IWOL Chapter 233: 🔼

“Do you want to go down and take a look?” Ren Heming asked, frowning. He felt the dark miasma coming from below, and the protective charm on his body was emitting a faint heat. “The evil miasma below isn’t weak. Maybe the evil spirit temporarily stopped here. It’s giving me a bad feeling.”

Dong Zheng thought about it. The unknown darkness quietly rested below. If it turned out to be dangerous, he didn’t know what the consequences would be. “We better leave. Let’s search nearby first.”

Ren Heming also thought the same. Although the two of them were disciples of the Maoshan School, Dong Zheng was, after all, the junior brother and his mastery of magical techniques were not yet proficient. They were the only people chasing after the evil spirit and so it was better for them to separate out the side issues.

The tunnel of the cave was slanted on a gravel spot. There was an open area with a little undulating terrain, lacking the cover of trees. The afternoon sun shone on the two of them, dissipating the chill that the hole was emitting.

Most of the gravel were white rocks as big as a fist. Dong Zheng picked one up and observed that the texture of the stone was brittle, like dolomite.

Throwing the stone aside, Dong Zheng walked along the piles of rocks, looking for anything unusual. His kernel was slightly disordered, and although the source of the anomaly couldn’t be found, it wasn’t too serious. Dong Zheng guessed that it was probably because he was suddenly pulled into the test, and so his spirit hadn’t yet settled.

At this moment, he kicked something under his foot.

Dong Zheng lowered his head and bent down. He used the corner of his Jinyiwei uniform as a makeshift glove and pulled out the broken bone partially exposed in a pile of stones.

It was a human arm bone.

There was no trace of flesh on the bone; it was very clean. Ren Heming wasn’t far away, and when he saw Dong Zheng bending down, he walked toward him, saying, “Did you find something?”

“Human bone.” Dong Zheng set aside the broken arm bone and started to dig. Ren Heming also joined in. After some time, they managed to clear out the top layer of stones and exposed the bones buried underneath.

The corpses had completely become skeletons and their bones were scattered chaotically. Among the pile of bones, Dong Zheng saw at least five metacarpal bones but no heads.

If these bones weren’t transported here and mixed and discarded, there was only one explanation left. There used to be a large number of corpses here, and the corpses were not piled up intact but were mutilated and beheaded first before being thrown here.

There was a dark red thing among the bones. Ren Heming easily shifted two bones and pulled out the thing that was still tightly gripped in the hand of the deceased.

It was a ten meter high statue made out of stone. It was unclear if it was carved carelessly or if its edges had been smoothed down by too much handling. The statue appeared to be a person standing with arms folded against his chest, hands together in prayer.

The statue was originally blue-gray, and the dark red over it was entirely due to old blood stains. Ren Heming looked it over and over again and finally handed it to Dong Zheng for study. “What’s this?”

Dong Zheng also didn’t know. He frowned and said, “Senior Brother, do you know this place?”

Ren Heming pointed to the west. “This way is close to Dashi. If we continue to chase the evil spirit in this direction, we’ll be there soon. Trade caravans between the two countries often passed by this place. Now that there are no people in sight, if we walk along the caravan path, it won’t be so desolate.”

Dashi, the Islamic Empire established by Arabs in the Middle Ages. This name had been used since the Tang Dynasty and was a transliteration of the Persian word Tazi. Dong Zheng felt that this gave the statue a religious implication. “Could this be something they brought with them?”

“It’s possible.” Ren Heming didn’t know much about Dashi, but he was certain that the statue wasn’t created here. “Let’s take it with us.”

They tidied up at least six corpses, but there seemed to be no way to accurately account for the corpses below. Dong Zheng was the first to stop. Lifting up his sleeve to wipe the sweat off his forehead, he looked in the direction of the sun that had moved further south. “This is it.”

After surveying their surroundings and seeing no further clues except for the darkness leaking from the depths of the cave and swallowing the rays of the sun, Dong Zheng and Ren Heming carried the blood-stained statue and led their horses away. With uneasy moods, they moved on.

⏹ Please skip to Chapter 235

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