Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
After a while, Dong Zhi finally digested Long Shen’s words.
“You mean I can’t invite gods in the future?”
Long Shen nodded. “When you invite gods in the tombs, it directly causes a loss in your spiritual energy and messes up your internal breathing. If you use it again, you’ll not be able to practice kung fu tona for at least a year. Inviting god is a very energy-consuming ability. Zhong Yuyi is different from ordinary people because his ancestors possess the bloodline of the great oracles and it has been passed down from generation to generation, but even he can’t keep up with our other members in terms of physical strength.”
Seeing that Dong Zhi was still weak and muddled, he slowed down his tone. “This time, the incident happened too suddenly, so I know you did it to try and stop the explosion. It was my responsibility. After you are well, I’ll teach you something else, so please don’t invite gods anymore.”
Since his Master spoke so solemnly, Dong Zhi naturally nodded his head in agreement.
“Master, what exactly was that alter and what was under the groove? Why were there so many ghouls there?”
Long Shen said, “Do you have the energy to listen now?”
Dong Zhi hurriedly said, “I’ve slept so much that I’m getting moldy! Are we still near the mausoleum of the Western Xia Dynasty?”
Long Shen nodded. “We’re still in Yinchuan. We’ll head back when you’re almost recovered from your injuries. We’re leaving it up to the people in the branch here to try and recover the bodies of Zhou Yue and Xing Qiaosheng. Chen Xun is also in critical condition. He inhaled some poisonous gas, so we’re still trying to rescue him.”
When he mentioned this matter, Dong Zhi’s mood became heavy. Although he had no contact with these people, they had gone through this life and death experience together. If nothing had happened, they would’ve become members of the Special Administration Bureau and would work together. But now that accidents have occurred, some have left the team forever.
Before setting off, Boss Song’s words were still ringing in his ears, and for these people, they became an eternal prophecy.
Long Shen said, “I have already asked someone to translate the Western Xia text on the stone tablet in front of the tomb. That tomb is indeed Liang Weiqi’s tomb, but it was originally prepared for Empress Dowager Liang.”
Dong Zhi let out a sigh. “Under normal circumstances, isn’t the queen buried together with the emperor?”
Long Shen: “During the period when Empress Dowager Liang was in charge of the imperial government, her power fell to the opposition. She hoped that her rule would be as permanent as the country and the mountains, and she hoped that she would live forever, so Liang Weiqi thought of a way for her.”
This was natural. Since ancient times, those who didn’t have wealth wanted wealth. When they had wealth, they craved power. Soon, even power isn’t enough, and they yearn for immortality so they can hold their power permanently. Even if Empress Dowager Liang was a woman, she wasn’t an exception.
She was originally matched to Li Langzuo, Emperor Yizong of Western Xia, but was actually his sister-in-law. Due to her adultery with him, he pitted her husband’s household, allowing her to rise to the upper echelons and eventually queendom. Such a woman, of course, would be a fuel-efficient lamp*.
*(不是省油的灯) Metaphor referring to someone who’s not easy to deal with.
After Li Liangzuo died, Empress Dowager Liang began to take power as a Han woman, but Western Xia was a party-controlled state, so she naturally wouldn’t worship Han traditions. In order to consolidate her power, she abolished Han rituals internally and adopted a method similar to Tsarist Catherine the II* to please the nobles of Western Xia by changing her positions and identity, and adopted a war to divert domestic conflicts externally.
*More commonly known as Catherine the Great, she was the last reigning Empress regent of Russia who came to power following the overthrow of her husband and second cousin.
It was precisely because of her refusal to let go of power that Liang Weiqi took a fancy to her and suggested he could help her achieve her greatest wish. He was truly good at the art of geomancy, but because he had a sinister mind, he couldn’t stay in the Central Plains, so in the end, he could only defect to Empress Dowager Liang.
Empress Dowager Liang had heard of his name for a long time and was overjoyed when she saw him. Regardless of the general culture of worshiping Buddhism in Western Xia, she canonized Liang Weiqi and ordered him to start his task quickly.
Liang Weiqi took people to investigate everywhere, and finally found such a place, located near the mausoleum of the Western Xia Dynasty, which is known as a place of fengshui. He encouraged Empress Dowager Liang to build a cenotaph* there.
