When we pulled it out, we found that it was the upper part of a standard millstone, which looked just like a big stone pie. After digging down further, we found an old aluminum lunch box with a steel brand on it that read: China. There was also a line of small steel letters below it that read: Large Aluminum Lunch Box.
I opened the aluminum lunch box and found that it contained four old coins with very illegible characters on them. I had studied this kind of thing in particular, and even though I still couldn’t understand what the characters said after examining them for a long time, the patina on them was enough to tell me that they were genuinely ancient.
After thinking about it for a while, I said to Fatty, “This is illegal money. It’s counterfeit currency made by the common people back in the day. The characters on them are just random words.”
“Are they valuable?”
“Enough to buy a bottle of Coke,” I said. But something seemed a little off. This lunch box had been buried under the millstone and there was even some ancient money in it. “Come on, help me turn this millstone over.”
Fatty sucked in a big breath, summoned all of his strength, and flipped the millstone over. I saw that there really was something strange on the bottom of the millstone—someone had written the character for “knight” in red paint.(1)
I took a deep breath. This round millstone had the character for “knight” on it, which meant that this was a Chinese chess piece.(2) This thing had something to do with feng shui.
I looked back at the house as Fatty asked me, “Is there really something down there? Mr. Naïve, although I think this is a bit much even for you, I kinda like it. “
Ancient coins could also be called ancient springs, so this feng shui array meant that the knight was suppressing the four springs. But what did this mean? Where was this knight piece supposed to go? Was it the general or was it protecting the lord?
All these things were from the ‘90s. After thinking about it, I remembered that we had found some strange things here before, and I couldn’t help but feel that this land had a story to it.
Fatty looked at me, silently asking me with his eyes what we should do. “Keep digging,” I said.
The three of us dug around the area again, but didn’t find anything else.
My mind was full of questions as I continued to work, but by the time we were done for the day, we managed to make a rough outline of a pond. I estimated the amount of work left and determined that it would take about ten days to dig to the size I needed. Dinner that night was especially delicious because of the manual labor, but the millstone sitting off to the side was making me uneasy. I didn’t know why, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that that thing was watching me.
I held onto the four ancient coins that night, wanting to be vigilant, but I was too tired and ended up falling asleep after only a second. I didn’t even dream, and by the time I woke up, it was already bright outside.
When I went out into the yard, I found that the millstone was gone. I went to look for the ancient coins and found that they were also gone. Just as I was wondering what was going on, Fatty came out of the bathroom and said to me, “Little Brother got rid of the millstone early this morning.”
“Did he say why?”
“No, but something must have happened last night.”
“Why do you say that?”
Fatty jutted his chin in a certain direction, silently telling me to look at the courtyard. I saw that a bamboo pole was now standing in the spot where we had dug up the millstone yesterday. The pole was very thin, but one of our dining bowls was somehow sitting on top of it.
When I walked over, I saw that there was rice in the bowl, along with about six or seven hairs sitting on top of the rice. The hairs were being held down with a broken chopstick.
“Did Little Brother do this?” I asked.
Fatty nodded. “You think Little Brother hung out at Mount Mao?”(3)
“Is this Little Brother’s hair?”
“Mm-hmm. I told you there had to be something underground here, but Little Brother must have taken care of it yesterday, along with the millstone and copper coins. This piece of land should now be all cleaned up.”
“Do you think he’ll tell us what happened last night?”
“Whatever it was—even if it was an old Black Mountain demon that had been sealed for three hundred years—it probably stuck its head out wanting to suck some blood but saw Little Brother looking at it from outside. It was then packed up and buried in another place. I think that’s probably what happened.” After Fatty said that, he pointed to the toilet, “Do you want to use the toilet? The seat is all warmed up. If you don’t go, it’ll get cold again.”
I thought about what happened last night. I slept so soundly that I wasn’t even aware that anything had occurred, but looking at the ground here, it was obvious that Poker-Face must have dug the pit deeper.
When Poker-Face came back, we didn’t ask him what had happened. I knew that he wouldn’t discuss complicated things. After all, there was a limit to the number of words he would speak every day. Other people had their own shortcomings, but his just happened to be a lack of words.
When we were eating dinner that evening, I choked on several hairs that were apparently in my rice. It seemed that Fatty didn’t want to waste that bowl of rice from earlier. After we finished eating, we took a break and then continued digging up the courtyard. At this time, someone suddenly knocked on the door. When I opened it, I saw Wang Meng standing there, smelling strongly of alcohol. “Boss, I’ve got that matter settled,” he said to me. “There’s just one little problem.”
<Chapter 9><Table of Contents><Chapter 11>
(1) This is the character: 马. It can mean horse, horse or cavalry piece in Chinese chess, or knight in Western chess. I thought knight fit better in the context of the chapter than horse/cavalry.
(2) Chinese chess is different from Western chess in terms of moves and rules. It’s also more complex. In Chinese chess, the pieces play on the intersections while Western chess has the pieces play in the squares themselves. The names of the pieces are also a little different. King vs General, Queen vs Guard, Bishop vs. Elephant or Minister, Knight vs Horse, Rook vs Chariot or Car, Pawn vs Soldier. More info here and here.
(3) Mount Mao is a sacred Taoist mountain southeast of Jurong county. Some info here. Some pics here.
Looks like NPSS is gearing up to continue “Ten Thousand Mountains”. The title for the next work is “Queen of the West’s Ghost Banquet”. It’ll probably be coming out in the next few days (don’t quote me on that) but I’m going to keep working on this for now. Nothing worse than being caught up with the author lol. We’ve got about 19 chapters of this to go just to give you guys a general idea of the timeline (aka 19ish days if I don’t bail on you).
4 thoughts on “Chapter 10 Courtyard 5”
Thanks for everything ❤️
I really wish they would start asking him things. Poker Face is Poker Face, but I think the author just likes having the excuse of not having to explain certain things, thereby leaving it mysterious. Unless it is isn’t over yet and will be explained later…
I understand about being caught up with releases. You’ve done such a wonderful job of pacing the translation releases, I feel like we won’t suffer too much even if we get caught up.
Right? I’m over here like “but I want to KNOW” 😂
I keep periodically checking the raws on wechat to see if that 166 at the top turns to 167. The suspense is killing me
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“Queen of the West’s Ghost Banquet” sounds like the banquet in Reboot that was never quite explained… could this be a continuation?