Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Because of the long-term fighting in Myanmar and the division of various forces, comprehensive peace hadn’t been restored. Artillery fire was common in some areas, with fighting during the day and cursing at night. For people who lived in a peaceful country, such things were unimaginable. In the border areas between the two countries, hundreds of thousands of refugees gathered. These people were homeless and could only do small business on the border. Life was extremely precarious, and they could barely survive.
The village of Xianda was at the foot of a high mountain on the border. There was dense jungle around the area. Without the guidance of the locals, it wasn’t difficult for outsiders to get lost, let alone find Songen. Although Long Shen and Dong Zhi were practitioners, they weren’t omnipotent immortals. They had to ask for directions. Xianda had a small population and was very sensitive to outsiders. If there was anything amiss, Songen would know about it in advance and that would put them in a passive situation.
At this time, Dong Zhi proposed they split into two groups. One person would walk separately ahead with light, while the other three followed in the dark, so they could disperse being targeted and also have someone watching their backs.
Master Xinchai said, “Splitting up is a good idea. I’ll have Kenta join you.”
Dong Zhi shook his head. “You’re all natives here. They’ll notice right away that you’re not ordinary people because of how you’re dressed. I’ll go alone and pretend to be someone seeking Songen’s help, which will lower their guard. You should stay far away. If you can find another way to get in, that would be even better. Since Songen expected that we would find Qi Rui, he must be waiting for us to deliver ourselves to his door.”
Their opponent probably expected Long Shen to come, but they might not have expected that Xinchai would join as well. At this time, the more cards they hold, the greater their chances of winning. Since this was Songen’s territory, no matter how fierce a dragon was, it was easy to fall into a trap set by the local snake.
Hearing his point, Xinchai nodded and agreed to the plan.
“Don’t be reckless,” Long Shen said to Dong Zhi.
Hearing his concern, Dong Zhi smiled at him and waved his hand. He turned and walked in the direction of the small town. After walking for a while, he looked back and found that Long Shen and the others were gone.
When he reached the town, he took a car to the terminal. After passing through the small town, the terrain became rugged, and there were more dense plants covering the area. A path that was man-made could be seen on the ground, but there was not a single figure along the way. There was a village in the distance around the corner, but despite walking for more than half an hour, he didn’t seem to get any closer to it.
At noon, the sun was just at its highest point. The temperature here was much higher. Dong Zhi had to roll up his sleeves to relieve a bit of heat. The qin case he was carrying with the Changshou Sword was on his back and was soaked in sweat. His shirt was sticky, and it made him feel uncomfortable.
At this moment, there was a scream in front of him, as if someone had been bitten by something.
Finally hearing the voices of people, Dong Zhi cheered up and ran over. When he turned the corner, he saw a man sitting on the ground.
At first glance, the other party looked like a local boy with a dark complexion, about 17 or 18 years old. He had baggy pants that were rolled up, revealing his calf, and his face showed a painful expression, and he was curled up in a ball.
Hearing the sound of the footsteps, the young boy turned his head. Seeing that Dong Zhi was an outsider, he immediately showed a vigilant expression.
Dong Zhi pointed at the boy’s leg and made a gesture, then said in English, “What’s wrong with your leg? Do you need help?”
He was already prepared to take out a translation software if the other party didn’t understand, but who knew the other party would also reply in English? “I was bitten by a snake just now. It seems to be poisonous, and I can’t stand up now. Can you help me to my house? It’s right there.”
After Dong Zhi took a look, he did indeed find a bite mark on the boy’s leg, which was bleeding. The boy wrapped a cloth strip around his leg and tied it there to temporarily prevent the toxins from flowing through his body faster.
“Of course. Do you need to be taken to the hospital?”
The young man shook his head. “We have detoxifying herbs in our family.”
Dong Zhi raised the young man’s arm and put it on his shoulder, helping him walk to the village in the direction guided by the other party while seemingly unintentionally asking about it.
