Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
The Wuzhiqi let out a roar as it swiped its claws indiscriminately, all aimed at Dong Zhi. It grabbed Long Shen’s sword with one of its forearms.
However, at this time, there was a strange change in the sword’s light. In the increasingly dazzling light, black energy seemed to be drawn out of the Wuzhiqi’s body, little by little, and it started to seep towards Long Shen.
The Wuzhiqi’s body trembled and was momentarily frozen before it became more manic and restless. It grabbed the sword’s light with both hands and tried to drag Long Shen towards it, intending to tear him to pieces. Dong Zhi gasped for breath when he saw this and tried his best to support Long Shen and continued to attack, leaving no room for idleness.
However, this time, the Wuzhiqi seemed to sense that Long Shen was the most important one. Ignoring how many wounds were drawn by Dong Zhi, it twisted the sword’s light with its giant pair of arms, wrapping it around the sword’s body, causing the sword’s light to tremble violently. Seeing that he was about to be interrupted, Long Shen continued to absorb the demonic energy without paying heed to any distractions. Dong Zhi gritted his teeth. Regardless of whether being underwater could attract lightning or not, he pinched the sword in one hand and started to recite the mantra to summon heavenly thunder.
He closed his eyes and separated himself from the dazzling light, Long Shen’s persistence, and Liu Qingbo’s and Huo Jie’s fierce battle from his inner world. When all the distractions had subsided, pure and clean incantations rose.
The four great enlightenments, heaven and the earth are eternal, by the Jade Emperor’s orders, clear the three yuan. The mighty sword of the Divine King, slay evil and destroy its traces. The purple demonic energy ascends to heaven, the landscape collides, swallowing demons and ghosts, and drinks the wind…
The demonic energy absorbed from the Wuzhiqi’s body was condensed by Long Shen in the sword’s light. If they could succeed, he would seal up the demonic energy and bring it back to the Special Administration for research. However, the Wuzhiqi didn’t seem willing to lose this demonic energy that had reawakened its fierceness, and the demonic energy wasn’t willing to leave this rare host body. The two sides converged into a powerful force. It fought Long Shen to the death, making a final struggle before its destruction.
But it was precisely its death throes that gave rise to astonishing potential. In order to absorb the demonic energy, Long Shen couldn’t be distracted and fight it. The Wuzhiqi’s violent power caused the cave to shake as debris kept falling above them. Even the ground had started to quake. If Liu Qingbo and Huo Jie couldn’t stop it, the cave would most likely collapse. At that time, the lake water above their heads would pour in and drown everything. Even if they managed to escape the monster, they would still fall short.
Liu Qingbo and Huo Jie gasped. They were exhausted, with countless wounds on their bodies that were still bleeding. Although it wasn’t fatal, it was enough to drain what little physical strength they had.
The two of them tried their best to suppress the Wuzhiqi’s manic stamina, but its power was endless. Even the softest area in its waist and abdomen couldn’t be easily approached. It had been injured by them before, so now it was full of hatred and madness that it couldn’t wait to crush all of them into dust. After Cheng Yuan designed it to swallow demonic energy, the demonic energy integrated with it, awakening its unknown temperament from ancient times and also enhancing its strength, but now Long Shen wanted to draw these powers away. How could it allow it? Naturally, it had to use everything to fight back.
The Wuzhiqi roared as the cave shook more violently. Liu Qingbo and Huo Jie almost lost their balance, but Long Shen was still attached to the stone wall. The sword’s light in his hand didn’t even hesitate for a moment as it steadily kept drawing the demonic energy from the Wuzhiqi’s head, which only caused it to become more infuriated as a result.
Across the cave, above the lake above their heads, there was a muffled sound in the distance.
Liu Qingbo thought it was the Wuzhiqi’s power echoing underground, causing a flash flood. He couldn’t help but sink his face and secretly curse, but he couldn’t think of any way to stop it. He could only grit his teeth and rush up to attack the Wuzhiqi’s eyes—even if that would very likely cause another fury from his opponent.
But at that moment, there was a loud bang above their heads. The sword’s light between Long Shen and the Wuzhiqi suddenly flourished. The white light mixed with the black demonic energy flowed into a blueish-purple brilliance for a moment before it instantly penetrated the Wuzhiqi’s protective aura and wrapped around it!
