Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 52: To live or to die was their own choice
The police soon arrived, hearing that a murder had taken place. Seeing the handover personnel finally came, Song Zhicun got up and introduced himself, “Special Administration Bureau, Song Zhicun. This is Long Shen of the Long Bureau.”
Ordinary people may not have heard of the Special Administration Bureau, but they aren’t strangers. The leader immediately saluted them. “Boss Song, Boss Long.”
Song Zhicun nodded. “Those outside are all Japanese. This is a case of smuggling cultural relics. I’ll hand the situation over to you first. I will go through the handover procedures with you later, and then send these guys to you.”
Naturally, the other party had no objection.
Song Zhicun looked at Lin Xuan. “And this is Boss Lin—”
“I know who the gang leader of the tomb robbers is. I can pretend to be a buyer to contact them and expose them. All you need to do then is to bring people to catch them!” Lin Xuan’s reaction was extremely quick. As they say, a great man is one who understands the time*.
*(识时务者为俊杰) Refers to a person who can recognize the trends of time and is smart and capable to adapt to them.
In front of the knife, he can only be the fish*. The initiative was now in the hands of his opponent. Even if the Lin family has connections to get rid of the suspicion of reselling cultural relics, for the sake of the dragon bone, he had to bow his head to the Special Administration Bureau.
*(但人为刀俎,我为鱼肉) Idiom referring to one’s fate is in the hands of others.
Song Zhicun and Long Shen looked at each other. The former pondered for a moment before saying to the person in charge of the handover. “This is Boss Lin. We still have questions to ask him, so please give us some time. We’ll send him to you after we finish our questioning.”
He then said to Lin Xuan, “We can’t make a decision about the dragon bone, but we’ll report it to the higher ups for instructions.”
This sentence was pure nonsense. Although the bone dragon has been turned over, the Special Administration Bureau made the greatest effort, so they had leeway in private. However, Song Zhicun would definitely not agree on the spot.
Lin Xuan also understood this and cupped his hand and bowed. “Then I thank you both.”
Long Shen looked back at Dong Zhi and wanted to ask him to leave but found that the other party was leaning on the sofa, already asleep while still holding a pen in his hand. He gently took the pen out of Dong Zhi’s hand, who remained motionless, as he continued to slumber. The fatigue could not be concealed between his eyebrows.
Long Shen didn’t wake him up. Instead, he picked up his arms and slung them on his shoulder, then carried him on his back and walked out.
Song Zhicun didn’t think there was anything off with Long Shen’s action. Besides, Dong Zhi made a great contribution and was able to draw the pattern on the bronze mirror. With this, they can take a more active approach to their investigation.
On the contrary, Lin Xuan smiled upon seeing this. “It turns out that the Boss Long values this little brother so much. No wonder he rushed over so quickly!”
Long Shen glanced at him coldly. “Your cooperation with the Japanese is not resolved yet.”
Lin Xuan raised his hands. “Yes, yes, of course. I’ll deeply reflect on it!”
Long Shen said nothing, turned and left. There was a car already waiting at the door. Long Shen put Dong Zhi in the passenger seat and laid him down flat, and told the driver to drive slowly, then went to the back seat to sit with Song Zhicun.
“How’s it going on those patterns?” Song Zhicun asked.
Long Shen said, “Two words, Phoenix and Helan.”
Song Zhicun frowned and thought about it. “Helan… Is this a surname, a first name, or Helan Mountain? That’s right, there’s a bird and a mountain range on the bronze mirror. If the bird corresponds to the Phoenix, then that mountain should be Helan Mountain. Lin Xuan is right. It really is northwest!”
Long Shen said, “I think that what Phoenix wants to express may not only be the bird, but may have another meaning, such as orientation or location.”
Song Zhicun advised, “Let Lin Xuan get in touch with the other party first. As long as we can find the place where they took the bronze mirror, we should be able to determine the location.”
Long Shen said, “I have an idea.”
Song Zhicun looked at him.
Long Shen: “This is a good opportunity for trial.”
Song Zhi was a little surprised. “You want them to go to the northwest?”
