Rite of Passage or Hazing?
I Ling Chao, famed computer Technician from the Majestic earthen city of Beijing have survived through numerous city blackouts. I still remember being brought to the edge of my sanity during the 20xx power outage.
That time I was caught unprepared in the shower after just soaping. I lived to tell the tale by relying on my cell phone and its multi-functions, aka flashlight.
Now I, the Hero Ling Chao have been reborn as the Mighty Emperor Lei Shan. Ruler of millions, bringer of comfort and protection. My courage and daring are the same as it was before the dimensional shift.
Hence it is safe to say, I am scared witless! Holy Crap!
Following He Jingguo’s insistence, I have been led to the Tomb of the Emperors to pay my respects. Part of this ‘Rite of Passage’ requires me to enter behind some huge scary door into the bowels of gaping darkness. If the darkness didn’t scare me enough along with the replays of a dragon suddenly breaking out and devouring me in my mind, the stupidly huge doors JUST decided to close confining me within this place without a light.
My loyal prime minister is currently prostrating outside, him having more respect for the meaning of this place than for my situation. Note to self; make his life a living hell if I survive. Such is my predicament.
I am presently standing in the darkness. Though my eyes have adjusted I cannot even see my hands when I hold them up. I sense the vastness of this cavern, it’s like when your six sense kicks in with adrenaline. The silence is only broken by a regular knocking sound, which is the only thing I am not scared off; it’s my knees hitting each other.
I take a deep breath and calm my nerves. Didn’t the old man pass through this? The dead here are all members of my family. I should be the safest person here. Of course there is the tiny problem of me not ACTUALLY being family since I took possession of this body. But hey, I never asked for this so it’s like nobody’s fault, right?
- We are here! The humble Emperor Lei Shan seeks guidance from his beneficent ancestors!
I call out into the darkness confidently. The knocking sounds have migrated into my mind instilling an eerie silence. Panic mode is ready and all set in my mind. If I have to shamelessly sprint towards the doors and claw through that ancient wooden structure I will. I just want to get my bearings and clear these thoughts.
Slowly, very slowly as if a dimmer light switch was being turned from low to high I saw a green glow appear somewhere far in front of me. It was stationary and as my eyes focused the outline of a rectangular object came into view.
The light had the brilliance of a billboard, but it was like illuminating a gymnasium with a small lantern. With it I finally had a little glimpse of this place. I am just a few feet inside the doors; I place my hands and gently push and pull then tug and pull harder. Stupid door!
In front of me is a huge cave still shrouded in darkness but faintly outlined. There is an evenly paved surface throughout stretching from me to where the light generates. In that area about 300 feet away lies a huge rectangular stone sarcophagus the length may have been about 100 feet and the depth about 400 feet with a height of about 20 feet. The glow comes from a door normal height (thank god!) on that 100 feet side that faces the entrance.
I should try and focus on the faintly outlined stone structure and explain about the intricacies and architectural details but I am right now wavering between dropping down and prostrating or chewing through the stupid door behind me.
You see, on that stone slab is currently standing a celestial dragon. Its front claws grip the edges of the stone top facing me, while its long sleek body stretches to the back filling up the entire surface. I guess you could liken it to standing on a big a$$ pedestal. From the glowering eyes, majestic whiskers, terrible fangs, curved claws and majestic scales this thing is either alive staring at a free lunch(me you idiot!) or a skilled artist rendition to such a legendary creature.
I remember reading once on earth that the term dragon’s fear means a fear that can paralyze you or force a person into submission. I can confirm that that is not true, it is far worse; the mere sight of this creature can even remove one’s ability to breathe. If not for the little voice in my head saying this is just a statue and reminding me the door is the way in for my test, I would have collapsed. I thank the gods that this is simply legends in my previous world.
I take a deep breath and walk forward slowly. With each step my breath becomes ragged and husky while my legs get heavier. I reach the point of dropping to the ground and crawling on my hands and knees towards the door.
100…80…60…60…60(why won’t this distance get shorter)…40…20
I continue until I reach the glowing door. I forcefully will myself to stand up and grab the silver doorknob. I am drenched with the sweat of fear, my clothes special features cannot even begin to wick this amount of water away. Who the HELL made this into a Rite?
I refuse to look up, above me I know is the gaping maw of that savage beast facing downwards exactly at this spot. Those eyes seem to contain malevolence and death, following my every step and gazing on me triumphantly and with disdain.
