Chapter 29: The secret chamber in the palace (Part One)
Seeing the unfriendly look on the Black Lion Eagle Beast’s face, Wangyue was resigned as he said, “Brother Hongye, it seems that your big pet doesn’t like us!”
Ouyang Hongye walked over and stroked its healed left eye, saying soothingly, “Good child. Don’t be afraid. They’re friends.”
The Black Lion Eagle Beast lowered its head and rubbed it against his palm as if it understood his words. It calmed down and miraculously opened the newly healed eye, revealing a deep purple pupil which was a different color from its other eye. Luckily, this eye could still see things.
It shook its feathers and stirred up more dust; then it began to groom its feathers on its back and wings unguardedly. Occasionally, it looked up at Ouyang Hongye as if it was making sure he was in its sight.
Wangyue teased him, “The big creature is in love with you. I wonder if it’s a male or a female.”
Fenghuo exclaimed in great admiration, “It’s a miracle! Even the No.1 prisoner in the Black Fire Hell can’t resist your charm!”
Ouyang Hongye couldn’t believe what had happened. When they decided to confront the Black Lion Eagle Beast in the main hall, they had prepared to die in battle, but now the scary huge creature let him pet it like an obedient kitten. He didn’t know how to describe his feelings and only said in amazement, “The trip went much smoother than we expected. I feel as if the gods are on our side! Fenghuo, show us the way to Nanzhe City Master’s secret vault.”
Wangyue pointed at the beast and asked, “What about this fellow?”
“I’ll see if I can get it to guard this place.” Ouyang Hongye turned around and said to the Black Lion Eagle Beast, “Wait here. Don’t let anyone come in.”
The big black cat seemed to understand his words and blinked at him; then it lowered its body to the ground.
Ouyang Hongye patted its head and praised it. Satisfied grumbles came from its belly.
Fenghuo walked to the wall on the left. Sure enough, there were 18 copper puma heads embedded in the wall. He counted to the ninth one and reached out to turn it; the puma head moved with a series of mechanic grinding sounds. The brick behind the copper puma head he had turned sank into the wall, then the bricks near it followed one by one like dominos, forming a rectangle tunnel. The lamps on the walls blinked on one by one, illuminating the tunnel brightly.
Fenghuo walked into the tunnel with Ouyang Hongye and Wangyue following him closely. It was a maze path designed by the Nanzhe City Master. Compared with the luxurious palace, the maze path looked plain like a narrow cave tunnel. At the end of the path was the city master’s private garden. The plants had all withered; no matter how rare and beautiful they had been, they had lost all the previous glory and become brown and shriveled twigs. Fenghuo felt sad when he saw this desolate sight.
The frescos on the walls of the garden were blurry. Ouyang Hongye walked closer and found they were obscured by heavy dust. He brushed off the dust with his sleeve and saw the fresco beneath it.
The fresco was made with glazes. They had never seen glaze paintings on such a large scale. It took great craftsmanship to stick so many exquisite glazes together and form a picture; only the best craftsman could make such big glaze paintings. The people, animals, spirits, monsters, insects, mountains and rivers, and flowers and grass in the painting were so vivid and lively.
The painting depicted a beautiful place like a fairyland. On the dark blue wall, groups of ethereal cranes were dancing gracefully in the sky; all kinds of rare plants grew on the island surrounded by a lake; blooming flowers and dancing birds were everywhere. On one side of the island, a grand crane lifted its noble head like a king as if it was singing or summoning its subjects flying in the sky. Suddenly, something drew their eyes; on the chest of the crane was the pattern of a rune from the god world.
“Crane Spring Land?” Ouyang Hongye turned his head and asked Fenghuo.
Fenghuo nodded as he answered, “Yeah. I think that’s the place. It’s on the southern border of the spirit world and the place closest to the god world. In that place, spirit power is useless, and everything is purified, so a new species named feather cranes have flourished in that place. They look like cranes from the human world but are fairies of the spirit world.”
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