The other person spoke fluent Mandarin with a clear and melodious voice.
But what caught Ling Shu's eye was a face that flickered in the firelight, with high recognition and unmistakable features.
Golden hair, blue eyes, high nose and deep-set eyes, fair skin, and extraordinary handsomeness.
Such a pretty boy should be singing on the magnificent purple velvet opera stage, surrounded by nobles, instead of wearing a fur coat and holding a gun to his forehead.
Ling Shu sighed, seemingly regretful for his beauty.
"It seems that Mr. Ling doesn't want to see me."
Ivanov smiled slightly, whether it was because he had been coaxing Miss Zhen too much or because of his innate tenderness, he spoke softly and kindly in Chinese without any hint of coldness. "But when I saw Mr. Ling, I was very happy," he said.
"Is that so?" Ling Shu felt completely drained, his body limp and hot, unable to muster any energy.
His muscles ached and even Ivanov's voice seemed to fade in and out, accompanied by ringing in his ears.
He couldn't help but close his eyes and wanted to sleep some more.
Ivanov thought that Ling Shu looked down on him and didn't want to talk to him.
He smiled, got up, and lifted his foot.
The next second, Ling Shu suddenly opened his eyes and let out a piercing scream.
Ivanov retracted his foot, still smiling.
"Is Mr. Ling awake now? Can he speak?" he asked.
Ling Shu reached for his injured area, his ribs throbbing with pain. They might be broken or just cracked.
The pain was like a bucket of ice water poured over his head, instantly making him more alert.
"Enough." Ling Shu coughed twice, unsurprisingly aggravating his wound.
He struggled to sit up, leaning his back against the round pillar in the temple.
"Mr. Ivanov, what a coincidence to meet again. I never expected you to be so obsessed with me, even after eloping with Miss Zhen. And now you come back to find me."
Ivanov replied, "That's right. Since you left, I couldn't eat or sleep well. I finally couldn't resist leaving Miss Zhen behind and coming to find you."
Ling Shu asked, "Oh? And what about Miss Zhen? She's a delicate heiress who left everything behind to follow you to the northeast. You didn't abandon her, did you?"
Ivanov didn't answer the question.
Instead, he squatted down and stared into Ling Shu's eyes.
"Where is the treasure?"
Ling Shu was surprised. "You guys took the pagoda. After I knocked out Yue Dingtang, I didn't even have time to touch it, and now you're asking me? I also want to ask you, what secrets are in the pagoda that are worth risking for? Wouldn't it be safer to just buy it directly from Yue Dingtang at a high price?"
Ivanov sneered, "Safer? The Japanese are also eyeing it. We have studied the inside and outside of the pagoda, but we haven't found the so-called secret. Since you also want to steal the pagoda, you must know the mystery inside. Mr. Ling, I have a good impression of you and hope we can cooperate. You tell us what you know, and we'll find the treasure together, split the money, and go our separate ways. How about it?"
Ling Shu sighed again. He did indeed drug Yue Dingtang with the intention of stealing the pagoda.
But the reason was not as Ivanov had claimed. He did it to provide cover for Old Yuan, deliberately creating this spectacle so that everyone's attention would naturally be focused on him and the pagoda, rather than on Old Yuan's transfer of the treasures left by the old lady.
As for the appearance of Second Master's wife stealing the pagoda in the middle of the night, and Ivanov's sudden appearance, they were both unexpected accidents.
Zhen Congyun was also involved, which was even more unexpected.
But these things couldn't be said out loud, and even if they were, Ivanov wouldn't believe them.
Moreover, Ling Shu didn't believe in the idea of sharing the treasure equally.
Even if they really found some treasure, Ivanov's first priority would be to kill everyone and cover his tracks.
People are like fish on a chopping board, and I don't want to be the fish.
Ling Shu didn't want to anger Ivanov.
That would be of no benefit to him at all.
He planned to delay until Old Yuan returned.
Ling Shu showed appropriate shock: "What treasure is in the pagoda? I only heard Yue Dingtang say that this pagoda may be a treasure from the living Buddha in the Tibetan area. Not only is it precious, but it can also make people stay forever young and achieve their desires, so I became greedy..."
Ivanov said, "Mr. Ling, those are just lies to fool children. I don't think you would believe them. Or, are you waiting for your companion, the steward of the Guan family, surnamed Yuan, right? You two are working together, going through great lengths just to steal a pagoda?"
When Ling Shu heard him mention Old Yuan, his heart couldn't help but tremble.
He couldn't listen to what the other person was saying anymore.
Ivanov knew that Old Yuan was with him. And now, Old Yuan...
