Chapter 54 Quickly Set Off

Please allow me to record some current events. It was another two days after I made my promise to Zhang Haike that the four of us set out. We entered the snowy mountain and traveled for two weeks before we came to the outer edge of Kangbaluo near the glacier lake.

The scenery was very beautiful, with snow-capped mountains, blue sky, and white clouds all around, but I really didn’t have the strength to appreciate it. I felt a little moved before I reached the icy lake, but it was quickly destroyed by the sound of Fatty and the German loading ammo into their guns.

There were four of us: me, Fatty, Zhang Haixing, and a short German who looked like a Special Forces soldier. His Chinese was very good and he told me his name was Von, which translated to Feng. As for him being short, Fatty kept asking for a short one, saying that if a German who was over two meters tall came along, he could only cut him in half and ship him back if he was injured.

That was why I called him “Fendui” and Fatty called him “Dafen”. (1) Zhang Haixing was the politest and called him Feng.

Germans seldom spoke unless necessary, but unlike ordinary Germans, he was very flexible and quick-thinking. But Fatty and I talked very little along the way and didn’t communicate with him much.

I wasn’t in the mood since the road was too difficult to walk.

Before we reached the icy lake—when we were still about three kilometers away—he and Fatty both began to wipe their guns down. They then applied antifreeze oil on all the parts, smeared the bullets evenly with oil, and reloaded them into the magazines.

It was written in Poker-face’s notes that something strange was under the snow in this area so they felt the need to be careful.

When we reached the icy lake, we had encountered nothing but a dead deer frozen in the ice at the edge of the lake. Only its head and skeleton had been left uneaten.

Not only had I not seen such a thing the entire way up here, but there shouldn’t be such a deer on the plateau.

Fatty raised his gun and looked around at the vast expanse of white before saying, “It’s for feeding. Look, there are traces of bullet holes on its head. Someone shot it at the bottom of the mountain and brought it up for feeding.”

“What kind of animal would eat like this?” Zhang Haixing asked Feng.

“Wouldn’t it be a bear?”

“Bears don’t eat so neatly. This was eaten so cleanly that this thing must have a high IQ,” Feng said as he used the butt of his rifle to knock on the layer of ice covering the deer’s body. “I can’t see the teeth marks; otherwise, I’d have an answer for you.”

“It’s impressive that you can look at the bones and know what ate it,” Fatty said.

“Feng has a degree in zoology,” Zhang Haixing said. “He’s an associate professor.”

“I also have a degree,” Fatty said. “Your Fat Master is a bubbling spring of talent and is ranked third when it comes to foot acupuncture. If he’s an associate professor, then I’m a deputy foot master.”(2)

“Will you stop spouting nonsense?” Zhang Haixing was already accustomed to the weirdness and lit a cigarette as she drew out her own weapon, which was a crossbow. She also pulled out a quiver full of arrows and hung it on her waist. When I looked at her, she said, “I hate loud things and this is quiet.”

“What’s the loading speed?”

“If there are a lot of enemies, I’ll depend on you. But if there’s only one target, I won’t need to use a second arrow.”

“Ah, I thought I was the only one who could boast like this. Old lady, you know, I started playing with guns when I was still wearing open-crotch pants, so saying this in front of me doesn’t give me any face—”

Fatty suddenly shut up, because in the icy lake, we all saw a black shadow swimming under the ice sheet beneath our feet.

This dark shadow was very big and moved very slowly, looking more like a big bug rather than a fish swimming slowly under our feet. Fatty and I saw it first, and then Feng and Zhang Haixing also saw it. We all stood completely still.

The ice sheet was so thick that we couldn’t see any details below. In fact, the only thing we could make out was the approximate shape of that thing.

Three minutes later, the thing swam under our feet without a sound. We wouldn’t have felt a thing or known that it was there if we hadn’t looked down. I saw Feng start shaking and then point his gun at the ice under his feet.

