The gap on top of the ancient alloy box looked ordinary. The gap was only because the box was missing an alloy piece. Once, Xia Lei had put a pen inside the hole and the result had been very frightening. The box was right in front of Xia Lei right now, and there was no movement from it but it still looked full of mysteries. It made people feel in awe just by looking at it.
“Emptiness is not the sky; there is no distance. Time is not time; thousands of years pass in an instant. The traveller came from a distant time. The sky is not his obstacle and time cannot destroy his body. He is searching for the starting point but he is lost in the dark world. He is about to lose himself. The only thing that can…”
Xia Lei’s mind was still thinking about the words that he had heard. The glimmer of light that had appeared in his head was becoming clearer and clearer.
A few minutes later, Xia Lei found a screwdriver. He carefully placed the screwdriver in the hole in the ancient alloy box.
He had placed a pen inside the ancient alloy box last time. This time, he wanted to use a sturdier object for the experiment.
The screwdriver was much longer than the ancient alloy box but the hole in the ancient alloy box was like a bottomless pit. The screwdriver did not reach the bottom of the ancient alloy box when he put it inside.
When only a tiny portion of the handle of the screwdriver remained, Xia Lei swiftly and violently pushed the screwdriver into the ancient alloy box, and quickly drew back his hand. The screwdriver disappeared completely, and he felt a trace of fluctuation in the energy from the hole this time. This energy fluctuation passed very quickly, and it had disappeared so quickly that he wasn’t even sure if he had actually witnessed it or not.
Xia Lei didn’t worry too much about the issue. His line of sight moved to his watch. The time right now was only one second after he had put the screwdriver in. He memorised the time.
Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock...
After the second hand of the watch ticked fifty-nine times, there was a sudden fluctuation in the energy in the void. The screwdriver which had disappeared before reappeared. It was quietly floating above the void, making it seem like there was an invisible pallet propping it up. The screwdriver was covered in rust, and even the plastic on the handle had disappeared. It looked like it had spent a thousand years in the wind and sun.
Bang! The screwdriver fell on the workbench. Although it didn’t turn into a pile of dust, all the rust had fallen off. Now, the screwdriver was only a tenth of its original size. The surfaces of the screwdriver were also twisted and not smooth at all.
Although he had attempted this multiple times, Xia Lei’s heart was still full of fear. A screwdriver had gone into the ancient alloy box, yet when it came out, nine-tenths of it had turned into rust. Even the plastic handle had completely decomposed. This meant that the time-space within the ancient alloy box should be over a thousand years! If a living person entered the box and came back, won’t that person return as a pile of bones?
The glimmer of insight he had had before was to enter the ancient alloy box himself.
“Emptiness is not the sky; there is no distance. Time is not time; thousands of years pass in an instant.” Wasn’t this describing what had just happened in the experiment? The screwdriver had disappeared into the ancient alloy box, but it had reappeared from the void. The emptiness was not the sky. There was no distance. At that time, the screwdriver had only entered the box for one minute, yet when it reappeared, it looked as if it had experienced over a thousand years of erosion. This phenomenon was precisely what the saying had described; how in the blink of an eye, a thousand years had passed.
“The traveller came from a distant time. The sky is not his obstacle and time cannot destroy his body.” It seemed like someone had entered the world inside the ancient alloy box, and his body wasn’t destroyed by time.
“He is searching for the starting point but he is lost in the dark world.” This sentence seemed to be saying that the traveler was looking for something but had gotten lost. The dark world it was referring to was probably the world inside the ancient alloy box. Princess Yongmei had once described the world inside the box. She said that the world inside the box was dark, empty, and very cold. Her description was evidence in disguise.
He had interpreted all this by analyzing Ning Jing’s words. He felt like his interpretation and analysis of his speech should be around 80% to 90% accurate. However, Ning Jing didn’t finish speaking. What he couldn’t understand was Ning Jing’s last words. “He is about to lose himself. The only thing that can…” No matter what he did, Xia Lei just couldn’t understand the meaning behind it.
‘It was quite difficult for me to get some clues. I should try and solve it no matter what.’ Xia Lei turned and left the underground laboratory.
Xia Lei returned to the laboratory ten minutes later. He had a plastic bag in his hand with a cicada in it. He had caught the cicada in the greenery outside the villa. In addition to the cicada, he had asked for a live chicken from the dining hall. He didn’t put the chicken inside the bag but carried it in his other hand instead.
“Cluck, cluck-cluck…” The live chicken kept making noises.
A chicken’s brain was very simple, and Xia Lei didn’t even know if it was feeling fear or not.
When the live chicken entered the underground laboratory, it didn’t immediately die or go crazy. But not many people have seen a chicken really go crazy in this world, right?
Xia Lei wasn’t in the mood to study how the chicken would react when it was exposed to the ancient alloy’s energy field. After he returned to the lab, he used tweezers to carefully insert the cicada into the hole in the ancient alloy box.
A minute later, the energy around the void in the ancient alloy box began to fluctuate. What appeared from the void wasn’t a cicada, but grayish-black ash.
Xia Lei put the cicada inside again and the result was the same. After a minute, the cicada didn’t return from the void. What appeared was an even smaller amount of fine ash.
From the experience, it seemed like a mere cicada can’t withstand a thousand years of erosion. When it came out, its body had completely turned into ash. It was impossible for Xia Lei to know how long it had spent inside the box. However, it only took one minute in this world for it to die and for him to observe the result.
