Author: 梦溪石 / Meng Xi Shi
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Li Ying was still confused, but Long Shen knew very well how this Yamata no Orochi appeared.
To be precise, it was a fusion of onmyoji techniques with a shikigami using demonic energy.
It was easy to imagine that someone like Otowa Yasuhiko, with his abnormal traits already evident when he was still a normal human, would only intensify those anti-human and antisocial tendencies after fully transforming into a demon. It was beyond the comprehension of ordinary people. He tirelessly sought to open the abyssal passage to turn the world into purgatory. For Otowa Yasuhiko, who had already become a creature of darkness, he undoubtedly desires the complete arrival of darkness. He not only wanted to rule the world but also wanted to fully connect different dimensions, using abundant demonic energy to enhance his own power and surpass all living beings. Ultimately, it was the consequence of infinitely amplified desires.
Therefore, it wasn’t surprising that Otowa Yasuhiko longed for ancient monsters and decided to create a new Yamata no Orochi based on the original one.
Long Shen had never seen the legendary Yamata no Orochi, but in his eyes, the power of this monster was incredibly strong, perhaps even stronger than the bone dragon on Changbai Mountain that day.
It must have been nurtured carefully by Otowa.
A sword light pierced through one of the snake heads, causing the enormous snake head to fall to the ground with a heavy crash, thoroughly enraging the Yamata no Orochi. Its tail lashed towards Long Shen, while the other seven heads lunged at him, completely trapping him.
When the stench-filled wind came rushing in, even Li Ying couldn’t escape its impact and couldn’t help feeling nauseous. However, Long Shen remained calm and moved swiftly among the sword light, effortlessly evading the seven heads and eight tails.
If Wu Bingtian, who excelled in talismans, were here, he might not be able to handle this colossal beast. But Long Shen, despite having injuries back then, was able to subdue the bone dragon on Changbai Mountain. Now that his injuries had healed, though the Yamata no Orochi appeared terrifying and immensely powerful, when facing Long Shen, it seemed like a worthy opponent. The serene lake surface had long vanished amidst the chaos, with the water flowing backward and monstrous waves surging. The fierce wind swept in, turning the grassy field into a swamp. Li Ying had to tightly grasp the tree trunk beside him to avoid being swept away by the water.
He looked up, and the sky around him had unconsciously darkened, with only a hint of blood-red gradually spreading, as if foretelling some ominous sign. Suddenly, a mournful scream came from Long Shen as one of the snake heads seized his body in mid-air. The snake’s fangs closed, and Long Shen’s head and body separated, with his severed limbs falling to the ground.
Reality is also an illusion, and illusion is also reality.
Li Ying silently recited these words, closed his eyes, and opened them again.
Sure enough, Long Shen wasn’t dead. He was still locked in battle with Yamata no Orochi, and the sky wasn’t blood-red but a twilight blue.
Li Ying took a deep breath. Although he didn’t have to participate in the fight, war had never been far away from him. He still needed to struggle against the constant illusions, until he conquered them. He sat down cross-legged and began practicing the mental techniques of his sect.
Long Shen shook himself back to reality. He saw Dong Zhi charging towards him with a sword, but in the blink of an eye, Dong Zhi transformed into a ferocious snake head with menacing fangs, intending to devour him whole! Without changing his expression, Long Shen extended his sword and sliced off another snake head.
Indeed, despite their tremendous power, these colossal creatures had obvious weaknesses. Their physical responses were much slower than their minds. However, the illusions created by demonic qi were constantly influencing him, or rather, this entire environment was a product of illusion. Only Yamata no Orochi was real. In reality, they were still trapped in a mirrored space; but now they had entered a deeper level of reflection than before. Long Shen had been searching for a way to break the illusion, and now he had finally found it.
The solution was to kill Yamata no Orochi!
A faint purple radiance emanated from the white light as Long Shen stood amidst the sword’s radiance, his body nearly ethereal. The Yamata no Orochi roared and lunged at him with its fangs and claws, but it missed. The next moment, Long Shen appeared behind it, and his sword struck down, severing one of the snake heads. Blood spurted out, splattering his body.
In Long Shen’s eyes, it was Dong Zhi’s head that he had personally cut off. The head flew into the air, frozen in the moment of utmost terror. Long Shen’s hand trembled slightly as a sudden, intense pain shot through his back. The snake’s tail struck his back with tremendous force, enough to crush bones to powder. Only due to Long Shen’s unique constitution did he manage to escape. Seizing the opportunity, he leaped up and unleashed his sword, cutting off two snake tails at once!
