Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
After knocking on the door for a while, just as his anxiety was intensifying, he suddenly heard a lot of movement coming from the other end of the door, then the iron gate slowly opened. An unkempt young man, who looked as if he hadn’t completely woken up yet and smelled like instant noodles, stuck his head out.
Was this the wrong place?
Dong Zhi felt suspicious. He said, “Hello, He Yu asked me to come. Do you know him?”
“What happened?” The young man blinked and said slowly, “He Shixiong from the General Administration Bureau?”
“Yes, that’s him. A demon has appeared in Tianyuan Building and he asked me to come to report and for help!” Dong Zhi said anxiously.
The young man looked horrified. “Demon? Is it the one Lin Jun said before?”
Dong Zhi nodded and said, “Yes. I’m the only person on He Yu’s side right now. I’m afraid I can’t handle it alone. Come with me quickly!”
The other party became excited as he rubbed his hands together and said, “Great. It’s finally my turn to do a big job. Wait a bit. I’ll go and get a few things!”
He became full of energy, turned around and disappeared behind the door. Dong Zhi followed him in. The inside was lit up with incandescent lamps that made the area extremely bright, revealing a few tables in the middle as the rest of the room was a mess. It felt as if he was standing in the middle of a garbage dump and couldn’t bear to look at it.
The young man rummaged through the boxes as if he didn’t know what he was trying to find and introduced himself, “My name is Zhang Chong. I was born at the foot of Mount Longhu. What is Taoist brother’s name?”
“Dong Zhi, as in the solar term for the Winter Solstice!” Seeing him slowly acting, Dong Zhi became angry and rushed him. “Brother, hurry up. He Yu is still waiting, and that demon is very difficult to deal with!”
“What’s the rush? It’s not like the sky is falling!” Zhang Chong grumbled.
Dong Zhi suddenly remembered what He Yu requested and asked, “Do you have a magic weapon made with five-baht coins?”
Zhang Chong said strangely, “Five-baht? No, I have a brass sword, which was given to me by the elders of my school. Did you want to broaden your horizon?”
Dong Zhi repeatedly confirmed, “You really don’t?”
Seeing as how his expression was too serious, Zhang Chong replied seriously, “I really don’t. Lin Jun and I are the only two people in this place, and he doesn’t use swords.”
Dong Zhi: “Haven’t it been used before? He Yu specifically asked me for this magic weapon!”
Zhang Chong smiled and gave him a look that said, ‘You look smart, but why do you act like a fool’. “The magic weapon is carried on you. Who would leave something like that to others and wait for them to bring it? He Shixiong has never been here before so how would he know that there’s a five-baht sword here?”
That’s right. He Yu was an expert, so it was impossible for him to say such a stupid thing. He had asked him to set out on this trip all the way out here, knowing that it would take him at least three hours…
Dong Zhi came to this realization, and his heart thumped.
He did it on purpose!
“He’s in danger! Hurry up and come with me!” Regardless of his reasons*, Dong Zhi stepped forward and dragged Zhang Chong and ran out.
*Regardless of the 3-7-21 (不管三七二十一) Idiom meaning, regardless of everything/regardless of the reason.
Zhang Chong was still dawdling. “Wait! There’s also a copper bell. I’ll take it too!”
“It’s too late!” Dong Zhi roared. “He lied to me about there being a magic weapon here. He knew that the demon would be extremely dangerous and deliberately misled me, so I wouldn’t get hurt! That monster killed many people, and Lao He was just recently injured again. He won’t last long!”
Zhang Chong was stunned and finally let himself be dragged out without resistance. The driver had been waiting impatiently for a long time. He wanted to leave, but he felt it would be a waste if he left with an empty car for the trip back, and he couldn’t bear to lose the cost, so he struggled inwardly. When he saw Dong Zhi coming back out, he instantly cheered up. He heard the words “Tianyuan Building” and immediately stepped on the gas, and the car sped off.
I hope I can make it in time!
Don Zhi was anxious as he secretly prayed.
It was past midnight when the two arrived at the Tianyuan Building. Eager to help He Yu, he took out a few hundred-yuan bills and stuffed them into the driver’s hand. Without waiting for the other to give change, he quickly rushed to the top floor with Zhang Chong.
Tianyun Building has more than 90 floors and was counted as one of the two tallest buildings in the region. There was no elevator to the rooftop, so the two could only go up to the 98th floor and then climb the stairs.
When they finally reached the door to the rooftop, Dong Zhi found that it can’t be open.
“There’s no lock, so why won’t it open?!”
