Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
This time, they finally arrived on the 9th floor safely. Li Han’er’s group suitcases were still at the entrance to the stairs. The six of them found their own rooms. Dong Zhi laid down on the big bed lazily, not wanting to move.
However, he was the leader of the team and had things to do. After thinking about it, Dong Zhi picked up his phone and called Zhong Zhicun to tell him what had happened just now.
When Song Zhicun heard that they beat up people from the British and French teams, he didn’t reprimand him but instead said, “I’ll let someone deal with the appeal. You can just continue the meeting and don’t worry about it.”
“Boss Song, it was our impulsiveness that caused you trouble.” Dong Zhi didn’t think beating someone wasn’t that bad, but he still had to pretend to be good in front of their leader.
Song Zhicun laughed. “If they attack, you can only respond. I’ve been to the exchange conference before. I know what their faces are like right now without you telling me. This is a world that respects the strong. We have only participated in five sessions, so our foundations with them aren’t deep. They don’t understand our strength, which comes with some benefits, but they will also underestimate you. This requires you to give full play. However, because you’ve offended some people, you’ll definitely be targeted, so be careful.”
Dong Zhi smiled wryly. “If you have too many debts, you’ll stop worrying about it. We’ll focus on one thing at a time first.”
After hanging up, Dong Zhi slept for a while, then got up and took a shower. When he changed clothes, there was a knock at the door.
Outside the door stood William, the deputy head of the United States, whom they had just met.
William smiled and said, “I didn’t bother you, did I?”
Dong Zhi: “I’m just about to go eat.”
William: “Just in time. I haven’t eaten either. Shall we?”
Dong Zhi said, “Sorry, I need to be with my team members.”
William’s face was probably thicker than the walls of this hotel. When he heard Dong Zhi’s response, he still smiled and said, “Dong, don’t do this. What happened just now really has nothing to do with us. As the organizer, it’s impossible for us to use such childish methods to tease other teams. Otherwise, what kind of prestige will there be in the future? You can’t vent your anger on them at me!”
Dong Zhi curled his lips. “What’s the point of saying this now?”
William laughed. “Indeed, we can only move forward, but regarding this exchange competition, you must have learned more news in advance than the other countries. How about we exchange information? Our leader asked me to come over, hoping that we would have a chance to cooperate with each other.”
Dong Zhi glanced at him. “Then shall we eat together?”
William’s smile immediately brightened several folds. “Yes!”
Dong Zhi called Liu Qingbo and the others. He asked William to take everyone downstairs for dinner and give them a list of good restaurants nearby, then asked about the situation of the other teams—since the grunt came to deliver goods, it was best not to waste it.
He had to admit that it was good to have thick skin. It was difficult to smack someone with such a smiling face. After their meal, William gave them quite a bit of news, and everyone’s impression of him had reversed, so much so that they couldn’t put back on their cold faces.
As the organizer and deputy leader, William knew a lot of gossip.
For example, there were two powerful new members on the French team this year. One of them also assisted Group 51 in eliminating the plague demon. The other was said to have an aristocratic background. The family had been demon hunters for generations. They even had several archbishops in their lineage and had close ties to the Vatican.
Putting it in Chinese words: the French were feeling snarky this year, and they walked with wind*. They were the second group to arrive at the hotel. After that, they launched two pranks on the Russian and Nordic cultivators, picking on the soft persimmons. The French had heard about the mystery and horror of the dark arts masters of Southeast Asia, so they didn’t dare provoke them.
*Describing walking with gusto and giving off an elite, powerful vibe. || In this context, it’s basically saying the French, having two elites in their group this year, is quite arrogant and was putting on quite a bravado.
Dong Zhi found that the French leader didn’t instruct his members to prank them. It was George on their team who was pursuing Grace from the British team. Hearing that Grace hated the Chinese, he called a few friends and wanted to teach them a “lesson”. Who knew they would get beat up instead.
“That guy George lost too much blood, so he was sent to the hospital for treatment. Although his life can be saved, it’s estimated he won’t be able to participate in the competition!” William showed a bit of gloating. “But this matter is all their own initiative. Their leader, Galan, the person you met just now—he regretted it a bit. He asked me to tell you that both parties should go through the appeal channel so that the competition remains fair and competitive.”
Liu Qingbo sneered. “They started things, and now they want to cry to their parents after getting beat up? Nice try!”
