Chapter 1 - Gold is Everywhere
“Gold is everywhere, simply waiting for the fortunate one.”
At the crack of a dawn, a voice filled with despair could be heard crying this one sentence from a farmhouse in a nearby suburb north of Jinshi. The farmhouse was built in the traditional style and had a four-sided courtyard.
Shen Yu suddenly got up from her bed in fright, cold sweat dripping down her forehead. After listening more carefully to that broken voice, she patted herself repeatedly on the chest and let out a sigh of relief. She could picture the way the disturbance looked: a nervous, old man in his fifties who only knew how to repeat that one line.
“Mom!” Shen Yu flailed her arms and legs as if she was swimming on the bed. “Why did you let Uncle Li come out so early in the morning?” She had just gotten home for a well-needed break and was incredibly irritated that she still could not sleep in. Before she had left her childhood home, she had long gotten used to Uncle Li acting like a bizarre rooster. Like clockwork, he would always scream that same line over and over again at dawn. At least she never needed to spend money on an alarm clock. However, it had been many years since she had lived at home and she was no longer accustomed to this particular scene.
Uncle Li was actually Shen Yu’s grandfather’s adopted son. For as long as she could remember, he was always a little cracked in the head. His reputation had become synonymous with being mentally unfit for the villagers. During college, when Shen Yu got into arguments, in the heat of the moment she would often curse them out by saying that they were “like my Uncle Li”. Since no one knew what she actually meant, they were not offended. In fact, they actually felt that she was complimenting them because she was comparing them to the older generation.
However, rumor on the streets was that Uncle Li, in his youth, was actually a highly talented individual. Apparently even his current mantra had roots in his past. It was said that Uncle Li used to be a part of one of the first geological expedition teams that the government established right after the Cultural Revolution ended. At that time, the nation had wanted to conduct a land survey to accurately map out its domestic resources. National expeditions were opened throughout the country. The government ended up investing a lot of manpower and resources, including airplanes, into this project. During his tenure, Uncle Li supposedly came across a geological map that showed a giant gold deposit near the Old Longtan district .
The stories went on to say that Uncle Li left the geological survey team and recruited his own group to excavate the area indicated on the map. After digging continuously for about two years, they only had two objects to show for their efforts. One was a large crater, about one hundred meters deep, filled with water. The other was a large, white rock. After an additional two years, Uncle Li had exhausted his entire life savings and not a trace of the legendary gold deposit had been found. The project was at an end. During the cleanup, one of the workers threw the white stone into the water-filled pit. As it fell in, the surface of the rock cracked off and a large, golden dog head appeared. Everyone present was dumbstruck at the sight of the sparkling gold. By the time they came to their senses, it was too late. The gold had disappeared beneath the water. Numerous workers dove beneath the waves, searching for it furiously, but no one ever found it again.
Uncle Li had a nervous breakdown on that day and never recovered. From that day on, he only knew how to say, “Gold is everywhere, simply waiting for the fortunate one.” Occasionally, he would rave about a “gold deposit” and “the map”.
That was the legend that was passed down by the villagers. However, when Shen Yu had asked her parents about it, neither of them gave much credence to the rumors. Her father had walked away with a gloomy expression and her mother only said, “Don’t listen to the drivel from other people, they’re just making fun of the witless.”
Since then, Shen Yu no longer believed the rumors about Uncle Li. Her parents were right. The neighbors loved to fabricate old stories for fun and it wouldn’t be the first tall tale they told. Some of the villagers even tried to convince her that she was an adopted child.
“I’m coming, I’m coming!” Shen Yu’s mother wiped her hands on her apron as she quickly walked into the room. Mrs. Shen urged her to go back to sleep and promised that Uncle Li would soon be locked up again.
How can I go back sleep after being frightened half to death? “Forget it, Mom.” Shen Yu yawned and lifted the quilt off of herself. “I can’t sleep anymore. I’m going to go see Uncle Li; it’s been a long time since I last saw him.”
Guilt stabbed Mrs. Shen’s heart. Her daughter had just gotten back home and couldn’t sleep as much as she wanted. “Your Uncle Li is stuck here for the rest of his life. Whenever you want to see him, he’ll be here. Sleep a little more, sweetie. I know you work hard every day. You even have dark circles under your eyes!”
Shen Yu beelined to the mirror to take a look. Young women all loved to look their best and she was no exception. Her dark circles were definitely more prominent than before. “Mom, do we have any cucumbers in the house? I need to put some on my eyes now!”
