Chapter 18 Big Tree

I carefully climbed out of the hole and saw that there was only a small ledge to stand on. It was protruding out from a cliff that was at least fifteen meters tall. A strong wind was blowing all around so I had to cling to the cliff as I observed this place.

I really don’t know how to describe what I saw. In front of my eyes was a huge natural cave that was roughly the size of a soccer field, with a huge crack in the ceiling. The moonlight was shining down through this crack, just bright enough to outline the whole cave. I was currently clinging to the cliff wall on the western side of the cave. I couldn’t see any way to climb up or down, but as I glanced at our surroundings, I found that the cave walls all around us were densely packed with holes. There seemed to be thousands of them, as if many high-caliber machine guns had swept across the cave walls more than a dozen times.

But the most shocking thing was the big tree in the middle of this cave. It was almost ten stories high and so wide that even ten people holding hands wouldn’t be able to encircle it. And on that big tree were countless vines as thick as telephone poles. These vines crisscrossed each other and became entangled with almost everything they touched. Their tendrils hung down from the tree like willow branches. Some were hanging in midair, some were touching the ground, and some even stretched into the holes in the cave walls. These vines spread across the cave as far as the eye could see, and I even saw one or two of them creeping along the edge of our hole.

I looked more carefully at the tree and found that there appeared to be many things hanging on its innermost branches. I thought it was fruit at first, but based on the outlines of these things, that didn’t seem to be the case. These strange objects were hidden behind the dense vines, but they could occasionally be seen swaying in the wind that blew.

At the bottom of this natural cave was a round stone veranda, which started from a small structure that looked like a sacrificial altar and went all the way to the area below the tree canopy. I could vaguely see a stone platform at the other end of the veranda, along with more than a dozen steps leading up to a jade bed that had been placed on top of this platform. There seemed to be a person lying on the jade bed, but I didn’t dare jump to conclusions because it was so far away that I couldn’t see anything besides a vague outline.

The fat guy was very excited and shouted, “Shit, I really found it! This must be the main tomb chamber of that Western Zhou Dynasty tomb. I bet King Shang of Lu’s body is lying on that jade platform. But that old man is really evil for robbing somebody’s tomb and taking it for himself. He’s like a sparrow stealing a dove’s nest. Today, I, Fat Master, will take action on behalf of the heavens and punish this unprofessional. He’ll know what fate awaits those dishonest grave robbers!” He was so excited that he didn’t even think about what he was saying or the fact that he was also a grave robber.

At this time, Pan Zi suddenly said, “You guys better not act rashly. This whole King Shang of Lu thing is very strange. I think there must be another mystery here. We should first try to find a way to get aboveground from that crack in the ceiling.”

I looked up at the top of the cave and couldn’t help but feel stunned. Not only wasn’t it going to be easy to climb to the top, but we’d have to hang upside down over a long distance in order to get to the crack. We weren’t Spiderman. How could we possibly do that?

I turned my head to ask the fat guy for his opinion, only to see that half his body was already leaning away from the cliff. He obviously didn’t take Pan Zi’s words to heart at all. I didn’t bother stopping him, though, because I could see that he was very agile. In just a few quick moves, he had already climbed down more than two meters and reached another hole. But just as he was about to continue climbing down, a hand suddenly stretched out from the hole and grabbed his leg.

Frightened, the fat guy started kicking his leg in an attempt to shake the hand off, but then a man’s voice came from inside the hole, “Don’t move! One more step and you’re dead.”

As soon as I heard this voice, I knew right away that it belonged to my Uncle Three. I couldn’t help shouting, “Uncle Three, is that you?”

The man below sounded surprised as he said, “Nephew, where the hell did you go? I’ve been fucking worried to death! Are you alright?”

Sure enough, this was my Uncle Three. I immediately felt relieved and shouted back to him, “I’m fine but Pan Zi is hurt! It’s all this fatty’s fault!” I stuck my head out to take a look, but the hole below was in the protruding ledge’s blind spot so all I could see was half of the fat guy’s leg. In the end, I had no choice but to give up.

“Comrade, can I ask you to please release my leg?” I heard the fat guy yell.

Uncle Three cursed, “Where the hell did you come from, you fatty? Don’t give me any fucking bullshit either. Come down quickly and be careful where you put your feet. Don’t touch the vine.”

“Which one, this one?” While saying this, the fat guy pointed at a nearby vine with his toes.

