The Heart of the Locust Tree
The locust tree was enormous, and so was its root network.
When the roots were pulled up from the ground, they covered an area of more than 100 square meters. Other than the few taproots still in the ground, its network of roots looked like numerous tentacles waving and dancing in the air.
Luo Yuan was infuriated. Without hesitating, he took his knife out and sprinted towards the region of the roots. Suddenly, the roots reacted like a giant snake having its tail stepped on, and violently attacked Luo Yuan.
A fierce wind was howling, sandy soil was splattering all around and several giant rocks were rolling everywhere.
The force was so strong that any normal person not smashed into meat by the roots would have been killed by the pebbles shooting intensively in all directions.
Luo Yuan was hit by a few of them, but they were repelled by a sheer willpower membrane stretching across the surface of his skin.
His willpower membrane looked dimmer than the shiny blade. It was even thinner than soap bubbles. If it wasn’t for the darkness of the night, it would not be observable with the naked eye. It seemed very fragile, but it became only slightly dimmer when hit by the high-speed pebbles, and then recovered instantly.
Luo Yuan though was too busy fighting to notice the changes. His eyes looked fierce as he launched himself forward and jumped swiftly within the empty space between the roots, swishing his Zhanmadao.
The roots were cut instantly by the sharp blade. One by one, the big heavy roots slumped behind him and twisted.
Step by step, Luo Yuan walked forward, chopping off more roots as he gradually got closer to the tree trunk.
Perhaps the locust tree could sense the danger, because it suddenly seemed to become fiery and restless. It waved its leftover roots hard and attacked him wildly, but its reduced number of roots did not allow the tree to maintain its stability, and it swayed left and right while its huge canopy rustled.
The eyes on the trunk of the locust tree seemed to crack slightly. They seemed like tightly closed eyes suddenly opening as they shone faintly.
Luo Yuan’s heart suddenly throbbed, and he could no longer maintain his anger. He could feel the danger, but he could not avoid it, and he ended up turning cataleptic on the spot.
Suddenly, a soundless wave hit his body like an invisible ripple, causing his willpower membrane to shatter. His mind became blank and he lost his senses.
He gradually woke up after a while.
He looked around vigilantly and retreated immediately out of the dangerous region of the locust tree.
Then he turned and looked at the locust tree in surprise.
It was not moving. It seemed that it had used up all its energy during its last attack. Numerous roots were wiggling slowly into the earth, but their speed was visibly weaker.
The tree’s green leaves had turned yellowish as they fell from the sky. The locust tree seemed to have become terribly ill in a short period of time.
As he watched it, Luo Yuan felt both relieved and afraid.
It was too dangerous. How could he have been so reckless? Had he lost his senses?
As he thought of the attack, he realized he had not even been careful.
It seemed that anger could help increase his fighting strength, but it shut out both wisdom and cautiousness, which were essential for any man during dire times. As a result, he had found himself in an extremely dangerous situation. Had he not been lucky, he might have become muddy flesh while his spirit would have become a servant of the locust tree.
As the mutated plant could only move slowly, all he would need was a tank of gasoline to solve the problem once and for all.
As he thought about it, he still felt a lingering fear.
Was that an actual attack? It felt like a direct attack to my spirit. Even the willpower membrane on my skin was not able to block it. It struck directly into my mind. My brain is still in a daze, Luo Yuan thought to himself.
He had seen the spirits and he now believed in their existence.
His nostrils felt itchy, and when he touched them with his hands, he found blood on them. Later, he would also discover that his ears and eyes were bleeding too.
He was shocked. He tried to walk a few steps carefully, and when he saw that he could move normally and that he had not lost his sight or hearing, he felt slightly relieved.
He rested for a while before he looked at the locust tree again. “I should get it over with now.”
The giant locust tree seemed to have felt Luo Yuan’s malicious gaze. It shivered and slowly pulled its roots out again, but it was visibly weak.
Luo Yuan smirked as he walked forward step by step. A few roots nearby moved weakly before finally giving up.
The vague face in the middle of the trunk took an imploring expression while the tree canopy rustled.
Luo Yuan took out his Zhanmadao, sprinted towards the trunk and hacked at it hard.
The dark blue level Zhanmadao was exceptionally sharp and cut through the trunk smoothly as if it was tofu.
The trunk jolted violently and the roots were aroused by its impending death, twitching wildly. Some of them seemed like they wanted to strike back, but they were chopped off immediately. Luo Yuan did not dare drag this out. He wanted to prevent any accidents.
