Zu An frowned.
This woman seems to bear a great deal of ill will for men. It seems like Qin Shihuang has really broken her heart back then, resulting in her hatred for all men in the world.
“Who’s flirting with him? Where’s the Heaven Seal? Let’s proceed to the third stage!” exclaimed Qiao Xueying.
Mi Li’s voice echoed once more, “How unexpected. I never thought that the two of you would be able to break the Human Seal and Earth Seal. While you seem to have struggled quite a bit, it doesn’t seem like you have exhausted yourself too much. This is truly a miracle. I’m aware of Ying Zheng’s means; it shouldn’t have been possible for the two of you to clear the two trials at all.”
Zu An knew that she was speaking the truth. For the Human Seal, if not for Qiao Xueying’s extendable hair tripping over the copper giants and the razor-sharp Poisonous Prick, it was unlikely that he would have been able to defeat those astonishingly resilient, self-recovering copper giants.
It was even much more of a close shave in the Earth Seal. Had it not been for the Magical Flashlight suppressing the terracotta army and the skillful maneuvers of Sunflower Phantasm, he would have died many times over. He was confident that even an expert of Chu Zhongtian’s caliber wouldn’t have fared better than he did if placed in the same situation.
Even so, he only survived due to Qiao Xueying’s sacrifice via the Half Life’s Fate.
“Since you knew that we wouldn’t succeed, why did you still put us through the risk?” asked Zu An.
A peal of euphonious but chilling laughter echoed. “I have nothing to lose anyway. Even if you fail, all I have to do is to wait a while longer for the next batch of people to enter the underground palace. Time is one thing that I don’t lack.”
“…” Zu An.
“…” Qiao Xueying.
“So we were just your guinea pig?” Zu An gritted his teeth when he thought of the various times he nearly lost his life in the trials.
“You had the choice but to challenge the seals. I didn’t force you into this,” replied Mi Li coldly.
Zu An really felt like leaving there and then, but knowing that Chu Chuyan was still waiting for him, he could only swallow his anger down and said, “Fine, let’s go!”
He walked up to the Heaven Seal together with Qiao Xueying and stepped on top of the formation together.
There was a burst of white light. When the feeling of weightlessness finally disappeared, the two of them froze in place. They thought that the Heaven Seal would be fraught with dangers, but their surroundings hardly looked threatening at all.
It was a peaceful sight of the countryside. There was a stream flowing gently with a small bridge above it. The light breeze delivered the songs of the birds far and wide. In the far distance, men could be seen plowing the field and women weaving cloth by their homes. Chickens were roaming the fields in search of food, and dogs were lying lazily under the sun.
“This is the Heaven Seal?” muttered Qiao Xueying uncertainly.
All she could see was a peaceful countryside village; she couldn’t imagine any danger coming from here.
However, Zu An remarked deeply, “Don’t be fooled by appearances. This village might just be filled with powerful experts.”
“Powerful experts?” Qiao Xueying looked at the people around and replied, “Doesn’t seem to be the case. While few of them do emanate some ki, their cultivation doesn’t seem to be even at your level. They can’t possibly be experts.”
“What do you mean ‘even at my level’?” demanded Zu An angrily.
It was then that they realized that their hands were linked once again, and they quickly retracted their own hands.
“It’s just in case we get teleported to different places!” Qiao Xueying’s eyes swam around the area as she explained.
“That’s what I was thinking too.” Zu An was also a little astonished by how he kept instinctively grabbing the hands of that foul-mouthed woman.
In order to alleviate the awkwardness, Qiao Xueying quickly added, “Ah, I think we shouldn’t trust that woman’s words too. The fact that she’s sealed here means that she’s an extremely dangerous person. If we release her without preparing any means to curb her, there’s a chance that she might renege on her promise and not save Chu Chuyan. In fact, it’s completely possible for her to turn against us too.”
Zu An knew that she was referring to Mi Li, and he replied, “I know that too, but there’s no other option at the moment unless we’re willing to watch helplessly as Chuyan is tributed.”
Qiao Xueying fell silent. It was possible for the two of them to escape alone, but Chu Chuyan would be a goner. She wouldn’t be able to live with her conscience if that were to happen.
Zu An gazed at the faraway village and said, “Let’s focus our effort on dealing with the Heaven Seal first. Judging from the dangers we faced from the earlier two seals, the Heaven Seal is likely to have dangers hidden in here too.”
Qiao Xueying nodded in response as she scanned her surroundings warily. It was fortunate that Zu An’s medicine had allowed her to recover greatly. She wasn’t back to her peak yet, but she was at least able to protect herself now.
They walked over to the entrance of the village, intending to approach one of the villagers to ask about the situation here. Unexpectedly, a dog that was basking in the sun suddenly started barking at the two of them.
Zu An initially thought that it was some sort of ferocious beast, but no matter how he assessed the dog, it looked just like a native Chinese dog to him. Put in a world of cultivation, it looked as harmless as a sheep.
However, its barks quickly piqued the attention of the villagers. Quite a few of them brought hoes and carrying poles with them and surrounded the two of them warily. A brawny man stood forward and warned deeply, “Who are you? What are you doing here?”
Zu An clasped his fist and said, “Hello, we were passing by the area when we lost our way. May I know where we are at the moment?”
The brawny man frowned. “With that suspicious ratlike face of yours, you must be a fugitive. Leave our village right now, or else we’ll be calling the constables over!”
“…” Zu An.
What the hell? It’s one thing for you to say that I’m a fugitive, but suspicious ratlike face? How can this dashing face of mine be ratlike?!
You should really get your eyes checked out!
