Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Dong Zhi drowsiness was instantly wiped away and he shouted, “How did you get in?!”
Kan Chaosheng: “You forgot to lock the door. I didn’t get an answer when I knocked, so I opened it!”
Dong Zhi let out a sigh, scratched his head, and got up. “There are dried fish in the drawer, so you can help yourself.”
Kan Chaosheng rolled his eyes and said disdainfully, “Why do you think I would want dried fish? I’m not a cat spirit!”
Dong Zhi casually said, “Then a tiger spirit?”
Kan Chaosheng said angrily, “You’re a tiger spirit! Your whole family is a tiger spirit! Laozi’s body is very powerful! How could I be compared to such a low-level beast like a tiger spirit!”
Seeing him infuriated, Dong Zhi suppressed his smile and humbly asked, “Then what are you?”
Kan Chaosheng tilted his chin. “Guess!”
Dong Zhi said, “Since your name is related to water, your true form should be a creature of the water. You also like to eat very much, but He Yu said you are not gluttonous. Perhaps a turtle? A salamander? A golden toad? A dragon? Hmm… or is it a jiao*?”
*(蛟) Dragon in Chinese mythology often referred to as a “scaled” dragon that is hornless and aquatic. See lore for details.
He quickly got his answer based on the change in Kan Chaosheng’s expression. Dong Zhi said in surprise, “So you’re really a jiao?”
Kan Chaosheng snorted but acted tsundere and didn’t answer.
A dragon with horns was a dragon, while a hornless dragon was a jiao. Legends had it that a jiao, before going through a calamity, was inferior in strength to that of a dragon. But of course, these were, after all, just legends. The existence of this kind of creature was as ethereal as a dragon and had never been confirmed to exist.
Since he didn’t answer, Dong Zhi assumed he had acquiesced. He let out a sigh and asked, “Is there really a jiao in the world?”
Kan Chaosheng looked displeased. “You have even seen a dragon, so why ask such a question?”
Dong Zhi smiled and said, “But it wasn’t a living dragon. If you are truly a jiao, then you’re a living legend and I will need to take a look at you in your original form to confirm!”
Though Kan Chaosheng has a bit of a temper, he’s also easy to get along with. As long as you feed him and smooth his hair, you’ll eventually be able to find his soft spot. Dong Zhi had now successfully reached that spot. Sure enough, there was a hint of blush on his face as he exuded an arrogant aura.
Dong Zhi asked curiously, “Then why do you usually become a cat?”
“This floor is not big enough to fit my body. Besides, turning into a cat can reduce the vigilance of humans. Don’t you all like weak animals?”
“Won’t your combat abilities be weakened? If you had transformed your body on Changbai Mountain, that would’ve been a very majestic sight, right?”
Kan Chaosheng curled his lips. “That place is a scenic area, and one dragon was enough. I will transform again, and when that time comes, there’ll be hell to pay. I will clean up all the mess and settle accounts with every department that has beef with us!”
Dong Zhi nodded and was convinced. He knew the real reason was because a jiao had an inferiority complex in front of a true dragon, even if it was just a bone dragon. These were signs of weakness that he could not say in front of Kan Chaosheng.
“Get up quickly!” Kan Chaosheng said roughly, “The boss asked me to take you to the top floor to practice!”
“You can just tell me how to get there and I’ll go by myself. That way, you can do your own thing.”
Kan Chaosheng’s nostrils flared, and he said impatiently, “You need to swipe a card to enter. You haven’t joined yet, so how do you expect to get in?”
Dong Zhi innocently replied, “But I haven’t even eaten breakfast yet. Let’s go together. I know there’s a Cantonese dim sum teahouse nearby. Their wrappers are handmade, and they are the same as those in the old town of Guangzhou. The skin is thin, and the fillings are delicious.”
Kan Chaosheng’s eyes immediately lit up, as if he would perk his ears and meow. It’s a pity that he wasn’t in the big yellow cat form, or Dong Zhi would have given him endless pets.
