Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
She ran back to the dorms like this. While climbing the stairs, Yin Xiangyue looked at Fang An’an, who was coming downstairs, and she suddenly screamed. She quickly turned around and ran away, leaving Fang An’an with an explicable expression on her face as she turned and asked her classmate, “What’s wrong with her?”
The classmate shrugged. “Who knows? Hasn’t Yin Xiangxue always been neurotic?”
Fang An’an thought about it and didn’t take it to heart.
Yin Xiangxue took a different staircase and returned to her dorm. She was in shock. She sat on the bed most of the night while ignoring anyone that spoke to her.
Although her popularity wasn’t particularly high, her roommate was afraid something was off with her and asked her what was wrong.
Yin Xiangxue raised her head and glanced at her roommate. Her face was pale and full of fear, but she didn’t say anything. When her roommate saw that she couldn’t get a response from Yin Xiangxue, she simply ignored her.
Yin Xiangxue usually slept pretty well. As soon as her head touched a pillow, she could drift off into slumber, but tonight, she had unprecedented insomnia. She kept her eyes open in a daze until it was almost dawn.
Early the next morning, someone from the well-informed dormitory next door ran over and yelled, “Something’s wrong!”
Yin Xiangxue’s body trembled. As if she had a premonition, her whole body that wanted to get up shrank back into the blanket.
Sure enough, she heard her classmates stammering, “I heard that Jiang Lang didn’t come back at all last night. Then his roommate went to tell the teacher that the teacher and the school staff were looking for him all night. Guess what?”
Jiang Lang was the focus of everyone’s attention at school. Her roommate urged the speaker not to be coy and to tell the story quickly.
Yin Xiangxue’s heart sank a little bit.
The classmate said, with a ghastly face, “Jiang Lang jumped into the lake and died. They fished up his body last night. I heard… I heard that he asked Fang An’an to go to the lake last night so he could confess. Fang An’an rejected him, and he must’ve lost his mind for a bit, so…”
A girl screamed. “It’s impossible! How can he like Fang An’an!”
Someone asked again, “Is he really dead?”
The classmate who came to deliver the news cried out, “I, I didn’t see it, but I saw him covered with a white cloth, and the police are here!”
Her crying infected other girls, and soon the entire girl’s dormitory was filled with crying.
Yin Xiangxue shrank into the quilt, covering her head and face.
She was trembling. Rather than crying, she was afraid.
Soon, the news that Fang An’an rejected Jiang Lang, causing him to jump into the lake to commit suicide, spread around campus.
All the girls who liked Jiang Lang felt a dark cloud in their hearts and were deeply saddened by his death. Many were jealous of Fang An’an because of this and thought she had indirectly killed him.
Today was originally supposed to be a big day for the school festival; with such big news, the school struggled to finish it.
Everyone felt that Jiang Liang’s life was smooth sailing, and he wouldn’t accept a small setback like this and embarked on a road of no return.
Only Yin Xiangxue knew the truth wasn’t like that.
The high price of the Shangqing pills fetch on the black market showed that they were indeed worth the money in some ways.
At least after he took the medicine and after a day of rest, Dong Zhi felt a lot better. The symptoms of faint chest pains that appeared from time to time have also disappeared. He even felt that he could immediately wave his sword in the sky and attract up to ten heavenly lightnings. Of course, in order to avoid hitting Liu Qingbo, he dismissed this idea.
Early the next morning, the two set off for Lake Wangyue, as written in the file. Although there was a direct subway station near their destination, with both of them being armed, it was more convenient to take a taxi.
Seeing his appearance in good spirits, Liu Qingbo couldn’t help but wonder. “Is your injury really healed? No nightmares again?”
Dong Zhi shook his head.
Liu Qingbo frowned. “Then did you ask Boss Tang in private?”
Dong Zhi said helplessly, “I asked.”
After he used Shangqing pill yesterday, although he felt pretty good, he went to Tang Jing just to be extra cautious.
“He said that I don’t have magic energy on my body, and he couldn’t figure out the specific situation currently. He told me to use the Shangqing pill first to recuperate and then look into my issue in more detail when the soul eater matter comes to an end.”
Liu Qingbo didn’t believe it: “There is no magic energy? Then why did you get hurt in your dream?”
Dong Zhi shook his head, indicating that he didn’t know either.
