I looked at the expression on Chen Pi Ah Si’s face and suddenly had a bad feeling. This old guy stayed silent the whole way here, only bothering to say a few words at critical moments. He never showed an angry expression before, but it was obvious to see how furious he was right now.
Monk Hua also noticed this and asked nervously, “Boss, what’s wrong?”
Chen Pi Ah Si’s expression was very ugly as he said to us, “The dragon vein here enabled someone to pull off a trick. This Three-Headed Dragon is a fake, and the direction of the dragon head is wrong.”
I felt my heart sink as I hurriedly took out my compass and checked for myself. Sure enough, no matter how I turned it, the compass needle kept pointing at the black stone tortoise. This strange thing obviously had extremely strong magnetic properties.
I immediately understood what Chen Pi Ah Si was saying: in feng shui, when trying to locate dragon veins, direction was very important. This whole time, Chen Pi Ah Si had been using this compass and the geomantic compass(1) he had memorized to determine the direction and bearing of the dragon vein. But as it turned out, there was a large carved magnet buried here. With a magnet of this size, the compass’s orientation would definitely be affected as we approached the mountain, so the basis Chen Pi Ah Si had been using to determine the direction of the dragon vein at that time was completely wrong!
Everything had been mistakenly based on this Three-Headed Dragon array, but it was all fake!
In other words, this place wasn’t a dragon head at all, which meant that there was no theoretical basis for the existence of the so-called Kunlun fetus or the huge ice dome outside. It was all fake! Everything was made to lure us into this trap!
Wang Zanghai must have anticipated that people who came here in the future would be well versed in feng shui, so he made preparations ahead of time. Before we ever entered the tomb—before we had the chance to raise our vigilance—we had already fallen into his trap.
I suddenly felt a sense of powerlessness. The Kunlun fetus and ice dome were so cleverly designed, but they were all just made to act as a trap! Wang Zanghai really did have a deep understanding of grave robbers. I always ridiculed those architects who believed in feng shui, because instead of bringing blessings to the tomb owner, it instead became an invisible guide for grave robbers to use to find the tomb. But it looked like we made the same mistake, and fell victim to an ancient man’s scheme.
Right now, it felt like we were playing a game of Go(2) with a man who had been dead for hundreds of years, and we gave up the general before the first game had even started. This was really a bad start.
Fatty and Pan Zi still didn’t realize what was going on, so I quickly explained it to them. Fatty still didn’t quite believe it, and said, “Impossible! How could such a big magnet exist at that time?”
I sighed heavily, “This stone tortoise must have been carved from a meteorite with magnetic properties. The value of this thing is extraordinary, but Wang Zanghai used it to conceal the tomb. It seems that he was willing to go to great lengths to protect the Heavenly Palace on the Clouds.”
“Fuck me, that’s impossible.” Fatty still refused to believe it. “Everything here was built following the usual standards…”
But halfway through his sentence, he suddenly realized that while the architectural style of this spirit palace did indeed follow the usual standards, there were none of the necessities a spirit palace would usually have. In fact, we had already noticed these flaws a while ago, but no one expected that the whole spirit palace itself was a trap. This was all because it had been built according to the usual standards.
Chen Pi Ah Si’s face was livid as he silently stared at the stone tortoise with a murderous look in his eyes.
Monk Hua and I considered the situation, and knew that it was all over. We certainly didn’t have enough food to head towards the Three Sacred Mountains, which meant that this time, we really might have to go back to the mountain village to resupply. The trip back and forth would not only be a complete waste of our efforts so far, but we were all seriously exhausted. If we returned to the village, we’d probably need to take some additional time to rest, but that wasn’t something we could afford to do right now. After all, no matter how slow A Ning and the others were moving, they would still arrive before us.
We didn’t know what Uncle Three’s goal was in making these arrangements, but no matter how you looked at it, we were already at a disadvantage.
When I thought of this, I couldn’t help but feel a little irritated. In fact, nobody was at fault for this situation, but when a person encounters a setback, it’s always good to have someone to blame. Otherwise, there’d be nowhere to vent your anger and you’d end up feeling depressed. The others’ expressions also didn’t look good, but there was nothing we could do about our current situation.
