Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Dong Zhi’s heart jumped wildly.
He understood very well that it was too early to confess his affection, so even if he occasionally crossed the line in his speech, he would always pull it back in time, carefully maintaining that indistinct line between master and apprentice.
After thinking about it, he shouldn’t have said too many explicit words or actions for Long Shen to see, but now his feeling of such uncharted territory had made things unpredictable.
“Hello? Hello? Did you go dumb?” He Yu didn’t hear him reply for a while and couldn’t help tease.
When Dong Zhi recovered, he suddenly thought of something.
“Lao He, does Master know how to connect to me? Do you know this?”
He Yu: “You know, last time we were in danger in Yangcheng, didn’t he use telepathy to guide you to find a way out?”
Dong Zhi: “Then can he hear the inner voices of others through this? Like their thoughts that they don’t say aloud.”
He Yu: “Generally speaking, he can only get a response from others, which is equivalent to not speaking but communicating with your mind, but the kind of situation you mentioned isn’t impossible. Since he’s cultivated his mind to a certain level, he can indeed detect the inner thoughts of others. As the saying goes, one thought becomes a Buddha and one becomes a devil*. There will be energy between thoughts, and fluctuations in that energy could be detected.”
*(一念成佛，一念成魔) Philosophical text from Buddhist scripture. It basically boils down to one’s thoughts determining one’s future. “Good” thoughts point in the direction of happiness, while thoughts that have not yet caused evil foreshadow disasters.
Dong Zhi felt his heart sink into the abyss. His hands and feet went cold, and he could hardly hold his phone.
He Yu, on the other end of the line, didn’t notice his strangeness and continued speaking, “Why are you asking this? Do you want to use telepathy to find out what the boss is thinking? Hahaha, don’t dream. I haven’t seen anyone who can peep into their hearts. Even if there is, can you please say something?”
By the time he noticed that his palms were slippery and sticky, he didn’t know how long it had been. He even forgot to say goodbye to He Yu. The phone slipped from his hand and fell to the sofa, and the hot temperature on it showed that he had been talking for a long time.
Outside the windows, magpies were hopping up and down on the branches, chirping at him as if they had reunited with old friends for many years.
His eyes were emptied, as if he was listening but not really listening at all. In his mind, he combined Long Shen’s subtle attitude during this period of time, and he felt that his guess was correct.
If Long Shen did discover this secret, then the estrangement of the other party would make sense.
The enthusiastic cry of the magpie became like an impassioned funeral march, singing for him.
Dong Zhi couldn’t help but hold his forehead, looking up at the sky and lamenting.
Even he himself wasn’t ready, so how could Long Shen be mentally prepared?
It wasn’t a big issue if an apprentice fell in love with their master. The real question was, did he like him before he became an apprentice? Did Long Shen feel that his apprenticeship was just a ruse to get close to him and that he had ulterior motives from the start?
He now hated that he couldn’t buy a plane ticket and fly back immediately, stand in front of the other party, and explain all this sincerely. Even if Long Shen didn’t accept his feelings, even if it was just a simple master-apprentice relationship going forward, it was better to be like that than to let this misunderstanding continue to deepen.
But he couldn’t do this. He was now a member of the Special Administrative Bureau. In addition to his personal affairs, he had other responsibilities to shoulder. If he did this, then his relationship with Long Shen would truly end.
It was a dilemma to die early or later.
Although strong poisons and drugs are painful, there may be a chance of survival if treated promptly. Chronic poisons and drugs may manifest later and aren’t as painful, but one will undoubtedly die over time.
The newly rented house sat facing north to south. It was well ventilated, making it breathable. The viewing balcony had been transformed into glass floor-to-ceiling windows. There was a wide recliner in front of it. When one sat in front of the window, one could look up at the night sky. The air was excellent along the coast of Lucheng. In late autumn, the stars were glistening, and the sea could be seen not far away.
Dong Zhi loved this place so much that he rented it without hesitation, even though the rent wasn’t cheap.
