Bu Tian Gang Ch126

Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi

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


Chapter 126

After they finished eating, Ivan was already waiting for them outside.

As soon as everyone got in the car, he couldn’t wait to show an exaggerated, gossipy expression. “I heard you fought with the British and French?”

It was obvious he had his own news channel as he already knew all the ins and outs. Seeing that Dong Zhi and the others were too lazy to speak, he happily talked on his own.

“To be honest, we sometimes hate the British. They like to put on airs and look down on us. They always try to look superior, but I really don’t know what they can be proud of. They haven’t been to the competition for many years. Do they still have any decent demon hunters left?! Last time, a practitioner wanted to immigrate to the United States, but he was detained by them. How ridiculous!”

Seeing Dong Zhi and the others’ lack of interest, Ivan finally stopped and scratched his nose. “Is what I said not funny?”

Liu Qingbo rolled his eyes. “Do you think we still have the spirit to listen to you after a night of staying in that damn hotel?”

Ivan smiled dryly. “Sorry, but that wasn’t arranged by me. If I had the right to arrange accommodation, I wouldn’t let you stay there! However, in previous years, the exchange accommodations for the exchange conference were never good. It’s as if to test the practitioners in a harsh environment.”

The car quickly arrived at the venue.

Everyone was staying in the same hotel, so the time that people would arrive wasn’t too different. When Dong Zhi and them entered the venue, the Americans and Russians had already arrived, and the other teams slowly trickled in after Dong Zhi.

After the meeting started, according to the process, each team would take turns making a regular speech and reporting to each other on some situation in various countries over the past two years. As countries opened their borders, the world gradually became one. It wasn’t uncommon for monsters to occasionally run from one country to another. It was under this premise that the exchange conference was established.

Dong Zhi glanced around and found that George, the Frenchman whom he injured yesterday, and Grace, the British redhead who had just provoked them, weren’t present. The former was most likely recovering from his injuries. If there was no accident, he probably wouldn’t be participating in the competition. The latter was probably forced to stay at the hotel.

This was actually for the best. They were here to participate in the exchange and competition and didn’t want to waste their time on unrelated matters.

The speeches were all written in advance. When it was their turn, Dong Zhi read directly from the script, and the others that followed were no exception.

In previous years, there wasn’t anything unexpected about the meeting and exchange. It was nothing more than everyone chatting and arguing. Some became friends during the exchange, and some clamored to draw their swords against each other in the competition. The ability of a practitioner was stronger than that of ordinary people, but they may not necessarily have the mind that surpasses ordinary people. The strong desire to win was instilled in most laymen and was perhaps even stronger in a practitioner.

On the Chinese side, Dong Zhi and Liu Qingbo were the main speakers. They were already prepared to have a big fight with the British. After all, Grace, who hated them to the bone, was from the British team, so most likely the people on her team also disliked them.

Unexpectedly, with White present, the British team was calm and showed no visible hatred similar to that which Grace had for the Chinese. On the contrary, the French team, led by Galan, looked like they were cockfighting. Whenever Dong Zhi or Liu Qingbo would say something, they would always jump out and object or sneer, making their disdain for Dong Zhi and the others clear.

Just when Dong Zhi mentioned the heavenly demon’s doppelganger, a person from the French team questioned, “Since it’s the legendary demon king Mara, even if it’s a doppelganger, how can it be so easily eradicated? I seriously suspect that you’re exaggerating!”

Liu Qingbo refused to bite the bait and directly replied, “Believe it if you want, or don’t! Besides, your leader is a person who relies on his elder brother, who’s the deputy director of the Guardianship Bureau, to become leader of your exchange group. With a group led by such a person, what reliable information can everyone expect from you?”

This information was provided by Ivan. It could be seen that the desire to stir up trouble was truly common in all humans, regardless of race.

The leader of the French team, Galan, angrily replied, “Watch your words! I was able to become captain because of my outstanding abilities, and it has nothing to do with my family’s position!”

Liu Qingbo raised a brow. “Really? Then why don’t you ask your team if they truly believe that? Even if they believe it, do you think the people here really believe it?”

Dong Zhi said, “Why don’t we discuss yesterday’s prank? I heard that in addition to us, there are two other teams who were also victimized.”

“Every exchange conference has a welcome ceremony. This kind of joke is very common. It’s rare for country bumpkins like you to see it. Besides, you have seriously hurt our companion. What else do you want!” someone on the French team said.

Dong Zhi got up and pretended to stop Liu Qingbo. “Forget it. We’re all civilized people. Don’t quarrel with barbarians like them.”

France had long been the center of European culture, and its people were usually the ones who discriminated against others. Having never been called barbarians before, Galan and the others became infuriated.

The teams they teased yesterday, as well as some Americans who were watching the excitement, also followed suit. The topic was successfully transferred from Mara to the French. For a while, Galan and the others became the target of the crowd. They were besieged by various languages and started sweating profusely. In the end, they had to bow their heads and apologize, explaining that it was just a joke made by some in their team and didn’t represent the team as a whole.

However, it was too late. Everyone was so enraged by their alleged “joke” that they continued to mock them. The Russians directly turned yesterday’s suffocation into actual actions as they started a fight with the French. The free discussion then turned into a brawl. Liu Qingbo was afraid there wasn’t enough fuel to the fire and began egging them on, adding more chaos to the scene.

With Dong Zhi and Liu Qingbo around, Li Han’er, Liu Si, and the others were happy to watch the show. They didn’t need to lift a finger, but their opponents were already furious. Even Zhang Song felt that Liu Qingbo’s mouth was perfect to use in dealing with outsiders. There was also Dong Zhi, who tried to “make peace”, which simply angered the French even more.

However, this exchange wasn’t all bad. At least Dong Zhi met an old acquaintance, Kenta.

After the death of Master Xinchai, his disciple naturally inherited the mantle and attended the meeting with the witchdoctors from Southeast Asia. However, with his qualifications, he was unable to serve as the leader of the team. The leader of the team was an old man, who was probably the oldest of all the practitioners there, but no one dared underestimate him because this old man was said to be the most famous white-robed witchdoctor in Malaysia. Naturally, he wasn’t here to participate in the competition.

When old friends met, it was inevitable that they would chat. Kenta told Dong Zhi that as vice captain of the team, he would lead the team in the competition, but most of the witchdoctors who came this time were fledglings and didn’t have rich practical experience, so their goal wasn’t to win the competition, but to increase their knowledge and gain more experience. He also hoped that Dong Zhi and the others would successfully defeat the other teams and take the championship.

“I think of the people here, you’re the strongest, so naturally the people you lead are strong as well. No one can beat you,” Kenta said sincerely.

Dong Zhi had spent some time with him and knew that this person was straightforward in the things that he said, and wasn’t just blowing air. Dong Zhi gave a wry smile. “Although I’m happy you look up to me so much, the other teams are very strong this time. It’s unknown whether we can actually win or not.”

Kenta patted Dong Zhi on the shoulder and bluntly said, “If I say you can, you can!”

The three-day meeting and exchange kicked off in a chaotic atmosphere. The Americans complained that this was the most chaotic exchange conference in history, while Dong Zhi thought it was pretty good. After all, they could argue with the French, and the other party couldn’t fight back. It was interesting to watch them suffocate, especially at night when it became more lively.

Ever since Li Han’er took care of the perverted evil spirit, other ghosts didn’t dare harass her anymore. The exorcism talismans from Mount Longhu were affixed to all their doors so they could get a good night’s sleep. It was unknown what method the witchdoctors who were staying on the second floor used, but the evil spirits didn’t dare go to that floor. On the fourth floor, since the Japanese were used to dealing with spirits, they had no issues either. The Americans also seemed to have used some kind of shielding device.

But other teams weren’t so lucky. For the next two days, they spent every night constantly dealing with exorcism. Eventually, an Italian said that for the next event that would be held in southern Europe, he would suggest to the organizing committee to find a cemetery with the most evil spirits in all of Italy and pack the Americans there and let them experience the excitement.

Three days quickly passed in these small episodes. The Japanese were surprisingly low-key this time. They didn’t take the initiative to find fault with the French, and they didn’t put on a high-profile performance. For three days, it was like they were invisible. If people weren’t paying close attention, it was like the team didn’t even exist. However, Dong Zhi didn’t think they were friendly. After all, it was a competition, so every team was a potential opponent, even their allied Americans.

On the last night of the meeting, everyone was called to the hotel conference room, where a middle-aged woman with blond hair wearing black-rimmed glasses was waiting for them.

“Good evening, everyone. I’m Lisa. I’m part of the organizing committee and have been appointed to explain to you the competitive session that’s starting tomorrow.”

Lisa didn’t look young anymore, but she had a unique affinity when she smiled, which made people want to involuntarily listen carefully to what she was saying.

The organizing committee of the Exchange Conference was a cultural institution affiliated with the United Nations, and Lisa was part of this organization.

Unlike other international events, the Exchange Conference had no spectators. There were only practitioners from all over the world. Although it was a competition, it was different from ordinary competitions, because what they were about to face was a world of fantasy on the other side.

“Compared to all of you who are extraordinary, I’m just a normal civil servant, so please be gentle. Even if you like me or want to applaud, don’t suddenly throw a fireball, or conjure a lion. That’ll frighten me.”

Everyone laughed when they heard her opening remarks, which deliberately reconciled the atmosphere.

Lisa thoughtfully slowed down her talking so that the interpreters could pass her words through the headset in everyone’s ears.

“Tomorrow, you’ll be sent to an archipelago in the north of the Atlantic Ocean. That archipelago is called the Senluo Islands. It’s shrouded in fog all year round so it’s difficult for outsiders to find it. The Senluo Islands have a very wonderful landscape and many creatures, so you won’t regret going there.”

“However, since it’s also the research base of Group 51, this time, in order to perfectly reflect the theme of the competition, the organizers have placed various things on the islands. Perhaps you’ll be surprised or frightened.”

“There are four islands in the Senluo Islands. Two to three teams will be arranged on each island. The landing locations are scattered, but for the sake of fairness, the islands are determined by lottery. Now, please come up and draw lots.”

Lisa picked up a box next to her and motioned for everyone to reach in and draw a ticket out.

The order of the lottery was sorted alphabetically by countries. Even if it wasn’t arranged, since the Americans were the hosts, they were eligible to draw first.

Their group leader was a woman named Lilith. As she drew from the box, a golden ball emerged. When it was unscrewed, there was a note inside.

“I got Full Moon Island.”

Lisa smiled and said, “Congratulations. It’s an island with a beautiful name.”

Lilith shrugged. “I hope our luck is as beautiful as it.”

The French drew Princess Island, while Dong Zhi’s team drew Diana Island—the names of these islands were becoming dreamier one after another that Dong Zhi started to suspect a 17-year-old girl had named them.

Coincidentally, they didn’t share an island with the French or the Americans, but in the end got the Japanese.

Dong Zhi glanced at the leader of the Japanese team, who was staring at him. They were both probably in the same mood at the moment. The path of enemies was indeed narrow.

Lisa said, “In this competition, you’ll need to get one prop, the golden apple. It could be hidden in any corner of the island, including underground and in the sky. After 20 days, the team that gets the golden apple will win. In addition, some creatures and specific places will have special silver coins. If no one can find the golden apple after 20 days, then the top three teams will be decided based on the number of silver coins each team has. Does everyone get this?”

Someone asked, “The archipelago is so big. How can we find a small golden apple? Are there any clues?”

Lisa shook her head. “There are no clues, but I promise, it’s definitely something you’ve experienced. It will depend on whether or not you’re paying attention.”

Liu Qingbo said, “If the golden apple is hidden in the stomach of monsters, we can’t just cut open their stomachs every time we kill them, right? Isn’t that such a huge waste of time?”

His words aroused the echoes of others.

Lisa thought for a while and said, “Okay, then let me give you a hint. The goddess shrouded in the clouds will eventually take off her mysterious veil.”

Everyone: …What the hell kind of hint is this?

Seeing everyone’s confused faces, Lisa couldn’t help but laugh. “Don’t worry if you don’t understand the hint. Since the golden apple is the key to winning the competition, it must be in a conspicuous place where everyone will notice. Rest assured, we didn’t throw the prop into the sea and have you go diving for it.”

“What about silver coins? Shouldn’t you give some clues for them?” Some people weren’t satisfied.

Lisa refused to reveal more. “There is a large amount of silver coins. Don’t worry. You will find some.”

“What kinds of monsters or difficulties are on the islands? This you can tell us, right?” Everyone was paying full attention, not letting go of any hints.

Lisa smiled awkwardly. “Sorry, I really want to tell you, but I don’t know. I’ve heard that this year’s difficulty is the toughest in history. In other words, this competition is likely to be extremely dangerous.”

Everyone’s expression was calm, and there wasn’t any unexpected reaction to this.

Originally, there would be some people who would die in every competition. The difference was just the numbers. The appalling rules of the game to the mundane world were nothing to practitioners. Those who fear danger and wouldn’t go all out wouldn’t bother signing up. While teams composed of strong individuals naturally had a higher chance of winning, as long as weak teams united and cooperated, they still had a chance to win.

The winner not only received prestige for their country or region, but everyone in the team would also become famous in one fell swoop. For example, since Kenta was acquainted with Dong Zhi, if they could win the competition this time after returning, Kenta would become a well-known witchdoctor and would no longer need to be officially bestowed the title of Master Xinchai’s successor in order to be recognized.

Fame and profit were intuitive benefits that the Exchange Conference could bring. Practitioners were also humans. While their areas of pursuit were different from ordinary people’s, it didn’t mean that they didn’t have the desires and goals of ordinary people. Their human nature was, in essence, still the same.

“There will be a considerable number of speedboats on the shores of each island. If it gets to a point where it’s really unbearable, you can take the nearest speedboat to leave. There’s an automatic navigation system on the speedboat. You don’t need to operate it. It will take you out of the island area and back to the ship that’s staying on the high seas to pick you up. It’s safe there. However, I want to remind you that as long as one person chooses to leave halfway, then that person’s team will automatically be disqualified. No matter what the results or achievements the team has reached, they will all be counted as invalid.”

Lisa looked around for a while, then solemnly said, “I hope you will all be safe and sound, and I hope you will give full consideration to your teammates. This competition is not only your personal show but also represents the honor of your team. Finally, good luck to you all!”

On the last night of staying at the Franklin Hotel, those troublemakers were finally wiped out. Everyone had a quiet night, but on the eve of the competition, many had trouble sleeping.

Dong Zhi picked up his phone before going to bed and opened up a chat window with Long Shen. After looking at it for a few seconds, he turned off his phone.

Long Shen and the others should have arrived in Japan by now if there were no problems. He didn’t know if they had found Otowa Yasuhiko’s lair and slain him, but they were probably in disguise. Most likely, this number was disconnected, and no one would reply to his message.

However, Dong Zhi still sent a text: [Master, everything is going well. I’ll work hard.]

After sending the message, he smiled slightly, with inner strength.

Early the next morning, the organizer sent someone to pick everyone up at the airport. They took a flight to the east coast and then took a boat to their destination.

The person in charge of picking Dong Zhi and the others up was still their old buddy Ivan. He seemed worried that Dong Zhi and the others wouldn’t return, so he kept urging Dong Zhi to fulfill his promise and write the letter of recommendation for him. Dong Zhi found it funny and had to send a short email to Carlos while in the car.

“Honestly, Ivan, do you really think we won’t return?”

Ivan smiled and said, “How could you say that? In my mind, you’re the strongest. Dong, you must get the golden apple. If I can be interviewed by Carlos, I’ll treat you to dinner to celebrate.”

Dong Zhi: “You’re American, but you actually want us to win?”

Ivan winked at him. “Of course. They didn’t write me a letter of recommendation!”

Dong Zhi was speechless. He thought, ‘Buddy, you’re really sincere.’

The plane ride to the east coast took nearly 10 hours. They arrived in Norfolk from Los Angeles and then took a passenger ship from Norfolk to the legendary Senluo Islands.

The teams didn’t bother with any tit-for-tat or pretenses. They quickly found their cabin on the ship and prepared for the competition.

As if to carry the narrow path to its end, Dong Zhi’s cabin happened to be adjacent to the Japanese. This time, the Japanese only came with four people—three men and a woman. They were the least numerous and the most low-key of all the teams. Though they stayed in the same hotel for several days, they didn’t even meet face-to-face with Dong Zhi until now.

The ordinary-looking young man who came face-to-face with him seemed surprised that Dong Zhi was next door. The two nodded to each other as a greeting but didn’t say a word.

After the young man entered his room, Liu Qingbo also came to Dong Zhi’s room.

“They sent so few people this time. It doesn’t look like they’re trying to win the competition. It’s strange. Are they targeting us?”

Dong Zhi said, “There’s no evidence now, and it’ll be too late for the country to check their identities. However, Fujikawa Aoi plays an important role in the onmyoji world in Japan, and we have forged such a deep relationship with him. It’s normal that he would send a few disciples to trip us up.”

Liu Qingbo curled his lips. “There are also the British and the Americans. I’m sure they’re scheming. The Americans say they are allies with us, but they probably know more than they let on!”

Dong Zhi spread his hands. “We cover ourselves to them so how can we expect them to be whole-hearted to us? No one is a fool. We can just take what we need from each other. I think the French are acting dumb this time. Everyone else is quite shrewd. Yang Shouyi and the others have started focusing on the competition, so start paying more attention to it.”

Although the room was small, based on the details, it could be seen that they tried to provide the most comfortable environment possible for the guests. However, given the space, they could at most read a book or sleep. It was impossible to practice swordmanship in it. Dong Zhi didn’t want to go on deck to practice and be watched by others, so he had nothing to do. He decided to sit cross-legged on the bed and practice his breathing technique. Liu Qingbo and the others were also in a similar situation. Everyone tried to reduce the number of times they went out to eat. Since he didn’t have any other friends besides Kenta, it was better to not waste time with fake pleasantries and not say anything at all. Since they were staying on a ship, no matter how big it was, it wasn’t as comfortable as being on land, and the scenery was just the ocean.

The ship traveled through the vast sea, undulating on the waves. After a few hours, it finally sailed into the white fog ahead.

As soon as it entered the foggy sea, the surrounding line of sight was immediately white, and nothing could be seen. Dong Zhi heard from William that the fog that enveloped the islands seemed to have magical properties. It lasted all year and enclosed the islands tightly, like an enchantment. Because the magnetic field was strong, radar was prone to failure. In an era where there was no radar, countless ships that were blinded by the fog would stray into this area and as a result hit the rocks and sank.

After Group 51 discovered this place, they used it as a test base. However, William had only heard about it from his predecessors and had never actually been here before.

Looking around, all the dangerous and unpredictable unknown mysteries seemed to be hidden behind the white mist, waiting for them to be uncovered.

The Changshou Sword beside him vibrated slightly and made a buzzing sound. Dong Zhi noticed it and held it in his hand.

This wasn’t the first time the Changshou Sword reacted like this. There were only two times in Dong Zhi’s impression. The first was when he was facing the Wuzhiqi under the Huai River. The other was when he went to Xianda Village to find the heavenly demon. Both times were extremely dangerous experiences. Now that the Changshou Sword was vibrating again, this meant it sensed tricky and powerful enemies ahead.

Dong Zhi held the sword tightly and whispered, “Don’t worry. If there are any difficulties, we’ll face them together.”

It seemed that, feeling its master’s heat and comfort, the Changshou Sword gradually calmed down and returned to normal.

Anton, a Russian who was in his room, looked up at the vast fog outside the window. Suddenly, his eyes widened.

In the gray-white fog, there seemed to be a few strands of black qi. The black qi slowly drifted away and started to coalesce together, finally turning into a black cloud the size of a human head, which stood out conspicuously in the white fog.

Anton stared blankly. He didn’t feel anything strange from the black qi, but the sweet smell made him involuntarily relax his spirit and body. He stared at the black qi, unable to look away.

The black qi wasn’t blocked by the porthole. It seemed to have noticed Anton and gradually approached him. It penetrated through the porthole and entered his room, smelling like a plate of freshly baked strawberry muffins, exuding a sweet aroma in front of him.

Anton’s eyes became a little blurred. He heard another voice in his head trying to stop him from reaching out to the black mist.

“What are you?” he heard himself ask.

“I am you,” the black mist replied. “I am part of you. I am what you want, and I am what you’re afraid of.”

Anton frowned. His face tensed as he muttered to himself. “No, I don’t need it. I smell death on you. Quickly leave or I will expel you…”

The struggle became more intense. Sweat dripped from his forehead, and his chest was undulating. He was gasping for air as his fists clenched and loosened several times. Finally, he raised his hand, stretched out a finger, and pointed towards the black mist hovering in the air.

“You need me. You need me to overcome your timidity. I can satisfy all your desires and make you the most powerful person in the world. Everyone will kneel down and surrender at your feet. You’ll no longer be a despised psychic but a god that others will worship!”

The bewitching voice echoed in his ears as Anton’s finger finally connected to the black mist!

