We were already in a bad mood, so after suddenly being scolded like that, we all felt even more depressed now. Fatty spit and started cursing, “Grandpa, you’re wrong. This shit has nothing to do with us. It’s that Master Three who has a problem with his eyesight. Why are you blaming us for this shit? I’ve been in this business for quite a while, but this is the first time I’ve run from the police. I’m so fucking pissed right now.”
Thinking he might keep going and say too much, I quickly stopped him and gave him a look—Pan Zi couldn’t stand it when others started badmouthing Uncle Three. Although he could put up with a sentence or two, it was best not to say too much at this time; otherwise, they might start fighting.
Thankfully, Fatty gave me some face and stopped talking. As he focused his attention on lighting a cigarette and taking a hard drag of it, Pan Zi turned to Chen Pi Ah Si and said, “Grandpa Chen, we’ve dealt with each other before; now is not the time to criticize us. Since you’re the oldest one here and the broker has betrayed us, what do you think we should do? We’ll listen to you.”
Fatty’s eyes widened in shock, and it looked like he wanted to shout, “Why should we listen to him?!” but Pan Zi raised his hand, silently telling us to remain quiet. I knew that he was up to something, so I quickly grabbed Fatty and patted him on the back to calm him down.
Chen Pi Ah Si narrowed his eyes and silently looked at Pan Zi for a long time before saying, “Looks like you do know the rules. Then I’ll give you a piece of advice—you can’t take the trains. I’ve arranged some other transport, so those who want to follow me can get in the car when it arrives. Those who don’t can turn around and go back to where they came from! But I’ll tell you right now that the place we’re headed to this time isn’t so simple. Wu Sanxing came to an old guy like me at the start of this whole thing because he wanted me to help you guys get there. Other than me, there’s probably no one else in this world who can enter that place.”
Fatty sneered, “Bah! Grandpa, don’t scare people. What have I, Fat Master, not seen in this world? Let me tell you, we’ve plucked the moon from the sky, caught turtles in the sea, and turned the Jade Emperor’s chamber pot upside down. Isn’t this just a lord’s coffin carried by nine dragons? How amazing can it be? I used to slap zombies so hard that they’d jump out on their own just to escape my blows. And this one, do you know who he is? He’s the grandson of Changsha’s Dog King. Why, just thinking about what he did when he was in Shandong…”
I quickly pinched Fatty and smiled, “Grandpa, don’t listen to his nonsense. When this guy talks, half of what he says can be thrown in the toilet.”
Chen Pi Ah Si looked at me and said, “Don’t deny it, I know you’re Old Dog Wu’s grandson. I drank wine at your father’s one-month birthday celebration, so just keeping calling me grandpa.”
Old Dog Wu was my grandfather’s nickname, which was used by those who worked closely with him in the business. I even remembered him saying that he had worked with this person before, which was really good for me.
Knowing that flattery would get me everywhere, I hurriedly nodded and said, “Grandpa Si.”(1)
Chen Pi Ah Si smiled strangely. I didn’t know what it meant, but before I could ponder over it, Pan Zi suddenly asked, “Grandpa Chen, what should we do now? Should we find a place to rest, or…”
Before he could finish speaking, we suddenly heard a long car horn honk in the distance, quickly followed by two short honks. Chen Pi Ah Si said, “Looks like my car is here. You guys can take a moment to decide whether you want to come or not. If you want to go up the mountain, then follow me.” With that said, he straightened up and started walking towards the place where the horn had sounded just now.
We didn’t immediately follow. Once he had walked away, we all looked at each other. “This old guy has been prepared from the start,” Pan Zi said softly. “It’s almost like he knew something would happen to us here. I’m sure he’s the one who sold Brother Chu out. Our contact in Dunhua is definitely gone, which means we can’t count on getting the equipment either. If we want to find out what’s going on, we have to fucking follow him. What a fucking ruthless setup. In any case, I must do what Master Three told me to do. You guys can decide whether you want to go or not.” After saying this, he stood up and chased after Chen Pi Ah Si.
Poker-Face glanced at me and Fatty, and then stood up and chased after him.
All of a sudden, it was just me and Fatty. I looked at him and he looked at me. “By the way,” he eventually said, “what was that about the Eastern Xia Emperor’s Coffin Carried by Nine Dragons?”
