"On the left side of Li Jinglong’s chest, where his heart meridian was, that intricate bruise-green sigil appeared again."
Editor(s): juurensha, namio
In the backyard, Hongjun came over holding scissors. Lu Xu let out another loud shout as he hugged Mo Rigen close, not letting Hongjun touch Mo Rigen.
“I need to clean the wound for him before I can dress it.” Sensing that Lu Xu didn’t seem like an ordinary person, Hongjun explained patiently, “See, these are medicinal herbs.”
Lu Xu’s face was set in a doubtful expression, so Hongjun showed him the coagulant medicine. Lu Xu hesitated for a moment. Hongjun then handed him a pill, saying, “You feed this to him. It’s specially formulated to treat any traumatic exterior injuries. It’ll protect his heart meridian, and he’ll get better very quickly.”
The carp yao, standing to one side, said, “Hongjun, don’t give too many of those away. This is already the second one.”
Hongjun nodded. This pill was created from a phoenix’s white heavenly granules, along with 72 kinds of rare medicinal ingredients. Those phoenix’s white heavenly granules had the power of the Sacred Fire in them, and they could protect the heart meridians and improve the speed of healing for the wounds.
Lu Xu furrowed his brow and sniffed that pill, his gaze filled with suspicion. He then looked at Hongjun, as if to say, what medicine is this?
“His dad’s poop,” the carp yao interjected from one side.
Hongjun shouted, “Zhao, Zi, long! Are you asking to die?!”
The carp yao: “Isn’t it? Phoenix’s white was originally phoenix poop.”
Lu Xu: “...”
Mo Rigen let out a moan, as if he was in great pain. Lu Xu looked at the carp yao, then at Hongjun, before he finally pinched the pill to pieces in his hand and fed them into Mo Rigen’s mouth. Afterwards, he let him have some water. With that, Hongjun picked up the scissors and snipped open Mo Rigen’s clothes while to one side, the carp yao was still nattering on. “Outside of Daming Palace, did Zhangshi also eat your dad’s…”
With a single kick, Hongjun sent the carp yao flying out the doors.
Lu Xu watched Hongjun, who said, “Go draw some water. Are you his didi?”
Hongjun knew that Mo Rigen had five little brothers, but no matter how he looked at this youth, they looked nothing alike. Lu Xu only let out an en before ducking his head to carry the water basin. As soon as the medicine began to take effect, Mo Rigen woke up, and now he moaned out, “I coincidentally rescued him on the way. He’s called Lu Xu, he doesn’t talk much.”
Hongjun peeled off Mo Rigen’s clothes, making him lay there completely naked. Shutting his eyes, Mo Rigen said in a small voice, “Cold…”
Lu Xu came back with water, and Mo Rigen continued, “Let Hongjun wipe me down, Lu Xu, you go rest.”
Lu Xu jolted, but he obediently followed what Mo Rigen said. He put down the basin, some disappointment in his gaze, turned, and exited the room, but he didn’t leave.
As Hongjun wiped Mo Rigen’s body down for him, Mo Rigen managed to summon up a smile as he said, “Sorry, I’m embarrassed.”
Hongjun was torn between laughing and crying. “Then how would I not be embarrassed?”
Mo Rigen responded, “In the Huaqing Pool, we’ve seen each other before.”
Hongjun wiped the cloth over Mo Rigen’s chest. Mo Rigen’s entire body was riddled with wounds, with knife and sword cuts everywhere, which was a harrowing sight to see. Hongjun applied medicine to them for him, before hugging him around the neck, turning his head and rubbing it near the side of Mo Rigen’s ear. After comforting him, he then tucked him back in.
In the hall, Li Jinglong finished explaining the entire course of events. With this, Geshu Han had no choice but to believe him, as he had now seen it with his own eyes.
“Does the old general still require evidence?” Li Jinglong asked. “My brother brought along half a corpse. It’s just outside; as soon as you see it, you will know.”
“Bring it in,” Geshu Han said.
The guards carried that bundle in like they were about to face a powerful enemy. The corpse inside the bundle was still wriggling around ceaselessly, and everyone gathered had their hands on their weapons as they watched the corpse warily. But Li Jinglong indicated that it was no matter. After having them shield Geshu Han, he flicked the Sword of Wisdom in his hand.
The cloth was flicked aside.
Li Jinglong thought, damn, caught the wrong one.
The Grey Wolf had indeed caught half of a corpse from the chaotic battle. But because they were in a hurry, while it was originally supposed to catch the upper half, instead it had mistakenly grabbed the lower half...