After breakfast, the two returned to the Special Administration Bureau, and Kan Chaosheng took Dong Zhi to the top floor. Having to climb the stairs for 32 floors made Dong Zhi doubt life.
“Has no one ever complained about the lack of an elevator? Am I the only one who is crawling up these stairs on the verge of death? Didn’t He Yu say that there are also ordinary people in logistics?”
Kan Chaosheng: “Yes, we get complaints many times a year.”
“So why don’t the people above fix it?”
“In the end, they all transferred their posts and left, saying that they would rather go to National Security than come here, but every year, fools like you are tricked into coming in, so it doesn’t matter.”
Dong Zhi gave a contemptuous look.
Kan Chaosheng said, “Didn’t you learn kung fu tona at the Hezao Sect? Climbing stairs every day is one of the practice courses.”
Dong Zhi subconsciously always regarded himself as an ordinary person. Hearing Kan Chaosheng’s words, he suddenly realized that he had already stepped a foot into the ranks of cultivators. In accordance with the way of the Hezao Sect, he slowed his breathing while climbing the stairs. Once his attention was no longer on his legs, the distance didn’t seem to be that long.
The two eventually reached the top floor, where a door to the rooftop was tightly closed. Kan Chaosheng took out his work permit, and the card machine on the wall beeped, opening the door.
Dong Zhi was starry-eyed. He thought that he would see a rooftop that would be like any other ordinary commercial building, but he quickly found that his imagination was too lacking. When he stepped through the door, it was like he had leapt from the real world and entered a fantasy world.
There was green grass that grew everywhere. Sporadic waterfalls were gushing, splashing beads of water around. Lush vegetation covered the area that was filled with streams and rocks scattered around. It was like a vast and boundless scene that had no end in sight.
Such a scene could not be observed in the steel jungle of a modern city, not to mention that they were currently in the heart of Beijing.
Did they travel through time and space and come to another world?
“Are we still in Beijing?” Dong Zhi exclaimed.
Kan Chaosheng snorted, “Of course. Why are you making such a fuss? This is just an enchantment.”
“Is it an illusion?”
“No. In your own words, it is a limited space that expands infinitely.”
Dong Zhi walked to the river, bent down, and touched the water. The water flowed between his fingers, leaving them icy and cold, and the summer breeze held the aroma of fruits. These feelings felt all too real.
Dong Zhi asked, “Does everyone practice here?”
“There are several areas divided here. Group one, group two, and group three each have their own different spaces. Don’t worry about accidental injuries. I am a member of group two, so my work permit can only open the area for group two. The best thing here is that although the enchantment separates us from the real world, the qi is still connected, so the effect of cultivation is the same. For example, descend!”
He beckoned to the sky, and a dark cloud floated over their heads.
“Rain.” Kan Chaosheng said.
Suddenly, a downpour rained down, but it was limited to just the area above Dong Zhi. As soon as he raised his head, he was instantly drenched.
Dong Zhi: …
Kan Chaosheng laughed loudly.
Dong Zhi was expressionless. “Spit out all the dumplings for me.”
Kan Chaosheng made a face and said, “Hurry up and practice. I’ll be responsible for supervising you today!”
Dong Zhi saw through his intentions instantly and sighed. “You just want to wait so I can treat you to dinner, right? Originally I wanted to take you to eat grilled fish at night, but now my enthusiasm has been completely extinguished by you.”
Kan Chaosheng blinked a few times and suddenly changed his attitude. “Then why don’t I help you practice? If you can attract thunder today, you’ll treat me to grilled fish tonight.”
Dong Zhi said, “How can you help?”
“I can help you repair the talismans. Every time you use them, they will burn out, but I can restore them so you can reuse them without wasting extra time drawing new ones.”
