Meanwhile the fatty was squatting on the outer coffin lid, and when he vaguely noticed that the backside of the lid had some faint inscriptions, quickly grabbed a brush to dust off the surface.
The inscriptions were carved using cinnabar and could still be clearly distinguished even after thousands of years. It seemed as if something strange was mixed into the cinnabar as well, because the inscriptions let off an abnormally sweet scent that caused those who smelt it to feel unsettled.
"The sky is gray, the ground is vast, the dead return to yin, the living reside in yang, life has li11, death has villages, do not go further, or else ... incur mutual destruction."
The glow from the flashlight swayed from side to side, as if a will-o-wisp was darting to and fro inside the tomb. Fatty's expression changed.
Meng Fuyao, who was diligently working on the inner coffin, casually inquired without raising her head: "Oh, it's a Han dynasty style epitaph. But that last part was a little strange, could you repeat it?"
The fatty gulped and opened his mouth to respond, but before he said anything, out of the corner of his eye he noticed one of the extinguished candlesticks. In that moment he jumped up and cried out in fright.
"Your Granddaddy's wrong13! What do you think we are, mountain bandits or something!" Fuyao laughed and rebuked the fatty at the same time, while about to rise from her crouching position.
Suddenly, a tremendous noise came from behind her, causing the entire chamber to shake and making 7 or 8 people who couldn't maintain their footing tumble into a heap of bodies. Yet another deafening sound came, as if a giant who had the power to split the heavens and earth stomped above them and pounded the earth. The tomb chamber's ground promptly began to tilt, resulting in the heavy stone coffin sliding across the ground and explosively impacting the wall. At the southwest corner of the tomb, dirt and rubble were shaken loose and fell, creating fist-sized holes in the floor. Several people covered their heads and frantically rolled on the ground trying to escape, with the fatty among them; unfortunately, the fatty had a lot of meat but was not very quick. He rolled a little too slowly and was pinned down by the falling debris, causing him to desperately shout. The pounding noise outside also began to quickly increase in tempo.
In the chaotic midst of shouting and howling, Meng Fuyao raised her head with difficulty. She first grabbed the backpack that slid next to her and raised it above her head for protection, then authoritatively yelled, "It's probably a landslide! There's been heavy rain recently! Evacuate! Immediately!"
Those taking cover on the floor near the tomb entrance rose their heads and half shouted, half wailed back, "The entrance is blocked by rubble!"
"WTF is crying supposed to do!? Will crying open the entrance!?" Fuyao then proceeded to roll a few times on the ground littered with shattered stones, raise her head to peek at the ceiling, and holler, "There's a bandit tunnel ahead! Escape this way!"
"That tunnel hasn't been fully excavated yet! It still has half a corpse in it!"
Meng Fuyao secured the backpack around her neck and leapt forward, attempting to stand straight. However, yet another heavy quake tripped her, and she went sprawling on the floor. Accepting her fate, Fuyao decided to give up on standing. Clenching her teeth, she grabbed a metal pick on the ground and then rolled forward towards the bandit hole. She raised the pick and started wildly smashing it towards the half-excavated tunnel.
"Shua la la", first a leg fell out, then blood and bits of corpse came flying out and mixed with the dirt and dust surrounding her! Despite the gory scene, Fuyao didn't even spare a glance.
Next the rest of the corpse slid out of the newly expanded exit, pressing down and forcing Meng Fuyao to stand a little to the side. The incomplete body tumbled down the sloped chamber ground, leaving a trail of blood and debris as it rolled over to the southwestern corner of the room.
Just as the body tumbled away, right behind it came the shriveled skull, which dropped onto Fuyao's stomach. In one smooth motion she flung the skull away, yelling "Go! Stop obstructing my work!"
Finally, the last clumps of yellow-gray soil in the bandit tunnel rained down, exposing a bit of daylight in front of Meng Fuyao's eyes. Even though her face covered in dirt and ash, she still cracked a toothy grin.
"Those who haven't died yet! Come with me! There's an exit!"
The team members hurriedly crawled over, and Fuyao grabbed a hold of a one's collar behind her and tried to stuff him into the hole. However, that person quickly tried to push away her hand.
"You're a woman!"
"I'm the chief!"
