Chapter 73 Flaking

“Tail? Where did you see a tail? Why didn’t I notice it just now?” Thinking he was messing with me, I said to him, “Don’t make fun of me.”

“Isn’t that what this is?” Fatty pointed to it with a solemn expression on his face. “What, are your eyes so godlike that you can’t see something as small as this protrusion?”

I looked to where Fatty was pointing and saw that there really was a protrusion on the corpse’s tail bone. It was a dark color and appeared to be about three inches long and as thick as two fingers. It looked as dry as the body itself, almost like a hardened cow’s tail that had curved upward.

I was a little puzzled. I didn’t recall seeing this thing when we were moving the corpse just now so did that mean it had grown within the past few minutes?

But after thinking about it for a while, I still didn’t have a clue. I was so nervous just now that I couldn’t remember clearly whether I had seen it or not, but I suddenly felt a chill run up my spine—I had a vague premonition that something bad was about to happen.

I immediately reminded myself that now wasn’t the time to freak out. Plus, the corpse itself was so dry and withered that I couldn’t even be sure it was a tail. “Don’t jump to conclusions too early,” I said to Fatty. “How can a human grow a tail? It’s probably just his dick. Why don’t you go ahead and take a closer look?”

“Fuck you,” Fatty gave a hearty laugh. “Can a dick grow out of your ass? Besides, if he’s dead, why is it so…so…”

Knowing what he wanted to say, I immediately interrupted him, “Ok, ok. That’s enough. Stop worrying about what it is. In any case, it’s not like there will be anything left after we blow him up. If you continue studying it, someone else will come here to study us in a few years.”

My words reminded Fatty of our current predicament and he immediately stopped examining the strange protrusion and got to work.

I helped him turn the corpse upside down and then tied it to the pillar with the rope I had originally used to climb up here. There was no way to calculate how violent the explosion would be, but I remembered that when I was listening to “The Three Heroes and Five Gallants”(1), it was mentioned that there were explosives in the form of mahjong tiles that were able to blow through ten layers of diamond rock. Logically speaking, the mechanism in this corpse shouldn’t be all that different.

After frantically tying the body to the pillar, I tugged hard on our makeshift rope and found that while the knots weren’t very tight, they should hold long enough for our purposes.

I didn’t want to stay up there any longer so I checked everything one more time to ensure that things were in order and then got ready to go down.

I couldn’t help feeling nervous at the thought that the time to set off the explosion was fast approaching—whether this plan worked or not would all depend on one throw. Right now, there was nothing left to do but pray for God’s blessing. Everything else could wait until we got out of this tomb. I didn’t dare ask for the impossible, just save my life at the very least.

As I was lost in thought, Fatty suddenly grabbed me and said, “Wait a minute. I feel like something’s missing.”

Having already double-checked everything just now, I immediately became confused when he said this. “What’s missing? Isn’t everything there?”

Fatty told me not to go down yet and then turned his head and said to the dried corpse, “Tailed ancestor, whether you’re a monkey or a human, you’ve already died and your mortal flesh is no longer of any use to you. Although it’s a bit much for us to use it as an explosives package, we’re being forced to because of the current situation. You’re a wise and generous person so please don’t take offense to our actions. In a few moments, you’ll evaporate like steam in a sauna and be far from worldly affairs and free from all prohibitions.” After saying all that, he gave a symbolic bow to the golden body.

I immediately became angry and started pulling him down by his underwear, “Shit, you’re still in the mood to mess around even at a time like this?!”

He slid down beside me on the pillar and said, “You don’t understand! This thing looks evil so it’s hard to guarantee that it won’t bring us bad luck in the future. Besides, he was sitting there all fine and dandy until we decided to use him as an explosives package. We’re the ones in the wrong here so we have to say this to at least keep up appearances.”

I swore as I continued climbing, “Give me a break! Did you do that when you moved the twelve-handed corpse out of the coffin earlier? Why haven’t I seen you kowtow to others? He’s just got a long tail. What’s with all the fuss?”

This was exactly how the conflict between the northern and southern schools of grave robbing came into being. One might say it was all a difference in ideology. Fatty was displeased with my attitude and gave an indignant huff before turning away and ignoring me.

When we finally made it back down to the ground, we saw that Poker-Face had put A Ning on his back and was motioning for us to come to the corner of the room. We moved the other bronze mirrors in front of us to act as shields in case the bomb was too powerful. That way, we could avoid any accidental injuries in case rubble was sent flying from the force of the explosion. Once that was done, everything was finally ready. All we had left to do was wait for the right time to come, at which point we would rely on Poker-Face’s precise skills to throw one of the mirror legs at the corpse and detonate the mechanism in its stomach. He had almost killed Fatty when he threw his blade at the Seven Star Lu Palace so this shouldn’t be a problem for him. In any case, it was useless to try and think of other methods at this time. As I started praying, I focused my attention on my watch.

The ebb and flow of seawater had a fixed pattern: high tide occurred twice a day, twelve hours apart. Generally, high tide could last for more than one hour before the tide would begin to ebb, and low tide occurred twice a day in between the two high tides. It was during this time that the sea level was the lowest, and sometimes even the seabed would be exposed.

But the seabed here wouldn’t be so shallow; otherwise, there would have been more ships stranded here than there were now. I figured our situation would be very ideal if the seawater dropped to two meters or below.

I didn’t know how long low tide would last—as far as I could remember, it should be a very short time—but we needed to wait for the water to rush in through the breach above, which would take some time. This meant that once everything got started, we couldn’t delay for even a minute.

