Bu Tian Gang Ch54

Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi

Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/

Chapter 54

Everyone didn’t leave in a hurry but surrounded Li Ying and Zhang Song and asked about the situation.

“Brother Li, do you know what the mortality rate was for such training before?” Chi Banxia asked.

Li Ying smiled bitterly. “I really haven’t counted. As far as I know, in the first session after the Special Administration Bureau implemented the training system, I heard that dozens of people participated in the practical examination at that time, and the final survival rate…”

He paused. “Only less than half.”

Everyone took a deep breath.

Someone exclaimed, “What was the exam at that time?! If it were ordinary people, it wouldn’t be too bad, but they were all practitioners!”

Li Ying: “I heard from my dad that the survival rate was low at that time. On the one hand, everyone regarded themselves too highly at first and didn’t pay attention to the assessment. They thought that the Special Administration Bureau was short on people, so this was just going through the motions. On the other hand, they went to the tropical rainforest of Southeast Asia to rescue people. The environment was unfamiliar, and some people were caught in miasma poisons and traps before they were put down by the enemy. Among them, there were many famous disciples.”

Zhang Song rarely nodded in agreement with him. “Yes, I have also heard of this incident. Back then, Mount Longhu had lost four disciples because of this incident and had not participated in the recruitment of the Special Administration Bureau for a few years.”

For a while, everyone fell silent.

“Banxia, do you want to quit?” Xie Qingning suddenly said

Chi Banxia’s face was cloudy and uncertain, and she struggled for a long time, but still gritted her teeth and said, “No!”

Xie Qingning smiled. “If you quit now, your previous efforts will be in vain.”

Once she made up her mind, Chi Banxia’s expression was much more relaxed. “Yes, while witchcraft won’t work on zombies, once we reach the tombs, the Japanese will fear my powers. Then I’ll show you how handy I am!”

Li Ying deliberately said, “What if the things in the tomb are more disgusting than zombies?”

Chi Banxia glared at him.

Everyone could more or less see the ambiguity between Chi Banxia and Li Ying, and they all laughed at the same time.

At that moment, though there were still small disagreements between each other, everyone’s mood was the same in the face of the upcoming trip to the northwest: uneasy, anxious, excited, and ambitious.

“Dong Zhi!”

As soon as his feet reached the front door to leave the classroom, someone called to him from the back. Instead of stopping, he walked faster.

Lin Xuan ran to him, stopped in front of him, and said with a smile, “I just want to apologize to you again. There is no need to avoid me like this, right?”

Dong Zhi said innocently, “Mr. Lin made a mistake. I’m not avoiding you.”

Lin Xuan: “Then shall we make an appointment to have dinner together?”

Dong Zhi simply said, “No, I have to get up early tomorrow. You should understand. Goodbye.”

He walked past Lin Xuan, who stretched out his hand to grab him. He tried to avoid it, but Lin Xuan’s hand was faster and still wrapped around him. It was soft and weak, but very fast.

Dong Zhi didn’t care about anything else and unsheathed his Changshou Sword and slashed at his opponent faster than Lin Xuan expected. Last time he went out to dinner, he temporarily decided to go see Uncle Qian, so he didn’t bring his sword. As a result, he almost suffered a heavy loss. Knowing better now, he took his sword with him wherever he went.

Lin Xuan didn’t expect him to have such skills, so he quickly withdrew. The sword had swiped so close to his temple that it made him feel a cold blast of wind. It also scared him into a cold sweat. However, he recovered quickly and said with a smile, “I thought you were an oracle and could only invite gods. It seems that I am underestimating you!”

Dong Zhi gave him a fake smile. “I underestimated you too. I thought you would only cooperate with the Japanese!”

He was not such a mean person, but when he saw Lin Xuan, he would inevitably think of what happened that day. Fortunately, those Japanese either died or were injured, and those alive were arrested. He heard that one of them was still intimidated by Second Master Guan so that he couldn’t fully mentally recover. The wicked are rewarded with evil, and this brought some comfort to him.

