Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
After hanging up the phone, Ming Xian hailed a taxi and took it to another district, then transferred to the subway before finally coming to an abandoned factory on the outskirts of town.
It was at least a two-hour drive from the city center. For many people who had just arrived in Shencheng, they may find it difficult to imagine that the prosperous international city in their impressions would have such a desolate place.
Ming Xian walked to the tin house next to the factory, raised his hand, and knocked on it a few times.
The door opened quickly, and a tone of dissatisfaction came from the darkness.
“Don’t knock so loudly. I can hear it!”
The voice wasn’t old, young even, but it was gloomy, like a dark cloud that covered the skies in June and was about to herald in a violent storm at any moment.
However, Ming Xian was indifferent to this. He followed the other party into the dimly lit room and took a brief panoramic glance at the harsh environment.
“Why don’t you change to a better place?” He didn’t think the other party lacked money to this extent.
The man said gloomily, “Do you think I don’t want to? However, my soul refining practice creates too many movements. There are too many old women in the city and any little trouble would make them run to the police. To avoid making any mistakes, I can only help Mr. Otowa here. Stop talking nonsense. What the hell are you doing?”
“It’s just soul refining,” Ming Xian said lightly. “I don’t care how many people you want to kill, but you were almost discovered at the Anime Convention, and now you’re doing it at Lake Wangyue. Do you know that those places are being targeted by the Special Administration Bureau? They already suspect me.”
The man sneered, “Isn’t that good? You’re responsible for diverting their target while I carry out the plans.”
Ming Xian still looked indifferent. “I won’t help you clean up your mess. You have to do it somewhere else.”
The man categorically refused. “Impossible! Shencheng has a large population and a lot of vitality. It just happens that the veins of the earth flow there, and there’s a killer weapon that I have prepared for a long time. Now only two lives are needed, and the seal can be broken. At that time, Mr. Otowa’s goal will be one step closer. Going a step further, since you know that the Special Administration Bureau is eyeing us, you should come forward and help me lead them away!”
Ming Xian: “Do you think the people in the Special Administration Bureau are fools? Sooner or later, they will find out about you.”
The man raised his eyes and stared at him. His eyes were bloodshot, and his face was covered with blue veins, which looked especially terrifying.
“All you have to do is help me delay them through this time period. When the seal is broken, we can leave!”
Ming Xian: “I can’t guarantee this.”
The man sneered. “Ming Xian, don’t forget who your master is, and don’t forget who made you into a human from a zither. If you refuse to cooperate, you’ll end up ruining Mr. Otowa’s big plans. Can you afford the consequences!”
Ming Xian remained cold and indifferent, refusing to budge an inch. “My master is Mr. Otowa, not you. It’s not up to you to decide what the consequences will be. You just need to do your own part well. That’s enough.”
The man was furious. He grabbed an evocation flag and drew it directly towards him. Ming Xian stepped back and a silk thread in his hand shot out, firmly entangling the opponent’s hand. With a little force, the man screamed and was pushed forward involuntarily and staggered to the ground.
Ming Xian didn’t have any interest in beating a drowning dog*, so he just said, “Be a lackey and don’t cause me any trouble.”
*Idiom referring to hitting someone while they are down.
The man’s voice suddenly changed its tone, vaguely echoing. Strands of black air rose behind him, gradually forming a vague black shadow.
Ming Xian frowned slightly.
“Ming Xian, Otowa Ming Xian.” The young voice gradually became old, and Ming Xian was startled by the familiar tone of voice.
“Otowa… sir? How are you?”
The man’s mouth opened and closed; his eyes were godless, like a puppet.
“He has a trace of my magic on him, and I can use him to monitor the progress of my plans.”
Ming Xian lowered his eyes to cover his emotions. “I see.”
The man smiled gloomily. “The destruction of the stone tablet is very important to us. Although Long Shen and the others tried their best to stop it, the fact remains that fate cannot be transferred to anyone’s will. Our Demon Lord is destined to resurrect and rise again, and the gates of hell will open, returning the world into the abyss. Ming Xian, my dear child. Shencheng is very critical. No matter what he wants you to do, you must cooperate, understand?”
Ming Xian was silent for a moment. “I understand.”
