Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
When they got closer, they saw that it was a group of seven or eight people who were holding flashlights in their hands. Even if they had been hostile looking, it would still be better than Yao Bin, who was chasing them; perhaps he wasn’t even human any longer.
The other party frowned when they saw two people running towards them, showing obvious signs on their faces that they were not welcome, but Dong Zhi and Zhang Xing didn’t care. While shouting for help, they continued staggering towards the group, feeling a sense of relief.
Yao Bin was still chasing them from behind, maintaining a steady pace, seemingly unaffected by the new arrivals. Due to his big steps, he quickly caught up.
Dong Zhi didn’t need to look back as he could feel the sound of wind made when Yao Bin reached out to grab them from behind. The down jacket made an unpleasant scratching noise, and despite the thick layers, he could still feel his clothes being torn. It goes to show what unimaginable strength he possessed, and one can easily tell just by looking at Zhang Xing’s blood-stained head.
Suddenly, the movement from the group in front of him caused his breathing to stagnate. They had taken out a black-colored weapon that looked like a gun from their pockets and pointed it at them.
These people actually took guns with them to Changbai Mountain?!
There were wolves in the front and tigers in the back*. The sound of gunfire made Dong Zhi and Zhang Xing stop abruptly. They quickly realized that the target was not them, but Yao Bin. Dong Zhi pulled Zhang Xing down and quickly rolled to the side, creating an unsightly scene, but at least it would save their lives.
*(前面有狼，后面有虎) Metaphor for bad guys comes one after the other. From the Qing Dynasty’s “Guillotine-Party Dispute”.
Despite multiple rounds of gunfire, it only made Yao Bin’s body slightly shake, as he continued to move forward.
“Stop shooting! Guns aren’t effective against him at all!” Someone shouted.
Dong Zhi saw a woman picking up a branch from the ground. Her hands were bound with seals, and she started chanting some words. The branch suddenly ignited spontaneously as she conjured a bow from thin air, put the branch on it, and shot it straight at Yao Bin. The burning branch flew past Yao Bin, and just as Dong Zhi thought she had missed, she suddenly let out a shrill scream, causing the branch to explode in a burst of fire from behind.
The light from the fire illuminated a cloud of black mist that twisted and deformed, then dissipated. Dong Zhi was dazzled by the sight until he saw the fire spreading to Yao Bin. Zhang Xing cried out in a low voice, wanting to rush up to save him but being firmly pulled back. Her body quivered as she realized the Yao Bin in front of her was no longer a normal human being.
“Isn’t it bad to kill people here?” A middle-aged man, who they first heard from, spoke.
“His brain has been sucked dry by the Yaksha* so he’s not considered human anymore,” The woman who had shot the branch just now said; her tone was blunt and a bit strange. He secretly caught a glimpse of her and found that she was young and beautiful.
*See Kinky Thoughts for lore.
An old man standing next to her had on a sullen face, as if he owed tens of millions to someone. Near them were a group of younger men who had guns in their hands. Dong Zhi didn’t dare stare any longer and quickly retracted his gaze.
“We just ran into these things! How did they appear?!” The middle-aged man said with horror.
“Someone must have released them.” The woman said coldly, “Next time you encounter this kind of thing, don’t shoot. Just set it on fire, otherwise it’ll attach to you and drain your brain and you’ll become like him.”
The “he”, of course, was referring to Yao Bin. The fire had gotten larger and soon enveloped his entire body. The oddest thing was that during this entire time, Yao Bin didn’t make a single sound and remained motionless, as if it was responding to the girl’s words: he’s no longer a human being.
Since he had already seen such a sight before due to the train incident, he was mentally prepared, but Zhang Xing had to face the impact of watching the body of her acquaintance being burnt to death. If it wasn’t for Dong Zhi holding her tightly and covering her mouth, she would have screamed and limped to the ground.
“Who are you?!” A man in a jacket asked. His tone was blunt, like that of the girl’s.
Zhang Xing was still overcome by shock and wasn’t suitable to answer their questions for the time being. Dong Zhi briefly told them that they had met in the mountains and were lost. Then he bit the bullet and asked, “Are you also looking for a way out? Can we follow you? We promise that we won’t drag you down!”
