“Ah Zu, come look! Theres a strange bird here!” Pei Mianman pointed at the middle of the stone gate.
“Maybe the switch to open it is over there!”
Zu An noticed it as well.
A strange bird diagram was right in the center of the gate, and it was entirely red in color.
It bore a certain resemblance to a phoenix or a peacock, but was neither.
It looked a little bit like theHundredwarble that he could summon.
Zu An made the association and quickly used Hundredwarble, commanding it to approach that diagram.
Unfortunately, no matter how it flew around and cried out, the door showed no reaction.
As the Hundredwarbles cries spread, however, the red lights burning in the eye sockets of the kneeling skeleton warrior gradually dimmed, but neither Zu An nor Pei Mianman noticed this.
Zu An frowned, feeling rather disappointed.
“It didnt do anything”
He suddenly remembered from that documentary on Yinshang that the forefather of the Shang Dynasty was named Qi.
‘In the Song clan was a woman with the simple name of Di.
After ingesting the egg of a strange bird, Qi was born.
Thereafter, the Shang Dynasty would often use that mysterious bird as a totem.
This bird was probably the same mysterious bird that they used.
What exactly did this mysterious bird symbolize
While he was deep in thought, Pei Mianman suddenly made a new discovery.
“Huh This bird diagram seems a little strange.
I think these rocks around it can be moved.
There are some patterns in the center of the bird as well.”
Zu An was stunned.
He shifted his attention to the gate, and noticed that there were indeed four lines—two horizontal, two vertical—that divided this mysterious bird diagram into nine small compartments.
Around the diagram of the bird was a ring of small square blocks, each one carved with a strange symbol.
Pei Mianman tried to move them, and discovered that these small square blocks could slide into those nine compartments.
“One, two, three…” Pei Mianman counted them, then said with surprise, “There are exactly nine of these blocks.
It looks like we just need to put them in the correct spot for the door to open.”
Manman, youre really sharp.” Zu An walked right up to the gate and stared distractedly at the nine blocks surrounding the diagram.
He had thought about it too deeply, and ended up being led astray.
In the end, it was Pei Mianman, who was unburdened by these extra thoughts, who noticed these things.
“But what do these symbols mean Have you seen them before”
“I havent.” Pei Mianman shook her head.
She trawled her mind for information that might be similar enough to help her out.
“I have never seen anything like this from any of the records of the other races.
The style of these symbols seem rather similar to the ones on the stele, though.”
“You think so” Zu An was stunned.
He examined those symbols again.
Now that she had brought this up, he gradually picked up some things about those strange patterns.
Since this was related to the oracle script, it was easy enough for him to associate the nine numbers and nine compartments, to the mystical diagrams of ancient China, which were believed to be related to the origins of writing.
In the book describing the diagrams, this famous verse stood out: “Nine in the crown, and one in the base; three on the left, seven on the right; two and four are the shoulders, six and eight, the feet; five resides at the center.”
To put it simply, the sum of all the numbers along any given line would be fifteen, regardless of whether the line was drawn vertically, horizontally, or diagonally.
Putting these numbers in the locations was quite simple, and anyone with basic mathematical knowledge could do it.
The problem was that the symbols on these blocks were different from the numbers he was used to.
He had no idea which design corresponded to which number.
There were four patterns that were relatively easy to recognize.
The ones with one, two, three and four horizontal lines should correspond to one, two, three, and four respectively.
The others were harder to distinguish.
For example, one symbol looked like a trident with a curved shaft, one was in the shape of the 人 character, and yet another had an X in the center, but a horizontal line above and beneath, making it look like a folding stool or a spring in those Mario games.
Another looked like )(, like a pair of brackets put the wrong way.
The weirdest one was the one that looked like a cross.
Zu An subconsciously thought of it as ten, since it looked exactly like the modern Chinese character for that number (十), but he immediately threw out this thought.
After all, there were only nine compartments, so the number ten should not appear at all.
