After Chen Pi Ah Si’s iron pellet flew by, the flickering flame suddenly dimmed again, and the person’s shadow became blurred and indistinct once more. The iron pellet eventually hit something with a clear ringing sound and then rolled on the ground, the sound echoing eerily in the empty spirit palace. It was enough to give us goose bumps.
In that brief moment when the flame flared brighter and the shadow became clearer, everyone was startled by what they saw. Out of all of us, Shunzi became the most panicked and cried out, “What the hell is that?!”
Monk Hua immediately covered his mouth to silence him, while the rest of us instinctively put our hands on our knives.
Chen Pi Ah Si waved his hand, silently telling us not to be so nervous, and then gave Monk Hua a meaningful look. The latter immediately climbed up the lamp beside us and put out the flame with his hand.
I had to admire Chen Pi Ah Si’s calmness. When faced with such a strange situation, no one would think to put out the light source near them. After all, they probably believed that the brighter it was around them, the better. But in fact, it was safest to be in the dark right now.
As soon as the lamp was extinguished, our surroundings plunged into darkness once more. It was like a dense fog surrounding us, making the lamp in the distance seem even brighter than before.
We turned off our flashlights and collectively held our breath as we looked at the shadow in the distance. The darkness around me was messing with my nerves to the point that I suddenly felt my heart beating a lot faster.
Although this shadow was obviously shaped like a human, most of its body was still hidden in the darkness. But the strangest thing was that its neck was extremely long and there were some strange things on its body that seemed to be spikes or antennae. The combination of these two things made the human-like shadow appear totally inhuman. In fact, it looked more like a kind of…bird.
I instinctively felt a chill run up my spine, and my heart started pounding in my chest. With the exception of Poker-Face, everyone else was here. This shadow definitely wasn’t Poker-Face, so did that mean that someone else was here?
But who could it be? How did they end up in this spirit palace at the top of the snow-capped mountain? Did the avalanche attract the attention of the nearby border guards and this person was a soldier who came to see what happened?
No, that couldn’t be it. Not only did the avalanche happen in the valley, but even if it was really discovered, it would take them at least a day to get here. There was no way they’d arrive so quickly.
I suddenly remembered that this spirit palace was a trap set by Wang Zanghai, and as a trap, it must be extremely dangerous. There was no telling what unimaginable things would be waiting for whoever fell for the trap. Maybe this shadow was a monster Wang Zanghai had placed here when he initially set up the trap?
Whatever the case, none of us dared to breathe as we continued staring at the shadow, hoping to figure out what it was based on its shape and movements. We at least wanted to know whether this thing was a person or something else.
But the strange thing was, the shadow continued to stand there like a clay statue, not even swaying. It didn’t seem to be alive at all.
For a while, neither side moved. Fatty eventually began to lose his composure and whispered, “Something’s wrong. If that thing is alive, then it should have moved, but it hasn’t moved at all. Maybe we’re seeing things and it’s just the shadow of those slave statues on the pillars?”
“Nonsense,” Ye Cheng said. “Aren’t the lamps placed in between the pillars? How could that one move there by itself?”
“Isn’t it said that everything has a spirit?” Fatty whispered. “There are many folktales where a pipa is able to turn into a human because it has a spirit, so maybe the slave statues here have a spirit and can walk around by themselves.”
What he said made me feel uncomfortable, but I didn’t have enough knowledge to determine whether his theory was possible or not. Hell, I didn’t even believe in zombies a few months ago, but now I had seen enough to fill up two mahjong tables. So, whether monsters existed or not, I really couldn’t say. But the way Fatty was talking about that slave statue coming alive felt more like a joke than an actual theory. I noticed that when he found himself in dangerous situations, his words tended to become more nonsensical, and what he said just now definitely fit in line with that aspect of his character.
But Fatty was right about one thing: as long as this thing was alive, it would have to move. Even if it was a zombie, it couldn’t stand there motionless like a stone. The fact that this shadow wasn’t moving was just too strange.
But no matter what it was, we couldn’t stand here in a stalemate the whole time. Although I couldn’t see them right now, I knew that those house centipedes were crawling around. If someone was bitten again, it might not be fatal but it would definitely cause problems since there was a lack of clothes and medicine on the mountain.
