Chapter 31: Lying Low (Part ½)
Luo Nan was dazed to his core upon hearing Xie Junping’s words, but he ultimately was able to understand the most crucial issue. He looked around the tree house and was silent for some several seconds. In the end he made a decision: “First let’s head back.”
Luo Nan looked at the album projector within his hand and hesitated for a long time. However, he still placed it back to its original position to avoid destroying the original arrangements of the tree house. Then he closed the bionic tree bark over the window to make sure no one would discover this place.
After Luo Nan did all of this, he turned his vision to face Xie Junping. Xie Junping then immediately raised his hand to swear: “I absolutely won’t mention this tree house to outsiders. This matter will rot in my stomach.”
Luo Nan did not say a word and instead just bowed once again. Luo Nan was displaying a more respectful attitude ever since his last solemn expression of thanks towards Xie Junping. Honestly speaking, this really made Xie Junping feel secretly refreshed deep inside.
Now that they were done with everything here, Luo Nan took the lead going down and Xie Junping followed behind. Perhaps it was due to his brisk mood, but Xie Junping had an idea inexplicably pop up in his mind. He used his heightened boldness to prod Luo Nan in the shoulder:
“Junior Nan. If you don’t mind…… Is it okay if I leave behind a webcam?”
“Huh?” Luo Nan suddenly turned his head and stared at Xie Junping’s face.
His behavior was just this bizarre. Before, Xie Junping would have certainly been nervous if something like this happened, so much so that he wouldn’t have been able to speak out all his words. But his boldness increased accordingly after he could sense Luo Nan’s respect for him. His line of thought increased in clarity under Luo Nan’s steady gaze:
“This is what I’m saying. Don’t you feel that this place is bit too clean Junior Nan? There are lots of mosquitos in the marshlands and there is high humidity. A few days without cleaning would make this place unbecoming. Just look at this place. So clean, so refreshing. Yea, this place looks good, but I’m scared that……”
Luo Nan didn’t blink at all. He spoke with a hoarse voice and completed Xie Junping’s thoughts: “People have already discovered this place. And, they’ve lived here for a long time?”
“Cough. That’s what I’m saying. After all, the AI cleaning system of Gear most likely wouldn’t cover up to here.”
Luo Nan didn’t speak any further and his thoughtful gaze drifted a bit; it was unknown what he was thinking of. Several seconds passed before he turned around and walked slowly down. His finger was pasted to the inner tree wall the entire time, all the way until they walked to the stone steps where they started from. Then he suddenly spoke:
“It’s here. There used to be a door here, but right now it’s been padded with bionic material. It’s sealed dead-tight.”
Xie Junping aimed his illuminating light on top. He observed for a moment and spoke in favor: “It might have been an ordinary door left behind from the days when the sandbar still existed. Then the water levels rose and it was discarded.”
“Rising water levels……”
Luo Nan’s voice grew hoarser and hoarser, as if a blade was cutting across his throat. Speaking was growing more and more difficult: “When did the water level rise?”
Xie Junping looked up the information online: “Approximately in the year 87. The underground rockbed fractured at that time, diverting the route of some underground river. It increased the average water level of the wetlands by nearly half a meter. The lake area of Withered Tree Sandbar increased by a full 1.7 meters. Hic, the year 87……”
Yea. Didn’t Bu Qingwen’s death due to a difficult childbirth occur in the year 80? In any case, it was impossible for her to come and remodel this tree’s space seven years later.
His line of thought straightened and Xie Junping whistled:
“There really was someone!”
“Yes. There really was someone…..But who was it?” Luo Nan responded hoarsely and slowly stooped down. He touched the narrow and secret passageway that had clearly been cut in at a later time.
Xie Junping woke up with a realization and came over. There was a 99% chance that this passageway was carved out at the same time as sealing the door. They both had the same purpose of avoiding the rising water levels to still allow entry and exit.
And so, the differences between Bu Qingwen’s initial designs and the current layout could be explained.
