We lost most of our water in yesterday’s horse stampede so Fatty collected the morning dew with plastic wrap and used it to boil tea with a small gas stove.
I felt a little better after drinking the tea, but I couldn’t shake the very rare sense of anxiety in my heart as I looked at the grass all around me. I felt as if my physical strength was being sucked out of my body by these plants. It was a strange feeling, like all of the blades of grass touching my body were syringes and my blood was constantly being sucked away by all kinds of things.
This anxiety began to ease after I spread the remaining tent cloth out on the grass. We sat on it and then carefully started to discuss what had happened last night.
Fatty said to me, “First of all, it was late when we set up camp last night. Let’s recall whether that small forest was already there and we just didn’t see it when we arrived because it was completely dark.”
“Are you losing confidence in yourself as you get older?” I retorted. “That forest might be called a ‘small’ forest but it was still a few fucking kilometers long. There’s no shelter on the grassland, so you should be able to see it from a distance even when the sun is setting. I have a very clear memory of it. That grove from last night must have suddenly appeared.”
Fatty clicked his tongue, “Then it’s definitely fucking haunted. We encountered the biggest ghost-hitting-a-wall in history yesterday. No, with this kind of scale, it should be called ‘ghost hitting the Great Wall’.”
I didn’t understand the joke, but he continued anyways, “Before coming here, I asked some old Mongolian men for some information. They secretly told me that it’s very normal to encounter paranormal phenomenon on the grasslands. Mongolian legends even say that the ghosts here like to walk in ravines; that is, the ravines between the sloping hills on the grasslands. We camped in such a place yesterday. You’re so lazy, Mr. Naïve. You weren’t even willing to take a few more steps up the slope yesterday.”
The legend of ghosts walking in ravines existed all over Mongolia, because most of the Mongolian tombs were in ravines.
In order to avoid resting on the tombs of their ancestors, the Mongolians had a legend that ghosts would walk in the ravines at night. That was why Mongolians were generally afraid of any obvious signs of ravines on the terrain.
It was true. I really didn’t want to move any more yesterday, because the wind on the grassland was too strong and I wanted to take shelter in a low-lying area. I said to Fatty, “Don’t dwell on who’s right and who’s wrong, just pay attention to the results. If what you said is right, then there should be a lot of ancient tombs buried under the ravine from yesterday. We camped on it and disturbed those predecessors—which was wrong of us—but the first problem is the satellite phone. The predecessors here must have diligently and eagerly studied at the University of the Underworld. They not only completed animal husbandry courses, but also learned about satellite communication hardware.”
“I think you’re just biased,” Fatty said. “Who says that ancient ghosts can’t use modern technology? According to you, the ghosts in Henan still have to speak the Henan dialect. If that’s the case, then how can they be scary?” After saying this, Fatty used the Henan dialect to imitate the words and white noise we had heard over the satellite phone yesterday, “Zizi…bastard~”
I was amused. Fatty wanted to pour tea for Poker-Face and ask him what he thought, but we found that he seemed to be thinking about something. Then, he suddenly got up and started rearranging the equipment on the horses. He lightened the load on two of them and then pulled out a folding shovel and hung it on his back.
We looked at him strangely. After he finished packing a bag, he threw it to Fatty and said, “Wu Xie rests. The two of us will go back.”
What’s going on? I wondered as Poker-Face mounted the horse and took off in the direction we had just come from. I glanced at Fatty, who immediately mounted the other horse, “Stay here. Don’t move around. Just go to sleep for a while. Little Brother heard you say that there are ancient tombs under the ravine and got antsy. He wants to go back and touch the gold, so I’ll go and help him.”
I thought about it for a moment. There was no fucking way I was going to sit here and wait, so I set the GPS coordinates of this place and told Ping Lian to look after the other horses. Then, I also got on a horse and chased after Poker-Face.
We had kept the heavily-loaded horses at a steady trot last night, but we had actually only ridden for three or four hours before dawn broke. Now that the horses were galloping and all of the equipment had been taken off of their backs, it only took about an hour for the three of us to return to the ravine where we had camped last night. That small forest was still there. Were we really bewitched yesterday? After dismounting, all three of us pulled out folding shovels and started digging.
