The behavior of not immediately chasing after the target did not conform to the current character setting. This was considered an OOC and so the box punished Xia Qiongyun.
It was absolutely impossible for her to continue like this. Xia Qiongyun forced herself to endure the pain and chased in the direction of the two children who had fled.
She had to think of a two-pronged approach.
Dark shadows flying out the window of the side hall caught the attention of a passing maid. She screamed in fright, and then saw the two small shadows running fast toward the side of the palace with people going in and out. Immediately, she waved her arms and yelled, “Grab those two!”
All of the people from the other courtyard were drawn over, approaching from all directions in the west. They all recognized that this was a child who ran out from the National Teacher and wanted to catch them.
There were servants in front and a shadow guard the mission task had mentioned chasing behind. If Cui Zuojing and Dong Zheng fell into his hands, who knew how much they would suffer.
“Take the waterway.”
“Go into the water.”
Dong Zheng and Cui Zuojing made the same decision. Due to their extraordinary tacit understanding, Cui Zuojing took the lead over the railing and plunged into the pool of water.
When they entered this other courtyard, they observed that the whole palace used running water. The criss-crossing water channels connected the pool of water in various courtyards. There were visible water channels running along the ground and some were hidden underground. They didn’t know the exact layout but right now, this was their only way out.
Dong Zheng followed closely behind him.
The screams of the palaces servants came one after another. Dong Zheng and Cui Zuojing turned the water in the pool full of lotuses and water lilies upside down. The emerald green, thorny stems intertwined with each other to hinder swimming, and the floating water lilies and standing lotuses covered their shadows. A fat koi swam past Cui Zuojing’s face, and a string of bubbles escaped from the corner of its mouth. They plunged into the depths and swam in the same direction.
Cui Zuojing looked back at Dong Zheng, worried that the other party’s physical condition wouldn’t last long.
When these words entered his mind, his heart relaxed a little. He led Dong Zheng, shielding him. They were in running water, and there were many muddy things in it.
A guard jumped into the water to chase them. Cui Zuojing sped up. He touched the edge of the pool of water and quickly found the waterway leading to other areas.
The water channel was fairly narrow, but it was still wide enough for two children to pass through. After they entered the channel, the guards became anxious and floated to the surface to shout to the others, “Quick, bring a diagram of the sewer!”
Xia Qiongyun didn’t enter the water. Based on the children’s state and capacity, they won’t be able to swim too far. This body’s martial arts was very good and when she lifted her breath, she rose into the air like a martial arts master from Gu Long’s writings, allowing her to step on the palace wall and directly jump next door.
In the courtyard next door, there was a wet pool of water at the edge of the pool, and two wet trails pointed straight to the back garden full of rockeries and flowers.
Xia Qiongyun followed the footprints until they disappeared behind a rockery.
Xia Qiongyun didn’t doubt Cui Zuojing’s ability. If the other child beside him was Dong Zheng, it would be even more troublesome. If she only looked for them with the naked eye, there was a high probability that she wouldn’t find anything.
She took out the porcelain bottle again and poured the secret liquid on the rockery.
Strangely, the droplets did not flow down the stone. After a few seconds, it spread over the surface of the stone and dispersed.
Xia Qiongyun sighed.
It seemed that the water had washed away the smell of spices on their clothes. As a result, she really lost their traces.
She hurriedly searched the neighboring area. When she found nothing, she didn’t insist on looking and left directly.
Now she wasn’t punished.
A few hours later, Cui Zuojing got out of the gap in the rockery that was only twenty centimeters wide.
For children who were small enough or thin enough, as long as they could get their head pass, they could squeeze their entire body in. This was something that Cui Zuojing was very experienced in ever since he was young, when he could never tire of playing truant in kindergarten.
The gap between the rockery and the ground was very well hidden. Cui Zuojing took a few deep breaths and turned to pull out Dong Zheng, who was moving inch by inch, and he nearly fell to the ground.
“How is it?” he asked.
“It’s okay.” Dong Zheng’s arm now had another piece of skin scratched off. This body was already cold, hungry, and frightened before he’d become attached to it. If it were someone else, that person might not have been able to withstand it. Fortunately, they were able to eat some snacks and grapes in the side hall. However, if he found himself soaked in water again, him passing out might be a real possibility.
With the departure of the shadow guard, the mission interface was updated again.
[Board the airship.]
“Airship?” Cui Zuojing was puzzled. “What, does this background have a sci-fi plot line too?”
Dong Zheng shook his head. After helping Dong Zheng deal with the wound on his arm, he wrung out their clothes before they put them back on again. After moving around so much, Dong Zheng’s temporary “shoes” were gloriously ragged.
“You wear mine.” Cui Zuojing thought for a moment and took off his outer shirt. Compared to Dong Zheng, he was much more complete and clean and they were also about the same size. Dong Zheng tried on Cui Zuojing’s shoes and they fit just right.
He put on Cui Zuojing’s clothes and looked at the ground, not looking at him. He said, “You go back first.”
