Bu Tian Gang Ch120

Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi

Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/

Chapter 120

When Song Zhicun saw this, he smiled and said, “You’re just in time. These two colleagues are about to join your team and go to the exchange conference with you. Li Han’er, Li Ying’s sister, from the East China Branch. You should have heard about her. And this is Yang Shouyi, a disciple from Qingcheng Mountain Yuanming Palace. This should be your first time meeting!”

Li Han’er did resemble a bit of Li Ying, though the contours of her facial features were more beautiful and softer. She had a kind of classical beauty but didn’t make people think she had a quiet temperament. Seeing Dong Zhi in shock, she took the initiative to extend her hand. “So you’re Dong Zhi. I’ve heard so much about you.”

“You flatter me. Welcome.” Dong Zhi shook hands with the two of them and said with a smile, “The others haven’t come yet. I’m currently the only one in the General Administration. Why don’t I give you a tour?”

Although Dong Zhi and Liu Qingbo had gone to Shencheng and visited Tang Jing of the East China Branch, he failed to see this long-famous beauty.

He had known about her a long time ago, not only because she was Li Ying’s sister and the daughter of Taoist Master Li Rui, a consultant for the General Administration, but also because he still vaguely remembered He Yu saying before that Li Han’er liked Long Shen. Unfortunately, the goddess had a heart, but King Xiang had no dreams*, and in the end, nothing came of it.

*(神女有心,襄王无梦) This is referring to the original idiom “King Xiang has dreams, but the goddess has no heart”, which refers to the story of King Xiang chasing Goddess Fu in his dream, but she rejects his advances in order to be loyal to the deceased King and maintain her propriety. The author flipped the idiom by saying the goddess has a heart, but King Xian doesn’t have dreams, meaning Li Han’er has feelings for Long Shen but the king (Long Shen) has no feelings for her (thus he doesn’t dream of the goddess).

Given her origins, it was inevitable that Dong Zhi would look more carefully at Lin Han’er. Unfortunately, she had a keen woman’s intuition and sharp eyes, so she immediately noticed.

The other party smiled at Dong Zhi and said, “Did Director Dong forget that my dad is a consultant for the General Administration so I have come here a lot?”

It seemed reasonable to address Dong Zhi by his position in the Lucheng office, but she had entered the Special Administration Bureau much earlier than Dong Zhi and even her own brother, so her position in the East China Branch wasn’t low. Dong Zhi could faintly perceive a less friendly tone when he heard “Director Dong”.

He knew that Li Han’er liked Long Shen, but he didn’t want to have unprovoked jealousy with a girl because of an illusory past, so he was just a bit curious about her at first, thinking that she was quite beautiful, but her sudden hostility confused Dong Zhi.

Yang Shouyi: “I heard that the rooftop of the General Administration uses a very clever design. If I have the opportunity, I would like to take a look.”

Dong Zhi smiled and said, “No problem. I can take you up now. There are three groups, and each of the spaces used is different. I only have access to Group 2, so I can only take you to see their space, but the scenery is much the same.”

Though he saw Long Shen inside, he couldn’t leave his new partners behind and run to Long Shen to have a talk. He only had enough time for a brief glimpse before he took Yang Shouyi and Li Han’er away.

On the way, Dong Zhi remembered Yang Shouyi’s division and asked, “Fellow Daoist Yang, are you a junior of Boss Wu?”

“Yes, Boss Wu is my senior.” Yang Shouyi made light of the situation and didn’t say more about it.

Among the six people who went to the exchange this time, except for Yang Shouyi, they were all members of the Special Administration Bureau. Yang Shouyi felt that he was selected purely because of his abilities, and he was indeed the best of the new generation of Yuanming Palace. Moreover, he didn’t want people to think he came through the back door using his connections.

Coincidentally, when the group walked to the rooftop, Zhang Song happened to come back from out of town.

He was assigned to an office in Central China, and it just so happened that there wasn’t anything eventful going on, so he returned earlier than the others. Zhang Song only knew that he had been selected for the exchange group. He rushed back to Beijing and went directly to the director’s office to report. As a result, he heard that the captain of the delegation was given to Dong Zhi, and the smile on his face faded.

Seeing that he was unhappy, Song Zhicun comforted him in a gentle voice. “Li Ying has a mission and cannot participate in this exchange. Your ability is naturally not inferior to others, but the candidate for the captain of the team needs to be considered in all aspects, so we have decided to give it to Dong Zhi.”

Zhang Song replied in a jarred voice, “Isn’t it because he’s a disciple of Boss Long?”

