Chapter 2 Snakeskin Bag

Jin Wantang, a Beijinger, naturally thought that his past life should also be in Beijing. But his investigation led him to northern Inner Mongolia, so he traveled day and night to get there. During this period, he had to rotate the board three times in order to correct the direction.

In fact, he honestly didn’t think that he would find anything, so he was surprised when the board told him that he had reached the place. Before that, he had been walking on the grassland for at least three days without seeing any special sights.

But on the day when Qimen Dunjia told him to stop, something that hadn’t been on that grassland before really appeared.

It was a small forest.

There were often small forests on the grasslands, but at this critical time, Jin Wantang felt that its appearance was a little strange. He went into the small forest to investigate.

When he entered one end of this small forest, he could see the sunshine from the other end. Although the trees were tall, they were sparse and their canopies didn’t block the sky. There were also some shrubs on the ground. In autumn, some of the leaves turned yellow, and the alternating green and yellow made for a beautiful—if common—sight.

What was a bit strange was that grass covered the whole forest floor. The grass here wasn’t knee-deep like the grass outside, but actually reached up to one’s waist. I had heard that the grass in the grassland was so high in the old days that you would only see the cattle and sheep when the wind blew the grass. I didn’t know whether it was Inner Mongolia’s climate or desertification, but now it seemed like such grasslands were rare.

Why did the grass grow so luxuriously in this small forest? Jin Wantang found it more and more suspicious, so he asked some nearby herdsmen to help him dig.

I don’t know how Jin Wantang found the location. Although the forest wasn’t big, it would be a century-long project just to dig it all up. At that time, he felt that it was a little absurd. He came to find out about his past life and ended up digging in a forest. It was almost as if the information about his past life was buried beneath this small forest. What kind of person was he before? Was he a man or a woman?

If he couldn’t dig anything up, then he decided to stop his metaphysical research.

When he dug to a depth of six or seven meters, he thought that he must have found nothing. But when he reached a depth of ten meters, he really dug something up.

At this point in the story, Jin Wantang took a sip of tea. I knew that he was a grave robber who had a flair for theatrics and liked to be an annoying troublemaker. Normally, he’d only tell you the answer after you prodded him three, four, five, six, or seven times. But today, he was very frank, which was a breath of fresh air. He seemed to really be anxious, so I didn’t rush him.

After drinking the tea, his hands trembled a little and he said, “Little Master Three, when I dug up that thing, I knew that I had encountered a big disaster. I really didn’t think that was my previous life.”

Is it a dog? I wondered. People said that there were countless connections between this life and your past life. In this life, Jin Wantang could neither love nor hate. He only lived in his own antique hall, reminiscing over the ancients’ charms. In his past life, he must’ve been a historian, or at least a blind Hanlin (1) who made the memorials to the emperor. Since he was so shocked, was it a dog?

By this point, I really became curious and asked, “Why don’t you just say what it is?”

“There’s no need,” Jin Wantang said. “I’ve brought it with me. Little Master Three, you have to help me out and look at it. This thing is very unlucky.”

With that said, he pointed to the front yard. I stood up and looked, only to find that there was a big snakeskin bag in the yard. It looked exactly the same as the bag that Fatty had bought dried bamboo shoots in. Since it was thrown in among the pile of dried bamboo shoots, I didn’t notice it in the yard just now.

All my hair stood on end and I said to myself, Jin Wantang, what did you do?

He and I walked over to the bag, which was bulging. “This is your past life?” I asked him.

“Yes.” Jin Wantang nodded.

“Oh.” I was a little confused, so I thought it over for a while. “Then, please proceed.”

Jin Wantang picked up the snakeskin bag, went to the middle of the yard, and untied it.

<Chapter 1><Table of Contents><Chapter 3>


TN Notes:

(1) Hanlin refers to academics employed as imperial secretaries from the Tang onwards, forming the Hanlin Imperial Academy.


I’m sticking the Mid-Autumn Festival Extra in the Misc. Extras tab, but the link is here.


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