Bu Tian Gang Ch5

Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi

Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/

Chapter 5

Dong Zhi was arranged to sleep in the lower bunk opposite of the man. His body was exhausted, as if he had just finished running 10,000 meters, but his spirits were still high. After tossing and turning for over an hour, he gradually entered a stupor.

In his half-awake, half-dreaming state, he heard what seemed like the door of the soft sleeper room being pushed open and heard the man scolding, saying he shouldn’t have brought him here.

He Yu said, “Before the attendant had an accident, we didn’t find any abnormalities. I thought because we were there, they would be afraid and wouldn’t dare to attack easily, but now I find that their attacks seem to be targeted.”

“Impossible!” An unfamiliar voice that sounded like a child’s cried.

Dong Zhi curiously thought, ‘Where did this child come from?’

He had originally slept sideways, facing the wall. In this moment, his mind was a chaotic mess, and he wanted to turn over to peek at the speakers but found that his body was so heavy he had difficulty turning over.

The child continued, “Those things have no minds and can only suck human essence. How can they be smart enough to deliberately mark specific people?”

The man said, “The ID card of the attendant who died showed her date of birth was August 21, 1975.”

Suddenly, everything became quiet.

‘What’s so special about this date?’  Dong Zhi thought forlornly.

He Yu shouted, “August 21, 1975, is the fifteenth day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar! In a yin year, yin month, and yin day, shouldn’t her birth date also be yin*?”

*Clarity: this relates to the Ba-Zi (see lore or previous chapter for more details), which is also known as the “Four Pillars”. The four pillars are the hour, day, month, and year of birth, and each of those pillars is assigned yin or yang. As far as the dates and stuff are concerned, unfortunately I do not know enough to provide more clarity but based on the pattern of yin/yang it predicts your fortune/fate. Hopefully, someone who knows more about this stuff can chime in.

The child was shocked. “Is it possible that someone is manipulating them behind the scenes?”

He Yu: “That’s why I brought him here, lest he become the next victim.”

After a moment of silence, Dong Zhi heard the man say, “You keep an eye on him until we reach our destination.”

He Yu patted his chest and assured. “Don’t worry. You can count on me!”

The child said coldly, “It’s because of you that we can’t rest at ease. Who was it that forgot to bring toilet paper when he went to the bathroom and then had to use all our yellow paper that we use for drawing talismans and almost caused our team to be wiped out?!”

He Yu snorted, “That’s odd. Surely it wasn’t you who wanted some snacks and went back to the hotel to get them, causing us to be late and allowing a few fish to slip through the net, and now we have to spend the night on this train, ah?”

The man: “Are you two finished?” His voice didn’t have any hints of anger, but the other two instantly quieted.

Dong Zhi still wanted to eavesdrop but was suddenly hit with a wave of fatigue. Unable to maintain his soberness, he fell into a deep slumber. He thought he would have another nightmare, but let alone a human skin lantern, even the train attendant didn’t pervade his dreams, and he was able to get a good night’s rest. When he opened his eyes, it was already dawn.

The train had stopped as he could hear the sounds of passengers getting on and off at the station. He looked at his watch that showed it was 9 AM. He should have arrived at Shanhaiguan.

The sky was as blue as the lakes in Jiuzhaigou, covered with shallow and deep clouds. The haze in his heart was dispelled, making it feel lighter. When he tried to move his arms, he noticed his back was sore, so he turned over to sit up.

He was met with a pair of eyes that were staring at him unblinkingly, startling him. It belonged to a child that was sitting cross-legged on the lower bunk opposite of his. He was holding a bag of wangwang jelly in his hand as he sucked on one, causing his mouth to bulge.

“Little boy, are you lost?” he asked.

The child ignored him, continuing to suck up the pack of jelly until he was done, then said, “Are you a pig reincarnated?! You sure can really sleep!”

Dong Zhi: …

Hearing his voice, it seemed that this was the child who was talking with He Yu and the man last night.

Seeing him sitting in a daze, the child sneered, pulled out another pack of jelly seemingly from thin air, and began sucking on it.

Dong Zhi silently thought, ‘Aren’t you the pig?’ but then immediately felt embarrassed trying to compete with a child. He opened his backpack and took out a bag of dried yellow peaches.

“Want some?”

The child hesitated.

Dong Zhi gave him some. “This brand of dried yellow peaches still has some moisture in them. It’s sweet and sour. Their rock sugar hawthorn and dried red apricots are also good too.”

The other party was tempted. He took the snacks without saying a word and threw several pieces of them into his mouth. His cheeks bulged again. He was so cute despite his ugly look now that it could be forgivable.