When Song Zhicun heard his response, his smile faded. “Are you not a direct disciple of Mount Longhu? Do you think it would be fine to communicate with each other in the future just based on who has the most background? You are in a group. Boss Wu should have talked to you, but he is currently busy. I hope you will understand our intentions. Zhang Song, in terms of ability, you’re not much different from Li Ying or Dong Zhi, but if you don’t change your temperament, the road will be difficult for you in the future. Choosing you this time means that we place trust in you and hope that you will do well for yourself.”

Zhang Song didn’t answer. Song Zhicun waved his hand and let him go, but he shook his head secretly in his heart. It wasn’t easy to change the people chosen this far out. Not only did Dong Zhi have to contend with external forces, but he would also have to fight internally. Most likely, there would be many problems, as even Yang Shouyi and Li Han’er weren’t easy-going.

Those who were capable would inevitably have a little temper, so it was even more rare for someone who was capable to be mindful of the overall situation. Thinking of Li Ying and the others that were far away in Japan, Song Zhicun couldn’t help sighing again.

Although Li Han’er said she had been to the General Administration many times, when Dong Zhi took Yang Shouyi to the rooftop, she still followed. Dong Zhi knew she was familiar with the place, so he didn’t say more. He was purely doing this to introduce Yang Shouyi to the General Administration.

“The spatial deviation technique used here can adjust the seasons and even day and night by itself, but the sun, moon, mountains, and water are all real.”

Dong Zhi walked to the stream and scooped up a handful of water, which flowed through his fingers, and returned to the stream, murmuring away.

In the distance, the mountains were green, and the flowers were in full bloom. Outside, the trees were bare in the winter months, but inside, the scene was as if the earth had returned to spring. Yang Shouyi looked amazed at such a sight.

Qingcheng Mountain Yuanming Palace was also surrounded by an enchantment that enclosed the space, but it was impossible to control the four seasons or day and night as they pleased. Being in the know, Yang Shouyi knew how difficult it was to create such a space, not to mention three different spaces that overlapped each other.

With such a feat, the Special Administration Bureau could easily suppress outsiders.

However, Yang Shouyi only expressed admiration for the crouching tigers and hidden dragons of the General Administration. In his eyes, Dong Zhi, who was two years younger than him, wasn’t counted as a “dragon” or “tiger”.

“Fellow Daoist Dong, I heard that you’re leading the team for the delegation this time. It must be because among all of us, you’re the best.” Yang Shouyi got to the point. Based on these words, it could be seen that he wasn’t a euphemistic person. Otherwise, he would have beat around the bushes a few more times tacitly.

Dong Zhi pretended to play dumb. “The leadership of the team is decided by the top. I’m not privy to their decision making.”

Yang Shouyi couldn’t hold back, so he expressed his intentions. “Whether it’s true or not, I heard that Daoist Dong didn’t join a circle for a long time, but he was favored by Boss Long and was accepted as his apprentice. It can be seen that you must be outstanding. I wonder if we could spar so that I have a chance to learn from you?”

Dong Zhi coughed. “I’m not going to lie. I just came back from a mission, and I’m still healing from my injuries.”

To show that he wasn’t lying, he raised his left hand and shook it, showing the cast that was wrapped around it.

Any practitioner had experienced fractures and dislocations several times. Not to mention anything else, Yang Shouyi had suffered countless injuries since he was a child. He didn’t think a fracture was all that serious, because while he was still limping, in the cold winter of December, his master had thrown him into the icy river to practice.

Looking at Dong Zhi’s face, which was ruddy, and his steps, which were light, Yang Shouyi didn’t think he had any internal injuries, but he refused to spar just because of a broken arm.

Yang Shouyi: “We can learn from each other using just one hand. If you’re afraid of accidental injury, we can just use branches instead of swords. How about it?”

Dong Zhi still shook his head. “My other hand hurts too, so much so that I need to be fed when I eat.”

Yang Shouyi was speechless for a moment, then said, “It’s not a hundred-day injury, is it? We’re setting off in half a month. If you can’t even move your hands, will you be okay by then?”

Dong Zhi gave him a lax smile. “How can that be? To go out and fight for our country, even if you shed blood and sweat, you can’t shed tears!”

Yang Shouyi: ……

His provocation failed, and he couldn’t force the other to take action. He couldn’t help but feel that Dong Zhi wasn’t a man; he was too grinding and whined too much.

Thinking that such a person was their captain and was about to command them to fight against many practitioners from all over the world, Yang Shouyi couldn’t help but feel disappointed.

