Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
The intelligence of the third-level zombies had evolved to a certain level. They discovered that Dong Zhi and the others were wearing bells that would ring as long as they were close to a certain range, so they stalked Dong Zhi’s team just outside the safe range of the bell.
Night was the time when people’s vigilance was at its lowest, and it was also the best time for the zombies to launch an attack. Therefore, when Dong Zhi was talking to Yoshida just now, he didn’t dare relax his vigilance. Sure enough, when he turned his head inadvertently, he vaguely saw a pair of eyes in the darkness. It flashed in the light of the fire. Although it was only a second or two, it was enough for Dong Zhi to confirm their identity.
Dong Zhi didn’t want to alarm it. Otherwise, they would be more vigilant next time and would be harder to catch, but if he summoned his teammates to gather, the zombies wouldn’t easily appear and would only wait until they were alone to attack.
Their opponents didn’t need to eat or drink, so they certainly could outlast them. Instead of fighting passively, it was better to take the initiative to attack.
He whispered to Yoshida, “Don’t move. I’ll pretend to go to the bathroom and lead it away while you wake up the others.”
Yoshida was so nervous that she didn’t dare move and only exhaled from her nose, making a barely audible sound.
Dong Zhi got up and walked in the direction where the zombie was lurking.
He left the bonfire and walked a certain distance. When he suddenly heard rustling noises behind him, he subconsciously turned around and swung his sword. A black shadow rushed towards him in an instant but disappeared without a trace. The Changshou Sword swept across, slicing only air. Dong Zhi couldn’t help being taken aback.
Another dark shadow swept from behind. Dong Zhi felt a trace of coolness on his neck, causing goosebumps to appear. He stabbed his sword with his backhand but still pierced only air.
He seemed to be fighting with air. His opponent seemed to be an invisible person who couldn’t be seen or touched, instead of a hungry zombie made of flesh.
Could it be a third-level zombie that can turn invisible?
It shouldn’t be, because his bell didn’t ring twice.
With a thought in his heart, he suddenly turned his head and ran towards the fire!
The bonfire was still burning. The flames had merged violently with the wood, making crackling sounds from time to time.
However, his partners Liu Qingbo, Liu Si, Zhang Song, and the others, as well as Yoshida Noriko, all fell to the ground in disarray. Blood snaked out from under them and slowly flowed to his feet.
Dong Zhi was in disbelief. “Lao Liu! Liu Si!”
He paused, then turned to Liu Qingbo.
At this moment, danger was quietly approaching from behind him.
Ever since he came to the exchange meeting and saw Dong Zhi, Eguchi wanted to kill Dong Zhi.
He may not have been the most powerful disciple under Fujikawa Aoi, but he was the most loyal and fanatical; he even changed his original name and adopted a female name just to imitate his teacher.
When Fujikawa Aoi was exchanged back to Japan, although he survived, he was also seriously injured. Eguchi knew well that with his own abilities, even if he were to replicate ten more of himself, he wouldn’t be able to kill Long Shen and the other high-level officials of the Special Administration Bureau. But the conference was different. The teams participating were all newcomers who hadn’t had time to become famous. Even if he could kill one or two, it could be regarded as avenging his master.
So he found Watanabe and took the initiative to sign up. Watanabe was still worried about the small number of people, but seeing a disciple of Fujikawa Aoi take the initiative to volunteer, naturally he was overjoyed and added him. It wasn’t until the group came to the United States and met the other teams that Eguchi found out that Long Shen’s apprentice, Dong Zhi, was also participating in the conference.
In this way, it was more in line with Eguchi’s original intention. He directly narrowed the target from all the Chinese participants to one person. Coincidentally, the two sides drew lots and landed on the same island. This simply provided Eguchi with the right time and place to commit his crime.
Eguchi knew that it wouldn’t work if he took the direct approach, and Watanabe would stop him, so it was much more convenient if he found the chance to attack alone.
On the ship coming to the island, he originally wanted to do it, but Dong Zhi kept hiding in his room and wouldn’t come out. The only time he got his chance was when the other party finished eating and went back to his room alone. In the narrow passage, Eguchi could hardly restrain the urge to push the other party into the sea, but someone stopped him.
The other party claimed to have a deep hatred against Dong Zhi as well and gave him something, saying this thing was enough for Eguchi to protect himself on the island, and told him that Dong Zhi couldn’t be killed on the ship. He would have more opportunities to kill Dong Zhi and even all the Chinese without anyone noticing when they landed on the island.
Eguchi was suspicious, but the thing the Russian gave him did allow him to survive in the forest where the zombies were wandering. He took advantage of the zombies leaving him alone and found the Chinese and followed them.
