Princess Yongmei was becoming more ‘complete’ with the accumulation of alloy pieces. The actions and emotions she expressed were getting more and more like a real person’s.
It wasn’t just that. Xia Lei discovered that the temperature of the area Princess Yongmei was in would drop if she was angry. Her strange power seemed to be linked to her moods.
The angry Princess Yongmei made Xia Lei fearful since she had the ability to kill people without leaving any traces. She called him ‘The One’, but who could guarantee that she would not harm him when she was angry?
“Please calm down.” Xia Lei was nervous. He took two steps back.
“You’re afraid of me?” Princess Yongmei seemed to sense something,
Xia Lei put on a face of calm. “A little. I don’t know what you are. You scare me.”
“I will never hurt you, because you are The One,” said Princess Yongmei. “And don’t you know? I have no way of killing you.”
Xia Lei understood - he recalled the experts who’d either gone mad or died. They had interacted with the ancient alloy too but he was the only one who was unaffected. If killing or driving someone mad was a sort of ability, then he would not be killed by this since he was immune to it.
‘Hold on…’ A thought flashed in Xia Lei’s head. ‘Why am I immune to the effects of this alloy and to Princess Yongmei’s power? Do I also have this sort of ability and it’s just that I haven’t detected it yet? Or is it dormant in my body, yet to be awakened?’
This was a fairly bold idea but it was entirely possible too!
Xia Lei broke out in cold sweat after this thought ran through his head. He thought of Shentu Tianyin. If he had an ability like Princess Yongmei’s and if it activated while he was being intimate with Tianyin… would she be made into a literal ice queen?
Princess Yongmei looked quietly at Xia Lei. Her eyes seemed to bore into his soul.
Xia Lei had another thought. ‘If I have the same sort of ability as hers, then will it be activated if I eat the last AE capsule? Would I become like her?’
This thought made him break out in cold sweat again. If taking the last capsule meant that he would become an existence like Princess Yongmei’s, then he would not want to take it, not even if it meant having greater powers.
“What are you thinking about?” asked Princess Yongmei probingly. She could not see his thoughts.
Xia Lei came back to his senses. “You want to stay outside?”
“Yes. I don’t ever want to go in again.”
“What’s in there?”
“Nothing. Darkness. Darkness without end.” Princess Yongmei looked pained, unwilling to bring up memories of what it was like inside.
“Darkness without end? You can’t see anything? Nothing other than darkness?”
Princess Yongmei shook her head. “I’ve said it clearly. Darkness. Just darkness. I can see nothing and touch nothing.”
Xia Lei thought for a bit. “Can you describe that void to me?”
“Void? Perhaps you’re right that it’s a void, but I don’t know anything,” said Princess Yongmei.
Xia Lei was absorbed in his thoughts again. He’d guessed that it was an empty void. Dark, cold, empty. His gaze went to the single assembled side of a box. The side had a pattern of arches on it. Was that a depiction of the arched doorway to that void?
“Promise me that you won’t close me up in there again.” Princess Yongmei looked pleadingly at Xia Lei.
Xia Lei considered it, then said, “I can, but I have two conditions which you have to agree to.”
“What conditions? Speak.”
“I know you can kill people, and damage brains to make them go crazy. You can stay outside if you want but you cannot harm anyone,” said Xia Lei.
“What if someone wants to harm you, and I want to help you?” asked Princess Yongmei.
“In that case, you can help me - but you need my approval,” said Xia Lei.
“No problem, I agree to that. What is the other condition?”
“The area around you will turn cold whenever you appear. Others will discover this and it’ll bring me trouble. Also, I’d like to have my privacy. I don’t want you to turn up next to me when I’m in the toilet or taking a shower, for example. Can you agree to this condition?”
Princess Yongmei thought for a bit. “I can. I can hide in your necklace when you don’t want me to appear.”
Xia Lei looked down at the necklace around his neck, at the pendant holding the last AE capsule. He’d never told Princess Yongmei about this last AE capsule but she knew of its existence. This was surprising.
“The thing hidden inside gives me a warm feeling. It feels like it is a part of me. I can enter it,” said Princess Yongmei.
“How do you enter it?”
Princess Yongmei smiled. Her smile was a little strange. Her body suddenly begun to condense, like it was collapsing on itself. She rapidly shrunk till she was a small ball of light the size of a capsule, and she flew towards the pendant around Xia Lei’s neck.
Cold flew at Xia Lei, but the cold was not unbearable - his soul though, was shaken.
Xia Lei abruptly moved his gaze to the ancient alloy on the work table just before the light entered his pendant, and he used his X-ray vision. Cold and darkness swirled towards him, and it felt like his soul was being sucked into a dark abyss. This feeling soon vanished, and Princess Yongmei was nowhere to be seen when his vision returned to normal.
