Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Since they had set out after their short rest, Dong Zhi had constantly remained vigilant. At this time, he didn’t care about cursing others or making enemies. He quickly pulled Zhang Xing back using his quick reflexes, causing Scar to grab empty air!
He and Zhang Xing staggered back a few steps and fell, rolling to the ground, but they managed to avoid Scar’s attempt to use them as a shield.
Failing to grab someone, he quickly got up and scurried forward, shouting, “Help!”
More black mist surrounded them as the men in uniform waved their torches around to drive them away. However, this action was simply futile. The mists were like water that ebbed and flowed, dodging the fire, then gathering again, waiting for the opportunity to devour them.
These were monsters of the dark, and the darkness was their natural refuge. Ordinary humans couldn’t match them at all. Thinking of the train attendant and Yao Bin’s tragic situation, Dong Zhi felt that if these things really invaded his body and sucked out his brain, turning him into a puppet, he would rather just end himself with a knife before it reached that stage.
The group launched an immediate counterattack. Scar’s master, the middle-aged man, drew a mahogany sword from his back and danced around so tightly that it actually scared the black mist, as it didn’t dare to get close. The girl threw out a few talismans at random, and they ignited spontaneously when they reached mid-air and swept towards the black mist, capturing it. The black mist suddenly burst into flames and disintegrated into powder.
Dong Zhi couldn’t help but be amazed. The girl also used talismans, but her hands were more delicate and gorgeous than He Yu.
The old man’s hands were covered with seals, and after chanting something, a gray wolf suddenly jumped out from behind him. It roared and pounced on the black mist and opened its mouth, showing a row of sharp fangs. The black mist, which should have no substantial body, was easily torn to pieces. Although the mist tried to quickly reform itself, the snow wolf was equally fierce. As the mist tried to reform its shape, it was melted away by the white glow of the snow wolf’s body.
Scar suddenly screamed, “Master, help me!”
Looking towards the sound, Dong Zhi saw that the torch in Scar’s hand was about to be extinguished and the black mist was looming closer as if it would attack at any moment. Scar tripped over a stone and fell flat on his ass. He rubbed his body as he crawled back desperately. He could still handle the front, but suddenly a black mist swept towards him from behind.
Scar’s master had also seen it. He shouted to warn his apprentice, but it was too late. As soon as he spoke, the black mist rushed behind Scar, enveloping him. He struggled hopelessly, shouting for help, as all kinds of swears rushed out. The black mist disappeared from above his head, leaving no trace.
Dong Zhi was startled, and Zhang Xing clenched tightly around his arm, shivering violently.
Scar rolled on the ground with a scream, and suddenly the noise stopped. His throat was still bobbing, but no sound came out. The man in the jacket shone his flashlight towards him. Dong Zhi saw that veins were slowly emerging from Scar’s face as his eyes began turning white, looking exactly the same as Yao Bin.
Scar clawed fiercely into the soil, so deep that it almost buried half his fingers. Hideous blue veins started bursting out, creating a sinister looking scene.
The girl threw a talisman towards him, causing him to become violent. He shredded the burning talisman in mid-air and let out a roar towards the group. The white wolf leapt out from the side but was entangled with the black mist and couldn’t reach them.
Scar reached out and grabbed a bodyguard nearby. The bodyguard reacted and kept shooting him, but in the end, he was still thrown to the ground, his neck encircled as he was being choked.
“Mr. Fujikawa, Miss Kitaichi, please save my apprentice!” The middle-aged man said anxiously.
The girl bounded her hands with seals and chanted out nine characters with different tones. White light seemingly steamed up from her hands. Suddenly, a white crane flew out from behind her and rushed towards Scar.
Though the crane looked elegant, its castration was cutthroat. It immediately pecked at Scar’s forehead, forming a blood hole in the middle of it. After saying it was too late, the girl threw another talisman that stuck right on top of the blood hole, creating a fiery explosion that consumed Scar, just like what had happened to Yao Bin.
“Scar!” The middle-aged man shouted. He furiously turned his head and cursed at the girl, “I said I’d show you the way, but you bastards killed my apprentice!”