Long Shen nodded. “Those Japanese are so eager to leave with the bronze mirror. They must be looking for something desperately. According to the information revealed on the back of the mirror, their goals and ours are probably the same.”
Song Zhicun also thought about it. “According to our information, Aso Kenzo is probably the one who told Master Fujikawa about the bone dragon on Changbai Mountain. He not only provided the information, but he also accompanied him all the way there. Afterwards, he made frequent contact with Otowa Hatsuhiko. Lin Xuan said that the dead Japanese, Otowa Saburo, was a member of the Otowa Conglomerate. In my opinion, there must be a lot of connections here. Perhaps we can take the opportunity to track down the mastermind behind the last incident.”
Long Shen nodded. “Not only that, but there may also be progress on the clues of the stone tablets.”
Song Zhicun smiled and said, “It seems our decision was right to let the small fish go in order to catch a big one. Now, they are about to make their move again. It’s just that this kind of thing is a bit too risky for a group of green guys who haven’t even finished their training yet.”
Long Shen said, “Do you remember the first training we hosted back then?”
Song Zhicun sighed. “How can you not remember? It was too tragic. Twenty-five people went deep into the tropical rain forests of Southeast Asia, and only ten people came back in the end. I still remember that among the fifteen who were lost, many were excellent disciples from Mount Longhu and Mount Maoshan.”
“But their session was also the best one.”
“Indeed. Zhang Hang in Group One I can see won’t have an issue being promoted to head of a branch in a few years. There’s also Tang Jing, who’s solely in charge of the South China Branch.”
Long Shen said, “The more rigorous the training, the more they can grow during a crisis. If they only train here, they’ll always leave room for unpredictable circumstances.”
“I understand what you mean, like the little girl Chi Banxia, I was very optimistic about her, but if she’s still standing like this, I’m afraid it’ll be difficult to make any progress. I will discuss this matter with Boss Wu. As long as the three of us have a unified opinion, it shouldn’t be a big problem.”
Originally, during the training period for the Special Administration Bureau, there would be a loss rate of personnel each year. This loss refers to the number of deaths of the participants. As long as the death number isn’t too exaggerated, this was considered normal.
True warriors were tempered with blood. A nursery could never raise copper bars and iron bones*, so every session of training would usually result in a few deaths. The only difference between each session was the number of deaths, and this number was in the hands of all the students. To live or to die was their own choice.
*Reminder: Metaphor for a very strong body. Also, it could refer to a person who can bear heavy responsibility.
Long Shen looked forward. Dong Zhi was still hunched over, quietly asleep, as if he was isolating all the violent storms from his dreams. The slight bumps made by the car were insignificant and could not wake him up from a beautiful dream. In his world, perhaps it was already spring, as the dazzling sun brightly shone on all the blooming flowers.
Dong Zhi felt that he had had a long dream. He no longer remembered what he saw or did in his dream, but when he woke up, there was still a smile at the corner of his mouth, as if he had just eaten a lollipop.
Even his mental exhaustion was somewhat relieved after a thorough rest. It was the second time he had woken up in Long Shen’s bed, so he was calm this time around. Dong Zhi pushed off the blanket and rolled to the side of the bed, as if he wanted to leave his own mark on it, and then went through his phone.
There were many missed messages and phone calls. Uncle Qiong sent a few asking him about his condition. Ba Sang had sent him one inviting him to go to the martial arts hall to practice some martial arts. There was even one from Kan Chaosheng.
Kan Chaosheng’s “news” was all posts about how he’s “so hungry”, with zero substance at all. Dong Zhi couldn’t help but laugh. First, he sent a message to Uncle Qian to update him on his well-being, and then he replied to Kan Chaosheng: [Are you still in Fuxian Lake?]
Kan Chaosheng replied in seconds: [I’m starving to death! When you show up, my body will be cold!]
Dong Zhi: [Where are you now? Can you accept express delivery? I will send you something to eat.]
Kan Chaosheng instantly sent a bunch of screaming emojis before replying: [Yes! Yes! We’re staying at a resort by the lake!] Then he immediately sent the address.
Interacting with him so many times, Dong Zhi felt as if he was taking care of a pet that required a large amount of food. However, if this thought was known to the other party, Kan Chaosheng would definitely explode.
