Chapter 1 The Secret Escape Competition
Chapter 1 The Secret Escape Competition In the depths of the remote mountains north of the land called Canghun, there was a cottage covered by yellow and white mountain flowers. Some wisps of smoke rose. A boy who was only seven or eight years old, after cleansing his hands, took some incenses and candles, and stepped into the dilapidated grass house. He, named Bird Three, was an orphan. At the age of four, his master took him back from the mountain forest. Although he had lost his memory, the master saw that he was kind-hearted and good, he decided to teach him the skills to make a living. They lived in the mountains for serveral years peacefully. Just that recent Spring Festival, Master had celebrated with him by lighting fireworks together. He hadn’t expected that after several days, He died of a sudden illness, and he would end up having to bury him under the grass. Now that the master had passed away, in order to pay back the teacher's kindness, he would do his best to mourn him by holding a sincere ceremony. In addition, to follow Master's last wishes, every morning he would bow down before the master's portrait and recite the scriptures he’d taught him. The scriptures he read were different from those of others, though he could not describe how different those were. Since it was the master's dying wish, he would do it. After reciting the scriptures 100 times, he went to the table to draw a portrait of the master as he commanded. He drew in pure ink. Spending several years with him, the master’s voice and face were already imprinted in his mind, but because of his poor skills, the portraits were always a mess. Day after day, under careful practicing, he could paint a portrait that resembled him. With whimsy, he painted a mole under the corner of his eye, almost the same as Bird Three himself. Then he wrote on the bottom right: Master, and then, signed beside his own name: Bird Three! During Master's memorial, in addition to a few neighbors, there were eight or nine uninvited guests. His memory was still fresh, and the uninvited guests were all well-dressed and respectful to Master's portrait. Although one of them reached out and touched his hair, others were turning a blind eye to him, leaving no trace. Though he was young, he was not clueless about the society. He knew that these people were not the local mountain villagers. He had his doubts about the story of the master, but he dared not to ask a word. He simply kept painting quietly when they looked at the figure hanged on the wall. Since he had been painting for several days, he could remember the burly man who touched his hair. In this burly man's palm, there was a reddish bloody tattoo, a bird-like beast that somehow looked weird. Quickly, forty-nine days passed, and the master's wishes were fulfilled. The whole house was covered with the portraits of the master. In each portrait, he was different in shape or appearance, as if he had copied tens of thousands of scenes that Master had lived out in the house. "Master, after settling Aunt White's living, I will go down the mountain. I hope that you will go all the way peacefully!" Bird Three looked at Master's portrait and bowed down to kowtow many times, then burst into tears. Then he picked up the bag and stepped out of the house. He strode strongly down the road. When he saw the two people at the foot of the mountain, it was already dawn. ###### ###### ###### Dragon Zhen and Tiger Lin were good friends of Bird Three. The two rushed to meet him. "Bird Three, do you really want to go down the mountain?" "I must go." "I heard that there will be outsiders in the village gathering today. They’re also bringing some new gadgets. Why not go to have a look before leaving?" The Spring Festival Offering was ongoing. There were many craftsmen in Taohua Village who sold decorations, as well as street vendors with various snacks. Bird Three looked around. "Where are the foreigners?" "Not far away. Turn a few more corners and it’s the one in front—in a broken red house." Seeing the red roof not far away, Bird Three crouched and then sped toward the house like a bullet. The cracked red house they were going to was just a messy inn. Due to years of disrepair, the characters on the brand plaque were only faintly visible: Mantang Inn. At first glance, this inn was not very attractive, but it always had some unexpected shows, therefore many people in the village were willing to come to buy a drink. Due to the Spring Festival Offering, the games of the Mantang Inn had one more than usual—The Red Invitation Letter. Anyone who had dinner in the store had the opportunity to get a red invitation, and there were rich prizes in the red invitation, including three special rewards. The audience were rather confused that the so-called best buskers who usually stayed at Mantang Inn in order to attract customers were nowhere to be found today. And in the entire Mantang Inn, he couldn't feel the joy of the Spring Festival. As for the behind-the-scenes boss of Mantang Inn, he never showed his face to the village. They heard of his story later: The owner of this Mantang Inn liked to drink Kas, and he’d nicknamed himself "Cass." It was a coincidence that the new manager today was called Cass. "Shopkeeper, give me three sesame oil chicken butts, and three red invitations together!" Bird Three shouted, throwing him three gold coins. As soon as the words fell, he saw Tiger Lin carrying Dragon Zhen in. The newly appointed manager was called Cass. The card was never eye-catching, and he took out a bunch of red invitations with one of his large hands that had just grabbed the sesame oil chicken butt, saying, "This pile is all yours." The three opened the invitations and a thick black iron token rolled out. Inscribed on the black iron token was a word: Secret! "Secret? What secret? Can we eat?" Tiger Lin looked at the black iron token, and he wanted to throw it away. Bird Three asked,"What is the reward for this?" The face of Cass was decisive. "This black iron token