I said to him, “Who knows what you’ve got up your sleeve? If you want to say something, then say it. But don’t forget that we’re still in trouble now. If it’s irrelevant, then just forget about it.”
“Don’t worry,” Fatty said to me, “what I’m about to say has a lot to do with our present situation. Weren’t you listening to Little Brother just now? This corridor leading to the heavenly door is uphill, and the large room with the model of the heavenly palace is very tall, at least a dozen meters or so. Think about how deep this ancient tomb is. I figure the ceiling of that room is the top of the entire tomb so if we want to get out of here, then we should use our brains to get there!”
As soon as I heard this, my mind lit up and I quickly did some calculations. When we first swam down the tomb passage to enter this tomb, I had looked at the water pressure gauge. At that time, we were already thirteen meters below the seabed. The bottom of the pool where we were now was ten meters below that, so added together, we should be somewhere between twenty and thirty meters below the seabed. So, the ceiling of the room with the model of the Heavenly Palace on the Clouds must be less than ten meters below the seabed. It was exactly as Fatty had said.
I couldn’t help but feel impressed. I had been so engrossed in the story that I didn’t really pay attention to these kinds of details but Fatty had. Although this guy seemed reckless, his mind was actually pretty sharp. It looked like I wouldn’t be able to hide anything from him in the future. Thinking of this, I said to them, “Fatty’s actually got a good point this time, but it doesn’t matter even if we know this information. We can’t climb those ten meters to the ceiling with our bare hands. And even if we somehow manage it, we don’t have any tools. It’s not like we can dig through those layers of bricks with our hands. I think we still need to find some decent metal burial objects first and then implement our plan to dig a tunnel as soon as possible. If we linger any longer, I’m afraid we’ll miss low tide.”
Having said that, I actually didn’t know what to do—as I moved through this ancient tomb, the only burial objects I saw were stone tools and porcelainware. There wasn’t a single piece of metal as far as I could tell. It was so unusual that I vaguely felt that maybe the tomb owner had specially arranged it this way. So, the only thing left to do now was to look for some tools in that room with the model. If they weren’t there, then we were really screwed.
Fatty laughed when he heard what I had to say, “I’ve already thought about it. Aren’t there gold-plated bronze mirrors in that big room? You’re also an antique dealer so you should know what these mirrors look like, right? They have solid, heavy legs that we can remove and use as hammers.”
The description just now sounded vaguely familiar, but it was only after I heard him mention it that I remembered that I had actually handled this kind of thing before. I just couldn’t remember what exactly it looked like. But when I saw how confident Fatty was and how he didn’t seem to be lying, I couldn’t help but calm down. “Ok,” I said to him, “then it’s settled. We need to hurry up and go before it’s too late. But after we get to that room, don’t touch anything. This place is full of traps and we still have long lives to live. It’s not worth it to stay here for a few things belonging to a dead man!”
Fatty listened and nodded, saying that he wouldn’t touch anything except for the bricks. I was afraid that he was still aiming for those night pearls so I repeated my warning not to touch anything several more times until he became annoyed. After that, I asked about the specific structure of the tomb again before telling them about any possible situations that might crop up and the necessary measures to be taken if they did. Then, the three of us found the heavenly door and walked straight into the narrow corridor. Fatty took the lead, I was in the middle, and Poker-Face brought up the rear.
I had already heard about this passage in Poker-Face’s narrative earlier, but going in myself was a completely different feeling. I didn’t notice it at first since it just felt like I was taking a nightly stroll down Shipi Lane in Xitang, Jiaxing(1)—although that was a little narrower—but after walking for a while, the lack of a visible entrance or exit had me starting to panic. I wasn’t afraid of the darkness since I was walking in the middle, but the passage around us was too quiet. Plus, we were all wearing flippers(2) so our footsteps made pitter-patter sounds that echoed strangely down the narrow corridor. It almost seemed like a monster was following us. Fatty was insensitive to such things and didn’t seem to feel nervous at all, but he did care about how narrow the passage was. He was so uncomfortable walking that he started complaining, “I don’t know who the fuck built this stone corridor but they clearly discriminate against fat people! How can such a corridor leading to the heavenly door be so shabby? If all paths to heaven are like this, then Maitreya Buddha(3) shouldn’t even bother going out.”
“Don’t say that,” I admonished him. “There must be a reason for this design. This is a shipwreck tomb and there’s a limit to how big a boat can be. I’m sure that in order to showcase his heavenly palace, he had to save space in other places. Besides, grave robbers have always been short and thin. Who would have thought that fat people would also do this?”
Fatty seemed quite pleased when he heard this and said, “That’s right! From ancient times to the present, this Fat Master is number one in terms of physique when it comes to the mojin school. Being fat doesn’t affect my skills in any way at all. This is called—ah!”
Fatty was midsentence when he suddenly came to an abrupt stop, unable to continue walking. As it turned out, his shoulders were sandwiched so tightly between the stone walls on both sides that he had gotten stuck. I burst out laughing, “That’s what you get for boasting wildly like that. It came back to bite you.”
