Although the body was completely soaked, we recognized the tattoo as being that of a Qilin. But a simple glance showed that this couldn’t be Little Brother. Even though the tattoo was very similar to his, this one was much rougher and darker. And most importantly, this man had a lot of white hair on his head.
We put the body back into the water because the smell was so bad. But as soon as it entered the water, I realized that the corpse was Father Pan Ma.
He must have followed Poker-Face’s team in here, but I didn’t know why he had died.
The last time I saw him, he was in a crazed state. I didn’t know whether he was really mad or simply pretending to be, but he hadn’t appeared since then and I had no interest in his affairs. Someone like him, who had been able to kill so many people for several bags of grain and kept in close contact with Ghost, must’ve been a small profit-oriented person. No matter what his purpose in following Poker-Face’s team had been, I wasn’t interested in guessing.
The body slowly sank again, looking bloated and terrible. Father Pan Ma was a very old man, and now the water had soaked his body so that we couldn’t see any of his wrinkles. If Poker-Face hadn’t been in that other chamber, I would’ve really thought it was his body.
Pan Ma’s life was a tragedy, but he also deserved it. Everyone had to pay the price for what they had done, and this was his result. In fact, it was quite cost-effective.
We turned around, walked up the steps to the platform, and entered the curtain (1). After going through so much before, I had already steeled myself before opening it, no longer feeling any hesitation or curiosity.
Behind the curtain was a big bed made of jade. There was nothing on it and it was completely empty.
“Why is there nothing here?” Fatty asked. “For such a big battle, there’s nothing in the largest tomb.”
“You’ve been to many ancient tombs. Do you think this is a coffin bed?” I asked Fatty
“From this point of view, it’s quite possible,” Fatty replied.
“Look at it,” I said. “There are deep marks showing that something was lying here for a long time. It’s obvious that a very heavy coffin was once sitting on this jade bed; however, the coffin is now missing.” I touched the mark—it must not have been the mark made by a wooden coffin. No matter how heavy the wood was, this kind of jade was especially hard so it was impossible to make a mark like this. It had either been a metal coffin or there were a lot of metal fittings on the outer edge of a wooden coffin.
I figured the latter was more likely because the coffins we saw above were almost all made of wood. Moreover, the bodies inside were basically all bones. Complete metal coffins could be cast here if there was ore, but I didn’t see any traces in this room of a smelting stove being used over the years. In ancient times, if one really wanted to smelt metal wares, it wouldn’t require the usual extravagance. At the same time, smelting also required a large amount of coal. Since the Zhang family had designed such a far-sighted plan for planting trees here, it seemed to indicate that timber was their first choice. This could also be inferred from the fact that the wooden coffin we saw above was exactly the same as the wood used in the ancient building.
The process of constructing such a building in the remote mountains was already very amazing, so the details would have few discrepancies.
“Gone. Did the coffin grow legs and leave by itself?” Fatty asked. “These days, the coffins in the Zhang family’s ancient building can also be refined. They’re like some kind of Transformer coffin! Damn it, this grave robbery has already been a hard fucking battle!”
“I think this coffin was moved. They freed this place up, presumably to store another body.” As I spoke, I looked at the traces on the jade bed—they weren’t left when the coffin was placed, but when it had been carried out. I couldn’t determine the year when these marks had been left, though.
I looked around the coffin bed and found that there were several holes on either side of the steps I had walked up.
In ancient times, it was a very clever technique to drill holes into stones. Many of the ones here were polished very meticulously, but the holes hadn’t been drilled vertically and clear traces of spirals could be found inside. They were drilled very deep, which would’ve been impossible with ancient technology. I figured it was done by a modern drilling machine—I just didn’t know whether it was manual or gas. Simple hoisting equipment had obviously been installed here, which seemed to prove my theory correct.
Fatty nodded, “I see. You’re saying that the body they originally wanted to bring in was intended to be placed here, so they first removed the original coffin that was here using the so-called turtledove-occupies-the-magpie-nest method. But why is there nothing on it now? Where’s the body they brought in?”
We didn’t know whether the body was successfully brought in, and I was a little regretful that I hadn’t questioned Ghost more closely at that time. Did they succeed in bringing the body in? But I figured it was a success, because in this business, if you couldn’t do it once, you’d have to do it again. There was only one archaeological event in Banai, and judging from Agui’s account, it seemed that the departing team was very normal and maybe even a little triumphant.
“What now?” I looked around and found there was nowhere else to go. Moreover, I knew that we were basically surrounded by quicksand. Right now, we were in the middle of that quicksand layer that we had previously walked through. If my calculations were correct, then that layer should be right above our heads.
