A Nest of Snakes Inside an Old Tomb - Chapter 48
Yin Xiaoxiao decided to set up home next to the old tomb. It was, of course, going to be outside Ji Kang’s range of awareness. Otherwise, everyday there would be a certain someone spying on him and whispering about whatnot in his ear at random moments, and really that would be much too terrible.
Unsurprisingly, Mo Laoda naturally agreed with Yin Xiaoxiao’s decision. Although the temperature here was a little lower, the dark coloration of Mo Laoda’s body was not for show and his heat absorption ability was naturally above-average. So, for him, it didn’t matter if the temperature here was high or low, and Yin Xiaoxiao naturally didn’t notice.
Yin Xiaoxiao said to Mo Laoda, “Heitan, shall we find a den in the forbidden area? It has to be big and deep with good ventilation. And in front of the cave there needs to be an open space to sunbathe (anyway, the temperature here was low enough that he could also sunbathe). Oh, that’s right. It’d also be best if it was next to a brook, or at least near a brook. Ah, being beside a forest would also be good. Large or small, it doesn’t matter, but then we could eat bird eggs and birds everyday. And also, it’s best if there be lush grass around so that other snakes won’t be able to find our nest easily, blah blah blah…”
Mo Laoda listened to Yin Xiaoxiao and began to giggle. Our nest. This Little Idiot wanted to live together with him right, hehe, good, hehe. If he hadn’t figured out what he felt for the Little Idiot after waiting in front of that stone wall for two days, then Mo Laoda wouldn’t be able to be the future Laoda1 of the vipers. An idiot wouldn’t be that stupid!
And naturally Mo Laoda was determined to win Yin Xiaoxiao over. ‘Hmm, I look so handsome, so mighty, so strong, so charming, how could there be any snake who doesn’t like me?! Yin Xiaoxiao, that Little Idiot, surely also likes me! Definitely!’
Well Mo Laoda, I really don’t know where you get this confidence from, but right now, Yin Xiaoxiao obviously has, at best, only a somewhat hazy good impression of you that he’s not consciously aware of, nothing else. But still, go for it! What? You’re asking why Yin Xiaoxiao already wants to live with Mo Laoda when he only has a bit of a good opinion of him? Cough cough, could it be that it’s still unclear to everyone? From the beginning, Yin Xiaoxiao was with Mo Laoda because he was constrained by Mo Laoda’s obscene might!
Cough cough, but to return to the main point. Since Yin Xiaoxiao had supplied quite specific requests, and, as always, Mo Laoda naturally did his best to look for a cave like this. Yin Xiaoxiao’s requests were undoubtedly demanding, but, because the forbidden area was forbidden, there were no snakes living there. Finally, Mo Laoda really found such a place. Yin Xiaoxiao happily entered that same night. Mo Laoda entered. Naturally, he was still giggling.
The problem of accommodation settled, the problem of their meal was solved by the surrounding environment. Yin Xiaoxiao bounced back to his usual self. These days the farthest he went was to the riverbank to bathe. The rest of the time was spent in the nest in the cave. To further illustrate the point, when Yin Xiaoxiao was eating, he wanted Mo Laoda to feed him.
After cooking bird eggs, Mo Laoda cooked birds and frogs for Yin Xiaoxiao, and his cooking skill was increasing straight to one star chef level. Why hadn’t it moved past that? Please! Although the food was cooked, without any seasoning, the taste was distressing! After careful deliberation and after having asked Yin Xiaoxiao why he wouldn’t eat cooked rat, Mo Laoda brought back a hare! Yin Xiaoxiao drooled when he saw the hare. After having swallowed the hare, Yin Xiaoxiao said that the hare was too big and that he could only stomach half of one plus either a cooked frog or a small cooked bird. Although Mo Laoda agreed for the time being, in the back of his mind he plotted how he could increase Yin Xiaoxiao’s appetite to where he could eat two hares a meal!
The days continued like this for almost a month. On one bright and beautiful early morning, Yin Xiaoxiao, with Mo Laoda asleep beside him in the open area in front of the cave, dazedly felt that he should go and visit his new good friend. He didn’t find it even a little improper that he hadn’t visited his new friend at home in almost a month.
And then he resumed cuddling and slept until noon. Yin Xiaoxiao woke with a yawn. Head muddled, he followed Mo Laoda to the river to bathe and then he said to Mo Laoda, “Heitan, We’re going to the tomb today, okay.”
