A cold draft blew past his cheeks, ruffling his hair.
Why was there a draft in here?
Xia Lei observed the entrances of the six passageways closely and soon discovered that drafts of air were coming from the first, third and sixth passageways. The second, fourth and fifth ones had no drafts of air and no sound came from them. He focused his gaze on the second passageway. According to da Vinci’s map, the second passageway was the correct one to take.
Xia Lei did not step onto the “correct” pathway right away either. He used his previous method to test the accuracy of the map. He threw heavy weapons into the other five passageways, then activated his X-ray vision to look at the end of the passageways. He got the results of his observations fairly quickly, and he was puzzled. There were no problems at all with the six passageways in front of him, and not one of them had any hidden traps.
What was going on here?
Just as Xia Lei moved to enter the second passageway, his head suddenly felt heavy. He shook his head to clear it, but it did not help. What was worse was that his vision was getting blurry too.
‘It’s…’ Xia Lei abruptly identified the problem. ‘It’s the wind!’
The draft of air blew silently.
Step… Step… Step…
The sound of high heels on stone suddenly came from the first passageway.
Xia Lei took out his gun and levelled it. He watched the entrance of the first passageway, alert.
The footsteps got closer. A woman soon appeared in the entrance of the first passageway. Her face was illuminated by the light stick as she got close, and Xia Lei’s jaw almost dropped to the ground in shock when he saw her face.
She was none other than Gu Kewen.
“You’re dead, Xia Lei.” A mocking smile came to her lips.
“How are you here?” Xia Lei aimed his gun at Gu Kewen’s head. He would shoot her at any time and end her.
Gu Kewen replied casually, “Do you think you’re the only smart man on Earth? If you can find this maze, then so can I.”
Step… Step… Step…
Footsteps came from the six passageways again.
Xia Lei looked for the source of the sound and saw another familiar face. Dark Mona. He moved his hand at almost the same instant he spotted her, and pulled the trigger.
Bang! The gun recoiled. A bullet flew from its muzzle.
Dark Mona zipped aside, and raised her own gun to fire at Xia Lei as she dodged.
BOOM! Her modified gun was powerful, and the sound of it firing was as terrifying as a shotgun.
Xia Lei dove to the side and rolled. Sparks flew in the spot he had just vacated, and shards of stone shot in all directions.
Bang bang bang!
Gunshots sounded, and pain lanced. Xia Lei came to a stop on the ground. He was shocked — he had been shot in his chest, lower abdomen and thigh. Blood flowed from these three gunshot wounds, wetting his clothes and the ground.
Gu Kewen and Dark Mona walked towards him. The two women had sneers on their faces.
“You’re formidable, aren’t you, Xia Lei? No matter how formidable you are though, you are just one person. Did you think that you were some all-capable god?” sneered Gu Kewen. She raised the muzzle of her gun and pressed it to Xia Lei’s head.
“Let me.” Dark Mona pressed Gu Kewen’s hand down, and slowly placed the muzzle of her modified gun on Xia Lei’s head.
She just had to move her finger very slightly to blast Xia Lei’s brains out.
‘Am I going to die?’ Xia Lei was filled with anger and resentment. He wanted to fight, but his strength was ebbing out of his body with his blood. He didn’t even have the strength to spit at the two women, much less crawl to his feet and fight.
“Let us reach an end, Xia Lei.” Dark Mona’s finger moved to the trigger.
However, the mysterious force which dwelled in his brain showed itself once again. A cool, refreshing feeling instantly infused his body, and all of his pain, terror, anger and anxiety disappeared. What remained was a quiet place. He was the only live person in this maze. There was no Gu Kewen, no Dark Mona, and no wounds. What he had experienced earlier was all a hallucination!
Xia Lei’s gaze went immediately to the bodies of the Knights Hospitaller. He understood how they died now. There had been a fierce battle here with no opposing force because these knights had killed each other while hallucinating!
‘If I had just entered the second passageway like indicated in da Vinci’s map, I would not have been exposed to that draft and had hallucinations. But who would just enter the passageway immediately without testing it when faced with six options, and the experience of having passageways with traps earlier? Da Vinci had incorporated psychological warfare into the design of this maze. He truly is an elite genius,’ thought Xia Lei in admiration.
He suspected that Leonardo da Vinci had consumed AE capsules too, and this suspicion only grew stronger.
The sinister draft quieted.
This was obviously no natural wind, but a poisonous wind which made people hallucinate. If his brain had not released that energy earlier, the result would have been too terrible for him to imagine. He could have died of shock, of madness. Whichever end he met, he would still die here.