If there was anything like hazing in this world, this sh#$ would be it.
I open the door and half throw myself inside. Only now, free of the dragons gaze I am able to breathe freely. I get up and close this door. I am inside the stone sarcophagus within a narrow corridor. The walls give off a faint silver fluorescent glow that sheds faint light. This corridor leads to a stone cut stairway moving downwards.
I follow this passageway, He Jingguo that bastard, did mention something like this. Although the light is faint, the steps and passage are smooth without risk of falling. I continue along the way since I have no idea of time. Along this passage are little rooms cut out from the rocks, sometimes I enter into a room thinking I have reached a dead end until I realize where I am.
Some of these rooms have a small table and chair, others a stone slab presumably for sleeping. I guess this rite of passage doesn’t really have a fixed time frame but these rooms haven’t looked like they were even used.
I think back to He Jingguo at the door. Will he still be prostrating or standing waiting for me. I guess he will have no choice but to wait on me. Not only can he not enter the Tomb, he cannot walk out without being accompanied by the Emperor. I let out a slow sigh, that person wouldn’t have any qualms following protocol, if I were to die; he will gladly obey the rules.
Finally I see what seems to be a glowing light in the distance. I hasten my steps thinking it may be some exit. Instead I reach the first forked passage way since my time in this tunnel. On one side the glowing light flickers through while the other is like a continuation of my journey.
This calls for a moment of thought. If I go to the glowing passage I may find an exit and finish this hazing. Maybe the dark tunnel just leads to nowhere in particular, or maybe it does. Hell, the glowing light may be the end of the quest or some enlightenment room.
I shade my eyes from the slightly brighter golden light and look around. I decided on the light passage, might as well end this and done. Turning towards it my eyes fall on a section of the wall. There in a faintly clustered silver glow, why does it look like words? I walk over and peer intently.
The wall here is etched removing the silver luminescent.
- Servant’s quarters
Huh? Who or what would have servants quarters in this hole? There haven’t been any signs of life even in the rooms I passed. It was like they were cut into the bedrock on someone’s whim and fancy. I can’t see a person living in this kind of place.
I haven’t passes any Tombs or resting places of the previous Emperors. Somewhere under that dragon probably lies another door leading to their final resting places.
I want to see what this place is like, I can always return to the golden passageway. If I encounter anything in the passage that prevents me from returning I will not move forward. Ok with this foolhardy plan I head to the servants quarters.
Eh? This all? So disappointing!
Standing inside the doorway of a room I am looking around. This detour may have taken me nearly 1 hour. It was only by share determination (And spite! And stubbornness!) That I continued on to reach here.
The room resembled the previous stone cut ones that I passed. There was a stone table on the side with a rectangular stone bowl. On the other side was a small well with a wooden dipping spoon. The back had a stone slab with a rotting sheet laid out, seems like a bed. In the middle of the room were a small wooden three legged table and chair. On the table was the usual stone tablet, and unused cups like the other rooms. Whoever carved these rooms had a lot of free time on their hands.
Before I turned to head back I noticed a small scale on this table, it was one of those ancient cantilever types. Might as well, I have some free time to check if it works, I will take it as a memento of this wasted run. I walk up to it and grab it.
Haaaaa! This thing like it weighs a tone!
I can’t even budge the scale. I walk around and try to lift the chair out of curiosity, hell I think my back just broke!
What kind of material are these things made of? I sit on the chair rubbing my back when my eyes fall on the stone tablet. Is it the same?
I pick it up, hurrah! I feel like a man again, so strong! Eh?
The back of the tablet emits a faint silvery light, turning it over on the stone surface are words glowing faintly. It seems to be some instructions of some sort.
- Weigh the body without the soul, fill the body with the soul, return the body with the soul, open the gates of hell, look towards heaven, reach to heaven, pull the thread of fate, enter the kingdom, speak the name of the chosen, receive your reward under heaven.
Heh? All this is part of the ‘Rite of passage’? No wonder my old man just dawdled here and came out. What a pain! I squint and read the words again. A body without a soul, is that a dead body? But there is nothing like that here, only the scale on the table makes sense for weighing. I check around again for more clues, this place is barren there is no skeleton or anything here. Maybe it’s in that golden light passage way side?
What a hassle to walk so far and back again. I got up and looked around once more. Table, chair, well water, stone table bowl……..heyyy. Is this like one of those metaphorical thingy’s?