Chapter 53 Zhang Qishan’s People

Zhang Da Fo Ye was one of the top three in the Mystic Nine and led the largest of the nine families. Legend had it that a giant Buddha was stolen from an unknown place and buried in the family’s courtyard. It was why he was called Zhang Da Fo Ye (1), but his real name was Zhang Qishan. He robbed tombs at an early age, joined the army in the middle of his life, and engaged in politics during his later years. Zhang Da Fo Ye was one of the few people who could do great things in the Mystic Nine and also cherished all of China. That was why people always sighed with emotion when they heard the older generation chatting about his legends.

I had always suspected that he had something to do with the Zhang family’s ancient building, because when Uncle Two talked to me at that time, he was very vague. When Zhang Da Fo Ye moved to Changsha from the north, he appeared to be a member of the relocated Zhang family branch that had been scattered by the Japanese at that time.

If it wasn’t the same name and surname, then this Zhang Qishan should be Zhang Da Fo Ye.

So, this “Zhang Qiling” Zhang Ruitong was Zhang Da Fo Ye’s grandfather. Sure enough, the first family of the Mystic Nine really was the Zhang family.

“So, what your uncle said is true,” Fatty said.

“My Uncle Two is very smart. If he wanted to hide something, he would tell you irrelevant but true information. You think you understand after listening—and it’s all true once you check it out—but no one knows if there are any secrets behind it. That’s why he probably wasn’t afraid of me proving what he told me.”

Fatty sighed and I continued, “Zhang Da Fo Ye was in charge of the whole thing and his team entered here to pay their respects. Opening the door of this room must not have been accidental. It’s impossible for there to be such a coincidence—I found Grandpa Zhang’s tomb as soon as I looked for it. So, I believe that the people who opened this place must have been instructed by Zhang Da Fo Ye.”

He probably had some clues and asked a group of people to find his grandfather’s tomb to steal three of the funeral items.

But why did the black-gold ancient sword end up in Uncle Three’s hands?

“If Zhang Qiling is a title, then what’s Little Brother’s real name? Can it be a name like ‘Zhang Ergou’ (2)?” Fatty asked.

“Based on the epitaph, as long as he was elected Zhang Qiling, then his name will be replaced by that title,” I said. “Little Brother—Zhang Qiling—must have also been selected. The black-gold ancient sword of this Zhang Qiling right here finally came into the hands of the new Zhang Qiling. I always thought there was something strange about it.”

Fatty looked at the epitaph again, “Wait, I suddenly had an idea just now. Look at this Zhang Qiling. How did he die?”

I calmed down and looked for the information in the small print on the wall, finally finding it in the part detailing his life.

Unlike the previous two, this Zhang Qiling died of illness. In his life record, he suffered from “loss of soul” during a fight.

“What is ‘Lost Soul Syndrome’?” Fatty asked me.

I took a deep breath, “Memory loss.”

At that moment, I had a wild thought, is this Zhang Qiling our Zhang Qiling?

Since he also had the black-gold ancient sword and amnesia, were they the same person?

But there were bones in this coffin, and this “Zhang Qiling” was Zhang Da Fo Ye’s grandfather. Wouldn’t that make him more than two hundred years old? If it was the same person, then wouldn’t our Little Brother become an old goblin?

We explored that room for a long time, and when we finally came out, I was a little distracted. Although I dared not jump to conclusions, my premonition that “finding the Zhang family’s ancient building will give me lots of secrets” seemed to have come true.

I was pondering on whether to move on and find some more rooms to see if I could get more information, or immediately find the opening to the next floor, when I smelled smoke.

“You’re smoking so much even though your fucking lungs are rotten!” I shouted at Fatty. But when I turned to look at him, I saw that his face was pale and he had nothing in his mouth.

“It’s not me smoking a cigarette, it’s the smell of wood burning,” Fatty said. He and I looked at each other and immediately thought the same thing: even though we had burned the floor before, we had definitely put out the fire—was it not completely extinguished and revived after we left?

We immediately hurried back. After turning a few corners, I saw the fire and smelled the strong smoke. It seemed that the corridor behind the next turn was already ablaze. When we went around the corner, a heat wave hit our faces, completely shocking us.

One of the rooms we had explored before actually burned up and spread to more than a dozen rooms. Flames were blazing across the corridor.

“Mamma Mia!” Fatty scratched his crotch, “I don’t have that much pee!”

We covered our noses and mouths and ran over to find that the window paper was burning the most violently. Fatty took off his clothes and used them as a broom to try and beat out the flames that had just started burning in the rooms closest to us. Then, he rushed to the core area that was already on fire.

I followed closely behind. I didn’t know how long it took, but after fighting hard, all of the flames were finally put out.

I was completely blinded and didn’t know whether I was choking or burning. I looked dizzily at the coal-like area around me, very surprised that such a big fire could unexpectedly be put out like this.

