Someone once said that the most beautiful sound in the world is the cry of a newborn baby.
Lu Lingxi didn’t have much insight into this before, but when the nurse held the bathed and wrapped baby in front of him and he listened to the baby’s little monkey-like cry, Lu Lingxi felt his heart melting.
He and Yan Yue were at a loss for words when the nurse smiled, “The baby is very obedient, weighing four kilograms fifty grams. Where is the baby’s father?”
The baby’s father was too busy fussing around Wang Shuxiu at the moment to even look at the baby. “Where do you feel uncomfortable, Xiaohua? Are you hungry? Would you like something to eat? Or do you want to take a nap first?”
Although the birth went well, Wang Shuxiu’s body was a little weak because of her age. Until Xiao Feng mentioned it, she didn’t feel hungry, but now she did a little. But before eating, Wang Shuxiu thought about the baby, “Where’s the baby?”
The nurse came in with the baby in her arms, followed by Lu Lingxi and Yan Yue carrying the chicken soup.
Wang Shuxiu gently held the baby and looked at it carefully for a long time before looking up and smiling at Lu Lingxi, “He looks almost exactly the same as Xiao Xi when he was little.”
“Really?” Lu Lingxi moved over and looked at the little red monkey.
Wang Shuxiu nodded, her gaze tender as she looked at the baby. Although her hair was messy and her face was a little pale, in Xiao Feng’s eyes, Xiaohua seemed to look at her best.
The family of four was secluded in the hospital room, all focused on the newborn baby, and no one paid any attention to the various rumours circulating in Fengcheng. A few days later, when Wang Shuxiu was discharged from the hospital with the baby in her arms, Lu Lingxi learnt that something had gone wrong with the renovation project in Nancheng and the situation underground in Fengcheng was completely exposed to the public.
At the expert group’s station in Nancheng, the group leader Zhu Xiaowei distributed the underground exploration report in his hands to the group members. “The latest exploration report is out, and what can be confirmed so far is that the entire underground of Fengcheng is covered with coiled and gnarled roots of willows, tangled together like a large net.”
This was simply an incredible thing. One expert looked puzzled, “According to the tests of the age of the willows on the ground, the oldest willows have only been planted for ten years, and more have been planted for a few years or even a year. How could their roots be so developed?”
Another expert interjected, “Is it evolution?”
“What about the water storage? How can you explain the fact that the willows’ underground roots are full of water?”
“Do you remember the abnormal weather in Fengcheng? It hasn’t rained much since the beginning of spring, yet it’s not dry at all, the soil is completely moist when you dig it. Could it be related to the water storage in the willow trees’ roots?”
“Yes, yes, several of the surrounding cities are in a state of drought, but Fengcheng is the only one that doesn’t lack water. We’ve been unable to find the cause, but now it really seems to be related to the water storage of the willow trees’ roots.”
“But why do the willow trees store water? Have they become conscious and sense the approach of drought in advance? Note that not only one willow tree is like this, but all the willow roots we found are like this, which is already in the realm of group consciousness.”
Several of the experts expressed their opinions; this was the first time they had encountered such a situation. After their search for the cause of Fengcheng City’s overall evolution had stalled, the discovery in Nancheng was like a ray of light.
“Group leader, a new discovery.”
“A map of the underground alignment based on an echo detector.”
“Look, although Fengcheng City is covered with roots underground, several of the main roots have been expanding towards the north.”
“North? What’s to the north?”
“Do you guys still remember that village? Lingshui Village, the one where the whole village has evolved. They have a hundred year old large willow tree in the village, could it be related to this willow tree?”
In the past, when the expert group investigated, they focused on the people and didn’t pay too much attention to the plants in Fengcheng. This time the discovery in Nancheng drew all their attention to the plants they had overlooked in the past, especially the countless green willows planted on both sides of the roads.
