At this time, the whole underground palace was extremely dark. Looking up, Chen Pi Ah Si saw hundreds of pair of eyes staring down at him in the flashlight’s glow. The way the light hit the arhats’ pupils instantly made their expressions seem sinister, and the atmosphere of the whole underground palace suddenly became very strange.
Chen Pi Ah Si cursed the bald bastards a few more times in his heart, thinking that these monks must have done it on purpose. But he didn’t have time to worry about it right now. He focused on searching all the levels, but still couldn’t find a spot where a statue was missing.
At this time, he had a sudden flash of inspiration. Gradually realizing what the problem was, he moved his flashlight until it was pointing at the white-faced arhat statue with the cracked eyes.
This was the only statue that was obviously different from the others, so the problem should lie here.
It was possible that the reason why this arhat statue was so different from the others was because someone had pushed down one of the arhat statues from above and then replaced it with this white-faced arhat statue that was looking up towards the heavens.
But who the hell was that bored? Plus, it should have been absolutely impossible for someone outside of the profession to know where exactly he would enter from and to point the statue’s head at that spot.
Did that mean that he was the second person to enter this underground palace? Had someone already been here and put this thing here to tease those who came later?
As Chen Pi Ah Si’s flashlight continued to illuminate the white-faced arhat’s plump body, he weighed the eightfold treasure box in his hand. If he was indeed the second person to enter this palace, then why didn’t the first person take this thing away? Surely it was impossible for them to leave here empty-handed. They must have psyched themselves out, thinking that this was a trap set by those bald bastards to lead them astray.
With this thought in mind, Chen Pi Ah Si finally calmed down. He was quite old now, so after experiencing so many chaotic emotions in such a short amount of time, he had finally reached his limit. He coughed a few times and started to take a look around to see how to get back to the surface with the least amount of effort.
But at this time, something terrifying happened.
Just as his flashlight’s beam moved away from the arhat statue, Chen Pi Ah Si suddenly saw that pale face turn.
The flashlight moved too fast, so the scene disappeared quickly, but Chen Pi Ah Si had clearly seen it. He wasn’t the type of person who would doubt himself, so as soon as he realized what he saw, his brain seemed to short-circuit and his legs went weak. But just as quickly, he let out a roar to give himself courage, raised his hand, and threw out a bunch of iron pellets like a machine gun.
Relying on his memory just now, he sent out more than a dozen pellets in a row. The noise of them all bouncing around overhead made him think that the white-faced, monster-like arhat statue had jumped down. In a panic, he pulled out his turtle shell pistol(1) that he had long kept hidden.
He was really scared. After liberation, he didn’t dare take this gun out so it had never been used. But he did so now, even knowing that it would be useless in the face of this danger. He mostly took it out to give himself courage, because if you became too panicked, it was easy to be defeated.
Even if you robbed tombs for decades, the chances of encountering zombies were very slim. Even my grandfather would have found it difficult to cope with such a situation. Chen Pi Ah Si might have been a seasoned veteran in this business, but his main experience lay in matters of human life and death. As a result, he still panicked when encountering something he didn’t understand.
Looking around frantically, he suddenly noticed the unremarkable stone doorway on the other side of the underground palace. Since it’s impossible to climb up and go back through the tunnel I made, let’s just run!
He ducked through the low doorway and saw a stone chamber on the other side. He didn’t know what was originally in this stone chamber, but he could see that the hill-like wasps’ nest growing from the wall was actually quite large. After running a few steps, his feet got stuck in the wasps’ nest and he faceplanted. The flashlight flew out of his hand, but he didn’t bother looking for it and just picked up the treasure box and ran.
After passing through the stone chamber, he found himself in a normal passage that seemed to be the underground palace’s entrance. Without his flashlight, it was pitch black and he couldn’t see anything. He clenched his teeth and put his foot down hard, only to find that the ground had actually started to rise. He ran for more than a dozen steps before he slammed into something in the darkness. All he heard was the sound of impact, and then he found himself falling and hitting the ground with a roll.
When he stopped, he saw the light of a fire blazing nearby. He immediately stood up and looked around—he had actually burst through a broken wall. It seemed that the entrance to the pagoda’s underground palace was actually hidden behind a wall. But before he could recover from the shock, a few Miao villagers had already placed their knives against his neck and took the things from his hands.
