2

Chapter 25 - Chen Zhen

Post Training Notice: National First-Class Registered Exorcist


"A mink was perched on one of the young man’s shoulders."


Translator(s): moon
Editor(s): Jane, jelly, juurensha

Always support our Chicken Lord by buying the original work whenever you can! Link for each platform's guide to purchase the raws can be seen on our FAQs.

When they arrived in Beijing, it was eight o’clock at night.

The dry heat of early summer had yet to fully dissipate, and Chi Xiaoduo and Xiang Cheng exited the station amidst the billowing waves of people.

Chi Xiaoduo felt that he and Xiang Cheng were like two laborers who had headed to Beijing in search of a job, and he felt the kind of fear associated with leaving his hometown behind, without a place to stay. Xiang Cheng carried two bags on his back and held a plastic bag in his hand as he hurried to give someone a call.

“Yes.”

“That’s right.”

“Alright, I’ve brought someone.”

Xiang Cheng kept an eye on Chi Xiaoduo, not letting him out of his sight for even a moment, before finally hanging up.

“Where are we going?” Chi Xiaoduo asked. “Has the hotel been booked?”

Xiang Cheng said, “My friend found us a place to stay. We’ll take Line 2 to Xizhimen station, then change to Line 13 to Longze. Then, we take...which bus was it? For five stations, and walk for… how long?”

Chi Xiaoduo: “...”

After they squeezed onto the subway, Chi Xiaoduo asked, “Which station are we changing lines at?”

Xiang Cheng’s expression was one of confusion.

Chi Xiaoduo: “...”

“I’ve got it.” Xiang Cheng snapped his fingers.

“GPS,” Chi Xiaoduo said, as an idea came to him.

Xiang Cheng said, “I have a friend in Beijing who’s a government official, let me ask him.”

Chi Xiaoduo was squished so much that he was pressed up against Xiang Cheng. He couldn’t even reach the handles, so he could only hold onto Xiang Cheng’s arm. Xiang Cheng made a call, but the person on the other end didn’t pick up, so he could only make a call back to that first person who had arranged living quarters for him.

When they were changing subway lines, they had to wait two rounds before they successfully squeezed onto the right train. Chi Xiaoduo was very tired, and under the dim lights, he hugged Xiang Cheng as he nodded off. Xiang Cheng turned his head to study their surroundings from time to time, as if he was on guard about something. Beijing was really too big, and the slow, long, and boring line transfers seemed endless . Every person was standing on every sort of vehicle, speeding towards the next station in their life, which even they themselves didn’t know.

“We’re here,” Xiang Cheng said, nudging Chi Xiaoduo.

In the depths of the night, the two of them searched as they walked under the light of the streetlights. Xiang Cheng asked, “Do you regret it now?”

“I don’t.” Chi Xiaoduo mustered his energy. He did actually feel a little regret, but since he was with Xiang Cheng, he was still eagerly anticipating their future life. Xiang Cheng stopped in his steps, closely observing Chi Xiaoduo.

“Is your eye a little better?” Xiang Cheng asked.

“Huh?” Chi Xiaoduo’s eyes didn’t have a problem in the first place. Xiang Cheng, however, used his hand to spread open the lids of his left eye, taking a look under the light of the streetlamps.

“Is it very red?”

“It isn’t.” Xiang Cheng immediately let go.

The two of them followed the address on the text message, found the sixth floor, and knocked on the door until it opened.

“Xiang Cheng?” a man, his torso bare, asked, a cigarette dangling from his mouth.

Xiang Cheng nodded, and that man handed a key to him, saying, “The innermost one.”

This was a residence with three bedrooms and one living room, but it had been remodeled into five rooms with the addition of a wooden partition. Someone was playing the guitar, someone else was playing cards, and when Chi Xiaoduo passed by the largest room, he peeked in curiously, only to see that two girls were drying their clothes inside the room.

Xiang Cheng opened the door, and Chi Xiaoduo’s heart blossomed with glee.

There was only one bed!!

This was really too good.

“Let’s stay here for now,” Xiang Cheng said. “Tomorrow I’ll go ask around and see if there are any better housing communities.”

“It’s okay,” Chi Xiaoduo said with heartfelt admiration. “This is already very good!”

