Chapter 48 The Second Floor of the Ancient Building

The two of us walked past the shelves full of iron figurines on the second floor of the Zhang family’s ancient building. When we reached the collapsed area, we carefully stepped over it. It took us a long time to get to the center of the floor, and when we did, we found that it was a large empty space. When we looked around, we could see that all of the racks on which the iron figurines were placed were arranged in a radius around this point, representing a complete set of Fuxi’s (1) sixty-four hexagrams.

But there was nothing on this floor except for the figurines that had all been cast from crude iron. And just like what we had seen under the remains at the bottom of the lake, they must’ve all been the sealed remains of miluotuo.

“This was a warehouse,” Fatty said. “When they were working on the project here, they may have put all the miluotuo they killed up here.”

“So many? There’s a battalion here.”

“Not really. Didn’t the deformed brother say that these things follow human body heat? They must’ve kept coming together during construction.” Fatty continued, “There were so many iron figurines that they couldn’t be transported out, so they were all piled up here. The floor where the Zhang family’s tomb is located may still be up here, so we’ll continue our search to see if we can find a way up.”

This layer, like the bottom layer, had four huge pillars. From the outside, it looked like this ancient building was eleven stories high. Discounting the one level buried in quicksand, we should have eight more to go. This building was constructed with stone and wood from the surrounding mountains, and the stone was mixed with a large amount of “miluotuo stone”, which was very rare.

There were a large number of messy footprints on the ground, which showed that Poker-Face and the others had also apparently searched here. The footprints were too messy to provide us with any reference, though.

Fatty touched his chin and looked up, pondering over the footprints. After thinking for a long time, he said to himself, “There are too many to judge, but there must be some other traces of them.”

As he spoke, I looked up and saw that he was sweeping the ceiling beams with his flashlight.

They were thickly dotted with peculiar characters that seemed to have different systems. Each line came from a different place, and the only thing they had in common was that we couldn’t understand them and didn’t know what they meant. On one line, I unexpectedly saw a passage from a heavenly book.

Fatty stopped and said to me, “It seems that my theory is correct. As the most primitive tomb-raiding family, the Zhang family may be the only ones in the whole world who know China’s true history. They sealed all the secrets they brought out of their tomb robberies into this Zhang Jialou.”

“But what do these words really mean?” I asked. “Do you think the people who built this place understood them?”

“You don’t have to know the hen if your eggs are delicious,” Fatty said. “I think it was the Zhang family who provided the pattern, which was then incorporated into Yangshi Lei’s design. These strange characters should all come from the fragments of Chinese civilization that have already been destroyed. If my guess is correct, the closer to the top floor we get, the closer we get to modern times. Some of the secrets of Chinese civilization should be on that huge bottom floor, but it’s already been completely buried in quicksand.”

“Then, when we go up, are we not getting farther from the biggest secret?” I asked.

“Isn’t our main task to save people?” Fatty retorted. “Think about it. If even I’ve given up snatching artifacts in these circumstances, you should forget about those secrets. All the damn things here are heavenly books anyways. But I saw inscriptions in them that should be from the early Spring and Autumn period. If we go up one level, I think we can see a large number of seal characters.”

So, we continued our search. When we finally found a climbing mechanism on the west side of the building, Fatty rushed up.

After going up, the sight that met our eyes was unexpected. On this level, there were no iron figurines, but there was a huge tortoise with a very long neck and limbs. It was a human face on a tortoise’s body, with human hands at the tip of its forelimbs and a tortoise’s feet on the hind legs. The face was that of a woman, and it was sinister and fierce. It looked like some horrible Tibetan scroll figure with a smile that wasn’t quite a smile. There was a depression on the tortoise’s back, inside of which was a black ball that was carved with human faces. It seemed to be removable.

Fatty marveled at the stone statue, “Do you know the origin of this thing? This is a statue from the Shi people’s country. They’re the descendants of the Shennong clan. The ‘Imperial Readings of the Taiping Era’ quoted the ‘Comprehensive Meaning of Customs’ book as saying that primitive people at that time lived in groups, were polygamous, and had chaotic births. In order to clear up the birth problem, Nüwa (2) asked each cave group to make a clay figure and counted up the total number. Among them was the clay figure used by the Shennong clan, which was a human-faced tortoise. It later became the national emblem of the Shi people.”

“This national emblem is really too ugly. But why did you, an uneducated person, go to see the ‘Imperial Readings of the Taiping Era’?” I wondered.

“Because Nüwa’s chest on the cover was so big. I thought it was a very exciting book, but I didn’t expect it to be so serious,” he said. “I still remember a passage inside—‘The country of one eye. The people had only one eye that was above their noses. Their last name was ‘Sheng’ and they were descended from Fuxi. The country of three heads. The people had three heads and were ruled by the Yellow Emperor Huangdi. In the Shi people’s country, people looked like tortoises but had human faces. They were descendants of Shennong. Goumang was a human-faced bird, and the grandson of Fuxi.’(3) Do you still remember the human-faced bird we saw at the Heavenly Palace?”

