Puzzled, Xu Ziling said, “We pushed it, it won’t even budge; how could you call it moveable?”
Excited, Kou Zhong explained, “It did not move when you pushed it, simply because the moveable wall is particularly thick and heavy. Lu Dashi had mentioned this kind of moveable wall. After going through this, there shouldn’t be any mechanism installation; this is his habit.”
Xu Ziling asked in surprise, “Why do you suddenly become so smart that unexpectedly you could find such a moveable wall, which is completely no different than other walls? And now we should work together to push?”
In the dark, Kou Zhong kept pounding the wall in front of him. Assuming the air of a master worker, he spoke complacently, “This is called good fortune comes to the quick-witted; it is also called deathbed struggle. The texture of this moveable wall is different from other walls; it exudes some secret from it. Fortunately, we cannot see anything, but in my heart I am convinced of the existence of this ‘crucifix layout’. If there is any passageway behind this moveable wall, won’t it be in straight line with the corridor we came in from? Come! Press your hands right here.”
The two boys’ four palms pressed on the left edge of the moveable wall. While calling to God to bless them in their hearts, they shouted together and pushed with all their might.
The moveable wall was absolutely still.
“Perhaps we should push the other side,” Kou Zhong said.
Still, it did not budge, it did not respond the slightest bit.
“Impossible!” Kou Zhong blurted out, “This is clearly a moveable wall.”
Xu Ziling examined the wall for a moment; he agreed, “This six-chi square section of the wall is indeed different from the stony wall next to it; could there be any wall lock or something like that?”
Kou Zhong dejectedly said, “Xiaodi already groped around the foot of the wall, but I still end up empty-handed.”
Xu Ziling said, “In the book that Lu Xiansheng left behind, there must be a chapter about door lock. Can you recite it for me?”
Smiling ruefully, Kou Zhong said, “The parts that I understand I have committed it to memory; I am afraid reciting it won’t do you any good.”
Shaken, Xu Ziling said, “Are you saying that there are places that you don’t understand?”
Kou Zhong said, “There’s nothing difficult about it; the text is dead, when a living person is looking at it, naturally there will be questions.”
Blurted out laughing, Xu Ziling said, “Fancy you still mentioned it like it is proper and to be expected by right, and that any mistake is not on my part. Quickly recite the parts that you don’t understand for me; otherwise, our only choice is to pick those rusty weapons and use them to chisel the wall.”
After pondering quietly for half a day, Kou Zhong said, “There are only a few sentences that I do not understand. Among those, there are a couple of words about some kind of ‘interlock’, and some ‘open this and close that other’, or something like that. Do you think it will be useful in this case?”
Xu Ziling repeatedly recited the words ‘open this and close that other’ three times over. His tiger-body shook, he said, “I understand!”
Greatly delighted, Kou Zhong said, “Thank Heaven and thank the Earth! Such a mystery and you are able to grasp it. I should have handed over the legacy scroll to you earlier so that you could take the responsibility of studying it in details.”
“Don’t be too happy too soon,” Xu Ziling replied, “I am just thinking that if all the passageways and the vaults in this underground treasure-trove are laid out in east-west and north-south axes in crucifix arrangement, then at the end of the fake treasure-house and passageway pair, there should be another corridor. The moveable wall sealing the way should have an ‘interlock’ relationship with the moveable wall in front of our eyes. What do you think?”
Slapping his thigh, Kou Zhong said, “Makes sense. These two interlocking moveable walls separate the crucifix layout into west-south axes and the east-north axes, two regions; the west-south axes this side is the entrance, which is also used to deceive people, hence the fake treasure house is placed on this side. Such arrangement really displays the ‘psychological warfare’ to extreme saturation.”
The two groped around all the way to the wall directly opposite to the fake treasure house. They examined the wall for half a day, and were convinced that this was also a moveable wall, proving that Xu Ziling’s inference was correct; however, they still failed to open it.
Kou Zhong said, “If I am guessing correctly, Niang only came to the fake treasure house.”