“There should be a barrier set up. Look!” Zhang Chong said. He took out three sticks of incense from his backpack, lit them with a lighter, pinched them between his two fingers, and skillfully raised his hand to his forehead.
Dong Zhi looked at him nervously as his heart accelerated. He saw Zhang Chong close his eyes and spoke aloud. “Spirit of Sanqing*, the emperor of above, Mount Longhu disciple Zhang Chong invites the quartet…”
*Refers to Sanqing Hall where 3 solemn deities are enshrined. They are the highest gods of Taoism: Yuanshi Tianzun, Lingbao Tiazun, and Daode Tiazun.
Before he could finish his chant, a gust of wind blew by, and the burnt parts of the incense all fell off. The smoke and smell dissipated, leaving Zhang Chong dumbfounded.
Dong Zhi: …
“What now?!” Dong Zhi asked frantically.
“I’ll try again!” Zhang Chong nervously answered.
Dong Zhi finally knew why He Yu looked down on the people in the Guangzhou office. Although Zhang Chong came from a famous family, he was most likely thrown out by his teacher because of his poor academic skills.
“Your brass sword… Tear open the barrier…”
The voice faintly echoed as another dreary wind blew by.
“Who!” Zhang Chong drew his sword and held it close to his chest, looking around vigilantly.
“I am… Cheng Hui…” His voice was soft and intermittent. It didn’t sound like he was deliberately trying to scare them, but he was weak.
Zhang Chong was at a loss as he didn’t know who Cheng Hui was, but Dong Zhi, on the other hand, was overjoyed. “Is it really you, Cheng Hui? Did He Yu recused you? Is he on the rooftop now? We have to save him!”
Cheng Hui: “Open the door…sword…and talisman…”
Dong Zhi asked anxiously, “Is the sword Zhang Chong’s sword? What talisman?!”
Cheng Hui: “Sunlight ta…”
Zhang Chong slapped his forehead abruptly and yelled, “I see! Use the bagua gang method* to match the wind, but the sunlight talisman belongs to the Hezao sect. I don’t know it!”
*Bagua is known as the 8 trigrams. Taoist spell that’s require when fasting, drawing talismans, practicing methods, and channeling spirits. See lore for more details.
Dong Zhi hurriedly said, “I do! I’ll cooperate with you. What should I do?”
Still holding the sword closely to his chest, Zhang Chong said, “Look at me and match my movements. It’s best if we do it together since I’m afraid my magic technique may not be powerful enough!”
Dong Zhi was full of confusion, but at this point he bit the bullet and nodded. “Got it!”
Zhang Chong muttered words in his mouth, and when he uttered “edict”, the brass sword in his hand pointed to the door as Dong Zhi held the sunlight talisman he had prepared and matched the magic formula handprint according to what He Yu had taught before.
“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!”
A flash of red light appeared on the sword before it flew out. Matching its movement, Dong Zhi also slammed the talisman on the door. With a bang, the door opened abruptly, and the wind swept in! The two of them subconsciously lowered their bodies and stuck to the wall tightly.
Light shined brightly on the rooftop, showing Xu Wan standing in the middle, like a highly anticipated centerpiece. He Yu was beaten severely as he fell to the ground in an embarrassing state.
“There are two more, but unfortunately you’re not what I want.” Xu Wan’s gaze turned to Dong Zhi and Zhang Chong as she said with a smile, then she turned her gaze back to He Yu.
Listening to her gentle and soft tone, those who were ignorant would’ve thought she had some ambiguous intention with He Yu. Xu Wan was wearing a fiery red dress. Her waist-length hair danced wildly in the wind, and her movements were graceful. Except for her bloodshot eyes, she didn’t look like a demon who had killed countless.
“I fucking told you not to come and you still came!” He Yu panted and yelled at Dong Zhi. He was in a sorry state as his chest and arms were bleeding. He made a gesture with one hand behind his back.
Dong Zhi quietly held the talisman in his pocket.
Zhang Chong raised his sword and shouted, “Evil! I’ll capture you in this instance!” With that, he dashed towards her, but before he even touched the corner of Xu Wan’s clothes, the latter raised her hand and, with a wave, Zhang Chong’s entire body overturned and the brass sword in his hand fell to the ground.
Dong Zhi and He Yu: …
Zhang Chong, who prided himself, couldn’t believe that he was taken down by the enemy with a single move. He looked at his empty hands with a dull expression.
“Are all those old guys dead that they sent trash for me to deal with?!” Xu Wan snorted coldly, stretched out her five fingers, and the wind and mist all around her suddenly condensed in her palm. She instantly let go and it rushed towards Zhang Chong, who was still on the ground.
