“If you don’t mind, how about I come up with a name for you?”
Editor(s): juurensha, namio
mild NSFW - vague mention of touching that part
“Yao king, what is your name?” Chen Xing asked, filled with anticipation. “How should we address you?”
The phoenix’s handsome, perfect face was set in a dark expression, wholly unwilling to pay Chen Xing any attention.
From the Xifeng Bank of Mai City, Feng Qianjun withdrew some silver, enough to get a new set of clothes for Chen Xing as well as getting a little mink fur coat made for the dog. Inside the tailor’s store, Chen Xing carried on a conversation with the phoenix as he changed his robes.
Seeing that attitude of his, the phoenix only wanted to send him flying to the ends of the earth with one good smack.
Chen Xing continued, “Right now, you shouldn’t have a name, right? The phoenix is reborn once every hundred years, over a cycle that repeats every thousand years. After it is reborn from the ashes ten times, it becomes a new self.”
Before, even though it had been during the Silence of All Magic, Chen Xing had earnestly studied the origins of the yaoguai in this realm and their idiosyncrasies, etc.. Thankfully, he had read them as stories before, otherwise now he would really be in a sticky situation.
Once upon a time, the yaoguai in this world had been sealed within the ten thousand mountains of the southern border. However, with the disappearance of spiritual qi, the barrier had also dissipated. The yaoguai spread out into the human realm, but they had also lost all their mana.
Gradually, perhaps in the coming ten or twenty years, the yaoguai in the world would grow in number. When that time came the Exorcism Department, in charge of dealing with these yaoguai, would need to be rebuilt.
Chen Xing finished changing, and carrying the dog in his arms, he walked out of the tailor’s store. As he stood under the bright sunlight shining down on the streets of Mai City, he remembered that when the phoenix had appeared, he hadn’t mentioned his name in his introductions. This reincarnation cycle, he should be without a name yet, so he said, “If you don’t mind, how about I come up with a name for you?”
The phoenix: “...”
“When you reappeared in this realm, light was restored to the world,” Chen Xing said earnestly. “The spiritual qi returned fully, en… the reappearance of light! So I’ll call you…”
The phoenix’s brows began to scrunch up a little.
“Tianliang? Or Xiao Liang? Or how about Da Liang? A-Liang? Liangliang?”
The phoenix: “.................”
“They all sound too terrible!” In an instant, the phoenix recovered his wits. “No way! Definitely no way!”
Chen Xing knew that names, to a yaoguai, were of great importance. When yaoguai were on the brink of a major accomplishment in their cultivation, they needed a human to acknowledge it in order to complete that last step. For example, if a snake was to cultivate into a jiao, at the very end, they would always need a human, born as the sole intelligent species amongst all of the ones in the world, to point at it and go “Wah! A jiao!”. Only at that time would it truly be remade into a jiao, treading the clouds and the fog as it left.
This process was called “bestowing an official title”, and yet those yaoguai that had been bestowed a title still had no name. If they could gain the honor of having a human name them, that would be a further step up. Since the beginning of time, the Divine Land had only the three clans of the gods, the humans, and the dragons that had the power to give names to all the beings of the world. Chen Xing knew that this phoenix was probably not resistant to having him name him, so he watched him tentatively.
As expected, the phoenix indeed did not resist; he only expressed irritability towards the names.
“Chong Liang? Fu Liang?” Chen Xing said. “Chong Ming? Ming Liang? Or what if you pick one yourself?”
The phoenix was about to open his mouth, but his words dried up again. Chen Xing knew that even though he was born a phoenix, he had no power to choose and could only listen to Chen Xing. After all, whatever the humans called him, he would be that.
“No need!” the phoenix said, seething with rage. “In all the yao tribes in the world, who would dare to call Guwang by his name?”
“Chong Ming,” Chen Xing smiled. “This one ba, improvise a bit.”
With that, the phoenix received this new name after a thousand years, and said name was just barely acceptable.
“You’re done?” Feng Qianjun hurried over, saying, “The informants have all been seen to. After a half a shichen, Xiang-xiongdi should be going to rob the Dongzhe Bank. Eat this bing ba.”
Chen Xing and Feng Qianjun passed through the busy market, and Chen Xing turned his head back to ask, “Chong Ming? Where are you?”
The phoenix had already disappeared. Chen Xing peered in all directions, and finally he spotted a golden red bird perched on a roof. He knew that he didn’t really like to interact too much with mortals, and perhaps he was still giddy with joy from receiving that new name, so Chen Xing chose to not mind him as well.
