Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Long Shen shook his head. “I’ll be fine after I get some sleep.”
After saying that and seeing that Dong Zhi was still worried, he stretched out his finger and pointed it at Dong Zhi’s brow. “Or you can probe?”
Dong Zhi blushed and stepped back to avoid it. “Don’t use this to change the subject.”
There was a little more smile in Long Shen’s eyes. “I’m not. The restorative power of an artifact spirit is already stronger than that of ordinary people. I’ve had some opportunities, so my energy will be better.”
Dong Zhi said solemnly, “But you’re not an immortal.”
Long Shen nodded. “Yes.”
Both inside and outside the Special Administration Bureau, many people regarded Long Shen as omnipotent and a powerful existence, but he wasn’t an immortal. He could still be injured and get fatigued.
But Long Shen didn’t need to be omnipotent to see the worry on Dong Zhi’s face.
Only this person truly regarded him as a person and would be concerned and worried. Long Shen was now slowly beginning to experience those feelings he had never felt before—they were soft and gentle, like a fluffy ball that was buried deep in his heart.
“I have a sense of proportion. Songen spent decades, but even with that, he only managed to open a hole in the abyss.”
After returning from Xianda, it was the first time Dong Zhi heard Long Shen talk about the passage to the abyss in detail. Hearing this, he asked, “If the energy opening the passage is large enough, can the Mara’s true body come out?”
Long Shen said, “In theory, it’s possible, but Songen can’t do it because there’s no entrance to the abyss in the first place. It was only his power going against the heavens. He collected souls to summon the demon’s qi, and after it condensed to a certain extent, he transplanted it into the abdomen of a human body, and that body was used to give birth to the demon fetus.”
Dong Zhi was stunned when he heard this. After he recovered, he couldn’t help but remain horrified. “He used a human abdomen as a passage?!”
Long Shen nodded. “When I went to that room, I saw the woman he used to give birth to the demon. Her belly was enlarged, as if she were seven or eight months pregnant. The demon fetus would soon be born. We were one step early and accidentally prompted the premature birth of the heavenly demon, so its strength wasn’t as good as expected. However, even if he were born as scheduled, Mara would only be a phantom split off from his real body. In the end, there’s a limit to Songen’s sorcery.”
“So it wasn’t difficult to seal the passage to the abyss. Don’t worry.”
After he finished speaking, Long Shen gently rubbed Dong Zhi’s smooth chin and applied heat with his fingertips. It seemed that through this method, both parties were given the same sense of security.
Long Shen began to understand why couples liked to express their love through hugs and kisses. It wasn’t necessarily out of lust, but because when they were in physical contact, the heat of the other party could convey their hearts and make each other feel dependent on that warmth. He was now slowly able to understand this behavior.
After thinking about this for a while, Long Shen hugged Dong Zhi, patted him on the back again, and repeated, “Don’t worry.”
The person in his arms was special to him.
At first, he was his only apprentice. He wanted Dong Zhi to grow up quickly and hoped that he wouldn’t be afraid of any storms. Later…
When thinking about Dong Zhi, he couldn’t help feeling happy in his heart. Long Shen once thought this was similar to the feeling Wu Bingtian and Song Zhicun had for their apprentice, but later he found out that it was different.
At the very least, he knew that when Wu Bingtian and Song Zhicun spoiled their favorite disciple, they wouldn’t have the idea of divine intercourse, kissing them, and hoping that they would walk with them for the rest of their lives.
Dong Zhi wasn’t moving and frowned slightly, feeling that something was wrong.
“Master, are you hiding something from me?”
“No, wait a moment before you go. Make sure to take a Shangqing pill and practice your kung fu tona before bed. Also, don’t miss your morning practice.” Long Shen said this in a flat tone, the same as in the past, and let go of Dong Zhi’s hand. He patted Dong Zhi’s waist and motioned for him to sit down.
Dong Zhi: “What about you?”
Long Shen returned with a puzzled expression, not understanding what he was talking about.
“During this time, you’re not going to leave the capital, right?” Dong Zhi tried to confirm.
“Yes. When I blocked off the passage to the abyss, I was swallowed by demonic qi, so I have to recuperate, just like you.”
Dong Zhi: “I remember when you were dealing with the bone dragon on Changbai Mountain, He Yu said you were injured. Have you recovered from your old injuries?”