Chen Pi Ah Si, having reached the limit of his physical strength, was unable to resist as the back of his knee was kicked and he fell to the ground. Looking up, he saw that the young Miao men he had tricked were surrounding him with torches, and the leader was looking at him with an angry expression on his face. It seemed that after they searched everywhere without finding anything, they realized that they had been tricked.
Chen Pi Ah Si was heavily gasping for breath, and although it wasn’t an act, he still exaggerated a bit and kept coughing in order to get the others to lower their guard. The Miao villagers asked him some questions, but he kept waving his hand, pretending that he was too short of breath to speak.
Seeing how exhausted he was, the Miao villagers looked at each other, not knowing what to do. Several of them were curious about where he came out of, so they lit a few more torches and stuck their heads in to take a look.
It had been a few minutes since Chen Pi Ah Si came out, but when he saw that the white-faced, monster-like arhat statue wasn’t chasing him, he couldn’t help but wonder if he had imagined it all. But at this time, his physical strength had recovered to a certain extent, so he decided to make a move—he quickly pulled out a handful of iron pellets, leaped up, and shot them out, instantly knocking all the torches to the ground.
Seeing the Miao villagers suddenly panic, Chen Pi Ah Si sneered. With his killing intent rising up, he pulled out his pistol with his other hand and prepared to kill them all. But at this time, he heard what sounded like the wind whistling in his ear, and then he felt a cold sensation on his hand. When he looked, he found that his trigger finger was gone.
Chen Pi Ah Si was terrified—he had never suffered such a loss before—but before he could react, he heard that whistling sound again. The last things he saw were the Miao leader’s calm eyes and the dancing Qilin tattoo on his body, because in the next second, his eyes were blinded by a knife. The Miao leader’s knife sliced through the middle of his left eye, cut through the bridge of his nose, and then sliced through his right eye, rendering both eyes useless in an instant.
It’s over, Chen Pi Ah Si lamented to himself. I’ve met an expert. Then he fell to the ground and passed out from the pain.
“The Miao villagers handed Chen Pi Ah Si over to the local joint defense force,” Lao Hai said. “One of his former comrades during the uprising was in charge of the defense force at that time, so Chen Pi Ah Si was saved. That’s the only reason why he escaped being executed by firing squad. Later, the treasure box was sent to a museum, and when the people there heard about it, they sent someone to check on it. I don’t know if anything came of it, but when the treasure box was opened, the innermost box didn’t contain a Buddhist relic. Instead, it contained this copper fish.” He tapped the newspaper. “It’s quite strange, but it was probably retribution. After Chen Pi Ah Si found out, he swore loudly, saying that he had been tricked by someone. He believed that the box may have been opened several generations ago, and the contents inside were taken at that time.”
As I was listening to Lao Hai’s story, I unknowingly drank another cup of wine. Feeling a little tipsy, I asked him, “What was his basis for this?”
Lao Hai ate a few snails and said, “I don’t know. Chen Pi Ah Si later became a monk and resided in a temple in Guangxi.(2) The only reason I know these things is because I asked some old contacts. This information wasn’t cheap, young man, so don’t forget about me if it happens to be useful in the future.”
I secretly cursed at him while asking why he came to the auction in Hangzhou this time.(3)
Lao Hai ate the last snail, smacked his lips, and said, “It was a mess back then, so no one knew where this fish ended up. But surprisingly enough, someone actually put it up for auction today. It’s common for me to attend auctions, and I’m well-known in the industry, so they sent me an invitation, along with a catalog of the auction items. Look, this fish is on the auction list. I saw that you’re also interested in this fish, so I got you an invitation. Regardless of whether it’s useful or not, it wouldn’t hurt to see who wants to buy this fish.”
As soon as I saw the starting price, I immediately laughed—only a psychopath would buy this thing for ten million yuan. And I had two more in my possession. If someone wanted to buy them, I’d have twenty million yuan. It seemed like this auction house was hyping it up too much, but maybe that was the only way for them to get others to believe that it was authentic.
Although Lao Hai’s news was good, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to know. With nothing else to say at the moment, we each lit a cigarette and became lost in our own thoughts. The waiter, seeing that we were planning on hanging around for a while, came up to collect the dishes. At this time, there was nothing left for me to do but politely ask how Lao Hai’s business was doing. He said that he looked forward to any new goods I brought since he always got to learn something new. I couldn’t really tell if he was sincere or not, but I told him that might not happen. I didn’t plan on going “into the field” again myself, and as a respected elder, it was probably better that he not get involved in this kind of thing lest we both get dragged down.
