A SECRET NOT MEANT TO BE KNOWN
Instead of returning home with Benjamin, Elisabeth decided to stay in Shang Simla for a little longer. She had to unveil the mystery of the Dragon’s Maw at any cost. After Benjamin told her about the curse, Elisabeth was determined to find out if his words were true. And if they really were… well, in that case, she had to act quickly. I hope Sima can help me out with this, Elisabeth thought to herself and headed towards the market with the hope that she would find her there.
Unfortunately, Sima Zhi was probably somewhere else at the moment, so Elisabeth had to confront herself with other locals which didn’t seem to like her much. The last time she entered the relic shop, the merchant didn’t want to talk to her. Elisabeth still had no idea what could have possibly caused that. Worried that the relic merchant would behave the same way she did the last time Elisabeth asked her about Sima Zhi, Elisabeth rather went to ask the general goods merchant instead.
It proved to be a wise decision since this merchant behaved politely to Elisabeth, or maybe he simply didn’t know what the relic merchant knew. But who could know that, right? Maybe he just saw a pretty girl and decided to be nice. In one way or another, Elisabeth learned where to search for Sima. The merchant told her, that Sima Zhi hasn’t left her home for months, so she could probably find her there.
Sima lived with her sister and a friend at 70 South Shang Simla Hills. Finding their home wasn’t so difficult. When Elisabeth walked in the front yard, she found Sima standing there and, as it seemed, waiting.
She walked up to her and they greeted each other.
“We have patiently awaited the day of your return, Elisabeth. It is high time you arrived.”
This was the last Elisabeth expected to hear. Maybe she already knows, Elisabeth thought to herself and tried to remain calm. “What do you mean it’s high time, Sima?”
“I have trusted you, Elisabeth. I know I told you where to find the Dragon cave, but at the same time I also warned you to stay away from the sarcophaguses.”
“I’m sorry, Sima, I really am. I know I had to listen to you, but I just-”
“The peace is disrupted and we locals cannot do much about it. You’re the only person that can, Elisabeth,” Sima interrupted her. “If you are truly sorry, you should head back to the base camp and check the board by the stairs. I’m sure you’ll know where to start. Good luck,” with this said, Sima Zhi was done talking to Elisabeth.
She bowed to her and then disappeared in the house. Elisabeth didn’t get the chance to ask any further questions. She remained standing in the front yard for another ten minutes or so before she realized that there was no going back. Elisabeth remembered, that she returned mainly because of the Dragon cave, so now it was her duty to bring back peace to Shang Simla at any cost… but first she had to find out what was actually going on.
I don’t believe my eyes, Elisabeth thought to herself when she looked at the board.
Disruptor of the Peace
to every tourist visiting Shang Simla
Shang Simla used to be a peaceful town, a favorite destination of many visitors coming from every corner of the world to admire its beauty. Unfortunately not everyone comes here to admire the colorful flora or try the delicious dim sum. Two years ago, a foreigner entered the Dragon cave and disrupted the peace that lasted for many generations. Thereby I must warn you: if you happen to visit our town during the full moon, be very careful. There are numerous reports from the locals speaking of very strange events happening each month when
“When?” Elisabeth read the last word on the letter and wondered why someone ripped it off. I have to find the missing part. It must be around here somewhere. Elisabeth looked at the floor, but there was nothing. She looked back at the letter and observed it from closer. “Hmm, it looks like that someone ripped it of quite recently. I wonder what was the reason.” She walked around for a while searching for the torn off part when she suddenly noticed a ball of crumpled paper under a nearby bush. She quickly opened it only to discover that she was lucky. This time.
the full moon appears on the night sky.
Therefore, it is highly recommended to stay indoors should you find yourself in Shang Simla under the full moon.
Liang Yat Sen
representative of Shang Simla
Elisabeth almost wanted to take the letter down from the board, but on the second thought, it was better to leave it there. It was better if the tourists were aware of these very strange events happening each month when the full moon appeared on the night sky.