“Mr. Yin, you clearly know that it was a hopeless situation for your apprentice. If we don’t kill him, he’ll kill us!” The man in the jacket threatened coldly, “You’d better show us some respect, otherwise, we won’t save you next time.”
The middle-aged man’s face twitched, distorted by anger, but he didn’t dare open his mouth again.
Just when all Dong Zhi’s attention was attracted by the scene, Zhang Xing suddenly let out a cry. He turned back when he heard the sound and saw a cloud of black mist floating towards them. Without a second thought, he took out the talisman in his pocket and threw it at the mist.
The moment the talisman made contact with the black mist, traces of red light sparked, causing the black mist to stagnate for a bit, and its speed slowed down. It turns out his talismans weren’t completely useless! The thought flashed through his mind, but before he could feel proud, he quickly pulled Zhang Xing away.
Witnessing the scene just now, the girl couldn’t help but let out a sigh.
“What?” While fighting off the black mist, the old man still had enough strength to spare to care about the girl’s condition.
“That man is a bit strange. I want to test something.” The girl replied as she waved her slender hand.
The white crane suddenly appeared in front of Dong Zhi, startling him. He staggered forward and fell to the ground, allowing the black mist to quickly catch up. Out of talismans, he could only watch helplessly as the black mist hovered on top of him and Zhang Xing.
Seeing that he had no other life-saving skills, the girl felt disappointed and no longer paid any attention to them. For her, the black mists were scattered and hard to see, so they were troublesome to deal with. It was easier to destroy them with talisman fire after they had attached to a human.
With the black mist close at hand and thinking of the fate of Yao Bin and Scar, Dong Zhi felt desolation in his heart. The last thought that flashed in his mind was that Zhang Xing’s lung capacity was big enough to scream for them both.
Suddenly, a white light appeared in the darkness, as if tearing the air asunder and shooting straight into the black mist. The mist let out a screech and instantly burst into dust.
Zhang Xing, who didn’t know that she had just barely escaped death, was still screaming with her eyes closed. Dong Zhi couldn’t bear it any longer, so he quickly covered her mouth.
Bursts of thunder rumbled as purple-white lightning lit up the sky, illuminating the peaks of the mountains in the distance. The thunder had been sounding since before he got lost, so Dong Zhi could no longer recall how long it had been raging, but the rain had ceased, causing an uneasy feeling to arise, as if it was a sign that something big was about to happen.
In the flickering light, the black mist converged again and was quickly dispersed by a whip, accompanied by screams that could tear your eardrums. It sounded like a howl from a demon in its last struggle. In the face of death, all life was equal.
The man with a whip walked slowly towards them, stopping not far from Dong Zhi and Zhang Xing. The man in the jacket shined his flashlight towards him, revealing an ordinary-looking face that belonged to a man that looked like he was in his forties.
“Who are you?!”
“Stop using that piece of shit in your hand and shining it at laozi’s* face!” The man shouted as he whipped a cloud of black mist. He glared back and said, “I haven’t asked yet, but what are a bunch of little kids doing running up Changbai Mountain in the middle of the night!”
*Refers to an old master. Commonly used slang to referring to “Your Father”. Basically, it’s saying this great one.
“Sir, we have a common enemy. The most important thing now is cooperation.”
It was the first time that the Dong Zhi heard the old man speak. He had been held by the stars and the moon* before and had always maintained a haughty attitude. Although his tone of voice was still blunt, he clearly expressed his appreciation.
*(众星拱月) Metaphor referring to people that support one person or all things surrounding one thing (AKA held on top of a pedestal).
The man with the whip sneered and didn’t say anything. The movement in his hand didn’t stop. His whip seemed to be extremely powerful. Every crack made a faint wind and sounded like thunder, completely shattering the black mist. Due to its sheer force, after every whip was shot, the man had to rest for a bit before he resumed his next attack. With his assistance, the fight was more easily handled, and they were able to wipe out the black mist within a few strokes.
Despite the heavy loss, everyone could finally catch their breath. Scar died as well as a subordinate of the man in the jacket. The old man looked fine, but the girl was pale, obviously from exhaustion, so she had to sit down and rest against a tree.