The rest of that corpse had been torn off from above the waist, leaving behind just two legs contorted in a strange posture as it wriggled around on the ground. Upon seeing that scene, the assembled people felt it was both odd and absurd, but they couldn’t help the hairs rising on their neck.
Well, legs would work too, as long as they could serve as proof. With his sword in hand, Li Jinglong gestured for Geshu Han to look. Geshu Han’s eyes were completely round. Even though he had fought hundreds of battles, he couldn’t help being frightened by this as well for a bit.
“Kill it quickly!” Qin Liang said. “Li-zhangshi!”
The gazes of the guards in the hall were all filled with horror as they watched those legs writhe around on the floor in an irregular path, flailing wildly. Wherever those legs got close to a group of people, those people would let out loud shouts. Li Jinglong then sent the power of the Heart Lamp into the Sword of Wisdom, which began to glow with a white light as he prepared to kill it, but he didn’t know how to kill it.
“Li Jinglong! Kill it!” Geshu Han roared.
Li Jinglong racked his brains, but in the end, he had no choice. He could only stab his sword into the crotch area between those two legs.
Those legs finally quieted as they died for good.
Li Jinglong pressed a hand against his forehead, saying, “You don’t need to return any kind of innocence to me either; throughout my life I’ve already grown used to other people gossiping about me. As for the rest, old general, you do as you see fit. But whether it be riding out to war or defeating yao, if you have need of us, just give us the command, and we will do our duty.”
For a while, the atmosphere in the hall was extremely odd. Li Jinglong left the rest of them to stew. He reached a hand to sheathe his sword on his back and returned to the room to see how Mo Rigen was doing.
Hongjun was sitting outside, shoulder to shoulder with Lu Xu, each of them holding a giant bowl containing a steaming portion of rice blanketed with green vegetables and slices of meat. Both of them were very hungry, and as Hongjun ate, he explained his relationship with Mo Rigen to Lu Xu, since Lu Xu seemed to hold a little hostility towards him. When Li Jinglong came over, Lu Xu warily appraised him.
“This is our zhangshi,” Hongjun introduced.
Li Jinglong pushed open the door and went in, and upon seeing that Mo Rigen had already fallen asleep, said to Lu Xu, “This little brother, may I trouble you to keep…”
Hongjun cut in. “I’ll keep watch ba, everyone’s very tired.”
But Li Jinglong responded, “Why are you sticking your nose into so many things? Go, go, go.”
In the depths of the night, the general’s estate was still blazing with light; clearly, no one had gone to sleep yet. Li Jinglong and Hongjun were in one room, with two beds. Li Jinglong, with a brush in hand, was writing a letter to the crown prince all the way in distant Chang’an. This time, he wrote as if he was possessed by a deity, entirely without any hesitation, and when he was done, he folded up the military report and put it into an envelope. Hongjun, just like the night before, was curled up in his blankets like a rolled up bing stuffed with egg as he said, “Stop writing, come sleep ba.”
Li Jinglong closed the letter and affixed the seal. He also had quite a few bruises scattered across his body, as well as two shallow blade wounds. After he untied his outer robe, he dressed those wounds on his own, but just as he was about to put out the light, Hongjun asked, “You’re not going to help them out?”
Li Jinglong stopped in his tracks and said, “What exactly do you want me to do? First you want me to sleep, now you want me to go help out.”
Hongjun hurried to respond. “Sleep ba. I’m only worried that if the corpse ghosts come again and we don’t pay them any attention, what will we do if they go to pillage another village?”
Li Jinglong responded, “It’s not like we can beat them. If we were to chase them around everywhere, I would drop dead of exhaustion. Geshu Han is already setting up defenses, and he’s currently gathering his men to lead the citizens of the cities in the Hexi region to safety, into this big city. They’re currently discussing plans and will do so throughout the night. As soon as this matter is dealt with, we will no longer need to worry. You can rest easy; we probably won’t get a rest after tonight, because it’ll be our turn to do our jobs.”
Hongjun was still worrying over that ten-thousand-strong corpse ghost army from today. Li Jinglong laid down, and Hongjun, still a little uneasy, asked, “Zhangshi… how many people died today?”
“Your first battle?” Li Jinglong asked.
Hongjun en-ed. In today’s battle, if the casualties didn’t number in the tens of thousands, they still numbered in the thousands. How were the bodies supposed to be brought back and dealt with? The battlefield was so bloody. Whenever one side charged, limbs would go flying like a mighty current. That sight made him unable to sleep.
Li Jinglong said, “This is also my first time, don’t be afraid.”
Hongjun sighed. Outside, the wind had once again begun to blow and sob, and Li Jinglong said, “What the hell, how come the winters of the northeast are this cold?”
