Chapter 37 Roots
“It ran away.” The soldiers shrugged at Qing shui.
“Yeah…it’s difficult to catch.” Qing shui smiled to them.
“Well, I feel like even if it wasn’t running, it would still be hard to deal with.” One of the soldiers that seemed more mature than the others spoke. “It ran too fast and it had a strong body. I doubt our rifle could wound it! The fog was dense too, so we didn’t fire too much in case we got injured.”
“We agree,” the other soldiers nodded. “I could only see within three meters, and to be honest, even if it was standing in front of me, I still wouldn’t be able to see what it looks like clearly since it was huge. We were lucky that we didn’t get ambushed.”
The soldiers started discussing the chase they had, and the sulky look on their face gradually turned into a horrified one.
“I’m glad that we didn’t catch up with it, otherwise we probably wouldn’t be able to come back alive.” The mature soldier made a conclusion and smiled at Qing shui and Chang. “You guys really have a hang of it, don’t you? The military also sent troops to try to hunt, but we didn’t even see any animals. These domesticated animals seemed to have gone wild after they mutated, and their alertness was far too high to us to even get close to them.”
“Same…it was difficult to look for anything in this fog; we were lucky to even run into one. But see, he almost died for it.” Qing shui pointed at Chang, implying that hunting was difficult for them too.
“So he is the guy you wanted to rescue.” They carefully observed Chang, “Fortunately he isn’t seriously injured. The mission is way easier than we thought!”
“Totally, the captain says that each of us will get half a kilogram of meat; for god’s sake, I haven’t had meat in so long…”
“Glug!” A soldier swallowed a mouthful of saliva and said, “it was actually only a few days, but the key is that we haven’t had proper food in days!”
The soldiers became excited when they were talking about the meat they were going to get. Obviously, the food they had these days were also hardtacks and canned food. Although they might have had bigger portions to have energy to fight, they were still starving.
Qing shui borrowed a flashlight used for night patrols from one of the soldiers and then pulled Chang aside so that those exciting soldiers wouldn’t notice them.
“Will you follow me?” Qing shui hinted to Chang with his eyes, then turned his head in the direction of the manhole behind the thick fog.
“Are you serious?” Chang frowned. “I just escaped from there, and I have no clue what is inside the sewer.”
“I want to see what exactly happened down there.”
“Why you are so curious?” Chang furrowed his eyebrows. “This doesn’t sound like something you would do. A rational person like you would normally avoid risks.”
“To be able to predict danger is what a rational person would want to do; I really need to see what happened.”
“Okay, go by yourself then, I’m not coming.” As he just got out from that desperate and dark world, Chang refused to have that experience again – especially since going in again seemed totally meaningless to him.
“That’s fine then, I’m going by myself.” Qing shui’s voice slowly softened as he carefully climbed down the iron ladder.
“Where is he going?” Seeing Qing shui disappeare into the fog, Pangzi walked to Chang and asked.
“He went down to the sewer. I don’t understand what he was thinking.” Chang shook his head, but he still stared in the direction Qing shui had disappeared. He waited for about ten minutes, but there was still no sign of Qing shui. He shook his head again, “I need to go in; I can’t leave him alone.”
“Then I am going with you.” Jing was staying close to Chang silently, but when she heard Chang speak, she spoke hastily, “I’ll go to wherever you go.”
“No…you aren’t going, stay here.” Chang slightly pushed Jing to Pangzi and said, “Look after her. I’ll go to call Mr. Li out.”
“Trust me.” Pangzi nodded and stopped Jing from following Chang.
Chang followed the darkness from the sewer and cautiously climbed down. The moment he reached the ground, his eyes were shrouded in darkness.
It was still as dark as he remembered; hence, that bright beam of light from Qing shui’s flashlight was sharp and clear. This first thing he saw were roots from some kind of plant that had entirely covered the wall.
However, reentering this fearful underworld almost broke his nerves. Chang was too anxious and scared to look at the roots. His hands still grabbed at the iron ladder as he shouted, “Mr.Li, you should come back!”
“There’s no danger here.” Qing shui smiled at Chang, but the smile was twisted by the light of the flash; it horrified Chang. “Come here, it’s peculiar and beautiful.”
“I don’t think that is peculiar, it’s merely some roots.” Chang stayed close to the ladder.
“No, you’re wrong. This is a splendid and magnificent underground world!” As he said that, the beam of light swung across the wall of the sewer as Qing shui moved his arm slightly.
From just a glance, Chang was impressed by how splendid and flourishing it was!
The walls on both side of the sewer were covered with vines and roots; some closely grew on the wall, some crossed the canal, and some dug through the floor and continued further downwards. It seemed like these massive vines and roots had occupied the underground world of the whole city. From where the light could reach to where they could see, it was all covered with these prospering and strong branches of vines. This peculiar scene astonished him, making him speechless. There was only one thing he could think of from the ancient myths – the world tree.
“What…what is this?” After his initial shock, Chang hunkered down and gently touched a root than was few times thicker than his waist and asked, “What kind of tree does it belong to?”
“I have no idea, it came from far away.” Qing shui knocked Chang’s hand off of the root as he continued. “Don’t touch them. Their juice is acidic and your hand might be corroded. In fact, I think these roots can act aggressively and attack, but they are currently dormant.”
Qing shui hadn’t finished speaking before Chang saw a few thinner roots that were wiggling in the light. It looked like a sleeping person’s weak breath – it didn’t resemble a normal motionless plant.
“No wonder why I didn’t see any tentacles; I bet they were absorbed by this plant.” Looking at the wiggling roots, Chang suddenly imagined how they would sweep forward and roll him up with spikes inserted into his body. He shuddered and said, “Hurry up Mr.Li, we’ll be in a lot of trouble if it wakes up.”
“Wait, I need to collect a sample before we go,” Qing shui said. He ripped off a piece of cloth from his shirt. He took out a knife from his pocket and carefully sliced off a short piece of root. As Qing shui made the cut, Chang started to tremble with fear and shouted, “What are you doing?”