The expert team rushed to Lingshui Village almost immediately and brought in the most famous botanist in China. After carefully studying the form of the big willow tree and the green willows planted in Fengcheng, the other side affirmed two things. Firstly, tracing the roots back to their origins, the large willow tree in Lingshui Village was the mother tree of most of the willows in Fengcheng, which could explain why the underground root system was expanding towards the north. Although the scientific community had not yet found a theoretical basis for this, the available experiments proved that there was conscious transmission between homologous plants. Secondly, he believed that the large willow tree in Lingshui Village was already a higher-level evolutionary form. The other willows in Fengcheng had evolved more in ‘imitation’ of the Big Willow. This group evolution might also be the reason for the evolution of Fengcheng as a whole.
In response to the group’s question about the cause of the willow’s evolution, the botanist interviewed the village elders and concluded that it was related to the willow’s resurrection from the dead a year ago. Perhaps the lightning strike created a special circulation of energy within the willow, or perhaps some magical substance entered the willow through the lightning. In short, there must have been an external cause that prompted the Big Willow Tree’s mutation. And this was also consistent with the timing of the changes in Fengcheng.
These explanations gave the group a direction, and the group focused almost entirely on deciphering the secrets of the willow tree. In this way, the whole of Fengcheng knew that the Big Willow Tree in Lingshui Village was the key to human evolution, and for a while Lingshui Village replaced Nancheng and became the focus of attention in China.
Uncle Li called Lu Lingxi and complained that the arrival of the expert group had disrupted the normal life of the village.
“There are troops everywhere, the whole Lingshui Village is surrounded. It’s not even convenient to go out and buy a barrel of oil. Only after the village head told them did they send each family two barrels of oil and a bit of rice and flour or something.”
What Uncle Li described was exactly the reality of the current situation in Lingshui Village. Because of the importance of the big willow tree, the government had stepped in to take over the village and no outsiders were allowed to enter. There were rumours that the villagers were originally going to be moved out, but the villagers objected collectively and the proposal was scrapped.
Lu Lingxi also applied for an entry permit because the plant nursery was in the village. However, he felt a bit guilty. Under the pretext of watching the baby at home, he hadn’t been to Lingshui Village recently. Uncle Li stepped in to deal with the plant nursery.
In fact, at the very beginning the expert group also approached Lu Lingxi. According to the investigation, all the green willows planted in Fengcheng City came from a place called the Qiu Tian plant nursery. And nearly a year ago, something happened to the person in charge of the Qiu Tian plant nursery and it was resold to Tiny Garden. The expert team followed the trail and found the address of Tiny Garden, originally wanting to ask Lu Lingxi what he knew. As a result, before Lu Lingxi could say anything, the big willow tree caught the group’s attention. By the time the expert group found out that Tiny Garden’s plant nursery was located in Lingshui Village, they ruled out Lu Lingxi’s suspicion and decided that he was just a lucky guy.
Uncle Li also knew about this and was very understanding of Lu Lingxi’s reluctance to go to the plant nursery. The two talked on the phone for a long time before Lu Lingxi hung up the phone.
“What’s the news?” Yan Yue asked him when he finished.
Lu Lingxi shook his head, “It’s still the same as before, all kinds of research on the big willow tree. But when Uncle Li heard that someone was proposing to move the big willow tree to Zhongjing, the villagers were privately cursing.”
Yan Yue laughed, “Such a proposal is simply impossible to realise, it’s obvious at a glance, this person just pretends not to understand it. There is no shortage of such people at all times, but there is nothing anyone can do if the Great Willow Tree doesn’t want to leave.”
He said it in a funny way, and Lu Lingxi couldn’t help but laugh along with him. The roots of the Great Willow Tree covered the entire northern suburbs; it was not something that could be relocated with a single word at all.
Yan Yue thought about it and said, “Let’s go to Lingshui Village sometime, it’s a bit strange to keep avoiding it like this.”
Lu Lingxi nodded obediently.