The local paparazzi really know how to capture the best moment, Elisabeth thought to herself when she looked at the photo. “I hate the person who took this picture,” she said aloud and tore the picture off the letter. Much better, Elisabeth thought to herself and buried it in her bag.
“Liang Yat Sen, Liang Yat Sen, Liang Yat Sen…,” Elisabeth repeated the name of Shang Simla’s representative all the way to the market, because she was so nice to pin the missing piece of the letter back on the board. The general goods merchant was again very kind and explained to Elisabeth where she could find Liang Yat Sen.
“Are you Liang Yat Sen?” Elisabeth asked a man who just came out of the house where the representative of Shang Simla supposedly lived.
“Yes. Who is asking?”
“The Disruptor of the Peace,” answered jokingly Elisabeth.
“You’ll laugh on the other side of your face very soon, Elisabeth Loewe. Welcome back.”
What a welcome, Elisabeth thought to herself and decided to act more like an adult. “I saw the letter by the base camp, that’s how I found you.”
“Do you realize what have you done?” asked her Liang with a very serious voice.
“Not really. But I know it’s nothing good.”
“So… What exactly have I done to you?” asked him Elisabeth. “I mean, to the local people,” she added quickly.
“Nothing as terrible as what you have done to yourself.”
Elisabeth swallowed hard at Liang’s response, panic fluttering through her. “W-what have I d-done to myself?” she silently stammered as her heart began to beat more quickly.
“I am afraid, that you have brought a curse upon yourself, Elisabeth,” told her Liang and carefully observed her. Elisabeth’s heart began to beat even faster than before, a cold fear seized her as she started thinking about her certain death.
“C-c-curse? A-am I going to d-die?” she stammered, fearing the positive answer.
“Eventually… yes,” Liang sighed heavily.
“Eventually? What do you mean eventually?” Elisabeth was feeling restless. On the other hand, if Liang told her the exact day and hour of her death, she would be probably already collapsing on the floor.
“We’re eventually all going to die, Elisabeth. Please, don’t panic. There is time.”
“I-is there a way to break this curse, Liang?” Elisabeth looked at him with hope in the eyes. “I will do anything.”
“I’m sorry. I know of nothing that could break such a curse. However, I believe it could be… avoided.”
“Avoided? But I want to break it not avoid it!”
“I’m very glad to see your determination, Elisabeth. However, you must be very careful. What is written in the letter applies to you as well. I beg you to stay indoors during the full moon, unless you want to find yourself on the halfway between life and death.”
“Wait, are you talking about… zombies?”
“Unfortunately, yes. The living dead, undead, zombies – call them whatever you like – have been attacking the locals since the first full moon after you entered the Dragon’s Maw. Two years have passed since then and we still haven’t found a way to stop them from coming back. And what is even worse, there are more each time.”
“I’m truly sorry about this. I had no idea things were that bad… do you.. do you think it could be associated with the curse?”
“Maybe. Quite recently, some of the locals gave evidence of seeing undead soldiers. I have been mapping the situation and have discovered that most of them appear near the Terracotta army.”
“Can you tell me more about the curse?”
“There is an ancient prophecy that says: The light will break through the darkness to turn death into life. What has been taken by the evil will return through the innocent. Death will consume life, however a life will be preserved.”
“I don’t understand. Could you repeat it, please? I would like to write it down,” asked him Elisabeth and took out a little notebook and a pencil from her bag.
“The light will break through the darkness to turn death into life. What has been taken by the evil will return through the innocent. Death will consume life, however a life will be preserved.”
“Thank you, Liang. I am really sorry for causing so much trouble.”
“I hope that with your help, we’ll be able to restore the peace.”
“Good luck, Elisabeth, you’ll need lots of it.”
“Thank you. When I know something, I’ll let you know.”
“I’ll be waiting.”
Elisabeth recalled the conversation with Benjamin in the Scholar’s garden. She hoped to find a history book that could tell her who was buried in the Dragon cave. Elisabeth was on her way to the local bookstore, when suddenly something made her stop in front of the Halls of the Lost Army.