I squatted down and looked closely at the details on the tortoise. Indeed, it was similar to the human-faced bird statue we found in the Heavenly Palace. “Goumang’s a wood and spring god, and Fuxi and Yellow Emperor Huangdi are all people from the mythical era,” I said. “I don’t know where this thing was dug up from, or why it was carried here, but it’s definitely not something we could find now. It must’ve been brought in by grave robbers from the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. This kind of thing could only be found in the tombs they dug up at that time. The Zhang family’s ancestors were really veterans; no one else would know what these things are now.”

“What god of spring, the one that controls Viagra?” Fatty asked.

“It’s the god of spring. Let’s look around and see what else is on this floor. Maybe there are things from other tribes around here.”

Just as we were about to explore, Fatty suddenly coughed again. But this time, he coughed even harder and almost fell to the ground as his lungs strained. I immediately went over to help him and saw that the sputum he coughed up this time was all blood.

As soon as I saw it, I knew it wasn’t good. The amount of blood was definitely not a small matter. Did he breathe in too much dust when he shook that equipment bag a while ago? I thought he’d be fine if he coughed it up, but now it seemed that his condition had deteriorated. His whole face turned pale as he coughed and I immediately gave him a canteen and told him to rinse his mouth out. “Are you ok? Don’t force it.”

He looked at the blood he coughed up and started scolding me, “Let’s hurry up. If we stay here any longer, sooner or later you’ll do the same.”

I supported his weight for a while, but he eventually pushed me away. Then, we looked around the level.

It was relatively empty here, with only a string of very clear footprints on the ground leading all the way into the darkness.

When walking in the dark, I thought about all the things I might see, but I didn’t expect that after walking around, there was nothing on this ancient building’s third floor. The footprints extended all the way around the four sides, making it clear that their owner had the same idea as us: the upward opening must be near the edge of the pillars.

“Isn’t this place unfinished?” Fatty coughed a few times. “I once robbed a tomb where all the murals and reliefs were quite complete, but nothing was inside. I thought another grave robber had gotten there first, but all the tomb doors were intact.”

I had some doubts. Looking at the footprints on the ground, I found that they showed a strange image of “walking flower blossoms.” After a few steps, the footprints’ owner would stop and turn around in a very small spot.

“What kind of sign do you think this is?” I asked Fatty.

He put his hand over his chest and said, “This is a national standard dance. It looks like Little Brother was in a good mood when he came to this level. Who did he waltz with?” When he said that, he began to waltz.

Your fucking lungs are rotten, and you still have the mind to dance? When I looked down at these footprints again, I realized that they were made as the person was wandering around, not dancing. They may have found something strange here and stopped to look at it carefully.

But there was nothing around and it was empty. What were they looking at? There was nothing worth staying here for unless they met with an unexpected situation.

“Be careful.” I looked at their footprints’ tracks and saw the situation after a few steps. “According to my previous experience, something will happen soon.”

“I’m already half a tuberculosis patient now, can you stop looking for trouble for me?”

“Early warnings aren’t always a bad thing,” I said.

Just then, the two of us heard a series of light footsteps in the empty hall.

Fatty and I exchanged a glance and I asked, “Is it Little Brother?”

Fatty shook his head and whipped his flashlight around, but I couldn’t see anything. “Listen carefully,” Fatty said to me.

The two of us quieted down and stood back-to-back as we looked around and tried to track the footsteps. I knew immediately why Fatty shook his head.

They had come from the ceiling. When we pointed our flashlights up, we immediately found something strange about this floor.

The ceiling was extremely high, with many beams forming a huge checkerboard-like structure above our heads. I saw countless things hanging in the squares of these boards, which were in the shadows of the beams.

“Amazing.” Fatty’s eyes were pointed straight up. There were tens of thousands of boxes hanging in the shadows of the entire ceiling. They were big and little and had different shapes and various patterns on them. It was an extremely spectacular sight.

“Immortal fruit,” Fatty said. “It’s the fruit of the gods. Fuck, there are so, so many of them!”

<Chapter 47> <Table of Contents><Chapter 49>


TN Notes:

(1) Legendary Chinese emperor, trad. 2852-2738 BC, mythical creator of fishing, trapping and writing

(2) Creator of humans in Chinese mythology

(3) Tiffany once again to the rescue lol. I butchered the hell out of this before she fixed it. She said it’s a passage from “The Classic of Mountains and Seas” aka “Shan Hai Jing”. It’s a book collection of Chinese Mythology


Updated 3/28/2021

2 thoughts on “Chapter 48 The Second Floor of the Ancient Building

  1. Может, это глюки коллективные?
    В прошлый раз после таких вот плодов бессмертия – погиб Чжан Босюнь, предок Цилиня.


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