Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 40: You have a choice between Dong Zhi and Liu Qingbo
The community where Hui Yiguang lives was surrounded by tabloid reporters. Residents around the community were attracted to all the commotion. Some that were stopped by reporters even came forward for interviews. Dong Zhi and Gu Meiren didn’t have an access card, so they could only call someone to come downstairs and pick them up. Hui Yiguang’s assistant naturally couldn’t do it, so it was Cheng Yuan that came down and let them in.
When all three entered the elevator, they finally got rid of all the covetous eyes staring at them and let out a sigh of relief.
“How is Miss Hui?” Gu Meiren asked.
Cheng Yuan said, “I heard that for the first two days she wasn’t in good spirits, so she slept most of the time. She appears to be doing much better these last two days. I’ve made her soul solid again, so there shouldn’t be a problem.”
Dong Zhi couldn’t help but ask, “Are there any abnormal behavior from her?”
Cheng Yuan: “No.”
When Dong Zhi thought about it, they hadn’t known Hui Yiguang for long, so even if there were abnormal changes, they wouldn’t be able to tell.
Hearing of their arrival, Hui Yiguang personally came out to greet them.
“Thank you both so much. If it weren’t for you that night, I might not be sitting here today!” She was full of gratitude and seemed to be in good spirits.
They exchanged greetings and sat down. Gu Meiren didn’t talk much and mostly listened to the others. After everyone finished their greetings, she said, “Miss Hui, in my capacity, and you may feel offended when I say this to you, I still suggest that you help manage the affairs of Wang Qi’s death. After all, strictly speaking, her death is indeed related to you.”
Xiao Han’s expression changed when she heard this. After Hui Yiguang woke up, she and her agent were afraid of committing taboos, so they never mentioned Wang Qi in front of her. The reporters outside couldn’t get in, and Xiao Han didn’t dare let Hui Yiguang know about the gossip online.
Surprisingly, rather than showing displeasure, Hui Yiguang nodded and agreed wholeheartedly, “You are right. We used to be good friends, and now she’s no longer here. I can’t be unkind and unrighteous and ignore this. I have entrusted her affairs to a professional company who will handle her funeral.”
Seeing Xiao Han’s surprised expression, she smiled helplessly. “I know that you have been hiding the news from the outside world from me for the past few days. In fact, I have secretly looked at them. I have done a lot of things wrong in the past, but now that I’ve walked through hell’s gate, I understand many things. If I lose money, I can always earn more, but if I lose the people in my life, there’s nothing that can replace them.”
Hui Yiguang sighed, and then said, “To tell you the truth, I plan to donate a sum of money to a project that helps girls in mountainous areas go to school. When I was a child, I didn’t have such condition, so I could only go to a performing arts school. I hope that there will be more children in the future who don’t need to be like me and can choose the path they want to go.”
Gu Meiren said happily, “That’s great to hear. When the time comes, Miss Hui, please let me know. I also want to donate as well!”
While they were talking, Dong Zhi was quietly observing Hui Yiguang. It seemed like it was still the same person as the tone of her voice had no big changes. Her face and smile were kind and soft, similar to how she was before.
Even if there was a major change, it’s unlikely that Dong Zhi, who had only met her a few times, would be able to pick it out.
Looking down, he saw a ring on Hui Yiguang’s hand. With a thump in his heart, a chill quickly rose throughout his body, even all the way to his hair!
He remembered this ring! It was that night in the hospital. Wang Qi was lying breathless on the hospital bed, wearing a ring on her hand. Enamel-blue petals were inlaid with pearls, giving it a very chic look. At that time, he had looked at the ring very carefully since it caught his eye, so it was impossible for him to forget what it looked like!
Dong Zhi’s breathing became short. Gu Meiren noticed his strangeness, turned her head and said with concern, “Are you okay?”
Dong Zhi calmed down, smiled and shook his head, as he inadvertently asked, “Miss Hui, your ring is very beautiful. Where did you buy it?”
Hui Yiguang glanced down and said, with a smile, “This is from a friend.”