He wasn’t the only one, but Li Han’er was as well.

For a long time after hearing news that Long Shen had accepted a disciple, Li Han’er felt incredulous.

Not many people know about Long Shen’s true body, but she was one of the very few. Because of this, she couldn’t imagine that Long Shen, who was otherworldly and had eyes above the top, would fancy a disciple.

She knew deep down she had some hard feelings, which made her more curious about Dong Zhi. This wasn’t conducive to her cultivation, but all humans have desires and emotions, love and hate. Sometimes when one couldn’t understand the reason, they couldn’t help but think about it.

Unfortunately, she was busy when she was in the East China Branch, so she failed to meet with Dong Zhi when he visited Shencheng. She happened to be in the northeast then. This time, because Li Ying was unable to attend, she, as his sister, took his place and came to the General Administration to see the person that she couldn’t forget.

In her mind, those whom Long Shen would accept as disciples must be extremely talented and similar to his character. Perhaps they would be taciturn, or maybe cold and proud, but they would never be like this young man with such a carefree smile and no serious aura around him at all.

In addition to Li Han’er’s disappointment, there was a trace of indescribable anger. She didn’t know whether it was because he wasn’t worthy of Long Shen or if he wasn’t worthy at all.

After a few words, seeing that Dong Zhi refused to make a move, they lost their interest in talking. Li Han’er suggested going back to rest. As Wu Bingtian’s nephew, Yang Shouyi had a place to stay in the capital, so he was ready to leave with her. Dong Zhi seemed indifferent to them and even enthusiastically invited the two of them to dinner. Naturally, they declined.

Dong Zhi sent the two of them off and immediately went downstairs to find Long Shen. As a result, Long Shen wasn’t in his office, but he bumped into Zhang Song, who wasn’t in a happy mood.

“Lao Zhang, you’re back? Li Han’er and Yang Shouyi just left. If you chase after them, you can probably still catch up. There are not many people here today. When Lao Liu and Liu Si come back, I’ll invite us all to have a meal together!” He was anxious to find Long Shen and instead casually greeted Zhang Song.

Who knew his wrist would be coldly pulled on? Dong Zhi jerked back, but Zhang Song’s grip was tight and didn’t budge.

Dong Zhi turned around in confusion.

Zhang Song said bluntly, “If Li Ying was leader, I would have nothing to say, but if it’s you, I’m not convinced.”

Dong Zhi blinked, didn’t say anything, and instead viciously headbutted Zhang Song!

Zhang Song was taken aback and subconsciously leaned back to dodge. Dong Zhi took advantage of the situation by twisting the other’s wrist with one hand and pressing him against the wall. Zhang Song struggled hard but couldn’t break away.

He quickly raised his knees to kick Dong Zhi’s stomach, but Dong Zhi saw through his intentions, and his body flashed to the side, stepping on his foot.

Zhang Song yelled out in pain, causing the doors of several offices in the corridor to open as people poked their heads out.

Dong Zhi took the opportunity to let go, then retreated.

“Lao Zhang, I’m still injured. How can you do this?”

Do what! Zhang Song’s feet were in so much pain that he could barely breathe. He gritted his teeth and glared at Dong Zhi.

“I thought you had changed when you went out, but why are you still the same?” Dong Zhi shrugged then said, “Actually, I don’t want to be the captain of this team either, but if you have the ability, go get the higher-ups to change their minds and don’t vent your anger out on me. What’s the use in that? If you don’t like it, you can choose to quit, but don’t add trouble for me in a foreign country. Otherwise, it’s not only me that’ll lose face, but our country.”

After speaking, without waiting for his reaction, Dong Zhi turned and left.

Back downstairs, Long Shen was feeding the white cat. The cat was enthusiastic today because of the can in his hand. As soon as Long Shen grabbed the cat food, it kept meowing and spinning around him.

“Master.” Dong Zhi squatted down beside him.

“What do you think of them?” Long Shen asked about his opinion on Li Han’er and Yang Shouyi.

Dong Zhi: “Seems good, but they want to compete with me, but I refused and made an excuse to hide.”

Long Shen glanced at him. “You can’t hide.”

It was inevitable that he would need to drop ten meetings with one force*.

*(一力降十会) Metaphor referring to in face of absolute strength, all strategies are useless. || Basically, he’s saying to show your force and bend them to follow you.

Dong Zhi smiled and said, “When everyone comes together, there’s bound to be discussion about it. It’ll be quite troublesome. Besides, the longer they are depressed now, the stronger the shock will be when the time comes. This way, I can solve everything in one go, right?”

