This city was not far from Jerusalem but they needed to cross the Palestine border. Xia Lei only reached Amman at nightfall. This was the capital of Jordan, and it was prosperous and a rare oasis of peace in the Middle East.
Xia Lei found a hotel in Amman and checked in. Long Bing used her satellite phone to call China and report their situation.
“Someone will come pick us up tomorrow,” said Long Bing after ending the call with Shi Boren. “He told us to stay in the hotel and guard the items well.” She then looked at Xia Lei. “Especially you. Boss specially told me that you have to be protected well. You’re like a National Treasure now.”
Xia Lei rubbed his fat mask-face and laughed. “I do look like a panda now but I don’t need your special protection. Just protect yourselves. This is Jordan but the CIA’s might reaches all over the world. We should still be careful.”
“Okay, okay, Long Bing, it’s getting late. You should go back to your room and rest,” said Tang Yuyan.
Long Bing spoke evenly, “I was the one who booked the rooms. Three rooms. Your room is next door. Why are you still here?”
“I… I’m on my way back to my room.” Tang Yuyan rolled her eyes at Long Bing and walked to the door.
Long Bing drew close to Xia Lei’s ear and complained, “She’s quite good in her seduction methods. Don’t get hooked. If anything happens between you two Shentu Tianyin will soon hear about it, and the one who leaks it will be none other than her. Don’t blame me for not warning you then.”
Xia Lei was speechless.
“What are you talking about?” Tang Yuyan looked back at Long Bing and Xia Lei.
“I was reminding him to lock his door in case of thieves. You know, some things must not be lost,” said Long Bing.
“Mm-hm, I’ll be careful,” said Xia Lei.
Tang Yuyan then opened the door and left.
Xia Lei sent Long Bing out the door and did actually lock the door. He recalled the words Long Bing had just said and a wry smile appeared in the corners of his mouth. ‘If something happens between Tang Yuyan and I, would she really tell Shentu Tianyin?’
Just thinking about it gave one a headache.
Tang Yuyan was beautiful and well-rounded, definitely one who stirred flames of desire; difficult for men to resist her charms. But to Xia Lei, having just Shentu Tianyin was enough.
Xia Lei sat staring blankly for a bit, then opened his travel bag and took out the items he had taken from the tomb, and that compass.
This was the first time he had the compass and a new needle in his hands at the same time. This was an opportunity for him to see which direction the new needle would point when he put it on the compass. This was quite important to him because the next time a group was going to be sent after treasure, it would likely not be a treasure-seeking group but him.
He changed the needle and it pointed straight east.
‘East?’ Xia Lei was surprised. ‘Could it be in China? No way. A treasure location was already found in China. If it’s in China then Princess Yongmei would have excavated it long ago. She only had one piece of alloy in her coffin. But if it’s not in China then where in the east?’
He quickly thought of a place.
‘Could it be Japan?’ Xia Lei frowned when he thought of Japan. ‘Japan is almost like a subordinate country to America. If it really is in Japan then it’ll be quite troublesome. If I have to go to Japan to look for treasure I could be surrounded by American soldiers once I step off the plane. I hope it’s a small island in the east, or some other region.’
There was no use over-thinking things like these. He had no way of choosing the next treasure location. If it really was Japan, then he could only grit his teeth and go excavate.
He put away the compass and turned his attention to the alloy pieces. He picked up the pieces and tried to put them together, piece by piece. He managed to form a surface - a flat, square surface.
‘Damn, is it really a box?’ Xia Lei held the flat surface in his hand and looked closely at it, feeling very surprised indeed.
Five pieces made a square surface. If it really was a box, then according to what he had now, five pieces made one surface… so he needed 30 pieces to make a complete box. He currently had seven pieces - he was short 23 pieces!
This made Xia Lei want to groan in dismay. He had gone through two highways to hell for just seven pieces - how many more death-defying trips would he have to make to get all the pieces?
After a bit, Xia Lei used his X-ray vision on a piece of ancient alloy. He experienced that feeling again, and when that passed, a snow-white Princess Yongmei, so beautiful she could take one’s breath away, appeared in his room.
He had not had time to observe Princess Yongmei in that ancient tomb under the church but he had a lot of time now.
Princess Yongmei stared straight at Xia Lei, who was lying on the bed. She did not speak.
Xia Lei greeted her first. “Hi, how’re you doing?”
Xia Lei expected her to say the same old lines. Princess Yongmei could only say two lines in China and the Princess Yongmei who appeared here could say four lines.
“Hello,” said Princess Yongmei.
“Ah?” Xia Lei was gobsmacked. This Princess Yongmei could say more than four lines! This ‘hello’ was the fifth line she could say.
And this line was even more of a positive indicator because this was her greeting him!
“I’m so cold.” Princess Yongmei said another line.
