Chapter 909: A Big Tree in the Forest
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Seeing this tall, lonely tree from afar, Han Sen frowned. The tree possessed a grand lifeforce, but there was nothing else alive in its proximity.
There were no creatures near it, so Han Sen thought it was a little strange.
It was not an ordinary geno plant, that was for sure. If Han Sen could sense its presence from a dozen miles away, why would no other living creatures desire to be around it?
"Let's rest here and tend to Chu Ming's wounds." Han Sen believed there was something wrong in the direction they were headed. So, he decided to take a break. Carefully lifting Chu Ming off of Golden Growler's back, Han Sen got to work on healing the beaten man with his holy light.
Chu Ming had been severely injured, but the damage he had suffered was not critical. After an hour of this healing, Chu Ming was fully recovered.
"Lanxi, why would you rescue me? We signed a contract with Qing Ming Knight; you can be killed for this disobedience!" Chu Ming woke up and immediately noticed his presence in Thorn Forest. Quickly, he was able to mostly gather what had transpired in the time he was unconscious.
"You mean this guy?" Han Sen summoned Qing Ming Knight.
"Whoa! He... he..." Chu Ming was given a jump scare, and immediately started stepping backwards. With wide eyes, he asked, "What in the sanctuaries happened?"
"What happened? Me, that's what happened. Qing Ming Knight now belongs to me," Han Sen said.
"Are you pulling my leg? How is that possible?" Chu Ming looked at Qing Ming Knight, unsure whether or not he had slipped into a twisted dream of sorts. He pinched his leg to see if he would wake up, saying, "This must be a dream. It's a dream, isn't it? I must still be the shelter's hanging pinata. It's a dying hallucination of mine, for sure!"
But Chu Ming, feeling the nasty pain that stemmed from his pinch, knew that it was no fabrication of the mind. What was happening was real.
Han Sen and Qu Lanxi then relayed the entire tale of what had occurred to Chu Ming, who seemed to struggle with believing its authenticity.
The three of them continued to rest, and Han Sen decided to prepare a meal for them. He retrieved one of the tree crabs he had hunted and started to cook it.
This surprised Chu Ming once again. The three of them, after filling their bellies, decided to get some shut-eye while Little Wind remained on guard. With Han Sen's latest pet there, they didn't have to worry about getting attacked without warning.
After midnight, Little Wind suddenly howled. Roused from their slumber, they all jolted up to look about for whatever was coming. But strangely, there was nothing to be seen.
Little Wind was only a creature, so they couldn't ask it what had caused the unrest. They poked about the area for a bit, but were unable to discern the problem; furthermore, Little Wind had gone back to being quiet, as well.
Just in case something happened, Han Sen decided to remain awake and stay on-watch, allowing the other two to sleep and rest-up.
Nothing ill befell them that night, and when the sun rose the next day, they all merrily packed their gear and discussed where their ultimate destination should be.
"If that tree is a high-level geno plant, we have to go take a look. Since it seems devoid of other creatures nearby it, we might be able to snag a few goodies for ourselves." Chu Ming looked at the giant tree with saliva drooling from the corner of his lips.
"But San Mu is right. Danger must lurk there, for it is abnormal for there to be no creatures in that tree's vicinity," Qu Lanxi said.
"We are still in what is essentially the borders of Thorn Forest. There is nothing to be afraid of... ah! What is that?!" Chu Ming, as he scanned the area, suddenly screamed aloud.
"What's wrong?" Han Sen looked around and noticed something amiss.
"This is Thorn Forest, yes? Haven't we walked about fifty miles to get to this point?" Chu Ming noticed swathes of massive thorns tangled with the trees ahead.
"I'm fairly sure those thorny vines weren't there last night." Qu Lanxi was shocked, and she looked around to see what else might have appeared.
On the previous day, they had walked through what seemed to be a gentle forest. What they now saw ahead of them was a wretched tangle of thorny vines that weaved their way through the trees around them. If they were indeed in the borderlands of the forest, nothing like this should have been close to them.
Qu Lanxi wanted to take a closer look, but Han Sen stopped her.
"Let's not wander off on our own before we properly evaluate the situation." Han Sen looked around him with concern at the vast array of thorny vines. Their number equaled the trees they coursed between. Had they not known any better, they would have believed themselves to be in the deeper recesses of the forest.
Yet they knew they had only walked around fifty miles. They knew they shouldn't have been seeing such thorny vines already.
"Is it because of that giant tree?" Chu Ming pointed at it.
"No way; it's just a tree. Are you suggesting it has teleported us deeper into the forest or something?" Qu Lanxi said.
Han Sen was not willing to cast doubt on Chu Ming's theory, since he believed the man might have been correct. The environment had changed, all except that one giant tree, and so he said, "Where we are is mostly different, save for the tree's position. I think Chu Ming might be right. If there is another possibility, I'm having trouble discerning what that may be."
"So, you are saying the tree brought us to a deeper part of the forest?" Qu Lanxi asked.
"I am not entirely sure yet. It's either that or the thorn forest is looking to expand." Han Sen stepped forward to get a better look at the tree and said, "We should take a look at the tree in greater detail. Perhaps a closer inspection will clarify our situation."
"If the tree did this to us, wouldn't it be dangerous for us to poke around it?" Chu Ming suggested.
Han Sen shook his head and said, "If we are now indeed within the deeper, darker, and more treacherous reaches of Thorn Forest, it will be dangerous no matter which way we venture. At least we can confirm there are no creatures near the tree."
The three of them then decided to visit the tree and investigate.
Han Sen commanded Little Wind to lead them from the front. He was the strongest of their party, even though Han Sen had already consumed the Iron Bug King and obtained seven geno points.
Han Sen thought there might have been a flaw with the iron bug; after all, it hadn't completely evolved. The woman spirit had forced open its shell, which was perhaps why Han Sen did not receive many geno points.
The three of them carefully approached the tree and when they arrived, Little Wind seemed reluctant to approach. Han Sen had to pull and tug at Little Wind to get him to follow.
"Someone is under the tree!" Chu Ming suddenly called out as he pointed at the tree.