Long Shen nodded. “After all, I am a transformed artifact spirit. My body is different from ordinary people, and my recovery speed is faster. Otherwise, the passage to the abyss wouldn’t have been sealed so quickly.”
Dong Zhi finally felt relieved and smiled. “You haven’t eaten tonight. Why don’t I order some barbecue?”
Long Shen wasn’t actually hungry but still agreed. This made Dong Zhi happier, and he quickly ordered barbecue takeout and beer from his phone, then ran downstairs to get them.
Dong Zhi was already prepared that his curse wouldn’t be lifted and that he would meet an untimely death. Now that he had survived such a catastrophe, he inevitably felt that he was quite fortunate to get his life back. He knew that Long Shen was a good drinker, so he dragged him to drink a lot of beer. He turned on a singing talent show and sang along with the singers on TV, singing love songs to Long Shen.
Listening to Dong Zhi’s singing for half the song, Long Shen was able to follow and hum a few lines. It must mean that Long Shen was probably in a good mood. Otherwise, he would never make a sound.
Dong Zhi almost thought his master had been swapped.
“Master, have you never sung a song before? I remember He Yu likes to invite people to karaoke.”
Long Shen shook his head. “I have never gone with them. If I don’t sound good, then I won’t sing.”
“No, no, no!” Dong Zhi hurriedly spoke while holding Long Shen’s face and giving him a sincere look. “It’s very nice. Your voice is very suitable for this song. I’ve just never heard you sing before. Can you sing it again, yeah?”
His apprentice’s soft tone sounded in his ear. Long Shen looked at Dong Zhi’s tipsy eyes and smiled.
If you’re the fireworks at sea,
Then I’m the foam of the waves.
For a moment, your light illuminated me.
If you’re a distant galaxy,
It’s so dazzling that you make people cry,
My eyes are chasing after you,
Always looking at the night sky when I’m lonely.
Long Shen had an excellent memory. After only listening to it once, he could sing all the words. There was some mistake in his pitch or tone, but Dong Zhi didn’t care about this. He rested his forehead on Long Shen’s shoulder and hummed softly.
He didn’t have to think about it. This must be the first time Long Shen opened his mouth to sing. His master hadn’t broken many things in his life, and almost all of them should be for him. Dong Zhi felt that even a few years or even decades later, he would never forget what happened today.
However, in the end, he still couldn’t listen to Long Shen finish the song. Because he was fatigued and under the influence of alcohol, he fell asleep halfway through hearing it.
“Go back to bed and sleep.” Long Shen patted Dong Zhi on the cheek.
Dong Zhi let out a confused mumble and moved slightly but failed to open his eyes.
Seeing him like this, Long Shen knew that he was tired and didn’t bother to rouse him again. He picked him up and placed Dong Zhi in his bed, then covered him with a blanket.
The wine wasn’t intoxicating, but Long Shen felt a bit tipsy. Perhaps the atmosphere was too good. It was different from the time at the seaside, and also different from the heavy thoughts on the eve before they fought Songen. At this moment, peace and beauty, calm and realness, were feelings that Long Shen had never thought of. Even if he didn’t say anything, looking at Dong Zhi’s sleeping face, he could feel a faint joy in his heart.
He used to guard the world, but the world was vast, and eventually human became just a broad term. Now, there was an exact object from that vague concept. Dong Zhi was part of the world but also independent from it. The two weren’t contradictory, but they were an unexpected surprise.
Unconsciously, Long Shen leaned his head on the bed and fell asleep for a while. When he woke up again, the clock on the wall displayed midnight.
Long Shen looked sideways and found Dong Zhi dreaming in full swing. The corners of his mouth were slightly raised, which meant he was probably dreaming of something good.
Long Shen pulled the blanket that had slipped off the other party’s shoulder, quietly got out of bed, and walked through the mess of cups and plates in the living room and left the dorm room.
Time passed slowly on the rooftop. At this moment, the scenery was still reflecting the haze of the autumn water. Long Shen waved his hand, causing the haze to fly away, and the day instantly changed into night. Countless stars twinkled, illuminating the night sky.
“The sunset is infinitely good. Why did you change it to night?” A voice came from behind the rocks. Long Shen glanced over and saw Zong Ling.
“I didn’t know you were here,” Long Shen said. “Should I restore it?”
“Forget it.” Zong Ling waved her hand. “I just want to come up and get some air. The scenery is all the same. Is Xiao Dong Zhi okay?”