Everything was an illusion. Long Shen’s rationality reminded him of this fact. However, it didn’t mean that his emotions remained unaffected. He once thought that he wouldn’t be easily swayed by emotions like a true human. But now he realized that it wasn’t that he couldn’t be moved, but rather that he hadn’t encountered that person before or reached that level of attachment.
When emotions were deep, even the slightest movement could be seen.
Ever since the day he could perceive the spring rain and autumn frost, the day he transformed from a sword into a human form, he had already become a human.
And as a human, he had vulnerabilities, loves, and biases. His vulnerability belonged to Dong Zhi, his love belonged to Dong Zhi, and his bias belonged to Dong Zhi.
Long Shen’s mind was clear, and the sword in his hand became even more steady. Even if everything he saw when he opened his eyes was Dong Zhi, he no longer wavered or hesitated.
With each stroke of his sword, light and shadows danced. The Yamata no Orochi roared and thrashed on the lake surface, as if trying to poke a hole through the sky. The grass was uprooted, and blades swirled in the air. Even though this space was an illusion, it had been destroyed almost completely by Yamata no Orochi. Long Shen realized that the most challenging aspect of dealing with the Yamata no Orochi was not its colossal size and destructive power, but the fact that its snake heads and tails would regenerate after being severed, perpetuating an endless cycle. This battle would never end, so he had to completely destroy it before the snake heads regenerated.
“Yes!” Li Ying trembled slightly and opened his eyes.
Long Shen leaped into the air, landing lightly on the body of the snake. His voice echoed from a distance.
“I need your talisman fire to completely burn the wounds where the snake heads were severed, stopping their regeneration. How are you holding up now?”
“No problem!” Li Ying stood up, supporting himself against a tree trunk. He still saw illusions in his eyes, with the snake heads constantly transforming into Chi Banxia. Time and time again, they were cut down by Long Shen.
After taking a moment to adjust himself, Li Ying’s mind had become much clearer. As long as he firmly believed that those illusions weren’t real, he wouldn’t hesitate to take action. Long Shen raised his hand, and a sword light swept towards Li Ying. Instinctively, Li Ying reached out his hand and found himself holding a long sword. The sword shone like a clear spring, reflecting his own face.
Li Ying saw his own weariness, doubt, and eagerness.
He tightened his grip on the hilt, took a deep breath, and exerted force under his feet, rushing towards the snake heads. He pulled out a talisman that he hadn’t used before from his pocket.
“Boss Long, I’m here!”
They were fighting for themselves and for their loved ones. Giving it their all.
Tang Jing and Yu Buhui followed the trail of Kitaichi Eiko, arriving outside a courtyard. They saw her figure disappear at the entrance of the courtyard. Yu Buhui gave Tang Jing a meaningful look, asking if they should continue pursuing. After a moment of contemplation, Tang Jing nodded slightly and made a hand gesture, indicating that he would go ahead first while Yu Buhui provided support from behind. They entered the courtyard.
The sky had completely darkened, and lanterns were lit in the courtyard. Candlelight flickered through the gauze, casting an uncertain glow. There was no electricity here; only the oldest wax candles, scattered like stars fallen to the mortal realm, adding a touch of romance.
But Tang Jing had no intention of appreciating the scene. He noticed that Kitaichi Eiko’s aura had completely vanished upon reaching this place, replaced by a faint and elusive sound of a qin coming from the inner room. The music was simple, and the melody disjointed, but each note tugged at Tang Jing’s heart.
As if there were some kind of invisible force pulling him, he pushed open the door before him to explore what lay beyond.
Tang Jing sneered, not interested in playing along with the other party’s tricks. He waved his hand, and the sliding door automatically pushed open, revealing the person sitting inside the room. The person held a qin and looked up, gazing at Tang Jing.
Tang Jing’s footsteps halted, intending to launch an attack, but his movement froze as his expression turned even colder.
“Long time no see,” the person said with a slight smile. “Tangtang, how have you been?”
Tang Jing replied coldly, “You’re not him at all.”
Ming Xian revealed an intriguing expression and raised an eyebrow. “How can you tell?”
Tang Jing said, “He’s already dead.”
Ming Xian smiled and said, “As I told you before, a part of my soul was controlled by Otowa. The part that died is indeed dead, but the part that was still alive was resurrected by him. So, I am still me.”