It was also strange to say that since he fought the weird man in his dream on the plane that day, the choke marks on his neck had gradually faded and he hadn’t seen the culprit in his dreams or in reality.
Afterwards, he drew a picture of the culprit’s appearance and showed it to Tang Jing and passed it on to Long Shen, but no matter who saw it, they had never seen such a person.
There was a weird and terrifying guess in his heart.
Naturally, Liu Qingbo had also seen the portrait.
“Could the man you saw in your dream be Songen, who placed witchcraft on Han Qi?”
Dong Zhi said, “Songen should have a typical Southeast Asian look. You haven’t seen the man with your own eyes. He was too domineering and evil. I don’t feel like it’s Songen, but more like…”
He didn’t say any more as Liu Qingbo replied softly, “Mara.”
For a while, both of them were silent.
Although Dong Zhi survived in his dream, he had to invite God to counterattack with his Changshou Sword to repel his opponent, but the sense of oppression and deterrence of his opponent was so great that he still had lingering fears in retrospect, as if there was a hand that was still wrapped around his neck, ready to choke him to death at any moment.
Is this the power of a heavenly demon that could summon wind and rain and shake the world?
Even if he didn’t know any techniques at first, before he stepped into the cultivation world with half a foot, he had never felt such an aura even when facing Xu Wan, the Archfiend.
If this was the case, a heavenly demon was already difficult to deal with, and this was only a wisp of demonic energy. If its real body really did appear, could the combination of him, Liu Qingbo, and even Tang Jing, Wu Bingtian, and Long Shen be able to deal with it?
Rather, was there any power in this word that could stop a heavenly demon?
The two of them were lost in their own thoughts and said nothing all the way until they arrived at their destination.
Although Lake Wangyue was an artificial lake and covered a small area, it drew water from Lake Dianshan and was surrounded by green trees, which provided a lot of shade during the summer and a place to sunbathe on the benches in the winter. Thus, all year round, there were many people there, making the area quite lively.
When Dong Zhi got out of the car, he saw the conspicuous warning sign erected at the lake from a glance.
[The water here is deep. Swimming is not allowed.]
The black characters on a yellow background couldn’t be any clearer, yet accidents still occurred every year, which also added to the gossip of nearby residents.
Liu Qingbo looked around and saw that on the other side of the bridge, in the area separated by barbed wire, there were obviously many more people than here, and most of them were standing by the lake, including police officers.
“Man, is it such a coincidence that we stumble upon trouble the minute we arrive?”
Dong Zhi said, “The information seems to say that there’s a school over there. Let’s go and have a look.”
It was indeed a coincidence. When they passed by, Jiang Lang had already been transported away by ambulance. His parents, who were still crying and still held onto a glimmer of hope left with him, but everyone knew that Jiang Lang would probably never come back.
The police were exploring the surrounding environment to determine whether he had committed suicide. The area was fenced off, and others stood outside the restricted area to watch the excitement. There were many guests today due to the school festival. Unexpectedly, they became bystanders in the case. Everyone talked about Jiang Liang, a promising student, and they all couldn’t help but sigh.
Dong Zhi flashed his credentials and was able to enter. Although the Special Administration Bureau was mysterious, the departments were in frequent contact with each other due to the nature of their work, so when the policeman saw them, he became relieved.
“Brothers, you are too timely. I was just about to ask someone to invite you over!”
Dong Zhi walked with him to the lake. “Is there anything wrong? Isn’t it suicide?”
The other party said, “It’s not that there’s anything wrong. There were no traces of fighting or struggling, so it should be chalked up to suicide, but aren’t there incidents in Lake Wangyue in the past two years? I heard that you caught something in the lake last time… So… Your head had specifically talked with our head, saying that if we encounter anything relating to suicide again, we have to notify you guys.”
Liu Qingbo stepped on the stone and looked down. The lake was glistening. It wasn’t crystal clear, but compared to the ones in the cities, this was relatively clean. A few fallen leaves floated on it, but it only added a bit of melancholy to the scene. It was no wonder why nearby residents liked to linger here. Even the half of the lake that was owned by Yasheng High School was also featured in their pamphlet.
The sun was shining and warm. The lake was rippling, and occasionally fish would spew out bubbles. It was hard to imagine what would appear here, but Liu Qingbo wasn’t an ordinary resident. He knew that even if something happened underwater, the surface would appear calm.
