Read Novel A Step into the Past Chapter 101, Please!
Boom 10 Chapter 4 – Exploring the Marquis’ Residence At Night
Dusk is approaching.
A carriage headed out of the residence.
Both Wu Guo, who was masquerading as a fake Dong Kuang, and Teng Yi, surrounded with a group of guards and Lady Ya’s bodyguards, rode out escorting the carriage.
The real Xiang Shaolong and Shan Rou were hiding inside the carriage. Both had changed into their water-resistant deer skin cloth, only revealing an opening in the face, fists and feet, looking slightly like the 21st century’s diving suit.
The one that Xiang Shaolong wears was originally made for Zhao Zhi by Shan Rou. Fortunately, Zhao Zhi’s built tall and big, and deer skin is also flexible so he could still wear it with a little bit of difficulty.
Beside their climbing tools, weapons and secret weapons, they also each brought a copper pipe, in case they need to breathe under the water.
But until now, Shan Rou was still reluctant to reveal the secret entrance to the resident. This left Xiang Shaolong feeling very vexed.
Zhao Ya was watching Xiang Shaolong’s beautifully shaped body wearing the tight deer skin suit. His imposing and invigorate body were shining with charms. Bewitched, she didn’t care that there was other people around. She rushed into his embrace, panting with an enchanting expression.
Xiang Shaolong stroked her shoulder with one hand, while opening the other hand wide and said towards Shan Rou, “Sister Rou, why don’t you come and join us?”
Shan Rou glared at him then purposely moved away towards the window and gazed outside.
Xiang Shaolong had known from early on that she wouldn’t be submit and be obedient to anyone. He leaned towards Zhao Ya’s ear, “Have Ya’er thought about it?”
Zhao Ya knew that he was talking about her leaving Zhao first, in a pleading tone requested, “How about this? How about you leave first then after awhile, I will come out and meet you. Ai! If you want me to leave without knowing that you’ll be safe, Ya’er will be worried sick of you.”
Xiang Shaolong frowned, “If your brother suddenly pa.s.sed away and the power falls onto Empress Jing, would she let go off you? By that time, I’ve already returned to Xianyang. It’ll be beyond the reach of my power to help you.”
Zhao Ya disdainedly answered, “Her position won’t be stable immediately. She won’t have the time to take care of me. Besides she is afterall a Han, if after she just gained her position, she tried to get rid of the royal clan, the n.o.bility and ministers would put a stop to it. At that time, if I would like to leave, she would be more than happy to let me go! Ai! Shaolong! What I’m afraid of is another thing!” After she had spoken these words, she grew silent.
Shan Rou didn’t hear it clearly, annoyed, “Zhao Ya, can you please speak louder?”
Both of them didn’t know whether to cry or laugh.
Xiang Shaolong ignored her and turned towards Zhao Ya, “What are you afraid of, Ya’er?”
Zhao Ya hugged him tightly, dejected, “I’m afraid that other people wouldn’t be able to forgive me.”
Xiang Shaolong had long been worried over this. He tried to console her, “Once we returned to Xianyang, I will help you to speak with Tingfang and Princess Qian. They have a big heart. They wouldn’t hold a grudge against you. Don’t worry about the others! This is what you call atone for a crime by good deeds!”
At this time, Teng Yi shouted from outside the carriage, “Get ready! We’re approaching the Marquis Resident. Oh! What a coincidence! Tian Dan’s carriage is moving towards us.”
All conversation stopped inside the carriage. Both Xiang and Shan hid in the corner, while Lady Ya lifted up the curtain and looked outside.
As Tian Dan’s carriage was slowly approaching, both carriages slowly came to a full stop.
The fake Dong Kuang, Wu Guo, whipped his horse, with Teng Yi approached Tian Dan to greet him.
Tian Dan stood near the open carriage’s window, laughed, “General Dong is so hard working. While we are out drinking wine and having fun, you are working non-stop all day all night. But there’s a limit to how much you can push your body. General Dong, please make sure that you don’t exhaust yourself.”