Zhong Yuyi’s figure flashed by at the entrance of the stairs, as if he was about to go down. Dong Zhi lit up and called out to him, “Lao Zhong!”

Not surprisingly, Zhong Yuyi seemed to be sleepwalking, and he didn’t stop and look back until Dong Zhi caught up with him and patted him on the shoulder. He had an expression on his face that looked as if he hadn’t woken up yet.

“Lao Zhong, are you going to the Northwest with us?”

Zhong Yuyi shook his head after a few seconds. “There’s a lot of people going this time, and two directors leading the team, so I won’t go.”

Dong Zhi used his lifelong skills of acting cute as he said, “Then can you help me take care of my cat for a few days?”

Zhong Yuyi said slowly, “You’ve gotten a cat?”

Dong Zhi nodded. “I picked it up on the road. I’m leaving tomorrow, and it’s estimated that I won’t be able to come back for a while. You can just put it in your office and pour a bowl of cat food every day and it’ll eat by itself.

Zhong Yuyi: “But, I’m afraid, I might forget.”

“I can help!” Lin Xuan came out of nowhere again and smiled at Zhong Yuyi. “Hello, I am Lin Xuan. The Lin from two trees forms a forest1, and the Xuan from <Erya>2 that states six inches in size is called a xuan3. How may I address you, friend?”

1Lin () = forest. The line he’s saying is that two trees form a forest (二木成林), and three trees form a forest (三木成森). You have to look at the Chinese characters to get the meaning. Two () wood/trees () form a forest [lin] () notice how there’s two (木木) in the Chinese character [lin] (). This applies to the other line as well. Three () wood/trees () form a forest [sen] () there’s three (木木木) in the Chinese character [sen] ().
2Is a dictionary literary work that contains a rich collection of ancient Chinese vocabulary.
3[Xuan] (
) is a reference in <Erya> that means six inches in size (I’m guessing it means that half a foot = a xuan).

Zhong Yuyi let out a sigh, still with the expression of indifference and weakness. He stretched out his hand and shook Lin Xuan’s. “Zhong Yuyi.”

Lin Xuan smiled at Dong Zhi and said, “I can find a subordinate to help you raise the cat. I promise that when you come back, it will be fat and shiny.”

Instead of smiling at him, Dong Zhi said, “No, I can ask my friends for help, or I can send it to a pet shop to care for it while I’m gone.”

Lin Xuan: “That’s a lot of trouble. I’ll make a call and people will come soon.”

Zhong Yuyi said slowly, “I can help.”

Dong Zhi took him by the shoulder. “Lao Zhong, I knew you wouldn’t let me down. I’ll invite you to dinner tonight!”

Zhong Yuyi thought for a while. “Let’s eat rice noodles rolls.”

Dong Zhi: “I’ll order ten for you, eat five, and take home the remaining five!”

Lin Xuan was unwilling to be left out, so he interjected, “I know a good rice noodle shop nearby, so let me invite you.”

Zhong Yuyi looked at him and said in confusion, “Who are you again? What’s your name?”

Lin Xuan’s expression stiffened.

Dong Zhi smirked inwardly.

Lin Xuan’s cultivation wasn’t bad, and he smiled without changing his expression. “Lin Xuan, Lin from two trees forms a forest, Xuan the character component in propaganda*.

*The [Xuan] in Lin Xuan () is used in propaganda [xuan chuan de xuan] (宣传的宣). You have to drop the radical in ().

Zhong Yu nodded a little bit, paused for a moment, and then said suspiciously, “Isn’t it Xuan from <Erya>?”

Lin Xuan: “…That’s just me explaining the origin of the name.”

Zhong Yuyi earnestly asked, “Then what is the origin of your name?”

Lin Xuan: …

How could the Special Administration Bureau have such a wonderful flower?!  It was driving him crazy!

Lin Xuan was almost unable to keep the smile on his face. He was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to hold back from beating someone up if he continued, so he said, “I have something to do. You guys can continue,” and left in a hurry.

Dong Zhi was overcome with joy. This was called one thing takes down one thing*!

