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A step-by-step process of examination and approval, form filling, and application. After an hour, a beeping sound followed. The middle-aged man respectfully stood up and bowed. “Branch Master, your privileges have already been approved by headquarters and activated. From here on out, you can look up all demons… Branch Master? Branch Master?”
When he lifted his head, Xu Yangyi was no longer in sight, gone without a trace. The three other people looked at each other in dismay.
“When… did Branch Master leave?” The middle-aged man was stunned. “I-I didn’t see…”
The other three people shook their heads, one after another. They hadn’t seen Xu Yangyi leave either.
In the instant the application was filed, Xu Yangyi had left the office. His hand was slightly trembling as he clutched his chest. Since he was eight to now… How many years had it been…? A wait of almost twenty years. One step at a time, he’d found the murderer from that day. His blood was somewhat boiling.
His pulse moderately hastened. After he quickly stepped into his office, he immediately booted his computer.
A cigarette was lit, but he didn’t smoke it at all. Instead, his gaze watched it serenely, almost approaching callousness.
The Featherwood Guard’s database was already loaded on his computer. However, after his account login, there was no display opened. Like so, he quietly gazed at his computer. He knew that after the application, the activation would still need about half an hour.
“Branch Master.” Peony considerately brought in a cup of coffee. “I’ll leave and wait on you.”
Xu Yangyi nodded, no expression on his face. Peony wanted to say something, yet she ultimately kept quiet. She merely closed the door, the sound so faint that it couldn’t be heard. Just as the door closed, she felt her pant leg being bitten.
“Is Spud alright?” Mao Ba’er extended his tongue and said. At some unknown time, he had dawdled over.
Peony hesitated for a moment but nevertheless nodded.
“That’s good,” Mao Ba’er sighed in relief. He faced down towards his neck and made a meaningful glance. Peony took a look and discovered that he was wearing a telescope on his neck.
“Is this?” Peony asked in confusion, yet she was brought over to the side of a window by Mao Ba’er. Once she looked outside, she fell into a daze. “Is this… a solar eclipse?”
“A natural wonder…” Mao Ba’er said wistfully, “We’ll watch here and wait for Spud to come out, alright? Relax, he'll take care of himself. It’s been so many years. If he didn’t rest, he would’ve drowned in his hatred a long time ago.”
Peony glanced at the room with some worry and nodded. She turned her head to look at the solar eclipse in the sky.
“That’s strange… there wasn’t a report for a solar eclipse today…”
The room was quiet and calm like death. The clock on the wall ticked and tocked. After no less than thirty minutes, a soft chime followed and rang out. A row of small golden characters had at long last appeared in Xu Yangyi’s account.
‘You are permitted to search the national demon database.’
He wasn’t worried. On the contrary, his movements were slow, but if one looked carefully they could see that his hand was fairly shaky. He lifted his mouse and clicked on the SS-rank demonbeast list that he could only examine in the past. Below… an outline with the appearance of a book finally emerged.
A black book followed his mouse click, and a swishing noise in the quiet room caused one’s skin to crawl. Soon afterwards, a total of seventeen pictures showed up on his computer.
“The complete God Ming record.” His gaze flitted across the first photo. “130 years ago, in the Ming Clan mausoleum…”
In the opened window, the sun’s rays darkened somewhat. On the street outside, it appeared that there were many people that were crying out in surprise and exclaiming. He didn’t turn on the lights, and he moreover didn’t turn his head back to look. Like a stone, he only watched his computer.
Without the slightest care to read the complete record, Xu Yangyi immediately continued browsing.
“The Ba Serpent. 212 years ago, the last time it appeared…”
“Pseunix. 99 years ago…”
Nothing, nothing! Still nothing!
At some unknown time, his teeth were already harshly biting his lip. His hand movements shook even more. And yet… there wasn’t a single trace of information in the first ten-odd photos!
The sky was getting darker and darker… Sunlight was passing at a visible rate. The lightless room quickly spilled into a shadowy domain. All that remained was computer light and the cigarette butt that Xu Yangyi had put in an ashtray.
Fourteen photos… Fifteen photos… Sixteen photos! It wasn’t until… he saw the last photo! His gaze suddenly ignited into two blazing orbs of vengeance.