Zu An was infuriated and about to lash out like a shrew, but Qiao Xueying pulled him aside and stepped forward with a smile, saying, “Hello, fellow brothers. My brother and I encountered some bandits a few days ago and ended up having to flee desperately for our lives. It wasn’t easy for them to shake them off, and we happened to stumble by your village right after. It’s not our wish to disturb your peace, but we lost our luggage and possessions along the way, and we’re now thirsty and hungry. May I ask you to spare some water for us?”
The brawny man’s attitude immediately became much more amicable upon seeing Qiao Xueying’s beautiful appearance. It was also only then that he noticed that the back of her dress was stained in fresh blood, which further piqued his pity. He quickly said, “Those bandits sure are hateful to harm a young miss like you! Come in and have a rest, we’ll prepare some food and water for you. We’ll get a physician to prescribe some medicine for you too.”
Qiao Xueying was soon escorted into the village by a huge group of people. Before leaving, she even blinked her eyes at him, expressing her glee in full.
What’s wrong with these villagers? I approached them amicably, but they tried to chase me away as if I’m a thief. Qiao Xueying’s body was cloaked in blood and clearly doesn’t look like a good citizen at all, but they ended up getting so friendly with her?
Bloody hell! Is this world all about appearances? But my appearance doesn’t lose out to her at all…
In the end, Zu An could only attribute the matter to the fact that Qiao Xueying was a girl.
Hmph, despite the honest looks of those villagers, they’re all old perverts!
He trailed behind the group with a nasty look on his face, watching with a sullen expression as the villagers delivered a cup of water into her hands and even invited an old physician over to prescribe some medicine for her.
“Isn’t Snow being too unguarded here? Isn’t she worried at all that the water might be spiked?” retorted Zu An.
It was fortunate that Qiao Xueying hadn’t lost herself in the preferential treatment she was receiving. She thanks the villagers before making use of this opportunity to gather some information, “Big brother Chen, may I know where am I at?”
It had only been moments since she entered the village, but she already knew the surname of the brawny man. It looked like women really had an advantage when it came to this sort of stuff.
“This is the Dong Commandery’s Chen Village,” replied the brawny man.
Qiao Xueying was stunned. She didn’t recall there being a ‘Dong Commandery’ in the Zhou Dynasty.
Meanwhile, Zu An frowned upon hearing those words. He was aware that Qin Shihuang was from the Qin Dynasty, and he vaguely remembered there being a Dong Commandery under the Qin Country’s jurisdiction. It was located in the Henan, Hebei, and Shandong provinces.
What’s happening in the Heaven Seal?
He had been carefully examining his surroundings all this while, and he noticed that most of the villagers were ordinary civilians. Even the few cultivators amidst them were not too strong either. It was hard to believe that this was the final trial of the Soul Suppression Seal.
“Miss Qiao, you should hurry up and leave after taking a rest. You’re of unknown background, so our village dares not to keep you with us. If anything happens, our entire village might be collectively punished,” said the brawny man named Chen Wei.
“Collective punishment…” mumbled Zu An.
The Qin Dynasty was known for its draconian laws that employed collective punishments. In this era, farmers were bound to their lands, forbidden from leaving their ‘allocated areas’. People who roamed into other territories like Zu An and Qiao Xueying were either nobles or fugitives. It would be one thing if they were nobles, but if the local magistrate found their village guilty of harboring fugitives, everyone here might be killed under the crime of failing to report the matter to the authorities. Given so, there was no way they would dare to accept strangers.
“Thank you, big brother Chen, and all of the uncles and aunties here too.”
Qiao Xueying didn’t want to put them in a spot, so after chatting for a while longer, they left the Chen Village. While waving the villagers goodbye, Qiao Xueying asked Zu An softly, “What do you think is going on in this Heaven Seal? I don’t get what’s happening at all.”
“I’m also having trouble making sense of this,” replied Zu An with a shake of his head.
Qiao Xueying pondered for a moment before suggesting, “Should we try searching the area to see where the other roads lead to?”
“There’s no point doing that,” replied Zu An. “Have you forgotten how it was like for the Human Seal? We tried to enter the city, but we couldn’t get in no matter what we tried. Since we were teleported to this village, the crux is likely in here.”
Qiao Xueying bit her lips. She also knew that it was likely to be the case, but this didn’t bode well for them since there was nothing for them to work with. “What should we do now then? We can’t even enter the village.”
Zu An rolled his eyes. “Are you dumb? We can just sneak in at night to take a look!”
Qiao Xueying sighed deeply and remarked, “These people treated me quite well. I really hope that they won’t be our enemies.”
“The Chu clan treated you fairly well too, but you didn’t have any trouble turning your back on them,” scoffed Zu An.
Qiao Xueying immediately blew up. “Are you done yet? Your words have been carrying thorns since a while ago!”
“Is it? I’m just speaking the truth,” replied Zu An with a shrug before averting his gaze awkwardly.
Qiao Xueying suddenly burst into laughter. “I get it now. You must be jealous because you saw them treating me well despite having ignored you.”
“Rubbish! Would I care about all that?” exclaimed Zu An as he walked away. “Let’s take a look around the perimeters of the village to familiarize ourselves with the terrain first. It’s going to be sunset soon.”
He wasn’t too worried about time here because he realized that the flow of time in the trial was different from the outside world. As long as he didn’t stall for too long, he should still be able to make it in time.
“Just as I’ve thought! Heh, what a narrow-minded man he is!” Qiao Xueying followed him with an amused smile on her lips. Her mood suddenly felt much better than before.Previous Chapter Next Chapter