Chapter 37 Jiang Siwang Hesitates to Talk

Jiang Siwang’s ancestors had a very prestigious history. It was said that they once led the “Thirteenth Army of the Prince’s Mansion”, a special army in the Northern Song Dynasty that only did two things: gold panning and grave robbing. Among the thirteen armies, eleven were gold seekers and two were grave robbers. Jiang Siwang’s ancestors were said to be from one of these grave robbing armies. At that time, it was said that the cavalry was a mix of Mongolian and Han Chinese. You could even tell what this division’s style was from its name. In other words, there were a lot of people.

After my Uncle Three disappeared, as the only remaining veteran of that generation at that time, Jiang Siwang began to infiltrate the south from Inner Mongolia. But right after he passed through Hebei, he met Xiao Hua’s group, who used all of their strength to stop him. In the end, he was beaten back to Inner Mongolia.

Truthfully, Jiang Siwang was very a good businessman. He was genuine, straightforward, and surprisingly honest. After I heard the story of him and my Uncle Three, I personally believed that my Uncle Three was the one in the wrong. Uncle Three had promised to give Jiang Siwang some goods, but he ultimately forgot and ended up giving them to other families. He didn’t sign a contract and had only made a verbal promise, but Jiang Siwang also had a problematic character. My Uncle Three finally admitted his mistake and compensated Jiang Siwang multiple times, but because Uncle Three had broken his trust once, Jiang Siwang was unwilling to forgive him. He insisted on targeting our Wu family and said that our whole family wasn’t good.

My Uncle Two said that Jiang Siwang was very honest and opinionated, and the reason why he had such a strong opinion of my Uncle Three after the incident was because he actually admired him a little bit. He had been determined to work with my Uncle Three, but he didn’t think or expect that Uncle Three would be so sloppy at that time. Uncle Three had been shooting his mouth off and didn’t take the promise seriously, which caused Jiang Siwang to suffer a loss.

It really wasn’t a big deal, but he just couldn’t understand it. Even after my Uncle Three made up for the apology later and my grandma went to apologize, Jiang Siwang still wouldn’t accept it. So, in the end, he began to hate the Wu family. And after that, he was convinced that all of his losses were because of the Wu family secretly working against him. It turned into a Wu family persecution delusion, and he started to harass our family like crazy. I wasn’t at home during that time, but I knew that Uncle Two was the one who dealt with it. In fact, Jiang Siwang’s harassment had gone so far that even Uncle Two became angry.

Jiang Siwang really liked to make money, so although he only had a profitable area in Inner Mongolia, his net worth was still amazing. In any case, he was much richer than us. I had also heard that to this day, he had a considerable desire to make money, so it could be said that he was the kind of person who only liked to make money.

But the things he did were so bothersome that my grandmother had to be taken to the hospital several times. Even if this guy was an honest person, he was so extremely stubborn and determined that it would be impossible for us to persuade him to go back. I really didn’t want to try that hard anyways.

Jiang Siwang inhaled some more snuff as he looked around. Then, he waved his hand and his subordinates all stepped back. He looked around at the forest in front of him and said, “That thing is inside. Do you want to get it, too?”

This was a dangerous question, so after thinking about it, I decided to avoid it.

“We’re here to save people,” I said. “If you go in, you’ll all die. There’s something wrong with Jin Wantang’s intelligence.”

“Stop spewing nonsense,” Jiang Siwang said. Then he looked at Poker-Face and spoke to the people around him in Mongolian. After that, he said to me, “Let’s go. You can come to my tent and eat something. Wu Sanxing should be nearby. Is it time for me to meet him?”

“He’s missing. He…he should be dead.”

Jiang Siwang looked around, sneered, and gave a particularly low but foolish-sounding laugh. His voice didn’t sound very intelligent as he said, “Come on.”

I sighed, but knew that we couldn’t refuse his invitation at this time. Fatty let Ping Lian’s hindlegs go and Poker-Face released his grip, so Ping Lian quickly ran off. I threw the chicken off into the distance and watched as Ping Lian ran over to it.

He had been too scared to come in yesterday, so I didn’t know why he had suddenly appeared here now. I figured there was something going on here, but I didn’t have time to delve into it.

“Be clear-headed,” I said to him. “Just stay here.”

Ping Lian ran to the chicken and glanced back at me. I didn’t know why, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that he didn’t seem to be a dog anymore. If I had to put my finger on it, I’d say that he almost seemed to be something else.

