I told them that I had a bad feeling. I told them. Why did they not listen to me?
Tianfei shuddered as she turned around to look at the grotesque being behind her. The 'thing' was mostly skeleton with bits of flesh scattered around the body. Most frightening of all was the face. It was a skull however unlike the others, it had a seemingly impossible, sinister expression. The skeleton if that's what you would call it, donned a completely black robe made out of some sort of skin. In it's hand was a strange object that resembled a steel rod pointed straight at them.
The skeleton slowly stepped forwards. At first, it was far off in the distance at the center of the necropolis however it slowly moved until it has stopped 10 meters in front of them.
"Why have you awakened me?"
Tianfei felt hesitant to speak however was the only one who spoke up.
"We...we just wandered in here...W...we mean no disrespect."
The skeleton stared at them for a moment. After half a moment of contemplation, his expression changed to a grin and he dropped his hand.
"Very well, I guess I haven't had guests for a while. I won't bother fighting."
He's lying. But I can't make it too obvious. He could be on the same level as that bat. Furthermore, he has intelligence.
Xin Fan and Chilong still had their guards up however not to the extent of Tianfei. Tianfei had a hand behind her back secretly inscribing some formations on a tablet. The process was slow but it had to be done lest they arouse suspicion. Xin Fan's eyes slowly shifted to Tianfei asking for confirmation. From just a single eye contact, Xin Fan already had the message.
The skeleton slowly led them over to the center of the necropolis, the shrine. The team never passed over the tablet so they didn't know what was inside. The interior of the shrine was as expected, grand. The walls were decorated with gold and in the middle, laid a large decorated coffin. To the sides, there were three open coffins leaning against the wall, one for each of them. The skeleton grabbed a few leaves and squeezed out water from a vine growing on the wall into cups. He then placed them on the floor and pushed it forwards.
"Here...here... have some tea. I am quite proud of it."
Telling the truth.
Tianfei gingerly took a small whiff of the tea and looked inside. The 'tea' was completely pitch black as if ink was poured into it. Clearly it wasn't meant for human consumption. While Xin Fan and Tianfei were cautious, Chilong took only a small whiff before downing it instantly.
The skeleton's eyes lit up. He seemed quite pleased at the good reception.
"See! See! This special concoction was made of leaves I had fermented here for years. Considering my age, this may be around as old as I am."
Tianfei was surprised to see genuine happiness from this skeleton. From what she could see, this skeleton had genuine passion for things he liked.
"So what's your name? Actually, no need. In here names are meaningless. Just say anything and I will call you that. For your information, you can call me old bones."
Tianfei hesitated before looking at her leader for help. It seems like she couldn't provide a name on the spot. Xin Fan as if getting the message nodded.
"We don't need to say our real names right?"
"It's better if you don't. Actually it's for the best. Names are powerful. It can have great power over anyone."
"Well if you say so...I guess you can call me farmer. It's my hobby after all."
Chilong thought for a while and made up a name for himself.
"Call me Dragon. As for the runt, you can just call her mouse."
"H...Hey! If you are called the dragon then I shall be called the dragon eater!"
Tianfei was incensed at Chilong's blatant provocation. Xin Fan spoke his mind and quickly decided on a name for Tianfei. Unluckily for her, he had absolutely no naming sense.
"I mean...It suits you."
"How does it suit me? Huh?"
However her actions betrayed her as she started to munch on some rations. She had gotten swept in the light-hearted atmosphere that she almost forgot where she was, in the abyss.
I must not get distracted. Oh no...how much of what he said was a lie? I...I let my guard down.
Tianfei's vigilance just went up a notch and stared at the skeleton internally in suspicion.
"So it's farmer, dragon and glutton right...good naming choice...I will remember that."
He's telling the truth.
The skeleton smiled the entire time as he watched the children bicker. Contrary to setting, the atmosphere had become a light lighter and everything felt a lot brighter.
"So where are we?"
"I don't know...I guess the underworld. Didn't get to see king Yama though? I just remember waking up one day in my coffin and I was already here."
He's telling the truth again.
"How about you?"
"Well, we are taking an assessment in the abyss. We were wandering around and and we came across this place. We can't get out though...your men are blocking the way out."
"Oh...My bad, they do that by instinct I guess."
Now he is lying.
Tianfei semi-confirmed her suspicions that this man was the one controlling all the moving corpses. At least, this skeleton was a tier above the rest. Old Bones stroked the steel rod that was sitting on his lap. For the entire time, she hadn't seen him separate with that at all.
"What is that?"
The skeleton became vigilant and looked up at Tianfei in surprised.
"Oh this? It's my prized possession. This is my heart and soul. In the past, I have ruled over many with this."
Upon closer look, it resembled more like a pipe that extended to one side with what seems like a handle. There seemed to be some sort of mechanism on the pipe.
Tianfei wasn't sure why she said so but it just came out. Old bones looked up in intrigue as he stared at her.
"Glutton...you say this is beautiful?"
"Y...yes? Is that wrong?"
"Oh it's nothing...it's just that this thing had lived it's life being called crude."
The skeleton grinned bitterly as it took a sip of the tea. Of course, the tea simply flowed through the bones and dripped onto the floor in a black mess.
"It's a shame really..."
"What's a shame?"
Xin Fan asked in intrigue. Somewhere deep inside, he trusted this skeleton. It was something about it that gave him a sense of trustworthiness.
"I guess since you are here, do you know to get out of here?"
Old bones paused for a moment before responding.
"I would get out if I could."
In Tianfei's eyes, this skeleton was an enigma. Words contradicted each other. At some moments, he clearly shows hostile intent however at others, he was a nice person. Tianfei stared at the hollow sockets on the skeleton.
Who is he really?
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