“Get out of the way!” He Yu yelled loudly.
Zhang Chong’s reaction was not slow, as he rolled to the side. In the next second, the violent wind carried the mist where he had initially fallen and left five deep marks on the cement floor, making it look as if it had been scratched by the claws of a beast.
Zhang Chong thought the demon was targeting him. He crawled towards the brass sword and picked it up. He started reciting the Five Thunder* Mantra, wanting to ask thunder from above to destroy this demon. Despite chanting for a long time, the color of the night sky did not change, and he didn’t know whether it was because he wasn’t proficient enough or if this evil was too powerful.
*(五雷轰) Idiom that describes how people will be punished by God in various forms after they have done bad things. In Taoism, it’s basically summoning the thunder/lightning of the heavens (keep this in mind for later).
He wanted to desperately prove that his school was wrong, and that he was indeed a man of great ambition and talent. When he was driven down the mountain, he vowed to make a career out of himself to impress the elders of the school. He was extremely dissatisfied with being placed in a casual position in Guangzhou, but the fact was that this position was extremely suitable for him. He was a disciple from a younger generation, from the same Taoist lineage, but was not comparable to even one of He Yu’s fingers.
Among all the people present, the only one who can contend with demons is He Yu, and said person was still injured. Xu Wan’s goal was always to stop He Yu from the very beginning.
Zhang Chong felt that his dignity had been insulted. He shouted loudly, used his hand to pinch a magic technique, and rushed towards Xu Wan, who was fighting He Yu. Suddenly, the sound of paper being torn was amplified, and the brass sword tore a break in the periphery of the violent wind!
Zhang Chong was overjoyed. He clenched his long sword, recited an exorcism mantra loudly, and raised his sword to stab Xu Wan in the back.
Meanwhile, Dong Zhi walked quietly around the rooftop, hiding in the shadows that weren’t illuminated by the light. With Xu Wan at the center, he was quietly setting up a bagua array. This was the formation method that assisted Long Shen in subduing the bone dragon on Changbai Mountain. After the fierce battle, He Yu had adjusted and taught him better, so his proficiency had increased.
One hand held a small compass to determine the direction, while the other hand held the talisman that set the heavens and earth. This time, the bagua array would be more effective than before. In the future, if he could excel, he would name this formation the Dong Zhi Yin-Yang Bagua Array. Or was it better to say Dong Zhi’s Invincible Bagua Array?
At this moment, He Yu spat out a mouthful of blood and sprayed it on a talisman, causing the clouds to move from all directions towards Tianyuan Building. Muffled thunder could be heard from afar. Dong Zhi was startled by the sound and hurriedly pulled his distracted mind back as he continued to lay a talisman in the direction pointed by the magnetic needle on the compass, then rushed to the next location.
Facing the thunder overhead, Xu Wan turned a blind eye and sneered, “It’s not even the five thunders from the heavens. What can you do with so little dry thunder?! It seems that this little brother is really out of strength, so it’s best to just give me your body and obey me obediently!”
With a wave from her right hand, Zhang Chong, who was about to get close behind her, was thrown away again, his head directly hitting the wall. He collapsed onto the ground, blood covering his entire face, his fate unknown.
“While this body isn’t difficult to use, I still prefer a practitioner with plenty of blood like you!”
Xu Wan smiled as she waved her hands. Wind surged in all directions, creating an invisible barrier that blocked the thunder and lightning that struck from above. Purple lightning slid along the side of the barrier and dashed towards Dong Zhi.
“Get out of the way!”
Dong Zhi was busy arranging the talisman array against the howls of the violent wind. His ears had become accustomed to the rumbling of the thunder, so he didn’t expect that lightning was about to strike right at him. When he noticed something was wrong, alongside with He Yu’s shout, Dong Zhi raised his head, and his eyes were almost blinded by the electric light.
Was the only thought that came into his mind, but his body’s response was half a beat slower than his mind. He was about to be split into charcoal as a white line entered his sight. More precisely, it was a white light that separated him from the lightning.
The lightning was shattered by a piece of white silk*. Dong Zhi felt force as something wrapped around his waist and, with a strong force, pulled him aside! He fell heavily to the ground. His nose smelt the scent of something burnt, and his palms scraped against the ground, causing him to wince from the burning pain, but at least he managed to live.
*[Bai ling] (白绫) A kind of cloth usually made with silk. It’s sometimes used as a weapon, like the silk in this scene from House of Flying Daggers.
