262 Worm on the Ground

    As Gu Jun's heart seized, he turned to run backwards, "Get moving!" Lou Xiaoning and the rest hurried after him. They were less than 200 metres away from where they departed from Uncle Dan's team, the distance should be close enough to hear any shouting but other than the gunshots, there were no other voices. If there was a gunfight, there should be more commotion. 'Is it possible that the fog can silence voices and sounds? But in that case, why can we hear the gunshots?'

    Gu Jun focused but he could not sense any illusory whispering... However, it was this anomalous silence that made him extremely anxious...

    With them running at full speed, they returned to their departure spot in less than 30 seconds. The scenery was the same but Uncle Dan's team had all disappeared.

    "What the hell, where are they...'' Lou Xiaoning grumbled nervously. She raised her pistol to scan around but there was no visible target. All the 9 members including Uncle Dan, Ma Wei, Lee Meijia and the rest had vanished. There was no enemy around. There was no sign of fighting like blood on the ground either, the only thing there was were the empty bullet casings sitting snugly on the patches of green moss. There were 9 of them, so all 9 shots were fired. To complicate things further, the casing fell in different directions, meaning the bullets were fired from different trajectories, which suggested multiple targets.

    "Like I told you, they... they disappeared just like that..." The Zoog patted himself in fear.

    "Impossible." Lou Xiaoning came from the Action Department, she was an expert in surveillance and counter-surveillance, she refused to accept this truth. Her left eye glared as she surveyed the land for clues. But she came up with nothing and that only made herself more agitated.

    "I think... the only possibility is that..." Gu Jun looked up into the foggy sky, "They have been captured by something flying." The rest immediately turned their heads up to the sky. Beyond the fog, could there be giant predators... waiting to ambush their prey?

    If Uncle Dan was aiming at a fly target, it would explain the location of the empty casings but alas there was no way to confirm that.

    "Mr. Nightmare Man, I think I found something." The Zoog surprised everyone by saying that. The Zoog had their own talent, their nose was far more sensitive than any known Earth creature, they could sniff out the smallest change in the air. Now that he was on the same boat as the Nightmare Man, he decided to share everything that he found.

    "What did you find?" Gu Jun immediately had him share the discovery. The Zoog then led them about 10 metres away and had them inspect a wild bush. Peacock used a long sword to cut away the tall grass and then Kathlyn who shared her body gasped in shock. "God damn it..."

    Malachite, Gold and the rest moved forward. Tom and the rest cursed. The disgust was clear in their voices. Gu Jun narrowed his eyes. It was a cluster of worms, wiggling on the exposed ground. They were pink in color and every worm was as thin as a thread. They looked so squishy and fragile. Many of them overlapped over each other, curling into a ball. Perhaps under the microscope, they would appear more terrifying but at their current size, they could be stomped into a pink paste quite easily.

    However, as the group continued to stare at the wiggling mess, their hearts felt discomfited like the worms were wiggling all over their bodies. Normally, Gu Jun should not respond so heavily to this visual stimulus. During the parasite cleansing operations, he managed to keep his cool while picking the wiggling parasites out of human flesh one by one. But now, as Gu Jun stared at the worms, his heart churned with turmoil. The horrible images kept flashing in his mind... The broken body parts of Uncle Dan and the rest disintegrating into such masses of worms...

    "There is something off about these worms..." Lou Xiaoning had her brows raised. She told Gu Jun, "It feels similar to how I felt when I looked through the red door. It keeps filling my mind with pictures of decay and decomposition." The room that she saw behind the red door was the stone room. Gu Jun knew the stone room was for a time filled with mountains of carcasses. The place, which symbolized a mother's womb, was then cultivating a new kind of life. With this information shared by Lou Xiaoning, Gu Jun confirmed that these worms indeed had some connections with decomposing bodies...

    "This is the only cluster?" Gu Jun asked the Zoog as his heart sank. Different rules applied at Dreamlands. A horrible thought kept bubbling up in his mind even though he tried to push it away, 'Could these worms be what's left of Uncle Dan and his team?'

    "Yes," The Zoog patted affirmatively. "They were not here earlier, they just appeared, but we shouldn't mind them that much, this place is called the House of Worm for a reason. According to legends, such worms inhabit the vicinity of the House of Worms. Every time an adventurer from a different world came to this place, the House would collect a new species of worm.``

    Hearing that, the horrid thought crossed Lou Xiaoning's mind too. "Fuck..." She glared at the worms on the ground. "Uncle Dan..."

    Feeling her anger, the Zoog quickly said, "But that is just a rumor, no one can confirm it, definitely not us Zoogs."

    The land's travellers caught the implication as well and their hearts chilled. Kathlyn said softly, "No way, but if that's the case, there could be more clusters of them, and why would they gather behind this bush?"

    "Just forget about it." Gu Jun took a deep breath to silence the worrying thoughts. "Do not touch them, they might be parasitic. Let's keep moving, we do not have time to waste." Standing there was not going to solve anything.

    "Uncle Dan... Uncle Dan?" Lou Xiaoning began but could not continue. In the end, she only cursed. Her left eye was slightly red.

    "Everyone, be careful." As the team leader, Gu Jun had to pull his team forward. Being trapped in lamentation and regret was not going to help accomplish their goal. After all, they had written their wills before embarking on the mission. They knew this might be a one-way trip. However, Gu Jun had trouble suppressing the questions in his mind as well. 'How did this happen? We were just gone for a few minutes... Who did this to them? How did they manage to swipe in so fast? Has someone been watching us from the dark?'

    Uncle Dan's smiling face popped up in his mind and his heart wrenched. He mumbled to himself. 'Don't you dare die on me. You still haven't lived up to your promise of bringing me to the club.'

    The land's travellers' faces were ashen and there was fury in their eyes. Even though they did not know Uncle Dan for long, the kind and funny senior had taken them under his wings, it was Uncle Dan who taught them how to mix with the others at Phecda....

    With the fate of Uncle Dan and the other 8 members unknown, the atmosphere of the group dipped even further, but it made them move faster. They passed through the fog, getting closer and closer to the manor.

    Caw, caw. Suddenly a murder of black crows flew through the sky, that was as ominous an omen if there ever was one. Those strange constructions came into view. As the crows disappeared, the woman in the cotton dress whom they saw earlier reappeared. This time she was pulling along a young girl with a ponytail. It appeared like they were running from something. Through the fog, the woman's pleas drifted through, "Quick, run faster! We can't let ourselves be caught..."

    Lou Xiaoning and the land's travellers turned to Gu Jun. 'What should we do?'

    Suddenly a young voice cut through the fog. It was tired, but firm. "No, mother. We cannot escape death."

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