Thriller Trainee - Chapter 36

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Ch36 - What’s on the Old Locust Tree

While following after the villager leading the way, Zong Jiu recalled the information in the Tarot Guide.

Within the twenty-two Major Arcana cards, the most inauspicious one was the sixteenth card, “High Tower”. 

Compared to the “High Tower’s” terrible destructive power, which destroyed everything, both bad and good, Death God meant that there was still a chance to survive. This chance could be maximized as much as possible when the Death God was in its inverted state.

The Death God was number thirteen. Everyone knew that thirteen was an inauspicious number in the west.

 

 

In the Last Supper, Judas, the thirteenth disciple of Jesus, betrayed him for thirty silver coins. In the end, it led to Jesus being nailed to a cross and suffering. Thus, thirteen, this number, had generally been equated to bad luck, and it fit very well with what the Death God stood for.

The Tarot Guide explained in detail the difference between an upright Death God and an inverted Death God. 

Upright Death God: Failure. The end.

 

Inverted Death God: Throw away the past. Rise from the ashes. Face death to live. Miracle.

Zong Jiu’s mind lingered on “Rise from the ashes” for a few seconds, and then he calmly put away the card as if nothing happened.

Right at that moment, the group stopped.

 

“We’re here.”

The person leading them, Lao Qiang, stood next to a mud house beside the road, “Those who handed in food will live here.”

Then, he pointed off to the distance, “Those who didn’t hand in food, you all will live behind that tree.”

The end of the small road that he pointed to had an old locust tree. Yellow leaves hung on the branches, swinging in the wind. 

An old and gloomy mud house stood behind the locust tree’s lush leaves. The entrance was black. Just looking at it from afar gave people the chills.

The trainees were split into two groups and brought over. Those who had handed in food glanced at the people who didn’t hand in any food with pity in their gaze, feeling very thankful and fortunate in their hearts.

From Wang Shou and Lao Qiang’s words, anyone with a discerning eye could tell that there was definitely something wrong with the old house behind the old locust tree.

The bullet chat was also full of discussion. 

[Clearly, they are trainees who all came in together, but because some people’s identity cards’ had backpacks in their initial settings and some didn’t, it led to such a difference from the start. Luck is really important.]

[Luck is really important +1. To be honest, I think that there’s definitely something wrong with that old house, according to the laws of horror films.]

[Come come come. Let’s place our bets now. Which trainee from the group that didn’t hand in food will be the first to go to heaven?]

[First let’s factor out Zhuge An. Then exclude the magician. The others could be ranked and grouped however you want and chosen freely.] 

Back in the instance, the trainees obviously felt that this was very unfair. However, in front of the villagers who were holding hoes, they didn’t dare to say anything.

It could be that they really were unlucky. The strength of the group that didn’t hand in food was varied and pitiful, with newcomers occupying a large portion. The veterans were all those who had all maxed out their potentials. There was only No. 3, Zhuge An, who was the strongest. The rest were all C-ranks. It could be said that they were a bunch of weaklings.

 

Under these circumstances, people would always subconsciously want to find a pillar of support, a mainstay. So everyone couldn’t help but gaze towards Zhuge An, who was also in this group.

Unfortunately, the other was as immovable as a mountain. He had no comments towards the current situation. Instead, he seemed to be thinking about something with his eyes lowered. 

With Zhuge An like this, the D-rank and E-rank newcomers didn’t dare to go up to him and disrupt him.

At that moment, a trainee finally timidly said, “Sh-should we go take a look at the house?”

Although they didn’t know what era this instance was set in, if a large-scale famine could occur, then it couldn’t be set in modern times.

Now, the sky was already starting to get dark. If they continued to drag their feet, it would become completely dark. Since there weren’t any lightbulbs, it would be even scarier in the dark. 

Immediately, there was a trainee who seconded, “That’s right. Let’s hurry and check it out. Otherwise, once it’s dark, it’ll be bad.”

That being said, everyone looked at each other, glancing around. However, no one took a step.

Right then, the white-haired youth lowered his arm, placing it by his side, and took the lead to walk towards the end of the road.

The other people’s eyes lit up, and they immediately followed. 

We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection. If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.

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The newcomers, however, all began from the same starting line, struggling and scrambling in the cruel horror instances. They knew just how difficult it was for Zong Jiu to enter the top three ranks in one shot. That’s why they felt even more admiration towards him. Adding on Zong Jiu’s dazzling performance in Las Vegas, everyone knew that he had won one million chips. Now even the veterans had to take him seriously.

That was a full one million survival points! Even if it was given to a pig, that pig could be strengthened into a steel porcupine! 

Zong Jiu didn’t care about the string of people following him. He walked to that old locust tree and then frowned.