Xie Junping watched Luo Nan who was stooped over and seemingly mulling over the structure of the hidden passageway. He casted his beam of light over to make it easier for Luo Nan to investigate. But he suddenly realized something was wrong after the light went over.
Luo Nan was certainly deep in thought right now, but he was unconsciously digging with his fingers at the border between the hidden passageway and the tree hole. This monotonous movement could be said to be a bad habit, but it would be better to say that it was an indicator of some extreme mood.
Luo Nan was mood was heavy and emotional a moment ago, yet he would be occasionally tranquil, like the undulating night tides of the coastal waters. This was the cadence corresponding with his ordinary mood.
But he was in a repressed and irritable mood at this very moment. It was as if he was a wounded beast that saw the enemy that wounded it intrude on its territory. He was overbrimming with so much rashness that his mood was savage.
Xie Junping was really scared that Luo Nan would tear off his fingernails. He rocked his illuminating beam of light very carefully.
The variations in lighting caused Luo Nan to be startled awake. He suddenly turned around.
Xie Junping was shockingly met with the red bloodshot eyes of Luo Nan. They weren’t seeped with tears, instead they were heaped with a madness that pointed to the desire to devour a chosen person!
Xie Junping just felt his calf muscle cramp when he was faced with this situation. He unconsciously moved a step back.
But Luo Nan’s mood seemed to be pacified by being under the illumination of light. He ceased his monotonous actions that caused one’s blood to run cold and spoke in a low voice:
“Senior, where did we leave off in our conversation just now?”
“Hic. That there’s someone living in this tree who sealed that door and dug out this secret passageway that leads to the laboratory.”
Luo Nan shook his head: “At first glance the underwater corridor is normally a dead end route. It would be too conspicuous for outsiders to come in that way. Therefore it can’t be any other people. It can only be the inner members of the society or the laboratory. “
Xie Junping thought about it and felt that Luo Nan was right. He agreed with Luo Nan’s reasoning in this way.
And thinking deeper, such a person of the order club would have to engage in normal activities and social exchanges within the club. And when other people aren’t paying attention, they would sneak through this underwater corridor and enter this tree hole to engage in some shady business, which would never see the light of day. The most important thing would be the span of time such a person would be doing this. They would probably have been doing this for 7~8 years, over 10 years, all the way until now…… Thinking about it made one’s heart run cold.
Xie Junping suddenly produced an idea: It can’t be. It can’t be that the hidden passageway was actually dug in from the other side during its creation!?
Maybe someone swam and entered through the viewing window…...
With this thought having been born in his head, he looked at the pitch-black entrance of the hidden passageway. Then he looked at the spiraling flight of stairs behind him. He didn’t feel so good now.
It seemed that Luo Nan hadn’t thought about things this much. He slowly stood back up and faced Xie Junping half up: “Then I’ll trouble senior with the matter of installing the webcam…… If there’s someone. If there’s still someone here. I want to see who this person is to the end!”
A bit of nervousness sprouted in Xie Junping’s heart, but having Luo Nan at his side was more or less a source of comfort. He took a deep breath: “Alright. I’ll install it right now!”
“......You have tools at the ready?”
“Hic. I brought a few.”
Xie Junping felt a bit awkward, but he still retrieved two micro-webcams, which were only the size of grains of rice, out from his wristband. Rich kids like him would sometimes play some absurd tricks, and they relied on these devices to do so.
These types of portable micro machines could not be simpler to install. All he had to do was find a location with a wide viewing angle and press down to have it stick; it wouldn’t fall easily.
Xie Junping used both webcams: “This small toy can broadcast video in real time and a single webcam can operate for over three months. Looking at how clean this place is, we can get a result in one or two days if we’re lucky.”
Luo Nan walked up and down the entire space of the tree hole once again while Xie Junping was working, but he was unable to discover any more clues. His mood was clearly far more stifled now. Without saying a word, he went ahead through the hidden passageway and entered the underwater corridor.
Xie Junping carefully caught up to Luo Nan while having the monitoring video open the entire time. He was scared that a murderer, one who had been hiding for several years, would suddenly jump out behind his back!