“Come here where I am ba,” Hongjun said. “My spot’s warm.”
Li Jinglong could only crawl over, dragging his blankets with him. The two of them slept together, and with two blankets on top of them, it finally grew warm.
In the darkness, from all directions, the great corpse ghost army approached Liangzhou City completely soundlessly, the thud of the horses’ hooves dampened, almost inaudible. Across the desolate plains, it was so silent that there was only the wu wu of the wind as a tall, broad general rode at the head of the troop, up onto the summit of a small hill outside the city.
His build was sturdy and tall, and he was wearing a set of black armor and a black lion-shaped helmet. That armor only wrapped around his muscular chest and shoulders, revealing his well-built arms. He was different from his dried corpse subordinates; his skin was a blue-grey, as if the hot blood had cooled in his veins, and after it had solidified, it had turned dark blue and slate grey. His eyes were deeply set in his face, his pupils still maintaining their previous shape. His face was free of any cracks, and his eyebrows, hair, and nails were deceptively lifelike.
He was like a wax figure, and the only thing that proved that he didn’t have a body temperature was that when the snow landed on his bare skin, the flakes didn’t melt. His body was like a grey rock collecting snow atop itself as he stood there on the top of the hill, silently observing Liangzhou City in the distance.
The snow fell harder and harder. In the midst of the falling snowflakes came a woman’s graceful voice.
“Is it finally about to begin?”
Another male voice, one with a carefree drawl to it, replied quietly, “The corpse ghosts that fell in battle have all arrived, what do you think?”
The morning of the next day, before the sky had even lightened, the city began to ring with the dang-- dang-- dang-- of the alarm bells. Hongjun startled awake and immediately reached out to the side with one arm, only for his palm to be caught by Li Jinglong’s hand.
The two of them had slept soundly in the blankets, and Li Jinglong had clearly woken even earlier than him. They laid there, their eyes open, listening to the footsteps outside going back and forth. Li Jinglong, still holding Hongjun’s hand, placed it on his own chest.
“You don’t need to worry anymore,” Li Jinglong said.
Hongjun was already wide awake, and he responded, “They're here.”
Li Jinglong said, “I’ll go first to see how things are…”
But just as he finished speaking and was about to rise, Li Jinglong felt a wave of pain from his heart. He pressed his hand to that area, panting heavily. Hongjun sat up, asking in a low voice, “Let me see?”
Last night, aside from the lives of the citizens and the soldiers, Hongjun was also worried about Li Jinglong’s Heart Lamp. Both of them were wearing snow-white inner robes, and Hongjun reached a hand out to untie Li Jinglong’s sash to inspect his chest. On his bare chest, the seal that the kun god had left had already lightened quite a bit.
“The kun god’s yao power is not limitless,” Hongjun said. “It won’t be able to hold out for too long.”
“Every step counts,” Li Jinglong said. “There’s no other way.”
He looked at Hongjun, but Hongjun asked, “Let me try?”
Li Jinglong’s expression changed, and Hongjun lightly slid his index and middle finger along the seal on Li Jinglong’s chest. His fingertips glowed with the light of mana as he said quietly, “I understand… so it had this meaning.”
“What meaning?” Li Jinglong turned his head, speaking almost right into Hongjun’s ear. Their breaths mingled, and Hongjun’s ears turned red to the root as he said, “Stop teasing.”
“This sigil that the kun god left,” Hongjun continued, “is used to protect your heart meridian by injecting mana into it. It must be a yao… it has the power of the yao clan.” When he got to this point, Hongjun once again grew a little nervous, and he glanced at Li Jinglong, who said, “So, you can also carve this sigil in deeper.”
Hongjun nodded and said, “If you don’t mind…”
“How could I mind?” Li Jinglong asked.
Reassured, Hongjun began to pour his yao mana into that seal. He suddenly thought of something, and he said, “As for my pills, no matter what Zhao Zilong says, you must never trust what it says.”
Li Jinglong: “???”
“Alright.” Hongjun wiped his hand across Li Jinglong’s chest, pouring his yao power into the seal that the kun god had left behind. On the left side of Li Jinglong’s chest, where his heart meridian was, that intricate bruise-green sigil appeared again.
“Mine looks pretty ugly,” Hongjun said, frowning. “Let me see if I can change the shape…” He wanted to borrow his yao power to adjust that sigil, but Li Jinglong was torn between laughing and crying. “Aside from you, who else will see it? Let’s go!”
In the snow and wind, Li Jinglong rapidly climbed up onto the Liangzhou city walls, looking into the distance.
