After a little analysis, I figured it was unlikely that Xiao Hua would hide here. Although this pagoda was quite big, I couldn’t see the inside clearly.
Unless, of course, he had been attacked after he recorded that video for me.
I shined my flashlight on the corpse and looked at Brother Gan Shan carefully. He only showed a bit of curiosity, not aggression, which meant that he at least didn’t think this thing was dangerous.
But Brother Gan Shan wasn’t an astute dog—at least, not as astute as I had hoped—so I didn’t really trust his instincts.
After hesitating for a few seconds, I began to carefully approach the pagoda until I was standing in front of it. Not only was the age of the ivory indescribable, but it was enough to prove that the air here was almost still. For thousands of years, the air here had not been replaced with much fresh air, so the ivory had not completely aged into powder.
There were a bunch of extremely exquisite patterns on the ivory, which had traces of rubbings on them. Xiao Hua must have taken samples of them, which meant that there should be pictures of the rubbings on his phone.
I let the flashlight shine through the ivory in order to see the covered face inside.
In a place like this, there must be something wrong with a thing that had its face covered. Faces were a kind of totem, the top totem of the human body, so if the corpse deteriorated and turned into some ferocious thing, that would definitely be reflected on its face. In other words, the people must have felt that the change in this corpse’s appearance was dangerous because they had suffered from this kind of corpse before.
Without much hesitation, I paid my respects, pulled out my dagger, and pulled the cloth-like thing away from its face.
That thing was still relatively well-preserved. Those of us who worked in this industry knew that such a situation was an extreme coincidence, and this cloth must not be from the same era as the ivory. This alchemist’s body must have come from a time around the late Zhou Dynasty to the Spring and Autumn Period.
Textiles from the Neolithic Age couldn’t have been so well-preserved.
As soon as the corpse’s face was exposed, I froze for a moment. I thought that I would see a sinister face—after all, I had seen many sinister faces along the way so I was wondering how sinister this one could be—but what I didn’t expect to see was that this corpse didn’t have a face at all.
This corpse’s face had been erased and replaced by a strange thing.
I thought it was a mask at first, but after taking a closer look, I found that this ancient corpse’s face had been cut off completely, and there were actually two doors on its face.
These two doors were a kind of small, palm-sized tomb door that was made of clam shells.
I paused. I had never seen anything like this before.
Why did I say that the doors were a tomb door? Because I was too familiar with the patterns on them. This was a kind of tomb door that was very common in stone tombs built in the mountains during the late Zhou Dynasty to the Warring States Period. Although the doors were made of clam shells, there were still carvings of dragons on them.
I looked back at Brother Gan Shan and saw that he was looking at me as well, as if he was waiting for a reward.
“What’s this?” I asked him.
“Woof woof,” Brother Gan Shan answered me. Even the tone of his voice was the same as mine, as if he were imitating me.
I looked at the tomb door on the corpse’s face and suddenly realized what it was.
This was a one-person burial, which was a very special thing I heard Jin Wantang mention once when we were shooting the breeze. What Jin Wantang was talking about at that time wasn’t an ancient corpse, however, but a bronze figurine. He said that the face of that figurine had been cut off, and a tomb door had been installed in its place. When you opened the tomb door and looked inside, you could see pavilions and kiosks where all kinds of immortals lived. And further along the torso and meridians was a Penglai fairyland,(1) where everything was miniaturized and made of lacquerware.
Jin Wantang asserted at the time that this thing must have a prototype. The ancients must have seen living people being made like this and eventually imitated it in bronze.
The so-called “one-person burial” consisted of hollowing out a complete corpse, which actually turned the human body into a tomb. After a person reached an extreme state of inner cultivation, their body became their own tomb, and the core of their corpse would shrink into a golden pill, which would be hidden in the abdomen. Their skin and flesh would still be there, but it would slowly shrink in on itself. This was considered a sign that they were becoming immortal. Some people would make pavilions and kiosks in the corpse, cut off its face, and then turn it into a tomb door to be used as a kind of cultivating tool.
It was said that alchemists could shrink themselves when they reached a certain stage of cultivation, enter their predecessors’ corpses, and study the changes the meridians underwent so as to be more diligent in their cultivation.
I carefully put my hand in and opened the doors, which were exquisitely made. There were natural stones inside, so I pushed them away with a branch, and then put Xiao Hua’s phone in and took a picture.
When I looked at the photo, I found that the inside of the corpse was full of small pavilions made of clam shells, and there was a road leading from the tomb door on the face to deeper inside the body. There were even steps.
The clam shells’ nacre could reflect light, so although many of them were dry and cracked due to age, when I took the picture with the flash on, it still looked like a crystal palace formed by pearls.
This thing was so strange.
As I was carefully examining the photo, I noticed that Brother Gan Shan kept trying to climb up and push me, as if he was encouraging me to go into this tomb door.
I looked at him in confusion. I was familiar with his movements, so I knew that he was indeed telling me to go inside. I glanced back at the tomb door while thinking to myself, this is totally crazy. Did Xiao Hua and Poker-Face really go through this fucking door?
<Chapter 42><Table of Contents><Chapter 44>
(1) Penglai is one of three fabled islands in Eastern sea, abode of immortals (i.e., fairyland). More info here.
6 thoughts on “Chapter 43 Face Door”
That… was really, really not what I was expecting under the cloth o_0
(He keeps bringing up the Zhou Dynasty, so sounds like that correlates with King Mu of Zhou’s trip to Tamutuo.)
I’m… pretty sure that dog is actually a demon.
Thank you for the new chapter!
I’m not sure about brother Gang Shan. He’s making me nervous
Thank you for the chapter!
What. The. Actual. Hell. is happening. I am so confused at this point. Since Xiao Hua told him to leave the forest and not go into it, I’m assuming everything happening now is a hallucination and he shouldn’t have followed the dog??
Thank you for the chapter! Even if it has left me extra baffled 😱
I’m just under the impression the author is drunk writing all of these chapters hahaha. I’m waiting for the “oh no, I messed up. Ignore everything that happened. We’re going to start fresh here, so just try to imagine on your own how we got to this point”
If that happens I will FLIP (and also a part of me will just sadly accept it 😂😞)
I wondering who injured the dog and why it hasn’t come forward yet. Thank you for the chapters.