The man in the jacket frowned and looked back at the old man and the girl. At this time, the middle-aged man said out loud, “One or two more won’t really make that much of a difference, right?”
Dong Zhi noticed his tone had a bit of acquiescence, signifying that neither the man in the jacket nor him had any say. It was the old man that was next to the girl that made all the decisions. The old man glanced at Dong Zhi, expressionless, but his eyes were as sharp as an eagle. Being under his gaze, Dong Zhi felt as if it could pierce through his body.
The old man nodded slightly and whispered something to the man in the jacket. The latter straightened his waist, lowered his head and said to everyone, “Go find a place to rest!”
Dong Zhi let out a sigh of relief and pulled Zhang Xing up and followed them.
The sky was dark, covering up the moon and all the stars. They had to rely on their flashlights to lead the way. Dong Zhi didn’t want to consume all of the power on his phone, so he resisted the urge to take out his phone to illuminate the path and followed the group closely for fear of losing them.
Although they had guns and did not look like good people, at least they were still within the scope of humans. Compared with Yao Bin, Dong Zhi would rather be with them. Walking behind them was not without benefits either. Dong Zhi quickly discovered that the group was divided into two. The first group, centered around the elderly man and young girl, had a total of six people. The man in the down jacket walked beside them, occasionally exchanging a few words. He seems to have some status, but his attitude towards the old man and the girl was very flattering. He surrounded them with two other people, like bodyguards.
The other group was the middle-aged man just now and another young man in a black down jacket. It was a strange combination, and with them carrying guns, it looked like they were engaged in the black market.
In that instance, terms like tomb robbers, smugglers, drug traffickers, and the like flashed through Dong Zhi’s mind. Since he had no signal, he couldn’t fulfill his moral obligation and report them as a law-abiding citizen of the motherland.
They didn’t encounter any strange occurrences along the way. When they reached the edge of a river, the man in the jacket raised his hand and made a gesture. Everyone stopped and they started a fire, gathering around it to rest.
Dong Zhi didn’t want to get too close to them but didn’t dare stray too far, so he found a big stone and settled down with Zhang Xing.
“Shit! Why is there no power?!” The young man in the black down jacket looked at his mobile phone and cursed in a low voice.
Realizing that this was an opportunity, Dong Zhi offered. “Brother, I have a portable charger here.” He took out the battery pack from his backpack and handed it over.
The young man looked at him with wonderment, and Dong Zhi found that there was a scar on his face.
“My name is Xiao Dong. What’s your name, big brother?” Dong Zhi showed his smile that he usually reveals when he wanted to get close to others and saw that the man’s expression became more relaxed.
“Just call me Scar.” The young man said.
“Scar Ge, where are you going? I don’t want to inquire about anything. I just want to know if there is a safe place along the way. We can stay there and wait until dawn to find a way down the mountain.” Dong Zhi whispered.
Scar laughed. “You can continue dreaming unless you follow us. We have encountered plenty of those ghosts since we came up the mountain. Some are insubstantial, while others, just like now, manipulate individuals to attack us. Without them…”
He tilted his head towards the direction of the old man and girl. “It’s impossible for you to leave safely.”
Dong Zhi felt a chill. He tentatively asked, “Their accent doesn’t seem to be Chinese.”
Scar curled his lips and revealed. “Yes! They’re Japs1! Even my master didn’t take them seriously. It’s said that he’s a president of a consortium with around 80,000 to 250,000 people and is quite arrogant2. Bah! We’re on Chinese soil!”
1(小日本) Translated means little Japan. It has a derogatory connotation with two reasons. One to make fun of Japan’s small territory and short stature, and two, out of anger and hatred for Japanese militarism against China in history.
2[Eyes on the top of his head] (眼睛都长头顶上) An expression to describe someone who’s arrogant and looks down on others.
The dissatisfaction was palpable, but he only dared say it in a low voice.