“How are we going to deal with the next part?” Chen Xing asked Feng Qianjun.
Feng Qianjun was also at a loss. As the two of them hid in an alley, eating their bing, he said, “I only feel that we cannot lose track of him. If he doesn’t show up now, then a little later, we’ll go to Mt. Longzhong and block him there. But what happens after we block his way? Will he properly listen to us then?”
Chen Xing indicated for Feng Qianjun to not be anxious, saying, “I do have a plan. If you can’t come up with something on the spot, then listen to my scheme first.”
Feng Qianjun nodded. Chen Xing thought over it again and again, before saying cautiously, “Getting rid of Wang Ziye is our biggest short-term goal, and after that is Chiyou. This time, the biggest advantage we’ve gained, aside from mana, is an even more important point: it’s that Wang Ziye is in the dark, while we’re in the light. Last time, as soon as we went to Chang’an, we fell into his trap. This time, no matter what, we must not give things away. We must hide well.”
Feng Qianjun: “Yes, yes, yes! Xiang-xiongdi’s plan last time was pretty good.”
Chen Xing: “So we must once again persuade Xiang Shu. As for this, let me do it.”
Feng Qianjun: “Only you can do it.”
Chen Xing nodded. “It’ll be the same as what we did last time. We’ll go up to Chang’an, and this time, knowing where the Yin Yang Mirror is, we’ll steal it and get the Acala Blade… Hey! You guys! Wait! Please wait! Madam! It’s you! I remember you! Come! Stop the cart! Let me onto the cart so I can give your old master a bit of acupuncture, I promise that he’ll get better very quickly…”
Chen Xing saw a carriage of people pass by and hurriedly dashed out. On that carriage was that exact same family of scholars with that man who had fainted due to anger as the last time that he had come to Mai City.
“I can take a look at your family’s old master,” Chen Xing said warmly. “He fainted, is that right?”
“Go away!” that person driving the cart said. “We’re currently searching for a doctor!”
“Ignore that swindler!” the madam said. “Go to a proper medicine hall, quickly!”
The old madam said, “Such a poor, pitiful creature, give him a little silver ba, it’s not easy for all of us.”
“Mother! Nowadays, there are all kinds of people. This fellow’s words are slippery, and with one look, you can tell he’s not some good person!”
The horse cart didn’t stop at all, trampling all over Chen Xing’s good intentions. The driver lifted the whip and moved to hit him with it, but Feng Qianjun flew into a great rage. He came forward and grabbed Chen Xing, the two of them retreating to the side of the road, and instantly that family left.
Chen Xing: “...”
Feng Qianjun consoled, “Ah well, ah well, don’t stick your nose into other people’s affairs, keep talking. And then what? The Yin Yang Mirror?”
Chen Xing could only let that matter go. He also came back, and after thinking about it for a bit, said, “We’ll get the Acala Blade hidden in the mirror, hand it to Xiang Shu, then go to Chi Le Chuan and save Lu Ying.”
“And the Luohun Bell,” Feng Qianjun said. “How about we first go south to return to Jiankang, and after getting the Luohun Bell we consider the rest? From here to Kuaiji, at top speed on a horse, is no more than five days.”
But Chen Xing said resolutely, “The Luohun Bell can wait, but the Yin Yang Mirror cannot. Plus, as soon as we go to Kuaiji, Xiang Shu will have run off on his own.”
His hometown was so close at hand. In reality, last time, when Feng Qianjun had first met Chen Xing, he had been taking a shortcut from Kuaiji on his way from Jiankang. But upon hearing these words, he could only let his wish go and nod.
“The Luohun Bell can be obtained last, no rush,” Chen Xing said. “After getting the Luohun Bell, we can then set up an ambush for Wang Ziye. We can go with the original plan and completely get rid of him, then go to the Fei River and dig out Chiyou from underground to even the score with him. At that time, we’ll have the Deer God, the phoenix, and the artifacts, and also Xie An…”
Feng Qianjun nodded. “This plan sounds pretty simple, but as for which step is the hardest, you probably know ba.”
Chen Xing and Feng Qianjun exchanged a glance. Both of them understood that the hardest part was to get Xiang Shu to listen to directions.