Once I finished my drink, I asked him for the invitation and then took him back to his hotel to rest. In the evening, Qin Haiting was clamoring for something to do. As a local, I couldn’t refuse, so I drove them around and bought them some snacks. But the weather was so cold that they went back to rest early.
I drove home, but I didn’t go upstairs—it suddenly felt like the space within those four walls was lonely and desolate. I had never felt this way before, so I found it really odd. Did going through all those experiences change me? It seemed a little ridiculous when I thought about it, so I drove straight to my Uncle Two’s teahouse for a late-night drink.
While I sat in the teahouse and drank my tea, I read my grandpa’s notes and thought about everything that had happened. But I still felt confused. The main problem was that these three fish weren’t from the same dynasty, and their geographical locations were so far apart. Leaving aside the issue of what they might have been used for, there weren’t even any clues in the places where they were discovered.
The ancients must have had some purpose for doing this; otherwise, the task would have been too much for ordinary people to handle. I thought it over again and again, and decided that the key here was this mysterious purpose I still couldn’t figure out. As long as I knew what the purpose was, more avenues would open up for me to investigate.
If only Grandpa were still alive, I sighed, or Uncle Three was here. At least then there would be someone to discuss this with. Now I’m all alone, tiring myself out thinking about these questions.
At this time, I suddenly smelled something burning. I looked down and saw that in the magazine I borrowed, there was a tourist map of China. As I was lost in thought just now, I had unconsciously used my cigarette to draw circles around the three places I was thinking of and ended up burning a hole in all three spots. By the time I realized what I had done, it was already too late. I quickly put out the cigarette and looked around, breathing a sigh of relief when I saw that the waiter hadn’t noticed my act of destruction.
Although Uncle Two was my close relative, he could be very unreasonable at times. If someone destroyed his things, he’d immediately become angry. That was especially true for the magazines here; every single one of them was a precious part of his personal collection. If he found out that I had damaged one, he probably wouldn’t talk to me for several years.
I returned the magazine to its original spot, pretending like nothing had happened. But as soon as I put it down, an old man picked it up and started flipping through it. I was worried that he would find out I had damaged it, so I didn’t stray too far and went to sit on the nearby sofa. When the old man reached the page I had just burnt, he looked at it and gave a thoughtful hum.
As soon as I heard it, I knew that the jig was up—he had noticed it. I was just about to run away when I suddenly heard him chuckle and say, “Now, who burned this feng shui array here? So shameless.”
<Chapter 44><Table of Contents><Chapter 46>
(1) According to this, turtle shell pistols (王八盒子) are the nickname of the Type 14 pistols that were captured from the Imperial Japanese Army during WWII.
(2) OMG you guys! Bet he was staying with Jiwei and learning her super secret art to see now that he’s blind
(3) It was totally called an antique appraisal meeting in chapter 41 but now it’s magically an auction.
I saw the light at the end of the Chen Pi tunnel and pushed through haha. HAPPY THIRD ANNIVERSARY EVERYONE!!!!! Woohoo! ☆*:.｡.o(≧▽≦)o.｡.:*☆
9 thoughts on “Chapter 45 First Puzzle”
“OMG you guys! Bet he was staying with Jiwei and learning her super secret art to see now that he’s blind”
I was thinking that too!
(… So, was it Xiaoge who blinded him back then or was it not Xiaoge? *rubs chin thoughtfully*)
haha I was wondering the same thing
Xiaoge blinding him would be poetic, since he’s found by Chen Pi (later?) and works for him for so many years. Though Xiaoge always struck me as a loner.
I was thinking it kinda of went with the weird plot in the Lost Tomb 2.5 (?) drama or whatever it’s called. I always thought it was weird and didn’t make sense but maybe they were just expanding on this bit from the book.
Thank you for the chapter! You see the end of the tunnel just to fall into ninety years old Chen Pi’s arms
Hooray it‘s back to Wu Xie at last! It‘s so funny reading about him denying ever setting out into the field again…
Also, yes who blinded Chen Pi? Hopefully that‘ll get cleared up? (I‘m kidding)
I think that leader was not Xiao Ge, but just a member of the Zhang family who had skills.