Chapter 19 King Yama Riding the Dead

The blue-robed Tibetans called themselves the “Kangbaluo people”(1) and lived in a place called Kangbaluo, which was a valley in the snowy mountains.

Poker-face communicated with them for only a few hours, but the amount of information revealed was overwhelming and confusing. He was able to see almost immediately what the Kangbaluo people were talking about, so all the information could be accepted and digested immediately. But for us, all the information was merely words, so we couldn’t effectively understand what it was exactly.

If we looked down at the whole valley from the sky, we would find that the strange lake in the snowy mountain was a sapphire blue, just like a special-shaped sapphire inlaid on white satin.

This strange lake was called Kangbaluo Lake, which translated into Chinese as “Blue Snow Mountain”. When Poker-face was taken to the top floor of the lama temple, he came out from there and walked on a cliff for two miles until he could see the entirety of the vast lake. He was stunned by what he saw in front of him.

To tell you the truth, there weren’t many things that could deeply shock Poker-face. His training with regards to “shocking” things ensured that his first reaction to any danger was to remain calm and indifferent. All the training he received was to ensure that he would make the best initial response in case of any unexpected situation.

But all of this was aimed at dangerous and ugly things. As a result, Poker-face couldn’t stir up any emotions in his heart when he saw the most horrible and terrifying things. Even when faced with the worst scenes imaginable, he could bear the greatest psychological burden.

But this time was different.

Because it was beautiful.

The moment he saw the lake, the beauty broke through all of his defenses.

He saw a blue lake. The view looking down from the top of the cliff was completely different from what he saw when he was standing by it. Here, the sunlight was fully refracted, revealing the kind of blue color that couldn’t be created naturally. It was like blue silk that stretched out into the snowy valley.

This mysterious blue color wasn’t the heart of the scenery, however. The most captivating place was the huge snowy mountain reflected in the lake.

The snowy mountain was white, of course, but when reflected on the lake, it turned into a strange and charming blue. The snow-capped mountains standing by the lake were sacred and solemn, causing people to experience an unspeakable throbbing in their hearts. The snow-capped mountains reflected on the lake were even more mysterious and peaceful than the white snow-capped mountains in the distance.

They followed the lake from atop the cliff and soon found a hidden valley.

They descended into the valley, where the river below was completely frozen. Then, they stepped onto the ice and walked on the river for about a kilometer, until the valley became four or five kilometers wide. Numerous stones protruding from the frozen water appeared on the river.

These stones were placed in Mani piles (2), and at first glance, they looked like a strange array of stones.

Poker-face continued to follow. After bypassing the Mani piles, the lake surface turned into a rocky beach. Poker-face found that the beach had a very steep downward slope, but there were also hidden stairs. They went down level by level and entered a valley that was at an altitude of about two thousand meters. It was an unusual green valley in the snowy mountains, where Poker-face saw farmland, streams, and many white stone houses.

This was the place where the Kangbaluo people lived. There were more than a hundred and ninety households, most of them Tibetans. The blue-robed people brought Poker-face to the house of the highest tusi (3), where the man who presented the hada to him told him that there actually wasn’t a tusi. After the previous one left, he gave an order for them to wait for the arrival of the next tusi, but they were still waiting.

Poker-face saw the portrait of the tusi hanging behind the felt door of the house and recognized it at a glance. It was a portrait of Dong Can.

Dong Can was actually the tusi here? Surprised, Poker-face stared at it for a long time.

It turned out that many of the porters entering and leaving Tibet came from this hidden place, but they didn’t usually leave here because they couldn’t stand the environment. But it was all arranged by the Kangbaluo, the only people who really knew how to trek in this no-man’s land through the snowy mountains. This was because they knew a secret path through the snow. Even in a snowstorm, only their calves would be buried at most.

These porters, who were born in Kangbaluo, had been doing a very important thing that their tusi told them to do—waiting for a young Han to enter the snowy mountain.

Their tusi said that the young man was a member of his clan when he was in Han China, and after he left, his arrival could help solve their disaster.

Before the young man arrived, this Han tusi sealed a secret in the snowy mountains behind a huge bronze door. But this bronze door was bound to open every once in a while, so before leaving, the Han tusi told them that he wouldn’t survive the next time it opened. Even if he did, he could no longer protect the secret. But fortunately, before the bronze door opened again, there would be a young man here to take over his job.