In an instant, he seemed to see fireworks exploding in his mind, directly stunning him. Various scenes passed before his eyes, and he felt as if hundreds of people were talking into his ears at the same time. The noise of various languages made him involuntarily cover his ears and roll on the bed.

“I like your physique, and I like your weak willpower even more. I especially like people like you who are always complaining and dissatisfied!”

He heard a voice that didn’t belong to him say, but that voice was indeed coming out of his own mouth.

Anton opened his eyes wide in horror, as if he were sober but being involuntarily manipulated like a marionette.

“This body is a bit weak, but whatever. It’s only temporary.”

Anton had typical Eastern Slavic characteristics. He was tall and had a pale complexion. Though he was in his mid-thirties, he had properly maintained his figure and wasn’t balding, which was rare. His appearance was decent and could even be considered handsome. This was the first time someone had commented on how poor his health was, but he couldn’t refute, seeing as how it was his own voice that was saying it.

“Our new journey has just begun, Anton. From now on, I am you.”

No…

Anton struggled desperately. He wanted to resist and even used his remaining consciousness to curse the most unpleasant thing he could say so that this lone evil spirit that came from nowhere would leave his body. As a psychic, he knew hundreds of ways to exorcize an evil spirit, but that didn’t include the situation where one possessed his own body.

Tap, tap, tap.

There was a knock on the door.

In just a moment of distraction, all of Anton’s consciousness was swallowed up by a bloody mouth.

My… body…


The author has something to say:

[Unrelated to the main text] Small theater:

Under the tossing of all the practitioners day and night, the hotel was finally cleared.

Evil Spirit A was biting a handkerchief at a corner not far from the hotel: Wuwuwu, I dare not go back.

Evil Spirit B: Forget it, forget it. They’re all leaving. I heard they will go to a very dangerous place this time, and there will be something more powerful than us to deal with them.

Evil Spirit C: I checked the internet just now. There’s a not too shabby hotel nearby. Do you want to go there?

Evil Spirit A: No, I like my bed. Forget it. I’ll bear it a little longer. These people are leaving today.

Evil Spirit D came to report: They’re leaving! Those scourges are finally all gone!

All the evil spirits cheered: To celebrate, let’s go to the bar and drink all night. We’ll possess a few more people so we can drink more!


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Bu Tian Gang Ch125

Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi

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


Chapter 125

This time, they finally arrived on the 9th floor safely. Li Han’er’s group suitcases were still at the entrance to the stairs. The six of them found their own rooms. Dong Zhi laid down on the big bed lazily, not wanting to move.

However, he was the leader of the team and had things to do. After thinking about it, Dong Zhi picked up his phone and called Zhong Zhicun to tell him what had happened just now.

When Song Zhicun heard that they beat up people from the British and French teams, he didn’t reprimand him but instead said, “I’ll let someone deal with the appeal. You can just continue the meeting and don’t worry about it.”

“Boss Song, it was our impulsiveness that caused you trouble.” Dong Zhi didn’t think beating someone wasn’t that bad, but he still had to pretend to be good in front of their leader.

Song Zhicun laughed. “If they attack, you can only respond. I’ve been to the exchange conference before. I know what their faces are like right now without you telling me. This is a world that respects the strong. We have only participated in five sessions, so our foundations with them aren’t deep. They don’t understand our strength, which comes with some benefits, but they will also underestimate you. This requires you to give full play. However, because you’ve offended some people, you’ll definitely be targeted, so be careful.”

Dong Zhi smiled wryly. “If you have too many debts, you’ll stop worrying about it. We’ll focus on one thing at a time first.”

After hanging up, Dong Zhi slept for a while, then got up and took a shower. When he changed clothes, there was a knock at the door.

Outside the door stood William, the deputy head of the United States, whom they had just met.

William smiled and said, “I didn’t bother you, did I?”

Dong Zhi: “I’m just about to go eat.”

William: “Just in time. I haven’t eaten either. Shall we?”

Dong Zhi said, “Sorry, I need to be with my team members.”

William’s face was probably thicker than the walls of this hotel. When he heard Dong Zhi’s response, he still smiled and said, “Dong, don’t do this. What happened just now really has nothing to do with us. As the organizer, it’s impossible for us to use such childish methods to tease other teams. Otherwise, what kind of prestige will there be in the future? You can’t vent your anger on them at me!”

Dong Zhi curled his lips. “What’s the point of saying this now?”

William laughed. “Indeed, we can only move forward, but regarding this exchange competition, you must have learned more news in advance than the other countries. How about we exchange information? Our leader asked me to come over, hoping that we would have a chance to cooperate with each other.”

Dong Zhi glanced at him. “Then shall we eat together?”

William’s smile immediately brightened several folds. “Yes!”

Dong Zhi called Liu Qingbo and the others. He asked William to take everyone downstairs for dinner and give them a list of good restaurants nearby, then asked about the situation of the other teams—since the grunt came to deliver goods, it was best not to waste it.

He had to admit that it was good to have thick skin. It was difficult to smack someone with such a smiling face. After their meal, William gave them quite a bit of news, and everyone’s impression of him had reversed, so much so that they couldn’t put back on their cold faces.

As the organizer and deputy leader, William knew a lot of gossip.

For example, there were two powerful new members on the French team this year. One of them also assisted Group 51 in eliminating the plague demon. The other was said to have an aristocratic background. The family had been demon hunters for generations. They even had several archbishops in their lineage and had close ties to the Vatican.

Putting it in Chinese words: the French were feeling snarky this year, and they walked with wind*. They were the second group to arrive at the hotel. After that, they launched two pranks on the Russian and Nordic cultivators, picking on the soft persimmons. The French had heard about the mystery and horror of the dark arts masters of Southeast Asia, so they didn’t dare provoke them.

*Describing walking with gusto and giving off an elite, powerful vibe. || In this context, it’s basically saying the French, having two elites in their group this year, is quite arrogant and was putting on quite a bravado.

Dong Zhi found that the French leader didn’t instruct his members to prank them. It was George on their team who was pursuing Grace from the British team. Hearing that Grace hated the Chinese, he called a few friends and wanted to teach them a “lesson”. Who knew they would get beat up instead.

“That guy George lost too much blood, so he was sent to the hospital for treatment. Although his life can be saved, it’s estimated he won’t be able to participate in the competition!” William showed a bit of gloating. “But this matter is all their own initiative. Their leader, Galan, the person you met just now—he regretted it a bit. He asked me to tell you that both parties should go through the appeal channel so that the competition remains fair and competitive.”

Liu Qingbo sneered. “They started things, and now they want to cry to their parents after getting beat up? Nice try!”

William shrugged. “I’m just the messenger. It’s up to you whether you want to do this or not. However, those ghosts weren’t created out of thin air. There are more evil spirits on the third floor, which is why the entire floor is empty. They just happened to use it. Speaking of which, I have to thank you on behalf of the hotel for helping solve a big problem. It seems we can spend the next year in peace again.”

These were just trivial matters. Dong Zhi was more concerned about the competitive segment.

“William, how much do you know about the competition?”

“Not much, but maybe a little more than you. After all, we are the organizers, so it’s impossible to keep it completely confidential.”

William thought he was being cute as he gave a wink, but no one was buying it. Liu Qingbo waited impatiently for him to continue. It looked like he would be beaten if he didn’t elaborate, so William could only continue. “There will only be one winner in the competition, but the process has a variety of challenges. It will be difficult to complete with just one team. We hope to form an alliance with you guys. What do you think?”

Dong Zhi questioned, “Alliance?”

William smiled slyly. “It’ll be a limited alliance. In the process, if we need to cooperate, we can’t take action against each other until the difficulties are resolved. How about it?”

Dong Zhi: “Why us?”

William smiled and said, “Because your team has the most potential out of all the teams at the moment. The others are too weak. Though the group of dark arts masters is very powerful, they’re not good when it comes to fierce battles. It’s hard to imagine they can curse powerful monsters.”

Dong Zhi suddenly showed the same cunning smile. “So, you must know what the content of the competition is?”

William said, “I don’t know much. I only know that the venue will be on an island in the Atlantic Ocean.”

Dong Zhi: “We already know this. It can’t be considered a secret, nor can it be included in your agreement.”

William: “…Dong, you’re quite shrewd. You should be a businessman. What a waste to go into this profession.”

Flattery had no effect on Dong Zhi. “Continue.”

William: “Then the theme may be related to a golden apple.”

Dong Zhi: “What golden apple?”

William: “In Greek mythology, Gaia, the Goddess of the Earth, gave it to Zeus and Hera as a wedding gift. Later, Eris took the golden apple to instigate discord between Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love*.”

*Clarity: The mythology behind the golden apple is that Eris (the Goddess of Discord) inscribed “to the fairest/most beautiful” on the golden apple and tossed it during the feast of the gods at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis as a prize, thus sparking a vanity-fuel dispute among Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite that eventually led to the Trojan War.

Dong Zhi suddenly realized. “I remember a very famous story. You mean, the golden apple may be the last prop we’re looking for?”

William snapped his fingers. “Smart!”

Dong Zhi: “This information is useless to us. Props are originally what we are looking for. Even if you don’t say it, the organizing committee will announce it before the start of the competition.”

William: “Well, the Senluo Islands are composed of four uninhabited islands in the Atlantic Ocean. They are shrouded in fog year-round. There’s a research base from Group 51 there. It’s difficult for ordinary ships to enter, but it’s not a problem for us. Have you heard of Gullinkambi*?”

*From Norse mythology. It is a rooster who lives in Valhalla. Apparently, it is one of three roosters whose crowing is foretold to signify the beginning of Ragnarök

He dipped his fingers in water and wrote it in English on one of the tables. Liu Qingbo and the others searched the internet and immediately found it.

This thing was a creature in Norse mythology. It was a big black rooster and was said that its cry meant the final battle was coming, so it was regarded as awakening the “twilight of the gods”.

William said, “Rumor has it that the person in charge of planning this year is a lover of Western mythology, so the competition process will incorporate many elements of Greek and Norse mythology, such as this ancient Gullinkambi and the harpies*.”

*A half-human and half-bird personification of storm winds.

Dong Zhi was shocked. “Where can they find so many ancient monsters?”

Even in China, it wasn’t easy to find a Wuzhiqi for a test. Not only that, a Wuzhiqi’s intelligence was equal to that of humans, so getting them to cooperate was also a different matter.

William shrugged. “As long as you find them, give them satisfactory conditions, make a deal with them, and then let them stay on that island for a while, you can reap the benefits. This is easy to understand, no? Just like your Chinese dragon, it’s a legend to ordinary people, but you know it must be real, right?”

Dong Zhi was speechless.

William said, “But the unpredictable factors are also there! Although the monsters have spiritual wisdom, they don’t cherish human life, so they don’t know how to do things in moderation. Once there’s a battle, your lives will easily be in danger. I bet the number of deaths this year will be higher than ever before. I suspect the organizing committee’s brains were kicked by donkeys. Why did it happen during our turn!”

He complained angrily. Seeing that Dong Zhi looked calm, he couldn’t help but suspect they didn’t know anything about the origin of these monsters.

“You have heard of a harpy before, right?”

Dong Zhi shook his phone. “I do. The internet is well developed now. Legends say that it’s afraid of the sound made from beating bronze. At that time, just have a few bronze objects on you.”

William: “Please. Legends are just legends. Who knows if that’s true or not! Well, what do you think about the alliance I mentioned?”

Dong Zhi said, “I’ll discuss it with my teammates first and give you a reply later.”

William: “Then answer me before you go to bed tonight.”

Dong Zhi was puzzled. “Do you need to be so anxious? Isn’t there still a few days left before the competition?”

William said, “You don’t understand. The signal on that island isn’t good. Basically, you can’t use your phone to contact others. If you agree, we will provide a special communication method at that time, only between our teams.”

Dong Zhi: “Okay then.”

After sending William away, Dong Zhi asked his teammates who had been silent.

“What do you think? Xiao Zhang, say something.”

Zhang Song: …… He had the urge to murder the captain of the team.

“The British and French are unreliable, and the Americans are not much better. In case they have an accident, we have to rush over to save them. When we have an accident, they will pretend they’re dead, and we can’t do anything about it!” Zhang Song answered in a deep voice.

Liu Qingbo liked to disagree with Zhang Song the most. When he heard this, he said, “But even if we agree, it won’t be a loss for us. The Americans must know more than we do, so there must be information that hasn’t been said. If we meet, we can cooperate with them all the way to the end and eliminate all the obstacles, then fight again to get the prop. Isn’t it better than being headless flies trying to break in?”

Dong Zhi set his sights on Li Han’er and the others.

Li Han’er thought for a while and said, “There’s some truth in what Daoist Liu said.”

Liu Qingbo became smug. “See, I’m right!”

Yang Shouyi and Liu Si then said, “We have no opinions and will leave it up to the captain to decide.”

In the end, Dong Zhi patted the table. He would first agree with William, and then wait for them to arrive on the island to see what happens.

Just as they were eating, other teams also came over.

The news of the French prank failing and getting beaten up had already spread. When most people passed by Dong Zhi’s table, they looked at them strangely. Many others took the initiative to come forward to greet them. The Russian girl, Anna, brought her friends, and the Nordic team that had been maliciously pranked also gave them a warm greeting.

Dong Zhi felt as if they were like rare animals on display at a zoo. They didn’t get to eat much as they were constantly patronized and greeted. They had to deal with the strange questions of these people from time to time. For example: Do Easterners know how to use magic? Are you the top group of spellcasters? Do all Eastern practitioners fly on dragons? and so on that made Dong Zhi and the others dumbfounded.

It could only be said that these people’s understanding of the East was quite shallow.

However, it seemed that they knew Dong Zhi’s group prestige well as the next few days when they stayed in the hotel, no one dared to provoke them.

But naturally, this didn’t apply to creatures other than humans.

Late at night was the time to “party” at the hotel.

Both Dong Zhi and Liu Qingbo chose rooms with balconies by the swimming pool. As a result, they heard laughter and splashing from it in the middle of the night. It was so noisy that Liu Qingbo ran to the balcony and shouted, “Shut up”. It did stop for a while, but just as he was about to lie down, the sound of laughter rang out again. The hotel had been chartered off by the organizers, and he didn’t see any figures around the pool. It was so late that there couldn’t possibly be anyone having a party there.

If this was an ordinary person, most likely they would have been scared to death and perhaps it would even leave a psychological shadow on the city of Los Angeles on them.

However, this time it was the turn of those unlucky unknown creatures.

The British, who were staying on the 7th floor, threw a few crosses down, which quieted the pool for half an hour before it resumed back to its old state.

The Japanese onmyouji, who stayed on the 4th floor, released several shikigamis, who ran all over the pool and fought against those unknown creatures. The results were even more noise, which attracted the dissatisfaction of all the guests, forcing the onmyoujis to retract their shikigamis.

Finally, the Americans who stayed on the 10th floor fired a few shots into the pool. After some screams, most of the night resumed its peacefulness.

Dong Zhi heard that their bullets were special. It had some exorcism materials added to it, but the formula was confidential. The Americans had never disclosed it to the public, but they had been at the forefront of the world in research on the combination of high-tech and spiritual magic.

Dong Zhi and Liu Qingbo had no intention of being in the limelight. Thanks to the Americans, they had a good night’s sleep. Early the next morning, Yang Shouyi, Li Han’er, and the others looked a bit weak. After asking, they found that they had spent the night feeling like they were inside an American blockbuster.

While the swimming pool stopped, other places didn’t.

When Yang Shouyi took a bath, he released a tank full of blood. He let the water drain without any change in his expression and decided to take a shower instead. When he was halfway through the shower, the water in the shower head started to turn into sticky blood. A woman appeared in the mirror with a hideous face and wanted to pounce on him. As a result, Yang Shouyi had put his sword by the sink. The murderous aura from the ancient sword suppressed the evil spirit in the mirror, so it didn’t make a move.

“After washing for half a day, I still feel the bloody smell on my body!” During breakfast, when everyone was talking about last night’s experience, Yang Shouyi couldn’t help but complain. He was a bit of a clean freak. Later, he had to light sandalwood in the room to suppress the smell of blood.

Dong Zhi asked, “Then how did you solve it later? Did you just kill her?”

Yang Shouyi: “No, she found she couldn’t do anything to me, so she changed from being fierce to sobbing. She told me a lot of things, like how she died tragically and wanted to find vengeance. You know my English isn’t good. After listening for a long time, I couldn’t understand, so I told her to go to the 7th floor to find the British. I told her they would understand her, so she happily left.”

Pfft!

Zhang Song spurted out a mouthful of coffee.

Liu Qingbo, who was sitting opposite him: ……

Although Zhang Song lowered his head in time, the coffee still splashed on the cup and plate in front of Liu Qingbo.

“Zhang Song, are you crazy?! How can people eat this!” Liu Qingbo said angrily.

“Calm down, calm down. The image of our country!” Dong Zhi suppressed his smile, but his shoulders kept shaking. It wasn’t because Zhang Song sprayed coffee, but rather because of what Yang Shouyi just said. “Lao Yang, you’re quite good. It seems those British people didn’t get a good night’s sleep. Liu Si, Daoist Li, did you guys encounter anything?”

Liu Si smiled and said, “Those things probably sensed that I’m not human, so they didn’t bother me.”

Li Han’er said lightly, “I seemed to have encountered a pervert who was peeping at me while I was taking a bath and changing clothes. I directly sent them to see their God with a talisman.”

Zhang Song yawned. He didn’t get much sleep last night. The main reason was because there was a ping-pong noise coming from upstairs. He didn’t know if the Americans were fighting evil spirits or if the evil spirits were having a party.

While they were chatting, a group of people came up to them. Grace, the familiar red-haired woman, was part of the group.

They looked at Dong Zhi. The British all looked tired, with dark circles under their eyes. Dong Zhi’s group didn’t have to think about it. They knew that the British had encountered much more noise and trouble last night than them.

Just as Grace and the others passed by, Liu Qingbo suddenly sneered. “Some people didn’t sleep well last night. Don’t worry, they will definitely sleep worse in the next few days!”

Grace stopped suddenly. Her hand suddenly grabbed the back of Liu Qingbo’s neck. She moved so fast that almost no one could see clearly. Only Dong Zhi, who was closest, saw that her nails were long, like a sharp blade. Because of the speed, the air around it ignited traces of white smoke.

However, since Liu Qingbo dared to curse, naturally he was prepared. He dodged to the side abruptly, casually pulled off the tablecloth, and shook his wrist. All the cups and plates on the table were lifted up and dumped towards Grace!

Dong Zhi’s sunlight talisman and Li Han’er’s talisman shot almost at the same time. The two talisman fires pounced on Grace head-on. While she kept attacking Liu Qingbo, she stretched out her hand to wave away the two talisman fires. Who knew that there was something hidden in the talisman fire? The moment she touched it, it exploded with a bang. Grace screamed in pain as the cups and plates immediately smashed into her face, causing her to fall to the floor.

Grace’s companions were about to take action when they saw this, but the man who looked like their captain of their group acted.

“Stop!”

In the restaurant, the other teams came around.

The Russians were the first to speak up. “We all saw it. That British woman moved first!”

“Yes, that British woman!”

Dong Zhi jumped ahead and said, “Did you hear that? It was your companion who attacked mine first. If he hadn’t reacted quickly, he would have been injured just now! First the incident from yesterday, and now this? Are you guys trying to finish us off early to win the competition? Sorry, you might lose a couple of your team members to achieve your goal!”

The captain of the other party’s face turned blue for a while. Yesterday there were a few witnesses, and most of them were French. They still had room to clear suspicion. Today, they did it in full view of the public. In any case, their actions couldn’t be justified. He knew Grace despised the Chinese because of her sister’s death, but he also warned her not to act on personal matters; he didn’t expect that she couldn’t restrain herself.

“Grace, apologize!”

Hearing her captain say this, Grace still had a cold face. “I won’t! I wish I could send all these yellow-skinned pigs to hell! They shouldn’t exist on this earth!”

Liu Qingbo sneered. “How terrible. Not only is she a racist, but she also wants to commit genocide!”

The captain of the British team took a deep breath and asked his companions to forcibly pull Grace away. He then said to Dong Zhi’s group, “Sorry. Our teammate is too impulsive and can’t control her emotions. We will reconsider letting her continue to participate in the competition!”

Liu Qingbo sneered. “You must let her continue. Otherwise, we won’t have a chance to teach her another lesson!”

The other party was obviously much calmer and smarter than Grace. He still apologized politely, expressed his willingness to compensate for all the losses caused in the restaurant, and asked people to bring injury medication to Dong Zhi. In fact, no one was injured on Dong Zhi’s side, while Grace was burned by two talismans just now. Her arm was still bleeding when she was pulled away.

Seeing as there was no more excitement to watch, the people around dispersed one after another. Dong Zhi couldn’t continue to be aggressive. Otherwise, public opinion on them would reverse.