The fire had spread to more than a dozen rooms, and the outer doors with window panes on them had all burned down. The further away from the center of the fire, the lower the degree of burning was. Several rooms near the ignition point were completely burned down, and even the epitaphs were burnt to black charcoal.

Fatty coughed violently, blood spurting from his nostrils. I went to help him, but he motioned with his hand and said that it was nothing. “Much better, much better. It’s a good thing. When I coughed up the blood just now, my breathing became more comfortable.”

Our faces were all black, our hair was all curled up, and we could feel a dull sting in many parts of our body that must’ve been from burns.

I looked around and swallowed, utterly speechless. All the bad luck has been spread to us, I thought to myself. Fatty spat blood off to the side, sat down on the still hot wood, collapsed a little, and then said to me, “Chairman Mao said that a single spark can start a prairie fire. He was fucking right. Mr. Naïve, I can’t walk. I have to rest first. You keep watch and put out any sparks you see.”

I nodded, “Watch your ass. Don’t get burned, too.” As I said this, I went to stamp out the sparks.

“Speaking of asses, we pressed ours on the flames at that time and they all went out. How could it burn like this so quickly?” Fatty asked. “There’s no wind in this building.”

“At that time, we were laying on the door and there was window paper on it. It was probably a spark that slowly ignited the paper,” I said.

“I say, Yangshi Lei should’ve put a few fire extinguishers here! This large wooden structure is a fire hazard,” Fatty said.

“No one lives here, and it’s not like lightning will strike,” I said. “Plus, it’s so humid that the probability of fire is too low. If your internal organs are injured, don’t talk so much. Say less if you can, and have a good rest.”

“If I can’t talk, then it’s better to kill me directly,” Fatty said. “Life is too impermanent to say one sentence less. I’ve said a lot so you’ll remember my style a little better—wait. Mr. Naïve, do you smell anything strange?”

My nose was clogged with soot and I couldn’t smell anything, so I said, “What smell?”

“It’s like barbecued pork.”

“Barbecued pork? Get up quickly!” I said. “Isn’t your ass ripe? Are you sitting on the coals?”

“Bullshit! The levels of fat in my ass are definitely not the smell of barbecued pork! At the very least it should be Peking duck! Where’s the smell coming from?”

Fatty pointed to the coffin in the burial room. It had collapsed and the lid of the coffin had completely burned away. If I had known this would happen earlier, I wouldn’t have bothered putting it back.

“Is the body burned? But just now we saw that the corpse was a pile of bones. It’s impossible to smell burning protein, let alone the smell of barbecued pork.”

The floor was also badly burned. I carefully stepped over and shined my flashlight into the coffin.

I immediately saw a strange burnt corpse lying among the charcoal-filled coffin.

This wasn’t the skeleton we had just seen in the coffin. Where did the body come from?

At this time, I also noticed that this wasn’t an ancient corpse, but a modern one. Judging from the equipment, it had to be someone from Little Brother’s team, but the face had been completely burned.

Fatty staggered over, looked at it for a moment, and then pointed his flashlight above his head, “It fell from above and hit the coffin.” I looked up and saw that there was a crack right above the coffin in the next level’s floor.

“The fire burned through the ceiling, and the body fell down and landed in the coffin?” I muttered to myself.

“And then burned to death?” Fatty added.

“It wasn’t burned to death,” I said. “We didn’t hear any shrieks and you can see that there’s no soot in this man’s nose. He was already a corpse before he fell. He must’ve been lying upstairs—directly above the coffin. The fire broke through the ceiling and he fell into the coffin from above.”

“Is there such a coincidence?”

“It wasn’t necessarily a coincidence.”

I asked Fatty to give me a hand, but he shook his head and said, “No, this fat man is old. This time you’re down there.”

I looked at his current state and knew that he was right, so I let him step onto my shoulders. He stretched out his neck just enough to see into the crack and shined his flashlight inside.

Fatty was extremely heavy, so when his whole body weight was pressed on me, I felt as if all the air was about to squeeze out of my stomach. I quickly tightened my muscles.

I couldn’t see what he was doing up there, but I heard him cry out, “Shit!”

I clenched my teeth and asked what he saw. “I found them,” he said. “The old woman and Little Brother are there, but…”

“But what?”

Fatty tsked, “Don’t come up yet. You may not be able to accept it. It’s not good, so I’ll check it out first.”

<Chapter 52> <Table of Contents><Chapter 54>


TN Notes:

(1) Great Buddha

(2) Ergou can mean stupid dog in the Beijing dialect


Updated 4/4/2021

2 thoughts on “Chapter 53 Zhang Qishan’s People

  1. Я не могу…. ужасные мурашки от синдрома “Потерянной души”… чувство “дежавю”… и они все-таки нашли Цилиня? 😨😳


  2. и очень боюсь читать дальше… боюсь узнать, что Цилинь действительно умер… Но как? Он ведь с У Се будет до конца… очень пугает это всё… А вот на старуху Хо мне все равно… за что боролась, на то и напоролась.


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