The second evolution of the big willow tree within a short period of time took Lu Lingxi by surprise. He was a little hesitant, not knowing whether he should choose to evolve immediately. He still remembered the commotion when the tree evolved last time. The whole village was like during an earthquake. What if the commotion was even bigger this time? But he didn’t want to artificially suppress the evolution of the willow tree either; that would obviously defeat the purpose of the panel’s existence.
Lu Lingxi looked at Yan Yue with some difficulty and talked about the evolution of the big willow tree. Yan Yue immediately understood Lu Lingxi’s concern. He pondered a little and said, “Evolution is definitely going to happen, but we need to make some preparations in advance. No one knows how big or small this evolution will be, so it’s best to gather all the villagers of Lingshui Village outside just in case there are any accidents.”
This was what Lu Lingxi was worried about, fearing that there might be some kind of damage. But what excuse should he find to gather everyone outside? He thought about it and suggested, “On the night of New Year’s Eve, fireworks were set off in Lingshui Village. Uncle Li said it was quite lively and everyone went out to see it. Why don’t we show it again?”
Yan Yue thought this was a good idea; not only was it a chance to get everyone together outside, but it would also make a favourable impression on the villagers in the process. And since it was fireworks, the evolution of the big willow tree that would happen at night wouldn’t be noticed in the dark even if there was any movement.
The two of them agreed, and Lu Lingxi first made a phone call home. He said that there was something going on at the plant nursery and that he would have to stay in Lingshui Village for another day. He sent a special message to Elder Zhang, so that Elder Zhang wouldn’t come to look for him at the shop tomorrow. After he had finished, Yan Yue also talked to the village head of Lingshui. In order to add an extra layer of insurance and to make sure that the villagers would be drawn out, Yan Yue offered the village chief, Li Dayong, to put on one hour of fireworks and two movies. He remembered that there were those open-air outdoor movies, which were very convenient to show.
As soon as Yan Yue said this, Li Dayong knew what he meant. A few years ago, Fengcheng held a cultural campaign to the countryside, and its main focus was this kind of open-air movie. Usually, when there was a happy occasion in their village, they would also invite people to show a few movies, and these arrangements were not difficult. Yan Yue paid for the movies and Li Dayong contributed as well, and it was soon decided that the movies would start at six o’clock and the fireworks would be set off between them.
Originally, Li Dayong thought that six o’clock was a bit early, as the villagers had probably not eaten yet. But Yan Yue insisted, and Li Dayong couldn’t resist, so he had to inform the villagers that the movies would be shown at six o’clock and that those who wanted to see the movies should eat early today.
The two of them couldn’t hide their plans from Uncle Li. Uncle Li listened to the words of thanks for Tiny Garden on the radio and whispered to himself, “How could these two children suddenly think of showing a movie to the village? They didn’t mean to do that just before they went out.”
The old dog gave a few low barks and Uncle Li smiled, stretched out his rough hand and stroked the old dog’s head, promising, “Okay, I’ll take you to see it tonight.”
Because they were thinking about the big willow tree, Lu Lingxi and Yan Yue didn’t stay at the Qiu Tian nursery for much longer. After they finished their business, they went to find Fang Lei and Xiao Shi and prepared to return to the village. When they went there, Fang Lei and Xiao Shi were eating grapes with Tiger. The grapes were just picked and much fresher than those bought in the market. Tiger warmly invited them to eat more and had picked another basket for them to take away when they left.
When he heard that Lu Lingxi was planning to go back, Tiger was a bit surprised. Why was he leaving in such a hurry? Lu Lingxi explained that he was just thinking of the plant nursery and that he was relieved to have Tiger to look after it.
Fang Lei was keenly aware that Lu Lingxi seemed to have something on his mind. He quickly glanced at Yan Yue but didn’t see anything on Yan Yue’s face. Fang Lei couldn’t help but mutter something in his heart; but then he thought that with Yan Yue around, nothing could happen to Lu Lingxi, so he relaxed.
When they returned to the village, Fang Lei learned that Lu Lingxi was planning to show two movies in the village in the evening. Xiao Shi was overjoyed and even seemed to look at the big grey cat more favourably, not as hostile as at first.
“Brother Xiao Xi, will you stay here tonight?” Xiao Shi asked, looking at Lu Lingxi expectantly.
Lu Lingxi nodded, “Yes, I’ll go home tomorrow.”
Xiao Shi immediately grinned, revealing a little missing tooth in the front.
Before Fang Lei had come to Lingshui, he just planned to check on Xiao Shi, pick up Dahei and then leave. But the appearance of the big grey cat stopped him from leaving. Now the big grey cat had not yet been tamed, so Fang Lei simply stayed in the village to join the fun at night. He had been on duty for two days during the New Year anyway, and today was a day off, so he could stay at Uncle Li’s house if it was too late to go home.
Until six o’clock in the evening, Lingshui Village was calm and quiet. It was just getting dark when the people of the village gathered at the river to watch a movie. Fang Lei watched Xiao Shi to keep him from wandering off, and Ah Huang guarded Xiao Shi’s side vigilantly as well. Xiaohui squatted on Fang Lei’s shoulder with an arrogant look on his face, having used this place as his mobile soft chair for the whole day. When Xiaohui got uncomfortable, he stretched out his paw to tug on Fang Lei’s hair, reminding him to move around and adjust his position.
As soon as the movie started, Xiaohui suddenly became a little restless. He stretched out his paw and scratched Fang Lei’s shoulder several times. Fang Lei was quite helpless: “What’s wrong with Master Cat again?”
