After the heavy rain in Myanmar, the humidity was staggering and the road was very muddy, but Black Glasses knew that he should be thankful there was a road at all.
This heavy rain meant that the rainy season was coming soon, and it may continue to rain nonstop in the upcoming month. The sun was very bright as it shone through the dense forest canopy and made little rainbows everywhere. He knew that he could see it because there was something wrong with his eyes.
The driver was a thirteen-year-old girl who was chewing on something as she drove. She probably doesn’t have a driver’s license, Black Glasses thought to himself. The little girl didn’t seem to like him very much and hardly looked at him.
The vehicle was an off-road pickup truck that belonged to his godson, a Sichuanese native. After Chen Pi Ah Si disappeared, this guy came to Myanmar to do business. Black Glasses didn’t know what he sold, but this guy’s business was prosperous and he made a lot of money. This time, if it weren’t for him, Black Glasses wouldn’t have been able to enter this place.
Although the little girl had dark skin, she was surprisingly beautiful. Black Glasses leaned back in the passenger seat with his arms crossed over his chest and looked at her a few more times. Was she his godson’s daughter? But wouldn’t that make her his god-granddaughter? If this god-granddaughter of his looked like this, he’d have to keep an eye on her. In another five or six years, she might be old enough for Su Wan. Well, Su Wan was a good boy, but a girl that looked like this wouldn’t be easy to handle. The little girl noticed Black Glasses looking at her and spit a mouthful of phlegm out the window before rolling her eyes at him.
Black Glasses ignored her and looked out the window. The place he was headed to was a very special village that was located deep in the dense forests of Myanmar. It used to be a place where the local armed guerrillas fought. This village was very strange, because all of the villagers were mute.
There was a very strange legend in this village. It was said that the villagers could understand the sounds of the thunder. In order to prevent the secrets of heaven from leaking out, all of the village children would suddenly become mute after hearing thunder for the first time. It was different from the strange legends you would usually hear in ordinary small villages. This village had a large population, but it was true that everyone was mute, which was very unusual. It would be reasonable to say that there should at least be some exceptions, but there weren’t any. In fact, there wasn’t a single exception at all!
Black Glasses just so happened to be short of money, and the Wu family’s Uncle Two was anxiously looking into this matter. Moreover, Black Glasses had a godson here and he was just starting to miss the days when he would hang out in Southeast Asia, so he decided to come.
Although the villagers were mute, they were very tough and almost everyone carried a gun. His godson thought for a long time and eventually decided to have the thirteen-year-old girl take him there, saying that there was nothing she couldn’t handle. If that was the case, then this little girl shouldn’t be his god-granddaughter; otherwise, she wouldn’t be acting so arrogantly in the local area. Black Glasses touched his chin and saw the little girl roll her eyes again. Feeling a little frustrated, he decided to concentrate on thinking about the village.
Thunder, the secrets of heaven, becoming mute, and Wu Xie’s investigation all seemed to be connected somehow. But Wu Xie was in Fujian, and this was Myanmar. Was listening to thunder a universal thing? Did different people everywhere discover and form different cultures around it? If this was the case, then Wu Erbai should increase the price by another twenty percent.
The truck came to an abrupt stop, which almost caused Black Glasses to hit the windshield. When he recovered, he found that there was a suspension bridge in front of him.
This suspension bridge was hidden among the extremely lush tropical foliage. If not for the fact that his eyes were very sensitive in the dark, it would’ve been very difficult to see.
Mute Village was on the other side of this suspension bridge.
There was probably a mountain gap under the bridge, so if the little girl hadn’t braked in time, they would’ve rushed down into it. No one would be staging any rescue efforts here, and the car would definitely be useless once it fell down.
Black Glasses glanced at the little girl. She told him to get out of the truck, so he put his luggage on his back and took a deep breath. He was just about to turn back and tease the little girl, but the truck suddenly backed up at full speed and drove away. A huge wave of mud splashed all over him.
“Damn it.” Black Glasses laughed and patted himself off before walking into the bushes and onto the suspension bridge. There were a bunch of signs on the bridge in English, Myanmar, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, all saying the same thing: there’s a minefield nearby. Don’t stray from the dirt road.
There had been armed conflicts here for decades, so mines were everywhere. But Black Glasses was a little surprised. With signs in so many languages, that meant that there should be some tourists here. Nowadays, tourists were very fierce and went wherever it was dangerous.
He didn’t see any guards, but there were some strange rhythmic sounds coming from the village that didn’t sound like people talking. Black Glasses thought for a while. Mute Village… these shouldn’t be the sounds of human voices. He walked to the other side of the suspension bridge, where he could see a towering tree. He soon passed by the big tree and entered the village. There was a villager smoking at the entrance. He was dressed in local traditional clothes but holding an AK47 in his hands. As he looked at Black Glasses very indifferently, Black Glasses greeted him. The other party didn’t respond. At first, he thought that there were only some old people and children left in the village, just like a typical working village. But when he turned to a diaojiao (1) at the entrance, he immediately saw signs of life. Clothes and fish were hanging on the doors of every household to dry and some women were walking in front of him, looking at him curiously. The strange sounds were coming from the village square.