Long Shen’s only response to this was, “How mischievous.”

He crouched on the ground and held the can food towards the white cat and let it eat from his hand while letting Dong Zhi lean on his back and rest his chin against his neck.

Despite having the weight of a person on his back, Long Shen didn’t even shake and remained completely stable.

He didn’t push Dong Zhi away or make any protest.

Dong Zhi was thick-skinned and continued to take advantage of it.

“Lao Zhang was in the same class as us, but he’s still rebellious. There are also Yang Shouyi and Li Han’er. One isn’t affiliated with the Special Administration Bureau, and the other has seniority over me. They are both arrogant and disobedient. Since Lao Liu has worked with me a few times, we have a tacit understanding. Otherwise, there would be another one who would oppose me. Master, when you decided to let me be captain, did you expect this?”

Long Shen said, “The two of them are no worse than you. If they are used well, they will be a great help. It’s impossible to find someone with average abilities to go to the exchange this time. Otherwise, in your session, Chi Banxia, Gu Meiren, and the others are better in terms of cooperation, but it’s not as important as being able to come back alive.”

Dong Zhi looked at the information beforehand and learned that it was indeed possible to die in the competition. Although the probability wasn’t high, the danger was there. Moreover, he had attended the meeting in Bangkok last time. The wisp of the heavenly demon qi that escaped would most likely sneak into the exchange conference to restore itself faster by absorbing the vitality of the practitioners.

With Yang Shouyi and Lin Han’er joining, it was undeniably two major fighting powers, but only if everyone was willing to work together. If not, they would each go their own way, and the team would be disbanded.

Thinking about it gave Dong Zhi a headache. “I’ll try my best in the competition and to bring them back intact.”

Long Shen smiled. Dong Zhi was finally chosen because of his sense of responsibility.

“I trust you.”

Dong Zhi got off Long Shen’s back and gently cupped his face.

“Then Master, are you hiding something from me?”

Long Shen’s face didn’t change. “No.”

Dong Zhi: “Really?”

Long Shen patted him on the shoulder. “Go take a shower, rest early, and get up early to practice tomorrow.”

Dong Zhi coldly stretched out his hand and grabbed Long Shen’s wrist. Long Shen shrank back, but he followed. The two made a few movements in the blink of an eye. Since leaving Beijing to go to Lucheng, master and apprentice had never actually fought with each other. At this moment, Long Shen didn’t exert his full force, and Dong Zhi didn’t go all out, but he was still surprised to find that he was able to match Long Shen for more than a dozen moves. It could be seen that the various combats he had experienced had tempered him, and actual combat was indeed more practical.

Long Shen felt that it was about time, so he grabbed Dong Zhi’s hand and stopped his movements.

“Not bad.”

Students who had taken Boss Long’s class knew that getting a compliment from him was more difficult than winning the lottery.

Dong Zhi arched his brows. “That’s all because Master taught me well, but this disciple has never concealed anything from you. Shouldn’t Master repay the same?”

Long Shen didn’t like to lie, nor was he good at it. In his long life, he either said or didn’t say what he wanted. No one had ever been able to force him or make him want to hide things. Dong Zhi was the first.

It turned out that his skills needed improvement when he lied for the first time. He needed to practice more.

“I’m going to Japan.” In the end, Long Shen told the truth.

Dong Zhi’s expression changed. With palpitations and panic in his eyes, he quickly calmed down again.

“Master, you didn’t want me to go with you, so you put me in charge of the team for the exchange conference?”

Long Shen didn’t answer directly, but said, “Wu Bingtian and Tang Jing will be with me. Don’t worry.”

Although Wu Bingtian was keener on officialdom than the other two directors, Dong Zhi had no doubt in his abilities. It was unnecessary to talk about Tang Jing. Both were far superior to the current him.

Long Shen often went out in the field because he liked to do it. Given his strength, he was probably one of the strongest people in the world. If this time, Wu Bingtian and Tang Jing were coming along, it must mean that Li Jing and the others couldn’t hold anymore.

Seeing that he was suspicious, Long Shen took the initiative to answer his doubts.

“Ding Lan’s soul lamp went out.”

When a practitioner was out, his master would light a soul lamp. Ding Lan’s master wasn’t from a major sect, so his soul lamp was sent to the Special Administration Bureau. If the soul lamp was extinguished, it meant the body was dead and the soul was gone, and there was no room for recovery.

“Then what of Li Ying and Yu Buhai?” Dong Zhi was no longer in a playful mood.

