I checked the instruments by the helm and found that they all looked normal. “The boat seems to be working fine,” I said to him, “and it doesn’t look like something happened. Do you think they got caught by the Coast Guard and everyone was arrested?”
Fatty shook his head in disagreement and said “That’s not right. If everyone was arrested, the boat would definitely have to be towed back as well. What’s the point of leaving it here? This definitely has nothing to do with the Coast Guard. But this area is chaotic and it looks like the boat’s been turned upside down. Let’s go to the cargo hold and take a look. If everything is gone, then it means they ran into pirates.”
I knew about pirates—the captain had told me a lot about them when I first got on the boat—but I always felt that the stories couldn’t be true. That was why I was a little surprised to hear Fatty say this. “While this place is out at sea, it’s not that far from land. Can pirates really run rampant like this?” I asked him.
Fatty laughed at my naivety, “Ah, so young. Do you really think the People’s Liberation Army is omnipotent? There are times when the tiger dozes off. Let me tell you. In this sea, there are Vietnamese, Japanese, and Malaysians. While it’s not obvious on the surface, there’s actually a dark undercurrent here. If only you knew how many drugs have passed through these waters and how much smuggling and robbing takes place on a daily occurrence. Plus, there are pirate ships full of armed men. It’s not uncommon for an unmanned boat to appear here.”
As soon as we walked into the cargo hold, we could smell the scent of tea leaves. With Fatty walking in front and me behind, we both started to look around—all of the equipment was still in the exact same spot it had been in before we went into the water. There was even a cup of tea sitting on one of the beds. I touched it and said, “This is so fucking weird. It’s still warm.”
Fatty smiled helplessly and said, “Strange things happen every day, especially all the things that have happened today. Maybe the whole crew was taken by ghosts?”
“They only took a few sips of this tea but still put the lid on,” I said. “That shows that they left in a hurry but weren’t panicked. Under what circumstances would you leave in a hurry but not in a panic?”
Fatty shrugged and said he didn’t know. I thought about it for a while but couldn’t imagine what might have happened here. As I continued to think about it, we walked back to the helm. Fatty picked up the transceiver’s microphone and loudly called for help several times but no one responded. At this time, I saw a radio sitting off to the side. I turned it on and immediately heard a typhoon warning being issued from a Taiwanese fishing radio station.
When we were climbing aboard earlier, we could already feel the wind getting stronger but it was dusk so we couldn’t see too far away. I couldn’t understand some of the terms in the typhoon warning, but the last sentence was very clear: “We ask that any ships still at sea take refuge at the nearest port.” It was emphasized several times.
Fatty and I both looked at each other with dark expressions on our faces. Originally, we wouldn’t have to worry about anything at this time since the captain would have naturally figured out a way to escape. But now, everyone on the boat was already gone. It seemed that God really was messing with us.
Fatty looked at his watch and said, “It looks like we can’t just stay here and wait. With this little dilapidated boat, we’ll be sent flying sky-high in a matter of minutes. I’ll take the boat further out first. If we encounter the typhoon, we’ll just ride the waves as best we can. But if we stay here with all the reefs, a wave will definitely smash us against them. You go and raise the anchor.”
With that said, he lit a cigarette and started fiddling with a few of the instruments. His movements made it seem like he knew what he was doing, which I found a little surprising. “Do you even fucking know how to sail?” I asked him. “This is no joke. The four of us finally managed to get out but we’ll all be fish food if you smash us against the reefs.”
Fatty smiled at me and said that he had innate skills—not only could he steer a boat but he could also fly a plane. All he needed to do was fiddle with the instruments a little bit.
I didn’t know whether he was serious or not so I was still very worried. Fatty skillfully started the engine and told me that when he took part in the Down to the Countryside Movement(1), he was the group leader of a fishing team so he still knew how to do some basic things. Besides, when he first got on the boat, he had seen how they operated it and had a general understanding of what all these high-tech things were. He didn’t think there would be any problems driving the boat back as long as we didn’t encounter any big storms.
