“Are you still there?” Black Glasses asked. He didn’t approach the strange area immediately, instead choosing to stand on the outer edge and observe.
There was no reply in the headset. He put on his sunglasses, took out his cell phone, and looked at it—there was no signal here.
He took off his sunglasses again and sighed. The musty smell in the air was making him feel sick. Not only was the whole room rotting, but countless large cockroaches were crawling around in the dark and on the ceiling. Since the foundations of Japanese buildings were very suitable places for them to live, it wasn’t uncommon for cockroaches here to be as large as ten centimeters.
There was a time in Japan’s history when these things were once called “golden bugs”. It essentially meant that the bug only appeared in wealthy homes, but this notion completely missed the point.
He had been wanting to find an abnormal place, but the environment here was too abnormal now. He could also understand why no one had ever discovered that this ancient coffin was placed in the innermost part of this room—the room was too big and there wasn’t enough light. There were only a few servants here, so it was almost impossible to search all the rooms thoroughly. Many rooms were probably searched just by opening the door and giving a cursory glance inside. But this coffin was placed so far into the room that you wouldn’t even be able to find it with a flashlight.
After thinking it over for a while, he lifted his foot and stepped among the pile of porcelain statues. Based on how they were all closely surrounding the coffin, they almost looked like guards. If these things had been placed here by that huckster, then he must have discovered this place long ago and taken some protective measures. It seemed that these Orthodox Church figurines were used to seal the coffin.
In fact, it was essentially the same method as Taoists using talismans. The Orthodox Church used sacred objects while Taoists used talismans. Both were methods that used good wishes and desires to subjugate evil spirits.
I hope these things are effective, Black Glasses thought to himself. At this time, there was only one theory in his mind—lands that incubate corpses would breed monstrosities. The earth qi was different in different places so the state of the corpse would also be different, which meant that there would be various monstrosities.
When he walked to the front of the ancient coffin, he could tell at a glance that it came from an ancient tomb in China and it had never been opened.
This ancient coffin must have been transported from China to Japan intact—probably smuggled in by freighter—and then transported here from the port and brought in unnoticed.
It wouldn’t be too difficult to do, especially because there really weren’t enough people here. Plus, he hadn’t seen a lot of surveillance equipment along the way.
The copper horns and outer layer of wood of this Ming Dynasty coffin were badly rotted, but the inside was probably still intact. On the coffin lid, there was a decorative design of carved flowers, along with a monkey and a phoenix. The phoenix was in the front while the monkey was in the back, but both were pushing a person up towards the sky.
But the strange thing about the pattern was that the phoenix was flying but the monkey couldn’t so the person’s posture looked funny. It made the whole composition look very lively.
“Crossing the phoenix and riding the monkey?”(1) Black Glasses found it a little odd. It was obviously very strange to have such a pattern here since it was related to the birth date characters of the corpse in the coffin. Such characters were normally used in fortune-telling, but the person in the coffin was dead so why bother engraving the characters on the coffin?
The carvings on the coffin were basic outlines so there wasn’t anything more to see. Black Glasses took out all the cigarettes he had on him, lit them, and stood them up on the coffin one by one.
But when he got to the seventeenth one, it wouldn’t stand up.
No matter how many cigarettes he tried, as long as he put the seventeenth one on the coffin lid, it ended up falling off.
He sat in front of the coffin and watched the smoke float up into the air. The Qi family’s technique stated that the coffin could only be opened after the twenty-fourth stick was lit. Whenever he had lit eight cigarettes, he would go over the Qimen eight-calculation method in his head. He had to repeat the procedures three times in total, and if all of the results turned out to be the same, then he could make an accurate prediction.
This was all part of the process of breaking a major event. With the first round, you would ask God. With the second round, you would ask yourself. But many people would feel their hearts waver before they reached the third round and would give up.
In fact, there were many things that one should try hard to avoid making predictions about if at all possible. It was best not to open the coffin at all if the situation didn’t require it. This was the most important principle he learned from the old Qi family. They were the one family out of all the Nine Gates who cherished life the most. All of their unique skills were centered around giving up and escaping with their lives.