Now, he sat cross-legged in a chair, and he had no leisure to watch the scenery.
From day to night. After an entire day of contemplation, he finally picked up the phone with difficulty and took the explosives and medicine bag to confront death.
The phone rang three times, but to him it felt like three centuries.
“Hello?” The other party’s tone was a little lower than usual.
Hearing his voice, Dong Zhi gradually calmed down.
All kinds of speculation and thoughts will be known tonight.
“Master, are you free now? I have something to tell you.”
The other party was silent for a moment. Not only did he not take the imitative to ask, but he also actually said, “If it’s an idle matter, there’s no need to talk about it.”
In the days when he knew Long Shen, it was unlikely for the other party to take the initiative to avoid a topic because it didn’t fit his temperament at all…
Unless the other party knew what he wanted to say.
Dong Zhi crossed his heart and blurted out, “Do you already know my… feelings for you?”
“It’s getting late. You should rest early and don’t think about it.” Long Shen’s voice was calm.
He already knows!
Dong Zhi was afraid of him hanging up and hurriedly said, “If you don’t listen to me, I’ll buy a ticket overnight and talk to you in person!”
Long Shen said coldly, “Are you threatening me?”
Dong Zhi softened. “Master, will you listen to what I have to say?”
There was no response, but he didn’t hang up the phone either.
Dong Zhi took a deep breath.
“Master, I like you very much.”
“Maybe this sentence has been said many times before, but today, I’m not saying it as an apprentice, but as a man who’s confessing to the person I like.”
“I don’t know when this feeling started. It may have been the moment I met you again in the underground cave, when Uncle Qian said you were feeding the stray cat, or even earlier. I was on Changbai Mountain and saw you fighting with the bone dragon and thought you were majestic and admirable.”
“Before you became my Master, I was just an ordinary person who was aimless. It was you who taught me my abilities and made me strong. From you, I learned more about duty and responsibility.”
He finished in a single breath. His breathing was a little heavy, so he had to stop and calm down a bit before he continued.
“I know, when I say this, you may misunderstand. That I wanted to get close to you, to be the waterfront pavilion to catch the moon first*, but please believe me that I have absolutely no intention… If you don’t believe me, you can use your telepathy to explore my thoughts. I—I want to respect you and cherish you for the rest of my life, follow in your footsteps, live and die with you, and stand by your side. Can you—”
*(近水楼台先得月) Idiom that comes from the poem “Qing Yelu” by Yu Wenbao. It’s a metaphor referring to getting benefits or convenience because you’re closer to someone/something.
Unknowingly, heat surged into his eyes, and his hands shook badly.
“Can you give me a chance?”
There has been no movement on the other end… As if no one existed.
Across the phone, he couldn’t see the other party’s expression, let alone speculate on the other party’s mind. It was as if going in blindfolded, looking for the right way out at a fork in the road.
One person was in the cloud, and one was on the ground; they were far apart, powerless, and could only wait for the moment when the result was announced.
If the other party refused to come down from the clouds, he wouldn’t be able to insert wings to fly to them.
After a long time, he finally heard a reply.
Dong Zhi smiled silently and wryly, but more importantly, it was a relief-like ease.
Before this, he had even made plans to conceal it for half of his life. Even if he wanted to confess, he never thought that in this situation, he couldn’t even see the face of the person he was confessing to.
Putting himself in Long Shen’s shoes, if he was Long Shen in this kind of scenario, he would also suspect that his apprentice had ulterior motives. He would even be angry at his previous unreserved dedication and teaching. What’s more, his master was now not angry from beginning to end, which showed how well disciplined he was.
Long Shen originally thought he would be angry.
But he wasn’t.
It seemed that all the anger gradually dissipated as he knew the truth that night. When he heard the other party ask him to give him a chance, he wasn’t angry with Dong Zhi as he had imagined.
A strange emotion flashed in my heart, but it wasn’t anger nor hatred.
When he spoke again, his voice was still calm.
