Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
Old Wu smiled bitterly. “When she was young, her father abandoned her family to become a monk. He was gone for more than twenty years. To her, monks are the people who destroyed her family, devils who robbed her of her childhood and fatherly love. I’ve never seen her being nice to monks.”
Officer Li was enlightened before he shook his head and said, “What a pitiful person.”
“Yeah…” Old Wu nodded and said.
Meanwhile, Fangzheng said to Red Boy, “It’s all lakes in the middle. There’s nothing to see aboveground. Let’s go, let’s enter the lakes.”
“Alright.” Red Boy nodded. Just as they were about to set off, they heard Bao Yuluo’s shouting.
Red Boy said, “Master, Patron Bao is quite a nice person.”
Fangzheng smiled. “This Penniless Monk never said she was bad. She’s just overly suspicious.”
Red Boy nodded. “And a little poor.”
Fangzheng rolled his eyes and slapped him. “Are you not done yet? You depleted all her money with your appetite. To think you have the nerve to say this. You sure aren’t sparing in both actions and words!”
“Master, why did you do a complete turn so quickly? You even praised me for what I did. Now, you are playing the blame game,” Red Boy said with a look of aggrievement.
“Enough, let’s cut the chatter. Let’s enter the water!” After Fangzheng said that, he charged into the biggest lake in the middle with Red Boy. However, before he entered, he took a deep breath and filled his dantian with air, shouting, “Got it! Thank you for your concern, Patron Bao!”
“Pui! Who cares about you! I just don’t want anyone dead. It causes a lot of paperwork!” Bao Yuluo shouted into the distance in amusement.
Unlike Bao Yuluo, the scientific team members wore looks of shock as they mumbled. “That monk’s voice is that loud?”
Elder Wang also had on a look of surprise. He squinted his eyes into the distance and mumbled. “What confidence. This monk is probably not someone ordinary.”
Meanwhile, Fangzheng had already grabbed a boulder from the lake. He plunged deep into the water with Red Boy floating by his side. He had a unique wisp of fire in his hand which didn’t extinguish underwater. Instead, it illuminated the surroundings in a way far more useful than a torchlight. Fangzheng even wondered if he should switch One Finger Monastery’s lights. He could save quite a bit of electricity that way.
The lake was far deeper than Fangzheng imagined. He originally thought that twenty meters would be the limit, but he didn’t even see the bottom after reaching thirty meters! It was completely dark below, like a bottomless abyss. Nothing could be seen.
“Master, do we continue?” Red Boy asked. Others could not speak underwater, but this was not a problem for Red Boy.
Fangzheng nodded and continued diving downwards. Forty meters!
A hundred meters!
“What the hell is this place? How is it so deep?” Fangzheng’s mind was filled with questions.
At this moment, something rose up. It was a dense entity which couldn’t be easily identified. It looked like a school of tiny fish!
“What are those?” Fangzheng looked down in puzzlement. Regardless of what it was, even if it was a bunch of piranhas, Fangzheng wasn’t afraid.
Red Boy also looked down in all seriousness. The flame in his hand suddenly brightened and illuminated the area beneath them. This only served to leave Fangzheng and Red Boy dumbfounded!
When they saw the light illuminate the area beneath them, it was like it had shone on countless crystals that reflected the light at them. It was a shimmering sight!
“This is!?” Fangzheng and Red Boy showed looks of shock.
On the shore and in the forest, the scientific team members were using the ropes they had to quickly set up simple tree houses. Instead of calling them houses, they were more like cloths that blocked out the wind. The bottom had pieces of wood they had found as the foundation. Warm grass was strewn on that and with sleeping bags laid over it, everything was done.
A bonfire was set up beneath the tree house, and it was split into several smaller fire piles which led towards the lake. This was instructed by Elder Wang, and no one knew why he had given such instructions.
As the autumn wind blew, the sun set, and the winds turned colder. Bao Yuluo subconsciously clasped her clothes and looked into the distant lake. Up to now, she refused to believe that such a beautiful lake would have any demonic aura. Just as Bao Yuluo was seriously keeping watch, she suddenly realized that the lake was producing fog! The fog grew thicker.
To be precise, it wasn’t only the lake. The forest was also turning foggy.
Elder Wang took a deep breath and mumbled. “It’s really fog.”
“It’s common for mountainous forests to have fog,” said Sun Caifeng.
Elder Wang nodded. “Light the fires!”
The people beneath hurriedly ignited the fire piles before rapidly climbing up to the tree house.