“After all, this is a personal vendetta. We understand it, but we also hope that this kind of personal behavior ends with her. This is an exchange conference to foster friendship, so there should be fair competition in the arena, don’t you think?” Dong Zhi said.

The other party smiled and took the initiative to extend his hand. “Of course. We’re determined to stop Grace’s behavior. My name is White. It’s nice to meet you.”

Dong Zhi shook hands with him. “I’m Dong. This is twice now that Grace has crossed with us. I hope you understand that there won’t be a third time. My companion has a bad temper. Grace might die next time. As captain of your team, I don’t think you want this to happen.”

“You’re right. Leave it to me to solve the matter with Grace. I hope this will not affect the friendship between our two countries or teams.” White was cultured. He didn’t get angry when he heard this kind of provocation. It could be seen that he was quite shrewd.

Dong Zhi smiled at him. “Of course!”

Onlookers expressed disappointment that the opening scene of guns and fires ended peacefully. Many of them wished that the two sides would fight and directly eliminate each other from the competition so there would be fewer competitors.

Everyone had just eaten half their breakfast, so they had to change tables after the mess. Liu Qingbo said in a bad tone, “Captain, who did you say has a bad temper?”

Isn’t it you? Dong Zhi thought to himself but said, “Naturally, it’s me!”

Young Master Liu couldn’t respond to such an answer.

Looking at the hot quiche and milk that were remade and served, Dong Zhi smiled and said, “I can finally have a healthy meal!”


The author has something to say:

A small theater that has nothing to do with the text:

The complaints of the Evil Spirits of the hotel.

Evil Spirit A: Yesterday, I met a group of people who came to stay at the hotel. Oh, I have never seen anything so terrifying. My buddy just peeked at an Eastern woman taking a bath and he was beaten and sent directly to hell!

Evil Spirit B: Who asked you to provoke the Easterners? They don’t understand English, so I went to play with the British last night, hehehe.


Kinky Thoughts:

For all you interested in Greek mythology. What sparked the Trojan War was the golden apple. As the three goddesses fought for the golden apple, Zeus delegated it to Paris to judge who among the three was the fairest/most beautiful. Each goddess tried to bribe Paris by giving him a gift in exchange for awarding it to them. Hera offered to make him king of Europe and Asia Minor, Athena offered him wisdom and skill in battle, and Aphrodite offered the love of the most beautiful woman, Helen of Sparta, who was already married to King Menelaus.

Paris chose Aphrodite, a decision that sparked the Trojan War and eventually led to the destruction of Troy and Paris.

Man, this makes me want to reread the Iliad again.

Given that the golden apple often represents discord, there’s a lot of symbolism here if this is truly the prop the teams are fighting for.It seems to me like they’re staying at the hotel in The Shining.


<<< || Table of Contents || Lore Glossary || >>>

Bu Tian Gang Ch124

Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi

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


Chapter 124

After everyone heard this, their foreheads twitched. They didn’t know what kind of expression to use to respond. The Americans dared treat them as demon slayers to be hired for free?!

Liu Qingbo: “Since there are so many things going on in this hotel, why don’t you just close it down?!”

Ivan spread his hands. “This isn’t Group 51’s property. Besides, the hotel has grown with Hollywood, attracting countless visitors every year where it’s now a huge selling point. Since the business is good, how can we close it down?”

Liu Qingbo sneered. “Then if someone is killed, who will be responsible?”

Ivan smiled and shrugged. “Liu, don’t be angry. Anyway, it’s not you and I that are responsible. What I want to tell you is that in the next three days, the organizing committee has chartered the entire hotel, so only the national teams are staying there. Don’t worry about ordinary people getting injured if an accident happens. Your room is on the 9th floor. All the rooms on the 9th floor are reserved for your team. You can stay in any room you want. When you get to the hotel, I’ll help you get your keys, and then you can assign them yourself.”

Dong Zhi patted him. “Thank you, Ivan. Are there any reminders or warnings?”

Ivan: “No, since you’re the ones staying this year, even if there’s a demon, I’ll be wishing it good luck. This is my number. I’ll be responsible for your daily travel for the next three days. You can contact me at any time if you need anything. Oh, by the way, when I came out, I met an English woman. She specifically asked me if the Chinese were here yet. Her expression wasn’t friendly, so I think you need to pay attention.”

Everyone looked at each other and immediately realized that this woman might be the Grace mentioned in the information.

Speaking of which, the accident was truly an accident. At the time, monsters snuck into the ghost ship and attacked the teams from all fronts. After the monsters had killed some contestants, they directly controlled them using their tentacles, manipulating the dead to kill others. Grace’s sister was killed by one of the monsters. When she was being controlled, she was still breathing when she happened to encounter He Yu’s team. They thought she was dead, so everyone took action to destroy the tentacles and accidentally killed Grace’s sister. As a result, disputes formed on both sides.

It was understandable that she would harbor grudges against them, but Dong Zhi and the others didn’t believe they had done anything wrong. They wouldn’t go out of their way to provoke, but if someone came to their door, they’d fight it out.

Ivan was a talkative person. Dong Zhi chatted with him all the way to the hotel. By the end, he even knew the name of the godfather and his sister’s newborn child.

“Rest early tonight. Tomorrow morning, there will be a meeting and exchange. I’ll come pick you guys up. Just call me if you need anything.”

He sent everyone to the hotel and handed the keys to Dong Zhi, then waved his hand and left.

Perhaps it was because the hotel was booked out that the lobby was much quieter, without the hustle and bustle of people. They didn’t see teams from the other countries, but they would definitely encounter them at the meeting tomorrow, so they weren’t in a rush.

Li Han’er looked around and suddenly said, “The feng shui in this place is a bit strange.”

Zhang Song: “What’s so strange?”

Li Han’er: “As the saying goes, to store wind and gather qi, water is best*. There’s water and wind, but the wind is too strong here, so you can’t gather qi. When there’s too much wind, it’s easy to produce evil spirits and invert the yin and yang. Therefore, there are often monsters and demons in places like this because of the environment. The builder should know such things. Otherwise, if they had built a house here instead of a hotel, more people would die. Since there are many guests coming and going in a hotel, they bring in yang energy that’s barely able to maintain the balance of the yin and yang here.”

*Basically, according to feng shui standards, a place must be auspicious, and to do that, it should have water, which allows you to catch wind and gather qi. 

After all, she was born on Maoshan, so even if she didn’t practice feng shui, she was still privy to it on the surface.

This may be the reason why the hotel always had accidents every few years, and every time, someone would take action to settle it, but after a while, trouble would arise again. The hotel wasn’t closed, so this situation would continue.

While she was talking, Dong Zhi had already completed the check-in procedures. He came over and asked everyone to choose their room.

There was only one girl in the entire team, so naturally everyone gave Li Han’er the first choice. Li Han’er humbly said, “Captain can pick first. Both men and women are equal.”

Dong Zhi said, “I’m not picky. There’s so many rooms that everyone will find something they like.”

Li Han’er didn’t continue the polite pleasantries and asked for a suite.

Dong Zhi: “Xiao Zhang, Lao Yang, Lao Liu, how about you guys?”

Zhang Song: ……

The others each picked the room type they wanted, but Zhang Song couldn’t help but say, “Don’t call me Xiao Zhang anymore!”

“If neither Lao Zhang nor Xiao Zhang work, then how do you want me to address you?” Dong Zhi gave him an innocent expression that was saying “You’re so hard to please”.

Zhang Song angrily replied, “Don’t I have a name?!”

Dong Zhi was amiable and said, “Xiao Song, calm down. Your image is important. Don’t let outsiders see you like this.”

Zhang Song took a deep breath. Seeing Liu Qingbo’s gloating face, he became even angrier.

Everyone dragged their luggage towards the elevator.

There was a floor-to-ceiling-length mirror in the lobby of the magnificent hotel, which was placed next to the elevator. When everyone passed by, they glanced at it from the corner of their eyes and saw a white shadow floating past the mirror in the lobby. The white shadow seemed to have spotted them and stopped. It turned its head and showed them a charming smile.

If they were ordinary people, they probably would have run away screaming or made a fuss and given it a closer look, but this time, they weren’t ordinary. Dong Zhi swept his gaze across it expressionlessly, turned his head, and entered the elevator, as if he didn’t see anything.

The six people split up between two elevators. Li Han’er, Yang Shouyi, and Zhang Song went up first, while the rest entered the second elevator.

As soon as Dong Zhi was about to close the elevator, he heard a “wait” outside. He reopened the elevator and saw a young man with curly hair walk in.

He glanced at Dong Zhi and them curiously. Dong Zhi smiled at him gently, and the other party gave him a nod.

“Hi, my name is George. I’m from France.”

“Dong, China.”

The two shook hands. George smiled and said, “I can see it, since the Japanese team have already checked in, and your clothes aren’t obviously the attire of a black magic master, so you must be the China team.”

He carried a long stick on his back and a short dagger around his waist. This kind of attire wasn’t conspicuous here, especially since the other people in the elevator also carried long boxes on their backs.

George pressed the button for the fifth floor, and the elevator closed.

“We’re on the fifth floor. After you’re settled, you can come and hang out with me. This is my first year participating in the exchange conference, so I can’t wait to see how good you guys are!”

Dong Zhi laughed and said, “I’m afraid it’s the first time for all of us participants.”

George let out a sigh. “My mistake. I’m just so excited!”

While chatting, Dong Zhi and the others suddenly felt a slight tremor under their feet. The elevator had stopped. When they looked up, the elevator had stopped on the third floor.

This meant someone was pressing the elevator on the outside. Normally no one would mind, but when the elevator door opened, they didn’t find anyone outside, and there was no light in the entire walkway, making it pitch black.

Dong Zhi pressed the closed button on the elevator, but the door didn’t move. When he pressed the call button, there was no response.

George walked out of the elevator first and pressed the button to call another elevator. That one was parked on the ninth floor and didn’t seem to change.

“It seems like it malfunctioned,” he said helplessly.

Dong Zhi: “Is anyone staying on the third floor?”

George said, “I don’t know. I only know that the Russians are one floor above us.”

Dong Zhi said to Liu Qingbo and the others, “Then we’ll take the stairs.”

The others had no opinions. They were all practitioners, and a mere suitcase wasn’t much trouble for them.

There weren’t any traces of light on the entire floor. Even the signs and lights for the emergency passage were off. Although the elevator door wasn’t closed, the light that came from inside barely allowed them to see the direction clearly, which made it even more weird.

When they stepped on the floor, the movement of their suitcase dragging along was almost silent. Liu Si suddenly said, “The Frenchman is gone.”

The three of them turned their heads, and sure enough, George, who was walking behind them, had disappeared.

A stern cry sounded from the other end of the corridor, and a white, translucent ghost rushed towards everyone at lightning speed!

It was too late to say anything. But soon, a sunlight talisman was thrown by Dong Zhi. In the rapid chanting of the mantra, the talisman ignited and directly collided with the ghost shadow, bursting into an explosion. Dazzling sparks erupted as the ghost was burnt to a crisp, leaving ashes that shortly disappeared after.

However, this wasn’t over yet. Ghosts started flashing out from the ceiling, the corridor carpet, and even the rooms with their doors closed on both sides of the corridor. Their figures were blurred, and they had hideous faces and sharp fangs.

Liu Si whipped the carpet. Not only did the ghosts scream and dissipate, but even the carpet instantly showed scorch marks.

Liu Qingbo sneered: “Trying to play tricks!”

He didn’t even make preparations but instead actively moved. He kicked open the room nearest to him, jumped in, and used his long sword to pierce the ceiling.

In the darkness, a dark shadow was exposed under the light of his sword. Seeing that Liu Qingbo’s sword was unstoppable, the opponent had to dodge the blade, but this dodge left him in a passive position. Liu Qingbo slashed his Fumo Sword all the way, causing his opponent to directly flee the room and into the corridor as he shouted, “I’m a competitor too. I’m just playing a prank on you!”

Liu Qingbo replied in Chinese, “Fuck you, I don’t understand English!”

Regardless of whether he really understood or pretended not to, the other party was chased to the end of the corridor. He finally found a gap and took out a pistol. He unlocked the safety and pulled the trigger within half a second.

Bang!

A gunshot echoed in the hallway.

Everyone’s expression changed.

Liu Qingbo turned his head to avoid it at the critical moment, causing the bullet to graze his ear. However, his sword was already in motion and had directly pierced the clothing of his target, stabbing into flesh.

The smell of blood drifted faintly, and the dark shadows fell to the ground, wailing.

On the other end, Dong Zhi had already chased the ghost in the direction of the emergency access stairway. With the Changshou Sword, he directly split the hidden door and used the sword’s qi to sweep across it, knocking down the dark shadow behind it. Before the opponent could take out his weapon, the Changshou Sword had become like a winding hand and was already wrapped around his opponent’s neck.

“Turn on the lights! Turn on the lights!” The man shouted hysterically.

The dark environment suddenly brightened.

The person who Dong Zhi was stepping on was George, the Frenchman who was with them in the elevator just now.

“Let him go!” A red-haired woman shouted. The gun in her hand was aimed directly at Dong Zhi.

Dong Zhi said coldly, “You can try to see if your gun is faster than I can kill him.”

George grasped the sword that was wrapped around his neck as blood kept oozing from the edge, quickly dyeing his collar red.

“Don’t shoot! Put it down! Put the gun down! Fuck, can’t you see I’m about to die! If you don’t drop it, how will he let me go!”

The red-haired woman glanced at the other young man, reluctantly lowered her arm, and threw the gun away.

“We just wanted to play a prank on you. Just a prank. Can you let me go now?” George barely managed to muster a smile that was worse than crying.

Dong Zhi finally let him go. The Changshou Sword made a loud sound and popped itself straight again. He put the sword back in its sheath and didn’t forget to kick his opponent in the chest when George was trying to support himself.

“You yellow-skinned pig!” The red-haired woman wanted to rush up but was held back by her companion.

“Captain!”

Li Han’er and the others rushed from another emergency passage. All three of them were carrying their swords in a menacing posture to help out.

Unfortunately, the fight was already over, but with their addition, the numbers of their own camp instantly overwhelmed the other side.

Though they all had internal discord, they by no means showed it to outsiders. Facing the hostile red-haired woman, Li Han’er and the other two jumped to action and decisively stood behind Dong Zhi. Without saying a word, they were ready to strike at any moment.

“Please watch your language. Otherwise, if you curse again, I’ll kick him again. Even if he loses blood here and dies, it is your responsibility.” Though Dong Zhi said this with a smile, it made the other party shudder.

He often looked well-behaved like a cute, obedient baby in front of Long Shen, and would play dumb and make cute jokes in front of his teammates, but they had never seen the face Dong Zhi made when facing the red-haired woman. In their eyes, this young man from the East was like the devil incarnate.

“We’ll kill you!” The red-haired woman shouted.

“Look at who’s killing who!” Liu Si appeared. The whip in his hand was slightly raised, and his murderous aura was revealed.

He usually didn’t talk much, but that didn’t mean the enemy could just ignore his existence.

The scene was deadlocked for a while, until someone called from the corner of the stairs.

“Oh my god, what happened here?!”

A tall, young man with brown hair walked down from above, followed by two people.

George clutched his neck and cried weakly, “Help me stop the bleeding!”

No one paid attention to him. A man behind the brown-haired young man walked out.

“I’m the leader of the French team, Galan. You have seriously injured members of my team. I want to appeal to the organizing committee to disqualify you from the competition!” He wasn’t bluffing or speaking rudely like the red-haired woman, but his tone was obviously more threatening.

The other party stared at Dong Zhi with a pair of light-colored eyes, almost with the sharpness of a hunter locking on his prey, which could make someone feel a sense of awe.

Unfortunately, he was facing a practitioner like himself.

“Sorry, but we’ll also appeal too. We came to participate in the exchange but were insulted and attacked by your team for no reason. If this kind of despicable behavior is how you welcome competitors, then we’ll never participate in this kind of exchange in the future!”

Dong Zhi didn’t know if the Special Administration Bureau would support him on this, but it was always right to put harsh words out first.

Dong Zhi pointed to the red-haired woman who was making an unflattering expression. “Aren’t you more politically correct? What this woman said is considered a racial slur, so I’ll be filing a complaint against her directly.”

Then he pointed to the wailing George. “And this person, in the future, he best not let us see him again, or we’ll beat him to a pulp!”

His tone was surprisingly upbeat, even playful.

“There’s still one lying in the corridor!” Liu Qingbo walked over, shook off the blood beads on his sword, and smiled contemptuously at Galan and the others.

“Well done!”

Applause rang out as a young girl with blond hair and snow-white skin appeared out of nowhere. She was applauding Dong Zhi while taunting George’s side.

“They played this disgusting trick on us when we first checked in, but we didn’t catch the bastard last time!”

The girl finished speaking and stretched out her hand toward Dong Zhi. “You’re Dong, right? I’m Anna, from Russia.”

The brown-haired young man scratched his head and glanced at Galan and the others. He raised his hands and walked toward Dong Zhi. “Don’t get me wrong. I’m not with them. I’m the deputy captain of the American team, William. We have no issue if you want to appeal or fight, but this hotel is innocent. For God’s sake, can you please change the place and time? Also, for the loss of the carpet and door just now, I think it should be compensated by the people who initiated the prank first, right?”

George gasped again, unable to speak. The red-haired woman helped him leave while Galan said with a grim face, “Wait until I address George’s injury first.”

After that, he hurriedly left.

William shrugged and said to Dong Zhi, “They have done this to two teams before, ah, including Anna’s and yours, but I didn’t expect them to be so hard this time. I heard the commotion and rushed over too late. Sorry!”

Did the other party really come too late, or did they come early and were just hiding by the side to watch the show? Dong Zhi thought it was the latter, but he had no intention of exposing William. He decided to take a lesson from the other party’s indifferent tone and replied, “It’s fine. Besides, it’s not us who were taught a painful lesson.”

William laughed. “That’s right! The strong are always fearless. Good luck to you!”

He stretched out his hand and patted Dong Zhi on the shoulder. Dong Zhi took a step back, causing him to miss. With some embarrassment, he smiled at them and waved goodbye, then climbed back up the stairs.

Only then did Dong Zhi have time to talk to Anna.

Anna said, “I have heard that something will happen during the exchange. I didn’t expect it to be true. It seems that person just now won’t be able to participate in the competition. However, you should be careful. That Grace seems to hate you very much. Now you have a grudge against two teams.”

It turned out that the red-haired girl was Grace, the one who lost her sister in a previous exchange. Dong Zhi and the others suddenly realized, but they found it strange.

“Isn’t Grace from England? George clearly said he was from France.”

Anna: “Oh, I came two days earlier than you. I saw George courting Grace every morning, so he’s probably pursuing her.”

So that’s why. Dong Zhi spread his hands. “Thank you for your advice, but we may already have a grudge with more than just two teams.”

If the people from Japan were Otowa Yasuhiko’s men, then they already had enemies everywhere.

Anna wasn’t privy to this and thought he was just joking.

Dong Zhi said, “We need to check into our rooms and settle down first. We’ll contact you later.”

Anna replied, “No problem. My room is 625. You’re welcome to hang out with me!”

After they exchanged contact information with Anna and waved goodbye, the three of them dragged their suitcase that had been left in the corner for a while and, together with Li Han’er and the others, went back into the elevator.

This time, the elevator returned to normal, and they smoothly went to the ninth floor.

Liu Qingbo snorted coldly when he saw this. “This hotel belongs to the Americans. To say they have no knowledge of this whole scheme—I don’t believe it!”

Dong Zhi smiled and said, “It’s better than him telling you he knew everything and was just watching on the sidelines, right? At least people are still willing to give you face!”

Liu Qingbo curled his lips. “That’s not a good thing!”

Dong Zhi: “Of course, everyone has their own positions. Only the people in our team are real, such as your invincible and lovely leader, handsome Liu Si, and the beautiful Daoist Li, and there’s also Lao Yang and Xiao Zhang!”

Liu Si and Yang Shouyi laughed while Li Han’er slightly raised her lips.

Xiao Zhang: ……

Liu Qingbo: “Barf!”


<<< || Table of Contents || Lore Glossary || >>>

Bu Tian Gang Ch123

Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi

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


Chapter 123

Early the next morning, before dawn, Long Shen had already woken up, while Dong Zhi was still sound asleep.

Long Shen hugged Dong Zhi and touched his forehead, which roused him. Dong Zhi opened his eyes in a daze and saw Long Shen standing neatly dressed by the bed. The last bit of his drowsiness immediately dissipated.

“Are you leaving now?”

Long Shen hummed. “You should go back to sleep. It’s not even 5 yet.”

Dong Zhi rubbed his eyes, got up, and gave Long Shen a hug, then quickly let go.

“Master, come back soon. Everything will go well.”

“Okay.” After taking a deep look at Dong Zhi, Long Shen turned and left without looking back.

As soon as he left, he was the armored and invulnerable Long Shen again.