Kan Chaosheng: [It’s very troublesome right now and we can’t go back for the time being. Last time, the boss asked us to look around the middle of the lake. I have swum a few laps underwater in the past few days and I really found a group of corpses at the bottom of the lake.”
Reading this, Dong Zhi immediately asked: [What kind of corpses? Can you describe it in detail?]
Kan Chaosheng: [He Yu has the photos. I couldn’t take them at that time. They were just a group of underwater corpses, just like living people, but I don’t know why they stuck to the bottom of the water instead of floating up. They all looked like they were pulled in to fill the lake with enough food.]
Black lines appeared on Dong Zhi’s face as he thought to himself: ‘Is all you care about food all day long?’
Kan Chaosheng: [Later, after investigation, it seemed that some corpses had been contaminated by demonic energy.]
Dong Zhi: [Why is there demons again? Is the energy of the Archfiend that great?]
Kan Chaosheng: [It’s not necessarily an Archfiend! There are many demons and monsters in the world. Archfiends are very powerful, but they are not the most powerful.]
Dong Zhi: [What is the most powerful?]
Kan Chaosheng: [Why are you so dumb? If there are Archfiends, then there must be Earth Demons and Heavenly Demons. They are even more powerful ones on top of them, but it’s useless to tell you anyway, so I won’t waste my breath!]
Dong Zhi: [Don’t you know that I can cancel the order before it is shipped?]
Kan Chaosheng: [What? What’re you saying? I have a bad signal here, so I can’t talk anymore.]
Dong Zhi couldn’t laugh or cry, so he hurriedly sent a message: [You, wait. Tell He Yu to send me pictures of the underwater corpse later!]
Kan Chaosheng: [Why do you care so much about this matter?]
Dong Zhi: [The last time I invited the gods, I saw many corpses underwater. In short, I can’t clearly explain it in just a few words, so I want to confirm it.]
Kan Chaosheng: [Ah, you can invite God?! Don’t be such a braggart. Shall I go to Zong Lao and intercede for you and ensure that your training is stable?]
Dong Zhi: [No, even if you help me go through the back door, I won’t be able to improve my own strength, and it’ll be dangerous for me in the future. Besides, don’t just look down on me all the time. I performed the best in the simulation training last time.]
When the message was sent out, he felt a little immodest and added another word: one*.
*(之一) Refers to the best, however it can be used jokingly if there’s a pause in between sentences, so instead it would be referred to as one of the best (not as complimentary as the former).
Kan Chaosheng sent a tsundere reply: [Then don’t come to me crying for help in the future!]
Putting down the phone, Dong Zhi found that Kan Chaosheng habits had rubbed off on him. He now especially wanted to eat something more appetizing, like spicy noodles with minced meat or beef sour soup.
He went back to his dorm to take a shower, changed his clothes, and went out for food.
Looking around he couldn’t find any place that sells spicy noodles with minced meat. He only found a dan dan noodle restaurant. The owner is from Sichuan, so it looks quite authentic. He explained to Dong Zhi that his noodles were less spicy as Dong Zhi sat down and waited for his food.
“Such a coincidence?” There was a greeting from above the head.
He looked up and found that it was Lin Xuan.
“You haven’t been arrested yet?” Dong Zhi’s tone was bad. The way he squinted his eyes didn’t seem at all like a deterrent, but rather looked like a kind of soft, cute, and harmless little animal. Lin Xuan couldn’t help but smile as he sat down.
“Of course not. I am now a guest of the Special Administration Bureau. How could your leaders arrest me?”
Dong Zhi glared at him, then looked down at his phone and regarded him as air.
Lin Xuan said, “Your leaders made me promise to cooperate with you. I can contact the gang who stole the bronze mirror and help you find its whereabouts.”
He saw that his opponent’s ears moved, signifying that he was clearly listening. He smiled and continued, “And I also know that those Japanese people seem to be related to the Japanese who have done bad things to you on Changbai Mountain.”
Dong Zhi finally raised his head.
“Even without you, we can find these things.”
