Chapter 34 Monster Stone Lantern

I watched as Fatty stuck practically his whole head inside the monster’s mouth. The fact that we had been possessed for a few days and weren’t able to eat or drink anything during that time was probably why Fatty’s chin was slightly smaller. Otherwise, his head definitely wouldn’t have been able to fit.

When he kept urging me to stick my head in, I became angry. “Although I have a small face, I’m not a finger! Do you think you’re picking a nose or something? Come out first!”

Fatty came out and rubbed his face. His hair was all messed up and his face was flushed as he said, “Well, I was trying to make out with you. Just hurry up and come over here.”

I looked at the hole and wondered if he was messing with me. But when I thought about the atmosphere of the past few days, I felt that Fatty wouldn’t go that far. If he was messing with me right now, then he definitely had to be possessed.

At that moment, I suddenly felt my body break out in a cold sweat. I looked at Fatty carefully, worried that something was controlling him. Maybe this thing had come here to make me do something dangerous, such as sticking my head inside a thousand-year-old stone monster’s mouth.

Fatty looked at me as I walked over to him. “Give me a quick answer: which of your feet has athlete’s foot?”

Fatty looked at my expression. We had been together for so long that it only took him a few seconds to understand my intentions. “I only have athlete’s foot when I wear Martin boots, but I don’t usually have it. Mr. Naïve, answer quickly: what do you eat to make you fart easily?”

There was no such thing since my whole family had good stomachs and intestines. He laughed at the indignant noise I made and then we both glanced at Poker-Face. We had never dared to involve him in this kind of game before, so after thinking about it, we decided to just forget about it. If Poker-Face was possessed, then there were only two outcomes: one would be like what happened with the “heavenly gift” and he would just leave silently; the other was that he would lure us into doing something, which we would discover immediately as soon he spoke more than two sentences.

I put my head into the stone monster’s mouth and found that the whole thing was actually hollow. It appeared to be the top of a particularly long pillar, and when I stuck my head further in, I could see that the area underground was pitch black.

“Fatty, when you say you know why this place is called the Sea of Black Lights, is it because it’s pitch-black inside?” I asked angrily.

“Your eyes aren’t good. Come here.” With that said, he pulled me out, grabbed a glow stick, and stuck it into my mouth. Then he put my head back inside the stone monster’s mouth and I saw a bronze lamp at the bottom of this pipe, which was at least twenty meters below ground.

I’ll describe it again. The exposed part of the monster stone lantern was just a lamp holder, the rest of the stone lantern that was stuck into the soil was hollow, this hollow pipe went at least twenty meters into the soil, and at the bottom of this hollow pipe was a bronze lamp.

The sheer depth alone was amazing. I knew that it was impossible to see the bottom of this narrow, twenty-meter-long passage with just a glow stick, but I could see that the walls of this stone pipe had a few particularly smooth surfaces that had been skillfully polished. I could tell just by the light of my glow stick that these surfaces seemed to reflect off of each other like mirrors.

But even so, the light was obviously very weak, so I could only see an unlit lamp deep underground.

“This lamp was placed twenty meters underground, which doesn’t make any sense. First of all, what would this lamp illuminate? Even if the light could penetrate from deep underground, it would be extremely weak. It wouldn’t be able to illuminate anything at all. Moreover, it’ll automatically extinguish as soon as carbon dioxide accumulates,” I said as I pulled my head out of the stone monster’s mouth.

“If it’s twenty meters below ground, it’s obviously used to illuminate the underground area. Or maybe it’s a feng shui practice? Is that underground lamp meant to warm the earth?” Fatty asked.

As soon as he said that, his expression changed and he said to me, “Do you remember that when we saw Old Bing and the others’ bodies, they were all stuck in the soil? And based on what happened afterwards, we inferred that they had done it themselves?”

“What do you mean?”

“Look at how dark it is below. Isn’t this lamp showing them the way? It guides the souls of the dead into King Yama’s underground palace.”

“If King Yama’s underground palace is twenty meters below ground, then you might as well say it’s in our village’s septic tank,” I retorted. But Fatty said that those people had dug their way underground and this light was also placed underground. Maybe they were connected after all.