He then looked at his pendant with his X-ray vision. The AE capsule was undamaged.
Xia Lei had gone back on his promise to not close her up in the alloy pieces.
The last smile Princess Yongmei made had sent a chill through his heart. He had immediately remembered those experts who had been killed or driven mad by her, and realised that making this sort of deal with her was unwise. The more complete Princess Yongmei was, the more powerful she became. She was also quick to anger now, and lose control. He could just barely control her now but if he collected more alloy pieces, she would become more powerful and he would have no way of controlling her!
Most importantly, he suspected that Princess Yongmei had had designs on his AE capsule in that last second.
Since she could compress herself, she could hide in a pen, or in a wallet - why did she have to hide in the AE capsule?
The AE capsule around his neck was the source of his powers and everything he had had been built upon it. This was more important than anything else, and Princess Yongmei was not to sully it!
‘Phew. I nearly fell for her trick. She said she did not want to stay inside but wasn’t she in there for hundreds of years? Forget it - I’m not going to let her out again, not before I solve the mystery of the ancient alloy.’ Xia Lei made his decision.
Xia Lei left the laboratory and went to the office to sit down for a bit, and settle some paperwork. After work, he brought Xia Xue to Shentu Tianyin’s Jingdu home. On their way there, Xia Xue insisted on getting a gift, and Xia Lei could not refuse. He parked and accompanied her on a shopping trip to buy a pile of gifts to bring to Shentu Tianyin’s place.
Shentu Tianyin was waiting at the door thanks to Xia Lei’s call.
This was the first meeting of the sisters-in-law. This was why Xia Xue had insisted on getting gifts and why Shentu Tianyin had come out to greet them personally.
“Hello, Sister-in-law.” Xia Xue was polite and she greeted her warmly.
Shentu Tianyin was all smiles. “Little Xue is so pretty - like a doll.”
Xia Xue giggled. “No, Sister-in-law is the true beauty here. You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve seen.”
Shentu Tianyin was pleased. She subconsciously thought of Liang Siyao, Xia Lei’s first girlfriend. Xia Xue must have seen her. She said she was the most beautiful woman she’d seen, so this must mean she was more beautiful than Liang Siayo. This was just an offhanded comment and there was no real beauty standard-marker but Shentu Tianyin was still pleased by what she heard from this young lass’s mouth.
“Xue, this is your home too from now on. There’s no need to buy gifts either - no need to buy gifts when you’re coming back to your own home,” said Shentu Tianyin.
“Mm, yes, Sister-in-law.” Xia Xue put honey in her words, sweet as can be.
Back and forth they went, exchanging pleasantries. They chatted happily, leaving Xia Lei out in the cold. He only found a chance to speak to Shentu Tianyin after they got through the door. He called her to the study, and took out the flash drive he had taken from Ahn Suhyeong’s corpse. Xia Lei handed it to Shentu Tianyin.
“This is the thing which Ahn Suhyeong’s using to pressure you. The originals are with Gu Kewen,” said Xia Lei. “I managed to get this flash drive but I am sure Gu Kewen has a copy.”
“Hubby, I…” Shentu Tianyin burrowed into Xia Lei’s embrace. “I should have listened to your warning back then. I’m worried now. What am I going to do if Gu Kewen uses what she has against me?”
Xia Lei was quiet for a bit before saying, “Tianyin, be honest. How many government assets did Gu Kewen help you purchase?”
“Twenty… Over twenty billion,” said Shentu Tianyin.
“You-! Argh!” Xia Lei sighed and furrowed his brows. The amount Shentu Tianyin had uttered was much higher than he’d anticipated.
Illegal acquisition of state-owned assets as the same as embezzlement. It was a very serious crime. There was a heavy punishment for people who had misappropriated tens of millions… Over twenty billion? This might end with losing a head!
Shentu Tianyin grew nervous too. “Hubby, I didn’t want this either. But such irresistible assets… someone else would take them even if I didn’t. I didn’t expect that Gu Kewen would do such a thing, and a thing so serious at that. What should I do?”
“Let me think about it. Don’t tell Father about this. Don’t let him worry.” Xia Lei could not think of anything on the spot.
Xia Xue suddenly stuck her head in the doorway and giggled. “Sister-in-law, Brother, you two don’t have to be so lovey-dovey. How is a sad single like me supposed to interact with you?”
Xia Lei rolled his eyes at her. “Hang out with your sister-in-law for a bit. I’ll go make dinner.”
“Okay! Brother sure is a good husband,” said Xia Xue with a smile.
A small smile appeared on Shentu Tianyin’s face too, but she had too many heavy thoughts on her mind to be in a jovial mood.Previous Chapter Next Chapter