Chapter 20 Palace Hall Entrance (Part 4)

Fatty immediately raised his hand, “Me!”

“And me!” Pan Zi also raised his hand.

I didn’t know why, but Shunzi suddenly had a serious look on his face, like he wouldn’t take any objections. Then he waved his hand and said, “Those who fired have to stay! Everyone else run! Run straight ahead and don’t look back!”

I looked around and counted the number of raised hands…ugh, everyone on my team would have to stay. What should I do? If I followed Chen Pi Ah Si, wasn’t I just waiting to be slaughtered? Coming to a decision, I hurriedly raised my hand and said, “I…I forgot. I also fired!”

Ye Cheng and the others didn’t know how to react, but at this time, we suddenly heard the sound of tiles breaking overhead—it seemed like countless creatures were walking on the palace hall’s roof. We all froze, not knowing what was going on.

“There’s not much time. Go!” Shunzi shouted.

Chen Pi Ah Si glanced at us and then waved his hand at Monk Hua and Ye Cheng, “Let’s go!” Then the three of them quickly ran out of the front hall.

I found the whole situation strange, but there wasn’t enough time to think about it—we could hear more and more tiles breaking overhead. Fatty reloaded his gun and then threw his bullet bag to Pan Zi so that he could reload as well. As we all formed a circle, I asked Shunzi, “What the hell is up there? What should we do?”

Shunzi lowered his voice and said, “I don’t know.”

Pan Zi gave him a questioning look, “Then why did you tell them to run?”

“I just wanted to separate you guys from the old man,” Shunzi replied. “It’s not my idea—it’s your Uncle Three’s orders.”

As soon as we heard this, we all turned to look at him. What? My Uncle Three’s orders? “Who are you?” Pan Zi asked.

“Enough questions,” Shunzi said. “I’ll take you to see your Uncle Three now. You can ask him when we get there.”

My whole body tensed up, and I was about to ask if my uncle was also in this imperial tomb right now, but then there suddenly came a series of cracking sounds overhead, and the tiles came pouring down like rain. We covered our heads and looked up, only to see countless shadows darting in and out of our flashlights’ beams—they seemed to be the same kind of creature we fought just now.

Shunzi waved his hand and said, “When you guys fired your guns, the sound echoed throughout the whole forest and drew these things here.”

“Then why don’t we run as well?” Pan Zi asked nervously, listening to the shuffling sounds of an indistinguishable number of creatures closing in around us. “If we stay here, aren’t we just waiting for death?”

“We have to wait for the others to go a little further,” Shunzi replied as he turned and looked behind him. Apparently deeming Chen Pi Ah Si and the others to be far enough away, he turned to us and said, “Let’s go!” Then he took the lead and ran towards the front hall’s exit, the three of us following closely behind.

Outside the palace hall, we could see the second hall at the end of the spirit path, but there was a long white marble bridge in front of it, made up of twenty arches. Two dragons made from some unknown material were coiled around the railings on both sides of the bridge. They were the color of pure jade, and didn’t appear to have any cracks or seams in them, as if they had been carved from a single piece of stone. Under the bridge was a moat separating us from the inner part of the imperial tomb, but I didn’t know if there was water in it or not.

As we ran a few steps towards the bridge, a strong wind suddenly blew up from behind us and we immediately dropped to the ground. Fatty raised his gun and blindly fired a few shots behind him—a quiet screech came from somewhere in the darkness. I didn’t know what he hit, but I saw something fall into the abyss under the bridge.

There seemed to be a flurry of movement in the darkness above us. I vaguely felt that this creature was able to fly, but I couldn’t see anything when I swept my flashlight around.

We got up and continued running, feeling the occasional gust of wind overhead as if something was sweeping right over our heads. Fatty continued firing a few bursts towards the sky as he ran. It wasn’t long before we finally reached the bridge, but at this time, I suddenly felt something on my back. I fell to the ground, rolled, and then jumped back up, but Fatty was there before I could even react—he slammed the butt of his gun at the space behind my ear, knocking the thing off my back.