Food could make a mouth go soft as the child’s attitude slightly improved. Dong Zhi took the initiative to introduce himself. “My name is Dong Zhi. My surname is Dong*. It is the winter solstice of the Winter Solstice Festival.”

*Dong () character (as well as the Zhi ()) is same characters in winter solstice [Dongzhi] (冬至). Dongzhi also refers to the Dongzhi Festival. You can click on the Wikipedia link to learn more about it.

The child nodded arrogantly and demurely. “Name’s Chaosheng*. It is the tide that you see when it’s windy and rainy on the rivers.”

*The Chao () means tide.

Dong Zhi was dazed. “Do you have a surname?”

The child cocked his chin. His eyes widened as if it was like the sky. “Even if I had one before, it no longer exists.”

While sounding quite domineering, it did not match his physique, especially those short legs. Dong Zhi imagined it was like a small cat standing on a rockery trying its best to bellow out its loudest roar* and he couldn’t help but laugh in his heart.

*Clarity: I think he’s referring to the scene in Lion King where the lion stands on the big rock and roars, but instead of Mufasa, it’s (kid) Simba.

He shifted the conversation to talking about snacks as he was interested in watching Chaosheng, who had seemed to warm up to him, no longer giving him an icy-distant attitude.

The train had become livelier with the passing of dawn. All the events of yesterday seemed as if they were a dream. Only the palm print under his shirt had not faded; the bruise served as a reminder that last night was not an illusion.

It wasn’t until four in the afternoon, when the train was about to arrive at the terminal, that the man finally appeared. He looked haggard, to the point where it was difficult to hide.

Seeing him, Chaosheng immediately jumped out of bed. “Boss Long, what’s the status?”

Dong Zhi thought, ‘So it turns out his surname is Long.’

The man said, “I’ve eliminated three, so we should be almost done. What about here?”

Chaosheng shrugged. “I don’t know where it went!”

The train slowly reached a stop at the terminal station in Changchun as the announcement sounded, letting passengers know of its arrival. The man gave a look to Dong Zhi as if asking him why he was still here.

Dong Zhi scratched his nose. “Thank you for your help. Can I treat you to a meal after we get off?”

Chaosheng perked up. “Where?”

The man said, “No need.”

Chaosheng let out a huff but didn’t protest, no longer showing off the arrogance he once had when they were alone.

Dong Zhi wasn’t sure if it was due to the refraction of the light, but he found that the man’s face was almost transparent. Mustering up the courage, he couldn’t help but ask, “If you don’t let me treat you to a meal, can I at least know your name?”

The other party said lightly, “No.”

Chaosheng gave him a little wink behind the man’s back as he taunted him with a mocking expression. He felt discouraged, but he had no reason to stay. Reluctantly, he got up and bid them goodbye, giving all the snacks in his backpack to Chaosheng and asking the other party to pass on his goodbye to He Yu.

Perhaps due to the snacks, Chaosheng offered to send him off. When they got off the train, he mercifully told him, “The boss’ name is Long Shen*.”

*Long () = Dragon. Shen () = Deep.

Dong Zhi subconsciously asked, “What is deep?”

Chaosheng rolled his eyes. “The depth is deep*!”

*Clarity: He’s referring to the Shen character (). It means the distance from the surface to the bottom.

Dong Zhi let out a sigh as he watched Chaosheng turn around disappearing into the train.

The dragon emerges from the abyss1 to the peaks of heaven2. It was really a good name3.

1(龙出深潭) The first and third characters of the sentence have Long Shen’s name, which it’s referencing.
灵通九天) refers to the highest point in the sky of the nine layers of heaven.
3Clarity: He’s saying Long Shen feels like a dragon emerging from the abyss and reaching the highest peak of heaven, and that’s why it’s a fitting name for him.

The people around him all hurriedly walked past him, and occasionally someone would look back at him. He waited for a while to see if he could catch Long Shen or Chaosheng, but they did not come out. Dong Zhi surmised that they probably had left through another exit, so he got up and left.

He heard from his colleagues in his hometown that Changchun was not as beautiful as its name would suggest, mainly due to the smog that shrouded the area every year. He felt he was in luck this time as he was met with good weather. When he stepped out of the station and looked up at the vast blue sky above his head, it made him feel a sense of joy deep in his heart.

He took a taxi to the hotel he had booked and checked in. After a night, the shadows on the train had been cast into the wind, no longer lingering in his mind as he relaxed in his room in a cheerful mood. He settled his luggage and went to the reception desk to ask for tourist information.