Wu Guo imitated Xiang Shaolong’s voice, blandly smiled, “I was born as a hard worker. The busier I am, the more spirited I become. Thank you for your concern, Prime Minister Tian.” No matter the voice, tone or att.i.tude, all unbelievably resemble him, which makes other people shake their heads at this.
Under the bickering light from the lantern, even with Tian Dan’s sharp eyes, there wasn’t any flaw. After nodding and smiling, he turned towards Zhao Ya, “Lady’s countenance is glowing and Lady’s expression is very spirited these last few days. Can Lady tell me what the secret to this is?”
Everyone was frozen in fear. They all knew there was a hidden meaning behind this question at Zhao Ya.
Zhao Ya, of course, had her own way, grinned, “Zhao Ya won’t let off that easily! Prime Minister Tian is just teasing me.” After she said, she quickly closed the curtain.
Tian Dan laughed out loud. After greeting both ‘Dong Kuang’ and Teng Yi, he gave order to move out.
Both carriages crossed each other.
Xiang Shaolong gestured towards Shan Rou.
It’s time to get off the carriage.
Both of them took advantage of the night to sneak into the Marquis resident through the dense forest in the southwest.
Xiang Shaolong didn’t understand what Shan Rou brought inside the gourd up till they’ve arrived on the small river.
Shan Rou pulled him to squat down with her, “Any mansion, that has a pond, will always has an entrance and an exit for the water. This is Shan Rou’s big secret. Last time, this is how I sneaked into the pool inside that traitor’s resident. If we’re lucky, it might even take us straight to Jade Peach Garden.”
After saying this, she looked proudly at Xiang Shaolong.
Xiang Shaolong said, “It’s around 100zhang (333m) from here to Marquis Resident, how do we breathe?”
Shan Rou raised an eyebrow at him, annoyed, “Idiot! I can go in. Naturally, there’s a way to breathe. What do you think the copper tube is for? Unless it is after a heavy rain, otherwise there is always a small gap between the river’s water height and the tunnel’s height. As long as we breathe from one end of the copper tube and the other reaches out of the water, wouldn’t that solve the problem?”
Xiang Shaolong gasped in admiration, his heart was trembling in excitement. Suddenly he reached over and pa.s.sionately kissed her, the other hand grabbed her waist tightly. Shan Rou was caught unaware allowing him to steal a kiss off her, after struggling in vain briefly, she kissed him back pa.s.sionately. To show his grat.i.tude, Xiang Shaolong kneaded her breast shortly before releasing her, “This is my award!”
Shan Rou was blushing till her face and ears are red, afterall she was still young. She glared at him and then leapt first into the river.
In an instant, both have dived a metre deep and have seen that the tunnel ahead is dark. They persisted and swam deeper into the tunnel slowly.
Xiang Shaolong was filled with strange feeling.
Every time he performed a task at night, he always felt this change from light to dark feelings.
Just like the light and dark world, both existed together. Common people generally only knows about living during daylight, but they have no idea whatsoever towards this demonic darkness world.
This time working at night, he can only rely on his tactile sense. In this quiet and still tunnel, his senses have grown stronger.
This caused people to step with caution, another world filled with danger and excitement. It is truly a luring world.
After a short awhile, they both came out of the exit and arrived at the lotus pond at the center of the garden at the back of the resident under the bridge.
Within this ringed courtyard, the stars could be seen cascading across the night sky. A misty beam of moonlight shone down, as the sound of the pond frogs croaking could be heard. It was truly an entirely different world.
From afar, a pair of sentries strolled towards them. As the two peered towards the sentries, two extremely strange-looking large green spots of light attracted their especial attention.
Alarmed, Xiang Shaolong hurriedly grabbed Shan Rou by the hand and pulled her down into the water.
His heart was thumping wildly.
It seemed as though those two large green spots of light came from lamp light reflected off of the pupils of giant dogs. These enormous dogs normally would only be allowed to roam around freely late at night, but had been released early in order to heighten the security of the area.
