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Aug 03, 2021 4:06 AM
ranwan beauty and the beast
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Mo Ran still isn't used to life in Shisheng village after more than a year. 

It's a good place, better than--before. (He tries not to think about before too much.) 

He knows that he's lucky. Taken in by the head of the village, apprenticed to the village's famous inventor. He would have been lucky even if his uncle and aunt didn't love him, even if his teacher wasn't selfless and kind, even if he didn't have such good friends in his two co-apprentices. 

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Such good friends!

Today, one of them has something to show him. Does Mo Ran want to go out into the woods together? Shi Mei found something really interesting the other day, but he wants to get A-Ran's opinion before he tells Shizun about it!

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Sure okay!!! Shi Mei's really nice, this is probably going to be really interesting, and even if it's not he can pretend. 

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So interesting.

It's about an hour's walk, which is fine. They can chat about their studies, Mo Ran's latest project ideas, Shizun's last lesson.

Eventually Shi Mei points out the shape of a roof appearing over the treetops.

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Mo Ran cranes his neck. "Is that it?"

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“Yes, it is! Some sort of abandoned palace, I think, it’s quite large.”

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"Wow, neat. Do you think there's still cool stuff inside?"

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“We should definitely look! It doesn’t look run down or anything. Maybe we’ll even something useful.”

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He bounces. "I can't wait until we get back and can tell Shizun." 

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“He’ll be pleased!” 

Finally they reach the clearing and can see the enormous palace up close. At the front entrance is a tall, dark gate. The left door is open just a crack.

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Mo Ran pushes it open wider and sticks his head inside. 

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The entry hall is enormous, empty and unlit; all the windows have been covered.

“Do you see anything?”

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He squints. 

"Not really, but it's dark..." 

He pushes the door the rest of the way open and steps inside. 

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The doors slam shut in a cold gust of wind.

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He whirls around. 

"Shi Mei! Are you okay?"

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“Yes, A-Ran.”

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He tries to open the door. 

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No, A-Ran.

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"I can't get the door open again! Can you get it from your side?"

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“I don’t think so.”

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"Okay. Do you know where any other doors are?"

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“Yes. But all the doors are locked, A-Ran.”

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“Don’t worry. I’ll go let Shizun know that you got stuck.”

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"Shi Mei, what's going on?"

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