Fatty tried to move forward but couldn’t get through at all and said in bewilderment, “Young Wu, don’t laugh. Something’s not right here. I was walking quite smoothly just now so why am I stuck?”
I looked around and said, “It seems that this stone corridor isn’t all the same width. Maybe it’s a little wider when you first come in but gradually gets narrower the further you go. Take a few steps back and see if you can get out.”
Fatty twisted his big butt and moved a few steps back but was still stuck. “No, no, that’s not the reason,” he said. “This corridor is obviously narrower than it was before. I think there’s something wrong with these walls. Young Wu, I’m afraid things aren’t looking too good.”
I had been walking the whole time immersed in my own thoughts so I hadn’t been paying attention to the walls. But after hearing him say this, I also felt that the walls seemed to be getting a little narrower. I put one hand on each wall and suddenly felt something strange. “Not good!” I cried out. “These walls seem to be converging!”
Poker-Face also touched the wall and nodded, “It looks like we have a problem but there’s no time to try and figure it out. We’ll have to go back and come up with another plan!”
As soon as I heard this, I thought to myself, this is no joke. If these two walls keep moving, we’ll be flattened into three pancakes. I immediately turned around and started running back the way we came. Fatty, seeing that we were running so fast, jerked his body until it was facing sideways and shouted, “Wait for me, wait for me! Don’t be so fucking selfish!”
I had never run so fast in my life. I was practically rolling and crawling as I used all of my strength to sprint down the corridor. When I finally reached the exit, the two walls had obviously converged a lot and even I had to turn my shoulders a bit just to get through. Fatty was in an even worse position and could only walk sideways like a crab. Poker-Face stretched out his hand to open the hidden door, but after hitting it twice, he suddenly cursed and turned to shout at me, “Someone’s jammed the door shaft from the outside!”
When Fatty heard this, his face turned green and he let out a string of curses, “This shitty heavenly door! We’re screwed! Hurry up and think of something or we’ll be meeting our maker!”
I was in a panic. Watching the stone walls slowly converge bit by bit was worse than fucking death but what could we do in such a short amount of time? In this situation, unless we happened to meet a Daluo Immortal(4), there was nothing we could do. “What else can we do?” I said to them. “Let’s run back. If we run fast, we might still have a chance!”
Poker-Face grabbed me and shook his head before saying, “It will take us at least ten minutes to reach the end of the corridor. That’s too long. Let’s climb up and take a look!” After saying that, he put his feet on both sides of the wall and started climbing up. I tilted my head back and saw that it was also dark above us and there were no signs that it was wider. I didn’t see the point in climbing up, but it was obviously better than just waiting here to die so I called out to Fatty and we started climbing.
The corridor was so narrow now that climbing up was almost as easy as walking and we managed to climb more than ten meters in just a few minutes. Fatty couldn’t resist saying, “It’s a good thing Little Brother is so quick-witted. We can commit suicide by jumping down before we’re crushed into pancakes! At least this way, we can avoid suffering.”
I couldn’t tell whether Fatty was being sarcastic or not, but the thought of being crushed into a meat patty was making me feel sick. That wasn’t a fun way to die, especially if you could hear the sound of your skull being crushed. I’d honestly rather fall to my death than be squished to death between two walls. At this time, Poker-Face shouted from above us, “Don’t think about it for now, we still have time. Do you guys remember that grave robbers’ tunnel under the coffin?”
“Of course I remember,” Fatty said. “But what does that have to do with us?” As soon as the words left his mouth, he suddenly gasped, “Ah, I see. You’re telling us to learn from that person’s example and never give up until the last minute, right?”
“No,” Poker-Face said. “There’s not a grave robber in the world who would dig tunnels in the walls of an underground tomb if he could just walk through the tomb himself. There’s only one reason why he would—he encountered some kind of trouble and had to dig a hole in the wall in order to escape.”
I understood as soon as I heard this and I couldn’t help but feel a spark of hope ignite in my heart, “So you’re saying that the person who made this tunnel was forced to because he encountered the same situation as us?”
I had to admire Poker-Face’s quick thinking. Now I knew why he had wanted to climb up—the floor and two walls were made of granite so there wasn’t a way to make a hole unless you had explosives. The only possible place left was the one that couldn’t be seen—the ceiling.
While we were talking, we had already climbed to the top and could see that the ceiling was made up of a layer of blue bricks. I tapped on them and couldn’t help but feel overjoyed. As it turned out, our prediction was correct and it really was hollow. This kind of brick could be stacked together but couldn’t be chiseled so it would be easy to make a hole as long as you had the proper tools. But when I looked around, I found that it was dark and I couldn’t see the grave robbers’ tunnel at all.
“Well shit, Little Brother,” Fatty said. “This corridor is so long, what if he dug the tunnel at the other end?”
“Anyone who encounters this kind of situation would first run to the exit,” Poker-Face said. “But when they find that that door is jammed, they’ll use their last resort—digging a grave robbers’ tunnel. This means that the tunnel should be near here. If they dug it on the other end, then we have no other choice but to admit defeat.”