Contrary to them, Dong Zhi and Zhang Xing, who had no power to protect themselves, were unscathed due to the timely appearance of the man with the whip.
The middle-aged man holding the mahogany sword stared blankly at the place where his apprentice had burned to ashes. After resolving the black mist issue, conflict immediately arises.
The man with the whip sneered. “What’s so good about cooperating with a group of thieves?”
A fat man next to the old man coughed lightly. “Why are you so hostile? Changbai Mountain is a tourist destination, and there is no rule that foreigners cannot come to play. We got lost halfway, so…”
The man interrupted him impatiently. “The president of the Aso Consortium, with a broker1 and two Japanese onmyojis2, came to Changbai Mountain for tourism. What a truly unique combination!”
1Term used here is (二道贩) translated means second trader. It refers to a middleman/broker/trafficker, I guess in this case, the middleman to whatever this group is trying to catch.
2Basically a Japanese exorcist. See Kinky Thoughts for more details.
Several people on the other side did not expect their identities to be revealed so easily, and their faces instantly turned ugly. The girl’s expression changed as she said, “You visited our group three years ago… Mr. Zheng?”
Seeing that the other party just snorted coldly, she confirmed her guess. She turned her head and whispered a few words to the old man, whose face frowned slightly as he looked at Lao1 Zheng. After a moment, he bowed and said bluntly, “I’m Fujikawa Aoi2, Eiko’s teacher. Please give me your guidance3.”
1The prefix Lao (老) used before surnames, refers to the head or elder of families or an address to someone who’s much older than you (like around your father’s age).
2Last name, first name. Note all names will be in this format unless it’s western.
3Clarity: Not in the literal sense. It’s more of a polite greeting.
The Eiko he was referring to was probably the girl sitting next to him.
Lao Zheng didn’t seem angry as he replied, “The Exorcism Department has not received your special entry report. Do you have any explanation for this?”
The girl said softly, “We have already applied for the relevant procedures, but your department hasn’t approved it yet. I would like to ask Mr. Zheng to go back and check it again.”
Lao Zheng sneered. “Don’t think that I don’t know what you’re thinking. You planned to enter the country first and then apply, so of course I didn’t receive your approval. Since we have bumped into each other, please follow me obediently back so we can take care of the formalities. Otherwise, I will treat this as an illegal invasion!”
The scene immediately became tense. The fat man, who was the president of the Aso Consortium, said, “Mr. Zheng, we are all trapped here, and there’s nothing we can do about it until we leave. We might as well cooperate sincerely and try to get out before discussing other matters. Don’t you think so?”
Lao Zheng’s gaze swept across them coldly, but in the end, he said nothing. Seeing that Lao Zheng didn’t object, the group breathed a sigh of relief.
The middle-aged man with a mahogany sword was sitting on the periphery of the group of Japanese. He seemed to be jealous of Lao Zheng but didn’t dare come over. Lao Zhang didn’t bother paying any attention to him either, drawing a clear line between the two.
Dong Zhi glanced at both sides, then moved silently inching towards Lao Zheng’s side. Lao Zheng knew that the two of them were ordinary people, and naturally they didn’t hold any tit-for-tat malice, so he asked, “How did you two get mixed up with them?”
Dong Zhi briefly explained how they got lost and Yao Bin’s situation.
Lao Zheng frowned, his expression became more solemn, and he said, “No wonder!”
No wonder why these two didn’t talk much.
Dong Zhi thanked him and asked for his name.
The other party casually said, “Just call me Lao Zheng.”
Zhang Xing shivered and asked in a low voice, “What exactly were those things just now? Are they ghosts?”
“It would be great if they were ghosts. Would be a lot easier to clean up!” Lao Zheng whispered, “Just follow me. I’ll take you to a safe place. When dawn comes, you can hurry down the mountain. Go quickly and don’t stay here for too long!”
Dong Zhi suddenly asked, “Do you know He Yu and Long Shen?”
Lao Zheng was taken aback. “You know them?”
Dong Zhi nodded.
He naturally deduced it from hearing Lao Zheng’s conversation with the Japanese just now.