*Called the “clothes tomb” (衣冠冢) The cenotaph itself is an empty tomb or monument erected in honor of a person or group while their bodies remain elsewhere.
The so-called cenotaph is to put the clothes one wore during one’s lifetime in the tomb as a substitute when the corpse of the deceased cannot be found. However, this is not what Liang Weiqi’s purpose for this tomb. According to him, the cenotaph is closely related to Empress Dowager Liang’s luck; thus, if the tomb was well arranged while she was still alive, her luck would also flourish.
As she was Empress Dowager of the country, what else did she need to prosper? Naturally, to be invincible in power, she invaded the Central Plains and unified the world under her rule.
However, the question arose as to how to make the cenotaph exert its power. Liang Weiqi thought of a way through blood sacrifice.
During the battle in Yongle City between Xixia and the Great Song Dynasty, the Song Dynasty was defeated, leaving more than 200,000 men dead. Xixia had also suffered heavy casualties as well. Under the instructions of Empress Dowager Liang, many corpses were transported to the cenotaph and sent to the cave behind the tomb.
As for how this cave was formed, how Liang Weiqi discovered it, and whether he knew the existence of the three-headed python, there was no record recorded on the stone tablet.
However, Liang Weiqi used not only the dead as sacrifices but also the blood of the living. According to inferences, he probably killed all the craftsmen after they had built the tomb. In fact, he didn’t need to do it himself. The terrain of the underground caves was complicated, and the forget-me-nots could make people lose their way and senses. There were also beasts like the giant python that looms about. As long as the stone gate remained closed, those craftsmen would eventually all die inside.
Long Shen said, “Their flesh and blood were gathered into the river from the earth, leading to the lower layer of the tomb. Over time, the grievances of the dead will continue to accumulate, conveying anger to the owner of the coffin. Liang Weiqi’s original idea was to use Empress Dowager Liang’s bazi and puppet clothes to put in the coffin in order to promote her luck. Unexpectedly, after the tomb was built, Empress Dowager Liang changed her mind, so he decided to lie in it himself.”
Dong Zhi felt incomprehensible. “Then why didn’t Liang Weiqi use a puppet as well?”
Long Shen said, “We speculate that it may be that the junction connecting the coffin to the river has not been opened. Perhaps the project hasn’t been completed yet or someone stopped him. These are not recorded on the epitaph, so we have to investigate more in order to reach the truth.”
Dong Zhi still feels a bit incredulous. After killing so many people, they would, of course, be filled with resentment. How could this fuel Empress Dowager Liang’s luck? It wasn’t like she was a fool. How could she possibly believe Liang Weiqi’s nonsense?
He asked these questions.
Long Shen said, “He didn’t deceive Empress Dowager Liang. Everything he did was the opposite. As I told you last time, fengshui places may not turn into gruesome places. Similarly, he used resentment to the extreme that made it possible to transform it into a place of vitality. He had worship under a famous teacher, so if he didn’t have any skills, Empress Dowager Liang would not have used him.”
Dong Zhi said, “So, if the alter wasn’t built during the period of Empress Dowager Liang, then when was it constructed?”
Long Shen said, “The history of the altar is far older than that of Western Xia. The bronze mirror is the key to opening the altar. It is very likely that Liang Weiqi had been to the altar, took the bronze mirror, and put it in the tomb.”
A flash of inspiration hit Dong Zhi. “Is there a stone tablet under that groove? It’s why the Japanese wanted to blow it up?!”
Long Shen nodded.
Dong Zhi frowned. “What is the secret on the stone tablet, and why did the Japanese want to destroy it?”
Long Shen: “To be precise, it’s the Archfiend that wants to destroy it. There’s likely some kind of special interest related to the Archfiend and Otowa Hatsuhiko. We’re still investigating the specifics.”
At that time, time was running out. Long Shen only gave a momentary glance under the alter and found that there was a stone tablet under the groove, which was similar to the one found on Changbai Mountain. It should be part of the same talisman array, so before leaving, he turned back and laid a small talisman array below as a defensive measure to prevent the stone tablet from being crushed when the cave collapsed. He’ll send people back to clean it up later and protect the stone tablet.
