Chen Xing knew that Xiang Shu was not joking. In fact, as long as he requested a search of the Songbai residence from Tuoba Yan, he could probably get it very easily. However, it would just be a bit difficult to explain to Fu Jian.
Xiang Shu was of high status and had great authority; telling Feng Qianjun this in advance was already giving him a lot of face. If the Feng family was not undertaking anything else and got searched by the imperial guards, it could still be reasoned out. Now though, their wrong lies in the fact that his older brother was up to no good, and if they took just one wrong step, they may just die without a burial ground.
So Feng Qianjun could only say, "My Dage will absolutely not agree, but okay, I will think of other ways. I’ll do it for the sake of this family heirloom, the Sen Luo sabre. Hopefully, after mana is restored in this world, I’ll be able to convince my older brother and make him understand our responsibilities as part of the Feng family. "
At noon, Feng Qianjun invited Chen Xing and Xiang Shu into the Songbai residence. He left, then came back again and explained, "After lunch everyday, the main shopkeeper takes an afternoon nap. I’ll fetch the keys to the warehouse during that time."
Xiang Shu looked just as usual and ate lunch with Chen Xing in the Songbai residence. Feng Qianjun watched Xiang Shu and smiled, "Interesting, you’re not afraid of me poisoning the food."
Chen Xing said, "Do you have anything to gain from poisoning it?"
Xiang Shu, "I'm not afraid of poison."
Feng Qianjun, “......”
Chen Xing looked at Xiang Shu in surprise and thought, you’re even immune to poison? That constitution of yours really is strange.
Feng Qianjun thought about it for a bit, then said, "Ever since my sister-in-law passed away, my older brother’s personality changed a lot, and he has been hell-bent on revenge for my sister-in-law and two nephews......"
Xiang Shu, "That has nothing to do with me."
Feng Qianjun could only reply, "Plotting a rebellion is one of the Ten Abominations; all sins can be forgiven except for the Ten Abominations. All I can do is advise him, but if he doesn’t listen to my advice, what else can I do?"
Xiang Shu kept silent and didn’t answer, while Chen Xing felt disturbed and wanted to explain to Feng Qianjun. He had consistently been tight-lipped regarding the Feng family brothers’ plot of rebellion but saying too much would make it seem more like he’s trying to hide something too. Finally, Feng Qianjun said, "I just don’t understand who leaked the news."
Chen Xing hurriedly explained, "Not me, I didn’t say anything."
Feng Qianjun was caught up in thinking again. It was not until late in the morning before Feng Qianjun softly and quietly got up, gesturing that he would fetch the keys and for the other two to wait for a moment. He walked barefoot through the corridor and arrived in front of the main shopkeeper’s room. Not a moment later, he successfully retrieved the keys.
"There are only three keys." Feng Qianjun showed it to Chen Xing, and Chen Xing calmly took it, "I'll just be going in to take a look. I guarantee I won’t touch your family’s things, and I’ll return everything to its original place before coming out."
Feng Qianjun then left to send the warehouse guards away. Xiang Shu and Chen Xing waited at one side, and after waiting until everyone left, Chen Xing opened the warehouse door with a key, but it was still seamlessly shut tight from the inside.
Light faded in an instant; within the pitch-dark warehouse, Chen Xing emitted a warm, white light from his hands. Xiang Shu merely kept his hands in his sleeves as he followed behind. They went down the stairs and once again passed the cooper warehouse, silver warehouse, and entered the gold warehouse.
Xiang Shu looked around. Chen Xing explained, "This place was where the General Administration of the Exorcism Department was located three hundred years ago during the Han Dynasty. We are currently standing in their main hall."
Xiang Shu, "Has there ever been a record of the revival of 'drought fiends' in the Exorcism Department?"
"I don’t know." Chen Xing replied, "Rumours has it that after the Exorcism Department disbanded, many ancient records were scattered throughout the world over the years. My Shifu had gathered some in Mt. Hua, but there are many more that we didn’t know the whereabouts of......why do you care about the drought fiends so much? "
Xiang Shu still did not answer his question. They arrived in front of the final secret door. They had already used all of the keys, and now only one combination lock remained in the middle.
"This is called the Lu Ban wheel," Chen Xing pondered for a moment, then said, "I studied it before under my Shifu, it’s a kind of mechanism. When Feng Qianyi brought me here last night, he thought that I knew nothing about it, but in fact, as long as I can hear the sound, I can discover the trick to unlocking the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches that are embedded within. There are a lot of boxes at my Shifu’s place that use this kind of compass...... "
"Enough talking." Xiang Shu pressed against Chen Xing’s neck and pushed him to stand before the compass. "Unlock it."
Chen Xing, “......”
For a moment, nothing could be heard in the room except for the sounds of the compass rotating. Chen Xing recalled the sound of Feng Qianyi turning it last night and tried to match it to the positions of the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches engraved on the compass.
