The Haunted Tree
The night was silent.
In the basement, Luo Yuan was lying in a sleeping bag with his eyes tightly closed.
Huang Jiahui was tossing and turning. She could not fall asleep, so she decided to just give up. She sat up in her sleeping bag and whispered,“Please say something. What’s happening?”
Luo Yuan suddenly opened his eyes, “Shhh, keep quiet. Something is moving.”
Huang Jiahui was about to ask what it was when she heard something moving around in the basement too. She held her breath while her heart beat fast. The basement was very dark and she was still in her sleeping bag, so she was not able to see what was happening.
When Luo Yuan opened up his sleeping bag, she saw a shadow stand up somewhere in the back, near where they were sleeping. Its movement was quite stiff and its steps were unsteady. It was such a strange, dark scene. It gave Huang Jiahui goosebumps.
She covered her mouth tight, but her eyes reflected her fear.
She nervously took out her handgun, but she was stopped by Luo Yuan, “Don’t shoot, it’s Ning Xiaoran.”
Huang Jiahui was relieved, but what Luo Yuan said afterwards made her almost scream in fear.
“She seems to be controlled by something. Don’t disturb her. Let’s see where she’s going,” Luo Yuan said calmly. He could not find the mutated animals, so he wanted to lure them out. If he followed Ning Xiaoran, then he believed he would eventually catch the culprit.
Ning Xiaoran seemed to be able to see in the dark. Although she was moving slowly, she was accurately avoiding all obstacles. Step by step, she walked towards the staircase of the basement, her heavy steps very clear in the dark.
“There’s another one.” Just as Ning Xiaoran was about to walk out of the basement, another shadow stood up staggeringly. It was Huo Dong.
The whole basement was rather gloomy and cold. It was horrifying. As Ning Xiaoran opened the basement trapdoor, more shadows, one by one, stood up staggeringly and walked out of the basement.
Wang Shishi, who was already asleep, was no exception. She stood up with empty eyes. She looked like she was sleepwalking and that frightened Huang Jiahui, who kept holding onto Luo Yuan.
A mystery can be the most terrifying thing. Most people are not afraid of bullets, but they’re terrified of ghosts. That’s a fact.
Luo Yuan held Wang Shishi’s arm and thought of the method he had used to wake Ning Xiaoran up. He used his aura to stimulate her. “Ahh!” She screamed and awakened.
Her eyes looked sleepy. Apparently, she was not aware of what was going on. As she saw both Luo Yuan and Huang Jiahui sitting on the sleeping bag, she asked doubtfully, “Is it dawn already? I just had a nightmare. It was so frightening!”
“No, it’s not dawn yet. But please don’t sleep anymore, it’s too dangerous. If you see anyone else fall asleep, please wake them up and wait for me!” Luo Yuan said solemnly.
Wang Shishi suddenly thought of what Luo Yuan had said during dinner. She was so afraid that her face want pale. She nodded stiffly.
“You be careful, too!” Huang Jiahui said worriedly. She knew she could not do much to help.
“It’s nothing, don’t worry,” Luo Yuan said lightly before he took his Zhanmadao and walked out.
Luo Yuan left the house and followed the shadows walking in front carefully.
He looked at his watch and realized it was already 1.30 a.m. The dark clouds made the area look gloomier, but the rain had stopped. The ground was still wet and a faint fragrance filled the air.
Though it was very dark, it was not a problem for Luo Yuan. His strong body allowed him to see with a faint light, and his sensory perception helped him move around easily even in a darker area.
They tottered and staggered forward in a straight line. The road was the same one Ning Xiaoran had taken earlier during the day.
Several mutated insects with a fluorescent light were flying around like ghosts of fire, and there was some movement along the tussocks from time to time, but there were no mutated beasts attacking the people up front. It seemed like their bodies had a special, unique mark that prevented mutated beasts from getting too close.
They might have walked for 10 or 30 minutes when they reached the location where Luo Yuan had found Ning Xiaoran. None of them stopped, though.
Suddenly, Luo Yuan saw a light shadow appear out of nowhere in the distance. She was wearing a dress and she had long hair. Her shadow seemed to be slightly transparent and she was moving around in the tussocks like she was weightless. He could see clearly that her feet were not touching the ground. She was flying.
A chill went up his spine and spread to his whole body as his aura was released uncontrollably.
The woman seemed to have felt Luo Yuan as she turned her head around suddenly. Her transparent yet eerie face looked mysteriously beautiful. She smirked, but her smile looked terrifying.
Then she disappeared just as suddenly as she’d appeared a moment ago.
Luo Yuan was shocked. He looked around, but he could no longer see her. She had just vanished.
“What’s happening? What was that?” Luo Yuan looked serious. He had been an atheist all his life and what he had just seen was incomprehensible to him.
“A spirit? An evolved person? Or was she the one who made all the survivors in the region disappear?”
Luo Yuan had never come across such a situation before and he hesitated. However, when he saw that the people in front were unaffected and still walking forward, he decided to follow them.
A mist rose up from the tussocks, and his surroundings suddenly became even more eerie and horrifying.
As he kept going, more spirits appeared. Other than human spirits, there were also some spirits of mutated beasts floating around, but none of them dared go near him. It was like he had something on his body that prevented them from getting too close.
Some of these spirits appeared to be more solid, while others were so dim and weak he thought they could be dispersed by the wind at any time.
The air was filled with a strong fragrance, which smelled quite familiar to him.
He held his knife as he walked forward vigilantly. He felt that he was quite familiar with the surroundings; he looked around and realized that he was near the location of the house he’d wanted to move in.
