Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
The mood was very jubilant as he got along with He Yu and the others. Although Kan Chaosheng was a monster that had cultivated for hundreds of years, not only was his appearance a child’s, but he was also one at heart. Zhong Yuyi often didn’t speak much but gave off a very reliable feeling.
Though the group was noisy and often bicker, they all had a good relationship with each other. Kan Chaosheng had a poisonous mouth but still watched him all day and He Yu helped him with his practice for the thunder technique. While impatient, he still followed Dong Zhi around.
He Yu hugged Dong Zhi’s arm and cried, saying that he was going to return to the field again next week, so he had to hurry up and party while he still could. Dong Zhi was soft-hearted and, after agreeing, said he would pay for the karaoke as well.
He Yu’s face immediately did a 360 as he clapped his hands and said, “Alright comrades, there’s a local tyrant paying for the evening. We’ll bundle the night into one nice, spectacular package. What do you guys think?”
Kan Chaosheng agreed. “Go to the one two blocks away! They also have a hot and spicy crayfish buffet nearby!”
He Yu said boldly, “No problem. I’ll call ahead to make an order now!”
Dong Zhi: …
He turned his head and asked Zhong Yuyi. “Is this guy really going out into the field?”
Zhong Yu nodded after a little while. “When I was in Yunnan, I encountered a situation in the area of Fuxian Lake.”
Dong Zhi was taken aback. “Is it related to Sneaky Yaksha again?”
Zhong Yuyi: “I don’t know yet. Group three is already there. They sent a letter asking for help. For the time being, there hasn’t been any progress on Changbai Mountain, so the boss asked He Yu and Kan Chaosheng to help.”
Dong Zhi: “Isn’t He Yu’s injury not healed yet? Why don’t you send a different team?”
Zhong Yuyi: “A team has already been sent over to give a hand, but depending on the situation, they may need more help.”
Dong Zhi nodded and didn’t ask any more questions. Last time, Long Shen took a piece of his hair while he was in his office, and later it was key to saving his life. He knew Long Shen’s cautiousness, so there was no need to worry.
Eating hotpot was an all-day event as they joked and laughed around the table. From evening until nightfall, Kan Chaosheng swept away all the meat and vegetables on the table. When the waiter came back to give them the bill, his eyes bulged when he looked at the pile of empty plates stacked on the table.
In He Yu’s words, after eating, one must sing to release the accumulated energy, so everyone went to book a karaoke room. He Yu was first, and after inputting his song, he wailed and howled while interpreting the song as if he was telling his life story.
When Dong Zhi first met them on the train, the appearance of He Yu, Long Shen, and the others made him fearful and curious, but also, he felt they were amazing. While he had kept the same feelings for Long Shen, He Yu’s image has now completely crumbled. At this moment, the grating sounds that pierced his ears made his face inadvertently twitch. Just like Zhong Yuyi next to him, he had to cover his ears in silence.
Kan Chaosheng was unwilling to let He Yu hog all the attention, so he took another microphone and joined in on the wailing. He roared at He Yu, and He Yu returned his roar as they sang to the tune. Kan Chaosheng’s singing was wild and unconventional as he didn’t even know what he was yelling at. All the while, Zhong Yuyi could only cover his ears tighter and stared straight ahead in a daze with a look of helplessness.
Unable to bear it any longer, Dong Zhi grabbed the microphone in Kan Chaosheng’s hand and cut to a new song. He Yu didn’t give up making trouble as he let out a groan when he heard Dong Zhi sing in a regular manner. “Okay Xiao Dongdong. I can see you still have a hidden skill with your good singing voice. When you enter group two, you’ll represent us and show it off when there’s a singing competition in the bureau one day!”
Dong Zhi said, “Boss Long must have a much better voice than me. Why don’t you call him over to join the fun?”
He Yu shook his head like a rattler: “He’s always taking care of business, so let’s not make trouble!”
Kan Chaosheng had the same reaction. “Keep singing. Keep singing. We’re not returning until we’re drunk!”