He was very tall—much taller than the people here— so he stood out. At the same time, he immediately noticed that a ceremony seemed to be taking place in the village square. Many people were gathered and those sounds seemed to be coming from them.
So, it turns out that they can make some sounds after all, he thought to himself.
He had spent a long time in Southeast Asia, so when he saw some cloth hanging on a tree beside the square, he immediately realized that they were holding a funeral in the village. At this time, the dark clouds in the sky began to gather again, as if it was going to rain heavily. Then, there was a sudden clap of thunder and a flash of lightning streaked across the sky. At this time, all of the villagers suddenly looked up at the sky.
It was a very strange sight, because everyone instantly stopped moving and looked up at the dark clouds. It almost seemed as if all of time and space had suddenly stagnated.
He conveniently lifted his cell phone up and took a few photos. The phone was equipped with satellite transmission peripherals, so there were almost no dead spots on the GPS now. As he sent the photos to Uncle Two, he looked at them and noticed that there was a person on the roof of a house on the other side. He didn’t know what they were doing, but he could see that they were wearing a thatched cover for camouflage.
Voldemort? Black Glasses thought.
He wanted to walk over for a closer look, but was immediately stopped by a nearby villager. Black Glasses raised his hands to show that he meant no harm and then took out some money to indicate that he was willing to negotiate. But the other party was very determined and pushed him back. Since the villager was also holding an AK47, Black Glasses decided to pretend to be cowed.
He made a particularly friendly gesture before bypassing the villagers and going to the back of a nearby diaojiao. He looked around to make sure nobody was watching and then climbed up to the roof, slowly approaching Voldemort.
When he looked at the person, he found that it was a woman holding a video camera. She was attentively recording the ceremony in the village square. Was she Chinese? Shanxi? Anthropologically speaking, she appeared to have the Shanxi genes. She definitely looked like a tourist. He watched her for a while, but the woman didn’t notice him at all. In the end, he also turned his attention to the square.
The scene in the square was very shocking. There were six or seven bodies in the middle of the square and blood was everywhere on the ground. There was an old woman in sacrificial garb who seemed to be cutting the scalps of these corpses. The others, who were looking at the dark clouds in the sky, seemed to be waiting for the second clap of thunder.
At this time, the woman suddenly realized that there was one more person on the roof with her. She turned to look, jumped in fright, and fell off the roof.
Everyone in the square immediately turned their heads and looked at the two of them at the same time. Black Glasses stood up and said to the woman below, “Apologize quickly. Otherwise, it’ll be a diplomatic incident.”
But the woman got up, fled into the alley between the buildings, and disappeared. Black Glasses stared for a moment, and then noticed several mature men with automatic rifles in their hands start to rush over.
Black Glasses, naturally understanding what this meant, jumped to the thatched roof of another diaojiao, leaped to the ground, and then ran after the girl. He was very fast, so after listening for the girl’s footsteps, he was able to follow her route and catch up.
He didn’t know anything about the village at all, so if he wanted to escape, it would certainly be better to follow her. After turning a corner, he saw the girl rush into a diaojiao. Black Glasses accelerated and followed her in, but as soon as he did, he saw a big shirtless guy shaving his beard. The woman flew up to the second floor of the diaojiao, leaving Black Glasses and the big guy to stare at each other.
Black Glasses suddenly felt a little confused. At this time, the big guy silently pulled a nearby T-shirt to his chest and covered his chest hair. “Dude, what’s going on?” The big guy was also a Chinese and spoke in the Nanjing dialect. “Are you also a tourist? But the rainy season is coming. You won’t be able to get out next month. Did your tour guide trick you?”
“The woman just now seems to be in trouble.” Black Glasses pointed to the second floor. “I have something to discuss with her.” He started to walk to the second floor, but the big guy suddenly dropped his T-shirt to the ground and stood in front of the stairs. “My sister is causing trouble? You say you’re looking for her because she’s in trouble, but I think you’re the one causing trouble.” As he spoke, he grabbed Black Glasses by the collar.
Black Glasses flicked the guy’s belly button, causing him to let go with a bashful “ah!”. Black Glasses wanted to continue up to the second floor immediately, but at this time, he saw the light outside the window flicker out of the corner of his eye. He grabbed the big guy and rolled to the side.
Almost at the same time, a few local youths rushed into the house and started firing.
The sound of AK47s going off was very loud and powerful, and the place where they had just been standing was quickly turned to dust. After they were done shooting, a young man in the front immediately fired his gun at the ceiling until all of his bullets were spent.
The floor and ceiling of the diaojiao were made up of wooden pillars and boards, which were now riddled with holes. Black Glasses heard a cry come from upstairs, and thought to himself, it’s over. There’s no way she survived that.
(1) Diajiao are basically stilted buildings in Miao villages. Because they are built with joints instead of nails, nearly the entire building can be disassembled to be moved, or to recycle its materials into new structures. Pics and info here.