Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 63: Engraved in their hearts, never forgotten.
For those who went through this the first time, narrowly escaping death from their training exam, it was usually like this. Song Zhicun saw this and didn’t comfort them, because there were more dangers waiting for them in the future. If they needed to be comforted every time, such a weak person was not fit for the Special Administration Bureau.
They needed to adjust their mentality, make themselves more adapted to this environment, and be able to complete their tasks in extreme danger at any time. This is the quality of being a member of the Special Administration Bureau.
Dong Zhi suddenly opened his eyes and said in a daze, “There is another person… who doesn’t seem to be dead.”
“Who?” Song Zhicun asked.
Dong Zhi gasped, “He fought with me and wanted to blow up the groove…”
Long Shen stroked his back and Dong Zhi spoke more coherently. “He originally fell not far from me, but when we left the main hall, I didn’t see his body.”
The young man’s appearance was so outstanding and weird that it was hard not to be impressed by his image.
Song Zhicun frowned. “There is only one way out, where can he go?”
No one can answer this question. They’d all come out the same way and had narrowly avoided death. The cave had collapsed, and they couldn’t go back for the time being. Even the bodies of their companions couldn’t be recovered yet.
Upon receiving the notice, Ye Cheng arrived quickly, and he was accompanied by the leaders of the Yinchuan office.
Song Zhicun briefly told them about the situation. When he heard that two people had died below, the leader of the office changed his expression and hurriedly said, “Leaders, please get everyone in the car and go back to rest. We have already contacted the hospital. We’ll send someone to guard here, and we’ll go down and search for their bodies. If there’s any situation, we’ll report it to you at once!”
Long Shen frowned and said, “Don’t search for the time being.”
The following situation was unknown. The python most likely will hide in the river, so it won’t cause trouble, but an accident could happen if they have people go down there to search with no direction.
While the sacrifices of their companions are important, the lives of the living are also equally important.
When he said this, the people in the office naturally did not dare disobey, so they hurriedly asked the branch office for reinforcements and sent someone to guard the area.
The grievances of the world do not disappear, thus providing an environment for demons to breed. This time, however, the Archfiend was completely wiped out, and it won’t be able to regain its vitality for at least hundreds of years. The Special Administration had solved a serious problem, but at a high cost. Long Shen and Song Zhicun were heavily injured fighting the Archfiend and couldn’t guard the area, so they had to hand over the duties to the branch office.
Everyone got into the car one by one and went back. When they looked at the royal tombs outside the window, the hearts of many were mixed. There were traces of relaxation and relief, but the mood was indescribably heavy.
Many of them were injured, and the corners of their mouths were still bleeding. They could only take temporary medicine to relieve their internal injuries from Ye Cheng, then go back for a full examination and treatment.
Dong Zhi also suffered a serious injury, but it was a “blessing in disguise” as he had been sleeping since he resurfaced from the underground, so he didn’t feel the pain of motion sickness or vomiting on the ride back.
Long Shen looked sideways, seeing him leaning against the window with his head tilted while frowning lightly. He wasn’t sleeping well.
He surmised the reason behind how Dong Zhi was able to prevent the explosion was because he had invited god again. He also knew that he had repeatedly ordered Dong Zhi to not use the skill so easily, because the previous two times had consumed a lot of energy and spirit, but the situation was urgent at that time. He was fighting against the Archfiend and could not break away for a moment, and everyone else was blocked off by the ghouls, so he could only telepathically tell Dong Zhi to find a way.
Facts have proven that this apprentice did not disappoint him, and his potential was beyond imagination. Without incense or a seal, he was able to invite a Yin God by just chanting the mantra alone, and it seems the person he invited was no ordinary person either.
However, the price he paid for this was also huge. Dong Zhi’s face was completely drained, no longer having even a hint of blood on it. It was pale, almost transparent, making the sight all the more shocking. Long Shen didn’t know how long it would take for him to recover.
What’s even more troublesome was his body. Just now, Long Shen had taken his pulse and found that he was exhausted internally and externally, and his qi and blood were heavily deficient. To put it bluntly, let alone being able to use talismans, if he doesn’t take good care of himself well, it’s estimated that he’ll be chronically ill in the future.