Xu Ziling said, “Are you saying that because these two interlocking moveable walls must be activated by two people at the same time in order to unlock, and since Niang came alone to look for the treasure, she was unable to go to the other side?”
Kou Zhong sighed and said, “It’s most fun talking with you; someday after you leave, I will definitely feel lonely.”
Sneering, Xu Ziling said, “How will you have time to feel lonely? Less nonsense! I’ll take the north wall; how do we unlock it?”
Kou Zhong said, “Whether this wall or that wall, both are smooth and slick; even if Lu Dashi came in person, he would have no way to push inward. Do you have other ideas?”
Xu Ziling laughed and cursed, “You still speak more crap.”
Groped around the wall, he walked away. A moment later, Xu Ziling’s voice came back from the other end, “Get ready! Push!”
‘Clack!’ the two walls sank inside a cun or so at the same time.
“Success!” Kou Zhong called out loudly, “Wait for me to get there!”
Coming to Xu Ziling’s side, he said, “The west region should be located under Wu Lou Si, the north region naturally ought to be the control room where the hinges and buttons are located. According to the ‘open this and close that other’ principle, only one of these two moveable walls can be opened. When we reach the control room, then we can open all passageways. This deduction should be logical! Ay! I have had enough! I don’t want to make a mistake again.”
Inwardly Xu Ziling was also very cautious; smiling wryly, he said, “Your deduction seems to be quite logical. Ay! I’ve had enough as well!”
Kou Zhong laughed aloud and said, “Real men get buried inside the horse hide, viewing death as a return home. Pei [spit in contempt]!”
With that, he pushed the moveable wall using his shoulder. With loud rumbling the moveable wall swung inward; unable to stop the momentum, the two boys tumbled inward.
‘Bang!’ the moveable wall closed behind the two. Unexpectedly there was another ‘Clack!’ of the lock being engaged. It was so ingenious that it was hard to believe.
Like a déjà vu, another long corridor appeared before their eyes, complete with the faint light from the Night Ppearls at the other end.
Kou Zhong crawled back up and said, “I hope it’s not another arrow-shooting gate.”
Using the faint light of the Night Pearls, Xu Ziling carefully examined the floor. “Did you see this?” he said, “The floor seems to be made of two different shades of grey bricks, different from the other corridor just now.”
Focusing his eyes to look, Kou Zhong happily said, “Indeed! We have found the right place!”
Xu Ziling said in surprise, “If you hadn’t made mistakes over and over again earlier, just by listening to you, one would think that you had the treasure map in your hand.”
Kou Zhong excitedly said, “The fact is, the book on mechanism that Lu Dashi left behind is tantamount to a treasure map, it’s just that I did not understand it! This kind of ground pattern and layout ought to be nearing the end. Even if you take the wrong step, it would merely activate the alarm, just in case someone’s sneaking into the control room and trap the people inside the treasure-trove dead. Lu Dashi did say that although this is just a small gadget, it has great preventive function.”
“In that case,” Xu Ziling asked, “Should we tread on the dark brick, or on the light brick?”
Grabbing his head, Kou Zhong said, “On this, he did not say clearly. Since ancient times, success come to those who try. How about giving it a try?”
Xu Ziling laughed and said, “Haven’t you always been brave enough to try? Why are you acting like you want me to make the decision?”
Kou Zhong laughed aloud and said, “My confidence in mechanism has been thoroughly destroyed by the mechanism and traps in this place; I do not dare to trust my luck even more. Therefore, this time I want you to make the choice.”
Xu Ziling stretched out his foot to lightly tap the darker brick. He said, “These darker bricks should be the problem; tapping on it, there is a bit of unstable feeling.”
“That should be correct!” Kou Zhong said, “When the entire person sets foot on it, the weight might make the brick sink down one or two fen [part, or 1/100 of a chi], and thus activates the alarm bell.”
Xu Ziling tried to step on a square light-colored brick. Fully alert, he remained still for a moment, before saying, “Let’s go!”