He saw Yoshida Noriko, his teammate, hanging out with the Chinese without even blinking, talking and laughing without the slightest shame. Eguchi gritted his teeth and secretly vowed that when he cleaned up the Chinese, he would deal with her as well.
But along the way, Dong Zhi’s team was always alert. Not only did they rarely act alone, but even waves of zombies weren’t a match for them. Eguchi finally used the zombies to draw his opponent out and lure him directly into an enchantment. The illusion made him unable to extricate himself, and he would take the opportunity to attack.
At this time, his opponent was kneeling on the ground while shouting the names of his companions, while Eguchi held a short blade in his hand and approached silently. The sharp blade was a stone’s throw away from his opponent’s back. He was about to stab into the body of his hated enemy and put him to death. Eguchi unknowingly raised a bloodthirsty smile in the darkness.
He wanted to kill this bastard and avenge his teacher!
But at this moment, Dong Zhi suddenly turned around and looked straight at Eguchi!
Eguchi was taken aback.
He was moving so fast that it was too late to stop his momentum, so he could only continue forward and crash into Dong Zhi. His opponent didn’t dodge; his wrist moved slightly, and a sharp sword light flashed out in front of Eguchi.
The oncoming qi was so fierce that it shocked Eguchi. Instead of his knife stabbing his opponent, he felt a severe pain in his shoulder. Eguchi missed his attempt and quickly tilted to the side, but Dong Zhi had already predicted his actions. The sword light came and went in several directions, blocking all of Eguchi’s retreat routes.
Eguchi turned around and ran without saying a word. He took out a piece of white paper from his pocket, clamped it between his fingers, and threw it back.
The fluttering piece of paper became a samurai holding a katana when it landed. The samurai shouted and raised his katana, then rushed towards Dong Zhi.
“You worked so hard to draw me out and even set an enchantment to trap me. Is that all you got?” Dong Zhi laughed as he raised his sword to parry the samurai’s attack.
Although the samurai was fierce, the number of ways he could attack was limited. Dong Zhi had quickly figured out his movements. This shikigami was much inferior to the ones he encountered before. Let alone Fujikawa Aoi, Eguchi wasn’t even as good as Fujikawa’s first disciple, Kitachi Eiko.
“Are you Fujikawa’s worst student? I have never seen such a bad onmyoji like you. It’s better for you to change your career and become a fitness instructor. It’s fine to teach ordinary people your three-legged cat kung fu*!”
*Metaphor for people who have little knowledge and skills and aren’t very proficient.
While fighting with the samurai shikigami, Dong Zhi even had time to taunt Eguchi.
Though Eguchi didn’t speak Chinese, he could understand a little. He cursed back in Japanese, but Dong Zhi simply made an expression as if he didn’t understand what he was saying, which only made Eguchi even more infuriated.
He couldn’t help but pull out what the Russian gave him from his pocket.
A small box the size of a palm.
With this box on him, Eguchi was safe even if he was alone in the forest. Those zombies would retreat and turn a blind eye to him. He wanted to open it several times to see what was inside, but every time he pressed his fingers on the lock of the box, the words of the Russian name Anton would echo in his ears.
The other party said, “When you’re closest to your enemy, open it.”
Eguchi’s hand pressed on the box. He was short of breath. Seeing that his shikigami was cut in half by Dong Zhi and its figure turned back into a fluttering piece of paper, Eguchi no longer hesitated. He turned the box toward Dong Zhi and unlocked it.
The box was originally light, and the weight didn’t change after it was opened. Eguchi’s eyes widened. No imaginary hideous giant popped out of the box to kill his enemy, let alone a strange beast or monster; there was nothing.
However, Dong Zhi saw it. A cloud of seemingly endless blackness floated out of the box and immediately moved back. The sword light swept away, and the black cloud rebounded into Eguchi’s hand that was holding the box and quickly disappeared.
Eguchi’s expression changed, and he cursed loudly.
But Dong Zhi didn’t give him a chance to escape or fight back. With a shake of the Changshou Sword, the light of the sword turned into a sky full of stars, shaking off the starry rain one by one as it swept towards the enemy.
In this ten thousandth of a second, even if Eguchi suddenly grew wings to escape, it was probably too late.
But instead of running away, the other party gave a sinister grin and rushed towards Dong Zhi.
The moment the Changshou Sword pierced Eguchi’s body, a cloud of black mist rose all over him, and even his face became distorted. In a trance, it seemed like it was another face that inexplicably felt familiar and terrifying.
The Changshou Sword, which hadn’t even pierced halfway through, suddenly encountered an obstacle and could no longer move forward.