It’s heavenly thunder!
Liu Qingbo was suddenly overjoyed.
He looked at the Wuzhiqi that was struggling in the lightning, but it was all in vain. In the blink of an eye, the last trace of demonic energy was sucked away by Long Shen, and all the light disappeared in an instant, returning the cave to darkness. Everyone hadn’t adapted to the sudden darkness and could only feel the pain in their eyes.
Liu Qingbo fumbled around and finally found the flashlight and turned it on. If the flashlight could be refined, he would probably have witnessed a terrifying battle just now in full view, but no matter how weak it was, it could finally get rid of his predicament of blindness.
The Wuzhiqi fell to the ground motionless, unknown whether it was dead or alive.
Huo Jie leaned against the stone wall, completely exhausted and out of breath, but he finally felt relief. There was also Dong Zhi, who was being checked on by Long Shen, so he didn’t need to worry about him.
Before Liu Qingbo had time to lament that “a child of a master is like a treasure”, he suddenly remembered the stone tablet and quickly turned to look back.
“The stone tablet is fine,” Long Shen said. He should have already gone to check on it.
Liu Qingbo breathed a sigh of relief and once again realized the gap between Long Shen and them. While they were tired to death, Long Shen had caught up with them from the water and walked the same long way as them. He also fought against the Wuzhiqi but was still able to think about everything in a short time after the battle. Everything was considered carefully.
In the dim light, the Wuzhiqi’s ragged panting sounded normal. Liu Qingbo asked Long Shen, “Should we lock it up?”
“I’m already locked up here…” A voice with a strange accent answered him.
Liu Qingbo was stunned for a while before he realized that it was actually coming from the Wuzhiqi.
“It’s been many years.” The Wuzhiqi slowly got up. Its golden bronze bell-like eyes opened, looking at the people who had scorned it.
“Who are you guys?” It asked.
Liu Qingbo felt that it should be speaking the language of ancient times, but magically he could understand it. After a few seconds, it finally dawned on him that it wasn’t actually the Wuzhiqi speaking, but it was conveying a message to them through its consciousness.
Long Shen said, “Thousands of years have passed since you were imprisoned underwater. We are the enforcers of the current world. We can be called the order keepers.”
“Has it been thousands of years already?” The Wuzhiqi was obviously injured as its consciousness was intermittent. “Many years ago, I was locked here. At the same time, I made an agreement to guard the stone tablet underwater. When five thousand years expired, I would be free again. Unexpectedly, not long ago, a man came and sent me a message with a water spirit, saying he could provide me with demonic energy to increase my strength and let me out in advance. I couldn’t resist the temptation, so I accepted the demonic energy.”
Long Shen said in a deep voice, “That demonic energy is refined from human life and grievances. You should know that it’s no benefit to your cultivation. Although that person imprisoned you here to have you guard the stone tablet, he must also have wanted you to practice your cultivation with peace of mind, but now that your foot was right at the door, you have fallen short. All your previous efforts have been in vain.”
“Then I will start over. I just wanted to go out in advance to see if that person is still alive… That’s all. I only have myself to blame. That person must also hope that I will guard the stone tablet for a long time, so I’ll tack on another 5,000 years. Why not!”
The voice that came into their minds sounded as if it had both laughter and tears, and in the end, turned into a sigh.
“Who are you talking about?” Liu Qingbo was puzzled.
Those who could live for thousands of years couldn’t possibly be humans, right?
“You guys, leave,” the Wuzhiqi said. It obviously didn’t want to answer this question.
“The stone tablet here is very important, so I’ll have to trouble you elder,” Long Shen said.
Wuzhiqi: “I know that it’s a demon suppressing array consisting of eight stone tablets, and this is one of them.”
Everyone was shocked, but Long Shen reacted faster.
“Dare I ask elder if you know where the remaining stone tablets are?”
