Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 8: Three Divisions of Heaven
The three of them stopped in their tracks.
Blue Vest’s attention was completely focused on the “Physical Examination Room”. After all, that seemed like the most harmless of the three. Yin Ren expressed his understanding. He took a few steps back and made a pose as if saying, “I don’t know anything”.
Red Fedora had long, thin eyebrows. At this moment, she looked as if all the blood from her face had been drained, like an unpainted porcelain sculpture. She gripped her bracelet tightly. Her hands were trembling, which made the beads on the string rattle.
Seeing his two companions were “weak and helpless”, Blue Vest tried to adjust his breathing and showed a leader-like expression. Unfortunately, before he had time to make a grand speech, a loud knock came from the door, causing him to stumble.
Bang, bang, bang, bang!
As if the person on the other side of the door knew they were standing outside, he, she—or it—knocked heavily on the door four times.
“You guys can come in together.” The voice behind the door was shrill to the point where it was almost inaudible to human ears.
Blue Vest exhaled and took the lead, pushing the door open.
There was no one behind there.
The physical examination room wasn’t large, and there weren’t many things inside. A round table was placed in the middle of the room, and three acacia wood trays were placed in the center of the table.
The ceiling of the room was filled with monitors on each side. They squeezed together and turned slowly. Yin Ren wasn’t sure what their purpose was, but the way they twisted and turned, he thought they were like sparrows on the branches of a tree in winter.
The content of the trays was more interesting.
Three trays were arranged in an equilateral triangle. One held a piece of red leather with a pattern painted on it. The skin was thin and soft and was cut square with a pair of iron scissors; another tray had a pile of broken bones with a few dead flies scattered around it; and the last tray had an eerie-looking pen lying alone in the middle of the tray without any paper.
Blue Vest and Red Fedora weren’t as calm as Yin Ren as they continued to look around vigilantly…
The monitor above his head clicked softly as countless red lights flickered, making people uncomfortable. The corner of the room was empty, as if the knocker before was a ghost.
Yin Ren was determined to pull his two teammates back on the right path. He cleared his throat. “What are these?”
Blue Vest: “Ah, huh? What?”
“These things that are on the table.”
Blue Vest opened his mouth and looked as if he was trying to focus, but this time, it was Red Fedora who spoke first.
“It’s the ‘Three Divisions of Heaven’. It’s a test used by the metaphysics lineage to divide the ranks.” Her lips turned pale. “But… But these are real. Generally, they use substitutes on the outside that aren’t so evil.”
Blue Vest nodded bitterly, facing Yin Ren’s inquisitive eyes.
Blue Vest appeared to be procrastinating as he took a half step back and moved away from the table.
“He doesn’t understand this, so let’s just tell him. These Three Divisions of Heaven refer to the three fundamental metaphysical directions—spirit smith, corpse servant, and ghost master.”
Blue Vest took out a string of wooden beads from his pocket, and he kept on muttering.
“The spirit smith is someone who makes spiritual weapons for people or for themselves. Do you play games? It would be like a kind of prop that you buy that has high technical content.”
“Everyone’s familiar with the corpse servant. You must have heard stories of corpse hunting. After the promotion of cremation, such people are now gone. Now, they mainly use animal bones. They are a bit like necromancers in a game.”
“The ghost master, better put, would be considered a psychic. They can withstand evil qi and command ghosts to work. This kind of cultivator is the most numerous.”
“The ‘Three Divisions of Heaven’ is a test to measure what kind of job you’re naturally suited for. In fact, there are high-level occupations like ‘ghost general’, but that’s beyond our reach.”
Yin Blade nodded frequently as he listened.
The cultivators of thousands of years ago weren’t so sophisticated. With no detailed practice, they all clumped together like ingredients in a stew. After a cursory listen, the current classification seemed much more reasonable.
“Have you tested before?” he asked curiously.
“I’ve tested a long time ago, but not… formally. These days, only Shian can come up with such authentic stuff.” Blue Vest smiled wryly. “Why don’t we go by the results? I’ll try ghost master and my friend will try the spirit smith. Brother, you can test for the corpse servant first.”
Having said that, Blue Vest reluctantly walked to the tray where the pen was placed. Red Fedora took a few deep breaths and picked up the leather-rimmed scissors.
Yin Ren glanced at the broken bones that were covered with dead flies in front of him.