She had no idea what was happening, but something was telling her to return to the collapsed tomb. I must be getting crazy, Elisabeth thought to herself as she walked up the stairs. She walked inside and stepped on the tile with footprints. This time around, the switch worked perfectly. The tiles began to shift and revealed the staircase hidden beneath. Elisabeth walked down the stairs and found herself in front of a huge pile of rubble. She started clearing the entrance to the tomb with bare hands, but soon enough she understood her hands weren’t the right tool. So, in the end, she anyway had to visit the market.
Luckily for her, the general goods merchant was well-stocked so Elisabeth returned back with her new pickaxe in no time.
She was so happy about her new purchase, that she didn’t even notice she has been clearing the pile for already an hour with no visible progress.
This is going nowhere, Elisabeth said to herself and wiped the sweat off her forehead. She was about to give up, when she noticed a hole in the wall right next to the pile of rubble that was blocking the entrance to the tomb.
“Am I dreaming? I’m sure the hole wasn’t there before.”
The lack of fluids began to show. Elisabeth started talking to herself. However the truth is, that eccentric people tend to do that from time to time regardless of the quantity of fluids in their body. Whatever the case, Elisabeth decided to inspect the mysterious hole in the wall.
She immediately regretted her decision, because as soon as she has put her hand inside, a bunch of disgusting insects started crawling on her entire forearm!
“Eww! Get off my hand!” Elisabeth screamed aloud and started shaking her hand with the speed of light.
As soon as she shook off the last centipede, she picked up the pickaxe and started clearing the path leading to the tomb while looking at the hole every now and then.
“Enough of this!” Elisabeth told to herself and approached the hole. After staring at it for a decent amount of time, she has finally decided to put her hand back in there. “Come on, Elisabeth. You can do it! Just close your eyes and don’t think about the creepy-crawly.”
“On three. One, two, three!”
When Elisabeth inspected the hole for the second time, she found a hidden switch and activated it. To her surprise, it opened a hidden door on the other side of the room. “Seems like I won’t be needing the pickaxe after all,” she smiled to herself and went to see what was hidden in the secret room. As she walked in, the air felt suddenly more humid. “Why would someone place a well in here?” she asked herself.
Every prepared adventurer always carries a swimsuit in his explorer bag. So, after a moment of hesitation, Elisabeth decided to put on her swimming costume and dive in.
I just hope there’s no deadly creature living inside, she thought to herself as she jumped in the water.
Let’s see how deep it is, Elisabeth said to herself, took a deep breath and dived to the bottom of the well. To her immense surprise, she found a tunnel. She had no idea where it could lead, but she was determined to discover it. Elisabeth swam through and when she was about to run out of breath, she emerged in another, identical room.
The only difference between them was a chest standing at the very end of the room.
“Are you freaking kidding me?” she exclaimed aloud. “Great, this is just great! All this effort for nothing!?” Elisabeth was becoming desperate. She stared inside the empty chest for another few seconds and then just angrily closed its lid.
She was about to jump back in the water, but something was telling her to inspect the chest better. Elisabeth raised the lid again, but saw nothing. She searched the bottom carefully, but found nothing. What is the meaning of this? Why hide an empty chest in a room accessed through a well hidden behind a secret door? It doesn’t really make sense, Elisabeth thought to herself as she leaned on the wall by the chest. “Wait! What if…,” Elisabeth said aloud an knocked on the bottom of the mysterious chest. “Bingo!”
The chest had a double bottom. Elisabeth quickly found a way to open it and… “A book? Seriously?” she expressed her disappointment. However, a bigger disappointment came when she opened it. It was empty. “I can’t believe this. I seriously cannot believe this!”
She wanted to put the book back where she found it, but what was the point anyway if it was empty. Maybe I could use it as my new notebook… But how am I going to transport it back? It will get soaked… Elisabeth didn’t find any better solution than simply putting in under her swimsuit. Never mind, I’ll dry it later, she thought to herself and jumped in the well.