Three shovels flew up and down, and within half an hour, we managed to dig out three pits. What we saw below left us stunned.
There were horse bones only two or three meters below the soil in the ravine where we had camped last night. We moved to a different spot and dug again, only to find that these bones were everywhere.
“They killed all these horses?” My whole body was covered in a cold sweat, “Is this a herd of horses that was used to level a tomb?”
So instead of wild horses, they were actually herded horses. How many horses were buried here? Tens of thousands? This was a mass grave for horses.
The tombs of nobles had to leveled with at least ten thousand horses, so were the horses driven to this ravine and then killed and buried here? And the soldiers who drove the horses waited until the next year when all the grass grew and then silently committed suicide?
“This is one of the greatest discoveries of the century. It seems that the world’s second most valuable tomb really is in this area,” Fatty said.
So did that mean we had seen the ghosts of ten thousand horses last night?
Poker-Face took out the satellite phone, put the battery back in it, and then turned it on.
The satellite phone was very quiet during the day. He took the phone and began walking into the ravine. We didn’t understand what he was doing, so we just silently followed him. After walking for ten minutes, Fatty was just about to speak up when we suddenly heard the very slight sound of white noise coming from the satellite phone.
Poker-Face stopped, and we found that we were back near the place where the bonfire had been last night. The things we hadn’t had time to take with us were still lying off to the side. This was the area where the paranormal phenomenon first occurred.
Poker-Face slowly moved the satellite phone around, and the noise became louder and louder. As he took small steps forward and looked for the source of the sound, Fatty and I didn’t dare make any noises.
He eventually seemed to pick a spot and started digging, at which point we went over to help. After clearing a few shovelfuls of soil away, we found more horse bones. But this time, we also saw a corpse under the horse bones.
It was the corpse of a modern man.
We dragged the corpse out and found that it had almost been completely trampled by horse hooves. He was a young man in his twenties whose hands were so deformed that they almost looked like they had been stomped into his chest. Even his eyes looked like they had been stomped deep into his eye sockets. Fatty pulled the corpse’s hands apart and found that he was clutching a satellite phone, which was the same model as ours.
He was a member of one of Jin Wantang’s teams, but I didn’t know which team he belonged to. Fatty and I looked at each other and both shuddered.
“Mr. Naïve, I wanted to ask you this yesterday. When we encountered paranormal phenomenon before, it was almost always a psychological thing. As long as we broke through the illusion, we’d be fine. But this time, why does it seem like people can really be trampled to death? Even our camp was completely trampled.”
I shook my head. Was this person really trampled to death by a ghost horse? There had to be another explanation.
“If someone wanted to warn us to leave here, it must have been him. The voice on the satellite phone must have been his,” Fatty said to me. “No wonder he said it was dark. His eyes have been stomped into his head.”
I looked at the corpse. Ah, such a tragic sight. If we fell asleep last night, we’d have suffered the same fate.
Was that why he warned us? I put my hands together to express my gratitude, I don’t know what’s really going on, but thank you, brother. I’ll bring you back.
“There are vultures here and this body has quickly started to rot. We can’t take it with us, so we have to deal with it here,” Fatty said to me. I nodded and looked at the grove again. We’d have to cut down a tree and burn the body.
I glanced at Poker-Face—wanting to see what his plan was—but saw that he was still at the place where the body had been found. It looked like he was still digging.
I went over and found that he had dug up another body. But this one was an ancient corpse that looked both human and inhuman. I recalled what I had seen out of the corner of my eye last night and squatted down to examine it carefully.
I am currently in the middle of binging “Strangers from Hell” so this is the only tribute I can offer right now lol. They also have me full-time on a project at work that I hate, so I need some merebear time to relax. These chapters kind of seem longer than usual anyways, so that’s why I don’t seem as productive as usual. I’m sorry but just bear with me o(TヘTo). We’re still making good progress anyways, I promise.