Translated by Moe
Chapter 2 Post-Civilization Age
The yaks and sheep had most likely been startled, causing them almost to break through the fencing in a stampede but had fortunately been headed off by the herdsmen armed as they were by their berating, loud voices. The typically fierce mastiffs were now slinked on the ground, barking and restless.
At the same time, children were crying in the embrace of their mothers as they offered comforting and soothing words.
A few of the old herdsmen were in the middle of fervent prayers and even got down on their knees, kowtowing toward the tall mountains in the distance, creating a very somber setting.
As far as Chu Feng’s arrival is concerned, the herdsmen were not surprised; they often see many foreigners pass by and take shelter among their camp.
After a long time, the noise at the foot of the mountain subsided.
Chu Feng scrubbed himself clean with hot water before treating himself to some pungent butter tea, immediately feeling his exhaustion lessen in his body. He took all the candy he had in his possession and gave it away to the children.
Several of the children’s cheeks were flushed red—the characteristic plateau redness—and wore shy smiles, giving off a straightforward and honest impression. After he had finished distributing the candy, they scampered away haphazardly, obviously delighted and content.
What exactly happened in these mountains just now? This was the question on Chu Feng’s mind. Could it be that those unusual blue colored red spider lilies also bloomed around here before?
The old herder inside the tent had grizzled hair, with deep wrinkles on his forehead, and wore an obviously worried expression on his face. He gazed outside the tent toward the faraway mountains.
Chu Feng was soon informed that the blue fog did indeed appear here, swirling within these foothills, and was the reason why many of the livestock had been startled, exhibiting unusually violent behavior and an almost frenzied desire to escape.
However, there was no blue colored red spider lily, and the fog had been very thin.
“Why did you kowtow to the mountains?” Chu Feng asked.
“That is the direction of the Holy Mountain.” The old herder replied.
The Kunlun Mountains1 had always been considered sacred and renowned as one of the Holy Mountains. The rich Kunlun mythos appears in many and varied written records, from the Classic of Mountain and Sea to the Huainanzi and the Records of the Grand Historian.2
Only a thin shroud of fog appeared in the vicinity of these mountains, but it could be seen that the blue mist in the direction of the Kunlun Mountains was exceptionally rich.
The dense fog there was an ardent, roiling mass of seething blue light that shone out like beams of light, a dramatic contrast to the rosy clouds in the sky.
It appeared as if a dazzling blue sun wrapped in thick fog was rising and falling there. Even separated by such distances, bright rays would emit from time to time like bolts of lightning.
The endless swirling of the shining blue light appeared incredibly dazzling and mysterious from afar.
Therefore, some of the older herdsmen kowtowed and prayed toward that direction.
This spectacle afforded by that place was obviously very astonishing; the gorgeous blue fog was like an impenetrable wall and brought about that blazing, magnificent sunset that was even more extreme than the one Chu Feng saw in the middle of the desert.
In the end, what was the reason for the appearance of these miraculous scenes? Chu Feng pondered.
He can think of one possibility, that an earthquake in the mountains may have triggered these events.
A similar incident happened in the past; there would often be a sudden clap of thunder in the valley that bombarded all the living creatures.
If the mountains were hit by a violent earthquake, it is very likely that a magnetic anomaly occurred. Under the effects of the electromagnetic field, the electrical charges in the cloud layer could be affected by the mountain’s magnetic field and caused an electrical discharge. Combined with aurora effects that created the gorgeous light display in the sky, it may have made this area so terrifying and entirely different from usual.
Chu Feng was not superstitious by nature and felt that there must be a scientific explanation for what happened in these mountains.
But no matter what explanation he offered, the old herder remained unconvinced. Instead, the old man cast an angry look at Chu Feng, believing that Chu Feng had desecrated the Holy Mountain and almost drove him out.
Even Chu Feng found many parts of his conjecture to be far-fetched but couldn’t come up with a better explanation, such as the bewitching flowers he came across in the desert.
He sighed. There were many questions with no answers in this “Post-Civilization Age.” Despite the best efforts of many to use the laws of the past to come up with an explanation, this world is becoming increasingly difficult to understand.
A war fought long ago had left half the Earth in ruins and nearly turned the entire planet into a wasteland. Although the world is brimming with life again due in part to extensive restoration efforts, it was too difficult to recover the lost splendor of yesteryears.
The relatively long years of the Post-Civilization Age had given rise to many paranormal phenomena that lead to large disturbances but offered few explanations.
In the early morning hours, a bright red sun rose above the bright red clouds that glided over the swollen hills, casting its vibrant rays on the tents and surrounding grassland.
Chu Feng said his farewells to the tribe and made his way into the distance once again. He headed west, into the plateau.
Along the way, he learned that the mysterious blue fog had covered an extremely wide area, and have at least appeared in the places he passed by.
“This couldn’t be another paranormal phenomenon, could it?” He said to himself.
Each paranormal event that transpired in history had brought about violent upheaval, but there hasn’t been any definitive explanation to date.
The sky above Tibet was especially blue, a sharp contrast to the pure white clouds sitting low on the ground as if one could just reach out ever so slightly and touch it with their hands. The Gobi, the mountains, and the grassland were all tranquil, like a piece of paradise aloof from the outside world.
