Chapter 5 ~Hidden Mystery~
After all of the people had dispersed, Zhuo QingYan immediately had them lock the door . Then with Qiu mama supporting her by the arm, she came downstairs to sit at the table and looked at them .
“As you can see from today’s situation, I will give you the choice to stay or go, as the next road will probably be even harder to travel . ”
“Miss, this maid will not leave . This maid will always follow after miss”, MoYu immediately choked out . The rim of her eyes were red and teary .
“Miss, this old servant wont go . Will always defend the young Miss no matter how difficult the next road is . This old servant will always accompany miss”, Qiu mama also nodded her head seriously .
Zhuo Qingyan exhaled another long breath and said, “Fine, since you all have decided that we three will hereafter support each other throughout the journey to keep going . I can assure you both that as long as I am alive, I will certainly protect you and help you attain your goals” .
“Miss… . ” MoYu wailed
Qiu mama stood there silently wiping her tears . Zhuo QingYan relaxed and said, “Oh! That’s right . What else was left in Meiyuan by my mother?”
“Third concubine did not leave much . When she was alive, every day, she would go to her drawing room in the city . Those are all of her paintings and books”, Qiu mama pointed ahead at the screen behind the antechamber . Zhuo QingYan stood up . Qiu mama and MoYu immediately came over to support her . The three people went around the screen and saw only an empty wooden door . But behind that wooden door the entire neat and tidy rows of bookshelves and the paintings inside of the room made her head ache again . Once more, a great deal of memory fragments and information surged through .
Resisting the discomfort, she pushed open the wooden door and entered, one step at a time .
The strong sense of familiarity caused her eyes to swell with tears and her vision to blur .
After drawing in another breath, she forced back her tears and stood looking at the paintings on the wall . Catching site of a blank space, she frowned . “Is there a painting missing?”
Qiu mama and MoYu glanced at each other . Qiu mama looked as if she was going to speak, but instead closed her mouth . “Say now, if you don’t speak on it now, then you won’t have the opportunity to later”, As soonZhuo QingYan looked at both of them, she realized that something was wrong . Closing her eyes, Qiu mama resigned herself to her fate . “That’s right . It was in the first three days of Third concubine’s illness that master came to MeiYuan and forcibly carried off that painting and fought with her…”
Zhuo QingYan’s body couldn’t help but shake . Both servants hurriedly supported her firmly, anxiously looking at her . Her expression wasn’t very good . Zhuo QingYan sighed deeply . “I seem to recall that on that day, my mother held me in her arms and cried for hours while saying a bunch of things . But, at that time I… Looking back on it today, I don’t remember what my impression of it was…”
“Miss, don’t worry! It will get better…”, Qiu mama comforted her .
“Be sure to take all of these books and paintings to Ling Wangfu . As long as I live, I absolutely will find out about how mother died”, Zhuo QingYan’s voice was light . “Miss, you suspect…”, Qiu mama watched her alertly .
“If not, I doubt my mother would leave a stupid daughter alone and die peacefully!”, Zhuo QingYan said . She then moved forward to the book shelves and looked at them .
After turning around, she went to the desk, but noticed there were several books, in addition to the four treasures of the study(1) . While studying the books in her hands, one named “Great Han Geographic Compendium(2)” attracted her . She slowly sat down on the chair and looked through it . Qiu mama and MoYu moved to the other side of the bookcases where the painting were hanging up and began to pack them up .
For herself, everything here she simply could not understand . The original owner only allowed her a few fragments of memories . It was quite hard for her to combine them, which had to do with the fact that she had been a fool . Maybe from these books, she would be able to find some clues, so that she could better understand .
While sitting and looking for a while, she couldn’t help but think of raising up her legs . But, once her right knee was raised, it seemed as if she had bumped against something under the table . Soon afterwards, she heard a noise come from the bookcase behind her . She moved alertly, her body easily moving aside to stand beside the desk, while her eyes were trained on the bookcase . In the bookcase just behind the chair, two lattices of books lining the walls, drew back to reveal a black hole . While thinking about reaching out her hand, there was a movement . Gradually, a black box with red painted lines came out . She waited a moment, but there was no more noise . She quickly stepped forward, took the box down and placed it on the desk . She then looked at it quietly .
Wooden, heavy, a lock on it, but no keys . That’s troublesome . Can’t I just break it open? But the lock pattern is special enough . The keyhole looks somewhat like a plum blossom!
Zhuo QingYan could help but raise her head and let out a breathe . Speaking to herself, she said, “The wisdom of the ancients, I am but a small soldier . How could I understand? Is this not difficult enough for me?” As she spoke, she involuntarily reached out her hand to to touch her nape, but her fingers instead touched a chain . Her heart moved and she immediately pulled the chain out . Again and again, she looked at it lying in her palm . She then compared it to the lock on the box . At once, she took it off of her neck and pressed the plum blossom pendant in the keyhole . When the pendant was completely in the keyhole, she gently let go of it .
Inside of the keyhole, the pendant let out a soft, “click click” noise . Then, it began to rotate in a full circle . A “CRACK!” sound could be heard . The lid of the box then began to automatically open a small bit . After waiting a little longer, the box went silent . She then stretched out her hand to open the lid . Inside, there was another small box . Taking out that box and opening the lid, one could see what was inside . Inside there was a leather rolled up book decorated with gold thread that was no less than ten pages long, a curved moon shaped dagger inlaid with seven gems of different colors, a hairpin engraved with peach blossoms, and at the bottom is a book . Opening that book, is actually a stretched out piece of skin . On this skin, there is a map . Reaching out her hand to touch it, her brain abruptly let out two words, “ Human Skin!” .
Zhuo QingYan couldn’t help but breath out . In dark tone of voice, she thought, “Human skin? What big part of skin could it be if it’s human skin?! The back?! And this is obviously a map on the back of someone! A tattooed map?! Everyone with even a little bit of brain can realize that this is an extremely important thing! If my guess is right, then this might possibly be a treasure map . And the ancients won’t easily bare their breasts . Men are still not up to standard . A woman… . yes, a woman . This skin ought to be the back of a woman . Once again, she let out a breath . She could only shake her head and say to herself, “these things are useless to me with my current ability . It’s impossible to be able to find . Even if I did find it, what skills do I have to guard these things and to not starve to death?”
When she was ready to put the things back into the box again, she noticed that in the bottom of the box, there was also a little silver colored hoop . She held out her finger and drew in the silver hoop . A double layer appeared .
(1)Four treasures of the study- writing brush, ink, ink stone, and paper .
(2) The translation for the Great Han Geographic Compendium was given to me by Armored Raven from the translating discord . Thank you!