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In some scenes, only beasts and monsters existed in the chaotic world depicted.
In some scenes, mankind, fighting in some big battle, ruled the world.
In some scenes, demons and devils fought against mankind’s physical weapons with their claws, fangs and magic. In the same scenes, there were crying women, elderly, children, as well as young animals fleeing for dear life.
In other scenes, there were demons and devils merrily sharing banquets with humans. In the very same scenes, there were some demons cunningly flashing a corner of their fangs. Some demons proudly geared up in armour.
In one drawing, humans hunted demons down and skinned them alive no differently to what one might imagine hideous demons would do unto humans.
In one drawing, there were six individuals clad in blue glows. They seemed to be the only symbols of justice in the nine drawings. Their leader inherited the power of the five other members to separate humans and demons, effectively creating a new world order.
In one drawing, nine individuals attired in black overcoats descended from the sky. Their leader, brandishing a scarlet sword, destroyed all order with a single slash. Strewn weapons and armour were left lying in the middle of the battlefield. No human cried. No demon panicked. There was but only violence imposed on one another.
The drawing to the farthest left was the sole piece that echoed the emergence of Calamity. The descent of Calamity from above blotched out all light in the world and thrust misery upon all life below.
Contradicting all the other disturbing drawings, the final image depicted an infant soundly sleeping. The others in the drawing were cheerfully singing and dancing away.
Speaking from the perspective of an intellectual, the nine drawings seemed to tell a story, except it was tough to determine where the beginning and end were.
So, as I was saying “Calamity” referred to an individual, and said individual was the infant. And then! The birth of the infant preceded the demon’s descent, which meant that the demon was his dad. “Calamity” was bullied, so his old man had to come and stand up for his kid. After that, the whatever-the-hell-they-were freaks came out and bullied “Calamity”. That was the black head went and smoked them.
Hang on… Have I got it backwards? Uh… I think I did.
L-look, just know that the drawings were a prophecy. This isn’t my profession. You think everyone could do Lai Jingzhen’s job?
Long-story short, the birth of “Calamity” would give rise to an unpredictable catastrophe.
Wait. If it does give rise to a catastrophe, does that mean the big black head is “Calamity”? Nah, nah, nah, I can’t be wrong. The infant is “Calamity”. Jiang Chen wants to restore the previous dynasty and cause uproar, so he needs to find “Calamity” to facilitate that. Full marks for me.
What sort of secret is this? Jiang Chen, have you any shame, calling yourself a scholar? A superstitious mind is the downfall of even a bright man.
I’ll take these drawings back for Shifu and Grandmaster to take a look. They should understand it. Even if they don’t, it’s still an antique, which Shifu loves. Yeah, I can use it as his wedding gift! Tsk, tsk, I envy you for having such an outstanding disciple, Shifu.
I left the second room without any weight on my shoulders and then entered the final room – the stone room that was where Jiang Chen supposedly prepared the coffin for his late wife. Thus far, all the rooms had contained exactly what he claimed them to have. Since I had found Jiang Chen’s treasure trove and had no intention of giving anything back to him, I felt it was best to actually lay his late wife to rest. I didn’t expect the last room to be laid out identically to the room above.
Another stone platform, tsk, tsk.
I opened the door, and another box landed on my head, again! I pulled out his family heirloom and chopped the stone platform without any remorse, cracking the sword in several places.
Now I feel better. Listen, Jiang Chen: the next time you hit me on the head with a box, I’ll sell this sword to a brothel!
There were no devices inside the box. Instead, there was just an iron scroll. I went to sit on the stone platform to read the contents. “If you were hit by this box again, you have proven yourself honest to a fault. You may use this stone platform as your seat.”
Thanks for being so considerate. Couldn’t you have placed the box on the platform, then?! You three years old?!
“Given you are here, you have inherited this one’s treasures. To clear any unease and confusion you may have, allow this one to explain in this scroll. This one’s name is Gongsun Chu. He was a minister who served Daxia. Thanks to His Majesty’s generosity, this one was granted Princess Pingan’s hand in marriage, a blessing that is incomparable to anything else.
“Traitors have sabotaged the peace. The palace was breached, and this one was powerless to stop the invaders. This one has decided to sacrifice his life to thank his father. His only hope is to protect His Majesty’s descendant and raise them so that they can restore the glory of Daxia. This is all that this one can do to repay His Majesty’s kindness.
“This one’s wife was blessed with extraordinary intellect and talents. Pingan thought of building out the storage in the imperial tomb in hopes of empowering our next generation. Alas, as a consequence of overworking herself to design the storage areas, a severe condition ailed her. At the same time her health began to wane, evildoers decided to invade aggressively. Sadly, this one was not their match. Knowing her wick was burning out fast, Pingan activated ‘Autumn Lock’ to protect this one by segregating us into different sections. As much as this one wanted to go out there and fight the enemy, he could not unlock ‘Autumn Lock’. By the time we were reunited, ownership of the land had exchanged hands. Li Clan rose to power, and hopes of restoring Daxia seemed dashed.
“The stone rooms to store valuables outside the stone palace were built for someone in the future generation to hopefully find.
“The underground palace is difficult to navigate. There are only two paths that can be used, one of which only this one knows and the other which is only visible once ‘Autumn Lock’ is unlocked. You must have found your way here via the latter path.
“This one knows you are a man of your word. You may take any valuables you desire here, be it weapons, martial arts manuals or anything else. This one only asks that you graciously lay his late wife to rest.
“This one always held himself in high esteem, yet he could not do anything for his country. He failed to accompany his father, failed to keep his promise to his friends and cannot be reunited with his wife. Please bear in mind this one’s failures to not make the same mistakes.”
I touched the piece of jade in my sash. I finally knew who she wanted to pass it on to.
You have my word.
“Activating the mechanism at the stone platform will permit access to the outside world.”
I froze in place as joy washed over me.
… This is what I was looking for!
The iron scroll even had a map to get out from the stone platform, and aforementioned map was exactly identical to the one I envisioned. In other words, I had found my ticket out!