[English chapter 09] Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation | 魔道祖师 | Mó Dào Zǔ Shī | Danmei BL





CHAPTER 09 : PROUD 4
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Over there, Lan Sizhui and the rest had scouted around the ancient graves with no result. Some time ago they had at last turned towards the Tian Nu shrine to search for clues.

Within Dafan Mountain, besides the generations of ancestral tombs belonging to the Fujiao townspeople, there was also a Tian Nu shrine.

Within the shrine was consecrated, not a Buddha, not a Guanyin (1), but rather a single “Wu Tian Nu”. (2)

Several hundred years ago, a hunting family from Fujiao entered deep into the mountains. Within a cliff cave they found standing a strange stone almost ten feet tall. Naturally occurring but unexpectedly bearing a close resemblance to a person, its arms and legs seemed as if they were arranged in a dancing position.

Still more wondrous was that on the head of the stone statue one could vaguely distinguish facial features bearing a woman’s smile.

The Fujiao townspeople had a strange notion. They believed that this was a god stone formed by the gathering of heaven and earth spiritual influence in one place. Furthermore, it spontaneously became the source of many legends.

One of them was that an immortal was secretly in love with a fairy. Filled with bitter yearning, in order to console himself, he carved a statue with her appearance. The fairy, later discovering this, became furious.  With the statue still unfinished, the immortal had no choice but to abandon his efforts. Another was that the Jade Emperor had had a daughter that he doted on. She had died young and his memories and love for his daughter had condensed to become this stone statue.

There was a stunning variety.

These stories that passed from one mouth to another eventually became their own beliefs. The people then began to turn the cliff cave into a shrine.  The stone base became a god’s seat, tribute was offered to the “Dancing Celestial Maiden”, and all year round offering incense burned in front of the shrine.

Within the cliff cave was a wide open space like a temple, the celestial maiden’s idol stood in the middle.

At first glance it really did resemble the form of a person, its waist could even be said to be graceful.

On closer scrutiny, it was crude; however for a naturally made thing to resemble a person to such a degree was enough to cause astonishment.

Holding the Feng Xie board, Lan Jingyi moved it high then low yet the pointer remained still.

On the platform, a surplus of candles lay in disarray illuminating a thick layer of incense ash. Fruit offerings in dishes let out the scent of sweet putrefaction.

Gusu’s Lan clansmen were all extremely fastidious to some extent, fanning the air in front of his nose, Lan Jingyi said: “Seeing the local people speak of how this celestial maiden shrine is very effective in granting wishes, how could they allow it to become so run down. They don’t even arrange for anyone to clean.”

Lan Sizhui replied: “There have already been seven consecutive lost souls, with the rumors of the lightning striking the Fujiao ancestral tomb and releasing the vicious fiend within, who would dare climb up the mountain. Incense will break, naturally there is no one to come and clean.”

A disdainful voice echoed from outside the cliff cave: “A piece of broken stone, I don’t know who would call this a deity, also who would dare to place incense and worship before it!”

Jin Ling entered with his arms folded behind him.

The prohibition against speaking had not been long; he was already able to open his mouth again.

However to begin with, right away he didn’t have anything good to say. He looked at the form of the celestial maiden and snorted: “These village hicks, any setback and they can’t work to overcome it; instead all day long they burn incense and worship deities asking Buddha and asking ghosts. There are countless humans on earth, Gods and Buddhas cannot even attend to themselves, much less take care of them let alone a single nameless wild god! This spirit, if I make a wish, and request that the soul eating thing here within this Dafan Mountain promptly appear in front of me, can it accomplish that?”

Following behind him was a small group of clan cultivators. Hearing his words they promptly agreed, laughing heartily in praise.

The original quiet of the shrine, owing to the surging crowd entering inside, all of a sudden became noisy and cramped.

Lan Sizhui inwardly shook his head. Turning around he casually swept his eyes over the area finally resting on what approximately could be called the face of the celestial maiden. There could vaguely be seen facial features, seemingly bearing a merciful smile.

However, he felt this smiling face had some sort of indescribable sense of familiarity, as if it had been encountered somewhere before.

Where on earth had he seen it?

Lan Sizhui felt that this had to be an important matter. Unable to help himself, he approached the deity’s platform, wishing to examine the face of the celestial maiden more carefully.

Just at that moment, suddenly someone bumped into him.

A cultivator who had originally been standing behind him suddenly collapsed without a word.