His words were so convincing that Fatty and I immediately cheered up and nodded before we began searching along both sides of the walls. At this time, Poker-Face and I were still fine—there was still a fist-sized space between us and the walls—but Fatty had almost reached his limit. He had to suck in his stomach in order to move in the gap, and I could see that this was putting a lot of pressure on him. I tried to comfort him by saying that fat was easily compressed so there shouldn’t be a problem as long as the walls didn’t reach his bones, but his face turned green after hearing this and he gestured at me to stop talking nonsense.
We started from the end of the corridor and climbed our way in for more than ten meters but still didn’t find anything. In fact, climbing sideways consumed more energy than climbing straight up. My legs were beginning to feel weak and I almost slipped down several times. I knew that if the two walls converged a little more, my knees would no longer be able to bend, which would make it more difficult to move. Moreover, the area in front was pitch black and I had no idea where the opening to the grave robbers’ tunnel was (if it was even there like Poker-Face thought it would be). But if it turned out to be on the other end of the corridor, then I honestly didn’t know how to deal with such a death.
If I had known this earlier, maybe it would’ve been better to be bitten to death by the sea monkey. Most people talked about how scary ghosts and zombies were, but at this time, I would rather face a dozen zombies than stay here and be squashed to death by two walls.
At this time, Poker-Face in front of me suddenly shined his flashlight towards me, signaling for us to come over. Fatty and I thought he had finally found it and squeezed our way over to him, feeling overjoyed. But when we looked up, we were surprised to find a row of bloody words written on the blue bricks above our heads: “Wu Sanxing harmed me. I was forced into a corner and died an unjust death. God is my witness—Xie Lianhuan.”
As I read this, I felt my heart lurch and thought to myself, this isn’t a wuxia novel. “What does this mean?” I asked. “Who is this person? Why are they saying Uncle Three hurt them?”
“Xie Lianhuan was also a member of the archaeological team,” Poker-Face said. “He was the one who died on the coral reef with the snake-eyebrow copper fish in his hand.”
I made a small noise of understanding as my mind descended into chaos again. Poker-Face gave me a push and said, “Since he left a message here, that means he didn’t get trapped here. The grave robbers’ tunnel must be nearby. There’s no time to think about what these words mean right now. Let’s move quickly.”
After climbing a few more steps, I suddenly remembered why the name Xie Lianhuan sounded so familiar—it seemed my grandfather had mentioned it before.
<Chapter 63><Table of Contents><Chapter 65>
(1) Shipi Lane (Chinese: 石皮弄; lit. ‘Stone Skin Lane’) is the most distinctive open-air lane in Xitang Water Town. It got its name for the fact that it’s flanked by two residential buildings. It was built in late Ming and early Qing dynasties (1368–1911), with 68-metre (223 ft) length and 1-metre (3 ft 3 in) width, and the narrowest point at the entrance is only 0.8-metre (2 ft 7 in) wide. Info here and info on Xitang Water Town here.
(2) Raw definitely said flippers. How the hell did Wu Xie run away from the sea monkey in flippers? Have you tried running in flippers? It’s nigh impossible.
(3) According to Buddhist tradition, Maitreya is a bodhisattva who is prophesied to appear on Earth, achieve complete enlightenment, and teach the pure dharma. Maitreya (the future Buddha), is presently a bodhisattva residing in the Tushita heaven, who will descend to Earth to preach anew the dharma when the teachings of Gautama Buddha (the present Buddha) have completely decayed. Info here. Tiffany says the Maitreya Buddha in Chinese culture generally looks like the pic below so this is the image Fatty was referring to:
(4) Daluo Immortals are like the top-tier immortals in the cultivation realms in ancient myths and legends. Remember, immortals in this sense are people with extraordinary abilities who are omniscient, omnipotent, transcendent, and immortal. Info on Baidu.
While I’ve been slacking b/c of real-life work, Tiffany has finally caught up on checking. Yay! So that means the Heihua Russian adventure is now in its own pdf/epub format and removed from the New Years Special pdf/epub, which has also been updated. You know where to find them~~ I know you all are eager for NPSS’s new stuff but I’m going to try and focus on getting this book done first. We’re 11 long chapters away and I just want it to be over lol.
6 thoughts on “Chapter 64 Bloody Inscription”
You’re doing great!
That Shipi Lane passage was so narrow, how do they get through if someone comes from the opposite side.
I think they weren’t flipper, they probably wore flip flop. (Especially in the tomb) 😄
Thank you so much to both you and Tiffany! Lots of love to you ❤️
I want new stuff but I want this to be over so I can go on with next book. So I really appreciate your efforts to finish this. Thank you again and again
>>but I’m going to try and focus on getting this book done first. We’re 11 long chapters away and I just want it to be over lol.
Since I am trying to read everything in order, I am really grateful to you for concentrating on this book first. Seriously, thank you so much!
Thank you so much for all the hard work, we are nearing the finish line on this one. Awesome possum!! 🥰
Fatty may be a greedy SOB, but no one could ever accuse of him not having a mind that works.
Tiffany, my thanks to you also, amazing!! 🙏🏼🙌