Long Shen nodded. “The curse has been lifted, and he’s safe and sound.”
Zong Ling looked at him for a moment, then suddenly smiled. “You reconciled? Are you not angry with him anymore?”
Long Shen hummed softly.
Zong Ling smiled again. “What did I tell you? Don’t disappoint your heart. I’m very happy that you listened to it. Life’s too short, but the lifespan of monsters and spirits is too long. They often don’t know how to cherish it. When they finally react, it’s already too late.”
Long Shen arched his hand towards her and silently expressed his gratitude.
Without Zong Ling’s enlightenment, it was indeed very likely he wouldn’t be able to take that next step until now, or perhaps even much later.
“Is Zong Lao in a bad mood?”
Zong Ling had lived for thousands of years, and her state of mind wasn’t comparable to anyone’s. Seeing that she was here in the middle of the night, Long Shen guessed that there was something troubling her.
“No, I was just looking at my fate,” Zong Ling said slowly.
Long Shen’s heart jumped.
Seeing his solemn expression, Zong Ling smiled instead. “Even the celestials have their decline. All life cycles have ups and downs. I have lived for so long. If I lived longer than the heavens, isn’t that abnormal?”
Long Shen was silent for a moment. “We met with Boss Che in Yinchuan before, and he said that his lifespan is approaching.”
Zong Ling sighed. “If he has no will to live, no matter how long his life is destined to be, it will be useless. I’m different from him. After I became human, I lived for thousands of years, and it was time for me to enter the reincarnation process for exhausted gods. Originally, I wanted to go to Japan in person, but I didn’t know when my strength would be completely exhausted, and I didn’t dare to hold anyone back. Otowa Yasuhiko has bewitched others and been hiding for decades. Although Yu Buhui and Ding Lan are strong, I’m afraid they are not a match for Otowa.”
Long Shen said, “I’ll go.”
Zong Ling was surprised but immediately vetoed. “No, it’s too risky with you alone!”
Long Shen: “There’s also Wu Bingtian and Tang Jing. They will come also.”
Zong Ling’s expression was solemn. “In fact, I have always suspected that the reason why Otowa Yasuhiko was able to become a demon was perhaps because he got hold of a certain magic artifact and managed to crack its secrets. Doing so, he’s able to obtain a steady stream of power from it, so he could afford to be unscrupulous. If this is the case, this person will be harder to deal with than any monsters or demons you have encountered before. Unfortunately, this was during the time when I was dormant and didn’t walk around the world. Otherwise, I would have noticed it much earlier.”
Long Shen nodded. “Not only that, but we also suspect the reason he wants to destroy the stone tablet is most likely to completely open the passage to the abyss. You are the longest living being in this world. Do you know anything about the demon seal back then?”
Zong Ling smiled bitterly. “Xiankun and the others have already asked me this question several times. The history of the demon seal is longer than my own lifespan. At that time, I was ignorant, only knowing to wake up in the summer and hibernate in the winter. When I took form, it was past the period when the ancient gods emerged and the great powers fell and retreated one after another. At that time, I was still a little-known monster. Who would tell me about the rise and fall of the demon seal? The gods, Buddhas, and demons became myths, and the great wars of the past became legends. The existence of the stone tablets is even more unknown. Perhaps a few words had been passed down, but I’m not privy to this.”
“However, when I was a child, I heard my parents say that there were several great wars in ancient times. In one of them, a demon god was born and almost destroyed the world. Later, the place where the three realms met was completely sealed, and the spiritual energy of the world gradually depleted. Because of this, you should have noticed that after the Tang and Song dynasties, there were fewer and fewer records of immortal ascensions. It wasn’t because of the degradation of human spiritual intelligence, but because of the weakening of the world’s spiritual energy.”
If the demon seal composed of the stone tablets were the bind that led into the abyss of hell, it was understandable that Otowa Yasuhiko would try everything possible to destroy them—he wanted to release a demon that was more powerful than a sneaky yaksha, than an Archfiend, and even the phantom of Mara. Perhaps it could be the complete body of Mara, or maybe the demon god in the abyss. Zong Ling had no way of knowing.
She raised her head. Clouds had floated over at some point, covering the gleaming stars and darkening the world. The wind and rain were about to come.
A huge crisis was looming, and her lifespan was approaching. What could she do for this world?
