The tunnel actually wasn’t that far from the boat. There was a big pit that had been blown out of the seabed, at the bottom of which was the tunnel. When I saw it, I knew that it had definitely been made by Uncle Three. We searched around the tunnel first but didn’t see any signs of collapse. It appeared that Uncle Three’s skills were as good as ever.
I also saw several stone anchors which looked very similar to the ones that Uncle Three had described, but I wasn’t sure if they were actually the same ones or not.
On the seabed, there were still traces of the markings that Uncle Three had made to indicate the layout of the tomb. As Bald Zhang and I carefully memorized it, I found that the location of the tunnel seemed to lead to one of the ear chambers. The layer of bricks in that place should be relatively thin.
We searched for about five minutes but it seemed that there was no need to look any further. Fatty waved his hand, silently asking if we should go in or not. A Ning glanced at her diving watch and nodded.
Our current equipment was incomparably lighter than the equipment from twenty years ago. We checked it all one last time and then repeated the agreed-upon gestures at the entrance of the tunnel to ensure that there wouldn’t be any problems. Once that was done, Fatty took the lead and slipped into the tunnel. The rest of us turned on our flashlights and followed, diving about five or six meters in one go.
The tunnel had been dug in a very irregular manner—sometimes it was wide and sometimes it was narrow. I looked around at the tunnel walls as I swam, but the more I looked, the more confused I became. Why did it seem like this tunnel hadn’t been dug by humans? If Uncle Three had dug it, he would’ve done it in a neat and orderly manner with a shovel but the marks I was seeing on the walls were messy and chaotic, as if an animal had made this tunnel.
We swam hard for more than twenty meters until the light from the tunnel entrance could no longer reach us. But at this time, the direction of the tunnel suddenly changed and became vertical. I couldn’t help feeling a little surprised—he hadn’t reached the tomb yet so why would he suddenly change the tunnel’s direction?
I was annoyed at the fact that I couldn’t speak or express my doubts to the others. We took a quick break at the entrance to this vertical tunnel. Fatty gestured at us to be careful and then swam down by himself first. As I watched his light get further and further away until it became a small dot, I couldn’t help but wonder why it was so deep.
Then I saw him wave his flashlight below, indicating that it was safe for us to follow. We immediately dove down one by one. I looked at the depth gauge on my diving watch and saw that we were already more than ten meters below the surface. I had never dived so deep before and didn’t know if my body could handle it or not.
A large space had been dug out below, where we immediately saw the tomb’s ancient wall. There was a big hole in it, which had me feeling even more confused when I saw it. The hole’s shape was very irregular and didn’t look anything like the careful brick-by-brick dismantling method grave robbers normally used. Some of the bricks were even cracked. Fatty looked at me and I looked at him before we both spit out a few bubbles at the same time. He pointed at the broken bricks and made a few monkey-like gestures. I knew what he was trying to say—this hole may have been dug by sea monkeys and wasn’t actually a grave robbers’ tunnel.
I nodded in agreement and then pointed to the pneumatic speargun on his back. He took it off, switched the safety off, and then swam into the hole.
This was the second time in my life I had entered an ancient tomb. Although I was a little excited, I still felt uneasy when I thought of my last experience. Moreover, we were at the bottom of the sea, where the water resistance made it difficult to move easily. If we stumbled across something dangerous, we wouldn’t be able to escape as quickly as we could on land.
The tomb passage was much bigger than I thought it would be. I turned up the brightness on my flashlight and looked around as I followed Fatty’s butt. Our lights were so bright that they instantly illuminated the whole passage. I looked at the tomb walls and saw those human face relief sculptures that Uncle Three had mentioned before. But in addition to that, some strange animals had been engraved on their foreheads in very thin, exquisite lines. As I continued swimming and looking around, I felt more and more confused—most of these animals were tomb guardian beasts(1) but they didn’t have any eyes carved on them and they looked a bit strange.
At this time, I suddenly saw a face with three snake-eyebrow copper fish carved onto its forehead. I involuntarily tensed up before quickly pulling Fatty to a stop. Then I went over to study the relief sculpture.
Fatty was in such a hurry to get inside the tomb that he didn’t even realize that I had found something. He turned and looked around, but when he didn’t see anything that would be worth stopping for, he impatiently motioned for me to keep going. I gestured at him to wait and then leaned over and took a closer look. There were three snake-eyebrow copper fish connected end to end, forming a ring, and each shape was different. I could see that two of them looked like the ones in my bag but the third one had three eyes. I had never seen anything like this before so I didn’t know what it meant. I could also see that the human face the fish were carved on was different from the others. It was a face with obvious feminine features, but it looked a bit disfigured because so many things were attached to it. Just looking at it was enough to make me feel uncomfortable.
I wanted to keep studying it carefully, but at this time, A Ning began pushing me from behind and I had no choice but to continue swimming forward. Fortunately, the engravings reappeared at regular intervals so I could look at the face a few more times. I didn’t notice anything else after looking at them closely, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.
