Author: 年终 / Nian Zhong
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 91: Aging
The interior of the mine was dry, and there weren’t many weeds growing. The entrance to the mine was relatively spacious. Sunlight would trickle down from above, illuminating the wooden beams embedded in the cave. The gray wooden beams were covered with a layer of brilliant gold, and the lights and shadows mixed perfectly, lined with fine golden dust at the entrance and exit.
Ignoring the fountain of evil qi coming from the depths of the mine, the scenery at the entrance of the cave had a bit of sacredness.
Xiang Jiang, having the feelings of a thousand-year-old monster, didn’t seem to think so. He made a gesture and signaled the group to enter the cave quickly and get to work.
In the mine, there were still aging wires and lighting that hung on the walls of the cave. The wires had long since dried up and were peeling, and their red and blue colors had turned into muddy brown and gray. However, apart from the cave, neither the clean cave wall nor the flat gravel layer under their feet showed the traces of the years.
As long as the old lights on both sides were replaced, Yin Ren believed that someone would be coming down here to work tomorrow.
Qi Xin was wearing a simple, dark gray office suit. She stood at the entrance of the mine, out of place with the surrounding scenery. The woman spoke little, except when necessary. The cold wind blowing out of the cave stirred her hair. Yin Ren couldn’t detect the slightest breath of a cultivator from her. Whether she was partial to a science post or a metaphysical post, it was impossible to judge based on how much she believed.
They had arrived at their destination. Qi Xin watched as everyone in Unit 9 took out a mess of spirit weapons and started busying themselves without asking a word.
She just stood silently, like a robot who had come to show them the way.
Compared with this office worker, Huang Jin seemed even more worried. “Since we know that there are high-risk evil things that will rise, why do we need to collect data? Aren’t the B-level groups available?”
“So we should just let B-level groups handle things when it’s a little dangerous? What do you want to do? Check on trivial things every day in the city? I remember your information. You weren’t such a pain in the ass when you started working.”
As Xiang Jiang spoke, he bent down and inserted two pieces of wood into a hole.
Using a piece of wood as the center, he started nailing the wood chips one by one. The small nubs of the wooden nails were thick and dull in color. They exuded a strong fishy smell, and fine runes could vaguely be seen on them.
Huang Jin looked at the circle of top-notch wooden nails on the ground and didn’t know how to respond—brother, you just inserted a large-scale anti-evil spirit suppression barrier at the entrance of the cave, yet you don’t want us to ask more questions?
The spirit-suppression nail was an excellent spirit weapon for dealing with large evil spirits. The raw materials used came from coffins that were more than hundreds of years old. Occasionally, a few Nightwalkers would stumble upon a nail, which would fetch a price of over six figures for them.
Shian sure did have deep pockets, as just one array required dozens of pieces.
As for the piece of wood in the center of the formation, Huang Jin didn’t recognize it. He could only see that it was an ancient prop, which meant it was probably quite expensive.
The balance of his bank card flashed through his mind, causing Huang Jin’s heart to ache. He decided to think in a different direction, such as concentrating and looking at Xiang Jiang himself.
Unfortunately, Xiang Jiang’s thoughts were hard to read—”hard” in the literal sense.
This person’s mind was like a sea urchin. It had sharp thorns erected in all directions. Xiang Jiang’s mental state didn’t seem very good. The text all over his body seemed to be twisted and deformed as if it were liquidated, making it difficult for Huang Jin to read.
Soon, Xiang Jiang finished nailing all the spirit-suppression nails. There was now a hole with a piece of wood in the center and six circles made of wooden nails around it. They were close to each other, looking a bit like teeth that were ready to choose someone to eat.
The spirit-suppression nails formed an array. The cold pressure overwhelmed the evil qi at the entrance of the cave, which made people feel quite safe. Of course, it would have been better if the six of them weren’t at the entrance of the cave in the first place.
At this point, Huang Jin gave up on the idea of questioning work. He accepted his fate and continued to ask, “What evil things are there? Is there any information?”
“Let’s review the preliminaries.” Seeing that Xiang Jiang was about to stare daggers at him, he quickly amended.
After setting up the spirit-suppression array, Xiang Jiang leaned against the rock wall to rest. The sunlight shot in slanting from the cave, and he happened to be standing in the shadows. The tip of his shoe just stepped on the dividing line between light and shadow.
Perhaps Huang Jin’s search for compensation worked. Xiang Jiang retracted his gaze and looked down at the ground, which was full of gravel and sand. His messy bangs hung down, a little dirty, just enough to cover his eyes.
“I briefly investigated, and at present I can only determine the quantity and danger,” Xiang Jiang said. “Sunken Society is secretly raising evil beings here. This isn’t some kind of zoo. The situation in the mines is complicated. Do you think Shian can just visit by buying a ticket?”
