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58 Concentric Circles

 "Brother Big Xiong, I'm going to the Dufeng Mountain Resort Villa this weekend for our graduation trip. I won't be coming back to the apartment." Gu Nianzhi texted Yin Shixiong on Thursday.

She had to report to Huo Shaoheng's people if she left C City alone. Yin Shixiong looked up the address and saw that the resort was only 25 kilometers away and was connected to the highway. The location had good traffic, there were prosperous towns nearby, and many wealthy people also built their vacation homes around the the area. The villa was in the best topographical location. It was built around the mountain and snaked around half of Little Mirror Lake. Little Mirror Lake was a exorheic lake, so someone swimming in it could eventually reach the ocean. The water was clean and refreshing, making it a great place to escape the summer heat.

Yin Shixiong notified the Special Ops personnel protecting Gu Nianzhi, "Miss Gu is going to the Dufeng Mountain Resort Villa this weekend for her graduation trip. You'll get to vacation with her too."

The personnel chuckled, "Roger! I will submit the trip's expenses to Mr. Huo!"

"Of course it'll be expensed, since there's a bonus too. You hit the jackpot." Yin Shixiong laughed and hung up.

On Friday evening, the tour bus Gu Nianzhi and her class booked was parked before the entrance of C University. All 24 students in the Class One: Year Four of the C University Faculty of Law wore backpacks or carried duffel bags as they got on the bus and went on their merry way to the Dufeng Mountain Resort Villa. This was their last activity as a group after studying together for four years. In just one month, everybody would be pursuing their independence or job hunting. Many of them would likely never see each other again for the rest of their lives, so everybody cherished this graduation trip. The tour bus hurtled down the highway and got off the exit ramp in only half an hour. They still had to take a short mountain road to reach the villa, and had to drive much slower than before, due to the winding and steep roads. After about 20 minutes, they finally arrived at the Dufeng Mountain Resort Villa. To everyone's surprise, they weren't the only C University Faculty of Law students there on a graduation trip!

"Class Rep, see that tour bus over there, isn't that Class Two?" Strongman poked Mei Xiawen's shoulder to get his attention.

Mei Xiawen looked over and waved at the people descending from the bus. "It is. The other day, I was telling them how we were coming here for our graduation trip, so their class talked about it and decided to come too. The more the merrier, right?"

"Huh? Oh, I guess." Strongman dragged his feet and walked behind Mei Xiawen.. He complained in a low voice, "They might have ulterior motives though, so who knows what their intentions are?"

"What intentions?" Mei Xiawen chided his friend. "We're all classmates, we should spend the last two months of school together peacefully, since we will all part ways after."

Strongman couldn't voice a rebuttal to this. He and Mei Xiawen took their class committee members to walk over to where Class Two was. Class Two's Class Rep had the surname "Chang," and he was was waiting for them at the door with Song Ruyu, who was in charge of Class Two's recreational activities.

"Class Rep Mei, you guys are late." Song Ruyu winked at Mei Xiawen. "As agreed, shouldn't you give up your Mingyue Court for us?"

Strongman looked at Mei Xiawen, aghast, "Class Rep, you made a bet with them?"

Mei Xiawen adjusted his gold rimmed glasses and laughed, "I was only joking. You really believed it Ruyu?"

"Of course I did! I believe everything that Class Rep Mei says." Song Ruyu sent him a suggestive look: she clearly hadn't given up on him.

Gu Nianzhi and her roommates saw this from afar and scoffed in disgust.

"The two-faced b*tch from Class Two is here too. If I'd known she were coming, I would have stayed home. She makes me sick! What an ugly blemish on my undergrad graduation trip." Green Tea Fang complained about Song Ruyu with elegance.

Little Temptress dragged Gu Nianzhi's arm to pull her towards the villa and held her head high. "We didn't promise to switch rooms. If this is a case of first come first serve, who would spend money on making a reservation?"

Gu Nianzhi didn't want to deal with Song Ruyu, so she didn't refuse when Little Temptress pulled her to the resort entrance. A hostess in the villa welcomed them in and asked, "Which courtyard have you reserved?"

"Mingyue Court, Class One: Year Four, C University Faculty of Law. The reservation should be under our Class Rep, Mei Xawen's, name," Little Temptress promptly said as she looked around the resort. She was from the Imperial capital and wasn't familiar with the areas around C City. During her four years of undergrad, she had either gone back to the capital or travelled abroad on holidays. She had never been here before. The hostess smiled as she took them south and turned a corner onto a narrow, winding path. Tall and straight green bamboo trees lined the path and when the night breeze came, the scents of bamboo combining with the lake water from the Little Mirror Lake made it especially refreshing.

Gu Nianzhi took a deep breath and the slight disappointment that had previously filled her heart instantly dissipated.

Little Temptress was also curious about the scenery here and looked around in great interest. She pointed. "These rooms are vintage replications. It looks like they've spent a lot of money."

"Yes, all the decorated pathways are crafted in wood and are of truly fine workmanship. There are over ten courtyards and the structures are wood framed, so it allows you to steep yourselves in history-this is the perfect place to escape to." The hostess had a mellifluous voice and gave them a tour through the resort to Mingyue Court.

Mingyue Court mimicked a traditional siheyuan,1 with an exquisite entryway opening up to a large, square courtyard. There were three main houses directly facing the entry, and two side houses on the other sides, as well as flanking rooms. It was truly an antique design. Little Temptress followed the hostess though the entrance of Mingyue Court. However, just as Gu Nianzhi went through the door, she caught a glimpse of a tiny concentric circle drawn in chalk on the wall by lower right corner of the door. The symbol was very small and barely visible in the daylight. But the chalk appeared to be fluorescent and the symbol revealed itself in the low light. It glowed in dark green and nearly blended with the lush greenery by the door. If it were not for Gu Nianzhi's sharp eyes, the tiny symbol would have been difficult to spot even with the aid of a magnifying glass. Gu Nianzhi had randomly discovered this dark green fluorescent symbol but didn't stop for a closer look.. She merely paused her step for a second, then entered the courtyard with a smile.

Mingyue Court was breathtaking. It was apparent that the resort's management had spent a lot of time and effort to replicate a vintage look, while subtly adding various modern elements. For example, the post-modern bathrooms were equipped with a central air conditioning to control temperature, outlets were hidden away, and the lamps were styled like ancient palace lanterns. There was also Wi-Fi, which was indispensable to people in this day and age.

Gu Nianzhi took out her phone to check the signal and found that, although they were in the mountains, the signal was especially strong. There must be a cell signal tower nearby, she guessed.

Little Temptress was following the hostess to check the rooms, but Gu Nianzhi stayed behind in the courtyard to wander around. Her eyes flitted casually to all the doors. She soon discovered, after, she squinted her eyes, that there were a total of seven doors in the courtyard and on the lower right corner of four of them was the same fluorescent symbol-just like the one by the entry, a dark green concentric circle symbol. The only difference was the number concentric circles, some had four and some only had one.