“Is it convenient to tell which friend? I think it’s unique looking, and I also want to buy one to give it to someone.” He pretended to be embarrassed and hesitant.
Hui Yiguang said clearly, “A girlfriend?”
Dong Zhi smiled shyly.
Hui Yiguang touched the pearl on the ring as she said, “This was brought back by a friend from abroad many years ago. I have always liked it very much. Now it seems that it is difficult to buy it.”
Dong Zhi asked, “Maybe your friend still has a few on hand?”
Hui Yiguang sighed and said regretfully, “He has been dead for many years now.”
After that, she smiled slightly at Dong Zhi. “Therefore, there are very few of the same style in the world.”
The weird feeling in his heart became even stronger, causing Dong Zhi’s hair to stand completely upright. He couldn’t wait to run to the morgue to find Wang Qi’s body to see if she still had the ring in her hand.
Hui Yiguang didn’t seem to be interested in the topics of rings, so after a few words, she began chatting with Gu Meiren about other things.
Dong Zhi was full of questions that needed to be answered like crazy grass* but was unable to ask anything. He felt like there was a thin veil covering the truth, but he was unable to tear it away.
*Refers to desire for something that’s grown to the point of madness.
After half an hour had passed, Hui Yiguang showed signs of fatigue, so Gu Meiren and Dong Zhi said their goodbyes. Hui Yiguang sent them to the door.
“I heard that you’ll be performing duties soon, so you don’t need to come again.” Hui Yiguang said, “In fact, I’m someone who’s deeply concerned about my privacy, so I don’t like having others around. Last time, I had no choice but to trouble you. Now that the matter has been resolved, I’m feeling much better now. If anything comes up again, I’ll ask for your help, but for now, we can stop here. Thank you very much.”
Gu Meiren was a little surprised. “The other people…”
Hui Yiguang said, “I’ll let Banxia tell them.”
Since this was her request, Gu Meiren didn’t insist any longer. The interview scores would be announced soon, and if they pass, they’ll start on the training exam. It was true that there was no time for them to follow up on Hui Yiguang’s affairs.
Before parting, Dong Zhi suddenly said, “Miss Hui, did you know that Wang Qi also had the same ring on her hand as you?”
Hui Yiguang was surprised. “Did she?”
She sighed. “We used to be good sisters, so she would use my things at will. Maybe I had given the same ring to her once, but I didn’t expect that things would develop like this now.”
Her tone was so affectionate that it dispelled most of Dong Zhi’s doubts. It wasn’t until he and Gu Meiren entered the elevator and Hui Yiguang had sent them to the door that he saw Hui Yiguang giving him a smile right as the elevator door closed.
It was so profound, as if it contained endless secrets. Dong Zhi’s whole body shook. Gu Meiren wasn’t paying attention as she just lowered her head. Dong Zhi couldn’t help but take a step forward, but the elevator door was already closed and was slowly descending.
Seeing his behavior, Gu Meiren said strangely, “What’s the matter?”
Dong Zhi said, “Do you think Hui Yiguang is a bit strange?”
Gu Meiren thought for a while. “How can you tell? We barely know her, so I can’t really tell. What’s the matter?”
Dong Zhi told her about his thoughts on the ring, and Gu Meiren gave him a disapproving look. “Didn’t she already explain it? She gave that ring to Wang Qi.”
“But she was almost possessed and had her body stolen by her, yet she still wore the same ring without any grudges. Don’t you find that strange?” Dong Zhi said.
When he said this, Gu Meiren became more thoughtful. “Do you think Hui Yiguang is actually Wang Qi?”
Dong Zhi smiled bitterly. “I don’t know. At that time, we all thought that Hui Yiguang’s soul had been returned, but after thinking about it, it was so chaotic that night, and there were monsters mixed in too. It’s possible that something went wrong.”
Gu Meiren comforted, “Don’t think too much. At that time, we all felt that there was no mistake. Now she’s recovering well. After this catastrophe, she changed her ways and is doing well. Isn’t this enough?”