He learned that the young man was named Suqi and that he was a villager from Xianda, the village located on the border. In the past, when Thailand and Myanmar relations weren’t good, the village was often implicated. Many refugees from Myanmar fled, but they were not welcomed by the government here. Suqi’s family were refugees who fled because of the war in Myanmar, but after Master Songen came, everything changed. Many people came from afar to meet the master, which benefited the villagers of this village. Even the drug lords who used to control the area didn’t dare cause trouble.
Dong Zhi glanced at the poppy fields in the mountains in the distance. He knew that in some parts of Southeast Asia, this plant was grown as a cash crop, and many depended on it for survival. He’d also heard that, more than ten years ago, the local government was under international pressure to destroy the majority of the poppy fields and make the drug trade illegal, though that was only on the surface and they had never stopped. The local government tried to get residents to grow coffee beans and flowers, but the alternative crops didn’t make as much money as poppies, and remote places like Xianda had complex situations that often couldn’t yield much.
Just when Suqi enthusiastically introduced him to the poppies that were about to bloom in the distance, all Dong Zhi could think about was how China’s national borders were able to guard the peace and tranquility in the country, but outside the national borders, there was still a steady stream of poppies being planted. For the locals, it was an economic source for survival, but the manufactured products were used as a source of malice that tempted the depravity of human nature. Time and time again, narcotics officers were exhausted and sacrificed silently, and countless families were ruined.
“Dong, why are you in a daze? Don’t these flowers look good?” Suqi couldn’t tell the difference between “Dong” and “Dong”* so his pronunciation was off, but Dong Zhi didn’t correct him.
*[Dōng] (冬) vs [Dǒng] (董) The former being the Dong in Dong Zhi’s name. The accent marks on each of them affect the pronunciation slightly.
Dong Zhi smiled, didn’t say more, and instead inquired, “So, does everyone know Master Songen? If I want to visit him, can you introduce me?”
“I knew you were looking for him. Every year, many people come to see the Master. They have many wishes and want the Master to help them realize them. Do you have them too?” Suqi showed a sly smile.
Dong Zhi pretended to be distressed and sighed. “Yes, my girlfriend left me, and I want her back. I heard that Master Songen can help me become richer. If I have money, I can beat all her suitors and win her back!”
Suqi nodded. “Then Master Songen will help you. He’s a very good person.”
For the villagers here, the grace that could protect them was naturally considered good.
While talking, Dong Zhi and Suqi reached a home. An old woman was sitting at the door. When she saw Suqi’s wound, she hurriedly got up and walked away. After a while, she came back with a bowl and applied crushed herb and juice to the wound.
Suqi said a few words to her and then pointed to Dong Zhi, as if explaining the purpose of Dong Zhi’s visit. The old woman nodded at Dong Zhi and smiled kindly as she folded her hands. This was the meeting etiquette of the locals. Dong Zhi did the same gesture and greeted her back.
“She is my grandmother. Her name is Sara. I told her that you helped me back. She’s going to prepare lunch for us. After eating, I’ll take you to the Master,” Suqi explained.
Lunch was simple. It was a common meal of grilled fish and rice. While it didn’t taste delicious, Dong Zhi was a bit hungry, so he thanked Suqi and his grandmother and finished eating with them.
After they finished their meal, Suqi brought out two glasses of water and told him, “It’s the juice of a plant called kalanchoe. We often use it as a drink. It’s very tasty.”
Dong Zhi took a sip. He found that it tasted very sweet. Soon, he felt a little dizzy and couldn’t even stand. He had to hold onto the edge of the table and look at Suqi. At this moment, this simple young man showed an ambiguous smile.
“What did you put in it?” Dong Zhi held his forehead with a horrified expression on his face.
Suqi gave a smug smile. “You’re not here to ask for Master Songen’s help, are you? I have long seen through you. You want to harm the Master. You’re a bad person. Now that you can’t move, you can watch me consciously as I cut off your hands and feet, then dedicate your head to the Master. He can use your head for his arts. This is the last contribution you can provide to him.”
Dong Zhi frowned. “You’re so young, yet you’re this vicious? Does your grandmother know this?”
Suqi sneered. “Of course I know that Master Songen is our benefactor. Whoever wants to harm him is working against us! Are you numb all over and unable to move?”
Dong Zhi: “No.”
Dong Zhi stretched out his hands and moved them. “Look, I can still move. Is your poison not working?”
