112 Taking a Stroll

    A look of hesitation appeared in Xue'er's eyes appeared as she gazed at the bag that was hanging next to her wais. The bag was a mere layer of fabric, in addition to the clothes she had on, that would make it so that only a mere three layers of fabric separated her from that horrid thing she had right by her side.

    She began to ponder whether she should simply just feed it to the flames and let it become ashes, or keep it by her side so that she may slowly piece together what the book was truly about. Whether she could be viewed as an 'accomplishment' or if she was merely another chapter in this journal of failure.

    She wondered if Shen was one who embodied the virtue of empathy. A normal person would certainly not have such an obsession. To spend a lifetime searching for a herb was one thing, that act in of itself was not one that would hurt anyone, but his later descent into insanity to the point of using living creatures in an attempt to accomplish his goal was... how can one even put it into words?

    As Xue'er thought more about it, she found herself looking at it from a different point of view. Perhaps one can also see that ailments were the source of evil, and to combat such a thing was the very embodiment virtue. It did not matter how many people would die, as finding that medicine would in the long term, end up saving more people than it killed. And in his mind, this was something worth doing.

    Thinking up such an idea, Xue'er found herself in deeper fear. She silently sealed off her thoughts, in fear that she might find herself agreeing to Shen's ideas.

    Deep breath in, deep breath out. She soon found herself calming down. She reminded herself that there were some things that she couldn't be concerned with. This was simply something that she should not care about, as with the absence of this book, no one would ever find out about this journal.

    Such thoughts gave her peace of mind as she continued to walk on in this place where the sun never shone.

    Her footsteps seemed to merge in with the surrounding stillness of this cavern, the quite state of the mountainous cavern managed to make the footsteps seem lonelier than when no one had walked these halls.

    The dripping of water from her soaked clothing had stopped long ago, and now the dry fabric was giving off the impression of floating at every step she took.

    Up ahead, she could smell the scent of rotting flesh. The smell had always been within the cavern, but up ahead, it smelled especially concentrated. As she came drew nearer there was a stone door that had been left open.

    Xue'er looked on with great curiosity, these doors are usually too difficult to open, and she had assumed that no one would really enter a room just for the sake of it and that most of the doors would simply remain closed. But it seems, this one was one opened.

    Since she could not hear the heartbeat or breathing of anything around, there was no need to put her guard up. She straight up just walked through the opened doors.

    Inside, it looked very much like a normal room, though it was one without windows. Within was a heavy stench of rotting flesh that lingered around. It was a dirt floor, and the furniture was made of simple stone. There were tables, stools, and a bed all made of the same material which formed the doors. Everything was simply made, and it did not at all resemble a comfortable place to stay.

    The source of the stench was a body sitting on a stool, with head and arms sprawled across the stone table. The position of the arms, as well as the mess of hair, made it impossible to see the face of the person who had died. One could not even tell the gender unless the person was moved from the original position, but Xue'er could somewhat deduce this person was a man since the person had been wearing black garb, with a fairly decent build. As far as she could tell it was caused by a fatal wound to the arteries and veins, as indicated by the vast quantity of dried black blood on the dirt floor. The liquid already seeped into the earth nourishing whatever was down there.

    Judging by the state of the exposed skin at the hands, this person had already died a few days ago, so that would mean that people within this cavern were still alive up until a few days ago. On the other hand, starvation usually does not get to a person quickly enough if there's a place to hide with enough drinkable water. If she's lucky, she might be able to grab ahold of someone who's alive.

    She left the opened room, in search of other rooms. It did not take long before she found more corpses. Each one she checked did not seem to have a wound that had been made by any weapons. It was usually a broken neck or crushed bones that killed these people. Though there were some very ragged wounds that seemed to be from an attack of a ferocious animal.

    Walking past such bodies made Xue'er feel an unexpected tingle in her right hand. She pushed up her sleeve to see the wound still fresh, as though it had just been inflicted recently. The bite marks were still indented in her skin showed no signs of healing. Days had passed, and for a flesh wound, it did not seem to be showing any signs of scabbing over. Yet, she did not feel the slightest bit of worry as it did not seem to be showing any signs of inflammation, nor did it emit an unpleasant smell that signified rotting flesh.

    She rolled her sleeves back over again and continued on her very calm stroll in the meandering hallways of the cavern. Finding some more bodies along the way. Their faces were very calm, as though they had just gotten up to a normal day, not expecting death to be lurking around the corner. This was a rather good way to go. Unexpecting walking into the jaws of death and remaining ignorant after death.

    Even though she had come across many bodies since entering the caverns, it wasn't that high of a number in reality, compared to the many doors that were closed. As a matter of fact, there were actually only very few people who were within the mountain, and every person that she had come across was cold.

    This made Xue'er understand that the chances of her coming across a living person were getting slimmer and slimmer. Perhaps, she would even come across the creature that had placed them into that lifeless state. A smile curled onto her lips at such a thought.

    She wondered if it would see her as the same as the others and perhaps attempt to keep her within the mountain forever.

    How exciting would it be to come face to face with such a creature?
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