An old man with a white beard in a wheelchair was slowly passing by. The shape of the wheelchair underneath him looked very advanced to Dong Linhai. The bottom and back were equipped with metal pipes. Whenever the wheelchair moved, the clockwork connected with the piston on the wheel axle would move accordingly, compressing the material in the pipeline to cause an unknown reaction to occur. The reaction would generate energy to make the piston eject and help the wheel roll.
It was a bit like the compression principle of an internal combustion engine. Dong Linhai counted it carefully, and it was still four-cylinder.
The old man wore a round lens over one of his eyes, making it likely that he was a researcher in this Bureau of Heavenly Studies. A small table rested on the side of his legs and some odds and ends and other delicate playthings rested on its 20 centimeters square surface.
The old man lifted the curtain, glanced into the carriage and said in a loud voice, “Pack up the remaining things, and hurry up and deliver them. Don’t let the National Teacher wait!”
The National Teacher?
This carriage was delivering things to the National Teacher?
Seeing that the opportunity was here, Dong Li Hai became energetic. In the distance, someone answered the old man, and he lowered his head to play with the gadgets in his hands. Dong Linhai took advantage of his inattention, sneaked to the side of the carriage, slipped through the curtain, and curled up and hid among the many boxes. He held his breath, not making a sound.
The delivery man came back quickly and hurriedly counted the outermost boxes. After taking a look, he sat in front of the carriage, snapped the whip at the horse, and drove toward the National Teacher’s residence.
The wooden wheels traveling along the paved road were quite bumpy. It was clear that even these ancient noble dignitaries riding in horse-drawn carriages didn’t have much comfort when traveling. Dong Linhai smelled a strange fragrance leaking from the gaps of a box next to him. He sniffed and secretly stretched out his head to see whether the driver was looking.
He melted the metal buckle that kept the box closed, gently lifted a corner of the lid, and quietly looked inside—
And stared straight into a pair of out-of-focused eyes.
His hand shook with fright and he nearly dropped the lid. Fortunately, he managed to control himself in time. Inside the box was a human palace lantern.
It was a girl about Dong Linhai’s current size. She was dressed in gorgeous clothes, her hair was as smooth as satin and tied into two buns, and she was obviously dead. Her body was fixed in the form of a lamp holding a lotus with two hands; her whole body was made into a beautiful ever-bright lamp.
A peculiar smell drifted from the antiseptic material painted all over her body.
An uncontrollable nausea surged in Dong Linhai’s throat, and he silently replaced the lid over the box. Then he quietly shrank into a corner of the carriage.
Dong Linhai shuddered at the thought that all the boxes around him were filled with similar lanterns.
The National Teacher had likely used the girl to draw blood. Once her value was gone, the dying child was sent to the Bureau of Heavenly Studies. The beautiful children were made into palace lanterns while the unsightly children were experimented with and turned into various appliances.
Dong Linhai clenched his fists, and his determination became stronger than ever.
He must accomplish this mission task and kill that scum, the National Teacher!
The Bureau of Heavenly studies and the National Teacher’s Manor were some distance away. Dong Linhai was full of vigilance at first, but in the end, he nearly fell asleep.
The carriage finally slowed down and when it was coming to a stop, Dong Linhai found an opportunity to jump out. Compared to the Bureau of Heavenly Studies, there were people everywhere in the National Teacher’s Manor. Many of these people were either dressed in shorts or were shirtless. People were busily stacking boxes of various ores, and the pungent smell of sulphur lingered faintly in the air.
Two to three neatly dressed children were sitting on the steps, playing, while a crowd of people travelled in and out of the house. Just as Dong Linhai was thinking about how to get in, he suddenly felt the back of his neck being grabbed.
Someone carried him by the collar of his neck and lifted his entire body up. Dong Linhai subconsciously tightened his grip on the metal piece, wanting to fight back. Then he remembered his current identity. Acting like a real child, he panicked and began to struggle desperately.
“Look at you. This dirty one, did you run here to play? Didn’t they say you’re not allowed to run around?” The seven foot tall man gripped the back of Dong Linhai’s collar and carried him into the yard. He threw Dong Linhai violently down and said fiercely, “Let me see you out again, and you won’t be allowed to eat in the future.”
Dong Linhai staggered and finally fell to the ground. He pretended to cower. “I…I didn’t want to run. I just got lost.”
The man said a few words, turned around, and continued on with his own affairs. Dong Linhai patted his butt, sat up, and began to observe his surroundings. Children were allowed to play in the yard without interference. After all, they were brought here under deceitful practices, and it was currently impossible for them to be beaten and scolded at will. These children who didn’t know anything about their future fate would naively think that they were selected to be the National Teacher’s apprentices.
Dong Linhai was able to observe for a long time before he was noticed by a maid passing by.
“Oh, why are you so dirty? Come and get a change of clothes. If later you’re seen like this by that person, then it won’t be good.”
He was dragged to change clothes. At last, he finally got rid of his damp clothes, and his whole body was quite comfortable. Dong Linhai raised his hand and put the sleeve up to his nose. He sniffed it and smelled a faint fragrance.
The maid looked him over and over again. After determining that there was nothing wrong, she told Dong Linhai not to run around and hurried to look for her child.
