Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Long Shen stopped.
He didn’t hear the conversation between Otowa and Fujikawa. The reason he stopped was because he found himself in a mirrored space. With every step he took, he would enter a new mirrored space. These spaces were covered one by one and were endless. He would eventually be trapped in the deepest part of the space and could no longer break free of the enchantment.
“Li Ying, where are you?” he asked.
“I’m here!” Each of Li Ying’s mirror images replied, with countless identical voices stacked on each other, just like many people speaking at the same time.
Each Li Ying wasn’t far from Long Shen, but Long Shen could never reach them. The distance between the space didn’t look far to the naked eye, but in actuality it was infinitely far away, just like the stars seen by people on earth seemed to be the same distance as the sun and moon, but in fact they were hundreds of millions of light years away.
“Where’s Ding Lan?” Long Shen asked.
He had already asked this question before and now he asked it again.
“Ding Ge is dead!”
Countless voices sounded again. Long Shen quickly turned around. His sharp gaze swept across dozens and hundreds of “Li Ying”, as if to observe their expressions and discern authenticity from them.
On the other side of the mirror, Otowa seemed to see through his intentions and couldn’t help smiling.
“Director Long, do you think you’re a god? Can you really tell the difference between so many Li Ying? What if they’re all fake?”
“Then I’ll kill,” Long Shen replied coldly. The sword light in his hand suddenly brightened as it divided into several directions and flew towards each mirror image. Its target was directly at all the Li Yings!
Wherever the sword light went, the mirror images would shatter one after another. Fragments fell all around him. After it fragmented, everything seemed to return to reality, but Li Ying disappeared and was replaced by Wu Bingtian.
The other party was struggling forward in a sea of blood and skeletons. He was using a whip to knock away the surging monsters, but those monsters would resurrect once they fell into the sea of blood. They seemed to be unkillable. Wu Bingtian’s face was pale, and there were already many wounds on his body. His neck had been scratched by monsters, and blood was slowly oozing out.
Though Wu Bingtian aimed for higher prestige, it didn’t mean he only knew how to flatter others. All officials below the Director of the Special Administration Bureau earned their positions through real skills and experience. If Wu Bingtian only knew how to suck up to his superiors all day long, even if he had the status of a master of Mount Maoshen, he wouldn’t be able to gain the support of others. His ability was demonstrated by his appointment as a deputy director alongside Long Shen and Song Zhicun.
As for how strong he was, newcomers like Dong Zhi may not know much, but Long Shen once explored the remains of a shipwreck under the Yangtze River with him. At that time, Wu Bingtian was able to hold his breath and stay underwater for nearly an hour without any diving equipment and even defeat a water demon. But now, this strong Wu Bingtian was trapped in a sea of blood. His hands and feet were entangled with demonic qi, showing a desperate situation where he had almost exhausted all his strength and was unable to move. He was facing a life-threatening crisis before his eyes as countless demonic qi rushed towards him.
When he turned his head and saw Long Shen, he couldn’t help being overjoyed and urgently cried out, “Help me, Long Shen!”
Long Shen stared at him.
Seeing that he wasn’t moving, Wu Bingtian became shocked and angry. “Long Shen, help me!”
Long Shen finally moved. The sword of light shot out from his hand and straight into Wu Bingtian.
Wu Bingtian watched in shock as the sword light got closer and closer, until it finally overwhelmed him with its light.
The light covered the sea of blood, causing the demonic qi to wail as it disappeared. Even Wu Bingtian vanished as well into the white light.
Otowa said in surprise, “Director Long, I didn’t think your heart would be so cruel that you could kill your own companions. Sure enough, you don’t have such cumbersome and useless feelings like ordinary people, right?”
Long Shen didn’t answer. He stood quietly, waiting for the white light to spread out and swallow up the sea of blood.
Otowa didn’t care if he answered or not and continued to ask, “Director Long, I also have a spirit weapon, which was transformed from the Gold and Silver Pingwen Zither. However, he actually fell in love with the enemy and, in the end, didn’t hesitate to destroy himself. Shouldn’t all artifacts be as cold-blooded and ruthless as you?”
