Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
“Truthfully, the original site of the General Administration Bureau is on the ground floor of Chaonei No. 81*. We thought that since it was an abandoned house, no one would go there. I don’t know which idiot it was, but rumors spread that it was a murder house. As a result, groups of people would go in and out all day long to explore it, which seriously affected our efficiency. A big boss in the bureau reported to the top, and our office was relocated here. Now, it’s much easier to order takeout, since no one dared do it when we were over there…”
*Best known for the widespread belief that the building is haunted and described as “Beijing’s most celebrated haunted house”.
He Yu was walking in front of him. He finally finished rambling and turned to ask him, “Speaking of which, I asked Lao Zheng to test you on more real national exam questions. You didn’t fall behind, right?”
Dong Zhi obediently said, “I’ve been practicing all this time. I even bought a question bank.”
He Yu was satisfied with his response. “With your ability, there shouldn’t be any problems. Although the competition this year is fierce, no one has ever scored a high score on the written exam. Everyone’s focus is on the interview and the subsequent training exams. If you can get a high score on the written exam, the rest should be smooth sailing. I’ll give you a tutorial on the content of the interview later.”
Dong Zhi said curiously, “Did the leader of the bureau produce the exam himself?”
He Yu shook his head. “The written portion was from last year’s national exam. The interview is the bureau’s own questions!”
Thinking of the green-skinned fox that Lao Zheng had mentioned, the corners of his mouth twitched. “Then, in fact, the written test is of no practical significance, right?”
He Yu said categorically, “Of course there is! If you pump yourself up, even if you subtly believe in it, it’ll turn into belief. People naturally have positive energy.”
Dong Zhi was skeptical. This was the first time he heard positive energy could be explained in this way.
“It’s not a joke. A single thing or person, as long as it’s remembered by countless people and never forgotten, will naturally have power over the mind. Have you heard of the Japanese belief in kotodama*?”
*Japanese belief that mystical powers dwell in words and names. The notion of kotodama presupposes that sounds can magically affect objects and that ritual word usage can influence our environment, body, mind, and soul.
Seeing that Dong Zhi nodded, He Yu continued, “They firmly believe that language itself has spiritual power. There is a certain truth to this idea. It’s from this basis that the art of speech and spirituality are developed. An excellent onmyoji can even kill people by reciting their opponent’s name, similar to the spiritual descent in Southeast Asia. This is the power of language.”
Dong Zhi understood a little. “So, positive energy, from another perspective, is actually a kind of spiritual speech?”
“Smart!” He Yu patted his thigh. “Don’t you work in Guangzhou? Have you seen the core values hanging outside Liwan Plaza? It’s a way to suppress evil spirits through the righteousness of words. Many people don’t pay attention to the written exams, mainly because they are stupid. Since you have a good memory, it may come in handy and save your life in the future!”
In any case, talking about the core values of socialism with a huckster* made Dong Zhi feel strange.
*God stick (神棍) Refers to a deceitful liar.
When the two came to the fifth floor, He Yu first knocked on the door in a strange rhythm, then pushed open the emergency escape door. The entrance revealed smooth marble floors and walls. Crystal headlights hung from the ceiling, their lights flickering, and the hall was extremely lively with people everywhere. Some were queuing at the window to go through formalities, while some were talking amongst themselves, and others were making calls in the office area.
At first, Dong Zhi thought he had walked into a lobby of a bank. The magnificence found here compared to the dilapidation outside was like an entirely different world.
Seeing his surprised reaction, He Yu smiled triumphantly. “All the funds are used here. No point in fixing up the outside. It saves us money and trouble!”
“What are they doing?” Dong Zhi asked curiously, awed by the sight in front of him.
He Yu said, “Some are monsters who have cultivated into human form and come to register. As you know, the environment before the founding of the People’s Republic of China was messy, and the government of the Republic of China didn’t care about such things. This led to a very chaotic world with no distinction between monsters and men. After the founding, it was stipulated that all those who took shape must be registered in order to manage and keep track of them better. However, there are those who cultivated in deep forests for decades or hundreds of years, so they didn’t know about the changes from the outside world. Others are here to report crimes, and some come to seek mediation for their disputes.”
Dong Zhi felt as if his breath was taken away.
A handsome young man came towards him. His posture was awkward, and his eyes sneaked peeks at Dong Zhi before he abruptly looked away, making him look seemingly shy.
He Yu pointed at him. “You, stop for me!”
The young man was taken aback, and two fluffy ears immediately appeared on top of his head as he looked at He Yu in confusion.
He Yu asked, “Where are you from? What are you doing here?”
The young man stiffened his body and didn’t dare to move. He whispered, “My ancestors are from the Hu family in Northeast China. My parents moved to Tianjin. There is no branch office in Tianjin, so they asked me to register here.”
He Yu sensed he was about to have a headache and said, “Your clan’s adults sure have big hearts. They dare let you run about as soon as you transformed! Look at the way you’re walking. Anyone who looks at you will instantly know that there’s a problem. Also, your ears pop up at every turn! Have you even thought about this? Follow me into the reception room and call your family to pick you up!”
When the young man heard this, his ears instantly drooped, and he didn’t dare refute He Yu, and could only follow behind him pitifully. He Yu took him to the reception room and threw in a colleague to help deal with the situation while he returned to Dong Zhi.