As we quietly discussed what to do, I found that everyone basically thought the same as I did. “Then let’s stop admiring this figure from afar and sneak over to get a good look at it,” Fatty said in a very low voice. “If it’s a real person, I’ll fucking beat them to death!”
As soon as everyone quietly voiced their agreement, I felt a wave of air move past me—the others had become impatient and rushed ahead. It was too dark to form any kind of formation anyways, so I gritted my teeth and headed towards the only visible light in front of me.
Since the lamp wasn’t far from us, it only took a few steps before the shadow became clearer and clearer. But as I looked at it, I became more confused, and the ominous feeling that had been hovering at the back of my mind became stronger and stronger. When I had almost reached the illuminated area, I subconsciously slowed down so that I could lurk in the darkness as I slowly made my way closer.
At this time, the black shadow was almost ten steps away from me. I narrowed my eyes and looked at it—with each step, my heart beat faster and faster, I started to break out in a cold sweat, and I prayed to God that I wouldn’t see what I didn’t want to see.
But as I got closer and closer, I gradually realized that God probably wouldn’t bless grave robbers like us. As the thing in front of me became clearer and clearer, I suddenly found that I couldn’t move my feet anymore. My whole body felt weak all over and then I froze in place.
There aren’t enough words to describe what I saw. All I can say is that it was shaped like a huge centipede, but I didn’t know if it actually was one because it was too big. I knew that the largest centipedes could grow up to a meter long, but this one was obviously much bigger. The upper half of its body was raised up and it had wrapped itself around the lamp, just like a snake. The “neck” we had seen before was actually just the shadow formed by its two large venomous forcipules and long antennae. Countless long legs hung down from its body as the huge insect remained motionless. It almost seemed like it was sucking up the fumes from the lamp oil.
Even those centipedes from the Caribbean and Galapagos Islands could only grow between forty and sixty centimeters long. So far, no one had ever found one that had grown longer than a meter. With such a huge body, this insect may have been growing for thousands of years.
Quiet groans came from somewhere in the darkness around me, and I even heard Fatty say very softly, “Fuck!” The others had also apparently seen it and didn’t believe their eyes either. I remembered the centipede dragon that had been carved on the huge black sealing stone we found halfway up the mountain, and suddenly understood why the dragon worshipped by the Eastern Xia people looked like a thousand-legged centipede!
After they retreated into the mountains, they must have seen a huge centipede like this and deified it as the embodiment of a dragon.
As my thoughts became chaotic, I suddenly heard someone whistle a few times. The meaning was clear: “Go back!” I didn’t know who it was, but I instinctively took a step back, continuously retreating until I didn’t know where I was. I looked around, but everything was covered in darkness.
Since Monk Hua had extinguished the lamp we had initially been gathered around, we had no clear place to retreat to and all ended up separated from each other.
I turned on my flashlight again, thinking of lighting the nearest lamp in order to attract their attention, only to see the not-so-distant shadow of the giant centipede suddenly move. The lamp that it was wrapped around suddenly went out, and the giant centipede disappeared into the darkness.
I remembered what Shunzi said about the centipedes being attracted to warmth, and suddenly had a bad feeling. At the same time, Monk Hua set off a cold firework some distance away and shouted, “Nobody light the lamps! Head towards the light of my cold firework.”
In the dark, I could hear the rustling sound of many feet crawling on the floor, but they were moving so fast that I couldn’t tell where they were at. In any case, the sound was getting louder and louder, so I quickly ran away.
Amidst the confusion, I heard Fatty shouting from another direction, “Why not light them? We can do it to distract that big thing for a while. If we don’t light it, won’t it just come straight at us? It has so many legs; there’s no way we can outrun it.”
“No!” Monk Hua shouted back. “I smelled the lamp oil just now. There’s insect fragrant jade in it. As soon as the smell is released, more of these…these things will come crawling out, and we’ll be in an even worse situation,” he stammered, apparently not knowing what to call this giant centipede.
As soon as I heard that there might be more than one, I immediately became frightened and put on another burst of speed. While running towards the light of his cold firework, I shouted, “Then what do we do?”
“I have a plan,” Monk Hua said. “Just hurry up and get here. But watch your back! These insects crawl very fast!”
