Chapter 18 - Dog's Head Gold
The moon was very bright but the light it cast was still not enough for Shen Yu to read the small lettering on the map. Thoughts raced through her mind. She wondered if this was a secret treasure map to a pile of gold or something equally valuable. After a minute, Shen Yu calmed herself. Before she could make any assumptions, she needed to get back to the campsite and then spend some time studying this map.
Blackie barked in excitement when he saw Shen Yu take out the map. He energetically started digging in the sand in front of him. Finally, he stopped in exhaustion and lay on his side, panting heavily. His breathing slowed and then...stopped. Shen Yu called his name several times but the dog did not react. When she bent down to pick Blackie up, she found that he lay limp in her arms. Blackie had died.
Shen Yu felt devastated. She had no idea that Blackie was on the verge of death and was subsiding on a last burst of energy before he reached the end of his time. She wept as she put the map in her pocket, heartbroken. Who cares what this map is for? This is the last thing that Blackie gave me, I need to safeguard it.
When she saw the hole that Blackie had dug, tears dribbled down her face. Who would have thought that his last act while he was still living was to dig his own resting place? Thinking of how thoughtful Blackie was only made her cry harder.
She kept vigil over Blackie’s body for half the night, weeping the entire time. Finally, she had to admit to herself that the dog would not be getting back up. She investigated the hole that Blackie dug. It was deep enough but it needed to be widened before she could bury him. There was also a large, lumpy rock about the size of two fists at the bottom. She continued to cry softly as she went to pull it out of the hole. She didn’t want Blackie to lay uncomfortably in his final resting place. To her surprise, the rock was surprisingly heavy for its size, and must have weighed at least ten kilograms. Shen Yu had difficulty moving it and had to expend a lot of energy to haul it up. After lifting the stone, she used her bare hands to widen the ditch to make enough room for Blackie. She wanted to make enough space such that the dog didn't have to curl up in his final resting bed.
She carefully laid the dog down and placed the military canteen in the hole. After filling the burial spot with nearby dirt, Shen Yu went to the riverbank to find a couple of large rocks to act as gravestones for Blackie. The idea was to use the the rock she found in the ditch as the headstone. It took quite a bit of effort for her to move all of the stones to Blackie’s grave. By the time she finished transporting them, she had no energy left to cry. Unfortunately, the headstone she had painstakingly moved on top of the other rocks rolled down as soon as she took her hands of it. It tumbled into the riverbed. Shen Yu made a face. She no longer had any strength left in her to pick it up again. Forget it, Blackie’s grave is fine the way it is. Shen Yu paid her respects to Blackie and said a couple of prayers before she went back to the stream to wash her hands.
The moon was bright and the water in the creek was clear. As she rinsed her hands, Shen Yu noticed that there was something glittering in the middle of the river. She focused her eyes on the object. Water from the stream rushed around an irregular shaped rock about the size two firsts and she could see a faint, golden sparkle coming off of it. Stunned, she stared at it blankly. After gathering her wits, she reached out with a hand to grab the rock but it was too heavy for her to lift with one hand. Grunting with effort, she grasped the stone with both hands and lifted it out of the water. Something about it reminded her of the rock that had just rolled away from Blackie’s grave.
Shen Yu’s jaw dropped when she got a better look at the rock. A strange feeling settled into her entire body, her heart started pounding and she could feel the sweat drip down her body. Is this the legendary dog’s head gold?
She flipped through her thoughts rapidly as she held onto the ore of gold. This is what Blackie was leading me to! She couldn’t believe that the dog she fed and cared for the past couple of days would lead her to a treasure like this! Blackie truly understood the concept of repaying his debts.
“Wahhhhhh!” exclaimed Shen Yu, tears flowing down her face again. The sounds of her sobs echoed through the ravine.
Finally, after getting ahold of her emotions, she turned towards Blackie’s resting place and gravely kowtowed to the dog. Holding the sandy dog’s head gold carefully in her arms, she slowly trod back towards the campsite.
When she was about halfway back, she could hear Tang Can yelling for her. She hollered back and when she heard him reply, she sat down on the ground. Her arms were sore after carrying the heavy gold and she needed to rest before she got up again.
Before long, Tang Can and the group found her.
Predictably, Zhang Fei was the first to speak. She wrinkled her nose at the exhausted girl and sneered. “Are you stupid or just slow in the head? Why the hell would you run off at night instead of sleeping safely in the tent? Why didn’t a wild wolf just eat you? It'd save us the trouble of worrying about you.”
Shen Yu ignored the irate female soldier and stood up, holding the dirt covered dog’s head gold in her arms.
Tang Can came over and looked Shen Yu over, a perplexed look his face. “Did you come here to pick up rocks?”
Shen Yu felt as if she had a frog in the back of her throat. She couldn’t stop thinking about Blackie and the ensuing misery made it hard for her to talk. She looked Tang Can in the eye, hinting at him to take a closer look at the rock.
Tang Can grasped the rock that was offered to him. Within moments, he detected that something wasn’t right. As someone who was a part of the Gold Discovery Armed Forces, he knew this wasn’t any old rock. He turned towards Shen Yu and his voice trembled, “Is this dog’s head gold?”
Shen Yu nodded her head. Mazha immediately came up to both of them, not sure whether to believe them or not. He took the mud covered gold from Tang Can and examined it.
“Oh my f*cking god!” he yelled in awe. His eyes were as wide as saucers and his voice started to shake. “Oh god is this real? Is this really gold? Why is it so heavy? It’s so big! Selling a piece of gold this size would give me enough money to buy a lifetime's worth liquor!”
Zhang Fei sniffed in disdain. “Dream on! Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. Even if this piece of shitty rock is actually dog’s head gold, it’s not your property, it’s the government’s.” She grabbed the gold from Mazha, thinking that it was just a worthless stone. Unfortunately, she underestimated its weight and she didn't use enough strength in her hands. The gold ore dropped out of her hold and rolled into the nearby grass.
“What the eff?!” Mazha jumped up and complained. “What the hell are you doing, man, dropping it like that?”
Zhang Fei acted as if she did nothing wrong and snorted coldly. “It’s not like it’s a delicate porcelain doll, dolt! Dropping it will not cause any significant damage. Just pick it up again!”
Although what she said made logical sense, reality proved to be different. Despite using flashlights to search the area, the group ended up empty handed. They passed over the grassy hill until every rock and branch was turned over. Still nothing.
Tang Can felt so pressured that he could feel sweat dripping down his back. Because of his status as the commanding officer of the group, he masked his worry and pretended to not be fazed. He gritted his teeth and calmly said, “Everyone open your eyes wide and search carefully! Gold attracts dirt easily, so don’t rely on spotting a gold sparkle to find it! Focus on the large, irregularly shaped plods of dirt!”
This piece of dog’s head gold was an exceptional treasure! The gold ore that came from space contained a higher percentage of gold compared to gold ore found on Earth. It’s composition was an unique rarity. Most countries displayed pieces like this with pride and considered them national treasures. Specimens like this were not a dime a dozen, and Tang Can could tell from his brief handling of it that this ore weighed at least ten kilograms. A piece that size could break the national record! Unfortunately…they had lost it almost as soon as it found it.
Tang Can felt his stomach lurch as regret settled in!
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