Since the identities of these Japanese people were unusual, their purpose on Changbai Mountain in the middle of the night wasn’t so simple. It must not be a good thing since Scar and his master were mixed in with this group of people. Dong Zhi realized this and asked no further questions. After thanking Scar, he got up and returned to Zhang Xing.
Zhang Xing, who had gradually calmed down, suddenly became taunt again like a bowstring. She was touched by Dong Zhi, and it almost made her jump. Dong Zhi hurriedly held her down and found that she was shaking like a sieve and even her teeth were chattering.
Dong Zhi was taken aback. “Are you cold?”
Zhang Xing grabbed his arm and, while still shaking, slowly wrote on his palm.
[I understand Japanese. I heard some of their conversation just now.]
Dong Zhi froze and immediately realized that their conversation most likely wasn’t good; otherwise, Zhang Xing wouldn’t have been so frightened.
She wrote on his hand again: [They seem to be looking for something. They are keeping us to use as a distraction in case they run into danger.]
Dong Zhi deeply inhaled, and he sighed silently. It was truly escaping the wolf’s den to fall into the tiger’s!
Learning from Zhang Xing, he took her palm and wrote: [We don’t know the way and can’t run. Follow behind and act according to the circumstances. Don’t get too close. Did you hear what they were looking for?]
Zhang Xing wrote: [No. They mentioned something about the Aso Consortium.]
Japan’s chaebols* were bustling, and Dong Zhi had occasionally heard of them on the news.
*Large multinational group that controls a number of related companies and has a monopoly or influence in financial and business circles. They have great diplomatic influence on global politics because they provide a powerful source of funding for public and political lobbying, with the ultimate goal of maximizing money and power.
Zhang Xing’s palms were sweaty, and the Dong Zhi’s weren’t much better. The two looked at each other in the dark and smiled bitterly. People were knives, and he was the fish*. In order to live, they have to choose the lesser of two evils. There was no other way. They had to keep moving forward.
*(人为刀俎，我为鱼肉) Means the power of life and death is in the hands of others and one’s in a position of being slaughtered. This comes from the “Historical Records: Xiang Yu’s Chronicles”. The original line is: “The big line does not care about the meticulous, and the big ceremony does not hesitate to give up the small. Now people are swords, and I am fish.”
The group had rested enough. The man in the jacket lit a few torches and divided them up, giving one to Dong Zhi. As they set off, Dong Zhi secretly paid attention and found that they were moving entirely uphill.
Are we going up the mountains again?
Even with this discovery, Dong Zhi and Zhang Xing had no choice but to pray for a safe journey. The reality was, the more you were afraid of something, the more likely it would come. Dong Zhi’s hand that was holding the torch, was beginning to sore. Just as he was about to switch hands, his sharp eyes caught the sight of a cloud of black mist, behind Scar, floating towards him.
“Be careful!” Dong Zhi subconsciously shouted.
Scar reacted quickly as he abruptly turned around, swept the torch forward, and used his other hand to pull the trigger on the gun he was holding, shooting behind him. This was done purely out of instinct when he encountered danger. He knew that shooting it was useless. The black mist that had merged with the darkness was slightly delayed as he rolled to the side. Suddenly, it struck again. Scar yelled and reached out to grab onto Zhang Xing, intending to use her as a shield!
Yaksha also known as “Yaksa”.
In folklore, Yaksha ghosts are mostly “sea monsters” or “water ghosts”. They can eat people and animals and are related to the Dragon King and the Evil God. It’s a unique ghost creature in the underworld, and its whole body is black.
Dakini Yaksha has two wings and can fly in the air. It is ever-changing. Sometimes it is red, sometimes blue, sometimes yellow. No matter what color it is, it possesses a kind of dark light that is very powerful. Its body sometimes turns into the head of a human beast, or the head of a cow, or a horse, which is terrifying, and it likes to cause trouble.
Earthwalking Yaksha is even more frightening. Its hair is a green flame, several feet high, burning like a candle. One of its eyes is on its forehead, while the other grew on its chin. They are strangely shaped; some are triangular, while others are half-moon.
The Yaksha in this novel is not referring to the Yaksha from Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist texts, which are generally benevolent.