“We won’t die. None of us will die.” Before entering the garden maze, Xia Qiongyun uttered these sentences with firm resolve.
At this moment, Truth Speak wove around everyone, the invisible blessing giving them a boost of courage. Xia Qiongyun’s Truth Speak had never failed them.
“Thank you for your kind words.” Cui Zuojing wiped his Tang sword. When he was fighting with Cheriyu Nana in the void, the tip of the blade had broken off. But now that he thought about it, the sword was still quite usable.
The others were sorting through their equipment. In fact, at this stage in their abilities, aside from Cui Zuojing, Dong Zheng, and Victor, the others were not capable enough to fight against an heir alone. He was keenly aware of this. But it was because of this that Xia Qiongyun’s Truth Speak became a vital thing.
After everyone was done, Cui Zuojing retracted the sword into the scabbard on his back. “Let’s go.”
He walked around the edge of the square maze. In the middle of the path in front of them were two werewolf guards, one black and one white. They stood guard at the entrance, each holding a long spear.
Several black beetles skittered up their legs, and they lowered their heads to hurriedly swipe at the bugs. At that moment, a card slid across their throat. They could only make gasping sounds before falling to the ground, their neck bloodied and gaping.
The team quickly passed by the werewolves’ corpses and into the maze.
The entire maze was composed of two-meter-high dense trees, a bit like the Labyrinth of Time. Except, this was the absolute territory of the Queen. Cui Zuojing and Victor were familiar with this path. They led everyone left and right along the maze. Soon they reached a dead end. At the end of the green path was a door marked with heart patterns.
“Okay. We may become separated here.” Cui Zuojing turned and said, “Take care.”
He opened the door, revealing a white room inside. Victor took the lead to enter. The moment he stepped through the door, the tall Russian man disappeared from sight. After he vanished, the walls and floor turned black.
This was a space door, and those who entered this door may be transported to a specific location.
Dong Linhai, Wang Que, Xia Qiongyun, Lin Hangzhi entered all at once. The room flashed pink, sky blue, and yellow. Finally, Cui Zuojing also walked in.
The door of hearts closed automatically behind him. From that moment on, he’d officially entered the Queen’s territory, and what greeted him would be an heir’s trap.
Xia Qiongyun walked into a sky blue room. The walls in the room were full of large bookshelves as high as the ceiling, filled with books. She raised her head, looked up at the center of the roof, and saw what appeared to be a circular eye, which seemed to be watching her attentively.
Xia Qiongyun felt goosebumps crawl up her back, and she quickly retracted her gaze. Not daring to touch any of the books, she went straight to the door on the other side of the room and twisted the handle open.
The door opened, revealing a long corridor.
She entered the corridor.
The moment Xia Qiongyun stepped out of the room, the door disappeared. Red carpet was spread out on the smooth floor. Lights streamed in from the tall windows on the side, like beautiful blankets partitioning the floor.
A woman in a black robe stood ten meters away. A black turban covered her hair and forehead, and she was holding a book with a thick leather cover. Only her dark brown eyes could be seen through the veil across her face, and her wide, double cuffs revealed fingertips tightly wrapped with white medical tape.
Worm of Mystery.
Xia Qiongyun took a deep breath. Before coming, she had thought about how she would deal with each different heirs. But Worm of Mystery was the last heir she wanted to deal with.
Truth Speak may come up short when faced with a written prophecy. Such powers made Worm of Mystery incredibly tricky and unpredictable. Back then, even Fu Zhe had failed miserably when facing it.
Even so, she still had a chance.
Xia Qiongyun stared at the black-robed woman in front of her. Her dark brown eyes were unfocused, and the book in her hands was closed. As a book of prophecies, Worm of Mystery had destiny written on each page. When facing Fu Zhe, it automatically turned to the page “Eternally Broken-Hearted,” breaking Fu Zhe’s soul into Goodwill, Morality, and Conscience.