Long Shen had taught him the correct posture for holding a sword while reciting his mantra. He had a good memory, so his movements weren’t bad. He was also proficient in memorizing the runes as well. Although those talismans were written by him, they’ve been certified by He Yu that they conform with the teachings, but no matter how he practiced, there was no improvement.
After the talisman ignited, it fluttered in the air and landed on the ground, completely devoid of the prestige it once had when it attracted thunder on Mount Hezao.
This situation was common. The old master had told him that He Yu could attract heavenly thunder but only once a month, and that was already considered to be genius level. He had succeeded in the initial test overnight, so naturally it was gratifying, but his heavenly thunder was unpredictable. The stronger his abilities were, the higher the success rate. Even experts like Zhang Daoling1 and Tao Hongjing2 couldn’t constantly summon heavenly lightning.
1Chinese religious leader who lived during the Eastern Han Dynasty credited with founding the Way of the Celestial Masters sect of Taoism, which is also known as the Way of the Five Pecks of Rice, and he was the founder of Taoism.
2Chinese alchemist, astronomer, calligrapher, military general, musician, physician, pharmacologist, and writer during the Northern and Southern dynasties. A polymathic individual of many talents, he was best known as the founder of the Shangqing “Highest Clarity” school of Daoism and the compiler-editor of the basic Shangqing religious texts.
Dong Zhi wasn’t discouraged. He kept trying repeatedly for the entire morning. After the talisman ignited and turned to ashes, it was restored by Kan Chaosheng. He only needed to use two talismans in turns. Kan Chaosheng sat on a branch eating nuts, and after a while, there was a pile of shells under the tree.
“Your technique is not good. It’s not neat enough!”
“You need to recite the mantra faster. When you’re fighting a real enemy, they won’t just wait around until you finish your recitation!”
“Oi, have you not eaten? You have to channel your qi into the sword!”
During the gaps in between eating snacks, Kan Chaosheng didn’t forget to chatter while pointing at all the mountains around.
“Idiot. The tip of the sword must be up! Up!” Kan Chaosheng inarticulately yelled as his mouth was stuffed full of snacks.
Dong Zhi muttered to himself. “I wonder if I should eat hairy crabs or crayfish for dinner?”
Kan Chaosheng’s face changed faster than turning a page of a book. “Honestly, this is the first time I’ve seen such a talent like you. It is such a waste not to practice this technique. The General Administration needs you. The country needs you. The people need you!”
Dong Zhi laughed and stopped fighting with him as he began to concentrate on his practice again.
At first, there would be noises around him that would disturb him, but gradually he became immersed, and the noise outside started to quiet. Although there had been no progress for the time being, at any rate, his mood had adapted, and he wasn’t easily affected by external factors.
Long Shen swiped his card and walked through the door of the rooftop with someone behind him. From a distance, Dong Zhi’s figure could be seen standing by the stream practicing his technique.
After watching him for a moment, Wu Bingtian joked, “Do you want that kind of kid? It seems that group two is getting less picky these days.”
There was a hint of ridicule in his words, but Long Shen ignored it as he walked over with Wu Bingtian.
“Boss!” Kan Chaosheng shouted when he saw them coming over. He clapped his hands and jumped down from the tree.
Hearing Kan Chaosheng, Dong Zhi turned his head and nodded politely.
Long Shen said to him, “This is Boss Wu. He wants to take a closer look at your situation at Tianyuan Building that day.”
Wu Bingtian smiled slightly. He looked seemingly approachable, but there was a sense of distance. “We have asked He Yu, Tang Jing, and others, since we can discover different things from different viewpoints. The more comprehensive report we put together, the more it’ll help us fill in the gaps.”
He Yu had told him that there were three deputy directors in the bureau, each in charge of their own groups in the Special Administration Bureau. This Deputy Director Wu must be the leader of the first group.
Although Wu Bingtian’s facial features weren’t comparable to Long Shen’s, he wasn’t bad by any means. He had a very upright face that was a bit burly, matching his tall figure. He could be regarded as a beautiful man type.