Lin Xuan nodded and smiled again and said, “Of course, if you don’t even have this ability, how can you be worthy of being called the Special Administration Bureau? It’s just that I can help you save a little time and make it more efficient. Isn’t that still good?”
Because this guy had watched from the sidelines while never intervening in the slightest to help save him, he resisted the urge to roll his eyes and rather gave him a smile that wasn’t a smile. “You can just tell our leaders this kind of thing. There’s no need to explain it to me.
“Actually, I came to apologize to you. In order to get the dragon scale from the Japanese and save my father, I had to cooperate with them.”
Dong Zhi made an ugly face. “If our leaders hadn’t arrived in time, I would have been trapped there.”
Lin Xuan smiled and said, “Even if your leader didn’t come, you killed Otowa Saburo on my territory. I wouldn’t dare deal with you after that. The Japanese will definitely hate me because of this matter, but in the end, I still have to choose to cooperate with you.”
“What’s the origin of Otowa Saburo?”
Lin Xuan said, “He is from the Otowa Conglomerate in Japan. The water there is very deep.”
Dong Zhi frowned. He suddenly remembered that the Japanese man he saw from his clairvoyance was the president of the Otowa Conglomerate, Otowa Hatsuhiko! He occasionally watches the news channel on TV, so it’s no wonder why he felt familiar when he saw him but couldn’t quite place who he was.
He calmed down and asked, “So, do they really have something to do with the Otowa Conglomerate?”
Lin Xuan nodded. “That Otowa Saburo is said to be Otowa’s Hatsuhiko’s bodyguard. He’s equivalent to a domestic samurai. Since you have beaten the dog, you’ll meet its master*. I’m afraid that you have really forged a bond with the Otowa family this time.”
*Metaphor referring to when dealing with bad people, you should take into account their background. || In this context, he’s saying since he killed Saburo (dog) he’ll have to contend with Hatsuhiko (master).
Dong Zhi said angrily, “If I don’t attack them, won’t they want to retaliate anyway? This kind of grudge won’t be over until it’s fully resolved!”
Lin Xuan clapped his hands and said with a smile, “So courageous, truly worthy of being an elite of the Special Administration Bureau!”
Dong Zhi also found that his mentality had changed a lot. Before he went to Changbai Mountain, he was one of the most ordinary people alive. He had the mentality that if others didn’t offend him, he wouldn’t offend others and would retreat first to avoid unnecessary confrontation. Now, when he encountered things, his first thought was not to avoid it, but rather how to solve it, and he even took the initiative to “seek trouble” to help others solve the problem.
At that time, he received a new text message. He looked down and saw that they were photos sent by Kan Chaosheng. The photo was taken underwater. In the blue water of the lake was a body with stiff and eccentric characteristics that was hovering in the water as the clothes it was wearing showed rippling motions due to the water fluctuation.
With just a glance, he recognized that the photo was exactly the scene he saw when he invited God. If this is true, then could the cloaked person who was sitting opposite of Otowa Hatsuhiko have something to do with demonic magic?
The dan dan noodles were cooked and delivered, but as soon as he started thinking about it, he didn’t even pay much attention to eating the noodles, let alone to what he was eating.
Lin Xuan couldn’t laugh or cry. “Hey, why don’t we put aside our differences and forget each other’s grievances. Are you just going to eat by yourself?”
“I didn’t say that I forgive you. Besides, Boss Lin, do you need someone else to invite you to eat a bowl of noodles?”
“Well, then why don’t I invite you?”
“No merit, no reward*! You can eat by yourself!”
*(无功不受禄) Refers to if it’s not beneficial to people, it’s not acceptable to accept gifts or preferential treatment from others.
After taking a few bites, he ran to the boss to settle the bill and walked out with his backpack.
“Hey, you’re really refusing to forgive me?” Lin Xuan shouted.
Dong Zhi didn’t look back, and instead waved his hand. In an instant, he had already walked away.
Lin Xuan looked at the bowl of noodles that still had food in it and scratched his nose, thinking to himself if he was that annoying.
Dong Zhi wanted to meet with Long Shen and discussed it, but after thinking about it, he assumed the other party would be busy with meetings and wouldn’t have the time to meet him. He combined all the information he knew and sent it over in a text message, then took a taxi towards the antique alley.
