Chen Shuyang turned to look at Nie Feng, and Nie Feng immediately answered, "Team leader may be trapped somewhere. We planned to come back and discuss with Lou Fan."
"But Brother Lou went out." Chen Shuyang is a little anxious and explained, "The innkeeper and his wife were talking outside the door earlier. We overheard them saying that the water in the holy lake is abnormal, so Brother Lou said he will go and have a look."
But it is almost midnight and Lou Fan still hasn’t come back. Chen Shuyang originally wanted to find Lou Fan, but he is afraid that Qin Tan’s team would be anxious when they came back and did not see them. Hence, he could only wait here, which is really tormenting.
Lou Fan went into the water wearing the fish scale suit. He already swallowed a small pearl, planning to explore the lake. The lake is clear, but he swam for a long time without seeing any tunnels. Also, there is no fish in the lake, let alone a blue and a golden fish. He didn't give up and dived further, but still no fish. However, he found something unusual instead.
Back on the shore, Lou Fan shook the water on his head and looked sideways at the holy lake. The holy lake sparkled in the moonlight, it is so sacred that people just want to worship it and have no other intention. But at this moment, Lou Fan's eyes are dark. After a few glances, he turned around and walked back.
"Brother Lou, you are finally back." Hearing the knock on the door, Chen Shuyang immediately ran to open the door and is very happy to see Lou Fan.
Lou Fan looked around quickly in the room and his expression sank, "Where's Qin Tan?"
Chen Shuyang replied immediately, "Brother Qin may be trapped somewhere, but he might be back soon."
Lou Fan pursed his lips. He walked quickly to his backpack and started to pack his things, looking like he is going to go out.
Chen Shuyang stopped Lou Fan immediately, "Brother Lou, why don't we wait first? Brother Qin is so powerful, he must be alright."
"No." Lou Fan glanced at the sky outside the window, "It's almost dawn."
Lou Fan hurriedly grabbed some stuff and is about to go out. Gao Yi and Nie Feng both stood up to join him when the door is pushed open from the outside.
Qin Tan came back, followed by a burly girl with two braids.
Chen Shuyang immediately became happy, "Brother Qin, you are back! That’s great. Brother Lou is about to go out to find you."
Qin Tan looked over, Lou Fan simply hehe-ed and his gaze started to wander elsewhere.
At the moment, everyone on the team has returned, and Qin Tan brought Ah Feng back. Gao Yi and Nie Feng also shared their findings in the City Lord's mansion. The city lord is a ghost and is colluding with the ‘village chief’ from the ghost lake village. Those who get caught will be skinned, which the skin should be used by the city lord.
Lou Fan pondered for a while, temporarily felt that this discovery is useless, and said what he found out. "I went into the holy lake to explore. There are no passages in the lake, and there are no blue and gold fish as the black-robed man said in the village. However, the water below the lake has begun to turn black, which is a bit like the ghost lake."
Qin Tan listened intently and did not interrupt Lou Fan. After Lou Fan finished speaking, he said, "You went to the lake by yourself?"
Lou Fan: "Hehehe… Well, I heard what the innkeeper said and wanted to investigate."
"Oh." Qin Tan took a sip of water and said lightly, "Who promised me to keep watch earlier?"
The furball in Lou Fan's arms shook, making Lou Fan wonder whether to laugh or cry.
"It's dawn, let's go and send Ah Feng back first." Lou Fan said quickly.
Ah Feng’s matter is indeed more important, but Qin Tan didn't intend to let Lou Fan go like this. He humph-ed at Lou Fan, and said in a low voice, "I'll settle the account with you when this is over."
In the small yard, a few people looked at Ah Feng, who is a lot taller than the old woman, hugging her tightly. Ah Feng even patted her hard a few times. The group couldn’t help worrying for the old lady. These few hard blows (pats), won’t her bones fall apart? However, the old woman is obviously very energetic and happily lets them sit.
However, the group is eager to know the clues, so they didn’t sit down. Lou Fan asked on behalf of everyone, "Granny, please tell us how to connect the holy lake and the ghost lake. Haven't you noticed that the water of the holy lake has begun to change?"
Hearing that, the old woman, who was still happy, sat down unhurriedly. The expression of joy on her face is gone, only loneliness and sighs remained.
"Actually, there is no passage between the holy lake and the ghost lake at all, and they can't be connected no matter what." The old woman stared at the flowers by the wall, as if she just zoned out, "The holy lake originally relies on the power of faith. When faith is obtained, it will become a holy lake. Unfortunately, the villagers of the ghost lake’s side no longer trust the lake water that nurtured them. The lake water gradually becomes stagnant water. It’s turbid, dark, and dead. And this distrust is because they lost their human skin.”
The group became nervous, knowing that important clues are coming.
"To make the lake water change again, you must return their faiths to the villagers. They are humans, how can they have no human skin? When their resentment disappears, they will believe that the lake water will nurture them again. Then, the lake water can become clear once more."
Ah Feng, who disappeared into the house earlier came out holding a round object in her hand. Under the granny’s gesture, she handed it to Lou Fan and said, "Take it and give this to the villagers. Also, bring back the things that belong to them. They will thank you."
In Lou Fan's palm lies a round jade stone, one blue and one gold fish with their heads following the other’s tail to form a round shape, which is very similar to a Bagua. It turned out that this is the blue and gold fish, no wonder he didn't find it in the lake. Lou Fan looked up at the old woman. Her face is full of kindness, like a bodhisattva who embraces all living beings. The next moment, Lou Fan blinked and looked again, it is the same granny, standing next to Ah Feng.