Even if the world was full of human desires and the cruelty and viciousness of human nature were often worse than those of demons, this was the world that gave birth to her; a place where her beloved once existed, as well as Long Shen and Dong Zhi. Countless people she had high hopes for. Zong Ling didn’t want to see them destroyed.
“I’m going to find Che Bai and go to Kunlun with him to find the eye of the array,” Zong Ling said.
She turned around and looked at Long Shen. “If you get news about the array, notify us immediately.”
“Yes.” Long Shen paused. It was rare that he showed hesitation. “I don’t want to tell Dong Zhi about this for the time being. Please keep it a secret for me.”
Zong Ling was slightly surprised. “Why?”
Long Shen said, “He’s about to lead the team at the exchange conference. I don’t want him to be distracted by it.”
Zong Ling immediately saw through his thoughts. “You’re just afraid that he will be worried. If he knows, he’ll definitely ask to go with you. You don’t want him to take risks. Long Shen, you finally have the selfishness to protect someone. If you treat him as an apprentice, you should want him to face the storm even more. Even if he loses his head and his life, it must be in order to live up to his original intention.”
Was it like this?
Long Shen couldn’t refute it.
Indeed, it was.
The experience and competition of the exchange conference were also life-threatening, but he believed Dong Zhi could cope.
Just like when they went to find Songen, Long Shen didn’t say anything, but he was sure, so he took Dong Zhi with him.
But during this trip to Japan, Long Shen wasn’t sure he could protect him.
“I’m sorry,” he said to Zong Ling.
There was a slight compassion in Zong Ling’s eyes. “You don’t need to apologize. This is natural. If you love someone, you will hope that they are safe and sound. Even if you are rolling in a sea of swords and flames, you don’t want him to even touch half a spark.”
Dong Zhi didn’t know what happened last night. When he woke up, Long Shen was beside him, sleeping peacefully.
For fear of waking him up, Dong Zhi quietly opened the blanket and prepared to get out of bed, but as soon as his body moved, Long Shen woke up.
“Master, are you going to work today?”
Long Shen’s voice was a little drowsy and lazy. “No need.”
Dong Zhi smiled and gave him a good morning kiss. This was a habit that developed after his confession. At first, Long Shen felt it was a bit too raw, but now it felt natural. When Dong Zhi leaned over, Long Shen raised his chin slightly to accept it.
“Then sleep more! I’ll go to the rooftop for my morning session before you nag me again.” Dong Zhi quickly put on his clothes and went to the bathroom to wash his face and brush his teeth.
From the moment he woke up, the picture seemed to come alive. Long Shen stared at the background until it disappeared before closing his eyes again.
Dong Zhi stayed on the rooftop for a full two hours.
He still had a plaster wrapped around one hand, but this didn’t affect his performance. The Changshou Sword was temporarily taken away, but Long Shen gave him the Qingzhu Sword again, allowing him to use it when he practiced.
The Qingzhu Sword was also an old friend to Dong Zhi, and it felt natural in his hand, but what surprised him the most was the change in his body.
After the ghost-faced peach blossom curse was lifted, his ability seemed to have also increased by a level. The most obvious contrast was the qi that he managed to draw from the sword. The power of the qi was much greater than before, and the time it took to summon heavenly thunder seemed to have been shortened.
Dong Zhi was clear about his own situation. He knew that he was talented and had worked hard to keep making progress, but this kind of progress was orderly, like climbing stairs, one step at a time, but it seemed this time he had taken two steps at once, as he felt it wasn’t as difficult as before.
He thought for a moment and finally believed the root cause should have been when Che Bai helped him suppress the curse; it seemed to have also benefited his body.
Now that the curse was lifted, the threat alarm in his body stopped sounding, so naturally he could exert 100% of his abilities.
With the qi gathered, he cut a rainbow arc in the air, and a big stone not far away quickly cracked before it split in half with a loud bang.
Before Dong Zhi could give birth to a sense of accomplishment, his stomach growled shamelessly.
Regardless of whether he was a sword master or an immortal, eating was his first priority.
When he returned to the dorm, Long Shen was no longer there. The bed was neatly made, as if no one had slept on it, and even the upper and lower creases of the blanket were in complete parallel. Dong Zhi suspected his master might’ve been in the army before; otherwise, he wouldn’t have such a strong OCD.
He sent a message to Long Shen asking him where he was and got a reply a few moments later, saying that he was in a meeting and that breakfast was already made in the kitchen and he could help himself to it.