The existence of the Archfiend must be vitally important to the Special Administration Bureau. Otherwise, they would not have taken matters so seriously and dispatched two deputy directors to personally question him.
Dong Zhi realized this and didn’t dare be sloppy. He carefully recalled the process of his acquaintance with Xu Wan as well as the situation at the Tianyuan Building, and briefly described it. There wasn’t any new information discovered, but Wu Bingtian still listened to him very seriously. At the end, he nodded and said nothing, and told him to continue practicing while he turned around and left with Long Shen.
When they reached the exit of the enchantment, they heard a muffled rumbling from overhead. The two raised their heads and saw dark clouds above, slowly converging towards Dong Zhi. In the clouds, bright light sparked, then suddenly a thick lightning bolt suddenly struck!
Kan Chaosheng yelled as he fled from under the tree, running at the speed of light. Because he was so frightened, halfway through running, he transformed into a cat and jumped several times before falling into the stream.
Within the next second, lightning struck the tree that he was sitting on right down the middle, splitting the entire tree in half. With a bang, half of the tree crashed into the ground, crushing the pile of empty nut shells that Kan Chaosheng had eaten.
The big yellow cat was extremely angry. It hissed at Dong Zhi, barring its claws and teeth. “Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow?!”
“…I don’t understand.” For the first time in his life, he found out that cats could make such grating cries.
The big yellow cat hissed at him a few times before light condensed around it, turning into spots, and eventually it returned to Kan Chaosheng’s appearance.
“Do you want to commit murder and robbery?!”
Dong Zhi said innocently, “I didn’t know that the tree would be hit.”
Long Shen and Wu Bingtian didn’t stay behind to look. They left the enchantment and went down to the lower floor.
Wu Bingtian said, “We plan to expand our search area where the mural was found last time to see if we can find the stone tablet.”
Long Shen nodded. “Then Inner Mongolia will be left to you, and I will also let the people from the Northeast Branch continue to search near Changbai Mountain.”
Wu Bingtian sighed. “Our country is so big that it is impossible to dig three feet of ground inch by inch. I hope that the Archfiend will come out and do something again. That way, we can follow its trail and find the stone tablet one step at a time. But having said that, do you think that the Archfiend is rushing towards the stone tablets to steal them or destroy them?”
Long Shen said, “If the stone tablet is really part of the talisman array, its purpose is most likely the latter. However, it’s not yet known what role the talisman array has.”
“I have asked the above to send documents to various sects to assist in finding information. Maybe I can find clues related to the stone tablets, but don’t hold out much hope. Mr. Zhang said that the runes on the stone tablet were extremely old. The Longhu Sect had rummaged through relevant materials and still found nothing for the time being.” He said this, naturally, in hopes of exchanging information with Long Shen.
Long Shen was silent for a moment before saying, “I asked He Yu to inquire about it at the Hezao Sect. Headmaster Xin said that the age of the stone tablet and the talismans on it may be before the Ming and Qing Dynasties.”
Is this nonsense? Given the abilities of the Longhu Sect, they couldn’t figure out that the talisman was before the Ming and Qing Dynasties, but the Hezao Sect did. Wu Bingtian couldn’t help feeling disappointed, but then recalled that the Hezao Sect had been on the decline since the Qing Dynasty and had suffered several turmoil that had burned many of their works. Indeed, they were overwhelmed and underpowered*.
*More than enough in the mind, but not enough strength (心有余而力不足) Saying that refers to intentionally doing something but objectively could not. Powerless.
“I’m afraid there will be follow-ups to the stone tablet incident. There are so few people in group two. I hope the Long Bureau can recruit a few more this year. It’s good to cherish feathers*, but if you’re too lofty, you’ll be misunderstood!” Wu Bingtian said with a smile.
