The first day.
The snow was getting heavier and heavier; all the prayers before leaving were for naught.
Sure enough, no matter who it was, as long as they tried to go to that place, God wouldn’t allow it. The black exposed part of the mountains in the distance seemed to be out of sight now. No matter what time of year, that place couldn’t be easily approached. It wasn’t a place where people should go.
Were there any living creatures in the field of snow? Some people had said before that they had seen some big birds and white-haired beasts, but after thinking about it, they must have been bluffing. After all, how could there be a living thing in a place where the sound of the wind was so unrestrained that not even a trace of warmth could be felt?
It seemed as if the only living creatures between heaven and earth were the three people walking. There had originally been four of them, but one had already become acquainted with the snowy mountain before departure. When the others got up in the morning, they found that he had drunk himself to death on the side of the road and was completely frozen to the stones on the ground.
One of the porters used an ice pick to strike all the visible ice crystals as he made his way forward. In the wind, the rapping sound was like that of a mysterious musical instrument, echoing slowly and gently in the wind. The second person was Poker-face. He followed along with his eyes closed and hands outstretched, listening to the sounds of the pick hitting the ice crystals. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to open his eyes, it was just that even if he did, he still couldn’t see anything with his goggles. It was better to feel his way through.
“Do you want to stop and have a rest?” The porter behind him shouted. Poker-face glanced back and saw that it was Laba, the older of the two porters.
Laba was a Tibetan in his early forties, but he looked almost sixty years old because his dark face was full of wrinkles, which looked like they had been carved with a sharp knife. This was the result of long-term wind exposure. His face was red and looked like he had been drinking wine. He was the eldest of the original three and one of the most experienced porters.
“Do you need to rest?” Poker-face asked.
“If we go on like this, we’ll only advance a few dozen meters by the time it gets dark. It’s better to wait for the wind to pass. Look at the sky, it won’t last long,” Laba said. “Otherwise, we’ll waste our energy here and achieve nothing.”
“Then we’ll stop,” Poker-face said.
They stopped against the mountain cliff, but could only stand and wait for the wind to slowly die down. The other porter was obviously a little exhausted and almost slipped as soon as he stopped. Laba held him up and spoke to him very loudly until his spirits were restored.
Laba breathed a sigh of relief. He knew that they should have continued walking under the wind pressure just now, but if they did, they would’ve had to follow the wind outlet through this dangerous section without stopping. They probably would’ve had to walk all night before they could rest. But when they stopped, they could do a lot of things like make a fire and get a good night’s sleep, so the pain would have been worth enduring. But he was too old to bear it and would rather stand here now.
When Laba initially spoke up, he was afraid that the other porter would oppose it, but their physical strength had obviously reached its limit. Poker-face had no experience and didn’t reprimand them, unlike the former caravan leaders who would force them to move forward.
In short, the situation was still under Laba’s control. While he stood there, he felt that his physical strength had slowly improved. It was better than going one more night and then stumbling. When one was old, it was better to endure rather than to rush. Accidents always came when you least expected it, and at his age, he couldn’t react as quickly as before.
Poker-face was very obedient, which made Laba feel a little guilty. In fact, he was a little curious because Poker-face was the first one in all of Motuo who wanted to enter the snowy mountain by himself using such a road. It was basically unheard of. And based on Poker-face’s age and his conversations with them, it was impossible to guess what his purpose was. It really made people feel that he was mysterious.
“Do you work for foreigners?” Laba asked Poker-face. They were all huddled together and Laba was taking a short rest, but he felt that he needed to say something so he asked Poker-face this question. Under such fatigue, if he couldn’t hold on, he felt that he would probably fall asleep.
“Foreigners?” Poker-face shook his head slightly. “Why do you ask?”
“Most of the people who used to hire us to take these roads were foreigners. They were tall and big, had blond or white hair, and blue or green eyes like a cat.”
Poker-face didn’t speak. Snow and ice were all over his face, making it hard to see his expression clearly. He seemed to be listening and didn’t want to answer Laba at all. After half a beat of silence, Poker-face said, “Is this the same way?”
