Chapter 750: Linked Halls
Translator: Henyee Translations Editor: Henyee Translations
Han Fen was shivering so violently that her upper teeth seemed to be punching her lower ones, and her fear had even reached the oil lamp on her head as it was shaking violently. With one hand clamping onto her mouth and the other holding onto the lamp, Han Fen was so scared that she was temporarily rendered incapable of talking.
The other four people were also startled, but they didn’t believe in the existence of ghosts. Having forgotten the fact that he didn’t have any internal energy, Old Man Mu leaped forward and yelled, “I’ll kill you!”
Normally, he should have been able to reach the front of the bamboo pole. But after he leaped just one step forward, the bamboo pole seemed to become scared and disappeared into the passage, which left the four more positive that it was a person and not a ghost, because the bamboo pole snapped into two figures as it entered the door.
However, Deng Yuanlei recalled a more horrible issue and in a low voice, he said, “They’re kung fu experts, and we can’t defeat them.”
Lu Mian snorted. Instead of replying to Deng Yuanlei, he asked, “Han Fen, did the Master Commander leave any guards here?”
“I… I… don’t know.” Han Fen moved her palm away and squeezed out those four words. Then she looked at the Dragon King in horror. “Are they really humans?”
Gu Shenwei nodded and assured, “Even if they’re ghosts, there’s no need to be afraid. You see, they like playing, and are not scary at all.”
“You’re right.” Han Fen stopped trembling immediately. She walked a few steps forward as if she had never been scared, and in a sudden, loud voice, yelled, “All you ghosts, big and small, show yourselves. I’m not afraid.”
Her voice reverberated through the room, yet no humans or ghosts showed up.
“Eek, it turns out they’re cowards, ha-ha.” Han Fen was satisfied with the results. She laughed out loud and then turned to ask the Dragon King for help, “Now what? There’s no way out. And the Master Commander will be angry with me if I fail to get to the Western Regions in time.”
“We’ll take the other path. Maybe there’re other exits.” Gu Shenwei’s suggestion received immediate approval, and Han Fen led the way confident once more with the lamp on her head.
The two from the Qingcheng Sect exchanged a glance, but didn’t move. Deng Yuanlei said, “It seems that the two people there mean no harm. Maybe they were just trying to show us the right way out.”
Old Man Mu shook his head and rejected Deng Yuanlei’s proposal. “First of all, we’ve already tried that path, and there’s a lake there – we have no idea what’s waiting us on the other side and we’d have to swim across if we wanted to find out. Secondly, from now on, the Khan’s mausoleum belongs to the Dragon King, who has to inspect those treasure Lotus left behind along with me. As for you two, you’ll be the Dragon King’s prisoners, no matter what path you take, ha-ha.”
Old Man Mu had guessed part of the Dragon King’s plan. This luxurious mausoleum was indeed an exceptional resource which could be of great help to his fight for hegemony. For certain reasons, Lotus hadn’t taken all the valuables in it, and Gu Shenwei would love to ascertain what was left behind. Another reason was that he had a habit of never taking a path guided by unknown people.
Han Fen’s head craned out of the passage and beckoned to the Dragon King excitedly. “Come on. The next hall’s even more interesting.”
Gu Shenwei and Old Man Mu walked forwards. Deng Yuanlei and Lu Mian exchanged another glance and also followed along. Treasure always held great appeal, and yet the two had a different opinion on the treasure’s ownership.
What had excited Han Fen was a jewelry hall, where all of its surfaced had been covered with brass. Numerous gems were mounted on the walls. The light of the little oil lamp refracted when it shone through those gems, which lit up those gems with beams as colorful as fantasy shining stars in the sky. Han Fen was running around the hall like a child.
Even Gu Shenwei, who had never cared about wealth or jewelry, was shocked. Raising his head and looking around, Old Man Mu stroked the gems on the walls, and asked a question completely in line his intrinsic practical mindset. “The Khan’s such a wastrel. All those things he did – seeking immortality, building mausoleums. What was it for?”
“This is not a mausoleum. It’s the Khan’s underground divine palace.” Gu Shenwei had thought that the Khan was a wise man during his limited interaction with him, and he had never thought that Khan would be so obsessed with immortality. No wonder the Court Attendants Army and common herdsmen were similarly obsessed.
