Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 95: Murals
Headed by Xiang Jiang, who “survived the disaster”, the other three from Shian left the mines early and returned to town.
At this time, most of the townspeople were active outside. Looking at them from a hundred meters away, the town showed an idyllic scene, if they were to ignore the numerous dots of evil beings floating among the flow of people. Whether it was terrifying aliens that were particularly prominent in the crowd or the weird mist looming around them, it didn’t seem to bother the townspeople at all.
Based on how everyone was living, Ge Tingting was a little suspicious. Even if an evil spirit fell from the sky here, this group of people would probably carry their basket and simply step over it to buy vegetables.
And once the three members of Shian approached, the townspeople became like frightened herd animals. The laughter and chatter instantly died, and the townspeople quickly stopped their work. Dozens of eyes followed the three of them.
If it weren’t for those people who were still talking and living normally in the previous second, Ge Tingting would have thought that this place was a field of human sunflowers. The malicious gaze stung her as she took two steps forward and walked side by side with Xiang Jiang.
Just as Xiang Jiang hung up on a call, he unscrewed the cap of a mineral water bottle and took a few sips, ignoring Ge Tingting’s gesture. “We’ll go find the mayor later.”
Behind the two of them, Huang Jin frowned.
Despite being the mayor for many years, Ren Jiying wasn’t popular with the locals and had no prestige. To investigate the town’s past, it was better to use spirit weapons to disguise their identities and get close to the townspeople. These were all bad tricks used by the Nightwalkers, and there was no reason Shian wouldn’t know about them.
Did something bad happen? But seeing Xiang Jiang’s stinky face, Huang Jin couldn’t really ask this.
In his view, the only major event that could happen now was “the identity of Yin Ren’s being an evil being is exposed and King Yama and Shian tearing their faces apart”. He didn’t know who the hapless Shian forces meeting those two monsters underground were but Huang Jin sincerely wished them good health, both physically and mentally.
When Ren Jiying was called out from the town government office by Xiang Jiang, she was in a daze. However, compared to the stern-faced staff around her, she had a ruddy complexion and bright eyes, looking like a living person.
“Something happened,” Xiang Jiang bluntly stated. “The mine collapsed, and our people and Qi Xin fell into the depths.”
Ren Jiying’s face turned pale. “How did this happen?”
“There’s a high probability that it was a man-made attack. Everyone is fine for the time being. We need to thoroughly investigate the recent activities in the town, and we need your cooperation—it has nothing to do with the previous cases in town, and we don’t plan to go to the police.”
Mayor Ren rubbed her temples vigorously and looked around wearily. “Okay, I know. Don’t talk here. Go to my place first.”
After arriving home, Ren Jiying carefully locked her anti-theft door and checked it several times.
The homestay was no better than an ordinary residence. For someone like Ge Tingting, who was used to sleeping in abandoned buildings, no matter how well guarded this place was, there were always thousands of weak points for people to slip in. Mayor Ren’s behavior was more like giving herself psychological comfort than being cautious.
Zhong Chengshuo and Yin Ren’s luggage was still in its old position. Yin Ren’s suitcase was even opened carelessly. They leaned together, full of life, like their owners, who may come back at any moment.
Ge Tingting’s chest sank inexplicably. She looked away, sat obediently at the table, and waited.
Ren Jiying was preparing freshly blended honey water and well-packaged food for them as usual.
“Tell us everything about that mine.” Xiang Jiang got straight to the point.
“It’s a long story.” Ren Jiying took a sip of honey water and laughed dryly. “You must all know the development of this town. In those years, the media reported on it overwhelmingly… Everyone likes to watch glamorous legends, so I’ll just get to the chicken feathers* afterwards.”
*Term used to describe a mess of things. || In this context, she’s saying, I’ll just get to the part where things became a mess.
“This matter started 28 years ago.”
She lowered her gaze.
“28 years ago, there was a ‘landslide’ here. Soon after that, everyone was… Well, everyone was abnormal, including my parents. They began to exclude outsiders for no reason, while turning a blind eye to some strange things in town.”
Ren Jiying shook her head helplessly.
“Now I’m pretty sure that it’s that point in time—I once checked the economic information of the town. Since that year, there have been no foreign projects here.”
“28 years ago, there was a metaphysical natural disaster in and around Haigu, and Gengsheng Town was within the scope of being affected.”
Directly below the homestay, a few hundred meters underground.
While Fu Xingchuan was planning the route of the building, Professor Li used special equipment to take pictures of the murals while talking.
Zhong Chengshuo was still meticulously slicing and collecting samples, but Yin Ren could see that this guy’s ears moved, and he was listening intently.
The two science posts were well versed in their skills of being focused while multitasking. The research recordings seemed to be some kind of muscle memory for them, so they didn’t need to use their brains at all.
“Metaphysical natural disaster?” Yin Ren listened wholeheartedly.
After all, these were the two top people in Shian that were on full alert, so he didn’t dare stretch the tips of his hair too long. He couldn’t even scratch Zhong Chengshuo.