Xiang Cheng put away their things. There was only one bed, and Chi Xiaoduo went to take a look in the bathroom, which was a complete mess. The hot water heater seemed like it was about to explode at any moment, so he just quickly took a shower. There was no air conditioning, and the two of them laid on the bed, shoulder to shoulder.

“We’ll go buy a bamboo mat tomorrow,” Xiang Cheng said.

Chi Xiaoduo’s short hair was dripping wet as he replied, “En, this place is pretty fun.”

“It’s very good,” Xiang Cheng said. “When I was poor, I’ve even slept under an overpass before. Sleep ba, the train ride tired you out.”

The two of them turned off the lights. Outside, someone let out a loud roar of “I’m going to sleep, stop playing the guitar”, and with that, the world quieted. The silence was occasionally broken by a quiet laugh or two from the women.

“Xiang Cheng,” Chi Xiaoduo said lightly in the darkness.

Xiang Cheng didn’t respond, so Chi Xiaoduo nudged him gently with his elbow.

“I’m listening,” Xiang Cheng responded.

“Where’s Si Gui?” Chi Xiaoduo asked.

“Don’t worry about it,” Xiang Cheng said. “It’s gone off on its own to find food. Are you hot? Let me fan you a bit.”

“No need,” Chi Xiaoduo said.

The two of them were quiet again for a little longer, before Chi Xiaoduo asked in a small voice, in the darkness, “Will I bring you more trouble, having come with you to Beijing like this?”

“No,” Xiang Cheng said. “How can you say that? I want to be with you. I don’t feel safe leaving you at home.”

“It’s nothing much,” Chi Xiaoduo said, but he couldn’t help feeling a little apprehensive.

“You weren’t going to work,” Xiang Cheng said, “so what would you do at home? I was afraid you’d be lonely, so coming together with me is perfect.”

En.” Chi Xiaoduo’s heart grew calm, and he scooted towards Xiang Cheng’s side. He found that the weather in Beijing was indeed very hot, and they didn’t have a fan in the room. He’d have to go buy one tomorrow.

Chi Xiaoduo wanted to say something else, but he was also afraid that Xiang Cheng wanted to go to sleep and his continued talking would annoy him. He wondered, if he hugged Xiang Cheng, would that make him uncomfortable? What if he pretended that his sleeping posture was not good and went to dangle off his body like a koala?

Chi Xiaoduo waited for Xiang Cheng to fall soundly asleep so that he could scoot over. Xiang Cheng’s breathing evened out, but it was unclear if he had actually fallen asleep or not. After a long wait in the darkness, Chi Xiaoduo heard their neighbors begin to shake the bed.

The rented place was for these drifters to stay in, so the soundproofing was not good. The shaking of the bed was accompanied by the sound of a man breathing heavily, while the other party seemed to exercise a great deal of restraint, holding in their voice the entire time. That man’s stamina was far too good, and his heavy breathing was accompanied by him asking, “does it feel good?”, “is hubby big or not?”.

Chi Xiaoduo was about to go insane from listening to that, and he sprawled on the bed, feeling so awkward that he could die. He didn’t dare to move either, and he wished with all his might that they would finish soon, but the other room continued for almost half an hour, in which time Xiang Cheng turned over twice, and once when he did that, he touched Chi Xiaoduo’s foot.

Chi Xiaoduo swallowed his saliva. Xiang Cheng turned over, putting one hand at his waist, hugging him from behind.

Chi Xiaoduo’s heart leapt wildly, wondering if he should turn and hug Xiang Cheng, and a moment later, he felt Xiang Cheng move a bit, as if he was leaving his pillow to look at him.

Chi Xiaoduo was so nervous that he was about to die, but he didn’t dare to move randomly either. The shaking of the bed next door finally stopped. The bedroom door opened, then the bathroom door opened, and there was the sound of water splashing as someone took a shower.

Chi Xiaoduo thought, this shared rental apartment is really too much.

The two of them were a bit too close, and it was a little hot. Xiang Cheng turned over again, and Chi Xiaoduo’s heart leapt wildly, but Xiang Cheng didn’t turn back over. Chi Xiaoduo had sat on a train for a day and a night, and now he was so tired that he was about to die. His eyelids fought each other, and soon, he fell asleep as well.