On the edge of the burning white light, the sea of blood disappeared little by little, and then another scene beneath it was revealed.
An isolated island surrounded by the sea.
The trees were all tall and gloomy, and the bottoms of them were covered with moss.
Someone came flying from a distance. The figure was blurry and small, but Long Shen recognized it at a glance. It was Dong Zhi.
Dong Zhi was running fast. It was obvious something was chasing him from behind.
He was holding his Changshou Sword, and his face was stained with blood. Perhaps he had just escaped from a fierce battle.
“Master!” When the other party saw Long Shen from a distance, after a moment of surprise, he ran towards him.
There was a familiar light in the delicate eyes. Even if he didn’t look at them, Long Shen could still picture those eyes smiling in his mind; they were curved and the eyebrows were softened.
Long Shen liked seeing those smiling eyes, as if they could illuminate the world and be carefree.
However, it didn’t mean he was heartless or blindly optimistic. Dong Zhi just treated life with an optimistic attitude, including the people and events in his life. He was like a small sun. Although he was consciously ordinary, he always radiated warmth.
Warming others, warming Long Shen.
At the moment Long Shen blinked, Dong Zhi let out a scream.
A huge figure descended from the sky, pressing Dong Zhi to the ground.
It was a monster with eagle wings and claws. It had the body and face of a woman. Its long hair covered half of its face, but it was as wild and rough as withered grass. The long claws of the monsters pierced into Dong Zhi’s shoulders. Blood splashed out suddenly, and even a few drops splashed on Long Shen’s face, leaving a sweet and warm feeling on his skin.
As Dong Zhi fell to the ground in exhaustion, he dropped the Changshou Sword. He raised his slender neck sadly, not understanding why his master, who was nearby, didn’t help and just kept watching him being eaten alive by a monster.
Long Shen looked into Dong Zhi’s shocked eyes, and the expression in his previous memory had changed to disbelief at this moment. The other party even stretched out his wounded hand, as if he wanted to grab onto his clothes.
Long Shen felt a tug in his heart. Before he realized it, his hand had already stretched out.
But at this moment, a sudden change occurred, and all the sorrow in Dong Zhi’s eyes suddenly turned into a weird smile. The other party took advantage of the situation and grabbed Long Shen’s hand and dragged it in his direction!
Long Shen wanted to break free, but he couldn’t. The surrounding scenery changed again!
Otowa laughed. “It turns out that Director Long’s weakness is his apprentice!”
Following his voice, a white mist surged from an unknown place. Black monsters moved with the mist, shuttling around it as they whistled and howled endlessly.
Long Shen’s fingers moved slightly. His entire body was suddenly covered by sword light, isolating all the demonic qi. However, the demonic qi surged and quickly gathered, suppressing the sword light. The sword light was suffocating, struggling in a difficult battle with the demonic qi; the two sides were in a deadlock.
Fujikawa couldn’t help but say, “Lord Otowa, do you need me to take this opportunity to take him out?”
Otowa said lightly, “The demonic qi can’t harm him for the time being.”
Fujikawa was surprised.
From his viewpoint, Long Shen had broken through the mirror trap just now and immediately got caught in another one. Now that he had lost his opportunity, it would be difficult for Long Shen to win.
But just as Otowa’s voice fell, the sword light around Long Shen suddenly exploded!
The extreme light was dazzling, and even the reflection from the mirror was blinding. Fujikawa subconsciously tilted his head and raised his hand to cover his eyes.
“Huh?” Even Otowa couldn’t help uttering a meaningless cry, seemingly confused.
Long Shen’s voice came from the mirror.
“So you’re here.”
His tone was slow, as if he was pausing after every word. The volume of his voice wasn’t loud, but Otowa’s face changed slightly.
Fujikawa turned his head and saw the mirror was slowly cracking.
“Lord Otowa!” He couldn’t help shouting.
With a crack, the mirror completely shattered!
Otowa was originally sitting cross-legged, but he straightened his body, showing an unusual loss of composure.
“He found our location!” Fujikawa looked pale. He didn’t expect this ancient mirror to be vulnerable.
“No, he didn’t.”