I found out later that his so-called “group leader of a fishing team” was really just him steering a bamboo raft in a mountain stream while the others fished, but at that time, his sworn assurances had me convinced that he wasn’t messing with me. As a result, I actually believed what he said and ran to hoist the anchor.
After the boat started moving, Fatty told me to leave him alone, saying that he needed to concentrate since we were still in the reef area. I saw the sweat covering his forehead and the stern look on his face and knew that he was serious so I walked back to the deck.
Poker-Face was rubbing A Ning’s hands to try and increase her blood circulation. She looked a little better than when we first came on board but her face was still pale and her breathing was short and erratic. Poker-Face nodded when I asked how she was doing so I assumed it wasn’t anything serious.
I took out some dry rations and handed them out to everyone to eat. Although we weren’t out of danger yet, I started to relax now that I was finally back in a familiar place after going through so many dangerous experiences. Then I began to feel sleepy, so I changed my clothes, wrapped myself in a blanket, and dozed off outside the wheelhouse.
I originally planned to sleep for a few hours and then see if Fatty wanted me to take over, but I didn’t live up to expectations. When I finally woke up, it was already the next day but I didn’t know whether it was morning or afternoon.
I looked out at the sea passing by. The waves were very big and I could see a few seabirds scattered in the air, all flying very low. The sky was overcast and the clouds were pressed tightly together—it looked like it was about to rain. There were no high-rise buildings blocking the view so the dark clouds stretched across the horizon, filling my vision. When faced with this kind of scene, people would usually feel particularly small and insignificant. It was a kind of oppressive feeling that was incomparable to what you would feel in the city.
I glanced at the helm and saw that Fatty was sleeping off to one side, his snores sounding like thunder. Poker-Face was standing at the helm, steering the boat. Even though I just woke up and didn’t think that this scene was quite right, I didn’t care enough to do anything about it and just turned over and fell back asleep. I didn’t get up again until noon when Fatty woke me up.
“Comrade Wu Xie, Mr. Naïve, it’s time to eat. Pick up your chopsticks.”
I opened my eyes and saw that Fatty was cooking fish head hot pot, which he was stirring with chopsticks. The broth had turned white, and the temperature was just right. I took a closer look and saw that the fish was very familiar—it seemed to be the captain’s prized grouper. I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself. Fatty had coveted this fish for a long time but the captain refused to eat it, saying that he wanted to sell it to a restaurant. Who would have expected that it couldn’t escape Fatty’s malignant scheming in the end?
Fatty busied himself with chopping scallions, putting in peppers, and rubbing seasoning on the fish—it seemed that he was a professional at this as well. I smiled and said, “Alright, Fatty. It seems you really know your stuff. Where did you learn how to do all this?”
“During the Down to the Countryside Movement, I had no mother or wife so I had to do everything myself,” Fatty said. “At that time, I was hunting, fishing, and searching for honeycombs in the remote mountains. This isn’t anything fancy, just basic fish soup.”
I gave him a thumbs up, “Fat Brother—no, Fat Master, I seldom admire people but you’re fucking awesome. I definitely need to learn from you.”
He didn’t fall for my flattery and started scolding me instead, “Shit, stop trying to kiss my ass. Hurry up and eat if you want to. Otherwise, get out of here. I don’t need you spraying your saliva in our food!”
Of course, I wouldn’t give up such delicious food. I lowered my chopsticks into the bowl and immediately grabbed a piece of fish. In less than twenty minutes, the two of us managed to finish off that grouper, which weighed three catty. I ate so much that I felt a little sick.