This time, what kind of fate will it deal her?
“What a beautiful girl,” the black-robed woman said. Her voice was hoarse and stiff, as if her vocal cords were too damaged, so that she could only make rough sounds like an old woman. Worm of Mystery made people like this. “Come and face your destiny.”
“No, your prophecy will have no effect on me. My destiny will alway be in my own hands,” Xia Qiongyun said firmly. Worm of Destiny could determine people’s fate, but her Truth Speak could also do the same. It ultimately came down to whether it was stronger or whether her own spiritual use of speech was stronger.
“Really?” The black-robed woman chuckled. She opened the book in her hands, and a clattering sound came from her body. A large group of bats flew out from the other side of the corridor. Like black clouds intent on destroying a city, they flew toward Xia Qiongyun!
“What is your level?”
“It doesn’t hurt.” As Xia Qiongyun’s voice fell, the bats that drove toward her so aggressively before now no longer seemed to be able to see her at all. They rushed past her, and the black cloud of bats quickly disappeared at the end of the corridor.
“Not bad.” The black-robed woman turned a page of Worm of Mystery. Countless thorns shot out from the floor. Xia Qiongyun flipped to avoid them. Mindful of the movements around her, as well as the vibration in the ground, she sternly said, “Disappear.”
The ground thorns disappeared with Xia Qiongyun’s words, ultimately failing to hurt her.
Using this opportunity, Xia Qiongyun rushed toward the black-robed woman. The dark weapon pattern on her wrist flashed and she caught the cold-lighted Gurkha kukri knife in her hand. Held in a reverse grip, this knife could also be considered a dogleg knife. It was recognized as the most strategically curved weapon in the world, and had harvested countless lives on the battlefield, like a God of Death.
Her Truth Speak could not hold on forever, and so Worm of Mystery must be taken care of as soon as possible.
The black-robed woman turned another page. The window on the side of the corridor suddenly shattered, sending sharp fragments piercing toward Xia Qiongyun. Xia Qiongyun kept her gaze fixed on the woman in front of her and shouted, “Melt!”
The fragments instantly melted into pools of glass water. They dropped to the ground, unable to hurt her. Now, she was less than ten meters away from the black-robed woman. Fu Zhe once described in detail the process of fighting against Worm of Mystery. He said that as long as there was no body for it to control, Worm of Mystery was just a book.
Lin Hangzhi walked out of the yellow room and found himself in a garden maze full of plants. The lush bushes were filled with tiny yellow flowers that exuded a fragrant scent. It smelled so good that Lin Hangzhi was a bit spellbound.
Less than a minute later, Lin Hangzhi suddenly felt a little dizzy. His eyeballs became inexplicably swollen, turning his vision dim. The fragrant scent occupied his olfactory nerves, filling his nasal cavity. Soon, a burning sensation assaulted him.
This flower was poisonous. Realizing this, Lin Hangzhi immediately covered his mouth and nose. Not daring not to delay another second, he quickly left the place with staggering steps.
—None of us will die.
Behind him, a rabbit emerged from the bushes, attracted by the scent of the flowers. It jumped up next to a flower and leaned closer to sniff at it.
All of a sudden, the rabbit’s body stiffened and fell to the ground. Its limbs twitched, and soon it became deadly still.
The red-ringed black snake remained hidden. It stared at Lin Hangzhi’s hurriedly departing back, before finally venturing out to look at the rabbit’s corpse. Its slender and cold body wrapped around the rabbit’s body, and its mouth stretched open 180 degrees wide. Beginning with the head, it slowly swallowed the rabbit whole.
The Gurkha swung out and accurately slashed across the black-robed woman’s neck through her veil, severing her arteries. Bright red blood burst out, spraying as high as a water fountain.
The force of the knife blow knocked the woman back a few steps. She stiffened for a moment before falling heavily to the ground. The book fell from her hands and on the opened page, the handwriting there became stained with blood, unable to be seen clearly.