Chu Feng heard a lot of rumors along the way.
A herdsman said that the Living Buddha of the Holy Mountain has awakened and caused the entire sky to fill with blue light to and saturate the air with dense fog.
Someone said that a sacred Vajra Bodhi Tree3 has begun to flower and bear fruits.
“A dragon mastiff was born!” Someone else said.
In the eyes of the locals, a genuine mastiff born in the wild can be a match for lions and tigers, much different to the ones that have been domesticated. The legends also speak of a dragon mastiff that emerges in the Holy Mountain every several hundred years, with extraordinary resilience and power as well as the ability to vanquish demons.
A few days later, Chu Feng neared the Holy Mountain region.
He has learned that the faint blue fog had appeared in all the areas he had passed through, mostly in line with the past several paranormal phenomena that occurred in history.
At the same time, this also implied that the common people will not know the cause just like they didn’t know the several times before!
More importantly, most people do not know what these events entail.
Speaking of which, Tibet should have frigid weather this time of the year, but Chu Feng had felt a pleasant warmth his entire journey westward these past few days.
Several days ago, the yellowed leaves had fallen in piles on the ground, covering everything. But now it is different.
The remaining foliage on the trees seemed to have come back to life again; no longer yellow, no longer falling.
This has been particularly true as he neared the Kunlun Mountains. Along the way, whether it was weeds, brambles, or trees, have all become green, silken and vibrant in the warm weather.
It is already late autumn, but the air lacked that distinctive bleak chill.
“Could the warm weather caused by the paranormal phenomenon?” Chu Feng speculated.
Shortly thereafter, the Kunlun Mountains came into view.
Even across such great distance, he could already feel a sense of oppression.
Towering mountains, imposing and majestic, extended unbroken into the distance, as if the spine of the world just happens to run up and down these lands.
This mountain range carries many legends, shrouded in rich mythology since time immemorial.
Chu Feng had originally planned on turning back after entering Tibet. But along the way, he continued to hear about the unusual changes around the Kunlun Mountains and decided to take a closer look.
Finally, Chu Feng had arrived at his destination. The towering peak seemed as if a city of gods from where he’s standing at the foot of the mountain. Situated in the Western lands, it’s boundless and imposing energy is incredibly eye-catching.
This is only a small part of the Kunlun Mountains. The locals have seen this area bathed in blue light a few nights ago, and few people dare to approach these days.
Chu Feng gradually made his way up the mountain.
The ascent soon became steep and rather precipitous, giving rise to a scattering of large boulders as the trail became increasingly treacherous. However, the vegetation along the way was lush green and full of life, which is obviously not normal this late in the season.
“Was there really an earthquake a few days ago?” Chu Feng looked around carefully.
The mountain showed remnants of fissures; the ground had many wide crevices, with boulders that had apparently rolled down from higher up the mountain, and some of the cliffs had collapsed.
It was precisely this enormous mountain where the strange phenomenon seemed to have originated.
“What is this?”
Chu Feng saw a particular boulder with characters notched deep onto its surface that was partially buried under the earth.
After the earthquake, a small part of the mountain broke off and caused a landslide. This boulder was unearthed from deep within the ground as a result.
There is a layer of green tinge on the stone that looked like dried moss.
Chu Feng gently stroked the lettering on the stone and realized that these words are Bronze scripts; a type of extremely ancient writing that was often used to engrave bells and cauldrons after the bronze was cast.
Most people would have difficulty recognizing this.
Chu Feng was lost in thought: why would it be these two words?
Seeing the two words “West” and “Queen” here, how can it not let people think of Queen Mother of the West4 from the ancient times?
“Perhaps it was only an inscription left behind by people from ancient times.” Chu Feng shook his head and reasoned to himself.
“Something’s not right!”
A thought suddenly struck him. When he had touched the lettering earlier, he had felt that the so-called “withered moss” was not normal.
“Green patina!” This epiphany caused his heart to shake.
This stone stele had been covered in dust and buried in the mountain. After giving it some thought, he realized it didn’t make much sense for there to be moss. It had been a very long time since it last saw the light of day before the earthquake unearthed it.
It was actually made of bronze!
But such a big block of ancient bronze is rarely seen.
“The Houmuwu ding5 excavated from Yinxu weighed less than two thousand catties and is already known as the largest piece of bronzeware to survive from the ancient world, but this bronze stele…”
Chu Feng pushed away some of the loose rocks and gravel for a closer look. Even by conservative estimates, this piece of bronze weighed at least five or six thousand catties. He was shocked; this is definitely a rare treasure in the ancient times.
One look at the rich green patina and he could tell this antique had been buried for many years.
If this were a stone stele, Chu Feng might have still believed that this was left behind by a predecessor who came here to pay homage to the deceased. But he is now uncertain given the revelation that this was a large bronze stele.
Who could be so frivolous to do all this in the distant past?
- The Kunlun Mountain is a mythological site while the Kunlun Mountains is a real geographical location. The story will seem to blend these two distinctions.
- Classical Chinese texts.
- The tree that Buddha sat under in Bodh Gaya.
- A goddess in Chinese mythology said to have resided in a palace on the Kunlun Mountain.
- A rectangular sacrificial vessel and the largest piece of bronzeware to survive from anywhere in the ancient world.