At that time, I had wondered why it was shallow enough for both feet to touch the bottom. But now that I thought about it, it was because the quicksand was wrapped entirely around the tomb. As it turned out, my feet had been touching the top of the tomb. If you didn’t know how the secret passage could be opened and wanted to dig in from other places, it would be completely impossible. The fine sand must have been specially treated to prevent people from carrying out any projects on it.
I asked Fatty what to do since this place turned out to be a dead end. Based on all of the clues we had now, the most likely situation was that Poker-Face had come up from the coffin bed at that time, went out from here, and reached the first floor of the ancient building through the secret passage.
But there was no exit around the coffin bed, so Fatty and I began to explore separately in the tomb, hoping to find useful clues as soon as possible. With so many people coming out of here, it was impossible to leave nothing behind. As a result, I felt that there had to be some clues that could help us.
Sure enough, Fatty found a cigarette butt near the foot of a wall.
“Yes! Mr. Naïve, they came out from here. This is a Yuxi. I saw this brand on one of the dead guys earlier,” Fatty said. “This man was carrying one of these cigarettes. He must be a heavy smoker and smoked this cigarette here.”
I went to Fatty’s side and looked around the cigarette butts. Several of them had been stuffed into the gap in the tomb wall.
The cigarette butts were in scattered locations—this situation was either a very bored person stuffing them into the cracks while smoking, or it was caused by a lot of people smoking here.
I figured it was basically the latter, but it was strange that they had all gathered under this wall to smoke. This wasn’t the bottom of the old wall—everyone smoking and chatting together, watching the sun rise and fall, living in poverty and boredom. There were too many places to smoke here, but so many of them had gathered in this one spot. Was the entrance of the cave behind this wall?
But it didn’t make sense! Who fucking stipulated that the place you entered had to be the place where you smoked? Moreover, according to Fatty, the process of their entering was extremely tense. Many people had been poisoned, so there was no reason to smoke after entering.
I turned to Fatty, “Let’s do a scene reconstruction. If you were a person who had been poisoned, what would you do if you came here after all kinds of hardships?”
Fatty said, “I’m sure I’d be panting and lying wherever I can. If it weren’t for the boss kicking my ass, or if there was any danger behind me, I would lie down until I could recover.”
“Do you smoke when you lay down?”
“Shit, it depends on what time it is! If I had sex seven times in one night, not only would I smoke, I’d have to get some bowls of bullwhip soup to make up for it. But if you get poisoned here, can hardly breathe, and still smoke… isn’t that a death wish?”
I nodded. It was just as I thought. “Why are you asking this?” Fatty questioned me.
When I told Fatty what I was thinking, he said, “Well, let me tell you. After looking at all of the places here, the best place to smoke should be the steps over there. There’s a wide view and you can sit and smoke. But here, you’re either squatting at the base of the wall or just standing. It’s super tiring! So, there must be something special about this position. I’m telling you, this situation is a lot like… like… waiting for a woman to go to the bathroom!”
“Why the bathroom?” I wondered.
“Haven’t you ever been in love?” Fatty asked. “I’m telling you, women are especially troublesome. They take enough time in the bathroom for men to play mahjong three times. So, if several friends go shopping together and the women go to the bathroom, the men have to immediately find a place to smoke, usually by the wall of the toilet. You can imagine a scene in which several men smoke, shrug their shoulders, smile at each other, and talk about what they really want to talk about. When they leave, the scene there will be exactly the same as here.”
I scratched my head, unable to understand. “Do you mean that Granny Huo and the girls in the team suddenly wanted to go to the bathroom, so all the men had to avoid them?” I eventually asked.
“I think the number of cigarette butts here isn’t quite right. It’s not like Granny Huo was going to the bathroom to fix her makeup, right?” Fatty continued, “I think it was similar to going to the bathroom, but it took much longer than that. As far as I’m concerned, it shouldn’t be like taking off your clothes to rescue someone who was injured. If you want to save them, you can’t do it if you’re worried about etiquette. Plus, men don’t need to avoid that thing at all. So I think the biggest possibility is—the women changed their clothes.”
“Changed their clothes? Why would they suddenly have to change clothes? It’s not a dinner party where there’s a difference between front and back court dress.”
Fatty thought for a moment and suddenly looked at the river, “Wet… their clothes were wet! They came out of the water!”
<Chapter 59> <Table of Contents><Chapter 61>
(1) Not really sure where the curtain came from but it’s definitely not a translation error, I totally checked.
One thought on “Chapter 60 There’s Another Little Brother’s Body”
Мне вот интересно, какой гроб там был? Не тот ли, с зомби?