He bent down, as if inadvertently sweeping the water with his hand.
The water was biting cold during the winter, but this cold wasn’t enough to make Liu Qingbo pull his hand away. He rolled up his sleeves and stirred the water several times. The water spread over his lower arms and slid between his fingers. Nothing.
Just as he was about to withdraw his hand, something seemed to pass through the back of his fingers at a very fast speed. Liu Qingbo grabbed it with his back hand but came up empty. Due to the speed, he leaned forward and almost fell into the water.
A hand suddenly grabbed his back collar.
Dong Zhi grabbed the person back and joked, “How old are you that you’re still playing with water?”
Liu Qingbo rolled his eyes back. He raised the back of his hand and stuck out his middle finger. The fingernail was bent a bit and there was a shallow red mark, but he wasn’t sure if it was because of a fish or something else just now.
“What? Is there really something?” Dong Zhi asked.
Dong Zhi said, “I want to go to the hospital to see that boy first. He had just recently died, so maybe we can find some clues.”
Liu Qingbo had no opinion. Although he usually quarreled with the other party, he also understood that when it comes to doing things, Dong Zhi was actually better than him in terms of carefulness and assessing the overall situation, so the two of them were able to cooperate tacitly as partners so far.
“Captain Long, I have already given the Shangqing pill to your little apprentice. Dare I ask when you will be here? The meeting will start next month.”
In front of the floor-to-ceiling windows with an excellent view, Tang Jing called Long Shen.
Looking for the stone tablet, the soul eater incident at the Anime Convention, and the upcoming international conference, all these things added up were making Tang Jing, the director of the side branch, overwhelmed.
To outsiders, they saw East China Branch as having deep pockets. Even their office was located in the most prosperous central area of a first-tier city. The conditions were comfortable and enough that they were miles ahead of any other branches. However, the more you get, the more you pay. This was also the busiest branch of them all. Without being capable, it was impossible to sit in Tang Jing’s position. Even the directors of other branches were among the best in the Special Administration Bureau.
Shu He knocked on the door twice and got a prompt to enter. He opened the door and saw Tang Jing had his two legs resting on the table, holding a phone in one hand and an unfinished cigarette in the other. He looked like an unprofessional yuppie.
He automatically and consciously lightened his steps, closed his mouth, sat at his desk, and waited for his leader to finish the call.
There was no long talk as imagined. This time, Tang Jing hung up the phone without saying much. Perhaps it was because the person on the other end of the phone didn’t like talking nonsense either.
“How is the inspection of the venue?” Tang Jing put out his cigarette, which he hadn’t smoked yet, in the ashtray.
Shu He said, “Everything is normal. This time we have strengthened our manpower and reorganized the venue again. From top to bottom, east to west, not a spot was missed and there will be no more mistakes.”
Tang Jing said, “Representatives from all over the world will be coming in a few days. This time, the specifications are high. Just in case, Boss Long and Boss Song will come over in person. You should do things well so as not to be picked on by these two and disgrace our branch.”
Shu He smiled in horror. “The two deputies of the General Administration coming out in person? This battle is too big!”
“It’s not big. After all, it’s a summit where leaders from all over the world gather. I don’t know how many pairs of eyes are staring secretly. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Tang Jing spoke slowly. Shu He found that he was holding a book in his arms. He seemed to be reading it as it was opened halfway.
“Yo, I didn’t expect that our Boss Tang also has the heart of a little girl!” Shu He’s eyes were sharp, and he found that it seemed to be a romance novel.
“It’s mainly for the plot, supplemented by romance.” Tang Jing corrected him.
Shu He shrugged. “Well, I don’t normally read novels, but if you strongly recommend it, I’ll definitely read it. Is the author a friend of yours?”
“I want you to help me find someone.” He raised the book in his hand. “This author.”
Shu He was puzzled. “What is the situation?”
Tang Jing said, “I checked on the internet. This author is very low-key. The real person never shows up and there’s no photo of him circulating online. The publishing house should have his ID information. Check it as soon as possible.”
Shu He seemed to understand something, but he pretended that he didn’t as he tentatively asked, “business or private?”
It was rare for Tang Jing to show a trace of hesitation. He paused for a while before replying, “It’s a private matter.”
“Oh—” Shu He stretched his tone, showing an unspoken smile.