Being sick made it difficult for him to maintain his usual calm demeanor, even though Ling Shu tried his best to appear indifferent.
But who was Ivanov?
He had wandered around in his early years, relying on the kindness of others, reading people's faces, and enduring countless hardships.
Not only was he fluent in Chinese, but he also spoke Mongolian and Japanese effortlessly.
At the moment, he was staring at Ling Shu, not missing any of his facial expressions. When Ling Shu's face showed a slight change, Ivanov immediately caught it.
"Ling Shu, you guessed right. Old Yuan is now in Miss Zhen's hands. You also know Miss Zhen's methods. When she hates someone, she can make that person want to die but unable to die, or want to live but unable to live. For your own sake and for Old Yuan's safety, I advise you to cooperate with us. What do you think?"
Ling Shu forced a bitter smile, "I really want to work with you. When I heard about the treasure, my heart was pounding. But I need to know more before I can agree! I knew that the Buddhist pagoda was worth a lot of money and I was planning to steal it and sell it. I didn't expect you two to show up halfway... As for the Old Yuan you mentioned, if I had teamed up with him, why would I go through all this trouble? I could just let him get one or two treasures from old master Guan and give them to me. Wouldn't that be more convenient?"
"You make a good point," Ivanov nodded and stood up.
Before Ling Shu could even catch his breath, there was a loud bang!
"Ugh..." Ling Shu felt a searing pain in his shoulder.
Ivanov had fired his gun directly at him.
The bullet didn't penetrate his body, but grazed his shoulder.
Ling Shu knew that Ivanov wasn't a bad shot, this was just a warning.
"Mr. Ling, I don't believe a single word you say. Miss Zhen warned me that you're very cunning and not to be fooled by your words."
His hair was harshly pulled back, forcing Ling Shu to look up at him.
In his blue eyes, there was not the sea, but a cruel and bloodthirsty savagery.
"I think she has a point. Because I have a good impression of you, this is just a small warning. Next time, the bullet will go straight into your body. I won't rush to kill you. We have a whole night to slowly consume. Old Yuan has fallen into Miss Zhen's hands. If he doesn't speak, I can guarantee that his fate will be worse than yours."
Ivanov snapped his fingers.
Immediately, three or four people rushed in from outside, blocking the area around the door.
"Mr. Ling, let's play a game," Ivanov said.
"Can I refuse?" Ling Shu asked.
Ignoring Ling's question, Ivanov eagerly introduced, "Have you heard of Russian Roulette?"
Ling Shu smirked, "No."
Regardless of whether Ling was telling the truth or not, Ivanov continued, "You put one bullet in one of the six chambers of a revolver, spin it, and point it at your opponent. Whether they live or die is all up to luck. Fun, right?"
"Not fun," Ling Shu replied.
"Well, let's play a round. But I think one bullet is too easy for Mr. Ling. How about we put in three?" Ivanov suggested.
Ling Shu remained silent. Ivanov said, "Alright, I'll go easy on you. One bullet, one game. If you survive, I won't force you to do anything. You can leave with your people and I won't bother you again. If you die, then it's too bad. You'll have to confess to God."
Ling Shu replied, "I don't believe in God. Can we skip that part?"
Ivanov smiled gently and said, "Then how about considering your Jade Emperor or Buddha?"
He said something to his men and they quickly brought over a real revolver, not the "gun" Ivanov had just used.
Ivanov removed five of the six bullets from the revolver.
The sound of metal hitting the diamond was crisp and clear.
It seemed that Ivanov was determined to play this game with Ling Shu.
This also showed that he was indeed in a winning position, with the patience to deal with Ling Shu all night long.
For Ling Shu, this was not a good thing, because Ivanov knew that Old Yuan was on his side and knew that Old Yuan had gone down the mountain.
The fact that the other party was so calm and composed might mean that Old Yuan had really fallen into Zhen Congyun's hands.
In the few seconds he was thinking, Ivanov had already reloaded the chamber, rotated it once, and aimed the gun at Ling Shu.
"Let's see if the goddess of luck will favor you."
Ivanov seemed to be serious, as the gun had no safety and he directly placed his right index finger on the trigger.
He only applied a little force.
Ling Shu's forehead was sweating.
He saw Ivanov open his mouth and silently say to him, "Good luck to you."
This was a madman.
Despite his good looks, it was hard to ignore the fact that he was a madman.
In a life or death gamble with him, Ling Shu had no chance of winning.
Ivanov didn't let go, but simply smiled.
"There's a secret passage here, and everything is inside."
"Impressive, the Qing Dynasty treasure?" Ivanov asked.
