After finding a small porcelain bottle marked “Golden Sore Medicine,” Cui Zuojing finally stopped searching. As he put the medicine on Dong Zheng’s shoulders, he said, “Let’s go.”
“Someone’s coming. Let’s leave through the window.” With his hearing heightened, Dong Zheng heard the approaching footsteps of the other maids. They should be carrying heavy objects, such as wooden buckets full of water, causing their footsteps to be particularly heavy.
The window that Cui Zuojing should be able to push out with one hand became extremely high. He stepped on a stool, and they each helped the other up and over the window until their feet touched ground.
The maids appeared, carrying wooden barrels. Dong Zheng and Cui Zuojing dived toward the palace wall, once again successfully sticking close to its base.
They didn’t try going through the front entrance, and they couldn’t go over the wall—with the wall’s height and the way they looked like now, going over the wall would be an impossible dream.
Dong Zheng dragged Cui Zuojing to a small corner and signaled for him not to make a sound. He pressed his ear to the wall, bent one finger, and began knocking on the wall.
Cui Zuojing didn’t know what he was doing. He waited obediently, looking at the little girl’s tight face. It was Dong Zheng’s usual serious expression, but because of his current appearance, even with the bruises on his cheek, Cui Zuojing felt that he looked absolutely adorable.
A man could become like this…Cui Zuojing silently covered his face. This contrast was simply too cute!
Holding his breath, Dong Zheng listened intently. Audio data was transmitted directly into his ear, entering the kernel to be refined and processed by the brain’s CPU. Shortly after, a tiny, distinct scene appeared in his eyes.
Dong Zheng opened his eyes and straightened. “There’s a hole over there. Go. Let’s go and take a look.”
Cui Zuojing patted the dirt off of his butt and followed after him. Once they reached the other end of the wall, they pushed aside the weeds growing wildly in the corner, and looked at the dog hole.
“Is it this?” Cui Zuojing was startled. “Big Brother, is this a cheat?”
“In fact, it’s not too difficult. It just required building a model, which is more like mental processing.”
“Ahhh―” The loud screech came out. The maid had obviously woken up.
“Go,” Dong Zheng whispered. He signaled for Cui Zuojing to go out first and then crawled through the dog hole after him.
They must have been in a very remote yard in the palace. Despite such a loud movement, no one rushed over, and the long path that led to other courtyards was empty.
The sound from the box rang out in his head again.
[Challenge Mission Update: Avoid being pursued and killed by the secret guard]
Pursued and killed?
As soon as Dong Zheng read this, he passed the mission update to Cui Zuojing, who said in a low voice, “So we should find a place to hide? How long should we hide?”
As he said this, Cui Zuojing stuck close to Dong Zheng and left this court.
Lin Hangzhi was sitting in the front hall, being served tea by subservient palace maids. Children who were his personal attendants knelt next to him. A fantastic, mechanical arm made out of wood stretched from the wall, clutching a circular fan and waving it up and down.
The hem of his layered robe fell naturally to the ground, decorated in flowing black and white Yin-Yang patterns. The cushion underneath him was very soft and comfortable, but due to excessive tension, Lin Hangzhi didn’t feel the least bit refreshed.
A woman made out of the same wood sat on the carpet in the center of the hall. Her hair was tied up and her wood-colored “skin” was painted with heavy make-up. She played the gugin with both hands, while her lower body beneath the waist was meshed with a wooden board with wheels. Four hands stretched out from underneath the board to play the yangqin, and the other two hands behind her back played the lute. The coordination of six arms was exquisite. Just one person managed to create an ensemble full of wonderful sounds.
Numerous clever dancers danced lightly and gracefully, all with willowy waist, vermillion lips, and fluid glances.
“This is a musical instrument that the sage ordered the Bureau of Heavenly Studies to make. This allows one person to play different kinds of musical instruments. The sage can listen to it every night.” The maid who was offering tea asked with utmost respect, “Master, how do you feel?”
“Not bad.” Lin Hangzhi stared at the thing and took a sip of tea. His countenance was very pale as he pretended not to see anything.
National Teacher or not, he must be very calm and unperturbed.
This wasn’t the first time Lin Hangzhi had entered a challenge box. His previous experience told him that it was better for him to go along with the initial identity and character that box had provided for him. If he didn’t need to ooc(1), he must try not to ooc. Otherwise, it would affect the development of the plot later on, and there would be no place for him to cry even if he wanted to cry.
Every joint on the wooden musical instrument was very flexible. The hands moved just like that of a real person. During the time he’d come to the box, he’d seen many similar devices, such as automatic fan machines, mechanical horse carriages, mechanical birds that could fly, and there were even rumors of wooden cows.
This place seemed to be very good at wood machinery and cabinetry. In short, it carried the ancient warring state period into a nearly magical extreme.
Similar to something like steampunk in the West, carrying an explosion of imagination based on certain scientific foundations. However, compared to steampunk, these things were driven by nothing.
After having been summoned by the emperor, Lin Hangzhi sat there listening to the song and silently touched the dagger hidden in his wide sleeve.
“Honorable National Teacher, Sage, please.” The eunuch came out from behind the thick curtain. The lining of his sleeve exposed his wooden left-hand, and one eye was also fake. His gaze was sly and treacherous.
Lin Hangzhi stood up. Under the eunuch’s guidance, he opened the curtain and walked inside.