Following the light of his cold firework, I soon reached Monk Hua’s side. At this time, I suddenly saw a lot of flashlight beams appear around us as the others rushed out of the darkness. We were all so out of breath that we couldn’t even speak. Fatty clutched his chest and looked at the darkness around him before saying to Monk Hua, “Well, here we are. What’s the plan? Hurry up and tell us! That thing will be here soon.”
As he spoke, I tried to listen for that creepy rustling sound to see if it was getting any closer, but the sound quickly disappeared, as if the big insect had stopped following us.
Monk Hua, who was also panting heavily, coughed and patted his backpack, “Actually, it’s nothing special. We still have some explosives left so let’s blow it up.”
When Fatty heard this, he couldn’t help but laugh, “Well then, I’ll entrust you with this glorious task. You go right on ahead. I’ll take care of Grandpa Chen for you.”
“I don’t need to go,” Monk Hua said. “I’ve already got everything sorted out. There’s only one person for the job.”
I looked at his face and suddenly felt my body go cold all over. Then I realized that someone was missing and immediately looked around, “Where’s Lang Feng?”
Instead of answering, Monk Hua just looked towards the darkness on one side and said, “Get ready. It’s coming.”
Before the words had even left his mouth, there was a loud “boom”, quickly followed by a dazzling light that pierced through the darkness on one side. We all instinctively threw ourselves to the ground as a bunch of wood chips rained down on our heads and the whole floor shook violently. A wooden board went flying past and almost hit me on the nose. The shock wave wasn’t big, but the sound was so loud that my ears were ringing, and I couldn’t hear anything clearly for a while.
I raised my head and looked in the direction of the explosion—a large crater had been blasted in the floor, its edges still burning, and the “thousand-legged centipede dragon” was writhing nearby, its whole head blown to pieces. The place where the explosion occurred turned out to be the same place where we had left Lang Feng earlier.
I immediately understood what Monk Hua had done. No wonder the “thousand-legged centipede dragon” didn’t catch up with us just now—it had gone after the unconscious Lang Feng, whom Monk Hua had planted explosives on….
Unable to believe what I was seeing, I turned to look at Monk Hua and Chen Pi Ah Si, but their expressions were indifferent, as if this matter had nothing to do with them.
Chen Pi Ah Si, noticing my expression, patted me on the shoulder and whispered, “Three steps before and four steps after. Didn’t your grandfather teach you this? If I had been in the same position, they would have done the same to me. In this line of work, you have to be aware of such things.”
“Three steps before and four steps after” was a common saying among grave robbers. It meant that when you were going to do something, you had to plan three steps before doing it and four steps after doing it. Grave robbers worked underground, where every move you made could be life-threatening. That was why you had to plan three steps ahead before you did anything and four steps on how to deal with the aftermath. If you found that there was a problem in this process, then you couldn’t carry out the plan. In this line of business, this way of thinking was something that had to become habit.
I understood why Chen Pi Ah Si was saying this to me. In fact, based on Lang Feng’s condition, his chances of making it out of here alive were very slim. He would have died sooner or later, so it was better to let him die quickly and painlessly here.
My grandfather had also mentioned something like this once in his notebook. When underground, sometimes you didn’t realize the danger until it was too late, so it was best to consider everything before it happened. Grave robbing was a meticulous job, but it also required a lot of courage. There was no telling how many foolish people in the past got overexcited and went down into ancient tombs, only to be buried there.
But even so, leaving Lang Feng to die like that just felt wrong. Plus, now I was scared to even be standing next to Chen Pi Ah Si.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t express my feelings at this time, so I took a deep breath and tried my best to pretend that nothing had happened.
The fire around the crater gradually died out. The wooden boards here had been frozen for many years, and the gaps between them were full of ice crystals that had formed when the moisture in the air condensed. As a result, the more they burned, the more the ice crystals melted, and the more they melted, the less they burned.
As we all walked towards the crater that had been blown in the floor, my steps were very heavy—I was afraid of suddenly seeing Lang Feng’s scattered limbs. Fatty and Pan Zi, on the other hand, didn’t react as much, as if they were used to this kind of thing or thought that it was pointless to show their depression. Seeing that I was still bothered by it, Fatty patted me and whispered, “Forget about it. In any case, he was one of theirs. There’s no telling how many people’s blood was on his hands. Consider this an act of karma.”
Shunzi still didn’t understand what was going on, but he was so scared that he just blindly followed us.