Long Shen secretly sighed, and when he saw the other party’s face wrinkled into a ball, his heart softened a little unconsciously. He stretched out his hand to smooth the frown between the other party’s eyebrows.
After a while, with a squeak, the bus braked, slamming Dong Zhi’s head into the window and causing his body to lean forward. Fortunately, he was wearing a seatbelt and was stopped by Long Shen in time; otherwise, his forehead would’ve suffered. Still, he didn’t wake up.
Long Shen untied his seatbelt, moved his shoulders to the side and let Dong Zhi rest his upper body on his lap to avoid the tragedy of slamming his head again.
The sun shone from the window on half of Dong Zhi’s head, and that warmed him up. It was too hot, and not only did it not have the slightest sense of romance, but it also made his hair quickly burn up.
Long Shen tried to pull the curtain up to the middle so that the other party could sleep more comfortably, but the curtain was broken. Frowning slightly for a moment, he placed his palm on the top of Dong Zhi’s head, casting a thin shadow on the latter’s cheek to separate the light from the dark.
The wheels on the bus continued to roll forward, taking them away from the place where they had experienced life and death. The mausoleum of the Western Xia Dynasty stood behind them solemnly, unchanged for thousands of years.
“Leaders, the conditions here are not good, so please make do.”
Ye Cheng pressed the switch on the wall, causing the lightbulb above his head to turn on dimly. As he walked down the steps, Long Shen and Song Zhicun followed behind.
Zhong Yuyi was also there and had godless eyes and looked to be in poor spirits. He was temporarily called over in the middle of last night to assist in the interrogation.
After placing the wounded, Song Zhicun and Long Shen left the hospital as they had other business to attend to and couldn’t stay there to recover from their injuries. They rushed to the office, guided by Ye Cheng, to meet with Zhong Yuyi.
The office of the Special Administration Bureau located in Yinchuan was in an old independent villa in the old urban area. The community was built many years ago. At that time, the neighbors who could afford such a property like this were all rich. With the aging of the community, many people gradually moved away, and the Northwest Branch took advantage of the cheap price and bought it. Like the Yinchuan office, the attached basement could occasionally be turned into an interrogation room, such as now.
Song Zhicun looked at the dimly lit basement, which was comparable to a haunted house, and couldn’t help but complain, “I say, won’t your office change into a few brighter lightbulbs? If you told people this is the Special Administration Bureau, people would think you’re lying because, looking around, this looks more like a haunted house!”
Everything was fine, but since Song Zhicun had opened the floodgates, this triggered Ye Cheng’s chatterbox, and he started complaining, “Boss Song, it’s not like we’re cheap. The funds allocated to us by the branch are too small. We don’t even have enough toilet paper, so our employees have to bring their own. Tell me, is there any other office that is poorer than us?”
Song Zhicun immediately changed his tone and began to comfort him, “Xiao Ye, it’s wrong for you to think this way. In fact, the General Administration Bureau allocates funds to branch offices in accordance with regulations every year, but after all, our Special Administration Bureau has a unique type of work and often destroys some buildings and facilities involuntarily. The maintenance cost is not a small amount, so financial constraints are also a common situation. We must learn to adapt and solve it rather than complain about it.”
The corners of Ye Cheng’s mouth twitched. However, for fear that Deputy Director Song would make another long-winded speech, he quickly shut up.
There wasn’t much space in the basement, but it was enough to fit a table and a few chairs. A man in handcuffs and a gauze wrap under his clothes sat across the table. It was Fujikawa Aoi, who they had captured in the tomb.
He lowered his head; his expression was sluggish and motionless. They didn’t bother with him directly. Long Shen nodded slightly to Zhong Yuyi, who then walked up to Fujikawa Aoi, pulled out an incense burner from out of nowhere, lit an incense stick, and inserted it into it.
The smell of incense was a bit weird. It was similar to sandalwood, but it had a sweet and greasy taste.
Ye Cheng was a little curious. He knew that Zhong Yuyi was good at inviting gods, but he had never seen it with his own eyes. Now that they were about to interrogate Fujikawa Aoi, was he going to use the power of a god to force him to answer? Would it be a Japanese god to make the opponent succumb?
As he was thinking about it, Zhong Yuyi took out a pen from a cloth bag, dipped it in cinnabar, and drew a symbol on Fujikawa’s forehead.