The hotel clerk enthusiastically recommended a day trip around Changchun. After scanning the content, he found that it was all amusement parks or folk museums, so he shook his head. “Is there a two- or three-day trip? I like something with more natural scenery.”

“Then I suggest you go to Changbai Mountain. It’s not far from here by train, and if you take it in the morning, you’ll arrive by the afternoon. After you get to the station, there will be groups there carpooling to the scenic area. You can offer to give them money or maybe catch a free ride.”

Dong Zhi thought this was a good idea. It wasn’t winter or summer vacation, and it was also off-season, so there shouldn’t be many people there. He could stay for a few days and find a quiet spot to sketch.

After thanking the clerk, he asked about the local night market and nearby places he could visit. Getting some recommendations, he left the hotel and went towards the night market.

It was still early, but stalls had already been set up on both sides of the road in preparation for the night. The food he had eaten on the train had long been digested, so he wandered through the market, eating along the way, and by the time he reached the end, his belly had become completely round.

Still, it wasn’t enough to satisfy his hunger, so he bought another bag of salt and pepper duck tongue and walked back to the hotel. The wind blew several pieces of paper to his feet, and he accidentally stepped on them. The owner of an incense shop nearby hurriedly ran over.

“Sorry, sorry, it was a bit windy just now!” The owner hurriedly apologized. He knew some people were superstitious about this kind of thing, and an unruly person would start a dispute.

Dong Zhi instead, was moved. “Boss, does your shop sell yellow paper?”

Boss: “Yes, of course. What do you want?”

Dong Zhi: “The kind for painting talismans and burning paper. I’ll also take some fine gold powder if you have any as well.”

“I have both! It just so happens there’s still a batch left in stock. I’ll look for them right now!” The boss didn’t expect that the wind would bring him business. He happily pulled out a box of yellow paper and a few bottles of gold powder and sold it to Dong Zhi at a discount.

Dong Zhi hadn’t planned to buy so much but recalling what happened and He Yu’s words, he decided to buy them all and then went to a stationary store to buy a brush and inkstone, then took a taxi back to the hotel.

The hotel was in the city center and was a good price given its location. When Dong Zhi entered, he saw the clerk at the front desk. They were already familiar with each other, so they both nodded and smiled at each other. When he walked towards the elevator, he faintly heard the voice of the clerk’s colleague encouraging her to ask for his number.

He entered the elevator and pressed the 9th floor. The door was about to close when suddenly he heard someone shouting “wait” and he quickly pressed the open-door button instead.

A young woman hurried inside with a child in her arms and smiled gratefully at him. “Thank you!”

When the two met, Dong Zhi was surprised. “Xu Jie?!”

Xiao* Dong?” Xu Wan was also surprised and immediately responded. “Are you staying in this hotel too?”

*[Xiao] When used in front of a name, it’s an affectionate/informal way to refer to a person who is younger than you.

“I am.” Dong Zhi originally had a good impression of the mother-daughter, but due to the incident with the water bottle, despite looking at the weak young woman and cute little girl, his mood became complicated. He wanted to ask if they had encountered any strange events but held his tongue.

“Xu Jie, what floor are you on?” He made a gesture to help Xu Wan press the elevator button.

“Also the ninth floor.” Xu Wan told him her room number, which coincidentally was next to his. He guessed the hotel had arranged it this way since she had shortly checked in after he did.

“Tongtong, it’s your brother.” Xu Wan said to the little girl.

“…Brother.” The little girl’s reaction was slow, and she didn’t raise her head. From his perspective, he could only see the top of her head.

“Good girl.”

Xu Wan sensed that Dong Zhi wasn’t interested in chatting, so she kept silent until the elevator reached the 9th floor. Dong Zhi’s room was the penultimate room on the right side of the corridor, while hers was the last room, which was commonly known as the tail room. The sound insulation of the hotel was well done, and it was very quiet during the day as the thick carpet silenced the sound of footsteps. The three walked from the elevator to their rooms. They saw a female guest coming from the other end of the corridor, walking towards them.

The other party was carrying a small bag and had on exquisite makeup, but her walking posture was strange. Dong Zhi couldn’t help but look down at her feet, seeing that she was wearing high heels. Taking a closer look, he found that her heel wasn’t in her shoe, and instead she was walking on tiptoe, which was why her posture was so weird.

When the two of them passed each other, the other party accidentally bumped into his shoulder, but he didn’t dare look back, and continued walking forward, as he faintly heard a low voice humming a song.

The author has something to say:

Walking on tiptoe is an urban legend in Fujian, Guangdong, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan. It means that a person is possessed by ghosts, and it’s often shown in horror movies, but I’m not talking about this situation here~

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