Chapter 222: Temple
It was already four in the afternoon. The winter sky was no longer as bright, but it was in no way close to evening. Bright light scattered across the ground, and the lake breeze blew gently, giving the illusion that they had returned to the early morning.
The highway on the island was indeed as the murloc captive had described. The damage wasn’t too serious, but some parts had cracked due to the elements. Some parts of the road had more soil and dust.
For Jiang Baimian—who was riding a bicycle—the cold wind that blew at her face made her feel like she was experiencing the early morning. On the left was a large number of farmlands that extended all the way to the foot of the mountain. On the right, she could see the vast, misty lake through the two rows of withered trees.
Such a scene and such a feeling broadened her heart and refreshed her mind. If not for the grenade launcher and the assault rifle slung across her, she would’ve almost forgotten the purpose of this trip.
Jiang Baimian sighed with emotion as she pedaled. “Unfortunately, it’s winter now. There’s not much greenery in the farmlands and woods. Otherwise, it would definitely feel better.”
Shang Jianyao tried his best to keep his bicycle from overtaking her by too much. He thought for a moment and said, “Autumn might be more beautiful.”
“Why?” Jiang Baimian never expected Shang Jianyao to select a season.
Shang Jianyao frankly replied, “There must be many fruits on the trees.”
“…” Jiang Baimian decided not to continue the topic and said, “It seems like the merfolk have all evacuated this island. I wonder if it’s because of the Oracle’s instructions or because something terrifying would happen after three days…”
This was one of the things Pangu Biology had warned them about—they couldn’t stay on the island for more than three days.
Shang Jianyao—who was wearing a monkey mask—thought for a moment and said, “I didn’t ask the captive that question back then.”
“We didn’t know either.” Jiang Baimian subconsciously consoled him.
When Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong went to interrogate the murloc captive, she was still sick and had yet to report the matter to the company. Thus, she had yet to receive any notice regarding any taboos when exploring temples.
The morning after Pangu Biology replied, Redstone Collection had exchanged POWs with the merfolk and mountain monsters.
Shang Jianyao—who was trying his best to control himself and not speed up the bicycle—turned to look at Jiang Baimian. “I believe it should be a result of the Oracle’s instructions.”
“Oh?” Although Jiang Baimian had made the same judgment, she was still rather interested in Shang Jianyao’s inference process. She felt that it was necessary to learn a different train of thought and not restrict herself to her own ways.
After all, many Awakened had certain mental problems. It was difficult to guess their behavior patterns with normal logic.
Shang Jianyao truthfully answered, “He had already made friends with Harbinger Song. When he mentioned Lake Heart Island and the forbidden temple, he wouldn’t not mention that something terrifying would happen if one stayed on the island for too long unless he didn’t know the exact situation.”
“Yes.” Jiang Baimian was a little disappointed because this was a normal inference.
Ding ring ring!
At this moment, Shang Jianyao rang the bell on the bicycle with interest as if he wanted to play a piece of music with it.
Unfortunately, the bell couldn’t do such a thing.
“…” Jiang Baimian retracted her disappointment.
The two of them rode past the abandoned houses by the lake. After about ten minutes, they finally saw a town.
Its style was very similar to Weed City’s. It had white walls and black tiles, with eaves arched over them. It was filled with the charm of the Old World’s ancient times.
Of course, this place also had differences from Weed City. The first was the lack of city walls. The second was that the houses were generally not tall, with the majority being two to three stories.
In the town, limestone slabs were laid out. The dry yellow weeds were occasionally plucked up by the cold wind and blown into the sky.
For some reason, Jiang Baimian felt like the light had dimmed a little the moment they entered this town. This made her see an ancient, quiet, and slightly creepy scene.
Without a doubt, there were no signs of human activity in the entire town. If not for the fact that it was winter, this place might’ve become a paradise for vegetation and wild animals.
Even now, Jiang Baimian could still see dried animal feces in the corners and ditches.
“There’s no smell.” Shang Jianyao sniffed and made a judgment.
Jiang Baimian couldn’t be bothered with him. She flipped her wrist and looked at her watch. “It’s 4:16. We have to leave this town before 4:42, regardless of whether we find anything valuable.”
“You made a mistake,” Shang Jianyao pointed out.
That didn’t add up to half an hour.
As Jiang Baimian identified the way according to the murloc’s statements and searched for the temple, she scoffed. “This is called leaving some redundancy. Who knows if this place is different from the ones the company previously discovered? We can’t completely follow the company’s precautions; we have to raise the standards.”
“You’re very suitable to join the Vigilance Church,” Shang Jianyao praised.
Jiang Baimian glanced over and muttered, “I think you’re making a snide remark at me. How can the Vigilance Church’s vigilance be the same as a normal person’s?”
After confirming the general direction, she rode her bicycle along the ditch by the side of the road to the center of town.
According to the murloc’s description, the temple was in the alley east of the town square.
Just like outside of town, it was quiet inside the town except for the howling wind and the sound of the advancing bicycles. It was so quiet that it made one’s scalp tingle.