Dong Zhi said innocently, “I think the reason why I got dizzy just now was maybe because I ate too much. Could you have eaten the poison yourself?”
Suqi was furious. “How’s this possible?! What I gave you was cursed!”
As soon as his voice fell, his face changed. He covered his stomach and bent down, groaning in pain.
The old woman who was hiding somewhere suddenly ran out and held Suqi. She was panicked and said many things in the local dialect that Dong Zhi didn’t understand, so he ignored her.
“I’m telling you, you must have given it to yourself. Now you’ll need to see Songen and have him relieve it.” He looked at Suqi as he said this with a smile.
“Impossible. I obviously watched you drink it just now, and it’s also in the food!” Suqi refused to believe that he had been tricked.
Dong Zhi shrugged and showed a look of regret. “Sorry, I have already taken an antidote before I came here. I heard that you’re sheltered by Songen, and he’s someone you respect, so he probably taught you some small tricks. Being a local here, do you think it’s reasonable that you got bitten by a snake out in the wide open area like this? I can only say I’m smarter than you.”
This place was hard to guard against. Although they came in a hurry, they didn’t forget to make preparations. Not only was this place dangerous, but there were also many snakes, insects, rats, and ants. Even if they weren’t cursed, it was easy to become poisoned. Xinchai had given them preventative measures in advance and even taught them how to fight back. Although many curse techniques were complex, and there was no guarantee that their methods would be effective against them, small tricks like this were not a problem.
Taking 10,000 steps back, Dong Zhi already had the ghost-faced peach blossom curse in his body, so he didn’t worry about his debts. Compared with Songen, Suqi’s small trick could only be considered superficial.
As he was speaking, Suqi was already suffering from abdominal pain and was rolling on the ground with his arms around his stomach. The old woman was sweating profusely. She eventually kowtowed to Dong Zhi again and again, speaking in a language he couldn’t understand but didn’t need to in order to know that she was begging for mercy.
In normal times, Dong Zhi may be soft-hearted, but knowing that her grandson had tried to curse him and the old woman didn’t stop him, it could be seen that she wasn’t much better, so facing her begging for mercy, Dong Zhi was indifferent and said to Suqi, “I’ll give you two choices. Either you take me to see Songen and I will give you the antidote, or you take me to see Songen and have him detoxify you.”
Suqi wanted to ask what the difference was between the two choices, but he couldn’t speak due to the severe pain. He could only look at Dong Zhi full of resentment.
This kind of pain made people unable to do anything, but it wasn’t to the point of death. Suqi was so uncomfortable that he thought it would be better if he died. He really couldn’t bear it, so he had to agree with Dong Zhi’s request.
“I’ll take you…”
Dong Zhi pointed to the old woman. “Let your grandmother take me there. When I see Songen, I’ll give her the antidote.”
Suqi responded intermittently, “Only I know where the Master lives. I am the most trusted person in this village…”
Dong Zhi said suspiciously, “Are you still able to walk?”
Suqi said, “I can’t walk, so you have to get rid of the poison first.”
Dong Zhi: “Oh, let’s not go. You can just die in pain.”
If Liu Qingbo could be angered to the brink, then how could a mere Suqi compare? In the end, he could only endure the pain. He clutched his stomach and stumbled in front of Dong Zhi as he led the way.
Suqi led Dong Zhi around to a dense jungle behind the village and took him through it. They made various twists and turns before they finally came to a river.
Seeing the river meant that he was out of the dense jungle. Dong Zhi widened his eyes as the scene evoked a sense of familiarity for him.
At Che Bai’s place, he once came to this place in spirit form and had a brief confrontation with the heavenly demon.
Rather, it was Che Bai who had the brief confrontation with the unformed heavenly demon.
As a legendary demon, Mara was not only evil, but also powerful. It shouldn’t have been resurrected yet. Songen, one who yearned for the darkness, forcibly broke the balance of the world by trying to summon and resurrect Mara. If it completely formed, no one would be a match for such an opponent. There was also Yasuhiko Otowa, who wanted to destroy the stone tablet and awaken an even more powerful demon. The consequences would be unimaginable.