The others all with great alarm immediately went on alert. On guard, Jin Ling asked: “What happened to him?”

Lan Sizhui, holding his sword close, carefully examined the person’s body. This cultivator still breathed and seemed to still be in good health. It seemed as if he had merely suddenly fallen asleep, but somehow even after calling his name and being slapped he would not wake.

He got up and said: “It looks as if he is…”

Before he could finish speaking, the originally dim cave suddenly lit up, full of red light, as if a layer of blood had poured down the surrounding walls.

The incense and candles on the platform in the corner of the cave unexpectedly all spontaneously began to burn.

Zeng zeng came numerous sounds as everyone within the rock cave drew their swords and grasped talismans.

Just then, from outside the shrine, a person suddenly rushed in. Holding a medicine wine gourd he splashed the entirety of the celestial maiden statue, immediately filling the cave with the pungent smell of wine. He grasped a talisman paper in the air and with a single stroke tossed it at the body of the statue. The deity on the platform instantly ignited into a raging inferno, turning the inside of the rock cave into bright day.

Having finished, Wei Wuxian picked up the items and threw them back into the yin yang pouch, shouting: “Everyone withdraw! Don’t you see the soul eater lies inside the celestial maiden statue?”

Someone cried out in fear: “The position of the celestial maiden has changed!”

Just then the idol’s limbs clearly moved, one arm pointed towards heaven, one foot raised, and the body still displaying a graceful appearance.

Now within the red and yellow raging inferno, the limbs came back down.

This could be seen from all sides, it was not a hallucination!

In the next moment this idol once again lifted a foot and stepped out of the blaze!

Wei Wuxian yelled: “Run run run! Don’t attack it! It’s useless!”

The majority of the cultivators paid him no attention. A multitude of people had searched and searched in vain for the soul eating beast and at last it had finally emerged, who would possibly be willing to let it get away! However, even with so many immortal swords chopping and slashing, together with paper talismans and magic weapons of every kind thrown in, there was still nothing that could stop the stone statue’s steps.

It was close to ten feet tall. Its movements like a giant, it had a completely oppressive feeling. It lifted two cultivators up to its face. The stone mouth seemed to open a bit then close, following which the swords in the two cultivators’ hands dropped with a clang. Their heads hung down; obviously their souls had been sucked away.

Every kind of attack was completely ineffective. This time, the onlookers at last were willing to listen to Wei Wuxian’s words. Milling about, they desperately fled in all directions.

With everyone in disarray, Wei Wuxian was exceedingly anxious that he couldn’t find Jin Ling. Riding the donkey he rushed to find him. Losing no time he entered the bamboo forest and by and by he ran into the Lan clan’s younger generation. Wei Wuxian shouted to them: “Youngsters!”

Lan Jingyi said: “Who are you calling youngsters! Don’t you know what clan we belong to? Do you think you can wash your face and then immediately act as one of our elders?!”

Wei Wuxian replied: “Fine fine fine. Elder brothers. Set off your signal, call your family call that… that Hanguang Jun to come out!”

The crowd of juniors repeatedly nodded, simultaneously running and rummaging through their clothes.

After a moment, Lan Sizhui said: “The signal flare… I used it that night back at the Mo Clan village.”

Wei Wuxian was alarmed: “Didn’t you replenish your supplies afterwards?”

It was the first time he’d ever had to use the signal flare, Lan Sizhui said with embarrassment: “I forgot.”

Frightened, Wei Wuxian asked: “How could you forget something like this? You know Hanguang Jun told you to be on guard!”

Lan Jingyi’s face was extremely dejected: “We’re done for. The next time we see Hanguang Jun the punishment will be severe…”

Wei Wuxian: “Punishment. You should be punished! If you’re not punished you won’t learn your lesson.”

Lan Sizhui: “Young master Mo, young master Mo! How did you know that the soul eater was neither a soul eating fiend nor soul eating beast, but rather the dancing celestial maiden?”

Wei Wuxian began to run alongside them in order to search for Jin Ling’s figure: “How did I know? I saw it.”

Lan Jingyi caught up as well, with one on the left and the other on the right and him sandwiched between them they ran: “What did you see? We saw a lot of things.”

“I looked and finally, later, I saw it, ok? What is in the vicinity of ancient graves?”

“Probably could be anything, usually there are the souls of the dead.”