Dong Zhi can only say, “Maybe.”
When they both got off the elevator, they met Cheng Yuan downstairs. He had come to help Hui Yiguang repair her soul.
When Dong Zhi asked about Hui Yiguang’s physical condition, Cheng Yuan said, “Her soul has just returned to its original place, and her spirit is a little unstable. In a few days, she should be fine.”
“Has she shown any behavior that is different from ordinary people or different from usual in the past few days?” Dong Zhi asked.
Cheng Yuan shook his head. “No, her soul is very consistent with her body, and there is no rejection, but her assistant told me privately that after Miss Hui’s accident, her whole demeanor had changed.”
Dong Zhi and Gu Meiren looked at each other. “How?”
Cheng Yuan said, “Her temper has improved, and she is more kind. She even offered to give Xiao Han a raise and even gave her agent a break, saying she needed to recuperate for a while. Xiao Han said that Ms. Hui used to be more impatient in private, wouldn’t listen to others’ opinions, and wouldn’t be picky with scripts, as long as the pay was high.”
This didn’t really explain much. At most, people who crossed a tribulation would often improve their mindset and change their behaviors. Perhaps as Long Shen said, there are many things in this world that have their own cause and effect. The perfection you want may not be consistent with the perfection that others want. As long as you work hard and feel worthy in your heart, it will be the best result.
Dong Zhi said goodbye to Cheng Yuan and left with Gu Meiren. The reporters still haven’t left. With eyes sharper than knives, they immediately spotted Dong Zhi and Gu Meiren coming downstairs from Hui Yiguang’s residence. They immediately flocked over and asked if they were Hui Yiguang’s friends. While Gu Meiren and Dong Zhi can battle against monsters, handling these reporters was a different matter. It took almost all their strength just to squeeze out of the crowd and flee.
After having a meal with Gu Meiren, the two of them received separate notifications informing them that they had passed the interview and asking them to report to the General Administration Bureau in two days to start training.
The unexpected, good news came so suddenly that even an introverted girl like Gu Meiren couldn’t help but express joy.
“After seeing everyone’s abilities, I thought I wouldn’t pass. This was unexpected!” Her face was flushed with glee.
Overwhelmed from his happiness he barely could think straight as he said, “I heard that there’ll be an exam after training. If we pass that, we’ll finally be able to join the Special Administration Bureau. Until then, it’s still up in the air.”
Hearing what he said, Gu Meiren gradually calmed down, nodded, and patted her cheeks. “Calm down, calm down!”
Dong Zhi couldn’t help but laugh. “Want to ask the others? Maybe they got their notification too.”
“Okay!” Since Gu Meiren knew Ba Sang best, she picked up her phone and called him, while Dong Zhi sent the notification to Long Shen, He Yu, Kan Chaosheng, and Zhong Yuyi to inform them of the good news.
Zhong Yuyi, despite being a bit airheaded, was surprisingly the first to respond: [Congratulations.]
Dong Zhi replied with a happy emoji.
Zhong Yuyi: [This year’s training will have my course in it. Classmate, I’ll greet you in advance.]
Almost spitting from the shock, Dong Zhi quickly replied: [Teacher Zhong, please tell me, is the name of your course “How to make your reflex skills longer than the Earth”?]
Zhong Yuyi: [You dare underestimate me! Just you wait and see!╭(╯^╰)╮]
He then sent a few unhappy expressions to Dong Zhi. Dong Zhi was happily chatting with him when he received a message from Kan Chaosheng.
Kan Chaosheng: [Please treat me! Tan Jiacai! Japanese Food! Hot pot! Nothing less than that!]
This was indeed an appropriate response that was most fitting of his character.
Dong Zhi couldn’t laugh or cry. Just as he was about to reply, the other party sent another message: [He Yu’s like a dead dog right now, so he can’t reply to your message. He told me to say congratulations to you. He owes you a meal debt, so he’ll pay it back when he returns!]
He hurriedly asked: [Are you alright? How is it going? When are you guys coming back?]