Fatty was right next to him and immediately grabbed the firing pin right as Feng’s finger pulled the trigger. If Fatty hadn’t held it down, the gun would have gone off.

Feng still kept shaking, but fortunately, he was completely frightened and made no other movements. Fatty didn’t move until the thing left.

After it disappeared, the four of us looked at each other and then Fatty took Feng’s gun, folded it, and put it on his back.

Feng looked at Fatty, who said to him, “I’m sorry, Comrade Dafen. You’d better not use a gun.”

Zhang Haixing also looked at him and said, “That’s not your call to make.”

“This is an ice lake. If he had fired just now, we would have fallen into the lake and died. I would’ve had to strip you and rub you desperately in order to save your life,” Fatty said. “Based on his current condition, it’s more reliable for me to have the gun.”

Zhang Haixing continued to look at Fatty and said, “Even if your decision is right, it should be up to me.”

Fatty looked at me and then at Zhang Haixing, obviously feeling that she was being a little unreasonable. I was also a little surprised. Although Zhang Haixing had been acting very tough the entire time, this was the first time I noticed that she seemed a little too concerned about who was making the decisions.

The two of them stood in a deadlock for a while before Fatty sighed and threw the gun to her, “Fine. I respect my elders the most.”

Zhang Haixing picked up the gun and went to comfort Feng while Fatty turned to me with a put-upon expression on his face.

Feng’s face was pale and he didn’t make any rebuttals or put up any resistance.

“This woman has to suffer a loss in order to understand that it doesn’t matter who makes the decisions at this time,” Fatty said while taking his own gun off, folding it, and putting it into his backpack.

“What’s the matter? Are you sulking?”

“It’s useless. Holding it was just to bolster my courage, nothing more. You also saw the size of that thing in the water. Its body is big enough to withstand bullets.”

I thought about it and realized that what he said made a lot of sense. Plus, we were on the lake and the ice was only so thick. I didn’t bother bringing any weapons with me because I thought I wouldn’t need to with the others having them, but now I looked at Feng and knew that he was basically unreliable.

Fatty tossed me a dagger and I put it at the small of my back since that was the easiest place to pull it out from. Zhang Haixing came over and said, “We need to get past this frozen lake as soon as possible. Don’t drag your feet.”

“Ok,” Fatty said. “Great Master, you go first.”

I glared at Fatty while thinking to myself, the relationship between you two already isn’t very harmonious. You shouldn’t fan the flames.

Zhang Haixing pointed off into the distance, “Let’s go straight. Our destination is the mountain pass up ahead. We’ll pass through as quickly as possible while ensuring that we’re very careful.”

Fatty and I looked in the direction she pointed and immediately disagreed. “We have no idea about the situation,” Fatty said. “If we pass through the middle of the lake, we have no chance of turning around if something happens.”

“In our Zhang family, there’s a principle that many things look dangerous but are actually the safest. So, you shouldn’t be fooled by superficial judgments.” Zhang Haixing looked at Feng, who had apparently calmed down a little, and added, “That thing just now should be a fish from this frozen lake. Its size should be the result of people feeding it here for centuries. They wouldn’t feed it in the center of the lake and must be doing it near the shore so the center of the lake will be safer.”

Zhang Haixing looked at Fatty, who looked at me. I thought about it for a moment, but I still couldn’t get past my hesitation.

When she saw that the two of us neither set off nor said anything, Zhang Haixing asked, “What? Do you have any other ideas?”

“I don’t have a good feeling about this,” I said to her.

“In general, if our Mr. Naïve doesn’t feel good about a place, we’re determined not to go,” Fatty said. “Comrade Naïve is famous for his constitution. Whenever he opens a coffin, he always encounters a zombie.”

“You’re deliberately trying to cause trouble, aren’t you?”

I looked at her, “Young lady, have you ever been to a place like this?” The overseas Zhang family was good at operating and conducting business, but it seemed that they completely lacked Poker-face’s sense of care and caution.