The bones exuded a strong aura of death, which should be the specialty of any large tomb. The dead flies were quite fresh. They were soaked in some kind of liquid and also had an ominous aura. If a person who was predestined touched them, they could probably move their position even more freely.
If Yin Ren wanted, he could even let them fly all over the room.
However, Blue Vest just said that there were few corpse servants. Rare things were precious, and he didn’t want to work like crazy, let alone become eye-catching… He had slept on a pile of bones for more than a thousand years and was almost completely pickled, so why bother.
Yin Ren picked up the pile of bones, then quickly retracted his hand, showing an almost serene expression. The tray remained silent, and the bones showed no signs of abnormality.
The other two were more successful.
When Blue Vest picked up the wooden pen with both hands, his complexion gradually became blue. A thick, translucent stream of evil qi slowly gushed out of his seven orifices. His expression was twisted, as if he were smiling but not, and his entire body clicked, as if something was fighting for the right to use his body.
Although his posture was ugly, he at least carried on. Yin Ren looked at him twice more and saw that Blue Vest was in good condition and there was no damage.
Red Fedora was much more tragic.
As soon as the red scissors touched her skin, the expression on her face disappeared.
The gray-white blade slashed across her skin, and red blood beads broke through the surface and dripped down her wrist, almost forming some sort of line. Red Fedora tilted her head as if her neck were broken. Her eyes were bulging, and her teeth were clenched.
Yin Ren recognized that kind of skin.
It was the soft skin peeled off a corpse worm. As long as it was stained with the flesh and blood of the corpse worm, it would contaminate the human skin. The constantly reborn skin would close the visible orifices and strangle the victim until he or she melted into a flesh-skinned dumpling.
Due to its characteristics, the skin of the corpse worm was extremely difficult to deal with. This piece of leather should have been cleaned up by a spirit smith, but it wasn’t something ordinary people could touch.
The more Red Fedora cut, the more she shook. Halfway through cutting, there was a choking whistle that sounded in her throat. Her hands were trembling so much that she could barely hold on the scissors.
Yin Ren looked at her intently.
Finally, Red Fedora struggled to finish cutting the piece of skin. Her face was covered in cold sweat, her eyelids were covered in flesh-like glue, and her hands were bloody from the tips of the scissors. Human blood was mixed with the corpse worm’s corrupted blood, making it look like she was wearing a pair of crimson gloves.
After she released the scissors, she almost fell flat on her ass.
“Let’s change. I’ll try the ghost master.” After panting for half a day, Red Fedora finally spoke in a hoarse voice.
Yin Ren: “You still want to test? Shouldn’t you take a break…”
Red Fedora smiled wearily. “You have to try all three. People may not be suitable for just one direction… Why? Are you sacred?”
“I’m not afraid, but is this really safe?” Yin Ren clasped his arms. “The test alone is so dangerous, so the work must be even more…”
“The test is conducted according to the most stringent standards,” Red Fedora whispered. “Being stringent is good. There’s a reason why Shian’s salary is notoriously high. The risk isn’t small… If you fool around casually and something happens in the future, it may hurt others.”
Yin Ren was silent for a moment before he let out a sigh. “Please give me your hand.”
Red Fedora puzzledly looked at him.
“I want to see if your injury is serious.”
“Are you a doctor?” Red Fedora spread out her hands obediently.
Yin Ren lowered his head. His long hair slid over his shoulders. He didn’t touch her hand but pretended to put his hands around Red Fedora’s hands.
According to what Blue Vest said, this girl had a talent for making spiritual weapons. Yin Ren didn’t know what Shian’s treatment level would be like. He only knew that if the corrupted blood of the corpse worm seeped deep into the flesh, it could cause a lingering disease to develop.
Making spiritual weapons was a delicate task, so a smith’s hands should not tremble.
Yin Ren held his breath and concentrated. He condensed a gentle breath-like magic in the palm of his hand. Most of the blood in the depths of the wound was sucked away by him, and the rest wasn’t enough to worry about.
“It’s nothing major,” he said. “Remember to deal with it as soon as possible. Don’t push yourself too hard.”
Red Fedora raised her hand and wiped the sweat from her face with her sleeve. At this time, Blue Vest seemed to have calmed down. The three of them took a step around the round table and exchanged positions.
After being put down by Red Fedora for a while, the corpse worm’s skin had already returned to its original state. The previous corrupted blood was still in place, exuding a burst of fishy smells.
