The two of them dug for a whole day but couldn’t do much else other than make a pit 1.5 metres deep. It was not a total loss, however. The needle of the compass trembled much more in the pit than when it had been on the surface. This was proof that it was the right spot to dig and that they were getting closer to their goal the deeper they dug.
The golden afterglow of sunset spread through the forest and the horses seemed to be galloping through time. Szlamy was in the lead and her perky buttocks bounced in the saddle as her breasts swayed above the horse’s back. Her laughter echoed in the sun-dipped forest. Looking at her, Xia Lei felt like he had been transported to a time when there were Hun kings and that he was cavorting with a Hun princess.
However, Szlamy would never be an elegant princess and he would never be able to go to a world over a thousand years ago. It was just a romantic fantasy.
Xia Lei fulfilled his promise when he got back to the tribe. He drew several buckets of water from the river and filled a big wooden tub to give Szlamy a bath. She went first by herself, then she dunked him in the tub and it became a tub for two. A good portion of the water he put in the tub ended up on the floor…
Xia Lei sat under the light of the oil lamp after making a mess and read the translation of the ancient book which a young tribe-girl had delivered. The person Szlamy had found was efficient indeed, translating the entire book in a day. The translated book had about ten thousand words and were all handwritten; the hand of the girl who did the translation must have hurt.
Xia Lei put the ancient book on the table and read it side by side with the translated book.
The contents of the book were more or less the same as what Szlamy had described. It was mostly Hun history, important figures, major traditions and ceremonies and so on. All these could be found in other history books too, just not as detailed and truthful as this ancient book.
Xia Lei’s gaze then went to the hand-drawn maps. He looked for the translation and started reading.
The translation read: Princess Yong-Mei came from the Silk Road with 3,000 soldiers, 500 horses and a host of weaponry of countless varieties. The tribe lined the streets in welcome, and showed her the greatest respect. Princess Yong-Mei held a flat copper plate in her hand and went on foot, going where the needle on the plate pointed. The soldiers built her a city - The City of the White Horse of Tomorrow…
Xia Lei was gobsmacked. He couldn’t be sure if the compass the princess had was the compass he had fixed but he was sure that the princess did not come to this isolated place to build a city for nothing.
‘Could this princess of the Ming dynasty be looking for what I’m looking for?’ thought Xia Lei.
He read on. It continued describing what would happen if the princess developed the economy and defence. The Huns believed that this princess of the Ming dynasty would definitely help them revive their nation and rebuild their era of Kings. Xia Lei did not find anything about Hun princes, let alone a beautiful love story at the end of his reading.
Szlamy was right. The story of the prince and a princess was not true.
‘The princess brought 3,000 Ming soldiers here hundreds of years ago not for love, and not for political marriage because the Huns were already past their glory by then. Would Emperor Yong-Le let his own daughter marry a worthless Hun prince? Obviously not. But if it wasn’t for love or for politics but a simple search for treasure, she could just excavate it and go. Why build a city here?’ thought Xia Lei.
There were several things Xia Lei could not figure out and he was afraid that the princess had already removed the thing he was looking for; first come, first served.
“Xia, how long more are you going to read?” Szlamy stretched a leg out of the bedcovers and bent it lazily.
Xia Lei’s train of thought was interrupted. He closed the ancient book and looked at that pale exposed leg. The leg was snow-white, delicate jade, full of temptation.
“What’s so interesting about that ancient book? I’ll show you something more interesting.” Szlamy said seductively.
Xia Lei got up and walked over. Guessing would not get him answers and now was the time to be doing something instead of thinking…
Xia Lei went to the ruins of the City of the White Horse of Tomorrow again the next morning. Szlamy did not come with him this time. She did want to go with him but she was chieftain and there were many things which needed her attention. Xia Lei was glad for this too since his efficiency would go up without her around.
He rode his horse straight to the palace grounds without the help of the compass and quickly came to the pit. He scanned his surroundings quickly and jumped into the pit with his tools after confirming that there were no abnormalities. He dug up shovel after shovel…
He dug the whole day again, and the depth of pit was increased to three metres. It was getting difficult to move dirt out of the pit but he hadn’t managed to dig anything up yet.
Xia Lei threw the shovel aside, discouraged. “Damn it, why is it so deep? How am I going to dig it up if it’s ten-plus or twenty metres underground? Can’t Boss Shi send an excavator?”
He could barely throw the dirt out of a three-metre pit but if he went deeper he would have no way of getting the dirt out even if he was very strong.
