Under my questioning, Black Glasses reluctantly talked about what had happened in that village. There hadn’t been a chance to talk with him about Uncle Two’s plans, so we exchanged a few sentences.
Time was short and Fatty kept scratching his head the whole time, so the chat wasn’t very detailed. Basically, when Uncle Two investigated the local folk customs, he found a village in southern Fujian where the villagers had a disability that ran for several generations. They checked the water and soil, but couldn’t figure out what the cause was. Even the local government’s attempt to relocate them was fruitless. Since the village was located at several possible centers of the South Sea king’s tomb that Uncle Two had investigated, he hired Black Glasses to go there and investigate.
When Black Glasses went there, he met a team who was filming a TV documentary. He had a few conflicts with them, but I didn’t know the specifics since he didn’t elaborate on this part. All he would say was that the leader of the documentary team was a woman who didn’t like him very much. Black Glasses found a lot of traces of the South Sea King’s tomb there, which was very similar to what we had seen before. For example, there were totems of the eyes we had seen in the murals and thunder god statues scattered in the village’s ancestral halls, stables, and along some stone walls.
Black Glasses thought that people in this village either participated in the construction of the South Sea King’s tomb, or were the remnants of the West Sea’s Falling Cloud Country. The sign language and writing system the villagers used were different from those outside, so they could hardly communicate with outsiders. The stone mortar in this village was very old, and was probably left over from when the tomb was built.
Either the people here had entered the underground river system of the West Sea’s Falling Cloud Country, or these things had been moved out of there a long time ago. Black Glasses believed that there had to be some clues in the village, but the most important question was whether these people’s muteness was related to their ancestors entering the West Sea’s Falling Cloud Country.
Based on what I had heard, the second possibility seemed more likely.
After some investigation, he found that there was a special ceremony in the village. Since it was inevitable that the babies would become mute after they heard their first thunderstorm, every newborn underwent a special ceremony in the village on the night that it thundered. Black Glasses wanted to attend the ceremony and film it for information, but was ultimately denied.
He tried every means to get into the ceremony, and found that its real purpose was to put a silver ring into a gap on the baby’s head. This way, the baby’s skull couldn’t be closed and a cavity would eventually form. According to the locals, the children couldn’t leave the village if they didn’t do this. Only people with this skull cavity could leave.
Black Glasses also found that when it started to thunder that day, it was like the villagers were experiencing a nightmare. Everyone stopped what they were doing and listened to the thunder.
This was exactly what had happened when I saw Boss Jiao’s team in the woods before.
The documentary team’s leader thought that it was a foolish old custom, but Black Glasses felt that there had to be a reason for it. After all, no one could leave even though the natural environment of the village was so bad. They checked through countless resources and found the only exception in the village’s posterity examination. There was a girl who was born when the village was suffering from a three-year drought. By the time the first thunderstorm came, she had already grown up and her skull had closed, so they could no longer implant the silver ring.
When she was three years old, she encountered the first thunderstorm of her life on the way to herding cattle. Not only did the thunderstorm not render her mute, but it also made her see a strange sight, thus revealing the mysterious centuries-long truth behind Mute Village.