“Ammit?” Dong Zheng and Cui Zuojing both said almost at the same time. Although they weren’t as familiar with legendary monsters as Domingo, they still knew about this mythical figure.
Ammit had obviously been waiting for a long time. He impatiently huffed out a large breath through his nose and said in a bored voice. “I am the guardian of the Sealed Land. This is the only path there. If you want to enter, you must pass my test.”
For a moment, no one spoke. Everyone was keenly aware that this wasn’t an encouraging turn of events.
Heinrich took the lead in breaking the silence. “What test?”
Ammit pointed to the balance scale and said, “You need to stand on my balance one by one. Ma’at’s feathers are the purest things in the world. If you are lighter than it, this means that you’re a good person and you can pass. If you are heavier than it…I will not allow any dirt to enter the forbidden area.”
It was exactly the same as in the myth. When he first heard of the myth, Cui Zuojing thought it was unreasonable. The version of the myth that he’d heard was that Ammit will weigh the person’s heart against a feather to determine whether said person should enter heaven or hell.
But this was the Pure White Realm, where anything was possible.
After confirming that this was indeed the only way, Heinrich turned around and asked everyone, “Well, who wants to go first?”
No one said anything. None of them wanted to bet with their lives, and none was willing to lead the way.
Heinrich asked again, but still to no avail. He was a little helpless, but in fact, even he himself didn’t want to be the first.
Ammit yawned impatiently. “No matter how young you are, you humans are still like this. How dull.”
“I’ll go,” a voice rang out from behind everyone. Cui Zuojing turned his head back and was surprised to find that it was Wang Que who spoke.
Dong Linhai paled. He stretched his hand out to stop her and whispered, “”What are you doing?”
Wang Que patted Dong Linhai’s hand comfortingly and looked at Ammit. She said in a loud voice, “I think I have never done anything bad. If this testing method is really true, then I will definitely pass it, right?”
“Yes, that’s right, my dear lady, if you really are a good person. Ma’at’s feathers will never deceive me.”
“That ‘s fine.”
Wang Que took a deep breath and walked from the back of the line to the front. She walked very slowly, but there was no hesitation.
The whole Wonton Insurgency team gathered up their energy, ready to rescue Wang Que if the situation became wrong.
She stepped onto the tray on the left side of the balance, waiting for God’s judgement.
Ammit grabbed for something in the air, and a white feather appeared in his hand. He held the feather over the tray on the other side and let go.
Under eighteen pairs of eyes, the feather slowly swayed from side to side and fell onto the tray.
Immediately, the huge balance miraculously tilted. The tray with the white feather slanted downward, as if weighted down by a heavy mountain. It lifted Wang Que’s body high up, until it could go down no further and emitted a muffled sound.
Allen was stunned, and after a long time, he choked out, “My God, is this really possible? Newton’s coffin board has overturned!” (1)
Wang Que could finally breathe a sigh of relief. Her eyes couldn’t help but turned red as she raised one hand over her wildly beating heart.
The small, white feather weighted heavily on the other side of the balance, proclaiming the fact—
“Congratulations, Miss. It is as you said, you are a good person. Please pass.”
In a sense, the question that had been troubling her since her death finally received a confirmation.
She was not wrong. From beginning to end, she was not at fault.
As Ammit’s voice fell, the gateway opened. Wang Que stepped off the balance, and the tray with the feather immediately moved, maintaining a balanced position.
This feather was really light.
Wang Que stood at the gate. She looked back at the people waiting to be tested and called out, “There should be no problem. If you are sure, you can try it.”
Tao Ji stepped forward to be the second person, “Then I should be fine.”
The two-hundred-catty man stood on the balance, which tipped in the direction of the feather.
“Since Old Tao is fine, then I’ll definitely be fine too.” Beverly stepped forward confidently but still didn’t forget to smile at Heinrich. “Captain, if you can’t do it, then don’t try to be brave.”
Heinrich looked at her and chuckled.
In an instant, the second person in their small team passed. Heinrich gritted his teeth and got on too.
Unlike Wang Que’s apparent lightness, Heinrich’s trial was very dangerous. The balance swayed precariously from side to side, and finally barely stopped in the middle position.
Ammit tilted his head with some difficulty.