“Fujikawa, raise your head,” Zhong Yuyi said.
The sound reverberated faintly in the basement, and with the dim lighting, it felt more like a prelude to a ghost story.
Fujikawa shook slightly, and he raised his head obediently.
“What’s your name?”
“Where are you from?”
“Chikuma City, Nagano Prefecture.”
Zhong Yuyi asked a few more irrelevant questions, and Fujikawa answered them all one by one, but did not hesitate.
Ye Cheng was secretly surprised.
Judging from his expression, Fujikawa seemed to be controlled by a certain technique, which was somewhat similar to hypnosis, but Zhong Yuyi’s skill was much stronger than hypnosis.
Zhong Yuyi finally got to the point.
“What are you and your apprentices doing all the way in China?”
Fujikawa was silent for a moment and said sternly, “…For the bronze mirror.”
Zhong Yuyi: “Your ultimate goal.”
Fine sweat began to appear on his forehead, and his brows frowned tighter and tighter, as if resisting Zhong Yuyi’s pressure.
Zhong Yuyi lit another incense stick, which was a little thicker than the previous one. The rich aroma quickly filled the basement. Ye Cheng couldn’t stand it. He quietly took two steps back and looked at Long Shen and Song Zhicun. They looked like usual, and their eyes were focused on Fujikawa.
“What is your ultimate goal?”
“…In order to destroy, destroy, the stone tablet.” Fujikawa finally spit out a few words with difficulty.
Zhong Yuyi: “Why destroy the stone tablet?”
With the key secret poured out, the rest will be much smoother.
“I don’t know, Otowa Hatsuhiko asked me to come.”
Zhong Yuyi: “You are not only the Onmyoji but also the priest of the Ise Shrine. How can Otowa Hatsuhiko command you?”
Fujikawa Aoi: “His… identity is a bit special. He has close contacts with the imperial family, and he said he could save Eiko.”
The Eiko was, of course, referring to his most beloved disciple, Kitaichi Eiko.
Last time on Changbai Mountain, the master-apprentice duo wanted to make the bone dragon their shikigami, but they failed. Kitaichi Eiko was beaten senseless by Long Shen that she was permanently disabled and it ruined her cultivation. Fujikawa Aoi had raised her since childhood and thus poured an insurmountable amount of sweat and effort into her. Naturally, he was unwilling to have such a result, so he tried his best to heal her.
The basement was silent. Except for Fujikawa’s words and gasps, everyone else deliberately suppressed their breathing.
Song Zhicun wrote some questions and handed them to Zhong Yuyi to have him ask him.
Zhong Yuyi took the note and continued to ask, “What’s the origin of Otowa Hatsuhiko?”
Fujikawa Aoi opened his mouth and didn’t say anything.
Zhong Yuyi asked again.
Fujikawa Aoi’s face became paler, and his gasps became heavier, so that in the end, the corners of his mouth overflowed with blood, but he still refused to say a word. Seeing that his condition was deteriorating and for fear that he would die, Zhong Yuyi hurriedly changed the subject.
“Then did Otowa Hatsuhiko heal your apprentice in the end?”
“…Healed.” Fujikawa made a murmur from his throat, and his expression looked brisker than just now.
Zhong Yuyi: “The young man who came with you, whose weapon is made of silk, what is his origin?”
“I… don’t know. He was sent by Otowa.”
As soon as Zhong Yuyi saw that Long Shen and the others had nothing to ask, he patted Fujikawa on the forehead. “You will forget everything tonight. Go to sleep.”
Fujikawa fell to the ground softly and was unconscious.
Song Zhicun frowned, not optimistic. “It seems that another big fish has been brought out!”
Ye Cheng couldn’t help but ask, “Boss Song, has the Archfiend really been wiped out?”
Song Zhicun nodded. “The Archfiend has been completely destroyed by us, so it cannot easily be reborn, at least within a hundred years. However, according to Fujikawa, this Otowa Hatsuhiko is not someone so simple. Even Fujikawa could be used as a weapon by him. Wherever you point it, counting the time on Changbai Mountain, his purpose is obvious. The stone tablet. Boss Long, what do you think?”