Therefore, it was better to destroy the heavenly demon before it was fully formed. This was the best chance they had.
Once he arrived at this spot, Dong Zhi no longer needed Suqi to lead the way.
In the jungle on the other side of the river sat a two-story stockade that had its roof exposed. This was where Songen was.
He had no time to think about whether Long Shen and the others were hiding somewhere or if they had already entered the stockade earlier than him. Dong Zhi had heard from Xinchai that the territory of a top black-robed master would be full of dangers and traps, and his opponent knew that they were coming, so he didn’t have to imagine what kind of consequences lay there.
He followed Suqi, and while he was walking, he sprinkled powder that Xinchai had given him all over his body.
Suqi was waiting for Dong Zhi to step into a trap by himself, but when he turned around to look at him, he was surprised to find Dong Zhi was still walking forward as if nothing had happened. Suqi’s face quickly changed.
Seeing Suqi acting sneaky, Dong Zhi confirmed that there were traps abound.
“Are you also a sorcerer? Are you here to find out about the Master’s fighting method?” A trace of fear finally appeared on Suqi’s face.
“Yes,” Dong Zhi said casually. “Did any sorcerers come here to fight him before?”
“A lot, but none have come out alive.” Suqi snorted. “When they went, their attitude was more arrogant than yours, but now they have become vessels for Master’s cultivation, and among them is Tisong!”
When he said the name of this person, Dong Zhi didn’t know who it was, but he could guess that it was probably a very famous sorcerer.
Xinchai had told them that Songen had killed many sorcerers over the years and made countless enemies. There were even several famous sorcerers who banded together to destroy him, but they were ultimately unsuccessful. Of the five, two had perished, and due to this battle, it made Songen famous in one fell swoop. Later, he hid in a corner and didn’t come out to cause trouble, so everyone turned a blind eye and pretended this person didn’t exist.
But now, with rumors spreading that he was secretly trying to summon a heavenly demon, even Xinchai couldn’t sit still. Once the heavenly demon was born, the first to bear the brunt of its destruction would be where it first landed its feet. There would be mountains of corpses and a sea of blood, which no one wanted to see happen.
“Master, I am Suqi. Please forgive me for bringing your enemy here. I was coerced!”
When the two reached the outside of the stockade, Suqi knelt down on the ground and hugged his stomach as he wailed in the local language.
From the outside of the wooden fence, Dong Zhi saw a few people cleaning the yard. Obviously they had heard their movements, but they acted as if they hadn’t heard anything and continued to mind their own task.
However, after Suqi said these words, he suddenly jumped up. Before Dong Zhi could stop him, he had already rushed into the yard, stood on the steps outside the building, turned around and leaned against the wall to catch his breath, then gave Dong Zhi a weird smile.
Dong Zhi had no time to look at this smile. Under his feet, countless thin snakes suddenly appeared under the soil. They had copper ring lines and were black and gold. They hissed at him, not afraid of the powder on his body, and erected themselves, opened their mouths, and tried to bite at his calf.
Dong Zhi jumped up and took a few steps back, but soon the number of thin snakes condensed, and had surrounded him from all sides. Their speed was extremely fast. In the blink of an eye, the first group of snakes was already half a step away from him and about half a second from biting him.
Suqi knew this trap. He had also seen several sorcerers and some enemies who dared disrespect Master Songen fall for this line of defense. Swallowed by ten thousand snakes, riddled with holes, and died without leaving a corpse.
There was no doubt in his mind that Dong Zhi wouldn’t be able to escape this time.
But the next moment, Suqi’s vicious smile froze on his face.
He saw Dong Zhi take out two pieces of yellow paper with both hands and start chanting something, then he threw those two pieces of paper to his front and back. As a result, the moment the two pieces of talisman paper touched the snakes, they spontaneously ignited, and the fire quickly swept through the entire group of snakes, devouring them all.
“What kind of sorcery is this?!” Suqi screamed in a daze.
In his mind, Master Songen was almighty, and he prided himself on being on the righteous side. He couldn’t wait for Dong Zhi to fall to his death. Who knew that instead of things going the way he wanted, the other side had broken through the first line of the stockade’s defense.