Wuzhiqi: “A great ancient demon was born and wreaked havoc across the land. Powerful people gathered the essence of the four seas and used the sacred stones left by Nuwa* in the past as the stone tablets. They engraved runes on them. It is distributed in eight places, repelling demonic energy for thousands of years. At that time, I was the great monster of the Huai River. I made wind and waves and fought with many for thousands of years until I was defeated. At that time, I vaguely remember from the man’s words that the eye of the array was in Kunlun, but the rest is not clear.”
*Mother goddess of Chinese mythology. She is credited with creating humanity and repairing the Pillar of Heaven. As creator of mankind, she molded the upper-class individually by hand with yellow clay, and as she grew tired, she instead used a string to pull up the clay faster and form the lower-class.
Kunlun1 wasn’t a place but an area. The Kunlun Mountains2 stretched for thousands of miles, vast and boundless. It had been a place where legends have appeared frequently since ancient times. This clue was almost as good as just not even knowing, but it was still better than nothing. At least they finally had a goal, which was better than looking for a needle in a haystack.
1A mountain range in Chinese mythology that’s an important symbol representing the axis mundi and divinity. The mythological Kunlun is based on various sources—mythologic and geographic—of the modern so-called Kunlun Mountains of the Tibetan Plateau and Mount Kailash (as an archetypal omphalos). Many important events in Chinese mythology are based around Kunlun.
2One of the longest mountain chains in Asia extending for more than 3,000 kilometers. Many Chinese mythology is based off this mountain range.
More importantly, Long Shen compared what he said with the clues Ming Xian had left, which confirmed that what Ming Xian had told them was true.
Dong Zhi let out an exhale and took the flashlight to the stone tablet to take a closer look and found that the demonic energy on it had disappeared.
He turned around and apologized, “Sorry, elder. Just now, in order to help my master draw out the demonic energy, I had to attract thunder and hurt you. Please don’t blame me.”
“What is there to blame than not being as skilled as other. You guys go quickly so as not to upset me more!”
The Wuzhiqi was beaten up by them, and its injuries weren’t light. It itself was greedy from a moment of temptation and was corrupted by demonic energy. There was nothing it could say except to ask them to leave and hope that they wouldn’t meet its contemporaries and divulge the fact that it had merged with demonic energy and was struck by heavenly lightning.
“If they find out, I’m afraid my reputation will be ruined forever,” the Wuzhiqi said in dismay.
‘Even if we don’t tell anyone, with you being locked up here all this time, there is no reputation for you to lose,’ Liu Qingbo chided secretly in his head. He couldn’t help rolling his eyes at the thought of this great monster who still wanted to save face.
“If you keep walking along the front, you can see a pool of water. There’s an exit above the pool. You can leave from there.” The Wuzhiqi gave them directions on how to leave.
“How far is it?” Liu Qingbo asked.
The Wuzhiqi thought for a while. “It’ll only take a few hundred steps!”
They all bid farewell to the Wuzhiqi and continued to move forward, but everyone quickly discovered that the Wuzhiqi’s so-called few hundred steps weren’t quite the same to them… because they were walking weakly to the point where their faces were pale, but they hadn’t reached the pool of water the Wuzhiqi told them about.
Only then did Liu Qingbo remember that the Wuzhiqi walking speed was extremely fast, rather like it was running or flying, so a few hundred steps was probably more like a few thousand or even tens of thousands of their steps.
He felt so cold in his heart that he almost thought of turning into a young master and throwing a tantrum, but he didn’t dare because Long Shen was also present.
The other party walked in front and led the way for them. Huo Jie, who was the most injured, still persisted, so Liu Qingbo had to swallow his grievances and continue on his way.
Suddenly, a hand stretched out and held a bottle of mineral water. The bottle was a mini-size and the top hadn’t been opened. Most likely, one could finish the entire content inside in one swallow, but what surprised Liu Qingbo was—
“Where did you get this water?”
Dong Zhi said innocently, “It was in my waist bag. Space is limited, so I can only bring such a small bottle. You can time a sip with Huo Ge. I’m not thirsty.”
After a pause, he asked again, “Master, do you want some?”
“No need.” Long Shen didn’t turn his head around. His voice came steadily.
The corners of Liu Qingbo’s mouth twitched. “I’ve heard you complain that your bag is too small just now. How many things do you still have in it?”
