Chapter 224: Message
“Save me!” The figure in the darkness stretched out his hand to Shang Jianyao like a drowning person attempting to grasp the last straw.
Shang Jianyao’s body was cold as if he was slowly sinking in the winter water. As the hand approached him, the glimmering darkness in front of him shook violently.
Finally, the darkness silently shattered. Rays of sunlight shone in, allowing the black coffin and the mummy in linen clothes to appear in Shang Jianyao’s eyes again.
His consciousness returned to the real world. At the same time, his body was still clearly numb, and many of his nerve endings were throbbing.
“What happened?” Jiang Baimian retracted her left hand—which still had some electric sparks—and asked in concern, “I only tried to wake you up when I saw your expression distort.”
At this point, she sighed thankfully. “Fortunately, you took off your mask!”
“How long has it been?” Shang Jianyao asked in response.
“About three minutes.” Jiang Baimian didn’t need to flip her wrist and look at her watch to answer. She had been paying close attention to Shang Jianyao’s situation and the exact time. After all, they couldn’t stay in the temple for too long.
Shang Jianyao thought for a moment and said, “I felt like only about ten seconds had passed.” He then described the dark environment he had ‘seen,’ the window in the faint light, the distant blurry tower, and the figure crawling under the window.
“That figure was shouting ‘save me?’” Jiang Baimian asked in surprise.
Shang Jianyao gave an irrelevant answer.
“He spoke in Ashlandic.”
Jiang Baimian looked around the temple’s layout and looked down at the mummy’s black hair and rough linen clothes. After that, she nodded slightly. “It’s very normal.”
She then muttered to herself with interest, “He actually shouted ‘save me’… Does this mean that his current state isn’t natural? Something went wrong when he explored the depths of the Mind Corridor; he’s trapped inside, and his consciousness can’t return to his body? Previously, he wanted to be born when his aura fused with the Awakened murloc. It was an attempt to open a passage between the mind world and the real world?”
Every time Shang Jianyao entered the Sea of Origins, she would have similar worries. At this moment, she naturally made an inference.
“It’s also possible that he was carrying out some experiments and ended up trapping his consciousness in his subconscious.” Shang Jianyao gave another possibility.
At this moment, he seriously did an academic analysis.
Jiang Baimian tersely acknowledged it. “But this doesn’t explain why his body can survive until now. Could it be that humans or Awakened bodies will naturally enter a suspected deep freeze when in such a predicament?”
She couldn’t get an answer to her question, so she could only say, “I wonder what that window and the tower outside means. Based on your guess, it should be a kind of reflection of the psyche. And if I’m right, it might be a scene deep in the Mind Corridor…”
At this point, Jiang Baimian flipped her wrist and looked at her watch. “There’s not much time left. Let’s search for other clues. We won’t be able to figure out anything here by making empty theoretical talk.”
Shang Jianyao agreed deeply. He put on his mask again and removed the flashlight from his belt.
The yellow beam of light quickly shone into the black coffin, scattering the shadows and revealing more details.
Jiang Baimian held a gun with one hand and lowered her body. With the help of the flashlight, she checked the sleeping deity named Yama Tiger from top to bottom.
As her gaze moved down inch by inch, she suddenly realized that the mummy’s right hand had a few broken nails that were dyed red.
“He’s injured?” Jiang Baimian’s heart palpitated as she signaled for Shang Jianyao to focus the flashlight’s beam on the inner part of the coffin beside the mummy’s right hand.
As the light ruled the area, Jiang Baimian and Shang Jianyao saw scratches at the same time. Some of these scratches were normal, some were disconnected, and some were dyed red.
“Did he forcefully make these with his fingers after he fell asleep? Could he still move his fingers occasionally in the early stages?” Jiang Baimian couldn’t figure out what the scratches meant because they might’ve been produced after several attempts, not something that was done in one attempt.
She no longer held up her rifle and allowed it to be slung over her body. She then took out a pen and paper from her pocket and replicated the scratches onto the paper according to the layout on the coffin’s innerboard. She also took the initiative to scale it relatively.
After the replication, Jiang Baimian finally recognized the scratches.
They were four Ashlandic words: ‘A,”Brand,”New,”World.’
“A brand new world?” Jiang Baimian never imagined that the hint left behind by the deity, Yama Tiger, after he fell asleep would be such a short sentence.
Shang Jianyao came to a realization. “He’s trapped in a brand new world!”