Speaking of Cao Cao, Cao Cao arrived*. As soon as Shu He left, a call came from Ming Xian.
*Metaphor that refers to talking about someone who has arrived after is/just being discussed (AKA speak of the devil and he’ll appear).
Tang Jing smiled unconsciously. “I thought you wouldn’t call again.”
Ming Xian’s voice sounded a little embarrassed. “I was assigned to go abroad for training. Before I left, I thought about saying goodbye to you.”
Tang Jing was surprised. “I remember you just started your job, didn’t you?”
Ming Xian laughed. “It’s a long story. Why don’t we talk about it when we meet?”
Tang Jing naturally agreed.
The two of them made an appointment in a cafe next to a park. It was still daytime on a weekday, so there weren’t any guests besides them. As soon as Tang Jing and Ming Xian entered, it was equivalent to a private meeting.
“In fact, the training quota was originally not up to me. It just happened that a female teacher was pregnant, and it had to be pushed. After a comprehensive evaluation of various indicators, I was actually chosen.”
“Where and for how long?” Tang Jing put two sugar cubes into the other party’s coffee.
This was the habit that he had learned from Ming Xian when he took him home after the Anime Convention and made him coffee.
“Japan. It may be a year. The good news is that this should be a boost to my professional title after I come back.” Ming Xian gave me a helpless smile.
Tang Jing smiled back. “Then congratulations. “
Ming Xian laid down on the table, groaning. “I don’t want to leave my hometown. A year is too long.”
Tang Jing said, “Then you can also reject the quota.”
Ming Xian tilted his head to look at him: “Are you going to keep me?”
Tang Jing smiled charmingly at him. “What do you think?”
Ming Xian seemed to be encouraged, and he laughed. “I think you will.”
Tang Jing consciously teased enough. He lowered his head, took a sip of coffee, and then slowly said, “It’s only a year. It’ll pass by in the blink of an eye.”
Ming Xian said, unsure whether it was intentional, “One year is enough for many things to change, including fragile feelings.”
Tang Jing raised his eyebrows. “So, if I ask, will you stay?”
When Ming Xian heard this, his shoulders half collapsed, and he said weakly, “I just entered the school not long ago. After all, it was the leaders who wanted me to focus on my training, so they gave me such a place. If I don’t know what’s good from bad, my career will probably be frozen in the future.”
Tang Jing smiled. “Then, I wish you a safe journey.”
Ming Xian returned with a slightly astringent smile.
Tang Jing knew very well that the other party had a good impression of him, but this trace of a good impression wasn’t enough for him to keep him, nor was it enough for the other party to stay.
Their contact was too short, and it was only sex, which had aroused some confusion. But after that night, everything should be back on track.
Ming Xian said, “I don’t know if you have heard. There was an incident in our school. A boy committed suicide by jumping into the lake because of his lovelornness.”
Tang Jing stirred the coffee with his hand. “Jump into the lake? Lake Wangyue?”
Ming Xian nodded. With a sneaky expression, he lowered his voice and said mysteriously, “You’re a powerful person, right? What with your abilities to breathe fire and fly over walls, you probably work for the government, right? Will you accept my interview? Don’t worry, I won’t reveal any secrets. At most, I’ll use you as a prototype for the protagonist in my novels…”
Tang Jing pushed his face away. “You read too many comics. Have a cup of coffee and calm down.”
Ming Xian complained of a grievance. “We have even slept in the same bed, but you’re being so ruthless!”
Tang Jing raised his chin. “Then do you want me to pay you? I’ll do it, but I’m afraid it’ll be an insult to you.”
Ming Xian slapped his hand angrily.
Tang Jing: “Having said that, is your school by Lake Wangyue? Why haven’t I heard of it?”
Ming Xian said strangely: “Yasheng High School, a private high school. It’s quite famous. I teach Chinese in the high school department.”
Seeing that the other party had already finished his coffee, Tang Jing signaled the waiter so he could pay.
Ming Xian complained, “I still want to eat cake.”
Tang Jing laughed. “Aren’t you leaving? I happen to be free today to accompany you for a walk, or are you going to waste your time eating cakes here?”
Ming Xian: ……
“Congratulations, Mr. Tang. Your beauty trick has worked.” He solemnly stretched out his hand to Tang Jing.