William shrugged. “I’m just the messenger. It’s up to you whether you want to do this or not. However, those ghosts weren’t created out of thin air. There are more evil spirits on the third floor, which is why the entire floor is empty. They just happened to use it. Speaking of which, I have to thank you on behalf of the hotel for helping solve a big problem. It seems we can spend the next year in peace again.”
These were just trivial matters. Dong Zhi was more concerned about the competitive segment.
“William, how much do you know about the competition?”
“Not much, but maybe a little more than you. After all, we are the organizers, so it’s impossible to keep it completely confidential.”
William thought he was being cute as he gave a wink, but no one was buying it. Liu Qingbo waited impatiently for him to continue. It looked like he would be beaten if he didn’t elaborate, so William could only continue. “There will only be one winner in the competition, but the process has a variety of challenges. It will be difficult to complete with just one team. We hope to form an alliance with you guys. What do you think?”
Dong Zhi questioned, “Alliance?”
William smiled slyly. “It’ll be a limited alliance. In the process, if we need to cooperate, we can’t take action against each other until the difficulties are resolved. How about it?”
Dong Zhi: “Why us?”
William smiled and said, “Because your team has the most potential out of all the teams at the moment. The others are too weak. Though the group of dark arts masters is very powerful, they’re not good when it comes to fierce battles. It’s hard to imagine they can curse powerful monsters.”
Dong Zhi suddenly showed the same cunning smile. “So, you must know what the content of the competition is?”
William said, “I don’t know much. I only know that the venue will be on an island in the Atlantic Ocean.”
Dong Zhi: “We already know this. It can’t be considered a secret, nor can it be included in your agreement.”
William: “…Dong, you’re quite shrewd. You should be a businessman. What a waste to go into this profession.”
Flattery had no effect on Dong Zhi. “Continue.”
William: “Then the theme may be related to a golden apple.”
Dong Zhi: “What golden apple?”
William: “In Greek mythology, Gaia, the Goddess of the Earth, gave it to Zeus and Hera as a wedding gift. Later, Eris took the golden apple to instigate discord between Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love*.”
*Clarity: The mythology behind the golden apple is that Eris (the Goddess of Discord) inscribed “to the fairest/most beautiful” on the golden apple and tossed it during the feast of the gods at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis as a prize, thus sparking a vanity-fuel dispute among Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite that eventually led to the Trojan War.
Dong Zhi suddenly realized. “I remember a very famous story. You mean, the golden apple may be the last prop we’re looking for?”
William snapped his fingers. “Smart!”
Dong Zhi: “This information is useless to us. Props are originally what we are looking for. Even if you don’t say it, the organizing committee will announce it before the start of the competition.”
William: “Well, the Senluo Islands are composed of four uninhabited islands in the Atlantic Ocean. They are shrouded in fog year-round. There’s a research base from Group 51 there. It’s difficult for ordinary ships to enter, but it’s not a problem for us. Have you heard of Gullinkambi*?”
*From Norse mythology. It is a rooster who lives in Valhalla. Apparently, it is one of three roosters whose crowing is foretold to signify the beginning of Ragnarök.
He dipped his fingers in water and wrote it in English on one of the tables. Liu Qingbo and the others searched the internet and immediately found it.
This thing was a creature in Norse mythology. It was a big black rooster and was said that its cry meant the final battle was coming, so it was regarded as awakening the “twilight of the gods”.
William said, “Rumor has it that the person in charge of planning this year is a lover of Western mythology, so the competition process will incorporate many elements of Greek and Norse mythology, such as this ancient Gullinkambi and the harpies*.”
*A half-human and half-bird personification of storm winds.
Dong Zhi was shocked. “Where can they find so many ancient monsters?”
Even in China, it wasn’t easy to find a Wuzhiqi for a test. Not only that, a Wuzhiqi’s intelligence was equal to that of humans, so getting them to cooperate was also a different matter.
William shrugged. “As long as you find them, give them satisfactory conditions, make a deal with them, and then let them stay on that island for a while, you can reap the benefits. This is easy to understand, no? Just like your Chinese dragon, it’s a legend to ordinary people, but you know it must be real, right?”
Dong Zhi was speechless.
William said, “But the unpredictable factors are also there! Although the monsters have spiritual wisdom, they don’t cherish human life, so they don’t know how to do things in moderation. Once there’s a battle, your lives will easily be in danger. I bet the number of deaths this year will be higher than ever before. I suspect the organizing committee’s brains were kicked by donkeys. Why did it happen during our turn!”