“Correct, the souls of the dead. Therefore it can’t be a soul eating beast or a soul eating fiend. It goes without saying, if it was either of those things, with so many souls of the dead in that place, how could it not eat them up? Inconceivable.”

This time more than one person asked: “Why?”

“I’m explaining this to you, the Gusu’s Lan clan, ah…” Wei Wuxian really was unable to bear it: “You should spend less time teaching the points of immortal school etiquette and more time teaching genuine cultivation clan history. Spending this kind of time teaching things both terrible, long, and even more burdened with nonsense, yet teaching practical things won’t do? I don’t understand this kind of thing. Compared to living souls, the souls of the dead are easier to absorb and you can get many more. The body of a living person acts as a protective barrier, wanting to eat a living soul you have to break the barrier. Just like…”

He glanced to the side seeing the donkey gasping for breath with rolling eyes, “Just like an apple placed in front of you, another apple placed in a locked box, which would you choose? Naturally you’d choose the one in front of you. This thing only eats raw souls, but it is creative with its eating, a very picky eater, also very difficult to deal with.”

Lan Jingyi was surprised: “So it was this kind of thing? That seems to make a lot of sense! Wait a minute, so you’re really not a lunatic!”

Lan Sizhui ran while he explained: “We all believed it was the matter of the landslide and the lightning that split open the coffins that drew out the lost soul. Naturally, we then believed it was a soul eating fiend.”

Wei Wuxian said: “Wrong.”

“How is it wrong?”

“The order is wrong. Cause and effect is wrong. I’ll ask you, the landslide and soul eating incidents, which was first and which was after, which caused which result?”

Lan Sizhui said without thinking: “The landslide was first, the soul eating happened after. The former caused the latter result.”

Wei Wuxian said: “Completely wrong. The soul eating happened first, the landslide was after. Eating the souls was the cause, the landslide was the result! The landslide that night, suddenly under a torrential rain, lightning struck a coffin, remember this. The first lost soul, that sluggard who was stranded within the mountain that night, it was several days prior to his marriage.”

Lan Jingyi asked: “What’s strange about that?”

Wei Wuxian said: “How isn’t it strange! A poverty stricken idler, where did the money for such a large wedding come from?”

The youths were left speechless.

It was no wonder. Gusu’s Lan clan originally emphasized that it was unnecessary to consider the issue of wealth or poverty of families.

Wei Wuxian again continued: “The drifting souls of the deceased on Dafan Mountain, haven’t you seen them? There is an old man with a smashed head; the material of his burial clothes is extremely well made. Wearing that kind of gorgeous funerary garments, it would be impossible for his coffin to be empty. It’s possible there were several things in the coffin buried with him. With the coffin split open by lightning strike, most likely he took advantage of the situation. After that when the people came to collect the bones of the dead they didn’t find the funerary objects. It’s certain everything was taken away by that sluggard; this would be the explanation for his sudden wealth. The sluggard was in a landslide one night then later suddenly he makes his fortune and takes a wife. The course of events that happened the evening of that day is other than what you think.” He continued to explain, “That night under the torrential rain, he took shelter within the mountain. Where on Dafan Mountain can you find shelter? The celestial maiden shrine. If an ordinary person comes to the shrine, it is required that they do a certain thing.”

Lan Sizhui said: “Make a wish?”

“Correct. For example, for it to give good luck, to send a great fortune, allow them to marry into wealth and so on. The celestial maiden helps him, sends down the lightning, cleaves open the grave, and allows him in the end to see the coffin full of money and valuables. And as his desire is achieved, the cost for this deed is that the celestial maiden descends on his wedding night and absorbs his soul!”

Lan Jingyi: “You’re guessing I presume?”

Wei Wuxian: “Yes, a guess. According to this guess, everything has been explained.”

Lan Sizhui: “What’s the explanation for Miss A’Yan?”

Wei Wuxian: “Good question. You should have asked before you came up the mountain. A’Yan had just had her marriage determined that day. For young girls who have just been engaged, they all surely have the same desire.”

Confused, Lan Jingyi asked: “What desire?”

Wei Wuxian said: “Nothing more but, ‘I wish that my husband for this lifetime loves me dearly, and only loves me alone’, and so on.”

The group of youths were ignorant: “Can this kind of wish really come true…”

Wei Wuxian spread his hands saying: “It’s very simple. As long has her husbands ‘this lifetime’ immediately ends, can’t you say that he ‘loved her alone his entire life’?”