Long Shen did say he didn’t need to go to work today, but he didn’t say that he would have a meeting. Dong Zhi thought about this helplessly as he made his way towards the kitchen to find breakfast. Soy milk and fried dough sticks were on the table. While a common breakfast, the soy milk and dough sticks were kept warm on the rice cooker. When Dong Zhi took a bite, the meat-stuffed buns were still hot.
He began to live a life of being fed the day after entering cohabitation.
Dong Zhi nestled comfortably on the sofa and took out his phone to start reading information—he had to change to a temporary phone card when he went abroad, and only now, after he returned, did he have spare time to use his cellphone.
When he used to work for the game company, he would only use it to play games or paint. Sometimes, when he had to work overtime and it was too late to go home, he would spend the night in the company’s lounge, grab his phone, and play games in the middle of the night before falling asleep. Later, he gradually got tired of this kind of life. In addition, their project manager was constantly nitpicking all day long and kept making repeated demands. Dong Zhi reached his breaking point, resigned, and, on a whim, decided to go on a trip.
But when he looked back at the life he was tired of at that time, he couldn’t help but think it was a kind of comfort and happiness. Only after experiencing so many near-death experiences did he learn to cherish the short-term peace now.
Except for him and Long Shen, the others in Group 2 were still on the field. Dong Zhi sent a message to the Group 2 chat saying he had returned to Beijing. He Yu and Kan Chaosheng started screaming, while Zhong Yuyi, with his slow reflex, took a while to reply. He Yu hadn’t seen him in a long time and started posting a few photos, saying that he was looking for the whereabouts of the stone tablet near Zijin Mountain, while Kan Chaosheng said he swam the Qinhuai River a few times but found no trace of any stone tablets.
Dong Zhi told them about how he and Long Shen managed to kill the phantom of the heavenly demon in Xianda Village. He Yu reacted quickly and said that the boss must have guessed that this heavenly demon wasn’t a true heavenly demon, so he only took the four of them to kill it.
It was likely that He Yu didn’t have much chance to speak when he was out on the field, as he flooded the chat endlessly with his ramblings. He didn’t even bother to type those words out and instead just sent large paragraphs of voice messages.
He Yu: “According to my guess, the stone tablets we’re looking for now should be related to the abyss. This is why Otowa Yasuhiko is so emboldened and didn’t cooperate with Songen. It’s because he has an even bigger ace up his sleeve!”
His voice was accompanied by the sound of wind, full of smugness and confidence, and it was the familiar Lao He in Dong Zhi’s impression.
Dong Zhi thought for a while and found that what he said was reasonable.
Yamamoto Kiyoshi was Fujikawa Aoi’s martial brother who defected from his teacher and ran to Southeast Asia to buddy up with Songen. He was determined to serve the heavenly demon with all his heart. Since Fujikawa Aoi was Otowa Yasuhiko’s lackey, it was impossible for Otowa not to know about this, but he chose not to join forces with Songen and instead became just a spectator. It could be seen that Otowa didn’t take Songen’s movement seriously. He firmly believed that what he was doing was for the greater cause.
He had been planning for so many years, from after World War II to the present. His secrets were still unknown, and until now, the conspiracy had gradually surfaced. Yu Buhui, Li Ying, and Ding Lang had gone to Japan, but could they really kill Otowa and stop all this?
Dong Zhi realized it would be difficult.
Thinking of last night, he found Long Shen’s attitude quite abnormal, and this made Dong Zhi’s heart thump.
He hurriedly said to He Yu, “Lao He, I can’t chat anymore. I have something to do. See you later!
He Yu: “??? Where are you going?!”
Dong Zhi didn’t bother to reply to him. Poor He Yu. He finally caught someone to talk to, but Dong Zhi had already run away.
Dong Zhi lost his leisurely move just now. He put on his coat and ran upstairs. He ran all the way to the outside of the conference room. The heavy door had cut off all sounds, and it wasn’t easy for him to push in the door and disturb the meeting, so Dong Zhi could only linger outside and wait.
Finally, the door opened, and a strange man and woman came out. When the two sides met, both were stunned.
The author has something to say:
In fact, Long Shen has been growing up, but Dong Zhi tempers his physical will, so what he perceives is the state of mind. Master shoulders morality and justice with a pair of iron shoulders, but now there are small fireworks in his world~