Kan Chaosheng: [I don’t know yet. Many unexpected things have happened. He Yu rescued a group of three yesterday and almost got himself killed. He’s still lying in bed! That’s why he was so frustrated. If it was me, I would be up and kicking about right now!]
Although his mouth was full of trains*, he didn’t disclose any specific information. Dong Zhi knew that it was most likely confidential, and since he hadn’t officially joined the Special Administration Bureau, it was natural that they couldn’t tell him, and he didn’t pry. After telling them to take care of themselves, he ended the conversation.
*(满嘴跑火车) A few meanings. 1. Refers to a well-spoken, articulate person. 2. Refers to someone who is talkative, smug, or bragging. 3. Describe someone who has no control over their speech and say whatever they want irresponsibly. || In this context, it’s referring to 2.
Long Shen never replied. Dong Zhi surmised he should have known the results long ago.
Gu Meiren put down her phone and said to him, “Cheng Yuan didn’t seem to pass.”
Dong Zhi was taken aback. “No way?”
Li Ying was quite shrewd. That day, when he invited those 9 people, including Dong Zhi, to dinner, he made it clear that he thought these were the ones who would be able to pass the interview, and he wanted to get together so that they could get to know each other. But the results now, was Cheng Yuan didn’t pass.
Gu Meiren: “I also find it strange that Cheng Yuan didn’t pass. He’s quite capable of his psychic abilities. Why didn’t he pass? He said that he didn’t receive a notice, so I asked Li Ying and the others, who all said they got theirs. Even Ba Sang passed.”
Not knowing how to answer, Dong Zhi could only say, “Maybe the above had other considerations. If I have a chance later, I’ll ask.”
While talking with Gu Meiren, Dong Zhi received a message from Long Shen: [Practice more by yourself. I’ll see you in two days.]
This message implied that Long Shen had no time to have a meal with him. Dong Zhi scratched his nose and replied back: [Understood. Please take care of yourself! (*^__^*)]
Long Shen was talking to a visitor in his office.
“Boss Long, I wonder if you have made picks for any candidates?” Song Zhicun said with a smile.
Unlike Wu Bingtian, who liked to welcome and send1, Song Zhicun was more like a fish in water2, and didn’t seem to be cold and impersonal like Long Shen. This Deputy Director of Group Three has always been low-key in the General Administration Bureau.
1(迎来送往) Refers to someone who likes socializing.
2(如鱼得水) Metaphor referring to someone who gets along well in their environment || In this context it’s saying he’s easy to get along with.
He usually picks up the remaining candidates that the other two groups pass on. Trivial tasks are mostly handled by group three. Their members are made up of a mix of people who are from smaller sects or have no affiliation, and their team leader is a cook who’s also a half-cultivator. Thus, their group was given the nickname, the miscellaneous group.
Of course, to be a Deputy Director of the General Administration Bureau, Song Zhicun was not just good at cooking rice. Just like Long Shen, his temper is cold and there’s no room for error.
Hearing this, Long Shen said, “There is no need to decide so soon, right?”
Song Zhicun smiled bitterly. “There are quick hands and I’m slower. Many of the talents I was optimistic about in previous years were snatched away by Wu Bingtian. Last year, I finally got optimistic about one and I targeted him before the Boss Wu and the result was good. Many have taken the initiative to ask for transfer to the Northwest Branch since they refused to stay in the General Administration Bureau. No matter what this year, I have to get some fresh troops for our group! This time, Yunnan had lost a colleague, so everyone’s morale was low!”
Long Shen said, “Have you talked to Boss Wu about this?”
Song Zhicun silently thought that this guy was too cunning. He’s not like Long Shen, who is straightforward.
He smiled and said, “I have told him, but he ignored me! He has a group of rich and powerful people, as well as the Longhu Sect and Yuanming Palace support. If they need pills, they get pills. If they need talismans, they get talismans. Newcomers aren’t stupid. They all want to go to Group One. Who will come to our groups when they exist? We have suffered losses in previous years, but this can’t go on this year. We have to think of a way to unite and let Wu Bingtian suffer!”