“Look, the position of the pointer is on the feather’s side, so I am lighter than the feather,” Heinrich pointed out to Ammit with great pretense of calm. In fact, he didn’t dare move at all, for fear that the slightest movement would affect this hard to come by good result.
For a while, Ammit stared at the pointer with only half of a point difference. “…You passed.”
Heinrich hurriedly got off the tray, sweating all over his body. Beverly slapped him on the shoulder with a smile and jokingly said, “Good, I thought you would be thrown into the fire to your death.”
Two to three people went up intermittently, and all of them passed without danger. However, a result like Wang Que never appeared again.
With fewer and fewer people in front of him, Lin Hangzhi began to tremble. “I feel like I’m finished. With my luck, I won’t make it.”
Allen comforted, “As long as you do more good things, it doesn’t matter. Even the Swiss guy passed, and he doesn’t look like a good person at all. You, a doctor who saves lives and heals the wounded every day, can’t be inferior to him, right?”
Lin Hangzhi was moved by him, so he mustered his courage and stepped toward the balance.
After shaking the balance several times, he received a definitive good result.
Lin Hangzhi hurriedly jumped off the pan, patting his chest and muttering “I was scared to death.”
After that, Allen, Dong Linhai and Victor all went up and passed successfully.
Dong Zheng whispered to Cui Zuojing, “Should I go first?”
“Go ahead.” Cui Zuojing carried the Tang Sword with his hands in his pockets, seeming to be casually watching the dramatic trial. He watched Dong Zheng walk up. The man didn’t show it at all, but the prisoner link faithfully reflected his nervousness.
This person didn’t look like he did bad things, but why was he so nervous?
In the end, the balance leaned towards the feather at a slight angle.
Dong Zheng passed the trial and joined his teammates. If one were to look at the weight displayed on the balance, Wang Que was the lightest among them, followed by Lin Hangzhi, Dong Linhai, Victor, Allen, and Dong Zheng.
Wang Que looked like that kind of very good girl. Lin Hangzhi had been a doctor for many years and had received a lot of merits for saving the dead and healing the wounded. Dong Linhai was still young and hadn’t done any bad things. Victor came to the Pure White Realm for many years and experienced life and death. His choices affected the weight of his soul and offset some of the merits of being a healer.
Allen was just an ordinary person, with good and evil. However, Dong Zheng surprised Cui Zuojing a little; he was only a little lighter than the feather.
Only Dong Zheng knew why this was so—When he was a child, he had too many resentments. His evasive attitude toward his biological father, his somewhat partial stepmother, and his highly-favored younger brother. His greediness and yearning for a normal family. These were dirty thoughts that could not be said but had silently fermented day by day. Although he hadn’t done many bad things and, as he grew up, these emotions gradually lightened, he was still not much lighter than a feather.
He breathed out gently and raised his hand to embrace Dong Linhai’s shoulder beside him.
Only those who were left were people without much confidence in themselves.
Cui Zuojing looked around, and besides him, there were about eight people. This included the team that they had clashed with over Lillian. These people stood toward the back of the group, looking very unhappy.
Domingo was also there.
The man didn’t seem to have any intention of going up to be weighed. He stood silently with his hands in his pockets. When Ammit saw him, he narrowed his eyes and said threateningly, “If you don’t weigh, you will never get past me.”
No one said anything.
Seeing that Cui Zuojing didn’t come, Dong Linhai sighed and asked Dong Zheng in a low voice, “He didn’t dare make certain that he is a good person?”
Dong Zheng shook his head. Cui Zuojing gave him a chaotic and neutral feeling from beginning to end. As soon as he came back, he killed his old friend, Henry, in Hamelin, and he had made it clear more than once that he was fully prepared to kill his owners as necessary until he found a suitable helper.
After standing for so long in this place with hot lava on both sides of the pathway, everyone was sweaty. Finally, a short, middle-aged man swallowed his saliva and hesitantly stepped forward, “I’ll…I’ll try it.”
He stood on the balance tray in full view of everyone. The balance scale swayed unsteadily from side to side, before slowly but surely tilting in his direction.
“It seems that you should go to hell.”
By the time Ammit finished saying this, the man had already jumped off the tray. He stared with eyes full of destructive desire, and with a roar, he pulled out the sword at his waist, ready to run away or resist the moment Ammit attacked.
But the monster on the stone platform was faster than him.
