Welcome to chapter six! This chapter is packed with drama, mystery, and plenty of action! Nellie finds herself in trouble more than once in this segment. Will she make it through this leg of her adventure? Read on to find out! I hope you enjoy the story and thanks for reading!
Welcome to chapter six! This chapter is packed with drama, mystery,
and plenty of action! Nellie finds herself in trouble more than
once in this segment. Will she make it through this leg of her
adventure? Read on to find out! I hope you enjoy the story and
thanks for reading!
The message engraved into the plaque was so bone-chilling that it
almost made Nellie turn tail and run, but she shook it off,
stiffened her spine, and stood her ground. She had come too far in
this to let a few words from a long-dead, bullying, evil warlord
frighten her away now! As soon has she had turned and begun to move
toward the door she must enter, she was firmly reminded of the
dangers she now faced.
She cried out, startled, as she was engulfed in a vicious steam
trap. The hot substance stung her skin, but only left her slightly
pink, not causing any real damage. Muttering a few curses under
breath, she pushed forward and stepped through the door.
She groaned inwardly as her eyes fell upon the many traps of some
sort in the floor ahead. The young woman knew it was not going to
be easy, but she was determined to find the treasure, so she moved
forward to inspect the first one.
The first trap was easily disarmed and she stepped across it,
smiling to herself. Maybe the evil warlord, Dong Huo's traps were
not as brilliant as he had thought. Suddenly, Nellie held no fear
in her heart and her confidence soared through the roof as she
stood at the 'cross roads', wondering which way to go.
She decided to go right first and walked a short distance to the
wall. To her right was another long hallway, but to her left was a
pile of ancient coins on the floor. She decided to take those
first. The way seemed clear, so she boldly and briskly began
walking toward the pile.
The most blinding, gut-wrenching pain Nellie had ever felt coursed
through her body as suddenly a trap appeared from nowhere and
surged electrical current into her. She tried to scream, but she
had no voice. Just as she was about to lose consciousness, the
current shut down and she stumbled back the way she had come. So
much for her confidence; it seemed to drain away along with the
Nellie, disoriented, stumbled and staggered straight forward along
the unexplored hallway straight ahead. Even though she was now
injured and frightened, she pushed open a door she found there and
was surprised and relieved to see a tiny room with two beds.
It could not have come at a better time since her energy level felt
depleted and her fear had reached new heights. Luckily, she still
had a supply of Shower in a Can, so she was able to clean herself a
bit before slipping between the sheets. The cold water stung, yet
cooled and somewhat soothed her singed skin. In pain and exhausted,
her thoughts seemed to come to her in confused, erratic
As she settled into the soft bed, her thoughts turned to Ho Sung
and she wished he were here to wrap his strong, loving arms around
her to bring her comfort and peace. He had tried to speak with her
several times after she had left him in his shop a few days ago,
but she either ignored his calls, or told him she was too busy to
talk. Now, she wished she had made an effort to make things right
between them again. What if the writing on the plaque was correct
and soon, her ghost would be meeting that of Dong Huo, the evil
After a nice rest, things no longer seemed as glum as they had the
night before. After a bite of delicious dried food, she felt ready
to carry out her mission and see this adventure to its end,
whatever that end may be. She headed out the way she had come and
entered a new door. Nellie tripped over her own feet and nearly
fell into the room, cursing her clumsy nature. Her eyes widened in
awe as she gazed around at what this new room contained.
The room was filled with empty nectar racks, but several bottles of
nectar were scattered about on the floor. Nellie's mouth began to
water and she suddenly wished she had a corkscrew. After the fiasco
last night and almost losing her life, she could certainly use a
After gathering up all the bottles on the floor, Nellie noticed
another strange place on the wall and began to inspect it. She was
unable to find a trigger to open what she suspected was a hidden
door, but then she remembered something one of her fellow explorers
had mentioned back at the base camp.
Nellie moved toward the lamp on the wall and began to gently tug
and fiddle around with it. Finally, she heard, with satisfaction,
the familiar sound of a long-closed door grinding open.
If Nellie had been awed by the previous room, she was totally blown
away by this one! It was beautifully decorated and had an almost
home-like feel about it, even though it seemed more suited to
royalty rather than a regular sort like her. The thing she liked
most about it, though, was that it contained a bar, and a
Making herself at home, Nellie went to one of the nectar racks,
grabbed some glasses, and poured nectar into them. It smelled
wonderful and she licked her lips in anticipation.