Tang Jing retorted, “If it were truly him, he wouldn’t want to be alive. He wanted to leave this world cleanly, untainted. Yet, here you are, clinging on, surrendering to Otowa’s will, becoming his tool for murder. You are not Ming Xian at all!”
His voice grew louder, and with his final words, Tang Jing suddenly made a move. Countless dazzling fragments flew towards Ming Xian like a shower of rain. However, Ming Xian swiftly leaped into the air, breaking through the roof, and descended from above, still holding the qin. The strings of the qin split into five strands and shot towards Tang Jing!
Tang Jing reached out and grabbed one of the strands, ignoring the blood that dripped from his palm due to the sharp strings. Using the momentum, he soared into the air. A silk ribbon woven from ice silk wrapped tightly around Ming Xian’s wrist, pulling him close. They faced each other at a close distance, with Tang Jing able to perceive the frequency of Ming Xian’s breath and even see his own reflection in Ming Xian’s eyes.
“Ming Xian is already dead. So, you should die too,” he said calmly, and with his bloodstained hand, he swiftly reached out and tightened his grip around Ming Xian’s neck.
“Your words make me sad.” Ming Xian chuckled, and in an instant, he disappeared from Tang Jing’s hold.
“I have prepared a sumptuous feast for your arrival. Are you ready to enjoy it?” Ming Xian’s voice echoed from all directions, ethereal and dreamlike, both distant and near.
The next moment, numerous hands formed by black demonic qi burst out from the ground tiles. The closest strands of demonic qi coiled around Tang Jing’s ankles, gradually climbing up, pinning him to the ground, rendering him unable to move. At that moment, a figure shot out from the side like a beam of light. Wherever this figure passed, all the demonic qi in the courtyard was shattered and dispersed; the tiles cracked and scattered, turning into sharp blades that attacked Tang Jing and Yu Buhui.
Back to back, one with a sword and the other with the silk ribbon made from ice silkworms, the two of them protected themselves tightly, allowing no air to pass through. Astonishingly, the shattered fragments were cleansed and rebounded by their qi, shooting back into the room.
“You came out too fast. I can handle it!” Tang Jing felt a bit speechless. He thought that without fighting together before, they lacked synergy. Even if it was Long Shen or Wu Bingtian, let alone his right-hand and left-hand in the bureau, they could coordinate better. “You were originally my hidden piece, with a greater role to play at a critical moment. But now you’ve been exposed early, like showing our cards to the enemy!”
Yu Buhui impatiently said, “Stop babbling. You didn’t tell me when to come out, so of course I acted accordingly. What should we do now?”
Tang Jing replied in an annoyed tone, “Break through the encirclement! What else can we do? You take the left, I’ll take the right. You go ahead, I’ll follow!”
As soon as the words fell, the two of them flew out simultaneously. Amidst the intertwining light and shadows, a massive airflow swirled around them, causing chaos in the entire courtyard. All the doors and windows in the houses were overturned, and there was no one inside.
“He escaped?” Yu Buhui nudged Tang Jing with his elbow. “Your ex-lover ran away?”
If the timing had been different, Tang Jing would have wanted to sew Yu Buhui’s mouth shut.
Because right after Yu Buhui finished speaking, they heard Ming Xian’s voice say, “That was just the appetizer. The main course is yet to come.”
Although Tang Jing confidently claimed that Ming Xian was no longer the same as before, in reality, he himself couldn’t be sure if the person calling him Tangtang, smiling exactly like before, was truly Ming Xian.
He understood Ming Xian’s desire for freedom better than anyone else before his death. Ming Xian never wanted to become Otowa’s puppet. The ability for an artifact spirit to take on human form was originally a blessing, but for Ming Xian, it was just the beginning of fate’s mockery.
If what Ming Xian said was true and Otowa used the remaining part of his divine soul to resurrect him, it meant that Tang Jing had to kill him once again.
Tang Jing closed his eyes, observing the white-clad evil spirits that had appeared from eight directions in the courtyard. Their waist-length black hair revealed a pale, eyeless face with only a mouth, grinning in a terrifying manner.
“What are these things?” Yu Buhui had never seen this kind of formation before and found it somewhat intriguing.
“It’s the Eight-Directional Bhavacakra* Formation,” Tang Jing explained.
*A symbolic representation of samsara (or cyclic existence). It is found on the outside walls of Tibetan Buddhist temples and monasteries in the Indo-Tibetan region, to help non-Buddhists understand Buddhist teachings. It is used in Indian Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism.
