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Mero whistled as she stared at the crater “You’re lucky this area was mostly flat land before, and not very inhabited, or else you would have greatly angered the spirits of this forest.”
“The spirits of this forest?” Mao Lu looked around himself, he was somewhat aware of existences like spirits in his own Realm, but he didn’t know much about them.
“Yep, Karne Forest in general has a concentrated amount of essence in it. Lots of spiritual plants and special medicines grow here. Many spirits form from the plants and the dead ghosts of animals or people which linger here. The forest is alive and has a will of its own. Of course since this realm is only a mortal one with low quality essence, the spirits in Karne forest can’t be compared to the spirits found in Immortal and Celestial Realms. I hear that in those Realms there is so much pure essence that they are abundant with strong spirits and beasts, and that one must be careful wherever they go.” Mero glanced at Mao Lu who had a thoughtful expression on his face, her eyes secretly narrowed with suspicion as she looked at him.
“Though don’t worry, the spirits of this forest aren’t very strong and are generally quite tame and peaceful. You’re not in any danger from them.” she said, patting him on the back. “And even though that hole is big it didn’t cause too much damage.”

Mao Lu nodded, “I’ll take your word for it.”

“Let’s go.” Mero said before turning and running up the side of a tree. Mao Lu gaped, the tree was as tall as a skyscraper.
“Come quickly, it’s faster to travel by treetop.” she yelled as she scurried up and swung on the branches like a monkey, hopping from one tree to the next.

Mao Lu’s expression was frozen. “There’s no way I can climb that.”
Mao Lu had always been quick on his feet and agile, but that was one thing and climbing a large skyscraper sized tree was another. And there was no way he could swing from those vines like Tarzan.
“Come on you slow poke, don’t just stand there. The sun is going down, the predators of the forest will be coming out soon. We need to go!” Mero yelled from a distant treetop.

Mao Lu momentarily considered using essence to fly, but Mero thought he was a regular mortal, if he did that it would be blatantly telling her he was a practitioner, and then she’d be scared of him all over again.
So instead Mao Lu gave in and decided to start climbing.

He was immediately surprised by how light his body felt, he pulled himself up as if he were sustaining the weight of a feather. And soon he found himself running up the side of the tree, scaling it so quickly that he felt like his feet weren’t even touching the side. He was going as fast, no even faster than Mero had.
When he swung from the branches he saw all the essences around him seeming to giggle and assist him gently, the wind essence giving him a slight nudge in this and that direction.

He felt the wind rush through his hair and he somehow found this far more exhilarating than flying, but what excited him more was how much his strength had improved. His body alone could cause an asteroid like crater, meaning it was immensely heavy and tough, yet he was also weightless and so very fast. It was bizarre. Since he’d broken through to the Wielding stage this was the first time Mao Lu was appreciating his own physical transformations properly. He couldn’t help but laugh out loud, he felt powerful in a different way than how all his other abilities made him feel.

Mero watched Mao Lu from the corner of her eye and bit her lip. She was wary of him. Mero didn’t actually believe Mao Lu was a mortal. She was just stalling for time.
Even if his ship had self destructed there would still be pieces of the wreckage left, but other than Mao Lu there had been nothing else in that crater. He also seemed to ignorant about this Realm. Every planet in Realm ten had a spiritual forest, spirits in forests were common knowledge, yet he hadn’t known about them. Was he someone from another Realm?
Also, even if you were from rich mortal family and could afford fancy charms, charms were only charms. Charms were created by transferring essence. When a practitioner transferred essence and put that essence into an object for an intended purpose it became a charm. There were protective charms, charms to enhance your appearance, and charms to give you an a certain ability. The charm itself only had up to 20% of that practitioners power, at most 60%, charms with 90% essence retention were legendary and extremely expensive. Not even rich mortals could afford one.
And even if Mao Lu did have such a legendary charm, to survive a crash of that magnitude without a scratch, the practitioner who made that charm would have to be at the Dao stage at least, and what kind of mortal would know a Dao stage Practitioner personally, especially in this Mortal Realm. Dao stage Practitioners are rarely found in Mortal Realms, finding one in an immortal Realm is also not very common, celestial realms were where Dao stage practitioners tended to live. Adding it all up just none of it made any sense.
In Mero’s mind there was no doubt about it, this man had to be a practitioner. She was scared, but so far Mao Lu didn’t seem to be the evil or tyrannical type of practitioner and he appeared to be hiding his identity. Mero wondered if ‘Mao Lu’ was even his real name.

Her plan for the moment was to take him back to the village and then she would inform her Father and the village elders. If they saw him as a threat they would contact the good Practitioners at the border of the continent to come deal with him, if he was friendly then they would just let him stay, pretend they believed his story of being a mortal, and just patiently wait for him to leave on his own.
Mero didn’t know what Mao Lu’s intentions were but she hoped they were peaceful.

They got to the top of a purple tree that oversaw the entire forest. Mao Lu was certain this tree was as tall as a mountain. The air even felt thin up there.
To the left of Mao Lu a loud hooting sound erupted from a nearby cliff.
Mero breathed in and began hooting as well.
She communicated like this with the other hidden person for a while before turning to Mao Lu and saying, “We’re all good now, I have informed the watcher of the village about you and we can now enter.”

Mero then proceeded to jump from the purple tree, diving headfirst into a shallow lake below.
Mao Lu was momentarily stunned, but he still copied and did the same.
He instinctively flinched when he dove into the lake, thinking he was going to hit the bottom hard, but instead he didn’t hit anything.
When he opened his eyes he was standing on top of the lake and in front of him was a gorgeous underground village with building made of blue and green crystals.

Mero wasn’t standing too far from him, “Welcome to Karne Village.”