*(一物降一物啊) Refers to all things in the world restrain each other. There’s always one thing that conquers another.

Zhong Yuyi looked at Lin Xuan’s back, still very confused. “This person has not explained clearly what he said and left. How rude.”

Dong Zhi couldn’t help it anymore, so he laughed loudly. The depression in his heart was swept away, and he felt completely refreshed.

Early the next morning, he entrusted the cat to Zhong Yuyi, and he embarked on the journey to the northwest with the others.

Everyone was armed with knives and swords, so it was difficult to take them on the plane. Since the trip was relatively urgent and there was no time to go through the formalities, they had to check them in. This was at least a concession.

This was the first time everyone had travelled collectively to participate in training. Although the second group went to a tomb last time, it could only be considered an appetizer at best. If Liu Qingbo hadn’t done his own thing, it was estimated that there wouldn’t be any twists and turns. This time, it was different. The personal leadership of the Deputy Directors, Long Shen and Song Zhicun, made everyone smell an unusual scent. Coupled with what they were told yesterday, everyone looked the same on the outside, but most of them didn’t sleep well at all last night. Many closed their eyes and instantly fell asleep as soon as they got on the plane.

Due to the excessive consumption of energy from inviting gods, Dong Zhi followed what Long Shen said and didn’t practice his talisman techniques for the past two days. He only made some exceptions for a few exercises, which were sword practice.

The effects of hanging weights on his wrists while practicing his calligraphy in his bedroom had finally shown signs of progress. Just like how he attacked Lin Xuan yesterday, it was a subconscious move. Compared with when he first practiced swordsmanship, he didn’t know how much his speed and reflexes had improved.

Dong Zhi was still immersed in the joy of yesterday’s practice against his enemy. His wrist had naturally simulated the action of holding the sword like a flower several times, and he wasn’t as nervous as the others on the plane.

Gu Meiren, who was sitting next to him, saw that he had been turning his wrist and couldn’t help but ask, “Did you hurt your wrist?”

“No,” Dong Zhi smiled embarrassingly. “I’m practicing swordsmanship.”

He saw the faint bags under Gu Meiren’s eyes. “You didn’t sleep well last night? Don’t worry. We have Boss Long and Boss Song.”

Gu Meiren rubbed her eyes. “I’m not very worried about myself. I’m just worried that I’ll drag everyone else down. After all, I can only confuse people with my ability.”

Dong Zhi comforted, “Have you forgotten what Boss Wu said after our last simulation training? Of course, a single person’s ability is important, but more importantly is team cooperation. Furthermore, it is the Japanese who have taken the lead this time. Maybe they have cleared many of the obstacles for us. As soon as we catch up, we can easily take them down and enjoy the benefits!”

He smiled and waved his hand. His spirits were high, and even his beautiful eyes were glowing, causing Gu Meiren to laugh when she saw this.

Although she only considered Dong Zhi a friend, she couldn’t help but think that his future girlfriend and wife, who would be dealing with such a person on a daily basis, should not treat him like a baby in their arms and pamper him on a daily basis.

The plane took off quickly.

The wings of the plane crossed the heavy clouds and rushed into the sky. After a period of short haze, the field of vision opened into a sea of clouds. The large tracts of clouds looked as if they were inlaid with gold, like Buddha’s light.

This was Gu Meiren’s first time on a plane. She wanted to switch with Dong Zhi, who had a window seat, so she could enjoy the scenery, but when she turned her head to look, she saw that he was already leaning on his chair, fast asleep.

It seemed that the quality of his sleep was good. Even when he was on a plane, after closing his eyes, everything just turned into nothingness. When he woke up, the plane was still in the air, but he was lazy and didn’t want to get up, so he stretched while sitting in his chair.

Halfway through his stretch, he felt something was off. There was an extra blanket on his body, and his companion in the next seat over seemed to have changed.

He turned his head and looked at the person and was startled. “Boss Long?”

Long Shen was reading a book when he paused.

Dong Zhi rubbed his eyes. “Why are you here? Where’s Meiren?”