"It's the treasure left behind by old master Guan, there are many valuable items, but it's not the Qing Dynasty treasure you're after. Old Yuan kept it hidden and wants to work with me to smuggle it out and split the profits. The so-called treasure you know of is just a false rumor he deliberately spread to confuse people."
"Why should I believe you?" Ivanov asked.
"Push the second statue of Luohan on the left side of the entrance, the entrance is behind the statue of Guanyin in the main hall."
Ivanov made a gesture and his men immediately went out to do as instructed.
After a while, there was a dull sound coming from behind the Guanyin statue, as if something was being opened.
"Go and take a look," Ivanov naturally wouldn't go himself, so he sent two people to investigate.
Soon, they came back with feedback: "Sir, there is indeed an entrance, but we don't know where it leads!"
Finally, Ivanov put down his gun.
"Just the two of you, it's impossible to repair this secret passage, right? I hope Mr. Ling isn't deceiving me."
Ling Shu took a deep breath and said, "This secret passage was not built by us or anyone in the Guan family. It was secretly constructed by Tang Yulin, the second-in-command under the northeast King Zhang Zuolin. He intended to use it as his escape route, but it was never put to use. After he left the northeast, he entrusted the whereabouts of this secret passage to one of his trusted subordinates at the time, and Old Yuan learned about it unintentionally."
Ivanov originally wanted someone to go in and take a look, but he changed his mind at the last minute.
"You guys wait outside, I'll take him in."
Ling Shu's hands were tied behind his back with a tightly knotted rope that he couldn't possibly undo himself.
Every step he took now caused his bones and shoulders to ache with pain, but Ling Shu had no choice.
He could only be pushed and shoved as he climbed up the high platform and walked down the stone steps into the secret passage. Ivanov walked behind him, about a meter apart.
Not to mention that Ling Shu couldn't struggle now, even if he hadn't been injured, the distance between the two and the gun in Ivanov's hand were enough to kill Ling Shu before he made any dangerous moves.
The secret passage was pitch black.
With Ivanov's flashlight, the light could only reach a short distance, forcing Ling Shu to slow down and the two of them moved forward slowly.
"There are three forks, one of which leads to the outskirts of the city, which is the real way out that Tang Yulin left for himself. The other two, one is a dead end, and the other leads to a secret room where the things left by old master Guan are kept."
"Why didn't old master Guan leave the things to his family?"
"He felt that most of his descendants were incompetent and foolish. If he left his possessions in their hands, they would either be stolen or swindled away. They lacked both virtue and talent, so it was better to hand them over to the country."
Ivanov chuckled, "The country? Your country is currently divided into four or five parts. How can it protect these treasures?"
Ling Shu coughed a few times and said intermittently, "In January of this year, after the Japanese army entered the Shanhaiguan, the Palace Museum decided to seal and move its collection south. old master Guan asked Old Yuan to send these items out of the city and to Beijing, to be handed over to the last group of treasure protection teams heading south, along with the Palace Museum's collection."
Ivanov asked, "But did Old Yuan become greedy and conspire with you?"
Ling Shu replied, "...Yes."
Ivanov felt like he had figured out these people's thoughts, but there were still some things he didn't understand.
Just as he was about to ask for clarification, gunshots rang out from outside!
Not just one shot, but at least a series of them, accompanied by what sounded like screams of agony.
Ivanov's face turned pale.
Who could suddenly appear at a time like this?
Ling Shu didn't have that kind of power, he had already offended Yue Dingtang, and Old Yuan...
Could it be the Japanese?
Instead of rushing out to investigate, Ivanov pushed Ling Shu forward and hurriedly said, "Quick, go down!"
Ling Shu was already walking slowly, and was caught off guard by the sudden push, stumbling and falling down the stone steps.
Ivanov heard his groans of pain and was about to catch up and check on him, when suddenly a bright light shone behind him!
He quickly turned around.
Yue Dingtang was standing on the entrance steps, looking down from above, holding a flashlight in one hand and a gun in the other, aimed at Ivanov.
Before Ivanov could react, Yue Dingtang had already pulled the trigger.
The sound of a gunshot echoed through the narrow and long tunnel.
Ling Shu felt his eardrums ringing, but he couldn't cover his ears. He could only lean against the wall and furrow his brows, waiting for the discomfort to pass.
One shot, one kill!
He looked closely and saw that Ivanov had been shot in the forehead by Yue Dingtang, and had died instantly.
Ling Shu coughed a few times and laughed.
"Old Yue, how come I never noticed how accurate your marksmanship is?"
Yue Dingtang didn't answer.
He walked down step by step, but his gun was not lowered even a bit.