Xia Lei entered the second passageway.
There were yet more passageways at the end of the second passageway, up to 12. The area in front of these passageways had no bodies of knights there. It was easy for Xia Lei to conclude that the Knights Hospitaller had entered this place hundreds of years ago, and two of them had died at the passageways with the hidden crossbows, and the rest had died at the second intersection.
The knights’ leader had not managed to obtain the “metal of the gods” in the end, nor managed to send his letter to his commander. With his and his subordinates’ deaths, the maze had fallen silent again, lurking underground. It had been silent until today, when it received a new visitor.
Xia Lei did not linger this time. He observed and used his X-ray vision on the correct passageway and entered it. He passed through it safely. The maze grew more complicated the deeper he went. If one could see the cross-section of this maze in its entirety, it was indeed the most complicated and most dangerous maze in the world. If one came in here without the map da Vinci had left on the canvas of the Mona Lisa, this would spell certain death!
He went through passageway after passageway safely. One hour later, Xia Lei came to a spacious hall.
Black was still the only shade of colour in this place. The floor tiles in this hall were black, and the stone of the walls were black too. There were also black stone statues in the hall, and a black stone sarcophagus.
Xia Lei walked up to a stone statue and raised the light stick in his hand. The perfect beauty of the statue met his eyes, and his heart thumped, hard.
The stone statue had no clothing on. It was a statue of a man, with a strong body, muscles firm and full of power. It also sported a rather large man package. The only thing missing was… a face!
Xia Lei moved to another statue.
This statue was a woman, with beautiful body lines. The sculptor had carved the breasts and the groin area in great detail, and the sight of them filled one’s head with imagination. The sculpture had carved every single detail of the body, everything, but her face.
The remaining four statues were the same, with no faces. However, though they had no faces, the six statues were different. They had different body characteristics. Statues two and five were women, but statue two had obviously larger breasts than statue five. Statue five’s buttocks were more well-rounded than statue two’s, and had longer legs too. Statue one and three were men, and statue one’s little soldier was longer than statue three’s, and statue three had bigger muscles. *
The strange painting Ning Jing had painted came to Xia Lei’s mind. There had been six people in that painting, three men and three women. They had used their bodies to make the shape of a box, and they all had no faces.
This was not a coincidence, but a message.
Xia Lei walked towards the stone sarcophagus.
A name had been carved into the lid: Leonardo Di Serpiero Da Vinci
This was Leonardo da Vinci’s name.
This name stunned Xia Lei. He had researched and collected information on da Vinci before coming to Italy. Based on his memory, da Vinci had died in France in 1519, and his body had been laid to rest in a French church. This church had been destroyed in the French Revolution of 1789. Leonardo da Vinci’s remains were then moved to a grave by the side of Saint Hubert chapel in Amboise, France. Another theory was that the French Revolutionary Army lacked materials back then and sacked graves for materials. They had thrown Leonardo da Vinci’s bones into a mass grave, and nobody had been able to find his bones till now. The tomb for him now was just a cover.
If Leonardo da Vinci’s bones had been buried in the Saint Hubert chapel… or thrown into a mass grave… What was this stone sarcophagus in front of him now?
Mystery after mystery. Xia Lei felt like his super brain could barely cope with this anymore.
He called forth the power of his X-ray vision to see what it was like in the stone sarcophagus. His X-ray ability had indeed penetrated it, but the inside of it was an absolute dark space, with no light. Xia Lei only saw darkness.
He gave up a minute later, and tried to push the lid of the sarcophagus open.
A layer of resin had been applied between the lid and the sarcophagus, and the resin had dried up after hundreds of years to be as hard as stone. This was a sealing treatment, and it had become a problem for Xia Lei.
Xia Lei moved a few steps away, and took out his gun. He fired two shots into the corners of the sarcophagus.
The bullets blasted away a corner of stone, and the resin below was also destroyed.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
Gunshots rang out as bullet after bullet flew from the muzzle of the gun, hitting the same place over and over. The stone around the area the bullets hit was not damaged much, but the resin was broken. The cracks grew larger and larger, and the hot bullets also seemed to make the resin melt a little.
A magazine emptied, Xia Lei took his combat knife out and put it into the gap. He tried to lever the lid loose.
The resin had dried up and become as hard as stone but it was not a whole entity after all. After about ten minutes of effort, Xia Lei finally opened the lid of the sarcophagus.
There was a rumble as the lid moved.
The lid scraped against the stone sarcophagus as it was slowly pushed off, and its contents met Xia Lei’s eyes.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
*Why the eff was it necessary to describe the statues like this?!