The visibility of the forest is a bit low so all they can see is a human figure hanging from a branch from a distance.
"Wait, it shouldn’t be a hanged ghost*, right?" Wen Lang said, sticking out his tongue.
*people died from being hanged
Lou Fan chuckled, "Wen Lang, why are you getting less courageous, I'm going to laugh at you."
Wen Lang stubbornly defended, "Don't you think the long tongue from a hanged ghost is disgusting?"
"Let's go and see." Qin Tan observed the figure but he couldn't tell whether it is a human or something else. He could only roughly see the shape of a person.
With ropes tied around their waists, the group of 6 people headed toward the tree together. As they walked nearer, they found that the figure’s clothing is quite familiar. When they got close, the figure turned out to be Chen Man who went into the forest with Gao Yi. He is hanging upside down at the moment and his eyes are closed; not sure whether he is still alive or dead.
Qin Tan took a few steps forward. He reached out to check for a breath, but was pulled by Lou Fan, "Be careful."
Qin Tan made a sound of acknowledgment and stretched out his hand. Then, he sensed a weak breath from Chen Man’s nose, it seems that he is just unconscious.
"Come and help me put him down."
Everyone helped the man down from the tree together. After that, Jiang Dong patted Chen Man’s face and called out his name for a long time but without any response. He took out a bottle and let Chen Man gulp a few mouthfuls of water. Next, Jiang Dong broke a bar of chocolate into smaller pieces and stuffed it into the man’s mouth. With this, they have given Chen Man some necessities; water and food. However, Chen Man still didn't respond in a while so Jiang Dong took out some medicine from his bag and fed him 2 pills.
"This medicine’s effect is a bit like a Jiuxin pill." Seeing everyone staring at him, Jiang Dong explained. (Pic link here, can't embed for some reason)
After a while, Chen Man finally woke up. Seeing 6 heads hovering on top of his head, he screamed out in fright and startled the people instead.
Wen Lang covered his heart, "My god, what with the weird scream? It scared me to death."
Chen Man finally came back to his senses and sat up with his hands on his back, "It's really you guys, why did you come in?"
Jiang Dong helped the man up and handed a bottle of water over. He said, "You guys have all been in here for a day and a night, so we thought to come in to find you and see if there are any clues by the way."
Seeing that Chen Man is soberer now, Qin Tan asked him, "What's the matter with you guys, what happened?"
"One day and one night?" Chen Man shook his head, frowned, and said, "After we entered the forest, we got lost and couldn't tell the direction at all, so we could only go by feeling. When it is getting dark, we somehow fell into a trap and the fall caught us dazed. Suddenly, a group of people in black robes appeared. They were all wearing black robes and big black hats, and we couldn't see their faces at all. They took team leader and Dayong. I yelled a few words at them, and ended up getting hung up."
The 6 people: …
It's a real-life version of getting into trouble from a bad mouth. If they didn't go into the forest or didn't see him at the tree, maybe this man will starve to death here.
Qin Tan asked, "Is that trap nearby here? Are there no sharp objects in it?"
Chen Man shook his head, "I don't know. They tied us up and walked for a while before hanging me up. The trap is very deep, and there are no sharp objects in it."
"Do you know where Gao Yi and Fan Dayong were taken?"
Chen Man shook his head dejectedly, "I don't know. After I got hung up, I watched them being taken away, but I really don't know where to go. Everywhere looked almost the same in the woods."
The woods are indeed similar at first glance, and even the trees are similar in size.
When Chen Man had rested for a while and his physical and mental strength recovered, Lou Fan chose a direction at will. Chen Man has no objection to that. After all, if they let him choose, he would only point in a direction randomly.
Not long after walking, Qin Tan stopped Lou Fan and pointed forward. Lou Fan remained at his spot, and the people behind him didn't move either, staring at Qin Tan who is going forward. Chen Man looked forward carefully for a long time but found nothing wrong. But he thought in his heart that it should be a trap since they got into one before.
Qin Tan took a few steps forward and stopped at a place that didn't seem to have any abnormality with the surrounding environment. There is a small stone half a meter in front of him. After looking at it carefully for a while, he poked it with his Tang sword and then moved it to the side. After the observation is almost done, he found a large rock not far away that is about a person’s arm width and lifted it. Walking to the place where he had marked, Qin Tan slammed the stone down hard. The stone fell with a thud, and a deep pit immediately appeared where it was hit. This time, there are sharp wooden thorns in the pit, which made the hair of the people stand up.
Lou Fan walked to the pit and glanced down, "Tsk tsk tsk, fortunately, our brother Qin has first-rate detection ability. If we fall, we might lose a layer of skin even if we don't die."
Wen Lang and Chen Shuyang immediately nodded in agreement, and Chen Man is even more glad that they didn't fall into this kind of pit earlier. Otherwise, the spikes would poke a hole in their bodies.
Looking forward, Qin Tan’s eyes are sharp, and he said solemnly, "There are still traps ahead. You guys just follow behind me. It will take too much time to find them one by one."
Everyone looked in the direction immediately, and although they didn't see where the traps are, they didn't doubt Qin Tan's judgment at all, and they all looked serious.
