Several guests were already present at Mark Armin's house. Some were executives of Rheinmetall AG, while some were his relatives and friends. Two really famous stars were also present — Rihanna, a goddess of the entertainment industry, and Thomas Mueller, a top football star from Bayern Munich.
Some people felt it was unexpected that Rihanna and Mueller would be here, but it wasn’t strange that Mark Armin would have friends like Rihanna or Mueller since his status was CEO of Rheinmetall AG. Rihanna and Mueller were more famous than Mark Armin, but their statuses couldn’t compare to Mark Armin in the slightest.
Xia Lei had heard many of Rihanna’s songs and also watched Mueller play in some friendly matches between the Bayern Munich football team and Chinese football team, but he only glanced at them. He did not go up and greet them or ask for an autograph.
Sylvia, on the other hand, got excited when she saw Mueller and Rihanna chatting by the living room window. “Hold on. I’m going to ask for an autograph. I’m a fan of Rihanna and Mueller, you know. Ahh, I’m so lucky,” she said to Xia Lei.
“Go on, I’ll look around,” said Xia Lei.
Sylvia walked towards Rihanna and Mueller.
Xia Lei took a glass of beer from an attendant’s tray and walked towards an oil painting.
The oil painting looked ancient and depicted a battle. The battle was by the beach, between Viking pirates and Gauls. The Vikings were on one side, with several Viking warships behind them, while the Gauls were on the other side, with a smoking village and church in their background.
The Viking pirates were very fierce, but the Gauls were also famous for being a warlike people. They were heroic, defiant in the face of death, and were tall and stalwart. They seemed to be fighting for their village, women, and children behind them. Their homeland and family seemed to strengthen their courage and it looked like the Gauls had a clear advantage in the painting.
‘Could this be the Viking battle Sylvia was talking about? Where only a single Viking woman was left? The Viking woman finally took her revenge and occupied this little town, naming it “Valhalla Box Town”.’ Xia Lei was head was full of imagined scenes.
He had been interested in this story because of the word ‘box’. Ever since the Alloy X Project had come to a stop, he couldn’t help but notice everything that had to do with a box. Anything related to boxes had become his obsession now.
Xia Lei’s gaze slowly swept over the oil painting, and suddenly stopped on a Viking pirate’s face. His heart seemed to stop, and his thoughts froze in that instant.
A unique necklace hung from that female Viking’s neck. The necklace’s pendant wasn’t made of gold or silver, but a bronze colored metal.
Xia Lei was fairly sure that the bronze colored metal painted around the female Viking’s neck was the same ancient alloy that he had fished out of Princess Yongmei’s mouth in her tomb.
In that instant, Xia Lei’s mind was suddenly opened up to new levels of thought.
He thought of many, many different things, and also considered many, many possibilities.
Valhalla Box Town. This wasn’t a name which had been given casually. It was very likely that this name had something to do with the ancient alloy box. As for ‘Valhalla’, this didn’t simply refer to the Vikings’s beliefs. It could be hinting at a soul which had to do with the box, like Princess Yongmei’s very real soul, not a spirit which went to the Great Viking Hall to boast and drink.
The Vikings invaded Europe from the 8th to 11th century CE. The Ming dynasty and Jerusalem did not exist in that period of history. Later, the Crusades happened and the European kings led troops to conquer the Middle East, and established a Christian kingdom in Jerusalem. The ancient alloy around this female Viking’s neck had probably ended up in Jerusalem during that time, and later ended up in the hands of the Ming dynasty princess, Zhu Xuanyue. A few centuries later, it had fallen into Xia Lei’s hands.
Mysteriously, inevitably, a mysterious power seemed to be moving these unknown events along, and the people involved were just a grain of sand in the river of time. Some drifted along, or sank to the river’s depths, or disappear within the waves. Princess Yongmei of the Ming dynasty was a grain of sand, and the mysterious man who had laid in the tomb underneath the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was another grain of sand. Now, this Viking woman was yet another grain of sand.
‘Will I become a grain of sand like that?’ Xia Lei couldn’t help thinking this.
This thought made him feel sad. His greatest wish was to collect all of the ancient alloy pieces and put that box together to reveal all of its secrets. But it now looked like an unknown number of people had dreamed of doing the same thing, and worked hard to that end since ancient times. But what had happened in the end? No one had been able to do it!
Xia Lei looked at the Viking woman’s face in the painting again. Perhaps too many years had passed, but the lines of the Viking woman’s face were not distinct, and the colours were blurred, making it unclear.
Maybe it was because he couldn’t see it clearly, but Xia Lei’s left eye twitched and his zoom-in vision was quietly awakened. Piece after piece of colour, and line after line between the colors entered his left eye. His mind began reorganising information based on what he saw. This process was like a 3D projection technique, where a fallen building was being rebuilt from its debris. Every single brick, every single piece of steel, and even every grain of sand was restored to its original position.