Advancing gradually and entrenching themselves at every step, the two boys forged ahead. After about fifty steps, under the illumination of the two rows, left and right, of three Night Pearls each, indeed they saw a door. There was no steel ring this time, but there was a round knob, with numbers engraved along the circumference of the circle; there were altogether forty-nine markings. Above the knob, there was a red dot engraved on the wall of the door.
Looking at this, the two boys frowned deeply. Seeing the questioning look on Xu Ziling’s eyes as he was looking at him, Kou Zhong said, “This is another Lu Dashi’s invention, some kind of button lock. The button is engraved with numbers, which is called ‘Heaven and Earth Lock’, something about ‘turning left for the Heaven, turning right for the Earth’, also something about ‘Heaven one Earth two, Heaven three Earth four’. Reading that, I had big headache, and no idea what it means. Hey! Fortunately, facing this ‘Heaven and Earth Lock’, I suddenly understand it a bit.”
Xu Ziling did not understand, “You confused me,” he said, “Isn’t Lu Xiansheng’s secret book a book that teaches people how to install mechanism? But listening to you, it sounds like a book that only teaches people how to open and close a door, how to open and close a lock, just like a book that teaches people how to steal things.”
Kou Zhong confessed honestly, “The secret book indeed has detailed list of all kinds of mechanism layout, complete with diagrams and explanations, but then it’s like military tactics on paper [idiom, fig. theoretical discussion that is worse than useless in practice], plus Xiaodi is slow on the uptake in nature, hence I could only know one and understand half, plus it is constantly fading from memory, until finally I might as well gave it to Chen Laomou, this real expert, to see. This time, our biggest mistake was not inviting him, the Senior, to come along.”
Xu Ziling laughed in spite of himself, “You nearly infuriate me to death. This is perhaps the last hurdle. We must think of a way to unlock and break the obstacle.”
Appearing to be thinking hard, Kou Zhong said, “The structure inside is extremely complex and ingenious, but it’s not without no trace to look for, because when the correct number activates the button lock, it will produce different sound. This was mentioned by Lu Dashi himself.”
“This ought to be easy to accomplish,” Xu Ziling said, “Kou Dashi, please make your move.”
Kou Zhong squatted down. He slowly turned and pull the knob, while quietly mumbling to himself, “I’ll try ‘Heaven one Earth two’ first. I should turn it to the left first. My Niang! These markings agree with the numbers.”
When the number 21 passed the red dot, unexpectedly it produced a soft, unusual noise. But were it not for the two boys were wholeheartedly paying attention, they would surely miss it.
Kou Zhong pressed hard, creating a sharp ‘click’ noise. Laughing aloud, Kou Zhong said, “Finally we are being promoted, from the little pickpockets to divine thief, even this kind of weird lock we know how to open.”
Displeased, Xu Ziling said, “Why don’t you toot your horn after opening the door?”
Kou Zhong muttered again, “Turning right for the Earth!” And he twisted the knob in the opposite direction.
To the number 47, the unusual noise was heard again. Pressing down the button, there was another noise of the mechanism being activated.
Kou Zhong turned around and asked nervously, “Should we go Earth two, or this is it?”
Xu Ziling blurted out laughing and said, “Unexpectedly you are asking me?”
Kou Zhong ferociously clenched his teeth and continued until the number 47 was back, and then he pressed again.
As long as you are not deaf, you should know that the lock has been opened.
Kou Zhong stood up loftily, brushed the dust off his body, and pressed both hands on the door. And then he pushed hard.
The steel door gave up; it opened inside, revealing a small room, which was barely ten paces square.
In the middle of the room, there was a contraption that looked like a water well, with a large winch above it, and iron chain, which was as thick as a baby’s arm, wrapped around it.
After going through numerous setbacks and sufferings, they finally broke into the main control room of the world-famous Duke Yang’s Treasure-trove.
Xu Ziling and Kou Zhong turned the winch, the iron chain on the winch continuously grew. Obviously the other end of the chain was linked to some kind of wheel-and-axle equipment, which allowed them to lift the chain one fen and one cun at a time.
The chain could not move anymore. Kou Zhong hastily locked the handle in place.
The two boys your-eyes-looked-at-mine, they waited quietly.