And the most important thing was that Xiang Shu, this fellow, was the most unwilling to listen to directions, and the easiest for something to go wrong with. Not to mention last time, Chen Xing didn’t even know how Xiang Shu had found Chiyou at all! He only knew that for some mysterious reason, Xiang Shu went to find Chiyou, and somehow, Huanmo Palace had appeared; somehow, Xiang Shu became the Dinghai Pearl, and with one arrow he stabbed himself to death, and in the process of doing so, also stabbed the entire family of the Devil God to death...
“He’s coming, he’s coming!” Feng Qianjun immediately shoved Chen Xing behind himself.
“A robbery!” some passerby shouted. “The bank’s being robbed!”
“Leave it to me,” Chen Xing said. “You only need to draw his attention away! Go!”
Xiang Shu was carrying a bag of gold as he walked out from the Dongzhe Bank. Feng Qianjun and Chen Xing immediately ran out of the small alleyway. Feng Qianjun said, “Warrior, please wait! I have something to say!”
Right after that, Xiang Shu shook his bundle, and the sky was filled with a rain of blossoms.
Feng Qianjun ducked immediately, while Chen Xing circled around behind Xiang Shu. The two of them launched a pincer attack, and Chen Xing leapt onto him, hugging Xiang Shu’s thigh.
Xiang Shu: “!!!”
Xiang Shu turned to leave, but Chen Xing kept hugging his leg, not letting go. Xiang Shu instantly tried to pull his leg out of Chen Xing’s grasp, but Chen Xing only hugged it tighter, saying, “Listen to me… Xiang Shu, don’t run! Your legs are so long!”
The soldiers came over, and their leader shouted angrily, “Detain them all!”
Xiang Shu grabbed Chen Xing’s collar, but a surge of energy from who knows where caused Chen Xing to not let go no matter what. The situation was critical. Xiang Shu had no time to play tug-of-war with him, so he could only turn and run towards the alley, dragging him along.
Feng Qianjun shouted, “Don’t shoot! We’re merely assisting a just cause!”
Xiang Shu: “..................”
“Let go!” Xiang Shu finally shouted, enraged.
Hugging Xiang Shu’s leg, Chen Xing was dragged along into the alley. Feng Qianjun brought up the rear for the two of them, and the three of them circled through the alley, beginning to flee. Chen Xing was almost shaken off by Xiang Shu, so he quickly took the opportunity to climb up a little higher, where he accidentally touched something that was standing stiffly to attention.
Chen Xing: “!!!”
Xiang Shu: “............”
Xiang Shu was wearing a pair of thin silk pants, and with Chen Xing tightly hugging one leg, his martial pants were almost pulled entirely down. That dog also ran over from the side, barking loudly as it bit down on his pant leg. Xiang Shu was at his wits end for dealing with this man. Just as he was about to beat him up, Feng Qianjun had already raced over, calling loudly, “Is this your plan? It seems pretty ineffective!”
As soon as Xiang Shu saw Feng Qianjun, he knew that this fellow knew martial arts. He couldn’t attack Chen Xing with great force, but that was not necessarily the case for Feng Qianjun. Immediately, with Chen Xing still hanging off his leg, he turned swiftly, falling into a martial arts stance. Feng Qianjun subconsciously moved to dodge, but Chen Xing took this opportunity to clamber up further. Hugging Xiang Shu’s shoulders as he wrapped himself tightly around him from behind, he said one word, “Kjera! Are you looking for Kjera?”
Xiang Shu jolted and stopped in his tracks.
One stick of incense later, outside of Mai City.
Chen Xing moved to tug at Xiang Shu’s hand, but Xiang Shu, his brows furrowed, moved away.
“Speak,” Xiang Shu said coldly. “Who exactly are you two?!”
Finally, he could communicate normally with Xiang Shu. Chen Xing wiped the sweat off his brow, turning a thought over in his mind. Before, he didn’t understand Xiang Shu even one bit, and now, though it couldn’t be counted as understanding him a lot, at least he understood a few things. “Kjera” as an embodiment of Wang Ziye, was an important clue that Xiang Shu had chased after this entire way here. He, who had been born as the Great Chanyu, had left Chi Le Chuan to come to the South wholly because of Wang Ziye.
“Exorcists,” Chen Xing said. “As for our origins, I’ll explain it to you a little bit later. Feng-dage, how much more time do we have?”
Feng Qianjun looked at the color of the sky and said, “If we leave now, we should be able to reach Mt. Longzhong after noon.”
