Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 83: Let’s just pretend that nothing happened.
In any case, Dong Zhi never expected in his lifetime he would be able to watch Long Shen’s growth, let alone travel through time and space, which was only limited to a number of pictures.
He didn’t know who sounded the horn, but the outcome of the battlefield gradually became clear. On his master’s side, the burly general holding the sword won a great victory. The victorious side cheered with all their might, squandering their blood, sweat, and life that was previously sprinkled on the battlefield into a wild joy for the rest of their life in glory.
The long sword that was held aloft gleamed in the sun, piercing his eyes. Dong Zhi had to close them but the corner of his mouth couldn’t help but curl up slightly.
When he opened his eyes again, his smile hadn’t faded, but the world had suddenly calmed.
Away from the battlefield, he was in a study.
He didn’t know who was hiding in the void making little jokes, but time took another big leap. Dong Zhi intuitively felt that he was no longer in the era of the battlefield just now.
There was a man sitting at a desk with white whiskers and upright eyebrows. From the furnishing of the study and the expression of the other party, it could be seen that he had been an official for a long time, and perhaps he was still prominent.
Another person was sitting in the chair used to treat guests.
But perhaps it should not be called a human, because the figure was just translucent.
Dong Zhi was startled. “Master?”
Naturally, no one would hear his voice.
He was now watching the past, and things that had already happened would not change in any way because of his watching.
The phantom wasn’t an entity, but he could vaguely see a figure. The person had long hair that was in a bun and was dressed in a black robe. Such a simple outfit emphasized the cold and awe on him. Dong Zhi knew how lethal that face was. Long Shen’s beautiful and unique appearance was blessed by the heavens, but the intuitive feeling he left to others was by no means from his looks, but aura.
The middle-aged official seemed familiar with him, and he wasn’t surprised by such a phantom. The two were talking.
Dong Zhi heard his master ask the other party, “I have never wanted to be long-winded, but this time, I persuaded Lord Jie to think twice. Of course, if you do this, you can quickly cut through the chaos and ensure temporary stability, but those people may not accept your affection.”
Long Shen’s words weren’t very polite, but “Lord Jie” wasn’t angry and was obviously used to his tone.
Lord Jie smiled and said, “Who are those people?”
Long Shen’s expression became faint. “Everyone, including those who support you now. They have benefited now, and they are naturally grateful to you, but in the future, they may not be able to cater to speculative villains, and they’ll pull you down when they seize the opportunity. In the end, I’m afraid Lord Jie’s fate may be dozens of times bleaker than it is now.”
Lord Jie shook his head. “Who said I was for them? I’m for the people, for the world.”
Long Shen spoke impolitely, “But the world will not be grateful to you, and the people will only follow blindly. Who will stand up on your behalf if something happens in the future?”
Lord Jie didn’t get angry, but nodded in agreement, then said, “You’re right. Even if I’m dismembered by five horses* in the future, they will at most stand next to me and watch. Afterwards, a few will sigh and shed tears of sympathy for me.”
*(五马分尸) This is a form of torture and execution in ancient times where a person’s head and limbs are tied to five horses, which then tears the person apart. It’s now used as a metaphor referring to dividing a complete thing into fragmented parts.
Long Shen frowned and said nothing.
He looked at the middle-aged man, but he didn’t know that someone else was also looking at him.
Dong Zhi found that for so many years, Long Shen’s appearance had basically not changed. It really was just as Mu Duo said. For them, hundreds of thousands of years were just the difference between night and day, and this difference, for humans, was the cycle of plants and trees decaying and being reborn, and one’s hair had already turned gray.
However, although his appearance had not changed, his temperament was somewhat different.
The Long Shen in front of him showed his determination, even if he sat there without speaking. He was like a sword unsheathed, with a chilling air. In the future, Long Shen would be more like a sharp blade that returns to its sheath with a restrained edge and an unfathomable depth.
No matter which master, they were both attractive, but if he had to choose, Dong Zhi may have chosen the current Long Shen, because he was livelier and more emotional.
When he looked at Long Shen, Lord Jie said, “The people are ignorant, but justice comforts their hearts. What’s more, I don’t need them to preside over justice. Long Shen, what I guard is not the kings of a generation but the peace and well-being of the world, the integrity and backbone of thousands of years, and the iron core of ancient sages.”
Modern people had seen a lot of flamboyancy and rhetoric. Take Director Jiang, who liked to speak big and used high-sounding words. It was estimated that no one in the Special Administration Bureau could speak better than him.
