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“Hey! Hurry up, why haven’t you opened up the coffin yet!” Two figures holding flaming torches gave a vicious kick to the figure currently pushing against the coffin. “Hey! You’re really getting more and more useless!”
Despite getting hit, the young male dressed in gray robes kept his slow and simple expression. He brushed against the crevices and chinks of the coffin before replying. “It has, a mechanism, need to search.”
“And you still haven’t found it! Worthless!” one of the men got angry and kicked the boy again. That man kept silent as he circled around the coffin before feeling something strange at the bottom. He slowly moved the object there back and forth before ‘kacha,’ various thin wooden strips fell from the coffin’s four corners. Holding the coffin lid with his arms, the boy used strength from his waist to push aside the 100 jin lid, where it fell heavily onto the ground.
After the dust settled, the boy stood by the coffin to quietly peer at the girl within. Her once resplendent robes had rotted into black and smelly rags stuck to her skin. But more shocking than that was the fact that this girl’s skin hadn’t decayed at all. Her facial features were like that of a living person, carrying no hint of death.
The torch flame waved about, causing the girl’s eyelashes to flutter before she slowly opened her eyes. There was a flash of confusion in her eyes before they rolled in her sockets to stare at the boy beside her coffin.
“Ah, grave diggers?”
The man stared at her without moving, his reply dull and simple. “Mm. Zombie?”
The two men standing behind the boy were alarmed as they asked, “Song Sixteen, do you know who’s talking?”
Sixteen was stupefied. “They’re, asking, who, you, are?”
“Me?” the girl say up, her rotten clothes sliding down her shoulders to reveal skin as fair as white jade. Inside, she wore a red dudou undergarment, her half-revealing form all the more enticing. But what kind of man would dare enjoy such a sight now? “My name is Zhuning, princess of the Great Jin. Right now…I guess I’m a corpse.”
“It’s a ghost!” the two men throw aside their torches and half ran, half stumbled out of the tomb, shrieking and howling all the way.
Seeing them leave, Sixteen bent down to pick up an abandoned torch before walking out as well. But before he took a single step, he felt his sleeve get heavy. An abnormally pale hand grabbed onto him as Zhuning’s bright eyes looked up. “Don’t go, I want to eat you.” Then she bit down on Sixteen’s wrist, only to knock her teeth painfully against the black iron shielding his skin. Unreconciled, she threw aside Sixteen’s sleeve grabbed his arm with a large chomp. “Arruuugh!”
Sharp fangs sank into Sixteen’s flesh, but Zhuning hadn’t started drinking his blood before she choke and pulled them out. Holding her stomach, she suddenly threw up a black sticky substance before covering her mouth in disbelief. A finger pointed accusingly at Sixteen. “How could you taste so bad?!”
Sixteen stared at the beads of blood seeping from his wrist and replied, “Because, there’s poison.”
Sixteen had been sold to grave robbers when he was a child and been forced to work in dangerous conditions. They treated him as a tool to scout graves and unlock coffins. Countless times, he’d gotten poisoned from various tombs until he gradually became poisonous himself.
Between him and the corpse, it was hard to say just who was less human.
Sixteen turned to leave again, but Zhuning unexpectedly caught him a second time. He turned back to look at her. “You, cannot, eat me.”
“Since you dug me out, you have to take responsibility,” Zhuning stared at him. “I want to drink blood.”
Looking at the girl dressed in a solitary dudou, Sixteen was suddenly reminded of a child in swaddling clothes he’d seen once in the market, perched against its mother’s chest as it yearned for milk.
 jin (斤) – Chinese unit of measurement equal to 1lb or about 2.2kg.
 Song Sixteen (宋十六) – Song Shiliu. Songis the surname, Shiliu means “sixteen.”
 dudou (肚兜) – undergarment that covers the chest and abdomen of females, resembles a large oversized bib or tank-top.
 Zhuning (竹宁) – her name means “peaceful bamboo.”
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