The emperor on the bed was almost like a puddle of flesh, but he was surrounded by several beautiful and alluring women who were only partially dressed. The huge contrast was simply disgusting.
Lin Hang struggled to distinguish where the emperor’s head was, bowed, and said, “Your Majesty.”
“Honorable National Teacher needn’t be polite.” The emperor waved his hand at his third imperial concubine, who came forward to lend him a hand and helped him sit up. His eyes were fierce and sharp and they gazed attentively at Lin Hangzhi. “Honorable National Teacher, what is the status of the elixir refinement?”
Lin Hangzhi said without a change in expression, “It’s already in the post-stage. It may be assumed that it’ll be ready by the start of next month.”
The meat mountain, tyrannical emperor’s head popped up, making people feel uncomfortable. He stressed, “I heard that four people ran out last night?”
“It is my poor negligence.”
“National Teacher needn’t blame himself. I have already sent people to arrest them so that National Teacher can focus on refining instead. Once the elixir is refined, we will greatly reward you.”
When he asked about alchemical matters regarding the elixir of immortality, Lin Hangzhi conned him with this and that. Luckily, the emperor’s extremely obese body was loaded with filth, and it didn’t take long for him to become tired. Lin Hangzhi saw this and took the initiative to retire.
He secretly touched the dagger hidden in his sleeve again. The mission hovered in the upper left corner of his vision as a constant reminder.
[Challenge Mission: Kill the Emperor]
Like many emperors in history, this one was also frantically in pursuit of immortality. He recruited many alchemists and ordered them to refine an elixir of life. At present, Lin Hangzhi was playing the role of a Doaist priest, who had visited the emperor at the beginning of the year and claimed he could refine a real elixir of life. After talking to the emperor for a night, he was found to be deeply useful and was appointed as the National Teacher.
From Lin Hangzhi’s professional perspective, the National Teacher was simply using the emperor. This emperor definitely wouldn’t survive for long. Years of obesity and indiscriminate consumption of pills had caused many organs in his body to gradually fail. His exhaustion was already at a level that could be seen from the surface, which indicated how severe his condition was.
If the emperor died before the elixir was refined, the National Teacher would not only have no sins but could continue to enjoy glory and wealth.
So this National Teacher used a lot of methods to delay refining the elixir. For example, in addition to requiring the traditional methods for refining the elixir, he also needed a special material—500 virgins.
He collected the blood of the children in concentrated liquid form and told an emperor seeking immortality that only by collecting the essence of these young lives could he refine the perfect elixir of life.
Anyway…it was all a lie. Lin Hangzhi had seen these materials, such as pure gold, green gold, white wax, black gold, mercury sulfide, realgar, arsenic, and fluorite…In fact, it was just various compounds of copper, lead, iron, and sulfur. Take mercury sulfide, for example. It was very poisonous, and it would be strange indeed if the person who ate it didn’t die from it.
Currently, there were too many people present. He couldn’t assassinate the emperor now, so what should he do?
Or…just find any reason to make him take the elixir and poison him to death? Anyway, in utilizing modern knowledge, it would be easy for him to find poison.
As Lin Hangzhi walked out, his foot suddenly slipped. When he subconsciously tried to regain his balance, his left foot stepped on his right foot, and his whole person fell face down on the ground.
The polychrome vase on the shelf shook unsteadily. Under the emperor’s horrified gaze, the vase fell and accurately slammed into the back of Lin Hangzhi’s head.
“Honorable National Teacher!”
“Quick! Call the royal doctor!”
Before losing consciousness, the last thing Lin Hangzhi heard was everyone’s chaotic shouts.
Dong Linhai quickly and agilely flipped into the water-filled jar and clenched his hands over the metal sheets. These water-filled jars were distributed throughout the palace, making it more convenient to put out fire as soon as possible.
The footsteps of chasing soldiers gradually faded away. When the sound was completely gone, Dong Linhai quietly emerged from the jar, took a deep breath, and crawled out.
His whole body was soaking wet. Fortunately, it wasn’t cold yet; otherwise, he would freeze to death outside.
What are you doing? Silently ridiculing himself, Dong Linhai fumbled into the nearby courtyard. He was probably in the cold palace, and there were no human beings in sight. The interior wall and houses were more tattered compared to other places.
[Avoiding being pursued and killed] This challenge mission had completely faded away and there was no mission update issued yet.
Dong Linhai peered through the front window. The room didn’t look like it was occupied, but there was a mixed smell of rancidity and mold.
He was desperate and, in this situation, he needed to find a fixed hiding place and wait for the next challenge task to be released.
So he opened the window and entered the room.
His landing aroused some dusts, and he covered his mouth. Coughing twice, he looked at his surroundings with vigilance.
Seeing that there was no one, Dong Linhai turned around and made sure there was no danger. He pulled a three-legged chair next to him and sat down. At the same time, he also rummaged through the cabinets to see if he could find anything useful.
Many drawers were locked, but these metal locks were nothing to him. He swiped his fingers on them, and the locks melted and deformed, losing their function and allowing him to open the drawers.
He was now able to master his ability very well, and it was no longer limited to just making spoon bend.
This house clearly belonged to a woman. Dong Linhai looked down at his short stature, sighed, and could only continue to search.
How could he be a little girl now?
(1) ooc — out of character