Now that his stomach was full, Fatty went to replace Poker-Face at the helm. The boat had its own navigation system but we didn’t know how to use it. Otherwise, the boat could’ve been sailing on its own. Fatty, after having his fill of food and drink, held the ship’s wheel in one hand and took out the luminous night pearl he had taken from the tomb with his other hand. He started humming a little song as he stared straight at it, “In that bamboo cottage lives a good girl, radiant and dazzling like a luminous pearl.”(2)
After humming for a while, he finally noticed me sitting there and handed the pearl to me, “Since you’re just sitting there idle, help me estimate this thing’s value. How much do you think I can get for it?”
I took it and weighed it before saying, “It’s fake. This thing isn’t a luminous pearl.”
Fatty choked and just sat there staring at me so I hurriedly tried to comfort him, “Don’t freak out. Fakes are still valuable. This is a fish-eye stone.(3) Do you know what it is? It’s also rare but its value will depend on whether we can find a buyer for it or not. I knew they were fake as soon as I saw them in the tomb. Just think about it. How is it possible for Wang Zanghai to have so many luminous pearls on the ceiling of his tomb when the entire Chinese royal family was only able to collect about a dozen or so over the course of hundreds of years?”
Fatty felt much more at ease after hearing this but scolded me anyways, “Shit, can’t you just say it all at once instead of leaving me in suspense like that? Hurry up and give me an estimate. How much is this thing worth?”
I had honestly never handled this kind of thing before so I could only guess how much my own customers could pay for it. I named several prices but Fatty wasn’t satisfied with any of them, saying that it was a pearl he had obtained after risking his life. If there wasn’t a good price for it, he would rather leave it at home and use it as a desk lamp. I sighed and said, “Fine. I met a big buyer in Jinan last time so I’ll take it there later and see if they’re interested. It shouldn’t be a problem to exchange it for a villa. Don’t worry.”
“Then I’ll let you handle this,” Fatty said. “My villa is counting on you. Shit, now that I think about it, I should have held out for a few more minutes and knocked another one down. Then I would’ve been able to exchange it for a small plane and fly around like those rich Americans.”
I saw that his daydreaming was out of control now so I simply ignored him. He put the pearl in his pocket and asked me, “We didn’t find your Uncle Three this time so what are your plans? I doubt it’s over yet. I’m sure you’ve still got some problems to deal with.”
I was originally planning on going back and turning his house upside down to see what the hell he had been up to, but I couldn’t tell Fatty the truth so I just smiled helplessly and said, “What else can I do? I’ll just go back and continue working in my shop like usual. I’m definitely too scared to go down into a tomb again. The money might be good but not at the risk of my life. It’s just not worth it.”
Fatty laughed but didn’t say anything else.
A few hours later, we arrived at Yongxing Island. The whole island was preparing for a natural disaster and there were many fishing boats taking refuge. We packed our luggage and took advantage of the chaos to escape, leaving the boat far behind. Fatty put A Ning on his back and then carried her to the military hospital on the island. After that, we found a guest house to stay in. It was basically empty since fishermen usually stayed on their boats to ensure that nothing went wrong and there were few tourists during the typhoon season.
We stayed on the island until flights resumed, which was about seven days later. During this time, we discussed the undersea tomb more than once and came to a lot of conclusions.
First, we all agreed that this was Wang Zanghai’s tomb, but we weren’t sure whether that golden body on the stone platform was him or not since the mummy had obviously been tampered with. Although Wang Zanghai was weird, he wasn’t that crazy.
Second, the Heavenly Palace on the Clouds was on Changbai Mountain. As for who was buried there, it wasn’t clear. We could only infer that it was a Mongolian, probably a woman with a very special status.
Third, the snake-eyebrow copper fish and the hexagonal bells had appeared in both the Seven Star Lu Palace and the undersea tomb, which seemed to indicate that there may be some connection between these two objects. King Shang of Lu was a grave robber while Wang Zanghai was an engineer. The only thing they had in common was that they often had to dig up the soil. But whether they had both dug up these things from the same place was unknown.