“I believe you can do it. Don’t let me down.”
After saying these words, the black energy suddenly retracted into his body and the man’s body softened. He knelt down on the ground and coughed violently, choking on his tears.
Ming Xian looked at the other party’s embarrassed appearance coldly and had no interest in coming forward to help.
The man held his grudge when he saw this, but since a good man didn’t suffer from immediate loss*, he gloomily said, “Now it’s clear. I have the demonic aura of Mr. Otowa in me. You’d better not fight me!”
*Colloquialism referring to a wise person’s ability to understand the current affair and temporarily avoid unfavorable situations so as not to suffer losses and humiliation. || Basically, he knows he can’t fight Ming Xian, and so to avoid further humiliation, he relents on trying to repay his grudge.
Ming Xian condescendingly looked at him with his hand clasped behind his back, just like he was looking at a vicious dog that was all bark but no bite.
“You’re just a microphone for Mr. Otowa. Play your part well so as not to be abandoned when you’re useless.”
“You!” The man was furious, but he didn’t dare act up again. He knew he wasn’t Ming Xian’s opponent. “I heard that you still have a part of a Chinese soul in you. When Mr. Otowa promoted your transformation, he also integrated a person named Dong Jilan into your body. Are you still thinking about taking the opportunity to seek refuge with the Special Administration Bureau?”
Ming Xian had no interest in bickering with him, so he turned and left.
The man sneered behind him.
“I advise you not to be delusional. If you have Chinese blood on your hands, the Special Administration Bureau won’t want you! According to Mr. Otowa’s instructions, you’d better remember that there are still two lives left, and I will be done soon!”
Ming Xian’s footsteps didn’t waver even for half a second.
The progress on Dong Zhi’s side wasn’t going well.
The boy, named Jiang Lang, had stopped breathing when he was taken to the hospital. At the strong request of his parents, the medical staff tried their best to rescue him, but the rescue was ineffective, and the boy was sent to the morgue. Dong Zhi and Liu Qingbo then rushed over and intervened in the investigation in an official capacity. However, after an hour at the hospital, the two of them found no traces of foul play on the body.
In other words, the other party did indeed die by drowning.
The two of them were a little disappointed by this result, but they soon received word from the police that Jiang Lang’s parents, due to excessive sadness, were angry at the girl who rejected Jiang Lang’s confession. The two sides were now quarrelling on campus. This kind of dispute had nothing to do with them, but the two of them wanted to look for clues at the school, so they rushed over again.
As for the other party, An’an, this was a complete disaster.
She had no relationship with Jiang Lang, and she simply refused the other party’s confession. Who would have thought that Jiang Lang couldn’t bear it and ran into the lake to commit suicide? It couldn’t be any more wrong to put the blame on Fang An’an.
However, for parents who had just lost their child, they had also lost their reason. They ran directly to Fang An’an’s dorm and found her locked in her room. They yelled at her to come out. Jiang Lang’s mother even made gestures with her hand that scared a little sophomore girl, making her face turn pale with fright. The teachers hurried over, and the scene delved into chaos.
When Dong Zhi and Liu Qingbo passed by, Jiang Lang’s parents had already been taken away by school security. Fang An’an was crying silently in the dorm while her roommates and classmates were all comforting her. The dorm administrator brought Dong Zhi and them in, and the group of little girls stared at them. With the presence of two strange men, their originally panicked expression became even more uneasy.
“Hello, students. We are the police. I want to come over and ask Fang An’an a few questions. Would you please go out for a while? Just for a few minutes.”
Seeing Fang An’an’s face showing fear, the dormitory administrator hurriedly said, “Don’t be afraid. I will be here too.”
Dong Zhi bent over and looked at Fang An’an and said warmly, “Don’t be afraid. I heard from your teacher just now that Jiang Lang’s parents were beating people and it was caught on surveillance. I can help you get justice.”
Perhaps it was his approachable tone or his gentle and harmless appearance, but it made Fang An’an gradually lower her guard.
After everyone went out, Fang An’an, accompanied by a teacher, told the story about last night.
