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15 Strange door

    Within the forest, that was shrouded in darkness, only the trees stand tall and straight as the bitter cold winds blow its frost between the curves and crevices of the trees, burrowing itself into every crack that existed in the wild.

    The winter was coming, it could be foreseen that this year would be one of the harshest ones to have existed so far.

    The winds were cold, yet was not overwhelmingly strong enough to blow a roof off a house, or uproot a tree.

    There was a young golden red fox with its beautiful soft tail brushing against the vegetation of the forest floor. It was a curious little creature that was full of life and happiness. Its beautiful golden red fur kept it warm as it wards off any coldness or droplets of dew that may be harmful to its small body.

    The little fox came up to purple tinted flower that was among the vegetation. It gave it a sniff, before licking its wet nose. The little fox was walking away, but its body soon trembled a bit before it's soft body collapsed onto the ground with a thud.

    ~

    Captain Zhou stood in front of the strange hall, as his subordinates pried the locked door open. It was not an easy task, their bodies perspired, even though the fall weather was frigid.

    "It's open." One of the guards felt joy as the door finally gave in.

    Captain Zhou nodded and took the lead as they walked into unknown territory.

    The room was bleak and dreary, it felt like a mausoleum. All the windows had been sealed off, leaving a stuffy feeling behind. The room had an uncanny smell. It smelled like there were many things mixed together. There was a smell of sulfur and foul iron that was easily recognizable, the rest was a mixture of heavy medicinal herbs and something unknown.

    Within the room, it seemed to be something of a study, with the main table made of a wood that would normally be found in a commoner's dwelling.

    On the table, there were books neatly stacked on one side with an inkwell on the other and high quality paper in the middle, it was filled with a beautiful handwriting that definitely did not belong to head imperial physician Shen. The brushes were hanging from the brush stand, having been well cleaned, there was not a drop of ink on the sable fur.

    On the other side of the study, there were many rows of bookshelves that could barely be made out.

    The room had no light in it, what little light that came to the room was from the clouds reflecting the light from the city.

    As they went deeper into the room they realized the layout of this room was strange. There were doors, but it was not the normal ornamental doors found in the household, with wooden carvings and the thin rice paper that could be easily torn down.

    These doors were thick and made of solid wood. There was nothing pretentious about it, it simply did its job of keeping the room from unwanted listeners.

    Captain Zhou and his men could not help but think of what it must feel like in the summer with no air getting circulated in the hot weather. It would be an absolutely dreadful feeling.

    But sure, in the winter the doors that had the rice paper could easily get holes in it, allowing the chilly winds to get into a household, it had to be frequently replaced, which was very costly on the people who made no more than ten tales of silver per year.

    It could be agreed that these doors were very practical and could potentially prevent the many thefts per year.

    They stopped at a door that was the most mysterious of all. It was different from the others, this one had a carving on it, a giant, badly carved X. To the three men, they saw it as the character ten carved slanted.

    "What do ya reckon it means captain?" One of the guards asked the most intelligent person there captain Zhou.

    "Open it." Was the order they got.

    They acknowledged the order, and set to work, prying on the door open with their sabers. While captain Zhou stood in front of the door, in deep thought, trying to understand what the carving represented.

    "Are you done yet?" He asks impatiently.

    "Almost done captain." The man was slightly out of breath, he banged his body against the door one last time and the door gave in to his strength.

    "What's in there?"

    "I don't know. I think there's another door, but it's a metal one." The guard replied as he felt the cool material, he was certain that this was a metal door.

    [Who the hell would put a metal door behind a wooden one? Is this a game of endless doors?] They couldn't help but curse whoever made such a useless architectural design.

    "Open it." Their command came. They could only sigh at their hard lives, wondering why they were the ones that got picked to follow this captain.

    Thank the stars that the metal door would easily slide away and they did not need to call in a blacksmith.

    "It's open captain." The guard shouted happily.

    Captain Zhou immediately ran into the chamber but was immediately taken aback by the vast darkness within the chamber.

    What they did not notice was the edge of the door was coated with a rubber, that was trying to prevent something on the micro level from leaking out.

    No one felt that the air within the chamber was slightly heavier and denser than actual air that was outside.

    "What's with the darkness I can't see." Captain Zhou complained after he could not even see his hands which were right in front of his face.

    "Wait, guys, I think I have a match." A guard said as he reached into his clothes to pull out a bamboo tube that was the length of his palm. He rolled it between his hands and blew on it to get a spark of glowing flames.

    Big mistake.
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