Otowa calmed down, but his face was still a little gloomy. “He’s using spiritual speech.”
Fujikawa was startled.
The art of spiritual speech, as the name suggested, was a technique that attached to syllables and the attack is achieved through language.
This kind of technique had been shown in many works in Japan, but in fact, there were few people who could be proficient in it. It was rumored that this was something taught by the Great Amaterasu. Until now, as far as Fujikawa was aware, almost no one in Japan could master it. Even if they dabbled slightly, they could only use a few syllables at most.
But Long Shen’s spiritual speech skills had reached the state of “beyond practice*”.
*(言出必践) It’s an idiom referring to “words must be followed by actions” or “promises must be kept”. It’s often used to describe someone who always follows through on their words. || In this context, it has a double meaning. First, referring to that Long Shen has practiced spiritual speech to the point of mastery, and second, in the literal sense that his words are used as an attack.
The most important thing was that the mirror was broken, and they didn’t have a way to detect Long Shen’s movements.
Seeing Otowa’s gloomy expression, Fujikawa took a deep breath. He thought about this in his heart, but he didn’t dare say it.
On Wu Bingtian’s side, he wasn’t as miserable as the illusion Long Shen saw in the mirror, but his situation couldn’t be considered all that great either.
He was trapped in an enchantment of a sea of blood and skeletons, fighting against many monsters. His dragon bone whip was wrapped around the neck of a monster. With a tug and twist, the monster wailed and scattered, but immediately, more demons swept in from all directions, like an endless tide. Looking around, all he could see was blood red, an ocean of dead bones and blood, and countless demonic qi that covered the sky and turned dark clouds into blood clouds.
No matter how powerful Wu Bingtian was, in the end, he was just one person. There would come a point where he would be exhausted. Now that Otowa had turned into a demon, his demonic qi would naturally flow continuously and inexhaustibly. Unless Wu Bingtian could find the key to breaking the enchantment, he could be trapped here forever and be exhausted to death.
While his hand was holding the whip and his steps were still steady, on careful observation, his breathing was slightly faster than before.
There were two ancient mirrors in front of Otowa. Although Long Shen’s side was broken, there was still Wu Bingtian’s side.
As soon as Wu Bingtian’s breath changed, Otowa immediately looked over.
“It seems that Director Wu is still slightly inferior to Director Long.”
His voice overlapped and spread into the enchantment where Wu Bingtian was.
The words were like edicts, instantly turning into demonic voices and causing countless waves of demonic qi to surge. The sneaky Yaksha and skeleton soldiers transformed by the demonic qi rose from the sea of blood and attacked Wu Bingtian like an army. One wave fell and another surged up. Wu Bingtian stood alone in the same spot, unable to move. If any of the demonic qi got to him, it would corrupt his sanity and cause him to fall into defeat.
Hearing Otowa’s words, Wu Bingtian sneered. “If you have the ability, come and try it!”
Naturally, Otowa wouldn’t fall for such provocation. He was just happy to watch Wu Bingtian, trapped like a beast, struggling to deal with those monsters that couldn’t be killed. Compared to the calm on Long Shen’s side, it was much more interesting watching Wu Bingtian’s side.
Fujikawa Aoi whispered, “Your Excellency, there’s another person among the first group of people who came that hasn’t been found.”
Otowa said lightly, “Don’t worry about him. At most, he’s just hiding somewhere. When Long Shen and Wu Bingtian are about to die, he’ll naturally jump out to help and we’ll clean them all up at the same time.”
Fujikawa Aoi responded respectfully, lowering his head slightly, “Then Kitaichi…”
Otowa glanced at him. “Are you sure you want to restore your female disciple?”
Fujikawa lowered his body and prostrated. “Kitaichi was raised by me since she was a child. She’s no different from my daughter. She’s talented and intelligent. If she can be properly trained, she will definitely be the number one onmyoji in Japan in the future. I hate that she has been injured by the Chinese and is now bedridden. Please, for the sake of my loyal service to you, save her life!”
Otowa: “There’s only one way for me to save her, and that is to infuse her with demonic qi, turning her into a half-demon.”