Although I said this, it was still an optimistic estimate. After all, other unexpected things might occur, which would require us to adapt based on the situation. As I continued thinking about the plan I had come up with, I became more and more uncertain. If the situation didn’t develop as I was expecting and the whole ceiling collapsed, then I would really feel apologetic towards the others. With these thoughts spinning around in my head, I couldn’t help but feel nervous. Fatty, seeing my expression and seeming to realize that I was feeling a little insecure, asked anxiously, “You two, tell me the truth. Are you guys not certain this will work?”

I didn’t know how to respond so I just gave a perfunctory answer, “It’s hard to tell how things will go based on our current situation. In any case, it’s too late to back out now. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Fatty sighed, “I swear, the more you act like that, the more panicked I feel. You said to wait but what if that thing doesn’t explode? Do you guys have any other backup plans? If you do, hurry up and tell me so that I can put my mind at ease.”

“There is a way,” I said to him. “It’s what you said before—go back the same way we came and see if the ear chamber where we entered this tomb has reappeared. Otherwise, our only other alternative is to stay here and wait for a third group of people to come in and save us.”

“And how long would we have to wait?” Fatty asked. “What should we do if they don’t come in? Wait a lifetime? Then this tomb will become a tomb of the living dead beneath Xisha’s seas, and the Mojin Xiaowei will become extinct.”

“I mean, although this place is strange and dangerous and we won’t be able to leave for a while, it’s not like we’ll die right away,” I said placatingly. “As long as we have time, we can think about our plans in the long run and figure out a way. You see, there’s plenty of space here so there’s enough air to last for several days. I figure there might even be enough to last a week if we sleep more, don’t move around as much, and try to conserve as much air as possible.”

Fatty didn’t buy it and said, “There might be enough air but you have to eat, too. It’s not like we’re on a mountain or in a forest. There’s absolutely nothing here, not even the northwest wind to drink.(2) I’d rather suffocate than starve to death.”

I laughed and said, “Humans can always come up with a solution. Look at this fat body of yours. You won’t die of hunger within a week, but if you get really hungry, there’s always the sea monkey. If you’re still hungry after eating it, then there’s the Forbidden Woman below. We can catch her and gut her.”

Fatty cheered up when he heard this—he was the type of guy who would get excited as long as he had someone to argue with—and then patted me on the shoulder, “Excellent, what you said is in line with my style. To make a revolution, one must be fearless. It seems that you’ve really grown a lot this time.”

I was quite surprised as well when I realized what I had just said, and I couldn’t help but wonder why I was starting to spout such nonsense. It seemed that Fatty had influenced me without me even noticing. But no, I couldn’t be like Fatty. I refused to keep arguing and focused my attention on my watch instead. There were still five minutes left but I told Poker-Face to get ready anyways. After all, if we wanted to detonate the bomb at this time, it shouldn’t make much of a difference. Plus, I didn’t want us to wait too long and miss our opportunity—the corpse wasn’t tied tightly to the pillar so if it fell off and exploded below, things definitely wouldn’t be good.

Poker-Face weighed the mirror leg in his hand and nodded in agreement, but at this time, Fatty suddenly shouted, “What the fuck? Where’s the mummy?” Upon hearing this, we suddenly looked up and found that the body was no longer on the pillar. My first thought was that we had tied it too loosely and it had fallen down, but when I glanced down at the ground, I didn’t see anything there at all. I couldn’t help but curse—we had really encountered a strange situation!

It never even crossed my mind that something like this would happen at this juncture. I had tried to calm down earlier by telling myself to be prepared to improvise no matter what happened, but I honestly didn’t expect the need to arise so soon.

“Look, look! Didn’t I tell you? That fucking tailed creature is definitely evil!” Fatty shouted. “Hurry up and find out where it is!”

We all rushed over and saw that the thing we were looking for was clinging to the ceiling behind the pillar, its fingernails digging deep into the relief sculpture. Its hard, blackened skin was all cracked and flaking off piece by piece, revealing some kind of bloody layer underneath. But from this distance, I couldn’t see what it was clearly.

I could also see that the rope was still tied around its waist. Since it was made from several strips of our elastic diving suits, it was still tightly secured to its body so it couldn’t break free, but judging from the current situation, it wasn’t going to last long.

Fatty looked at it and shouted, “Quick! Detonate it before he escapes!!”

Fatty needn’t have bothered—before the words had even left his mouth, Poker-Face was already moving. I heard the sound of something splitting the air and saw a bluish-green light fly past and hit the mummy straight in the stomach.

<Chapter 72><Table of Contents><Chapter 74>


TN Notes:

(1) “Three Heroes and Five Gallants” (aka “Sanxia Wuyi”) was an 1879 Chinese novel based on storyteller Shi Yukun‘s oral performances. Set in 11th-century Song dynasty, the story detailed the rise of legendary judge Bao Zheng to high office, and how a group of youxia (knights-errant or heros)—each with exceptional martial talent and selfless heroism—helped him fight crimes, oppression, corruption and rebellion. It was one of the first novels to merge the gong’an (court-case fiction) and the wuxia (chivalric fiction) genres. Book info here. 2016 drama info here.

(2) The original meaning of the phrase “drinking the Northwest wind” is to live with just breathing the air. You don’t eat or drink anything else. It’s a state in Tao. Nowadays, it usually means having nothing to eat because of poverty.


SUPER sorry guys. I know we’re almost to the end (so damn close) but apparently this was THE week for everyone to go on vacation so I’ve been picking up everyone’s slack on like 4 different projects at work (God help me). On the bright side, this is like a whole new never-before-seen chapter since the licensed version only kept like 1 page for whatever reason.

5 thoughts on “Chapter 73 Flaking

  1. I was thinking the same thing! The licensed version was barely a few paragraphs compared to this!


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