He complained angrily. Seeing that Dong Zhi looked calm, he couldn’t help but suspect they didn’t know anything about the origin of these monsters.
“You have heard of a harpy before, right?”
Dong Zhi shook his phone. “I do. The internet is well developed now. Legends say that it’s afraid of the sound made from beating bronze. At that time, just have a few bronze objects on you.”
William: “Please. Legends are just legends. Who knows if that’s true or not! Well, what do you think about the alliance I mentioned?”
Dong Zhi said, “I’ll discuss it with my teammates first and give you a reply later.”
William: “Then answer me before you go to bed tonight.”
Dong Zhi was puzzled. “Do you need to be so anxious? Isn’t there still a few days left before the competition?”
William said, “You don’t understand. The signal on that island isn’t good. Basically, you can’t use your phone to contact others. If you agree, we will provide a special communication method at that time, only between our teams.”
Dong Zhi: “Okay then.”
After sending William away, Dong Zhi asked his teammates who had been silent.
“What do you think? Xiao Zhang, say something.”
Zhang Song: …… He had the urge to murder the captain of the team.
“The British and French are unreliable, and the Americans are not much better. In case they have an accident, we have to rush over to save them. When we have an accident, they will pretend they’re dead, and we can’t do anything about it!” Zhang Song answered in a deep voice.
Liu Qingbo liked to disagree with Zhang Song the most. When he heard this, he said, “But even if we agree, it won’t be a loss for us. The Americans must know more than we do, so there must be information that hasn’t been said. If we meet, we can cooperate with them all the way to the end and eliminate all the obstacles, then fight again to get the prop. Isn’t it better than being headless flies trying to break in?”
Dong Zhi set his sights on Li Han’er and the others.
Li Han’er thought for a while and said, “There’s some truth in what Daoist Liu said.”
Liu Qingbo became smug. “See, I’m right!”
Yang Shouyi and Liu Si then said, “We have no opinions and will leave it up to the captain to decide.”
In the end, Dong Zhi patted the table. He would first agree with William, and then wait for them to arrive on the island to see what happens.
Just as they were eating, other teams also came over.
The news of the French prank failing and getting beaten up had already spread. When most people passed by Dong Zhi’s table, they looked at them strangely. Many others took the initiative to come forward to greet them. The Russian girl, Anna, brought her friends, and the Nordic team that had been maliciously pranked also gave them a warm greeting.
Dong Zhi felt as if they were like rare animals on display at a zoo. They didn’t get to eat much as they were constantly patronized and greeted. They had to deal with the strange questions of these people from time to time. For example: Do Easterners know how to use magic? Are you the top group of spellcasters? Do all Eastern practitioners fly on dragons? and so on that made Dong Zhi and the others dumbfounded.
It could only be said that these people’s understanding of the East was quite shallow.
However, it seemed that they knew Dong Zhi’s group prestige well as the next few days when they stayed in the hotel, no one dared to provoke them.
But naturally, this didn’t apply to creatures other than humans.
Late at night was the time to “party” at the hotel.
Both Dong Zhi and Liu Qingbo chose rooms with balconies by the swimming pool. As a result, they heard laughter and splashing from it in the middle of the night. It was so noisy that Liu Qingbo ran to the balcony and shouted, “Shut up”. It did stop for a while, but just as he was about to lie down, the sound of laughter rang out again. The hotel had been chartered off by the organizers, and he didn’t see any figures around the pool. It was so late that there couldn’t possibly be anyone having a party there.
If this was an ordinary person, most likely they would have been scared to death and perhaps it would even leave a psychological shadow on the city of Los Angeles on them.
However, this time it was the turn of those unlucky unknown creatures.
The British, who were staying on the 7th floor, threw a few crosses down, which quieted the pool for half an hour before it resumed back to its old state.
The Japanese onmyouji, who stayed on the 4th floor, released several shikigamis, who ran all over the pool and fought against those unknown creatures. The results were even more noise, which attracted the dissatisfaction of all the guests, forcing the onmyoujis to retract their shikigamis.
Finally, the Americans who stayed on the 10th floor fired a few shots into the pool. After some screams, most of the night resumed its peacefulness.
