Zu An was astounded by what he was hearing.
He couldn’t help himself. “Bro, where’s your integrity?” he yelled at the general. He didn’t even feel like calling this corpse ‘elder’ anymore.
Even though General Ya Zhang had never heard of the word ‘integrity’ before, he could more or less guess at the meaning. “I am in charge of guarding this place and preventing intruders from entering. My job is to wait until the destined ones come to undergo the trial. I can tell that you two are fated to take the trial, so there is no need for us to fight anymore.”
Pei Mianman came up to Zu An to find out just what the hell was going on. This dried up corpse had been hostile and aggressive a second ago, yet its attitude had completely changed in an instant.
Zu An told her through voice transmission that he had a means to eliminate evil spirits.
Pei Mianman beamed. She was pleasantly surprised at first, but then it hit her—if this was the case, why did they bother letting themselves get beaten up in the first place?
As if he could read her mind, Zu An explained awkwardly, “I know too many things, so I sort of forgot about it…”
Pei Mianman stared at him in disbelief.
To hide his embarrassment, Zu An quickly turned to the general and asked, “How do you deduce if someone is destined?”
He left out the second part of his question. Don’t tell me you’re calling me some destined one just because I have a way to hurt you…
General Ya Zhang had already walked over to the wall. He stabbed his spear into the ground, and freed his bull from the wall.
The bull was still dizzy after being pulled free, but when it saw Zu An, it bellowed and prepared to charge again.
General Ya Zhang placed his hand on its back and caressed it gently, and it gradually calmed down. The two of them seemed to share a special understanding.
The general finally replied to Zu An’s question. “First of all, the trial must be attempted by both a man and woman at the same time. If only a single man or woman entered, they would not be the destined ones. Furthermore…”
He paused for a moment, and then he turned his dried-up head towards Pei Mianman. “There is a familiar aura coming from her.”
Pei Mianman stared at him in puzzlement.
Zu An recalled the strange things that had happened to her along the way, and quickly asked, “What do you mean?”
General Ya Zhang replied, “She seems to possess the aura of a Shang queen.”
“A Shang queen?” Zu An frowned. “Which queen?”
General Ya Zhang shook his head. “It isn’t a specific queen. Instead, I sense many queens within her.”
Zu An narrowed his eyes.
What the hell is this? Is this guy coming up with bullshit just to swindle me?
Pei Mianman was a little frightened when she heard this, and subconsciously leaned against Zu An, as if he was her only source of reassurance.
Zu An held her comfortingly.
Mi Li’s voice whispered into his ear, “Kid, your luck with girls really is good. Who knows, even queens from another dynasty might be joining you in bed.”
She immediately regretted these words when they came out of her mouth. Wasn’t she a queen herself?
Zu An rolled his eyes. “Manman is just Manman, how can she be anyone else? I refuse to believe in such coincidences. How likely is it for us to run into another queen like you who isn’t dead yet?”
Mi Li sniffed. She also knew that such a thing was rather unlikely. Her circumstances were exceedingly unique. Who else could end up with her rotten luck?
“Follow me,” General Ya Zhang said.
He bent his knees slightly, then leapt up to the surface. The bull mooed a couple of times, then jumped out as well. It was difficult to imagine how something with such a stout body could leap so gracefully.
Zu An and Pei Mianman exchanged glances, then followed their lead as well.
Seeing that the two of them had exited the tomb pit as well, Ya Zhang turned and led the way, his bull following alongside.
It was reassuring to know that the guardian of the place was personally leading the way.
Despite this, though, Zu An wasn’t ready to completely let down his guard. He exchanged glances with Pei Mianman, and saw that she was doing the same. Both of them remained vigilant, ready to act instantly if anything strange occurred.
Zu An needed to know more, so he asked, “Excuse me, General. Are you Ya Zhang?”
“Yes.” Ya Zhang replied. “My name is Ya. Zhang is my tribe.”
Zu An was stunned. “You aren’t a member of the Shang?”
Ya Zhang replied, “My tribe served the Shang monarch, so we can be considered half-Shang.”