Cui Zuojing hummed in agreement. Almost all of his belongings were taken off and given to Dong Zheng. To be honest, he was a bit cold. Finally, he used both hands to vigorously rub the little girl Dong Zheng’s face and said, “You be careful when you’re by yourself.”
Dong Zheng smiled and said, “It’s not like you won’t really be here. You’ll be accompanying me in the prisoner space.”
Cui Zuojing’s response was a snort in Dong Zheng’s mind. The moment he returned to the prisoner’s space, he changed back into his original appearance. He lay on the big bed, deliberately arranged himself into a provocative pose, and said in a high-pitched voice, “Uncle, you can do it—”
Dong Zheng heard him and couldn’t help shaking his head. He said with a smile, “Don’t make trouble.”
He slowly left the hidden rockery. There was no clue about the so-called airship mission yet, but according to the setting of this world, it was very likely that the airship would be like a steampunk mechanical airship. As such, it won’t be small.
Then, he just needed to find a place with a high terrain.
The rancid smell that assaulted his nostrils became thicker.
Dong Linhai thought for a while along the secret path, but since there were no lights, he could only continue to move forward. Fortunately, there was no fork in the road, or he might have gotten lost.
When he finally saw the faint light at the end of the tunnel, Dong Linhai’s mind had already become drowsy by the dull air. He squeezed his arm hard and moved as lightly as possible to the exit.
The sounds of groaning gradually came to his ear.
It seemed to be coming from thousands to ten thousands of people. The despair was thick enough to almost drown out the soul of one person. Dong Linhai shuddered as he listened, and even his bones resisted getting closer.
He swallowed, thinking about the miserable appearance of the human chair and the “scrapyard” that the person had spoken of. After mentally preparing himself, he struggled out from the hole.
The “things” that were once called people were thrown in corners like trash. They were made into tables, chairs, small carts, vases, lanterns, and other instruments…No language could describe the tragedy in this place.
They were once human; they were alive and full of life. But now, they were forcibly shaped into a variety of poses, held in place by wood and metal, and there then stiffly abandoned here. The only things that moved were their eyes and their mouth that constantly overflowed with desperate feelings and hoarse, pained groans.
Ding Linhai hardly dared to look. He swallowed hard and trembled as he scrambled across many many limbs. Perhaps some of them saw him, but only a small part of them made a strangled sound, asking for help. Then, they gave up and watched numbly and blankly as the child staggered toward the door.
The door was firmly locked from outside. Only the top of this space and the small windows were open to ensure that the people in here wouldn’t suffocate to death. But because no one bothered to care for them, they could only rot and add to the thick smell of excrement that had nearly fermented into poisonous gas.
Through the high windows, bright sunlight beamed in like shafts of light, illuminating the countless souls buried at the bottom of this pit.
After listening for a while, Dong Linhai made sure that no one was outside. He raised his hand and pressed it on the iron lock, which melted off. Then he gently pushed the door open and freshed air poured in from outside.
Just as he was about to walk out of the “scrapyard,” a hand clasped his ankle tightly.
“Help…” It was hard to tell whether the sound was male or female.
Dong Linhai stopped.
Uncle, he called in his heart, unable to help trembling.
Sorry. Victor was silent for a moment, and finally gave him an answer.
Even though he had unlocked most of the power that belonged to the Master of Body, he couldn’t save them all. Most of them already had one leg in the coffin, and death was only a matter of time.
The instinct to save the dead and heal the wounded remained in Victor’s heart. After so many hardships, this hadn’t been exhausted. But in the face of this situation, there was really nothing Victor could do.
Dong Linhai squeezed his eyes shut and stepped out of the room.
The hand didn’t have much power at all, and it fell away at once. It weakly tried two more times to grab hold of him, but in the end, it fell to the ground like a dead branch.
Dong Linhai hurried out. He didn’t dare look back at the tragic situation. With awareness of his deep weakness, came an instinctive fear.
Yes, he could not save anyone, even if he tried.
Everyone seemed to know that the “things” in this scrapyard couldn’t stir up any wind and waves, and so there was no one around. It was the hottest time of the day, and no one wanted to stay outside. Everyone was hiding in their room or eating, or out to do some novel things, so the courtyard of the Bureau of Heavenly Studies was visibly empty after a cursory scan.
Dong Linhai moved forward cautiously. To complete the task of killing the National Teacher, he should go to the National Teacher’s residence.
A few wooden birds stopped on the eaves. There was a cage laced on the railing, and inside the cave was a wooden bird covered in gold and silver power. It looked beautiful, and everytime its mouth opened and close, it sounded like a music box.
He sneaked all the way into a carriage with mechanical horses hitched to it. The two wooden horses standing motionless side by side had visible cracks, gears, and other clockworks. They stood waiting, and behind them was the carriage with wheels made out of metal and woods. The carriage had a tin roof, and when the curtains were pulled up, it was impossible to see inside.
Linhai just wanted to check it out when he suddenly heard the creak of wheels rolling over the stone road.
Xixi: I just love how CZJ and DZ were taking care of each other. It’s especially nice to see CZJ’s caring side. And the human scrapyard…how atrociously cruel. Death might be too easy for that emperor.