Since the two decided to go, they didn’t delay much, and the next day they talked to Uncle Li and drove to Lingshui Village. Even though Lu Lingxi had an entry and exit permit, they still went through layers of checkpoints on the way before finally entering Lingshui Village. Knowing that Lu Lingxi was coming, Uncle Li was most happy. Some time ago, Auntie Li had sewn several sets of clothes for the baby. Because of the arrival of the expert group, these clothes were still at home. Auntie Li said several times that if the baby didn’t wear them now, he would outgrow them.
Uncle Li smiled and called Lu Lingxi, “Come on, let’s go home for dinner first.”
Lu Lingxi and Yan Yue waited until closing Tiny Garden before coming here, just in time for the evening meal. The two didn’t refuse and followed Uncle Li to his house. As they passed by the big willow tree, Lu Lingxi took a look from afar. There were a lot of people around the big willow tree and the villagers were not allowed to go near it. In the past, Xiao Shi used to climb the willow tree and tease Ah Huang with a branch, but since the arrival of the expert group, these actions had been banned. It was said that the expert team was very nervous about the willow tree, and even if it dropped a leaf, it had to be collected like a treasure.
After dinner, Lu Lingxi visited the plant nursery and stayed in the village for the night. In the middle of the night, Dahei suddenly barked urgently. Lu Lingxi woke up in a daze; Yan Yue had already gotten up, opened the door and let Dahei in.
Xiaohei got out from under the pillow and hissed at Yan Yue.
Yan Yue and Lu Lingxi looked at each other and said quickly, “Earthquake.”
The two of them didn’t bother with anything else, hurriedly put on their clothes and went out. Lu Lingxi called home while walking, eager to warn Wang Shuxiu. Before the call was connected, a huge tremor came from the ground. Lu Lingxi grabbed Yan Yue to stand still. The white panel suddenly floated in front of him.
Plant Name: Third-class weeping willow
Plant needs: none
Plant vitality: very high
Plant status: Third level peak
Plant evolution conditions triggered, do you choose to evolve?
Lu Lingxi: “……”
“Xiao Xi?” Yan Yue saw that he didn’t look right and called out in a low voice.
“It’s probably not an earthquake, it’s the big willow tree that’s going to evolve.” Lu Lingxi said looking at Yan Yue, not sure if he should choose to evolve. There were researchers everywhere outside now, in case… while he was still hesitating, a bigger tremor came through and there were thick roots poking out of the ground, firmly locking the house behind the two.
“…it’s not evolution, it’s an earthquake.” Yan Yue frowned.
Lu Lingxi’s eyes widened in surprise as the lights in the village lit up in turn. Wang Shuxiu’s voice came from the phone, “Xiao Xi, it’s an earthquake, where are you guys?”
“Mom, we’re outside, it’s safe now, Dahei warned us in advance.”
Wang Shuxiu breathed a sigh of relief. Xiao Feng had already packed up and stood with the child in his arms. She didn’t have time to say anything else and hurriedly hung up the phone.
Knowing that Wang Shuxiu was fine, Lu Lingxi felt relieved. The vibrations were still going on underground, and Lu Lingxi looked at the white panel floating in front of him and decisively chose “yes”. He had been worried that the evolution of the big willow tree would attract the attention of the researchers, in case someone suspected that he and Yan Yue had appeared too coincidentally. But now with the earthquake as a cover, no one would suspect that the earthquake was artificially manipulated, right?
As Lu Lingxi chose “yes”, the white panel changed again. The green prompt faded and the entire underground of Fengcheng City appeared in front of him. From the panel, he could see that the roots of the big willow tree had once again extended and had reached deep into the urban area of Fengcheng, entwining with the roots of the willow trees underneath Fengcheng.
The green font surfaced, “The evolution of the fourth level weeping willow has been completed, and the willow ecological community has been extended into a standard urban unit, rewarding the plant hearts +20,000 and the power of nature +20.”