“Enter the temple to worship gods, enter the house you have to call someone*, I will take you to meet the boss first. If you want to come work for us and the boss is willing to open the back door for you, then you don’t have to worry about the interview. After all, you have made contributions to the organization, and I can also take the opportunity to ask for an annual leave!”
*Refers to being polite and showing common courtesy when entering homes and temples.
Without the presence of outsiders, He Yu immediately lost his seriousness and started joking around again, acting like his usual seedy self.
Dong Zhi was very curious about the scene just now. “Was that a fox just now?”
He Yu nodded and said casually, “Animals generally don’t have a long lifespan, and there are very few that can cultivate into a human form. This baby should be the first one of the Hu family to take shape in the past 100 years.”
Passing through the office area, Dong Zhi was surprised to find that the noise was suddenly isolated, as if entering another dimension. He Yu had taken him up 15 flights of stairs, causing him to feel extremely nauseated.
“The one at the end of the corridor is the office of the Li Bureau. The penultimate room belongs to the boss. The other rooms belong to the big guys of the Special Administration Bureau. Don’t go into them. My office is downstairs…”
Speaking of Cao Cao and Cao Cao appears*. Footsteps sounded from afar, getting louder with each step. The two turned their heads and saw Long Shen coming.
*(说曹操曹操到) Refers to the unexpected appearance of the other party being spoken of, often giving people a surprise (AKA speak of the devil and he appears). The allusion comes from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and the reference refers to the warlord.
“This is not a place for you to go shopping and dilly dally.” Long Shen stated matter-of-factly.
He Yu put on a goofy smile. “It’s Dong Zhi’s first time here, so I was just showing him around, boss!”
Long Shen was followed by a young man with an unremarkable appearance, but he had a quiet temperament. The other party nodded at He Yu and said nothing. Dong Zhi almost suspected that Long Shen had forgotten him because the other party did not look at him once, as if he was just an accessory to He Yu.
As the two of them walked away, Dong Zhi went down to the sixth floor with He Yu. He asked, “Is that person just now taking the exam like me?”
He Yu said, “No, his name is Zhong Yuyi and he’s our colleague.”
Dong Zhi sighed and remembered what Lao Zheng had said. There was a person who had joined the Special Administration Bureau because, like Dong Zhi, he saw the Long Shen subduing demons.
“Is he the oracle?” Dong Zhi asked.
He Yu: “How did you know?”
Dong Zhi: ” Lao Zheng said that Zhong Yuyi is Boss Long… Uh, admirer.”
He Yu laughed. “That’s right, there are very few oracles in the bureau. Zhong Yuyi is the only one.”
Luan sheng, formerly known as Fuyi*, to put it bluntly, is to invite God.
*(扶乩) Technically, Fuyi is the divination method, while the Luan Sheng is the title of the person that the god possesses.
Dong Zhi couldn’t help but ask, “Are there really gods in this world?”
He Yu shook his head. “It’s not what you think. When you pass the interview in the future, maybe that kid Zhong Yuyi will have the opportunity to teach you, and you will know when the time comes.”
He Yu’s office was quite spacious but messy. There were pillows and talisman papers all over the place, and several brushes were scattered on the coffee table. Some of the nibs were still stained with cinnabar, which left ink marks on the table. His iPad lay randomly on the sofa, and there were half-eaten and unopened snacks in a large pile to the side. From a glance, it felt as if he had walked into an otaku’s room.
Seeing Dong Zhi’s speechless face, He Yu scratched his head and laughed. “My injury hasn’t healed yet, so I can’t do strenuous exercise.”
But you were able to run up and down all those flights of stairs so happily just now! Are you even injured at all?!
While complaining in his head, Dong Zhi helped him clean and organize his room. The talisman papers were folded one by one and put aside, and all the half-finished snacks were thrown away. Suddenly, the office became a bit more refreshing.
He Yu was so moved that he gave him a bear hug. “Honey~, you are so virtuous. Why don’t we get married!”
As he finished speaking, the door was opened and the two of them looked at it subconsciously. Long Shen stood at the entrance, watching them hug each other, and finally a crack appeared on his always stone-cold face.
Dong Zhi: …
The atmosphere became extremely awkward. After two seconds of silence, Long Shen said calmly, “No wonder why you recommended him to apply and want your uncle to accept him as an apprentice.”
Dong Zhi: …
His heart roared, ‘No, you misunderstood! We are innocent!’
It was a pity that Long Shen didn’t give them a chance to explain, as he immediately left after saying, “Be serious and no hugging during office hours. He Yu, come to my office later.” He even locked the doors for them, lest another unfortunate person like him come barging in and have to witness such an intimate scene.
Dong Zhi reached out his hand with his mouth still half open, but Long Shen was already gone.
He Yu rolled with laughter. “I didn’t know that the boss had such a humorous side!”
Dong Zhi wanted to cry without tears!
What is everyone’s opinion on keeping the pinyin form of some of these mythological Chinese terms vs English translation? For instance, luan sheng. I translated it since that’s my personal preference and oracle is a word that English speakers will understand and remember vs luan sheng, and I don’t want to provide footnotes in every chapter for that term in case people forget.
For now, I’ll leave it in its translated form, but I may change that later. As a reader myself, I often forget the pinyin terms and what they mean, especially when it’s not a common or normally used term (like lao/ge/jie ect.), when reading novels that were previously explained, so I would rather just have an English term that’s easier to remember (especially if there’s a good translation for it).