I looked behind me, but all I could see was a black shadow struggling to get up. Pan Zi raised his gun and fired, splitting the thing in half with just one shot. Fatty then sent a volley of shots into the sky, the streaks of light from the bullets revealing countless shadows hovering over our heads.

I was shocked, “What the hell are these things?”

“There are too many of them. We can’t beat them all. Where are we supposed to be going?” Pan Zi shouted at Shunzi. “Where the hell is Master Three? Where are we going?!”

Up ahead was the second of the four palace halls, where we would inevitably encounter Chen Pi Ah Si again. To be honest, I was glad we had separated since I always felt like I was under a lot of psychological pressure when we were together. Plus, I now knew where my Uncle Three was. I couldn’t wait to find him and ask him what this whole thing was about.

“Your Master Three should be in the underground palace,” Shunzi said.

“Underground palace?” Fatty used the butt of his gun to knock another one of those creatures down. “Great, that fucking simplifies things. Now where is the entrance to this underground palace?”

“I don’t know,” Shunzi replied.

We all stared at him in stunned silence for a moment, but it was clear from his expression that he wasn’t joking. Fatty cursed, “You don’t know? But you said you’d take us to him. This imperial tomb is so big, how can we possibly find it?”

Usually, the main entrance to the underground palace was located in the third hall along the spirit path—the Heavenly Hall. There, under a copper ding, more than seventy layers of blue bricks sealed with molten iron would be waiting for us. Even modern military engineers wouldn’t be able to dig through all that in half a month’s time. But the underground palace should have a secret entrance, and it should be somewhere in the imperial tomb, along the central axis. A good example of this was Empress Dowager Cixi’s Mausoleum—the entrance to the underground palace was below the mausoleum’s spirit screen. But with our current situation, there was no time to look for a hidden entrance or dig a hole once we found it.

Despite all this, Shunzi remained very calm as he said to me, “Your Uncle Three said that this is the place where ‘The Black Tortoise Rejects the Corpse’. He said that if I told you this, you would immediately know where it was. After hearing it, do you have any ideas?”

I was surprised at first, thinking that it might be a joke, because “The Black Tortoise Rejects the Corpse” was a feng shui term used to describe the place with the worst feng shui in the world. This kind of place was the same as the place with the best feng shui in the world—the “Nine Dragons Wrapped Around a Flower”—in that it was all just theoretical. There was no proof either one truly existed in this world. “Did he really say that?” I asked. “Did he say anything else?”

According to the “Book of Burial”, the earth had four aspects and qi flowed from all eight directions. Therefore, when conducting a burial, the Azure Dragon must be on the left, the White Tiger on the right, the Vermilion Bird in front, and the Black Tortoise behind. The Black Tortoise must hang its head, the Vermilion Bird must soar and dance, the Azure Dragon must coil sinuously, and the White Tiger must crouch down. If this is not followed, the principles of feng shui are considered broken. The crouching tiger will hold the corpse in its mouth, the coiled dragon will be jealous of the lord, the tortoise will not hang its head and will reject the corpse, and the bird will not dance but will fly away…(1)

Shunzi ducked his head and looked around before hurriedly saying, “No, that’s it. At that time, your Uncle Three seemed to be hiding from someone so he was in a hurry. All he did was arrange for me to meet you guys in the village, bring you into the mountains, and then relay these words to you.”

I stood completely still as I listened to him, feeling completely dumbfounded. If this was really the place where “The Black Tortoise Rejects the Corpse”, then it wouldn’t be surprising if the tomb owner’s descendants died off and his widow took in a lover. Did Wang Zanghai really feel such enmity towards King Wannu?

But according to Chen Pi Ah Si, the feng shui here should be extremely good. How could this possibly be the place where “The Black Tortoise Rejects the Corpse”?

I suddenly regretted not paying attention to these things before. If I had read up on the subject at least a little bit, I should have been able to understand what this meant.