“Then the murals found last time in Northwest Inner Mongolia…”
Long Shen: “If we can interpret it correctly, it should be a hint to the alters of the stone tablets. However, we cannot transcribe the meaning of them in time. If we had found this place earlier and protected it, it would be unlikely that those people and the Archfiend would have gotten this close to succeeding.”
Dong Zhi thought for a while and said, “Changbai Mountain is one place. There’s also one in the northeast, and here is another. Since there’s one here, is this array distributed according to orientation?”
Long Shen nodded. “The array is divided into four sides, six sides, and eight sides. If I were to guess it correctly, this should be an octagonal talisman array.”
Dong Zhi said worriedly, “But even if this is the case, the scope is too wide, and the specific location is difficult to find! Moreover, the specific burial methods of stone tablets vary. Like on Changbai Mountain, it was guarded by a bone dragon. Here, they were buried under the alter that held the three-headed giant python. Is it possible to find all the places where these fierce beasts may haunt?”
Speaking of this, his eyes lit up. “Fuxian Lake?”
Long Shen shook his head. “There is indeed magic qi under Fuxian Lake, but judging from the feedback, it’s temporarily ruled out that it’s related to the stone tablet.”
Moreover, it was likely that it had nothing to do with the Archfiend. This meant that there are other ferocious monsters in this vast world, perhaps some even more powerful than the Archfiend. The elimination of the Archfiend wasn’t the end, but only the beginning.
However, Long Shen kept this to himself. These newcomers had just completed a task at the risk of their lives. What they need now is rest, not worse news.
Dong Zhi didn’t notice Long Shen’s implication. He felt dizzy when he thought more about it. “How can we find them?”
He was a person who couldn’t hide his thoughts. Joy and anger were easily written on his face. Even his worries are more vivid than others. His brows wrinkled, showing everything up front in those two big eyes.
Normally, Long Shen would be unsettled about this matter, but seeing Dong Zhi like this, he couldn’t help laughing.
“China is too big. There’s no better option at the moment. You have already made contributions to successfully protecting the stone tablet this time. Have a good rest and don’t think too much about it.”
Long Shen paused, as if thinking of something. “When you invited God to deal with that person, do you know who you invited?”
Dong Zhi said unsurely, “It sounded like a female voice… She said that she was just a ray of divine thought that was about to dissipate, and my body couldn’t hold her power, so she left shortly after.”
Long Shen thoughtfully.
Dong Zhi: “It couldn’t be Empress Dowager Liang? Or perhaps a queen from Western Xia?”
Long Shen shook his head. “The one you invited should be a righteous god. Only a righteous god can have such great power.”
Dong Zhi opened his mouth slightly, with a look of surprise, unable to imagine that he was so lucky. Underground, everything was impassable from all sides, and only the Gobi yellow sand was above. If he wanted to invite a Yin God, it would be at most a soldier or craftsman who had died in vain in the cave or the master of the tomb, Liang Weiqi. At that time, he didn’t really have much faith that he could invite someone powerful.
“Which righteous god did I invite?”
Long Shen said in a deep voice, “According to the epitaph, Liang Weiqi only discovered stone statues and altars underground before he determined that that place was once a place for human sacrifices in the pre-Qin era, and the object of their sacrifices was the stone statue, which is Houtu*.”
*Goddess Queen of the Earth, also known as Dimu (Mother Earth), is the deity of deep earth and soil in Chinese religion and mythology. She is the overlord of all the Tu Di Gong worldwide. Equivalent God outside of China would be like Gaia.
Dong Zhi was taken aback. This was truly… amazing luck.
Houtu, known as Empress Houtu in folklore, is the official title used to imitate the virtues of the Goddess Houtu. This god was not like Guan Yu or Yue Wumu. While the latter were figures that existed in reality and were only canonized after death, Empress Houtu was only part of mythology. Legends related to her have been passed around since the birth of the nation.
Legend has it that she often appears as a female figure and is in charge of all land matters in the world, including the spiritual world. However, legends are just legends, and just like many people have heard of fairytales since childhood, Houtu is only a symbol, an idol in a temple, of the nation and nothing more.
Dong Zhi still couldn’t believe it. “I met Empress Houtu?”
