In the middle of the night, Luo Yuan suddenly felt palpitations.
His eyes blinked open, but he remained still. He was perplexed. The palpitations came and went simply, as if it was all an illusion.
He listened to the movement on the outside in alert. The dull growls of the beasts could be heard far in the distance, so the palpitations couldn’t have been caused by them. Other than the growls, he could not sense anything else.
“Could it really be an illusion?”
He was puzzled as he looked at Huang Jiahui and Wang Shishi, who seemed to be happy in dreamland.
As sleep came to him again, Luo Yuan surrendered to it once more, his grip on the machete handle tightening.
Nothing happened throughout the night.
The next morning, they all woke up one after the other. The weather looked gloomy, like it was about to rain.
After lunch, Luo Yuan decided to check around to see if there were any dangerous beasts in the area. They did intend to stay there for a long time after all.
The plants had grown a lot lusher in just five days time. The park had become a green grassland, the height of the grass reaching Luo Yuan’s chest. The smaller trees were wider in girth, forming a canopy with their lush leaves.
Following the bestial wave, nature seemed to be growing wildly without any human interference, wiping the signs of mankind quickly.
Luo Yuan thought this place would turn into a jungle soon without the influence of an external force.
He walked forward in the bushes, gripping his machete warily. Various sounds came from his surroundings, an obvious indicator of the bountiful mutated creatures there.
Suddenly, a beetle with yellow and black stripes shot toward him like an arrow.
With a flash of the blade, the beetle let out a strange cry and landed on the ground in two halves.
This had been the fifteenth ambush Luo Yuan had encountered.
A soft wind blew, making the bushes sway with a faint sound. Considering the amount of danger lurking in the area, Luo Yuan felt that there was another attack brewing.
“These plants cannot stay if we want to stay here.”
Luo Yuan remembered that there had been a lot of diesel in the basement. Huang Yueying had not touched it when she had moved the supplies, so he could use it to burn these plants.
Suddenly, he felt like he had stepped on something hard. It was a human skull, but instead of the usual white color, this one was black. The person it had belonged to had probably been poisoned to death. The contents of a suitcase were scattered around the skeleton. He could see some torn clothes. One of them looked like it had belonged to a child.
Saddened, Luo Yuan pushed the bushes aside and realized that there was more than one skeleton there. He saw a corpse every few steps he took. Some were the usual ivory color, others were black, some of them were even blue. It was the unusual colors that gave him chills.
Heaven knew how many people had died in the area.
Luo Yuan picked up a sealed mineral water bottle to bring back, but stopped midway there. Tiny worms had infested the water. The worms were miniscule, almost invisible to the naked eye. They were as long as earthworms. Goosebumps rose on his skin as he checked the cap. There was a tiny hole in it.
Luo Yuan threw it far away.
Danger lurked in this place. He could not help but remain on alert.
As long as he was being careful, the beasts would not even come near him.
Half an hour later, Luo Yuan was out of the bushes and had reached the residential area.
More than half of the residential area had been destroyed. Less than 30% of the buildings remained. Large footprints were indented on the cement floor and dirty blood from nearby skeletons stained it. Parts of those skeletons had been crushed under the footprints.
The only thing missing was decomposing bodies. Any bodies must have already been eaten by the mutated insects and other low level creatures within half an hour’s time.
The remaining buildings were scattered amidst the ruins. Other than a few better-preserved mansions, most of the high-rise buildings were covered in cracks. The least damaged building was in fact near the park.
A gigantic locust tree stood beside it. Its trunk was so big, it would take three men to link their arms around it. Its several-dozen-meter tall branches formed the largest canopy shading the mansion. Even from afar, Luo Yuan could already smell the soothing fragrance of the tree. It made him feel inexplicably jolly. All he wanted was to keep smelling it.
A smile etched itself onto his face.
“Here it is. Once the grass around has been cleared, we can move in.”
As Luo Yuan reached the mansion, the fragrance got stronger. What was different about it though, was that the strong scent did not feel overpowering. Instead, it calmed and soothed the tension within his body.
The main door to the mansion was wide open.
A few palm-sized mutated cockroaches scattered to the corners in fright when Luo Yuan stepped in.
He saw a wedding photo covered in dust in the living room. A middle-aged groom with a beer belly and a young pretty bride were smiling while they embraced each other.
Other than the dust, everything inside the house seemed to be intact. The owners must have left in a hurry. Luo Yuan saw a few moldy dishes still placed on the table. There were also two half-eaten bowls of rice. Obviously they had been eating right before they had to leave.
Luo Yuan felt a vague premonition, as if he was missing something. The thought had come out of the blue. He entertained it for a while before he finally gave up on it.
This mansion was even larger than the one they had been staying at. There was a total of three floors and five bedrooms, a gym, a study, a piano room and a basement right under a storeroom. What startled Luo Yuan was that there was a bedroom in the basement with a waterbed in it. The bedside table was full of adult toys and things Luo Yuan had never seen before.
