Those pale things turned out to be three huge white stone tablets, each of which was as tall as three people. They stood there like a wall and were covered in Huihu Mongolian script (1). The stone tablets were very badly weathered.
When we were near this place earlier, we never saw these three huge tablets. It was almost like they had appeared out of thin air, and they were so big that it was quite shocking.
I glanced at Poker-Face, relieved when I found that he could also see them. Then, the flare went out and our surroundings plunged into complete darkness again.
When I lit another one, the three huge stone tablets were gone and the person we’d been chasing had already rushed into the woods. Our pursuit had failed.
Those three huge stone tablets had appeared so suddenly that I immediately felt a jolt go through me. I could tell at a glance that they were arranged in the same way as the stone tablets in the Imperial Palace Square. White stone had been used, but it definitely wasn’t white marble. Even though there weren’t any textured decorations carved on them, they were still very domineering.
As a matter of fact, I had also seen some shadows further behind the stone tablets that appeared to be some huge buildings.
These buildings were completely different from those in the Central Plains, but they were about a kilometer away so the flare could only reveal their dim outline, which looked like the shape of the ground covered in fog. If I hadn’t doubted myself so many times before, I would’ve still suspected that I was wrong this time.
Now all of these things had disappeared, leaving only my shock.
My first instinct was that this was a huge imperial tomb that had suddenly appeared and disappeared right in front of me. But when it appeared just now, it was so real that I felt as if I was almost at the entrance of the imperial tomb.
What’s going on here? Is it a mirage? There were also rumors that this imperial tomb appeared and disappeared randomly on the grasslands. That was why no traces had been found even though so many years had passed.
How does it work? Did it become a spirit?
The flare disappeared again, plunging our surroundings into darkness once more. I was eager to see those stone tablets again and wanted to light another flare but Poker-Face stopped me. I came back to my senses and found that the moon was no longer hidden behind the clouds. Our surroundings were brighter now but there was nothing there.
As I looked at the small grove in front of us, the reality of the situation gradually hit me. Poker-Face was wanting me to regain my senses and deal with the immediate problem first.
The person we had been chasing had already entered the forest, and if my guess was correct, he would find a way to bury himself in the soil until he suffocated to death.
Were we still going to save him?
The grove was dark and the situation inside was very dangerous so the thought of backing down had already rushed to the forefront of my mind. That grave robber was bewitched and anxious to die, plus the situation was so dangerous that it was probably better to give up for the sake of my own team’s integrity.
Moreover, our chances of finding this person after entering the dark forest weren’t high.
I was sleepy and tired and had already saved four of those grave robbers so my conscience was clear.
But after thinking about it, I let out a sigh. This time, I didn’t just come here to go grave robbing but to save people. We had to continue.
After glancing at Poker-Face, the two of us rode our horses towards the grove.
The corpses that had been standing at the edge of tree line were no longer there.
We used our lanterns and flashlights to light the way, but we didn’t encounter any problems this time. There weren’t any traces of the man we were chasing, almost as if he had disappeared into thin air. We didn’t even see the corpses again, which had me thinking that maybe they had all gone back into the soil.
As we continued moving through the woods, we found the area from before. It was surrounded by porcelain and Fatty’s wine bags but everything else was gone.
After searching inside the forest for more than an hour, we finally withdrew.
When we went back to our campsite, we saw Fatty standing far away waiting for us. He was obviously very worried. I gave a brief account of the situation, but Fatty didn’t understand it for a while. I got off my horse, wanting to find a place to rest, but suddenly noticed that a lot of living people had been tied up by the corpses near the tent.
For some reason, I was very tired. I wanted to hold on for a little longer, but I somehow fell asleep after drinking a cup of hot tea. I didn’t know how the others would handle those people later.
When I finally woke up, it was four o’clock in the morning and Poker-Face was sitting together with the dog, watching the sunrise. I had actually only slept about two hours, but I felt as if I had slept all night long. Even though my back was sore, the large amount of oxygen on the grassland and the clean air made me feel refreshed.
Everything was silent as I looked at the magnificent scene formed by the sun rising over the grasslands. I also sat down beside the dog and watched the morning glow shift between dozens of colors. We were on high ground, so we could see the mist flowing in the distance. It was an indescribably beautiful sight.
When I was in Badain Jaran, the sunrise in the desert was also very beautiful, but I couldn’t remember it.
After that, Poker-Face went to rest. He wrapped himself in a sleeping bag and fell asleep directly on a lounge chair. The dog liked him a lot and huddled in next to him. I knew it was because the dog had fleas, which all fled when he leaned in close to Poker-Face. I found two or three on my body, so I sprayed some medicine and planned to shave all my hair and body hair off later. Otherwise, I’d keep going through the same thing over and over again as long as we were on the grassland.
After catching those three fleas, I decided to wake up our four captives and put our loot from last night in front of them. I laid out the ceramic figurine’s face fragment, some of those black stone grapes, and the three fleas one by one. Then, I was ready to start extracting confessions.
I won’t talk about the detailed process, but I couldn’t help thinking that there was something wrong with Ding Jingen’s mental state. It was almost like he had been bewitched by something. As long as I asked about key things, he would immediately blank out and stop answering my questions.
Jin Wantang helped me interrogate them after he woke up, but he soon let out a gasp.
When I asked him what was wrong, he said to me, “I know Jingen to some extent. You know that I’m someone who knows a lot about human nature.”
“Hmm.” I gave him a look that said he needed to speak quickly.
“I think this person isn’t Jingen,” he said.
I paused. I didn’t recognize Jingen’s face either, but Jin Wantang’s words were so convincing. Are you admitting that you made a mistake? I wondered. Jin Wantang, you’re too unreliable.
“No, no,” Jin Wantang immediately said. “I’m not saying that I made a mistake. This person has Jingen’s face, but he’s not Jingen.”
“Why do you say that?”
“If Little Brother and Fat Master were replaced, you would immediately feel it, right?”
Understanding what he meant, I fell into deep thought.
Jin Wantang went up and pulled at Jingen’s face, but the other man wasn’t wearing a human skin mask.
“This person doesn’t feel like Jingen.” When Jin Wantang said it again, Jingen suddenly fell silent.
I stared at him, and he suddenly showed a strange smile.
I was taken aback for a moment. Why did that smile look the same as the expression on the ceramic figurine’s face last night?
<Chapter 13><Table of Contents><Chapter 15>
(1) The Huihu is the Tang Dynasty name of an ethnic group corresponding to modern Uighurs. Uighurs are a Turkic ethnic group originating from and culturally affiliated with the general region of Central and East Asia. More info here.
7 thoughts on “Chapter 14 The Ancient Tomb’s Huge Stone Tablets”
So Poker Face is now a walking flea collar? Lolz!
LikeLiked by 3 people
😂 From bug repellent to flea collar. Not sure if that’s an upgrade or not 😂
LikeLiked by 5 people
On the plus side he gets extra cuddles with a puppy so I’ll say it’s an upgrade.
LikeLiked by 3 people
thank you for the chapter! 😊 thinking about bald wu xie makes me wanna erase the thought from my head 😔🤲🏻
Sounds like he just needs to cozy on up to Poker-Face like the dog did 🤭
LikeLiked by 4 people
Wuxie is having a lot of flashbacks about sand sea time… the trauma is back
LikeLiked by 1 person