Fatty was somewhat familiar with such things, and even knew a little more than I did, so it was somewhat comforting to see him just as confused as I was. “Nonsense!” He shouted. “That’s impossible. How could the entrance to the underground palace of the imperial tomb be the place where ‘The Black Tortoise Rejects the Corpse’?”

Off to the side, Pan Zi fired another volley of shots, forcing the creatures that were heading right towards us to retreat a little bit. Then he turned to us and said, “It’s not entirely impossible. Feng shui only applies to people. Didn’t you listen to what that monk said? The person buried in this tomb isn’t human. Maybe the strange difference in the layout here has something to do with it!”

I knew Pan Zi was only saying that out of anger. With the meager national strength of the Eastern Xia Kingdom, it would have required all their manpower and resources to build this tomb. Only King Wannu could have ordered such a huge project, but I found it hard to believe that the last ruler at that time still had enough authority to do so. This seemed to imply that the construction of this imperial tomb had some connection to religion. At that time, King Wannu was probably a religious icon representing the unity of man and god.

The copper fish said that all the rulers of the past dynasties were monsters that crawled out of the ground, but I didn’t think that was meant to be taken literally. It probably had some hidden meaning, but we wouldn’t know what it was until we deciphered the other two fish I had with me.(2)

While talking, we had neared the end of the stone bridge, beyond which was a small square. In the dark, we could see two stone steles standing side by side at the end of the bridge, although one of them appeared to be broken. They were both more than ten meters tall and had been placed on the backs of two large black tortoises. Not far behind the steles was a towering black shadow.

I knew that these were the boundary markers of the imperial tomb, and behind them were the Longevity Steps that led to the Hall of Rebirth, which was considered the entrance to the underworld. It was said that the boundary markers were the real dividing line between the world of the living and the world of the dead since even the tomb guards weren’t allowed to access the area beyond them. This imperial tomb had been sealed hundreds of years ago, which meant that no one had set foot in the area beyond the boundary markers since then.

The moment I saw those steles, I suddenly had a very bad feeling—it seemed as if something was waiting for us in that huge black shadow, hiding in a certain corner of the inner structure of the imperial tomb.

At this time, Fatty, who was running up ahead, suddenly stopped and spread his arms wide, blocking our path. I went up to take a look and saw that the end of the stone bridge had collapsed, leaving a three-meter-wide abyss between us and the boundary markers. We pointed our flashlights down, but all we could see was misty darkness. There seemed to be some water below, but I didn’t know how deep this abyss was.

I looked at Pan Zi, “What should we do?”

He didn’t even bother to think it over before picking up his gun and saying, “What else can we do? Jump over one by one. Quickly now!”

I looked at the distance and couldn’t help but gulp. How far did athletes in the Olympics have to jump, about eight meters? Three meters honestly wasn’t that far, but for someone like me who didn’t exercise regularly, jumping that distance was going to be difficult.

Off to the side, I saw that Fatty had already handed his gun to Shunzi. He then took a few steps back, ran forward, and leaped as hard as he could, soaring through the air before landing in a controlled roll on the opposite side. Shunzi threw the gun and our equipment over to him and then jumped over as well. Pan Zi told me to jump next so that he could bring up the rear. I looked at the abyss in front of me and thought to myself, if I die, then so be it. Then I shouted at Fatty to make sure to catch me.

Seeing him readily agree, I stepped back, took a moment to collect myself, and then suddenly accelerated. But just as I was about to jump, Pan Zi suddenly shouted from behind me, “Wait—!”

It was too late to stop at this point, so I pushed off as hard as I could and leaped towards the opposite side, instinctively looking back to see why Pan Zi had called out to me.

As soon as I did, I saw a huge black shadow swoop in from the left, grab the back of my collar with its claws, and then drag me to the side, throwing my trajectory completely off course. Then it released its grip, and I fell end over end into the abyss below.

For a moment, my mind went blank and I didn’t know what to do. Everything in front of me seemed to slow down—I watched Fatty run over and jump up, trying to grab me in midair, but his hand merely brushed against my collar; then Pan Zi raised his gun and fired three quick bursts at the thing above my head, the bullets whizzing by; and then I was falling into the darkness, the light of their flashlights disappearing in an instant.