Seating herself at the bar, Nellie drank just enough of the sweet
liquid to settle her frazzled nerves. She knew better than to
over-indulge herself. She needed to keep a clear head to move
through Dong Huo's maze of traps and find the treasure. After
downing two glasses, she rose and turned toward the diving pool
behind her. She mentally prepared herself for the cold dive by
inhaling and releasing several long breaths before taking the
Nellie emerged dripping wet, but with a crescent keystone in hand.
She was sure she would be making good use of it very soon. In her
haste and confused state, Nellie had neglected to notice the
crescent keystone on the night stand of the room in which she had
spent the night. Little did she know that mistake would cause
She left the room and went back to the intersection in the hallway
where she had been before almost getting herself turned into a
human Shish Kabob and stood for a moment wondering where to go
next. She turned so that her back was to the door through which she
had first come. The nectar had left her feeling relaxed and
confident once again, so she started forward without much thought
and immediately regretted her decision.
The agonizing pain was unbearable as darts pierced Nellie's tender
flesh. She screamed in agony and began pulling them from her body
as quickly as possible. The darts, she thought, must be laced with
some sort of poison, because a wave of dizziness and nausea struck
her that almost brought her to her knees. The confused and
disoriented woman staggered backward and fell to the floor.
As Nellie lay fighting to remain conscious, she thought, once
again, about the writing on the plaque. As darkness overcame her,
she suddenly was certain her ghost would meet that of Dong Huo very
As her eyes fluttered open, she knew not how much later, she heard
the voice of a young girl speaking to her in a hushed tone, telling
her she would be alright now. Nellie was more confused than ever
when her gaze fell upon a little girl standing over her. As Nellie
slowly rose to her feet, the little girl explained that she had
been playing above when she heard Nellie's screams and had gone
down to see who was in trouble.
While Nellie fiddled around to disarm the next trap in her way, the
girl explained that her mother was a healer and had a special
potion to counteract the effects of poison darts and that she had
gone to fetch some from her nearby home. The girl had fed some to
the unconscious woman and brought her back around.
Nellie thanked the little girl profusely, gave her a handful of the
ancient coins she had collected, and hugged her warmly. The girl
smiled up at Nellie and then hurriedly left the tomb, leaving the
explorer to her work.
Nellie efficiently disarmed the next few traps between her and her
destination and quickly moved further into the underground cavern.
Soon Nellie was smiling again. She had found a place to put her
crescent keystones to use.
The way ahead was full of various traps to prevent her passage, but
Nellie soon figured out how to disarm them. As she put each
keystone into place and then stepped on the floor triggers they
produced, a trap would be disarmed.
When Nellie went to put the fourth keystone into its place, she
suddenly realized she had only had three and her heart sank. What
was she to do now?
She then remembered that in her haste to find the treasure, she had
left several small rooms unexplored and she headed back the way she
had come, searching the treasure boxes in each one, but to no
Finally, she entered a tiny room and her eyes lit up like the stars
in the night sky. A crescent-shaped keystone was in plain sight on
a table! She rushed forward, snatched it up, and hurriedly went
back and slid it into its place. The last trap had been
Nellie groaned and sighed tiredly when she saw the row of heavy
statues that had to be moved in order to open the last door. She
waited a moment to catch her breath and then began to shift the
monstrosities around. Finally, she heard the chains fall from the
door behind her and she ran toward it.
At long last, she had uncovered the treasure that had been hidden
away for so long! She collected it and delivered it to Jiang Lu,
who was very grateful and rewarded her handsomely. The hour had
been late, so she had gone back to base camp to rest.
The next morning, Ellie checked the adventure board for any new
developments and was surprised to see a note for her from Jiang Lu
tacked upon it. Her brow furrowed as she read the quickly-scrawled
" My dear Nellie, it seems if you are going to complete the
prophecy you must journey to Champs Les Sims, France. According to
the journal, I believe the Nectar Merchant at the Nectary there
will know about Vaughan's keystone. You must speak to the Nectar
Merchant to discover the location of the keystone!"
France? Now Ellie was more desperate than ever to speak with Ho
Sung! She felt the need to resolve their issues before leaving the
country, so she rushed over to the market to speak to him. If
nothing else, at least she could forgive him and they could remain
" Ho Sung!"Ellie called out urgently as burst into the Food
Merchant's Shop, but gasped in surprise to see someone else behind
the counter instead. " Hello Jiao"she said, forcing a bright smile
at the young woman. " Where is Ho Sung?"