Long Shen said, “It’s not a deity but just a ray of her divine thoughts. Every statue that has been worshipped by the people always has the power of faith. This power of faith is divine thought. That stone statue may have been worshipped and enshrined by those of the past, so there was still a very small divine thought that still lingered on it. When you invited god, you just happened to meet her. Even if you hadn’t invited her, it won’t be long before she’ll dissipate on her own.”
Still, even a ray of divine thought was an amazing thing. However, it came at a great cost. This time, since he had invited such a powerful god, it’s expected that he’ll never be able to invite gods again in the future.
Dong Zhi intermittently recalled, “At that time, I remember her telling me that it was not easy for that person to cultivate and that god has virtue for all life, so she didn’t kill him, leaving him a glimmer of hope.”
Long Shen nodded knowing more in his heart. “Your opponent should have cultivated from an artifact, which is why it’s no wonder he was so powerful.”
Dong Zhi rubbed his eyes. “Master, what about your injuries? Are you okay?”
Long Shen said, “My injury is an internal injury which has been with me for a while now. It’ll take time to heal, so I have to recuperate slowly, but it poses no big problem.”
Dong Zhi let out a sigh. His spirit was currently very poor and this conversation had exhausted him so much that he couldn’t help but show a tired face.
“Sleep,” Long Shen said.
The light in the ward was bright, and despite the curtains being closed, a thin layer of sunlight still penetrated through. Dong Zhi narrowed his eyes and grabbed the hand that was lying beside his bed.
“Master, stay with me.”
Now that he was injured while on duty, he wanted to say and do whatever he wanted. If He Yu was so coquettish, Long Shen would’ve stained the flowers on the bedside with red on the spot. However, in the end, Dong Zhi was different. He had just entered the spiritual world, and it was inevitable that he would have some hesitation in his heart. Long Shen unknowingly gave too much tolerance and preferential treatment to this charming little apprentice.
“Go to sleep,” He removed his hand from Dong Zhi’s grasp and put it over his eyes, acting like an eye mask to block out the excess light for him.
The warmth from his hands was reassuring, and in less than a moment, Dong Zhi quickly fell asleep. Seeing that he was asleep, Long Shen moved his hand away and got up and left the ward.
As soon as he closed the door, someone called him on his phone.
“Boss Long, how are you? Are you okay?”
“Good. Are there news from the Japanese?” Long Shen asked.
Wu Bingtian didn’t dawdle and got to the point. “Yes, the news that Fujikawa is in our hands has been released. The Japanese side will contact us soon, but it is the Japanese government, not the Otowa Conglomerate. The Otowa Conglomerate directly denied their involvement with this operation, saying that the president did not know anything about it and never asked anyone related to the Otowa family to come to China to carry out illegal activities. They pinned all the blame on Otowa Saburo. They have also said that since they have broken the law in China, they should accept the sanctions by the Chinese government and the Otowa Conglomerate will respect any rulings from them.”
With Otowa Saburo dead, there were only a few minions left. Even if he was alive, it would be useless. The Otowa Conglomerate said he took these actions on his own accord with the intention of coming to China to cause mischief. As such, whether they kill or cut, it would be left in the hands of the Chinese government. Since their president was so righteous, he would not interfere with how they wanted to handle the situation.
There was no point in entangling themselves over such matters. Long Shen moved past the topic of the Otowa Conglomerate. “What does the Japanese government have to say about it?”
Wu Bingtian said, “They offered to redeem Fujikawa with money.”
Before he mentioned how much money he had, Long Shen said, “No, I want someone in exchange. Dong Jilan.”
Wu Bingtian: “Boss Long…”
Long Shen said in a deep voice, “Boss Wu, you don’t know my intentions.”
Wu Bingtian slowed down his tone. “I know, Boss Long and Dong Jilan were heroes. Decades ago, if he hadn’t sneaked into Japan and ruined the plans of those kannushi*, we wouldn’t have been able to prevent the catastrophe that was to follow. That would have resulted in endless trouble to deal with.”
*Person responsible for the maintenance of a Shinto shrine, as well as for leading worship of a given god (kami).
Long Shen said, “Decades ago, the Special Administration Bureau hadn’t been established yet. At that time, everything was still new. We didn’t have the manpower. Zong Lao had to use Dong Jilan as a pawn, and later she blamed herself. I have also been to Japan to investigate this matter, but I have never found his whereabouts.”