Uncle Qian was on the phone. When he saw Dong Zhi coming in, he stopped his call, hung up, and greeted him in surprise, “Are you okay?”
Dong Zhi apologized and said, “It’s my fault that I lost the mirror…”
“Bah!” Uncle Qian waved his hand, “Boss Long told me that it was robbed by the Japanese. I can’t blame you. I also heard that the Japanese kidnapped you too. I was worried that something happened to you. If I hadn’t asked you to help bring the mirror to Boss Long, this wouldn’t have happened!”
“What about A’Shun’s side?”
“He recruited the Japanese. Boss Long said he would deal with it and would not involve me.”
“A’Shun won’t be dissatisfied with you, right?”
Uncle Qian didn’t care. “I have seen this kind of thing a lot and have experienced it a lot. I have a bit of prestige in this arena, so A’Shun doesn’t dare mess around. He knew that things were not clean but still bought them. It’s nothing more than the mentality of coveting short-term gains in lieu of long-term success. The kid isn’t bad, but he’s lazy. After a few days, he’ll be stable again.”
Dong Zhi breathed a sigh of relief.
Uncle Qian took out a bag of hot food.
“Fortunately, you are fine this time, otherwise I will never feel at ease again in my life. This is fried chicken made by my daughter. Take it and eat it. Come to the store often in the future. I’ll pick out a few things and send them to you as atonement.”
Dong Zhi took the food and said with a smile, “No one expected this. I will accept the food, but I dare not ask for your send off.”
Uncle Qian said, “They’ll just be here collecting dust if I don’t. I’m closing this shop for a while. I’ll come back after all this ruckus have passed.”
Dong Zhi was surprised. “Where are you going?”
Uncle Qian smiled. “I still have a daughter who is abroad and always wanted me to visit. I’ve refused before, but now I’ve agreed. She’s very happy about it. Having said that, I heard from Boss Long that you performed particularly valiantly this time, and you beat those Japanese people up. He must be very satisfied with you. Hurry and strike while the iron is still hot and ask him to be your master. Maybe he’ll agree!”
Dong Zhi scratched his nose. “If he rejects me, won’t there be no room for turning back?”
Uncle Qian disagreed. “Why is are you so thin-skinned? If you are rejected, just keep making persistent efforts!”
It’s not like he hasn’t tried. On multiple occasions, he pretended to act dumb or naïve, but he didn’t get a response from the other party. Moreover, he also found that Long Shen had a consistent and upright ideal that couldn’t be controlled by others. It’s useless to fan the flames if he doesn’t want to do it, and others can’t stop him from doing what he wants.
Bidding farewell to Uncle Qian, Dong Zhi left the shop with the fried chicken. He suddenly heard a meowing sound nearby. He followed the sound to investigate its source and found that not far from the base of the wall, a cat poked its head out and looked at him with black eyes. He subconsciously motioned with his hand and beckoned it, “Come here. Come here.”
The kitten came over and walked right under the bag of fried chicken and circled it a few times, raising its head and looking at him wistfully.
Dong Zhi: …
“You can’t eat this.” He lifted the bag higher.
The kitten meowed eagerly, pawing at his pants as it straightens up. It was covered with grime that made its white hair turn gray, and it wasn’t wearing a collar around its neck. Seeing how hungry it looked, Dong Zhi surmised it must be a stray cat. He sighed, squatted down, and petted its head.
“You can’t eat fried chicken. Wait here. I’ll find you some cat food.”
The street he was on was all filled with antique shops, so there wasn’t anything suitable for a cat. He had to walk a few blocks before he came across a stall that was selling sausages. He thought the cat had already run away by the time he returned, but surprisingly, it had squatted on the spot where he told it to wait for him.
“Why are you back again?” Uncle Qian said. He had gone out of the shop to go buy something, and as soon as he stepped out, he saw Dong Zhi squatting in front feeding a cat.
“I ran into this cat, so I went to buy something to feed it.” Dong Zhi said.