Seeing that we were all feeling discouraged, Fatty said, “Forget it. Let’s just hurry up and go back. So we went the wrong way—who cares? The quicker we leave, the quicker we can come back. A Ning’s group is so small that it’ll be impossible for them to transport everything out of the tomb. Let’s hurry up, I’m sure we can still get some of that treasure!”
As soon as I heard that his thoughts were focused solely on treasure again, I suddenly felt an indescribable anger well up within me. I shook my head and sneered at him, “You know what? Uncle Three nearly sacrificed his own business to slow down A Ning’s progress, but we were still a beat behind. If we leave now and then try to come back, there’s no telling how much farther behind we’ll get. My Uncle Three may be in danger right now but all you fucking care about is treasure. Why don’t you shut up and stop yelling?”
Fatty became upset when he heard this and lunged for my throat, but Ye Cheng quickly grabbed him and held him down, “Ok, ok. Now is not the time to fight.”
The atmosphere suddenly became awkward. Fatty pushed Ye Cheng away with a curse, walked a short distance away, and then lit a cigarette. Monk Hua waved his hand and said, “Everyone is upset after wasting our time like this, but now we need to focus on finding a solution. Let’s all calm down and think about what to do.”
“Solution? I don’t think we need one,” Fatty said. “With such a big magnet, anyone who comes here will have the same bad luck. You think A Ning’s team didn’t fall for a similar trick, but maybe their directions were wrong from the start, and now they’ve been turned into Swiss cheese by the border guards. We should look around, take everything we can, and then quickly go back and resupply at the foot of the mountain before coming back. Let’s not waste any more time. Since we’ve already been tricked, there’s nothing left to do but face reality.”
I knew that Fatty was actually right and we’d probably have to go back and return in the end, but right now, I didn’t want to hear it.
Pan Zi immediately shook his head, “It’s easy for you to say. You want to go back, but are you sure we can? Even if you know the way, we’ve been walking all day. A thick-skinned person like you might not feel tired, but we’re not the same. Even if you want to go back, we’d have to wait until tomorrow morning. Little Master Three is right—if we delay any further, all of Master Three’s preparations will have been made in vain.”
Fatty immediately went crazy as soon as he heard this, “Master Three, Master Three…fuck your Master Three! You guys don’t even fucking know what that old scoundrel is thinking, so why don’t you stop with the bullshit! Why do I have to get involved in your family’s problems? I came here to get some grave goods. I don’t give a shit about anything else. I’ll find the goods myself and then leave. You and that bastard can go to hell.”
With that said, Fatty grabbed his bag, turned on his flashlight, and started heading back towards the corridor. But after only two steps, Poker-Face blocked his path and wouldn’t let him go any further.
Fatty was a little intimidated by Poker-Face, and knew that it wasn’t good to get angry at him, but he still didn’t want to lose face, “What the hell? Why are you trying to stop me from getting rich?”
Poker-Face said, “Don’t you think it’s strange? When we arrived here, everyone seemed to become more anxious. Even Wu Xie got angry.”
As soon as Fatty heard him say this, he immediately froze. Then, everyone turned to look at me, their expressions changing. I also felt my heart thump.
He was right. Just now, an indescribable anger suddenly flared up within me, but it didn’t make any sense at all. I didn’t know why, but I suddenly felt a sense of irritability emanating from my heart. No matter how unreliable Fatty was, he had always been this kind of person. I was already well aware of it, so why did I get so angry just now? It wasn’t like me at all.
With my way of doing things, even if someone really said something unpleasant, I wouldn’t attack him like that. And Fatty’s reaction just now was also over-the-top.
Were we just affected by the surrounding environment? I turned to look around—the darkness in our immediate vicinity was dispelled by our flashlights, but outside of that, it seemed to hover on the edges, surrounding us like a black fog. It was very oppressive, but that was about all it was. I didn’t feel like it was the source of the inexplicable anxiety we were all feeling.