Jiang Baimian didn’t blindly deny Shang Jianyao’s guess. She only raised more questions. “Isn’t this a little too simple? Besides, what does the brand new world represent? Where is it?”
“I don’t know.” Shang Jianyao was rather honest.
Jiang Baimian flipped her wrist and looked at her watch. “We’ll discuss it when we get back. Continue.”
She and Shang Jianyao quickly checked the coffin’s situation and didn’t discover any more clues.
They seized the last moment to quickly pass through the temple’s corridor on both sides. However, there was barely any dust here.
“It’s about time; it’s time to back out.” After returning to the place where the coffin was placed, Jiang Baimian made a rational decision.
Shang Jianyao seemed a little reluctant, but he still chose to obey his team leader’s orders.
Jiang Baimian looked at Yama Tiger—who was sleeping in the coffin—one last time. Her gaze swept past his tightly shut eyes, his emaciated face, and the slightly yellowish-white linen shirt before landing on the tree branch bracelet on his right wrist.
Jiang Baimian guessed that it was also an item that could produce magical effects. However, the Awakened murloc’s final mutation prevented her from rashly making any attempts.
Who knew if Yama Tiger’s remains had a similar backdoor or ‘virus!’
Phew… She exhaled and suppressed the greed in her heart. She then turned around and walked out of the temple without looking back.
It was better to leave such high-risk matters to the Vigilance Church or a team that specialized in such matters.
Shang Jianyao was in no rush to follow her. He put away the flashlight, took a diagonal step, and propped up the coffin lid with his rubber-gloved hands.
After doing this, he stood in front of the coffin—which no longer provided a view of the sleeping deity—and bowed solemnly three times.
Jiang Baimian—who had already decided not to look back—stood by the well and watched this scene speechlessly.
“He’s not dead yet…” Jiang Baimian sighed.
“It’s warmer this way, and he won’t be harassed by insects.” Shang Jianyao gave his reason. He then lowered the white curtain at the hall’s entrance.
Jiang Baimian chuckled. “Then, why did you bow?”
“Out of politeness,” Shang Jianyao replied truthfully.
After the two of them left the temple, Shang Jianyao turned around and gently closed the pitch-black door.
“How polite,” Jiang Baimian commented in an ambiguous manner. She continued, “While we still have time, let’s search the other houses and see what clues we can find.”
It was far better to conduct a simple investigation in the alley outside the temple. Unfortunately, this place seemed to have been sifted through by the merfolk, leaving nothing word-related.
The only thing that could be seen was that there were traces of a fight in many places, with blackened bloodstains.
“From the looks of it, they really suffered an attack from the Heartless. In the end, no one survived…” Jiang Baimian made a judgment based on the information provided by the murloc captive.
After the Heartless disease erupted in town, the remaining humans became prey for the Heartless.
Due to their limited time, Shang Jianyao and Jiang Baimian didn’t stay long. They left the alley and rushed to the spot where the bicycles were parked.
When they were about to reach the alley, Jiang Baimian looked back at the doors she deliberately didn’t close and thoughtfully said, “Then, who closed the door for them?”
The Heartless—who had entered and hunted—probably didn’t have any instinct to close the door after walking through.
“Automatic,” Shang Jianyao replied seriously. Just as he said that, he pointed out of the alley and happily said, “The bicycles are still here.”
“Did you really think that they would be stolen?” Jiang Baimian’s voice gradually softened as she turned her head to look at the mountain on Lake Heart Island.
There might still be some Heartless living there, and they might really be capable of riding bicycles.
Without any further delay, Jiang Baimian and Shang Jianyao mounted their bicycles and left town via the same route.
At this moment, the winter evening had quietly arrived, and the sky had dimmed significantly.
After riding for a distance, Jiang Baimian couldn’t help but look back at the town where the temple was.
This town—filled with the Old World’s ancient charm—was silent and lifeless in the gradually darkening environment.
For some reason, Jiang Baimian suddenly thought of Moat Town’s evening.
A large number of townsfolk returned from the farmlands and wilderness woods behind the town. In the square that had many buildings that failed to meet any building code, they fired up their stoves and cooked food. Some of the children—who were out of school—ran around and chased each other. Some looked at their stew pots in anticipation…
After an unknown period of time, in the alley where the temple was located in the silent town.
A howling gale blew past as the opened doors slammed shut one after another.