Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Initially, Ah Ow had only wanted to tease the seal. However, the seal had not reciprocated Ah Ow’s intention to play along. In fact, it had almost bit Ah Ow, and that angered her.
The seal, too, was angry. It opened its mouth and let out a call.
Ah Ow looked to the sky and howled even louder. Ah-wooooo!
At that moment, all the Nganasan wore a look of shock. Li Du did not require Big Ivan’s translation to know what they were talking about. All along, the men had thought that Ah Ow was a dog.
The seal used its pectoral fins to support its round body in moving to try to bite Ah Ow. Ah Ow’s size was smaller than the seal’s and hence, the seal was unafraid of the wolf. In turn, it now wanted to take the chance to have a meal.
However, Ah Ow never did fight battles alone. She easily managed to avoid the seal’s attack. Then, it turned around and called out. Ah Meow, Ali and the rest immediately rushed forth.
Ah Bai looked to its left and right but did not go forth to deal with the seal. Instead, it climbed atop a Nganasan man.
Seeing that, Ah Ow was displeased. Ah Bai had often climbed atop of Ah Ow. Now that Ah Ow had met with trouble, Ah Bai ran off. That made Ah Ow feel like Ah Bai was disloyal and she started to howl at the monkey.
Ah Bai ignored Ah Ow and when it managed to get above the Nganasan man’s shoulder, it took out a dagger from his bag. With the dagger in its little hands, Ah Bai hopped down and ran towards the seal.
The rest of the Nganasan also started to make their preparations. Bumping into a lone seal was a good opportunity to hunt. The men were ill equipped to deal with a bunch of seals, but a lone seal was a pretty target.
Ah Ow, Ah Bai and the rest surrounded the seal and circled around it. The seal started to get nervous. Its head followed their circling and it looked as though it was about to break down.
The animals started their attack and the Nganasan, too, let out their hunting dogs. The dogs formed their teams and coordinated themselves to pounce on the seal, and quickly knocked it to the ground.
Seeing that, Ah Ow tilted her head and took a look. Then, she followed suit and went forth to attack the seal as well.
The seal had a huge body and immense strength. Although the hunting dogs outnumbered it, the seal remained undaunted. It retaliated by biting back and knocking the dogs back, yelling fiercely.
Soutar Nasang whipped out a long spear and walked silently to the seal’s side. Just as the seal opened its mouth to call out, Soutar Nasang swiftly threw the spear into its mouth, going deep into its throat.
“Wow, that’s brutal,” Li Du said.
Big Ivan said, “Men will do anything to survive.”
Though the seal had great resolve to live, it didn’t stand a chance and soon dropped lifelessly on the ice.
Seeing that, the Nganasan rushed forward to butcher the seal. They used a knife to slit its throat to collect its fresh warm blood.
With the fish and a seal, the Nganasan returned to their camp cheerfully.
The fish and the seal would be enough to feed them for two days. There was nothing more important to them than having food to fill their stomachs.
The storm had been going on for the past two days. When it stopped, the weather promised to stay mild for some time. Li Du and his people bade farewell to Soutar Nasang and the nomads. Bringing along some reindeers with them, they resumed their sea journey.
Having stayed with the Nganasan tribe for two days, Li Du had not only eaten their food and tasted their drinks, but also joined them in their hunt. Besides all that, he also asked the men for more information on their surroundings. The Nganasan had helped them with directions. The men mentioned that there was a path Li Du and his team could take to get where they wanted to go.
Most of the places this deep in the Arctic had no names and an exact location could only be identified based on memory and experience.
After passing the location of the Nganasan tribe, they sailed west for hundreds of kilometers. A huge ice crevice appeared in front of Li Du, and the blue water flowed along the ice, like a long river.
Such an ice crevice was a common sight in the Arctic. During their entire journey, Li Du and his gang had not dared to enter any of those. That was because it might be an optical illusion. Although the crevice may look very wide at first sight, it might turn out to be narrower than it had seemed.
This crevice they were facing now looked sufficiently wide. In fact, the further they went, the wider the crevice was.
Following Li Du’s command, the ship changed its direction and went deeper into the crevice.
It was another two days of sailing before the satellite signals showed that the location was pretty much the same as the one marked on the map. They had finally gotten nearer to the invisible cemetery.
The ice crevice was next to an area of polar sea marked on the map. However, it was still some distance away from the invisible cemetery. The ship was no longer able to sail further and they had to move to another transportation tool.
Initially, Li Du had wanted to utilize one of those ice-terrain vehicles. However, with the reindeers they had gotten from the Nganasan, Li Du could now travel in a reindeer sleigh.
Leaving behind the crew of the ship to look after the vessel, Li Du brought Brother Wolf and the rest to head east on the sleigh.
It was a cold, icy world of white there. Wherever they looked, they were surrounded by huge layers of ice. There was no greenery, nothing to contrast the stark whiteness.
The reindeer pulled the sleigh along with all their might. Li Du first looked for an ice river that the rangers had indicated. The old men had previously arrived there with a wooden boat and then had come upon the invisible cemetery.
After taking a short rest, Li Du sighed. “It’s no wonder that the old men had said nobody else could have found the cemetery. The entire Arctic is so big and the locations are hard to mark. Even with the markings on the map, we need to put in so much effort. How could anyone find it without the map?”
After resting, they continued north on the river. As the crevice became narrower, it was a sign that the ice layers outside were getting deeper and thicker. Finally, a region of ice peaks appeared.
The invisible cemetery was located there, right below the ice.
Having confirmed that they were in the right location, Li Du nodded to Brother Wolf and said, “Come here, get ready, and be careful.”
Brother Wolf smiled. “No problem, boss.”
Brother Wolf, Black Cow, and Whirlwind removed their coats, leaving only their thermal wear on. Then they changed into their tough diving suits, attached the oxygen tanks and slowly got into the water.
The invisible cemetery was hidden under the layers of ice. Just as the old man with the plaited beard had said, there was a huge hole in the ice below. The narwhal bones were resting there.
Just a few minutes after Brother Wolf and the two others had gone below the water, they resurfaced. Brother Wolf gave Li Du a thumbs-up. Seeing that, Li Du was surprised. “You guys found the narwhals already?”
“There’s a lot of them, it’s unbelievable!” Brother Wolf said as he removed his diving mask.
Li Du said, “Come up and let me go down for a look. You guys should make a mark to indicate this exact location.”
It was easy to mark their location. They had the satellite to identify it precisely. The exact spot was recorded to the last centimeter.
After changing into a professional diving suit and equipment, Li Du slowly got into the water.
He believed Brother Wolf’s words and knew there was no need to go and verify them. However, it had been a long trip in the Arctic sea. Now that they had finally found what they were looking for, he did not want to give up the chance of witnessing it himself.
The seawater there was very clear. However, visibility was terrible because there were layers of ice all around. Sunlight could hardly pass through the ice and hence, there was not much light underwater.
The diving headgear was equipped with a strong light and the diving costume had one on the chest as well. When the two lamps were switched on, the bright light illuminated the depths.
Just as Brother Wolf had said, he had to do deeper down, as deep as fifteen or sixteen meters. That was how deep the ice layers went. Li Du started to climb down like he would in a narrow canyon.
Under the ice layers, a huge empty space appeared. However, when he kept going deeper, he still saw nothing but the ice that surrounded him. The depth of the ice layers was truly terrifying!
A gap in the ice was just like a door to another place. It was deep, cold, huge and mysterious.