Nellie's heart sank and skipped several beats as she listened to
Jiao Hong explain that Ho Sung had not been into the shop for two
days and she had heard nothing from him. Now, more than ever,
Nellie felt horrible about the way she had purposely avoided him
and was even quite rude in her treatment of him when he had tried
to speak with her.
" Is there something I can do for you?"Jiao smiled at Nellie.
Fighting back tears of frustration and pain that threatened to
fall, Nellie politely declined and headed next door to the General
Merchant's Shop, to speak to Zhan. He always seemed to have a way
of brightening her day.
" Hello, my friend!"she exclaimed as she embraced the best friend
she had ever had. " I've missed you so!" Nellie's expression turned
more serious as she asked, " Have you seen Ho Sung? He is not in
his usual place in the Food Market."Nellie had been tempted on
several occasions to confess her attraction for Ho Sung to her
friend, but something, some instinct, had held her back.
" No one has seen him for several days!"Zhan replied. " It's very
strange. You see, my brother, Shen, is dating Ho Sung's sister, who
lives with him. My brother told me that Ho Sung came home a few
days ago, packed a bag, and told his sister and his wife that he
was leaving. He did not give them a reason, or even tell them when,
or if, he was planning to return."
Zhan was so caught up in his story that he missed Nellie's sharp
gasp at the mention of Ho Sung's wife. " Everyone knew that Ho Sung
was not very happy in his marriage. You see, Ho Sung has always
wanted a large family, but his wife not only does not want
children, but she actually dislikes them!"Zhan paused for breath
and then added, " But, to just take off like that is very unlike Ho
Sung. He is a good man!"
Nellie was crushed. Ho Sung had a wife? So, the man with whom she
had fallen so deeply in love was married! She had inadvertently
become 'the other woman'. Now she understood why Ho Sung had been
so elusive and distant. He had other obligations in another place.
Now she was very happy she had never told Zhan of her affair with
Ho Sung. It would have been humiliating!
" I have to go, Zhan"Nellie said, as she forced herself to smile at
her friend. " I am here for another few days, so I will see you
before I go."She hugged him briefly and fled from the shop before
her tears had a chance to fall somewhere other than in
Nellie was crestfallen. Her heart felt as if it had been shattered
into a million tiny shards, many of which had slipped down to her
gut, causing her to feel nauseated and ill. After leaving Zhan Su
at the market, she had jogged around aimlessly, trying desperately
to outrun her broken heart. Of course it had been all in vain. One
cannot run away from one's self
Finally, she had come upon a knoll, high above the city, on which
stood an abandoned barn by a stream. It felt peaceful and serene to
Nellie, so she decided to meditate and reflect on her life to this
point. How had she allowed herself to get into such a fix? The
young woman had been called many things in her life, but frivolous
was never one of them.
After little more than hour, she sighed heavily and rose. Camp
Chrysanthemum was just down the hill. Nellie did not feel like
facing anyone, so made the short hike and set up camp for the
night. Nellie's sleep was restless, filled with fragmented dreams
of what might been versus reality. She awoke, feeling no more
relief than she had felt upon first learning the news of Ho Sung's
deception to her and his betrayal to the wife he had neglected to
mention to her.
As Nellie roasted her fresh catch for breakfast over the fire, her
mind struggled to grasp the meaning of the turn of events in her
life. Things had been way less complicated before getting involved
with Ho Sung. The funny thing is that she did not completely regret
it, especially when she thought of the night of passion they had
spent together. Even the brief note she found on her pillow the
next morning was not enough to quench the fire that had burned
within her heart and soul from his loving touch.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of her cell phone, but
she did not answer it. It was Jiang Lu. Nellie knew he was awaiting
her decision about carrying her adventure to France, but she was
not ready to give him her answer just yet. She knew that in her
current state of mind, it would be a useless venture and that she
would likely accomplish nothing if she were to go now.
Nellie left Han's Orchard and hiked around aimlessly a bit more
until she came to an interesting site. She had been too busy
running errands and solving problems for the locals to do any
excavating while here, so she decided to do so now.