Fujikawa trembled slightly and was silent for a long time. Still, resolute with his original intention, he said, “As long as she can wake up and regain her sanity, I will not hesitate.”
Otowa suddenly showed a weird smile, but the smile was fleeting. Fujikawa had his head lowered and didn’t notice it.
“Okay then, take this box to her. As long as she absorbs the magic qi inside, those old wounds will soon heal.”
Fujikawa was overjoyed. “Thank you, Your Excellency. I can’t thank you enough!”
With Otowa’s permission, he couldn’t wait to get up and leave. He walked out on crutches, passed through the corridor, came to an inconspicuous hut, and pushed the door in.
Kitaichi Eiko, the talented girl who made a stunning appearance on Changbai Mountain but was eventually seriously injured when she returned, was lying quietly inside. She seemed to be asleep, and her life was uncertain.
Since returning to Japan, Kitaichi, who had been severely injured, had been coughing up blood from time to time. Even her two shikigamis failed and dissipated. Not to mention her abilities as an onmyoji, she had difficulties just getting up and walking. Fujikawa tried his best but was helpless. Later, he went to Yinchuan to destroy the stone tablet in order to ask Otowa to save Kitaichi, but he didn’t expect that even he would almost die there in the end.
He wanted to save this disciple with all his heart, not only because of the bond between a father and daughter, but also because Kitaichi was the best of all his disciples. If there was no accident, Kitaichi would inherit his legacy and carry it on. This meant that his legacy would not decline and the name Fujikawa would be passed down forever.
Fujikawa knew very well that he himself was already the lingering sun after autumn*. His other disciples had fought against the Special Administration Bureau, and they were either dead or injured. Their talents and abilities weren’t as good as Kitaichi’s, so the only hope for his legacy lay solely with this female disciple.
*(秋后残阳) Metaphor referring to the end of something. || In this context, it means he knows his peak is almost over and someone else has to take over.
After getting the box from Otowa, Fujikawa was excited. He carried it in his arms all the way to Kitaichi.
He pushed the boy serving the decoction away and carefully took out the box. He put the box under Kitaichi’s nose according to Otowa’s instructions and then opened it.
Black air diffused out of the box, soon following Kitaichi’s breathing and jumping into her nasal cavity.
Otowa was now a demon. Fujikawa witnessed such power with his own eyes. Even Long Shen, who he couldn’t beat before, was trapped in an enchantment, unable to move an inch. If Kitaichi became a real demon, her strength was bound to become stronger than before, and the status of the Fujikawa school would continue to be stable as a rock.
Fujikawa stared at Kitaichi nervously, feeling a hint of anticipation.
When all the magic qi was absorbed by the girl, the black qi slowly flowed through her entire body along the veins on the surface of her skin. Her once fair complexion turned greenish-black at a visible speed, and the black qi slowly flowed under her skin, being absorbed by her body. Her skin gradually regained its fair complexion and was even whiter than before.
Her eyelashes trembled slightly, and the girl finally opened her eyes.
“Eiko!” Fujikawa couldn’t help but cry out. He looked at his proud disciple expectantly. “How do you feel?”
The girl looked dazed and struggled to get up from the couch.
Fujikawa: “It’s me. Are you uncomfortable? Do you feel the strength in your body has further increased?”
Kitaichi looked down at her palms. It was soft and white, with delicate fingers. Everything seemed to be the same as before she fell ill, but it also seemed to change a lot.
Her body no longer felt sore and weak, her internal organs and limbs no longer ached, and there was a surging power in her body. These forces were all gathered in one place, all of which were sending her a message.
Fujikawa was taken aback.
“I’ll let someone make you something to eat. You can take a good rest.”
After all, he was a little softhearted. He didn’t treat the girl in front of him as harshly as he did his other disciples. He raised his hand and tucked back the scattered bangs on the girl’s head behind her ears and was about to call for someone.
But when he suddenly turned around, he felt a pain in his back.
The severe pain came from his back, as if his flesh, bone, and blood had been cut open, and then the pain pierced his heart.
Fujikawa lowered his head.
There was a dent in his chest, and a hand pierced through his back, pulling out his heart. Blood gushed from his back, staining his entire back red as it flowed to the ground, seeping into the tatami.