I shook my head and said, “I don’t know either.”
Fatty pinched out his cigarette and thought for a moment before saying, “Then, why don’t we catch up and ask?”
I laughed and nodded, then the two of us stood up and chased after them.
The middle-aged people we saw standing around Chen Pi Ah Si at the station had apparently been waiting nearby, and they were the ones who arranged our new ride—a liberation truck. As we climbed into the back of the truck, we saw that it was piled high with goods. The truck then started up, drove out of Shanhaiguan, got on the provincial road, and headed straight to Erdao Baihe.
I slept through the night, and when I woke up, I found that it was already noon the next day. The truck wasn’t as convenient as the train. First, it was much slower, which meant that we still had half a day’s journey to go. Second, the temperature here was already much lower than it was in Hangzhou. Although the back of the truck was covered with a tarp, the wind was still able to pierce through it, which left me shivering from the cold.
Chen Pi Ah Si was wrapped in a military overcoat. There were a few times where he inadvertently showed the fatigue of an old man, but the expression would disappear in an instant. I sighed to myself, sure enough, someone so old definitely knows how to prepare well.
We discussed the plan on how to enter the mountain. According to the information Chen Pi Ah Si received from Brother Chu, after arriving in Dunhua, we were to also enter Erdao Baihe by car, where a local guide and our equipment would be waiting for us. From there, we would enter a small village called Lizigou, where he would reveal the information on our destination. The guide would then take us there, but it was up to us to find the exact location and get out on our own.
We definitely couldn’t go to Lizigou—the cops may be waiting there, and that place was too close to Erdao Baihe—so after thinking about it, we decided to just bypass it directly. There were still several other villages around the area, so we would continue driving until we couldn’t.
We didn’t know how much information Brother Chu had about the heavenly palace’s location, but now that he was out of the picture, things were naturally more difficult. Changbai Mountain was very large, and part of it was in North Korea. It wasn’t realistic to search it inch by inch, but we could assume that since we were originally supposed to go to Lizigou, the place must be near it. We would take the old route to one of the nearby mountain villages, scope out the situation there, and make some inquiries. If we were lucky, we should find something worthwhile.
Everything went according to plan. After arriving in Erdao Baihe, we found that Chen Pi Ah Si’s people had brought the equipment. I started to wonder how powerful they were considering how inspections were so strict across the country. When I opened one of the boxes, however, I was completely stunned. What kind of equipment is this? I wondered. There aren’t any shovels, weapons, or ammo. I took a closer look and found that most of the equipment consisted of women’s sanitary napkins. There were also some ropes, common tools, chocolates, a big bag of peppers, washbasins, and other daily necessities.
“What’s going on?” Fatty asked. “Are we going to distribute women’s personal protective equipment or something?”
“You’ll know what it’s for when it’s needed,” Chen Pi Ah Si said.
Four days later, we arrived at Yingshan Village. It was located so deep in the mountain forest region that it was a miracle the truck could even make it. There were a few sections of road where the tires were only thirty centimeters away from a bottomless abyss. If the driver was even the slightest bit negligent, we would have plunged into the abyss, becoming nothing more than minced meat. Once we arrived at the village, I asked the locals about it. They said that there used to be a border outpost here, but it was later abandoned. That was why the road was built. Otherwise, the only way to reach this place was by snow sled. But because of the road, there were occasional tourists who came here, so the villagers were used to outsiders.
Three of Chen Pi Ah Si’s guys accompanied us: one was Lang Feng, a big man who drove the truck; the second was Monk Hua, a man who wore glasses, but had scars all over his body; the third was a young man in his thirties, who never stopped talking the whole way. His name was Ye Cheng.
When we first got out of the truck, I looked around at the snow-capped mountains. I thought that I would see the mountain scene from the undersea tomb’s murals, but we were obviously in the wrong place—it seemed that all the snow-capped mountains here looked the same.
Chen Pi Ah Si said that finding a dragon was easy, but actually finding a spot to build the tomb was difficult. According to the “Book of Burial”,(2) it would take at least three years to find a dragon, ten years to find a suitable place to build the tomb, three years to find the dragon vein, and ten years to find the treasure well. This whole process was very strict, which meant that if we knew the dragon’s head was in the mountain forest, then we could naturally find the location of the treasure well as long as we entered the mountains. The only problem now was how to actually get into the mountains. Unlike other places, the snow-capped mountains here were too high—hunters generally wouldn’t go to that kind of place, and ginseng pickers had no reason to go that high. As a result, it may be difficult for us to find a guide.
