After Poker-Face said that, he ignored my questions and rushed down the steps. When I saw that there seemed to be a glimmer of hope in finding out the truth of what happened here, I naturally refused to let it go and chased after him.
The fog at the bottom of the pool was constantly rising and soon engulfed me after only ten steps. It was so dense, in fact, that the visibility dropped sharply. I could still see Fatty’s back at first, but after taking a few more steps, all I could see in front of me was the moving speck of light coming from his flashlight. Moreover, Fatty was so fearless that he immediately rushed off, moving three steps to my every one step. He left me so far behind that I hadn’t even gone down a level before I couldn’t even see the dot of light from his flashlight anymore.
I started to panic a little bit. I was surrounded by a misty cloud and could only see less than half a meter in front, behind, and to the right of me. This feeling of being able to see but not knowing what was there was even worse than being in absolute darkness.
The distance between the surface of the pool and the bottom apparently wasn’t very high, because after walking for the length of time it would take to smoke a cigarette, I heard Fatty shout from below, “I’ve reached the bottom!”
This was accompanied by the splashing sound of feet wading through water. I hurried down the last few steps and suddenly found that my feet were cold and I was standing in water. As it turned out, not all of the water in the bottom of the pool had drained away. There was still a shallow pool that was about calf-deep. It wasn’t surprising that I couldn’t see anything clearly when I looked down from above.
I observed the area and found that it was almost the epicenter of the fog. The visibility here was even lower than it was before. Keeping my hand on the wall, I took a few steps and then heard Fatty say from somewhere to my left, “Pay attention to the water at your feet. There are drainage holes everywhere so be sure not to step in them.”
I felt around with my foot and found that, sure enough, there were bowl-sized holes in front and behind me. It seemed we’d have to be extremely careful when walking around this place. At this time, a flashlight beam appeared in the fog, quickly followed by Fatty who told me to follow him.
I nodded and move to follow him through the water. After taking a few steps, I suddenly saw several black silhouettes appear in front of me. I didn’t know what they were, but Fatty had obviously seen them already so he wasn’t startled at all. He told me to stop dawdling and continued walking toward them. When I walked over with him, I saw that there were four stone monkeys crouched in prayer on some stone pedestals. They were about half a person’s height and facing the four cardinal directions. I didn’t know what they were praying for, but I knew that they were called “Sea-Calming Monkeys”. They were usually placed at the bottom of ponds to ward off evil spirits so it was only natural that they would be here.
Feeling calmer now, I took a few steps deeper into the fog and saw that a huge granite stele standing more than two meters high had been erected right in the middle of those four stone monkeys. Poker-Face had his flashlight pointed at it and was carefully examining it.
I went over to him and asked, “So, do you remember anything now that you’ve seen this?”
He pointed to the stone at the base of the stele. I took a closer look and saw that a few lines of small text had been engraved on it. Fatty couldn’t understand what it meant so I explained it to him, “These words just tell us that the tomb owner built a heavenly palace and the door leading to it is inside this stele. If it’s destined to be, then this door will open for you and you can ascend to heaven once you walk through it.”
Fatty looked at the stele and asked, “Where’s the damn door?”
“These words are a bit like a Buddhist text,” I said to him. “Everyone has a different understanding of their meaning. The main idea isn’t that there’s a literal door in this stele but that there might be some hidden information on it that will lead to the door.”
“Shit, is there really any ‘information’ on this stele?” Fatty asked me. “I don’t see a single word!”
I looked up and saw that the front of the stele was bare and polished to an unusually high sheen, almost like a piece of jade. But no matter how much I looked, I didn’t see a single word on it. I was also feeling puzzled as I said to him, “It says here that it will open only if it’s destined to be. There’s no connection between you and the heavenly palace so of course it’s not destined to be.”
Fatty spat, leaned down, and started groping around in the water. “It doesn’t matter if my fate isn’t tied to the heavenly palace,” he muttered, “but it has to be tied to grave goods.”
I turned to look at Poker-Face and found that his complexion didn’t look too good. I called him a few times but he completely ignored me and just continued staring at the stele, as if he were looking for something. I found it a little odd—it was just a bare piece of stone so why was he looking at it so attentively? At this time, Fatty suddenly clapped his hands and said, “It looks like a lot of people have been here before.” I turned my head and saw that he had fished out a pair of diving goggles from the water.
I walked over to him and said, “When my Uncle Three left this tomb before, he didn’t have any diving equipment with him. These goggles might be his. See if there’s an oxygen tank.”
The words had barely left my mouth when Fatty suddenly lifted a flattened oxygen tank out of the water. He checked to see if it would work but it was totally useless. He threw it back into the water and said, “There’s a lot of junk down here. I was so happy at the thought of there being something valuable that I rushed down, but it turns out that I was happy for nothing. There’s no telling when the water will start rising again so I think we should hurry and go back up. If it does start rising, it’ll be too late to escape even if we can fly.”
I looked at the water level and had to agree with him. I went back over to the stele to grab Poker-Face but found that he was no longer there. I called his name a few times, feeling my heart clench when I didn’t get a response.
This guy is just like a ghost with how often he appears and disappears so suddenly, I thought to myself. Don’t tell me he disappeared again.
When I thought of this, I hurriedly called Fatty to help me look around area. Although the fog was thick, this place really wasn’t that big so we finally found him after circling around twice. He was sitting in the corner by the wall, staring straight ahead. When I saw the look in his eyes, I immediately felt that something was wrong. That calm and indifferent look in his eyes had been replaced with a look that was reminiscent of a dying man on the brink of despair. Even his whole body looked similar to that of a dead person.
I quickly asked him what happened. He looked up at me and said in a voice that was barely discernible, “I remember what happened twenty years ago—”
<Chapter 58><Table of Contents><Chapter 60>
Heads up, next chapter is SUPER long so it’ll take me a few days (especially with the current Heihua updates).
3 thoughts on “Chapter 59 Bottom of the Pool”
Poor Xiao Ge, Wu Xie just has to hug him. From now on, all Wu Xie’s thoughts are about following Xiao Ge and worrying about him.
Thank you for translating these stories.
Thank you so much! We can wait!
Poor Xiao Ge!
thank you for the chapter 🙏🏼