The fourth conclusion was proposed by Poker-Face. He estimated that the structure of this tomb was a bit like that imperial tomb from the Warring States Period. He drew a rough sketch of the ancient tomb’s structure—including the route we had taken—and then pointed to several places which were sandwiched between the upper part (where we had escaped from) and the lower part of the tomb. There appeared to be several rooms there, one of which likely held a burial pit of exotic birds and rare animals. That was probably where those strange creatures had come from.
I broke out in a cold sweat after hearing this and asked him, “You mean to say that Wang Zanghai caught the drought demon and the Forbidden Woman and kept them as pets? Isn’t that too fucking amazing for him to pull off?”
Poker-Face nodded and said, “He’s not the first one. There are several Shang and Zhou imperial tombs that had things like this, as well as the first Qin emperor’s tomb.(4) It’s understandable that someone as famous as Wang Zanghai would want to follow this trend.”
In my spare time, I would take out my laptop and get on the internet to try and look up information on Wang Zanghai. But there was hardly any information on him so I only managed to learn that he had designed Macao and some other city with the same design.
Over the next few days, I was bored to death—the wind was so strong that we couldn’t go outside, and then the phone lines went down on the fourth day so I couldn’t even get on the internet. There was nothing else to do but play Big Two(5) with Fatty. Poker-Face wasn’t very interested in it so he just lay on the bed and looked at the ceiling all day. He seemed fine doing that all day so I didn’t bother him.
The white mold on Fatty’s back no longer bothered him and seemed to have miraculously gotten better. I suspected that it was because of my saliva—which was odd if I was really thinking about it—but I didn’t want to delve into these things and soon forgot about it. In fact, I should have been thinking that it was strange, but unfortunately, I was just focused on how happy I was that we had made it through such a life-or-death situation. I really deserved this fate.
Over the past few days, I tried to ask Poker-Face about his past but he didn’t seem to hear me at all. This man’s ability to play dumb may have been slightly better than A Ning’s acting in the tomb.
On the fifth day, the phone line was reconnected so I continued to surf the internet. At this time, I was thinking about Zhang Qiling’s past and suddenly had a flash of inspiration—since he was able to restore his memory, maybe the other people on his team were able to restore their memory as well? Thinking about it, I typed his name into the search bar and looked at all the results that came up. His name was too common so it was essentially useless but I still clicked on a few links anyways. Unfortunately, none of them had any useful information.
There was no way to find anything this way so I added Uncle Three’s name to the search bar. As soon as I clicked enter, only one result remained. Looking at the title, it appeared to be a missing persons ad.
This discovery was beyond my expectations. I suddenly found it a little hard to breathe as I moved the mouse over and clicked on the link. The page that popped up turned out to be the same group photo that was taken at the dock before they had left. Someone had scanned the photo and listed everyone’s names below. After carefully reading each one, I found that there was a sentence at the very bottom of the picture.
This sentence was only a few short words, but it threw my mind into complete and utter chaos.
“I have the fish.”
[End Volume 1]
<Chapter 74><Table of Contents><Vol. 2 Chapter 1>
(1) The Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside Movement (aka the Down to the Countryside Movement), was a policy instituted in the People’s Republic of China in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Chairman Mao Zedong declared certain privileged urban youth (I think mostly middle schoolers and high schoolers) would be sent to mountainous areas or farming villages to learn from the workers and farmers there. In total, approximately 17 million youth were sent to rural areas as a result of the movement. On October 1, 1980 the party essentially ended the movement.
(2) The lyrics are from the song, “Phoenix Bamboo in the Moonlight” by Yan Ni. Translated lyrics here. YouTube link to instrumentals here. Here’s Gong Yue’s version (with vocals).
(3) Fish-eye stones are officially called apophyllite. They have a tendency to flake apart when heated, due to water loss. They’re usually white or colorless but can also be blue, green, brown, yellow, pink, or violet. Info here.