There was no guesthouse in the village, so we had no other choice but to knock on the village committee’s door. The village party secretary was very cordial and found us an empty makeshift wooden house that the forest guards normally used. We paid him and then settled down. We stayed in the village for a few days, rented some horses, and after a lot of hard work, finally found a local Korean veteran by the name of Shunzi who was willing to be our guide.
He told us that most people didn’t go up to the snow-capped mountains—due to the constantly changing wind and snow, the roads were basically different every day, and there was nothing to see at the top. The soldiers were the only ones who went up there because they had to patrol. He was familiar with the local peaks here, so if we really wanted to go, he’d be willing to take us there. But we had to listen to him once we passed the snow line.
After negotiating the price, things were finally settled. We reorganized the equipment and bought a lot of things according to Shunzi’s instructions. Then, nine people and fourteen horses majestically set off for the depths of the forest.
Changbai Mountain’s scenery was very beautiful, with each section of mountain looking like it was painted a different color. But the mountain’s height was so intimidating that we didn’t pay much attention to the surrounding forest scenery, instead focusing all of our energy on ensuring that we didn’t fall off our horses. Those few times I did happen to catch a glimpse of the towering peaks set against the backdrop of the majestic sky, however, left me feeling emotionally overwhelmed.
Changbai Mountain was actually a volcano, so there were a large number of hot springs and small volcanic lakes throughout the region. When we left Yingshan Village and went into the forest area, we followed the forest worker’s mountain road for four hours until we reached Lake Agaisi, which meant “Maiden Lake” in Korean. The lake was so smooth and clear that it was almost like a mirror, reflecting all of Changbai Mountain on its surface.
In order to make Shunzi think that we were tourists, we took pictures by the lake before moving on. The section we just entered was the lower part of the mountain range. We knew that it would get steeper the further we went, but it was still surprising to find ourselves on a sixty-degree slope after a while. The trees here were straight, but the slope was so steep that every step was nerve-wracking. Shunzi told us that there was a deserted village further up ahead, where the border outpost used to be. There was no one there now, so we could spend the first night there, and then cross the snow line tomorrow.
When we looked down from our current position, we saw that Lake Agaisi was now far below us, looking more like a small pool than a lake. But at this time, we all noticed that another horse team had appeared by the lake, and their number far exceeded ours.
We all felt a little surprised. Fatty quickly took out his binoculars, looked down, and then handed them to me while saying, “We’re in trouble.”
<Chapter 49><Table of Contents><Chapter 51>
(1) So I thought it was weird how sometimes it was Grandpa Chen and other times it was Grandpa Si but the Russian translation had a good explanation. In Chinese, dropping a surname when communicating is an indicator of friendship, long-standing friendships, or family relationships. And abbreviating a name is generally for the closest relationship. Wu Xie calling Chen Pi “Grandpa Si” indicates a very close relationship compared to Pan Zi calling him “Grandpa Chen” (and even Fatty/Wu Xie originally just calling him “grandpa” as a sign of respect).
(2) Written in the 4th or 5th century by the Taoist mystic Guo Pu. The work was a commentary on the now-lost “Classic of Burial”. The “Book of Burial’s” principles relating the flow of qi to the appropriateness of a tomb’s location were influential on the development of feng shui.
3 thoughts on “Chapter 50 Yingshan Village”
Thank you for the chapter!
Exciting and I love the description of their surroundings.
I think it is possible the reason that sometimes it is Grandpa Chen and sometimes it is Grandpa Si is that the Grandpa Chen means “the grandpa from the Chen family”, which used by someone outside the Chen Family, like Pan Zi. I call the colleagues/friends of my parents Uncle Li/Wang/Zhang, but the sisters of my mother Aunt Two, Aunt Three, just like Wu Xie.
Thus, Wu Xie used Grandpa Si to indicate that he and Chen Pi are from the same family, perhaps he means the Mystery Nine. Basically, by calling Grandpa Si, Wu Xie just wanted to have a closer relationship with Chen Pi by indicating he is a family member.
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