Xia Lei paused, then abruptly took up the jacket he had put on the bedside table and got off the bed. He walked up to Princess Yongmei and stretched out the jacket to her.
His jacket fell on her graceful shoulders but it did not stay on her shoulders - it dropped to the floor right away.
“It’s no use,” said Princess Yongmei, “I cannot wear it.”
Xia Lei looked at the jacket on the floor and at Princess Yongmei standing before him, and no words could describe how thunderstruck he was.
What he could confirm was that the Princess Yongmei who had appeared before him right now had very clear consciousness and an ability to communicate! She could say greetings, felt cold, and knew she could not put clothes on!
Xia Lei took a deep breath, trying his best to calm himself down. He then said carefully, “Princess Yongmei, I… I am your friend. I want to help you but I need to understand some things. Can you tell me what type of alloy this is? Why are you looking for them?” He pointed at the completed flat surface of alloy pieces on the bed as he spoke.
Princess Yongmei held her head in her hands and looked confused and in pain. “Why don’t I remember who I am? Alloy… What alloy?”
Xia Lei was stunned. She didn’t remember!
“What’s wrong with me… I’m so cold…” Princess Yongmei seemed to be in greater and greater pain.
Xia Lei’s gaze went to the alloy pieces, assembled into a flat surface and he made a bold conclusion. ‘The Princess Yongmei in China could say just two lines and had practically no clear consciousness. In the tomb under the church she could say four lines and had a higher level of consciousness. The Princess Yongmei tonight seems to have a high level of conscious thought and personality. Could these changes be related to the number of alloy pieces, and the fact that I had pieced them together into one of the surfaces of a cube?’
Indeed, Princess Yongmei had a huge change from the beginning, and every change was related to the number of alloy pieces gathered. He had not put the pieces together in the tomb but he had now, and she had a clearer consciousness now. So this was not just related to the number of alloy pieces but also the shape they formed!
Xia Lei could not help hypothesising. If he put all the alloy pieces together and made a complete box, what would Princess Yongmei become then?
This was a mind-blowing thought.
“You are Princess Yongmei, a Ming dynasty princess. Your father is Zhu Xi, Emperor Yongle.” Xia Lei tried to direct Princess Yongmei’s thoughts after his surprise subsided. “Try to remember. Is it your father who told you to look for this sort of alloy? What are you looking for them for?”
“I don’t know. I’m so cold.” Princess Yongmei drew close, into Xia Lei’s arms, trying to get warmth from his body.
A wave of cold came from Princess Yongmei’s ‘body’ and Xia Lei was frozen instantly. He wanted to send Princess Yongmei back into the alloy pieces but was a little unwilling to do so. After some hesitation, he took a few steps back and out of Princess Yongmei’s range. He then took off his top and bottoms and walked to the bathroom. He turned on the shower and let the hot water fall on his body.
Princess Yongmei appeared in the bathroom too. She looked with wide eyes at Xia Lei in his briefs. The hot water splashing off Xia Lei’s body fell on her too, and a strange thing happened a second water.
The water droplets which fell on Princess Yongmei turned into ice droplets and fell to the floor in a tinkle.
This scene shocked Xia Lei. He could not help thinking that Princess Yongmei wouldn’t take long to freeze a swimming pool if she were thrown into one.
A woman like this was a true ice queen!
“So warm.” Princess Yongmei seemed to feel the warmth of the hot water. She walked under the shower to take a shower with Xia Lei.
Plenty of water came from the shower head so her body could not freeze all that was coming out. Under her feet, however, the floor of the shower soon iced up, and a thin layer of frost covered the surface of the bathroom and spread towards the wall.
“Are you feeling better now?” Xia Lei kept probing. “If you feel better, please tell me - what are those alloy pieces?”
“I don’t know.”
“Then what do you know?”
“I know…” Princess Yongmei thought for a bit and said suddenly, “You’re the one. I’ve been waiting for you.”
“What do you mean? Please explain it.”
“Don’t ask me. I don’t know.” Princess Yongmei glared into Xia Lei’s eyes. Her eyes were dark ponds, as deep as the stars in the night sky. He eyes were like a whirlpool, sucking out the soul of a human.
Xia Lei shook his head to free himself of her gaze, and broke free from his trance. ‘Looks like I’ll need to find more alloy pieces to complete the box and solve this mystery.’
“The One. What is this?” said Princess Yongmei.
“The One?” Xia Lei couldn’t help laughing. “Is this the name you’re giving me? My name’s Xia Lei, not ‘The One’.”
“The One,” said Princess Yongmei.
Xia Lei shrugged. “Okay, call me whatever you want.” He then remembered something. “What did you say just now?”
Princess Yongmei suddenly reached out and patted Xia Lei on the shoulder.
He came running out of the bathroom a second later, knocking at the ice on his shoulder with his fist.Previous Chapter Next Chapter