"Go on." The old woman said, "Time waits for no one."
Tonight is the time for the ‘village chief’ to go back. It is already afternoon at the moment, so they have to prepare quickly. Lou Fan said thank you to the closed door and bowed again. The rest of the group followed Lou Fan to bow and left the courtyard.
At the gate of the city, a crisp sound of the bell rang, and the group of 5 people immediately paid attention. The 'village chief' has changed into normal clothes, but with a bell in his hand. Behind him is a string of people. It is quiet at night, so at first glance, the march looked like a ghost officer escorting a line of ghosts to reincarnate.
But the ‘village chief’ is indeed a ‘ghost’ officer! Lou Fan thought to himself, but his eyes are fixed on the line as they hid in the shadows to avoid detection. When the line of people passed by them, 5 figures immediately followed, lined up, and fell behind.
There are still 2 gatekeepers standing guard, and Lou Fan realized that this entrance is actually a hole under the lake. Following the sound of the bell into the hole, the further they went in, the damper it became, and water droplets are seeping out from the stone wall.
"Psst psst psst..."
Lou Fan turned his head around suspiciously. He heard a strange sound, but it seems familiar. The others heard it and turned to look. A head popped out by the stone wall on the side. Seeing Lou Fan looking over, the person immediately opened his mouth, revealing a set of white teeth, and waved vigorously at Lou Fan. Lou Fan's eyes widened, and he turned to look at Qin Tan, who also noticed the person. They looked at each other, immediately let go of the clothes of the person in front of them, and ran over quickly.
"Brother Lou, Brother Qin!" Wen Lang is a little excited, but still, he controlled his voice and whispered, "I didn't expect to meet you guys here. We were wondering earlier whether we can meet you."
Qin Tan asked, "What about the others? There’s only you?"
Lou Fan is about to speak when he saw Jiang Dong emerge from another place and said with a smile, "Sure enough."
Wen Lang: "Sister Tong Fei and the others are here, and Fan Dayong is also there."
As soon as Wen Lang said that, Gao Yi knew that Chen Man is gone. There was a trace of regret on his face, but he didn't say anything. He just pursed his lips tightly.
"How did you guys get here?" Qin Tan asked again.
Everyone wanted to know the answer to this question. Wen Lang is about to explain when the girls and Fan Dayong came. When the newcomers saw them, they immediately became happy. Even Feng Zhi showed a smile.
Tong Fei said happily, "You guys returned so soon? It looks like you've found a clue."
It is still early at this moment (before the exit is closed), and everyone is in no hurry, so they simply went to a hidden place to talk. They let one person stand guard, while the rest gathered together and discussed in a low voice. Tong Fei and the others mainly talked about how they got in, and how could they be here at this moment. In fact, they didn't go out the day before because they missed the time. After the ghosts left, they couldn't find the exit and stayed here for a day and a night.
Lou Fan’s side told the rest of them about the main clue and mentioned the part to find the human skin. He didn't know where to look for it yet.
Hearing that, Tong Fei and the others have smiles in their eyes, they know where is it!
"The human skins are here."
Lou Fan is surprised and asked, "It's here?! You guys found it?"
Tong Fei nodded and immediately led the way forward. The path in the cave is complicated, but luckily they had left a mark in advance. Moreover, Wen Lang still had the fluorescent powder Lou Fan gave him.
When the neat row of human skins appeared in front of Lou Fan and the others, the goosebumps keep standing up all over their bodies.
Chen Shuyang shuddered, "So many human skins to be taken out, ergh..." He rubbed his arms.
Qin Tan put down his backpack and took out a stack of tarpaulins from the inside. "First, put away the human skins and wrap them all in the tarps. Then, we’ll put them into the backpack."
The ghosts have to take off their human skin on the shore, which means they should not get wet. They need to try not to let human skin get wet when they go out.
Following Qin Tan's actions, everyone quickly began to work together. Taking the skins down, arranging them, and wrapping them with tarpaulin. With so many people helping out, the tasks are quickly done. The human skins in the hole are packed up in a few seconds.
Vague figures could be seen moving outside the cave. Soon a ghost discovered the theft. Everyone can feel that when it 'saw' that the human skins in the cave are gone, it made a harsh cry.
It is calling for its companions.
"Go ashore first!" Qin Tan said immediately, pushing everyone out, "Tong Fei, lead the way."
Qin Tan is about to say that he is going to go last when Wen Lang and Jiang Dong stood behind him. Wen Lang quickly said, "Brother Qin, you go ahead. We know where’s the exit, so we'll come after we lead them away."
Lou Fan is about to come to help when Wen Lang shoved his backpack into his arms, "Brother Lou, go."
Qin Tan pulled Lou Fan and said, "Let's go first. We will send the human skin up and come back to help."
Lou Fan paused and shouted to Wen Lang, "Be careful."
Lou Fan only had time to say this sentence as the ghosts behind him have already swarmed up. Looking around, there are ghosts everywhere. The group displayed their abilities, each holding their spirit weapon in their hands. Wen Lang's and Jiang Dong's spirit weapons are long-range attacks, but with their unlimited attacks, they are taking the lead at the moment and managed to block a wave of ghosts for a while.
Lou Fan followed Tong Fei and the others to the entrance of the cave. Seeing that the exit is right there, Tong Fei at the front screamed, "How come there are so many?!"
The exit is pitch black, darker than the black lake water. It is like a black hole, wanting to suck everyone in.
Raw word count: 3060