In this context, “bhavacakra” wasn’t a Buddhist term but referred to a type of evil spirit in Japan*. Even in death, they clung to their resentments, with boundless grudges that incited them to manipulate and kill for pleasure. However, these eight bhavacakra were undoubtedly refined by Otowa, becoming a fusion of evil spirits and demons, making them even more difficult to deal with.
*Clarity: Most likely it’s referring to the Preta (hungry ghost) in the three lower realms depicted in the bhavacakra. They are ghosts that undergo suffering greater than humans, particularly to an extreme level of hunger and thirst.
“The most troublesome aspect of this formation is that the Eight-Directional Bhavacakra is interconnected, continuously cycling. It’s not enough to kill just one,” Tang Jing explained.
Just as Yu Buhui had beheaded one bhavacakra that pounced on him, he heard Tang Jing’s words. Immediately after, he saw that after the white light dissipated, the bhavacakra quickly revived in their original positions.
“Why didn’t you say that earlier? How do we break the formation then?”
Tang Jing said, “We kill them simultaneously!”
There was no need for further words. With one in front and one behind, the two of them acted simultaneously!
Although Tang Jing knew that there were truths and lies in this courtyard, and that appearances could be deceiving beyond the formation, he might not have guessed that Ming Xian was standing just outside the formation, not far from him.
As he watched the two break the formation, Ming Xian remained motionless. Beside him, Kitaichi Eiko coldly said, “According to the master’s orders, now is the best time to kill them.”
Ming Xian calmly responded, “I know what I’m doing.”
Kitaichi Eiko suddenly stood up, intending to move towards the formation, but Ming Xian had already anticipated her actions and reached out to stop her. The two exchanged several moves in an instant. Kitaichi Eiko’s voice turned icy. “Are you planning to betray the master?”
Ming Xian grabbed Kitaichi Eiko’s collar, pulling her closer. Their noses almost touched, but the expression on the girl’s doll-like face remained indifferent, devoid of any emotional fluctuations. She had completely lost the most basic human emotions.
“Did you kill your master?”
Kitaichi Eiko remained indifferent. “He died for the master’s great cause. A death he deserved.”
Ming Xian suddenly burst into laughter. His laughter was filled with sarcasm, disdain for Fujikawa’s worth, and self-mockery.
When Kitaichi Eiko awakened, she was no longer the same Kitaichi Eiko as before. She had been possessed by demonic qi, becoming Otowa’s tool for killing. The first thing she did upon waking up was to dig out Fujikawa’s heart, the man who raised her, and devour it to replenish her energy. She was now here to execute Otowa’s command and deal with Tang Jing and Yu Buhui. Compared to her complete transformation, Ming Xian felt like a failed or unfinished product.
When life restarted, it brought him not the joy of resurrection, but pain and torment.
“I envy you,” he whispered softly to Kitaichi Eiko.
Otowa used the materials of a counterfeit Gold and Silver Ping Wenqin to repair the real qin. Then, using a portion of his own divine soul that he had held onto, he restored Ming Xian. Naturally, this process involved infusing him with demonic qi, and the existing soul of Ding Lan was used to compensate for any potential defects in the resurrection of Gold and Silver Ping Wenqin. However, even after the resurrection, Ming Xian still didn’t become what Otowa had hoped for—an obedient killing weapon like Kitaichi Eiko. He constantly teetered between good and evil, and his consciousness often became muddled.
Just like now, two voices constantly battled within him, sometimes forcing him to set up the formation to lure and kill Tang Jing, while other times compelling him to involuntarily consider leaving a way out for Tang Jing. He couldn’t even determine whether he was still the same Ming Xian or if he had only inherited some of Ming Xian’s emotions and memories, ultimately becoming a completely different person.
His hand was already on Kitaichi Eiko’s neck, but it hesitated for a moment, allowing her to break free and push him away forcefully.
“Otowa Mingxian, don’t forget your mission,” Kitaichi Eiko said coldly. “If you don’t obey, the master will kill you.”
“I wish he could really kill me. I’m afraid he’ll just use me as an experiment again.” Ming Xian laughed and stopped her from entering the formation.
“Ming Xian, my child, are you being disobedient again?”
The voice of Otowa Yasuhiko echoed in Ming Xian’s mind, causing his body to tremble slightly. His eyes were instantly filled with black demonic qi, and his expression became as cold and indifferent as Kitaichi Eiko’s.
The demonic qi once again gained the upper hand. Ming Xian’s lips moved as if he wanted to say something, but even he had forgotten what he wanted to say a moment ago.