“I can’t give you this chance.”
This answer should have been enough, but Long Shen paused before adding another sentence.
“You should have known a long time ago that I’m not a human.”
The next moment, he heard his apprentice’s unexpectedly calm voice saying, “Yes, I knew it a long time ago, and I also know that your true identity is a sword.”
Long Shen was slightly startled.
“Because you practice with swords, love swords, and testify for swords.”
“Do you remember the regretful expression you had when you saw the Feijing Sword in Liu Qingbo’s hand?”
“At first, I thought you were regretting that such a good sword was used by Liu Qingbo, but then I realized that it was regret for the Feijing Sword that couldn’t be like you. You have to encounter the opportunity to cultivate yourself as a human, right?”
“So you have collected a lot of swords. Even Uncle Qian thought you were just interested in swords and had a hobby of collecting them, but you didn’t. You just want to see if there are any of these famous swords that could be transformed. If there are, you won’t let them fall into the hands of immoral people.”
Deep inside, there seemed to be a string that was gently being tugged.
Long Shen suddenly remembered the time a long time ago, when he was still a sword.
For a while, he used to be the sword of a certain person. That person devoted himself to his government and the public and made contributions to his country, but he had no doubts about his love for his wife, and that was his soft spot. His wife had died early. The other party wasn’t even over 50, but he never remarried again. He didn’t even have a concubine.
At that time, Long Shen had already activated his spiritual wisdom and was practicing with his sword body. He listened to that person preach righteousness, talking about the morality and worries of the world. Although they were only a person and a sword, for Long Shen, this relationship was like that of a master and apprentice, or father and son.
Later, because of this fate, Long Shen wanted to tell the other party his way of cultivation. He believed that with the other party’s qualifications, even if he failed to obtain enlightenment, it wouldn’t be a problem to still live a long life. However, the man rejected him and said that his wife had been waiting for him by the edge of the afterlife for a long time, and he had to abide by their agreement. They had already agreed to be husband and wife for three lifetimes.
Long Shen still remembered what he asked him. ‘Husbands and wives gather due to fate and scatter when it ends. With such unparalleled talents, why not break it?’
The man smiled and said, “It’s people who can’t be broken, not love. Love runs through the ages, including the three realms and six ways. Whether it’s demons or immortals, they are born and destroyed by love. Affection towards your children is love, even flying is love. Even if you ascend to heaven, following the way and maintain the world, isn’t it just a kind of seven emotions and six desires?’
The other party was used to being eloquent. Long Shen naturally couldn’t respond. Everyone had their own choices, and Long Shen didn’t want to force others. However, later, the man did not live up to his promise to his wife. Instead, he was wronged and beheaded in front of the city gate that he once guarded.
Long Shen wanted to save him, but the man was unwilling. With his own life, he finally fulfilled his promise of living and ending with love. It was just that, in addition to his affection for his wife, there was also a great love for his family and country.
Under the nine springs*, that person could finally be reunited with his beloved wife, be worshipped for life, and never be separated.
*(九泉之下) Idiom referring to the underworld/netherworld.
Long Shen hadn’t thought of that person for a long time.
Those years were already so long ago, but as long as he thought about it, he could still easily recall it, but this situation was different from that person.
Dong Zhi was also different from that person’s wife.
Between them, there was no deep affection, only shallow fate.
Dong Zhi held the phone tightly, held his breath and waited for a long time to hear the other’s party reply…
“I have endless life and youth, but you don’t.”
“I don’t want to face your old face in a few decades.”
“Therefore, I have never been tempted by ordinary humans. It has nothing to do with whether we are master and apprentice.”
Long Shen’s tone was very calm, as if he was talking about how good the weather was in the capital that night and how he could look up and see stars.
Dong Zhi’s heart went cold. It was like experiencing a downpour in late autumn, then jumping into the lake to take a swim. He drowned because of his poor swimming skills. Seeing that no one could help him, he could only let his heart gradually sink to the bottom of the lake, entangled with the aquatic plants and slowly being eaten by fish.