Someone had saved him at the critical moment! Dong Zhi looked towards the source of the white silk and saw a woman in ancient costume falling in front of him. With ribbons fluttering and white attire like an immortal, she looked like a divine being descending from the nine heavens. The sight was graceful, gorgeous, and dazzling.
In the next moment, the fairy lightly opened her lips.
“He Yu, do you want to die?! You think just because you’re the leader of the Hezao Sect you dare come alone to fight a demon? You even dragged in normal people! If laozi hadn’t arrived in time, you would’ve been wiped out by now!”
Dong Zhi: …
His reverie for fairies was instantly crushed.
He Yu was familiar with the newcomer as he immediately retorted to her words, “If you came earlier, how would I be in this kind of state! It’s your fault!”
As He Yu spoke, Dong Zhi saw him pointing his fingers slightly towards his side, and he immediately reacted, quietly moving his body in the direction of where the last talisman should be placed.
Xu Wan narrowed her eyes to look at the woman in costume, and then shook her head after a while. “Having only the appearance but not the essence1, with flesh of gold and bones of iron2… Useless, I don’t want this type3.”
1The original idiom is empty table/emptiness has its own appearance [kong you qi biao] (空有其表) which refers to its not real/on the surface it’s good-looking in appearance but in fact it’s not.
2The original idiom is copper bars and iron bones [tong jin tie gu] (铜筋铁骨) Metaphor for a very strong body. Also, could refers to a person who can bear heavy responsibility. From Journey to the West.
3Clarity: Xu Wan is changing a few words in the idioms. She changed (铜筋铁骨) to (金筋铁骨) which now replaces copper with gold. Combined with the first idiom, this would be basically her saying along the lines of “All you have is appearance.” There’s a reason why Xu Wan is saying this specifically to this person, but to avoid spoilers, I won’t put it in (because that reason isn’t revealed until much, much later, but keep this in mind).
The woman sneered. “Don’t you feel ashamed for a great demon like you to hide in a mortal’s body?”
“Shame is a human conception, but that doesn’t apply to someone who’s not human, such as I. Besides, no matter how human you try to act, you’re not human either!” Xu Wan smiled strangely, and her voice didn’t seem to be coming from her body.
She raised her hand and pointed to He Yu. “I don’t want you. Leave that man behind and you can go!”
The woman in costume noticed that when the other party was talking, her other hand was slowly curled up, her white fingers became bruised, and a thick black mist started to condense, forming around her palm.
Villains die by talking too much, but Xu Wan was not a gossiper. It seems that she needed time to gather magic, so she deliberately stalled for time!
The woman no longer hesitated. She took out a mirror from her sleeves and put it in front of her. The thunder and lightning continued to strike above her head, but they were all absorbed by the mirror. The mirror shook, then suddenly turned into a golden light as it soared into the sky!
On the other side, Dong Zhi was facing the fierce wind as he crawled forward with great difficulty, exhausting all his strength to place the last talisman in place!
The Sunlight Bagua Talisman Array was completed!
Looking in the distance, he didn’t know when, but He Yu was holding on to Zhang Chong’s brass sword with one hand while pinching his hand with the other as he spat out blood while reciting a spell that led to lightning to the top of Xu Wan’s head. Lightning suddenly slammed down in a flash!
Zhang Chong slowly woke up from a corner on the side. His face was confused as he didn’t know what was currently happening.
In an instant, the thunder and lightning, the mirror’s golden light, and the bagua array echoed each other, and the heaven and earth shook in all directions! Thunder surged between the clouds like an immortal’s tribulation while wind howled violently around them as if the world was coming to an end!
At this moment, if anyone were to look up at the sky, they would see a black hole spinning slowly above Tianyuan Building, turning purple as flashes of lightning struck from time to time. The scene was inexplicable and shocking.
Dong Zhi felt as if he was wandering between the realms of life and death. The power of the heavens and earth that were seduced and provoked was so great that mortals could only struggle to survive by hiding in the cracks and praying for God’s benevolence.
The sound of thunder was deafening, and the golden light was blinding. Suddenly, the barrier around Xu Wan shattered! Her body was imprisoned by the talisman array and was smashed to pieces by the lightning!
The golden light from the mirror suppressed all outside damage, isolating the battle within the range of Tianyuan Building’s rooftop, minimizing the damage.
He didn’t know how much time had passed before Dong Zhi felt the surroundings gradually calm down. The light had disappeared, and the thunder had subsided. His ears were still ringing, and his eyes were irritated from staring at the strong light.
Nothing remained of where Xu Wan was standing. On the ground were scorched marks left behind from the lightning and the damage surrounding their battle.
