Xia Lei had found a clue everyone else had missed in the last ten minutes. This clue was hidden in the floor tiles of the tomb. Those diagrams, writings and lines had gone through the analysis and organisation of his brain, and he found a very valuable clue.
Excavation had started on the first treasure location two years ago, but no one had discovered the secret hidden in the floor tiles of Princess Yongmei’s tomb. The archaeologists could not be blamed for negligence, however. Who would be so meticulous as to take a picture of every tile, upload the images to a computer, then spend a huge amount of time to piece them together one by one to draw a conclusion?
But Xia Lei was an exception. He had no need to take photographs, and no need to upload to a computer. He only needed his eyes and his brain to complete work which other people needed cameras and computers to do. He was faster, too. Even if an archaeologist were to do the task of taking pictures and uploading them to a computer to piece them together, the combinations were endless for tiles numbering close to 999. Which ordinary person could do something like this?
It was impossible!
In other words, Xia Lei was the only one in this world who could do it!
The clue hidden in the tiles seemed to have been prepared for him.
Xia Lei did his best to hide his smile after figuring it out, but a smile still escaped.
“What were you doing just now, Big Brother Lei?” asked Fan Fan inquisitively. “Did you discover something?”
Xia Lei shook his head. “No. I thought of something, but my hunch went away after I thought more about it.”
Fan Fan wrinkled her brow. “Really?”
Xia Lei smiled. “This place has been studied over and over by the archaeologists. The didn’t find anything in over two years. I’ve only been here for a while, so what can I discover?”
“True. Those archaeologists would have discovered any clue long ago.” Fan Fan didn’t seem to suspect anything, but she did feel that Xia Lei’s reaction earlier was just too strange.
“Let’s go take a look at other places.” Xia Lei walked towards the entrance of the tomb.
“Wait for me.” Fan Fan followed in Xia Lei’s footsteps, and left Princess Yongmei’s tomb too.
Xia Lei could actually leave this place since he had already discovered the clue hidden in the floor tiles, but he did not do so. He had to go about other places too, in order to give Fan Fan the false impression that he had gained nothing from this.
Why did he hide the clue hidden in the floor tiles?
Because it was related to AE.
Xia Lei then spent the rest of the time following Fan Fan around the other areas of the tomb, the burial areas on the left and right. He’d known that the tomb was very big before he came here, but he was still surprised by its size after walking around for a bit. It was just so big. It was practically an underground palace.
It was as Fan Fan had said. This tomb was connected to the United Reservoir, and located below it, so there were several areas which the archaeologists had not dared to excavate. Some places already had signs of water seepage. This place would have been flooded long ago if it weren’t for the drainage system in the tomb.
It took them over two hours to tour the tomb. Xia Lei and Fan Fan then left the tomb and went back up to the surface.
The sunlight was blinding.
It felt strange to return to the surface, like he had returned from the netherworld to the land of the living.
In front of a tent next to the tomb were some archaeologists. They were using tools to clean off some items they had excavated. They stopped what they were doing when Xia Lei and Fan Fan walked out of the tomb, and gave them odd looks. Some whispered in low voices.
“Isn’t that the granddaughter of Fan Yiming, dean of the Academy of Science? Why’s she here again?”
“I heard she’s an expert in bioengineering. I find it weird. What’s a bioengineering export doing over here?”
“Yeah, Fan Yiming too. He came here at least 20 times, right? What’s a materials scientist running over here for?”
The archaeologists talked in hushed voices, but it was a very quiet place, and Xia Lei had sharp hearing, so he’d heard all of it.
Xia Lei’s heart thumped. ‘Fan Fan told me that she had come here with her grandfather three times, but the archaeologists here say that she and Fan Yiming had come at least 20 times. Why did she tell me a lower number? What is she hiding?’
The whispers of the archaeologists brought forth Xia Lei’s suspicions and suppositions.
He had been apologetic at first about not telling Fan Fan about the clue in the floor tiles, but his guilt went away when he heard about her having come over 20 times when she had told him she had come only three times.
“Let’s move on, Big Brother Lei.” Fan Fan seemed to be worried about the archaeologists revealing something, and she urged Xia Lei to leave.
Xia Lei was in no hurry to leave. He pretended to look back at the mound of the tomb while keeping an ear out for the archaeologists’ whispers.
“Who’s that young man? He can’t be Fan Yiming’s granddaughter’s lover, can he?”
“Maybe he is. Young people these days like excitement. Doing intimate things in a tomb must be very exciting.”
“Stop with that useless gossip. Why don’t we discuss how we’re going to drain the United Reservoir? It’s been over two years. We’ve investigated all the areas we could, and what’s left are the areas we haven’t. We need to drain the water away, then open up the areas which have been inaccessible. We might find some Yongle treasure. I daresay if there really is Yongle treasure here, we will surely find it, and it will be another miracle in the archaeology world!”