Leaving the Special Administration Bureau, Long Shen took a taxi to an ordinary residential area in the city. In that area, which was comparable to a maze, he made many twists and turns before arriving at his destination. He swiped his card and entered the elevator, which went straight to the 9th floor. When he stepped out, he knocked on the door of one of the two households.

A few moments later, Tang Jing opened the door, and behind him was Wu Bingtian.

A map was spread out in the living room, which showed the internal structure of Atsuta Shrine.

“News just came from Maoshan,” Wu Bingtian said. “They said that Li Ying’s soul lamp hasn’t been extinguished, but it may not last long. We need to hurry.”

Ding Lan’s soul lamp had already been extinguished, while Yu Buhui didn’t have a soul lamp, so his status was unknown. All that was left was Li Ying.

Tang Jing said, “Otowa may have deliberately killed Ding Lan, leaving Li Ying as bait.”

Still, knowing the other party’s intentions, they couldn’t help but take the bait.

In order to rescue Li Ying and Yu Buhui and bring back Ding Lan, two of the three deputy directors of the Special Administration Bureau were personally dispatched. Although Tang Jing was a branch director, he was also extremely capable. This time, it was equivalent to sending the elites of the bureau.

Wu Bingtian gave a bitter smile. “Maoshan attaches great importance to Li Ying. If we don’t make a move, they will. I have temporarily stabilized them for now.”

If Li Ying hadn’t entered the Special Administration Bureau, he would probably have been designated as a candidate for the next sect leader. This showed that the elders of Maoshan attached great importance to him. Even though Maoshan was powerful, they couldn’t compete with the Special Administration Bureau in terms of organization and resources. Li Ying’s master even offered to come with them to rescue him, but Wu Bingtian refused. This time, the more people didn’t mean it was better.

Tang Jing said, “Since Boss Wu is going in person, they should be relieved.”

“To be honest, it’s been a few years since I’ve been out, so I’m a little weak.” In front of Long Shen and Tang Jing, Wu Bingtian admitted truthfully.

While they knew that Otowa Yasuhiko would definitely set a trap for them, they didn’t know what methods he would use. Although the Special Administration Bureau used various channels to inquire, if the other party wanted to hide it, how could any news leak? Just like how an outsider would have no way of knowing the inner workings of the Special Administration Bureau.

At this time, Long Shen put the box he was holding on the table and opened it using the key in his pocket. Wu Bingtian saw that there was a special restriction spell placed on it so that even if someone had the key, they wouldn’t be able to open it.

Just as he was about to inquire, he saw light leaking from the box. When the box was fully opened, the entire room was filled with such dazzling light that even the headlights in the room were eclipsed by it. Wu Bingtian and Tang Jing had to turn away to avoid the brightness.

Long Shen stretched out his hand and wiped it, causing all the light to instantly disappear. The object itself, which had just been obscured by the light, finally revealed itself.

Tang Jing was shocked, while Wu Bingtian hitched his breath.

“This is—the Four-Elements Star Lamp?!”

“Zong Lao gave it to me,” Long Shen said, as he let Tang Jing and Wu Bingtian take a closer look.

“But isn’t this lamp useless?” Wu Bingtian muttered.

The lamp was small and delicate enough to hold in one’s hand. The place where a candle was originally lit was empty. The lamp was square in shape, with lifelike divine beasts wrapped around it. The entire lamp was dark green, carved from jade.

However, what shocked Wu Bingtian and Tang Jing wasn’t its age or carvings that were ingenious enough to become a national treasure, but the mysterious origins that had always surrounded it, as well as its top-secret status in the Special Administration Bureau.

Tang Jing took a closer look for a while, then suddenly raised his head and looked at Long Shen. “Is it this, Zong Lao…?!”

Long Shen nodded.

Wu Bingtian looked back, saw their expression, and quickly understood.

“Zong Lao’s sacrifice is too great.” He sighed, but there was no doubt that with this lamp, they had a much better chance of winning against Otowa Yasuhiko.

Long Shen: “This is just in case. It’s best if we don’t need to use it.”

He closed the box again.

“Have our new identities been created?”

“Here.” As Tang Jing spoke, he took out three sets of documents from a suitcase. IDs, passports, and various forms were all readily available.

“Going forward, after entering the country, we’ll be a newlywed couple traveling with our old father to Japan. When we arrive near Atsuta Shrine, someone will pick us up. At that time, I’ll have a new identity, and you’ll each have to act separately. In this way, even if Otowa expects us to come to his door, he won’t know when we’ll show up. If we find that the situation is wrong, we can always escape and try again another day.”

Wu Bingtian casually said, “Who’s playing the old father?”

As soon as his voice fell, he found that Tang Jing and Long Shen were both looking at him.

Wu Bingtian: ……

“How am I old? Can’t you let Boss Long pretend to be the old father?” He was unconvinced and protested.

Tang Jing smoothly said, “Then it’ll be like some bigshot traveling with his mistress and bodyguard.”

Wu Bingtian’s eyes lit up. “That’s also good!”

It seemed quite refreshing to have Long Shen call him boss with a flat face.

Tang Jing immediately vetoed it. “No, the vehicle and accommodations that are picking us up in Nagoya have already been arranged. It doesn’t fit the identity of some rich elite at all. We’ll be exposed with just one glance. Besides, this helps save us some money!”

Wu Bingtian: …… This sentence sounded familiar. When the East China Branch asked the General Administration to increase the budget last year, he had blocked it saying such a line.

It was true that fortune does turn, and retribution comes quickly.

Tang Jing saw that neither of them had any opinions, so he handed them the information.

“Your hairstyle and face must change, as well as your expression and tone of speech. I’ll do the makeup while you practice your expression and tone. This is the script.”

There’s a script? Wu Bingtian was beginning to get a headache, but when he saw that Long Shen had no opinion, he could only swallow back his muttering.

When he picked up the script, Wu Bingtian was elated.

“It seems that my role isn’t such a big deal. Have you played this kind of role before, Boss Long?”

Long Shen shook his head. “Let me try.”

He picked up the script and began to memorize it seriously.

……

A day later, two men and a woman walked out of the building.

The woman was very young, with bangs draped down on her forehead and long hair. She was dressed in a fashionable dress that had a nondescript taste. The other old man was similar. He wore plain trousers and a shirt, but the shirt was loose but he wore a belt, making the size look a bit inconsistent at first glance. He was bald on top of his head, which was commonly known as the “Mediterranean Sea*”.

*Basically, referring to baldness where it starts at the top of your head, but the surrounding side still has hair (similar to that of the Mediterranean sea, where it’s the sea that’s surrounded by land). Like this.

The young man, who looked like the woman’s husband, was a little better, but not by much. His hair was messy, as if he hadn’t combed it, and the back of it was cocked. He was carrying a backpack and dragging a suitcase, revealing a kind of anxiety that was more like being late for work than going on a trip.

“The subway station has a direct route to the airport. Let’s take the subway!” The young man said to the other two.

The woman glared at him. “You really want to save such little money? Can’t we just call a taxi?”

The young man didn’t respond as the woman stomped on her high heels and went to hail a cab.

The old man rambled in the back, “What does it matter, ah. It’s just the subway!”

The young man smiled bitterly. “Dad, forget it. Let’s just take a taxi. It’s a bit troublesome to go to the subway with so much luggage!”

As soon as others listened to the conversation between these people, they could immediately guess the relationship between them.

The young man and woman were a couple. They probably had just gotten married but had no children, while the old man was probably the woman’s father, because the man was polite when speaking to him, and wasn’t as casual as he would be to his biological parents.

This was probably a family that was going out on a trip, and it seemed like it was their first time going somewhere far away, so their rush had unintentionally or not shown off a bit.

Passersby who surmised all this information would probably praise themselves for their Sherlock Holmes-like deduction skills, but they would never have guessed that these three people were just following a script.

If Dong Zhi was present, he would award all three with an Oscar.

Acting required a full set. Thus, Long Shen, Tang Jing, and Wu Bingtian, dressed as a family of three, embarked on their journey to Japan with large luggage. Their first stop wasn’t Nagoya but Tokyo, where normal tourists would go.

On the other side, Dong Zhi, who stayed in the capital, began to prepare for various matters to go to the exchange conference.

Time flew quietly amidst such chores. After New Year’s, the new year had officially arrived, and the day of their departure was getting closer.

He made a few copies of information from the previous year’s exchange conference and distributed it to the other five members. He was also busy making reports to apply for various injury medicines that might be used. The competitive process was cruel and intense, and the imagination of the Americans was endless, so it was hard to predict what tricks they would play this year. Dong Zhi had followed Long Shen when he talked with Carlos a while back, so he felt that this time it could be the most difficult test in history. Naturally, life was more important, but team honor was just as important. If one of them were to lose their life and they didn’t even get a good ranking, it would be losing one’s wife as well as one’s soldiers*.

*(赔了夫人又折兵) Idiom referring to suffering a double loss.

Both Long Shen and Wu Bingtian had gone out for official duties, and Director Jiang didn’t care about specific matters. The remaining deputy director, Song Zhicun, was quite amicable. When he saw the report, he agreed with a wave of his hand and directly approved them for a double dose of Shangqing Pills. The number of other injury medicines was also considerable. If Wu Bingtian were here to look at this, he would certainly faint on the spot.

However, Deputy Director Wu wasn’t privy to such information, and Dong Zhi happily tucked away the approval paperwork and went with Liu Qingbo to meet with the others.

“The last session was held within the valley of an Egyptian Pharaoh. The theme was to get rid of a curse. The one before that was on a ghost ship. You have all the information you need in your hands regarding previous competitions. You’re free to speculate on what the organizer may hold this time in order to prepare. Also, please tell me about your respective areas of expertise. I mainly use swords with talismans, so I can be regarded as a dual user.”

Dong Zhi didn’t include his ability to invite gods. After all, Long Shen had forbidden him to use this method again.

Liu Qingbo said, “I use a sword. The sword I’m using is Zhong Kui’s Fumo Sword*.”

*Demon sword.

As he spoke, he took out his sword from its sheath and spun it into a sword flower. The sword’s light flashed in everyone’s eyes, blinding them.

Dong Zhi was speechless at this ostentatious behavior, but it could also be seen that Liu Qingbo was happy about getting this sword. He had never seen him show off his Feijing or Yinxiu sword before. Thinking of this, Dong Zhi couldn’t help but shed tears for those stepmothers swords.

Since most of them were experts in sword use, they were interested in this sword that had a simple and crude name but an extraordinary origin. Li Han’er even asked Liu Qingbo if she could take a look, but it seemed that the Fumo Sword was quite spiritual. When it arrived in Li Han’er’s hands, it began to vibrate and tremble. When it was returned to Liu Qingbo’s hand, it returned to normal.

Liu Si didn’t have any particular thoughts. He was in the same training group as Liu Qingbo and Dong Zhi and later joined Group 2. Although he didn’t particularly have close interaction with them, he was undoubtedly closer to them than the others.

After hearing Liu Qingbo’s introduction, Liu Si took initiative to say, “I use a whip made of willow wood. It’s useful for dealing with ghosts, but not effective against demons.”

Since three people have gone, the others started to chime in.

Li Han’er said, “I’m from Mount Maoshan and have learned some swordsmanship, but I’m better at talisman.”

Having said that, she glanced at Dong Zhi before continuing, “But I can’t summon thunder.”

Dong Zhi gave her a puzzled look. When he heard her say she couldn’t summon thunder, he quickly added, “It doesn’t matter if you can summon thunder or not. Last time when we dealt with the doppelganger of the heavenly demon, heavenly thunder didn’t do much.”

His reassuring words didn’t have much effect, as Li Han’er simply nodded and said nothing else.

Yang Shouyi: “I can only use swords and am almost at the state of human-sword unity*.”

*Clarity: It’s a term used (usually in martial arts novel) to describe one’s masterfulness at using a sword, as if it was your hand.

He said it lightly, as if it were an understatement, which made Liu Qingbo itchy, as he considered finding someone to discuss this with after their meeting.

What state of human-sword unity? Liu Qingbo was almost there as well but being almost there and being there were still ultimately different.

Yang Shouyi was worthy of being the leader of the new generation of Yuanming Palace. If it hadn’t been for Dong Zhi’s trick last time, it might not be so easily decided who was the victor.

The advantage Dong Zhi had was that he knew complicated techniques and could integrate them. Yang Shouyi specialized in swordsmanship. His depth and comprehension of the sword were not something others could just catch up with after a few years of practice. It could be seen that everyone in this six-person group was indeed capable, but whether Dong Zhi could hold these people down would be entirely dependent on his own abilities.

Though there was a ton of pressure on Dong Zhi, it also acted as motivation. Long Shen had high hopes for him. Naturally, he didn’t want the other party to hear the news of their defeat when he returned.

Zhang Song finally spoke up. “I’m a dual cultivator of talismans and swords. I mainly focus on fire talismans.”

Dong Zhi kept their specialties in mind. He nodded and said, “This time when we go out, if you have any opinions, you can tell them to me privately. Don’t be too impulsive when you encounter anything. Remember, we’re representing more than just ourselves.”

This sounded harsh but wasn’t something everyone could refute. After all, this was a fact. There could be no infighting. If they were to leave and fight again, it would only make them look like a laughingstock.

“Do you have other needs or suggestions? While we’re still in China, I can do what I can.” Dong Zhi picked up a pen and paper and began to prepare to take notes.

Liu Qingbo had long felt that this mother-in-law Dong Zhi was quite long-winded. As soon as the other party’s voice fell, he spoke enthusiastically. “I think since this year is hosted by the Americans, according to their style, it’s very likely we will be directly given a hodgepodge of zombies. Maybe the key props are hidden inside the zombies. Not only do we need to defeat them, but we also have to cut open every zombie and dig through their heart and liver!”

Everyone: ……

The corners of Dong Zhi’s mouth twitched. “Your taste is really heavy!”

Liu Qingbo rolled his eyes. “It’s not my taste that’s heavy, but the Americans’. Haven’t you watched horror movies? They are always bloody and gory. It seems they have some kind of special complex for zombies. According to the information, there haven’t been any zombies that have appeared yet. Doesn’t that mean the possibility is quite high? If you ask me, there are only a few days left. We can borrow the zombie simulation system from the bureau and go in and practice. That’ll get us to first place!”

Li Han’er said slowly, “The simulation system has been purchased by many countries now. It’s precisely because everyone thinks zombies are most likely to appear that I think the organizers won’t choose it.”

Liu Qingbo, who had been completely overturned, made a snide remark. “Then what’s your opinion?”

Li Han’er said, “Since it’s known that it’s being held on an island in the Atlantic Ocean, I think the content may be related to Atlantis. We may need to go deep into the ocean to find props requested by the organizer, so the enemies we face may also be related to strange beasts at the bottom of the ocean.”

Although it was all conjecture, this one was so well-founded that Liu Qingbo couldn’t really think of a rebuttal for it.

Dong Zhi said, “Is everyone good in the water?”

He got an affirmative answer, so he asked Li Han’er, “Does Fellow Daoist Li have anything to add?”

Li Han’er shook her head. “We don’t have much information now, so we can only adapt to the changes.”

Dong Zhi said, “I got two pieces of information from Boss Song. One is that Japan will send their onmyouji to participate this time. You must also know that because of the stone tablet, we’re at odds with Japan. Although Otowa Yasuhiko can’t control the entire Japanese onmyoji world, there are many who have malicious intentions against us. Please be careful. Boss Song stresses that if the other party stays calm and doesn’t cause trouble, there’s no need for us to take the initiative to provoke.”

After a pause, he continued, “The second piece is from the last session that He Yu’s team participated in and took first place. At that time, they had an accident with a practitioner from England during the competition, and one person died. The United Kingdom didn’t participate in the last session. This year, they have signed up. There is a participant on the list that’s the sister of the deceased, named Grace Smith. She may be targeting us, so we should also pay attention.”

Liu Qingbo curled his lips. “In other words, we’re facing internal and external troubles this time, and enemies are coming in from all sides. It’s like swaying in the midst of a raging storm*!”

*(风雨飘摇呗) Idiom referring to a precarious situation.

Dong Zhi smiled brightly at him. “Classmate, you learn idioms so well, so wish us some good luck!”

It didn’t take long for half a month to pass. When Dong Zhi removed the bandages from his hands, they finally got on a special plane that was flying to Los Angeles and officially embarked on their journey.

The reason the organizers chose Los Angeles as the base was out of consideration for the practitioners from all over the world. Among them, there were those that were unique. With a world-famous movie theater set nearby, no matter how weird someone dressed, it could be chalked up to blending in with the atmosphere. When others saw it, they would only think it’s a staff member or a tourist and wouldn’t make much of a fuss.

When Dong Zhi and his group of six got off the plane, a special car was waiting outside to pick them up. There was a driver and a young man in the car.

“Hello, welcome to Los Angeles. This is a very vibrant city. You’ll fall in love with it after only staying for a day! Oh, my name is Ivan. Who is the leader of your team?”

“Me, Dong Zhi.” Dong Zhi stretched out his hand as he answered. He couldn’t help laughing when he found the young man couldn’t quite pronounce the “Zhi” and could only call him Dong Chi*. “Just call me Dong. Are you a member of Group 51?”

*Clarity: Zhi () vs Chi ().

Ivan was enthusiastic and outgoing. He winked at him and shook his hand. “To be precise, I’m a logistic staff member from Group 51. I’m just an ordinary person, but I really wanted to join, so I’ve been working hard on my marksmanship recently!”

Including Dong Zhi’s team, there were ten participating teams this time. Including China, the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and Japan had formed separate teams. The other teams were all regional teams, such as Southeast Asia was considered a team, as well as Africa, Northern Europe, and Southern Europe. India originally wanted to form a separate team but later canceled for some reason and incorporated with the Southeast Asia region.

In fact, situations like this weren’t uncommon. After all, practitioners weren’t just casually grabbed, and those who disdain integrating with the world, like those black magic masters, would not come to participate in this kind of exchange.

Ivan said that they were the second last team to have arrived. All the other teams except for Africa were already staying at their hotel. Starting tomorrow, there would be three consecutive meetings and exchanges. Ivan, who really wanted to be the frontline member of Group 51, was excited that he was given the opportunity to observe the exchange.

Liu Si and Yang Shouyi weren’t fluent in English, so they didn’t speak much, while Li Han’er and Zhong Song weren’t the talking types. Since Dong Zhi was the team leader, he mainly talked with Ivan while the others listened along the way. Young Master Liu Qingbo had a bad temper and at most would only say a few words occasionally; he didn’t bother dragging in a logistical staff to inquire endlessly.

In fact, what everyone wanted to know, Dong Zhi had already asked.

Ivan told them that they were staying at the Franklin Hotel. When he said this, Ivan’s face was a little weird. Dong Zhi gave Liu Qingbo a wink. The latter immediately went online on his phone to look up the relevant information about the hotel. In less than a few minutes, Dong Zhi knew all about it. This hotel was very famous not only because it was located near the theater for the Hollywood awards ceremonies but also because of its reputation for various supernatural events. It was said that many people would come stay at the hotel every year just to see celebrity ghosts.

But if that were the case, Ivan wouldn’t give such a strange look and instead would talk about the various supernatural events in the hotel. Since he worked in logistics for Group 51, he must have heard many anecdotes and strange rumors.

Dong Zhi asked him, “Is there a purpose to this arrangement?”

Ivan blinked. His tone slowed. “I think so, maybe?”

From a glance, it seemed he wasn’t good at lying. If he met a veteran, Dong Zhi would’ve had to find another way to deal with it, but the task now was simple. He picked up his phone and said with a smile, “If you don’t tell me, I’ll directly ask Carlos. I know he’s not leading the team this time, but as deputy director of Group 51, Carlos should have no reason not to know, right?”

Ivan was taken aback. “You know Carlos?”

Dong Zhi: “He’s familiar with my master. My master’s name is Long. Maybe you have heard of him.”

Ivan suddenly said, “Director Long? Oh my god, it turns out you’re Director Long’s apprentice.”

He suddenly became excited. “They didn’t tell me that Director Long’s apprentice would be leading the team this time! Of course I have heard of him. Carlos told us about Long’s deeds. They once cooperated to capture a blood demon!”

This was something of Long Shen’s past that Dong Zhi didn’t know, but then again, his master had pretty much experienced anything that others have in half their lifetime. Long Shen didn’t think he needed to say anything, but in others’ eyes, it was no different from a legend.

“Ivan, what’s the reason why you’ve arranged for us to stay at this hotel? Tell me. If you want to enter Group 51, how about I recommend you to Carlos later?”

Ivan’s eyes lit up. “Really?”

Dong Zhi shrugged. “But I can’t make any guarantee that he will admit you. It’s just a simple letter of recommendation. Whether you can be admitted or not will still entirely depend on yourself.”

Ivan was so happy that he started to speak incoherently. “Thank you, thank you! As long as there’s a letter of recommendation, that’s enough. I’ll try my best to let him discover my highlights!”