"Xiang Shu?" Chen Xing asked. The white light in his hand only lit up a small area on the compass. Both of them were hidden in the dark.
Xiang Shu, "?"
Chen Xing, "You’re obviously called Shulü Kong, why did you say that your last name is Xiang? And why are you called 'Xiang Shu', not 'Xiang Kong'?"
"What does it have to do with you?" Xiang Shu said indifferently.
Chen Xing just felt like there were a lot of mysteries surrounding Xiang Shu, why would he pay so much attention to ‘drought fiends’? Although Xiang Shu’s answer to this question when they met again in Mt. Longzhong was just “meddling in other people’s business”, but from the looks of what happened afterwards, it really didn’t seem that way. Even his reason for investigating the village that got massacred by the drought fiends didn’t seem very plausible.
Chen Xing stopped moving instantly.
Xiang Shu, "Continue."
Chen Xing straightened his body, pondered for a bit and said, "Wait, Xiang Shu, I have one condition."
"You dare negotiate conditions with me?" Xiang Shu clamped down on Chen Xing’s shoulders with his fingers, and half of Chen Xing’s body instantly felt sore and limp. He quickly said, “That’s not what I mean! Let me go!! Listen to my explanation!"
"I feel resentment behind this door." Chen Xing was almost certain now — what he felt the previous time he entered the bottom of the warehouse was not an illusion; there really was something here. He said, "I think there’s some kind of seal here. Although I still don’t know how it’s related to Feng Qianyi, he is very likely to be affected by this resentment...... "
"Cut the crap, get to the point!" Xiang Shu said.
"The secret underground warehouse of the headquarters of the Exorcism Department......don’t touch me! Finish listening to me first!" Chen Xing said, "Might have a seal, which can’t be dealt with by just fighting."
Xiang Shu replied, "Okay, it’s your call."
Chen Xing said, "Although I'm not very sure how to deal with it either, at this time, you need to serve as my Protector. Most importantly, you have to ensure my safety. You must wholeheartedly and unreservedly believe in me and listen to me in order for us to deal with the danger.”
Xiang Shu mocked, "Don’t you always boast about your good luck?"
Chen Xing said, "I really don’t know how exactly I provoked you, what bone do you have to pick with me?"
Xiang Shu, "You didn’t provoke me, and I have no bone to pick with you either."
Chen Xing, "So let's discuss this calmly. Is it very difficult for you to be my Protector for awhile? As long as you’re willing, the power that can be drawn from the Heart Lamp could be much more than what was drawn before. You’ve seen its effect in Mt. Longzhong too. It was recorded in the texts that magic can only be utilised to its utmost when exorcists and their Protectors entrust their lives to each other."
Xiang Shu, "You’re trying to coerce me with something like that? Open the door!"
Chen Xing, "Of course not! I’m just afraid that there will be something difficult to deal with inside."
Xiang Shu fell silent for a long time. When Chen Xing turned to look at him, Xiang Shu finally said, "Okay."
"Wah!" Chen Xing was startled by the sudden barks. He turned around to see Feng Qianjun carrying a small dog, "Yi? Why are you here?"
Feng Qianjun said, "It smelled your scent on me, so it followed me all the way here."
It was the dog that Chen Xing had picked up from the road and entrusted to Feng Qianjun when they arrived in Chang’an. They hadn’t seen each other in a few days, and the dog was wagging its tail happily at Chen Xing.
Chen Xing carried it and stroked its head. He got such a fright just now that his heart had almost leaped out from his throat. He asked, "Feng Dage, when did you arrive?"
Feng Qianjun, "When you asked the Great Chanyu to wholeheartedly, and unreservedly listen to you."
Xiang Shu obviously knew that Feng Qianjun had arrived long ago. Although Feng Qianjun’s footsteps were rather soft, he couldn’t hide from an expert like Xiang Shu. Chen Xing said, "I’ve already unlocked the door, I’ll open it right now."
Chen Xing took a deep breath and returned the compass to its original position. A "click" sound came from the inside, the door unlocked, then he stepped forward to push the door.
The door didn’t even budge an inch.
Chen Xing, “......”
"It must have been closed for too long." Chen Xing turned sideways and leaned against the stone door with his shoulder, then pushed it with all his might. He said, "It’s jammed from the inside......" His feet slipped on the ground when he tried to exert some force, and he said to Xiang Shu, "Protector! Give me a hand ah!"
Xiang Shu lifted Chen Xing up by his collar and moved him aside, then extended his forefinger and middle finger, hooked an opening beside the compass and pulled it towards one side. With a loud rumbling sound, the door slid to the left.
Chen Xing, "Oh, it’s a sliding door."
A dark space appeared inside.
Chen Xing raised his hand, and the light from the Heart Lamp filled the room, illuminating its depths.