Someone wondered, “Strange. On our way here, all the trees were stripped clean of their bark. How come no one has eaten the bard of this tree?”

“That’s because locust trees are considered to have Yin properties and are also called ghost trees. No one dares to eat it.” Zong Jiu responded.

In folklore, locust trees were very inauspicious and ominous trees. They had heavy Yin energy, which caused them to attract supernatural things. Very few people would plant them in front of their house, not to mention one as big as this one. 

“Who has exchanged props in their hands? Prepare them. We’re going to enter the house and take a look.”

The other people all shook a few times reflexively. Seeing the black entrance to the house behind the tree, their legs softened.

 

“Hurry up. Let’s go into the house and take a look. With so many people, what are you scared of? It’s going to be dark soon. Having a house to sleep in is better than none at least.”

Zong Jiu urged them while taking out an ordinary, old dagger from the Black Box. 

The Black Box was essentially a portable storage space, very useful. He could pull ordinary objects out of it anytime, anywhere.

When everyone saw his movements, they thought that the dagger was a high-rank prop that he exchanged for in Las Vegas and also took out their own props, as if they were going to face a big enemy.

“Bang——”

The door was tattered and didn’t have a lock, opening with just a push. 

The trainee who pushed the door was overly nervous and accidentally pushed half of the remaining door onto the ground. Cold wind started to blow in.

Zong Jiu, holding the dagger in his hand, the look in his eyes becoming serious, walked into the house first.

This wasn’t because he was extremely strong and hence very bold; it was because, in the other hand that he had lowered, he was holding the Soul Photographing Bell, so he wasn’t afraid.

Using the window lattices and the holes that were bitten by termites, the light from outside could just barely shine through, making this not-so-big mud house full of shadowy figures. 

There were not many things within the house. The best description would probably be a vacant house that had been abandoned a long time ago. The ground was filled with dirt, the beams covered in moss. Even the water tank placed in the corner was missing a chunk, and the foul water inside was vaguely visible.

This kind of house, even if you were to use it as a resting place, could only be used to lean on the wall and take a short nap. The only good thing about this place was that it blocked the autumn wind.

“Ah——”

A trainee following him suddenly let out a short scream. 

The bullet chat was filled with red exclamation marks.

[Fuck. That scream almost made me jump.]

[Me too. It made me super awake and focused all of a sudden…]

The people who were investigating immediately became vigilant. Holding their props, they turned their heads around, prepared for a face-off with a supernatural being. 

A fat, grey figure in the corner leaped, jumping out of a hole in the corner of the wall.

That trainee stuttered out, “It-it’s a mouse.”

 

Everyone let out a breath of relief.

With that incident, everyone’s nervousness lessened a lot. 

To the veterans, getting a high evaluation in the instance was the goal; to the newcomers, being able to survive was already pretty good.

They knew that they were split into two camps, but there was the ironclad rule that trainees couldn’t kill each other, and chance tasks weren’t like main tasks, which were mandatory. It was fine even if they didn’t do them. Thus, not many people were worried about it.

The trainee who screamed scratched his head in embarrassment, “I’m called Xu Su. Sorry, guys. I have been afraid of mice since I was little, really. I didn’t purposely scare everyone just now.”

The other people waved their hands, and someone took the opportunity to suggest, “Since we’re going to live together in this instance from now on, then how about we first do some simple introductions?” 

After saying this, everyone obviously turned their gaze towards Zong Jiu.

Although Zong Jiu didn’t do anything, this group of newcomers had already more or less thought of him as the leader.

The white-haired youth raised his eyebrow.

To be honest, if he acted as the leader and then pretended to do everything for the sake of everyone’s good, it would be very hard to arouse suspicion. No wonder that Messiah was so active in the last instance. Relying on people’s trust towards veterans and the ignorance of newcomers, he took advantage of the weakness of mob psychology, which was following the group blindly, and in the end, he was able to retreat with no losses. 

After a simple introduction, the atmosphere in the room became much better.

Everyone casually picked a place to rest. After exchanging glances, they all sighed.

“Clearly we are all trainees, yet we are the unlucky ones. How come we don’t have backpacks?”

Xu Su glanced outside, still feeling fearful, “We have to stay here for seven days.” 

“That’s right. This house is dark and cold. Just looking at it is scary.”

“Stop talking about it. We will have to spend the night here like this. Sigh. However, it’s still not too bad. Look at how starved those villagers outside are. At least we don’t need to eat.”

Zong Jiu didn’t join in their conversations. He squatted near the center of a wall, listening to them talking while observing the wall behind him.

As soon as he looked at it, he found out that there was something wrong with this wall. 