After quite half a day, from the depth under their feet suddenly came a rumbling noise like a muffled thunder.
Greatly delighted, Kou Zhong said, “It’s the sound of flowing water!”
Xu Ziling said, “The mechanism is activated by hydraulic power.”
Kou Zhong spoke anxiously, “I hope Shi Zhixuan is not sitting in meditation inside the Fangzhang’s [Abbot] room. Otherwise, based on his skill, the vibration underground would not be hidden from him.”
Letting out a cold humph, Xu Ziling said, “So what if he knew? Will he know how to get down here?”
‘Creak! Creak!’ the sound of machinery rang out one after another. Finally the mechanism to operate the treasure-trove was activated.
Kou Zhong walked out of the door, and said with a laugh, “This time we learned from experience! Let’s take the Night Pearl, one pearl per person; Ling Shao, what do you think? We can’t be considered greedy, can we?”
The interlocking moveable walls separating the west-south axes and east-north axes were opened at the same time, revealing the secret passage leading into the treasure-trove on the east area.
The two boys walked through the long hallway, and reached a circular room, with a circular stone table right in the middle, surrounded by eight stone chairs. There was a map drawn on the table; it was detailed map of the treasure-trove, drawn in fine lines. It also showed the relationship of the treasure-trove and the City of Chang’an above the ground.
Along the wall of this circular room, there were four ordinary-looking wooden doors, separately leading into four different treasure rooms. There was even a flint, fire stick, and paper coal under the table, enough to lit the eight wall lanterns evenly-spaced around the circular wall.
When the room was brightly lit, the two boys searched around, and could not help gasping in amazement. They began to understand that certainly the name of Duke Yang’s Treasure was not in vain.
Each of the four stone rooms was as wide as a hundred paces. Three rooms contained weapons, one room contained money and valuables, but mostly was gold.
All the weapons were properly wrapped in special oilcloth to protect them against corrosion, and were placed inside sturdy wooden crate by the thousands. Roughly estimated, only the strong bows numbered more than three thousands, with arrows and darts beyond counting.
As for the others, armors, sabers, spears, swords, halberds, all kinds of weapons, they numbered in tens of thousands, enough to assemble a ten-thousand-men strong elite army with plenty to spare.
By the time the two boys returned to the stone table to sit down, their hearts were still in endless shock.
Kou Zhong sighed in admiration, “Yang Su indeed had a good taste; the weapons in the vault are all top-notch goods of highest quality.”
Xu Ziling focused his attention to look at the map drawn on the tabletop, “Where did Lu Xiansheng hide the Relics?”
Although they had not, as well as could not possibly – opened the more than ten thousand big chests in all four underground storehouses, they were positive that the Demonic Emperor’s Relics must be hidden in a separate secret place, so much so that Yang Su did not know either that Lu Miaozi stealthily hid the unusual treasure that everybody in the demonic school was yearning for even in their dreams – somewhere in the vault.
Kou Zhong sighed and said, “For the time being I am not in the mood to think about this pain-in-the-neck Relics, why don’t you see what kind of magic you can come up with.”
Xu Ziling said, “Laotianye has taken care of you in every possible way. There are altogether four passageways; the entrances are separately inside the four storehouses. One passageway is going straight to a small hill outside the city.”
Greatly delighted, Kou Zhong said, “This is called the Heaven will not disappoint the person who tries [idiom (Courtesy of Akolaw)].” But then he sighed and said, “However, to transport such large quantities of gold and weapons, even if Shuang Long Bang is deploying the entire army, we still don’t have enough power. To transport everything at once, the mule cart caravan will be, at least, more than a dozen li long. Carrying these things out is just a big joke. Even if you take the waterway, you will need at least ten, eight super-sized cargo ships.”
Xu Ziling was still reading the caption next to the map; he said, “The secret passage leading to outside the city is equipped with rails and iron cargo cars. By pulling and activating the winching cable, you can rapidly transport the weapons out of the city. Only I am afraid the so-called ‘rapid’ will still take at least a day or two.”
Kou Zhong pointed to a square on the map, located between the secret passage leading to outside the city and the treasure house, “This looks like another underground room,” he said.