Xiaohui narrowed its eyes and looked far away in the direction of the big willow tree, meowing a few times. Fang Lei followed his line of sight and couldn’t guess for a moment what Xiaohui meant. Just like Xiaohui, Ah Huang was also acting a bit off. Xiao Shi hugged Ah Huang and smoothed his fur, then suddenly remembered something and looked up at Fang Lei, “Uncle Fang, where is Brother Xiao Xi? Even Dahei is not here?”
Fang Lei’s heart stirred and he looked thoughtfully in the direction of the village. It seemed Yan Yue and Xiao Xi had stayed in the village and had not come out.
Standing under the big willow tree, Lu Lingxi and Yan Yue didn’t go to watch the movie, but kept watch over the big willow tree and waited for it to evolve. As Lu Lingxi clicked on the white panel and selected “yes”, the huge root system of the big willow tree, which was coiled under the village, expanded towards the surrounding area at a speed visible to the naked eye. But to their surprise, this time the evolution was silent and there wasn’t the slightest vibration coming from the ground.
Yan Yue guessed, “Is the root system so deep that it can’t be felt above the ground?”
Lu Lingxi wasn’t sure either, but still said cautiously, “Let’s wait a little longer.”
They waited until the fireworks were over, the movie ended, and the villagers began to go home one after another. Nothing happened for four hours, and Lu Lingxi couldn’t tell if he was relieved or disappointed. He and Big Brother Yan had been apprehensive for so long, but the result wasn’t at all the big shock they had expected, and there was a feeling that he punched with a full force but hit cotton.
Yan Yue smiled at his expression and reached out to gather Lu Lingxi into his arms, saying with amusement, “Let’s go back, there should be nothing wrong.”
Lu Lingxi nodded with a yawn. He had been emotionally tense before, and when he finally relaxed, his fatigue surged through his body like a tidal wave. Now he just wanted to go back and get a good night’s sleep. The two of them went back to the courtyard hand in hand. Lu Lingxi followed Yan Yue after washing up with his eyes half closed and soon fell asleep.
In a daze, he felt that someone had come outside and Yan Yue had gone out and said something. Lu Lingxi rolled over under the blanket and muttered, “Who is it?”
A soft kiss fell on his face. It was Yan Yue’s voice, “Go to sleep, Fang Lei came over for something and already left.”
Lu Lingxi subconsciously grabbed Yan Yue’s arm, buried his face in the other party’s chest and fell into a deep sleep.
At night, the whole Lingshui Village was silent. Unbeknownst to the people, the roots of the big willow tree had rooted into the bottom of the Lingshui River and began to recklessly absorb the water inside. A large amount of river water was stored underground through the roots of the big willow tree, and the roots coiled beneath Lingshui Village gradually became thicker and thicker.
When it was almost dawn, the white panel floated out, and Lu Lingxi woke up suddenly, rubbing his eyes and looking at the two lines of green characters at the bottom of the panel.
“The evolution of the third-level weeping willow completed, the evolution direction is +40% plant water storage.”
“Willow ecological community extended to ten standard units, rewarding plant hearts +2000 and power of nature +10.”
Lu Lingxi tapped on the white panel, and as he moved his finger, the entire area covered by the willow ecological community appeared on the panel. From Lingshui Village to Shigouhe Village, more than twenty green dots of light connected in a circle, and the soil within had all been purified to a white translucent form.
Lu Lingxi’s eyes widened in surprise, and before he could completely react, a new prompt appeared on the panel.
10,000 points of plant hearts collected, the system begins to upgrade.
The panel’s prompt was somewhat unexpected, and Lu Lingxi realised that because of the plant hearts that had just been rewarded, the panel had been upgraded once more.
“System upgrade successful. Mental scan range extended by three hundred metres. Exchange function open. 5000 points of plant hearts can be exchanged for 1 point of power of nature, 5 points of power of nature can start plant evolution. System randomly rewards a pack of soybean seeds.”
As the prompt appeared, another palm-sized black package was added to Lu Lingxi’s hand. This wasn’t the first time it had happened, and Lu Lingxi was already very experienced at it. The only thing that surprised him a little was that the panel’s new function could actually consume the power of nature to prompt the plant to evolve. The cost was just a little too high, 5 points of power of nature to prompt one evolution; he was sure he couldn’t afford to part with the power of nature easily. But no wonder that he had 5 points of power of nature deducted the last time he had forced the donglingcao to evolve. At the time he had been surprised but now he thought he had just experienced the new feature of the upgraded panel in advance.
Lu Lingxi couldn’t sleep anymore and simply got up and dressed. Yan Yue was awakened by his movement and said in a muffled voice, “What’s wrong, Xiao Xi?”
Lu Lingxi went over and kissed Yan Yue on his own accord, whispering, “Nothing, the big willow tree has evolved, I want to go and see it.”
Yan Yue woke up fully, “Wait for me, I’ll go with you.”
It was still very cold in the early morning, so Lu Lingxi wrapped himself in a down jacket and waited for Yan Yue to walk out together. There was a breeze blowing by, and Lu Lingxi took a deep breath, only to feel that the air outside wasn’t dry at all, but rather had a feeling of wetness after the rain.
He spoke to Yan Yue about this feeling, somewhat surprised, and Yan Yue also vaguely felt that there seemed to be a little bit of moisture in the air. He knew that Fengcheng was located in the northern part of China and it had always been dry in winter; not to mention that it had not been snowing this winter, so it was even drier.
The two of them walked, thinking of their doubts, and from afar they saw that there seemed to be a man standing in front of the big willow tree.
“Fang Lei?” Yan Yue raised his eyebrows slightly, “What is he doing there?”
Lu Lingxi glanced at Fang Lei and his eyes were quickly drawn to the greenery in front of the big willow tree. It was still February, but as far as the eye could see, the area around the big willow tree was already lush and green. Clusters of grass had sprouted overnight, their green hues dazzling and their rich vibrancy overwhelming.