Ammit roared. A gust of wind bursted out from his mouth and hit the middle-aged man straight as an arrow, directly throwing him off the stone path.
The man rolled wildly around twice in the air and plunged into the hot lava on one end. There was no spray, only a string of hot bubbles.
That breath was only directed at one person, and the rest were not affected at all. Seeing that the pilgrim had died with not a speck of ashes left, the rest of them gave up the idea of trying.
Cui Zuojing wasn’t worried. Anyway, he could always go with Dong Zheng through the prisoner contract.
Others were not in as convenient a position as him. If they were unable to pass, they wouldn’t be able to enter the Sealed Land, which meant that it was very likely they wouldn’t be able to achieve final customs clearance and gain any rewards from the box.
It was impossible not to worry.
Everyone exchanged glances. At this moment, a person stepped up.
Domingo walked over, his gaze straight and firm. Cui Zuojing frowned, but in the end, he didn’t stop him.
This person wouldn’t directly walk to his death so easily, right?
Cui Zuojing wasn’t the only one who thought he was looking for death. Ammit slowly said, “Your courage is worthy of praise, but a dirty soul will only make you die without a burial place.”
Domingo was a pilgrim who’d entered the box alone. He was very indifferent, and he wasn’t familiar with anyone else. As a result, no one tried to dissuade him.
He stopped in front of the balance scale and said, “As long as I’m lighter than a feather, then I’ll be able to pass?”
Ammit said, “Don’t even think of playing tricks. My scale is the world’s fairest.”
Domingo nodded his head and raised his foot to go up.
The feather slowly lifted and gradually reached a balanced position, but it’s momentum did not stop.
Ammit narrowed his eyes. It was clear what the outcome would be. Another evil soul would soon be sent into the fire to be baptized.
Domingo sprung into action the moment the balance hand pointed to the most central location.
He abruptly raised his head to look at Ammit diagonally above, until the monster’s appearance was reflected in his gray eyes. With his right hand, he grabbed the crossbow from his waist, notched an arrow, wound it back, aimed, and pulled the trigger.
This series of movements was so incredibly fast that it almost created afterimages. By the time everyone reacted, the arrow was already in the air.
Cui Zuojing had long been prepared. The moment this happened, he suddenly took action. Leaping high toward the edge of the stone platform, he slashed his sword at Ammit!
Faced with such a crisis, Ammit seemed to have lost control of his body. He sat motionless on the stone platform, as if unable to respond at all. The silver white arrow shot forward like a stream of light and directly passed through his head.
The cold light of the blade was reflected in his eyes.
The decapitated head and the splatter of blood both soared together. This ruthless and powerful cut threw off Cui Zuojing’s momentum, and he fell toward the pool of lava.
No! Dong Zheng’s heart screamed, and he jerked to call Cui Zuojing back to the prisoner’s space.
Domingo quickly shot another arrow toward where Cuo Zuojing was. The youth was about to comply with Dong Zheng’s call. But, when he saw the arrow, he stepped on it. Taking advantage of its strength to adjust his momentum, he push off and fell back safely toward the stone path.
Their cooperation was excellent. Whether it was the timing or the timeliness of the sword, even companions who had been together for many years would not be able to achieve such a tacit understanding.
Cui Zuojing’s body was full of sweat, first hot, then cold.
His motive for killing Ammit was very simple. The final plot in the Sealed Land was likely more dangerous. They needed as much combat power as possible and couldn’t afford to lose manpower at this gate.
He took advantage of Domingo’s troublemaking to settle the matter.
Cui Zuojing slowly got up and looked at Domingo. It happened that the man was also looking at him. The two looked at each other for a few seconds. Cui Zuojing raised his eyebrows and said, “Not bad.”
Domingo nodded slightly and said, “You’re also not bad.”
He dropped his left hand with the Prisoner’s coat of arms, feeling an unprecedented sense of aggrievement.
Domingo glanced at him, and Dong Zheng noticed that his gaze was somewhat teasing and provocative.
Dong Zheng took a deep breath and told himself that he must be calm. This person was definitely and deliberately trying to make him angry.
Everyone was able to pass safety this time. However, they now looked at Cui Zuojing and Domingo differently. It was definitely not easy to kill Ammit, yet they killed him so simply and so neatly.
Cui Zuojing went to Dong Zheng’s side. He didn’t notice the smell of gunpowder between Dong Zheng and Domingo and softly said, “Let’s go.”
