It was an amazing sight, but in the next second, Poker-Face jumped out from behind it, put his knees on its shoulders, and then stuck two fingers into the half-sliced neck wound. With his fingers acting as the center of gravity, he then used his weight to twist his body.
This time, instead of using the strength in his waist like usual, he used the inertia to throw himself to one side of the wall. He then stepped on the wall, leaped up, and turned 360 degrees while pulling at the wound. When he returned back to that black-faced thing’s shoulders, he gave a hard yank and separated the head from its neck.
This all happened very quickly, and Poker-Face didn’t hesitate at all. After he landed, I pointed to the skin that was still crawling with that tattoo and was just about to speak, but Poker-Face raised the head directly and walked to the middle of the well.
I noticed that the head was dripping a black, blood-like substance. If it had been a human head, the blood would have sprayed everywhere, but this head just dripped. Poker-Face looked up at the top of the well and then used the bloody head to draw a circle on the copper coins and funerary objects that had fallen to the bottom of the well. Once that was done, he put the head in the middle of the circle.
I walked over and held the cold firework up. The well was already full of those black weirdos, but now they were slowly retreating.
Poker-Face reached into the pile of copper coins below, pushed them aside, and then lifted Fatty to his feet. Truthfully, Fatty didn’t fall at a good angle, but the wellhead at least had a little slope to it. Otherwise, he would’ve definitely died. Poker-Face handed me one of Fatty’s arms, so I took the chance to check on Fatty’s breathing as I helped hold him up.
“Little Brother helped me in the middle of all of that,” Fatty said weakly. “I’m fine.”
I felt the weight of the stone in my heart lift. Poker-Face glanced at me and then immediately started to move. I put out the cold firework, dug out my flashlight, and then the two of us supported Fatty on both sides as we continued moving deeper into this underground passage.
This was a stone tunnel that didn’t have any relief murals. There were some places where we could stand up straight and some places where we had to walk with our heads bowed. We walked for half an hour without saying a word before we finally stopped. The tunnel ahead and behind us was very quiet the whole time. I completely forgot which direction we were going in just now and my waist was hurting a little bit, so I stopped and signaled to Poker-Face that we should rest against the wall for a while.
Poker-Face looked down the tunnel behind us. The temperature here was so low that I was already starting to get goosebumps. He looked at the darkness for a long time before eventually nodding.
I put Fatty down and saw that his eyes had completely rolled into the back of his head. I touched his neck and realized that he had been poisoned, so I immediately gave him the Chinese medicine I kept in my belt. I slapped him until he woke up dazed and said to me, “Brother Li, I must apologize to you. Sister-in-law didn’t say that she was married. Let this flower act as my apology for not coming to the wedding.”
“Old Wang, Old Wang.” I pressed on his philtrum so hard that his nostrils were almost squeezed.(1) Then, he was fully awake.
“Fuck me, I just dreamed that Sister-in-Law Li kissed me. As we kept kissing, she turned into an eel that bit me on the philtrum. It was so strange. Now, hurry up and leave me alone. I have to continue sleeping for a while so I can finish my dream.”
“Then Sister-in-Law Li is just playing with your feelings,” I said. “Did you forget? She and Brother Li were married for almost fifty years. Did you really believe her when she told you that she had been single since she was born?” (2)
“Where are we?” Fatty looked at our surroundings and finally came back to his senses.
At this time, I found that there was a bronze lamp on the wall beside us and there was a passage above the bronze lamp. It seemed to be a flue pipe(3).
I looked up at it and realized that this was probably the bottom of the stone beast lantern that I had seen on the grassland before. We had reached the underground part.
I glanced at Poker-Face, who was looking at his fingers. They still had some of that black-faced weirdo’s blood on them.
“Do you have any ideas on what that thing was? I saw that it had a tattoo pattern that looked similar to the one on your body—”
Poker-Face shook his head and didn’t answer me, but I felt like he had already made some inferences so I didn’t bother asking anymore. It had already become a habit by now.
I actually wanted to keep resting for a while, but after about thirty seconds, we set off again. After walking in the darkness, we soon reached the end of the passage and saw some steps leading up. We followed them all the way up and then pushed open a secret door. After peeking through it, I found that the three of us had returned to the underground palace banquet from before.
We all climbed out and looked at each other. The secret door we had opened just so happened to be in front of Shen Qianjue and the others’ dancing footprints. When the three of us closed the door, we found that it had really been set up very well since it was especially difficult to find.
Fatty and I sat down, completely exhausted. Poker-Face glanced up and looked in the direction of the sarcophagus in the distance.
“Remember those dancing figurines we saw that had lipstick on them?” Fatty asked. “I know what happened in this underground palace before.”
I didn’t bother answering him as I thought to myself, what’s the big deal? I also know.
(1) Per Tiffany: “Old Wang” in Chinese can also mean “male homewrecker”. The philtrum, or medial cleft, is a vertical indentation in the middle area of the upper lip. Wiki link here. In Chinese medicine, pressing people’s philtrum can save those who have passed out. Don’t think it’s scientifically proven, though.
(2) Brother Li and Sister-in-Law Li are from “Golden Marriage”, a 2010 TV Show that was 51 episodes. It’s about the lives of an ordinary Beijing couple. It starts when they get married and goes to their Golden Wedding (50 year anniversary). Each episode covers a year in their lives. Chinese wiki page here. Fun fact, the husband is played by the guy that played Uncle Two in “Sound of the Providence”.
(3) A duct, pipe, or opening in a chimney for conveying exhaust gases from a fireplace, furnace, water heater, boiler, or generator to the outdoors.