This person blurted out his righteousness, but Dong Zhi not only didn’t feel that it was hypocritical but, contrary to that, felt that it was natural as his heart seemed to be steaming with heat.
A truly righteous person could infect those around him.
However, Director Jiang couldn’t hear this. After all, people like him just like to talk big during meetings, but they weren’t treacherous either.
Dong Zhi was lost in thought for a moment and didn’t pay attention to what they said. He saw the middle-aged man get up and leave. Long Shen sent him to the door, and the phantom suddenly turned into green smoke and merged into the sword hanging on the wall.
The study was restored to a deserted room.
Dong Zhi blinked. He wanted to walk over and touch the sword, but as soon as he willed his mind, the surrounding scene changed again.
He faintly guessed that these scenes were related to Long Shen, and they were probably the most impressive fragments of his master’s life.
But the Changshou Sword was not the Longyuan Sword, so how could he see these scenes when he dripped his blood on it? Was there any connection between the Changshou Sword and the Longyuan Sword?
Or did Long Shen deliberately let him see this?
The last doubt had just come out, causing Dong Zhi to immediately shake his head in his heart. His master wasn’t the kind of person who would publicize his life all over the world. What’s more, these fragments of memory weren’t something his master would want others to easily peep at.
This time it was in front of the city gate.
Dong Zhi looked up and saw the sky was dark and heavy, pressing against the city gate as if it was about to collapse at any moment.
The middle-aged man was escorted to his knees on his left and right, and an executioner stood holding a sword next to him.
He then saw Long Shen again. The other party was standing next to him, still in a black robe. In addition to Dong Zhi, they seemed to be invisible to everyone else.
“Lord Jie” was calm and even smiled slightly at them, though Dong Zhi knew that the other party was greeting Long Shen.
Immediately afterwards, an inner attendant rushed out the door to loudly proclaim, “The emperor has an order to execute!”
There was no will, nor was it at the entrance of a vegetable market. This was the strangest execution scene he had ever seen. It seemed that everyone was in a hurry for fear of being interrupted, so they were eager to solve this matter quickly. Lord Jie had become the key to solving the problem. The executioner raised his blade in front of one of the doors of the palace, and it fell. A head rolled to the side. The top of his head suddenly burst into light and thunder rolled in. The chamberlain almost jumped up without being scared, and his face showed indescribable horror and guilt.
Dong Zhi turned his head to look at Long Shen. He remained motionless and did not step forward to help, nor did he leave.
At this time, Long Shen’s expression had changed a little from the time when he was in the study. The sharpness of his spirit precipitated a bit, becoming calmer and more distant.
“Master,” Dong Zhi said softly.
No. Why did he suddenly want to call him?
Long Shen at this moment should be sad.
In just two short clips, he could see that Long Shen and Lord Jie were teachers and friends. They had a good friendship, and his friend had died peacefully for his ideals and morality. Long Shen couldn’t stop it, and he didn’t want to stop it, and he felt no remorse for doing so.
Dong Zhi had seen many such things, and no matter how soft-hearted people were, he was afraid that they would gradually develop a heart of stone and become indifferent to everything.
However, Long Shen wasn’t like this.
Under his cold and serious shell, there was still blood that gurgled and bled, so he would always stay with the Special Administration Bureau to fight for his ideals. He also took on an ordinary human as a disciple; to teach Dong Zhi what slaying evil and defending the way, and the heavy burden of responsibility.
To Dong Zhi’s surprise, Long Shen, who was supposed to be completely inaudible, suddenly turned his head in his direction as if he was aware of him.
He was taken aback and was about to say something when he saw a flower in front of him. Whether it was Long Shen or the middle-aged man whose head had fallen to the ground, everything disappeared.
The dark caves were familiar to the eye, and the faintly glowing and swaying plants in the corner made people instantly travel through time and space to find familiar memories.
“In this life and in this world, this disciple, Dong Zhi, deeply regarded Long Shen as his Master. He must respect him with love and unwavering commitment. If there’s any violation, may the heavens strike him with lightning!”
Dong Zhi, outside of time and space, stood in the middle of the group of ghouls. Just like them, he raised his head and quietly looked at the two figures on the cliff that were standing and kneeling.
The ghouls had pale faces and holes in their eyes, and their thoughts were unknown. Dong Zhi, on the other hand, was thinking about what Long Shen felt at that time. Was he also happy at the moment when he accepted a disciple?