The fog became thicker and gradually, things beyond a hundred meters couldn’t be seen clearly. Thankfully, there were the fire piles beneath which could illuminate a certain distance. As for the lake, they could no longer see anything of it. All they could see was white fog over the lake’s surface like a lurking behemoth.
Elder Wang quietly took out a stopwatch as he stared intently at the fire piles beneath them. Sun Caifeng seemed to realize something as she took out her cell phone and also started timing.
A few minutes later, a gurgling sound could be heard. It wasn’t loud, but it was very noticeable in the quiet environment.
“What’s that sound?” Officer Li looked alertly towards the lake.
“It’s like the sound of water boiling over,” Officer Zhao said.
Old Fifth Gao questioned. “Can lake water also boil?”
“Could a water monster of the Changbai Mountains be surfacing?” someone murmured.
However, Elder Wang remained silent the entire time. All he did was look at the fire pile beneath as seconds turned to minutes.
“The fire has been extinguished! Something is coming!” Bao Yuluo exclaimed as she pointed at the first fire pile a distance away.
Everyone looked over. Indeed, a fire pile had been extinguished!
When the flames were beginning to waver, Elder Wang had already pressed down on his stopwatch.
“The second fire pile has gone out as well! That monster is afraid of fire! It’s putting out the flames!” Old Fifth Gao shouted in fright. Many people turned serious. A few lads even fished out their blades, prepared to strike at any moment.
Right after the second fire pile was extinguished, a third and fourth pile followed.
“Small fires are useless against it. Let’s hope the biggest bonfire can fend it off…” Officer Zhao prayed softly.
However, the bonfire suddenly began to waver and finally, with a poof, the blazing flames were extinguished!
“We’re doomed.” Many people had this thought.
At that moment, Elder Wang said, “Old Wu, help me. Use the ropes to lower me down.”
“Teacher, what are you doing?” a man asked with concern.
Elder Wang said, “To make the ultimate conclusion!”
“Elder Wang, there’s a demonic aura below. It’s very dangerous,” Old Fifth Gao persuaded.
“Enough, speak no further. I already have a rough idea of what it is. Lower me down slowly. If I notice anything amiss, I’ll get you to pull me up,” Elder Wang said with a laugh.
“Elder Wang, why don’t I go instead?” Bao Yuluo volunteered bravely.
“You?” Elder Wang was taken aback. He never expected that it would be this young policewoman to step forward when none of his students volunteered to do so. She was biting her thin lips, clearly afraid yet extremely determined. Elder Wang laughed, feeling touched. “You are a good officer, and also a good child. However, you will not be able to help on this matter. There are some things you don’t understand, and it’s hard to explain. Without experiencing it myself, it will easily affect my judgment.”
“But, you?” Bao Yuluo was truly worried for Elder Wang.
“Why don’t I go instead? Elder Wang, you’re already not young,” Sun Caifeng suddenly said.
“Oh?” Elder Wang looked at Sun Caifeng in astonishment. Her reputation in the industry wasn’t too great; it was something Elder Wang knew as well. Furthermore, she had indeed been quite problematic on their journey through Ganfanpen. She was very demanding and mocked others for no good reason. He never expected her to step forward at this moment in time.
Sun Caifeng frowned, her face a little red. Then, she stiffened her neck to lie. “Don’t look at me. I’m doing this for the sake of our work.”
Elder Wang immediately laughed. “Alright, I can be assured if it’s Little Sun.”
This was Sun Caifeng’s first time seeing Elder Wang smile at her so genially. She was slightly taken aback as she turned her head to get Old Wu to help her. A group of young men pulled at the rope as they slowly let her down. On the tree house, Elder Wang was in full command. Sun Caifeng gave real time reports of what she felt. In order to get a more accurate read of the surroundings, she even took off her shoes and socks.
Upon seeing this, Bao Yuluo couldn’t help but be impressed by Sun Caifeng’s professionalism even if she couldn’t stand her.
“My toes are a little cold. My soles are cold too.”
“Continue, I can still handle it.”
“It’s getting harder to breathe. Cough… Cough…”
“Pull her up!” Elder Wang suddenly shouted. Everyone hurriedly helped pull Sun Caifeng up. In a particular moment, Sun Caifeng gasped for air like she was drowning, and it was as though she couldn’t breathe in any oxygen. However, when she rose to a certain height, it was like she had been fished out of water. With a loud gasp, she took in a deep breath and began coughing vigorously.