After a short pause, Xia Lei caught the live chicken and cautiously pushed it into the hole in the ancient alloy box.
The chicken was many times larger than the ancient alloy box. What was strange was how the hole on the ancient alloy box was similar to a black hole. Any object that entered its energy field would be compressed. The chicken didn’t even touch the ancient alloy box when he put it in. It gave off the feeling that it could even fit in a car, much less a chicken. This was because every time that an object got close to the hole, it would trigger a mysterious energy field. Once the energy field was triggered, like the opening of a funnel, it was able to fit an object that was even bigger than the box itself.
Just how big of an object could the ancient alloy box fit? Xia Lei had never attempted that kind of experiment but he guessed that he would be able to fit if he wanted to go in himself.
The void trembled for a moment before a pile of chicken bones and some ash fell out from it. The chicken bones fell onto the workbench and turned into dust. There wasn’t even a single chicken bone remaining.
Before the three attempts, Xia Lei wanted to venture into the space inside the box himself, but he backed out from that thought now. He had just one life. He might see the truth after he entered the box, but if it was at the expense of his life, then he would rather not.
The experiment was over, and Xia Lei was deep in thought. ‘Ning Jing’s words were a hint that people can actually enter the ancient alloy box. But with the situation right now, who would dare to enter it? But if no one goes, then the clues will become meaningless…’
Xia Lei sighed. He had finally found some clues, but he didn’t expect that his progress would come to a standstill again now.
Ring ring ring...
Xia Lei’s phone suddenly rang. He took out his phone and looked at the caller ID, then immediately swiped his finger over the screen to answer the call. “Zhengnan, what’s the matter?”
“Lu Sheng went to the office to look for you, but you weren’t there. I asked him why he was looking for you and he told me that a few Germans had come here to meet you. I told him that I would contact you. He is still waiting for your reply. Should I let the Germans into the building?” said Liu Zhengnan.
“How many Germans are there?” Xia Lei frowned. “Did Lu Sheng ask the other party for their identification and their reason for coming here?
The sound of Liu Zhengnan talking to another person in the background came through the phone. After that, his voice became clear again. “Brother, I have just asked. Lu Sheng said that it was the German ambassador from last time. His name is Philip. There are two assistants with him. One of the assistant is called Alida, but he doesn’t know the name of the other assistant. Mm… The other assistant is very young.”
“I got it. I will come right away.” Xia Lei said, “Zhengnan, I want you to tell Lu Sheng to let those people in then take them to my office.”
“I understand, Brother.” Liu Zhengnan hung up.
Xia Lei couldn’t help a smile. This was the first time that Liu Zhengnan had called him ‘Brother’ when Xia Xue wasn’t by his side. This showed that Liu Zhengnan and Xia Xue’s relationship had progressed to the point of a “half family”. Liu Zhengnan’s personality was very good and he was also capable. On the last trip to Germany, Xia Lei had realized that Liu Zhengnan was someone who was very loyal. He would be relieved if Xia Xue was together with Liu Zhengnan.
However, the smile at the corners of Xia Lei’s mouth quickly disappeared. The Thunder Horse Military Factory had just completed a full upgrade. The Hellfire One-soldier Cannon had recently been released and the Germans had already come knocking at his door. There is a saying which went ‘those who had ill intentions will come but those who don’t, won’t come’. Could Philip have come because of another order from the German government?
After a short while, Xia Lei put all the things away, inside a safe.
‘A young German woman? If Lu Sheng doesn’t recognise her, then it is obviously not Annina. Maybe she is a German secret service agent or a government worker.’ Xia Lei left the villa and headed towards his office, pondering as he walked.
Xia Xue came running over to him before he got to his office building. “Brother, I have something I want to tell you,” called Xia Xue from a distance.
“What’s the matter?” Xia Lei smiled and said, “Could you already want me to prepare the dowry for you?”
Xia Xue’s cheeks reddened immediately. She delicately hit Xia Lei’s arm. “Brother, we… We haven’t reached that stage yet!”
“Don’t lie to me. Zhengnan has already begun addressing me as his brother. Doesn’t this show that you guys have already been discussing marriage? You can tell me, it doesn’t matter. Since you’re my little sister, your dowry will not be less than eight hundred million, to a billion yuan.” Xia Lei’s mood became better again.
“I won’t talk to you anymore.” Xia Xue couldn't beat Xia Lei’s teasing. She turned around and ran away.
“Didn’t you say that you have something to tell me? Why did you run away?” Xia Lei said.
Xia Xue stopped running. “Oh, I forgot. It’s all your fault!”
“Tell me, what’s the matter?”
“I received a package today. It was sent to school, so I made a special trip back to school to bring it here.”
“That’s all?” Xia Lei felt it a little strange.
Xia Xue said, “It’s not an ordinary package. Inside the package was…”
Xia Xue had not finished speaking when they heard someone speaking in German above them. “Mr Xia, I have come again. How long are you planning to make me wait?”
Xia Xue looked up and saw the German ambassador, Philip.
“Brother, you can go tend to your business first. When you’re done, I will come and talk to you again,” said Xia Xue.
Xia Lei thought about it for a moment. He urged, “Don’t touch the things inside the package, just bring the package to my office later.”
“Okay, got it.” Xia Xue bounced away.Previous Chapter Next Chapter