Long Shen: “Then what good idea does Boss Song have?”
Song Zhicun had already thought of it quite some time ago. “Let’s discuss who we fancy, so we won’t have any conflicts with candidate selection and shove it in Wu Bingtian’s face. When the time comes to choose someone, we can join forces to speak on behalf of each other to avoid the other party taking any big advantage.”
Long Shen said, “There will be exams after the training. Even if we take a fancy now, they may not be able to pass the exams.”
Song Zhicun smiled and said, “Let’s bring them to our side first. If they can’t pass the exam at that time, then we only have ourselves to blame.”
Long Shen nodded but didn’t say who he liked, so Song Zhicun made the first move. “I think that Chi Banxia is not bad.”
Witchcraft was popular in Southeast Asia but wasn’t very common in this country. Their domestic comrades who traveled to Southeast Asia often suffered from witchcraft. Later, when they had a mission abroad, they would have to call in poison practitioners to assist.
While the Miaojiang poison technique and witchcraft have the same origin, they later developed separately and are very different now. It could be said they’re equivalent to two flowers on the same branch. Poison practitioners are also, in and of themselves, rare to find. Among the Miao people, most are no different from those of the Han nationality who don’t know the art of poison. One or two experts could be found among a few seedlings who live in seclusion in the mountains and forest. Unfortunately, such experts do not follow the ways of the modern world, let alone their country. It’s estimated that they would not travel far, and there’s also a barrier to communication as well.
The Hainan Chi family wasn’t in line with the secular world but was well known for their art of witchcraft in Southeast Asia, and a unique art at that. No one from their clan had come out to pursue a career before, thus making Chi Banxia the first. Even if she was only half as good, she would be highly sought after. Knowing this, Song Zhicun had his eyes on her, but was afraid Wu Bingtian might rob him of his chance, so he sought Long Shen’s help.
Long Shen said, “Boss Song hasn’t accepted an apprentice yet. If you throw out this bait, you might have a good chance to tempt Chi Banxia.”
Song Zhicun’s eyes lit up. Yes! It was impossible for Yuanming Palace to accept a witchdoctor as an apprentice. Even if Wu Bingtian promised big things, he couldn’t grant her the prestige of being a direct apprentice to a Deputy Director. Since the Chi family allowed her to take the exam, it must mean that they hope to develop her career. Between being a group member compared to being a Deputy Director’s apprentice, there’s no need to even think about which of the two is more important.
This is like two universities trying to grab the champion of the college entrance exam. One would offer to waive the tuition fee for four years, while the other would offer not only free tuition for their undergrad, but also for their postgrad as well. The champion, of course, would lean towards the university with the more favorable conditions.
“Boss Long really knows how to wake up a dreamer with just a word!” He laughed. “Thank you, thank you!”
Long Shen: “You’re welcome, Boss Song.”
Song Zhicun said again, “Li Ying is also very good, but he’s born on Mount Maoshan, so he’ll probably join group one. There’s also Zhang Song, who’s from a side branch of the Longhu Sect, so he’ll join them as well. As for Liu Qingbo, Boss Long saved his life once, so he admires you very much. With such enthusiasm, don’t you want him as an apprentice?”
Long Shen said, “That’s just a kid playing around.”
Song Zhicun smiled and said, “Boss Long, you’re too humble. There’s also Dong Zhi, who ranked first on the written exam. I heard that he’s been named a disciple of the Hezao Sect, and your group have already met him. He must also want to join group two to be with his brothers, but I heard Wu Bingtian is very interested in him.”
Seeing Long Shen’s eyebrows twitch, Song Zhicun secretly smiled. “Liu Qingbo has a deep background. You must already know that his father is very valued by the higher-ups. If he joins group two, money and staff would no longer be an issue. You may even be able to suppress Wu Bingtian. However, Dong Zhi and Liu Qingbo, neither one would want the other to join the group they’re in, which means you have to make a choice.”
“Thank you, Boss Song, for reminding me.” Long Shen nodded while remaining calm.