In the middle of the night, Chi Xiaoduo scratched wildly all over his body.

“Hot?” Xiang Cheng asked.

“Mosquitoes…” Chi Xiaoduo mumbled. He was on the verge of tears as he rolled around.

Xiang Cheng held up a book, fanning Chi Xiaoduo, and Chi Xiaoduo, finally fulfilling his heart’s desire, managed to hug Xiang Cheng, as Xiang Cheng fanned him for the entire night.

With that, they began their life in Beijing. The capital, in June, was already a little hot, and though the heat of the summer was nothing compared to that of Guangzhou, the most difficult thing to deal with was that there was no AC in their home. During the day, Xiang Cheng took Chi Xiaoduo across several bus lines, going back and forth to find street food. The entire day after that, they spent in the library.

“Are these also study materials?” Chi Xiaoduo stared oddly at Xiang Cheng’s volumes of In Search of the Supernatural and Youminglu.

“Regional legends,” Xiang Cheng said. “A must have for a tour guide.”

Chi Xiaoduo: “...”

Xiang Cheng was a little stumped while looking at those words, because even though he could read traditional characters and recognize most of them, when they were strung together, he couldn’t understand them any more. These ancient texts were really going to be the end of him.

“Do you want an explanatory text?” Chi Xiaoduo watched Xiang Cheng’s fingers move through and check, line by line.

“No need,” Xiang Cheng replied. “The explanatory texts have too many parts where they make assumptions. Help me see if there’s the Book of Gods and Strange Things and Kongshi Zhiguai

Chi Xiaoduo: “Do you want the Classic of Mountains and Seas and Huainanzi?”

“The Classic of Mountains and Seas isn’t reliable, it’s too old,” Xiang Cheng replied. “Huainanzi and the Records of Diverse Matters ba.”

Chi Xiaoduo went to find the books, while Xiang Cheng looked through the tour guide material, making notes studiously on the introduction to the regions as well as flipping through various books. Chi Xiaoduo had been a top student for so many years, so he thought that since he had nothing to do anyway, he could get a cost engineer certification at the same time, and when he was done playing around, he could also go hang that up and get money.

They continued like this for almost half a month, self-studying all day and listening to the bed shake at night. Chi Xiaoduo actually really liked this kind of life, especially this feeling of studying earnestly with Xiang Cheng every day to prepare for a test, because it was just like the two of them were going through university again. They had returned to those carefree summers spent on campus, wearing white t-shirts and shorts, each working hard towards their own goal in the public self-study room.

Xiang Cheng filled up their temporary living space a little, and he bought a few appliances. Aside from the first day when he and Chi Xiaoduo had been squished very close, his chance disappeared after that. Chi Xiaoduo was constantly waiting for a chance when he could successfully, in a logical fashion, get to hug him a bit.

One day towards the end of June, the weather was extremely hot and humid. Chi Xiaoduo woke up in the middle of the night and turned over, only to find that the bed was empty. Xiang Cheng had disappeared, and there were noises coming from the bathroom.

Chi Xiaoduo thought that Xiang Cheng had gone to pee, so he slumped on his stomach and continued to sleep, but very indistinctly, the sound of the door opening outside traveled to his ear. It was the next door neighbor who had finished shaking the bed and gone to shower, and Chi Xiaoduo immediately woke up.

Where had Xiang Cheng gone?

Dark clouds covered the moon, and the entire city was muggy beyond belief.

Xiang Cheng held a bottle of beer, his upper half bare, wearing nothing more than a pair of white athletic shorts. His body was sweaty as he sat by the flowerbed outside Huilongguan Street, listening to music, quietly drinking beer under the streetlights.

His hair had been cut very short, and his eyes had a sharp edge to them that he failed to hide. In the flowerbed next to him was stuck the Demon-Subduing Staff.

An old man with a cane walked over along the road, and Xiang Cheng reached out with the Demon-Subduing Staff, blocking that old man’s way forward.

“I didn’t kill him,” the old man said, quivering. “The goods aren’t with me either, young man, it’s not good to have too much resentment. I knew that today, you would come.”

Xiang Cheng said coldly, “I waited for you for seventeen nights, come with me.”