It… was a pebble. A pebble so ordinary that it couldn’t be even more normal. Still, there was an imprint on this pebble. An imprint in the style of an eye! Gold in color!
“This is It…” Xu Yangyi pulled his hand back. His clenched fists made a cracking noise. This wasn’t that crow… but this imprint had emerged countless times in his nightmares! He absolutely wouldn’t forget!
“It’s you… that’s right…” He stood up and breathed in and out heavily, sensing the taste of burning blood and fire. “Even if you aren’t It… You… should have a clue to It… Isn’t that right?”
He closed his eyes. Under his eyelids, his eyes were softly trembling.
Darkness, very black… In this moment, because all his thoughts and feelings rose up in his heart once more, his long-buried killing intent was felt with terrible distinction. He could feel the darkness in the sky. He could furthermore hear the crowd’s shrieks outside. Right now, they reached a climax.
The Earth still hadn’t completely darkened. Outside, Peony looked at the sky, likewise drawn in by the natural wonder.
In the sky, all that was left was black. The darkness approaching the remaining sunlit areas were dyed an expanse of golden twilight. In at most several minutes, the solar eclipse would finish.
Inside the room, Xu Yangyi opened his eyes. This time, his voice wasn’t choked with emotions like the last time he’d met Su Lianyue. Instead, it was calm. A calm that reached grimness.
Somethings didn’t require a mouth to be said. Action was the best proof. He carefully continued to read.
‘Rank: at least SSS. (note: SSS is only the present division of the highest-ranking demons. Among power there is possibly a difference of heaven and earth. SSS and above already surpass the present world’s spiritual force system’s range)’
‘Spiritual force intensity: unable to be projected, fluctuations are extremely great. Nature: unknown, fluctuations are extremely great. Mass: around the fist size of an adult male. (note: approximately twenty centimeters long and thirteen centimeters wide)’
‘It can transform into all demons that have appeared in the past, but any demon’s body will bear its characteristics. Form and structure are unable to be forecasted.’
This sentence caused his breathing to almost stop. This was It…
This was definitely It!
Transforming into other demons… Yes, something like this was able to explain why that crow had come. The characteristics were right as well… Each feather on that crow’s body bore a golden eye.
‘Finally, its roams… ‘
Swish… At this time, the last remnant of sunshine in the sky vanished. The world sunk into temporary darkness. But at this same moment, behind that tremendous door with the giant character of “sky” carved into at the Cultivation Court, a terrible aura suddenly began to rise and fall!
“This is…” an aged voice echoed incredulously. “an alteration in heaven and earth?”
In this fleeting moment, apart from this old voice… not a single one of the Core Formation Dao Masters’ gazes looked towards Mingshui Province.
Swoosh… As the remaining sun hid away, strangely… all of Mingshui Province’s lights unexpectedly died out!
Beep beep beep… In an electricity station, an employee who was eating and drinking was wolfing down his meal. In front of him, there was a row of cabinet-styled apparatuses. Complicated and precise, all of them were originally displaying green lights, but now, a red light suddenly shone!
“Fuck…” The employee glanced in dissatisfaction. An ear-piercing cry echoed throughout the room. In a flurry, he picked up a napkin at the side and wiped his mouth. “Where’s the problem? Doesn’t the government know to dish out some cash and fix things? Can’t this wait for me to finish eating?”
Before his voice even fell… all the apparatuses in front of him surprisingly began to echo with screeching beeps in ten seconds!
He looked at everything, dumbfounded. In the next second, he suddenly rushed out of the room. Because his speed was too fast and hurried, he knocked down his chair! Even the food he hadn’t finish eating scattered onto the ground, but he didn’t care at all!
This was Mingshui’s master electricity station…
All the red lights shining… represented that Mingshui Province’s electrical grid was paralyzed!
“Which Fellow Daoist is it that I have the honor of being graced with your arcane chariot?” None were any the wiser presently that in the Upper Court of the Capital’s Cultivation Court, a physical manifestation was watching the sky with both hands slowly cupped in respect. “This Dao Lord is Skybearer. I make my salutations.”
