Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
As the yellow cat faced off with the snow wolf, the battle between Long Shen and the Bone Dragon was starting to kick off. The bone dragon roared endlessly, trying to wrestle its lower body out of the mount. Though it was dead, its strength was still earth-shattering and could make ghosts and gods weep with tears*. It opened its bloody mouth and, with one fell swoop, bit the shackles that were keeping it in place.
*(惊天地，泣鬼神) Idiom describing something amazing/touching/earth-shattering that it could move the gods and ghosts to tears.
The bone dragon seemed to be scared of the long black sword in Long Shen’s hand. Despite the multiple slashes, the bone dragon remained unscathed, as it floundered and struggled about. Fujikawa Aoi was also nearby and would interfere whenever Long Shen was about to make a decisive blow. Although Long Shen didn’t take him seriously, the hinderance still distracted him, so he was unable to kill the bone dragon.
The dragon’s wrath triggered thunderstorms from above, as lighting and thunder rolled in, adding another variable that could affect the outcome of the battle.
“Son of a bitch! That old Japanese fucker, such an incompetent bungler1! Fuck his uncle2!” He Yu gritted his teeth as he dipped his brush in cinnabar and began drawing talismans. Before he could finish, he spurted out blood, and if it weren’t for Dong Zhi, who came to quickly support him, he would have fallen directly on top of a sharp rock.
1(成事不足败事有余) An idiom referring to doing bad things and making it worse.
2Curse dialect used near Beijing. It’s similar to fuck your mother/grandfather but generally less emotional and can be used among friends since it’s not as serious.
Seeing that the blood he spat out was as much as half a mug full, Dong Zhi’s mouth twitched. “Why don’t you take a break. Long… Your boss seems to have it covered.”
He Yu’s face was like gold paper*, and he looked weak and powerless. “The dragon itself is a creature that conquers the heavens and earth, so it can fit in with any natural change. Since it was fed blood and souls with strong resentment, it is even more difficult to deal with… Of course, the boss is very strong, but he was injured a while back and the sword he’s using now is not the one he normally uses!”
*Paper for worshipping gods and offering sacrifices.
Dong Zhi asked, “What can I do?”
He Yu swallowed the bloody spit in his mouth, gritted his teeth, and said, “Come, help me draw talismans. I’ll teach you the formula and handprint!”
Dong Zhi felt he might not be able to perform well, but given the situation, there was no room for hesitation.
To the side, the Japanese girl, Kitaichi Eiko, sat cross-legged, eyes closed, as if she was healing. Her two skikigamis were entrenched behind her, one to the left and one to the right, unmoving.
The battle waged as humans and dragon wrestled about, kicking sand and stone everywhere, bathing the sky and earth with color. The man in the jacket was about to move, trying to get closer, but was spotted by the sharp-eyed Old Zheng, who responded by squeezing his broken whip and staring at him coldly.
At this moment, Aso Kenzo let out a scream and said in horror, “Demons! Those demons are coming!”
He spoke in Japanese, but everyone could hear the fear in his tone, and they all followed his gaze, seeing that amidst the flashing lightning, clouds of black translucent mists were floating towards them, causing their scales to go numb.
From their appearance, it was unimaginable what kind of horror they were experiencing at that moment. Dong Zhi recalled the scenes of the train attendant, the guest who walked on tiptoe in the hotel room and leapt to her death, and Yao Bin, who became a zombie, causing him to immediately freeze and feel like he couldn’t breathe.
“Don’t be scared. Come and help me draw!” He Yu said.
The group of black mist didn’t dare approach Long Shen and the bone dragon, as if they were afraid of them, and as if they had other scruples, since they were unceremonious to Old Zheng and the others, showing their clear intentions.
Old Zheng still had about half his remaining power. His whip was broken, with only half its original length, so when he whipped the mist, it trembled slightly but didn’t dissipate like before. Their movement slowed momentarily, but then continued to float forward again.
Gunshots ran out and one of the bodyguards under the man in the jacket screamed as the black mist entered from the top of his head, slowly merging inside, bit by bit. He tumbled and struggled desperately on the ground, but to no avail. The man in the jacket quickly shot him in the chest. His legs spazzed a few times before his eyes widened and then his movements stopped. A short while after, his body suddenly got up, stiff and slow. The man in the jacket fired several more rounds, causing the body to gush out with blood, but his face showed a hideous smile as he rushed towards the man in the jacket.
