Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
He Yu took him back to where they were sitting before, pulled out a work permit, and sneakily showed it to him as if they were having some kind of underground meeting.
It showed: Special Administration Bureau, Work No. 2491, He Yu.
Dong Zhi was dazed for a moment, then suddenly a flash of inspiration struck. “Are you from the Exorcism Department?”
He Yu took back the card and smiled. “Exorcism Department? It’s a weird name, but it’s not uncommon to call it that. We just got news that there’s something weird on this train, so we came to track it down.”
He comforted again. “But it’s not a big deal. Don’t worry, we’ll handle it.”
Hearing these words made Dong Zhi inexplicably nervous. “Then will I lose my memory?”
He Yu was perplexed. “Huh?”
Dong Zhi said, “It’s like the American movies and dramas where people who see aliens or some unknown creatures get their memories wiped out by the memory stick. When they get photographed by it, they become amnesiac and don’t remember anything.”
He Yu became interested. “Is there such a movie? What’s it called? I’ll watch it later!”
He Yu scratched his nose. “I’ve been in the mountains practicing cultivation for some time now. I recently went down two years ago and used most of my free time on games. I haven’t seen this kind of memory stick* you mentioned, but just because I haven’t seen it doesn’t mean Americans don’t have it. Last time I went abroad, I saw a lot of advanced equipment that the General Administration Bureau said they’d introduce us to, so I’m not so sure!”
*The instrument they are referring to is the neuralyzer from <Men in Black>.
Although Dong Zhi was interested in what he was saying, hearing him digress the conversation thousands of miles away, he hurriedly pulled the topic back. “So you won’t forcibly erase the memory of witnesses? What if it leaks out?”
He Yu shrugged, giving him a nonchalant expression. “Someone has to believe it first. If you tell someone that you saw monsters because you drank demonic energy that made you hallucinate, do you think others will believe it? They’ll all think you’re a lunatic!”
Dong Zhi: …
What he said made so much sense that he couldn’t refute it. If someone were to tell him half an hour ago that there were demons and ghosts on this train, he would think the other party had a few screws loose. Pretending to be calm, he couldn’t hold back his curiosity and asked, “What are those things? Why did they appear on the train?”
He originally wanted to ask the identity of the man but guessing that the other party was He Yu’s leader, and finding his question to be too abrupt before he echoed the words, he reluctantly changed it to a different question.
He Yu spoke truthfully. “I’m not sure yet. There may be people involved that are manipulating them from behind the scenes, but these things have nothing to do with you. It’s better not to know too much, so you won’t have nightmares.”
Dong Zhi blinked. “Apart from me, has anyone else encountered such a strange thing on this train? What if I run into it again?”
“So far, you’re the only one affected.” He Yu thought about it and said, “Here, I’ll give you a protective talisman*.”
*(平安符) Could also be referred to as a peace charm. It’s an amulet that is said in ancient times could be used to make soldiers invulnerable and to seek peace to protect the body and spirit. Now it’s usually used as a token of love and blessings conveyed to relatives and family.
After he finished speaking, he opened his backpack and rummaged through it. Dong Zhi stared at the fluffy Rilakkuma backpack, with a pair of cute mung bean eyes that looked back at him.
“This backpack belongs to you?”
“Yeah, what’s the matter?” He Yu asked rhetorically without looking up.
“I thought it belonged to your girlfriend.” Dong Zhi laughed dryly. The picture of a burly man like him carrying a cute bear bag was a sight to behold.
He Yu said faintly, “I also want a girlfriend. I heard that the girls in game companies are very beautiful. Will you introduce me?”
Dong Zhi scratched his head. “If I could introduce you, I wouldn’t be a single dog.”
He Yu searched for a long time but couldn’t find anything. He started sweating profusely. “I obviously put it in before I left! I didn’t use it as toilet paper like last time! It’s over, I’m going to be scolded by the boss again!”
Dong Zhi: …
He suddenly felt that He Yu’s talisman might have limited effect.
“Forget it, forget it!” He Yu took out a pen and a cinnabar box. “I didn’t bring yellow paper, so let’s try this first. Do you have paper?”
Can this be solved this simply?
Dong Zhi took out a stack of blank draft papers from his backpack.
“Is white paper okay?”
“Yes, but the effect is a bit worse.”
He Yu took one, folded it in half, cut it into about one-third of its original size, put it on the table, straightened it, opened the cinnabar box, dipped a brush in it, held his breath, and lowered his head to write down a string of characters.
Since Dong Zhi was an art student, he was naturally sensitive to various patterns. He found that the patterns He Yu was writing seemed meaningless at first glance. Circles were connected to other circles. Looking closely, they seemed as if they were connecting one endless universe after another.
He Yu’s serious expression made him look as if he was creating some kind of masterpiece.
It was relatively quiet as it was late in the night. There were still many people whispering, and the noise of the wheels rolling on train tracks made He Yu distracted, as he was muttering to himself so softly that Dong Zhi couldn’t make out what he was saying.