Thinking about it made him gloomier and his gaze landed on the compass he had put on the pit wall. The compass was about a metre off the bottom of the pit. He had glanced at it during the last metre and not brought it down with him. He took it in his hands and the needle suddenly turned in a circle, then back to its original position.
Xia Lei was startled. He put the compass on the bottom of the pit and the frequency of the needle’s trembling increased. It pointed south now when it had been pointing east earlier.
Xia Lei looked at the south wall of the pit and at the compass on the ground and immediately connected the dots. A smile appeared on his face. “I’m on the right depth now. Time to go horizontal.”
He did not know how far he had to dig but digging horizontally was surely much easier than digging vertically.
Xia Lei picked up the shovel and dug for a bit more before the satellite phone rang all of a sudden.
It was Shi Bo-Ren, and he cut straight to the chase, “Tomorrow, 0200 hours. The plane will air-drop the items you need.”
“Good, I need them,” said Xia Lei.
“I dug a huge pit and I’m talking to you in this pit now. I haven’t dug anything up yet. Give me more time,” said Xia Lei.
“Nn. We’re in Pakistan. We’ll find some way to gain you more time. Tell the White Hun Tribe to prepare to receive the items after you go back. That’s it. End communication.” Shi Bo-Ren hung up.
Xia Lei put away the satellite phone and thought, ‘Bureau 101 is active in Pakistan now. Boss Shi and Long Bing must have some plan to attract the attention of the CIA. No wonder it’s so quiet on my end. But this isn’t a long-term solution either. I have to dig this up as soon as I can and leave.’
The thought of leaving made Xia Lei think of Szlamy and he couldn’t help feeling sad. He was not together with Szlamy out of love but there was a feeling of intimacy between a man and a woman after having that sort of relationship, even if it wasn’t love. Also, he felt like he owed Szlamy. This was why he wanted to give the White Hun Tribe supplies, and 2,000,000 US dollars. He wanted to make it up to Szlamy and the White Hun Tribe in this fashion.
Back in the tribe, Xia Lei told Szlamy about the air-drop in the wee hours of morn. She got people to prepare for it right away, and all the carts in the tribe were gathered. They also lit signal bonfires in areas suitable for an air-drop.
The women and men of the tribe gathered to await collection. Night descended and people were gathered all around the bonfires. Chatter and laughter filled the air; it was a rather lively scene.
“Xia, what did you dig up today?” said Szlamy intimately as she nestled in Xia Lei’s arms by the biggest bonfire.
“Nothing,” said Xia Lei. Stares came from everywhere, watching him and Szlamy, but he was used to it already. Their ‘wedding night’ had been practically broadcast to everyone and he’d gone through that, so what was this little display?
“Told you there was no treasure but you didn’t believe me…” Szlamy suddenly remembered something and said anxiously, “You won’t take our things back because you didn’t dig up anything, will you?”
Xia Lei laughed. “I’m not a child. I won’t go back on my words. Relax, I do sincerely want to help your tribe. I won’t ask anything of you even if I don’t manage to dig up anything.” After a pause, he drew close to Szlamy’s ear and nibbled on her earlobe as he said, “I’m doing this for you too. I won’t be so foolish to send so many supplies if it weren’t for you.”
Szlamy giggled and looked full of bliss. She drew playfully close to his ear too and said with warmed breath, “I can give you all of me if you want to drill deep.”
Xia Lei was speechless.
This was Szlamy, and she wouldn’t be her if she didn’t say things like this.
The whine of plane engines came from the sky past 0150 hrs. A huge Cloud20 military cargo plane appeared in the sky, flying slowly past several bonfires. Wooden crates dropped through the air, deploying parachutes as they fell and descending slowly towards the ground.
The Cloud20 plane turned around after completing the air-drop and flew in the direction of Pakistan; it did not linger a minute more.
The crates were quickly gathered in a pile and Szlamy ordered them all opened.
Everything Xia Lei had requested was in the crates. There was a hundred Russian-made AK12 assault rifles and ammunition, and ten Chinese-made sniper rifles and ammunition. There was equipment for building the hydropower station, all in small sizes, some home appliances like electric cookers, electric blankets and so on. There was some engineering equipment, batteries and transformers for impact drills and blasting devices, and some professional digging tools. Last but not least was 2,000,000 US dollars in many cash bundles.
The men and women of the tribe rejoiced. Some took the AK12 assault rifles for test-shooting and the gunshots were deafening. Some danced around the bonfires, and some headbutted the huge pile of US dollars…
Szlamy did not seem interested in all of these. She went to Xia Lei and put her arms around his waist as she rewarded him with a hot kiss.Previous Chapter Next Chapter