The matter was very simple. Jiang Lang called her to the lake, confessed, and then was rejected. She left quickly and didn’t stay long at all. Moreover, it was too dark at the time. Fang An’an didn’t even see Jiang Lang’s expression clearly.
Lake Wangyue had surveillance, but the trouble was that the place they were in that night happened to be a blind spot.
Dong Zhi and Liu Qingbo failed to gather any clues from Fang An’an’s testimony. Since Jiang Lang’s death happened after she left, Fang An’an didn’t witness the scene at all.
After comforting the little girl with a few words, they got up and left the girls’ dormitory.
When passing by one of the dorms on the same floor, a little girl poked out her head and asked timidly, “Excuse me, are you a policeman?”
Dong Zhi turned his head and smiled at her. “Yes, is there anything wrong?”
The chubby girl looked around, took another step forward, and lowered her voice. “Do you believe there are demons in this world?”
If this was someone else, one would think that the girl was joking and would just turn around and leave, but Dong Zhi was taken aback and nodded. “I do.”
Yin Xiangxue got excited. She thought she would be scolded, but she didn’t expect the other party to respond positively.
“I—I saw how Jiang Lang died!”
Dong Zhi’s expression became serious. “Did you really see it?”
Yin Xiangxue: “Yes, I saw Jiang Lang go to the lake at that time. I was curious, so I followed him. I didn’t expect him to make an appointment with Fang An’an. Later, when Fang An’an left, and I saw…”
Thinking back to what she saw that night, she still couldn’t help shuddering, and she couldn’t spit out the words to her mouth.
“Don’t be nervous.” Dong Zhi patted her shoulder, seemingly to encourage her, but in fact, with a casual stroke he raised the yang fire on her shoulder with his Bu Tian Gang.
Everyone was born with yang fire on their heads and shoulders, which could exorcise evil spirits and reduce yin. If the yang fire was extinguished, their luck would decline.
Yin Xiangxue didn’t know why, but she suddenly felt her body becoming warmer and her courage was suddenly lifted up as she loudly spoke up with great triumph.
“Then I saw Jiang Lang standing there muttering to himself, not knowing who he was talking to. There seemed to be questions and answers, and he was talking and laughing. I was so scared that I didn’t dare run over and look. As a result, Jiang Lang climbed onto the rocks by the lake himself and then slowly went into the water…” She swallowed. “Then drowned.”
Dong Zhi and Liu Qingbo looked at each other, and both of them were silent. Liu Qingbo said, “Then did you see anything strange?”
Yin Xiangxue thought for a while, then suddenly said, “That’s right! I also saw a dark thing floating in the water. I don’t know what it was. Jiang Lang stretched out his hand to pull it, as if calling Fang An’an’s name!”
This matter was too strange. Yin Xiangxue didn’t dare tell anyone, for fear that others would think she was making up nonsense, or that she had pushed Jiang Lang into the water herself, so she kept holding it in her heart and became even more scared. When she saw Dong Zhi just now coming to question Fang An’an, and heard that they were from the police, she couldn’t help but call out to them.
At that moment, the phone rang.
Dong Zhi picked it up. “Boss Tang?”
Tang Jing didn’t say any superfluous greetings and went straight to the point. “Where are you now?”
Dong Zhi looked up. “The second floor of the girls’ dormitory of the high school of Yasheng Private School.”
Tang Jing said, “Just right. I want you to go to the high school department and check on someone. His name is Ming Xian. If there are no issues, he should be a Chinese teacher in the high school department there.”
Dong Zhi keenly knew the meaning of his words. “What do you mean if there are no issues? Is his identity fake?”
Tang Jing said lightly, “I hope not, but my hope may be in vain. I suspect that this person has something to do with the recent soul eaters at the Anime Convention as well as the cases involving Yasheng High School. After you meet him, be sure he’s brought back into the bureau for questioning.”
After Dong Zhi agreed, he heard that there seemed to be someone talking on the other end of the line, and the sound was quite familiar, so he didn’t hang up.
“Boss Tang, your side…”
Tang Jing then casually said, “Oh, by the way, your master is here too.”
Dong Zhi: ??!
At that moment, his hair almost exploded all over his body, and even his expression became extremely weird.