Mo Laoda frowned. He already knew that, last time Yin Xiaoxiao disappeared from sight, he had entered the old tomb (Yin Xiaoxiao had to explain the words old tomb to Mo Laoda. After all, no snake dug a tomb for themselves for when they’d died) and that, inside the grave, he had made a new ghost friend (Mo Laoda didn’t entirely understand what a ghost was, but Yin Xiaoxiao said the vipers existed to protect this ghost which Mo Laoda understood). The experience from last time made Mo Laoda, from the bottom of his heart, want to shun going near the old tomb. But, as said before, Mo Laoda was entirely obedient to Yin Xiaoxiao so that, even if he didn’t want to go near that place, Mo Laoda had no choice but to go. “Okay, but after what happened, you are not allowed to run all over!”
Yin Xiaoxiao said, “No problem!” then set out, full of joy and expectations, towards the old tomb.
Just as he entered Ji Kang’s range of awareness, Ji Kang’s voice sounded in a roar into Yin Xiaoxiao’s ear. “Yin Xiaoxiao! So you still knew to come!”
Yin Xiaoxiao’s neck shrunk back. What kind of temper was Ji Kang in? He’d come, so why was he angry?! And so, Yin Xiaoxiao very calmly and very loudly roared back at Ji Kang, “Why are you yelling?! Hurry and open the door for me!”
Ji Kang snorted but had already opened the small hole in the stone door in front of Yin Xiaoxiao and Mo Laoda. “Then, come in, come in!”
Although Yin Xiaoxiao really did not want to admit that Mo Laoda was much bigger than he was, he had to face reality. Yin Xiaoxiao had to choice but to shout at Ji Kang, “…Could you make it a little wider?! I can go in but Heitan can’t!”
Ji Kang: “…”
Mo Laoda remained silent during this course of events. But don’t misunderstand. Mo Laoda heard Ji Kang’s voice, but, how to put it, Mo Laoda had great hostility towards Ji Jang right now; don’t forget that it was because of Ji Kang that Yin Xiaoxiao was missing for those two days!
…At this we really have no other choice but to sigh. Mo Laoda can, indeed, be very petty.
The first time Mo Laoda entered the Mudao, he clearly wasn’t even a little interested in the reliefs on either side. This made Yin Xiaoxiao, who had wanted to show Mo Laoda what he’d thought was amazing, very gloomy. ‘Hmph, Heitan really was a snake! Entirely unable to appreciate these few thousand year old reliefs! Hey, if this was the other world, these reliefs would be priceless treasures!’
Very quickly they were in the second Mudao. Yin Xiaoxiao pulled Heitan, who had been about to move forwards, to a stop and asked, “Ji Kang, the mechanism in this second Mudao is still there! How are we going to pass?”
“Hmph, how do you know it is still there? At first, I wanted to have you experience it again.” Ji Kang, harboring malicious intentions2, replied.
Yin Xiaoxiao’s lip curled. He didn’t know whether or not the first and second path mechanisms were still there, but the third mechanism was definitely there and he didn’t want to go down there again!
“There is a hole over there,” Mo Laoda said, voice low.
Yin Xiaoxiao’s gaze followed to where Mo Laoda was clearly indicating and he saw, in that moment, a hole appear in the left wall. Yin Xiaoxiao took the lead and slithered into the small hole. Yin Xiaoxiao entered the hole, and then– “Boom–”
“Hahahahahaha–” This was Ji Kang laughing, savagely.
Yin Xiaoxiao withdrew his head from inside the hole. Tears began to twinkle in his eyes. It really hurt, it really hurt!
Mo Laoda’s heart ached and he promptly slithered to Yin Xiaoxiao’s side. He used his tail to gently rub the top of Yin Xiaoxiao’s head. As he rubbed, he said, “No pain, no pain.”
Yin Xiaoxiao’s eyes curved, and, then and there, two golden beans3 fell to the ground . You know when the type of person who cries even harder when the person (a snake) beside them comforts them? Yin Xiaoxiao was that type of person.
Putting aside his grievance, Yin Xiaoxiao waved his tail. Mo Laoda took the lead and headed for the small hole.
Mo Laoda squeezed in and looked then turned and said to Yin Xiaoxiao, “Little Idiot, the small hole only appears to be straight for 30 or 40 centimeters4, then it turns right.”
And so Yin Xiaoxiao, who believed in moving ahead bravely, was grieving and full of sorrow5.
Yin Xiaoxiao followed, lagging behind Mo Laoda into the small hole. When he turned the corner, Yin Xiaoxiao became frantic. “Aaah! Damnit, Ji Kang! You actually made this a 90° angle! I hate you to death, aaaah!”