I looked and looked but only noticed the problem when I saw the fifth relief sculpture’s face. I remembered the first face had its eyes closed, the second seemed to have its eyes opened a little, and the third and fourth ones had their eyes opened wider and wider. Now the fifth face’s eyes were almost wide open.
I had a bad feeling and immediately grabbed Fatty, motioning for him to stop. Then I took out my underwater drawing board and wrote on it: “The faces’ eyes on the tomb wall are gradually opening. I think something’s wrong!” After writing this, I pointed to the tomb wall.
Fatty touched the face, shook his head, and wrote: “I didn’t notice. They’re just some stone carvings. They’re not hollow. You think too much.”
I shook my head firmly and motioned for him to lift up the speargun. When he saw how serious my expression was, he had no other choice but to comply. Not long after we continued swimming, I saw the same relief sculpture appear in front of me. Fatty was a little scared by what I had written earlier so he stopped and pointed his flashlight at it. The stone face’s eyes were fully open and staring straight ahead with a dull look to them. Fatty swept his flashlight back and forth but there weren’t any changes. He mustered up his courage, swam over, and touched it before waving his hand at me to indicate that nothing was wrong.
I swam over to take a look and saw that it was a solid piece of stone with nothing special about it. When I stuck my fingers into its two eyes and nothing happened, I couldn’t help shaking my head at my foolishness. It seemed that this was just a gimmick the designer of the tomb had created to scare any would-be grave robbers. There wasn’t any special meaning to it at all. In the end, I just wound up scaring myself and losing face. Fatty patted me on the shoulder before motioning for me to stop thinking about it and hurry up.
As we continued swimming forward, I remembered what Uncle Three had told me about getting sucked into a pool of water in the tomb after triggering some kind of trap. But these tomb walls all looked the same so how could we possibly find the exact stone he had pushed at that time?
My mind was spinning fast. I knew that we couldn’t keep swimming forward blindly like this. I didn’t know where this tomb passage led to, but it was also possible that it was a closed loop. If we got lost inside, we would definitely be screwed. I figured that if Uncle Three had been able to see the last person in their group at a glance, then that meant that they had been in a long passage. Even though we had made several turns just now, we had only traveled through two passages. It shouldn’t be very difficult to find it but it would take some time.
While I was lost in my thoughts, Fatty suddenly came to an abrupt stop. I didn’t have time to slow down and ended up running into his butt. Thinking that something had happened up front, I tensed up and then went to take a look. When I got closer, I saw that the tomb passage had come to an end and there was a stone slab blocking our path.
The stone was bare, with no text or relief sculptures carved on it. I ran my hands over it for a long time but couldn’t find any sort of mechanism. As I was scratching my head in thought, A Ning wrote a question to me: “How can there be a dead end?”
I wrote back: “There must be some hidden mechanism in the stones nearby. Let’s look around and see if any of the tomb walls are loose.”
They all nodded. Fatty began tapping the walls on both sides while carefully examining the faces that had been carved on them. I tried hard to recall all the clues Chen Wen-Jin had mentioned in her notebook and even slid my knife into every gap along the edges of the bricks but nothing happened. The stone slab remained motionless, still blocking our path.
Feeling a little depressed, I looked back to see how Fatty was doing and found him floating there in a daze. I tapped him on the shoulder and wrote: “Did you find anything?”
He had a strange expression on his face as he looked at me and asked: “Do sea monkeys have hair?”
I couldn’t help but laugh. I didn’t know why he was suddenly asking this, but I really hadn’t been paying attention to whether the sea monkey had hair or not. As far as I could remember, it seemed to be bald and covered in scales.
I told him this and then asked why he was asking such a question. He pointed to a crack in the wall. I looked at where he was pointing and immediately saw a few strands of black hair floating in the gap between the stone slab and the tomb passage.
I was stunned. How was this possible? Was someone leaning against the other side of the stone slab?
Fatty was very daring and stretched his hand out to pull it, but the hair suddenly recoiled and then shrank back into the gap. Fatty looked at me and wrote, “There’s a ghost behind this slab.”
<Chapter 45><Table of Contents><Chapter 47>
(1) Also called “zhenmushou” (墓镇兽). They’re usually depicted as grotesque creatures and serve as burial objects to protect the tombs of aristocrats and high officials. They’re usually placed at the entrance to the main tomb chambers, together with other ceramic figures, to drive away malevolent forces. Pic of one here.
I tried to get this out last night but my internet keeps going out (╥_╥) I even bought a new router and everything. Looks like I have to try buying a new modem as well. I’ll see if I can get the next chapter out today but it’ll be up to the internet gods lol.
5 thoughts on “Chapter 46 Hair”
No problem! You’ve given us plenty to think about with this enhanced translation! 😘
Sorry you are having internet troubles though!
Sorry about the internet problem. Maybe it is network’s problem. I hope it fixes quickly without the need to get a new modem.
Wow, you are so fast with your translation! I took a break when I saw that part 2 was about halfway finished and now I come back a week or so later and there are so many new chapters! Thank you so much for your efforts.
I was on a roll but then NPSS started updating the Heihua story daily so that slowed me down 😅
thank you for the chapter 🙏🏼