“What is this?” Ren Heming moved closer, frowning. He felt the dark miasma coming from below, and the protective charm on his body radiated a faint heat. He looked at Dong Zheng. “Do you want to go down and take a look? The evil below isn’t weak. Maybe the evil spirit temporarily stopped here.”
“Then lets go down to look for clues.” Dong Zheng and Ren Heming reached a consensus. They tied their horses to a nearby tree, took the handle of the xiuchun sword in their hands, and jumped into the tunnel below.
As the senior brother and team leader, Ren Heming naturally explored the path in the front. He lit a bamboo tinder, and the flame burned steadily. The tunnel was very dry, and the oxygen content inside of it was quite sufficient. However, there was a peculiar smell. It smelled as if something had rotted here and been removed, but the smell still lingered.
Dong Zheng also took out a bamboo tinder, and they stepped forward. The steps were over a dozen and seemed to have been recently dug, making it a bit difficult to walk. The skylight at the entrance of the tunnel was tilted and fell behind them. The burning light from the flames in their hands illuminated their surroundings.
The more they moved deeper underneath the forest, the more cold it felt. After about thirty steps, they finally reached the bottom of the tunnel. The dugout space was about 20 square meters. The walls of the cave were pitted, with traces of excavation everywhere. It was certainly nowhere as good as some farmhouse cellars.
There weren’t many things in the cave. There was just a wooden table pushed up against the wall. Straw papers were scattered all over the surface of the table with ghost symbols painted on them. It was unknown how long the papers had been there, but they looked as if they would break with a single touch. There were also a few wooden boxes with rusty locks stored in the corners.
Dong Zheng didn’t bother with smashing the lock and hit the box directly. Dust went flying, and he held his breath. When the dust settled, he saw a pair of red embroidered shoes placed inside the box.
The embroidered shoes had traces of wear, and from the size of it, they probably belonged to a teenage girl. Besides the shoes were adult men’s clothes.
Dong Zheng flipped to the bottom of the box and touched a hard object hidden under the pile of clothes.
He took the thing out and discovered that it was a small statue no more than ten centimeters tall. The texture of the statue indicated that it was made out of stone. It was unknown whether it was simply carved carelessly or whether its lines were smooth down due to too much handling. He could only roughly make out a figure standing on its feet with arms folded over its chest, hands together as if in prayer.
“I found this.” Dong Zheng told Ren Heming, who was still studying the pile of papers. Ren Heming came over and saw what Dong Zheng was holding. The muscles in his forehead jumped and his expression became grave. “What is this?”
Naturally, Dong Zheng didn’t know. Ren Heming held the statue in his hand and touched it left and right, but he couldn’t figure anything out. Meanwhile, Dong Zheng opened the other box, lifted the pile of clothes in it, and found a thread-bound book at the bottom of the box.
The book was thin and the paper was still quite soft. Dong Zheng gripped it in his hands, rubbed it with his fingers, and said in a low voice, “This should have been recently put in by someone.”
He turned over the blank blue cover. The first half of the book contained densely packed traditional characters. Dong Zheng tried to read it, and although he knew each word separately, when combined, it became completely confusing.
Just like this sentence: The dragon cries its body, prays to the gods for countless. It seemed to be asking the gods to do something, but how could ordinary people talk like this?
Ren Heming couldn’t figure it out at all. He and Dong Zheng flipped through the book, and it was full of this kind of strange sentences and contents.
The flames from the bamboo flints suddenly jumped, as if they were about to go out. The light from the fire couldn’t illuminate every corner of the cave, and the smell of decay seemed to have gone deep into the cave wall, where it lingered until it took on a cloying scent. Smelling it for a long period of time could only produce a heavy sense of disgust.
Dong Zheng found a small human bone protruding from the wall on the other side of the cave. A living person, or a corpse, was sealed into the mud wall of the cave. In short, regardless of whether it was still alive when it was buried, there was no way to survive after being trapped in the soil. It could only gradually decay with the passage of time until there was nothing left but bones.
A chill went up Dong Zheng’s spine. After experiencing so many boxes, Dong Zheng’s ability to accept spirits and ghosts had greatly improved, but his back still felt chilled. It wasn’t caused by psychological fear.
It was probably because of the evil spirit that Ren Heming spoke of.
“Take these first.” Ren Heming also didn’t feel too good. He could only say, “It isn’t good to stay here for too long. We should go out as soon as possible.”
As flames continued to burn, the air in the cave also changed and became more stuffy. Seeing that there were no other useful clues, Dong Zheng and Ren Heming took the stone statue and the book and quickly left the underground cave.
After returning to the sun and feeling its warm rays shining on them, they sighed together. Leading their horses, they chased in the direction where the evil spirit had fled.
⏹ Please skip to Chapter 235