*Metaphor for cherishing one’s reputation and acting very cautiously. || In this context, he’s mocking Long Shen for being too picky (afraid that his reputation will be spoil if he picks the wrong suborindates).
Long Shen said lightly, “Didn’t Boss Wu see one just now?”
Shit! Why did he bring this up?
Wu Bingtian wanted to scold his mother! Just now, he had followed Long Shen to the rooftop and saw Dong Zhi practicing. At first, he didn’t take him very seriously. He had a discerning eye and knew from a glance that Dong Zhi was just a novice. For such a novice, let alone being admitted to the General Administration Bureau, he wouldn’t even be able to take one step past the gate of the Longhu Sect. Who knew not long after he finished laughing at Long Shen, he was slapped in the face by a thunderbolt, and it wasn’t an insignificant one but was powerful enough to show off all its glory.
Wu Bingtian pretended that he didn’t say anything. He wanted to laugh at his opponent, yet tripped over his own feet.
He laughed awkwardly and said, “The Boss Long is really wise and knowledgeable. Why haven’t I found a newcomer of such good quality before!”
Long Shen snorted.
Wu Bingtian: …
How dare you snort? Just you wait. When you’re not looking, I’ll grab the person you like and see if you can pretend to keep calm, ah?!
Dong Zhi was unaware of the happenings between Long Shen and Wu Bingtian and how they felt about him. At this time, he was overcome with great joy at his success in attracting thunder again. After Long Shen had left, he practiced more than a dozen times and on two occasions managed to attract lightning the size as thick as his thumb. It wasn’t as powerful as the first time, but this success rate shows that he had made great progress. He was told that after he successfully attracted thunder, it would take at least another month before he could succeed again.
To reward Kan Chaosheng for helping him, Dong Zhi called He Yu and invited them both to eat crabs and crayfish. Near midnight, the three of them dragged their round bellies back. Dong Zhi couldn’t fall asleep due to eating too much, and recalling his experience today, he got overly excited again.
Before today, he had never thought that he, an ordinary otaku who had lived for more than 20 years, would one day be able to step into a mysterious and fantastical world while also obtaining abilities of his own.
The victory from today’s first battle invigorated Dong Zhi, injecting him full of motivation. He couldn’t wait for tomorrow to come so he could continue making persistent efforts and practice harder. He picked up his phone as he strolled around, wanting to send Long Shen a message but felt that it was too intrusive. Today, Boss Long came with Boss Wu to personally ask him questions that were most likely related to the stone tablet. He guessed that it must be a serious matter for them, and Long Shen must be too busy right now to care about anything else.
After thinking about it, he opened a shopping website and bought some daily necessities for himself. He also bought a bunch of self-heating hotpot mix for Kan Chaosheng, a three-dimensional mouse pad, and a cute little bear backpack for He Yu.
Since he met them on the train, they have helped him out a lot. Although one was cheap and gluttonous, and the other was always absentminded, except when it came to exorcism, he still considered them brothers and friends. He never felt taken advantage of when he extended his offer to invite them to meals and often bought them gifts.
When he got to Long Shen, however, he felt embarrassed.
What does the male god like?
Dong Zhi entered keywords like antiques and famous swords. Looking at their prices made him unable to breath.
The Dong’s family background is quite good. After his parents’ deaths, they left him a sizable inheritance. In addition to the salary that he made while working in the games industry, his wealth is relatively sizable. He can say that he doesn’t need to worry about food and clothing, but even so, the price of these swords was something that was unaffordable, and he didn’t even know if they were real or fake.
After staring at the computer for a while, he turned on his phone and messaged a friend who was studying abroad. It was daytime over there, so the old friend quickly replied back: [Yo. You finally remembered me! What are you up to these days?]
Dong Zhi: [I have resigned from my job and am preparing to take the civil service exam. Brother, let me ask you a question.]
Old friend: [Shoot.]
Dong Zhi: [I have a friend who wants to give gifts to someone. He has a good impression of this person, but he’s not sure if it’s considered love or not. What do you think this person should give?]