His movement was interrupted by the white crane, who flew over and threw the bodyguard to the ground. Aso Kenzo and the man in the jacket quickly retreated behind Kitaichi Eiko. They were so terrified that they had lost the haughtiness that they had treated Dong Zhi and Zhang Xing previously.
He Yu set up a small array on the ground and circled Old Zheng in. The black mist could only wander outside the array and couldn’t penetrate it. Dong Zhi glanced down and found that the talismans on the ground were slowly turning black. He wasn’t sure how long it would be before they lost their effectiveness.
He quickened his hand speed, but the more anxious he was, the more erratic his writing became, causing him to draw several bad talismans.
He Yu suddenly patted him on the back, and Dong Zhi found that everything was silent. He raised his head and looked around, seeing that the scene was still chaotic and finding that his ears couldn’t hear any noise. He Yu made a gesture towards him, indicating that this was to allow him to concentrate on drawing the talismans, and Dong Zhi immediately understood his intentions.
He forced himself to relax his mind and concentrate on the paper that was in front of him. He first simulated the talisman’s pattern in his mind, and then, using his brush, started drawing one stroke at a time, while mediating the formula in his heart. “The heavens give birth to water, the earth gives birth to fire, the heavens give birth to wood, the earth gives birth to gold. The five central palaces*, subdue malignity, overcome disasters, and eliminate all traces of evil!”
*Referring to the Luoshu Square, which is also known as the Nine Halls Diagram or the Turtle Book in ancient times. Each square represents a palace.
The runes he drew were all sunlight talismans. The effect was poor because it was too late and there was no time to learn a new talisman. He Yu simply asked him to keep drawing them and memorize the formula and handprint. After he finished drawing one, Dong Zhi made a lotus seal with both hands and put his finger against the middle of the rune and poured out his breath. The talisman… was still a talisman. There were no flashes of red lights, and it didn’t levitate off the ground like in his imagination.
Dong Zhi felt frustrated, but he knew that this was normal. He Yu said that drawing talismans requires unity of mind and body, and being such a novice, it was practically impossible to achieve something like this overnight.
However, the beginning of every novel was always like this. Although the protagonist was mediocre at first, he could always turn the tide at a critical juncture, defeat the villain and kill the quartet*, subdue the bone dragon, and hold its corpse in the air and receive shock and admiration from the group of Japanese…
*(大杀四方) Refers to being so highly skilled that you overwhelm everyone else.
Obviously, he was thinking too much. Fantasies were beautiful, but reality was cruel. He had failed to draw more than two dozen talismans consecutively until he finally was able to draw a usable one. Remaining persistent, he kept up his efforts and successfully painted a few more. He wasn’t aware of how long he was drawing for when his back was suddenly patted, and all the noise from the outside world surged in like a tide, as if he had returned to the real world from a different dimensional space.
Only then did he realize that his chest and back were soaked in sweat. The cold wind penetrated his collar, bringing in dampness and coolness, and he felt as if he had just run a marathon.
“What happened from the time you patted me until just now?” Dong Zhi asked curiously.
From the time he spent drawing talismans to now, it was less than an hour. He Yu’s face had turned pale again, and he saw that part of the talisman array had been completely scorched. Thankfully, Lao Zhang guarded the gap, so they were able to resist the attack from the Sneaky Yaksha.
Kitaichi Eiko’s side didn’t fare as well since they didn’t have an array. The man in the jacket and Aso Kenzo could only rely on her for protection. She herself was heavily injured and could scarcely support the two shikigamis in battle as danger was surrounding them from all sides.
“We need to set up a bigger array. Eight sheets should be barely enough to support it! You, stick the talismans according to my instructions!” He Yu said to Dong Zhi as he pointed to the northwest of the sinkhole. “With the bone dragon at the center, post one talisman there and start counterclockwise to form the array. Make sure to keep the distance between each talisman the same and try not to vary the radius too much from the center. Be careful!”
“Why don’t I go? Xiao Dong has no experience after all!” Lao Zheng volunteered.
He Yu glanced at him. “You’re currently injured and isn’t as fast as him.”
Lao Zheng smiled bitterly.