Three minutes later, Xia Lei saw a different face.
This face startled him.
The Viking woman in the painting… her face... was Princess Yongmei’s face!
It wasn’t known if the original painter had painted Princess Yongmei’s face, or if he had been highly skilled and hidden Princess Yongmei’s face underneath a female Viking’s face. It wasn’t as if no one hadn’t done that before. In the world-famous Mona Lisa, the painter had used that technique and some scientific researchers had discovered a painting of Mona Lisa’s unsmiling face underneath Mona Lisa’s smile.
‘This… how could this be possible!’ A shiver ran over Xia Lei’s heart.
Ever since he had come across Princess Yongmei, he had discovered two corpses of Princess Yongmei, and he was now seeing Princess Yongmei’s face in a painting which depicted a battle between Viking pirates and Gauls. The Ming dynasty didn’t even exist at that time!
If the Ming dynasty didn’t exist then where did Princess Yongmei, Zhu Xuanyue, come from?
If he had only discovered Princess Yongmei corpses and hadn’t seen that old man’s corpse in the tomb underneath Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, it would have been easier for him to understand. However, there had been a corpse which didn’t belong to Princess Yongmei. Xia Lei felt he would still not be clever enough to figure this out, even if he had the smartest brain in the world.
‘What the hell is going on here? Did she trick me? She wasn’t a Ming dynasty princess at all? But I talked with her, and she seemed to know the Ming dynasty’s matters like the back of her hand. The great Emperor Yongle, the Ming dynasty Embroidered Guards, the troops of the Ming dynasty, and the City of the White Horse of Tomorrow, which she had built… Were these all fabricated? If she wasn’t Zhu Xuanyue, then who was she?’ Question after question filled Xia Lei’s brain like a tide, creating a whirlpool which sucked in all of his thoughts. He had a very strange feeling. He abruptly felt like he was the only person left in this world, all alone, without anyone or anything else.
“Hey, Mr Xia. Do you like this painting?” Mark Armin walked up to Xia Lei, and looked at the oil painting on the wall with him.
Xia Lei come to his senses then. He paused for a moment before saying, “Yes, the style is very mysterious. I like things with mystery.”
Mark Armin laughed. “That’s a very unique opinion. You know, this painting is a family treasure which has been passed down through the generations. This heirloom has been passed down for almost 600 years.”
“Almost 600 years?” Xia Lei’s heart thumped. Then that meant that the Ming dynasty did exist when this oil painting was made.
“Yes, that’s right.” Mark Armin suddenly lowered his voice. “Let me tell you a secret. This painting was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci. Very few people know of this secret in the collector’s world. I only took it out to show it off today because it is my birthday. I usually keep it in a thermostatic chamber.”
Xia Lei was dumbstruck when he heard this. This painting was actually drawn by Da Vinci, who was known as the first all-rounded individual. He would never have even dreamed of it.
“Mr Xia, keep this to yourself. Don’t tell anyone else.” Mark Armin laughingly said, “I don’t want the auctioneers badgering me, and I would much rather not have art thieves visiting my house.”
“I won’t. I will protect your secret. Thank you for sharing this secret with me.”
As he spoke, Xia Lei’s mind was already automatically drawing a relationship chart. Princess Yongmei, Princess Yongmei 2, the mysterious old man, Princess Yongmei 3 in the painting, and himself, Xia Lei. Then, he even made an events diagram. A female Viking pirate with Yongmei Princess’s face landed on the German coast and fought with the Gauls. Several hundred years later, a European king led troops to conquer Jerusalem, and afterwards a princess of the Ming dynasty brought Ming soldiers into Afghanistan and built the City of the White Horse of Tomorrow. Several hundreds of years later, he and Tang Yuyan had arrived at the White Hun tribe and discovered the City of the White Horse of Tomorrow...
Although his brain had drafted out a relationship map, each person and each event was still
tangled together, and was very confusing.
Mark Armin looked at Xia Lei. The look in his eyes was odd and his tone was a little strange. “Mr Xia, you’re also someone with secrets. Is there anything you’d like to share?”
Xia Lei paused. “What are you talking about?”
Mark Armin was about to speak when Sylvia walked over, looking very excited. “Mr Xia, Miss Rihanna wants to get to know you.”
Xia Lei looked at the window, and his gaze collided with that of Rihanna’s. Rihanna smiled at Xia Lei, and her full lips were very sexy.
“Pardon me, Mr Mark Armin.” Rihanna had sent an invitation over right when Xia Lei was thinking about coming up with an excuse to walk away from Mark Armin.
“Please, go ahead.” Mark Armin had a smile on his face.
Xia Lei walked off with Sylvia, thinking ‘Why would this Mark Armin ask something like that? The look in his eyes was very odd.’
The smile on Mark Armin’s face disappeared, replaced by a faint pondering frown in the corners of his mouth.Previous Chapter Next Chapter