From a peerless sword, through the sun and moon, wind and frost, and mysterious opportunities, it finally turned into a human. After thousands of years of cultivation, Long Shen had developed a mind that was unrivaled by most humans.
How fortunate was he to be able to worship such a person as a teacher?
Looking at the man half-hidden in the dark, his eyes gradually moistened. Emotion and guilt intertwined, filling his heart little by little, but somehow, all of a sudden, turned into sadness, and the pain made him bend down slightly.
He didn’t expect that in Long Shen’s memory fragments, such a trivial matter of accepting a disciple could be compared to the moment when he was born.
Dong Zhi thought, ‘What virtue and ability do you have?’
He was just an ordinary person who had no ambition, drew a few pictures a day, ate and drank without care, and occasionally went and traveled and sketched. There were no bright spots in all his life. His life trajectory had changed since then because of the experience on Changbai Mountain.
It was like a swallow catching a glimpse of a phoenix in the clouds thousands of miles away perched on a branch and was attracted by the magnificent light of the king of birds. There was also a phoenix in his heart. He not only wanted to soar into the heavens and gaze down upon the mountains and rivers, but also wanted to be side by side with the phoenix, watching the spring and autumn together for thousands of years.
A few months ago, on the cliff, Long Shen was taking the sleepy Dong Zhi into his arms. The windbreaker separated the two worlds and cut off the dangers of the outside, allowing the apprentice to rest more safely. That is the love that Long Shen never resorted with words but only expressed through his actions.
Even if it may not be love…
Ripples slowly appeared around, and the light became brighter, causing all the darkness and treachery in the cave to fade, replaced by the bright lights of a living room.
The myriad phenomena of endless change seemed to be an illusion, and only the cold and quiet square-sized world was reality.
Dong Zhi slowly slid down against the wall and buried his head in his bent knees.
He wanted to say to Long Shen, “Why don’t we start over when everything hasn’t happened? I would like to treat you as a respected Master for the rest of my life, abide by boundaries, and never cross the line again. I would keep this secret deep in my heart for the rest of my life, until I step into the Yellow River.”
It was he who had personally ruined their appropriate relationship. Looking back, it was hard to recover.
The phone rang.
A white cat meowed, tilted its head, and looked at the man, who was silent, as if a little puzzled. After three rings, the man’s fingers slid across the paper and finally picked it up.
“Tang Jing, what’s the matter?”
Tang Jing’s environment was a bit noisy, but his voice still came through clearly.
“There’s something I’d like to report to you first. It happened in Lucheng. When we were investigating a murder involving dismemberment, we found…” Tang Jing didn’t stop for a breath as he relayed the entire story.
Long Shen didn’t interrupt the other party’s words. After listening from beginning to end, he let out a sigh and said the information they had found, “Li Qing’s identity has been confirmed. His original name is Yamamoto Kiyoshi, Japanese nationality, onmyoji origin, Fujikawa Aoi’s shidi. He later had a falling out with his teacher and ran away. Later he committed many homicides in Southeast Asia under the pseudonym of Songen. It’s suspected that he fled to Lucheng when he was in exile and forged Li Qing’s identity. Interpol has issued a red notice for him, but there may be people behind him, so we must be vigilant and arrest him as soon as possible.”
Tang Jing was taken aback when he heard this. “I just reported Yamamoto Kiyoshi’s name to you, and you already confirmed his true identity? This efficiency is too good!”
He immediately realized. “Your apprentice reported to you, right?”
Long Shen said, “He fought against Yamamoto. He used a puppet substitution technique to escape from him. He just came to ask me about the source of this technique. He didn’t mean to jump over your head to report.”
Tan Jing smiled strangely. “I didn’t say that he overstepped, yet you’re in such a hurry to defend your apprentice. They all said that Wu Bingtian is the best at protecting the weak ones, but Boss Long, I think you’re about an equal match!”
Seeing that Long Shen didn’t answer, he didn’t care and continued to laugh. “Actually, this time I have to report news to you. You’ll love hearing this. One died and one was injured in Lucheng. Only Dong Zhi and Mu Duo are able to work. I have sent two people to help them. Your apprentice performed very well this time. I plan to let him temporarily take over as the person in charge of the office. What do you think?”
Long Shen was silent for a moment. “You have the right to decide this kind of thing by yourself. You don’t have to ask me.”