When Elisabeth opened the book, she expected it to be completely soaked. This is impossible, Elisabeth thought to herself as she flipped through the pages which were totally dry. And then… “What the—?!” Like magic, symbols began to appear on the first page. Elisabeth had to pinch herself on the hand to verify that she wasn’t dreaming. What is this? Who does it belong to? These were some of the questions that she wanted answered right now. I have to let Sima know about this.
“How did you come by this?” Sima Zhi looked very troubled when she saw what was Elisabeth holding in her hands.
“I found it.”
“Hmm… very strange. Things like this just do not lie around. May I know where did you find it?”
“In the Halls of the Lost Army.”
“Impossible. I know every tiniest mote of dust in that place.”
“I found it underground. In a chest hidden in a secret room.”
“Secret room? Hmm. Go on,” Sima wanted to hear all the story.
“Actually… We have discovered a secret passage leading underground already a week ago…”
“Yes. Me and—, ” Elisabeth paused realizing that Benjamin wasn’t officially her boyfriend. Yet.
“A friend of mine,” she smiled innocently at Sima.
“Oh. I see,” Sima pondered. “Were you searching for something in particular?” she said and looked suspiciously at Elisabeth.
“Not really, just giving a look around.”
“Hmm… I will try to believe you.”
“I’m telling the truth! You have to believe me!”
“Okay, okay. Just calm down.”
“After that, we entered the tomb and… we tried to gain access to the next room blocked by a statue and then… the floor started shaking and everything around us started collapsing… but thanks to Benjamin we managed to escaped on time.”
“You probably activated a trap,” Sima concluded. “Tell me now, how is it that you found the secret room with the chest?”
“By a coincidence, really. I was going to the bookstore, when suddenly something told me to return to the Halls of the Lost Army… So I did. I found a pile of rubble blocking the entrance to the tomb… I bought a pickaxe at the market. The pile didn’t seem to get any smaller after hours of work, so I decided to give up… but then, I saw the hole.”
“A hole in the wall that wasn’t there before.”
“Hmm. Are you sure? Maybe you just haven’t noticed.”
“I’m sure, Sima. If it really was there since the beginning, we would have noticed it already the first time we were there with Benjamin. I’m sure of it.”
“If you really speak the truth, Elisabeth…,” Sima sounded even more worried than when she first saw the journal. “…then I’m afraid you are The One to avenge Huang Loong.”
“What are you talking about Sima? Who is this person?”
“There is a legend about the imperial sorcerer Huang Loong, also known by the name Yellow Dragon. He conspired against Dong Huo, the infamous “Scourge of the Three Kingdoms”, a ruthless, influential, yet despised tyrant who seized control over Shang Simla, the imperial capital at the time, after the death of the First Emperor. Dong Huo is known for hoarding large amounts of stolen treasure in his own private fortress… However, soon after Huang’s first unsuccessful attempt to protect the Emperor from the evil intentions of Dong Huo, noone has ever seen the sorcerer again. The legend speaks about a person who will avenge the Yellow Dragon by defeating Dong Huo once and for all. But first, he must learn his secret… which I think you will, once I translate his journal for you.”
“Wait a moment. How do you know that THIS is the journal of the Yellow Dragon?”
“My name is Huang Loong, the imperial sorcerer known as the Yellow Dragon,” Sima read the words written on the first page of the journal.
“Yes. Very powerful one.”
“Hmm… I guess that explains why his journal didn’t get soaked when I jumped in the well with it.”
“It is protected with magic,” told he Sima and looked at the journal in her hands. “I will let you know once I’m done translating. Go, take a rest.”
“Okay. Good night, Sima.”
Good night, Chosen One, Sima said to herself and watched Elisabeth disappear in the dark.
Elisabeth returned to the base camp with million thoughts on her mind. What have I got myself into, she thought to herself as she looked at the Dragon cave, a place she wished she never knew existed.