Long Shen asked Ye Cheng to take Zhong Yuyi to rest first. Ye Cheng knew that the two leaders had something to discuss with each other, so he said to Zhong Yuyi, “The lounge is ready for you. Let me take you there.”
Zhong Yu yawned, as if he was too sleepy to open his eyes.
After the two left, Long Shen said, “I have been sending someone to investigate Otowa, but I can’t find anything yet. The Otowa Conglomerate made its fortune after World War II and had strong financial ties. On the surface, they are no different from other traditional Japanese chaebols, but they are also well-connected in both political and economic circles.”
Song Zhicun nodded in pain. He thought he had caught a big fish, but who knew he would find that there was something bigger behind said big fish.
“But on the plus side, at least we know who is coveting the stone tablet. Perhaps we can dig out the secrets of the stone tablet from him.”
It was embarrassing to admit that if it weren’t for the Japanese, they wouldn’t have known about these stone tablets that were buried all over China. Judging from the inscriptions on these stone tablets, their history was likely beyond their imagination. With the advent of two tablets appearing one after another, the cloudiness around them seemed to be lifting bit by bit.
However, after removing it, more mysteries came surging forward, covering the mysteries with an even heavier fog.
Song Zhicun said, “Could Otowa Hatsuhiko have any connections to demons? Or is he a demon himself?”
Long Shen: “It’s possible.”
Song Zhicun frowned. “This is troublesome.”
China has vast territory and abundant resources. People with ulterior motives can hide their identity and enter the country easily. If normal people are hard to find, don’t bother mentioning powerful demons and monsters.
The Otowa Conglomerate is powerful and has deep ties. While the Special Administration Bureau must operate in the light, they can hide in the dark. As long as their opponent moves his finger, he could cause them endless trouble. What’s trickier is that the opponent is likely to have more information about the stone tablet than they do. Failing to crack the secret and location of the stone tablet would put them on the passive receiving end.
However, as of now, there was no better option.
“What about Fujikawa?” Song Zhicun asked.
Neither of them were fledglings. To be able to sit in this seat, in addition to strength, they must also have a comprehensive means of dealing with problems that didn’t only resolve to killing and burying people.
Long Shen glanced at the unconscious Fujikawa. “I want to exchange him for Dong* Jilan.”
*Different character than the Dong in Dong Zhi.
Song Zhicun opened his mouth and wanted to say something, but in the end sighed. “Well, after so many years, whether Lao Dong is still alive or dead, it’d be best if we could get him back.”
Long Shen nodded.
When the important matter came to an end, Song Zhicun couldn’t help coughing while clutching his chest. “I still have to go back to the hospital to lie down for a few days. I’m really too old now and can’t compare to before. A few years ago, I was seriously injured but could bounce back immediately!”
Long Shen said, “Let’s go and get some rest.”
Song Zhicun said, “I know you also have been injured. Don’t act so tough. Leave it to Ye Cheng. Though the kid has an unreliable mouth, he’s still capable.”
Long Shen let out a sigh and turned to look at Fujikawa, who was still unconscious. The latter face was like gold paper, where it still holds some slight exaltation of the past.
Over the years, many people have left the Special Administration Bureau, going overseas incognito, to help the country deal with things that couldn’t be done so openly.
Like ordinary overseas peacekeepers, there were those from the spiritual world as well. Not only could their activities not be publicized in the news, but there were also many unsung heroes who had sacrificed their lives and had failed to return to their roots. Sometimes, even their relatives didn’t know what contributions they had made, but Long Shen and Song Zhicun, as well as every member of the Special Administration Bureau, have never forgotten them.
While their life and death remained unknown, and even tombstones could not be erected for them, in the hearts of Long Shen and the others, they could recite almost all their names. It was forever engraved in their hearts, never forgotten.
Even if they were unknown, they would never lose their greatness.
The moment Dong Zhi regained consciousness, he almost thought he was still underground, being chased by a giant python that was right behind him. When he saw a big face in front of him, he almost screamed.
The doctor straightened up and asked in a warm voice, “How is your body feeling now?”
Still confused and befuddled, Dong Zhi could only describe truthfully, “I have no strength. I feel soft and unable to move, and I feel dizzy when I lie down.”
His voice was also hoarse.
The doctor nodded and didn’t say much. He told him to take a good rest and then left.