"Does this mean we are close to where they live?" Lou Fan said.
Qin Tan nodded, "It's very likely. Generally speaking, the closer one is to a residence, the more traps laid to defend against beasts and enemies."
Chen Shuyang puzzled said, "Doesn’t that means we are getting closer to the range of human activities? Then there should be traces of life, but there are none here at all."
Nie Feng patted Chen Shuyang’s head and said, "What do you mean by none? There are there, it's just a bit primitive."
Chen Shuyang looked at the place Nie Feng pointed, and saw some stones and bones around the pit. Looking closely, it looked a bit like a stone knife and a bone knife.
Chen Shuyang stared and looked at Nie Feng in disbelief, "You are not talking about those, right?"
Nie Feng: "Why not? It's just a little primitive."
Chen Shuyang muttered, "It’s not just a little primitive, it IS primitive."
Lou Fan looked at the tools thoughtfully and Qin Tan called him, asking everyone else to follow him. The group walked carefully on the road, everyone followed Qin Tan and walked slowly. After a few steps, Qin Tan would stop to check and then walk again. They cautiously walked for half an hour like this.
Half an hour later, a stone mountain appeared in front of them. Though they said it’s a stone mountain, it’s not exactly a mountain. The mountain is not high, but the stone wall is black. Qin Tan stopped to observe the stone wall, and the others also looked around.
There are many traces of human life around, but as Nie Feng said, these traces of life are very primitive. There are some stone stools and knives around, and there is a piece of land that has been dug out. The primitive part is just the tool, but the cultivated crop is not the primitive style.
Qin Tan walked to the place where the stone wall looked sunken in, it looked like a cave. He knocked around and crouched down to check.
"There's an entrance here." Qin Tan pulled open a place that is blocked by something, so he couldn't see it from the outside.
Lou Fan looked at the entrance and guessed, "Could this be where they live? Shall we go down and see?"
Chen Man immediately said, "Of course we have to go down. Team leader and Dayong are held below. We are going to save them."
Wen Lang sneered, "We won't come here if we don’t want to help you. But we have to plan first if we want to go down. Or, do you want us to just rush in like this? Can that save anyone?" He really hates this kind of person who only cares about himself. Is the whole world his mother?
Hearing that, Chen Man's face flushed from the anger, and he could only turn to look at Qin Tan. After all, Qin Tan is the team leader here, and it is the team leader who had the final say.
Lou Fan thought for a while and said, "Don't get anxious, we have to say hello first. I don't think those people in black robes are malicious. If they really want to do something to you, they won't save your life." After he finished speaking, he asked Qin Tan to pull open the entrance, revealing a hole with dug-out mud steps below.
Lou Fan cleared his throat and shouted to the entrance of the cave, "Everyone, we are strangers passing by the village outside the ghost lake and we saw the real faces of the villagers by chance. Afterward, we strayed into the woods, and our companions met you guys. I think you have encountered difficulties, so if you don't mind, we can help you."
Wen Lang asked in a low voice, "Brother Lou, you are simply saying that out?"
Lou Fan asked Wen Lang, "Who do you think these black-robed people are?"
Wen Lang thought about it and shook his head.
Chen Shuyang thought for a moment and asked, "Are they real villagers outside?"
Lou Fan nodded admiringly, "Yes, I wasn't sure at first, but along the way, at first glance, these traces of life are made by people who are familiar with labor. Then, there are those primitive tools, surrounding crops, and this hole in a cave. I believe you guys have some guesses already, and I think these people should be villagers who used to live outside the village. The village got occupied by those ghosts, and they had no choice but to go into the woods to live."
As they are talking, there is still no movement at the entrance of the cave after waiting for a while. Lou Fan asked Wen Lang to shout again, but louder. Wen Lang shouted again according to what he just said but in reality, Lou Fan simply didn't want to shout.
This time, it didn't take long for a sound to come from below the entrance of the cave, and then, 5 people in black robes came out. They are completely shrouded in black robes and black hoods on their heads. Not even a trace of their bodies could be seen. The person in the lead is squat and very short, but it can be seen that he is the leader among them. Then, the people stared at them for a long time without speaking.
Lou Fan could only say, "We are really here to help you. We have friends in the village by the ghost lake, and we want to ask you how to get out."
The man in black robe waited for Lou Fan to finish speaking, then waved at them and walked down the hole first.
Everyone looked happy with the progress and looked at each other. They followed the man in black robe and walked down the stairs. The cave is so dark that there is almost no light, but the man in black robe in front seemed to be unaffected at all and walked very steadily. Lou Fan and the others could only take out their flashlights to illuminate the road and touched their way down.
The stairs are very long, the air is dull, and there is a strong smell of mud. When they felt that it is getting hard to breathe, the group finally set foot on the flat ground.
This is a cave. The cave is lit with torches, not candles. Dozens of people in black robes gather together and they are doing their own work. When they see a few strangers coming, some stop while some are still working.
Lou Fan looked down at their hands that kept moving and suddenly stopped in his tracks. A layer of goosebumps stood up all over his body.
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