The two from the Qingcheng Sect were even more surprised. Deng Yuanlei produced his dagger and tried to dig a ruby out of the wall closest to him, but his current mediocre strength and his lack of knowledge of the right method caused the dagger to snap while the ruby hadn’t loosened even a bit.
“Hey, don’t touch anything. All the jewels here belong to Dragon King,” Old Man Mu said.
“They belong to the Master Commander,” Han Fen corrected.
“Give them to the emperor as a tribute, and I will receive a reward even more handsome than if I brought back the Khan’s head,” Lu Mian said to himself excitedly, as if he hadn’t heard the words of the other two.
“We should keep some to ourselves, as… assets of the Qingcheng Sect.” Deng Yuanlei’s greedy eyes were even brighter than the gems.
The three parties glared at one another.
Gu Shenwei didn’t take part in the debate. As we walked through the hall, he became more and more confused. He thought to himself, ‘What was the Khan’s purpose of building these luxurious halls? Why aren’t there any defense mechanisms? The two figures back there were clearly not disciples of the Waning Moon Hall. They refused to show themselves, but why did they let the Waning Moon Hall take all the gold previously?’
He walked into the next hall which was totally dark, and the wall had a jade-like texture.
Oil lamp on her head, Han Fen walked in, putting aside the debate with the others on the topic of ownership.
This was a jade hall, which was just as colorful – black, white, red, yellow, green jade, just to name a few, gleamed in the light of the lamp. All of the jade had been sanded down and then assembled into a wall like seamless bricks. “This one feels better. The previous one gave me blisters.”
Soon the five discovered the rule of the halls: the passages on the left always led to the next hall, and those on the right were either dead ends or led to the underground lake.
None of them seemed to have any interest in leaving, and they just kept going, one hall after another. Deng Yuanlei and Lu Mian, each with a wounded leg and sweating buckets, tried very hard to keep up with the others, as though they would lose their claim to any of it if they missed a glance at any one of the halls.
“The mausoleum is indeed circular.” Old Man Mu had forgotten which hall this was. Looking at the hall full of jade, he gave an involuntary sigh. “I wonder what’s at the center of the circle.”
He had just finished his sentence when the oil lamp went out.
Han Fen rushed in between the Dragon King and Old Man Mu in one quick step, and grabbed their hands with her own. “You protect me if there’re ghosts, and I’ll protect you if there’re humans.”
“What about us?” Deng Yuanlei asked.
“Shh, ” Gu Shenwei hushed the others. “There were many ebony planks in the previous hall. We can make some torches with them.”
“Good idea,” Old Man Mu said. Although they hadn’t gotten into any trouble on their way here, they felt anxious when the lamp went out and none of them knew why.
Gu Shenwei retraced his steps to the passage they had went through previously. Han Fen was holding his left hand tightly and holding onto Old Man Mu’s with the other. Deng Yuanlei and Lu Mian followed after hesitating for a while. The former found the other hand of Old Man Mu and gripped it quickly, and he wouldn’t let go no matter how hard Old Man Mu tried to shake him off.
“Dragon King, your hand is cold,” Han Fen spoke whatever came first to her mind. “Old Man Mu’s hand is much warmer.”
“That’s because my Yang Qi is stronger.”
“So are you saying that the Dragon King has a strong Ying Qi 1 ?”
“Uh, that’s different. You know… the extremity generates the opposite effect. Old Yang 2 generates Ying, and the Dragon King is an Old Yang.”
“Old Yang? Is he older than you?”
“Heh-heh, Dragon King is not old, but he has an old heart,” Old Man Mu spoke some nonsense to placate Han Fen. He knew that the Dragon King had regained his power and was able to overpower Han Fen at any time. Back then, he thought that he had made a choice in jumping down with the Dragon King, but now it turned out he had not made such a terrible choice after all.
The ebony hall was full of precious woods, which were painted with thick moth-proof paint. Gu Shenwei took out the dagger which he had stored close to his body. He had barely started cutting into the wall when he suddenly had a feeling of imminent danger.
Finally, the “ghosts” in the mausoleum made their moves. Maybe they had been waiting for the oil lamp to go out this whole time.
There was barely any sound accompanying their moves, and half-way instinctually, Gu Shenwei wielded his dagger and parried the first saber strike.
“Ah!” Han Fen screamed. She tightened her grip harder, which made Old Man Mu start screeching in pain. Deng Yuanlei and Lu Mian had no idea what was happening and were even more unwilling to loosen their hands than Han Fen. With this chain of encumbrances, Gu Shenwei was quickly forced into a passive position.