Mrs. Shen laughed. “We have some, we have some! They’re from our own garden, very tender and juicy! Let me go pick some for you right now!” Just as she was about to leave the room, Shen Yu’s cell phone went off. Mrs. Shen subconsciously slowed her steps. She had a sinking feeling that her daughter’s workplace was calling her to go back to work. Shen Yu hasn’t even had time to rest properly. I was thinking of making some bone broth for her. Her dad just left this morning to get some nice bones for it.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Shen’s gut feeling wasn’t wrong.
“Chief editor, didn’t the senior editor give me three days of vacation? Why am I being called back before I even had the the first day off? I don’t want to go back…”
Mrs. Shen smiled and walked into the courtyard garden to pick cucumbers, relieved that her daughter wanted to stay at home. Just as she picked the first one, Shen Yu sped out of the room. “Mom! The newspaper office called about an urgent matter! I need to go back into work!”
“Oh, honey…” Mrs. Shen turned around with one cucumber dangling in her hand and saw that her daughter had already went out the front door. She wiped the corner of one eye with her sleeve.
Shen Yu’s heart felt heavy as she went back to the office. Her original intention was to spend some quality time with her parents during her break but now she had to eat her own words. Her hands were tied since the editor-in-chief had personally requested she come back.
Instead of feeling honored from getting attention from the executive editor, Shen Yu felt more perplexed at the situation. Ji Ruolan was the department beauty, it was odd that she didn’t get tapped for this job. Favoritism was abundant in the newspaper industry and it didn’t take long for Shen Yu to learn this lesson. Yesterday was a perfect example of this. After sniffing out a big story and painstakingly staking out the perfect shot, the managing editor immediately gave her a three day vacation. His reasoning was that she had been working there for over a year without a break and that it was finally time for her to get one. But Shen Yu knew the truth. He just wanted to give her story to someone else, someone he liked more.
The managing editor’s blatant partiality didn’t bother her. Her mother had always told her, “bad things are often blessings in disguise”, and she believed that saying. At the time, Shen Yu pretended to take his words at face value and thanked her manager for giving her time off to see her parents. She even bowed to him before she left his office and sang a cheerful tune as she left work. The senior editor was so shocked by her unexpected reaction that he thought she had lost her marbles in rage.
When Shen Yu reached the outskirts of the small town, a black Mercedes sedan came over and stopped abruptly in front of her. The window rolled down and revealed a middle-aged man with balding hair with an ingratiating smile pasted on his face. Shen Yu’s mouth almost dropped open. The person picking her up was the same senior editor who did his best to make her life difficult!
Shen Yu suddenly felt a little faint. In her entire tenure at the newspaper, her manager was never this deferential to her. The sudden difference in treatment made her feel a little uncomfortable. As the car started moving, Shen Yu’s mind teemed with thoughts about the situation. What status did this person have such that the senior editor would pick me up? Why did this person only ask for me to be the interviewer?
The senior editor drove Shen Yu to a military district’s guest house. Parked military vehicles filled an entire courtyard and she could see soldiers holding rifles guarding the main walkway. Shen Yu started to tremble. As a junior reporter she had never been present for something this official and the atmosphere intimidated her.
Once they reached the entrance the two soldiers who were stationed there saluted Shen Yu but blocked the senior editor from going forward. A young and handsome officer greeted her and explained to her that his senior officer had been waiting for her for a long time.
Her heart started pounding as she followed the officer upstairs. Did she hear correctly? Was there really a senior military officer waiting for her? She pinched her face to make sure she wasn’t dreaming and yelped when it hurt. The male officer escorting her turned around and asked if everything was alright.
Shen Yu shook her head furiously and mumbled under her breath, “I guess I’m not dreaming.”
Although she tried to be quiet, her escort ended up hearing what she said. He revealed a smile that lit up his whole face.
Shen Yu could feel her face flush. The more I look at him, the more handsome he seems.
He led her to an elevator and they took it to the top floor of the building. While exiting the elevator, an army officer who looked about in his mid-fifties crossed their way. The young officer saluted him deferentially. “Good morning, general.”
After returning his greeting, the general smiled at Shen Yu. “You must be the young lady that we’ve been waiting for. Please proceed, the senior official has been waiting for you.”
Shen Yu’s eyes turned round with shock. The person waiting for her had to be of a very high rank in order for a general to be this deferential. Just what was she walking into?