Geshu Han, Zhang Hao, and the officers of the Hexi troop, as well as Qin Liang and the rest had already arrived. Outside the city, in all directions, were corpse ghosts as far as the eye could see.
Li Jinglong murmured, “So many came?”
Geshu Han sucked in a deep breath, before answering, “I, for one, want to see how exactly these yaoguai are planning on conquering this fortress that is as impregnable as steel! Zhang Hao, send out the messenger pigeons. I don’t care what method you use, but within three days, you must gather all of the troops in the Hexi region in this area to mount a pincer attack on these monsters with me!”
Li Jinglong’s expression changed, but just as he was about to dissuade him, Qin Liang shot him a look. Geshu Han glanced at Li Jinglong and said, “Li Jinglong, come with me, I have something to ask you.”
Winter was coming. The landscape outside the general’s estate was covered in pine trees. Quite a few of them had collapsed under the weight of the snow, and they let out crackles and hualalas as the snow fell.
After taking the pill, Mo Rigen had fallen asleep. His wounds began to heal and scab over, but they were a little warm. Hongjun fed him a little bit of rice gruel before letting him continue sleeping; he imagined that he was probably extremely tired. Hongjun then carried the bowl out, and he and Lu Xu sat shoulder to shoulder in the corridor, eating.
As Lu Xu ate, he reached out to grab some snow to eat, but Hongjun hurriedly gave him some water instead, and told him to stop grabbing snow and shoveling it into his mouth.
“Yo, isn’t this that half-wit from Xueling?” In the general’s estate, a guard spotted him.
Hongjun looked at Lu Xu, then at that guard. A wary expression immediately appeared in Lu Xu’s eyes. The guard, upon seeing that these two weak, small youths were squatting there staring at him without saying a word like two mutts, came forward and said, “Half-wit, I’m your dad, call me dad.”
Lu Xu looked at that guard, and his tears suddenly flowed out.
In the main hall of the general’s estate.
Geshu Han coughed non-stop as Li Jinglong spread open the volume that Hongjun had given him. He said to the gathered group, “Everyone, these monsters are called ‘corpse ghosts’. To be accurate, they are formed from the bodies of soldiers who fell in battle during changes in dynasties and eras. They are also called ‘corpse ghosts that fell in battle’.”
Geshu Han asked, “There is no detailed explanation in the book, so where did you learn of their origins?”
Li Jinglong glanced at Qin Liang, but Qin Liang didn’t say anything, instead coughing a few times. Li Jinglong knew that he didn’t want to talk about his past experiences, so he replied in a composed manner, “In the Exorcism Department, there were records of them in the archives.”
“Is there any way to break their magic?” Geshu Han then asked.
“There is no method,” Li Jinglong replied solemnly. “But this group of corpse ghosts that fell in battle retreated during yesterday’s battle clearly due to some kind of signal. With that, this humble servant guesses that they more or less must have a leader. As long as we can find this leader, perhaps we can make them pull back their forces.”
Just at this time, a hubbub rose from the backyard, accompanied by Hongjun’s voice. Li Jinglong jolted, and he hurried over like a gust of wind. Geshu Han’s brows furrowed deeply as the gathered group rose, not knowing what had happened.
In the backyard, Hongjun sent that guard flying into the hallway with a single kick, and the guard almost coughed up blood.
“Are you going to keep bullying him and making him call you dad?” Hongjun asked. “See if I don’t beat you to death!”
“Don’t attack!” Li Jinglong said. “Didn’t you say you wouldn’t beat up mortals?”
Several guards lifted that guard to his feet, and Geshu Han said angrily, “Who attacked first?!”
As soon as Li Jinglong saw this, he knew what had happened. More likely than not, the guard had been bullying Lu Xu, and Hongjun couldn’t resist lashing out to teach him a lesson. Li Jinglong hurried to say, “It’s no big deal, old general, as long as it’s explained, then it’s fine.”
Geshu Han coughed a few times, his finger pointing at Hongjun as if he wanted to say something. Hongjun’s expression suddenly changed, and he asked with trepidation, “You’re alright ba?”
That sentence of Geshu Han’s didn’t leave his mouth for a long while. Lu Xu hid behind Hongjun, watching Geshu Han curiously.
“He’s dead,” Lu Xu said.
That sentence was like a heavy hammer that collided solidly with everyone’s chests as they saw Geshu Han, blood flowing out of his mouth and nose as he toppled backwards.
Everyone let out panicked cries as they hurried forward to hold Geshu Han up.
moon: next time, the continued adventures of bing-jun and cherry biluo zhangshi
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), moon.