The moment the last stroke was made, He Yu quickly bit his finger and flicked it on the talisman.
His movement was so fast that all Dong Zhi saw was blood splattering on the cinnabar strokes, and it seemed to be accompanied by a faint flash of golden light, that quickly disappeared.
He Yu had drawn the talisman in one go, taking less than a minute, but it looked as if he had taken much longer.
He took a deep breath, wiped off the sweat on his forehead, dried the talisman, folded it into an equilateral triangle, and handed it to Dong Zhi.
“This is the sunlight1 talisman, the most common kind of exorcism charm. If you put it on your body, you can keep the mind2 clear and it won’t be invaded by evil spirits.” He Yu scratched his head, “Originally, writing on yellow paper has the best effect, but since we don’t have any, this will have to do. I have used my blood to amplify it, which can somewhat make up for its lack of strength. Keep it with you at all times, even when you use the bathroom.”
1Mingguang (明光) = Means daylight but can also be referred to as the sun/bright/sunlight.
2Lingtai (灵台) = What ancient cultivators called the middle area of the forehead. It refers to the heart and mind.
Since he had good intentions, Dong Zhi thanked him solemnly and put the talisman in his pocket. Seemingly unconcerned, He Yu took out his phone and started playing games again while chatting with him about the game development and settings.
Feeling bored, Dong Zhi thought about the talisman He Yu had drawn and doodled casually on his sketch pad. He Yu saw it from the corner of his eyes and gave a chuckle.
Dong Zhi had managed to sketch the talisman that he had painstakingly drawn. He drew something that had such complex characters so casually. Although it didn’t look exactly the same, nor have the potency, it was still enough to surprise He Yu.
“It took me a full day to learn how to draw that talisman, yet you did it in a single glance!”
“Well, I am an art major.” Dong Zhi was a little smug but retained his modesty, as he blinked his eyes up and down innocently.
He Yu was both envious and jealous. “Fortunately, you’re not under my master. Otherwise, I’ll be scolded by him every day!”
Just after he finished speaking, his heart moved. “Alright, I’ll teach you the trick of drawing the sunlight talisman. Next time, you can use yellow paper and cinnabar to draw by yourself.”
Dong Zhi was eager but hesitantly asked, “Isn’t this revealing your sect master’s secrets?”
He Yu waved his hand very forthrightly. “It’s fine. It’s just a talisman. Who made you my favorite game artist!”
“People have heads and feet, and talismans are the same. They are divided into the talisman’s head, stomach, gallbladder, and feet*. They are indispensable for subduing demons. They also ward off demons and keep your family safe. Some are royal decrees, and others can even invite gods. You have to add the god you want to invite, but each sect has their own secrets, so the talismans are different between sects even if the function is the same.”
*See Kinky Thoughts.
He Yu rambled on and then told him the trick of drawing talismans.
“Painting runes often fail. If you don’t practice internal kung fu1, you can do more with less effort. Just now, you were able to draw the outline of the pattern, but you’re still far away from injecting qi into the talisman. I’ll draw the sunlight talisman again for you later. When you return, keep practicing it. Remember, when you draw talismans, you must keep your qi2 down in your dantian3 and make sure your mind is united…”
1Neija kung fu occupied with spiritual, mental, or qi-related aspects, as opposed to an “external” approach focused on physiological aspects.
2The vital force as part of a living entity.
3Refers to the focal points for meditative and exercise techniques.
Dong Zhi humbly asked, “Where is the dantian and how do I keep my qi down?”
He Yu thought for a bit then said, “It’s like the feeling of brewing up a fart but you don’t let it out.”
Dong Zhi: …
He Yu said, “The talismans drawn by ordinary people are empty with no abilities, but if you can really draw this rune in its original form, even if it’s empty, it will be enough to deter small demons and monsters. If you encounter such a situation next time, and the talisman fails, you can still bite your finger and draw a sunlight talisman against the air. As long as you visualize it in your mind, the power could be even greater.”
Having said that, he paused, turned his head and asked Dong Zhi. “Are you still a virgin?”
This was something Dong Zhi did not want to answer.
He Yu smiled, patted him on the shoulder, and winked. “I get it. I get it! Then it’s even better. You should pay attention to your birthday.”
Dong Zhi was confused. “What about my birthday?”
He Yu said, “During the time of the winter solstice, the yin diminishes while the yang grows. In other words, it’s just the time to take advantage of both. There is typically no issue in this; however, unexpectedly, you share the same name of ‘Winter Solstice’. If I’m not mistaken, your fate* shows a similar negation between yin and yang, which seeks equilibrium. In terms of misfortune, you’re not the worst as there are many worse than you. However, for those with bad intentions, your fate isn’t completely useless for exploiting.”
*”Fate” is referring to Ba-Zi, which means “eight characters”. You can read more about it by going to Wikipedia and seeing my Kinky Thoughts on the lore.