After the sentries pa.s.sed by the bridge and walked far away, the two lifted their heads up from the water. Shan Rou softly said, “d.a.m.n! With those beasts patrolling the land, the only option we have is to slowly make our way via the water. If the Reclining Traveler’s Veranda is also protected by two giant hounds, we’ll have no choice but to go home and go sleep.”
Xiang Shaolong also could not help but feel extremely discouraged, but to give up midway through would be even more of a shame. He forcefully roused himself and headed confidently with Shan Rou in the direction of the Jade Peach Garden, as they separately swam through the pool.
Xiang Shaolong had received strict, intensive underwater training, and agilely glided through the water like a fish. Based on the minute eddies and flows of the current, he discovered a place the water flowed out towards. As both he and Shan Rou raised their heads up out of the water, they both exultantly said, “Found it!” But then, both of them silently called out in dismay.
Which of the two flowed to the Jade Peach Garden? Or did both flow somewhere else? Neither of them could be certain. What was even more frustrating was that both of the secret underwater pa.s.sages were hidden at the bottom of the pond, and neither had any breathing s.p.a.ces whatsoever. If one was not able to swim all the way through the pa.s.sage in a single breath, they would suffocate and die. What a rotten, unfair death that would be!
Xiang Shaolong was quick-witted. Nibbling at Shan Rou’s ear, he said, “Let’s each take a separate pa.s.sage. As soon as we figure out where it leaves, both of us need to immediately return. No matter what, we can’t try to show off.”
Agreeing, Shan Rou left.
Letting out a deep sigh, Xiang Shaolong dove deep into the water. Entering the underwater pa.s.sageway, he advanced ten feet and discovered that the water was winding towards the left. He hurriedly retreated back the way he came, moving backwards. Within the narrow corridor, it was very difficult to actually turn around.
Shan Rou said, “I swam at least twenty feet forward. The path forward seems to be safe, but we are extremely far from the Jade Peach Garden. How can we possibly swim across without taking any breaths?”
Xiang Shaolong was already recalling and meditating on the cloth map which Pu Bu gave him. “There’s yet another pond between this place and the Jade Peach Garden. I think the underwater pa.s.sage would first pa.s.s through that pond.”
Even as stalwart a person as Shan Rou couldn’t help but feel discouraged. “Even if the pond was placed directly in the middle, it has to be at least a hundred or so feet away. We won’t be able to make it that far.”
Xiang Shaolong had a brilliant idea. “I have a solution. If we plug one end of our copper tubes, and cover the other end with our hands, it should be more than enough to give us two or three extra ‘breaths’ of air. Wouldn’t that allow us to get to the pond?”
A look of astonishment appeared in Shan Rou’s eyes. “Looks like you aren’t a total idiot after all. But what will we use to plug one end?”
Xiang Shaolong had a wicked idea in mind. “All I’m wearing underneath this skin-suit is a pair of shorts. Are you wearing anything underneath yours?”
Extremely embarra.s.sed, Shan Rou said, “You are such a lecher. Eek!”
Xiang Shaolong pulled Shan Rou to the artificial man-made ‘mountain’ in the middle of the pond and unb.u.t.toned her swim suit. Only after allowing his hand to explore and roam freely for a while did he tear off a large piece of her underskirt.
Shan Rou was unusually docile, not attacking him with words as usual. Perhaps it was because she knew that this was unavoidable and so she was resigned to it. Or perhaps it was that she was willing to sacrifice anything for the sake of killing Zhao Mu and Tian Dan. And, after all, Xiang Shaolong had already ‘taken full advantage’ of her long ago!
As she watched Xiang Shaolong tear the silk apart and use it to stuff the tubes, she dubiously said, “Will it leak out air?” She couldn’t help but being concerned over her fate.
Filled with confidence, Xiang Shaolong said, “With three layers of cloth wrapped around it, after the cloth becomes wet, it might let out a little bit of air, but by then, we’ll have surfaced long ago. Come!”