Eguchi grabbed the sword’s blade with one hand, not caring that his hand was dripping with blood, and his other hand grabbed Dong Zhi, moving swiftly and violently.
Dong Zhi gritted his teeth. He suddenly abandoned the Changshou Sword, quickly took a few steps back, and took out a sunlight talisman from his pocket.
As he recited the mantra, talisman fire hit Eguchi’s hand but was grabbed and crushed in the center of his palm.
Dong Zhi didn’t hesitate. He took out three talismans, one after another, and threw them.
The three talisman fires flew away in three directions: upper, middle, and lower. When Eguchi stretched out his hand to block, Dong Zhi stepped forward and tried to pull out the Changshou Sword, but Eguchi caught him by the chest. His down jacket was immediately scratched. The opponent’s strength was so great that it was like five iron whips sweeping across Dong Zhi’s chest, almost breaking his sternum.
Even so, Dong Zhi staggered a few times, hitting the tree trunk next to him. A searing pain rose from his chest. He didn’t need to look down to know that his skin was broken and he was bleeding, perhaps even bruised.
The opponent suddenly became extremely powerful, as if he had gone through a rebirth. Dong Zhi never believed that this was Eguchi’s true ability, because he wouldn’t have attacked if he knew his opponent would be so powerful.
All the changes came from the box just now.
A thought flashed in his mind, and a terrible conjecture appeared.
“…Mara?” Dong Zhi couldn’t help but ask tentatively.
Eguchi smiled at him.
If such a smile from a handsome man like Mara was still creepy, then Eguchi’s smile was even more terrifying.
The black qi around the other party became more intense, almost merging with the darkness. He didn’t speak, and slowly walked towards Dong Zhi, as if he was quickly gathering strength to control Eguchi’s body so he could put Dong Zhi to death.
“Your body is much better than his, so it suits me better.” Eguchi paused with every word, using English, but the tone of the pause was exactly the same as Mara’s that day.
As soon as these words were spoken, Dong Zhi was sure that the other party was the ray of demonic qi that escaped that day.
At that time, Mara was only the phantom of the heavenly demon, so he could be pressed and beaten by Dong Zhi. Now, Mara couldn’t even be called a doppelganger, but was just a ray of demonic qi that the phantom was unwilling to let perish. It hid in the dark while replenishing its energy and wanted to make waves again. Still, Dong Zhi didn’t think he wouldn’t be able to beat it again.
“Then it depends on whether you have the ability to take it!” Dong Zhi laughed loudly. The Changshou Sword twisted into sword light that filled the sky, covering Eguchi’s entire body, including the black qi around him.
But Eguchi didn’t look at the dazzling sword light. He just stretched out his hand flatly, accurately grabbed the Changshou Sword from among the thousands of sword lights, and twisted his backhand.
The Changshou Sword twisted into a ball of great power, but it never cracked or broke. On the contrary, it glowed slightly in the dark, just like its owner. The more it suffered, the more it refused to succumb.
The enemy’s power was continuously transmitted through the Changshou Sword. If Dong Zhi hadn’t gritted his teeth and persisted in resisting with the Bu Tian Gang qi, he might have been eroded by the demon qi on his opponent’s body by now.
After the battle in Xianda Village, Dong Zhi also had a little understanding of the heavenly demon, who had an ultimate appearance that could charm the world, and thus he would also love all beauty, including those who looked good and were well-proportioned. When he was in Xianda, Mara thought about possessing his body as a host. Unexpectedly, despite just being a ray of demonic qi, Mara’s nature of liking beautiful appearances remained unchanged. Compared to Eguchi’s mediocrity, it was natural that Dong Zhi was more attractive to the demon.
Seeing Dong Zhi retreat step by step, Eguchi advanced slowly until Dong Zhi reached the tree trunk behind him. There was nowhere to retreat as the black qi kept getting closer. Even the Changshou Sword was mostly submerged in black qi. He raised his hand slowly and reached out to Dong Zhi’s forehead.
The black qi on his fingers lingered and churned endlessly. It would sometimes suddenly be like an evil dragon that chooses people to eat, or suddenly a raging black flame, quietly coming from the unpredictable depths of the abyss, with boundless darkness, eager to engulf its prey, turning the entire world into another hell.
“You weak mortal. Why bother to struggle in vain?” Eguchi said with a sinister smile. “Give me your body and memory completely, and I will put you above all mortals and let you stand at the pinnacle of this world!”