Tang Jing grabbed his hand and shook it. “I’m flattered, but when it comes to beauty tricks, you’re better than me.”
The cold winter months in the south were gorgeous with the fallen leaves on the ground, yet there was no sense of desolation on the empty branches.
After leaving the café and walking to the area around the park, Ming Xian suddenly laughed out loud, causing Tang Jing to turn his head and look at him.
“I didn’t expect that I would come to the park with a man. I had the impression that this should be a place for the elderly or children.”
Tang Jing spread his hands. “I didn’t expect that I would sneak out to play with you during work hours. Fortunately, our boss isn’t here today; otherwise I will be scolded.”
Ming Xian blinked. “I thought you were the boss.”
Tang Jing: “What gave you that idea?”
Ming Xian laughed. “Although you try your best to be approachable, it’s inevitable that you’re still a bit domineering. It’s estimated that you’re used to being a leader. Have I ever told you that the intuition of an author is very sensitive?”
Someone was taking photos of two girls in ancient costumes not far away. They were posing under the guidance of the photographer.
Tang Jing glanced at it and then looked away.
“I heard that it’s popular for people who write novels to promote them with beautiful titles and author pictures. If you’re willing to expose your appearance, your fame will definitely be much greater than now.”
Ming Xian pursed his lips and wryly laughed. “I write novels as a hobby, and I have never thought about using this to gain popularity.”
Tang Jing was surprised. “I didn’t expect you to be someone with such advanced taste.”
Ming Xian smiled. “Did this deepen the degree of how much you like me by a bit?”
Tang Jing nodded. “Maybe more than a bit.”
He was being truthful.
Ming Xian’s heart moved slightly, and his face slowly turned red.
The way the two tall, handsome guys stood and talked together was very pleasing to the eye, and occasionally passersby couldn’t help but look over a few times.
Tang Jing leaned against the trunk of the tree and pulled out a cigarette to light it. Seeing that he was suddenly cramped, he couldn’t help but tease. “What kind of content were you thinking that isn’t suitable for children?”
Ming Xian coughed softly, refusing to admit it and casually finding a different topic. “I’m just looking at the girls over there. None of them are as good-looking as you.”
Then he heard Tang Jing approach his ear and whisper something extremely inappropriate for children.
Ming Xian almost choked to death on his own saliva.
What Tang Jing said was, “Are you thinking about me wearing women’s clothing while I fuck you?”
Ming Xian’s face flushed, and he didn’t know if it was because he was coughing so much or because he was embarrassed and ashamed.
Then Tang Jing kissed him.
The tobacco-flavored lips made Ming Xian subconsciously resist. He raised his hand to push his shoulder, but his wrist was caught and pressed against the trunk of the tree.
The stout tree trunks barely covered the stature of the two of them. Passersby quickly walked by them, not realizing that they were two men, but even if they knew, they were too embarrassed to stop and watch.
However, in broad daylight, the sense of shame in public still made Ming Xian’s hands and feet soft, and he could only slowly raise his slender neck and let the other party plunder his mouth.
“Your place or mine?”
The breath blew on his face and the smell of tobacco was faintly cold, making Ming Xian dizzy for a while.
He raised his other uncontrolled hand to cover his eyes, as if he couldn’t stand the dazzling sunlight, and murmured, “No, I really have to go back and pack my things…”
“Really?” Tang Jing raised his knees and pushed them against a place where there was already a reaction.
“Really!” Ming Xian took a deep breath, used some strength, pushed the other party away a few steps, and groaned, “I really have something to do—”
Tang Jing raised his brows.
Ming Xian changed his words spinelessly. “Tomorrow!”
Tang Jing burst out laughing very shamelessly.
Ming Xian: ……
His hand that was covering his eyes was raised to support his forehead.
The two left the park and parted at the entrance of the café. Tang Jing offered to give Ming Xian a ride, but he refused, saying that he was going to see a relative and didn’t want to be a bother. Tang Jing didn’t force the issue and just left by car.
Ming Xian stood on the side of the street, watching the vehicle pass through the traffic light intersection and drift away, before picking up his phone.
When the phone connected, he said to the person on the other line, “I want to see you.”
When he faced Tang Jing just now, that carefree smile completely disappeared. Coldness and indifference replaced the former, completely the opposite of how he was.
“I’m going to look for you.”