“Li Ying’s soul lamp is still on, but its light is much dimmed. Yu Buhai doesn’t have a soul lamp,” Long Shen said. Seeing Dong Zhi with a solemn expression, he added, “Don’t worry. We’re going over to investigate.”

Japan was the lair of Otowa Yasuhiko. Before Li Ying and the others went, they were prepared to sacrifice themselves and even wrote their last will. Among the three, Ding Lan and Yu Buhai weren’t fledglings. Dong Zhi even heard that if Yu Buhai wasn’t happy at his station, he would at least become a director of a branch or a deputy director of the General Administration. Although Li Ying had lighter qualifications, he wasn’t impulsive like Zhang Song. Surely when the three of them went to Japan, they were fully prepared with ample plans in place, but in the end, they still encountered unpredictable dangers.

Long Shen said, “During World War II, Otowa obtained the secrets of the stone tablet in China. He sent someone to search for information and bring it back to Japan. If he couldn’t bring them back, he would set fire and blow them up. Furthermore, he is reliant on the magical weapon within his body, which transformed him from a human to a demon. His power may be even greater than that of the previous Archfiend, or the phantom of Mara’s body.”

He didn’t want Dong Zhi to worry, but since the other party had already found out, he didn’t want to hide it any longer, so he directly told Dong Zhi what he knew and speculated.

Dong Zhi: “What about compared to the Wuzhiqi?”

Long Shen was silent for a moment and said, “I don’t know.”

Dong Zhi’s heart sank.

He quickly collected his thoughts and said with a smile, “Master, then also give me your soul lamp.”

“I don’t have a soul lamp.” Long Shen paused for a while, then said, “But I will inject my qi and soul into the Changshou Sword, so that you can sense my vitality.”

Naturally, if he died, Dong Zhi would feel it.

Only then did Dong Zhi realize that when Long Shen said he wanted to purify the Changshou Sword and took it from him, he had in fact had this plan long ago.

“Will this affect you?” He asked Long Shen.

“No, people have three souls and seven spirits, so missing one soul or spirit would not work, but I am not human. There will be no effect.”

Dong Zhi’s eyes reddened, and he lowered his head to push the sourness back while trying to maintain his usual relaxed and happy smile.

Long Shen liked to see him smile like this—lively and energetic.

“Don’t write a last will. I don’t want to receive it,” Dong Zhi said.

Long Shen nodded. “Then I won’t.”

Not writing a last will seemed to mean that he would come back.

Dong Zhi calmed down a bit. “When will you leave?”

Long Shen: “In a few days. I have to apply for forged documents and create a disguise.”

Dong Zhi understood that they had to forge documents and identities to enter the country, just as Fujikawa Aoi came here. Otherwise, as soon as they leave, the Japanese would already be on alert.

“Master, when this matter is over, you should stop taking jobs for a while.”

His master was a model worker. He almost never took annual leave on a yearly basis. If these annual leaves were accumulated, he could at least take a year and a half off.

Long Shen: “Okay.”

Dong Zhi cheered up a bit. “Then let’s go to Lijiang—no, Lugu Lake. It’s quiet and beautiful. I remember that there are several hotels that are built on top of Lugu Lake. We’ll rent a room with a lake view for half a year and sit on the balcony every day to watch the scenery and bask in the sun!”

Long Shen: “Okay.”

No matter what Dong Zhi said, Long Shen would agree. After settling down, Dong Zhi sat next to Long Shen on the sofa. He was so sleepy that he forgot what he said. He vaguely praised the yulu plant, which had not been watered all this time, saying that it was still alive and well. Then he heard Long Shen tell him not to talk to the yulu in the future and instead just tell him directly if he had anything to say. The voice became vague, and eventually Dong Zhi fell asleep.

Before falling asleep, a thought flashed in his mind. Long Shen seemed to have said that he would show him something when he returned, but he forgot what was said and everything became hazy.

Dong Zhi slept until dawn—a peaceful but dreamless night.

Tang Jing had arrived at the capital the next day and had a rendezvous with Long Shen. Together with Wu Bingtian, the three of them had a small meeting. Presumably, they were making plans to enter Japan. The meeting was held in private, and no one could enter. Except for a few people, including Dong Zhi, no one knew that they were going to Japan to complete an important but extremely dangerous mission.

Like Li Ying, except for a few leaders in the bureau, even his sister, Li Han’er, didn’t know that her brother’s life was uncertain.

On the other hand, Liu Qingbo and Liu Si arrived in Beijing soon after. The group of six was finally together.

Song Zhicun immediately summoned them together for a small meeting and told them the main purpose and process of the exchange conference.

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