Plague Doctor - Chapter 397
After getting the call, Ma Zhengxin and his colleague, Bian Yi soon mobilized. They were both police officers posted at Mo Bei City’s Yin Lin Town. The place had a low crime rate because it had a low population number and most of them were seniors. Burglary was uncommon, their main job scope was to negotiate civil arguments. But this call that they just got from Bai Mian Village was rare and unusual, it was about illegal logging. Since the caller Tian Fuhou was considered a local celebrity and was at an advanced age, they treated this case seriously. When Ma Zhengxin and Bian Yi arrived at the tree farm, it was still early morning. They saw Wang Fuhou and his wife standing there, fidgeting with confusion, nervousness and anxiety.
“Many of my trees are gone!” Once he saw them, Wang Fuhou accosted them and explained the situation. His wrinkled face was filled with agitation and fear. “I tried to press my hands against one of the trunks and they phased through it. When inside, my arm felt like it was being burnt, look!” The old man rolled up his shirt sleeves. His skin appeared leathery, it could have been from fire or age. This whole incident was unbelievable. Yes, the trees at Wang Fuhou’s tree farm were sparser than the other farms that they passed along the way and the ground appeared blacker in color, but illegal logging was a huge endeavor. It required heavy machinery and great manpower, but there was no trace of those at Wang Fuhou’s tree farm.
“Master Tian, is it possible that you’ve remembered the location of the trees wrongly?” Ma Zhengxin asked.
“Impossible!” Tian Fuhou huffed, “I remember every single tree that I planted, I can’t be wrong.”
“I can attest to that.” His wife, Mai Dong sighed, “We’ve accompanied these trees for decades already, how could we remember them wrongly?”
“Master Tian, you said you can reach your hand into the trunk?” Bian Yi said jokingly, “Then let me try.” Ma Zhengxin had a bad feeling but he did not say anything. Bian Yi casually raised his right hand and pressed it against the cracked tree. His hand phased through the bark and his middle-aged face instantly dropped. With a scream, Bian Yi pulled his hand out. His whole hand was shaking. His face turned red and blue, “Inside, it’s real…” Ma Zhengxin was dumbfounded while Tian Fuhou exclaimed, “Look, look!”
Like magic, a water ripple spread across the surface of a locust tree. And then the whole tree disappeared. It dissolved into thin air just like that. As they looked around, the tree farm appeared sparser. There was more than one locust tree that disappeared.
“This, this…” Bian Yi mumbled confusedly. Tian Fuhou and Mai Dong were in their 80s already but this was the first time they encountered something like this. Their pale faces spoke of bewilderment.
“Report to Phecda.” Ma Zhengxin finally spoke. His body shivered as an indescribable fear surged through his heart. “Report to Phecda now.” This incident was beyond their comprehension. In a panic, Ma Zhengxin pulled out his phone to report this to his superior. His superior immediately connected him to Phecda’s Mo Bei Division. This was the first time Ma Zhengxin interacted with these people, “Trees are disappearing and you can reach your hand into them…” After a few moments, after Ma Zhengxin calmed down, he explained the whole incident with greater clarity. One could not blame his fluster because his normal job was to act as negotiator, the last time they encountered a theft was about sometime last year.
Phecda viewed this seriously. They were told to stay put and people from disease control centre would be over soon to send them into quarantine and inspection. Ma Zhengxin was frightened. Even though the person assured him this was normal protocol, Ma Zhengxin could not help but be reminded of the legionella pneumonia that occurred last year…
“So what is going on?” Tian Fuhou walked over anxiously. His face appeared to have paled. He coughed suddenly. This cough caused Ma Zhengxin and Bian Yi’s hearts to quiver. Ma Zhengxin asked hurriedly, “Master Tian, are you alright?”
“It’s just a cough… comes with age.” Tian Fuhou said softly, but he too was worried. His wife Ma Dong came to pat his back. Bian Yi sighed as he pulled out a cigarette box and lighter from his pocket. He was about to light one up.
“Officer Bian!” Seeing this Tian Fuhou shouted in a booming voice, “We can’t have any fire source here, can’t you see the trees around you! Tsk.” Bian Yi put away the cigarette and lighter abashedly. Tian Fuhou added, “Every single one of these trees takes more than 10 years to grow…” The old man mumbled as he studied the trees dwindled before his eyes. “Officers, do you think all of my trees will eventually disappear?”
“Master Tian, we really do not know, this involves supernatural energy.” That was the only answer Ma Zhengxin could give. He too was clueless.
Half an hour later, there came the sound of helicopters from the sky. It was the people from Phecda. Soon, the four saw a group of people trudge through the road with fallen leaves. They were all in airtight suits and armed to the teeth. This was the Special Mobile Force, the Snow Dust posted at Mo Bei Division. The leader was Lee Weiqian, “Officer Ma, Officer Bian, thank you for your service but we’ll take over now.” Ma Zhengxin sighed in relief, he even stood up straighter. “The people from disease control will arrive soon, you’ll be transferred to their base.” Lee Weiqian explained, “But for now, please explain the situation to us in detail.”
With a quick walk around, the Snow Dust could see the situation for themselves. There was a clear delineation in the color of the soil. All of them frowned. The Snow Dust had experienced dealing with supernatural forces and Mo Bei Division was a big base where the Phecda Hero once completed his training. The Snow Dust had constant training and interacted with spells and Ancient Seal… but the tree farm did not give off a sense of corruption. The whole situation was quite unique.
Snow Dust’s scientific research member, Liu Wenhan used a go-pro to reach into one of the pines. The machine phased easily through the bark. On the monitor, the group saw a twisted blurriness, it definitely did not look like the inside of a bark. Suddenly, the monitor darkened. The signal disappeared. Under everyone’s scrutiny, Liu Wehan slowly pulled the machine out. The camera shattered and the part that was extended into the trunk was scorched… Was this the effect of spells? Lee Weiqian could not tell. The situation here was more severe than they anticipated.
“Command central, command central.” Captain Lee immediately used his satellite phone to report this to his superior. “This is the Snow Dust team. The report is true. There is an abnormal activity at this tree farm. The affected area is about 300 cubic metres. The officers on site can confirm that the trees are still disappearing. The remaining trees show increased decomposition, and the situation is worsening.”
At the same time, Tian Fuhou studied these Phecda members, he knew that Phecda was more capable than a normal government unit. He asked the female member who was standing near them. “Miss Chen, will the rest of my trees disappear eventually?”
“Master Tian, don’t you worry.” Chen Qiuxuan consoled but she did not dare give any promises, “It shouldn’t be that serious. Just take these few days off.”
“I’m not taking any break at my age…” Tian Fuhou mumbled, “I’ll rest when I can’t work anymore…”
The old man looked around his farm and thought back to the days when he just started. At the time, this whole piece of land was just a wasteland. He and his wife levelled the ground, started the irrigation, planted the seeds… For years, they only had a meal a day and it was a simple porridge… They’d work until nightfall and continued the same work the next day.
“I was thinking about taking a contract for another 10 mu of lands.” Tian Fuhou said, “This time, I’ll plant nothing but Mongolian Pines. They can grow for hundreds of years, unlike poplar trees which can only survive for decades. Miss Chen, several hundred years later, this desert will be turned into a forest so we have to protect these trees…”
“Master Tian…” Chen Qiuxuan was about to say something when her heart wrenched. Lee Weiqian and Ma Zhengxin gasped in shock as well.
Tian Fuhou’s face blanched and blood poured out from his nostrils.