“You’ve already been annihilated. What kind of peak are you still delusional about? Go back to hell!” Dong Zhi gritted his teeth. His hand that had been clenched into a fist suddenly loosened, and a cloud of talisman fire flew from his hand and quickly rushed to the top of his head. At this time, there was a loud noise in the sky, and dazzling light pierced through the heavy fog, illuminating most of the forest.
At that moment, the entire island of Diana shook.
The sporadic living things wandering in the dark forest trembled under the power of heaven. The towering trees on the verge of death shook their remnant branches and leaves, and the unknown dark shadows hiding under the trees fled in a hurry. Even the ignorant zombies involuntarily wailed from the depths of their throats, knelt down on their knees, and curled into a ball, as if performing some kind of mysterious ritual.
The enchantment laid by Eguchi was completely shattered by heavenly lightning. Reality was connected again, and the illusions were destroyed.
Cut off outside the barrier, Liu Qingbo and the others, who had just fought a fierce battle with the zombies, finally saw Dong Zhi’s figure.
“Dong Zhi!” Liu Qingbo didn’t realize his voice had become high-pitched.
Just after Dong Zhi left, before Yoshida woke up the others, the zombies suddenly appeared and pounced on her, whom they determined was the weakest among them. Like all hunters at the top of the food chain, when they felt threatened, they would become impatient. They couldn’t wait to drag away their prey and go to a safe place to slowly enjoy it. Zombies had lost their human intelligence and only had an instinct for flesh and blood, so naturally this was no exception.
But at this time, Liu Qingbo and the others were already awake, and everyone launched a siege against the zombies.
Originally, even if the third-level zombies were powerful, it would be more than enough for a few people to deal with one. However, something happened, and it seemed that all the zombies in the forest were suddenly drawn over. Three third-level zombies and four second-level zombies appeared all at once. The pressure on everyone doubled in an instant, and a fierce battle for life and death commenced.
When all the zombies were wiped out, everyone discovered that Dong Zhi wasn’t there. After he told Yoshida to warn the others, he vanished without a trace.
It stood to reason that it was absolutely impossible for him to wander too far away. There was so much movement here that he should have returned a long time ago. But everyone searched the surrounding area and couldn’t find him. It was as if Dong Zhi had evaporated from the world without leaving any traces.
No one thought he would leave the team and run away. Everyone faintly felt that he might have encountered a bigger crisis.
Inevitably, everyone expected that Dong Zhi had suffered an accident.
As soon as she thought of this possibility, Li Han’er found a trace of panic in her heart.
This kind of emotion hadn’t appeared in her for a long time. She grew up in a famous sect since she was a child. She was talented and not much inferior to her brother, Li Ying. After joining the Special Administration Bureau, she had also experienced many things, and her qualifications were much deeper than those of Dong Zhi and Liu Qingbo. This time, Dong Zhi was appointed captain of their group. At first, she understood that the higher-ups wanted to train newcomers, but she didn’t think he was qualified to be the captain of the team.
But along the way, unknowingly, Dong Zhi had become the cornerstone of stability in everyone’s hearts. In this boundless, dark forest, with her companions by her side, Li Han’er wasn’t afraid but felt more revolted. However, with Dong Zhi, this kind of negative emotion seemed to drop to its lowest point, and everyone was able to maintain a relaxed pace.
Li Han’er knew that Yoshida envied their harmonious atmosphere, and she knew that most of this originated from Dong Zhi. His existence maintained a delicate balance between everyone. Without him, this balance would be broken. With the tempers of Liu Qingbo and Zhang Song, those two would definitely fight; and neither Yang Shouyi, Liu Si, nor herself had the ability or the heart to subdue the two of them. The result could only be that the entire team would be torn apart, and their trip would come to a premature end.
When the enchantment was broken and everyone saw Dong Zhi again, Li Han’er couldn’t describe her mood at the time. Liu Qingbo’s excited cry appropriately expressed everyone’s mood, including hers.
At that moment, her heart almost jumped out of her chest, and she had to take a few deep breaths to calm down.
Everyone rushed over.
The sky was struck by thunder, and lightning covered Eguchi. Dong Zhi pushed the Changshou Sword forward with force while the Bu Tian Gang qi entangled the front of the sword. The subtle vibration could almost be ignored amidst the thunder, but the light on the sword was growing brighter and finally merged with the heavenly lightning.
A roar broke out of Eguchi’s mouth, but under the rolling thunder, the roar eventually turned into a wail as the black qi completely turned into dust, like stars. The aftermath of the thunder dissipated the night, and it was no longer as gloomy and terrifying as before.
At the same time as the black qi dissipated, Eguchi’s body shook slightly and then softened. Dong Zhi kicked him away, and the other party staggered back, bleeding from all seven orifices as he died, ending his short life.