At two o’clock, Chi Xiaoduo was being blown by the breeze from the fan, his expression one of dismay.

Where did he go? Where did he go… where exactly could he have gone! Chi Xiaoduo was about to go insane. It was the middle of the night, how come he wasn’t at home? Had he gone to take a customer? Impossible! He couldn’t have gone to take up his old line of work again, could he?!

Chi Xiaoduo hastily took a shower, then sat back on the bed, every day passing like a year. Three o’clock, four o’clock, five o’clock.

The sky brightened, and Chi Xiaoduo was on the verge of tears.

At eight-thirty, Xiang Cheng still hadn’t come back. Chi Xiaoduo began to call him -- but his phone was off.

That couldn’t be, his phone was out of battery? Chi Xiaoduo was on the verge of despair.

At ten o’clock in the morning, Chi Xiaoduo’s feelings were that he was so tired and so hungry… why hadn’t Xiang Cheng come back yet...

At two in the afternoon, the husband and wife next door were having a shouting match. Chi Xiaoduo fell face first downwards, on his last breath. He was unable to hold out any longer, and he fell asleep again.

When he woke up, the tenants of the rented apartment had returned, and they were loud and boisterous as they took a shower. The room was still dark. Chi Xiaoduo swiped on his phone. It was ten at night, and there were no missed calls.

No way… he still hadn’t come back?

 Chi Xiaoduo had a sense of foreboding that something terrible had happened, but when he tried to make a call to his bestie, his bestie didn’t pick up.

From yesterday night at twelve o’clock to tonight at ten, it was almost about to be 24 hours. What had happened?

Chi Xiaoduo sat up and began to rummage through Xiang Cheng’s bag. He poured the contents out haphazardly onto the bed, but Xiang Cheng hadn’t taken anything with him… that wasn’t right, what was this?

There was a handful of ancient copper coins, which were carved with the four words “mountain, sea, bright, light”, a few stone guardians that were completely identical with the one placed at the head of the bed, as well as a beat-up umbrella with its spokes exposed. Chi Xiaoduo hadn’t checked Xiang Cheng’s luggage before, nor had he gone through his bag, and there were so many odd things in there.

Xiang Cheng would definitely never leave him behind and disappear for 24 hours without a word, so there was only one possibility -- he had gone missing.

Chi Xiaoduo’s eyes immediately reddened, and he almost burst out into tears. He hurried to tell himself, calm down, calm down, you must not panic, did he get robbed when he went out in the middle of the night to buy things? The more Chi Xiaoduo thought about it, the more he felt afraid, and he rubbed his temples. Should he report it to the police? He’d go report it to the police first.

Chi Xiaoduo had been hungry for an entire day, and his head spun as he went down the stairs, only to find that it had begun to rain in Beijing. The cars went back and forth, and when he was crossing the street he almost got hit; thankfully it was a scare, and he was okay. His mind, however, began to think along these lines in response to that, and he thought of a possibility: could Xiang Cheng have been hit by a car when he went downstairs to buy things?

No, no, he shouldn’t scare himself like this.

Chi Xiaoduo asked his way to the Huilongguan Police Station, and half an hour later, he sat like a drenched chicken in front of the counter at the police station, panting for breath.

“Don’t be nervous,” the cop said, pouring him a glass of water. “Speak slowly, what happened?”

“My friend’s gone missing,” Chi Xiaoduo said.

“How long has he been missing for?”

“One day… a day and night.”

The rain lessened a little, and Chi Xiaoduo braved the rain as he walked out of the station. Since it hadn’t been 72 hours yet, he couldn’t open a case, and the cop only simply noted it down and sent Chi Xiaoduo back home to wait.

His bestie called, and Chi Xiaoduo was about to go crazy. He yelped, “Xiang Cheng’s gone missing!”

Wu,” his bestie said, her face expressionless as she patted cream onto her face. “And then? Come back, what are you doing running off to Beijing? Come back quickly, and let’s go learn how to arrange flowers ba.”

Chi Xiaoduo replied, “Stop joking around! I’m dying of anxiety!”