Lao Zheng didn’t easily believe him. “Do you have any proof?”
Dong Zhi said, “He Yu’s badge number is 2491.”
After that, he picked up the branch and drew the sunlight symbol on the ground that He Yu had taught him.
“Sunlight symbol?” Lao Zheng was a knowledgeable person. His expression suddenly eased after hearing He Yu’s correct badge number and seeing the symbol drawn just now. “It turns out you’re one of our own, so this will be much easier.”
He also took out a badge from his pocket and showed it to Dong Zhi. It turned out to be a work permit, similar to He Yu’s. It also showed the Special Administration Bureau on it, but the four characters underneath were different. It was Lao Zheng’s name, Zheng Sui, and his work number was 1334.
Seeing this work permit, Dong Zhi now understood the feelings of those who would get excited when they saw the People’s Liberation Army, as he was now surging from excitement after finding this organization again.
He hurriedly explained, “I am not one of you. I just met He Yu not long ago!”
Lao Zheng smiled and said, “Although He Yu is a fool, that kid is still reliable when it comes to major events. Since he taught you how to draw talismans, he must also be thinking of asking his master to accept you. A few years ago, I went abroad with him on a group visit, and he had fought against that little girl sitting opposite of you.”
Dong Zhi took the opportunity to ask, “Who are those Japanese people?”
Since he found out about his relationship with He Yu, Lao Zheng’s attitude towards Dong Zhi was much more cordial, and he became a bit of a chatterbox.
“That little girl’s name is Kitaichi Eiko, and she is the witch of Ise Shrine.”
Dong Zhi wondered. “Isn’t she an onmyoji?”
Lao Zheng: “Onmyoji is just a general term. In Japan, it is a kind of priesthood, as men are called priests and women are witches. They have different levels and tiers, forming their own system. It’s rumored that she was born with the eyes of heaven and controls two shikigamis* at the same time. She is the leader among the new generation of onmyojis in Japan. That old thing is her master, who should be more powerful.”
*Conjured beings made alive through a complex conjuring ceremony. See Kinky Thoughts for more details.
Zhang Xing, who was sitting by his side, looked completely lost, and her spirit wasn’t in great shape either. She still hadn’t fully recovered from her injuries and shock. Lao Zheng reached out his hand and flicked her forehead, instantly causing her to close her eyes and she slowly slumped her head onto Dong Zhi’s shoulder.
“The little girl is frightened. Let her sleep.” Lao Zheng said.
Dong Zhi continued to ask, “Are they entering the country illegally?”
Lao Zheng sneered. “Special identities like Fujikawa Aoi and Kitaichi Eiko, in addition to formal entry, must also register for a license, but they didn’t have them. They actually told me they were here on vacation. What utter bullshit!”
Practitioner of Onmyodo. It has an eclectic blend of Wu Xing, Godai (Five elements), Yin and Yang, shikigami, divination, and alchemy.
A practitioner of onmyodo is called an onmyoji. Traditionally, the only ones able to legally practice onmyodo were appointed by the Imperial government, and were in fact, civil servants of the Bureau of Onmyō. During the Heian period, onmyōji had quite a bit of political clout, but when the imperial court fell into decline, their status as civil servants was lost. Their original responsibilities included keeping track of the calendar, divination, and protection of the capital from evil spirits. They also watched for auspicious and/or harmful influences in the earth, (earthquake detection ect.).
The most famous onmyoji is Abe no Seimei, who is roughly analogous to Merlin of Arthurian legend.
Shikigami are conjured beings, made alive through a complex conjuring ceremony. Their power is connected to the spiritual force of their master, where if the invoker is well introduced and has much experience, their shiki can possess animals and even people and manipulate them, but if the invoker is careless, their shikigami may get out of control in time, gaining its own will and consciousness and can even raid its own master and kill them in revenge. Usually, shikigami are conjured to exercise risky orders for their masters, such as spying, stealing and enemy tracking. Shikigami are said to be invisible most of the time, but they can be made visible by binding them into small, folded and artfully cut paper manikins. There are also shikigami that can show themselves as animals.