Dong Zhi wondered if they were up to something behind Long Shen’s back. Suddenly, his phone screen lit up, and he saw that it was a message from his old friend.
The old friend asked: [How is it? Have you confessed yet?]
Dong Zhi: […Not yet.]
Old friend: [If you’re a man, you must be brave or else I’ll look down on you!]
Dong Zhi: [I have been busy preparing for the exam these days, how can I have time to consider this? What stimulated you today?]
Old friend: [How did you know? I went to try to get back with my ex-girlfriend, but she refused…]
Dong Zhi’s forehead twitched. His friend came from a well-off family and, in the eyes of others, was considered a rich second generation. His appearance and education weren’t bad either. Such conditions should make any girl starry-eyed, and this was indeed the case from his childhood to adulthood. Countless girls had chased him, so he only had his eyes on the cream of the crop. He would usually date a girl for less than three months, but this time he didn’t expect to fall deeply in love.
Dong Zhi had a bit of schadenfreude hearing about his situation. It seemed that he had finally been taught a lesson and would clean up his act in the future so he wouldn’t play with others’ hearts so easily. This should teach him a vigorous lesson.
Suddenly, he got another message.
Long Shen: [How is your practice on the thunder technique going?]
Oh my god! The male god took the initiative to text me!
It was such a rare event. Dong Zhi didn’t care about relishing in his old friend’s misery anymore. He hurriedly reported the progress of his practice and was concerned if the male god had eaten yet and if he should bring something back for him.
Long Shen replied: [Thank you, but no need. Are He Yu and those guys with you?]
His indifference was the norm, but it was surprising that Dong Zhi caught a glimpse of his carefulness under this indifference.
Dong Zhi: [We are doing karaoke. Would you like to join?]
Long Shen: [Turn off the music and make my voice message public.]
Dong Zhi: ???
He was perplexed about why he said it. He Yu was still roaring into the mic when suddenly the music stopped. “My heart is broken—”
Long Shen’s voice pierced coldly through the room: “Everyone come back for a meeting.”
He Yu: “—Can’t shed a tear…”
He suddenly turned his head to look at Dong Zhi. “We all turned off our phones. Why are you still leading the wolf into the room!”
Dong Zhi said innocently, “Just now, Boss Long asked me to put his voice message on speaker. I didn’t know what he was going to say.”
Kan Chaosheng clung to the sofa and refused to let go as he angrily said, “I’m not leaving! I’m not going to a meeting! I hate them the most! They’ve been talking forever and yet there are still no results!”
He Yu lifted up his bear backpack and said sadly, “Son, as soon as dad leaves, I don’t know how long he’ll be back. Dad doesn’t want to be separated from you!”
Dong Zhi: “…You two have a good time.”
Zhong Yuyi murmured, “If we have a meeting this late, it’ll definitely be all night again!”
He Yu and Kan Chaosheng were silent for a moment before they started wailing again. Dong Zhi and Zhong Yuyi glanced at each other and sighed at the same time. Regardless of their howling that could tear apart the sky, in the end, they obediently went back for the meeting. Dong Zhi wanted to go with them, but he was an outsider, so he couldn’t even go past the gate of the Special Administration Bureau. Instead, he went back to the dormitory alone to rest.
When he got back, he turned on his computer and logged into his social media account. His comic series has been gaining popularity, and there were already thousands of comments below and nearly 10,000 retweets. Most of the comments were devoted to saying how interesting his stories were. There were some that said while they were afraid to read it, they couldn’t help themselves, and others talked about their own supernatural experiences.
He browsed the comments and picked some to reply to, then turned off his computer and continued staring at his semi-completed work.
Long Shen’s eyes are beautiful, and his figure could be said to be the same. Some were just truly blessed by the heavens, and Long Shen undoubtedly fit the bill. But because of this, it was hard for Dong Zhi to even begin to draw him.