Dong Zhi reached in and took the contents out. “There’s also a bar of chocolate, which was bought from the canteen of Yasheng High School. Other than that, nothing else. Do you want to eat it?”
“No!” Liu Qingbo shouted and handed the water to Huo Jie.
Huo Jie was indeed thirsty and had no care about being polite. He unscrewed the lid and raised his head to take a sip. He returned the remaining half to Dong Zhi while also giving him praise.
“Thank you. Dong Zhi, you have such good habits. Even if we’re practitioners, we can’t withstand long-term physical exertion. You carry food with you and could meet unexpected needs. This time, it’s all thanks to Boss Long for catching up with us.”
Otherwise, with the three of them, let alone extracting the demonic energy from the Wuzhiqi, most likely they would all be turned into ground beef by it.
When the seemingly immortal flashlight in their hands slowly weakened and was about to die, they finally saw waves reflected not far away.
Looking up, the top of the cave was stretched and narrowed, turning into a round hole. There was an opening at the end, faintly leaking a hint of the blue lake, as if you could see the crescent moon hanging in the sky.
Long Shen said, “The top should be a wellhead, which is sealed by an iron net. I’ll go up and open it first, then you’ll go up through the iron chain later.”
There was an iron chain hanging from the wall that sank into the deep pool, but it wasn’t an iron chain that was locked to the Wuzhiqi. It was just a gimmick of legends for tourism, which was now convenient for them.
Long Shen jumped into the water, but instead of grabbing the iron chain, he swam to the steep stone wall on the other side of the pool. His body moved quickly, sticking to the stone wall like before, and he quickly climbed up with vigor and lightness. After a while, his figure became smaller in their sights and finally turned into a black spot that disappeared at the end.
Outside was a scenic spot. The wellhead was sealed with an iron net. Originally, it wasn’t there, but later, many curious tourists came here and probed down. Once, because there were too many people, someone fell down and died. Since then, the scenic area had been sealed with an iron net.
However, for young adventurers, this iron net had undoubtedly stifled their desire to verify legends.
It was dawn at this time, but the sky had not brightened yet. The cool moon was still hanging overhead. Several young people were planning to go up the mountain to catch the sunrise. They passed by this area and couldn’t help but stop and talk about the myths and legends of this place as they looked into the well.
As a result, a sharp-eyed person saw a hand sticking out from under the iron mesh and grabbing hold of it. During their chatter, the iron mesh that was welded to the edge of the well showed signs of falling off.
The young man stared blankly for a few seconds, making sure that there wasn’t anything wrong with his eyes, then suddenly screamed.
His companions also saw the hand. Although it was very beautiful and its fingers were slender, few people had the mind to watch it carefully. Various legends of demons and ghosts appeared in their minds, all of which were hideous and terrifying.
Everyone turned their heads and ran screaming, and no one dared to look back.
Long Shen held up the iron net and crawled out of the well. From a distance, he could see several figures fleeing as they kicked up dust.
He didn’t have time to mind that though. He turned around and pulled on the iron cable, motioning to the people below to come out.
Not long after, Liu Qingbo, Huo Jie, and Dong Zhi all followed the iron cable in turn and saw the sun again.
Unlike the underground, the fresh air mixed with the mountain breeze that blew on their faces made everyone who was wet shudder at the same time, but also feel relaxed and happy.
Liu Qingbo dumped out the water stuck in his ears as he said, “I thought I heard someone screaming just now?”
Long Shen said, “Tourists. I’ll have someone come back later to weld the iron mesh back together again. Let’s go down the mountain first.”
In fact, everyone had already squeezed out the last traces of their strength. Let alone fighting the Wuzhiqi just now, even if someone who knew how to fight or some kung fu came, it was estimated they could beat them up. They were all eager to return home. After staying in the underwater environment for so long, everyone felt puffy and swollen. They all wanted to rush back as soon as possible, take a hot bath, and get some good sleep.
Liu Qingbo raised his eyes and looked around, but couldn’t help but wonder, “Where is this? It’s not in the vicinity of Shencheng, is it? Wait. The Wuzhiqi mentioned the Huai River. Are we near it now?”
He turned his head and saw the stone tablet of the Wuzhiqi standing beside him and couldn’t help but be taken aback.