Dong Zhi heard that their bullets were special. It had some exorcism materials added to it, but the formula was confidential. The Americans had never disclosed it to the public, but they had been at the forefront of the world in research on the combination of high-tech and spiritual magic.
Dong Zhi and Liu Qingbo had no intention of being in the limelight. Thanks to the Americans, they had a good night’s sleep. Early the next morning, Yang Shouyi, Li Han’er, and the others looked a bit weak. After asking, they found that they had spent the night feeling like they were inside an American blockbuster.
While the swimming pool stopped, other places didn’t.
When Yang Shouyi took a bath, he released a tank full of blood. He let the water drain without any change in his expression and decided to take a shower instead. When he was halfway through the shower, the water in the shower head started to turn into sticky blood. A woman appeared in the mirror with a hideous face and wanted to pounce on him. As a result, Yang Shouyi had put his sword by the sink. The murderous aura from the ancient sword suppressed the evil spirit in the mirror, so it didn’t make a move.
“After washing for half a day, I still feel the bloody smell on my body!” During breakfast, when everyone was talking about last night’s experience, Yang Shouyi couldn’t help but complain. He was a bit of a clean freak. Later, he had to light sandalwood in the room to suppress the smell of blood.
Dong Zhi asked, “Then how did you solve it later? Did you just kill her?”
Yang Shouyi: “No, she found she couldn’t do anything to me, so she changed from being fierce to sobbing. She told me a lot of things, like how she died tragically and wanted to find vengeance. You know my English isn’t good. After listening for a long time, I couldn’t understand, so I told her to go to the 7th floor to find the British. I told her they would understand her, so she happily left.”
Zhang Song spurted out a mouthful of coffee.
Liu Qingbo, who was sitting opposite him: ……
Although Zhang Song lowered his head in time, the coffee still splashed on the cup and plate in front of Liu Qingbo.
“Zhang Song, are you crazy?! How can people eat this!” Liu Qingbo said angrily.
“Calm down, calm down. The image of our country!” Dong Zhi suppressed his smile, but his shoulders kept shaking. It wasn’t because Zhang Song sprayed coffee, but rather because of what Yang Shouyi just said. “Lao Yang, you’re quite good. It seems those British people didn’t get a good night’s sleep. Liu Si, Daoist Li, did you guys encounter anything?”
Liu Si smiled and said, “Those things probably sensed that I’m not human, so they didn’t bother me.”
Li Han’er said lightly, “I seemed to have encountered a pervert who was peeping at me while I was taking a bath and changing clothes. I directly sent them to see their God with a talisman.”
Zhang Song yawned. He didn’t get much sleep last night. The main reason was because there was a ping-pong noise coming from upstairs. He didn’t know if the Americans were fighting evil spirits or if the evil spirits were having a party.
While they were chatting, a group of people came up to them. Grace, the familiar red-haired woman, was part of the group.
They looked at Dong Zhi. The British all looked tired, with dark circles under their eyes. Dong Zhi’s group didn’t have to think about it. They knew that the British had encountered much more noise and trouble last night than them.
Just as Grace and the others passed by, Liu Qingbo suddenly sneered. “Some people didn’t sleep well last night. Don’t worry, they will definitely sleep worse in the next few days!”
Grace stopped suddenly. Her hand suddenly grabbed the back of Liu Qingbo’s neck. She moved so fast that almost no one could see clearly. Only Dong Zhi, who was closest, saw that her nails were long, like a sharp blade. Because of the speed, the air around it ignited traces of white smoke.
However, since Liu Qingbo dared to curse, naturally he was prepared. He dodged to the side abruptly, casually pulled off the tablecloth, and shook his wrist. All the cups and plates on the table were lifted up and dumped towards Grace!
Dong Zhi’s sunlight talisman and Li Han’er’s talisman shot almost at the same time. The two talisman fires pounced on Grace head-on. While she kept attacking Liu Qingbo, she stretched out her hand to wave away the two talisman fires. Who knew that there was something hidden in the talisman fire? The moment she touched it, it exploded with a bang. Grace screamed in pain as the cups and plates immediately smashed into her face, causing her to fall to the floor.
Grace’s companions were about to take action when they saw this, but the man who looked like their captain of their group acted.
In the restaurant, the other teams came around.
The Russians were the first to speak up. “We all saw it. That British woman moved first!”
“Yes, that British woman!”