He felt like he had telepathy as he looked at the locust tree that framed the villa.
The huge locust tree was standing in the dark, unmoving. Its fragrance was stronger than it was during the day. He realized that the tree was huge, about two to three times larger than normal trees. Even at the end of the world, such growing speed was still abnormal.
Luo Yuan realized there were almost no mutated beasts in the area. There wasn’t even the chirping sound of insects. It was all suspiciously quiet.
He suddenly recalled something that had happened during his high school years. He used to stay at his grandma’s house, located in a village, for a period of time. It was very remote and the transportation was not developed. Though it was already the twenty-first century, the region was still stuck in the 80’s and 90’s.
He remembered that the residents there did not plant locust trees and would chop them down if any of them grew. There was a myth that said that the spirit of the people who passed away would be living inside the locust tree and would not be able to reincarnate. That’s why they called locust trees ghost trees. He had always laughed at that, thinking it was just a foolish superstition.
Now that he had seen the spirits for himself though, he realized it was true.
As all living creatures mutated, many of them became similar to creatures depicted in myths. He had already seen a mutated beast that looked like a dragon and an enormous orangutan that looked like King Kong.
Thus, it was not beyond his imagination that the spirits would live in the mutated locust tree.
The surrounding mist was getting denser. It looked like a living thing.
He noticed that as they got closer to the locust tree, the number of spirits in the area gradually increased. Luo Yuan realized that he could not put this off any longer. He walked faster until he caught up with the rest and knocked them on the back of their necks. They all slumped to the ground. Suddenly, a high-pitched scream pierced his mind, turning it blank as he stumbled. He recovered quickly.
Suddenly, the spirits seemed to have received some sort of signal as all of them started flowing around like waves of water.
When he recovered, he smirked coldly and exerted his aura. An almost transparent shadow that seemed like the spirit of a mutated beast tried to get near him, but was blown away by a strong wind and dispersed into tiny sparks before disappearing into the air.
Luo Yuan was uncertain at first, but he wasn’t anymore when he saw the impact caused by his aura. After all, these things could only tackle normal people, not him. They were not even comparable to low-level mutated beasts.
Under the attack of the aura, even solid spirits did not last long. Their delusive bodies seemed to be blown away by the strong wind, forming intense ripples and becoming dimmer and dimmer, until they burst open like balloons.
Step by step, Luo Yuan walked forward while his aura became stronger. With each step he took, there were about 10 or more spirits bursting open into the air and forming numerous sparks.
A few spirits that were almost humanly solid came closer to Luo Yuan as his aura did not affect them as much. Their horribly distorted faces seemed very eerie in the dark, and the surrounding air was distorted, causing various delusions.
When these spirits got near him, he stabbed them abruptly with his knife.
The spirits were stunned, but their faces reflected a surprising relief before they collapsed and burst into bright sparks.
Luo Yuan’s body swayed and he felt dizzy. He realized that it had been only a few strikes, and yet he had used up one-tenth of his Willpower. He had not used much of his Willpower even when he had been hacking a blue level mutated beast.
In fact, all novels, videos and scriptures of Taoism stated that spirits with a great feeling of resentment became avenging spirits and that resentment was actually related to Willpower. As a result, fighting against spirits was a fight of Willpower. That was why so much of his Willpower had been used up.
Although Luo Yuan had a 13-point Willpower, soldiers struggling to survive might have a stronger one. Because he could highly focus his willpower, his knife was like a piece of iron being beaten repeatedly to form a steel knife. As a result, it was a lethal weapon that allowed him to kill those spirits with a higher willpower by just one strike.
Fortunately, there were not many such spirits. Luo Yuan only had to kill about 8 of them before he was done. However, his willpower had been largely consumed.
The battle had lasted just for a few minutes, but the number of spirits had gradually decreased.
Just when Luo Yuan was feeling relieved, the ground suddenly started shaking like an earthquake was taking place. The rumbling, ear-splitting sound was like a tremendous thunder, and a dilapidated building nearby collapsed.
The quake was so intense that Luo Yuan was not able to stand straight.
“Oh no!” He was shocked as his body moved forward involuntarily.
Meanwhile, the land seemed to have exploded and an enormous amount of mudstones and water drops went splattering in all directions. Suddenly, a twisting thick black root was pulled out of the ground and swept towards Luo Yuan.
Apparently this locust tree was not just able to raise and drive away spirits; it had a very strong attacking ability too, and its ability to conceal its power was much better than the corrosive earthworm’s. If Luo Yuan had not reacted fast, he would have lost his life.
After he avoided the attack, he sprinted towards the locust tree, his fast zigzag movement flattening the tussocks nearby.
He moved like an agile cat, running and jumping from time to time. With the help of his sensory perception, he seemed to be able to predict the tree’s moves and avoided them before he got hit. Explosive power was radiating from within his body as if he had an endless energy supply. His 13-point Physique allowed him to last longer during a battle.
The ground was covered with bones. The closer he got to the locust tree, the more bones there were. Most people in the district must have been killed by this locust tree.
Luo Yuan was quite cold-blooded; he did not feel any sympathy for the lives of strangers. However, he considered the effects of anger and consciously let himself be hypnotized and become furious.
A bright, sheer light suddenly appeared on the blade of the Zhanmadao and covered its whole length like a flame.
Though he could not control it, maybe it was his subconscious controlling his willpower, because this type of light was different than the previous one. It looked defensive instead of lethal. The grass in the surrounding area was flicked away by an invisible, resilient power.
The surface of the earth kept shaking until the locust tree staggeringly rose up. It looked like a tree-man depicted in a western myth as a vague face formed on the coarse bark of its trunk.