It was likely that the wizard used to live there.
Hao Ren came down from the watchtower and told everyone what he saw. "There is a big house at the end of the town. Let's go and check it out."
"Keep your eyes open." Vivian reminded. "The wizard might have laid traps, especially those as large as this... he who set up this mysterious realm is by no mean an ordinary fellow, even during Mythological Period."
They began to carefully explore this quiet, strange town. Lily's eyes darted between the old houses and streets. Then she asked the most knowledgeable one in the team, "Battie, how old is this town?"
"Four hundred to a thousand years. The style of architecture and level of civilisation had not changed much during that period. The time flow in this town is obviously not in sync with the time on the outside, so it is difficult to ascertain what era the town is from," Vivian said as she frowned. "But one thing is certain; this mysterious realm did not form naturally. Some magic power dragged the town from the real world into this dimension."
"Have you got more details about the wizard?" Hao Ren looked at Hessiana.
Hessiana replied with an unenthusiastic voice, as she did not feel like talking to Hao Ren, "Wizards are very secretive, there is not much information about them. About this particular wizard, I know something about him though. The earliest recorded activity of him was around 1346 AD. He was once a French named Baptiste and had stayed in France for a hundred years. But he was very low profile, seemed like a good guy. But one day, he suddenly left France, and moved around many European countries and left behind many records of black magic and evil rituals. Around 1500 AD, he was reportedly active in Finland and Russia and possibly it was during that time that he began to do something to this town."
"Not much about him afterward. He was barely active for the subsequent two centuries." Hessiana shook her head. "Baptiste was a freak; he had never been in contact with other wizards. He was supposedly more powerful than many other wizards were, but his reputation was notoriously no more better than a black magic apprentice. I have utilised almost all the intelligence network of my family to get this information, but I still couldn't find where he got his ability from nor which wizardry school he belonged to. He is definitely an extreme hermit, a lone ranger."
Vivian looked up at the sky; it was all smoke. She asked casually, "Is that wizard dead?"
"Nothing seems to suggest that," Hessiana said with forced smile. "It was said that he was involved in the conflict between the demon hunters and the descendants of Anubis two centuries ago and went missing after that for two centuries. Probably he was dead. But who knows? We just need his manuscripts and relics, that fellow is better dead than alive."
"I would rather wish he is still alive." Hao Ren shrugged. "That way I can ask him about the summoning ritual."
By now, they were drawing close to the heart of the town and the road before them became slightly wider. The houses in the surroundings were larger and nicer and most likely a social upper-class enclave. There was a small open space, which was not even a square by any measure. The space was flat and neat. The road encircling the open space paved with medium-sized pebbles. In the centre of the open space, a wooden stage had rotten and collapsed. The townspeople might be used to gather here and listen to the speech of the seigneur.
Further out, encircling the open space were old, wooden and stone buildings that looked haunted with their dark hollow faces staring at the outsiders who were breaking into the town. All doors were shut. Tattered cloth or planks were hanging from the narrow windows. The gap on the doors and windows revealed the darkness inside as if there were unknown pairs of eye—the eyes of the residents who disappeared mysteriously and whose fate was unknown—peering out from the dark.
The atmosphere jittered Nangong Wuyue. She summoned her water mist and shrouded herself in it before transforming into a siren. Then, she tossed her cloth-ball to Hao Ren before doing a little body stretching. "Phew… it feels so much better this way."
Hao Ren tucked her clothes into the dimensional pocket and asked, "Are you not cold?"
Wuyue laid her half-snake body and wriggling on the ground that was close to the Arctic Circle. Hao Ren could feel the cold even by just looking.
Wuyue straightened up the tip of her tail and waved. "I'm a water element. Water element isn't afraid of cold provided it's not freezing."
Lily was more interested in the wooden stage in the middle of the open space. She walked around it and then raised her Flamejoy suddenly. "I felt a strange chilly air around the stage."
"There are spirits here," Nangong Sanba said with two bottles of magic oil in his hand, and his face looked damn serious. "Don't poke around with the fire stick. If you disturbed the evil spirits they will haunt you."
Lily was cheesed off. She wielded her Flamejoy at Nangong Sanba. "Don't ever call it fire stick again! Can't you see there are three forks?"
"Do you mean the spirits here are ghosts?" Hao Ren had been interested in this from the beginning. "Can ghost talk?"
A lost town, wandering spirits, run-down streets and houses; all these were enough to scare people out of their wits. But they seemed like child's play in the eyes of Hao Ren. He had worse. He had won over the vengeful spirit of an entire planet. And, he had the nerves of steel. All he cared was to talk to the ghosts.
"It's a shame that these spirits are very weak," Nangong Sanba said as he shook his head regretfully. "They are everywhere, but also chaotic and look blurry. You can't communicate with spirits that aren't self-sustaining. They lack memory and thinking."
Hao Ren murmured. "Are they the natives of this town?"
"Most likely," Vivian said. "They were humans, and judging from the condition of the houses, they didn't even have time to react when the town fell into the alien dimension. Humans wouldn't survive in this space."
"He dragged the entire town into this? What the wizard was thinking?" Hao Ren frowned and his face looked not very pleasant. "He didn't have to do this if all he wanted was just live in seclusion."
When they were discussing, Lily had done many rounds around the wooden stage. The stage attracted her in an inexplicable way. Her eyes began to glow in golden light when faint shadows emerged from the ground. The shadows had the figure of human, all wearing clothes that looked like they were from ancient times, and standing expressionlessly, looking up at the wooden stage as if they were listening to someone speaking on the stage.
Lily's ears slowly stood erect when some chatters drifted into her ears:
"...the child really was stolen by the devil, we should have expelled the witch earlier..."
"It seems that we haven't seen the seigneur for a long time."
"...the scholar said he would help the child to exorcise the devil, but I don't believe in magic..."
"Hey, do you want to be cursed by the witch? They will throw you outside the town, and the witch is still wandering there..."
"Why not seek help from the church?"
"...the seigneur didn't come..."