203 Underground Banquet at Hong Gate
(T/n: The Banquet at Hong Gate or Hong Men Yan was a historical event that took place during the Qin dynasty. It is usually used to describe situations that look glamorous on the outside but have a hidden agenda to it. Here's the Wikipedia link on it for more information.)
The doorbell rang again.
I nudged Nie Zun. "Go open the door. I'm too lazy to move."
Nie Zun gave a slight smile as he shut his eyes and turned to the other side. He had no intention of opening the door.
I had no choice but to do it myself. More than ten hours of sleep was enough rest for now, but so many things seemed to have happened in this time.
A petite girl in uniform greeted me at the door.
The uniformed girl smiled sweetly at me. "Good evening. There's a swimsuit dance party happening right now at the pool in the basement. We were wondering if you might be interested to have a look? The party is scheduled to be about three hours long, and both the food and alcohol are of the highest grade. There's also seafood available, and everything is complimentary."
Seafood… My eyes lit up at that.
There should still be about six hours to daylight. No harm in having a little fun here.
I looked around at the other rooms. No one seemed to be out. I whispered to the girl, "Alright. Have you asked the rest in these rooms?"
The uniformed girl smiled and whispered back in response, "No. It's a draw where we pick the lucky guests."
I nodded. "That's great. There's no need to invite them even if you happened to pick the guests in any of these rooms. We're a group so I can help you get them." I pointed at the three other rooms.
The uniformed girl kept her smile. "Sure. You might wish to head for basement 18 via the lift on the left at the end of the hallway."
Is that the eighteenth level of hell? I simply nodded as I chided her in my heart.
After she left, I returned to my room and nudged Nie Zun. "Hey, the attendant informed me that there's a swimsuit party at basement 18. Want to go take a look? There's food and it's probably going to be loads of fun."
Nie Zun sat up. "Swimsuit party. Pretty girls."
The corner of my lips twitched. Did the characters of amnesiacs change as well? When did he become such a pervert?
We did not meet anyone as we made our way to the lift.
"Do you find this hotel a little weird? Why isn't there anyone around?" I asked Nie Zun as we were waiting for the lift.
Nie Zun looked around lazily. "Probably because it's night now."
I pushed the 'B18' button as we entered the lift.
As the lift began its descent, unease started to well up in me. Isn't the eighteenth level in the basement too coincidental of a number? (T/n: The eighteenth level of hell is one of the many levels of hell in Chinese legend. Here is the Wikipedia link to more information on the Chinese interpretations of hell.)
I stole a glance at Nie Zun. What am I afraid of when you're right here…
Even when you've forgotten me, even when you've forgotten your promise of protecting me forever…
I haven't forgotten it…
We arrived quickly. I took a deep breath before the door opened, preparing myself just in case we were met with an entire floor of corpses.
When the doors finally opened, the scene in front of me proved that I was worrying about nothing.
There was a ring-shaped pool in the middle of the spacious lobby. A glamorous crystal chandelier was hanging from the ceiling and conveyor belts filled with food surrounded the space. Hundreds of party-goers were present.
Two beautiful ushers welcomed us as we exited the lift. "Welcome to the underground pool and entertainment center at the Royal Hotel. Your seats have been labelled with your room numbers and they can be found to the left at the end of the walkway."
"Thank you." I pulled Nie Zun along with me, looking around in excitement.
The ground looked like it had been paved with pebbles, but it was actually a mosaic made with gravel that glowed with a faint white light. Those with trypophobia might find this a little disturbing, but it was actually quite comfortable to walk on.
But that's only if you were in flats. Luckily, I changed out of my heels earlier into short, red boots that I had requested from the hotel. It was better not to expose my split symbol here in the Gate of Ghost, since it was indeed very different from the Western District.
Nie Zun let me lead him along. His eyes were shining with curiosity. I guess a scene like this would be very interesting to an amnesiac.
There were ring-shaped pools on either side as we continued on our path. A bunch of girls dressed in bikinis were performing in those pools. They looked graceful as they floated and swished around in the water. How nice was it to have high MF. One could 'walk on water' anytime.
The uniformed girl I saw appeared in front of us. She had an elegant smile as approached us. "Miss Li Shen, this way please."