He recalled bit by bit that Long Shen had double eyelids and his eyes were the perfect normal size. These shapes and contours were easy to draw, but what was difficult was capturing the charm in his eyes. After sketching several drafts, he was still dissatisfied and finally gave up again.
Dong Zhi became depressed and even started to doubt himself and his abilities as an artist. His professional skills were completely reduced to scum in front of the male god.
The time was closely approaching midnight, but it seemed as if the meeting hadn’t adjourned yet. He picked up his phone and sent a message to He Yu and Kan Chaosheng separately, but he didn’t get a reply until after he went to brush his teeth and wash his face.
He Yu replied: [Is currently suffering. About to ascend into heaven.] An expression of godless eyes was attached to the message.
Kan Chaosheng didn’t bother even typing a message and just sent a series of crazy emojis vividly expressing his emotional breakdown.
Before Dong Zhi could reply, He Yu sent another message: [I have said the content repeatedly, but the discussion has not yielded any results. I don’t understand the significance of such a meeting?!]
Dong Zhi replied: [Is it related to the stone tablet?]
He Yu: [The General Administration Bureau is afraid of a resurgence since the last demon ambush, so they hope to find the other stone tablets as soon as possible, but there’s been no result. I just want to go back to sleep.]
Dong Zhi: [Was the meeting held by the Boss Long?]
He Yu: [No, Jiang Zhengju. He’s an ordinary person, and he’s known for liking meetings. After being transferred here, he didn’t care much about anything except performance, so he likes to hold meetings. When we heard that he wanted to hold yet another meeting, it gave us a headache.]
He kept complaining, giving the whole back history of the leaders to Dong Zhi. If what He Yu says is true, China is a vast country, and looking for stone tablets with no direction was tantamount to finding a needle in a haystack. It’s no wonder that He Yu and Kan Chaosheng were bored beyond their wits with these kinds of fruitless meetings.
It’s inevitable that any organization will always gather people who can’t do much but like to take credit. If Dong Zhi was really admitted, he’ll have to get used to the way things work in the future.
Dong Zhi suddenly thought, ‘Does Long Shen participate in these meetings seriously or is he just as disinterested as He Yu?’
Unable to keep the thought from spreading, his fingers automatically found the person in question, and he sent him a message: [Boss Long, are you still in a meeting?]
Shouldn’t he be taking care of other matters? After waiting for a while, Dong Zhi didn’t get a reply as expected. He flipped through his phone and browsed the web in boredom, eventually unknowingly falling asleep. His dreams were filled with intermittent fragments that appeared as a jumbo mess.
For a while, he dreamt that he, He Yu, and Kan Chaosheng were doing karaoke when suddenly a large number of zombies rushed into the room from outside. However, they were stunned by the wailing from Kan Chaosheng’s “singing”.
Then he dreamt that he was standing under a tree and was confessing to Long Shen, but Long Shen had rejected him with a cold face, saying he had someone he had liked for a long time. Suddenly, He Yu appeared out of nowhere and Long Shen hugged him as they walked away, leaving him standing flabbergasted.
After a while, he returned to the enchantment around Liuhua Ancient Bridge. He was desperately running from a group of monsters who had transformed into people from the Republic of China. They were chasing after him, and as their long fingernails were about to pierce the back of his neck, a hand suddenly stretched out from the darkness and grabbed the monster’s wrist, then grabbed his arm as it ran forward with him.
In the blink of an eye, his frightening escape had turned into reassuring warmth. Dong Zhi panted heavily as he ran for his life, but he couldn’t help but turn his head to look at the person who was holding onto his arm. It just so happened the other party was looking at him as well, showing a cold expression that had a trace of a smile as he said, “It’s me.”
“Boss Long, I…” The roaring of the monsters behind him indicated that they were getting closer. There was no time to panic, despite that he was at death’s gate, yet his mood was extremely calm.
“You don’t need to say it. I know everything.” Long Shen said, then he put his arms around his waist and shouted. “Jump!”
Before Dong Zhi could react, his body had already fallen violently! Suddenly, he opened his eyes!