is an invitation to participate in a war." "Participate in a war?!" The three men said in unison. "What battle? Why would we participate in a war?!" "Invitation to participate in the 'Secret Underground Room Escape' held in the land of Canghun!" Cass paused and said, "Since this token was taken by you, you must participate, and you will be blessed." The strong buddy received instructions from Cass and pushed them to a table. "What the hell? Your service is awful!" "What do you want to do? Let me go! Let me go!" The three were forcibly placed at a table to eat the sesame oil chicken butts. At the end of the meal, they still wanted a few more, and called again. In a short time, the greasy empty plates piled up like a hill. Bird Three touched his belly. "The sesame oil chicken butts of Mantang Inn are quite unusual." Tiger Lin agreed. "If you could persuade the chef of this Mantang Inn, we could eat delicious sesame oil chicken butt every day." Dragon Zhen spit out the food residue in his mouth. "Fat Lin, your family wealth can only support you to run a small rice noodle restaurant. How can you hire the chef of Mantang Inn? You’re so impulsive." Tiger Lin got angry, and he pounded the table harshly, causing the plates to tremble a few times. "Dragon, my rice noodle shop is number one in the village—especially the spicy beef jerky and round rice noodles. The ingredients used are meticulously purchased and the handmade procedures are the most exquisite. Look at what kind of fruit shop your family is running! You always gyp your customers on the weight!" At the right moment, Bird Three spoke his wonder aloud. "Stop screaming at each other. We are being held here after we got the black iron tokens. Aren’t you surprised?" A group of strong guys dressed as servants came in, and Cass, who was sitting at the checkout counter, slowly stood up and said: "Quiet, everyone, be quiet! Throw the noisy out to feed the dog for me!" With a scream, someone was thrown out; his blood splattered onto the window, and the smell of blood seeped into the inn. Everyone was scared and keeping silent. Cass touched his double chin with satisfaction, saying, "First, let me introduce myself. My name is Cass, manager of this Mantang Inn in Taohua Village. You came here because you won the red invitation letter’s special prize. The winners with the black iron tokens may participate in the Secret Escape Competition that is being held by the land of Canghun. Congratulations!" "We just won a big prize, but I never thought it would require participating in a competition!" "What is the Secret Escape Competition, anyway? I’ve never heard of it!" The brawny servants once again caught the people, and the noisy ones shut up. The grievances of the people in the inn arose, and Cass decided to make a quick decision, saying, "I know that you don't like this kind of game. In fact, I don't like it, either. Since you have been selected for this game, try to find a way to survive until the end. Your goal is to find the millennium tomb in Taohua Village. If someone can take a treasure out from the tomb, he or she is the winner! Now, the game begins!" Cass and the muscular guys suddenly disappeared. Only some popping sounds could heard, and the doors and windows were instantly closed. People could not open them again even using brute force. Dragon Zhen bowed his head and said, "Bird Three, didn’t your master know a lot of mysterious things? Is there any information about the Escape of the Secret Room?" Bird Three replied, "Master only taught me the ability to make a living. Nothing else." Bird Three knew why Dragon was so anxious. After all, he and Tiger Lin had parents to look after and worry about them, unlike him, who, besides Master, had no family to call his own. Now the master had passed away, and no matter where he was, he was all alone. At this moment, there was a commotion nearby. It turned out that a little girl was panicking and whimpering, and the noise irritated one of the burly men. This man was not kind and got angry at her, and started to beat her. The girl couldn't help but fight back, while screaming with tears in her eyes. When Bird Three saw this scene, he went to help, but Tiger Lin stopped him with one hand, and then rolled up his sleeves and walked over. "Stop doing this! You are not really a man; how can you treat a kid like that?" "Humph, kid, how dare you offend me?" The man slammed the neck of the girl and threw her into the people. Bird Three flew up to catch the girl. She panicked, slumped into the arms of Bird Three, and started to cry again. Tiger Lin also had a younger sister at home. When he saw the girl crying, he couldn’t bear it, and clenched his fists to fight for her. It's a pity that though he was a big man in the village and enjoyed a good reputation among his peers, he couldn't compare with a cultivator—not to mention that his strength was much less than that of the burly man. After a while, he was kicked by the strong man and fell at the foot of Bird Three. Tiger Lin was kicked so badly that his face was in black and blue. “I humiliated you,” he said. Bird Three reassured him, saying, "Don’t worry; I am here." "Good! Another one not afraid of death!" The brawny man flexed his muscles and brought his palms together into a sword-like shape to cut Bird Three. Bird Three cleverly ran to the man’s back, waiting for the strong man to turn back to face him, and then he kicked the man’s chin at lightning speed. The entire series of actions was quick and beautiful. The beefy man screamed a few times. He spat out his now-broken golden teeth. His whole body smashed to the ground. Dragon looked stunned, forgetting that he was bandaging Tiger Lin, and pulling bandages without care, which made Tiger Lin yell from time to time. "Good brother, are you a hero saving the damsel in distress? I admire you so much! Wow!" The crying girl bent to kneel. "Hello, everyone. My name is Ques Yu, a descendant of Family Que, a hidden family from the Kingdom of Wanyue." Everyone was in an uproar at the mention of her family.