The closet opposite it was open, housing all sorts of uniforms and lingerie.
Other than that, there was nothing else.
Luo Yuan found five bags of rice and some limited supplies in the kitchen cabinet. It was still better than nothing. They could scavenge the nearby houses for more supplies.
When Luo Yuan left the mansion, it was drizzling outside. The rain did not seem like it was going to stop anytime soon, foiling Luo Yuan’s plan to burn the field in the afternoon.
Luo Yuan threw down a white level mutated beast. The group gathered around in curiosity.
It was a mutated mouse, but it looked different than the ones they’d seen in Donghu City. Its body had mutated again, but this time in another direction. It was slender and its tail was much shorter, black shiny scales covering it. The skull seemed to have grown wider and its nose looked more stereoscopic. Its teeth were crisscrossing, looking rather frightening.
It was untimely that the beast had rushed over and bumped into Luo Yuan while he was heading back. He had sliced off half its head. It would be an extra dish for lunch.
“Don’t catch a cold,” Huang Jiahui grumbled as she passed a towel over.
Luo Yuan smiled. His physique had been intrinsically different ever since the system had added a point to it. Perhaps even his genes had changed. The light rain could do no harm to him, but he didn’t bother to explain.
Luo Yuan dried his hair with the towel. He did not need to change his clothes. The surface of the black-owl-feather synthesized clothes was coated with a layer of oil and water, and it was dustproof like a bird’s feathers. All it took was a few shakes and he was dry again, even after being dipped in water.
“How are things outside?” Huang Jiahui asked, looking at Luo Yuan.
Everyone perked up their ears.
After thinking carefully, Luo Yuan said, “Other than some poisonous low-level beasts, there’s not much danger. But it’s better not to go out before the field in the park has been cleared.”
That was true for him. If it were them going out, no one would probably be able to survive other than Wang Shishi.
Luo Yuan kept the truth from them though. It would only bring their spirits down.
After lunch, Luo Yuan went to the empty space in front of the mansion to practice with his machete. There was nothing else he could do considering it was still raining. He had slightly calmed down after going around the place, his mood gradually relaxing as his knife skill got smoother. He could easily concentrate his willpower now, even a little faster than usual.
His eyes turned dark and deep as a visible glow surrounded the blade of the machete.
After the AP addition, Luo Yuan’s knife skill had already began to become legendary.
The glow of the blade was different than the one described in novels, but its power was not any weaker. The only difference was that the glow in novels depleted Qi while his glow consumed willpower.
He was exuding an aura even stronger than the one he had showed intentionally in the dugout. Anyone watching him would suddenly find themselves feeling suffocated, their faces draining of any color as their breathing got heavier. Once they regained their senses, they would retreat quickly. When they dared take a look at Luo Yuan again, their expression would turn to terror.
Luo Yuan kept his mind empty of any thoughts, feeling his willpower grow through his machete as he practiced.
Before the raindrops could even land on the blade, they were diced back into atoms. Luo Yuan’s willpower depleted little by little each time the raindrops were diced, but the intensity of the depletion was nothing compared to when his machete landed on beasts or metals.
Soon his hair had gotten wet again.
Luo Yuan frowned as he stopped.
“Still can’t do it!” He shook his head. The blade glow that had permeated the machete from blade to handle when he had killed the mutated earthworm could not be reproduced again, no matter how much he practiced or battled. It was as if a thin line separated him and that realm. He was so near, yet so far.
“I was really angry. My mind was blank. I don’t even know what I was doing.” He closed his eyes as he recalled the situation back then.
“No, my mind can’t have been blank… That would mean no thoughts, a relaxation of willpower. How can willpower be concentrated in such a relaxed state? It can’t possibly have affected reality.”
If he were to parallelize willpower with a country, an average person’s willpower would be like a country with no purpose or organization; a slightly concentrated willpower would be like a democratic country, a sole government with a purpose, but lots of different voices; an even more focused willpower would be like a sovereign state, a powerful government with a sole vision, all its people uniting to realize it. A country like that would make even stronger countries afraid as its strength would be in its unity, and it could be released ten to a hundred fold during a war.
Taoist practice placed importance on untainted, virgin-like hearts and pure behavior. People with simple minds thought less and would always succeed no matter what they did, because they were focused on what they were doing. Successful people were always a little bit obsessed.
“It was anger, a burning fury that blinded everything else and focused my willpower like never before,” Luo Yuan reached an epiphany as he recalled the situation carefully.
However, knowing and doing were two entirely different things. Just because someone wanted to become enraged, it did not mean that they could achieve it.
Luo Yuan let his feelings simmer, but they still lacked compared to the fury he had felt the other day. The blade glowed slightly brighter, but it was still far from what he wanted.
He knew he was being impatient. He already knew what the right method was, so he could achieve it if he practiced enough.
Luo Yuan suddenly felt like he was being watched. He felt goosebumps on his skin, and he turned around just in time to catch a faint shadow flash away.
In an instant, he was already heading the way the shadow had disappeared.