Like a knight, she held out a hand as she led the way. Wait, why did she know my name?
I carefully asked, "How do you know that my name is Li Shen?"
She answered calmly, "That's because you've registered at the ground floor lobby when you checked into room number 333. You might have forgotten that."
"Oh, I see."
"It's right there."
Pulling Nie Zun with me, I walked to where the girl pointed me to.
There was a table with three chairs around it. Everything was made of glass and everything was transparent. It looked exquisitely made.
I spoke softly to Nie Zun, "I didn't register anything when I checked in, so there's no way they'd know my name. There's definitely something going on here, so we should be careful."
This did not bother Nie Zun at all. He simply remained silent.
After taking my seat, I started to observe the people around me.
There were a few individuals at another table that was closer to Nie Zun. They weren't suspicious. They looked like ordinary guests who were here to have a good time. The guests seated nearer to me were rowdier and raucous bouts of laughter could be heard. But they didn't seem to be out of the ordinary either.
Right in front of us was a group of women who were performing in the pool.
Every one of them was in a leopard-print bikini as they danced gracefully in the water. The woman in the middle was in a nude bikini. It was just a shade darker than her skin, making it look like it was a naked woman dancing in the pool if we watched from afar.
"This girl…" I muttered as I tried to make out the features on her face.
Nie Zun continued, "Hmm, very sexy indeed."
I rolled my eyes. "I find her familiar. You've lost your memories now but you probably might have been able to recognize her."
Nie Zun looked at me with bright eyes. "Oh, I was acquainted with such a sexy lady? I think I kind of remember now."
"…" I swear I'm going to get your memories back… Just what have you become…
I observed that lady in the middle, warning Nie Zun, "I'm telling you that girl in the middle is not someone who's simple. She's an expert in using poisons and she might be targeting us. You better be careful."
I recognized the girl now. It was Yuan Qian, Yuan Shen's younger sister.
I could not imagine what it was that could have made the quiet and calm Yuan Qian wear something like this in such a dance. But I knew she was here for me. She might just be here to kill me.
Her brother died because of me.
My mind replayed the scene of Yuan Shen's death, making me feel uncomfortable. There's no way I could save those I've already lost, but I can't lose anyone else now…
I took a deep breath after I've made a decision. I looked directly at Yuan Qian in the pool. Yuan Qian happened to be looking at me right at this moment, and she seemed to be smiling.
The uniformed girl appeared before me just as I was concentrating on Yuan Qian, blocking her from my sight.
I realized the girl was rather short. Though she had the height of a child, her face did not look as young. For some reason, I found her familiar. I seemed to have heard her voice from somewhere.
The uniformed girl smiled at me. "Dear valued guest, what would you like to have for food and drinks?"
I responded with a faint smile. "Seafood. Any set meals available? If there is, we'll get two. For drinks, anything is fine."
The uniformed girl nodded with that polite smile of hers. "Alright. Just a moment."
Nie Zun pointed at the girl who just left. "Why does she ask you every time? She doesn't ask me anything."
I propped my hands up on the table and asked, "Why do you think? You snuck in here. It's lucky they aren't asking anything more, and you want them to treat you like a proper guest?"
The uniformed girl was back as I finished my sentence. What amazing speed she had.
She held two plates. One for Nie Zun and one for me.
I was a little stunned as I took the plate.
The plate had a…
There was a worm on the plate. It was black and yellow and probably measured about ten centimeters or more. It had no head and it seemed a little squishy. There were two claws at its end resembling crab pincers.
The uniformed girl spoke softly, "This is the best crab we have here. You might want to have a taste."
My throat tightened. I didn't know what to say to this.
There's no way I would have gotten it wrong. This thing in front of me was definitely one of those dead leeches.
I looked at the uniformed girl. She still had that smile on her. Her hands were slightly crossed and placed in front, a respectful pose.
I smiled after looking at her for a couple of seconds. "This is definitely something good. You can have it. Treat it like a tip from me."
I lifted the plate to her face and looked at her, waiting for a response.
She wasn't flustered and she kept her smile. Taking the plate, she said, "Alright, I'll do as our guest wishes."
With her free hand, she took the dead leech and popped it into her mouth.