…And he really didn’t know what a metaphysical natural disaster was. 28 years ago, Yin Ren was still rolling wantonly around on a pile of bones, keeping his thousands of ears deaf, and was in a deep beauty sleep.
“This should be information that can only be accessed by B-level or above, but the experience of you two is comparable to that of an ordinary B-level, so it’s fine for you to know.”
Professor Li’s tone sounded like he was lecturing, but it was more inexplicably sarcastic than a lecture.
“That year, there was a ‘Divine Descent’ in Haigu—you can think of it as a large-scale eruption of unexplained Evil Force. After that, the mines in Gengsheng Town severely collapsed, resulting in a sharp decline in mineable reserves. Of course, this is just what it says on paper.”
After Li Nian finished taking pictures of the murals, he looked at the windows and door. They were stacked endlessly, but the corpses in them were different.
It was like a weird kaleidoscope.
“Generally speaking, after a Divine Descent, Shian will immediately dispose of the main sources of corruption, and the remaining corruption will naturally dissipate due to the flow of air and population.”
“But Gengsheng Town isn’t a plain city. The terrain here is special, and the population flow is very small. Under the deliberate interference of some people, the Evil Force here lingered for a long time, and it still retained the environmental characteristics of the ‘Divine Descent’ period.”
The air, the soil, and the flowing water were full of a faint Evil Force and corruption was everywhere.
Yin Ren lowered the corner of his mouth and looked at the dirty stone floor under his feet. Perhaps it was because he entered a familiar environment that he was suddenly blessed and could comprehend the source of that previous feeling of familiarity.
…It was the environment itself.
This mountain town was marinated in the aura of the Evil Force.
And this kind of environment, where every corner was filled with Evil Force, was similar to the era in which he lived. However, compared to the world in Yin Ren’s memory, the concentration of Evil Force in Gengsheng Town wasn’t that high.
Maybe it was because of this that he didn’t react the first time…?
Yin Ren bit his thumb unconsciously. The firelight bounced in the eye sockets of the strange corpse on both sides of him.
No. Something is missing. A certain key aura. A key taste. This kind of anxiety that he couldn’t remember was comparable to scratching an itch. Yin Ren hid a few strands of hair in his jacket and shook them with irritability.
A few steps away, Zhong Chengshuo stuffed a specimen into a box with a straightforward satisfaction on his face. He carefully put the box in his backpack and then stuck to Yin Ren’s back as he patted his shoulder.
With his lover close, those strands of hair had a target and quickly wrapped around Zhong Chengshuo’s little finger.
“The environmental characteristics of the ‘Divine Descent’ period? …What characteristic?” Zhong Chengshuo took the initiative to ask.
“The Evil Force continues to be active, which will give birth to evil creatures and wake up dangerous sleeping evil creatures. Of course, these changes aren’t obvious to us but are relatively intuitive to the metaphysic posts.”
Professor Li’s eyes were still locked on the mural, and he hadn’t noticed the weird intimacy between the two of them.
“According to our experience, if Sunken Society abandoned this undiscovered ‘Ant Nest’, it could only mean it’s highly corrupted or the evil things got out of control… There’s no trace of a strong concentration of corruption here. 28 years ago, something probably woke up here, and its activity has resulted in the destruction of the mineral deposits.”
As he spoke, Li Nian fell into contemplation at the murals.
Zhong Chengshuo also turned his gaze to the murals.
Given Sunken Society’s style, these murals wouldn’t exist only as decorations, but they didn’t intend to draw something that was too easy to understand. Looking at the murals in dim light, they could vaguely distinguish a “person” who was entangled with evil things.
The murals were mottled, and the paint had faded, leaving only the person as bright as ever.
In the picture, the limbs of the person were distorted, and the brushstrokes were abstract. The entire figure was painted red. He or she sometimes would stand on top of a giant, and sometimes they were surrounded by countless evil things. Each picture was interlocking; they were big or small and were put together in an irregular form. At first glance, it looked a bit like the stained glass of a religious building.
Under the brush of the painter of Sunken Society, the scarlet figure had a weird, evil nature that gave people faint chills.
In smaller patterns, the figure was simply reduced to a touch of red, like a few drops of blood splashed on the ancient mural.
As King Yama of the Nightwalkers, Zhong Chengshuo had indeed come into contact with the ruins of the Ant Nest. Murals were a common way of recording for Sunken Society, and the content was inseparable from the theme of the Ant Nest’s research. The latecomers of Sunken Society could take away the spirit weapons and recorded documents, but not the murals themselves.
This was a great starting point.
But Zhong Chengshuo had never seen Sunken Society distinguish between coloring pigments.
Thousands of years had passed, yet the figure was so distinct that it was hard to say what kind of emotions they had put in it.
He didn’t specialize in the art field, while Li Nian specialized in fields related to history and folklore. Zhong Chengshuo failed to come up with an answer and decisively turned his attention to Professor Li. “This is…”
Li Nian shook his head solemnly. He glanced at Fu Xingchuan, who was busy not far away, and for the first time, there was a feeling of worry in his eyes.
At the same time, Yin Ren gently tugged on Zhong Chengshuo’s ears.
“It seems to be me.”
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