When we reached the crater in the floor, I turned on my flashlight and pointed it at the bottom—the bricks under the wooden floor had been blasted away, revealing a reinforced layer of black stone bricks underneath. This reinforced layer had also been blasted through, revealing a hollow space underneath.
I knew what this hollow space was. This part of the spirit palace had been built on a steep slope, but the floor was flat, which meant that a triangular space supported by beams and pillars must have been built below. Any kind of structure built on a steep slope or cliff—such as the Potala Palace(1)—had this kind of design.
There was a cold wind blowing up from the crater, making it obvious that it was connected to the outside world. I thought about the triangular space below and figured that it must also be surrounded by white mortar walls. I didn’t know what the situation down there was like, but if the wind was blowing, then it meant that we could definitely get out this way.
Not only was there an obvious problem with the main hall of this spirit palace, but the ground was covered in centipedes. If we insisted on going out from the main entrance, things would only become more and more dangerous. But now a hole had been blown in the floor, which was just perfect for us to make our escape.
Fatty jumped into the crater. The hole in the bricks below wasn’t large enough to accommodate a person, so it would have to be dug a little wider. As Monk Hua jumped in to help, Fatty asked me, “Is it ok to dig like this?”
I told them to be careful. The layer of reinforced bricks was already brittle from the cold, and the explosion just now must have completely destroyed the supporting structure below. I didn’t know how high up we were, but if it suddenly collapsed, not just one or two people would fall—there was a very good chance that the whole section of floor around us would sink in, and the spirit palace would become our grave.
So, Fatty and Monk Hua tied a rope around their waists, and secured the other end to a huge pillar off to the side. The rest of us hooked our carabiners onto the rope so that we could help each other in case a collapse really did occur.
When everyone was ready, Fatty began hitting the stone bricks with a hammer. But as soon as he knocked out the first one, there suddenly came a cracking sound from his feet, and one of the thick beams he was standing on actually broke, causing him to sink all the way up to his thigh.
I was shocked, thinking that the whole floor was going to collapse, but fortunately, only his leg fell through. Fatty cursed and tried to pull it out.
But after pulling for a long time, he only managed to bring it up as far as his knee. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t pull it out any further. Fatty himself found it a little odd, but then his face suddenly changed and he shouted, “Not good! Something’s pulling my leg!” Then he started to slide down.
Monk Hua hurriedly grabbed his hands and pulled as hard as he could. The rest of us rushed to help him and managed to pull his leg out of the hole, but we couldn’t pull him out of the crater. It was almost like something really was down there and it had latched onto him.
Ye Cheng picked up a flashlight and shined it down at the hole. As soon as we saw it, we all sucked in a sharp breath—a withered, bluish-purple hand was sticking out of the hole Fatty had made and clinging tightly to his ankle.
<Chapter 9><Table of Contents><Chapter 11>
(1) The Potala Palace is a dzong fortress (fortified monastery) in Lhasa, Tibet. It was the winter palace of the Dalai Lamas from 1649 to 1959, has been a museum since then, and a World Heritage Site since 1994. The palace is named after Mount Potalaka, the mythical abode of the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara. More info here.
Guys! Guys guys guys!!! Look what Mekare drew and colored for me!!!! Isn’t it great?! σ(≧ε≦σ) ♡
Also, RIP Lang Feng. I’m sorry I jinxed you last chapter (／ω＼)
9 thoughts on “Chapter 10 Hundred-Legged Dragon God”
The art is very beautiful!!
Also, damn that was a long chapter – well done!
(Goodbye, Lang Feng, we hardly knew ye…)
lovely art! You’re really good Mekare!
RIP Lang Feng I also think the way you died was wrong
Now off to se what happened in licensed version because I can’t remember and I’m dying to know 😅 thanks for the chapter!!!
I feel bad for Long Feng. First they attacked him and when he was unconscious, they let those small centipedes attack him, and then they used him as food for the big monster, and finally they blew him up.
It’s a beautiful art. It give a warm vibe, even thought the mountain full of snow can be seen in the background and I like those little clouds as well.
The blue hand! I totally forgot about this! But it all comes rushing back. It’s Pan Zi’s time to shine! ✨✨✨
Wow, everything is still so tense. I wonder where Xiaoge went off to.
He has definitely been gone a hot minute