“You’re not panicking but your men are. Well, Li Yue and I don’t mind. Either way, we have a lot of time,” said Ye Lang nonchalantly.
With the same nonchalance, Zhao Yarou also said, “Let them wait, it doesn’t matter.”
“That’s right.” Ye Lang tossed a few matchstick-looking objects into the fire again.
After a while…
“Mmm? Something smells amazing…” Zhao Yarou looked up, sniffing for something that smelled delicious.
“Smells great, right? This is a type of vine called shanyao,” said Ye Lang with a smile.
[Note: Shanyao = cinnamon-vine / chinese yam]
“I want one.” Zhao Yarou extended her palm asking for one.
“No. I won’t give you one even if it’s ready.” Ye Lang ignored her hand.
“...” Zhao Yarou was silent.
“Mr Fox, stop bullying Her Majesty. She doesn’t have her guards with her, how is she going to get her own food?” Li Yue rolled her eyes.
“I don’t care. It might even be best she starves a little, she’ll experience the sufferings of commoners. This is what every person who wants to be an emperor must experience.”
“Excuses. You’re looking for excuses! I want some, and if you’re not giving me any, I will…” Zhao Yarou looked like she snapped.
“You will what?” Ye Lang looked at her condescendingly. I don’t care if you hit me or yell at me.
Looking at his face, she knew what he was thinking. The next sentence she uttered was shocking enough to shake the heavens...
“I will marry you.”
“Fuck! Here you go!” Ye Lang passed her a yam without another word.
Li Yue and Zhao Yarou were stunned for a moment. Was such a dramatic reaction really necessary? Is she (Am I) THAT awful?
Zhao Yarou ate her meal in brooding silence. It was still raining out so she continued staring blankly into space. After a while, she noticed Ye Lang was no longer here.
“Li Yue, where’s the fox?” she asked, seeing Li Yue was still here.
“I think he walked inside. He didn’t say anything either, probably to explore.” Li Yue pointed towards the depths of the cave. It was very dark inside, they couldn’t see anything.
“I wonder what he’s up to now. Let’s go check on him,” said Zhao Yarou as she walked deeper into the cave.
“Your Majesty, it’s too dangerous. It’s better to wait for him to return,” stopped Li Yue, standing up. At this point, she was already able to walk and did not need someone else to carry her. However, she still needed another person for support.
“I’ll be fine, how dangerous could it be…” Zhao Yarou said mildly, continuing her walk.
When she realised she wouldn’t be able to stop Zhao Yarou, she immediately followed her- though she could barely keep up. Zhao Yarou stopped to support Li Yue, then they both walked deeper into the cave.
Li Yue was surprised at this act of kindness. She never would’ve expected Zhao Yarou to help her with walking, she was overwhelmed with gratitude. At the same time, she wondered if Zhao Yarou truly was as cold as everyone perceived her to be.
While the cave was very dark, it was not too deep. After a two-minute walk, they saw Ye Lang’s silhouette. He was staring at a wall, deep in thought.
Was he meditating? However, both girls quickly shook off the thought. That was impossible. Why would he meditate? And why this place?
Then again, as they peered closer, this wall didn’t look the same as a regular cave wall. There were carvings etched on its surface and it was very smooth and tidy in most places.
“What is this?” Zhao Yarou asked in surprise.
“This is a door. Looks like someone built something into this hill…” he answered, touching and knocking the wall in places.
“A door? Build? Who built this? Why?” she asked. As the ruler of this land, of course she was interested in knowing about the secrets of this place.
“I don’t know why but I can guess who. These carvings are text from the ancient era before the Xia Dynasty (2000 years B.C.) by the Tiangongyue tribe.”
“In the ancient era, the Tiangongyue tribe was a people with advanced alchemy knowledge, their alchemy capabilities far exceeding what we know now. However, they disappeared after a period of war. I can’t believe there are structures built by them here!” Ye Lang grew excited looking at the door, completely forgetting that he was supposed to hide the alchemy side of him.
“Does it say how to open the door?” asked Zhao Yarou.
“Yes but it’s more of a warning. They warn us not to open it or we’ll go to hell,” said Ye Lang.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we’ve open the door. I’m going to hell sooner or later anyway.” Zhao Yarou could care less, all she wanted was to open the doors.
“You said it yourself! Don’t blame me if you actually go to hell!” Ye Lang was interested too. If it weren’t for both of them, he would’ve opened the door already.
“Your Majesty, shouldn’t we wait until we have more people?” asked Li Yue. To her, there were too few of them. If anything happened, they might not be able to save themselves.
“We’re not going very deep inside, we’re just going to open a door. I’ll decide later once I’ve seen what’s on the inside.”
That was true too. There wouldn’t be much of a problem if they were just opening a door. Li Yue wasn’t as worried either. She felt like it wouldn’t be too dangerous-- at least she could stay away if it was.
At this point, Zhao Yarou and Li Yue were standing quite far from the door, obviously so they could run if anything happened.
Death - Of ten who enter, death awaits nine.
Life- A smooth journey
Obstacles- Thorns and hindrance
“There are three paths, they each have a description labelled here. One is labelled Death, it says death awaits nine of ten who enter; one is Life- where there will be no obstacles; one has ‘Obstacles’ written here and it will be tough to get through. We’re going to take ‘Life’, of course,” said Ye Lang, about to tap on ‘Life’ to reveal its entrance. However, he was stopped by a cry from Zhao Yarou.
“No! How could it be that easy? It must be a trick! We’d be in huge trouble if the Death path is truly deadly… We should choose Obstacles.” Zhao Yarou did not trust the labels, fearing they might be the opposite of each other. Perhaps choosing the most difficult path would be safer.
“No way, why would I listen to you? I’m picking Life.” Ye Lang completely ignored her, about to tap on ‘Life’.
“No!” cried Zhao Yarou.
“What now? I want to choose Life, and I will!” said Ye Lang.
“Listen to me, just this one time.” Zhao Yarou was almost begging him now but neither Ye Lang nor Li Yue, who were staring at the door, noticed.
“No way. If you want the more difficult path so bad, tap on that after I’ve entered.” Ye Lang shook his head as he tapped on the ‘Life’ carvings.
Once he touched it, the carvings glowed brightly. Light poured out like water, then flowed to fill each carving and slowly covering the entire door.
Then, the carvings shone brighter as the carved texts started to rotate in sync with each other-- like gears.