Liu Qingbo and the others rushed over. “Are you okay!”
Dong Zhi had overextended himself just now and didn’t have the strength to speak at this moment, so he just shook his head.
Zhang Song and Yang Shouyi searched around and quickly found the box where Eguchi had released the demonic qi.
“What happened just now? We encountered a large wave of zombies. Was it all caused by this guy?”
Dong Zhi took the water handed over by Li Han’er and took a sip, finally recovering a little.
“It should be that Eguchi didn’t know there was demonic qi in there. It was hidden in this box. He originally wanted to use the demonic qi to deal with me. Who knew that Mara had picked a soft persimmon and attached itself to him, but I cleaned it up.”
Yoshida walked over and looked at the empty box carefully. After a while, she shook her head and said, “This isn’t an onmyoji prop or something that came from a shrine.”
Li Han’er: “The pattern on it is complicated. It looks European.”
Dong Zhi said, “If someone gave it to him, it means that the demonic qi hasn’t been completely wiped out yet. The heavenly demon is inherently volatile and can divide itself into many clones. Perhaps the person who gave it to him was on his team.”
Everyone looked at each other, and finally their eyes fell on Yoshida.
Yoshida couldn’t help but take two steps back and hurriedly say, “It’s not me. I’m normal!”
Li Han’er also said, “It’s not Yoshida. The bell is sensitive to all abnormal monsters and zombies. If it doesn’t ring, it means she’s not.”
Dong Zhi said, “Everyone stayed in the hotel for several days at that time and then came here together. It’s entirely possible for Eguchi to come into contact with anyone. The scope is too large.”
After killing the zombies, Liu Qingbo’s face didn’t look much better. He told Dong Zhi, “When we killed those zombies, we found that one of the third-level zombies showed some strength in addition to hiding its body. It seems it has undergone an evolution in strength and can also use tools.”
Dong Zhi’s face became solemn. “Use tools?”
Liu Qingbo nodded. “It had a samurai sword in its hand and was using it to attack us with it. The sword should have been left by Watanabe or another person.”
Although zombies were humans during their lifetime, after they died, the soul belonging to their humanity disappeared, and they would become a kind of low-level creature that only lived on flesh and blood. Zombies with initial intelligence appeared in the zombie simulation before, but after all, that was a simulation, and this was now real life.
The biggest difference between humans and animals was that people used tools.
If a zombie appeared in the world that not only had powerful attack power but also had an intelligence that wasn’t inferior to humans and it started eyeing the human world, what consequences would this cause?
Even if this was far from the real world, it was still a chilling thought.
Liu Si said, “The Americans are really desperate to develop such a monster. Don’t they think the world isn’t chaotic enough?”
Dong Zhi: “Humans always think they can control everything.”
Being at the top of the food chain, humans had a sense of superiority over all other beings. This sense of superiority motivated them to continue to explore, but it was also a double-edged sword.
“We should have killed all the monsters here. When we meet the Americans, we must question them carefully. Don’t let this kind of creature continue to proliferate. Who knows how they will evolve!” Liu Qingbo said.
Dong Zhi nodded.
Liu Si stretched out his hand to help him up. Dong Zhi stood up and patted the dust off his body.
“Is everyone okay?”
Everyone was more or less injured. If it were another team, they would probably be worried about the risk of contracting corpse poison. However, Mount Maoshan and Mount Longhu had been professionals at catching zombies since ancient times. The medicine Li Han’er and Zhang Song carried with them was enough to solve these hidden dangers, not to mention the various medicines the Special Administration Bureau gave to Dong Zhi.
At that moment, he distributed a Shangqing pill to everyone.
“Come, it’ll treat disease if you’re sick and strengthen your body if you’re not. Anyway, you have to pay it back when we return, so don’t waste it. Since you have it, just eat it!”
The author has something to say:
A small theater that has nothing to do with the text:
After returning from the competition, Song Zhicun brought everyone together.
Song Zhicun: Please describe the performance of your team leader during the competition.
Liu Qingbo: Did his duty and brought a lot of things…
Liu Si: Yes, was dutiful and brought many things.
Zhang Song: Yes, brought many things that I didn’t bring.
Song Zhicun: Is there anything else?
Zhang Song: He gave us all a Shangqing pill issued by the bureau so that we would have the opportunity to make up for it. We didn’t waste any of it.
Song Zhicun: (Roaring with heartache) Each of those pills is more than 100,000! Dong Zhi, you brat*!
*Bear boy (熊孩子) Slang describing someone who is young and ignorant, like a naughty child.
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