Back in the beginning, they had wasted quite a lot of time in Mai City, but now they had much more time. Chen Xing then nodded and said, “Our goal is also to pursue and investigate him.”
Xiang Shu’s expression immediately grew focused, and he said, “As expected. Who is he? Where is he? What are his intentions?”
Chen XIng originally wanted to tell him Wang Ziye’s real identity, but his heart thumped - if he revealed it, what would they do if Xiang Shu immediately ran back to Chang’an to seek revenge? He could not lay all his cards out on the table at once, and immediately he changed his tune. “We found a few traces related to him, and he might be in Mt. Longzhong at this very moment. Come with us to take a look? Let’s talk as we walk ba.”
At that, Feng Qianjun sent him an admiring glance. With this, Xiang Shu probably wouldn’t run off again.
Xiang Shu was still rather skeptical about this, but since the other side had mentioned Kjera’s name, they must know some inside information.
He pondered silently for a moment before he mounted his horse. Chen Xing glanced back; he didn’t see the phoenix, but he imagined that he would naturally come chasing after them. Feng Qianjun said, “I’ll go prepare some things. When we set off, who knows when we’ll be able to re-outfit ourselves.”
Feng Qianjun was giving them a chance to interact on their own. Xiang Shu gazed off in the direction of the great northern lands; the spring wind began to blow, and the plains were a desolate waste. Chen Xing turned his horse to ride beside him, never once taking his eyes off Xiang Shu, and Xiang Shu, with one foot on the stirrup, shifted a little awkwardly. Chen Xing’s gaze traveled from his body down to his leg, and he recalled when he had been hugging Xiang Shu’s thigh just now.
In the beginning, he was really so skinny, Chen Xing thought. Thankfully he had brought medicine.
Xiang Shu seemed to be considering matters, and without conscious thought, the corner of his eyes swept over Chen Xing. His gaze also moved to Chen Xing’s thigh; after Chen Xing had been hit by the arrow, his thigh had been bandaged. Just now, as he hung off Xiang Shu, dragged along that entire journey, a little blood had seeped out again. At this moment, it was still a little painful, and his brows were slightly furrowed.
“Why are you searching for him?” Xiang Shu suddenly asked.
“He’s a yaoguai,” Chen Xing said. “He can harness resentment and revive corpses, so I must get rid of him.”
Xiang Shu’s forehead scrunched up as he fell into deep thought. At last, he asked, “Why did you save me?”
A thought flashed through Chen Xing’s mind like lightning, and he let go of the request to have Xiang Shu become his Protector. He knew that at this moment, if he changed the topic, then the fragile trust that they had just established would once again disintegrate, so he speedily made up an excuse.
“We’ve searched for him for a long time… according to the route he took while escaping, and we guessed that perhaps you saw him before, so… en, we came to Xiangyang to find you.”
Xiang Shu en-ed as he looked at Chen Xing, some suspicion in his gaze, as if he still had many more things to ask. But for now, he accepted that explanation.
Chen Xing’s heart that had been dangling in mid-air finally settled at that. He knew that right now, Xiang Shu definitely had many, many suspicions, but after their interactions last time, he had gradually grown to understand Xiang Shu. To have Xiang Shu once again believe him shouldn’t be too difficult. But… will he still like me? Chen Xing was a little hesitant on that front, and as he recalled that bracelet before his departure, he even wondered if Xiang Shu really liked him. For a while, he was a little saddened at that.
Xiang Shu saw that, and asked, “You also are seeking revenge against Kjera?”
Chen Xing originally wanted to say “no”, but after thinking through it deeply, he nodded, answering, “Yes, he… made me lose many very important people.”
Feng Qianjun came back with food and wine and an inquisitive light in his eyes. Chen Xing indicated that everything had gone smoothly, and with that, Feng Qianjun said, “I’ll lead the way.” Saying this, he moved to the front, letting Chen Xing make the best use of his time to get Xiang Shu to grow entranced with him as quickly as possible.
As soon as the three of them set out, Feng Qianjun went to the very front, while Xiang Shu fell behind, riding side by side with Chen Xing.
Xiang Shu: “In the beginning, I truly did not know your identity. As for the matter with Kjera, why didn’t you say so earlier? And what are exorcists?”
Chen Xing said, “That is… en…”
Saying this, Chen Xing was a little stuck again. Suddenly, he had a flash of inspiration, and his brows furrowed. The arrow wound on his thigh had yet to heal fully, so he could exaggerate it a little.