“I didn’t feel it while in the wilderness, but it’s really strange when there’s no sound here.” Jiang Baimian looked around and attributed part of the reason to the narrow road, cramped environment, and oppressive atmosphere.
Shang Jianyao then sighed. “Unfortunately, Long Yuehong didn’t come.”
“What will happen if he comes?” Jiang Baimian casually inquired.
Shang Jianyao sighed. “Then, I can tell him a ghost story.”
“You’re really his good friend,” Jiang Baimian said sincerely.
The area in front of them widened as they conversed, and a small square appeared. On the east side of the square was a half-meter-tall platform—there was nothing on it.
After crossing this cement platform, they could see a narrow alley. The alley entrance had a putrid smell as if it had been a long time since the winds blew in.
Jiang Baimian quickly got off the bicycle and leaned it against the side.
They had arrived at their destination.
As Shang Jianyao alighted, he spoke of his worries. “Should we lock them? It won’t be good if we come out and find our bicycles missing.”
“If you lose your bicycle, I’ll give you a ride!” Jiang Baimian didn’t mention how anyone could steal a bicycle in such a godforsaken place. She directly replied according to Shang Jianyao’s train of thought.
Ten seconds later, the two of them left their bicycles, picked up their assault rifles, and walked into the alley in front of them.
The deeper they went, the stronger the smell of rot in the air. It felt like it was about to freeze, but this didn’t stop Shang Jianyao and Jiang Baimian from breathing.
All the doors and windows in this alley were tightly shut, unlike the other areas of the town.
Many doors were open as if they had been searched. Furthermore, all the doors here were painted black.
As she walked, Jiang Baimian heard her and Shang Jianyao’s footsteps. They constantly echoed in the alley, layering upon one another.
“This place is indeed rather strange.” As Jiang Baimian sighed with emotion, the temple appeared in front of them.
The temple was located at a higher spot at the end of the alley. Its architectural style was essentially the same as the surrounding buildings.
Its black door was tightly shut. Above it was a black tile, and a white paper lantern hung on each side.
Perhaps it was because of the eaves, but the lanterns weren’t affected by the rain. It was as if they had been hung up last night.
The door to the temple was taller than that of the other buildings. Under the eaves was a plaque with black and white words.
Jiang Baimian casually glanced at it and saw the words on the plaque clearly: “Yama Hall.”
“It does have the looks,” she commented objectively, but this didn’t stop her from moving forward.
Soon, she and Shang Jianyao arrived at the temple’s entrance.
When she was close, she felt a strange feeling—a fear that went straight to the bottom of her heart.
Jiang Baimian didn’t hesitate to stretch out her left hand and softly press it against the door before exerting some strength.
Before riding the bicycle, she and Shang Jianyao had already worn latex gloves.
At this moment, she even used her left hand out of caution.
With a creak, the temple’s black door slowly opened, revealing the scene inside.
The first thing Jiang Baimian and Shang Jianyao saw was a well. There was a water vat in each corner.
Beyond the well was a temple hall; a white curtain hung from the door.
After crossing the doorsill and entering the temple, the fear Jiang Baimian felt dissipated instantly. However, her heart felt like it was weighed down by several heavy rocks, making her feel extremely stifled.
Even the wind seemed to have vanished. It was so quiet that it didn’t seem like she was in the real world.
Suddenly, Shang Jianyao asked, “Can I get the speaker?”
“Huh?” Jiang Baimian—who was completely focused—was momentarily stunned.
“Music,” Shang Jianyao quickly explained.
Playing music with a speaker in this gloomy, mysterious, quiet, stifling, and strange temple? Play those strange songs? Although Jiang Baimian believed that this could effectively destroy the current atmosphere, she felt that it was too strange.
It was crazy to have a place—which could show signs of a phantasm at any moment—echo with lyrics like ‘you are my little apple.’
She deliberated for a moment and said, “Not yet, but we can prepare.”
“Alright.” Shang Jianyao became excited.
The duo—who was carrying assault rifles—immediately took up position as they entered the main hall’s entrance.
After lifting the white curtain and tying it up, they saw the offering table, the incense burner, ashes, a praying mat, and white candles. However, there was no statue on the offering table.
The actual situation behind the offering table couldn’t be seen at a glance.
At this moment, Shang Jianyao suddenly said, “There’s human consciousness not more than ten meters away.”
He uttered a relatively vague description as if he didn’t dare be too sure of the exact distance.
“You only sensed it after coming in?” Jiang Baimian asked in surprise. She remembered that Shang Jianyao’s abilities covered a maximum range of 20 meters.
Shang Jianyao nodded heavily.
Jiang Baimian then focused. After a while, she hesitantly said, “Indeed, there are electric signals. Very weak… It has extremely low biological activity?”
As she spoke, she held her gun and circled behind the offering table with Shang Jianyao.
They then saw a coffin—a black coffin.
The coffin was open, and a person was lying inside.