“Don’t underestimate me! Even otakus have spring*!” Dong Zhi patted Lao Zheng on the shoulder and comforted him, then got up and ran to the northwest.
*Means to be strong/powerful ect.
Behind him, Lao Zheng whispered, “You want to recruit this kid, right?”
He Yu whispered back, “Whether he can enter our department or not will depend on the boss’ approval. I have no say in this matter, but I want my master to accept him as an apprentice. He has a talent for drawing talismans, but I will have to wait until this matter is over, then I’ll ask that old geezer.”
Long Shen and the bone dragon continue fighting fiercely in the sinkhole. Explosions blasted periodically as cyclones swirled around, splattering rocks and dirt everywhere. Although he was cautious, Dong Zhi was still affected by the scene.
Suddenly, a bolt of lightning struck and crashed near the sinkhole, blinding everyone. The ground trembled violently as the lower body of the bone dragon dislodged a little bit, revealing thick white bones as its eyes burned brightly. Despite having none of the splendor of a dragon, it was still equally as fearsome.
After Long Shen inserted his long sword into a phantom scale area, he pulled a whip out of nowhere and wrapped it around the dragon’s neck and pulled out the sword again. He leapt and landed on top of the dragon’s head, and holding the sword with both hands, he jammed it into one of the dragon’s eyes.
The bone dragon wailed wildly. Its entire body churned, trying to throw Long Shen off. As if resounding with the pain from the dragon’s heart, thunder roared endlessly in the sky above.
Fujikawa Aoi, standing in a blind spot at the corner of the sinkhole, took out a talisman and threw it. In mid-air, it turned into a falcon and swept towards the dragon’s head at lightning speed, grabbing the long sword that was inserted into the dragon’s eye and taking it away!
Kitaichi Eiko, who was further away from the battlefield, seemed to have tacitly understood her master and used her white crane to block Long Shen. Without blinking an eye, Long Shen batted the white crane away. The crane, which was the size of half a basketball court, didn’t put up even the slightest resistance as it fell straight down, turning into a ball of light before dissipating into thin air. With its disappearance, Kitaichi Eiko, as its master, was inflicted damage. She screamed and fell to the ground, unconscious.
The white crane was able to stop Long Shen for only a short moment, but it was enough. Long Shen lost his opportunity. The bone dragon went into a fit of rage and completely broke free from its binding. The mountains shook as a huge white bone dragon broke through, roaring as it flew into the air!
It held the resentment of being sealed underground for eons and, combined with the blood-soul wraith that was surging in its eyes, made it even more fierce. It spewed out a mouthful of turbid gas and its tail suddenly swept towards the sinkhole. In an instant, stones exploded everywhere, and a large boulder came crashing down on top of Dong Zhi.
It was too late to dodge, but before he even realized it, a beam of light was shot from the dragon’s head heading towards him. He heard the sound of sudden movement and raised his head, seeing that the boulder was being held up by a figure. Only then did he comprehend that he had just escaped death.
He looked at the man standing in front of him, holding a long sword, and wished he could shower him with praise, calling him “handsome” a hundred times, but the other party paid no heed and didn’t even bother looking at him as he quickly rushed towards the bone dragon again.
Seeing his disciple seriously injured and unconscious, Fujikawa Aoi’s face turned black with anger. His snow wolf was caught in battle with the yellow cat, so he called out to another black giant falcon and pounced on Long Shen. He then pinched a talisman in his hand and drew symbols with his hand, summoning eight green balls of light that surrounded the bone dragon.
The eight green balls looked small and were suspended in midair around the tumbling bone dragon. The light grew brighter and brighter as the red fire in the bone dragon’s eyes gradually dimmed and its movement became sluggish.
Lao Zheng was flabbergasted. “What is he doing?!”
He Yu frowned and said, “He wants to absorb the bone dragon’s resentment and make it his shikigami, but its power is too strong! Even the boss couldn’t subdue it. This old man simply has a death wish!”
As if confirming his words, lightning struck one of the balls of light. The remaining seven balls were overturned by the dragon’s aura in an instant, as the dragon roared a hundred times more furiously than before.