“Enter the formation and kill them,” Otowa Yasuhiko commanded.
Ming Xian looked at Kitaichi Eiko’s figure, seemingly about to take a step forward, but an invisible force stopped him. He shouldn’t have been like this. Deep in his mind, there seemed to be a consciousness that faintly resisted.
But what was he originally like?
Numerous scenes flashed before Ming Xian’s eyes, and he couldn’t even distinguish whether they were experiences of his original self, forcefully implanted memories from Otowa, or memories belonging to Ding Lan.
His face twisted, splitting into a half-kind and half-evil expression. One half showed the sorrow and pain of a Buddha, while the other half displayed a malicious and fierce sinister smile.
“Kill them!” Otowa Yasuhiko’s voice grew louder, filled with anger. It was like an invisible hand that ruthlessly grabbed his nerves and pulled with force.
Involuntarily, Ming Xian moved forward, slowly raising his hand. The silk string suddenly shot towards Tang Jing within the formation.
Wu Bingtian struggled to move forward in the sea of skeleton and blood.
He still had his sword-wielding hand, but the other hand had been mostly devoured, leaving behind an empty sleeve and bloodstains on the remaining half of his arm.
The demons, formed by the condensed demonic qi, surrounded him, reaching out hungrily, wanting to devour his flesh and blood. If it weren’t for Wu Bingtian’s protective energy, he would have turned into a pile of bones by now.
However, even so, he was becoming increasingly exhausted. His steps grew slower and slower. After all, he was only one person. Although he had swept through the blood sea with his sword energy and used all his talismans, completely clearing the blood sea, he couldn’t find a way to break the barrier within a short time. As a result, the demonic qi had recondensed, enclosing him tightly. It gradually drained Wu Bingtian’s strength and even corroded his arm when his mind was distracted.
Determined, Wu Bingtian bit his tongue, causing blood to spray onto the sword.
Although it was the blood from his tongue, the tongue was connected to the heart, so it was equivalent to heart’s blood. He wouldn’t easily resort to it unless absolutely necessary.
A fleeting red light flashed, and he raised his sword high, leaping into the air. Chanting the nine-character mantra*, the red light fiercely slashed down from above.
*It refers to 9 specific Chinese characters or syllables used in incantations. The specific characters are believed to possess special spiritual power and are often recited or written as a form of spiritual protection. The exact characters vary depending on the tradition and practices of the sect.
The sword’s energy was chilling as it surged forth, expanding from a single point to a wide area, covering the boundless sea of blood. Under the radiance, the demons wailed, and the evil spirits howled. All the demonic qi and malevolent beings scattered into ashes.
But before Wu Bingtian could catch his breath, within the boundless darkness, the demonic qi slowly bred once again. It drifted from the corners, gradually taking shape as slow-walking men and crawling women. Trapped in the suffering of the mortal world, unable to find liberation, they were eternally confined. Their inner demons surged with desires, drowning in fame, wealth, and love. Seeking but not obtaining, obtaining but not satisfying, they ultimately became a mass of unconscious demonic qi, refined by Otowa to revel in torment and erosion, boundless and endless.
Wu Bingtian was irritated beyond measure. He also wanted to possess the fierce gaze of a Vajra warrior from the Buddhist tradition and directly subdue the demons from all directions. However, he no longer had the strength. The previous strike had depleted all his energy. In a short period, he couldn’t gather any true qi. He had considered giving it one final desperate try, to see if that strike could completely eradicate these evil beings. Naturally, he lost the gamble. Otowa had somehow turned the barrier into an impervious dead knot, with no breakthrough in sight.
The demons murmured incessantly in his ears, various voices lingering without rest. They tried to seize the opportunity, finding any flaws or desires within his heart, magnifying them, and tempting him to fall into the demonic path.
Fuck! Wu Bingtian couldn’t help but curse fiercely.
Did he not know his own weaknesses? He wanted to hold an official position, ideally for a lifetime. But was that desire or an ideal?
The author has something to say:
A small theater unrelated to the main text:
Wu Bingtian: Being an official is not a desire; it’s an ideal.
Song Zhicun: But you want to become a high-ranking official.
Wu Bingtian: So it’s a grand ideal.
Song Zhicun: …
The fight between Long Shen and Yamata no Orochi is similar to Hercules and the Hydra. In order to stop the hydra from spawning more heads, Hercules burned the wound after he cut off its head.
Are we going to get an HE or a BE for Ming Xian and Tang Jing?
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