Regret slowly crept into his mind.
If hed studied more about the oracle script, he might recognize these characters.
He really didnt know how those archaeologists of the past ever figured out which character was which.
Wait a second…
A sudden thought occurred to him.
He remembered the documentary stating that the reason why Chinese civilization could always be traced to a common origin was because people thousands of years later could always understand the writings of their ancestors from thousands of years ago.
Why would they recognize them Clearly, the writing should have evolved, generation by generation, from the older characters.
The characters of later generations came from the Qin Dynastys lesser seals, while the lesser seals were themselves derived from the oracle script.
In that case, the oracle script should always have some relationship to the characters of later generations.
The complicated oracle script might not be that easy to figure out, but he already knew that these characters corresponded to the numbers one to nine.
He should be able to figure something out if he examined them carefully.
He looked at the symbol that looked like a trident with a curved shaft and put his mind to work, analyzing it from all different angles.
With a flash of inspiration, he flipped the trident around. Doesnt this resemble the left side of thenine character (九) The curved shaft corresponded to the hook on the right side of the character.
The flipped brackets… dont they look similar to theeight character (八)
Wait, but if this is eight, then what about the symbol that looked like 人 Wasnt it also a bit like eight Perhaps they symbolize the two dots under thesix character (六)
Could the symbol that looked like the spring from the Mario games possibly be thefive character (五)
The symbol matched up nicely if he rotated theX between the two horizontal lines.
The cross symbol should be the character forseven (七).
There was only a hook missing.
Zu An examined them again.
Even though his reasoning made some sense, there were still holes in his logic.
For example, if the four horizontal lines didnt mean four, that would throw him off completely.
Also, he wasnt really sure if hed made the right choices regarding eight and six.
He was just about to give it more thought when the infantile wailing sounded again.
Those taotie had finally pursued them here after thoroughly consuming the corpse of their brethren.
“Ah Zu, what do we do” Pei Mianman stared at the faint shapes of the taotie, barely discernible in the mist.
Black flames surged in her hands as she prepared for battle.
The two of them definitely stood no chance against that many taoties.
Zu An was out of time.
He placed the stones in the positions that he speculated were correct.
The design of the gate was rather intricate, and there were grooves that allowed the square pieces to slide into different positions.
When he slid the last piece into place, a wave of golden light washed over the nine symbols, then extended outwards even further.
They completely filled the crack between the stone gates, and shot out along the entire frame of the gate.
There came the sound of gears moving within, and the gate slowly swung open.
Pei Mianman looked at Zu An in astonishment.
“Ah Zu, my admiration for you just keeps growing! How were you even able to decipher such a difficult mechanism”
She was pretty confident in her own intelligence, yet shed had no idea where to even start when it came to those ancient symbols.
“Haha, there are many, many more amazing aspects of me for you to learn about in the future.” Even though Zu An sounded cocky, he felt a tinge of guilt.
He had only been able to decipher those mechanisms because he had the knowledge of the hardworking archaeologists of his previous world.
Without this knowledge, he wouldnt have even known where to begin.
“Show off~” Pei Mianman rolled her eyes.
She had no idea how Chuyan had managed to notice how extraordinary he was ahead of time, but she wasnt in the mood to think about these things right now.
She pulled Zu An towards the gate and said, “The taoties are about to catch up! Wed better enter!”
Once they had run through the gate, they looked for a way to close the gate again, to lock the taoties outside.
Unfortunately, they couldnt close the gate at all, no matter what they did.
The situation was dire, and they didnt have any more time to find the closing mechanism.
Zu An could only grab Pei Mianman and run further inside.
“Screech!” A taotie screamed as it rushed towards the gate platform.
It was just about to throw itself at the stone gate when there was a flash of cold light, and it froze immediately.
The burly skeleton warrior slowly stood up, and a drop of blood slowly trickled down its spear, falling to the ground with a quiet sound.
The rigid body of the taotie shuddered, and its massive head slowly slid down its neck.