(note on title: 逗比 (dòu bǐ) means “silly but amusing person” so I chose to tl it as derpy since it sounds similar~)
“You imbecile, do you not know how to fight them yourself? Isn’t it just a jiangshi?!”
Gu Mang stopped moving.
“Hahaha!” Yue Chenqing laughed, “My Fourth Uncle is too awesome, it’s so effective!”
Murong Lian said impatiently: “What bloody use was that? He can’t move right now, so do you plan to just leave him here? Or do you intend to carry him on your back?”
“It’s fine, we can just leave him here.” Yue Chenqing said, “This restriction talisman has a Heavenly Calamity Curse casted on it. No matter how strong they are, they won’t be able to destroy it in a jiffy, or touch him.”
But Mo Xi said: “We cannot leave him alone here.”
“But the Heavenly Calamity Curse is super awesome, no one can——”
“Just in case.” Mo Xi said, “Do you have any other artefacts that can be used to take him with us?”
Yue Chenqing pondered for a moment, then gasped an “ah” and said: “I do, I do! Wait for me, guys!” As he said this, he began to rummage through his qiankun1[乾坤囊 literally translates to “heaven and earth pouch” and refers to those Mary Poppins pouches that can store anything under the sun in it, regardless of size, that every xianxia character has. gimme one….] pouch, and after digging around for a while, he pulled out a little bamboo man.
Murong Lian said: “Isn’t this that lousy gadget that all the kids in the city are hacking at each other with?”
“It’s the same principle, just that this one has a spell casted on it.” Yue Chenqing said, then placed the palm-sized little bamboo man on the ground, and muttered a string of incantations.
“Eh? Seems like I remembered it wrong, lemme try again. Murong-dage, Xihe-Jun, don’t you worry.” Yue Chenqing scratched his cheeks and racked his brains, then tried several different incantations. Just when Murong Lian was preparing to interrupt him out of utter annoyance, all of a sudden, a golden light shone, and the bamboo man rose from the ground, transforming from a palm-sized toy into a human-sized bamboo warrior.
Yue Chenqing grinned: “There we go!” After he said this, he supported Gu Mang, who was unable to move at all, and looked towards Mo Xi and Murong Lian with his round eyes, “Come help me out?”
With an insincere smile plastered on his face, Murong Lian said: “I won’t touch him. I hate filth.”
Mo Xi had originally stood to the side with his arms crossed, but at this moment, he walked forward, and without showing any expression, he asked: “What do you want me to do?”
“I’m gonna fasten his arms and legs to the arms and legs of the bamboo warrior. There are buckles on the bamboo warrior, can you see it?”
Mo Xi did as he was told. Although Gu Mang was restricted by the restriction talisman and could not move or speak, he was keenly aware of what was happening around him, and he fixed his eyes on the two people moving about his arms and legs, glaring at Mo Xi one moment, and at Yue Chenqing the next.
After the two of them tied Gu Mang onto the bamboo warrior, Yue Chenqing used the rope on the bamboo warrior’s waist and wrapped it around Gu Mang four or five times. Then, he whistled and said: “Alright, try taking two steps forward?”
With a “thud, thud, thud”, the bamboo warrior began to walk forward, moving its arms and legs in parallel, and because Gu Mang was bound to it, he also was forced to, with a “thud, thud, thud”, walk forward with his arms and legs in parallel.
This was an extremely exquisite and interesting artefact, and if it were any other person, they would all be full of praise. Unfortunately, by Yue Chenqing’s side, one of them was Xihe-Jun, who was stuffy enough in personality to kill, and the other was Wangshu-Jun, who was picky enough in personality to kill.
Xihe-Jun crossed his arms, remaining silent as he just watched on. Wangshu-Jun snorted: “It’s just something insignificant from the Yue Manor.” He inhaled two mouthfuls of Rapture then blew it out, pointing his pipe towards Gu Mang: “What else can it do apart from walk?”
“Fight, avoid regular attacks, it can do all of that.” Yue Chenqing took no offense, remaining just as pleased with himself as before, “It can also dance.”
Murong Lian bit the lip of his pipe, narrowing his eyes as he mulled over it for a while, then said: “Why don’t you have it dance for us to see?”
Yue Chenqing whistled once more, and sure enough, the bamboo warrior began to stiffly move side to side, and Gu Mang too had no choice but to follow the bamboo warrior as it swayed to the left, then swayed to the right. Although his movements were adorable, that pair of snow wolf-like blue eyes were glaring with the utmost ferocity; it seemed that if he was able to move, he would definitely have bit them to death and ripped them apart.
“It can also do the Hu whirling dance, you just ——”
“That’s enough.” Mo Xi interrupted him, “Let’s go.”
After a pause, he added: “Give the bamboo warrior an order to follow at the back.”