Thunder resounded in the clouds, rocks were cracking, and the flashes of light illuminated the large tracts of snow on the peeks of the distant mountains. The aura swept through the mountains and river in an unparalleled domineering manner. Amid the violent wind, the bone dragon opened its jaws and flew towards Long Shen and Fujikawa Aoi, vowing to swallow the two small human beings into its stomach and smash their corpses into thousands of pieces!
Long Shen didn’t retreat a step but advanced forward. His figure jumped agilely on the bone dragon, shuttling between lightning bolts as if he was invincible. Although the bone dragon was large and fearsome, its figure wasn’t flexible. It couldn’t twist its body in time to bite at Long Shen, so it could only vent its anger on Fujikawa Aoi, who was standing on the ground. Abandoning his thought of trying to subdue the bone dragon, he ran around in complete embarrassment to avoid the bone dragon’s attack.
His black giant falcon tried to fight the dragon, only to be hit with a mouthful of rancid gas and immediately turned into black mist that scattered in the wind. Fujikawa Aoi was shocked and angry at the sight and threw out twelve talismans into the air. They turned into sharp arrows and whistled towards the dragon as they ignited. When they reached the dragon, they exploded as each arrow was nailed into the bones of the dragon’s body, instantly scorching the area.
Lao Zheng, who was observing the battle, let out a long sigh.
He Yu, feeling the same mood as him, commented, “The idea is good. After all, the dragon’s nature is water, and after its death, it was resurrected with blood and souls that held resentment, invoking the fire of the heavens and earth, giving it a metal attribute, so it’s best to subdue it with fire, but…”
Fujikawa Aoi had forgotten that dragons are among the largest creatures in the world. If one could not defeat it in a single move, a more severe backlash would be coming their way.
Sure enough, the bone dragon wailed, and its torso twisted violently. It swung its tail, slamming it into Fujikawa Aoi, who didn’t have time to dodge the attack, catapulting him into a wall. His limp body fell to the ground, and he vomited out a basin full of blood; his state was now no better than his disciple’s.
In its state of rage, the bone dragon became even more difficult to deal with. Long Shen was almost thrown off several times. While the dragon was focused on Long Shen and Fujikawa Aoi, Dong Zhi had taken the chance and posted the talisman in all seven directions. There was only one remaining.
He was sweating profusely, and he couldn’t tell whether he was tired or scared, or both. His down jacket was heavy on his body, and he wanted to take it off, but was afraid he’d get too cold, so he gritted his teeth and continued moving forward, step by step. His final destination was only ten meters away.
In face of wind so strong that it could blow a person away, he slowly crawled forward on the ground. While resisting the howling of the icy wind, he recalled the scene was like Red Army soldiers sneakily ambushing bombing bunkers and felt inexplicably happy.
Before he could enjoy his moment of happiness, he heard a shout, “Get out of the way!”
The bone dragon swooped down from mid-air and, in the blink of an eye, white bones covered the stars and sun, casting a shadow on top of Dong Zhi. He didn’t even look up as the smelly wind was blowing around, knowing that the dragon was just a few short distances away.
There was nowhere to hide and no way to escape, so he simply gritted his teeth and rushed forward, holding the last talisman tightly in his hand. At the moment that the bone dragon crashed down, he slapped the talisman in the place designated by He Yu!
A hurricane swept overhead as he felt a pain in the back of his head. His body was immediately thrown about, hitting the mountain wall full of jagged and broken corpses. Suddenly, a sharp pain pierced through, and he couldn’t tell whether it was from his chest or back. All he felt was that his entire body was about to fall apart.
The surroundings were full of flying sand and rocks, blurring the scene. The talisman array he had laid out seemed to have worked, forming a binding barrier around the bone dragon, isolating the connection between the thunder and the bone dragon. However, the formation didn’t last long. All eight talismans started turning slowly black until they all exploded at the same time!
With a loud thud, Dong Zhi couldn’t tell whether the pain he felt on his face, hands, and back was caused by the blistering wind or the impact of the gravel. Even with his mouth tightly closed, the sand still penetrated in as his entire body was submerged by dirt. Everything became numb and even the thought of life and death no longer seemed important.
A day ago, he never expected that he would see a creature like a dragon in his lifetime, and now he was almost killed by it. Dong Zhi raised his head laboriously and saw Long Shen piecing into the other eye of the dragon. He gripped tightly to the hilt of the sword as the bone dragon struggled frantically. His whole body was flung in the air, like a dead leaf in the wind, flopping about, creating a thrilling scene.
