in hard times, so this infant tower came into being.
Those young ones were left there to fend for themselves. When the remains were piled high, this tower would be set ablaze to wipe them out.
Year after year, this vicious cycle repeated itself.
And the ashes of the young ones became the soft mud at the bottom of the tower.
A tower stood among living people’s tombs. No wonder this place was filled with hatred and grievances.
Jiang Lan finally understood what that black mist was. It was a miasma formed from those victims’ hatred and grievances. After decades of accumulation, this black miasma was finally strong enough to engulf the whole village.
Even Gu Diaos and Tu Lou, those man-eating creatures, thrived in this environment and began to hunt living people.
That was what we called Karma.