Xia Qiongyun panted. She wiped away the sweat from her temples and turned her head back to look at the woman’s corpse. The blood spraying from the cut in her neck shot toward the ceiling, leaving behind spattering traces. Worm of Mystery lay at her feet, drowning in a pool of blood.
Don’t touch it. Remembering Cui Zuojing’s instructions, Xia Qiongyun took a deep breath and ran toward the end of the corridor. She didn’t know if she had defeated Worm of Mystery. It had been too easy. But no matter what, it wouldn’t be wrong to leave as soon as possible.
The sunlight streaming in through the tall windows flickered across her figure, dragging out a long shadow. She opened the door marked with the pattern of spade and stepped out into the maze.
Was she safe now? Xia Qiongyun didn’t dare relax. She held the bloodied Gurkha knife tightly in her hand and quickly looked around, trying to find a way out.
In the corridor, the woman’s blood seemed to have been completely drained. Her black robe was soaked in that blood that was spreading out messily. When Worm of Mystery left her grasp, the whites of her unfocused dark brown eyes gradually turned into a hemolytic red.
The sound of footsteps came from the other side of the corridor. The pace was gentle and elegant. A middle-aged man in Arab robes walked over to the woman’s corpse, closed her eyes and bowed his head in salute.
“May Allah bless you.”
His low voice echoed in the corridor. Then he leaned down and picked up the bloodstained Worm of Mystery.
The blood on the pages faded away like magic, revealing the concealed handwriting—
[The price of fate’s gift.]
As Xia Qiongyun walked in the maze, she suddenly stumbled. In an instant, her body seemed to have lightened.
The Gurkha knife fell to the grass with a soft sound. Xia Qiongyun lifted her right hand blankly. When had her hand become invisible, such that the knife fell right through it?
What was happening?!
Xia Qiongyun was horrified. Before she could react, she stumbled to the ground. As she lay on the ground, she raised her head to look. Starting from her feet, her body seemed to be slowly fracturing into small pieces, and the fragments were gradually becoming transparent.
She was disappearing!
Unprecedented panic and fear swept through this girl who had always been strong and calm. She trembled uncontrollably. Starting from her feet, she was losing sense of her own body parts a little bit at a time!
This was the price of her excessive use of Truth Speak.
From when she had completed her ability awakening in the Pilgrim’s Hall years ago to killing the woman holding Worm of Mystery today, she had still managed to survive hundreds of times.
Why? Why now?!
She could no longer feel her legs anymore. Biting her lower tips and with tears gushing from her eyes, she crawled forward with her arms. No! She didn’t want it to end here! She wanted to meet with her companions in front of the Queen.
Ah’Zuo, Brother Dong, Linhai, Que’er, Victor, Fu Zhe….their faces flew across Xia Qiongyun’s mind. They were her most trusted companions. And then there was…that man struggling with bad luck and disaster, but who was surprisingly kind and good-tempered.
When she died, her Truth Speak would dissipate. What would the others do?
Xia Qiongyun crawled hard, trying to find her teammates. Her legs had turned to foam. Like a mermaid drying out under the sun, fine cracks began to appear, traveling up all the way to her waist.
Hold on. Just hold on for a bit longer!
The tears streaming down her cheeks were flowing into the corners of her mouth, but she couldn’t taste it at all. The Gurkha knife was already a hundred meters away, and her wrists were torn and bleeding. But, they also began to fade away.
When both arms completely turned into fragments and disappeared, Xia Qiongyun lost the ability to move. Soon, the diamond necklace that had never left her body lost the support of her neck and fell onto the grass. It was her 18th birthday gift from her father.
Her last tear fell onto the grass and was dissipated by the sun.
The maze became empty, with no trace of anybody being there moments before, except for the solitary blue diamond necklace dropped onto the grass.
[Fate’s gifts always come with a secret price.]