373 Oak Fores

    The crows cawed ominously. Inside the forest, the shadows danced as if alive. The sky was gloomy, the rocks uneven and the leaves dead. Green algae floated on the surface of a dirty-looking pond. Next to the pond slept a rotten tree trunk. From its size, it was clear that it was once a large and imposing tree. It appeared to be an oak tree.

    "Where, where am I..." Beside the small pond, Gu Jun looked around in confusion. He pressed against his head. 'Is this an illusion or a dream? No, it does not feel like either of them...' He was there physically, that he was certain of.

    'What happened? I remember returning to Eastern State Phecda Division with Siyu to visit one of the patients named Zhong Huili. Then... During our visitation, Little Huili started to act up and curse at me. The headache caused my body to convulse and then..." Some blurry and incomplete memories flashed before Gu Jun's eyes. He saw himself rumbling, and then screaming before pushing his way through the group... Gu Jun screamed at the nervous Wu Siyu to leave him alone. He ordered Cai Zixuan to stop following him. He ran down into the darkness...'Did I lose my mind? Is this due to paranoia or something else?'

    Gu Jun's heart sunk for both of those situations were quite likely, his mental and physical state was nowhere as good as before. There was a biological change to his brain and he was formally diagnosed with PTSD which could cause violent mood swings. Furthermore, Gu Jun could not discount the influence of those curses lampooned at him by the girl.

    "What is this place?" Gu Jun studied his blurry surroundings. It reeked of death and decay. It was clear to Gu Jun that such places would be a gathering spot for dark forces and its followers. He could easily envision some cultists performing a ritual beside the dark pond to extend their clutches towards innocent little girls. He made a quick scan on his inventory, there were no communication devices like phone or walkie-talkie, but he still carried his backpack on him. It did not contain many things. It had the five Carlot Instruments and Dirty-minded Yu's watercolor... In other words, there was nothing he could use to communicate with the outside world or to help him identify his current location.

    Through the gaps in the foliage, he saw a starless sky. The leaves rustled from the breeze but the dark clouds refused to budge. Gu Jun stood at the spot for quite some time as he turned his sense of hearing to his surroundings. He could hear the sounds of the forest but nothing that resembled human activity...'I probably ran away from the Medical Department Base and straight into the nearby forest. If that's the case, it's impossible that no one has found me yet. The base is surrounded by patrols, surveillance cameras and guards. Furthermore, no matter how fast I moved, I couldn't outrun a canine unit. They would have easily caught up to me...' Gu Jun thus had reason to believe he was no longer around the base. He could not fathom his friends really heeding his advice and leave him be.

    "Ah..." Pain gripped his mind as more memory fragments returned to him. He could hear his friends shouting, "Be careful!" Then he saw Wu Siyu jump forward to knock him out of the way. He appeared to... have used a spell to summon something. Was it a spell from the Seven Cryptical Book of Hsan? Did he summon Byakee from the fifth chapter? Of course these were just mere speculations. When he gave it further thought, he found that situation to be unlikely because he had not studied the fifth chapter yet.

    However, he was sure he did summon some kind of mutated creature and rode it to leave the base. 'Could it have been a foreign spell?' Gu Jun was not sure. He could not even tell he was still in Eastern State anymore. 'How was it possible that I was able to use spells? There should not be any reserve of mental power left in me... But then again, there is no telling what will happen to one's mental power when one succumbs to madness.'

    Gu Jun contemplated his situation when a gale picked up. The grasses around him swayed. He turned around and saw a shadow flit through the forest. He frowned and turned back to the pond. Other than his reflection, there was a cluster of mud-like rotten meat floating on the surface. Those were definitely not there earlier...

    'I can't stay here like a sitting duck...' Gu Jun studied the ground around him to look for his own trail of footprints but there was none. It appeared like... the creature which he summoned had dropped him here and the pile of rotten meat was what remained of it.

    Ting, ting, ting... The sound of piano playing drifted on the cold wind. 'That's the sound of a piano, but why would there be a piano inside a forest like this... Am I deep inside the enemy's lair? Is this some form of an invitation?' Gu Jun was no musical aficionado but the more he listened to the song, the more familiar it felt to his ears. It sounded like the Mozart piece played by the girls.

    "Who are you people?" Gu Jun asked softly as he grabbed the Carlot Scalpel and held it in his grasp. The piano tune became clearer. The melody was graceful and mellifluous. It sounded like the forest itself was whispering to Gu Jun. However, Gu Jun closed his ears to its whispering. He walked away from the source of the piano and into the dark forest. However, after walking for several metres, it sounded like he was moving closer to the piano player...

    He instantly turned around and went down the opposite direction. After travelling for some distance, the piano sounded even closer. Gu Jun tried all possible directions and confirmed that no matter which direction he took, he would move closer to the piano. Even if he stayed at one spot, the tune of the piano approached him. It followed him like a shadow. Gu Jun was in the enemy's lair, no matter what he did, it would not stop the piano music from creeping up on him. In that case, Gu Jun decided to follow his instinct. He took 10 steps, 20 steps, 50 steps... The piano music came from all corners of the forest. He eventually traversed out from the forest into a relatively sparse woodland. The area was covered with ancient and large oak trees. The branches contorted to form a strange panorama.

    Beside one of the oak trees, there was an old piano covered in moss. A person was seated before the piano. Gu Jun's eyes focused on the person. 'What is that, is it even human...'

    The figure had on meagre clothing. Its body was swollen like a bloated corpse, however, its arms were dehydrated and shrunken like a pair of bones. Its tapered fingers danced beautifully on the piano keys. From its observable frame, it did look like a human being, an old man to be precise. Then the figure slowly turned to glance at Gu Jun. It had a bloated, wrinkled face. The pair of eyes filled with pain.

    Gu Jun's heart chilled. Another jolt of pain shot through his brain as a tingling female voice echoed through the forest. "My dear baby brother, you're finally here..."

    Under the oak tree, the swollen old man continued to play the piano.


    The numbers are finally out. From Patreon, there are 310 USD in donation and 20 USD from Webnovel. So there will be 33 chapter this month. 1 daily chapter and then I'll put in 2 extra chapters whenever possible. Thank you for the continued support. Love you and happy reading.
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