Uncle Qian groaned. “Isn’t this the same cat as last time too? It has come over here a few times to beg for food and water. It’s also the same one Boss Long fed last time he was here. Why does it seem like it has lost a lot of weight?”
Dong Zhi touched the kitten’s back, and it bowed its head as it continued to gobble on the food.
“Uncle Qian, give me a box.”
“You’re planning to take it back?”
“There are so many people in the Special Administration Bureau, maybe someone will want to adopt it. It’s better than leaving it here and having it wander around.”
When Uncle Qian heard this, he turned around and went in to find the box. The kitten meowed at Dong Zhi, causing him to look at it only to discover that the sausage he had given it was already eaten.
He came to the store empty-handed but returned with a full load.
Dong Zhi arrived at the front of Longshen’s office with the box and the fried chicken, just in time to see Liu Qingbo coming out of it. Like they say, the enemy’s road is narrow as this was the second time they have encountered this situation. However, Liu Qingbo had a look of disappointment on his face, and after seeing Dong Zhi, he was startled before making an even uglier expression. Dong Zhi wanted to greet him politely at first, but before he had the chance, the other party had already hurriedly walked away.
He knocked on Long Shen’s door a few times, and a response quickly came from inside.
He pressed the box against the door frame with one hand, holding the fried chicken in the other, and turned the doorknob with difficulty.
Long Shen looked up and saw him coming in carrying a load full of items and couldn’t help frowning. “You’re not resting properly. What are you doing out?”
Dong Zhi smiled and said, “I went to grab something to eat. Did you receive my text message?”
Long Shen nodded. “We already have some news here, so we’ll handle it.”
In other words, Dong Zhi didn’t need to ask.
Dong Zhi calmed down and said, “I stopped by to see Uncle Qian after dinner, and he gave me some fried chicken.”
The box was heavy mainly because it contained cat food and cat litter, which he bought on the way back.
“There is also this cat, which you have fed several times before. I happened to see it when I was leaving. Uncle Qian said it’s very thin, so I’m guessing no one has fed it for a while. I think someone here might want to adopt it, so I brought it back. If there’s no one, I’ll adopt it myself.”
Long Shen gave him a disapproving look. “If you go on a mission in the future, it could be ten days or even half a month before you return. Can you take care of it?”
Dong Zhi never thought about this. Looking at the kitten’s innocent and pitiful expression, he couldn’t help but say, “Then I will ask Uncle Qian to help raise it for those days.”
Long Shen said nothing, but instead asked, “How is your body?”
Dong Zhi smiled and said, “It’s much better, but my head is still a little dizzy. I get even dizzier when I’m lying down, so I have to get up and walk.”
“Give me your hand,” Long Shen said.
Dong Zhi stretched out his hand towards Long Shen. Long Shen held his wrist with his slender fingers, causing him to feel a slightly cool and dry feeling wherever he touched. It took a while before he realized that Long Shen was feeling his pulse.
Dong Zhi couldn’t help but think nonsensically, ‘If Long Shen diagnosed him with a terminal illness and showed him a heavy face, should he show him a smile as light as a chrysanthemum* to win his sympathy or take the opportunity to fall into his arms and confess?’
*(人淡如菊) Describes people’s conduct and character as indifferent (like a chrysanthemum).
What if Long Shen raised his head in horror and said that it’s a joyful pulse*?
*Clarity: The term used is [ximai] (喜脉) which is a pulse that signifies one is pregnant.
As his imagination ran wild, he couldn’t help but make fun of himself.
Long Shen: “…Is pulse diagnosis funny?”
Dong Zhi hurriedly suppressed his laughter, shaking his head like a rattle. After a while, somehow, instead of being relieved from his desire to laugh, it only became stronger. His shoulders trembled as he endured hard.
Long Shen reluctantly withdrew his hand. “Let your laughter out first.”
As soon as he spoke, Dong Zhi fell on the sofa next to him, clutching his stomach while laughing.
Long Shen: “What’s so funny?”
Dong Zhi shook his head violently, continuing to laugh hysterically. He absolutely, positively, couldn’t tell, or it would end up with a certain someone’s death!
I don’t know Dong Zhi… With all this supernatural shit going on, getting pregnant by Long Shen could very well be on the table.