Lan Jingyi suddenly saw the light, excitedly saying: “Oh, oh! There, therefore after Miss A’Yan’s engagement, the next day her fiancé right away met with ravenous wolves within the mountain and was  killed, because most likely on the first day Miss A’Yan travelled to the celestial maiden shrine to make a wish!”

Wei Wuxian promptly responded: “It’s hard to say if he was actually killed by ravenous wolves or some other thing. A’Yan is in a special position: Why was she the only one to have her soul return? What’s different about her compared to others? Unlike the others, she had a family member lose their soul as well. Or to put it another way, she had a family member who replaced her! The blacksmith Zheng is A’Yan’s father, a father who loved his daughter dearly. After seeing his daughter lose her soul, with medicine having no effect, in a helpless situation, he can only do what?”

Next Lan Sizhui responded quickly: “–He can only pray to heaven. Therefore he also goes to the celestial maiden shrine to make a wish; his wish was ‘I pray that my daughter A’Yan’s soul is returned!”

Wei Wuxian praised: “This is exactly why A’Yan’s soul alone returned; also it is the explanation why the third soul eaten was the blacksmith Zheng. Also, A’Yan’s soul although returned, has suffered some inevitable damage. After her soul returned, she began to involuntarily mimic the celestial maiden idol’s dancing posture and movement, even the smile.”

The commonality of the lost souls of these people is that most likely they have all made wishes to the celestial maiden.

The wish comes true but at the price of their souls.

This honored statue of a celestial maiden originally was just a block of ordinary stone, which by coincidence resembled the image of a person. An unfathomable mystery that received several hundred years of worship, it now developed magic power.

But it was greedy and never satisfied. It deviated from its mission, and unexpectedly figured out a way it could absorb souls to accelerate the increase of its powers.

By means of using the wish as a type of currency to absorb the soul, it was the equivalent to the person voluntarily dedicating their soul, and thus became a fair deal for both sides. Each receiving the desired object, it seemed to be a reasonable method, thus the fengxie board pointer remained motionless, the Zhao Yin flag called nothing, and the seal breaking swords were all useless. Just because the thing within Dafan Mountain was not at all the fault of a demon or ghost, it was a god! This was hundreds of years of consecrated incense together with offerings which have brought out a wild deity. To attempt to deal with it using things meant for fiends, ghosts, demons or beasts, was equal to using fire to fan the flames!

Lan Jingyi said loudly: “Hold on! But just now within the shrine, an individual was also had their soul eaten, we didn’t hear him make any wishes!”

Wei Wuxian’s heart suddenly skipped a beat. Stopping his pace he asked: “At the shrine someone’s soul was eaten? Tell me the situation just now; word for word tell me exactly what happened.”

Lan Sizhui clearly and quickly repeated it again. Hearing Jin Lings sentence: “This spirit, if I make a wish, and request that the soul eating thing here within this Dafan mountain promptly appear in front of me, can it accomplish that”, Wei Wuxian said: “Isn’t this also a wish? This is precisely a wish!”

The others also agreed with Jin Ling, this was as if they had also made the same wish.

As the soul eating celestial maiden at that time had been in front of them, therefore their wish was already satisfied, accepting, at once demanding the price!

Suddenly, the flower donkey stopped, and ran back the way they came.

Wei Wuxian, caught off guard nearly fell over, dragging the stubborn thing to a stop with the rope. However just then ahead in the shrubbery came a sudden sound, “crunch crunch“, “wheeze, wheeze” of chewing noises.

A tall matchless figure lay stretched within the bushes. A massive head moved with the person’s belly on the ground. Hearing a strange noise, it suddenly raised its head, coincidentally placing them into its view.

This soul eating celestial maiden’s original features had been indistinct, only a rough eye, nose, ear, and mouth. In one breath it had sucked in countless cultivators souls, then transforming to possess a clear facial appearance. It was the face of a smiling woman, from the corners of its mouth dripped down a lot of blood. Holding a single torn arm, it gorged itself with large bites.

The crowd immediately followed the donkey and reversed back the way they came.

Lan Sizhui collapsed and said: “This isn’t right! Ancestor Yi Ling said, high level eats spirits, low level eats meat!”

Wei Wuxian said helplessly: “What superstition is that, you’re making a complete muddle everything! Any rule is not set in stone, if you consider a baby, without teeth it can only eat gruel and soup and liquids, once it grows up it’s only natural it also desires to use its teeth to eat meat. Her current magic power has risen; naturally she also wishes to consume tasty things!”