Wu Bingtian: “Over the years, no matter what method we use, the other side has refused to admit the existence of this person. Have you ever thought that he might have died?”
Long Shen said, “The last time they went through Changbai Mountain, it was through legal channels, so we handed it off to the Law Enforcement Department and played by the rules. I had no objection at that time to letting them go. However, this time, Fujikawa went through and delivered himself to our doorsteps on his own whim. This chip cannot be easily let go. If Dong Jilan is still alive, the Japanese will agree and exchange him.”
Wu Bingtian was silent on the other end of the phone for a moment, then said, “The intentions of those above are to let us accept the conditions of taking money as redemption.”
Long Shen: “Above? From Director Jiang?”
Wu Bingtian said tactfully, “Boss Long, after all, he is the director sent to us by the top. He’s not only coordinating the work but also supervising us. Since the three of us are practitioners ourselves, there’s no way to be completely impartial, thus the need to trust Director Jiang more. Do you understand what I mean?”
Long Shen’s tone was indistinguishable. “Boss Wu means to support Director Jiang’s decision?”
Wu Bingtian let out a laugh but didn’t answer positively, “I’m focusing on the overall situation! Boss Long, let’s have a heart to heart. I’m also heartbroken by my comrade Dong Jilan’s sacrifice back then, but we must move forward. It’s not that I don’t support using Fujikawa as a bargaining chip, but we must also be considerate from the decision made above.”
Long Shen said lightly, “Don’t worry. This matter will not embarrass Boss Wu. I have already informed Zong Lao to try and convince those above. Even if Dong Jilan couldn’t be exchanged back with a figure of a dignified Onmyoji like Fujikawa Aoi, who could be used by the Japanese royal family, he is worth much more than any cheesy amount of money they have to offer. He should be exchanged for something else.”
Wu Bingtian was a little annoyed. “Long Shen! I talked with you first to show my sincerity, but you directly went over me and discussed it with Zong Lao. What is the meaning of this?! If you want my support, I won’t agree to it!”
Long Shen: “We caught Fujikawa, and Boss Song has also agreed. When the time comes for the above to seek opinions, Boss Wu’s opinions may be solitary.”
“Well, how tough you are this time!” Wu Bingtian gave a cold smile and hung up the phone.
Long Shen put down his phone and saw Xie Qingling coming out of the ward. Her injuries were considered minor compared to others. She only suffered from minor scratches and did not need to be hospitalized, so she was currently staying in the hotel next to the office and would come to visit her companions daily.
Seeing Long Shen, she hurriedly stood still and greeted him.
“Good morning, Boss Long!”
Long Shen nodded slightly.
“Boss Long!” She stopped him, hesitated for a bit before asking, “Is Fujikawa Aoi still in our hands?”
Long Shen: “Yes.”
Xie Qingling said, “I heard that Fujikawa is very well-known in Japan. With such an important figure, we won’t be under pressure to return him, will we?”
Long Shen said, “Those are the considerations for those above. In any case, we must follow their orders. However, even if they want to get him back, they must pay a certain price. We won’t hand him over so easily.”
Xie Qingling felt disappointed by his words, but when she heard the last half, she showed a relieved expression.
“That’s great. As long as he’s not returned in vain, I think Zhou Yue and Xing Qiaosheng will feel that their sacrifice was worth it.”
Xie Qingling couldn’t hide her sadness in her smile. Since the training started, her closest friends are Zhou Yue and Ou-Yang Yin. Seeing as how Dong Zhi was sad for the sacrifices of his companion, it was unimaginable how much worse she was feeling.
“The country and the nation will never forget anyone who has fought for it.” After saying this, Long Shen left.
Seeing his fading figure, Xie Qingling lowered her head and blinked away the tears in her eyes.
So standard of Meng Xi Shi’s novels. The ones sitting at the top handing out directions are all incompetent bumbling idiots.
Goddess Queen of the Earth, also known as Dimu (Mother Earth), is the deity of the deep earth and soil in Chinese religion and mythology. She is the overlord of all the Tu Di Gong worldwide. Equivalent God outside of China would be like Gaia.