(4) Qin Shi Huang, or Shi Huangdi, was the founder of the Qin dynasty, and the first emperor of a unified China. Rather than maintain the title of “king” borne by the previous Shang and Zhou rulers, he ruled as the First Emperor of the Qin dynasty from 221 to 210 BCE. Info on his tomb here.
(5) Big Two is a card game of Chinese origin. It’s similar to Crazy Eights. There are usually 2-4 players and the objective of the game is to be the first to play off all of one’s cards. Info here.
Hooray we’re finally done! Big shout-out to everyone for bearing with the slow(er) updates. I love how random my YouTube recommendations are after searching these songs NPSS mentions. I went from the soothing “Phoenix Bamboo in the Moonlight” song to this and then K-Rap lol. I have such eclectic tastes. Anyway, do you all want me to shift gears and focus on NPSS’s latest stuff (he’s got about 14 of those “What are they doing” chapters) or keep going to Volume 2? I assume the former but you never know…
18 thoughts on “Chapter 75 Conclusion”
I choose npss latest stuff… What are they doing same with travelling notes?
It looks like he stopped the “Traveling Notes” and started on the “What are they doing” stuff. Just mini extras involving a bunch of various characters like Wang Meng, Su Wan, Li Cu, Liu Sang, etc.
OMG why? I was so excited about Traveling Notes 😭😭😭
Oh my word. This chapter is so much more interesting than the licensed version. (What’s with all the cuts? I don’t understand that translator at all.)
Thank you so much for doing this!
(I vote for you working on Book 3, but if you want to do the shorter, later stuff, I entirely understand.)
Thanks for your work ❤️
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I also vote for continuing the second book, hehe. But like someone already said, it depends on you. Thanks for translating as always!
I was going to vote for the latest stuff, but your translations make so much more sense than the official ones, with that cliffhanger I’m kind of motivated to crack on with the official ones and see what else we missed! Thank you as always!
Doh, I meant crack on with the original books! The official translations need to get yeeted into the sun!
I can’t believe how much stuff the licenced version left out! Shame on the translator or whoever is responsible… The last episodes were so good!
Book 2 was the one that hooked me in this madness so I always loved it, but your translation elevated it to new levels of awesome. So thank you very very much 🥰
I was going to say please translate new stuff but now that I know it’s not about Traveling Notes I rather like you to translate volume 2
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Thank you so much!
Yay! Vol. 1 is complete! Thank you for your hard work ✨✨
I’m really grateful that I found your blog or I would die of curiosity 😅 (It’s my first time getting into Chinese novel or drama, so I’m clueless about its culture and language)
Honestly, I hope you will continue to translate Volume 2. The English license version isn’t bad, but I prefer your translation. I feel like it’s easy to understand for someone like me, and all the footnotes are helpful. Then again, I won’t force you into it, it’s important to do something you really want to do after all 🙂
Vol 2! Unless you need a break. I got a new job myself and time management is no longer the same. But I know I’ll enjoy anything you translate! 😘
Ohhh congratulations!!! I was getting worried after not hearing from you for a while but glad you were just busy 😊
Wow, the first vol is over. Thank you for the translation. I missed here so much.
The original translation had so many deleted parts that I felt like I had only read the summary of the story, and with your translation, it was as if I was reading the original story and I would still like to continue reading it. I appreciate any part of the story you translate. Thank you. 💞
thank you for the chapter 🙏🏼
book 2 done and checked off, time to go and read the official versions from Amazon before I come back for your brilliant translations that help me understand the mess that is the books..
Thank you so much for all your hard work! I enjoyed this last chapter a lot! Though I am really astonished that Wu Xie and Pangzi just finished off the food by themselves and didn‘t leave Xiaoge or Ah Ning any!
Thank you for the translation although I haven’t read the license version but I could already guess that the grammar they used are more complicated to understand so I prepare this one 👏👏👏😍😍😍