That was why, among the Nine Gates, the Qi family was the one that sought 120% insurance and safety whenever they did things.
So, a cigarette had to be placed on the coffin every single time. In those days, incense sticks were inserted into the soil beside the coffin, but after some practice, Black Glasses knew that cigarettes could also be placed on the coffin lid.
But the seventeenth one wouldn’t stand up. This was the ancestors telling him to walk away; he shouldn’t stay here any longer.
But Black Glasses wasn’t afraid of any evil things, especially at night. He sat up and decided to ask his ancestors a question.
Just now, a strange feeling had appeared in his heart. This feeling was called “Xinyi”(2), and it was a premonition that something had gone wrong.
During this whole process, there was something wrong with his understanding.
This was a very simple matter. A rich Russian family was attacked by someone using feng shui. The rich Russian asked them to save her family’s lives. They found Qi Qiu’s body and Qi Qiu’s answer pointed to the East, which happened to be where the rich Russian’s youngest son was located.
As a result, they thought that the youngest son was the next target and came to protect him.
But just now, Black Glasses suddenly had a change of heart. He felt that there was something wrong with this process of events.
Black Glasses was quiet for a moment and then asked the first question that popped into his head.
“Have our judgments about things been wrong?”
Just after asking this question, a cockroach suddenly fell from the ceiling and landed on the copper corner of the coffin in front of him.
Black Glasses paused and then realized that it wasn’t a cockroach but a praying mantis.
An orchid mantis, to be exact. It was very beautiful.(3)
His judgment had been wrong.
The mystery of Xinyi came from Meihua Yishu.(4) In essence, it focused on the belief that the world was relaying all information to you without reservation, but you needed to have a heart that could believe and observe the hints.
He looked around and suddenly realized that it might not be cockroaches crawling around but orchid mantises.
Black Glasses felt the air getting colder and asked the next question.
“Did I not predict the severity of this matter correctly? How serious is it?”
As soon as the words left his mouth, all the cigarettes on the coffin fell down.
The fallen cigarettes tumbled to the ground and all rolled towards the baseboard by the wall.
He froze for a moment.
Maybe this was a hint, or maybe the coffin had shaken a little bit just now.
<Chapter 17><Table of Contents><Chapter 19>
(1) Per Tiffany: It has something to do with the Heavenly Stems. It’s said that people born in specific years will have a very successful life. They will be so successful that it will be easy for them to tame the phoenix and the monkey.
(2) The author said “Yixin” here which basically means “a change of heart” but further down he switches it to “Xinyi” which is a high-level prediction method for Zhou Yi (“The Book of Changes”stuff) predictors to master the internal response when breaking hexagrams. I thought the pinyin sounded better in this context and we’re in feng shui hell right now so I went with Xinyi to be consistent throughout the chapter. Here’s some info on Baidu.
(3) Never thought I’d say this about a bug but it’s so pretty. Info here.
(4) Meihua Yishu=Plum Blossom Method. It’s a subsystem of Yi Jing Divination. It’s a more methodical and rational form of divination precisely because the method is rooted on the sound principles of the five elements and the original Gua attributes, which forms the basis of Chinese Metaphysics and Feng Shui.
Sorry in advance guys, I’m trying my best with these feng shui terms but it’s so far over my head that I know I’ve screwed some things up. If you would prefer to just wait til Tiffany catches up and imparts her wisdom, I totally understand. (Update 4/8/22: Tiffany’s catching up, yay!)
3 thoughts on “Chapter 18”
Nope! You’ve done beautifully! Those mantises are so much better than roaches! Hope there will be lots more action from this point on so there won’t be so much feng shui stuff to wade through.
Don’t worry. You’re doing perfectly fine. Thank you so much for your efforts
I’m relieved it’s a Mantis 😅
This is SO interesting!! I’m really loving how we’re getting to see Glasses’s thought process! The feng shui stuff all reads fine too (Honestly, it’s DMBJ, NPSS could be saying literally anything and I would still just nod and accept it 😂)