At this time, Fatty also came to his senses and asked Poker-Face, “What’s going on? It seems that I really was a bit strange just now and suddenly lost my temper.”
“I don’t know,” Poker-Face said to us, “but I think there’s more than just a magnet here. Everyone must calm down first. It’s useless to argue amongst ourselves. Since this is a trap…” he paused. “Wang Zanghai spent so much effort setting this place up. Since he lured us in, I don’t think we can get out so easily.”
The irritability in my heart suddenly surfaced again, but when I thought of Poker-Face’s words, I quickly suppressed it and said, “Then what should we do now?”
Poker-Face didn’t speak and just glanced at Chen Pi Ah Si, who met his gaze. “Since we’ve already entered the trap, all we can do now is take it one step at a time,” Poker-Face eventually said. “It’s too early to tell whether we can make it out or not, but in any case, we must destroy this tortoise first. Then we need to search the area to make sure there’s nothing else like it. Otherwise, we’ll just keep coming back here.”
Everyone glared at the tortoise. They had obviously never hated this animal more than they did right now.
If the big magnet was broken, it would only become a bunch of small magnets that would still affect the compass, so the only way to completely eliminate its magnetic properties was to burn it.
We took out the fuel from one of our smokeless stoves and poured it on the tortoise. Fatty then lit a cigarette, took a puff, and threw it on the tortoise. Flames erupted as the fuel immediately caught fire, the heat so strong that we had to take a step back.
Monk Hua took out a compass and looked at the needle.
Soon, the tortoise turned red from the heat, and even the bricks around it were red-hot. We all took the opportunity to gather around the edge of the pit to keep ourselves warm.
There was no wood to burn here and the fuel we had used was high in purity, so it would burn out quickly. After about half a cigarette’s time, the flames disappeared and we were left with only hot bricks and a red tortoise.
“Well?” I asked Monk Hua. I leaned in for a closer look and saw that the compass needle was no longer pointing at the tortoise—the magnet had been destroyed. Monk Hua then took the compass and walked around the hall a few times to make sure that there weren’t any other magnets underground. After confirming that there weren’t, he nodded and said that everything was settled.
It wasn’t suitable to stay here for long, and since it was a trap, we weren’t reluctant to leave at all. As everyone gathered their things, I suddenly thought about what Poker-Face said before: since we were lured in, we might not be able to get out so easily. I felt a vague premonition in my heart. Maybe something changed outside once we entered the rear hall? What unknown changes were waiting for us?
A few ominous images flashed through my mind, but I immediately dismissed them. There was no need to scare myself with wild speculations; just take things one step at a time.
But my hunches that things were going to take a bad turn were always surprisingly accurate—just as we were about to enter the corridor again, a series of cracking sounds suddenly came from a corner of the rear hall.
The cracking sounds were so clear and crisp in the quiet hall that we all heard them. Everyone immediately stopped and turned to look.
The sound didn’t stop, but kept going. I listened for a while and found that it was coming from the brick pit where we burned the tortoise.
Wondering what the sound was, we all cautiously walked back to the pit and peered inside—the tortoise at the bottom had actually cracked open, and a large number of cracks had spread along its shell. At the same time, we saw a strange black smoke rising out of the cracks at a very fast speed. It instantly swelled and rose into the air, looking just like a huge mollusk squeezing out from the tortoise’s body.
Then, the black smoke merged with the darkness overhead, forming an incessantly squirming mass. Looking at its shape, I found that it was similar to the black totem we saw in the main hall outside.
“This is…Tengri!” Fatty shouted, his face turning pale.
“Don’t be scared,” Monk Hua said. “Maybe this tortoise is hollow, and after it expanded and contracted with the temperature change, it cracked open and whatever was inside was burnt.”
Fatty’s face changed color again, “Hollow? Could this black smoke be poisonous?”
“Probably not, without first—” But before Monk Hua could finish speaking, Poker-Face suddenly motioned for us to be quiet.
I immediately broke out in a cold sweat and quickly covered my mouth. Everyone held their breath and looked around, wondering what was going on.