It was a narrow, dark space, but the woodshed occupied about ten square metres, so once the Heart Lamp lit up, everything inside could be seen at a glance. The puppy suddenly felt a little afraid when the door opened, so it turned tail and ran.
Chen Xing uttered a cry, quickly walked in, and saw that a shelf on the left side of the room was filled with a mess of broken pieces of bamboo slips, while there were dozens of small boxes piled up on the right. A locked iron cabinet stood in the middle of the room.
"It’s been buried underground for too long." Chen Xing reached out and removed a bamboo slip from the shelf, speaking with his eyebrows furrowed.
The storeroom could barely fit the three people who were standing inside; they would even bump into each other as long as they turned their bodies. Feng Qianjun looked up to inspect their surroundings and said, "These must be the relics dug up from the ground when we constructed the warehouse."
"Can you see?" Xiang Shu asked.
Chen Xing felt regretful as he handed a bamboo slip to Xiang Shu. Three hundred years had passed, and after being buried in the ground for such a long time while suffering the erosion from running water, the slips were covered in sand and mud, and what was written on them could no longer be read.
"Just one more step," Chen Xing said helplessly, "I was just one step away, my God!"
"Are you sure that as long as the writing can be identified, you’ll be able to find what you want?" Xiang Shu asked. He clutched Chen Xing’s wrist with one hand and lifted it slightly, using him as a lamp to illuminate the bamboo slip in his hands.
Chen Xing, "At the very least I’ll be able to find some clues ah!"
Feng Qianjun opened a box. He said, "Take a look?"
Within the box was a large lump of hard-shelled items stuck together. Feng Qianjun broke off a piece — it was paper. After paper gets soaked in water and its paste sticks together to form a huge lump, this would be the result when it eventually dries up,.
Chen Xing struggled a few times to get Xiang Shu to let go of his hand. Xiang Shu threw the bamboo slip aside and began scrutinising an empty scabbard.
"What’s written on the scabbard?" Xiang Shu asked.
Chen Xing could recognise the ancient characters on the scabbard written in a seal script, "The ensnaring nets of Life and Death bound firm and strong, hoping to be cut by the sword of wisdom."
Right in the middle stood a heavy iron cabinet, and there was a black iron lock on the cabinet.
"Open it to take a look?" Chen Xing kept feeling like there was something unusual here.
Feng Qianjun motioned for the other two to move. Just as he was about to draw his sword, Xiang Shu extended his finger, hooked, and twisted, and the piece of iron that acted as a connecting lock on the door of the cabinet twisted off.
Chen Xing was about to illuminate the iron cabinet with his light when Xiang Shu blocked in front of Chen Xing; he held the scabbard with his left hand in a defensive position and pulled the cabinet door open with his right——
There was a palm-sized dressing mirror inside the cabinet, while everything else inside was made out of jade. There were even chains carved out of white jade that were wrapped round and round the dressing mirror, and right when the iron cabinet was opened, dark fog started pervading the air.
Jade was used to exorcise evil spirits...... this is resentment! Chen Xing acted decisively and shouted, "Close the cabinet door now!"
But his loud cry came too late. Once the cabinet door opened, the black fog within burst out with a blast and swept across the entire storage room, wrapping the trio within. Xiang Shu shouted, "Get back!"
Chen Xing felt a powerful suction force dragging him away that was pulling him towards that mirror like crazy. He had just turned around when he got wrapped within a whirlwind and flew up. Xiang Shu pushed harshly from behind, the scabbard leaving his hand, then it got sucked into the mirror!
The iron cabinet shook madly and kept rumbling. It appeared just like a monster’s huge mouth that was beginning to devour everything around it. Chen Xing clung onto the edge of the storage room door while gripping Xiang Shu with one hand. Xiang Shu shouted, "Let go! Don’t mind me!"
Chen Xing looked back and shouted, "What did I say before we came in?"
Feng Qianjun roared, "Find a way to kick the cabinet door!"
However, Chen Xing couldn’t hold on any longer. A sharp pain shot through his fingers, so he loosened his grip subconsciously and got swept away by the black fog whirlwind. At that moment, Xiang Shu immediately wrapped an arm around Chen Xing's waist and held him tight, then the two of them got sucked into the mirror!
Feng Qianjun shouted, "Guards! Help——! Chen Xing!!!"
Feng Qianjun held his sabre with one hand and jammed it into the side of the door. He looked back at that strange mirror, and when he looked out again, his pupils suddenly dilated; outside the dark room, leaning against a wheelchair, holding a lamp in hand and wearing a mask that only covered his eyes, he saw his older brother Feng Qianyi who was looking at him from afar.
Feng Qianyi revealed a strange expression, showing him a smile that didn’t seem like a smile and shook his head helplessly.
Feng Qianjun unwittingly loosened his grip, and along with his sabre, got swept away by the dark storm into the mirror.
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), kee.