Chapter 37 Traveling Notes

I didn’t reply to the text since I didn’t know if it was a trap or if it would leave any evidence behind.

Besides, I didn’t really believe that we could talk.

The Cao Đài master turned out to be an old lady, who was a little fat. She came alone and was carrying a plastic bag.

This Cao Đài religion was very strange. The deity they worshipped was an illusory god named Cao Đài the Ancient Sage and Great Bodhisattva Mahasattva. Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, Laozi, Avalokiteśvara, Li Bai, Guan Yu, Jiang Ziya, Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo, William Shakespeare, Winston Churchill, Georges Clemenceau, Sun Yat-sen, and many others were all objects of their worship.(1)

Not only was the information about Cao Đài very complicated, but their system could also be considered very complete. Basically, everything that could be consecrated in the world was included in their teachings, which made it extremely comprehensive.

The old lady came back from the kindergarten and showed me some pictures she had taken. Although the kindergarten had been emptied, I noticed that there was a niche under one of the trees, where a scaled Buddha statue had been enshrined.

“The dean is a believer.” The old lady told me that the dean had been taken away by the police for investigation. Apparently, he had a high status in this system.

I looked at the kindergarten in the photos and began imagining what that female teacher encountered during her last moments. “The dean confessed,” the old lady continued. “He killed the female teacher. He said that the scaled Buddha told him to do it.”

There was something in the old lady’s eyes, which was different from the eyes of the old Vietnamese women I usually saw. As I continued smoking, the old lady looked at my cigarette and shook her head.

“Do you have any suggestions for dealing with this matter?” I asked her politely.

“Go back,” the old lady said. “If you forget about this matter, it won’t continue.”

“What do you mean? Will that thing actually leave me alone?”

“If you leave it alone, it will leave you alone,” the old lady said. “That’s how this thing operates. The more aggressive you are, the more aggressive it will be. If you aren’t aggressive, it won’t be aggressive.”

I thought back on the whole incident and began to wonder when I had the mentality of “I want to destroy this thing”.

In fact, the idea probably came into being when I was worried about Agui and thought that this was just a simple matter we could quickly handle.

“How are the children?”

“They’re slowly recovering. I performed a ritual at the place where they’re staying. They’ll be fine.”

I asked her about various possibilities of dealing with this matter, but the old lady kept shaking her head, “Go back. Go back and don’t ask about this matter again. It’s not something you can handle.”

The old lady obviously didn’t want to get deeply involved in this matter and thought that it could still end smoothly as far as the present situation was concerned.

But I didn’t give up and asked her some other questions, such as where the ancient temple was now, how to get there, and whether this kind of thing was common in the local area.

I had seen the photos of that ancient temple, which looked like it was hundreds of years old. The main structure was located in a grotto deep in the mountains, with a shack built outside. But there were piles of sacrificial offerings everywhere outside, all of which were rotten.

It was also the first time I saw that female teacher’s personal information. Ah, such a pity.

The old lady took the money we offered and then left. The money was mainly to cover the cost of her cleaning up the situation at the kindergarten, but she wasn’t aware that what I actually valued was the information we got from her.

I had experienced this kind of helpless situation many times before, so I knew that there was no greater pain in life than this. But when I looked through the photos, I found that this incident had some flaws.

One of the photos of the kindergarten had been taken in a corridor with a courtyard on one side and several classrooms on the other.

At the end of the corridor, it was pitch black. Since the photo had been taken on a cell phone, it could be enlarged to take a closer look at the details. Although the pixel resolution of the old lady’s cell phone wasn’t particularly good, it was enough for me to see a vague outline in the dark when I enlarged the photo.

It was a window.

Now, if there was a weird thing reflected in the window, then it would be fine, but as it turned out, there was actually a young man reflected in the window. The reason I knew this was because the image itself and the way the person was holding the phone indicated that they definitely weren’t an old person.

With the photo being taken at this angle, the photographer would clearly be reflected in the window. This showed that the old lady didn’t go to kindergarten, and someone else had taken the photo instead.

If the old lady didn’t go, then that meant that she either came to swindle us out of our money, or she was the type to do something in a very perfunctory manner. She probably asked her grandson to go in and take some photos to send them to me and then lied to us, saying that she performed a ritual. If that were the case, then her performance just now was almost on the level of a professional con artist.

But con artists usually held a lot of contempt for those they were deceiving.

Plus, there was another contradiction here: if she was a con artist, then she would definitely keep the con going, but she sincerely advised me to leave this place.

In other words, she didn’t want to continue conning me, which didn’t fit in line with my perception of swindlers.

