Trapped for Eternity
I don’t know. I don’t know what the stiff expression on my face was. I don’t know how long I stood there for, but one thing was for sure: she was still as perfect as I remembered her. I never thought – or maybe just didn’t have the courage to – I’d see her again.
The crystal said, “The deeper love is, the more painful parting is.” My heart said, “There’s so much I want to say that I don’t know where to start.” Nevertheless, for the moment, I just wanted to watch her gently play with the water and smile at me from the other side of the boat.
Deep down, I knew that she couldn’t hear me, couldn’t see me and couldn’t respond to me. Still, her appearance had petrified me. I had enough awareness to crush the crystal and knew how to escape, but I didn’t want to. I can only assume that anyone who met someone they knew they’d never get to see again no matter how much they desired it would react as I did.
“Feizhen, wake up, or I’ll start.”
The voice reverberating in my head caused the clarity of my memory to ripple and fizzle out. Replacing the lake and autumn leaves was Boss’ face shaking due to her shaking my shoulders.
“Boss? Y-you escaped already?” I looked side to side. “How did you wake me?”
“I just got out. The formation isn’t harmful, but it can keep your mind enthralled. I tried to wake you after I escaped. I was going to shoulder throw you six times, but you woke up just as I got into position.”
Don’t shoulder throw someone asleep six times! You a monster?!
Judging from how easy it was to overcome it and the attention to detail, the formation isn’t intended for intruders.
I was stuffing Emotion Barrier Stone into my shirt – because I still clung to the memory of her – when an ominous approached my mind. I had this feeling that the stone might bring me bad luck, prompting me to stop.
“We don’t have time to dither,” Boss stated. “We’ve wasted enough time. I think… we turned this place inside out by accident when we were caught in the formation.”
Correction: that was me trying to find the crystal…
“He’ll have to tidy himself because we’re out of time. We have yet to fully explore the secret passage. This exit leads elsewhere, and we need to keep exploring to get to the bottom of Luo Ming’s plans.”
I didn’t think the passage was very deep after walking several kilometres. The secret library weighed on my mind as it sat dead centre of the passage. It wouldn’t be built there if it wasn’t an important place.
When I saw a stone door at the end of the passage, I sped ahead to open it before Boss could. She didn’t take issue with me since she was occupied with inspecting her surroundings.
Some rooms were armouries. Some were for rations. Some were for water. Some were for soldiers to rest. The room at the centre was most probably a place for leaders to convene. I’d imagine this secret passage was also where Luo Sword Manor would retreat to if they couldn’t drive an invader off and to plan their return.
“Unlike the previous room, this one is quaint and formal instead of being murky.”
I sneaked over to the stone chair at the centre of the council room for the patriarch.
Scouting the outer perimeter of the council room, Boss stopped in front of a room and mumbled, “There’s poison mist travelling outside from here. Someone without martial arts would die if they caught a whiff. It’s not safe here with all the poison linger-”
“Boss, check this out. There are signs of a fight taking place here, and they seem to be from around ten days ago.”
Boss looked as though she couldn’t be bothered reproaching me. “… Careful. There’s poison mist in here.”
“Is there? I don’t notice it.”
Boss scurried over to me. “Oh, this really is the only spot in the room without any poison. But why?”
That’s because I breathed it in!
By no means am I immune to poison. I just happen to be more resistant. I’m fine as long as I can expel it from my body while trying to contain it. While I was probing around, I occasionally touched things to transfer the poison to those objects.
Boss quietly read the text etched onto a wall behind the chair.
“If I’m not wrong, this is a secret chamber Luo Clan’s ancestors have passed down for the purpose of sheltering clan members during disasters. The text here says that this place is considered out of bounds unless the clan patriarch explicitly grants permission to enter. All trespassers will be executed.” I flashed Boss an eye gesture to show understanding and then continued reading, “Outsiders who trespass into Luo Clan’s secret chamber and desecrate our place shall stay here with eternal rock forever. What’s eternal rock?”
“A type of stone that can’t be broken. If you want to shave it, you need to steep it in a specific formula for half a year or longer to have any chance. Should the formula dry out before it takes effect, there won’t be any means of damaging it, so you only have one chance. It’s the same type of material used in the imperial family’s cemetery. It’s supposed to be illegal for commoners to have it; anyone caught with it is sentenced to death. Therefore, I surmise Luo Clan obtained it prior to the current dynasty’s establishment. Feizhen, careful not to set off any traps. The text clearly states not to vandalise their place, or the stone door will fall.”
I thumped my chest: “It’s always been a principle of mine to respect predecessors.”
Rumble! Rumble! Bang!