“Pfthahahaha—-” This was Ji Kang laughing wildly again.
By the time Mo Laoda and Yin Xiaoxiao had passed through the small hole, they had smoothly reached Ji Kang’s grave room. It looked just like it had the last time Yin Xiaoxiao had entered. As before, temperature-less lights illuminated half of the main grave room. Ji Kang was already waiting by the side of the artificial lake. Although Yin Xiaoxiao knew that Ji Kang was waiting for him and Heitan, he also got the vague sense that Ji Kang was waiting for someone else, as though he had been waiting for that other person for a few millennia.
“Xiaoxiao, what has you in a daze?” Ji Kang asked with a smile. His gaze, however, rested on Mo Laoda. Ji Kang didn’t know much about the vipers, other than that the vipers were there to protect his tomb. The other information that he knew of was that when two non-blood-related snakes were together, they were usually mates. He had formed this understanding after having, for a few thousand years, watched either siblings or mates come to the forbidden area to look for the thing that they were to guard.
Mo Laoda carefully watched that good friend who had taken Yin Xiaoxiao away last time. Finally he reached a conclusion which he announced to the work, “Very ugly.”
Ji Kang: “…”
Yin Xiaoxiao: “Pfthahahaha–”
The topic of whether or not Ji Kang was ugly made Ji Kang’s expression twist. Yin Xiaoxiao heavenwards. So, even a man who had been dead for a few millennia could care about whether or not he was ugly.
Expression returning to normal, Ji Kang said, “Xiaoxiao, last time you came in you didn’t get a good look at where I stay. Today, I will show you around.” As he finished speaking, he came forward and picked up Yin Xiaoxiao.
Mo Laoda was angry. ‘What are you doing holding my snake like this?!’ Mo Laoda was completely flooded with a feeling of distress. Unfortunately, he was ignored by both Ji Kang and Yin Xiaoxiao. What distress? As a ghost and the thing being protected by the vipers, Ji Kang was of the opinion that there was no distress. Being carried in Ji Kang’s arms and being able to observe the main grave room from a normal viewpoint, Yin Xiaoxiao was of the opinion that it could be ignored. And so Mo Laoda could only conscientiously follow Ji Kang.
Ji Kang didn’t choose to go to the stone table near the hallway but followed along a stone path (which actually seemed to be made of precious jade!) set next to the artificial lake. The paved path went to the back. Held in Ji Kang’s arms, Yin Xiaoxiao was amazed to discover that, as Ji Kang walked, the light became softer and dimmer so that it seemed as though the sky had slowly begun to darken.
Yin Xiaoxiao raised his head to look upwards. The light issuing from above was no longer that of the sun at full brilliance but was instead that of the falling sunset. Orange and yellow dye had been used so that the cloud-like curtains caught the faint orange color.
Ji Kang explained this, “The further back we move, the more the sun sets, and, in the part of the ceiling that corresponds to the east, the full moon appears on the horizon. Further on ahead, nightfall is fully depicted with the full moon hanging high in the sky and stars sprinkled all around.”
“Wow, then isn’t that a scene of the changing sky from day to night? How magical.”
Ji Kang looked down at Yin Xiaoxiao held in his arms and said, “It’s very magical. But how magical is it? In the end, it isn’t the real sky.”
Yin Xiaoxiao didn’t speak, afraid that he’d touched on a depressing topic for Ji Kang.He’d stayed in his own burial chambers for a few thousand years. No matter what, it wasn’t a topic that would bring about any happiness.
Yin Xiaoxiao was looking all over. After the artificial lake, there were finely carved trees, grass amidst the trees, and flowers and insects, none of which weren’t carved from the highest quality jade. Yin Xiaoxiao gasped silently in amazement. He looked carefully and saw that even the grains of dirt between the flowers, plants and trees were made of finely powdered jade. Looking at all of this, Yin Xiaoxiao couldn’t help but wonder: was the Zhou Dynasty really prosperous to this extent? How much precious jade was here? Anything taken out of here, even at random, would be priceless.
When they had walked all the way to the back, the scene was of night. But with the radiance of the full moon and the blanket of stars everything was covered in a layer of hazy moonlight, which was unlikely to make anyone feel as though it were night. This kind of scenery, most people wouldn’t be able to see it in their entire lifetime.
Yin Xiaoxiao sighed with feeling. Ji Kang let out a gentle laugh which sounded sarcastic and mocking. And finally, Mo Laoda’s face was expressionless.
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