After parrying five consecutive saber slashes, Gu Shenwei made a sharp sideways leap. Han Fen and the others followed him closely, and then they heard a scream – Deng Yuanlei had been hit. Gu Shenwei leaped back to his previous position and launched an attack towards the enemies in the darkness.
If it weren’t for these encumbrances dragging him down, Gu Shenwei might have had a chance. But he was clearly slowed down, which gave his enemies time to react.
The dagger missed its target, and Gu Shenwei crouched in a low stance instantly. Han Fen and Old Man Mu followed his every step, yet Deng Yuanlei and Lu Mian’s movements were relatively slower, and then there was another screech – it sounded as if the former had been hit again.
Gu Shenwei launched another attack, and this time he hit.
He didn’t know where his blow had landed, but that person snorted and backed away very quickly, and then the second enemy made his move.
In the darkness, both sides were determining their opponents’ location through the sound of the wind generated by sudden movements. Thus, to prevent friendly fire, there could be only one attacker at a time on both sides. Gu Shenwei had no idea how many more enemies were hiding in the hall, but he was in an extremely disadvantageous position.
Fighting in darkness was an indispensable part of a killer’s training schedule, and Gu Shenwei was a master of it. Yet Han Fen was gripping his left hand too tightly, and there were also many conspicuous sounds being made by the people behind him, both of which had made him a shining target in the dark.
Gu Shenwei’s previous strategy had been to use the people behind him as bait, but this strategy was of no effect against the second mausoleum guardian, who was eyeing them attentively. His sabersmanship was much more aggressive, and his seventh saber strike even left a shallow wound on Gu Shenwei’s right arm.
Gu Shenwei had to get rid of these weights, but the opponent’s saber strike was only getting quicker and quicker, which gave him no chance to gather his power for a palm attack.
“Let go, Han Fen!” Old Man Mu finally came to understand the current situation – if the Dragon King fell, all of them were going to die with him.
Han Fen was nearly scared to death and was still hesitating. The other three behind her joined their forces into pulling her back, and she finally loosened her grip, which resulted in their group suddenly slamming into the wall together.
“Ah!” There was another scream, and this time it sounded like Lu Mian’s voice. Before this scream stopped, the others started screaming on their own, among which Han Fen’s was the sharpest. The harsh sound nearly pierced everyone else’s eardrums.
Echolocation didn’t work anymore due to the screens, but Gu Shenwei didn’t get a chance to catch his breath because hardly had the screams begun did a saber strike come towards him from his right, forcing him into a retreat.
When his feet slipped, Gu Shenwei realized why the other four were screaming.
An extra passage had appeared in the wall, and it was a deep sloped downwards.
Gu Shenwei still had a chance to regain his footing, but then two strikes came at his front and a downward pull on his foot from Han Fen forced him into the passage with the others.
Gu Shenwei opened his arms and harshly pressed his palms against the walls on the two sides. Like this, he stopped himself from falling and also saved Han Fen and the others.
The mausoleum guardians didn’t follow, and they seemed to believe that the people who had fallen had surely died, so they closed the stone door. Gu Shenwei could hear the sound of the stone scraping against the floor.
“I… I got hit twice. Who can help me?” Deng Yuanlei screamed feebly, with his right hand still grasping onto Old Man Mu tightly.
“Can we go up?” Old Man Mu asked, holding his breath. Without his internal power, two people’s body weight was too much for him.
“Not if we don’t take care of two of them first,” Gu Shenwei said. There were still two enemies up there whose sabersmanship was excellent, so he didn’t want to go up there with any encumbrances this time.
Deng Yuanlei yelled out loud, “Please show some mercy to me, Dragon King. I don’t want to die. We… the Qingcheng Sect will answer to Dragon King only.”
Old Man Mu had been annoyed with him for a long time, and he raised his leg and kicked towards Deng Yuanlei’s face. “Liar, go to hell.”
Deng Yuanlei gave a screech and Gu Shenwei felt a considerable reduction of the burden pulling on him.
“Eek, I reached the end.” Deng Yuanlei’s excited voice came from the bottom. It turned out that this hole was not very deep.
The stone door above opened once again and several torches emerged.
Gu Shenwei loosened his hands and the three slid down together, the torches following them.