It seemed that the National Teacher’s residence became busy in an instant. Dong Linhai watched for a while, didn’t understand what was going on, and so he went to search the rooms, hoping to find some food.
He just saw the cakes on the small table in an inner room and wanted to reach for it. But then, the maid who’d made him change clothes rushed in and pulled him out in a run. She said anxiously, “Why are you still here? Did you forget that today is the tenth day?”
Dong Linhai: ?
When the maid dragged him outside, he finally found that there were already two rows of people kneeling on both sides of the road. The people and hundreds of children that were originally quite busy were now all kneeling in two dense rows and only the dark back of their heads could be seen.
All the children that had been hidden away were now present, their eyes full of unconcealed panic.
The maid dragged Dong Linhai into the group and forced him to kneel down. Her head dare not lift as she also knelt down.
This kind of scene was something Dong Linhai had only seen in TV dramas. He quietly raised his head a little, wanting to take a look at the side of the road. The maid slapped him on the back of the head and he became more obedient.
“The Emperor has arrivedㅡ”
As expected, a sharp voice announced in an extended drawl. Everyone bowed their heads even lower. Dong Linhai stared at the gaps between the slabs and heard the sound of someone arriving. It was very heavy, and even though it seemed to be very far away, his face seemed to tremble from the impact of it.
Dong Linhai couldn’t help feeling curious, so he glanced up at lightning speed.
This emperor ought to have arrived to observe the progress of the elixir of life. After seeing the emperor, the children who’d been temporarily released would probably be shut back in their original prison, and some of them would have their blood drawn and then be delivered to the Bureau of Heavenly Studies. The lucky ones would have their blood drawn slowly but would ultimately still be unable to escape the same fate.
During the time when the children were sent being back, the guards would be very strict. All the children would be locked together, and it would be impossible to run out again. He must find a way to leave quickly.
Dong Linhai’s brain was running very fast. He raised his head and noted that no one dared to look directly at the emperor. One of the old men that looked like the National Teacher’s steward had his head lowered, his hands slightly shaking. It was clear that everyone was terrified of the emperor.
With so many people here, if he wanted to leave, he would need to create a little chaos.
Dong Linhai thought hard and had an idea. The emperor was walking slowly, looking at the children who were about to become nourishments in the same way a shopper would look at items on a shelf. He was about to walk past Dong Linhai. The metal piece hidden in Dong Linhai’s sleeve slipped into his palm, slowly melted, and then into the shape of a metal rod.
The emperor’s plump body made it impossible for him to completely lower his head and see the soles of his feet. Therefore, when the metal rod slowly rolled under his feet, he didn’t see it at all.
The maids and eunuchs who accompanied the emperor were all vigilantly staring at the children kneeling on both sides of the path, cautious to the fact that they might jump up and rebel. Therefore, they also didn’t pay attention to the road.
Supported by two tired and sweaty court ladies, the emperor lifted his heavy leg and his feet slowly descended.
His opulent shoes accurately stepped on the metal rod.
The emperor slipped and fell backward.
Chaos broke out in an instant. With his body shape, he couldn’t control his fall at all. Amidst the screams of the palace ladies, his behemoth of a body slammed into the ground, and the whole ground trembled.
His fat arms successfully weighted down the two court ladies who were supporting him, and they couldn’t get up at all. The fall was not light, and the emperor was like a fish exposed on the beach. Under a crowd of people, he struggled to get up, but then his body suddenly twitched and grew still.
“Physician! Call the physician!” The steward’s panicked voice was drowned in the chaos. All the children took advantage of this and scrambled to flee outside.
The children of the villagers and beggars heard that they might have an opportunity to become the National Teacher’s disciples, and so they came willinging, never thinking that they would experience such horrible things. The guards tried to catch the children, but there were so many that they couldn’t catch them at all. Instead, the group of screaming children pushed them down and they nearly fell.
With the entire National Teacher’s residence in chaos, Dong Linhai ran into the back courtyard.
He still had to accomplish his task.
Lin Hangzhi awoke to the sounds of the box beeping in his head and heard the loud noises outside.
His head hurted a little…He sat up, hand on his forehead, and saw that the task bar in the upper left corner of his field of vision had changed.
[Challenge Mission: Kill the Emperor (Success)]
[Challenge Mission Update: Board the airship]
Lin Hangzhi: ???
That emperor…was dead?
Lin Hangzhi got up in a hurry. The door slammed open and a servant rushed inside in a panic. Panting, he said, “National Teacher! The Emperor fell in the front yard. Get the elixir!”
Fall down? Elixir?
In an instant, Lin Hangzhi imagined the scene: The overly obese emperor fell, and the force of this fall completely wiped out his already laborious lungs. Helpless in the face of this crisis, Lin Hangzhi could only find an elixir to save the emperor’s life.
But there was no elixir!
Xixi: For those of you who might be confused, this is a challenge box, which is different from the other boxes. In chapter 40, here’s how Lin Hangzhi described a challenge box: “The type is probably that it set up a challenge mission for you. You must complete the mission within the stipulated time in order to trigger the next episode, otherwise you will be chased by the NPC in the game. Compared to others, the degree of freedom isn’t very high, and throughout the entire process, everything is controlled by the plot. The difficulty is also pretty high. The key point is that it gives a lot of tasks and they’re all crazy. You can’t imagine how crazy they are!”