Xu Ziling was reading the part about how to open the tunnel; he said, “Let’s not worry about other things first, this is the way to seal the treasure-trove, it can open the partition between fake treasure-trove and the real treasure-trove located at the west-south axes, so that even if someone knew the entrance at the Xi Ji Yuan, they cannot find their way here.”
Naturally Kou Zhong understood what he meant. Slapping the edge of the table, he was just about to exclaim, ‘Excellent!’ but his expression suddenly turned strange.
“What’s the matter?” Xu Ziling asked in astonishment.
Kou Zhong leaned over to look at the single leg supporting the stone table, which was embedded into the floor. He said, “This table is a bit weird. When I slapped on it, the reaction force entering my palm gave me the impression that it could move.”
Shaken, Xu Ziling said, “Could it be that this stone table is another variant of fancy ring lock? Perhaps it could open certain secret vault?”
Kou Zhong sprang up and said, “That must be it!”
Grabbing the edge of the table with both hands, he pulled it up. The table gave in and rose two cun, producing a light noise.
You looked at me, I looked at you, Kou Zhong said, “Turn left or turn right?”
Smiling ruefully, Xu Ziling replied, “I don’t think there will be arrows shooting up!”
Kou Zhong agreed; he said, “In that case, let’s use the ‘turning left for the Heaven’.”
From under the table came the sound of grinding wheel and axle as the table was turning counterclockwise.
An area by the table sank down, revealing a small, narrow space underneath.
Xu Ziling came over to the small square hole and looked down. He said, “There’s a small copper jar sealed with a lid over it.”
“I do not dare to have a free hand over it,” Kou Zhong said, “You open and take a look.”
Xu Ziling squatted and kneeled down to reach inside, but suddenly he pulled his hand back and said, “Remember that day at the Jing Nian Yuan, Liao Kong hid the Jade Annulus of He Clan inside the copper hall, so that we could not detect the Jade Annulus of He Clan’s presence?”
Kou Zhong nodded and said, “Right! If the lid is opened, perhaps Shi Zhixuan could sense it.”
Xu Ziling reached down again, not to open the lid of the copper jar, but to lift it up, to feel the weight of the jar.
Seeing he did not say anything, Kou Zhong could not help asking, “What do you think?”
Rising up to his full height, Xu Ziling said, “Let’s close the secret hole first.”
Kou Zhong complied; he closed the hole, and then after everything was back to its original condition, the two boys sat down again.
Xu Ziling said, “The jar is at least a hundred catties.”
Kou Zhong jumped in fright, “That heavy?” he said.
Xu Ziling said, “There must be a spherical object inside, immersed in some strange solution. This must be a unique secret method to make You Niaojuan and the others cannot sense the location of the Relics.”
Kou Zhong said, “But just now, why did your expression look strange? I thought you were possessed.”
Xu Ziling said, “It felt more or less the same as being possessed. When my hand touched the copper jar, unexpectedly all kinds of terrifying situation brimming with the reek of blood appeared in my mind. My ears even seemed to hear the screaming of millions of ghosts of the people who died unjustly, demanding retribution. It took quite half a day to get rid of it.”
Kou Zhong shuddered, “So evil!” he commented.
Xu Ziling said, “I think it is almost daybreak. Let’s make decision how to proceed first.”
Kou Zhong’s gaze fell back to the map on the table. He said, “The other three tunnels are leading to Xi Ji Yuan … ha! Isn’t this the Sha Mansion? How can there be such a coincidence.”
Xu Ziling laughed and said, “If you haven’t left a letter saying that you are running away, it would be quite convenient to go home.”
Kou Zhong was studying the exit of the last passageway. Frowning, he said, “This is not an exit, but it could lead directly to the Yong An Canal.”
After thinking deeply for half a day, Kou Zhong decisively said, “I’ll stay here to try to understand all the mechanism here; I have to trouble Ling Shao to take the Yong An Canal exit, and then lead Zhandao and the others to come in. We will then establish our invincible position first before thinking of other things that injure our spirit.”
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