“There are people who take any route,” Laba said. “Each road has its own dangers, but foreigners find a lot of porters. They tend to want to carry everything in but pay less money. This road is less traveled this season; otherwise, maybe we would meet one or two more people. But none of these roads are really difficult to walk, and once the snow has stopped, everything is easy to handle. The place where you want to go is really awful, but I said I would take you every step of the way.”
Poker-face didn’t respond. It seemed that every time Laba spoke here, Poker-face stopped talking. Laba told himself that it hadn’t been long since they entered the mountain, so as long as he walked slowly, he could retreat at any time. After all, the environment here was beyond the reach of ordinary people.
“Then why did you come?” Poker-face asked after a long time had passed.
Laba was silent for a moment. He thought of the child back home and why he agreed to the lama’s request to come here at that time. He was selfish. He didn’t want to continue. But if Poker-face didn’t know how to turn back, he had no choice. He touched his hidden knife with his hand. It was too easy to kill a person. So simple, in fact, that even the knife wasn’t necessary. “I owe money,” he replied briefly.
This very small movement was immediately caught by Poker-face, but he didn’t seem to care too much about it.
Instead of inquiring further, Poker-face asked a more practical question, “What danger will there be?”
“Danger? It’s not a matter of whether there’s danger or not. Let me tell you something. In the snowy mountain, everything is your enemy: the sun, the wind, the snow, the sound of speech, and even the rocks. Whichever one decides to act up, you’ll die. Here, everything is dangerous, including all kinds of ghosts in the snow. Those who died in the snow will linger here forever if they can’t find their way back.”
“Ghosts?” Poker-face seemed to have heard something interesting. “Do you also believe in this?”
“What’s not to believe?” Laba asked. “Anything that was once alive is real.”
“People are much more terrible than ghosts. You can’t see what’s in their hearts,” Poker-face said. “The living are worse than ghosts.” Then he glanced at Laba’s hidden knife.
Laba was a little nervous and wondered if this man had seen through him. But during this moment of hesitation, the hidden knife had been drawn and was suddenly in Poker-face’s hands.
Poker-face threw it down the cliff, “It’s better to throw away useless things early instead of carrying them around with you. They’ll weigh you down.”
Laba watched the knife fall rapidly, bounce off the stone, fly into the air, and then disappear into the snow. It was only at this moment that he realized he had met a tough character. He turned to look and saw Poker-face staring at him with indifferent eyes, as if he hadn’t done anything just now.
Regardless, the knife isn’t that important here, Laba thought. Moreover, there was more than one person in their little group who had a knife. On the road ahead, there was always a time when one of them would need help or have to be pulled up, so he could grab one at any time.
The wind was slowly dying down, and Laba felt much more comfortable after the general wind pressure on his face had gradually reduced. At this time, he saw some familiar things on the mountain road ahead.
It was another team of porters walking in front of them a long distance away. He couldn’t see anything in the snow before, but now the black spots were finally revealed.
“Strange, was this road so popular this winter?” Laba muttered to himself. You couldn’t shout or talk loudly here because it would cause an avalanche so he just looked on quietly. But after a short time, he found that none of the porters had moved or showed any signs of movement, and all the black spots remained the same.
“They’re all dead,” Laba said after looking at them for a long time. “Those are dead people.”
They must be travelers who had frozen to death here. Like Laba and his party, they were resting on the mountain cliff until they all froze to death and were eventually frozen to the cliff.
Laba suddenly felt a chill. He immediately stood up and said to the others, “The wind is dying down, let’s move on. We’ll see who these bodies belong to.”
<Chapter 11> <Table of Contents><Chapter 13>
2 thoughts on “Chapter 12 Entering the Snowy Mountain”
You didn’t update today?? Sorry, if you was busy, I always check if you have updated 😔😔😖😍
Sorry, something expedited came in at work when I was about to leave so I had to stay longer 😞 When I got home, I just wasn’t in the mood to translate lol.