The sky was already bright outside when he looked out the window. After dreaming all night, the back of his head felt dull and painful. He turned over lazily, then suddenly froze. He put his hand into his blanket, fumbled for a while, and blinked a few times. Suddenly, he felt wide awake as he showed an expression of disbelief.
After calming himself down, Dong Zhi covered his face with a groan. His dream wasn’t even close to amorous, yet his body showed a very honest reaction. When he was talking to his old friend, he still held onto a glimmer of hope, but now he had to admit it to himself. He seemed to really have ambiguous thoughts about the male god.
When he turned on the phone, he found that Long Shen had sent him a reply around 1 AM: [The meeting has been adjourned. Rest early. Good night.]
Such a matter-of-fact message seemed so serious that he couldn’t be serious anymore. He stared at the message for a few seconds before the corner of his mouth raised a little. He assumed Long Shen was still resting, so he didn’t want to bother him. Instead, he sent a message to his old friend: [I finally confirmed my feelings for him.]
The old friend quickly replied: [Feelings?]
Dong Zhi: [I admire and worship him, but I also want to fuck him too.]
Old friend: [Don’t just say it, do it!]
I’m afraid it’s not that easy. Dong Zhi chuckled, then put down his phone and got up to wash his face. Halfway through brushing his teeth, he came to a shocking realization. He and Long Shen barely know anything about each other. With the situation he’s in now, his feelings have moved from confused to secretly having affection.
Dong Zhi looked at himself in the mirror with a tangled expression. Suddenly, he smiled. It doesn’t make sense that if you suddenly like the other person, they would immediately like you back. Isn’t love all about taking the initiative? He also has the best news. Long Shen doesn’t have a girlfriend as of now.
What was the saying? A strong girl is afraid of entanglement*. Similarly, strong men should be afraid too, right?
*(烈女怕缠郎) Refers no matter how strong a woman is, she’s afraid of the constant chase, and will eventually be conquered by the man. As long as you have the heart, you can still catch up with goddess-like characters.
But it was too early to think about this. If he couldn’t be shortlisted for the interview, everything would be all for naught.
Well, Dong Zhi, you can do it*!
*Clarity: He’s saying jiayou (加油) basically pumping himself up.
The reflection in the mirror curled its eye and a beautiful smile appeared.
Two days later, He Yu and Kan Chaosheng went on a business trip, and he wasn’t sure when they would be back. Zhong Yuyi has a dull temperament and doesn’t like to play around. What’s more, he and Long Shen were still busy with work, so Dong Zhi didn’t bother them. He had been preparing for his interview and, during his spare time, worked on his comic series and interacted with his readers. Thus, time passed by quickly and life was comfortable.
He Yu hadn’t once moved back into his dorm, so Dong Zhi decided to make it his own and arranged everything neatly. There were a few small potted plants placed on the small balcony, and a goldfish bowl was next to them. Two black and white goldfish were inside, living as leisurely as their owner. He printed out two landscape paintings he drew and bought a picture frame to hang them on the wall to add some furnishings that gave off a bit more warmth to his life. He Yu had visited him once and thought he had gone to the wrong place at that time.
One day, while Dong Zhi was painting, He Yu called him. He picked it up and said, “Hey buddy, how are things going? I was afraid of interrupting your work, so I didn’t reach out for a while.”
He Yu said, “The results have been announced. Did you know?”
Dong Zhi was busy painting Long Shen’s hair, so what He Yu said didn’t register with him, so he casually asked, “What results?”
He Yu was speechless. “The written exam results! How can you even forget this?”
Dong Zhi instantly became excited. “It’s announced? Weren’t they going to notify me by text?”
As soon as he finished speaking, he remembered that he had received a text message in the morning but thought it was spam, so he ignored it.
He Yu: “Don’t rush to check it. I already know your ranking. The total number of candidates this year was 156; a new record, but only 30 were shortlisted for the interview. Do you want to know where you’re ranked?”