The two swam to the pa.s.sageway entrance, took a deep breath, covered one end of the tube with their hands, and moved into the pa.s.sageway, with Shan Rou leading the way.
The two rapidly moved in deeper.
After taking about thirty or so steps, the two had to take their first ‘breath’. By their ‘second breath’, the two of them had long ago become light-headed and dizzy. They felt as though the air in the tubes had become exhausted. Without caring about anything else, the two advanced as quickly as possible.
The exit appeared up ahead of them, faintly glimmering.
Overjoyed, the two made their way to it. Rising to the surface, the two rested against the sh.o.r.e and gulped in the precious commodity, air, which they normally paid no attention to.
They were surrounded by trees in all directions. Flowers and trees surrounded the pond, and a house jutted up on top of a stone ‘mountain’. It was a very small garden, but the decorations were extremely exquisite.
Each time Xiang Shaolong had previously come to the manor, his movements had been restricted to a few main buildings. He had never imagined that it would also have such an exquisite place as this.
The garden was very lonely. No voices could be heard, and only a few lonely lanterns were lit, immersing the pond in pale, yellow moonlight.
Panting, Shan Rou said, “The situation is even worse. We haven’t swam more than a hundred or so feet, and this place has to be at least two hundred feet away from the Jade Peach Garden. How will the air in the tubes be enough?”
Xiang Shaolong was just thinking the same thing. As he blankly stared at Shan Rou, he suddenly had a brainstorm. “Give me a kiss, and I’ll be able to think of something.”
Shan Rou was stunned for quite some time. Lowering her head, she said in a quiet voice, “If you’re lying to me, I’ll butcher you.” Wrapping her hand around the back of his neck, she gave him a scorching, savory kiss.”
Suddenly, the sound of footsteps could be heard. The two of them immediately sank down beneath the water, but their tongues continued to intertwine with one another’s.
Only after they could no longer hold their breaths did they rise to the surface. The sentries were long gone by now.
The two of them were both filled with an emotion which would be etched into their bones and which they would remember for the rest of their days, especially considering it came about in such a dangerous, crisis-laden situation.
Not able to bear being separated from him, Shan Rou tightly clasped herself to him. Panting, she said, “Tell!”
Xiang Shaolong said, “Let’s take off our headgear and use it to cover the tubes. Wouldn’t that give us a few extra breaths?”
Shan Rou jubilantly placed kisses on both of his cheeks. “You really are worthy of having been my first man! Only, I’ll be in charge of the manufacturing. I don’t trust your handiwork.”
Xiang Shaolong frowned. “What do you mean, your ‘first’ man? Miss, are you planning on having a second and a third?”
Shan Rou naturally and easily replied, “If you men can have multiple women, why can’t us women have multiple men?”
Xiang Shaolong was stunned. “Then who would dare marry you?”
Shan Rou wrinkled her nose, making a ghastly face. “Who says I have to marry? The world is such a huge place. If we manage to kill Zhao Mu and Tian Dan, I’ll wander around the world. If I get tired, maybe I’ll come find you one day! By that time, it’ll be your choice whether or not to accept me.”
Xiang Shaolong discovered that he really liked this woman. Compared to others, she was much more similar to the staunch, independent ladies of the 21st century.
Shan Rou paid him no more mind. Pulling out a small dagger from her suit, she went to work.
Because of their previous experience, this time, they were much more cautious when it came to taking breaths. They easily pa.s.sed another two hundred or so feet of underwater pa.s.sageways before arriving at the man-made creek of the Jade Peach Garden. They stealthily made their way to the Reclining Traveler’s Veranda.
The man-made creek was roughly ten feet wide. The water wove around in a stream like a dragonfly, as beautiful houses, trees, and flowers unfolded in their path, one after another.