Seeing that he still refused to reveal anything in the slightest, Song Zhicun inwardly scolded him for being so cunning.
Two days passed in the blink of an eye. On the day of registration, Dong Zhi came to the designated classroom early.
Since everyone didn’t know the specifics of how many had passed, when they looked around, they couldn’t help being surprised. There were only about 20 tables and chairs in the classroom, meaning that only about 20 people had passed through the training stage.
The elimination rate was quite high, so it was no wonder no one was admitted last year. It seems the Special Administration Bureau remained in line with their ideals, preferring to recruit for shortages and be picky with who they recruited rather than recruit indiscriminately. When the training course is completed, there’s most likely another elimination. By the end, if even 10 people remained, that still wasn’t bad.
Li Ying, Liu Qingbo, and the others were already there. Everyone had become a little closer after the incident on the rooftop of the hospital. In any case, they had gone through life and death together. They all smiled and greeted each other warmly. Surprisingly, Liu Qingbo didn’t seem so antagonistic towards Dong Zhi.
When Ba Sang saw Dong Zhi come in, he waved to him happily, motioning that he had reserved a seat next to him. Gu Meiren, who was sitting behind Ba Sang, flashed him a smile.
Dong Zhi walked over and sat down.
Ba Sang leaned over and whispered, “I heard that you had it rough recently?”
Dong Zhi whispered, “Fortunately, I was there to save the day. I’ll tell you the details later.”
Ba Sang gave him a regretful look. “This beauty had told me, but it was a pity that I was at home and missed out. Otherwise, I could have gone with you. What a great practice opportunity!”
Dong Zhi smiled and said, “You want to practice? You won’t have to worry about that chance in the future. I heard there’ll be a ton of exercises during this training period. By then, you’ll probably wish you were still back at home!”
Ba Sang said happily, “Speaking of home, I brought yak meat from home. I’ll give you your share later!”
While everyone was talking, a man walked in. It was Deputy Director Wu, the legendary leader of Group One, who was magnanimous and had ample wealth. The noisy classroom was instantly silent as everyone quickly shut their mouths, as not to leave a bad impression on their potential future leader.
Wu Bingtian looked around with a kind smile on his face. “Dear students, first of all, congratulations on successfully passing the written and interview exams for the Special Administration Bureau this year. You may become a part of our future. Why did I say future? It’s because there’s still a training exam after our training course. Don’t think that just because you passed the interview means this is a shoo-in for you. In previous years, many people have been eliminated as a result.”
Seeing everyone sitting stiffly upright, he smiled again. “Don’t be so nervous. Being able to pass the interviews shows that you’re capable. I also hope that I can work with everyone here in the end. If this year’s practice exam can achieve no elimination, then it will be the most wonderful session ever. I’ll have to engrave your accomplishment in the corridors of the Special Administration Bureau for latecomers to admire.”
“I suppose he says this every year. Next year, he’ll say the same thing to them.” A person next to Dong Zhi muttered in a low voice. Dong Zhi thought it was a bit funny.
Wu Bingtian continued, “In order to encourage everyone to make progress, let me announce the results of the interview. Li Ying ranked first. Second place, Dong Zhi. Regarding this, although he placed second in the interview, combined with his excellent results of first place in the written exam, his total overall score is still first. Presumably everyone knows that his written exam score far exceeded second place by a full 20 points. The Special Administrative Bureau had never given such a high written test score before, thus making Dong Zhi set a new historical record.”
All the sights in the classroom fell on Dong Zhi in an instant, and he finally knew what it was like to have thorns on his back*.
*(如芒在背) Idiom referring to the feeling of extreme uneasiness.
He wasn’t sure if he was remembering things wrong, but Dong Zhi recalled that when he was practicing his Five Thunder Talisman technique on the rooftop, although Deputy Director Wu gave him a smile, his attitude was far from kind as he’d been now. Even from the way that he was looking at him, his eyes were so soft that it made Dong Zhi involuntarily shiver.
I have some thoughts on Hui Yiguang, but to avoid any potential spoilers, I’ll state it later.