Having a tenacious will was an extremely good quality in a person. Yet for someone extremely timid with a birthdate so inauspicious she might encounter ghosts at any time, it wasn’t such a good thing.
It meant that you had to face your fears frequently, unable to escape by losing consciousness.
Xiao Xia was in such a situation at the moment. If she could faint, she wouldn’t have to feel so afraid or disgusted. Yet the more terrified she was, the more alert her mind became. Many thoughts she normally didn’t pay attention to as well as a bunch of questions drifted around in her mind.
What is happening here? Who is this rotting corpse? Why was his grave dug up? Who had done such a thing? Why did that “old man” lead her here? Why were those strange footprints afraid of getting close?
She had only learned basic anatomy, not forensics. Therefore, she wasn’t able to determine how long the corpse had been dead for. She could only tell it was a man. It was completely rotted yet there was still flesh remaining. Therefore, the appearance was rather horrifying and disgusting.
Because the place Xiao Xia had landed was more elevated, she could clearly see its upper body despite it sitting in the coffin. Its face was half-rotted and the features were a blur. The eye-sockets with eyeballs rotted to nothing were especially terrifying. It seemed to be staring at her no matter where she stood, making her feel unable to escape!
The clothes on the corpse weren’t the burial clothes used in Chinese funerals. Instead, they were the ordinary clothes of the local tribe. It seemed the corpse had been buried rather hurriedly, without any time for preparations.
It was wearing a button-up. The color was already faded and the seams had burst open. Xiao Xia guessed the corpse’s abdomen had swollen after death and caused the tight clothes to burst open. Yet she didn’t understand why the stomach had also burst open. The discolored jumble of muscle and organs were spread outwards. Bugs were crawling everywhere and there was a nauseating stench.
Xiao Xia endured the feeling of nausea and forced herself to calm down. She had heard stories about corpses moving suddenly. If the corpse was about to rise, the slightest disturbance would startle it into getting up!
The only thing that could protect her was the bloodwood sword. Yet it had dropped near the edge of the pit when she fell. Now, she faced an unavoidable situation!
Therefore, she stared at the nearby corpse that sat in the coffin unmoving. She was terrified it would suddenly move. However, she couldn’t just remain here. She had to come up with a way to leave. Otherwise, if it truly started moving, she could only wait for death in this pit!
Thinking of this, she started to very slowly and lightly get up, doing her best not to make any noise However, in the stillness of dawn, her slightest movement would result in a very loud noise. She felt her heart was going to stop from anxiety. She moved as if in slow motion while continuing to observe the coffin.
Luckily, the corpse didn’t move. This emboldened Xiao Xia and she started searching for a way to climb out.
She realized this pit wasn’t shallow. It was the height of two people. The place where the coffin rested was even deeper. The uprooted flowers beneath her feet were extremely beautiful. There were still some stems sticking out around her. They drooped there, seeming ready to wilt at any time. The soil’s color was rather fresh, as if someone had just freshly dug this pit perhaps just a few hours ago.
She tried to take a step. The piercing pain from her ankle reminded her she had been injured when she fell into the pit. Yet the pain was only secondary. What she couldn’t stand was the fear and unease.
She saw a slope ahead of her. Although it was still far from the surface, the angle was large enough for her to climb out. However, it was too close to the coffin. She could only reach it by almost standing next to the rotted corpse. This made her hesitate, but she still decided to gamble on it in the end.
The closer she got to the coffin, the more creeped out she was. She kept thinking the corpse was about to leap out, and the more she looked at it the more she felt it was smiling at her. It even seemed to turn its neck to keep looking at her as she moved.
Standing next to the coffin, she and the corpse “looked” at each other for a moment. Then, she gritted her teeth and turned around. She did her best to ignore the chill running down her back and reached out to climb upwards!
She clearly understood she couldn’t fall down. This was a large pit. The place she landed earlier seemed to be a pile for those beautiful and weird plants. This place on the other hand was very narrow, with only the coffin resting there. If she slipped down after climbing, she would definitely fall into the coffin and end up in an intimate embrace with the corpse.
While it looked easy, actually climbing up was anything but. She couldn’t exert any strength with her right foot. There were also no handholds on the earthen walls. She could only dig her feet into the soil and grab at the leftover roots in the walls. She stuck to the wall like a gecko, struggling to move upwards while sliding backwards every now and then.
Two minutes felt like several hours to Xiao Xia. Her longing for the surface and fear of being attacked from behind made her exceptionally tense. Therefore, she used up a lot of stamina and was struggling to hold on after only a short period of time.
At this moment, a plant’s stem suddenly appeared above her. She grabbed at it in pleasant surprise and kicked out with her legs. She wanted to get out using this “lifeline”. Yet as she kicked out, she suddenly felt something grabbing her foot!
It was that rotted corpse! It didn’t want to let her leave!
