Ye Lang did not have to think long, for he saw a pattern. The colourful tiles each represented a number.
The rules were as such: these numbers were supposed to be in a specific sequence. It was like a Lo Shu square but quite different.
The more layers to the puzzle, the more difficult it would be to solve it. Three-layered puzzles were easy but this had nine. It was very, very complex.
“It’s not difficult at all! Just tell me what number each tile represents and we’ll be fine,” said Zhao Yarou breezily upon Ye Lang’s description.
“??” Ye Lang thought he’d have to crack his head for this one, he hadn’t expected her to volunteer.
Therefore, after he told her what number each represented, Zhao Yarou solved the puzzle in two minutes. She leapt from stone to stone across the hallway, and when she was done, a stone door opened at the end.
She was an absolute madwoman indeed, to have solved the puzzle in two minutes. A master would still need at least a few hours!
Ye Lang stared at her. He felt like her being able to keep her position as the empress was not based on luck at all.
The tiles on the ground faded back into the same colours as the puzzle had been solved. Ye Lang, still carrying Li Yue, walked over to enter the next room.
“Zhao Yarou…” called Ye Lang.
“Hmmph, please don’t tell me you want to send me to test for traps again…” she frowned, knowing Ye Lang had nothing nice to say to her.
He shook his head. “No, I’m just telling you to be careful. The thing you’re touching is poisonous!”
“...” Zhao Yarou stared in horror as her hand was already turning black. She did the only thing she could think of- she grabbed Ye Lang’s hand.
“Fuck! What are you doing, you’ll spread the poison to me!” Ye Lang did not dodge in time.
“It’s your fault for not telling me sooner! Then we’ll die together!”
“...Please stop talking about dying. The puzzle for this room is to cure yourself of the poison! There are many ingredients here, we’ll be fine as long as we can make the antidote!”
“I know this one too, it’s simple! Just tell me what’s in this poison,” said Zhao Yarou once again.
“Uh….” Ye Lang was silent.
This woman seems to know everything! Looks like she knows alchemy too and I think she must be quite good at it. The previous puzzle was math, this is medicine, will the next room be an alchemy formation, or something else?
Ye Lang was right. The next few rooms would be related to alchemy- they were very difficult puzzles too. The average alchemist would be unable to solve them, even the empire’s royal alchemists might fail.
As they passed different rooms, Ye Lang was shocked at the ease in which Zhao Yarou cracked the puzzles. At this point, he could confirm that her alchemy abilities far exceeded her royal alchemists.
However, he had never heard of anyone talking about her alchemy abilities. That meant she’d kept them well hidden. Perhaps she had other skills too. Ye Lang knew he had been underestimating this person.
Ye Lang was not the only one kept in the dark, even her inner circle did not know of this. Zhao Yarou had been learning alchemy since a very young age, she had very strong foundations and expertise. That meant that if Ye Lang was not here, she would be the most powerful alchemist in the world.
Zhao Yarou was the one who formulated the poisoned used the day she killed her father. The anti-magic formation was also her design, she’d personally trained people to wield it.
However, no one knew she was the one who had done all this, everyone assumed an alchemist was working with her.
If any of the alchemists knew how powerful of an alchemist she was, their jaws would drop so far you’d be able to stick eggs into their mouths.
At the last room, there was a choice to make. There were two doors- one on the left, one on the right. They had to pick one.
“There are no instructions. How do we pick one?” Zhao Yarou looked at both doors, unsure of whihc to pick. The first ones had descriptions, these had none.
“We’ll just pick a random one then!” said Ye Lang nonchalantly.
“What if we picked wrongly?” frowned Zhao Yarou.
“Zhao Yarou, let me teach you a very important concept!” Ye Lang, still carrying Li Yue, walked directly through the door on the left. She thought for a moment, then followed him.
The door led into a vast space. They had stepped into an underground city, a city left behind by the Tiangongyue tribe!
No one would’ve imagined such a magnificent creation sitting right under the mountains. This was the product of an advanced civilisation, the consequences of this discovery were unfathomable.
It would make a huge impact on mankind!
This also proved one thing: success!
“How did you know to take the left door? What concept were you going to teach me?” asked Zhao Yarou.
“Both questions you ask have the same answer. Let me tell you this: alchemy is all about constant research, trial-and-error. When two paths are placed before you, all you can do is to use trial-and-error. If you do not choose a path, you would be stuck at the crossroads forever. If you picked a path, and it turned out to be the wrong path, at least now you know which path is the right one!” said Ye Lang mildly.
“I understand!” Zhao Yarou nodded. She understood what that last room meant now, Ye Lang had encapsulated it very clearly.
“This is a very interesting place. If I could, I really want to stay here for a period of time,” sighed Ye Lang as he admired the ancient relics.
This city contained many artefacts, they would be of huge help to Ye Lang. However, he could not stay long for this was still within the borders of the Soaring Sky Empire. This place would definitely become an important place of research for the empire’s alchemists soon.
“You can stay if you like, I’ll allow it!” said Zhao Yarou.
“I don’t want to, I’ll just stay for a few days. These relics are very rare, you must protect them well. Don’t let anyone destroy anything here!” said Ye Lang.
“You don’t have to tell me that. It’s too precious to be ruined!” she said with a grin. Zhao Yarou was overjoyed with the discovery of this underground city. At least she didn’t have to cling on to Ye Lang’s work anymore.
Research in this place was going to take a long, long time. Although she hadn’t seen anything specific, the airship hanging mid-air was already a very interesting target.
“The Tiangongyue tribe was at the peak of their alchemy abilities in the Ancient era. They created airships that flew across the skies, submarines that operated deep underwater, magical cars zooming across the lands, alchemy robots that could fight…”