The inside of the manor was mostly dark besides the light coming in through the holes in the ceiling and there were bits of rubble on the floor. Any decorations that might have been on the walls were removed and the walls were left bare. The place looked like it had been abandoned for years even though the village leader was just living here the other day. It was an uncomfortable and surreal feeling; seeing a well-kept place filled with a happy family one day and then it looking like it belonged in a horror movie the very next day.
Annie didn't tell Thomas what room that the bandit leader was in but after walking forward for a while it became obvious. Most of the side rooms were emptied and the stairs to the second floor were collapsed so there was only one way to go. After turning down the hallway, Thomas could see some light in one of the rooms; seemingly coming from some sort of small fire. After reaching the doorway, Thomas peaked in, seeing that the light source was coming from a torch stabbed into a small wooden table. Next to the table was the man that Thomas was looking for: the bandit leader.
"Good. You're finally here. I've got... you were a girl?" For the first time since Thomas saw him, the bandit leader seemed to be shocked. This wasn't really surprising given that Thomas was now wearing a girl's dress even though he was in boy's clothes earlier. "It seems like it was a good idea to send you to my daughters instead of having my sons take care of you. If they found out that you were a girl they might have damaged you and you wouldn't be able to help me with this." The bandit leader seemed convinced that Thomas was actually a girl and Thomas didn't feel like correcting him. "Come here, I've got something to show you."
Thomas carefully made his way over to where the bandit leader was while thinking that the bandit leader's expression was a bit softer now. Looking to where the bandit leader was pointing, it seemed like there was a hole in the ground. The little bit of light pouring into it showed that there was some sort of hidden chamber down there. "Your job is to crawl into there and find out if there's another entrance we can use. If there's no other entrance that you can see then just tell me what's down there. This hole's not getting any wider and whatever it's made out of is solid so there has to be something good down there."
Thomas moved closer to the hole before the bandit leader stopped him. "Wait. Before you go in, let's talk a bit. My daughters say your name is Gren. Is that correct?"
"Yes, sir." Keeping his head down looking towards the hole, Thomas answered the bandit leader.
Thinking a bit, the bandit leader continued speaking. "It's an odd name for a girl but it's not like I'm one to be able to talk about that. My parents thought it'd be good to call me Susan since I was born in a small village called Sus. It was only later that they found out that there were people called Susan in other countries and that it was a girl's name." Susan shook his head while seemingly thinking about the past. "Don't worry about your name. In the future as long as you're strong enough people will fear you to the point where they don't dare make fun of you." Susan gave Thomas a smile but most of it was blocked by his beard.
"Understood, Mr. Susan." After saying that, Thomas quickly hopped into the hole. Although the dress was covered in frills it seemed to make it through the hole without a problem. There was some dirt left over on the dress but nothing snagged or got torn from what Thomas could tell. After a short fall, Thomas landed on the floor below with a bit of a thud. "Guh!" His butt felt a bit sore from the landing. Looking around, Thomas could barely see anything around him. Calling up to Susan, "I can't see."
From what Thomas could see, Susan was reaching on his belt with both hands before finding what he seemed to be looking for. Taking off a small square device, Susan tossed it down and Thomas quickly rushed to catch it. "Use this. When you're done with it I'll want it back so try not to break it. There's a little button on one of the sides so just push it when you find it."
Feeling around on the box, Thomas quickly found the button that Susan was talking about. "Whoa!" The box lit up on five of its sides leaving only the side with the button dark. It wasn't a bright light but somehow the light seemed to spread throughout the room. Thomas felt it was odd but figured that it was probably a magic device and didn't bother thinking too much about it. "Thanks! I can see much better now. I'll see what I can find and then I'll come back."
Thomas could hear that Susan made a sound of approval but he ignored it and looked around. There were some statues in front of thick pillars and it seemed like the part that Thomas landed on was a raised platform on one side of the room. This place was huge. Much larger than it seemed from that hole up above. Gren had lived in this village his entire life and yet he didn't even know there was a large structure beneath the entire village. If the bandit leader could see what Thomas could then his eyes would be sparkling. Down below the platform was a mountain of gold. "This place is pretty big. It might take a while for me to find an exit!"
Looking behind him, away from the mountain of gold, Thomas could see a large statue next to the wall. It was a beautiful woman with her hands on her chest. Her hair was covered with a veil and her dress was modest but well-detailed. In front of the statue was a small pedestal which seemed to have something small on it. At this distance it was hard to tell what it was. Whatever it was it would surely be valuable. 5 Best Chinese Romance Books of 2018 So Far