“It looks like the Shang monarch trusted you quite a bit since he put you in charge of guarding the tomb.” Zu An showered him with a healthy dose of praise. He didn’t know if this fellow was a man or a ghost, but whatever he was, he would probably like hearing something like this.
Sure enough, a proud look appeared on Ya Zhang’s face. “I have made countless heroic contributions to the Shang monarch, and my rank in the military is second only to Fu Hao. I am ranked beneath her not because my achievements are beneath hers, but because of her status as the queen.”
“Fu Hao?” Zu An recalled the history lesson Mi Li had given him as they perused the murals in the palace earlier.
“But the queen is an amazing woman, beautiful and excellent in battle. I have no complaints about being ranked beneath her.” Ya Zhang’s voice seemed to color with a different sort of feeling.
Zu An smiled. “It seems like the general admires Fu Hao quite a bit.”
Ya Zhang’s ‘face’ changed. “Please do not say such irresponsible things! If His Majesty heard that, we would be offered up as living sacrifices.”
As he said this, he looked all around him in panic, as though he was scared of something.
A sudden thought struck Zu An. “Is your monarch still alive?”
Ya Zhang shook his head. “My beloved bull and I are the only ones left in the tomb. I have always revered His Majesty and the queen like deities. It was an instinctive reaction.”
Zu An smiled. “You only mentioned that you were afraid of incurring the wrath of your king. You did not dismiss your adoration of Fu Hao.”
Ya Zhang stiffened, and remained silent for a long while. Eventually, he sighed deeply. “Who wouldn’t adore a heroic figure like the empress? But everyone reveres her like a deity. None of us have any other inappropriate thoughts.”
Pei Mianman couldn’t help but pinch Zu An’s waist. Why was this fella so gossipy? He was being rather rude towards these ancient people.
Zu An judged it a good enough time to cut the small talk, so he used the momentum of the conversation to pivot to what was important. “By the way, what is the nature of this trial that you mentioned?”
“I do not know what kind of trial awaits you inside either. The two of you must explore it yourselves.” Ya Zhang paused for a moment, then added, “Let me offer you a warning. Several pairs entered the trial over the past ten thousand years, all of them giants among men. Their strength were far greater than yours, but none of them passed the trial.”
Pei Mianman’s face drained of color, and she quickly asked, “What happens if you fail the trial?”
“Death, of course.” Ya Zhang looked at her, and his voice became much gentler. “But you two do not need to be too worried. Even though your cultivation levels are lower than the others, he has many secrets on him, while you have the aura of the queens. Who knows, the two of you might really be able to unlock the secrets of this dungeon.”
Zu An asked, “What if we don’t participate in the trial? Is there a way to leave this dungeon?”
Since his primordial ki was enough to overcome the general, it was not absolutely necessary to take the trial.
Ya Zhang shook his head. “There isn't. You can only leave this place by passing the trial. Also you must participate as quickly as possible, or else you will be assimilated into this dungeon, and your bodies will become a part of the dungeon as well.”
Their expressions immediately grew alarmed, and they quickly examined their own bodies. Sure enough, their ki was flowing out of their bodies at an extremely slow rate. They had initially put it down to fatigue after all the constant fighting, but now they knew that it was a consequence of just being in this dungeon.
Pei Mianman bit her lip. She had just confirmed her relationship with Zu An earlier, and she had wanted to enjoy a bit of peace with her lover here. Now, it looked like they wouldn’t have that chance.
“In that case, General, do you know where we can find the jade badge of the Eastern Barbarians?” Zu An asked gravely. His agreement with the Eastern Barbarian princess was still firmly on his mind.
“The jade badge?” Ya Zhang thought for a moment. “I have an impression of something like that. The queen was quite fond of it in the past, I believe, so His Majesty buried it with her in her tomb. You can enter the queen’s tomb once you pass the trial.”
Zu An laughed bitterly. It seemed like there was no other choice but to take the trial.
By this time, they had reached a large hall. When they saw the interior of it, both Pei Mianman and Zu An were shell-shocked.Previous Chapter Next Chapter