Tang Jing felt that Director Long was being sullen and awkward, but who lets people be pressed to death at the official level. The corner of his mouth twitched.
“Boss Long, I’m about to get on a plane. I’ll go back to Shencheng tonight, so I’ll talk to you later.”
Long Shen said, “I want to trouble you with one thing.”
Long Shen, who had never asked for help, had a day where he needed to trouble others? Tang Jing felt that strange things were happening today, one after another.
He only heard Long Shen say, “I remember that you have a Shangqing pill from Mount Longhu?”
This kind of pill was a special elixir for internal injuries. It worked quickly, but because this kind of medicine was troublesome to refine, it was rarely produced and was rare and valuable. Not only does Mount Longhu treat it as a treasure, but it also wasn’t easily given to others and often fetched high prices on the black market.
Tang Jing thought for a moment. “It seems we do have two left.”
Long Shen said, “Please help me out and give both to Dong Zhi. His colleagues may also need to use them. I’ll resupply you later.”
Tan Jing first agreed but felt something was wrong. “Although there are few Shangqing pills, the General Administration always has inventory. Why don’t you give it directly to him?”
Although this wasn’t a big deal, as a master, shouldn’t he give it directly to his apprentice? Why go through this roundabout way and make it such a big hassle?
But Long Shen didn’t want to explain further.
Tang Jing wanted to ask what the hell was going on between this master and apprentice, but before he could say anything, the other party said, “Sorry to bother you” and hung up.
He stared at the phone in disbelief.
After hanging up, Tang Jing was still confused. He made another call to the subordinate branch and asked them to notify Dong Zhi to find a time to come to the branch office for debriefing.
Long Shen’s attitude made him quite interested in Dong Zhi. Tang Jing still remembered that when he was on the top floor of Tianyuan Building in Yangcheng, Dong Zhi didn’t know much technique, yet he dared to help He Yu set up an array to attract lightning. The performance caught his eye, but at that time, Dong Zhi was at best a little bold sheep. Was it possible that this little sheep now had horns and had become a unicorn?
In any case, he’ll test the ability of this unicorn. If it was worthy of the name, there would naturally be a corresponding position capable of his abilities. Otherwise, he’ll let him go back to Beijing to be his master’s obedient little sheep.
Tang Jing made a happy decision within a few seconds, turned off his phone, and found his seat on the plane.
Just as he was about to sit down, he was lightly patted on the shoulder.
He turned his head, and a beautiful-looking young man smiled at him. “I’m sorry. I have the window seat. Can you let me in first?”
Tang Jing got up and moved out of the way, and the other party thanked him as he took his seat.
Tang Jing opened a book he bought casually at a bookstore at the airport and became drowsy after reading a few pages. His neighbor suddenly asked, “Isn’t this book quite good-looking?”
Tang Jing casually said, “It’s quite ugly. It rambles on endlessly that I don’t know what it’s talking about.”
The other party continued to ask, “Is the plot too boring?”
Tang Jing couldn’t doze off anymore. He glanced at the other party. The face was so beautiful that he couldn’t afford to get angry. Tan Jing asked himself if he was a superficial person, as it was inevitable that he would be more tolerant to good-looking people.
“It’s not boring. I thought it was a mystery novel, but I just read a few pages and found that I was deceived. Basically, the male and female protagonists are already affectionate.” He shrugged. “Do you want to read it? Or have you read it and want to complain about it?”
The other party said politely, “I’m the author.”
Tang Jing: ……
Well this is awkward.
He had thick skin, so he couldn’t help but laugh.
“In fact, the writing inside is still good. Very touching.”
He looked at the author’s name again. “Your name is Ming Xian?”
The other party nodded and took out his boarding pass to show him. “My pen name is my real name.”
“Tang Jing. Tang in the Tang Dynasty, and Jing from clean*.”
*Reminder: [Jing] (净) in his name is from [gan jing] (干净) which is clean/neat and tidy.
The two shook hands.
For the first time, Ming Xian was ridiculed by a reader in person, and he couldn’t help feeling a little aggrieved. “In fact, this is a romance mystery novel, so there’s more focus on romance. I also wrote two other books, which are mainly plot-focused.”
Tang Jing hurriedly said, “I’ll definitely read it if I have the opportunity another day!”
Ming Xian became happy and took the initiative. “Since this meeting is fate, why don’t I give you an autograph?”
Tang Jing was happy. It was the first time he had seen a writer take the initiative to sign a reader’s book.
