It was like this tomb had been flipped upside down by some mischievous ghost, with the top of the tomb on the bottom and the bottom on the top. Poker-face remembered the process of creating an opening in the bluestone slate before and suddenly realized why this strange structure was adopted. Generally speaking, the Han tombs they had seen before were all built with bluestone slabs that were covered with blue-green bricks, but the order was completely reversed here. It turned out that what they dug up wasn’t the top of the tomb, but the bottom.
Poker-face walked under something hanging upside down, raised the torch to get a better look at it, and found that it was actually a coffin affixed to the top of the tomb.
After the other four boys enlarged the hole and came down, they were also amazed by what they saw. They felt as if they had encountered one of the strangest tombs in the world. “Is it like this because an earthquake turned the whole tomb upside down?” One of them asked.
Zhang Haike shook his head and pointed to the coffin while saying, “Even if that were the case, it’s impossible for the coffin to stick like that. It would definitely crack the ceiling if it turned a hundred and eighty degrees. Moreover, if there was a strong earthquake, there’s no way the whole tomb would be flipped upside down like this. The tomb has a loose structure and relies on gravity and pressure, so once there’s a force to counter it, the weight of the tomb would be so heavy that the ceiling would surely collapse into a pile of broken tiles.”
“Then what’s going on?” The boy asked. “Does that mean someone did it on purpose?”
Zhang Haike nodded. The Zhang family had also trained them on how to deal with some unknown things. Looking at these objects hanging upside down from the top of the tomb, there must be a very logical explanation for why the whole tomb was flipped upside down. He thought it might have something to do with feng shui. The person next to him asked, “It’s so strange. I’ve only heard of vertical burial, horizontal burial, and ‘prone’ burial, but ‘prone’ burial is just the body lying on its stomach in the coffin. I’ve never seen a whole tomb built like this before.”
Zhang Haike wondered what kind of feng shui this was. Was it the kind of feng shui array he saw in ancient books that could only be found in one place? The others saw him muttering to himself and said, “You usually have a lot of clever ideas and read a lot of books. Do you have any clues?”
“When we talk about the feng shui of tombs, the primary purpose is to absorb the essence of heaven and earth,” Zhang Haike said. “But there’s no difference between taking from the earth, the sky, or underground. The spiritual influence of heaven and earth only passes through one body, and it’s the same whether it passes through the front or the back. But if this tomb is arranged like this, then it means that it regards the earth as the sky and the sky as the earth!”
“Crap, do you mean this is the tomb of Chen Jinnan, the leader of the Heaven and Earth Society?”(1) Another boy asked.
Zhang Haike smacked him, “The patriarch said we mustn’t joke at times like this. If you don’t take this tomb seriously, it won’t take you seriously.”
“It would be good if it doesn’t take me seriously,” the boy said. “I’ll be really upset if it does!”
“I’ve seen similar records in an ancient book,” Zhang Haike said. “All of the mountains in this area grow toward the earth, not the sky. The feng shui master probably had to make the tomb look like this in order to conform to the mountains.”
After listening to this, the others felt that it made sense.
“In this case, there are still several questions,” Poker-face suddenly said. “Mountaintops all point towards the sky, while the bottom faces the ground. This is true even for underground mountains because the topography is heavy and basically caves in or can be made to cave in. If there are underground mountains nearby and the earth is the sky and the sky is the earth, then this section of the mountain may have sunk deep underground. According to common sense, the tomb should follow.”
The situation involving the tomb was already very strange, so Zhang Haike thought it over for a moment. Indeed, it was certain that when the ancient tomb was built, all of the rock at the bottom of the mountain was pulled out of the ground. This meant that it could easily be regarded as a gentle rocky mountain while the underground section of the mountain growing toward the ground was embedded in the soil like human teeth. If you wanted to build such an ancient tomb, you couldn’t make a hole in the rock but had to dig in from the side and repair it, almost like digging a grave robbers’ tunnel. The circumstances in which the burial chambers of traditional ancient tombs were dug and then sealed weren’t applicable here unless they could uproot the whole mountain.
The group was silent for a long time before one of them said, “Since it’s so evil, let’s withdraw.”