His bestie said, “Let me tell you, today I saw a book, where after the gong confirmed his relationship with the shou and they went to bed, he disappeared like steam from the human realm after that. This kind of thing, don’t take it too seriously. Come back home ba, maybe the other party really has fallen in love with you, but feels like he doesn’t have the qualifications to be with you…”

“Impossible,” Chi Xiaoduo said dejectedly. “I won’t believe it. For a person who was perfectly fine a moment ago to disappear so suddenly, definitely means that there’s a problem. Plus, Xiang Cheng’s not that kind of person.”

“You may know a person’s face, but you do not know their heart,” his bestie replied. “How about this, don’t worry too much. Wait one more day, and if he hasn’t come back then, I’ll fly to Beijing and help you search?”

“What’s happening?” Qi Wei’s voice said from the other end.

“Qiqi!” Chi Xiaoduo said. “Quick, let Qiqi speak.”

Qi Wei took the phone, and Chi Xiaoduo explained what was going on. Qi Wei only listened silently, but Chi Xiaoduo remembered what Xiang Cheng had said before they came, and he asked, “Xiang Cheng said you asked him to do something, what was it? Is it dangerous? What exactly are you two doing behind my back?”

Qi Wei replied, “Don’t worry, I’ll contact my friend in Beijing right now. I haven’t even handed off my task to him; I merely heard that he was going to Beijing to take his exam, so I mentioned it off-handedly.”

Chi Xiaoduo sighed, and after agreeing to contact each other whenever something came up, he went home.

Sitting like this, doing nothing, was also not going to work. Chi Xiaoduo thought for a bit, and he concluded that he still had to think of some way to do something.

He knocked on door after door, and after taking a loop and asking around, none of the people sharing the apartment knew where Xiang Cheng had gone. Only a bespectacled man from next door that shook the bed said, “Your gege? I ran into him last night.”

“Where?” Chi Xiaoduo asked.

“The convenience store outside the Huilongguan New District,” the bespectacled man said. “I saw that he had finished running and was buying beer to drink. What’s up? He didn’t come back the entire night?”

Chi Xiaoduo picked up Xiang Cheng’s broken umbrella and went down again. Under the continued pattering of the raindrops, he opened the black umbrella and waded through the water onto the street. He found the convenience store that the bespectacled man had been talking about, and pulled out his phone, asking the worker if this person had come to buy things last night?

The worker just happened to be the same one from the night shift, and he had a strong impression of the man with the sculpted pecs and athletic style. He told Chi Xiaoduo, and Chi Xiaoduo kept searching along the way.

Chi Xiaoduo took two rounds along the route that Xiang Cheng had been on, but with no reward.

The light rain swirled through the air, blanketing the dark sky as it fell, raining down onto the human realm, raining down towards the vast land. Under the yellow haze of the streetlights, the rain was like ox hairs. Chi Xiaoduo lifted his head from under the umbrella, staring fixedly at the sky.

At eleven o’clock at night, Chi Xiaoduo pushed open the door to their rented place. Inside was completely quiet, but there was the sound of a quiet chuckle.

Two cops stood at the entrance, as well as a young man. Chi Xiaoduo’s expression changed, and his mind immediately conjured up the movie script scenario of the cop saying to him, “Hello, little comrade, we found your friend’s body”.

A mink was perched on one of the young man’s shoulders, and it watched Chi Xiaoduo with a piercing gaze. Chi Xiaoduo met its gaze for a while, guessing at the young man’s identity internally.

“Hello,” the young man reached out a hand, shaking hands with Chen Zhen.

Hello,” Chi Xiaoduo said, nodding puzzledly.

“Let me introduce myself, my name is Chen Zhen,” that young man said. “As for the rest, let’s talk at the police station ba.”


This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), moon.

Contributors

moon

Translator, writer, avid reader. 吃刀群众. Jiejie enthusiast.

Reach out to me via the links to the right if you would like to re-translate any of my works. Please allow 2 business days for a response to an email or a DM.

Jane

Where is food?

jelly

yolk heathen

juurensha

Fic writer, editor, and translator for GHOFD, PUBG, Fanservice Paradox, and other projects.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
2 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
MiN
MiN
1 month ago

Thank you very much for translating this chapter. I’ll wait for the next one: 3 ❤️

MiN
MiN
1 month ago

Waaaa, I can’t wait for the continuation Thank you very much for the translation 👌