“Then why? There are so many others with superior qualifications and longer lifespans, but you accepted me as your sole apprentice.”
Long Shen heard Dong Zhi and questioned himself.
He didn’t actually know.
The consequences of today only came when he started thinking about his selfishness that day. If he couldn’t reciprocate, it was better to simply cut off the source.
He actually regretted it a bit now.
Maybe this would not have happened had he not taken Dong Zhi as an apprentice and instead introduced him to Tang Jing or Yu Buhui.
In the past many years, what little emotions he had have been paid to this world. He was cast by the people and received their grace and instruction, so he would keep his promise and protect the peace of the world.
Dong Zhi’s affection was not originally in his plans.
Long Shen could feel the gradually increasing breathing sound on the other end of the phone.
He stood on the rooftop of the Special Administration building, and as soon as he looked up, he could see the stars in the sky that were brilliant and magnificent.
He had also been to Lucheng. In this season, if you stood by the sea, you could easily see the stars in the night sky.
They were under the same sky, but Long Shen didn’t speak anymore.
“I’m sorry, Master.”
Unexpectedly, he said such unfeeling things, and the other party apologized in turn.
Long Shen was silent for a while.
The other party’s voice trembled a bit, but he still tried to calm himself.
“It’s my fault. I should be concentrating on cultivating. I shouldn’t have said these things to you to disturb your mind.”
Long Shen said, “I can let Yu Buhui teach you on my behalf. His ability is not inferior to mine.”
Dong Zhi felt cold. “Will we not be able to be master and apprentice in the future?”
Long Shen sighed. “I just don’t want to make it difficult for you to face me in the future.”
Dong Zhi was silent for a moment. “What if I don’t want to learn from others?”
Long Shen: “Then I’ll continue to teach you. As long as you want, we will always be master and apprentice.”
Dong Zhi wiped away his tears.
“Then we’ll always be master and apprentice.”
If Long Shen was a girl, or the other party showed even the slightest hesitation, Dong Zhi would persevere until his wish came true.
But Long Shen wasn’t. He was strong and had a deep mind. No one could force him to do what he didn’t want, not even his apprentice.
It was this awareness that made Dong Zhi completely disheartened.
The distance between himself and Long Shen was like the distance between the stars above his head and the sea. While visible to look up to, it was far away and always out of reach.
He had fallen in love with someone for the first time in his life, and in the blink of an eye, tasted lovelornness.
From now on, in the vast sea of people, there may never be a person like Long Shen who could make him act reckless yet also cautious.
Mu Duo knocked on the door for nearly a minute before the owner opened it.
She was apologetic and felt that she should buy something instead of coming to his home empty-handed. After all, she was able to escape with her life due to the other party’s graces, but she couldn’t find a suitable gift at this time of night, so she had to tell herself that she would owe it for now and make it up later.
As a result, she was stunned as soon as the door was opened.
“You… Are you okay?”
Dong Zhi’s expression was calm. “I’m fine. I just have a cold. Please come in.”
What cold? It’s clear that he was crying. Mu Duo felt a little embarrassed, feeling that she had come at a bad time.
“Why don’t you rest first and I’ll come see you tomorrow?”
Dong Zhi shook his head. “If you come here at night, there must be something important. Come in and we’ll talk about it. I’m fine.”
Mu Duo did have business, so she stepped in.
“You found a really nice place!” She looked around and saw the furnishings and couldn’t help but praise them.
The old house, which they used as an office, wasn’t even mentioned. It was too dilapidated. None of them wanted to live there. They all found other places to live by themselves, but the home Mu Duo was renting wasn’t as good as this.
Dong Zhi made her a cup of tea and said with a smile, “Why don’t I keep a look out for you to see if there’s a place here for rent in the community? It’ll be more convenient to contact each other if we live in the same area.”
Mu Duo felt moved but soon shook her head. “The rent here is too expensive, and my pay isn’t enough to afford a place like this.”