Fatty had asked me earlier what kind of “story” the ancient architects were trying to tell. I didn’t have a clue at the time, but now, I suddenly had a bit of inspiration. Unfortunately, it wasn’t clear enough yet.

But everything seemed to be related to the underground—the banquet was underground, people were digging underground, and this lamp illuminated the underground. It all seemed to indicate something, but what was it?

I put my head into the stone monster’s mouth again and came up with another question: what about the carbon dioxide in this structure? There was no way to light the lamp, so was there a tool to light it from above? But that felt a little strange. There definitely had to be more than one lamp in this place. Plus, lights were usually placed alongside roads, so did that mean—

At the time when the body was to be interred in the coffin, the demon monk used some kind of sorcery. There were dead people crawling underground, and the people aboveground went to light these underground lamps in order to guide the underground corpses as they dug through the soil.

The speed at which these corpses crawled underground was very slow—just like earthworms—but there must have been a lot of them.

This kind of scene was just too strange to imagine.

I didn’t find any more evidence, so I pulled my head out of the stone monster’s mouth. After looking at Fatty and then at Poker-Face, I asked, “Little Brother, is this something we learned about before?”

Poker-Face’s attention had been focused in the direction we were headed in, but he turned his head and nodded.

“What, do you know something that I don’t?” Fatty asked.

“In the past, there was talk amongst the elders—especially Changsha’s Huangtudian(1) area—about local grave robbers who used special techniques to lead zombies out of the tombs and aboveground,” I said. “Some of them would dig a fire pit a hundred meters away and cover it with an iron top. They’d lure the zombie aboveground and directly lead it into the fire pit. Some were just directly led away. It was a very long process since it would take two or three days just to move one meter. After the zombie was lured away, these grave robbers would go down and rob the tomb. They said that they were taught by Taoist priests.”

“So you’re telling me that these lights really lead underground corpses all the way here? But why?”

“If we could read Mongolian characters, we might be able to find out. But for now, we can only move on and ask a more important question: where are these bodies being led to? Are they being led out of the valley or did they come from outside and are being led deeper into the valley towards that behemoth?” As I spoke, I couldn’t help thinking to myself, even though Mongolians are nomads, is it possible that they were also able to herd corpses?

This place was called the Sea of Black Lights, so in other words, all the lights were there, they just illuminated an underground area. So, even if there was a sea of lights, the night here would still be pitch black.

After that, I put the glow stick in my mouth and stuck my head back into the stone monster’s mouth again. But I got distracted and ended up dropping the glow stick. I watched as it fell all the way down to the bottom of the stone pipe and hit the bronze lamp.

I pulled my head out and rubbed my cheeks. It’s fine, I said to myself. Now I can take a closer look.

I stuck my head back in, wanting to take a closer look at what was going on below and see if I could figure out how the structure dealt with the carbon dioxide. But as soon as I stuck my head in, I found that the glow stick was gone and the underground area was completely dark.

I felt my heart tense up and immediately knew that something was wrong. This kind of thing won’t go out so quickly. Why is it suddenly gone?

I pulled my head out once more and looked at Fatty, who said, “Try again.”

I took another glow stick, gripped it in my teeth, and moved my head towards the stone monster’s mouth again. But as soon as I straightened my head, I saw a black face in the pipe in front of me. It was a palm’s width away and seemed to have come up from the depths of the pipe.

This pipe was twenty meters high, so it was impossible for a human body to get in it. How did this face come up?! Did it have a twenty-meter-long neck?! And where on earth did it come from?!

That face had an extremely cold expression as it looked at me.

I was so scared that I shouted and immediately tried to pull my head out, but unfortunately, it got stuck.

At this time, that dark face was almost pressed up against my face.

<Chapter 33><Table of Contents><Chapter 35>


TN Notes:

(1) “Huangtu” means loess (the yellow sandy soil typical of north China) and “dian” means inn/shop/store.


If you all couldn’t tell, after reading this chapter, I decided to change all the “Black Sea of Lights” references to “Sea of Black Lights”. It just seems to make more sense.


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