Dong Zheng didn’t say anything, and Tao Jin continued to lead the group forward. After passing through the narrow gateway, a door appeared in front of them.
It was entirely copper green, and at nearly a hundred meters high, it looked fantastical. The lines on it extended in all directions, outline a mysterious figure. Every gully was a finger deep, making it hard to imagine how thick the door must be.
More than a dozen people stood in front of the door, feeling small as a worm. It gave them the instinctive desire to retreat.
Cui Zuojing shook his head and threw away the untimely emotion that seemed to be imposed on him. He carefully observed that the top and bottom, left and right sides of the door had an etching of an eagle, a lion, a bull, and a human.
Heinrich took out one of the four copies of the codex that he always carried with him and said, “Everyone, take out your codex, along with the collected items. My guess is that they’re the key to opening the door.”
Allen took out the codex and the parts collected from various monsters. The dilapidated book lit up in his hands. The Bull of Heaven’s hoof, Humbaba’s tail, and the human-faced Ba’s feather…Together, they turned into spots of lights and poured into the codex.
The codex slowly levitated up into the air, and the book opened by itself. As everyone watched, the aged paper seemed to have gone back in time, becoming white and flat as new.
The words “Gospel of John” appeared on it.
The gospel fell back into Allen’s hand. Meanwhile, the “Gospel of Mark,” the “Gospel of Matthew,” and the “Gospel of Luke” also appeared one after another. They wrote about Jesus’s birth and baptism, about his preachings and his death, and about his resurrection and his ascension.
The four gospels turned into streams of light, became entangled together, and then rushed to their respective and sacred motif on the door, lighting them up.
With a loud, muffled rumble, the 100-meter-high door slowly opened from inward.
Behind it was a majestic altar built on a cliff.
Strands of thick, black smoke seeped continuously out from the crack under the altar, on which a black heart floated in the air, slowly pulsating.
—The demon seed.
“How do we seal it?” Cui Zuojing asked.
“King Solomon left a six-pointed star seal formation. We need to find the formation and activate it with six magic gems.” Allen had carried the codex for so long that he’d already memorized the contents written down in it.
Dong Zheng felt sick. A very familiar energy fluctuation was coming from under the altar. He had felt a similar fluctuation coming from the box they’d found in the ship’s power cabin and from Hydra’s magic gem. Naturally, the seed was made of primal chaos, and so what entangled him now was something more intense and sinister.
There was a bad premonition in his heart. Dong Zheng reminded everyone, “Demon energy is harmful to human bodies. We all need to hurry up and find the seal formation as soon as possible.
“What’s that?” Lin Hangzhi suddenly pointed to a cliff.
Cui Zuojing looked up and saw that there was a slight protrusion on the cliff wall more than ten meters high.
Dong Linhai exclaimed, “It’s the box the bird snatched away!”
Everyone in the Wonton Insurgency team had not forgotten it. Since the big bird came to grab it, it must be a key item.
Domingo also saw the box. He frowned and asked Dong Zheng, “You lost it?”
This seemed to be an interrogative question. Before Dong Zheng could answer, Cui Zuojing took the initiative to move in front of him and said, “I lost it.”
Domingo looked at him for a few seconds and stopped being aggressive on this matter. “How did you lose it?”
“A strange bird came over and snatched it away.”
“The Anzu,” Domingo murmured. Seeing that not everyone knew much about it, he explained, “In the legend, it stole the Tablet of Destinies that recorded the fate of humans and gods. When it breathes and flaps its wings, it can stir up a hurricane.”
Allen said, “It’s not important what kind of bird it is. The questions is, how are we going to get the box back?”
Victor volunteered, “I’ll go.”
The white cat trotted to the cliff. Claws extended from the pads of his paws. He grabbed the protrusions on the overhanging cliff and agilely began to climb up.
Dong Linhai stood below, ready to catch Victor the moment he “lost his claw” and fell.
At this moment, a loud cry came from the distance. A strong wind swept across and a moving object blocked out the sky. The entire Sealed Land immediately became shrouded in darkness.
Xixi: The battle with Ammit was so anti-climatic, it was over before I could even blink.
(1) Newton’s coffin board has overturned! — an internet phrase to complain about something that goes against common sense. It’s like saying, “This is so outrageous that even the dead can come back to life.”