Without waiting for Lu Lingxi to express his surprise, another line of green font surfaced, “Collect 100,000 points of plant hearts, purify a standard ecological city, meet system upgrade criteria, evolve the system into the heart of the planet.”
The green font disappeared, and a faint blue light radiated from Lu Lingxi’s body, gradually coalescing into a football-sized blue orb of light in the air.
Lu Lingxi looked at the orb of light in surprise, and Yan Yue suddenly asked, “What is this?”
“Can you see it, Big Brother Yan?”
Yan Yue: “……”
Lu Lingxi calmed down, “It’s so beautiful.”
The orb of light in front of him emitted a luminous light blue glow. The inside of the orb was not static; countless colourful dots flowed around, like a river of multicoloured stars. In the centre of the orb was a world the size of a fist, in which the four seasons changed and everything grew, a realistic simulation of the planet’s way of working.
Lu Lingxi carefully stretched out his hand and touched the orb in front of him. The orb of light dispersed, the colourful spots of light re-entered his body, and the small world in the centre slowly sank into the ground in front of him. Lu Lingxi grasped Yan Yue’s hand and closed his eyes. A magical feeling lingered in the hearts of the two of them. They seemed to hear the sound of water flowing through the ground, infiltrating the land. The green grass began to sprout and colourful flowers bloomed around. Water flowed through many places, from plateaus to basins, from valleys to deserts, the entire planet seemed to be slowly awakening, and the chronic diseases of human activities were slowly healed. The world became alive again, restored to a healthy vibrancy.
The two opened their eyes again and it was already dawn. The golden sunrise was glowing on the horizon. As the light spilled down, Lu Lingxi felt as if something had changed, but he couldn’t describe it clearly for a moment. Yan Yue held his hand tightly, and the two of them interlocked their fingers, smiling at the same time.
The vibrations underground in the middle of the night had long since stopped, and peace had returned to the outside. Lu Lingxi called home and knew that everything was fine, the little baby had slept through the night and didn’t even feel them tossing and turning. In the morning he and Yan Yue went to have breakfast at Uncle Li’s house to find out that the earthquake detected in Fengcheng last night was Level 7, but because the big willow tree roots slowed down the vibration, the tremor manifested was less than Level 4. It was said that there were no casualties and very little material damage in the whole of Fengcheng, with only a few houses that were too dilapidated collapsing.
After this earthquake, the Great Willow Tree was put on a pedestal, but all this had nothing to do with Lu Lingxi anymore.
His and Yan Yue’s life was the same as ever, Tiny Garden, Lingshui Village and home, three points in a circle, with the occasional visit to the Qiu Tian plant nursery. Zhugang, copaiba balsam trees, evolved begonias, Tiny Garden Technology Company under their name were going well, and the past that had once troubled them was left far behind. Whether it was Hopewell and the Yan family or the Zhongjing Lu family, they gradually faded out of the sight of the media and were completely removed from Lu Lingxi’s and Yan Yue’s lives.
Three months later, on New Year’s Eve.
Lu Lingxi’s family got together enthusiastically. Wang Shuxiu and Zhou Xiaoman sat in the living room watching TV while waiting for dinner. Xiao Feng and Xiao Hong were busy in the kitchen, and Yan Yue was in the backyard setting off fireworks, holding Lu Lingxi in his arms.
The sky was full of stars exploding in mid-air, and countless gorgeous spots of light scattered around. Lu Lingxi quickly rose on his toes and kissed Yan Yue. The corners of Yan Yue’s lips curled up as he unbuttoned his coat and hugged Lu Lingxi into it.
“Xiao Xi, I love you.”
“I know, Big Brother Yan, I love you too.”
The two figures melted into one, their moment of happiness caught in eternity.
Translator’s note: This is the end of the main story 🙂 Extras 1-4 are Fang Lei x Xiaohui (Xiaohui turns into a human… do I really need to say this?) 🙂 Extra 5 is Xiao Xi and Yan Yue.