Dong Zhi also discovered that, after the curse was suppressed by Che Bai, he was no longer sick at every turn. It seemed that his original abilities had also improved a bit. Long Shen said that this was because the Shangqing pill was originally an excellent medicine for conditioning the body, but at the time when he took it, he was in a rush and his body hadn’t had time to fully recover yet, so the effect of the Shangqing pill hadn’t fully played out. Now that Che Bai had temporarily suppressed his curse, his full strength could be naturally utilized. He wouldn’t have to worry about anything once the curse was lifted.
Just as the snake was useless, a person walked out of the building. Siqi turned his head and said with joy, “Master Shawang!”
Songen’s disciple, Shawang, ignored Suqi. His gaze was on Dong Zhi, and there was a sneer at the corner of his mouth, as if he were looking at a dead man.
“You’ve really come.”
Dong Zhi spread his hands. “Didn’t you tell me to? Where’s Songen? So scared that he’s hiding in his house?”
Shawang snorted coldly. “My Master doesn’t need to deal with you. Call out all your helpers so I don’t have to clean them up one by one later!”
“Are you talking about me?”
Kenta, Xinchai’s apprentice, appeared on the fence of the stockade. He was holding a large snake with a bowl-shaped mouth that was as thick as an adult male arm. The snake’s body was black and golden, and only its eyes were red and bloody. It didn’t look like anything good at first glance, but in Kenta’s hands, it was stiff and surprisingly well-behaved.
Shawang’s expression sank. “Let it go!”
Kenta threw the golden snake to the ground. It trembled twice and finally stopped moving, completely losing all its breath.
“Who are you?!” Seeing his beloved pet killed this way, Shawang flushed with anger.
Kenta folded his hands and walked over. “I won’t tell those who are evil my name.”
He whispered to Dong Zhi, “Mr. Long has already gone to find the heavenly demon. Let’s bait out Songen first.”
Dong Zhi nodded softly. He understood what Kenta meant. The enemy was still in the dark. With Master Xinchai still hidden, when he appeared, it would catch the opponent even more off guard.
Seeing them whispering, Shawang became even more furious. He bent his index finger, bit his mouth, and whistled. Four figures rushed out from behind the building towards Dong Zhi and Kenta.
The four people were covered in gold and were completely expressionless. Before Dong Zhi had time to observe carefully, he heard Kenta shout, “They are medicine men*. It’s useless to shoot them. Don’t fight head-on!”
*(药人) Term used for drug tester. In the context of this setting, they’re basically people soaked in various poisons/medicines, so they are impervious to them.
Dong Zhi quickly understood what it meant by it being useless to shoot because, as soon as his Changshou Sword came out of its sheath, it swept towards the neck of his opponent. Normally, this was the most vulnerable part, but the part the sword cut was unscathed. Taking advantage of the situation, the opponent grabbed his sword and tried to drag Dong Zhi in his direction!
Naturally, the Changshou Sword couldn’t be torn off. Dong Zhi used this opportunity to leap up and sweep towards another opponent, using his first opponent’s shoulder as a springboard, and aimed the tip of his sword at the center of the other opponent’s forehead.
The tip of the sword managed to poke a hole in the center, but that was all, and soon two other people surrounded him. Dong Zhi had to withdraw his sword to retreat, but his shoulder was caught and pulled to the point where it almost tore to pieces.
These so-called medicine men were cut open when they were about to die and stuffed with various poisons, then had voodoo performed on them, causing them to lose their self-awareness and completely become puppets.
Some of these people were Songen’s enemies, while others were those who had come to ask for Songen’s help and had accidentally offended him. Some of them were villagers from Xianda, where Suqi lived, because they refused to pay tribute to Songen and accept his asylum. There was never a shortage of all kinds of various containers for refinement, and there were all kinds of sorcery that many couldn’t imagine that could be seen here.
The author has something to say:
Long Shen: Don’t be naughty.
Dong Zhi: Okay, then I will pretend to be poisoned for a longer time next time and cooperate with them.
To celebrate my 1-year anniversary of starting danmei translation, here’s the rest of the current arc of Bu Tian Gang. Happy reading.