Then there was a chewing sound behind him. Fujikawa turned his head slowly.
Kitaichi Eiko took another bite and ate the hot heart with relish. The heart that was still beating seemed to be a delicacy in her mouth. There was a look of contentment on her beautiful face. She didn’t bother to look up at Fujikawa, as if she was afraid he would steal her food from her, and continued to eat the heart until it was completely devoured.
She even stuck out her tongue and licked away the blood on her hands, little by little, even digging it into her nails. The pink tongue and the white fingertips formed an almost erotic ambiguity, but the room was deadly silent, and no one could appreciate such a scene.
“Master, your heart is delicious.”
Kitaichi finally licked her fingers clean. She raised her head and showed a bright and satisfied smile to Fujikawa.
With a thud, Fujikawa fell to the ground with eyes wide open, still filled with unbelievable shock and fear.
Kitaichi stretched out her fingers and dipped them in a bit of blood that was still flowing from her master’s wound. She put it in her mouth, puckered her lips, and seemed to feel that the taste wasn’t as good as before, so she didn’t go back for more. She slowly stood up. Her figure was delicate and weak, as if she were a little girl who had been bedridden for a long time, looking harmless and gentle. She looked around in confusion. After a while, she leaned against the wall and walked out, step by step.
Fujikawa laid on the ground and remained still, never moving again.
A few minutes later, one of the walls twisted and shook, and a person appeared in the room.
A young man walked towards Fujikawa, squatted down, and looked at him for a moment, then shook his head and said with a sigh, “Being killed by your most beloved disciple like this is considered karma.”
“I think this retribution is quite cheap for him.”
“Who!” Suddenly hearing a second voice, Yu Buhui instinctively looked towards the source of the sound, and a sword appeared in his hand.
“You haven’t seen me in a while that you can’t even recognize the voice of an old acquaintance?”
Another person “walked” out of another wall. It was Tang Jing who had followed Wu Bingtian and Long Shen.
After Tang Jing separated from Director Long and Wu in Tokyo, he went to Kyoto for a few days before coming to Atsuta Shrine to apply for a job.
The shrine recruited part-time mikos every year to help sell goods and attract customers during the tourist season. Tang Jing’s female attire and fluent Japanese were naturally quickly approved, but this kind of part-time status was limited, and generally he wouldn’t be able to enter forbidden areas of the shrine. Tang Jing used his identity to confuse a priest and asked him to reserve a place for him to help bring in offerings—the shrine would send people in regularly to bring in some melons and fruits every once in a while.
According to rumors, every time the mikos who were assigned to do this job would occasionally leave without returning. It was said that they were favored by the master here and were recruited to stay so they could train to reach a higher level, but there was also another rumor that this mysterious person liked to eat people’s hearts. Most likely, those mikos who have gone and never returned probably met misfortune.
Tang Jing knew that the latter rumor was the truth, but this didn’t prevent him from pretending to yearn for mystery and adore power, so he took the initiative to recommend himself to the priest. The other party might have known some inside information, as he hinted to Tang Jing not to be stupid, but Tang Jing acted perfectly like a high school girl and insisted on coming in and delivering the offerings. The priest had no choice but to agree.
So, while everyone else snuck in secretly, only Tang Jing came in openly.
After he came in, he didn’t dare go to the core area rashly. He first investigated the surrounding layout and ended up bumping into Yu Buhui.
Seeing him, Yu Buhui said in surprise, “You’re here too?”
Tang Jing nodded. “There’s also Boss Long and Boss Wu.”
Yu Buhui: “Ding Lan is dead.”
Tang Jing: “We expected it. His soul lamp was extinguished. Where’s Li Ying?”
Yu Buhui: “He should still be alive, but I don’t know where he is. The three of us also came in separately. The two of them joined up. Ding Lan blocked a fatal blow with his body to save Li Ying. If I had shown up, there would be only another body count.”
Tang Jing sighed. “You made a wise choice.”
Yu Buhui was silent for a moment. “But I have always regretted it. If I had come out at that time, I still had a certain chance to save them, but now I have completely lost that chance.”