Based on what Ivan said, the hotel was a bit evil. From time to time, strange things would happen. After every accident, it would be calm for a while, but the accidents would continue. Ordinary people would think it was just a hotel that spawned supernatural rumors as an attraction. They regarded it as fresh and exciting but didn’t really know the hidden dangers behind it. The time of the accidents was usually regular—once every one to two years—and it would happen at the beginning of New Year’s, after Christmas.

There were monsters that appeared in the hotel the year before last. Fortunately, they were discovered and dealt with by Group 51 in time, so they didn’t cause a big stir. No major events happened last year, so they speculate that the hotel might be noisy again this year. Coinciding with the exchange conference, the Americans discussed it and decided to let teams from all over the world stay in this hotel as a way to help them exorcize the evil, killing two birds with one stone.


The author has something to say:

The hotel is just a prototype, but because the content had some empty spaces, the name had to be changed. Otherwise, I could have used the original name~


Kinky Thoughts:

I’m not actually sure what hotel the author is referring to, but my guess would be the Cecil Hotel. Funny enough, the hotel was loosely used for American Horror Story: Hotel, so it’s probably that.


<<< || Table of Contents || Lore Glossary || >>>

Bu Tian Gang Ch122

Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi

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


Chapter 122

Liu Qingbo said with an odd expression, “Your relationship between master and apprentice is really good!”

He didn’t know what Long Shen’s true body was. He just faintly knew that Long Shen’s age might not be as young as he looked on the outside. Even so, because of his young and handsome face, he really couldn’t treat Long Shen as an elder. He thought if Long Shen had touched his face like just now, he would have gotten goosebumps.

Then the question arose, was it related to his personal style that he didn’t succeed in being accepted as an apprentice? Boss Long looked unkind, but in fact, he liked the sticky and coquettish apprentice like Dong Zhi?

When Liu Qingbo asked this question, Dong Zhi didn’t know how to answer, so he asked rhetorically, “When did I become sticky? Do you see me being sticky? Am I sticky to Boss Wu or Boss Song?”

That was true… Liu Qingbo rubbed his chin, still feeling confused. He felt that Long Shen’s action just now was indeed a bit strange.

In fact, there was nothing wrong with this issue at first. It was just Long Shen, and Dong Zhi didn’t intend to take the initiative to publicize it. Dong Zhi sighed and decided to take the initiative to solve Liu Qingbo’s mystery in order to prevent him from continuing to slide into the abyss of strange thoughts and beginning to doubt Long Shen’s character.

“Master and I are together.”

Liu Qingbo looked even more confused. “What do you mean, together?”

Dong Zhi: “Like in love, having sex. Is this explanation clear enough?”

It was clear enough, but Liu Qingbo was so shocked by the sudden news that he forgot to close his mouth.

“You, with Boss Long?”

Dong Zhi nodded, waiting for Liu Qingbo to slowly digest it.

“But you’re master and apprentice!” Liu Qingbo said in disbelief.

Two men falling in love—well, it wasn’t unusual. After all, even the Australian Parliament had legalized same-sex marriage now, but it was mainly because he couldn’t associate Long Shen, who was indifferent for thousands of years, with ever falling in love.

Thinking about it like this, his brain circuit suddenly turned in a mysterious and unpredictable direction. Then, it finally dawned on him, and he blushed. “Is it possible that the prerequisite for being accepted by Boss Long is to fall in love with him?”

Since he thought about it that way, should he be glad he didn’t succeed in becoming his apprentice?

Dong Zhi: ……

“I think it’s a pity you joined the Special Administration Bureau. With your imagination, you would be popular writing fantasy novels,” Dong Zhi suggested sincerely.

Liu Qingbo rolled his eyes. “I’m a normal person. It’s reasonable that I can’t react for a while from the shock, okay?”

Dong Zhi thought, ‘You blow hot air at every turn and often act tsundere. In my heart, you’re anything but normal.’

But he kept it to himself and didn’t dare to say anything. Otherwise, the young master would probably walk away without talking to him for at least half a month.

After the shock, Liu Qingbo gradually returned to normal and didn’t ask any more questions. After all, that was a private matter between the two of them. As long as it didn’t interfere with business, it had nothing to do with him.

This was Liu Qingbo. If it were He Yu, he would already make a fuss about it and run to Long Shen for verification.

As soon as He Yu’s big mouth knew it, Kan Chaosheng and Zhong Yuyi would as well, and then the entire Special Administration would probably know. Thinking of this, Dong Zhi twitched the corners of his mouth and decided it was better not to tell He Yu and the others for the time being.

These days, the Lucheng office was doing well. It was said that after the superiors praised the Lucheng office, several offices in the same province sent people to learn from them. One of them included Ba Sang, who was in the same training session as them.

Liu Qingbo wasn’t familiar with Ba Sang. Originally, he didn’t want to have idle chatter, but to give Dong Zhi some face, the two still exchanged a few pleasantries. Ba Sang said that he had found a girlfriend. The other party wasn’t a practitioner but a high school teacher. He asked Liu Qingbo to tell Dong Zhi that he would come visit him to play when he was free. There were many single, beautiful girls at his girlfriend’s school that he could introduce Dong Zhi to.

Since the end of training, everyone had gone their separate ways. Dong Zhi, along with others, had been busy. Although there were various online groups, there wasn’t an opportunity for everyone to get together and chat. After Liu Qingbo went to Lucheng, he also knew how busy Dong Zhi was. From the dismemberment case to Yamamoto Kiyoshi, and later Han Qi, who led them to Southeast Asia, to fighting the Wuzhiqi and discovering the stone tablet, everything happened so quickly that they forgot to contact old friends.

Hearing Ba Sang’s recent situation, Dong Zhi couldn’t help but smile. “This kid is so fast. He’s already got a girlfriend!”

Liu Qingbo narrowed his eyes. “You have the nerve to talk about other people when you’re near the water tower*?”

*(近水楼台) Metaphor referring to getting some kind of benefit or convenience because of being close to someone/something. || In this context, he’s chiding Dong Zhi for making that comment considering how close he is to Long Shen.

“Then why don’t I introduce you to someone?” Dong Zhi scratched his nose. Ever since he started pursuing Long Shen, he seemed to have increased the thickness of his skin.

Liu Qingbo snorted and refused straight away. “Forget it. The one who’s worthy of me hasn’t been born yet!”

Dong Zhi: ……

Though the two hadn’t been separated for long, there was a period of time when Dong Zhi was in Southeast Asia that they didn’t have contact. Liu Qingbo was interested in how they dealt with the phantom of the heavenly demon and the sorcerer Songen. Last time, due to time constraints and network delay, he didn’t get to ask much on the video chat. Now he inquired about it again, and Dong Zhi went into more details.

After listening, his face didn’t relax but became more solemn.

“According to this, will the wisp of the demonic qi of the heavenly demon be more difficult to deal with than the Archfiend?”

Dong Zhi said, “It’s hard to say. Although it’s just a wisp of demonic qi from the phantom of Mara’s body, the qi comes from the demon king Mara himself. Master reminded me that since the phantom body can become independent from the main body, this wisp of demonic qi must have self-awareness. It may hide, disguise, and then wait for the opportunity to attack others. Before we set off, I’ll find an opportunity to talk to Zhang Song and the others, but I’m afraid they will not be relieved after hearing this. In the end, we still need to be extra cautious.”

Liu Qingbo said, “Understood. I’ll ask my family to send me a sword tomorrow.”

Dong Zhi was puzzled. “Don’t you have the Yinxiu Sword?”

“My grandfather has a sword, which is said to be the sword used by Zhong Kui*. It’s most suitable for slaying demons and spirits. This time, I’ll exaggerate the matter of the demonic qi, so I believe he’ll be soft-hearted!” Liu Qingbo was pumping himself up, eager to try.

*Deity in Chinese mythology, traditionally regarded as a vanquisher or ghosts and evil beings. He’s depicted as a large man with a big black beard, bulging eyes, and a wrathful expression. He is also known as the king of ghosts.

Dong Zhi was speechless. “Swords also have spirits. Is it really okay for you to like the new and tired of the old?”

Liu Qingbo sighed. “Boss Long also mentioned this problem, but whenever I see a good sword, my heart gets itchy. This time, after I switch to using my grandfather’s secret sword from Zhong Kui, I won’t change it again. It’s only a sword like that that can match me!”

Dong Zhi: ……

He suddenly felt that it wasn’t such a big deal for him to talk about master-apprentice love, because there was a much more narcissistic person here.

After eating, the two parted ways. Liu Qingbo’s family had a house in the capital, so he didn’t have to stay at the Special Administration Bureau. He also needed to rush back to pack his things and get up early tomorrow for practice. Dong Zhi, on the other hand, returned to the Special Administration Bureau. He first went to his dorm to feed the cat and found that it wasn’t there and saw that its rice bowl was still full. He went to the opposite room and, sure enough, saw Long Shen casually lying on the sofa while the big white cat was lying next to him.

The lights in the living room were turned off, but the light in the foyer turned on when Dong Zhi entered.

No matter how lightly Dong Zhi moved, Long Shen immediately opened his eyes.

“You’re back.”

In the past, Long Shen wouldn’t say much of this knowing nonsense. He often had a confusion that was unlike that of normal humans, and precisely because of this, he sometimes couldn’t understand this kind of detailed behavior.

But now, he gradually understood. In fact, things like “I’m back” or “I’ve eaten” seemed meaningless, but when said with concern, they were meaningful.

From just one sentence, Dong Zhi could hear the fatigue in Long Shen’s voice. “Why don’t you go to sleep in the room? It’s uncomfortable here.”

Instead of walking towards Long Shen as usual, Dong Zhi went to the bedroom first, took out a thin blanket, and covered Long Shen.

“I’m not going to catch a cold.” Long Shen thought what Dong Zhi did was interesting and couldn’t help but chuckle.

“It’s more comfortable like this.”

Dong Zhi leaned over and sat next to the two of them. The white cat didn’t bother moving and instead flicked its tail as if to greet him.

Dong Zhi petted the cat’s head and saw the information spread out on Long Shen’s knees.

“What’s this?” He didn’t lean over to look. Although the relationship between the two was different from before, in business matters, Dong Zhi always adhered to the principle of confidentiality at the Special Administration Bureau. He would not ask questions that shouldn’t be asked. He felt that this was the minimum of professional ethics. It had nothing to do with whether the two of them were inseparable.

“You can read it.” Long Shen took the initiative to hand over the information.

After scanning the contents, Dong Zhi found that it was information on Atsuta Shrine.

“Is it related to the whereabouts of Li Ying and the others?”

Long Shen said, “Every autumn and winter, Otowa will retreat to Atsuta Shrine or Ise Shrine. According to the news received, he went to Atsuta Shrine not long ago and hasn’t left since.”

Dong Zhi immediately reacted. “This may be a trap!”

The other party was waiting for the rabbit—waiting for someone from the Special Administration Bureau to take the initiative to come to their door and get caught.

Long Shen said in a deep voice, “Yes, but we have to go. In any case, it’s necessary to save Li Ying and Yu Buhai, and there must be an end to the matter of the stone tablets.”

Like Songen, Otowa Yasuhiko liked to use magic qi to refine souls, creating all kinds of appalling and unimaginable monstrosities, which, in their opinion, were extremely creative. Although Ding Lan’s soul lamp was extinguished, they wanted to verify if he was still alive or find his corpse if he was dead. It was impossible for the Special Administration Bureau to leave them outside and let them fend for themselves.

The tragedy of Dong Zhilan had happened once, and it must not be repeated.

More importantly, they must thoroughly find the key to the demon seal from Otowa and solve the mystery of the stone tablets once and for all.

Dong Zhi knew that Long Shen and the others would be well prepared, but the enemy was hiding in the shadows while they were in the clear, so it was impossible not to worry.

“It’s getting late. Are you going to sleep?” Long Shen asked him.

Dong Zhi shook his head. “I didn’t drink just now, so I’m not sleepy.”

“Then let’s go.” Long Shen got up and said, “Let’s go out for a walk.”

It was rare for Long Shen to take the initiative to invite him. In the past, Dong Zhi would have been overjoyed, but now he was less enthusiastic.

“Let’s go.” Seeing that Dong Zhi didn’t move, Long Shen stretched out his hand and pulled him up. “Shall I carry you?”

Dong Zhi couldn’t help laughing. “Really?”

Long Shen nodded.

In the end, he didn’t let Long Shen carry him. The two went downstairs to the underground garage and got into the Land Rover that hadn’t been driven in a long time. Dong Zhi saw Long Shen drive out of the garage and head towards the highway, as if he had a destination in mind, and it wasn’t simply going out for a walk like he said.

“Master, where are we going?” he couldn’t help asking.

“My house,” Long Shen replied.

Dong Zhi’s brain suddenly short-circuited. He suddenly became nervous and even stammered a little. “Are there elders? Do I need to buy gifts?”

“I have no parents, so where would there be elders?” Long Shen felt a bit helpless. “Didn’t I tell you a long time ago that I have a house in the city?”

He casually fished out a set of keys from the glove compartment and handed them to Dong Zhi.

“Car and house keys. Take it and use it when needed. You don’t need to ask me.”

Dong Zhi stared at the strings of keys and didn’t take them.

“No, I live in the dorm pretty well, and I don’t need a car.” He said this in a low voice and turned to look at the scenery passing by the car window, not wanting Long Shen to find that his eyes were turning red.

Long Shen didn’t say anything but instead stuffed the keys into his hands.

Dong Zhi clenched his palms tightly, as if he didn’t feel any pain from the sharp edges of the key jabbing into his skin. “Master, can you stop acting as if you’re handing out your last will?”

“I’m really not sure about how things will turn out in Japan,” Long Shen said, “but giving you these things has nothing to do with my trip. This is just making it more convenient for you.”

Dong Zhi took a deep breath and said slowly, “I don’t want the key. If you want to give it to me, just wait until you return, okay?”

Seeing that he insisted, Long Shen didn’t force the issue. “Okay.”

Dong Zhi said in a low voice, “I really want to go to Japan with you in spite of everything.”

Long Shen freed up one hand and patted Dong Zhi’s leg, silently comforting him, then retracted it and continued to hold the steering wheel without saying anything. Long Shen knew that his apprentice was just talking and had already learned how to take responsibility, for himself and for others. His future would be bright, and not only would he become an excellent practitioner, but he would also advance to a suitable position. Even without his guidance and care, Dong Zhi would still be able to spread his wings and soar.

Although Dong Zhi refused the key, he had already taken the car out, so Long Shen took him to his house anyway for a tour.

The house was large, and the location was good. It was a small villa that was quiet in the middle of nowhere, away from the hustle and bustle. Since no one had stayed there for too long, it had a cold and desolate feeling. Dong Zhi looked around and found that apart from a few personal decorations, the rest of the house was just basic facilities. It could be seen that Long Shen rarely stayed here himself.

For Dong Zhi, the value of the home lay in the people who lived in it, and a place without Long Shen was the same anywhere.

Seeing that he wasn’t interested, Long Shen didn’t say much and took him away again.

“Go back?”

It was rare for them to go out, so Dong Zhi thought for a moment. “Let’s go around and find a lively place to go? Today’s Christmas.”

In fact, he had already forgotten what day it was, and he didn’t remember until he saw the decorations on the street.

Most Easterners may just want a lively Christmas, but this didn’t prevent businesses from taking the opportunity to promote activities and enhance the festive atmosphere. Over time, everyone would have the jolly feeling of the holidays, with Christmas being a hodgepodge of their holiday spirit. Walking along the streets with Long Shen, Dong Zhi saw no less than three flower shops offering Christmas flower delivery along the way.

The long and clean street was crowded with people and got even livelier after nightfall. They walked against the crowd, seemingly going against the flow and looking out of place.

Dong Zhi suddenly laughed out loud.

“I remember that once you took me to get the Qingzhu Sword, and we were walking on such a road. At that time, there were no people, and I hoped that the road would never end.”

There was always some bitterness to a secret love, but after it was uncovered, it would turn into sweetness.

Long Shen: “I didn’t know at that time.”

He didn’t know that Dong Zhi wanted to worship him because he had such feelings for him.

Dong Zhi was curious. “What would happen if you knew it then?”

Long Shen: “What do you think would happen?”

Dong Zhi thought about Long Shen’s initial reaction and scratched his nose embarrassedly. “I might have been beaten up and thrown out of the capital!”

Not to mention the apprenticeship, he probably couldn’t even enter the gate of the Special Administration Bureau. From then on, he would have no chance of seeing Long Shen again. Thinking about it that way, it seemed a bit tragic and comical.

Long Shen said, “There is no if, and now is now. Asking about it assumes that you’re asking for trouble.”

A young girl came over with a basket of flowers. When she saw couples walking together, she would ask if they would like to purchase one. During this kind of holiday, she could easily sell bundles in the blink of an eye. When she came to Dong Zhi, there were a few scattered flowers left in the basket.

She glanced at Dong Zhi and Long Shen. She originally saw two men and didn’t think much about it. When she was about to pass by, she caught sight of the backs of their hands touching under their coats and thanked her lucky stars. She hurriedly stopped and smiled sweetly at them. “Two little brothers, do you want to buy flowers? There are just a few of the most beautiful ones left, so won’t you buy them?”

Long Shen didn’t move. He didn’t have the idea of gifting flowers to express romance yet, but Dong Zhi had already rejected the other party.

“I have a boyfriend who’s more beautiful than flowers. Why would I need them?”

The girl was dumbfounded, not knowing whether she was stunned by his outright, but righteous, stinginess or that he could blurt out such cheesy words without even blinking.

Did one have to be extremely flirtatious these days to find a handsome guy as their boyfriend?

Before she could collect her thoughts, Dong Zhi and Long Shen had already walked away.

“Shouldn’t couples use flowers to express their feelings?” Long Shen asked.

Although he lived far longer than most people, he never took the time to ponder or pay attention to trivial things that he had never experienced or that didn’t matter to him.

Dong Zhi smiled and said, “Not necessarily. There are many people who think that beautiful words can lift their mood, and usually they are said to women by men.”

Long Shen questioned, “But flowers are the reproductive organs of plants, so doesn’t sending flowers mean you want to reproduce with the other party?”

Dong Zhi almost choked on his spit. According to this logic, there was no need to send flowers between men since they couldn’t have children.

He even thought of the first divine intercourse when he was transformed into a delicate flower that was devastated by the storm. Later, he knew the scenes he saw in the divine intercourse were all consciousness incarnations taking on a figurative form, but looking back, he still couldn’t bear to look at them directly.

“Master, please stop talking.” His voice became a little weak.

Long Shen really stopped. He held Dong Zhi’s hand, ignoring whether it was crowded or not. As long as he wanted to, he didn’t care about the eyes of others.

The two walked for a while until Dong Zhi saw the logo of the Oriental Plaza* in front of them and proposed to find a café to sit in for a while. Long Shen naturally had no objection.

*One of the largest comprehensive commercial buildings in Beijing. It has a mixture of entertainment, commercial buildings, shopping, and food. 

Pushing the glass door open, the warm wind blew on his face. It felt like he instantly went from winter into late spring. Inside the plaza, it was livelier than outside. Christmas music was playing everywhere, and glass balls and colorful lights covered the shopping malls. There was a large Christmas tree in the middle with many people gathered around it taking pictures.

Dong Zhi found a café next to the Christmas tree and took Long Shen there. He ordered two matcha lattes, with his own drink with less sugar while Long Shen’s with full sugar.

He still remembered that Long Shen had no obsession with eating, and the only thing that could be called a hobby was his preference for sweets.

“When I used to live by myself, I would bring a few bunches of flowers to my house every New Year’s, but after I met you, I didn’t like it anymore,” Dong Zhi said.

He held his latte and lowered his head to take a sip. The warm and sweet taste made Dong Zhi show a slight sense of happiness. Long Shen looked at him for a moment without blinking.

“Why?”

The sweetness flowed down his throat into his stomach and warmed up his body. Dong Zhi couldn’t help but let out a comfortable sigh.

He smiled and said softly, “Because after knowing your original form, I vowed to take good care of all creatures in the world.”

Because of Long Shen, whenever he saw a sword or knife, he would feel that they may have a chance to transform. Even if it were a flower or grass, he would involuntarily soften his heart. Dong Zhi didn’t feel that he was great, but he just loved the house, which extended even to the crows perched on its roof*.

*(爱屋及乌) Metaphor referring to loving a person and caring about the people and things related to him.

His heart was originally small, but it was Long Shen who put the world in it.

On Christmas Eve, the café was bustling with activity. Couples could take a couple’s photo and would get a free second cup, but the photos had to be hung on the café board.

With the excellent appearance of the two, it naturally attracted inquiries from the clerk. The clerk said that the couple didn’t need to be of opposite sexes. It was open to anyone as long as they were willing to take a couple’s photo.