Long Shen: “She wanted to change seats, so I switched with her.”

Dong Zhi became nervous. “When I fell asleep just now, I didn’t do anything indecent, did I?”

Long Shen finally glanced up at him. “Does talking in your sleep count?”

Huh? Dong Zhi was dumbfounded.

“I-What did I say?”

Long Shen: “You talked about food, and…”

“What else?” Dong Zhi’s heart was beating wildly.

Long Shen: “I’m just teasing you.”

Dong Zhi: …

Seeing that he looked stunned and didn’t recover, Long Shen couldn’t help being amused. “We haven’t arrived at our destination yet. You should get some more rest.”

How can this be?! What a false alarm!

Dong Zhi was so angry that he dared not speak out in anger, so he channeled all of it on the blanket. He pulled the blanket up vigorously and covered half of his face.

Long Shen paid no heed as he lowered his head and continued reading. When he closed the book and turned his head, he saw the other party had already fallen asleep. The blanket had slipped off his knee and was about to fall to the ground.

So careless.

Long Shen shook his head, stretched out his hand, and covered him with the blanket again.

The flight time from the capital to Yinchuan wasn’t long. It took about two hours. Except for Long Shen and Song Zhicun, it was the first time that the others had set foot in this millennium-old ancient city in the northwest. However, they did not stay in the city for long. Shortly after arriving, they boarded a bus that had come to pick them up outside the airport, and it directly drove them northwest.

In addition to the driver, there was also a young man in the car. When they sat down, the young man smiled and said, “Welcome leaders to Yinchuan. I am Ye Cheng, from the Yinchuan office of the Northwest Branch. Just call me Xiao Ye. This time, I’ll be your guide to your destination.”

Regarding the Northwest Branch, Dong Zhi had heard anecdotes from Kan Chaosheng.

Rumors had it that Yinchuan and Xi’an were fighting for the location of the Northwest Branch. Later, each side sent one of the oldest and most capable bosses to represent them. Xi’an won, so it became the branch office, while Yinchuan had to become a branch under them due to grievances. Now, it had become an office that advocated for cadres to be younger, thus the Yinchuan branch mainly had young people like Ye Chang as the majority of its staff. The disadvantage, though, was that due to their inexperience, they weren’t capable of handling emergencies, especially things like this mission, which is dangerous and unpredictable. They couldn’t do it alone, so the two Deputy Director had to take over.

While Ye Cheng wasn’t particularly handsome, he had a baby face and a very contagious smile. Gu Meiren couldn’t help whispering to Dong Zhi, “He smiles a lot like you!”

“We don’t look anything alike!” Dong Zhi scanned him up and down and saw no similarities between them at all.

Gu Meiren smiled but didn’t say anything. It wasn’t the appearance that she was referring to. Every time she felt sad, she felt that life was still beautiful whenever she looked at Dong Zhi’s smile.

Once introductions were over, Ye Cheng began introducing Yinchuan’s local customs and natural scenery to them, making it look as if they were on a tour.

“In addition to Helan Mountain, Yinchuan also has the Western Xia Imperial Mausoleum. This is also a historical and cultural heritage site that can be visited. The Mausoleum has so far…”

“Xiao Ye!” Song Zhicun couldn’t help interrupting his high-spirited speech. “Tell us about the situation to the east of Helan Mountain.”

Ye Cheng said, “Oh, oh right. To the east of Helan Mountain are the Yellow River and Inner Mongolia. The terrain there is much steeper than to the west. Many places in the eastern foot of the mountains have been developed into scenic spots and wineries. According to reports from the masses, there have been people who have even seen snow-white qilins* there before…”

*(麒麟) Also known as kirin. It is a legendary hooved chimerical creature that appears in Chinese mythology. See Kinky Thoughts for lore.

Song Zhicun couldn’t laugh or cry, so he raised his hand and said, “Okay, Xiao Ye, stop for a while. Let me say a few words. Comrades, according to the information provided by the tomb robbers, the place we are going to is located at the eastern foot of Helan Mountain, north of the Western Xia Imperial Mausoleum. They went down from a thief cave near the Imperial Mausoleum. At first, they thought they had found a new Imperial Mausoleum, and it was here that the bronze mirror was found.”