The cave where the apparition hid in was dim and extremely deep, and within the large cave, many split roads separated into several smaller caverns. The three men…and a bamboo warrior holding a Gu Mang, the four of them slowly walked inwards. Throughout the hollow, secluded cave, the sounds of clanking from Mo Xi’s boots lined with metal, footsteps from Yue Chenqing, and creaking of the bamboo warrior’s joints resounded.
Only Murong Lian’s footsteps were soundless; his gait was a consistently graceful hover, and with the highest quality of silken shoes worn on his feet, he did not make even the slightest of noise.
Extremely pleased with himself because of this, Murong Lian said: “Never mind the rapist, with the sounds you guys make while moving, even a sleeping three year old would be woken by it.”
Yue Chenqing was very obedient: “Then I’ll walk more quietly.”
Mo Xi said coldly: “Did you think that he has no idea we’ve entered the cave? There is no other way out from this path, and this cave is his territory. He is just hiding somewhere and recovering his weakened spiritual energy, while waiting for us to approach him.”
Yue Chenqing, ever the opportunist: “Then I’ll walk louder.”
The bamboo warrior: “Creak! Creak!”
What Mo Xi said was very true; executing the Dream of Longing consumed a lot of spiritual energy, and that apparition was, at the moment, hiding in a cavern as he recuperated his energy. As they walked deeper and deeper into the cave, they found more traces of this person temporary residence——
There were dried blood caked on the ground of the main path, and remnants of clothes hung off stalagmites that protruded, which were obviously left behind by those cultivators who were killed, or perhaps by those kidnapped girls as they struggled – through a crack between one of the rocks, Yue Chenqing even saw an embroidered shoe.
In order to stall for time, that rapist had set up several spells in the cave. However, of the these three men that the Emperor had dispatched, Mo Xi had excellent commanding abilities and battle strength, Yue Chenqing came from an influential relicsmithing family and had many surprising magical trinkets on him, while Murong Lian was adept in the arts of illusion and had some basic knowledge of healing.. As such, the mysterious traps laid out for them by the rapist were not remotely a problem to them, and they very quickly came across a long stone bridge in a karst cave.
“He should be just ahead.” Mo Xi peered towards the end of the stone bridge. At the far end of it seemed to be a relatively empty and spacious large cavern, flickering with the faint jade blue light of a spell.
But because this “stone bridge” was formed by the calcite that occured in a natural karst cave, despite connecting both ends, in actuality, it was made up of several spiritual stones protruding from the depths of the lake, the size and distance between them varying, and their surfaces extremely slippery.
Mo Xi glanced under the “bridge”, and saw that the stone pillar towered at about a hundred metres, and beneath it was a river bubbling with undercurrents. This sort of broken bridge was not difficult for them to cross, however…
He turned around and asked Yue Chenqing: “Is the bamboo warrior good at qinggong2[轻功; qinggong is a technique in Chinese martial arts that’s visually reminiscent of parkour, despite having different training methods.]?”
Yue Chenqing shook his head.
Mo Xi frowned and looked at Gu Mang, who was tied to the bamboo warrior with a face full of murderous intent.
“Though, it seems like you can order it to do a jiangshi hop3[A jiangshi, also known as a Chinese hopping vampire or hopping zombie, is a type of reanimated corpse in Chinese legends and folklore. They look like this.], and it should be able to hop across the distance between these stone bridges.”
This was a major point of contradiction that they had during the two years that Yue Chenqing and Mo Xi were stationed at the frontier. Vice-Commander Yue Chenqing loved to use “perhaps”, “maybe”, or “probably” when he talked, but Commander-in-Chief Mo Xi would ordinarily only accept “definitely”, “certainly” and “absolutely”.
As such, Mo Xi glanced at him, and without responding to his “jiangshi hop” suggestion, he spat out a single sentence: “Follow behind on your own.” He then suddenly grabbed the front of Gu Mang’s robes with a single hand, his robes fluttering as he soared. With his immeasurable strength and excellent foundation in qinggong, before his words had died down, the man had already swept across by over a zhang4[丈; zhang is a measure of length that equals 10 chinese feet, or approximately 3.3 metres.] like a floating black kite.
Yue Chenqing was dumbstruck by this: “Woah……how skillful……”
Murong Lian snorted coldly: “What’s so amazing about that?”
The four of them crossed the several hundred metres of the karst cave’s stone bridge, and when they turned around to look at where they had come from, all that was left was a distant shadow. Mo Xi put the bamboo warrior down on the ground, and without looking once at Gu Mang, he said to the others: “Let’s go.”
As expected, this was the final cavern of this expansive cave. The stalagmites of the stone forest criss-crossed with each other, and a brilliant, jade blue spiritual light came from a cluster of stone formations at the very centre.
When the group of them were about to proceed inwards, Yue Chenqing, who loved to look all around him, suddenly said in alarm: “Guys look! There are words over there!”