He felt a bit bad that he had bought the book so casually as he handed it over. “Then please.”
Ming Xian happily signed his name and said to him, “Why don’t you give me an address later, and I’ll send you the other two mystery novels?”
The beauty took the initiative to show his kindness, so Tang Jing had no reason not to accept it. He thought for a while and said, “My lease is about to be up, so I have to find a new place. I’ll give it to you when I settle down.”
The two exchanged contact information. Tang Jing asked him what he was doing in Shencheng. Ming Xian said that he was a middle school teacher and had just applied to a private middle school. The conditions were pretty good.
Ming Xian was unguarded. In just a few words, he had already completely relaxed all vigilance.
Tang Jing was surprised. “Are you not a full-time writer?”
Ming Xian blushed. “Do you think I can make ends meet by writing full-time?”
Tang Jing: …True. If he hadn’t been in such a rush just now, he would never have wasted money on this kind of book.
Still, he comforted, “I think you look very good. I do side-gigs on the weekends and help with different platforms. Are you interested in joining?”
Ming Xian stopped talking and said in embarrassment, “I’m a serious person…”
The corner of Tang Jing’s mouth twitched. “…What are you thinking? There will be an anime exhibition in Shencheng next week. A Games invited me to play as Yu Ji.”
Ming Xian was surprised. “Cosplay?”
Tang Jing nodded. “Yes. I’m purely an amateur. I’m going to help my friends. In fact, if you’re interested, you can also develop some part-time jobs in this field. After all, your appearance is quite good.”
Ming Xian’s eyes lit up. “Where will it be held this weekend? I want to see what you look like as Yu Ji!”
His smile instantly lit up the world.
Tang Jing had no resistance to this bright smile and eyes. He immediately said, “Give me your address and I’ll send you a ticket later.”
“Okay!” Ming Xian happily agreed.
The two talked all the way on the flight, and when their journey reached an end, they got off the plane and parted ways. Tang Jing found a subordinate outside the terminal to pick him up.
Shu He was already waiting outside and waved at Tang Jing.
“Boss Tang, shall we head directly to the bureau?”
Tang Jing nodded and the two got into the car separately.
Shu He started the car and saw that Tang Jing was humming a song and couldn’t help laughing. “You’re in a good mood. Don’t you have to worry about finding the stone tablets?”
Tang Jing rolled his eyes. “Keep dreaming. Japan has been very restless recently. There have been many international incidents in Beijing and Shencheng. They’re afraid that the capital is heavily guarded, so maybe they’ll try to do things in Shencheng. Keep a close eye.”
Shu He said, “Don’t worry. I have been keeping watch during your business trip. Is everything going well in the capital?”
Tang Jing: “It’s fine. It’s just that there aren’t enough people for the meeting. I just came to help. By the way, you can call the Lucheng office later and ask the temporary in charge person to come over.”
Shu He became curious. “The disciple of Boss Long?”
Tang Jing glanced at him. “You seem quite familiar with him too.”
Shu He said casually, “Not familiar, but with so many things going on in Lucheng recently, it’s hard not to know.”
Tang Jing smiled. “I almost forgot, you also wanted to worship Boss Long as a teacher back then, but it seemed you were rejected in the end, right?”
Shu He laughed at himself. “That’s why I’m curious. What kind of talent is needed to catch the eye of Boss Long?”
Tang Jing had seen Dong Zhi, but it wasn’t talent that had impressed him, but…
“To be honest, he’s better looking than you.”
Shu He angrily said, “Boss Long is not the same as you… a face con!”
He originally wanted to say shallow, but when he spoke, he quickly turned the corner to save some face for his leader.
Tang Jing shrugged. “Who knows! It’s been so long, why can’t you let it go?”
Shu He had been smiling all this time, but when his smile faded, his face showed a bit of gloom.
“Because I always felt that I was no worse than others, and I did get first in the overall score that year. Moreover, what bothered me the most was not a matter of the apprenticeship but of my father. The top kept pressing me down and refused to promote me no matter how good my performance was.”
Tang Jing: “Lao Shu, didn’t National Security come to ask you several times? You didn’t want to go. You wanted to stay at the General Administration. If you went to National Security, why worry about not having a chance for a promotion?”
Shu He was silent.
Tang Jing patted him on the arm. “In fact, you’re just unwilling. Lao Shu, don’t be obsessed. Otherwise, it will only hinder your own practice.”