Everyone looked at the top of the tomb, feeling extremely reluctant when they remembered all the hardships they had gone through before.
“Open it,” one of them said. “Winners are kings and losers are thieves. If you make a bet, you have to accept your losses.”
The coffin was raised on a flat surface. They had trained countless times at home on how to expose and lift the nails out, what the different types of coffins were, and how to determine whether the zombies in the coffins were dead or not. But in an unexpected turn of events, when they were finally going to practice what they had learned, it ended up being a coffin hanging from the ceiling. The best way to do it was to hang themselves from the ceiling and stand upside down, but this was obviously unrealistic.
Everyone thought it over and felt that it would be too risky to follow their usual process of starting from the top of the coffin since the body’s weight was surely pressed on the coffin lid. Assuming that the nails held together, it didn’t matter whether the corpse inside was full of corpse liquid or poison. As long as force was applied unevenly, there would inevitably be a leak and the coffin liquid would spew out from the hole. If the liquid was poisonous, it would easily hurt the one who opened the coffin; if it wasn’t poisonous, it would still be disgusting.
The best way was to make a hole in the coffin and then look at the situation through the hole before considering anything else.
After discussing it, they determined that Zhang Haike had the best skill among the five of them. He held an awl while two of the others formed a human ladder and pushed him to the edge of the coffin. Zhang Haike pondered for a long time before carefully inserting the awl bit by bit into the coffin. He felt around with his fingers and slowly realized that the awl had broken through the coffin wall, but the hole was still very small. After that, he tied a rope around the end of the awl, went down to the ground to hide in the corner of the tomb, raised a blue-green brick, aimed at the awl, and then threw it over. He hit the awl into the coffin and then yanked it out with another hard pull.
They thought they would see a stream of black liquid gushing out of the hole, but what really came out wasn’t black liquid but a very faint black smoke. It seemed that the accumulated dust inside had been disturbed and was spewing out of the hole. Only a little came out before it finally stopped and the whole burial chamber was restored to its former tranquility.
They all looked at each other. “It looks like it’s dry inside,” Zhang Haike said. “Let’s directly remove all the nails. There shouldn’t be any problems.”
Another person spoke up at this time, “Don’t jump to conclusions. First, check on the hole and see what’s going on. What exactly was that black smoke?”
So Zhang Haike climbed the human ladder again, went up to the coffin, carefully approached the hole he had made, observed for a while, and then said, “It’s dust, a very fine black dust.”
The person who had just said not to jump to conclusions said, “Wait, if this coffin is full of dust, what will happen when we open the lid? Black dust will pour out and cover everyone. We’ll all suffer if it’s poisonous or corrosive. And,” he paused, “dust is harder to deal with than liquid. If it’s liquid, we can wait and let it flow out until everything is clear. But if it’s dust, it can’t be completely removed from the coffin no matter how it’s handled. When it comes to liquid, only a few drops at most might be splashed before it flows along the coffin’s grooves. But when it comes to dust… if the hole is made any bigger, the fluffy nature of dust is greater than that of water, so the whole space would be filled, leaving us nowhere to hide.”
After such a thorough analysis over that little bit of dust, the other four were feeling a little depressed. It seemed that this coffin couldn’t be opened. As it turned out, the best way to prevent grave robberies wasn’t to make the tomb solid but to stick the coffin at the top of the tomb.
Just as they were all frowning in thought, one person suddenly cried out and told the others to look to the side. As soon as their eyes turned in that direction, they found that in addition to this coffin, there was a very strange thing in the tomb.
In fact, it wasn’t strange in itself, it was just that everything in the tomb was upside down but this was the only thing that was placed normally.
It was a little far away, but in the dim light, it looked like a statue of some kind of animal.
<Chapter 45><Table of Contents><Chapter 47>
(1) Character from Jin Yong’s novel “The Deer and the Cauldron” which was published in 1969. The society this guy mentions is actually called Tiandihui, a secret society aiming to overthrow the Qing dynasty.
Let me just say that I am so sorry for these three chapters. I’m not happy with how they turned out but I really tried my best. I really don’t understand the feng shui mountain thing and that’s after spending a lot of time researching it lol. If anybody can explain it better, feel free to let me know and I’ll see if i can incorporate it in.