Finding nothing but a few common relics, Nellie rose and brushed
the dust off the knees of her slacks, and wiped the salty tears
from her cheeks. It was time to do a bit of serious soul searching.
She began to jog toward the one place she felt she would find her
answers. . .The Scholar's Garden.
Nellie assumed the position and tried to allow her mind to go
blank, but it was difficult at first. She could not help but to
wonder why a good man like Ho Sung would lead her on the way had,
committing a lie of omission by not telling her he was a married
man. He wore no ring, so how was she to know if he did not tell
her? Try as she might, she could not let go of the hurt and the
anger that lay deep within her heart. The feelings of guilt which
clouded her mind only served to increase the burden in her
Finally, after a few hours, Nellie's mind and body had reached that
plane of existence that only those experienced in the art of
meditation could reach. Her thoughts soared to another, faraway
place, her heart felt free, and her body felt lighter as the burden
of guilt was lifted from her soul. Soon, she rose and released a
satisfied sigh. There was one more thing she felt the need to do
before leaving this place, which was filled with so much spiritual
As an angler, few things brought more pleasure to Nellie than
fishing and the fish that swam here were plentiful. She did some of
her best thinking with a pole in her hand.She pulled out her trusty
fishing rod, which had never let her down, and cast her line into
the rippling stream.
After catching several nice-sized Koi and then tossing them back,
Nellie knew it was time to finalize her decision. She put the
fishing pole away, grabbed her cell phone, and dialed Jiang Lu's
number. Nellie smiled to herself as she put her phone away, and
then sang a melancholy tune as she headed toward the market to find
Zhan"Nellie smiled happily as she wrapped her arms around her
friend in a warm embrace. Zhan had finished his shift at the store
and she had caught him just as he was about to head home. " I have
something to tell you"she exclaimed breathlessly. " I'm leaving for
France tomorrow!"At Zhan's puzzled expression, she continued, " It
seems I have to go there to continue my adventure concerning the
" Ah, I see"Zhan responded thoughtfully. " It is strange how these
things wind up in so many places."He laughed and tapped her elbow.
" Care to allow me to kick your butt before you go?"
" It will be my pleasure"Nellie giggled.
The two of them went their separate ways to change into their
Nellie faced her opponent and bowed politely with a smile. " Are
you sure you don't want to rethink this, Zhan? I'm getting better,
you know? It may very well be I who kicks your butt!"
Zhan winked and smiled, " Oh, I believe I can handle it!"
As the two friends sparred, they tossed playful comments at one
another that threatened to end the match in bursts of laughter, but
they would recover each time and continue. At last, they took their
final bow. " You actually beat me!"Nellie exclaimed with a giggle.
" I'll have you know that this is the first match I've lost in
quite a while!"
Zhan chuckled, " I told you I would kick your butt!"He lowered his
voice to a conspiratorial tone and added, " Besides, there are many
here who would willingly allow a pretty girl to win."He flinched
backward and laughed as Nellie playfully punched him on the
shoulder. " Come, I'll buy you a bite to eat."
Over delicious slices of Key Lime pie, Nellie voiced her concerns
to Zhan about leaving China to go to France. " I do have an
adventurous nature"she said softly, " but I do so love it here!
It's so beautiful and serene and well . . . it's where you
Zhan swallowed the last bite of his pie and smiled. " I will be
here whenever you need me, Nellie. Besides, our time together is
not over yet!"He rose, took her hand, and the pair walked out of
city. They came upon Han's Orchard, where they sat on the grass and
chatted for several hours.
Finally, they rose to say their goodbyes. " Oh, I am so going to
miss you, Zhan!"Nellie cried as she embraced her best friend. "
I've never been to France, so I don't know what it's like there. I
am a little frightened and overwhelmed by it all."
Zhan hugged Nellie closer for a moment and whispered in her ear. "
Do not worry, Nellie. You are a strong woman and I have complete
faith that you will return soon, with your mission
accomplished!"The couple soon parted and Nellie went back to base
camp to pack for her early flight the next morning.