The red fire in the bone dragon’s eyes gradually disappeared and its roar turned into wailing, resounding through the entire wilderness of the mountain, echoing in everyone’s hearts, paralyzing their minds. It was the sound of the struggle of all creatures under heaven who were unwilling to die, and it mourned more angrily at being awakened as an evil creature. It once roared majestically around the world, becoming a symbol of this land, but now it could only scatter about, flying chaotically in this pitiful form.
Unconsciously, tears welled in Dong Zhi’s eyes as tears began gushing down. He seemed to have understood the inner voice of the bone dragon moments before its death and realized its indomitable struggle against destiny.
The faces of the others were equally heavy. Fujikawa Aoi knelt beside the sinkhole and burst into tears. It was unknown whether he was mourning for the dragon or because his bamboo basket was empty*. The man in the jacket was lying on the ground covered with blood. Aso Kenzo gathered his breath, his legs became soft, and he fell flat on his ass.
*(竹篮打水一场空) Idiom referring to wasted effort, doing things only for it to be all in vain.
Just as the bone dragon was on its last breath, a huge burst of energy erupted. The man in the jacket covered Aso Kenzo from the blast and died instantly from his injuries. Dong Zhi was also injured but luckily survived.
He Yu said, “I didn’t expect that there were such loyal and brave people in little Japan that they would die for their employers!”
Lao Zheng shook his head. “You don’t know anything. Since ancient times, Japan has had samurai who served their lords for generations. If Aso had died just now, even if he survives, he wouldn’t live once he returns to Japan, so it is better to fight for your name and the loyalty of your lord.”
He Yu was speechless. “It seems that they are not only cruel to others, but even more cruel to themselves!”
Fujikawa Aoi staggered towards Kitaichi Eiko to check on her injuries. He looked up at Long Shen and the others and said menacingly, “I will never forget the kindness you showed to my disciple!”
He Yu sneered. “What’s the matter? You want revenge? Your apprentice is not good at learning, so you’re blaming others? Don’t forget that you came here without special notice. It’s already kind enough of us not to take the opportunity and turn you into a missing person report!”
Fujikawa Aoi’s face became even uglier. He opened his mouth but reluctantly held back, not saying anything, and responded with a heavy huff.
On the contrary, Aso Kenzo limped over and bowed to Long Shen and the others. “I am very sorry for the trouble we caused you. Thank you for your help. After we go back, we will definitely go through the formalities and will also keep in mind the kindness you showed us today!”
He Yu waved his hand carelessly. “You don’t need to keep us in mind. In the future, if you bring more riffraff* and set foot on our land, don’t blame us for taking action!”
*Term used here is no three no four (不三不四). It refers to a dubious/not decent thing or person.
Fujikawa Aoi, who was labeled as “riffraff”, turned red with anger. He was fluent in Chinese, so he understood their whole conversation. As a highly respected onmyoji, he had never been treated like this. This was simply unbearable for him, who always held himself up in high self-esteem.
After He Yu finished speaking, Long Shen said, “For this incident, we will negotiate and propose serious grievances on a diplomatic level.”
This time it was Aso Kenzo’s turn to look bad. Negotiation means wrangling, and wrangling means being blackmailed by the treacherous Chinese, but they were caught red-handed* so there was nothing they could say. He gave them a reluctant smile and said goodbye to everyone. He picked up the unconscious Kitaichi and walked down the mountain with Fujikawa Aoi, looking embarrassed and ashamed, like a defeated general.
*The term is the handle falls into the opponent’s hand (把柄落在别人手里). It refers to evidence against you have fallen into the hands of your opponent.
After a night of fierce fighting, dawn has arrived. When you come, you wear the stars and moon, and when you return, the morning sun is slightly dewy. Carrying the morning light on his back, Long Shen stood by the sinkhole and looked down. He held a long sword in his hand; the scabbard was gone.
He wasn’t sure if it was due to the desolate snow on the mountain’s peaks or the quietness of the smoke that was slowly dissipating, but Dong Zhi felt the feeling of loneliness coming from Long Shen’s figure.
Hidden deep within his eyes, he held countless of words for him.