The three of us got into the jeep and rode all the way up to the hill where the people in Jiang Siwang’s group were setting up tents. His position was very high, so his tent had been set up first. As soon as we walked in, we found that it smelled like suutei tsai(1) and someone was waiting inside to give Jiang Siwang a new belt. When he wrapped it around himself, I saw that there were nine bronze mirrors hanging from it. They were all about the size of a bowl and looked to be antiques.

These bronze mirrors had some age on them, so there was a very good coating of patina(2) on them. Most of the patterns seemed to indicate that they were shamanistic instruments, but there were also two or three Central Plains patterns.

Speaking of which, those Mongolians outside were also wearing bronze mirrors on their belts.

“They’re used to ward off evil. They were all given to me after the old shaman’s death. They’re very powerful,” Jiang Siwang said. “For us Horqin(3), these are our Xutegen. They can protect us from the Ghost Lord’s harmful tricks here.”

I didn’t understand the term “Xutegen”, but I had heard that the Ghost Lord was a kind of evil spirit that possessed people and caused diseases. It especially liked to target women and caused them to develop mental illnesses. But in reality, the term “Ghost Lord” really just referred to the unclean things on the grassland.

“Since you have nine, you can sell us a few,” Fatty said.

“You don’t need it. You have your own Xutegen.” Jiang Siwang glanced at Poker-Face and then poured him some tea. “I’ve seen a temple in the south. The god inside is very similar to you.”(4)

Poker-Face took the tea but didn’t drink it.

Jiang Siwang continued, “We can see the dirt on the grassland through the bronze mirror. That’s why every single one of us is carrying one. When we go down into the tomb, we put a mirror on our chests and shoulders, so that if something appears around us, we’ll be able to see it immediately. In my group, people who make special contributions will be awarded bronze mirrors. I have nine and the people below me also have a lot. Most of them are officers.”

“Do you know that almost half of Jin Wantang’s teams have died along the way?” I was too lazy to listen to his nonsense.

“That’s because you people are from the Central Plains. We’ve been making a living on this grassland for many years and know many things that you don’t know.”

I thought about it. Indeed, there was the language barrier we had encountered along the way and our knowledge was very limited. If they were so experienced, then I should at least ask what the local people knew about the things we had encountered so far.

But when I asked, Jiang Siwang didn’t say anything. Instead, he merely said in an indifferent voice, “The Central Plains people think that Tibet is mysterious, the rainforests in Yunnan are mysterious, and Xiangxi is mysterious. When it comes to the grasslands, however, they think that’s it’s vast and clean but monotonous. But in fact, the real mystery is that you don’t understand. The Central Plains people are extremely ignorant when it comes to Mongolia, so that makes Mongolia the real mystery. Up to now, eighty percent of the country is no man’s land.”

I had to admit that he was right; otherwise, we wouldn’t have been in such a mess the whole way here. He stopped me from asking any more questions and said, “Can’t you have some self-awareness? I asked you to come in for tea because I wanted to talk about what I should do with you, not to answer your questions.”

I looked at him. I wasn’t worried that Jiang Siwang would kill us—with Poker-Face around, he couldn’t kill anyone at this distance—but I was really worried that he wanted to pester me like he used to do with Uncle Three.

I decided to play nice and said, “Please speak.”

“Get out of here.” He looked outside the tent. I could detect a trace of regret in his expression, but I didn’t know why he had such a regretful expression. “If you walk inside for two more days, it really will be too late,” he continued. “I’ll find someone to take you guys out of here.”

“But we want to save people. Our friends have already gone in.”

“They’ll never get out,” he said. “This grassland…this place…if you die here, your soul will never leave.”

“And you still want to go in?” Fatty taunted him.

Jiang Siwang’s expression was full of endless regrets. I felt a little touched by his expression and asked, “Uncle Jiang, what are you trying to say?”

“Go back. The sun will soon set behind the mountain and the sky will get dark. How many nights have you been here?” He asked. “This is your last chance.”

<Chapter 36><Table of Contents><Chapter 38>


TN Notes:

(1) It’s a Mongolian tea with salt, milk, tea leaves, and water. Info here.

(2) A green or brown film on the surface of bronze or similar metals, produced by oxidation over a long period.

(3) Horqin (or Xorchin) is a district in Inner Mongolia.

(4) I see Zhang Haiyan has been hard at work building those Poker-Face temples lol


Surprise! My A1C was 6.7 so I’m in a good mood (I also got back quicker than I thought. Afternoon appointments are the way to go, I tell you)

3 thoughts on “Chapter 37 Jiang Siwang Hesitates to Talk

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s