Dong Zhi looked around. He was in a single ward. It’s estimated that he got preferential treatment this time, but the doctor didn’t say anything, so it made him feel a little uneasy.
What about his friends? Where is his Master? Where is Boss Song?
His thoughts didn’t last long as his mind remained muddled, and he quickly fell asleep again within the blink of an eye. He didn’t know how much time had passed before he woke up and saw Gu Meiren sitting by the bed, looking at him with a sad expression.
Earlier, Dong Zhi felt that something wasn’t quite right, and combined with the doctor’s treatment just now and Gu Meiren’s face, his heart pounded, thinking that he might not only be seriously injured but it was terminal.
“Are you awake? Are you feeling uncomfortable? Do you want me to call a doctor?” When Gu Meiren saw him open his eyes, her expression changed to joy.
Dong Zhi propped himself up on his elbow that didn’t have the infusion needle, wanting to sit up. Gu Meiren hurriedly stretched out her hand to help him and put a pillow behind his back.
“Are you okay? What about Ba Sang and the others?”
Gu Meiren touched the side of her face. There was a wound there that hadn’t scabbed over yet.
“I’m fine. I just suffered some minor scratches. Others suffered varying degrees of injuries. Liu Qingbo broke a rib, and he’s now lying in the ward next to you. Zhang Song had broken a hand, and two people had suffered concussions.”
Dong Zhi asked cautiously, “What about me?”
Gu Meiren stopped talking.
After letting his imagination run wild, Dong Zhi thought he was too seriously injured to be healed, so he forced a smile and said, “I can bear it. Just say it.”
Before Gu Meiren could say anything, Long Shen came in. He walked as usual, steadily, and wasn’t dressed in a hospital gown, but from a glance, Dong Zhi could tell that he looked worse than before.
“Boss Long!” Gu Meiren got up to greet him.
“Master,” Dong Zhi said.
Gu Meiren looked back at him in amazement. As soon as Dong Zhi came out of the underground, he passed out. Long Shen couldn’t talk about accepting apprentices at that time, because except for Song Zhicun, no one else knew that Dong Zhi was already accepted.
Long Shen nodded to Gu Meiren. “Go next door and have a look.”
Gu Meiren knew that they had something to talk about, so she hurriedly left.
As soon as she left, Dong Zhi couldn’t help but ask, “Master, is there something wrong with my body?”
Long Shen didn’t scold him for thinking about it, but frowned, as if there was something unspeakable. When he saw his reaction, Dong Zhi’s heart froze.
“Are you trying to hide it from me?”
Long Shen: “I didn’t want to hide it from you, but you have been lethargic, so I haven’t found the chance to tell you.”
Dong Zhi couldn’t help but feel sad when he heard this. He felt that his life was really too sad. He had a terminal illness before he officially joined the Special Administration Bureau. He hadn’t even touched his Master’s hand!
Thinking about this, without any ramp up, he burst into tears. Long Shen was taken aback and didn’t even resist being held by Dong Zhi.
“Master, I was ready to sacrifice myself before I went down. I’m not surprised that something has happened this time. It’s just that it’s hard to be reconciled!” Dong Zhi sniffed.
Long Shen took out his hand and patted the back of Dong Zhi’s hand. “Some things must be given up. You don’t need to be too persistent.”
Dong Zhi became even more sad in my heart. “Actually, if nothing else, I still have one wish. I must tell you, otherwise, I’m afraid it’ll be too late in the future!”
Long Shen frowned. “You just can’t invite gods anymore. It’s not like you’re dying. Why are you acting like this?”
Dong Zhi replied sluggishly, “Huh?”
Long Shen: “I didn’t expect you to be so obsessed with inviting gods. Even if you can’t invite gods, as long as you practice with your Changshou Sword and the thunder technique taught by Fang Lao, in the future there will be no loss.”
Dong Zhi stammered, “I-Don’t I have a terminal illness?”
Long Shen: “Who told you that?”
Dong Zhi: …I imagined it myself.
He was grateful but felt a little lost in his heart. Fortunately, he didn’t reveal the matter that was hidden at the bottom of his heart. Otherwise, their master-disciple relationship would probably be over.
The author has something to say:
You deserve your apprenticeship.
Aww, he was just seconds away from confessing!