The security presence became much tighter as well. Lanterns were hung up on every major road pa.s.sing through the Reclining Traveler’s Veranda. Guards were everywhere, and there were people leading giant hounds on leashes as well. If it weren’t for this underwater route, even if Xiang Shaolong had access to his 21st century accessories and tools, it would be harder than ascending to heaven for him to have gotten so far without attracting any notice.
The closest the creek came to the Reclining Traveler’s Veranda was around ten or so feet. The two observed the situation for quite some time before they located the position of each and every hidden observer. They emerged from the water, underneath a bridge.
After ascertaining that there were no vicious hounds nearby, Xiang Shaolong waved towards Shan Rou as he scurried out from underneath the bridge. Using a row of flowers as cover, he quickly rushed over to stand next to a tightly closed window. Pulling out a steel needle, Xiang Shaolong inserted the needle into an aperture in the window and undid the lock.
The two nimbly flipped inside the veranda, then closed the window and re-bolted it. Both of them felt utterly exhausted and sat down next to a corner of the wall.
Shan Rou lit a match. Xiang Shaolong quickly used his hands to cover it, preventing the fire light from seeping outwards.
The reflected light from the flame gradually lit up the inside of the veranda.
The inside was decorated elegantly, with twenty or so exquisitely made wooden cabinets held within its s.p.a.cious bowels, each of which was filled with all sorts of rare treasures.
The center of the veranda was covered with a felt carpet. Surrounding the carpet were four comfortable, s.p.a.cious sitting-mattresses which were covered with animal-skin.
Just as Xiang Shaolong was secretly praising Zhao Mu for knowing how to enjoy himself, Shan Rou excitedly said, “Look!”
Xiang Shaolong looked towards where she pointed. Resting on top of two of the treasure cabinets lay a large metal chest, roughly five feet tall. It looked totally out of place.
Shan Rou stroked the giant lock on top of the metal chest. Vexed, she said, “This is the first time I’ve seen a lock like this. How do you open it?”
Xiang Shaolong smiled. “I’m a grandmaster lock picker. Let me try.”
Just as he grasped the lock, and before he had a chance to take a close look at it, voices could suddenly be heard coming from the main door.
Shan Rou swept a glance across the room. In a low voice, she said, “Onto the roof beams!” She pulled out a grappling hook.
The sound of the door opening could be heard.
Xiang Shaolong extinguished the match she was holding as Shan Rou shot out the grappling hook. She accurately and precisely hooked the crossbeam pillars in the ceiling of the room.
In the darkness, Xiang Shaolong did not dare to rashly shoot out his own hook. Grinding his teeth fiercely, he said, “Hold on to me!” Grabbing the rope tightly, he began to climb up.
Shan Rou knew that the situation was critical. She tightly clasped her arms around his broad waist and put her life in his hands.
The main door opened. Someone shouted out, “Light the lanterns, and open the windows! The Marquis and his guest are about to arrive.”
Xiang Shaolong secretly groaned in dismay. Exhausting every bit of strength he had, he clambered up frantically, as Shan Rou quickly pulled the dangling rope up along with them.
A lantern by the door was lit.
Ten or so sentries walked in. If any of them raised their head up at this moment, there would be no place for them to escape to.
Fortunately, at this moment, the only things on the sentries’ minds were to light the lamps and open the windows. For the moment, no one had the leisure to stare at the ceiling for no good reason.
The two were extremely alarmed. As they huddled in the s.p.a.ce between the roof beams and the roof, the s.p.a.ce below them grew brightened, and fresh air rushed in, taking away the previous, stuffy air.
Shan Rou moved her dainty lips and gave him a kiss, expressing her admiration.
The sound of footsteps could be heard, followed by Zhao Mu’s voice. “All of you get out, now.”
Xiang Shaolong and Shan Rou’s hearts were both thumping wildly. They knew that Zhao Mu was about to bring Tian Dan and Li Yuan here. Without question, he must be intending to let them take a look at those ‘oaths of loyalty’ as a demonstration of his power and influence. Maybe they even had important business to discuss. They couldn’t help but grow tense.