The fall happened extremely fast. As I spun a few times in the air, a series of thoughts suddenly flashed through my mind. What’s down there? It should be a moat. How deep are moats usually? Is there any water in the moat? Am I falling to my death, or will I land in sulfurized water that will melt me into a pile of bones?

Before I could come up with any of the answers to these questions, my back suddenly hit an object that felt similar to an iron chain. The force of the impact was so strong that I felt like my whole body was about to break in half and my vision blurred from the pain. Then my body rolled off the iron chain and continued to fall again. Before I could come back to my senses, I suddenly hit another iron chain—this time, the impact wasn’t as strong because the previous chain had somewhat slowed my descent. I immediately reached out to grab it, but my hand came up empty and I continued to fall.

This series of impacts left me feeling so dizzy that I could no longer remain curled up into a protective ball. As I continued falling face up, I eventually landed heavily on the ground. I heard a muffled sound come from all of my bones, and there was a buzzing in my ears. Then, I couldn’t hear anything.

<Chapter 19><Table of Contents><Chapter 21>


TN Notes:

(1) This excerpt is from the Outer Chapters of the “Book of Burial” (specifically Section VIII: The Cardinal Aspects). Translation found here but the text above is my own spin on it. The Azure Dragon of the East, the Vermilion Bird of the South, the White Tiger of the West, and the Black Tortoise of the North are four mythological creatures appearing among the Chinese constellations along the ecliptic, and viewed as the guardians of the four cardinal directions. Each is most closely associated with a cardinal direction and a color, but also additionally represents other aspects, including a season of the year, an emotion, virtue, and one of the Chinese “five elements” (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water). More info here.

(2) Just to note, in the Amazon version of the raws, there are about 9 paragraphs after this where they’re all arguing back and forth about “The Black Tortoise Rejecting the Corpse” and what it can mean in this context. I’m not gonna bother with it since I’m doing the online version from so if you want to know what was said, you can read about it in the “Palace of Doom” pdf version (middle of page 126) or google translate the Russian version. I guess I can add them in if there’s a major outcry, though.


13 thoughts on “Chapter 20 Palace Hall Entrance (Part 4)

  1. No it’s great as is 👍
    I’ve also decided we’re all going to be feng shui experts before this is all through 😄😅 It’s all just gonna click one day and we’ll all be considered enlightened. 😆

    F’real though. The more he uses it, the more curious I am about this ridiculously complicated topic. I’m gonna have to get me a book!


    1. I was kind of glad those paragraphs weren’t in the online version. They looked difficult 😅

      And not gonna lie, every time I see feng shui appear in the text, I shed a small tear 😂😭 There are tons of free online sources if you’re interested but i feel like it’s a subject open to so much interpretation, it might be hard to learn in depth


    2. I do wish someday I will be enlightened… So far my brain went off everytime I read the word Fengshui. But I keep reading because maybe one day it will make sense to me


  2. Thank you for the translation. Considering that the meaning of that sentence was something entirely different from what it should be, I don’t think there is any need for extra explanation, although this topic is interesting and I like to know their simplified meaning.
    I think the image of this bird could be similar to harpy eagle, and there are good pictures of it in the following link.
    I thought it might be interesting for everyone to get to know this rare bird.


      1. You’re welcome. It must be scary to see this bird during the day and seeing it at night… I don’t want to think about it.


      1. I’m glad it was useful. Me too, I don’t like to get close to the bird. I hope these birds will not become extinct in the future, it’s a pity.


  3. Thank you for the chapter! I think it’s ok as it is… No need to change

    This book is getting better and better, I can’t help but feel nervous and wonder how Wuxie survived the fall

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds good to me! I really didn’t want to do it anyways but I was willing to make sacrifices 😂.

      I’d say the only reason he’s alive is because of that protagonist’s golden halo lol

      Liked by 2 people

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