This house was extremely close to the mountain, and the roof was leaky. With no one living here for years on end, black moss even grew on the walls, densely packed over a large area. However, if you looked at it closely, you would find that the height that they grew to had slight differences, creating an uneven surface.

The white-haired youth picked up a random branch from the ground and scrapped the moss off bit by bit.

 

With his movements, the mud surface of the wall that was blocked was uncovered.

On that reinforced mud wall, lines and lines of shocking white marks were suddenly revealed. 

“Fuck, what is that?!”

Zong Jiu didn’t hide his movements from the other people. After the people in the room found out that something was wrong, they one by one joined the task of scraping the walls.

They had almost scraped off the moss of an entire wall. Seeing the scene in front of them, they all sucked in a breath of cold air.

[Oh my god, these marks look like…] 

[It wouldn’t be what I’m thinking, right? /trembling.jpg]

[Previous commenter, it’s exactly what you’re thinking. (Loudly)]

A trainee’s face turned white, “It seems like it was clawed out by human nails?”

“Look, the height is just right…” He gestured, “The lower half of the wall and higher parts don’t have any. You can’t reach up there with your hands.” 

The room was frighteningly silent.

Walls in rural areas were generally made very sturdy. Even without mentioning that the marks were so densely packed, each mark was one or two centimeters deep.

If it was done by a person, then that person’s hand had probably broken from the pressure. If it wasn’t done by a person… then it was even more terrifying.

Fear and coldness swept across everyone from head to toe. 

Although they had already guessed that there was something wrong with this house, everyone still held some hope. What if they were lucky? Now, they shook due to fear.

Xu Su wanted to cry but had no tears, “Ho-how about we sleep under the sky.”

The other people didn’t speak.

To tell the truth, under the premise that they knew this was a horror instance, nowhere in the entire village was safe. Even if they slept outside, it was still dangerous. It might be even more dangerous. 

Right then, creaking sounds came from the wooden door.

Everyone turned their head around.

 

The man at the door took back his hand, eyes coldly sweeping past everyone in the room, “Come out.”

For a moment, the newcomers standing in front of the wall all looked at each other. 

Seeing that they didn’t make any movements, Zhuge An’s tone of voice became a bit impatient, “Come out and collect firewood. Unless you guys want to sleep for a night like this? You aren’t afraid of being frozen to death?”

After he said this, the trainees finally understood and moved.

It was already the time when autumn was changing to winter. That dilapidated mud house could only block some wind at most, not to mention that the temperature difference between day and night was large deep in the mountains. The clothes that everyone was wearing weren’t thick. If they were to sleep for a night like this, their whole body would be stiff when they woke up.

Thus, a dozen or so people came out together in a swarm. No one dared to stay in the room. 

In the room, they split into two teams. One team would follow Zhuge An to collect firewood, and the other team would follow Zong Jiu to find the villagers.

Fortunately, although the famine in the village was severe, there was still enough firewood.

Strolling on a hillside not far away, they collected quite a lot under the trees. In the end, everyone held a large pile of dead branches in their arms.

After the firewood collecting team returned, the team that went to find the villagers to borrow flint had also returned. 

The white-haired youth shook his head, “No use. They aren’t willing to lend it.”

Although they had already known what type of people those villagers were, they weren’t even willing to lend the extremely cheap flint. It really drove them crazy.

The newcomers instantly became angry, cursing, “Fuck! That group of bastards, who wants to protect them?!”

“Yeah. Those that do human trafficking all deserve to die. And they only sell women. A group of wussies.” 

“Fuck their mom. I’m going to die of anger.”

Zong Jiu’s eyes flashed.

He guessed right. The main task of normal cards really was to protect the villagers.

“However, what should we do now?” 

Zhuge An frowned, “I can light the fire. Let’s go.”

What did “can light the fire” mean?

 

The other people saw Zhuge An grab a bundle of firewood, but they didn’t dare to ask too much. The dozen or so people, some holding firewood and some with both hands empty, once again returned to the mud house at the end of the road.

After all this trouble, the sky had gone from dim to black. 

Night was coming.

Once they reached the end of the road, Xu Su suddenly screamed “Ah” again.

The trainee walking in front of him was alarmed again. His voice was filled with irritation, “Why did you scream again? A mouse again?”

“No… no.” 

His voice trembling, Xu Su stretched out his finger, “O-over there, there se-seems to be a person.”

Everyone looked towards where his finger was pointing.

In front of the eerie mud house, the lush canopy of the locust tree had been stained blood red.

Due to gravity, a long tongue was stretched all the way to their chest. Their arms hung past their knees, and their clothes swayed in the wind like a tattered burlap sack. 

A person who died with their eyes open was hung to death there.

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