I glanced at Fatty and showed him what I had found. Fatty reacted very quickly, all those years of tacit understanding helping him reach the same conclusion as me almost immediately, “Fuck, someone set us up?”

“This cult is now developing in Guangxi. By using psychotropic drugs, people are led into the so-called underworld. Since we discovered this matter, they killed the master,” I said. “This cult has killed many people, and it seems to be a common practice for them. Moreover, to convince the villagers of the evil god’s abilities, they make it a typical event.”

“But the master found Little Brother unusual, which—”

“I don’t think he noticed it; he’s just a huckster.(2) Someone in his family must really be the one in charge,” I explained. “That person may have some skills, or maybe the master became alert when he noticed that Little Brother wasn’t affected by the herbs in the food. It’s also possible that he noticed something else.”

“Then after this person killed the master, they contacted someone here in Vietnam and put on this show?” Fatty asked. “But why?”

“To cover up a careless mistake.” After saying this, I pondered over the matter for a while. “No, we can’t think of these people as normal. I feel like the master really believed in this thing, so he’s not an accomplice. Let’s think of it in a different light. What if the master didn’t know that there were herbs in the food? If he always firmly believed that he could guide others to the underworld, then it can be inferred that he actually took some of those mind-controlling herbs himself, which led to his own abnormal behavior. When we showed him the lab report, his faith collapsed. His hate-filled eyes at that time may not have been aimed at us, but at those who lied to him.”


“Money. That man must have contributed a lot of money, so after he escaped the detention center, he had an argument with the real person in charge. What would that person do?”

“Kill him!”

“I’m not so sure about that,” I replied. “Let’s lower the difficulty a bit. If the person in charge is his wife, she would tell him to try again, so the master would perform Guan Lou Yin by himself. But this time, the person in charge gave him a stronger dose of medicine to deliberately silence him. Or, maybe there was an accident and the master somehow died, so the person hung his body in front of Agui’s house to make others think that he committed suicide.”

Even though it was a bit complicated, it still fit in line with this world’s logic.

“Here’s another detail to think about: when the master was hung up, he wasn’t actually dead but in a deep coma. So, after he died, he lost control of his bodily functions and all the excrement and urine came out. Agui’s ducks must have come out and eaten the poisonous excrement and urine and also got poisoned.” I continued my deduction, “The reason why the person in charge did this was because the master had been cheated out of a lot of money, so there was a good chance he would take the initiative to reveal a lot of things.”

“Ok, but now we’re here in Vietnam. Why would they get a Vietnamese kindergarten involved?”

I looked at the female teacher’s photo and said to Fatty, “Don’t you think this girl kind of looks like the master?”

<Chapter 36><Table of Contents><Chapter 38>



TN Notes:

(1) Confucius (551-479 BC) was Chinese thinker and social philosopher. Buddha was a wandering ascetic and religious teacher who lived in South Asia during the 6th or 5th century BC and founded Buddhism. Jesus (c. 4 BC – AD 30 or 33) was a 1st-century Jewish preacher and religious leader and major figure in Christianity.  Laozi (c. 500 BC) was a Chinese philosopher and the founder of Taoism. Avalokiteśvara is the Bodhisattva of Compassion or Goddess of Mercy. Li Bai (701-762) was a famous Tang Dynasty poet. Guan Yu (-219) was a general of Shu and blood-brother of Liu Bei in “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”, a fearsome fighter famous for virtue and loyalty, and posthumously worshipped and identified with the guardian Bodhisattva Sangharama. Jiang Ziya (c. 1100 BC, dates of birth and death unknown) was a partly mythical sage advisor to King Wen of Zhou and purported author of “Six Secret Strategic Teachings”, one of the Seven Military Classics of ancient China. Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was a British mathematician and physicist. Victor Hugo (1802-1885) was a French Romantic writer and politician.  William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an English poet and playwright. Winston Churchill (1874-1965) was a UK politician and served as prime minister from 1940-1945 and 1951-1955. Georges Clemenceau (1841-1292) was a French statesman who served as Prime Minister of France from 1906-1909 and 1917-1920. He was a key figure of the Independent Radicals and opposed colonization. Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925) was a Chinese statesman, physician, and political philosopher, who served as the first provisional president of the Republic of China and the first leader of the Kuomintang.  

(2) The characters are “神棍” and can be literally translated as “god stick” or “spirit stick”. It’s a term that essentially amounts to a scam artist who focuses on religion or folk beliefs to target people.


Pic added 1/13/2023 (fan translation courtesy of me)


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