Liu Qingbo didn’t know what Tang Jing said. Seeing him like this, he made a questioning gesture.
Dong Zhi really didn’t know how to describe his mood at the moment, so he waved his hand at him to indicate that he was okay.
He couldn’t help but touch his heart, which was beating a little too fast. For fear that his voice would tremble, he could only use a few seconds to calm himself down quickly.
Tang Jing said hello twice, then said to Long Shen, “The kid hung up the phone without even saying a word.”
Then he disconnected the call.
Dong Zhi had done a good job of mental construction and was about to answer when he heard the dial tone on the other end. He couldn’t laugh or cry.
Liu Qingbo urged impatiently: “What did he say?”
Dong Zhi settled down, put away the phone, and decided to get down to business first.
The two went to the high school, found the person in charge of the personnel department, and asked for a person named Ming Xian.
The person in charge said, “Teacher Ming is our new teacher who just came this semester, but something seems to have happened to his family, and he said he wanted to resign. The resignation report had been handed in. Today’s the school festival, so he was still saying his goodbyes to his students on the playground just now.”
Dong Zhi said strangely, “As soon as the semester had just started, he resigned?”
The person in charge smiled bitterly. “Yes. I’m a bit surprised too, but if someone wants to leave, it’s not like we can stop them! If you want to find him, you may still be able to see him if you go to the playground now.”
Dong Zhi asked, “Are there any photos?”
The person in charge said yes, found the high school teacher profile files and flipped through them before he presented them with a photo.
Liu Qingbo glanced at it, only to feel inexplicably familiar, but he couldn’t remember it for a while, and said casually, “If you recruit such a good-looking teacher, aren’t you afraid that it will distract the female students from their studies?”
The person in charge laughed. “You don’t have to tell me. This teacher Ming has become the most popular male teacher in our school not long after he came. Those sloppy teachers have stepped aside. I heard that Teacher Ming’s is very good that even the principal felt sorry for his departure!”
Dong Zhi didn’t say a word, and suddenly turn his head and ran out. Liu Qingbo was inexplicable and hurried to follow.
“What’s wrong with you!”
Dong Zhi said with a calm face: “I have seen this person in Liang Weiqi’s tomb. He was with Fujikawa Aoi and the others!”
Liu Qingbo wrinkled his brows and thought for a moment, then suddenly realized. “Is that the one who escaped after being injured by you?”
Dong Zhi: “Yes!”
When he was underground under Mount Helan, next to the alter, at that time, Dong Zhi didn’t know Ming Xian’s name. He thought the man looked very beautiful, but his behavior was quite strange. He obviously had multiple opportunities to kill him, but he didn’t do it. He was with Fujikawa Aoi and wanted to destroy the stone tablet, which obviously wasn’t a good thing, but at that time, everyone was busy dealing with demons and Fujikawa’s men, such as Liu Qingbo, that they didn’t have time to pay attention to Ming Xian’s appearance.
After returning from Yinchuan, Dong Zhi painted a portrait according to his memories. The Special Administration Bureau had searched for this person’s whereabouts, but unexpectedly, with their opponent’s ability, it wasn’t difficult to avoid the eyes and ears of the Special Administration Bureau. If he ran back to Japan, it would be even more impossible to find him.
Who would have thought that after wearing out iron shoes*, Ming Xian would be found in a high school in Shengcheng.
*(踏破铁鞋) Metaphor for sparing no effort in searching for something.
Did the other party want to hide in the world or, like Yamamoto Kiyoshi, feel that with so many people in Shencheng, it was a convenient place for hiding?
While talking, the two of them had already arrived at the playground. The school festival here was nearing its end. People were in groups of three or five, talking, laughing, and exchanging pleasantries. Dong Zhi and Liu Qingbo split up to find their target, but looking through a crowded playground, it was difficult to find Ming Xian in it.
The two of them were like swimming against the current of the crowd, sweeping their eyes from one face to another until eventually they started developing a faint cognitive discrimination disorder where they started confusing the faces of men and women together.
Dong Zhi finally found a student who helped maintain order and asked him if he had seen Ming Xian or if he knew a student that had seen him.
Who knew that the student pointed somewhere and said, “Teacher Ming is there. I just came from there!”