She struggled desperately in fear to get loose, yet she was unable to get rid of the force pulling on her foot. Furthermore, as she struggled, she felt her only “lifeline” start giving way in her hands!
Stop! Don’t move! Don’t move!
She hung there frozen, reminding herself continuously not to move.
The plant hung there precariously and she was also being pulled heavily from below. If she moved, that plant would be unable to endure her weight and she would immediately fall.
The leg being grabbed was her uninjured foot. She could only endure the pain and use her injured foot to take some of her weight. One hand clung to the plant that could come loose at any moment and her other dug forcefully into the soil. The sharp rocks and various fragments in the dirt made her hand bleed.
She remained unmoving, stuck to the wall like a gecko. She didn’t even dare to look back. Luckily she wasn’t being pulled downwards anymore. Therefore, she remained suspended like that, without moving up or down. She could only pray that plant wouldn’t loosen anymore, and wait for a miracle to happen.
“Ruan Zhan…” In her despair, she lightly called out his name. She liked thinking of him every time she was in danger. It made her feel especially safe.
A hand appeared before her and suddenly grabbed her wrist. She cried out and wanted to struggle, but felt herself being pulled upwards. The force around her foot also vanished and she was pulled to the surface in an instant.
Suddenly back on solid ground, her injured foot made her pitch forward once again. She landed in a warm, familiar embrace. Her consciousness, which had held strong even under extreme terror, now gave in due to this feeling of safety!
Ruan Zhan silently held Xiao Xia for a while. There was actually such a feeling of comfort in this deserted graveyard. However, this rare moment didn’t last long. He immediately realized it would be day soon and the corpse couldn’t be exposed to the sun. Therefore, he could only place Xiao Xia gently to the side. He cast a spell and burned those beautiful flowers to a crisp. Then, he had the corpse lie back down in the coffin and buried it once again.
He had been the one that dug this pit. Actually, he had dug three of them during the night!
Although there was no progress in his investigation into Huang Bo Heng, the deaths of the three brothers from Naman village had attracted his attention. Those three had died extremely queer deaths. No one knew how they had died. The villagers believed a wronged ghost had claimed their lives, or the gods had punished the unfilial. Ruan Zhan felt this case was definitely related to those weird cases in the city. Therefore, he decided to dig up their graves!
According to Xiao Xia, the non-profit law firm also had several cases where the deceased had died very strangely. A moving plant had appeared at their graves and also where the case had happened. How did the plant appear at the graves? If they had been planted on the corpse like a Gu, how come they weren’t destroyed during the cremation process?
Xiao Xia had also seen a strange black cat in her office building. Guan Zheng had also killed a cat before being killed himself. There was a black cat that appeared when they were attacked at the inn. There were also moving plants that appeared as zombies!
All in all, every strange case involved a black cat and moving plants!
Since Wan Li was afflicted by Gu, the other victims had most likely been afflicted in the same way. He had only realized how powerful of a Gu caster their opponent was after they arrived here. That person was able to control spirits, plants, animals (that black cat was very likely controlled by Gu), and even cast such a vicious death Gu on Wan Li.
He didn’t think they were attacked merely because they had come to investigate their opponent’s background. Using so many methods, including a death Gu, would be harmful to the caster’s body. Unless there was very strong resentment, their opponent wouldn’t do such a thing.
So what was the reason for this? Was it really “Yang Mu You” disrupting things? Could he have come from this place, or might he be closely related to it?
There was another key person: Huang Bo Heng.
Although no one recognized his photo, it didn’t mean anything. He was so rich plastic surgery was definitely not a problem. Ruan Zhan felt that Huang Bo Heng was definitely involved in the secrets here somehow.
These tangled threads could not be unwoven. Therefore, he decided to start from the basics. He had to see if these three brothers were related to the cases in the city. If he could confirm this, he could also confirm that the answer to everything could be found within the forest.
Of course, there was also that weirdo!
Therefore, he ran over in the middle of the night to dig up those graves and unethically disturb the dead. When he arrived, he realized that the three graves were surrounded by beautiful flowers. Therefore, he didn’t even need to read the gravestones to know which graves belonged to the brothers. As expected, the three had all died from Gu techniques. Although he wasn’t too familiar with such spells, he could still tell based on how they died.
There were also those flowers, which were the same as the ones Xiao Xia discovered in the city. They were poppies. Poppies were very beautiful. In the city they had been cremated in fire. Although they had been preserved with special spells and thus didn’t die, they were still no longer as strong. Therefore, only the stems had grown without the flowers, and they died after being removed from the ground.
Here, the flowers had grown inside the corpses and taken root in the soil. They had grown extremely well, and their roots could only be destroyed after digging a huge pit around the grave. Magic fire was also needed to thoroughly wipe them out.
While he was busy with all this, his heart once again reacted to Xiao Xia being in danger.