“Don’t!” Uncle Three quickly shouted, but before the words had left his mouth, the vine that originally looked very ordinary suddenly rose up like a snake, its tip unfurling like a flower in bloom. At first glance, it looked like a ghostly hand as it swayed in the air. It even seemed to be able to sense where the fat guy’s position was. As long as he moved, the vine moved with him, just like an Indian snake charmer teasing a snake. I suddenly realized that the ghostly hands Pan Zi and I had seen were actually these vines.

But the fat guy was really amazing. Despite the strange situation, he was even moving his foot in a circle and teasing the vine. This guy is so unreliable, I thought to myself. No wonder he’s grave robbing alone. If he keeps following us, he’ll definitely get us all killed.

Just as I was thinking this, Uncle Three became enraged and shouted at him, “Are you fucking finished?! Do you know what this thing is? Come down quickly!”

The words had just barely left his mouth when the fat guy finally suffered a mishap. The vine suddenly wrapped around his leg and almost dragged him off the cliff. When we were in that stone chamber before, he and I working together couldn’t win in a tug-of-war against a single vine. And now, there wasn’t a single place on this cliff that we could use as leverage to counteract that force.

Seeing that the fat guy was going to die, I anxiously looked for a rock that I could use to throw at that vine, but the ledge was too fucking bare. I couldn’t even find a pebble. I was groping around randomly when I suddenly felt something tighten around my leg. I looked down and immediately thought, this is bad! One of those ghost-hand vines had come out of nowhere and wrapped around my leg. I hurriedly looked for something to grab onto, but it was too late. Before I knew it, a powerful force pulled me away from the cliff and flung me through the air.

There was a moment of weightlessness where my hands and feet couldn’t catch hold of anything and then I was slammed into the cliff wall. The harsh impact felt worse than being hit by a rock and I almost vomited blood. Then, I felt the vine tighten around my leg even more before it pulled me down with all of its strength. My hands scrabbled to grab onto anything at all but they came up empty in the end. They were even bleeding from all the fumbling around I did. Then, I was free-falling down that fifteen-meter high cliff. I immediately closed my eyes and thought, I’m done for! This time I’m really screwed!

But at this time, three or four other vines suddenly noticed me and started moving towards me from the cliff. One of them was particularly thick and wrapped around my waist without making a sound. As I hung there in the air, those vines wrapped around my whole body several times, making me feel like a fried dough twist.(1) Then, that particularly thick ghost-hand vine slammed me into the stone wall again, earning me a scratch on the back of my head. My mind buzzed and I suddenly felt dizzy, but I didn’t have time to recover as those vines dragged me down the cliff. I hit various rocks and branches along the way, not a single part of my body spared from the painful ordeal. The blows were so intense that I saw stars and almost lost consciousness.

By the time I dazedly realized that I was no longer moving, a wave of dizziness hit me and I suddenly felt extremely nauseous. I tried to open my eyes, but my vision was blurred as if a layer of gauze was covering them. I took a few deep breaths to calm down and found that my vision gradually became clearer.

At this time, I found that I was hanging upside down on a branch of that giant tree. Below my head was the stone platform on which a mysterious corpse had been placed. I took a closer look and couldn’t help feeling surprised. As it turned out, there wasn’t just one corpse lying on the stone platform. I could also see the corpse of a young woman lying beside this mysterious corpse. The female corpse was covered with a white shroud, her eyes were closed, and her face was very serene. She looked pretty and charming. There weren’t any signs of decay on her body, either. If I wasn’t looking carefully, I almost would’ve thought that she was just sleeping.

The male corpse lying beside her was wearing a bronze mask that was shaped to look like a fox face. His whole body was covered in armor, his hands were on his chest, and a purple-and-gold box was encased in his hands.

I kept feeling uneasy as I swept my eyes over this armored corpse several times but I couldn’t seem to figure out why. After taking a closer look at the bronze mask, however, I found that the corpse’s eyes were actually open and two green eyes were staring at me coldly through the mask’s eyeholes.  

<Chapter 17><Table of Contents><Chapter 19> 


TN Notes:

(1) Also called mahua. It’s like a braided doughnut that can be either spicy or sweet. Info here. Looks like this:

5 thoughts on “Chapter 18 Big Tree

  1. “If he keeps following us, he’ll definitely get us all killed.” I don’t know why I feel this sentence refer to Wu Xie himself rather than Fatty or maybe they are equal.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. All the characters in the story are troublemaker in their own way, and Wu Xie is a trouble magnet, but in the meantime, he has attracted two priceless close friends to himself. ^^


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