“The type of evil creatures, their abilities, their specific location… None of those have been determined. You need to go step by step and collect clues bit by bit to gradually determine their habits and characteristics.”
Yin Ren didn’t stop his movements while arranging his spirit weapon.
Xiang Jiang was absolutely lying. Even if the specific type of evil things wasn’t determined, Shian at least would know their general abilities and location. Otherwise, if they couldn’t find any evil things and instead found a mass of evil spirits with no combat abilities, it would surely be an embarrassing situation for Shian.
Now that someone had arranged their journey, he just needed to lie down. The task was fully automatically guided. Who wouldn’t like a task where they didn’t need to use their brain at all?
Zhong Chengshuo’s attention was completely captured. He looked at Xiang Jiang without blinking, listened very solemnly, and froze into a humanoid sculpture on the spot.
“It’s actually similar to methods used to investigate new species.”
Seeing that Xiang Jiang hadn’t continued after a long period of time, Lu Xiaohe picked up the conversation.
“You should be studying a new kind of evil spirit—find more clues and judge its habits. The more data we have, the more we will know about it. In this way, even if you encounter it, you’ll be prepared.”
“Then I think it’s better not to meet,” Huang Jin muttered.
Ge Tingting nodded halfway but felt something was wrong and firmly blocked her neck.
Normally, Lu Xiaohe would probably say something like, “Oh, just scoff it off. I’m sure you’ll be fine” to lighten the mood, but this time, she just laughed dryly and continued.
“Don’t be impatient with the data collection. Everyone should be cautious! It’s not easy for a drone to enter the mines. I’ll try my best to provide you with intelligence support. Even when you encounter uncertain clues, you can report them to me at any time.”
“There’s no need to put too much pressure on yourself. Today is just mapping out the layout of the base. Let’s consolidate the road near the exit first. With Ms. Qi here, we don’t need to go deeper for the time being.”
Zhong Chengshuo instantly showed an expression on his face as if he had been splashed by cold rain. Then he reacted slowly, and under the premise of “worrying about his lover”, he breathed a sigh of relief.
Like a person who had never danced in his life and wanted to move his limbs in harmony with the music, as a result, Zhong Chengshuo’s “thinking limbs” almost stumbled and fell to the ground.
Yin Ren almost wickedly laughed out loud, but he managed to hold back.
His lover looked more vivid and clumsier than ever.
In the end, Yin Ren couldn’t hold back the itching in his hands. He pressed his hand on the back of Zhong Chengshuo’s head and rubbed it soothingly.
It was warm, and the black hair was smooth and soft. Zhong Chengshuo’s hair was slightly long and the ends of his hair were softly attached to the back of his neck. They seemed to have devoured the sun and were glowing as dark as a crow’s feather.
Yin Ren subconsciously thought how they would look if they were white, and his original comfortable mood disappeared.
He didn’t know why he thought of this out of nowhere. Was it because there were too many old people here?
Yin Ren rubbed his temples and adjusted his breathing for a while. Well, these things can be pushed off until later. First, it was imperative to get through this level.
Around two in the afternoon, the base was set up.
The waterproof blanket and sleeping bags were properly arranged, and a lightweight alloy kettle was placed next to the water condensation spirit weapon. Xiang Jiang had set up a stove on the spot and boiled some water. He poured out six bowls of instant seaweed egg drop soup. The pancakes were greasy after it cooled down. The crispy shell became soggy, and its flakiness was now soft. It wasn’t as amazing as when it was freshly fried, but with the hot soup, it gave it a special taste.
“Why does Gengsheng Town hate outsiders so much?”
Zhong Chengshuo glanced at the pancake in Yin Ren’s hand as he asked Qi Xin.
Qi Xin looked up at him. Her eyes were blank like a piece of paper with no emotional color. “I don’t want to talk about things other than work.”
Yin Ren: “…..”
These two were really like a white knife going in and coming out red*. Their questions and answers were too direct.
*(白刀子进，红刀子出) Idiom referring to killing people to see blood, to fight desperately. || Basically, Yin Ren is saying they have such similar personalities that they are clashing.
“I have an element of curiosity, but this is related to our investigation.” Zhong Chengshuo was unphased. “Raising special creatures also depends on the environment. The more special the creatures are, the more demanding the environment—understanding the characteristics of the environment will allow us to know more about the characteristics of the creature itself.”
No matter how emotionally dull Zhong Chengshuo was, even he could see the abnormality of Gengsheng Town.
The hatred of the locals towards outsiders had reached the point of distortion. To say that this was purely spontaneous behavior, no ghost would believe it.
And his ghost also provided information. There were a hundred times more evil things in this place than in the outside world, so there must be a reason why Sunken Society would choose to keep high-risk evil beings here.
Not far away, Yin Ren went along and struck while the iron was hot. “Qi Jie, something is wrong with this mountain town. That’s why we’re here. There are some things that only local people know, so please tell us more about it.”