As the Zhanmadao kept hacking, the huge locust tree that looked like a high-rise building finally collapsed, crushing the nearby building and causing a small-scale earthquake.
About ten seconds later, a series of system notifications rang.
“Level E Mission: Look for and exterminate the cause of the missing residents of the Jingyue District, Completed. Completion Time: 7 hours 36 minutes; Mission Rating: Good!”
“Rewarded Basic EXP 1,600!”
“Comment: Ordinary, EXP +800!”
Luo Yuan looked at the EXP and sighed. He needed more than that to level up. The EXP he’d just gotten wasn’t much.
It was getting harder and harder to level up. In order to reach level 8, he needed to complete at least six Level E Missions, even if he got good mission ratings in all of them. If the target was of dark blue level though…
He quickly dismissed that dangerous thought. He could lose his life.
It was already arduous enough to face a blue level mutated beast. He could get severely injured, even more so if he fought against a dark blue level overlord. As he thought of the dark blue level mutated beasts he had met, he felt pins and needles on his skin.
Luo Yuan wanted to go back home and sleep when he saw something glow in the trunk of the collapsed locust tree.
He doubtfully walked over and discovered that the light source originated from a location deep into the middle part of the trunk. The wood tissue there was harder than on the rest of the trunk. The other parts of the trunk he could have chopped off straight away, but not this one. He was curious as he carefully dug with his knife.
The tissue was very hard, but it was not a problem for the dark blue level Zhanmadao. As Luo Yuan scraped off the wood tissue, he found a green crystal the size of a pigeon egg inside.
The crystal was perfectly round in shape with a mysterious pattern carved in a darker color on the surface, like a beautifully carved green jade.
It was so green, it felt a living thing. It emitted a glimmering green light among its dark surroundings.
When Luo Yuan held it, he felt calm; his spirit felt nourished, like he was soaking in warm water, and his dazed mind felt refreshed.
As he noticed the difference, he immediately realized that this was something special, and he used his identification skill.
“The Heart of a Haunted Locust Tree”
“Material: An active spirit crystal”
“Attached abilities: Willpower +1, Sensory Perception +1”
“Comments: This is a very rare active crystal and its value is very high. Provided you bring it along with you, it can speedily recover your Willpower and Sensory Perception.”
The message was simple, but Luo Yuan had to read it a few times.
He realized that his Sensory Perception had been enhanced as its range had expanded from 20 m2 to 30 m,2 and his ability to sense minor things, such as the movement of grass, more clearly and in greater detail had increased.
He could not feel the changes in his Willpower though, because it had been largely used up just now. However, he was no longer losing control of it.
Luo Yuan felt elated. Though he tried to suppress his joy, he could not hold back his smile.
He had been meditating for a long time, so it did not take him long to become completely calm.
He suddenly remembered that there were several people lying somewhere outside. This had been an emergency, so he’d had no choice but to make them faint. He had been attacked by the spirits, so he could not have taken care of them. Hopefully, they had been lucky enough to survive.
Luo Yuan walked there briskly and saw the shadows lying on the ground. Maybe it was because of the intense fight, but the low-level mutated beasts in the area had avoided this region, and thus they had all been safe.
Luo Yuan woke them up. When they came back from their daze and realized that they were not in the familiar basement but in the dark wilderness, all of them except Ning Xiaoran, who had already experienced this during the day, became extremely frightened. Some women even screamed.
Luo Yuan was uncomfortable as he said coldly, “Look at what you have done! You’re lucky to have survived this far, but you will not be lucky forever. Today, you were lucky because I followed you here. If I hadn’t, you guys would have been eaten by mutated beasts by now. Fight your fear. If you can’t, then you might as well just commit suicide. Living is more gruesome than dying these days.”
Luo Yuan would not be as gentle with them as he was with Wang Shishi. After all, he was not some charity organization and he had no obligation to help them. In fact, he did not expect these people to help him, but he had helped them because of the morality he felt in life-and-death situations.
He didn’t want them to hold him back though. For example, that day they had all been enchanted by the haunted locust tree when they could have just strengthened their willpower slightly and defended themselves easily from the invisible attack.
Even an evolved person like Wang Shishi had been influenced.
However, he realized that Wang Shishi was not an adult. She was not mature yet, so he could forgive her that.
These adults were the same; they were not too weak, but the comfortable life they had led before these hard times had corroded their body and mind. If they continued to perform so poorly, he would have to be cruel and kick them out.
Nobody dared utter a word as they heard Luo Yuan’s cold voice.