The soul eating celestial maiden stood up from the ground, tall and strong, hands and feet raised in ecstatic chaotic dance, seemingly completely elated and joyful.

Suddenly, an arrow whizzed by. Hitting her forehead, the arrowhead passed and penetrated through to the back of her head.

Hearing the twang of the bowstring, Wei Wuxian followed the sound to its source. It was Jin Ling standing at a not too distant location on a steep slope. Already the second feathered arrow was on the bow. Pulling the bow string completely back, he let go and again the arrow pierced through the skull through her brain. It was a powerful strength. Unexpectedly the soul eating celestial maiden staggered and fell back a few steps.

Lan Sizui yelled: “Young master Jin! Set off your signal flare!”

Jin Ling turned a deaf ear, his heart and soul intent on seizing this monster. With a steady face, this next time he raised three arrows.

With the shots of the first two arrows, the soul eating celestial maiden did not get angry. Still smiling from ear to ear, she faced Jin Ling’s attack.

Although she simultaneously walked and danced, her speed was still dreadfully fast. In a flash she halved the distance between them.

From the side came out several cultivators, together they came together to fight her, entangling her footsteps.

Jin Ling’s arrows hit their target, step by step one by one. It seemed he was determined. He intended to use up his arrows, and then once was he was near the soul eating celestial maiden he would fight her directly.

His hands were quite straight and steady, shooting with accuracy, but unfortunately all his immortal school magic tools were useless against this thing!

Jiang Cheng and Lan Wangji were both waiting in Fujiao town for news, it was unknown when they would detect the changes that had occurred.

To extinguish a fire you must use water, if immortal school magic tools won’t work, then just use evil school ghost techniques!

Wei Wuxian pulled out the sword from Lan Sizhui’s waist. Cutting down a single slender bamboo, his flying hands created a single bamboo flute. Placing the side to his lips, he took a deep long breath.

The sharp sound of the flute was like an arrow, piercing the night sky, rising to the heavens.

This was only as a last resort, he shouldn’t be doing this.

But as matters stood, no matter what is called regardless of who comes, as long as it attacks sufficiently. If the evil energy is sufficient, then it would be sufficient to deal with this soul eating celestial maiden and immediately tear it to shreds!

Lan Sizhui’s entire person was stunned. Lan Jingyi tried to cover his ears and said: “At this time, you would still play this kind of flute! What an extremely unpleasant sound!”

The scene of the soul eating celestial maiden fighting with a crowd of cultivators was already at the point where three or four of their souls had been absorbed. Jin Ling pulled out his sword, he was a distance of less than twenty feet from the soul eating celestial maiden. With heart pounding violent palpitations and hot blood bubbling up to his head he said: “If my sword does not cut off her head, then I will die at this place – – die at once!”

Then at this time, from within the Dafan Mountain woods, came a jingle of clanking sounds.

Clank, clank.

Ringing out sometimes fast and sometimes slow.

In the silence of the mountain woods it resounded.

As if iron chains clashed against each other, or an iron rope trailed on the ground.

More and more near, more and more it echoed.

It was unknown why this sound gave people a kind of extremely uneasy threatening feeling including the soul eating celestial maiden who entirely stopped her dancing. She raised an arm, looking distracted she gazed out towards the direction of the sound coming from the darkness of the abyss.

Wei Wuxian stowed away the flute, and watched from the sidelines with rapt attention.

Although in his heart he had an increasingly ominous premonition, however since he was willing to be summoned by him, in that case at least he was willing also to hear the things he had to say.

The sound suddenly stopped, a silhouette emerged from inside the darkness.

After seeing this figure, seeing this face, the expressions of several cultivators twisted.

Even in the face of their souls being eating at any time by the celestial maiden statue, no one shrunk away, no one showed fear.

However, at this moment their voices cried out. They were incapable of concealing their fear.

“… ‘Ghost General’, it was the ‘Ghost General’, it was Wen Ning!”

“Ghost general.” This title, and Ancestor Yi Ling, were the same. Their infamy spread far and wide was known to everyone, usually both would appear together.

These words merely represent one object.

It was Ancestor Yi Ling Wei Ying’s number one helper, troublemaker, and cohort. Flipping the heavens and earth, long ago ought to have returned to scattered bone dust. The ominous corpse, Wen Ning!

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NOTE

(1)Goddess of mercy
(2) Dancing celestial maiden