“Yeah, the orders from the higher-ups have come down. They say that we have to complete the development by the end of the year. We should discuss how we’re going to do that.”
“The Yongle Store is right below the United Reservoir. It’s a town. Just the drainage problem is difficult enough. Are we going to blow up the dam and wash away the Yongle Store?”
“That’s not for us to worry about, is it? We can just have it all moved as a whole.”
“Moved as a whole? Ha. If we have that option, then let’s hurry up and buy some houses in the village so that we wait to be relocated.”
Fan Fan simply pulled at Xia Lei’s arm. “Big Brother Lei, let’s go. It’s already past noon and we haven’t had lunch yet. Let’s go to the Yongle Store to have something to eat. I’m starving.”
She didn’t want Xia Lei to hear what those archaeologists were talking about. So was indeed worried about something.
Xia Lei knew this, but he did not expose it. He stopped listening to the archaeologists’ conversation. He modded, and said with a smile,” All right, my treat. What do you want to eat?”
“Chinese food. We can eat whatever,” said Fan Fan.
Xia Lei went with Fan Fan along the path they had come from, and he pondered as he walked. ‘So the higher-ups are already preparing to fully excavate this place, but I had no idea about it. The higher-ups want to excavate this tomb, and they got me to join the Academy of Science too, as well as have Fan Yiming and Fan Fan study me… Looks like the higher-ups are growing impatient. Maybe they’ve guessed something.’
Whether it was the excavation of the tomb or having him join the Academy of Science to let Fan Yiming and Fan Fan study him, it was all related to the Alloy X Project. If this tomb was not the next treasure location, then the higher-ups wouldn’t increase efforts to have it excavated, and have a weapons-maker like him join the Academy of Science as a Fellow.
All of these indicators pointed to a coming danger.
Xia Lei realised too, that this was a turning point in his life. If he handled it well, and passed it, he would have a new life. If he handled it badly and failed, he would lose everything he had now.
They had come to that muddy little road without him noticing, and Fan Fan, who was walking ahead of him, came to a stop. She looked gloomily down at the muddy surface. “I would have changed into a pair of sports shoes if I’d known.”
Xia Lei put his thoughts aside and said with a smile, “Fan Fan, why don’t we do what we did earlier. I’ll carry you over in my arms. Or I can carry you on my back.”
Fan Fan instinctively moved away before Xia Lei could touch her. Her face turned red too, and she said nervously, “Wh, Why not… Forget it. I, I will take my shoes off and walk across.”
And she really did so. She took off her high heels, and her stockings, then stepped onto the muddy ground barefooted.
“See, this works now, right? It’s actually quite comfortable to walk like this.” Fan Fan looked back with a smile, and looked quite pleased with herself.
Xia Lei shot her a smile too, and walked slowly behind her. His eyes went to Fan Fan’s full and sexy buttocks, and he thought, ‘She is a highly intelligent woman after all. This Fan Fan is more difficult to handle than I’d thought. But if I want to pass, I’ll have to make a move on her. I’ll have a chance to get through this if I win her over, and have a chance that Fan Yiming would not harm me to avoid harming innocents… All right, I am your target, and you’re my target too. I’m going to eat you up!’
Xia Lei needed to get through this danger, and the on;y plan he could come up with against a highly intelligent woman like Fan Fan was the ‘pretty boy plan’.
This was not to get Fan Fan’s body, and not to get Fan Fan’s heart, but to counter the crushing danger which was coming for him. In truth, he was never going to easily love a woman anymore, not after his divorce with Shentu Tianyin. He had loved Liang Siyao with all his heart, but she had betrayed him. He had loved Shentu Tianyin deeply, but she had also betrayed him. He had given his all to help her, but she had chosen Vientaine Group in the end, not him. He had loved two women deeply but all that had brought him was heartrending pain. After all that suffering, he had matured, and changed — why was it the women who always lied to him? Why couldn’t he lie back to them, then?
“Oh no…” Fan Fan let out a cry or surprise, staggered, and almost fell into the mud.
Xia Lei quickly reached out to help her regain her balance. He spoke gently, “Be careful. Your buttocks are very sexy, but they won’t be pretty anymore if you split them open.”
Fan Fan’s face turned red. “You… shouldn’t say things like that.”
Xia Lei released her and said with a chuckle, “You are a beautiful woman. Was I wrong in saying that?”
Fan Fan bit her lower lip, and didn’t dare look Xia Lei in the eye. She walked with her head down. A small smile appeared on her lips when her back was to Xia Lei.