He didn’t continue further, but he would rather believe something was there than not. Dong Zhi continuously nodded as he was humbly being taught. Seeing his well-behaved appearance, He Yu couldn’t help but rustle his hair. “Good.”
Then he felt embarrassed and grinned. “I have a problem. I can’t stand it when I see a cute little fluffy animal.”
The corner of Dong Zhi’s mouth twitched. “Where am I fluffy?”
He Yu said confidently, “Your hair!”
Dong Zhi drew the talisman several times according to He Yu’s drawing. They became smoother and better over time as he repeatedly practiced. Even He Yu felt that he was very talented and couldn’t help but secretly pity him.
“If you had been seen by my master ten years earlier, I think you would be my junior brother.”
Dong Zhi became curious. “Is there really that kind of hermit master nowadays? What sect are you from? Where do you usually live in seclusion? Mount Emei and Qingcheng Mountain are now crowded with tourists daily, so how can you practice cultivation?”
Usually he was reserved, but when triggered, he could talk endlessly. This was amplified when it was a conversation between acquaintances. Thankfully, He Yu was also a talker himself, so the two hit it off.
Since the questions didn’t involve any of his sect’s secrets, He Yu didn’t plan to lie, so he honestly said, “Our sect is called the Hezao Sect…”
Before he could continue, Dong Zhi made a sound, interrupting him.
“I just saw Xu Jie and her daughter!”
He Yu got up and said, “Where?”
Dong Zhi pointed to the passage of the carriage in front of him. “They just walked over. They looked very familiar, so it should be them!”
“You wait for me here. I’ll come back as soon as I investigate! Don’t move!” He Yu left in an instant without saying another word.
The train was still moving at high speed, causing the light and shadow from outside the window to flicker and overlap, giving a trance-like feeling of traveling through time and space.
*Theme song of the movie <The Great Protector>. Written by Bu Sifan, composed by Dou Peng, and sung by Cai Qin.
A train attendant was pushing a mobile dining cart along the aisle. As the wheels came into contact with the floor of the carriage, it created little trembles.
“Drinks, snacks, fruits, chips, instant noodles here.”
Since boarding the train, he had heard this kind of shouting every three to five minutes, so his ears had grown calluses1, and he usually didn’t bother lifting his head. However, at this moment, the gods sent ghost2, and he raised his head to look.
1Refers to hearing the same sentences or things too much that calluses grow when you keep hearing them (like hands that get calluses from working it too much).
2Idiom that refers to doing something unconsciously that you were not expecting to do.
The attendant seemed a little familiar. Dong Zhi had a good memory, almost photographic, that he easily remembered things within a few seconds.
Wasn’t this the attendant that was on duty when he was in the dining carriage? But how come she’s pushing a mobile dining cart here? Usually, the work of a mobile dining cart and a fixed dining carriage was not done by the same person!
As he was thinking this, the attendant gave him a glance, and their eyes met. Under the dim light, her eyes were unusually strange, and the corners of her mouth were slightly upturned, as if she was smiling directly at him. His scalp became completely numb!
Ba-Zi (Four Pillars of Destiny) Source
Four Pillars of Destiny is a Chinese term that comprises four elements of a person’s destiny or fate. The four components are taken from the moment of birth. They are the year, month, day, and time (hour). Each of these elements is important in Chinese astrology, the zodiac, and fortune telling.
Ten Heavenly Stems are the yin and yang components of the Five Elements: Yang Wood, Yin Wood, Yang Fire, Yin Fire, Yang Earth, Yin Earth, Yang Metal, Yin Metal, Yang Water, Yin Water.
The Twelve Earthly Branches are more popularly represented by the twelve animals of the Zodiac: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig.
The culture of Chinese Fortune Telling (中华吉祥文化 Zhōnghuá jíxiáng wénhuà) is based on five principles that to the skilled can be judged from the balance found in the Eight Characters determined by the Ten Heavenly Stems and the Twelve Earthly Branches that are associated with the time and date of your birth. The five principles are:
- Fu, 福 (fortune) signifying luck;
- Lu, 禄 (affluence) for fame and recognition;
- Shou, 寿 (longevity) for health;
- Xi, 喜 (happiness) for joy;
- Cai, 财 (wealth) for abundance and riches.
The talisman is composed of five elements:
- <Head>: represents the person’s head.
- <Gods and Buddhas>: oversees the person’s mind and heart.
- <Belly>: represents the person’s stomach where the effect of the talisman is described.
- <Feet>: represents the person’s feet.
- <Gallbladder>: represents the person’s liver. It’s a very important position in the talisman. It’s like a lock on a door. Without it, bad spirits can freely enter.
Since ancient times, there have been many talisman sects. Because each worships its ancestors differently, the ciphers of the talismans are also different. So, while they may represent the same thing, they are drawn differently. Different types of talismans vary according to their sect. Generally, they are used to invite gods, dispatch troops, or as “decrees”.