Dong Zhi: “You take me there; I urgently need to find him!”
“Okay!” The student happily agreed, leading Dong Zhi as they swam left and right through the crowd and finally stumbled upon a large group.
He glanced around, grabbed his classmate, and asked, “Where’s Teacher Ming?”
The classmate said, “Teacher Ming went to the back mountain of the school and said he wanted to go there to take some photos as a souvenir.”
Dong Zhi’s heart sank. He felt that with Ming Xian’s ability, it was impossible that he hadn’t found out that he was being followed until now. The only possibility was that he had already known and was deliberately leading them there.
Even if he knew that it was likely to be a trap, he had to get past it.
Dong Zhi took out his phone and called Liu Qingbo.
“Lao Liu, don’t look for him. I know where he is. Come and meet up first.”
Yasheng High School was located in the suburbs, surrounded by mountains and rivers. The water of Lake Wangyue came from Mount Yuzan.
Just like Lake Wangyue was an artificial lake, the altitude of Mount Yuzan was less than 500 meters. Originally, it didn’t even have a name. The locals called it Mount Tuwei, which was renamed later to Mount Yuzan by the school as they felt Mount Tuwei was too unpleasant sounding and would make people think such a name was too tasteless and they wouldn’t come. As soon as the name was changed, it became much more elegant*.
*Original name Mount Tuwei = Bald-Tailed Mountain it was renamed to Mount Yuzan = Jade Hairpin Mountain.
But this mountain really wasn’t that big. It was quite small but was unique and exquisite. Usually in spring and autumn, the schoolteachers would occasionally take their students to do outdoor activities and they often would come to Mount Yuzan. Dong Zhi and Liu Qingbo rang quickly, following the guide signs, and reached halfway up the mountain.
Since it was winter now, no one was climbing up the mountain. When Dong Zhi saw a figure in the pavilion halfway up, he subconsciously paused.
The other party was unhurried, as if he had expected it, and turned around and smiled at them.
Sure enough, it was him. Dong Zhi’s heart sank, and he clenched the Changshou Sword in his hand.
“We meet again.” Ming Xian obviously remembered him as well. “I’m sorry about the last time. I didn’t mean to kill you.”
The other party talked like they were old friends, relaxed and natural, while, on the contrary, Dong Zhi and Liu Qingbo were quite nervous.
Dong Zhi didn’t let down his guard. “We have our own positions, so I’m afraid I can’t apologize. This time, you’re alone?”
“I know what you want to ask.” Ming Xian smiled slightly, took out a black gadget from his pocket, and threw it to Dong Zhi.
When Dong Zhi picked it up, he was a little cautious for fear that the other party would make a small move, only to find out that it seemed to be an… electronic device?
“A tracker.” Ming Xian solved his doubts.
Dong Zhi: “Whose?”
Ming Xian: “Tang Jing is one of you, right? He put it on me. Just ask him, but this time, you have found the wrong person. It’s not me who created the soul eaters, and it wasn’t me who killed Jiang Lang.”
Liu Qingbo snorted coldly. “Whether it is or not, you have to go back with us to assist in the investigation first!”
He didn’t have a good impression of the person in front of him. Last time, he was the one who threw the explosives into the alter. If it weren’t for his quick reaction in the end, they all would’ve been sleeping underground with the stone tablet by now. How would they even be here to arrest such a person?
Ming Xian shook his head and jumped up suddenly, but instead of running down the mountain, he turned and leaped towards the outside of the pavilion off a cliff.
It was too late to act as he was too fast. Dong Zhi, who had been staring at his every move, also rushed out and chased him closely, and jumped off the cliff as well.
Liu Qingbo: What the fuck?! Look where you’re jumping. There’s a fucking cliff behind this thing!
He was bewildered.
The author has something to say:
Dong Jilan is mentioned in chapters 63 and 64.
For those who forgot, Dong Jilan is an agent from the Special Administration Bureau sent to Japan to thwart some evil thing. His body was never found, and Long Shen wanted to use Fujikawa Aoi’s release as a bargaining chip to get him back or at least determine if he’s dead. Also note that Dong Jilan and Dong Zhi are not related (the Dong are different Chinese characters).