Dong Zhi and Long Shen had a special profession, so photos usually weren’t taken when they went out. Dong Zhi was about to decline when Long Shen said, “Can you take a photo of us? We don’t need the free drink. I want to keep the photo for myself.”

The clerk readily agreed and took Long Shen’s phone. She took a few pictures of the two sitting together, making sure to capture a good angle of Dong Zhi under the lighting. Long Shen thanked her and gave her a tip.

Dong Zhi asked Long Shen to let him see the photos, then chose the best one and made it his phone’s wallpaper.

When Long Shen saw this, he caught on and also set a photo as his phone’s wallpaper.

Dong Zhi couldn’t help laughing. “Master, this will make it easy for you to be questioned by others!”

Especially the big bosses of the Special Administration Bureau who interacted with Long Shen, and even the higher ups. Dong Zhi couldn’t imagine their expression when they saw this.

Although the two of them were next to each other in the couple photo, there wasn’t any excessive behavior. At most, Dong Zhi was smiling brightly, and the corners of Long Shen’s mouth were slightly hitched, but what master would use a photo of his apprentice as their phone’s wallpaper? Although he was his master’s closest person now.

Long Shen didn’t seem to mind. “It’s fine.”

The two sat until about 8, when the mall was about to close. They didn’t talk much. Most of the time, they sat like they were in a daze. Dong Zhi shrank lazily on the café sofa. He felt good as he watched the tourist leave, and he didn’t want to move an inch.

“Sleepy?” Long Shen didn’t have much free time throughout the year, so sitting quietly and doing nothing was a bit uncomfortable at first, but gradually he was able to enjoy his rare leisure time.

“It’s okay. I just don’t want to go back.” Dong Zhi yawned. Tomorrow, Long Shen would leave the Special Administration Bureau and go to a secret place with Wu Bingtian and Tang Jing, then leave the country under a false identity. In other words, tonight would be the last night they spend together before parting.

“Let’s go. It’s closing soon.” Long Shen got up and pulled on him. Dong Zhi didn’t move and instead grabbed Long Shen’s hand.

Long Shen felt a bit helpless. He would always indulge his apprentice in non-principle matters.

“I’ll carry you on my back.”

Dong Zhi felt a bit embarrassed, but Long Shen had already squatted down with his back to him and motioned for him to climb on, so he could only go with it.

Among the surprised gaze of many, Long Shen walked out steadily carrying Dong Zhi on his back. Dong Zhi coughed lightly and buried his head into Long Shen’s neck like an ostrich.

“Master.”

“Hm?”

“I love you.”

His voice was close, and even the heat passed through the ears and straight to the heart.


Kinky Thoughts:

Yes, Dong Zhi did say [wo ai ni] (我爱你) so this is not just a simple “like”.

This marks the end of the anniversary release. I will be taking a break for the rest of this month, so releases will be extremely sporadic until at least January. Thank you everyone for your support, comments, Ko-fi donations, and help throughout the past year. Here’s hoping for more danmei in 2023. Wishing everyone an (early) happy holidays.

—-

Zhong Kui

A deity in Chinese mythology, traditionally regarded as a vanquisher of ghosts and evil beings. He is depicted as a large man with a big black beard, bulging eyes, and a wrathful expression. Zhong Kui is able to command 80,000 demons to do his bidding and is often associated with the five bats of fortune.

He became the King of Ghost after committing suicide when he was stripped of his title top-scorer by the emperor due to his disfigured and ugly appearance. Seeing potential in him, Yama bestowed the title “king of ghosts” on him and tasked him with hunting, capturing, taking charge of, and maintaining discipline and order among all ghosts.


<<< || Table of Contents || Lore Glossary || >>>

Bu Tian Gang Ch121

Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi

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


Chapter 121

“You will meet in the United States first. The process of the meeting in the first few days is nothing more than an exchange of the respective situations over the past two years. When we first participated in the past, we didn’t understand, so we asked a deputy director to lead the team. Later, we found that it was actually just a regular exchange. However, the competition part does need to be paid attention to. This is not only a means of honor but also an occasion for you to exercise and communicate with others. The world isn’t closed. Over the years, the entry of foreign practitioners has increased, and many emergencies will catch you by surprise. You’re the future pillars of the Special Administration Bureau. I hope you can make good use of this opportunity.”

Deputy Director Song spoke as if he were like a mother hen, which made everyone drowsy when he started babbling, until they heard him say they were free to ask any questions. Li Han’er raised her hand.

“Boss Song, is there any news about this year’s competition?”

Song Zhicun said, “No. The United States is hosting this year. As you know, the Americans like things that are high-tech. All we know now is that the competition is held on an uninhabited island in the Atlantic Ocean. I wouldn’t be surprised if they move the zombie simulation there. Oh, by the way, neither Shouyi nor Han’er have experienced that system, right? I can let you experience it later alone.”

Seeing Li Han’er turn her gaze to Dong Zhi, Song Zhicun smiled knowingly. “Dong Zhi and the others have already experienced it last time when they took the exam and passed it with no problems. I believe you won’t be any inferior.”

That exam was Liu Qingbo’s black history. He didn’t even want to mention it, so he looked at the floor and pretended to be deaf.

Yang Shouyi looked troubled.

“Boss Song, I heard on the first day we have to speak and communicate. My foreign language isn’t very good. Will there be interpreters there?”

Song Zhicun smiled. “Of course there is. The captain and vice-captain of the delegation will oversee the meeting. There may also be a link for free communication. After discussion, the bureau decided that Liu Qingbo will be vice-captain of the delegation. Liu Qingbo, is this okay with you?”

Liu Qingbo raised his head blankly and nodded slowly.

If the head of the team was Zhang Song or someone else, he wouldn’t be convinced, but since it was Dong Zhi, he could reluctantly accept it. Besides, when he was in Lucheng, he had already been Dong Zhi’s deputy, which wasn’t something to be ashamed of.

Zhang Song didn’t expect that not only was he not selected to be captain, but even vice-captain. He pursed his lips, but in the end, he didn’t say anything.

Yang Shouyi wasn’t actually interested in being captain of the team, or vice-captain. He only had doubts about Dong Zhi’s abilities.

Li Han’er’s expression was a bit subtle, but she didn’t object.

Only Liu Si was the calmest, and he had no opinions.

Song Zhicun’s gaze swept across the faces of these young people, amused. “When it comes to free exchange, I must remind you of one thing. The exchange conference is for practitioners from all over the world. Of course, most people are friendly, but it doesn’t rule out that there will be some hostility. Some people will make more excessive jokes, and sometimes it’ll be easy to rile you up. I hope everyone can maintain their dignity without destroying friendships.”

This sentence was meaningful, as everyone’s mouth twitched when they heard it.

Dong Zhi and Liu Qingbo even thought to themselves that they couldn’t believe a man like Boss Song, who was carefree and upright, would speak so bureaucratically like Boss Wu. Wasn’t it basically asking them to “try not to move with your mouth first, and if you do, make sure to put a sack in it”? Why bother to speak so cryptically?

“Together with the competition, the annual exchange conference over the years has lasted for about 20 days. In these 20 days, you must have sufficient tacit understanding and team spirit. I don’t care what you thought about each other before, but from this moment on, it’s best to let go of stereotypes and look at each companion objectively.”

After Song Zhicun finished his debrief, he left the room for them to communicate among themselves.

Dong Zhi took the initiative to get up and walk in front of everyone.

“Since I’m fortunate enough to be selected as captain this time, I’ll be brazen and say a few words. I believe everyone here is no stranger to me, but I would like to introduce myself. My name is Dong Zhi. I was once an ordinary person who painted, but coincidentally, I entered the cultivation world.”

His smiling look had no deterrent. Liu Qingbo curled his lips and couldn’t help but think how stupid this was. If he were Yang Shouyi and the others, it would be strange if they could be convinced by this look. After being with Boss Long for so long, couldn’t he even learn the way of speaking with a cold face?

Naturally, Dong Zhi couldn’t hear Liu Qingbo’s thoughts, but he turned his words around. “To you, I’m a junior, and I was originally not qualified to lead everyone. If you have any objections, you are welcome to ask for a replacement of the leader. I’m happy to give way, but if you don’t raise any opinions, then I will acquiesce that you’ll all obey orders. I’ll try my best to be responsible for everyone, and I hope you can cooperate. This time there is only one team leader. I don’t think anyone wants second place, right?”

The soft and hard tone made everyone a little uncomfortable. Yang Shouyi spoke up. “I have no other requirements. I just want to spar with you. If you can beat me, I will be convinced. If you say east, I will never go west, but it’s hard for me to believe that you can lead us to victory. It’s better for me to just quit early now.”

Dong Zhi said, “Yes, shall we go to the rooftop later?”

Yang Shouyi was a little surprised by this response and happily nodded.

Dong Zhi looked at the others. “Besides him, who else wants to spar?”

Zhang Song said, “You have an injured arm now and have to fight with Yang Shouyi. If I fight with you again, won’t that look like I won with a handicap?”

The implication was that he also wanted to fight with Dong Zhi.

Dong Zhi shrugged. “Then I’ll spar with you tomorrow.”

Liu Qingbo said to Zhang Song, “I’ll spar with you on his behalf.”

Zhang Song: “You?”

Liu Qingbo: “What? I’m the vice-captain of the team. Am I not qualified?”

He turned and looked at Yang Shouyi again. “His arm is injured. What can he do right now? So I’ll do it for him. If I beat you, it’ll be as if Dong Zhi has beaten you.”

Dong Zhi knew that Liu Qingbo took the initiative to stand out because he was afraid his injury wouldn’t heal properly and there would be sequelae. He smiled and said, “Lao Liu, no need. I can do it.”

Liu Qingbo rolled his eyes. “What can you do?! You didn’t even bring a sword with you!”

Dong Zhi said, “The sword is in my dorm. I can get it now. As for the arm, it’s okay. I’ll just fight with one hand. There are many emergencies in a real combat environment. It’s not like we haven’t encountered things like this before.”

Coincidentally, this time, most of them used swords. Even Li Han’er carried a long sword with her. The tassels on the sword were golden, and it swayed with each of her steps, graceful and dainty, but she wasn’t like Zhang Song or Yang Shouyi, who took the initiative to pick a fight.

Dong Zhi first went back to his dorm and got the Qingzhu Sword, with Liu Qingbo following him.

“If you’re not sure, don’t be brave. Let me help you.” Liu Qingbo was still trying to convince Dong Zhi otherwise.

Dong Zhi said strangely, “I never said I wasn’t sure. In fact, you want to fight Yang Shouyi, right?”

Since he was the center of the matter, he kept quiet, but his hands were still itchy.

Dong Zhi: “Well, let’s do it this way. You’ll spar with Zhang Song tomorrow, while I’ll fight with Yang Shouyi today. This group has just taken form. If I don’t gain their respect, I’m afraid the team will be disbanded before we even start.”

Liu Qingbo questioned, “Can you fight with one arm?”

Dong Zhi shrugged. “Well, I didn’t really suffer any injuries at all. It’s just that my arm was fractured, and I need to take care of it for a few more days. I’ll be fine if I just fight with one hand.”

Liu Qingbo narrowed his eyes. “I heard that you encountered the phantom of the heavenly demon this time. There’s also a very powerful sorcerer as well. Were they so easy to fight like weak chickens?”

Dong Zhi: “Did you forget that my master was there as well? Even so, it wasn’t an easy fight.”

He pulled down the collar of his sweater and showed Liu Qingbo his neck. Liu Qingbo saw that there were clear pinch marks on it, which had gradually faded, but he could still imagine what kind of life-and-death situation Dong Zhi experienced that day.

“Who told you not to bring me along? If I was there, I could’ve prevented you from suffering more!” Liu Qingbo didn’t forget to highlight his position as an afterthought. “Okay, okay. If you don’t want to go up later, I’ll take both of them on!”

Dong Zhi said casually, “In fact, it doesn’t matter if I lose. It’s impossible for me to be kicked out of the exchange group because I lost to Yang Shouyi. If they continue to make trouble, it’s even more impossible to be captain of the group. At most, the head of the group will be replaced by you, and I’ll be your deputy. They can’t avoid me in any case, so wouldn’t that just make them even more angry?”

Liu Qingbo: …It turns out you had this kind of idea.

But after thinking about it carefully, this was really the kind of thing Dong Zhi would do. He would never change. Even if everyone was angry, he would always stand still.

Liu Qingbo couldn’t help but wonder. “Boss Long is such a serious person. After accepting such an apprentice, doesn’t he feel as if he received the wrong goods?”

Dong Zhi: “How is that possible? Where would he find such an obedient and motivated apprentice?”

Liu Qingbo wanted to vomit blood.

When the two of them returned, Zhang Song and the others were waiting for them impatiently. Dong Zhi took everyone to the rooftop of the Special Administration Bureau. Because of his arrogance, in order to show fairness, Yang Shouyi tied up his left arm as he pulled out his sword with his other hand and said to Dong Zhi, “Now it’s fair.”

He was so serious that Dong Zhi could no longer put on his casual smile. The two stood next to the stream with their swords in hand.

Neither moved as if they were testing each other’s patience. Yang Shouyi stood in place, as did Dong Zhi. At first glance, they looked similar, but under careful examination, they could be distinguished.

Yang Shouyi was solemn. His gaze was like an eagle’s or a falcon’s, looking for the slightest flaw in his opponent.

While Dong Zhi looked relaxed on the outside, he was tense inside. His grip on the sword tightened along with his body.

The waterfall that flowed down from the top of the mountain would splash a few drops of water on their bodies from time to time, gradually condensing before dripping down, but no one wiped it. A water drop hung at the corner of Dong Zhi’s eyelash, but it didn’t drop.

Feeling the weight on his eyelash, Dong Zhi slightly blinked.

At this moment, Yang Shouyi suddenly moved!

His sword was longer and wider than the Changshou Sword, but when his wrist moved at this moment, it immediately diffused dazzling sword light, as if the sword were an insignificant object in his hand.

He used this light to seal off all retreat in front of and behind Dong Zhi. No matter which way Dong Zhi wanted to dodge, the sword light would rush towards it and cut him off.

Liu Qingbo’s light-hearted expression was instantly restrained and became serious.

Li Han’er and Zhong Song looked surprised.

Except for Liu Si, everyone present was an expert in swordsmanship. Even if Li Han’er and Zhang Song used talismans together with their swords, they had practiced with them since their childhood. Naturally, they could see how dazzling Yang Shouyi’s swordsmanship was.

Not only dazzling but also murderous, as fierce as ice and snow.

After this attack passed, how would Dong Zhi deal with it?

Dong Zhi knew his shortcomings.

After all, he hadn’t practiced since he was a child. For more than a year, no matter how good his talent was, even if he was practicing every day outside of eating and sleeping, it was impossible to achieve the same proficiency as Yang Shouyi and the others. Long Shen also knew this well, so the cultivation plan he formulated for Dong Zhi was to promote strengths while avoiding weaknesses, allowing Dong Zhi to make full use of his advantages.

For instance, in sword practice, Long Shen didn’t teach Dong Zhi that kind of cumbersome and dazzling swordsmanship. Naturally, it could confuse the enemy, but if the fire wasn’t there, it would be easy for him to bind himself. Instead, he taught Dong Zhi practical moves, like stabbing, sweeping, slashing, thrusting, and turning, without the fancy and superfluous movements.

Long Shen had even asked Dong Zhi to stand still and not fight back to meet his countless attacks, then told him to try and find an escape route and retaliate. At first, Dong Zhi was scared to death, but later he gradually calmed down, and his eyes didn’t even blink. It could be said that this was all the experience accumulated through blood and tears.

Long Shen had come from thousands of years of bloodshed, not to mention that he was originally an artifact spirit. Furthermore, given his swordsmanship, even someone at Zong Ling’s or Che Bai’s level may not be able to find a weakness, let alone a rookie like Dong Zhi. Dong Zhi could only try to escape and fight back from attack after attack, and finally he was barely able to retreat. Long Shen also explained to him the various points of active and passive attacks during a fight. It could be said he was imparting his own experience on Dong Zhi. Dong Zhi, who was talented and willing to work hard, couldn’t justify himself under such learning conditions if he couldn’t at least achieve a basic satisfactory result.

So when Yang Shouyi’s sword struck, Dong Zhi’s instinct turned on.

Since Yang Shouyi was wielding the sword with his right hand, the place where he defended most tightly was naturally the right side of his body, leaving his left side negligent. Dong Zhi didn’t meet him head-on but moved in the direction of his left arm. He jumped, causing the sword light to rise and fall, while his other hand, wrapped in gauze, grabbed a talisman. Accompanied by the sword light, he stuffed the talisman into his mouth and spat it at his opponent’s right arm.

The talisman paper turned into a flash of fire and swept towards the sword wind. Yang Shouyi’s sword cut the talisman paper in half before it ignited and aimed it at Dong Zhi’s shoulder, but the moment the talisman fire was split by the sword wind, sparks splashed everywhere; some going into Yang Shouyi’s eyes. This made him close his eyes, and his movement stagnated for a moment.

But it was in this moment of stagnation that Dong Zhi had already reached Yang Shouyi’s left shoulder with the Qingzhu Sword!

Yang Shouyi felt a chill on his cheek, as if liquid had fallen. The hair tie on the bun on top of his head loosened, causing his hair to spill, scattering all over his head. Yang Shouyi grew up on Qingcheng Mountain, so he naturally wore his hair in a Daoist bun. On the way from Qingcheng Mountain to the General Administration Bureau, he was noticed by passersby, who gave him salutes.

Yang Shouyi stretched out his hand and touched it, finding that there was blood on his fingers.

Seeing this, Dong Zhi said apologetically, “I couldn’t hold back just now. Sorry!”

Zhang Song frowned and said, “He was using a sword with his hand tied. Is it fair for you to use both sword and talisman together?”

Dong Zhi smiled and said, “Lao Yang’s sword is too fast. I really can’t win without a talisman. Do you want to try again?”

Yang Shouyi shook his head. “No, I didn’t say that you only have to use swords. Since you won, I recognized you as the captain of the team.”

Zhang Song said, “I don’t!”

Liu Qingbo clenched his fist and smiled grimly. “Why wait for tomorrow? Let’s have a match right now!”

Zhang Song said, “Let’s go. You think I’m afraid of you?”

Dong Zhi said, “Let me do it. Lao Zhang, you can use talismans, and I’ll also use talismans. We’ll have a match between talismans, and you don’t need to tie your hand. Is that fair?”

Zhang Song curled his lips and nodded, then said, “Daoist Dong, please don’t be so familiar with me. My name is Zhang Song, not Lao Zhang.”

Dong Zhi let out a sigh. “Okay, Xiao Zhang.”

Zhang Song: ……*

*Clarity: As a reminder, using Lao before a name generally is a sign of closeness, so Dong Zhi is like saying “Zhang, my old bud”, but Zhang Song doesn’t like this address, so Dong Zhi got cheeky and called him Xiao (generally used for someone younger than you) instead.

This address was even more unpleasant, as if he had been relegated to the younger generation, but Dong Zhi refused to change it now. Zhang Song’s face twitched when he heard this, and he thought he would cut this person to death in a while.

The two sides stood still, each holding a talisman while chanting a mantra. Zhang Song was worthy of being a great disciple from Mount Longhu. He pointed his sword, which was standing in front of his chest, as he pinched a talisman with one hand to trigger the four directions and the five elements. Not long after, Dong Zhi felt the soil under his feet loosen, but before he could move, the originally solid ground suddenly softened and swallowed his feet. It wrapped around him like he’d fallen into a swamp. It was difficult to extricate himself as there were a pair of arms grabbing his feet and pulling him down, and soon, all parts below Dong Zhi’s ankle were swallowed.

Zhang Song wasn’t idle either. He took out another talisman and threw it in the air. Under his manipulation, the talisman paper turned into a spark and quickly flew towards Dong Zhi, just like how Dong Zhi had dealt with Yang Shouyi just now. It was obvious Zhang Song wanted Dong Zhi to taste defeat with the same move he used to win previously.

But at this moment, he heard a noise in the sky. From far away and getting closer, he couldn’t help but look up and see rolling thunder clouds covering the sun. His hand accelerated faster, pulling out several talismans, which ignited and became fireballs. Before Dong Zhi had time to lead the thunder successfully, those fireballs flew towards him. It was enough to burn him to a crisp.

Unfortunately, while it was fast, lightning had already struck.

It was a small bolt, as thin as silk. Seeing this, Zhang Song couldn’t help but laugh and think that such a small bolt wouldn’t even extinguish the talisman fires, let alone kill him.

While he was lost in his thoughts, the lightning bolt didn’t strike him or the talisman but instead split the pool under the waterfall. When the bolt struck, the surface of the pool of water was instantly disturbed, splashing water everywhere. Nothing in the area was spared. Zhang Song was doused with a faceful of water, and even the fireballs were extinguished.

Zhang Song: ……

Before he could get angry, another lightning bolt struck. This time, the thunder clouds had been brewing for a long time, so the power was much greater, and the target was directly aimed at Zhang Song.