Tang Jing patted him on the shoulder. “No, aren’t we here?”
Yu Buhui: “Otowa is an immortal who has already turned into a demon. He also has Kusanagi no Tsurugi to protect him, which makes things even more difficult to deal with.”
Tang Jing: “Even if we all die together, it doesn’t matter. Since we’re already here, what’s there to fear!”
Yu Buhui: “I heard your little lover is also here.”
Tang Jing smiled bitterly. “Maybe when we meet, the first person he wants to kill is me.”
Yu Buhui: “What are the arrangements from Boss Long?”
After Li Ying was captured, Yu Buhui had been lurking here.
This was the safest place outside the core enchantment and was still within Otowa’s territory. It was difficult for him to save people and kill Otowa alone. If he tried to save Li Ying and couldn’t kill Otowa, it would make Otowa more vigilant, which would make things more difficult if they were to infiltrate again, so he could only choose to wait and hope the Special Administration Bureau would send more people over.
“There are no arrangements. I’ll see how things go after I get in,” Tang Jing said while shrugging.
Yu Buhui was speechless. How can you be so casual?
However, he also knew that the situation here was complicated. Before he and Ding Lan came in, they didn’t have a careful plan, but when they entered, all their plans wouldn’t have worked anyway. Indeed, they could only act in accordance with what unfolded.
“Are you still chasing that little girl?” he asked.
Tang Jing chuckled. “When she went out just now, I’d already placed a tracking spell on her. It was given to me by Lao Wu. If it’s not authentic, I’ll demand compensation tenfold, and if it’s faulty, I’ll demand triple the compensation! After all, it’s from Yuanming Palace in Qingcheng Mountain.”
As soon as he finished speaking, his expression changed slightly.
“There are fluctuations in the enchantment. She seems to be moving. Let’s go and take a look!”
Under Yoshida’s farewell, Dong Zhi and the others took a speedboat to Full Moon Island.
This was an island that looked like a full moon from the sky; thus, it was named as such. Despite its romantic name, it didn’t reflect the dangers on the island. After their experience on Diana Island, everyone was cautious about the new island and never thought it would be easier or safer than before.
After they officially set foot on Full Moon Island, they were stunned by the scene in front of them.
Yellow sand, desert, endless.
It was hard to imagine that there would be such an island that was surrounded by the sea.
Compared with the wet and cold of Diana Island, although it was equally cold here, it was obviously much drier. The topography and climate were also different from Diana Island. The only thing in common was that the entire island was also covered in white mist, which made it difficult to tell whether it was day or night.
What appeared in front of them was a fortress made of loess in the distance.
Li Han’er snorted. “Why is the terrain and environment here completely different from Diana Island? Is it because of the mist?”
Dong Zhi said, “I guess this should be a man-made island.”
“Who would create this earthen city?” Zhang Song looked around.
It was truly appropriate to call the fortress an earthen city based on how it looked.
From a distance, those khaki-yellow buildings were short and flat, but they were like an unfinished earthen city piled up with only walls and no buildings.
“Americans, Norse, Africans,” Liu Si replied.
Liu Qingbo looked back at the seaside; beside their own speedboat, there was another one tied there.
“One of these three teams should have also landed here.”
They were on Zombie Island—ah, rather—Diana Island a few days ago, while the other teams were on different islands. They weren’t sure if whichever team was on this island had gained any valuable information. “It would be great if we could meet a team. At least we’ll know if they got anything from this island.”
If not, they could just turn around and go to the next island immediately.
“Didn’t the Americans give you a cellphone?” Liu Qingbo looked at Dong Zhi.
“Let me ask.”
Coincidentally, as soon as Dong Zhi picked up the phone, he heard the sound of a speedboat engine disturbing the waves from a distance on the other side of the foggy sea.
Everyone turned their heads, and after a while, a speedboat passed through the fog and entered their view.
There was a person standing at the front. Seeing Dong Zhi, his eyes lit up, and he waved vigorously. “Dong! Dong!”
Dong Zhi: “…Am I hallucinating?”
Liu Qingbo pursed his lips. “You’re not seeing things. It’s really the Americans.”
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