Qi Xin sat on the mat in an orderly manner. She took a sip of the soup and thought for a while.
“All right,” she said.
Now, it wasn’t just the few people that were present; even Lu Xiaohe held her breath.
“When I was young, Gengsheng Town didn’t have such an atmosphere.” Qi Xin put down her soup and wiped her mouth with a napkin. “I heard from my mother in those early years, Gengsheng people were actually very hospitable.”
“This was a mountain village at first. Later, the mines were discovered. The village chief at the time had a good head and took the opportunity to develop the town. The next mayor was even more powerful, turning it into a well-known, rich town in one fell swoop. In those decades, everyone’s life seemed to be going up.”
All these things were actually mentioned in the work materials.
More than 20 years ago, this place was affected by a certain natural disaster, and nearly a hundred people died. There was also a problem with the mineral-rich mountains, so the production of rare minerals declined.
Gengsheng Town only had a single industry. With the collapse of the mineral-related industry, most people lost their jobs. The investors shook their heads, collaborators turned around, and the labor force that came here gradually left, leaving only a gorgeous mess. Not to mention outsiders, even the local children showed signs of fleeing.
“I saw him set up the magnificent pavilion, seeing him entertain them there.*” The mountain village grew into a mountain town, and the mountain town became a prosperous and famous town.
*This is an excerpt from The Peach Blossom Fan by Kong Shangren. The full quote is [I saw him… seeing him entertain them there and watched the pavilion collapse]. This is an allusion to the vicissitudes of the ever-changing world. With the passage of time, prosperity and wealth, and the emotion and feeling of fame and fortune, are just fleeting.
Then it rapidly “aged”.
The people weren’t ready for it, whether it was waving goodbye to the glory and wealth of the past or sending loved ones away who never wanted to return.
Then, people started to come—only it wasn’t for investment or tourism, but to talk about “the merger of neighboring mountain towns” and “the transformation and reconstruction of the town”.
The town was aging, and they had come to bury it.
“If we don’t mention her background, Ren Jiying is a typical ‘outsider’. In fact, she’s very capable. If she wasn’t stuck here, she could climb much higher.”
Qi Xin commented lightly.
“Ren Jiying originally planned to dismantle the loop line and re-plan to vacate the area—such as creating a more reasonable layout and building a few roads leading to the proverbial towns.”
“But the townspeople didn’t allow her and threatened that she would be courting death if she touched it. The number of elderly people over 70 years old here is several times that of other places. They all would lay on the ground collectively, and there’s nothing the police can do about it when they come.”
Ge Tingting was a little dumbfounded. “I can understand people in Gengsheng Town don’t like outsiders, but the current level of malice…”
“I don’t know any more. I also left halfway for more than ten years before coming back. If you want to know more, you can only ask the local elderly.”
The corner of Qi Xin’s mouth twitched.
Yin Ren knew what she wanted to laugh at—the old people in town couldn’t wait to rush over and try to scam them from a distance of 800 meters, so it was impossible they would tell them what happened back then.
However, he was indeed very interested in the “natural disaster” that caused the town to change more than 20 years ago.
Moreover, there was a sense of familiarity in the town that kept lingering, like a piece of dirt stuck to his phone screen and was always attracting his attention from time to time.
“I’m going to the bathroom.” After Qi Xin finished talking about the town’s history, she stood up and wanted to go deeper into the mine.”
Xiang Jiang: “Go outside.”
“I saw it just now. There’s a single room dug inside. It’s too bright and open outside.” Qi Xin didn’t stop walking.
“Ge Tingting, Yin Ren, Zhong Chengshuo, you three go with her. Huang Jin and I will stay here.” Xiang Jiang didn’t continue to argue with her. “Go quick and come back. Don’t wander around.”
The single room wasn’t far away—no more than a distance of ten steps. It was estimated that the space that was accidentally discovered had been transformed into a restroom or storage room. After they placed lighting in the cave, it was quite conspicuous.
Under the light, the low doorway became deeper. Qi Xin was quite courageous.
Qi Xin was going to the bathroom, followed by a group of people, showing the grandeur of an emperor visiting his harem. In the thick shadows, her shoes still stepped on the ground rhythmically, without any disorder.
She and Ge Tingting entered the private room, while Yin Ren and Zhong Chengshuo stood guard outside the doorway, turning into a toilet door guard.
The harsh reality was telling Yin Ren that the Ghost King couldn’t be the “god” of scammers, but instead the god of doors. He had just taken up his post with honor for three seconds…
The large area of light at the entrance of the cave shrank into a point in an instant.
The originally straight road suddenly turned into sheep intestines, and the walls were wriggling, as if they had just been swallowed by something.
Yin Ren’s face sank.
Qi Xin was still nearby. No matter how outrageous Shian’s execution mission was, it wouldn’t involve innocent people.
…This was definitely not Shian who was attacking them.
<<< || Table of Contents || >>>