Dong Zhi said, as his voice trembled, “It’s not the 31st place, right?”
He Yu said solemnly, “Xiao Dongdong, do you know why so many people are taking exams this year? Because those who failed the exam in previous years keep coming back. After a few years, the number of people will obviously increase. Many of them have even passed the written exam, but they were brushed off for the interview portion.”
Dong Zhi’s heart sank a little bit. “So I can’t get into the interview?”
He Yu: “Well…”
Dong Zhi strengthened his spirits and comforted He Yu. “Don’t worry. I won’t be discouraged. If I’m not good enough this year, I’ll definitely retake it next year.”
He Yu: “If you take the exam again next year, I will not want you anymore!”
Dong Zhi: ???
He Yu: “Because you scored first place on the written exam!”
Dong Zhi: …
He Yu laughed loudly on the other end of the line, knowing he had successfully teased him. “You know, you got 20 points higher than second place! Alright, Xiao Dongdong, you have given the Hezao Sect a lot of face. If shifu and shishu knew about it, they would be incredibly happy. Cheng Hui didn’t pass the exam last year, but this year we’ll finally be able to raise our heads high!”
Hearing about his deceased teacher made Dong Zhi a bit depressed. “When I finally join, I will go back to Mount Hezao one day and give good news to my master.”
He Yu yawned. “Shishu doesn’t care about such formalities. It’s enough that you have this kind of intention!”
Dong Zhi sensed exhaustion in his words. “How is it on your side? Is it difficult?”
He Yu: “It’s okay. A person just disappeared a few days ago.”
Dong Zhi was taken aback. “So serious? Is he from the Special Administration Bureau?”
He Yu snorted, “Someone from the Southwest Branch. I won’t talk about it anymore since it’s confidential. I’m calling this time because I have something important to tell you.”
Dong Zhi said cautiously, “You’re not teasing me again, are you?”
He Yu said angrily, “How can I be so blasé?!”
Dong Zhi: “Okay, okay, then tell me.”
He Yu: “I have been out and about these days and have no time to play games. I can’t participate in group battles, city battles, and qualifying battles every weekend. Go onto my account and help play for me.”
Dong Zhi: “…Didn’t you say that you have something important to say?”
He Yu said confidently, “This is related to my equipment score and my overall ranking number. Isn’t this important?”
Dong Zhi was patient and good-tempered, but even he couldn’t help rolling his eyes before hanging up. Not long after he hung up, He Yu sent him a string of text messages full of “wuwuwu”. He didn’t know whether to laugh or cry and directly ignored them, instead checking his text message for his score results.
He quickly found the notification that was mixed in with a bunch of advertisement text messages. It showed: [Hello candidates who participated in the 2017 National Special Administrative Service Civil Servant job application exam. Your results have been announced. Your total score is 157. 80 points for your administrative abilities, and 77 points for your multiple choice score. To qualify for the interview examination, please report to the Special Administration Service Bureau with valid documents from July 20th to the 21st.]
Dong Zhi was so happy that he hugged his phone and kissed it several times. He had heard He Yu say that, according to the written exam in previous years, a score of 110 was already considered really high. He had gotten a score of 157, which had broken the written exam record for the Special Administration Bureau over recent years!
Dong Zhi put his hands on his waist, raised his head, and laughed out loud. “Mortals! Kneel down before me!” After speaking, he felt that he was making a fool of himself and got carried away, so he quickly stuffed those feelings back inside his body.
The result made Dong Zhi feel that his studying and efforts within these past few months have not been in vain. His high scores made him happy and gave him a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. With this score, he could calmly enter the doors of the Special Administration Bureau, and even if he performed poorly in the interview, the examiners, for the sake of his high score on the written test, may open the net and let him in.
It was certainly good to have an ordinary and stable life in one’s lifetime, but it was also not bad to have the ability to fight and slay demons with your friends. Dong Zhi once thought that he was average and hardworking and would go on to live a normal yet mediocre kind of life, but one day he ran into the opportunity to choose a different path.