Zhang Song didn’t have the mind to care about Dong Zhi any longer. He turned around and jumped onto the branch of the tree next to him. Seeing the heavenly lightning in hot pursuit, he had to jump to the stone nearby, then to a few other places, to avoid the lightning. Lightning finally struck the stone he had just been on a second before. With a loud noise, the stone exploded, causing Zhang Song’s hands and feet to be scrapped by the flying debris. Drops of water dripped down on his head and face, making him look entirely wretched.

Dong Zhi had taken advantage of this time and pulled himself out of the quagmire. Although he also became a drenched chicken*, it was obvious who the victor was between the two drenched chickens.

*(汤鸡) Metaphor for a person who is soaked or has suffered a great loss of fame and fortune but could also referred to someone being physical drenched in water.

If it was a fluke that Dong Zhi beat Yang Shouyi just now, it couldn’t be said that he could be lucky so many times. It was due to his flexibility and adaptability that he was able to take full advantage of the battlefield.

Naturally, Yang Shouyi didn’t dare underestimate the new leader of the team, and even Li Han’er was slightly shaken.

In any case, being able to attract heavenly lightning in such a short period of time was itself a manifestation of strength.

Li Han’er had been on Maoshan since she was a child and naturally knew that summoning lightning wasn’t an easy task. More importantly, she knew that Long Shen didn’t know this technique, which meant Dong Zhi learned it from somewhere else. If he could learn to summon thunder so easily, was it also effortless for him to learn other things?

Was it because he was extremely talented and flexible that Long Shen looked at him differently?

Just as she was thinking this, Dong Zhi asked Zhang Song, “Still want to fight?”

Zhang Song felt embarrassed as he was defeated in front of Li Han’er and Yang Shouyi. He wiped the beads of water from his face and said coldly, “No, I lost.”

Liu Qingbo sneered. “Lost? What do you mean lost? Let’s have another fight if you’re not convinced.”

He was anxious to stir up more trouble and couldn’t wait to roll up his sleeves and have a fight with Zhang Song.

Zhang Song ignored Liu Qingbo and kept looking at Dong Zhi. “Is there anything else we need to discuss today? If not, I want to go back to change clothes.”

Dong Zhi said, “If there are no other opinions, then today’s sparring is over. I have something to say first. Starting tomorrow, I don’t want anyone to have any more grievances or dissatisfaction.”

Dong Zhi was drenched and had his arm hanging. Given his image right now, there really was no heavy aura, but he was expressionless. He had just won two matches back-to-back. Even Zhang Song didn’t object.

And with no objection, that meant they had to acquiesce to Dong Zhi.

Li Han’er said, “Captain, will we come here for training tomorrow?”

Dong Zhi’s expression relaxed and softened a bit. “No need. This time it’s going to be a long trip. Everyone must have a lot of things to bring, so prepare your luggage first. If there’s any notice from Boss Song, I’ll let you know. Wait for the day of departure and we’ll meet and talk then.”

He originally wanted to take advantage of the fact that everyone had just met, especially given the two new team members, and invite them all out for a meal to get better acquainted, but it seemed that no one had any intention of going to dinner. He might as well save some time and spend more of it with his master.

After the dissolution, Zhang Song quickly disappeared. Yang Shouyi and Li Han’er at least greeted Dong Zhi before leaving. Liu Si said he still had things to do, so he also left, leaving only Liu Qingbo behind, who curled his lips at Dong Zhi.

“You know it’s not easy being captain, right?”

Dong Zhi spread his hands. “Then do you want it? I actually don’t want it.”

Liu Qingbo gave him a look of “no thanks” and said, “Forget it. I’m afraid I won’t be able to hold myself back from beating a someone surnamed Zhang.”

Dong Zhi laughed. “You have to hold yourself back. We still have to spend more than ten days together. Let’s go. I’ll treat you to dinner later, after we wash off.”

Dong Zhi pondered whether his master and Boss Wu had finished their meeting. The two of them stopped by the conference to have a look. Long Shen had just come out from inside, looking extremely tired. Dong Zhi poked his head around and found that Wu Bingtian and Tang Jing weren’t there.

“Master, have you finished your meeting?”

Long Shen nodded. “Is there anything wrong?”

“No, I just wanted to ask if you wanted to have dinner together with us, but you should go back and rest!” Seeing him like this, Dong Zhi felt a bit distressed.

Long Shen hummed. “Go on your own. I have other things to do with Boss Wu and Tang Jing.”

He was indeed tired; not the fatigue from physical exhaustion but being mentally overdrawn after the meeting.

Dong Zhi nodded and added, “Then you don’t have to wait for me at night.”

In the past few days, he had been sleeping in Long Shen’s dorm. If he needed to read information at night, Long Shen would accompany him until he finished reading. Their living habits were getting closer to each other. Long Shen didn’t say anything, but he was gradually learning to trust and tolerate the other out of desire.

Facing the kindness of his apprentice, he raised his hand and touched Dong Zhi’s face, then told him not to stay out too late, and then walked to the other end of the corridor.

As the relationship between the two changed, there were more intimate actions, and often inadvertently, they became natural habits. His movements were so natural that Dong Zhi didn’t notice anything wrong until he looked away and realized that Liu Qingbo was still standing by his side.


The author has something to say:

Liu Qingbo: ?????????????????


Kinky Thoughts:

Liu Qingbo inadvertently ate a handful of dog food without knowing it.


<<< || Table of Contents || Lore Glossary || >>>

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.


<<< || Table of Contents || Lore Glossary || >>>

Bu Tian Gang Ch119

Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi

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


Chapter 119

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~


<<< || Table of Contents || Lore Glossary || >>>

Bu Tian Gang Ch118

Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi

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


Chapter 118

Wu Bingtian wiped his face, as if intending to erase the fatigue of staying up late.

“I haven’t had time to tell you. The day before yesterday, I had a meeting with Zong Lao and Zhang Lao. They all agree that the eye of the array should be on Mount Kunlun. However, Mount Kunlun is too big. The exact location can’t be determined yet. We can only start little by little. Zong Lao and Zhang Lao have rushed over and participated in the search as well.”

Mount Kunlun wasn’t just a mountain but an endless range of mountains. It was regarded as the ancestor of ten thousand mountains of China and the starting point for all dragon veins. Numerous myths and legends originated there and had never been cut off since ancient times, so it was indeed likely that was where the eye of the array was located.

However, this place had 19 peaks that were 6,000 kilometers tall, and the snow caps didn’t melt all year. Not only that, but there were also deep caves and trails that no one had ever set foot in before. If they were to search them one by one, it would take at least five years, not to mention the countless natural wonders out there.

Long Shen asked, “Are there any news from Ding Lan and the others?”

Wu Bingtian shook his head. “I told them to put their own safety first, and they don’t need to keep in touch unless it’s extremely critical.”

Li Ying lacked experience, but he wasn’t the leader of this three-person operation. With Ding Lan and Yu Buhui, they could act according to the circumstances. However, Otowa Yasuhiko had been in business for many years, so it was impossible to not expect anyone to come to his door. Ding Lan and others had to act calmly as there were many hidden dangers.

Long Shen turned his head and said to Dong Zhi, “Go back and rest first.”

Dong Zhi had listened to them this entire time and heard a lot of news but couldn’t assist in any way. Seeing that the atmosphere was turning solemn, he felt uncomfortable. He nodded and got up when he heard Long Shen’s words.

“Wait.”

Song Zhicun stopped him and handed over a folder. “This is the information from the exchange conferences in previous years. Take a look at it. When everyone gathers, I’ll say a few things, but you’ll have to come up with the specific division of labor on your own.”

Dong Zhi was taken aback. He thought the candidate for team leader was only verbal and had to go through a specific assessment, but after hearing Song Zhicun’s meaning, it seemed a foregone conclusion.

He subconsciously looked at Long Shen, who nodded slightly with encouraging eyes.

Dong Zhi suddenly showed composure and courage. He took the documents and said goodbye to Song Zhicun and the others before leaving.

Watching him gently walk to the door, Song Zhicun finally showed a smile that had been missing for a few days.

“Your apprentice did a good job. I regret it a bit now. If I had rushed to grab his hand from you, perhaps he would be calling me master today.”

Wu Bingtian chuckled. “Really? I thought he didn’t eat anything cooked by people*. It turns out that his heart wasn’t move, but he met someone who moved it.”

*(不食人間煙火) Idiom has a few meanings but refers to the Daoist belief that celestial beings never eat cooked food. This later on is used to describe a person who has other-worldly qualities similar to those of celestial beings, but it could also mean being out of touch with reality. || In this context, Wu Bingtian is jokingly saying he thought Long Shen didn’t touch things that were mortal, as his heart is unmoved by them, but it turns out that he touched things that moved his heart (Dong Zhi).

Although these words were easy to misunderstand, what they were teasing about was actually just the matter of accepting disciples.

Long Shen smiled slightly, and his brows loosened a bit. He had no intention of actively mentioning his relationship with Dong Zhi, but he wouldn’t deliberately conceal it either.

“Dong Zhi is really good.”

Song Zhicun smiled again. “I was worried before. As soon as Li Ying left, Dong Zhi was cursed. Liu Qingbo and Zhang Song aren’t capable of taking on the responsibility of leading the team. If that didn’t work out, we would’ve had to re-select people again. Now it’s fine. Dong Zhi has worked with Liu Qingbo a few times. With him, who can restrain Liu Qingbo, Zhang Song should be a cinch.”

Wu Bingtian added, “After they come back from this exchange, we can put a heavier burden on them.”

The three of them took advantage of this topic to relax for a while. Long Shen talked about the result of his meeting with Carlos and the others in Bangkok.

“The remnant qi of the heavenly demon may take advantage of this exchange to mix in with the practitioners. I suggest sending two more people to the team to replace Li Ying.”

Wu Bingtian said, “This is fine. I will find suitable candidates as soon as possible. How about Chi Banxia?”

She had been accepted as Song Zhicun’s apprentice, so naturally he had more say on this issue.

Song Zhicun shook his head and said, “She’s not suitable at this moment. The most important thing for this kind of experience is team cooperation. She and Li Ying are in love. I’m afraid with Li Ying’s life and death right now on the line, she’s too concerned and may not be able to concentrate on the competition.”

Dong Zhi didn’t know what Long Shen and others would discuss next. After he left the conference room, he went back to the dorms.

He hadn’t been back here for more than half a year. The mattresses were still stacked up where he left them, still neat and deserted, but the tables and chairs weren’t covered with dust. There was a gap in the window, and the pots and plants on the windowsill were also well taken care of. When he looked at the coffee table again, there was a note saying: [The cat is being watched at the pet shop at 175 North Point Lane. The foster care fee has already been paid for half a year.]

This should have been written by Long Shen before he went to Shencheng. At that time, he probably felt he wouldn’t have returned so soon, so the note was probably for the person entrusted to read it.

Dong Zhi paused for a moment to reflect. The two of them had met again in Shencheng and then went to Hainan before going to Thailand and Myanmar to kill Songen and eliminate the demon. Accidents happened one after another, so when he looked at this note and recalled what had transpired, he found that he had experienced quite a lot.

When he went from the capital to Lucheng, he had already been prepared to not return to Beijing for several years. After confessing to Long Shen, he felt he would never come back in his life. Who would have expected that life would always turn around and miracles would occur? The feelings that he thought were hopeless were responded to by the sea in Sanya. Being here again, it was inevitable that he would have the illusion that these things were a lifetime away.

There was no need to clean up. Dong Zhi sat down at the desk and decided to call Liu Qingbo first.

When the line connected, the other party didn’t even give him a chance to speak as a flurry of questions bombarded him. “Where are you now? Have you returned? Did you solve the curse? Is Boss Long with you?”

Dong Zhi couldn’t laugh or cry. “Which question do you want me to answer?”

Liu Qingbo quipped back, “All Of them, one by one!”

“Okay, okay, okay,” Dong Zhi replied good-naturedly. “I’m in the capital now. My curse has been lifted. The exchange conference is about to be held, and I’m injured. Master asked me not to go back and forth, so I’ll recuperate in the capital and wait for you to come. When will you be coming?”

Liu Qingbo said, “In two days. Mu Duo wants to report the situation here through video chat. Is it convenient now?”

“Sure!” Dong Zhi was just about to ask, yet the other party took the initiative and brought it up.

The two hung up and used the communication software to start video calling. Dong Zhi quickly saw Mu Duo and Zhang Chong on the other side. Nothing had changed. Zhang Chong was still carefree and happy, Mu Duo was just the same as before, and Liu Qingbo naturally still had airs of a young master.

“The Lucheng branch has worked hard during my absence. When I return, I’ll treat everyone to a meal,” Dong Zhi said sincerely.

Liu Qingbo rolled his eyes. “We have worked so hard for so long, and that’s only worth a meal?”

Dong Zhi smiled. “Then what do you want? Except for my body, I can agree to anything.”

Liu Qingbo scoffed. “Cut the shit! Let Mu Duo tell you about what happened during this time!”

Hearing this, Dong Zhi knew that his deputy director was probably a handful during this time.

Liu Qingbo had never had the patience to deal with specific affairs, let alone cumbersome interpersonal contacts, so no matter how capable he was, he would never be able to lead a team like Li Ying or Dong Zhi. Either he could be a lone ranger, or he could only be led. This was also his shortcoming.

There was no shortage of lone rangers in the Special Administration Bureau. Most people could take the lead alone, but there weren’t many who could lead. During this session, Li Ying was the favored one, and now there was also Dong Zhi.

Mu Duo began to report on the work progress to Dong Zhi.

The milk tea shop had been renovated and was open for business. Unfortunately, business wasn’t booming, so the first month was a loss, but after it stabilized, it could basically make ends meet. In fact, this was just a cover for the office to be hidden from the world. No one expected it to make money, and all profits would be used for the operations of the office.

The initial proposal by Dong Zhi was good. The location was close to a school, and students often came to buy drinks. Mu Duo and Zhang Chong were busy at times, so they hired two young men to help. On the pretext that the shop owner was a novelist who liked to collect supernatural stories, they often communicated with customers to collect rumors. During this exchange, if they heard anything strange, whether it was true or false, Mu Duo would screen the stories.

She was, after all, meticulous. Among the gossip, Mu Duo found some abnormalities. Finally, it was discovered that there was a transnational drug smuggling case. After it was handed over to the relevant departments, they cooperated with them and arrested the drug dealers. During the bust, there was even a gunfight. A policeman was almost injured. Luckily, Liu Qingbo was there at the time and managed to block the bullet with his sword. Seeing how his sword was faster than a bullet, everyone looked at him as if he were an alien.

For this matter, the office received praise from the top and thanks from their sister departments. Wu Bingtian believed that this method of concealment in Lucheng was worth promoting throughout the world’s offices, so he frequently asked them to write summaries of their experiences. Naturally, Liu Qingbo was impatient to do this, and Zhang Chong’s writing disgusted Mu Duo, so she had been writing summaries until she was about to vomit.

When Dong Zhi heard what had transpired, he was stunned. He didn’t expect so many things to happen in the office after he left for a short time. In this way, it seemed that he was more incompetent than a “negligent” leader.

Mu Duo saw his apologetic face and laughed. “These changes are only after you came to the office. We would still be a lifeless office if it weren’t for you. Director, when you go to the exchange, you must fight and get some face for our office!”

Dong Zhi pointed to Liu Qingbo. “With Deputy Director Liu here, there will be no problem.”

Dong Zhi then said to Mu Duo and Zhang Chong, “Since Lao Liu and I will not be in Lucheng, if you have anything, you should report it to Boss Tang. Don’t try to take it on yourself. I’ll send some sunlight talismans later. Put them on your body to drive away evil spirits and calm your mind if you don’t have any use for them.”

Mu Duo recognized his generosity and immediately expressed her gratitude, wishing them good luck on their journey and a safe return.

Not all practitioners were from extraordinary origins like Liu Qingbo, who was so arrogant that they didn’t even bother to engage with others. After all, there were those who went to extremes, such as Cheng Yuan. There were many, like Xiao Qi and Yan Nuo, who were more capable than ordinary people, but were also influenced by human nature. They would be afraid or jealous and push back or procrastinate. Naturally, such a personality wouldn’t achieve anything great.

For a few years after Mu Duo entered the Special Administration Bureau, she went from being ambitious to being so indifferent that she had considered resigning; in the end, she met Dong Zhi.

This young man was tender and inexperienced, but he was smart and studious. These were the necessary qualities to become an excellent practitioner. What was even more rare was that he was willing to take responsibility when things happened and didn’t hog the credit afterwards. On the contrary, he was willing to share it with them.

Mu Duo felt that working with such a person was like a spring breeze. If she had to add a comparison, she had to say that Dong Zhi was much stronger than Yan Nuo and Xiao Qi. Only such a person could truly lead everyone forward and make people willing to follow him, even through heaven and hell, life and death.

Dong Zhi said a few more words to Liu Qingbo before ending the call. He rubbed his eyes and looked at the information that Song Zhicun had handed over when he left just now.

The full name of the World Exchange Conference was actually the World Unknown Field Cultural Exchange Conference. It began after WWII but was not held on a regular basis every two years. It had been suspended several times due to some reason or another. Nowadays, once every two years, the executive council of each member country takes a turn hosting.

The so-called unknown field of cultural exchange was actually a general term for the practitioner world. It was a term that was all-encompassing, including Taoism, witchcraft, yin and yang techniques of the East, psychic spiritualism, demon hunting, voodoo, and the like. Many practitioners were naturally willing to take this opportunity to enhance their understanding and expand their influence.

Today, the exchange conference was actually an arena for practitioners from all over the world. Many unknown practitioners had gone on to become world famous after leaving here. Naturally, some fell and lost their lives.

Teams from various countries or regions were generally organized to participate in the conference. Individuals weren’t allowed. China had participated five times, of which Long Shen was included as a team leader once but did not participate in the competition.

Seeing this, Dong Zhi couldn’t help but smile.

He knew why Long Shen didn’t participate—simply because he was too strong. Once this man joined, there would be no chance of anyone else winning. As a senior member of the Special Administration Bureau, Long Shen didn’t actually need to be in the limelight. Carlos obviously knew a bit about Long Shen’s abilities, which was why he regretted not being able to see the skills of Long Shen’s apprentice with his own eyes.

With Long Shen’s ability, even if he didn’t deliberately show it, it was destined that it couldn’t be hidden in the crowd. Dong Zhi could imagine, in the years he wasn’t able to participate in Long Shen’s past, what a dazzling light this man had shed and how heartbreaking his strength and tenacity were.

On Changbai Mountain, Long Shen still had old wounds on his body, yet he was still able to fight the bone dragon. This time, he even sealed the passage to the abyss with his own strength. It was no wonder he dared to break into Songen’s lair with just his apprentice. Even though Dong Zhi could be considered his closest, he still couldn’t explore the limit of what this man’s strength was.

He had already missed a lot of the former Long Shen but would not miss Long Shen’s future for the rest of his lifetime.

Dong Zhi’s fingertips rubbed the familiar name as he continued to look at the folder.

He Yu had participated once, but he didn’t see Kan Chaosheng. This was not because of his lack of abilities, but most likely because the Special Administration Bureau feared that Kan Chaosheng didn’t have enough self-control and, in some cases, would expose his true body, causing unnecessary trouble.

He Yu took part in it on the Siberian ice fields at the time. Participants needed to fight against strange beasts in the snow and eventually get the items designated by the organization. That time, He Yu and the others were able to achieve the final victory. He had participated with Zhang Heng and Yu Buhui. The appearance of these familiar names meant that the stars were shining during that time.

After that, the last exchange was a competition held in Africa, where black magic was prevalent. Everyone fought in an environment full of witchcraft and traps, with the United States ultimately coming out victorious. Dong Zhi took a look at the people who participated last year and saw two acquaintances from the Northeast Branch, Zheng Sui and Wang Jinguan.

Naturally, Lao Zheng and Wang Jie weren’t newcomers who had just joined the special administration bureau. Being in the Special Administration Bureau for so long, Dong Zhi had developed a deep understanding and knew they weren’t the elites of the Special Administration. The fact that they participated last time meant there were no great talents that year, so they had to temporarily fill the participants.

It was said that this time, there would be even more teams participating than ever before, so by allowing Dong Zhi to participate, the Special Administration Bureau hoped that they would win this year.

When Dong Zhi closed the file, he breathed a soft sigh of relief.

He never thought that he could take on the responsibility of leading the team. This trust came too suddenly, and he only felt a heavy weight on his body, diluting the sense of honor and happiness that he should be feeling.

Liu Qingbo, Zhang Song, and Liu Si were all considered future elites by the Special Administration Bureau. They had performed equally well in training and actual combat. If there was no accident, the future of the Special Administration would belong to them. A year ago, he didn’t even dare think that such a position would also be his own.