“It’s the profession… of… getting rid of yao,” Chen Xing said to Xiang Shu. “It sounds pretty strange, huh.”
Xiang Shu said suspiciously, “Last night, you seemed like a madman.”
Chen Xing: “Because… ay, it hurts a little, ride a little slower…”
Chen Xing began to play pretend, and Xiang Shu could only slow, observing his wound.
“You don’t know martial arts,” Xiang Shu said.
Chen Xing replied, “Correct. I cannot lift burdens with my shoulders, nor can I carry things with my hands.”
Xiang Shu: “How did you get into Xiangyang?”
Chen Xing thought, can’t you see that I’m in a lot of pain?! He began to furrow his brow again, his body tilting slightly towards Xiang Shu’s side, saying, “Aiya… it hurts so much… huh? Why is Feng-dage going so fast, he disappeared in the blink of an eye…”
Xiang Shu could only say, “Whatever, I’ll take you. If we keep going at this speed, we won’t be able to get into the mountains even when night falls.”
Chen Xing said, “How could I impose on you so? I’d be troubling you too much.”
A slight sliver of exasperation showed on Xiang Shu’s face, and Chen Xing said, “Then thank you.” And satisfied, he climbed over to sit behind Xiang Shu, hugging his waist tightly and leaning against his back. His body was very warm.
Upon seeing Chen Xing change spots, that dog thought that he didn’t want it anymore, and it began to bark loudly in distress.
Xiang Shu was reminded of its existence, and immediately shot it a look. Chen Xing explained, “Sorry, it has the same name as you… I didn’t realize. This is the dog that ran off on me as I was heading to Xiangyang, and in the beginning I met it under an oak tree, which is why I called it ‘Xiang Shu’. It wasn’t intentional…”
“Alright, alright!” Xiang Shu said, annoyed. “Change its name!”
Chen Xing chuckled behind Xiang Shu. “How about you give it one then?”
Xiang Shu: “I don’t know how to name things.”
With that, Chen Xing didn’t say anything. A moment later, the dog gradually calmed. Xiang Shu then continued, as if he was speaking to himself, “You really don’t know even one whit of martial arts.” With Xiang Shu’s ability, he could see whether the opponent was a martial artist or not with a single glance. On this journey, the thing he was most shocked by was this.
Chen Xing: “Yeah, what about?”
Xiang Shu asked, “You aren’t a Xiangyang person, so how did you enter the city?”
When Xiang Shu had been imprisoned in Xiangyang, Fu Jian had already sent troops to entirely surround the city. A youth whose arms lacked the strength to truss a chicken actually, at the most critical moment, successfully sneaking into a city surrounded on all sides by enemies was really a totally unfeasible thing.
Chen Xing could only reply honestly, “By luck. My luck has always been good.”
Xiang Shu scoffed. “Your luck’s good, and yet you were hit by a stray arrow?”
Chen Xing: “Suddenly, without knowing why, I became unlucky.”
Xiang Shu: “What did you enter Xiangyang for?”
Chen Xing said, puzzled, “To find you ah.”
Xiang Shu didn’t say anything anymore. Chen Xing’s heart blossomed with flowers as he was carried along by the horse that Xiang Shu was riding, through the main road outside of Mt. Longzhong, past fields being blown in the spring breeze.
Suddenly, Xiang Shu asked, “When you found me, how were you going to take me away? You never thought about it?”
“Ah,” Chen Xing said. “Feng-dage would help me.”
Xiang Shu: “Didn’t you two reunite after a long time? And how did you know that he would arrive at that critical time? You plainly hadn’t thought through it clearly yourself, otherwise you wouldn’t be surprised as well.”
Chen Xing: “...”
Xiang Shu’s observational skills were very sharp. From Chen Xing and Feng Qianjun’s reunion alone, he quickly deduced that these two people had been separated for a long time. Chen Xing couldn’t have been brought into Xiangyang by Feng Qianjun. Perhaps quite a few months had passed, or even a few years, since the last time they had seen each other. Which was to say, this youth, on his own, had entered Xiangyang, and did everything within his power to lie to Zhu Xu to get him to free Xiang Shu. After that, he was even going to bring him out of the city, unharmed.
Thankfully Feng Qianjun had come, otherwise with this youth alone, escaping from the fall of Xiangyang with the immobile him would be equivalent to asking for death.
Yet, he had clearly known that he would die, and yet he had come to save him. What exactly was this person thinking?
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), moon.