Everyone collapsed to the ground, including the woman in the costume. Her face was pale; her condition was not much better than He Yu’s.
“Is she really dead?” Dong Zhi asked after a long time, while he was still panting for breath.
Everyone worked hard, barely escaping death* and eventually defeating the demon, but everything felt surreal, as if it were all a dream.
*Nine deaths and lives (九死一生) Idiom refers to escaping death after going through all kinds of hardships and dangers.
Was the demon wearing Xu Wan’s human skin completely gone and would no longer be a scourge to the world?
There was blood spilling from the corners of He Yu’s mouth, as he probably didn’t have the strength to answer him.
The woman in costume said, “She used a human life to build up resentment and gather blood essence in order to wake up the dragon corpse, but it only resulted in it being destroyed by you and severely injuring her. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have been so easy for us to take her down this time!”
You call that easy…?
As he looked around, apart from his own weakness and multiple bruises, he saw that the blood on Zhang Chong’s head had dried, making him hideous. He Yu was obviously in the worst state. He had fought with Xu Wan directly and lost a lot of blood. Now he lay motionless on the ground, not even having the strength to say a single word, his breath becoming shallower.
The only one who seemed to be in good condition was the woman in the costume. She leaned against the wall, took out her phone and…
Took a selfie???
Dong Zhi: …
After posing for three consecutive shots, the woman noticed Dong Zhi was looking at her stupidly and raised her voice a few octaves higher.
“Why are you such an idiot? Fighting with a demon and dragging ordinary people into this mess?!”
He Yu’s response was to roll his eyes.
Dong Zhi: “Uh, hello, young lady. My name is Dong Zhi.”
The woman in costume spoke to him in a much softer tone. “Did you set up the bagua talisman array just now?”
Dong Zhi nodded and said shyly, “He Yu taught me it. Fortunately, I didn’t drag you guys down.”
“Your performance is very good.” The woman in costume flipped her hair. “My name is Tang Jing; the Tang of the Tang Dynasty, Jing* from clean.”
*Tang (唐) of the Tang Dynasty. Jing (净) from [gan jing] (干净) which means clean/neat (no dust, pollution, dirt).
“Hello, Tang Jie.” Dong Zhi called out obediently.
“Good boy,” The woman in costume said, in a very satisfied manner. “But it’s Tang Ge.”
Dong Zhi asked weakly, “…Tang Ge?”
He Yu asked weakly, “Why did the boss let you come over?”
Tang Jing said angrily, “Did you think I want to? I was participating in a cosplay at an anime convention, but I was urged by deadly serial calls* from Boss Long that I had to rush over and didn’t even have time to change my clothes!”
*Slang for incessant, non-stop calling.
He Yu said sourly, “The boss really trusts you. He only sent you alone knowing that I was still injured. If you can’t stand it, we can settle accounts tonight!”
Tang Jing sneered, “It seems you’re not very injured if you still have the strength to be jealous! If you want the boss to come be the hero to save the ugly, then you have to look at the distance between Beijing and here, plus the distance from the airport, including traffic conditions. By the time he arrives, your daylily will be cold*!”
*Reminder: (等到黄花菜都凉了) Colloquialism refers to people who are late or do things late. || In this context he’s saying by the time Long Shen gets here, it’ll be too late.
He Yu said angrily, “What do you mean be the hero to save the ugly? Go to the streets and see how many men are as handsome as laozi!”
Dong Zhi said weakly, “Stop fighting…”
The author has something to say:
The demon was injured in Changbai Mountain and went south to escape. It happened that Cheng Hui was asked by He Yu to perform a divination, and he found a clue and pursued it, causing him to be imprisoned by the demon. He Yu came to save him with Dong Zhi. Seeing as how He Yu had more blood and was more energetic, the demon wanted to take over his body, so he took Cheng Hui’s remnant soul as bait to lead him to Tianyuan Building. Although he knew it was a trap, he had to go. Dong Zhi took Zhang Chong to desperately try to save him. Little Baby Dong Zhi is not a drag on the mentally retarded.
— This is a plot summary for readers and friends who have a hard time following the story.
Did not expect Tang Jing to be a guy.
Bagua gang method
For Taoist practitioners, step, gang and tread are all spells that must be learned when fasting, drawing talisman, practicing methods, and channeling spirits.
The gang method that has been circulated in modern times include fighting gang method, innate bagua gang method, acquire bagua gang method among others. The fighting method, the innate bagua method, and the acquired bagua method are mostly passed down in the folk.