Long Shen nodded. “We’re not in Guishan. It’ll take more than four hours to drive back to Shencheng.”
The corners of Liu Qingbo’s mouth twitched. They had already arrived at the border of the neighboring province. No wonder they felt that the road would never end. From day to night, and from night to dawn, their speed was actually quite fast. If they were ordinary people, they might be trapped down there forever.
Dong Zhi felt a little weak, so he knelt down. He thought he must’ve drunk too much water by mistake from the pool just now. At this moment, his hands and feet were soft; his chest was stuffy, as if he had drunk too much water and it got stuck in his stomach. He couldn’t help coughing a few times before vomiting out water.
After vomiting, the feeling of weakness eased. When he opened his eyes, he saw Long Shen looking at him with a drastically changed expression.
Dong Zhi had been with Long Shen for some time and knew that although he had few expressions, it wasn’t like he had facial paralysis. He occasionally smiled and frowned, but more often he was calm and serious. After being with him for so long, he had seen these expressions more than others. Usually, there was nothing that could easily move him, but he had never seen such a panicked look on his face.
He lowered his head subconsciously and found a pool of blood on the ground that was completely black.
Dong Zhi was stunned for a moment before he reached out to wipe the wet marks on the corner of his mouth, only to realize that the pool of blood came from him.
Liu Qingbo’s and Huo Jie’s faces also changed.
Before Dong Zhi could grasp the situation, Long Shen had already come over and supported his limp body and wiped the blood from the corner of his mouth.
“How are you? Do you feel discomfort?”
“I’m okay,” Dong Zhi felt strange. “It’s just my legs are a little weak. I guess it’s because I walked a lot and my chest was a little bit tight, but after I vomited, I feel much better. Maybe it was from the injury I suffered from the Wuzhiqi.”
Seeing that Long Shen wanted to carry him, he became quite embarrassed, so he refused. “Master, I’m not uncomfortable…”
“Don’t move!” Long Shen’s tone was stern, but his actions were the exact opposite.
Dong Zhi was taken aback, stopped resisting, and allowed the other party to carry himself obediently.
Liu Qingbo frowned. “Could it be that he suffered an internal injury just now?”
Seeing that everyone’s expressions weren’t good-looking, Dong Zhi tried to comfort them. “Boss Tang gave me an extra Shangqing Pill last time. I should be fine when I go back and take it.”
As he spoke, he felt a stream of heat surging up in his chest, eager to find an exit.
Dong Zhi finally felt something was wrong. He covered his mouth, but he couldn’t control the flow of liquid. Black blood overflowed directly from his fingers and dripped on Long Shen’s shoulders.
Liu Qingbo was shocked. “Boss Long, he vomited blood again and it’s black!”
“I know.” Long Shen’s footsteps didn’t stop as he strode forward steadily, not letting the person on his back suffer even the slightest bump.
“Master…” Dong Zhi finally felt a trace of confusion. He didn’t know what was wrong with him. It seemed that the fatigue that had been accumulating for some time had hit his lungs. His limbs were sore and weak, but his mind was still wide awake.
Long Shen said, “You may have been cursed.”
Liu Qingbo was startled, then suddenly said, “Last time, when we subdued Han Qi’s demon fetus, he said he felt something jump into his body!”
Long Shen let out a deep sigh. “A heavenly demon should be able to invade the dreamland through curses and map its energy into reality. Therefore, if he’s at a disadvantage in his dream, his spirit will be damaged, and it’s reflected to the body where he’ll also be injured.”
He didn’t say this before because he wasn’t sure and wanted to wait until they got out of the underground cave to check on his apprentice carefully, but he didn’t expect trouble would arise at this time.
Even for practitioners, curses, like witchcraft, belonged to a particularly mysterious realm, which was unpredictable and hard to prevent.
Long Shen didn’t hear any response from Dong Zhi and thought that the other party was worried by the news.
“Don’t be afraid, I’m here.”
Mother goddess of Chinese mythology. She is credited with creating humanity and repairing the Pillar of Heaven. As creator of mankind, she molded the upper-class individually by hand with yellow clay, and as she grew tired, she instead used a string to pull up the clay faster and form the lower-class.