Tanaka silently drank his hot chocolate. Bei Lao was sitting next to him, Fei Bing Bing and Zhao Detong were opposite. There was a gloomy atmosphere among the four.
“This is all so fucked up.” Fei Bing Bing sighed rather soullessly. “Qi Zhou and those officers get ruthlessly murdered in the hospital, Frank disappears, and Mao Lu has just up and vanished.”

Nobody really paid attention to Fei Bing Bing’s words, they all knew the situation.
Zhao Detong cradled his phone in his hands as he called Mao Lu, his phone rang out until the voicemail came on again, “Hi, this is Mao Lu, sorry I can’t take your call right now. I will get back to you, if it’s urgent leave a message.” then the phone chimed. “Please leave a message after the tone…BEEEP.”

Zhao Detong could only sigh before hanging up.

“There’s no point calling him, why even bother. We’ve all tried his number tons of times. It’s been two weeks since christmas and Frank disappeared and we haven’t heard anything from him.” Tanaka grumbled as he sipped at his hot chocolate.

“The only person that probably knows what’s going on is Mao Lu, the only one that can find Frank is probably him as well…and I’m also worried about him, I keep having this uneasy feeling in my stomach. I can’t stop myself from calling him.” Zhao Detong’s hands shook a bit, “It’s the only thing I can do.”

A glum silence descended on the four once again.

…Outside the window two black birds watched them.
“Now is the time.” the Raven giggled, “I’m going to swoop in there and tell them all they need to know and set their hearts at ease. Then the Gatekeeper will be so happy when he returns I’ll be heavily rewarded.”
The other black bird yawned, “I still don’t know, I think it’s a bad idea, you know we should just leave this to the Gatekeeper. If he wanted to tell them this stuff he would have. I don’t think we should interfere. And Little Red will be pissed too. We’ll probably get into lots of trouble.”
The Raven squawked in annoyance, “You’ve been saying that for the last two weeks, it’s annoying.”
“Because I think messing with the Gatekeepers friends is a bad idea!” the black bird shouted.

“The Gatekeepers friends?” a chilly voice interrupted.

The two Black birds froze, they felt all the energy drain from them all of a sudden. Neither of the birds had time to change back into their human forms or cast any spells before they dropped from the sky and onto the pavement below. Dead.

“Oh they died. I didn’t mean to kill it.” the chilly voice laughed, “One made so many weak creatures in this 400 realms, truly a failing project. Why does One even bother protecting such a thing? I don’t understand it, do you understand it Five?”

A tall women with black hair, silver eyes, and pale skin appeared out of thin air at the entrance of Zhao Detong’s building. Next to her was an equally tall man with black hair, brown skin and pale eyes.

The man shook his head, “None of us will ever understand why One does what One does. Just as I will never understand why you, Four, do what you do. Nor will you ever understand me.”

Four smiled, “As always you speak sense Five.”
Five shook his head, “There is no such thing as sense, sense is but a concept. Just like ideology and institutions it is just one of many ways to justify and control existence. ‘Sense’ is just another restriction, it does not exist, you only imagine it does.”

Four simply smiled and nodded before changing the topic. “Do you think this human skin is suitable, wearing it feels uncomfortable, could we not have just spoken to them in our normal forms?” she asked.

Five shook his head, “These creatures are ones that greatly fear difference. Our regular forms would not be understood or appreciated by them. This is better.”

Four pulled at her cheeks, “Feels strange. I don’t like it. Why must we talk to these creatures?”

“Because they are friends with that Gatekeeper, the one who will be companioned with Nyx’s child.”
“Why are we talking to his Lover’s friends?”
“Nyx hid that boy very well from us, and just as we found him he disappeared from that Realm. We track him here but now his also gone. I am tired of chasing, now it is time to wait. Creatures like this have strong attachments. If he is Nyx’s child that boy will also have strong attachments. Since they are his Lover’s friends, and he is attached to his Lover, I believe eventually he’ll come back here. And when he does we will be waiting.”

Four sighed, “So very troublesome. Why can’t One do this, One could deal with this easier. One is in charge of this experiment. One could find this boy with no trouble. In comparison in this place we’re at a disadvantage. I feel sick and weak.”
Five shook his head, “You ask too many obvious questions Four, you understand better than I why we must do this and not One.”

Four pulled at her skin and writhed uncomfortably, “Let’s just go and talk to these creatures.”


Chàng Bo blinked and sat up in alarm.
He was sitting on a rocking boat. The boat was black, made out of a sleek material he’d never seen before.
The boat seemed to be moving but at the same time it wasn’t. Other than a small white glow emitting from the boat there was no other source of light. A suffocating darkness surrounded Chàng Bo.
His body felt rather impermeable and airy, it took him a few seconds to realise that he was still in a spirit form. A slight panic ran through him, he needed to find his body.

“Don’t worry, I have recovered your body and hidden it. For the moment it is safer for you in this spirit form.” a voice said beside him. It was the same voice that had spoken to him inside the soul chamber.
Chàng Bo turned around swiftly, he hadn’t sensed this person next to him at all. It was as if they weren’t even really there.

A figure wearing a black material wrapped around their entire body like a cloak, was only an inch away from him.

Chàng Bo scrutinised this person, he wondered how they could have saved him without alerting Creed, they had to be a high level practitioner.
“Thank you for saving me.” Chàng Bo said politely but his tone quickly changed into a commanding one as he said, “Now tell me, who are you? You’re my Mother’s friend?”

“Well not exactly” the cloaked figure replied rather lazily, “Actually, since she’s also my Mother we’re not friends.” A smoky skeletal hand extended from the black cloak, “Chàng Bo we are brothers. My name is Hypnos.”

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