“Later, they found a passage on the side of the tomb that led directly to the north. Some members of the tomb robber gang tried to go in and explore it, but soon found it was too dangerous. As a result, several people were injured, and the remaining gang members had to escape the same way they came in.”

“Thus, we speculate that the owner of the tomb they found is probably a certain dignitary in the Western Xia period. In short, he had a certain social status in the upper class of Western Xia at that time, but the real goal of the Japanese was probably the passage to the north.”

Zhang Song asked, “How long is the passage to the north, and what is the danger they encountered?”

Song Zhicun said, “The group of tomb robbers couldn’t tell. They said that they had been walking for more than an hour and had not reached the end. The range of their flashlight was limited. They could only hear the sound of water flowing in front of them. They didn’t know where to go, and they felt there wasn’t any oil or water to fish for*, so they followed the same path. At this time, one of their companions suddenly screamed, and then disappeared without a trace. Everyone couldn’t find him anywhere and they became more scared, so they all rushed back, but when they came back out, they found that nearly ten people had gone missing and only four had returned.”

*(捞油水) Refers to improper material gains or additional benefits.

Ye Cheng interjected, “If they were heading in the direction of the Royal Mausoleum and drove north on the ground for an hour, they’d almost reach the Helan Mountain Forest Park. If they were walking underground, they probably had to take a lot of detours.”

Hearing that he finally said something reliable, Song Zhicun nodded with satisfaction. “Yes, we also guess that the end of that passage is probably located under the Helan Mountains. It’s a pity that none of those who survived can explain what happened to their companions. As such, we need to be very careful this time. Many enemies are hiding in the invisible darkness. The zombie simulation is just a simulation. This time, I hope you can cherish the lives of yourself and your companions and don’t take unnecessary risks.”

He then talked about many precautions.

Dong Zhi found that Deputy Director Song had similar characteristics to Director Jiang in a certain way. At least for the next hour, Deputy Director Song’s mouth never stopped moving. Everyone’s ears were buzzing, from one fly to two flies, then from two to four. The group of flies danced hand in hand around him, successfully hypnotizing Dong Zhi, causing him to fall asleep as he tilted his head to the side.

He was awakened by Gu Meiren some time after. Everyone got out of the car and went to a noodle restaurant.

Ye Cheng stood under the car door and clapped his hands. “Everyone, everyone, get out of the car for a meal first, and we will rush back after eating! It’s convenient now, so use the restroom if needed, and those who need to buy water should buy it now. Next, we’re heading all the way to our destination!”

Dong Zhi: …

He could neither laugh or cry and felt that he had somehow ended up in some kind of cheap tour group. However, to be fair, the noodle restaurant selected by Ye Cheng, though small, was pretty good. The noodles were freshly made by the boss, and the soup base was bone soup that had been simmering for hours. It was then topped with braised pork, tomato, and chili sauce. The toppings were delicious, and it had a hot and sour taste, whetting people’s appetites.

Everyone had a good meal, then got in the car and continued forward. The high-rise buildings on both sides of the road gradually became shorter, eventually turning into farmlands and trees with the Gobi Mountains in the backdrop. The expanse was filled with colors of green and yellow and was vast in their eyes. Everyone’s mood suddenly had a subtle change.

Thousands of years ago, this was also one of the stops of the thousand-year-old Buddhist Kingdom, which had incense flourishing and camel bells ringing.

More than a thousand years ago, an envoy from Xiazhou named Li Jiqian began to expand his territory here, laying an indelible and solid foundation for his descendants, Li Yuanxuan, to establish Western Xia, and therefore he was revered as the emperor and ancestor of Xia.

Nowadays, pyramid-like royal tombs stand on this vast land, and all the love and hatred for shining spears and armored horses1 have turned into clouds and smoke. The ruins that had been extensively destroyed in the Yuan Dynasty are still there, vaguely telling of the glory that was short-lived2.