“I’ve done more dangerous things than the two of you put together.”

“That’s because you’re so old,” Fatty said.

Zhang Haixing’s expression became dissatisfied, “It’s no accident that the Zhang family has existed up until now. Our rules of conduct are all based on survival. You shouldn’t underestimate the wisdom accumulated by the Zhang family’s ancestors.”

I sighed and looked at the lake. I really wanted to go with her, but the unease in my heart became more and more obvious until finally, I paused and said, “I used to be someone who admired this kind of wisdom, but then I began to believe in myself. As for the situation here, we don’t have your skills or reaction speed. Have you ever thought that your wisdom is based on your years of training and the only reason we could live to this day was because we did nothing more than play some tricks, act clever, and be calculating? It’s unfair for you to hold us to your standards.”

Fatty lit a cigarette. When he saw Zhang Haixing standing there frozen and blushing, he said, “Great Master, I know you must have commanded a group of very powerful people before, but we two idiots are too weak. How about you and your associate professor walk in the middle and Mr. Naïve and I can climb the mountain from the side?”

“That creature just now may be able to move on land,” Zhang Haixing said. “Don’t you remember? It was written in those notes.”

Fatty patted his gun, “On land, we don’t have to be afraid of it.”

With that, there was nothing more to say. Zhang Haixing and Feng walked towards the middle of the icy lake while Fatty and I took our own route.

After the separation, Fatty started cursing, “Bah, do you think this is a bureaucracy? A young woman wanting to direct this fat master to the east and the west? In your dreams!”

“They’ve been strong for too long,” I said to him.

Based on the trap they set up before, we could see that the Zhang family despised their enemies and thought highly of themselves. Of course, if it were the me from before, those tricks would have been enough to stun me, but now I had really changed too much. I used to worship these legends, but now I could see their flaws at a glance.

As we loaded the bullets into the guns, we watched Zhang Haixing and Feng wade through the ice. “Are we to blame for this?” I asked.

“People are stubborn. It’s useless for you to be responsible for them,” Fatty said while giving me a pat. “What I’ve figured out after all this time is that people can’t be responsible for others’ fate. No one is God.”

The two of us walked along the shore. It was a much longer distance than their path and not easy to walk, but we weren’t annoyed because we were too busy focusing on walking as one foot sunk deep in the snow and the other remained shallow. We could see from a distance that they had already left us behind.

I didn’t know how long they had been gone, but they were almost at their destination while we were still far away. “Loathsome woman,” Fatty said. “She’ll be the death of me.”

“It’s a good thing,” I said to him. “You don’t want them to suffer an unexpected death right away. Then we’ll be the stupid ones. It’ll be good if everyone is safe.”

“There aren’t any monsters so it would be better if something trivial happened, like falling down and face-planting or something,” Fatty said.

Zhang Haixing was very skilled, so I figured her balance and reaction time on the ice would be far better than ours. It was very difficult to think of her falling, and the German also looked very stable, which meant they must be wearing good shoes.

There was no danger on our side even after walking for a while, and Fatty was also feeling depressed upon seeing Zhang Haixing and Feng’s progress. But at this time, I suddenly found that something was wrong. The situation on their side seemed to have changed.

<Chapter 53><Table of Contents><Chapter 55>


TN Notes:

(1) Fendui= Graveyard/Grave heap and Dafen= Dung/shit/human excrement

(2) Dear God, Fatty and his word play. This does NOT translate well. Here’s a breakdown: academic degree is 学位 , pinyin= xué​wèi; Acupuncture point is 穴位, pinyin is xué​wèi. Associate professor is 副教授, pinyin= fù​jiào​shòu; deputy foot master is 副脚手, pinyin is fùjiǎoshǒu. I kind of had to wing “deputy foot master” since shǒu can mean hand/person engaged or skilled in certain types of work. I thought putting “deputy foot acupuncturist” didn’t really flow well so I went with master.


Updated 1/3/2022

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