The Kangbaluo must ensure that the young Han would arrive here safely and that they would be there to receive him.

So they made a plan. During the years of waiting, there were many Han people brought here by porters, but after their tests, it was found that none of them could be the one Dong Can mentioned. Until finally, Poker-face appeared.

The blue-robed Tibetan who shot at Poker-face before was called Dan, and he was the best and smartest of these blue-robed Tibetans. He attacked in order to test whether Poker-face had good skills.

The blue robe was a type of battle outfit that adult men had to wear when they were hunting here.

After hearing these accounts, Poker-face drank four or five bowls of buttered tea. The cold weather made him feel a little overwhelmed for the first time, so he could only listen quietly without taking any protective measures.

They went on to say how Dong Can arrived here, how he became a tusi, how he taught them how to deal with demons on the snowy mountains, and also how he left.

Poker-face understood that in many cases, the so-called secret may not be something literal. Dong Can and several people had come here only after they exited the valley with the huge sphere. After recuperating, several of them left and went to the outside world, living a rich life with the gold they had found.

Dong Can stayed to “protect the secret” here. He must have stayed here for a long time before leaving and then brought the news to the Zhang family. But he never showed up again.

Poker-face knew Dong Can and knew that he was also a fairly calm person, which meant that such behavior could only show one thing: something disturbed his still heart and made him discouraged. After leaving Kangbaluo, he dutifully conveyed the information to the Zhang family, but he didn’t want to return to that way of life.

If it was only a secret, such a thing wouldn’t occur, so what was the reason?

The Kangbaluo didn’t know either. At the end of the exchange, they told Poker-face that they hoped he could help them through the once-in-a-decade disaster.

“What’s the secret?” Poker-face asked.

The Kangbaluo people said that the secret was the secret. They took Poker-face into the back room of the tusi’s house, where, for the first time, he saw one of the most crucial things in the story—a strange black stone idol.

The whole room was very large, but there was nothing there besides the black idol.

This wasn’t a Tibetan idol, as Poker-face knew all kinds of civilizations very well. He realized that this was the first time he had seen an idol like this.

It probably came from a civilization he didn’t know yet.

We say it was an idol because it met all the characteristics of one, but it was definitely not a human god. Little Brother said in the information that he couldn’t describe what it was in any language.

Although he couldn’t describe it, he did draw it.

I recognized at a glance that this system of gods was the same as the one we saw earlier in Changbai Mountain, which looked like a wooden club they used to beat clothes with while washing.(4)

God existed at a higher level than us, but assuming that there were mollusks or coral in the world that had cultivated a proper core and became gods, could we understand their values? Such a strange idea popped into my head when I saw the simple picture.

The Kangbaluo told Poker-face that this was what they wanted to stop.

The valley with countless metal balls that Dong Can had visited was on the other side of the Kangbaluo village, seventeen kilometers away. The journey was very difficult, but many people from the village had been there, seen those strange balls, and brought some back.

Poker-face felt that there were some problems with this statement and asked, “What happened to that girl just now?”

This time, there was no answer.

While talking about these things, Poker-face suddenly discovered that there was an extremely strange area in the room they were in. He looked at it carefully and found that there was indeed something in this room that should have been absolutely impossible for it to appear here.

He didn’t show any emotion, but he already knew in his heart that what he had just heard seemed completely different from the truth. This village looked like a paradise—a Shangri-La—but it wasn’t what it appeared to be.

<Chapter 18><Table of Contents><Chapter 20>


TN Notes:

(1) Characters are 康巴落人, Kanbga= also read as ‘Khampa’, is a subdivision of Tibetan ethnic group/former Tibetan province of Kham, now split between Tibet and Sichuan, Luo= settlement

(2) As mentioned earlier, it’s a pile of stones that are placed along mountain-passes and river banks in Tibet. They’re generally inscribed with the Six-Syllable Mantra of Avalokiteshvara, a major Bodhisattva, as a form of prayer in Tibetan Buddhism.

(3) “Tusi” is the pinyin but headman or chieftain works. They’re hereditary tribal leaders who were recognized as imperial officials by the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties of China. You could VERY roughly think of it like a Native American chief (but not really)

(4) The one in “Palace of Doom” was said to be a spiral that looked like a worm. Tiffany said Wu Xie made this comparison because they both looked like a stick and stood tall.


Updated 12/9/2021

One thought on “Chapter 19 King Yama Riding the Dead

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s