Old friend: [That friend is you, right?]
Dong Zhi: …
The old friend immediately sent a series of laughing emojis at him.
Old friend: [You fell in love as soon as I broke up. Have you no conscience?! Send me photos so I can see!]
Dong Zhi felt helpless: [There are no photos, and I said I’m not sure how I feel about him, so I want to ask you for your opinion.]
Old friend: [He??? Male???]
Dong Zhi had accidently typed “he” instead of “she”, but he didn’t expect the other party to be so keen*. He hesitated whether he should tell the truth or not.
*In Chinese, he (他) and she (她) are similar characters. They are also pronounced similarly too, so when speaking, often it’s hard to discern if they are referring to someone’s sex.
The old friend immediately sent another message: [I already knew you were bent. Why else would you have been single for more than 20 years!]
Dong Zhi was unconvinced: [I have also had a good impression of girls, okay?!]
Old friend: [That’s like in elementary school. Besides, let alone men and women, going beyond humans, there’s also animal love and asexuality. This brother is open-minded and calm.]
Dong Zhi: […Anyways, this person is extremely powerful and good-looking. Aside from that, he also made a good impression on me and has helped me out a lot. I want to thank him, so what should I give?]
Old friend: [Money!]
Dong Zhi: …
Old friend: [Money is the most real thing! Just send him a red envelope with 520* yuan. You can test him while also thanking him. Isn’t this killing two birds with one stone?]
*When pronounced, 520 [wǔ èr líng] sound very close to I love you [wǒ ài nǐ] [我爱你] so it’s now become a reference to it.
Dong Zhi: [Forget it. Let’s talk about why you’re lovelorn.]
He listened to his friend complain about how bad his girlfriend was for over an hour and comforted him. After hanging up, Dong Zhi picked up the sketchbook album and turned to a half-painted portrait that hadn’t been completed since he was on the train.
The outline was a side angle of a slightly lowered head, as if the person was listening or in deep thought. The expression was indifferent and calm, and his eyes were blank. This was the first time they had met on the train, and Dong Zhi had no idea who Long Shen was at all. He was only impressed by his appearance alone. The eyes were the windows into one’s soul, so he couldn’t draw the other person’s eyes, so he kept them blank all this time.
After staring at it for a while, Dong Zhi chose not to fill in the eyes. Instead, he turned the page and started sketching a few cartoon characters from Group Two.
Sitting on the bed, with his short legs dangling, was Kan Chaosheng, who had a mouth full of snacks. Beside him was He Yu, who was holding his phone, obsessing over it. Zhong Yuyi was sleep walking with his hands in his pockets, and then there was Long Shen, who was holding his sword in a cool posture. He also drew himself practicing the Five Thunder Talisman technique and was finally able to attract heavenly lightning, but it struck Kan Chaosheng on the head.
Note: I’m using thunder and lightning interchangeably. Thunder for the name and lightning for the actual bolts that strike because, technically, thunder is just the sound that lightning makes and lightning is the actual thing that does the damage, so from an English point of view, it sounds inaccurate to say something was struck by thunder.
Dong Zhi’s old friend, I’m hoping that is platonic animal love, because if it’s not, then I have news for you bud, no.
Type of dragon in Chinese mythology that is hornless and scaled. It is aquatic or river-dwelling. English translations have referred to it as “jiao-dragon”, “crocodile”, “flood dragon”, “scale/scaly dragon”, or even “kraken”.
Though called “dragon” it is in fact not a dragon but a species of water beast that has dragon blood. They like to hide in ponds and rivers for several hundreds to thousands of years, and if they can survive a calamity, they can ascend to become a real dragon.
Depending on text, its descriptions vary, but generally it’s agreed that it’s aquatic in nature, hornless, and scaley. It is said that they control the water and can make clouds and rain as well as summon floods. They are flightless by nature and only have a pair of claws.