Nellie was excited to catch the first glimpse of her new
destination through the window of the plane as it lowered its
altitude in preparation to make its landing. It did not strike
Nellie as being as lushly beautiful as China, but it did seem like
a quaint and tidy little village. She gazed longingly at the Eiffel
Tower in the distance and thought about how much fun could be had
there if she and . . . no, she would not think of him now! Nellie
had forced all thought of the incident out of her mind in The
Scholar's Garden and she could not allow such fantasies to intrude
upon her mind now. She needed all her concentration to go toward
the search for the keystone to the Dragon Cave
Nellie was pleasantly surprised by her new base camp. It was fairly
luxurious and offered all the amenities one could need. Upon
arrival, she wasted no time cleaning up and changing from her
travel clothes into something more befitting a place like Champs
After looking at her notes to double-check the address, Nellie
hurried along her way. The Nectar Merchant struck Nellie as a very
sophisticated sort with an air of forced civility about her. Nellie
did not know whether she was actually a nice person, or only acted
so in order to sale her wares, but she did play her part in
steering Nellie in the right direction.
" What- what- what?"she exclaimed breathlessly. " You say you've
come here on a mission from Shang Simla? Why, that's on the other
side of the world! I remember this James Vaughan from the journal.
I believe he got into a fight with Monsieur Landgraab and rescued
some woman or something."She shrugged. " Who knows?"Speak to
Colette Bonnet, who is a direct descendant of Landgraab's grounds
At first, in the usual fashion that Nellie had come to expect,
Colette Bonnet refused to offer any useful information. Nellie
poured on the charm, and soon Colette seemed more willing to help,
in return for a favor, of course.
" Yes, my grandfather spoke often of James Vaughan. A bumbling fool
that one was! I believe I can help you locate your missing
keystone. After all, I would hope that people of Shang Simla would
do the same for me! But, I will require certain favors. I very much
love Opal. It is a beautiful gem, is it not? Bring me one piece of
Opal, and I shall grant you access to the vault holding the
Nellie was pleasantly surprised and pleased to have her Visa
upgraded to level one for merely agreeing to Colette's demand. She
politely thanked the woman and took off to begin her first
adventure in France!
Nellie checked the directions that Colette had given her to a
location believed to contain Opal, but when she got there, she saw
none lying around. Puzzled and unsure of what to do next, Ellie
pulled out her trusty fishing pole and cast a line into the
irresistible tiny pond there. She was delighted to catch something
new . . . a frog!
As she was releasing the frog from the hook, Ellie noticed some
rather large boulders across from her and had a hunch to look under
them. It was no job to be doing in her nice clothes, so she quickly
changed into her explorer garb and got to work.
Nellie had come to rely completely on the Axe of Pangu and wondered
how she had ever survived without it.The vibrations of power it
exuded were still quite surprising to her, but she was beginning to
become accustomed to the power of Pangu's Axe.
She was able to quickly dispose of the boulders to reveal what lay
beneath. Nellie held her breath and waited for the dust to settle.
When she opened them again, they were wide with wonder.
She was surprised to find a stairwell leading down into an
underground room, but she had one more boulder to crush before
bothering with that. As curious as she was, she hoped she did not
have to go on a long excursion to find a stupid rock for that silly
woman. Nellie was anxious to get on with her current adventure and
get her hands on the keystone to the Dragon Cave.
Once again, Nellie raised the might Axe of Pangu high above her
head and swung it at the giant rock. The axe almost seemed to sing
in her grasp and she released a satisfied sigh as the boulder was
reduced to tiny pebbles.
Voila! There lay the coveted Opal glinting in the sunlight! Nellie
scooped it up and headed back to Colette. As walked away toward the
direction she had come, Nellie gave one last regretful glance back
at the newly-uncovered hole in the ground. The curious cavern would
have to wait until another day.
As the Nectary came into view, Nellie again wondered about the
stairwell she had uncovered. Her curiosity was peaked and she
wished she had time to investigate, but she had less than a week in
France to find the keystone, and something told her it would not be
an easy task.
Colette was overjoyed when her eyes fell upon the shiny stone. "
Oui!"she exclaimed breathlessly. " Look how it shines and glimmers.
I have not yet decided what I shall do with the Opal, but that is
not your concern. Now, you seek the keystone. The hidden vault is
now unlocked for you at the Landgraab Chateau. Go there to find the
keystone of James Vaughan."
" Landgraab . . . That family seems to be involved in
everything!"Nellie said to herself as she stood looking up at the
huge house.It loomed large and foreboding against a backdrop of
mountains as the sun was beginning to set. A stab of fear tried to
enter the young woman's heart as she gazed upon it, but she pushed
it back. She had come too far to turn back now. Nellie inhaled a
deep breath, released it slowly, and began walking toward the front