When she reached the top of the tree, Sun Caifeng looked harried. She wasn’t done coughing, but she hurriedly said, “Carbon… Dioxide… Cough…”
Elder Wang nodded. “This gas can silently extinguish flames and suffocate people. It sticks close to the ground and is cold to the touch. It’s indeed carbon dioxide.”
“Teacher, the demonic aura is carbon dioxide?” a student asked in shock.
“Yes, it was only a hypothesis of mine initially. After we entered the woods, I’ve been observing the entire time. There are quite a number of spots with traces of the appearance of carbon dioxide. Those affirmed my hypothesis. When Little Sun went down to experience it for herself, she fully proved my hypothesis,” Elder Wang said.
“Elder Wang, why would there be carbon dioxide here? And a torrent of such great scale?” Bao Yuluo asked.
Elder Wang looked into the distant lake with a heavy expression. “I suspect that the carbon dioxide comes from the lake.”
“Impossible! How can a lake have carbon dioxide? If there’s any, carbon dioxide is gaseous and light. It should have long floated up.” A man shook his head and continued. “Although any lake produces carbon dioxide at its bottom, with the heating up and cooling of the lake, as well as the water flow internally within the lake, a lake’s carbon dioxide can often be released into the atmosphere as it’s produced. In small amounts, it shouldn’t be dangerous towards man and beast. But carbon dioxide released at this scale is clearly abnormal.”
Sun Caifeng said, “There’s nothing impossible. There’s a few of such lakes in the whole world. I just never expected our country to have one too. Think about it, with the present terrain and geological features, it truly is possible that it’s a killer lake.”
Elder Wang said, “It’s still too early to make conclusions. At dawn, once the carbon dioxide disperses, we can go determine the reason.”
“Fair enough.” Sun Caifeng nodded.
Meanwhile, Fangzheng and Red Boy had already dived to the bottom of the lake. However, even at the bottom of the lake, Fangzheng did not see anything which could produce gases. Instead, there were many strange black rocks lining the bottom of the lake. They looked like things that had repeatedly melted and frozen.
“Master, this is the sign of a volcano. There was once a volcanic dike here.” Although Red Boy didn’t know science, he was very sensitive when it came to flames.
Fangzheng nodded in acknowledgment. Then he continued searching for the source of the gas bubbles with Red Boy. Despite doing a carpet search, they found nothing. Fangzheng was puzzled. Where did the gas come from? Unknowingly, Fangzheng and Red Boy had walked the bottom of the lake with their feet the entire night, nearly covering every inch.
“Master, do we continue? I already know more about this lake’s bottom than my own body. That’s all there is to this place…” Red Boy said.
Fangzheng thought for a moment and said, “Let’s try again. I really don’t want to give up until the reason is found!”
Exasperated, Red Boy could only continue accompanying him.
At this moment in time, it was already dawn. The scientific team members carefully descended and, indeed, the carbon dioxide had already dispersed. With the air clear, everyone quickly came down.
“Let’s make good use of our time and head for the lake immediately. I still have many experiments to do,” Elder Wang urged.
After last night, everyone had full trust in Elder Wang. Even Officers Li and Zhao, and Old Fifth Gao struck their heads and mumbled. “So Abbot Fangzheng didn’t actually ward off evil. It was only because we were standing high…”
“I already told you early on. Whatever blessings and rites are just nonsense! There’s no scientific basis to them at all! You didn’t believe me in the past, but now you do, right?” Bao Yuluo hugged her arms and scoffed at them. Now, she wished to see Fangzheng. With a scientific reason explaining the phenomenon, the mystery had been cracked. She wanted to see if the monk would continue doing any rites! She felt a little smug imagining Fangzheng admitting his mistake, but she still scoffed. “I hope you don’t fool around because of money; otherwise, I’ll expose you, and I won’t let you off. Well, I’ll give you a warning considering how you saved me.”
By the side, Sun Caifeng shook her head and said, “If you have the time to believe in a monk, it’s better to read a few more books.”
Old Fifth Gao said, “Abbot Fangzheng never said that he would ward off evil, though, did he? Besides, he kept saying that there wasn’t any demonic aura in the first place.”
Once that was said, everyone present was stunned!
Officer Li said, “It appears that was the case. Every time we asked him to exorcise the evil and suppress the demon, he always shook his head with a smile.”
Officer Zhao nodded as well.
“Enough, stop talking about that monk. Hurry and get to work.” Sun Caifeng waved her hands and led everyone away.
Instead, it was Elder Wang who turned his head to say, “Yesterday, before we sought refuge, I got Little Zhou to scale some heights to take a look. There wasn’t anyone around the central lake. He likely hid himself.”