Mo Xi lit up a ball of fire in his palm, then raised his hand and hurled it over, letting the fireball hover over the towering stone slope of the karst cave that Yue Chenqing was pointing towards. Under the light of the fire, there were indeed several lines of crooked, blackish red inscriptions on the stone wall that could be seen, and it seemed as if it had been written in fresh blood——
“The soon-to-be-wed mountain bride, oh how she weeps at night,
First, she loathes her haplessness,
Second, the misfortune of her beauty,
Third, the eternal separation from her groom.
A red wedding shawl on her back, a golden crown on her head,
One giggle, and her beautiful face twists,
Two giggles, and out flows tears of blood,
Three giggles, and none may pass.”
Yue Chenqing muttered every syllable one by one. When he had finished reading it, before he had the time to say anything, he suddenly heard a soft giggle of “hee” coming from behind.
He sharply turned his head, and without a single warning, his nose abruptly bumped into a deathly pale face that lacked any colour of life!
“AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!” Yue Chenqing immediately let out a blood-curdling scream and jumped up three feet into the air, scrambling backwards.
He saw clearly that, at some point, more than ten female corpses draped in red shawls with golden crowns on their heads had stepped out from the shadows of the stone forest. He had just been standing in front of a stalagmite pillar, and so the moment he turned his head, he was met with the face of one of them.
“G-G-G-G-General Mo——! Save, Save me aaaaaahhhhh!!!”
Even though Yue Chenqing was a cultivator, he had heard too many ghost stories, and was exceptionally afraid of ghosts. He wailed like a ghost and howled like the wolves5[Idiom that means someone is wailing fearfully] for an absurdly long time, and although he wanted to move his two legs to run away, he was so afraid that he tripped onto the ground with a plop, his eyes widened as round as dishes, his cheeks sunken, and he looked the splitting image of a screeching marmot.
The female corpse looked at him and did not move, her robes embroidered with golden swallowtail butterflies fluttering in the chilling winds of the cave.
Yue Chenqing gulped several times, and suddenly a thought flashed through his frozen stiff mind, and he involuntarily cried out: “You, aren’t you…Cui, Cui-jiejie from the teahouse?”
Miss Cui had no expression. Her deceased face had a sort of rigid peacefulness.
After a while, she suddenly giggled again with a “heehee”. What immediately followed was two straight lines of bloody tears falling from her opened eyes.
One giggle, and her beautiful face twists,
Two giggles, and out flows tears of blood,
When Yue Chenqing recalled those few lines of words written on the precipice, his mind buzzed, and he hurriedly shouted towards Mo Xi next to him, who had already begun fighting the other female corpses: “Aaah! Xihe-Jun!! You have to hurry and not let her giggle a third time! If not, she won’t let me go!!!”
What he got in response was a strike on his head from Murong Lian’s smoke pipe. As it turned out, Murong Lian was not far from him, and because Yue Chenqing’s shrieks had almost pierced through his eardrums, he was extremely angry, lifting the mouth of the pipe to thwack him several times, leaving an entire pipe’s worth of ash on Yue Chenqing’s head.
He raged: “You imbecile, do you not know how to fight them yourself? Isn’t it just a jiangshi?!”
“But I’m, I’m…I’m afraid of ghosts!!!” Yue Chenqing blurted out, and unbelievably, clung onto Murong Lian’s thigh without care for propriety.
Murong Lian: “…”
It was at this moment, that Miss Cui drew back the corners of her scarlet lips, and began to let out the third sound of laughter: “Hee…hee…”
“Hee my ass!”Before the female ghost could finish off the last hee, Murong Lian unapologetically stabbed his smoke pipe into her mouth, then lowered his head towards Yue Chenqing, who was gripping onto his trouser leg, and said angrily: “What are you still clinging onto me for, are you not going to let go?!”
The author has something to say:
《New Year’s Wishes》
Mo Xi: I wish that Gu Mang never betrayed the country.
Gu Mang: I wish that there’s meat to eat everyday.
Jiang Yexue: I wish that I can be given a full name, and not be like Mei Hanxue from next door and act as an insignificant cameo.
Yue Chenqing: I wish that I can become someone as awesome as my Fourth Uncle.
Murong Lian: I wish that an esteemed lady guest would succeed in holding my hand.
The Emperor: I wish that the entire population of the Liao Kingdom would all drop dead.
Jiang Fuli: I wish that Jiang Yechen from next door would transmigrate over and treat this group of mentally handicapped patients in my stead.
Fourth Uncle: I wish that my presence would not be so strong.
Meatbun: I wish to come up with a title that would shock the universe and move the spirits to tears!!! *beats my chest and stamps my feet!!!!* How do y’all feel about “Why Keep Yourself Chaste” or “The Most Feral of Captives”!!! The former is enough to make Xixi eat his words!! The latter is sufficient to give Gu Mang support!!! (== Okay, I know that you must feel that these titles are not great, I’ll go cry for a while sobsobsob~)
Translator’s Note: Things have been very hectic on my side as my country has implemented a partial lockdown of our country due to COVID-19, and I’ve been adjusting to working from home. The next chapter should be coming tomorrow unless something unforseen happens. Please take care everyone, and make sure to practice social distancing!