The quaking sounds continued unabated, and the stone floor had already tilted into several right angles. Only the ground near the bandit tunnel was still flat, but even that would soon change. Even worse, there were still the elusive falling rocks that were sharp and quick like arrows.
The stubborn kid was still clinging in front of the tunnel refusing to budge, wanting Fuyao to escape first no matter what. However, chivalry at a time like this was simply not chivalry at all! Meng Fuyao's eyes had almost become the same color as her hair; after grinding her teeth loudly, she gave the stubborn fool a hard slap to the face, hitting the gentleman who cared about letting woman go first so hard that he saw stars and fell into a short daze.
Taking advantage of this short period, Fuyao stuffed the guy into the tunnel, even giving him a kick in the butt for good measure.
"Keep dilly-dallying and I'll slap you to death!"
Apparently this threat was very effective, and the next couple team members efficiently scrambled up the tunnel in an orderly manner. However, when Fuyao reached out her hand to help the last fatty up the tunnel, her hand only grasped at air.
She turned around and saw that the fatty had already rolled almost to the cave-in's other half, and was currently struggling to grab hold of the various debris that was tumbling down the slope in a futile effort to stop his downward trajectory. Behind him were mounds and mounds of broken crags that showed their rough edges, quickly drawing nearer to him.
The fatty hoarsely yelled out "ao ao!", already unable to formulate a sentence of intelligible Chinese words.
Fuyao glanced back quickly and wrapped a foot around a protruding lamp, then fell flat on the ground, throwing out her extended arm and catching the thick forearm of the fatty just before he dropped down into the abyss.
The fatty's tears were streaming down his face while he cried, "Sister! Ahh!! Didn't I say not to open the coffin?! Ahhh!!..."
Meng Fuyao fiercely grabbed a handful of the fatty's thick neck flab and sent him "to die".
After crawling halfway up the tunnel, the fatty's bottom was too wide and clogged up the exit, making him unable to ascend further. Fuyao quickly searched for the pick she threw aside earlier, muttering "Jab!"
"Don't jab my chrysanthemum14!!" The fatty howled in fear, and using a sudden burst of strength, immediately popped up out of the tunnel.
Fuyao briefly laughed and was about to follow him up, when her eyes suddenly brightened.
She saw that not far away was a copper-green jade cauldron15 exposed by one of the earthquakes, wobbling and appearing to be close to falling into the crevasses of the former tomb chamber.
Meng Fuyao immediately scooped up the tripod cauldron with her sharp eyes and nimble hands, laughing boisterously. "Ha ha! Good! Good stuff!"
This was a genuine Han dynasty artifact, unearthed today! Even artifacts preceding the Tang dynasty were rare nowadays16! The expedition this time was a lot of effort for little gain; having this object would help with determining the status of the tomb owner and learning about the culture of that period of history, and could be considered a slight compensation.
Overhead, the fatty's face was rocking and swaying while he shouted into the tunnel, "Come up! Come up!"
The greenish cauldron was inlaid with gold and a bit heavy; Fuyao had to use some strength to lift it up, missing the faint red flash of light that appeared after the cauldron left the ground.
As the ground underneath her feet continued to rock and subside, the fatty's round, sweat-filled face poked back into the tunnel. Contrary to his expectations, he saw not Meng Fuyao but the green cauldron! Alarmed, he yelled, "I don't want this, I want you!"
"Shit17! It's not your turn to want me!" Meng Fuyao cackled and rebuked at the same time, then heaved the cauldron upward, "Grab it! You won't lose out, I promise!"
Fatty was helpless, and could only extend his arms to grab the cauldron, muttering "Lunatic woman who only thinks about her research ..."
The cauldron was heavy, so when the fatty grabbed hold of it, Fuyao let out her held breath, and started to climb up.
An eye-watering red brilliance lit up, surrounding Meng Fuyao in an instant. That last bit of ground supporting her beneath her feet finally collapsed, sending stones flying everywhere.
The fatty's arms which just reached out to grab Meng Fuyao's hands ended up touching only air.
Yet even the sound of fatty's yelling was soon cut off.
An otherworldly sound soon resounded, sounding like a zither yet also like a phoenix's cries, yet also like a dragon's roars. Within the cacophony only a whisper of Meng Fuyao's voice could be heard, struggling to say some last words.
"Brother! Remember to report that I died a matyr .... !!"