At first, he was attracted to the “beauty”, and then he was retained by the magnificence of the new world. He could no longer move his eyes from it. He was originally self-aware and felt that, at best, he would become an ordinary staff member in logistics in the Special Administration Bureau. Just having the chance to look at his male god from time to time would be enough satisfaction, but every time something happened, he wanted to try his best. He didn’t want others to look down on him, and he wanted to feel worthy of himself. So step by step, he got to where he was today. When he looked back, he couldn’t help but laugh.

He had walked all the way only looking at the front, walking on thin ice and trembling, but when he suddenly looked back, he found that he had inadvertently sprinkled a large number of seeds. Those seeds had broken through the soil and blossomed before his eyes, bringing about unexpected joy that could be considered a reward from heaven.

Dong Zhi was full of anxiety. He was worried that Zhang Song’s temperament would not accept him and that it would be difficult to integrate into the team. He was also worried they would not be able to win the competition this time. They would lose face not only for the Special Administration Bureau but for their country as well, but now that the matter had been settled, he didn’t think about shirking or evading and instead began to plan what to do and how to do it well.

After his return, he didn’t rest much, so he fell asleep on the table before he knew it.

A cold wind blew from outside the window, causing Dong Zhi to sneeze. He rubbed his eyes and found that an hour had passed.

The dorm outside was quiet, which meant Long Shen hadn’t come back yet. He put on his coat and went out for dinner first, then would pick up Longlong on the way back.

He hadn’t seen it in more than half a year. Longlong had grown up and was well-groomed. The advantages of a white cat were now fully revealed. When Dong Zhi saw its round and innocent face, he almost told the pet shop owner that they had given him the wrong cat.

“When Mr. Long brought it here, he specifically specified a certain brand of cat food. We have been feeding it one can per week during this time. We just gave him a physical exam last week, and everything looks healthy.” The clerk smiled and handed over the results of the physical examination. After seeing the results, Dong Zhi marveled at their meticulous care.

Of course, such meticulous care came at a high price. Dong Zhi found that the cat food they had been feeding Longlong was exactly the one he had bought before he left.

Long Shen’s thoughtfulness was usually not easily noticed by others.

After confirming his identity, the shopkeeper praised Longlong’s breed and his good behavior with the other cats. She even remembered Long Shen’s appearance and mistakenly thought Dong Zhi was Long Shen’s younger brother, saying that both siblings were so good-looking that it was hard to forget.

Dong Zhi didn’t bother rectifying it and just laughed at the shopkeeper’s compliment. Before leaving, the shopkeeper gave him a generous 20% discount and a free bag of cat food so that he would use their service here next time.

When Dong Zhi left the pet store, he held the cage and said to Longlong inside, “I had to sacrifice my appearance for your cat food.”

Longlong meowed, stretched out its fat paw, and rested it on Dong Zhi’s hand, as if he hadn’t forgotten his cheap owner.

Dong Zhi nodded. “I’m taking you back to see your other master.”

As night fell, one person and one cat returned to the Special Administration Bureau.

Long Shen had already returned. The door to his dorm room was ajar, and light was streaming out from inside.

“Master?” Dong Zhi opened the door and poked his head in.

“Your back.” Long Shen had just come out of the bathroom. From a few meters away, Dong Zhi could feel the moisture exuding from Long Shen’s body.

“I picked up Longlong.”

Dong Zhi opened the cage and let the cat out. Longlong wasn’t afraid at all. He walked around their legs a few times and curled his tail up and down their legs.

“Leave the Changshou Sword with me for now. During this time, it accompanied you through many hard battles. The sword’s body will inevitably be polluted. I’ll take it to have it purified and return it to you later,” Long Shen said.

Dong Zhi naturally had no objection. Even if Long Shen didn’t explain it, as long as he asked him for it, Dong Zhi would not hesitate to give him the sword. There was a trust between them that didn’t need to be expressed.

“Master, when you blocked off the abyss passage, were you also injured? I’m not going to leave right away, so it’s okay to release the Changshou Sword in advance.”


<<< || Table of Contents || Lore Glossary || >>>

Bu Tian Gang Ch117

Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi

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


Chapter 117

After the group arrived in Bangkok, Long Shen and the others met Songla, the white-robed master who would be attending the meeting. He was also an important figure in the White Robe Association. It was said that his status in Southeast Asia was almost equal to that of Xinchai, but unlike Xinchai, Songla was tall and looked more like an athlete than a sorcerer. He didn’t speak fluent English, so Kenta attended as his translator.

The deputy team leader of Group 51 was an American named Carlos. Long Shen and him seemed to be old acquaintances. The two didn’t have just a courtesy meeting but instead met in a small conference room for a while before moving to the large conference room.

Long Shen didn’t avoid Dong Zhi during this time and even asked him to stay and listen to their separate meeting with Carlos.

Carlos had known Long Shen for many years. Hearing that Long Shen was introducing his own apprentice, he couldn’t help but be surprised. “I heard that you never accept apprentices. This time, you made an exception. It seems that this little guy must be extraordinary, right?”

Long Shen nodded, holding no intention of explaining too much about it.

Although there was frequent international cooperation now, they were still two different countries. It was hard to say when they would stand on opposite sides. Long Shen had no intention of developing any deep friendships with practitioners outside his own country. However, this time, because he wanted to lift Dong Zhi’s curse, kill Songen, and destroy Mara, Long Shen briefly mentioned these things to Carlos.

Carlos looked relaxed the entire time. When he heard that the heavenly demon had managed to escape, he couldn’t help but complain. “You can’t stop Mara from escaping? Long, this isn’t like your ability!”

Long Shen said indifferently, “I couldn’t stop it at that time, but you can certainly try.”

Carlos curled his lips. “Then you should have called a few more people when you went, such as notifying Group 51 in advance, instead of acting on your own and now telling us.”

Long Shen sneered, “Songen has been there for decades. How come I haven’t seen you guys find Mara and go over and do justice?”

Carlos was speechless for a moment and then laughed. “Don’t be like that, Long. I’m just joking!”

His performance changed within a split second, which surprised Dong Zhi.

However, Carlos didn’t feel that he was thick-skinned.

“Long, you know we’re all working for the top. Now that something so big has happened, I will have to make a report on it. Where is that place? I’ll let someone go and investigate later. Maybe I can find something.”

Long Shen told him the location. When they left, they had done a thorough check, so there was no omission. Even if Carlos sent people there now, it would be impossible to find anything.

Carlos naturally knew this, but in order to have something to account for, he had to ask.

“In your opinion, after Mara’s demonic qi escape, where will it go?”

Long Shen said, “Well, the United States is far away. It may not get there for a while.”

Dong Zhi almost laughed out loud. He discovered that the relationship between Long Shen and Carlos was a bit like the current relationship between the two countries. They cooperated with each other but also tested each other. While trust wasn’t something on the table, it wasn’t to the point that they would tear each other’s faces.

In the past, he didn’t know that Long Shen would have time to chat with others so leisurely, but now that he had seen it, he found it quite entertaining.

Carlos also heard the other party’s ridicule and smiled bitterly. “I already apologized for my previous recklessness earlier. Isn’t that enough? You may have heard that recently, the United States and Europe have also discovered traces of demons. Among them, there is a plague demon. We’re very worried that something like the Black Death* will happen again. The demon hunters are quite understaffed right now. We hope to get your help.”

*Bubonic plague pandemic that was the most fatal pandemic recorded in human history, causing the deaths of 75-200 million people.

Long Shen shook his head. “We also have important things to deal with.”

Carlos inquired suspiciously, “Isn’t Mara already eradicated?”

Long Shen said, “There’s something else.”

Seeing that he refused to divulge more, Carlos smiled slyly. “Is it Japan? Do you need our help?”

Given Carlos’ abilities, it wasn’t impossible for him not to know something. Long Shen replied, “Thank you, but I don’t need it for the time being.”

Carlos was disappointed that he didn’t get any other information. He shrugged and spread his hands. “Well, let’s talk about the World Exchange Conference. We’re planning to send five people to participate this year. How about you?”

Long Shen said, “We haven’t decided yet, but it shouldn’t exceed previous years.”

Carlos glanced at Dong Zhi and said with a smile, “Your disciple has never participated before. It seems that you plan to let him attend this year?”

There was nothing to hide about this, so Long Shen nodded. “Where is the location this year?”

Each conference had a host country. Because it had a competition aspect, the location would change every time. This year was Carlos’ country’s turn.

Carlos said, “On a deserted island in the Atlantic Ocean. We will use the latest simulation equipment to perform holographic simulations. The old rule is that the team that gets the designated props first will naturally win.”

After speaking, he saw Long Shen frowning deeply in a contemplative state.

“What are you thinking?”

Long Shen said, “The escape wisp of Mara’s demonic qi can’t pose much threat for the time being, but it will definitely seek opportunities for growth in the future.”

Carlos nodded. “Yes, demons like to draw nutrients from the breath of the living, and it’s likely to go to a prosperous metropolis.”

Long Shen: “No matter how much the breath of a living person is, it’s not as pure as the breath of a practitioner. Given Mara’s nature, I think he would prefer this shortcut.”

Carlos was slightly shocked. He immediately understood what Long Shen meant. “You mean it will take advantage of the World Exchange Conference to attack!”

Long Shen: “I’m just raising a possibility.”

Carlos sighed. “It seems that this time it’s destined to be uneasy again. Fortunately, I’m not leading the team, so I can leave this trouble to someone else for the time being.”

Long Shen raised an eyebrow. “Who’s leading the team?”

The World Exchange Conference aimed to facilitate the exchange and cooperation of practitioners from all over the world. For the competition portion, there was an unwritten rule that only newcomers who had never participated before would compete. In principle, they weren’t allowed to participate a second time. The leader of the team was a senior, but they weren’t allowed to participate in the competition. They could only lead the team.

Carlos smiled and said, “It’s been confirmed that Lily will be leading the team. Otherwise, I really want to see your disciple’s abilities. After all, he is your only one.”

He didn’t hide his interest in Dong Zhi and would look at him from time to time.

Dong Zhi maintained his usual style in front of outsiders. He would smile politely, giving off a soft and cute feeling every time.

Carlos couldn’t help sighing. “Long, did you figure out what you lack so you specially found a disciple who’s completely opposite of your personality?”

Long Shen didn’t bother answering.

When they left the small conference room, the three of them headed to the meeting with practitioners from all over the world. The content was mainly to exchange current monster incidents in various places. Japan had sent their onmyojis, who, whether intentionally or not, didn’t communicate with Long Shen, and Long Shen didn’t take the initiative to talk to them. The two sides maintained a delicate cold war until the end of the meeting.

This was the first time Dong Zhi had been involved in this kind of event and met with so many practitioners from all over the world. Although their names were different, their mannerisms weren’t much different from ordinary people. After all, a country wouldn’t send someone who had been isolated in a deep forest or mountain to a world exchange. Even the wizards from Africa wore suits and ties and spoke fluent English, which Dong Zhi couldn’t help finding contrary to the fantasy in his head.

Everyone communicated on the whereabouts of Mara’s demonic qi and agreed that Long Shen’s speculation was most probable, which made the upcoming world conference heavier. Carlos expressed that this was a good opportunity to tempt the heavenly demon to throw itself into their net and hoped to take advantage of the conference to completely eliminate Mara so as to avoid future troubles.

All parties didn’t immediately express their opinions on this. They believed that they needed to go back and discuss further before making a decision. The meeting ended quickly. Long Shen didn’t stay in Bangkok much longer. After bidding farewell to Songla and Kenta, they returned to China.

On the plane, Dong Zhi couldn’t restrain his curiosity and asked Long Shen, “The person for the exchange conference has been selected?”

Long Shen nodded. “Before we confronted Songen, it was already settled. It should be you, Li Ying, Liu Qingbo, Zhang Song, Liu Si, and one more. Now that Li Ying has gone to Japan, he will be replaced.”

Dong Zhi pondered. “Didn’t Carlos say that a senior can lead the team. We’re all newcomers though?”

Long Shen said, “Most of the bureau is busy with the stone tablet right now, and they can’t find a reliable candidate. Rather than finding a random person, it’s better to compose the team with all newcomers. The tacit understanding you developed during your training is better than others.”

Dong Zhi nodded, thinking this was true.

“I understand Master’s painstaking efforts.”

Long Shen raised his brows. “What painstaking effort?”

“The painstaking effort to take me to this meeting!” Dong Zhi said with a smile, “Although I may have been buying soy sauce* all that time, I have also watched a lot and listened. I now at least know how to deal with practitioners from other countries.”

*(酱油) It has two meanings. The internet buzzword meaning (which applies here) refers to not caring about public topics (acting like a passerby). || In this context, Dong Zhi is basically saying, he didn’t participate in the meeting and just sat there and listened.

Long Shen smiled inwardly but didn’t show it on his face.

“Then tell me.”

Dong Zhi spoke a lot.

“Our relationship with Group 51 is a bit like the relationship between the two countries. It’s neither too close nor too far away. We must cooperate but also guard against it. There are several independent institutions in Europe. They usually do their own thing, which makes it difficult to cooperate at critical moments. This is why the European monsters are so chaotic. Southeast Asia mainly has the White Robed Association, but this association is relatively loose and isn’t an official association. There are also practitioners from Japan, which are now controlled by Otowa Yasuhiko. During the meeting, I noticed that their onmyojis didn’t greet us. In the end, we all have our own positions and interests. It’s fine to cooperate to eliminate demons, but the stone tablet is a matter of great importance, and we can only solve it by ourselves.”

Long Shen looked approvingly at him.

In fact, the new members of the Special Administration Bureau from Dong Zhi’s training class were the best in terms of overall quality in recent years. For example, Zhang Song’s qualifications and abilities were quite high, but his personality was too rebellious, which made him unable to become a team leader. Liu Qingbo, in terms of strength, wasn’t any inferior to Dong Zhi, but he was too easy to fold and also lacked a bit of resilience that could bend and stretch. Others have their own deficiencies in terms of strength. If it had to be said, the most favored ones were Li Ying and Dong Zhi.

This wasn’t just a bias that Long Shen had for his apprentice. Even Wu Bingtian, Song Zhicun, and even Zong Ling and the other bigwigs believed that Li Ying and Dong Zhi may be the mainstays of the Special Administration Bureau ten or twenty years from now, so when Long Shen brought Dong Zhi to this meeting, it was actually decided internally by the top.

Dong Zhi, Liu Qingbo, and others may not think so, but many people were secretly cultivating and nurturing them. This time, Long Shen went because of Dong Zhi’s curse. He had brought a slew of precious pills with him. Although these pills didn’t come in handy in the end, this wasn’t something that Long Shen could bring casually. He needed written consent from Wu Bingtian and Song Zhicun.

Seeing his expression, Dong Zhi became happy and tilted his head to ask for merit. “Did my answer make you feel like you didn’t receive an apprentice in vain?”

“Don’t be mischievous.” This was said with a softness that Long Shen himself didn’t notice, as if he were joking.

Was this being mischievous?

Dong Zhi grabbed Long Shen’s finger and put it on his mouth, gently nibbling on it, then deliberately smiling. “Is this also being mischievous?”

Long Shen held onto Dong Zhi’s mischievous hand and pressed it onto the armrest.

“That’s called teasing.”

Dong Zhi burst out laughing. His master, who was such an unearthly person, actually said teasing.

“Then, has Boss Long been teased successfully?”

Long Shen shook his head. He looked like he was in a good mood as he joked, “I’m not messing around.”

When Dong Zhi’s hand was held down, he wanted to move his feet, but before he could move a toe, the other party seemed to have noticed his intentions in advance.

“If you move again, I’ll forcefully enter your sea of consciousness here.”

Dong Zhi: ……

He didn’t want to be misunderstood by others with his face flushed and his body soft on the plane, so he immediately retracted his hand and stopped teasing his master.

Long Shen turned his head and smiled silently.

They hadn’t rested much since their great battle. On the plane home, with Long Shen sitting next to him, Dong Zhi relaxed his mind and fell asleep before takeoff. The noise and movement on the plane during takeoff failed to wake him up.

Long Shen wasn’t sleepy at first, but perhaps seeing Dong Zhi sleep soundly infected him, and he gradually became tired. He pulled the blanket covering Dong Zhi up, closed his eyes, and subconsciously took a nap.

A few hours later, they returned to the Special Administration Bureau. Dong Zhi looked at the familiar building in front of them and felt nostalgia as he saw the familiar doorman.

The uncle sat there with his arms folded and was dozing off, but his ears had already heard them approaching. He raised his head and glanced at them with his sharp eyes and saw Long Shen and Dong Zhi. Dong Zhi hurriedly greeted the uncle, who nodded slightly at him, then lowered his head and continued to doze off.

Every time Dong Zhi passed this doorman, he felt that there was something mystical about him. At all hours of the day, he would enter and exit the back door and would always see the uncle sitting there. He felt that as long as the Special Administration Bureau existed, he would always be there. If he had to select the number one mysterious figure in the Special Administration Bureau, this uncle was definitely at the top of the list.

He once suspected that the doorman wasn’t a human, but now it seems that even ordinary monsters may not have this energy.

Given that Dong Zhi’s old injuries hadn’t healed yet and the World Exchange Conference was going to be held soon and Liu Qingbo and the others would meet in Beijing, Long Shen asked Dong Zhi to stay in the capital to recuperate first, so there was no need for him to run back and forth. Besides, the network was so well developed that he could communicate remotely at any time.

It happened to be in the afternoon. Because the two were busy, there was no deep affection as imagined between the two lovers.

Long Shen and Dong Zhi first went to greet Wu Bingtian and Song Zhicun and reported their trip to the two directors. He found that both Boss Wu and Song had looked a bit thinner, which showed that they hadn’t been idle these days. At that time, Long Shen was busy closing the abyss passage while Dong Zhi was engaged in a life-and-death struggle with the heavenly demon. The two complemented each other’s story to fill in the blanks. Although Wu Bingtian and Song Zhicun weren’t there in person, they were people who have been through many battles. How could they not hear the danger? Song Zhicun sighed at that moment. “I should have gone with you. This trip was way too close to death for comfort!”

Long Shen’s expression was indifferent, and he replied simply, “Since we have returned safely, there’s no need to talk about this. How’s your side?”

Song Zhicun had just returned from Sichuan and was covered in dust. He didn’t even have time to go home and take a shower and spend a little bit of time with his wife and children; instead, he had to rush back to the General Administration for a meeting—because the Special Administration Bureau had found another stone tablet, but things weren’t good.

The eight stone tablets made up an array and were found along several dragon veins. When the stone tablet at the foot of Mount Shaohua was discovered, it had already been broken for hundreds of years and was unable to be restored. After that, the people of the Special Administration Bureau accelerated their actions but found nothing. This forced them to divide their forces. While they sent Li Ying and the others to Japan to find Otowa Yasuhiko, they continued to search for the remaining stone tablets.

Coincidentally, at this time, an ancient tomb near Sanxingdui was excavated. Archaeologists found half of a broken stone tablet in the main tomb. The runes above were incomprehensible and were almost regarded as a new type of text that had never been discovered before. The Southwest Branch rushed over immediately after learning the news. When they completed a comparative survey, it was found that the half stone tablet was indeed one of the stone tablets they were looking for.

In 316 BC, during the reign of King Huiwen of Qin, the ancient Kingdom of Shu was destroyed by Qin troops. The king of Qin appointed Minister Chen Zhuang as head of the Kingdom of Shu. The owner of the tomb who excavated the half stone tablet was Chen Zhuang’s deputy. He should be a nobleman of the Kingdom of Qin at that time and one of the important figures who conquered Shu.

According to the epitaph, the stone tablet was handed down from ancient times. It was regarded by the Shu people as a gift from heaven, and it was regarded by the King of Shu as a mandate from heaven. No matter how many kings changed in Shu, the stone tablet was preserved intact in the ancestral temple. However, since the Qin empire wanted to annex the Kingdom of Shu, they naturally wanted to break the King of Shu’s theory on the mandate of heaven, so Chen Zhuang ordered the stone tablet to be broken in half. Half of it was shipped back to the Kingdom of Qin and dedicated to the King of Quin, while the other half was kept in place.

In the following decades, the situation in Shu gradually calmed down, and the political significance of the stone tablet was gone. Chen Zhuang’s deputy, who was the owner of the tomb, brought half the stone tablet to study it. He later died of illness and was buried alongside the stone tablet, which was discovered thousands of years later.

This news, however, was bad for the Special Administration Bureau. The stone tablet had been broken in half. Even if they found the other half, it wouldn’t help. This meant that there was another gap in the demon seal array.

Hearing this, Wu Bingtian couldn’t help but huff bitterly. “We now have three broken stone tablets.”

Song Zhicun sighed. “There’s a total of eight stone tablets that form the eight-sided demon seal. I’m worried that the formation will be loosened now that three of the eight have been destroyed. I hope that Ding Lan and the others will gain something in Japan. Even if we know where the formations are, we won’t be so passive.”


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