I also turned my head, my heart beating like a drum, but I didn’t see anything unusual around me. I did, however, hear something—in this extremely quiet rear hall, apart from the cracking sound of the stone tortoise, there was a very faint rustling sound coming from one of the corners.
I listened to it for a long time, but I didn’t recognize what it was nor could I pinpoint its exact location. It was like the sound had entered directly into my brain.(3) This spirit palace was inside the ice dome, so the sound definitely wasn’t that of the wind blowing.
The black smoke above became thicker and thicker, and the faint sound was getting closer and closer. Soon, the sound was coming from all directions, making everyone who heard it feel itchy all over.
Poker-Face’s expression twisted as he kept listening to the sound and staring at the black smoke that had accumulated overhead. “There’s something in the smoke!” He muttered to himself.
Monk Hua listened to the rustling sound and looked at the stone tortoise again. Then, his expression suddenly changed as if he realized something, “Is this smoke from insect fragrant jade? There’s insect fragrant jade in the tortoise! Wang Zanghai wants us to die!”
“What’s insect fragrant jade?” I asked.(4)
No one answered me, but I knew that I would learn what it was soon enough. Poker-Face pointed to Shunzi, who was lying on one of the coffin platforms, gestured to Lang Feng’s back, and then pointed to the corridor behind us, “Run, and don’t look back! No matter what falls on you, don’t stop until you get out! Quickly now!”
<Chapter 6><Table of Contents><Chapter 8>
(1) The geomantic compass, or luopan, is a Chinese magnetic compass, also known as a feng shui compass. It’s used by a feng shui practitioner to determine the precise direction of a structure, place, or item. It contains a lot of information and many formulas regarding its functions and varies a lot from a conventional compass. Can you imagine trying to memorize something like this? Yikes
(2) Go is an abstract strategy board game for two players in which the aim is to surround more territory than the opponent. The playing pieces are called stones. One player uses the white stones and the other players uses black. The players take turns placing the stones on the vacant intersections (points) on a board. A lot of people call it Chinese chess but it’s honestly completely different.
(3) If anyone is following closely along with the online raws, there were like 2 or 3 small paragraphs that go after this sentence where Wu Xie say he looks back, sees that the jade door leading back to the main hall magically closed by itself (what happened to the corridor? Who knows), and the surrounding darkness is super oppressive. He was about to tell the others that they needed to bounce, but Poker-Face motioned for everyone to be quiet. Then the raws repeat, saying that Wu Xie broke out in a cold sweat, covered his mouth, listened, heard the rustling noises, etc. Since it doesn’t really make sense or coherently fit in the narrative, I decided to just follow the published version for the last bit of this chapter and remove those extraneous paragraphs.
(4) Fragrant jade is a rare kind of precious jade often mentioned in folktales. It’s said to emit a charming fragrance. As I’m sure you can tell, this one attracts insects.
Every year I am tempted to post an April Fools chapter and every year I decide to be nice and not do it haha. Count yourselves lucky ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
5 thoughts on “Chapter 7 Game of Go”
You’re too awesome! That’s why!
I’m suddenly realizing how spaced out all the creepy stuff was in the original series, but in all the later writings he’s just throwing it all in there one after another. Maybe because the more advanced they became the closer they got to the source of all these evils. But wow I didn’t miss the creepy stuff!
I don’t know why everyone’s sudden anger is directed at fatty. But I’m glad Xiao Ge stopped him. and “even Wu Xie got angry! “It seems that Wu Xie’s good manner attracted the attention of a special person.
I think looking at Luopan, is confusing let alone memorizing the information and formulas. But I like to know how it works.
Thank you for the Notes and the two chapters.
All I can say, is Wang Zanghai was a cunning strategist.
Poker Face speaks a lot!
“But my hunches that things were going to take a bad turn were always surprisingly accurate”
Wuxie that’s because you yourself are a magnet!
Thank you so much for this chapter. This book was always one of my favorites and this version is so much better. Even with that few incoherent paragraphs you mentioned in your notes 😅
And just looking at the geomancy compass picture gave me a headache!
Love all the tension in this chapter!