No one responded. The place where the manifestation was standing was 4,000 meters in the sky! At his side, gales of celestial wind floated past, yet underneath him, one could see that the clouds… actually formed a tremendous black arm. It pulled all the clouds at the side and forcibly concealed the sun!
“According to what I know… at most, only one Fellow Daoist is alive in this world. Fellow Daoist’s divine ability is poles apart from his…”
Still, no one spoke. Skybearer’s manifestation uttered, “Not speaking, eh… Nevermind, if the two of us engage in arcane combat, we will collapse the heavens and shatter the earth… Would it not be better for you to leave?”
In the sky, light laughter was finally heard. Although it was light, it seemed like rolling thunder. “Zhang Sanfeng… you’re actually still alive… To my surprise, you also entered our realm… Where is your good disciple Zhang Wuji… and the Heaven Reliance Sword, setting the true law in the imperial court, and the Dragonslayer Saber, taking reins over the world with great virtue… Skybearer? Hehehe… Fellow Daoist really would pick this name… Be assured, This Lord is making nothing more than a greeting to a junior… I will immediately take my leave…”
The gaze of Skybearer’s manifestation slightly flickered. “Was it you that killed Jadewave?”
There was no further answer. Skybearer coldly snorted and disappeared, no longer to be seen.
Swoosh… Only he could see the enormous pitch-black hand. Just as he turned around, the hand seemed to press down from the clouds like a god, formless and shadowless, windless and waveless. And yet, the hand rang out with a soundless magnificence, seemingly with great intention but none! Below the cloudbank, it was simply invisible. Only upon reaching Skybearer’s altitude could this giant hand of black clouds be seen! It slowly pressed down!
The target was the Mingshui Province’s Featherwood Guard branch!
Pow pow pow! Outside the branch room, Mao Ba’er and Peony focused their attention on the solar eclipse in the sky. Countless pedestrians on the street had already entered a state of excitement. However, they suddenly heard consecutive explosions coming from inside Xu Yangyi’s room!
“What’s going on?!” The human and dog almost rushed into the room at the same time. Xu Yangyi was standing in the darkness, but in front of him, the computer had already been grounded down into fine dust.
He stood in his original position, his chest heaving up and down somewhat violently. However, his expression was still placid like a lake.
“Why.” After ages, he finally spoke. His voice was like sawdust, damned terrible.
He didn’t see…
At the same time he was on the verge of reading, all of Mingshui Province had turned pitch-black! At such a pivotal moment, everything completely stopped!
“Peony. Xiao Mao.” He lifted his head and smiled, yet a cold shiver worked its way through Peony’s entire body. “I’ll have to trouble you now to please leave first.”
“Yes…” Peony pursed her lips and left. In the instant the door shut, she whispered, “Branch Master… take care of yourself…”
She was only met with Xu Yangyi’s silent nod.
1. 巴蛇 - based on a real myth. The Ba Serpent is said to be large enough to swallow an elephant.
2. Seems to be some sort of quasi-phoenix like creature.
3. You finally get some confirmations in this passage, but also some confusing things. Skybearer is confirmed as Zhang Sanfeng, a legendary Daoist from the 12th century claimed to have created Taiji and closely associated with the Wudang Mountains. Zhang Wuji is a character from one of Jin Yong’s books, The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber (these swords are also the swords being mentioned). He is unofficially Zhang Sanfeng’s student. This unnamed character here kinda pokes fun at Zhang Sanfeng’s new Daoist title (Zhang Sanfeng in itself is a Daoist title), which isn’t really apparent if you’re not aware of the background or Chinese. I will try to explain it concisely. The specific characters for “imperial court” is 天庭, also translated as heavenly court, In ancient China, there was a strong connection between the emperor’s court and the heavens. The specific character for “setting” in this paragraph and “bearer” in Skybearer (天载) are somewhat similar (装 vs 载) and a play on Zhang Sanfeng’s righteous character. Fitting since he is the Upper President of the Cultivation Court. One of the main themes in this other novel behind these two swords are that they are allusions to killing the tyrannical emperor. (Dragonslayer Saber - emperor is thought of as a dragon, hence slaying the dragon. Heaven Reliance Sword - the emperor is referred to as “The Son of Heaven” not the heavens itself. It is ultimately heaven that decides the emperor)
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