When he returned from Guangzhou, Dong Zhi went to investigate Xu Wan. He found that she resigned from her job after getting married. When she gave birth to her daughter, her husband disliked her daughter’s congenital illness and filed for divorce. After the divorce, she took her daughter and moved away, where she found a job. She was a low-key woman and had a gentle temperament, which made her extremely popular. Many men had tried to court her and some even wanted to marry her, but Xu Wan remained single for the sake of her daughter. About half a year ago, she suddenly left her job, cut off all contact with her acquaintances, and disappeared with her daughter. Not long after that, was when Dong Zhi met her on the train.
He Yu and the others speculated that Archfiends like to take fancy in people like Xu Wan, who had monotonous interpersonal relationship. It completely eroded her and swallowed her whole while making Tongtong into its puppet. Using Xu Wan as its skin, it used Tongtong to lower its prey vigilance as it hunted. People tend to be wary of strong and big men, but rarely did they put up their guard against a woman and a child. Furthermore, they may even become sympathetic when they hear about Tongtong’s autism, like Dong Zhi. With their guard lowered, it gives the Archfiend a good chance to take advantage of them.
But there was nothing wrong with Xu Wan and Tongtong. She was a mother who didn’t hesitate to change cities and start her life again, all for the sake of her child. Just because she was weak and easily deceived, she had become a target for demons.
As an ordinary person, Dong Zhi would very likely retreat or avoid, choosing to protect himself first, but now he’s given a chance to become unordinary, who could protect innocent lives like those similar to Xu Wan and Tongtong. He couldn’t let others fall prey to demons and this was his motivation to keep moving forward.
Of course, there was another reason that encouraged him as well. When his thoughts wandered to Long Shen, Dong Zhi sent him a message. He first talked about his achievement and expressed his gratitude to Long Shen. As thanks for his guidance during this time, he wanted to invite him to a meal and hoped that Boss Long would give him some face this time.
Long Shen replied to him very quickly this time: [Congratulations. Alright, I’ll see you at the Forest Teahouse at 7 tonight.]
The message was straightforward and concise.
So does this mean he agreed?
Dong Zhi rolled around on the bed with his phone in his arms as various thoughts began circulating in his mind. It was out of the question to confess right now. After all, he had just passed the written test, and there was no sign of anything happening yet. Furthermore, Long Shen was a dignified Deputy Director, and the status between the two was very broad. If his confession was rejected, it may even have affected his interview, which would be quite tragic.
But he can still at least test the other party’s feelings, such as whether he would be open to a gay relationship, or if he would be grossed out if a man confesses to him.
Won’t this be too straightforward, though? Men still had to rely on their own charm, so to speak. If he was able to pass the entrance exam, Dong Zhi would at least clear the external charm, so the only problem left would be his inner charm.
Perhaps he could talk about topics that could move the other party, such as games. Forget it… Bringing up such a topic would only remind the male god about deducting wages. What about 350 an hour? …That seemed like a topic only He Yu would like. Or perhaps they should talk about gourmet food? It seemed to be something Kan Chaosheng was into, and he wasn’t sure if Long Shen had similar feelings.
Chasing someone was really a technical job. Dong Zhi found when he was chased by others, there was no fluctuation in his heart, but now that it was his turn to do the chasing, he felt that he didn’t know where to even start.
The author has something to say:
A small theater that has nothing to do with the text:
Long Shen: What is 350 an hour?
He Yu: ………Uh, this is a, um, very esoteric math problem that is more complex than subduing zombies…
Long Shen: Shall I deduct your wage?
He Yu: (Staring at the face of death*) It’s the cheapest price an hour for a “service”.
*(视死如归) Idiom describing a person who is brave and not afraid of death.
Long Shen: Oh, your salary’s been deducted.
He Yu: Who told you? Dong Zhi! I won’t let this go, even if I become a ghost!!!
Dong Zhi sneezed.
The chase commences.