1(金戈铁马) Metaphor for war as it describes the majestic appearance of a soldier holding a weapon and galloping on a horse.
昙花一现) Idiom describing a beautiful thing or scene that appears for a while then disappears soon after.

It was now near the end of autumn, and it wasn’t the peak of winter or summer vacation. Unlike the Forbidden City, which was bustling all year round, right now it presented a rare quiet scene. Occasionally, they would encounter a few groups of tourists who only regarded their group as an ordinary tourist group, so they didn’t pay much attention to them.

Following the direction pointed out by Ye Cheng, the driver drove the car to the area to the north of the Imperial Mausoleum, where a piece of land was divided separately, and a fence with caltrops surrounding the area was planted with a sign hanging on it that said, [Military base. No admittance to outsiders.]

This is the area that Xiao Ye and the others fenced off after receiving instructions from the General Administration. The locals knew that there was a small airport for air force exercises nearby, so they were accustomed to such facilities.

However, this barricade could only block the footsteps of ordinary people. For the Japanese, this small obstacle wasn’t a problem at all.

Ye Cheng led them to the small door in the middle of the fenced area, took out the key and opened the door. Then he moved the wooden fence behind him.

“The thief’s cave is not far ahead.”

Large and small yellow stones were piled up under a steep upward slope. On the other side of the stones, there was indeed a small cave that could be crawled through by adults.

Ye Cheng said, “Before, the people from our branch went in and took a look…”

Song Zhicun lowered his face coldly. “Xiao Ye, you are not listening to our command. We have already said that you cannot act without authorization before we come!”

Ye Cheng knew that he had made a gaffe and smiled hurriedly. “What Boss Song said is right, but we only went in for about ten meters and turned back immediately. We didn’t encounter any danger!”

Song Zhicun snorted softly.

Ye Cheng continued, “For the first fifty meters or so, you have to bend over and climb like this, and then a gentle slope will suddenly appear. At that time, we shown the flashlight down and we saw only about ten meters ahead. We were afraid of violating protocols, so we hurried back and didn’t dare go any further!”

Long Shen glanced around at everyone and said, “I’ll go first. Ye Cheng behind me. You all follow after with Boss Song bringing up the rear.”

Sometimes it’s not always safe to be in the back. The last member of the team is extremely important. With Song Zhicun at the back, everyone felt a lot more at ease.

Dong Zhi couldn’t really imagine the dignified Deputy Director Long crawling through a thief’s hole, but before he had a chance to think about it, Long Shen’s movements were very fast, and he had already bent over and drilled into the cave. Soon, there was no trace of him. Ye Cheng hurriedly followed.

As they all watched, everyone didn’t think too much about it. Dong Zhi followed Ba Sang into the hole with Gu Meiren behind him.

Kinky Thoughts:

Taking bets on how many will die and who.

Qilin/Kirin (麒麟)

Is a legendary hooved chimerical creature that appears in Chinese mythology and is said to appear with the imminent arrival or passing of a sage or illustrious ruler. Qilin are a specific type of the lin mythological family of one-horned beasts.

Qilin generally have Chinese dragon-like features: similar heads with antlers, eyes with thick eyelashes, manes that always flow upward, and beards. The body is fully or partially scaled and often shaped like an ox, deer, or horse. They are always shown with cloven hooves. While dragons in China (and thus qilin) are also most commonly depicted as golden, qilin may be of any color or even various colors and can be depicted as bejeweled or exhibiting a jewel-like brilliance. Common color choices for depictions are often associated with the elements, precious metals, stars, and gemstones, but can additionally include earth-tones and modest browns.

The qilin are depicted throughout a wide range of Chinese art, sometimes with parts of their bodies on fire. On occasion, they will have feathery features or decorations, fluffy curly tufts of hair, as depicted in Ming Dynasty horse art on various parts of the legs, from fetlocks to upper legs, or even with decorative fish-like fins as embellishments, or carp fish whiskers, or scales. It is said their auspicious voices sound like the tinkling of bells, chimes, and the wind.

You can read more on Wikipedia.

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