Dong Zhi jumped ahead and said, “Did you hear that? It was your companion who attacked mine first. If he hadn’t reacted quickly, he would have been injured just now! First the incident from yesterday, and now this? Are you guys trying to finish us off early to win the competition? Sorry, you might lose a couple of your team members to achieve your goal!”
The captain of the other party’s face turned blue for a while. Yesterday there were a few witnesses, and most of them were French. They still had room to clear suspicion. Today, they did it in full view of the public. In any case, their actions couldn’t be justified. He knew Grace despised the Chinese because of her sister’s death, but he also warned her not to act on personal matters; he didn’t expect that she couldn’t restrain herself.
Hearing her captain say this, Grace still had a cold face. “I won’t! I wish I could send all these yellow-skinned pigs to hell! They shouldn’t exist on this earth!”
Liu Qingbo sneered. “How terrible. Not only is she a racist, but she also wants to commit genocide!”
The captain of the British team took a deep breath and asked his companions to forcibly pull Grace away. He then said to Dong Zhi’s group, “Sorry. Our teammate is too impulsive and can’t control her emotions. We will reconsider letting her continue to participate in the competition!”
Liu Qingbo sneered. “You must let her continue. Otherwise, we won’t have a chance to teach her another lesson!”
The other party was obviously much calmer and smarter than Grace. He still apologized politely, expressed his willingness to compensate for all the losses caused in the restaurant, and asked people to bring injury medication to Dong Zhi. In fact, no one was injured on Dong Zhi’s side, while Grace was burned by two talismans just now. Her arm was still bleeding when she was pulled away.
Seeing as there was no more excitement to watch, the people around dispersed one after another. Dong Zhi couldn’t continue to be aggressive. Otherwise, public opinion on them would reverse.
“After all, this is a personal vendetta. We understand it, but we also hope that this kind of personal behavior ends with her. This is an exchange conference to foster friendship, so there should be fair competition in the arena, don’t you think?” Dong Zhi said.
The other party smiled and took the initiative to extend his hand. “Of course. We’re determined to stop Grace’s behavior. My name is White. It’s nice to meet you.”
Dong Zhi shook hands with him. “I’m Dong. This is twice now that Grace has crossed with us. I hope you understand that there won’t be a third time. My companion has a bad temper. Grace might die next time. As captain of your team, I don’t think you want this to happen.”
“You’re right. Leave it to me to solve the matter with Grace. I hope this will not affect the friendship between our two countries or teams.” White was cultured. He didn’t get angry when he heard this kind of provocation. It could be seen that he was quite shrewd.
Dong Zhi smiled at him. “Of course!”
Onlookers expressed disappointment that the opening scene of guns and fires ended peacefully. Many of them wished that the two sides would fight and directly eliminate each other from the competition so there would be fewer competitors.
Everyone had just eaten half their breakfast, so they had to change tables after the mess. Liu Qingbo said in a bad tone, “Captain, who did you say has a bad temper?”
Isn’t it you? Dong Zhi thought to himself but said, “Naturally, it’s me!”
Young Master Liu couldn’t respond to such an answer.
Looking at the hot quiche and milk that were remade and served, Dong Zhi smiled and said, “I can finally have a healthy meal!”
The author has something to say:
A small theater that has nothing to do with the text:
The complaints of the Evil Spirits of the hotel.
Evil Spirit A: Yesterday, I met a group of people who came to stay at the hotel. Oh, I have never seen anything so terrifying. My buddy just peeked at an Eastern woman taking a bath and he was beaten and sent directly to hell!
Evil Spirit B: Who asked you to provoke the Easterners? They don’t understand English, so I went to play with the British last night, hehehe.
For all you interested in Greek mythology. What sparked the Trojan War was the golden apple. As the three goddesses fought for the golden apple, Zeus delegated it to Paris to judge who among the three was the fairest/most beautiful. Each goddess tried to bribe Paris by giving him a gift in exchange for awarding it to them. Hera offered to make him king of Europe and Asia Minor, Athena offered him wisdom and skill in battle, and Aphrodite offered the love of the most beautiful woman, Helen of Sparta, who was already married to King Menelaus.
Paris chose Aphrodite, a decision that sparked the Trojan War and eventually led to the destruction of Troy and Paris.
Man, this makes me want to reread the Iliad again.
Given that the golden apple often represents discord, there’s a lot of symbolism here if this is truly the prop the teams are fighting for.It seems to me like they’re staying at the hotel in The Shining.
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