Yin Ren picked up the scissors and cut at the skin…
But it didn’t cut.
The scissors that were incredibly sharp before, now seemed as if they didn’t even have a blade, let alone make a small slit.
This time, the three of them all failed. The broken pile of bones didn’t respond to Blue Vest, and as soon as Red Fedora’s fingertips touched the wooden pen, she stepped back several steps as if she had been electrocuted without even picking it up.
After two rounds, all three of them had only one occupation left untested. Compared with the guaranteed Blue Vest and Red Fedora, Yin Ren’s situation was particularly embarrassing.
Blue Vest hesitated for a bit, but still said a few words of comfort. “Don’t be discouraged. Since Shian let you, an outsider, take the exam, you must have some talents… Come on, try the ghost master.”
Yin Ren smiled at him. He walked around again and stopped in front of the tray containing the wooden pen.
At present, the most suitable occupation for him was ghost master.
The number of people in this profession was inconspicuous, so there was no need for him to work hard. It was enough to be patient with evil spirits—it was just asking an Evil Spirit whether they could handle evil spirits was about as absurd as asking the sea if it was afraid of rain.
Yin Ren stretched out his hand without hesitation and grabbed the wooden pen.
This wooden pen was older than him. It was most likely transformed from a fuji* wooden pen thousands of years ago. There were at least ten ghosts attached to it. The moment Yin Ren touched the pen, they began to pour evil qi in him one by one.
*Method of “planchette writing”, or “spirit writing”, that uses a suspended sieve or tray to guide a stick which writes Chinese characters in sand or incense ashes.
The evil qi entered his body and was extremely cold. If he were a normal person, he could only rely on his physical body to resist. Yin Ren closed his eyes. He didn’t absorb the foreign evil qi right away, but instead let it pass through his limbs and bones.
There were countless ghost hands pulling and scratching from all sides. The evil qi was increasing evenly, making his blood feel as if it were mixed with icicles, but his body felt no pain. It was similar to a pharmacist weighing medical herbs; the ghosts were adding little by little to find the balance of his “talent”.
Unfortunately, his body was basically condensed evil qi. Pain was still pain. Yin Ren wouldn’t be injured, and it was a pipe dream that his body would get possessed.
He even admired the ghosts in this pen a little—the ghosts in the wild were fierce and vicious and acted chaotically, while the ghosts in this pen were well-trained. He had reason to suspect that they were even orderly queuing up in the pen.
One, two, three…
Ignoring the torture-like pain, Yin Ren estimated the time and let go at a pace about the same as Blue Vest. He didn’t “fight to the limit” like Blue Vest, so his evaluation might be a bit higher, but not by too much.
Thanks to his two teammates, he successfully got away with it.
Seeing Yin Ren’s results, Blue Vest’s expression lightened a little. “Haha, look buddy. Like I said, you have talent!”
“This is the end of the test?”
“Yeah, the test is over.”
“Then who will come…” Yin Ren just wanted to ask who would fill out the form, when he saw the wooden pen take off in place.
The wooden pen was floating in the air and swished wildly around the three people’s examination report, almost puncturing the paper. As it moved, the monitors around the ceiling twisted, and a chugging mechanical sound rang out incessantly.
The wooden pen first filled in Blue Vest’s form: [Ghost Master: Good-; Spirit Smith: x; Corpse Servant: x]
Then came Red Fedora’s form: [Ghost Master: x; Spirit Smith: Good; Corpse Servant: x]
Last was Yin Ren’s: [Ghost Master: Good; Spirit Smith: x; Corpse Servant: x]
The strength judgments of the three of them were not far apart. Yin Ren was quite satisfied with the result.
“Get lost.” A slightly disgusted voice came from the wooden pen. “The first kid sweated so much. Disgusting!”
After the shrill voice finished, a series of vague “yes, yes, yes” came from the wooden pen.
Blue Vest: “……”
Blue Vest pretended as if nothing happened. “It’s almost over. There’s only the stress test left.”
Red Fedora nodded breathlessly, showing a look of relief. She wiped the blood from her hands carefully for fear of dirtying her report.
Yin Ren paused slightly with the hand holding the report. The black door stood quietly on the corner that was just opposite of the stress test room, emitting a strong aura that couldn’t be ignored. The deep blackness seemed to be a vortex that was constantly drawing his attention.
Can’t these two people see it?