She didn’t have any deep-pocketed master, but Dong Zhi’s master had directly given him a bank card. When he needed to transfer money for the rent for this place, he stopped by the bank and asked someone to help check the amount on the card. Only after checking did he find out that the card was the legendary black gold card that had no upper limits. Regarding this kind of card, there was an urban legend that said, From heaven to earth, as long as you want it, the bank will do it for you.
Dong Zhi didn’t plan to use that card. His own salary and savings were enough, but that was the best way Long Shen could think of for his apprentice, so he treasured it.
Thinking of this, his smile couldn’t help but fade.
Mu Duo didn’t pay attention to the change in his expression and sat down and got straight to business.
“There has been a reply from the branch. The two additional people who are being sent to help should be able to report tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Do you have any plans?”
Dong Zhi came back to his senses. “Plans?”
Mu Duo said, “The head wants you to temporarily serve as the person in charge of the Lucheng office.”
Dong Zhi was taken aback. “Me?”
“Are you surprised?” Mu Duo laughed.
Dong Zhi thought for a bit. “It’s quite unexpected. You should take it. I’ve just been here for less than a month.”
Mu Duo smiled and said, “This is what the head wants, non-negotiable. Although you just came to Lucheng, you have made great contributions. If it weren’t for you this time, perhaps I wouldn’t be here now talking to you. Not only me, but Yan Nuo is also convinced.”
Dong Zhi frowned. “But I have no experience…”
Mu Duo didn’t care. “Who’s born with experience? I have read the report you wrote for me last time. You wrote it better than me. I also submitted it and added your name.”
Speaking of this, she felt ashamed. “Yan Nuo and I are mediocre in ability, and we’re keenly aware of it. In the past few years, Lucheng’s performance hasn’t been outstanding, so we have never been able to rise. I know that we have wronged you.”
Previously, Dong Zhi was unhappy with their neglect, but now that the other party took the initiative to admit their mistake and lower themselves, he couldn’t bear to pour hot tea into Mu Duo’s hand.
“Mu Duo Jie, the two of us have been through life and death. Why act like this?”
Mu Duo chuckled and hurriedly said that she was wrong.
The slightest suspicion of the past had also dissipated.
“The two people dispatched by the branch aren’t small in origin. One of them is a direct descendant of Mount Longhu. I’m afraid he won’t be willing to listen to your command easily. I told Yan Nuo that if there’s any work that needs to be done, we’ll do it. You don’t have to bother.”
Dong Zhi nodded, not paying much attention.
He thought about Liu Qingbo, Zhang Song, and the others that had eyes above the top that were free of dust*. The people that were coming shouldn’t be any more arrogant and crazier than them.
*Metaphor referring to someone who is sharp-eyed and has a very strong sense of ability, but also used to describe someone haughty and arrogant. || In this context, it’s referring to the latter.
After talking business, Mu Duo stopped talking again. Remembering the state of the other party when he came to the door just now and the sad expression he had and that he didn’t have time to hide it.
“Is there something wrong? If it’s convenient to talk about, maybe I can help.”
Dong Zhi smiled bitterly. Except for Long Shen, no one could help with this matter.
“I’m fine. Thank you.”
Mu Duo nodded and said no more.
“Then you have a good rest. I’ll take my leave now.”
He watched the other party get up to leave, and he couldn’t help but make a sound.
“Mu Duo Jie.”
Mu Duo turned her head.
Dong Zhi hesitated for a moment. “Have you ever heard of love between humans and monsters… I mean, not monsters, but non-human races. Do they fall in love?”
Mu Duo was stunned. She didn’t have time to think about it and just nodded.
At that moment, Mu Duo felt that the brilliance in the other party’s eyes almost illuminated her.
Huh, I never would’ve guessed Long Shen is a sword. Given his name, I thought he was a dragon.
Poor Dong Zhi, rejected. Common, when is this relationship gonna happen? We’re already 81 chapters in and way past the halfway point of this novel!