Lie Huo Jiao Chou

Lie Huo Jiao Chou

Chapter 50 - Chapter 50

"Mr. Nian", whose hand had been caught on camera, was currently not far from Gu Yuexi. 

This man looked like a desperado and acted like one too, with nerves of steel. He left the Dongchuan black market in a swagger and drove alone to the headquarters of the Bureau in Yong'an, where he parked at a resort in the southern suburbs.

The Penglai Conference was interrupted due to the arrest of Master Yue De, and Chief Huang had left without a word. 

All the powerful special ability holders were left with their tails between their legs, afraid to speak out for fear of their own dirty laundry being aired. 

Only the hostess, Old Lady Yu, had the best psychological resilience. She acted as if nothing had happened, comforting everyone while getting things done. 

In the afternoon, after finishing her meditation, Old Lady Yu had her usual lunch of plain rice and side dishes. She ate silently with her chopsticks, finishing in just fifteen minutes, neither more nor less. After cleaning her hands and rinsing her mouth, she sat there dignified like a jade statue of a bodhisattva. 

Her attendant, who seemed like a ghost, opened the window to let out the smell of food, and lit another stick of incense in the censer.

Only then did Old Lady Yu speak calmly, "Our guest has been waiting for a while. Please bring them in." 

The attendant changed the incense and bowed before leaving. She was a beautiful girl with clear eyebrows and eyes, but her face was slightly stiff. Upon closer inspection, there were two thin vertical lines from the corners of her mouth to her chin, and her movements were somewhat unnatural. Her chest did not rise and fall as if she did not need to breathe. 

As she turned around, a small piece of "skin" on the back of the maid's neck revealed a damaged area, and underneath it was not flesh and blood, but a series of wood grain patterns. 

She was actually a wooden puppet. 

After a moment, the eerie puppet maid led Mr. Nian inside. 

Mr. Nian calmly surveyed his surroundings before greeting her, "Old Lady Yu, sorry to bother you." 

"Long time no see, I didn't expect this 'Mr. Nian' to be you, my child," Old Lady Yu recognized him at a glance and warmly smiled, "Please sit down - let me pour you a cup of tea." 

Mr. Nian habitually chose a corner to sit in, his back straight like a sharp sword ready to be unsheathed. He took the tea that the wooden puppet servant handed him, but only made a drinking gesture without actually sipping it. Then he put the teacup aside, flipped his hand, and revealed a dark wooden token.

The token had a strange totem on it, with a dragon head, bird wings, snake body, and tiger tail. Its eyes seemed to be popping out of their sockets. 

With a crisp sound, Mr. Nian turned the token over and revealed the words "Heavenly Fire" on the back. "Our people should have already sent a message in advance. This is my token to prove my identity," he said.

Old Lady Yu's gaze lingered on the token for a moment before she slowly spoke, "You are too arrogant to come directly to the Penglai Conference." 

Mr. Nian smiled. 

He had a tough and masculine demeanor, but his narrow jawline gave him a delicate and innocent look when he smiled. However, sitting in the shadows now, his innocence was overshadowed by the darkness, reminding one of a polluted holy lake. 

"It was inappropriate for us to visit you only now, given your status in the martial arts world. But since we are all younger than you, please don't hold it against us," he said.

Old Lady Yu raised her finely trimmed eyebrows. "You have become quite eloquent," she remarked.

Mr. Nian remained composed. "I am simply stating the truth, which everyone acknowledges," he replied. 

"I'm not worthy," said Old Lady Yu, smiling wryly as she waved her hand. "Master Yue De has already fallen, so let's speak frankly. Mr. Nian, if I refuse you like he did, what leverage do you have over me?" 

"Oh, don't say that," Mr. Nian replied, his attitude much smoother and more polite than his cold and rude demeanor in the black market. "You are the most senior special ability talent in the world, the last member of the 'Qingping Division.' You should know some things better than others - special abilities and ordinary people have never been the same. When the Emperor of Humanity slaughtered across the four corners of the world, he overturned the heavens with tyranny and stripped us of our power, so that now our fellow beings think they are human and willingly restrain themselves for the human race, selling themselves out. Isn't that ridiculous?" 

Old Lady Yu didn't agree: "Why are you still talking about history from thousands of years ago? The overall situation has been determined long ago, and the Qingping Division has been disbanded for seven hundred years. Nowadays, these 'special abilities' aren't much different from ordinary people." 

Mr. Nian replied, "That's because Chiyuan is still sealed." 

"What? Are you saying that your religion can produce another figure like the Emperor who overturned the world and rewrote history?" 

Mr. Nian calmly said, "It's not impossible." 

"Haha," Old Lady Yu sneered, "I really have lived a long time and seen a lot. This old lady hasn't heard such bold words in many years." 

"I know, as someone of your status, you don't want to take any risks and don't want to get involved. I'm not here to force you to take sides, I just want to give you another option," Mr. Nian said calmly. "If we fail, you won't be implicated and won't suffer any losses. But if we succeed in reigniting the Chiyuan, wouldn't that benefit you as well?"

"The Chiyuan has been dormant for three thousand years, its fires have long died. What do you plan to do?" mocked Old Lady Yu. "Throwing bombs inside won't work."

"I don't believe that Chiyuan is truly 'dead'," Mr. Nian replied. "In my opinion, the seal on Chiyuan is just a man-made dam. After three thousand years, even the strongest dam should have loosened - haven't you noticed the recent increase in the birth rate of special abilities?" 

Old Lady Yu paused for a moment. "So what?" she said. "I'm someone who's old enough to be buried in the yellow earth nearly up to my neck. I don't have the energy of you young people to go around causing trouble."

"You're not even a thousand years old," Mr. Nian interrupted. "Before the Nine Provinces War, the demon race under a thousand years old were still considered young. If it weren't for Chiyuan being sealed, how could you have shown signs of aging at such a young age?"

This statement finally struck a chord with Old Lady Yu. No one is immune to the merciless passage of time.

She fell silent for a while before loosening her tone. "I may not be able to help you much." 

Mr. Nian chuckled silently, "During the Nine Provinces War, there was a 'clan' called the 'Mountain'. The Mountain people were skilled in forging and could communicate with gold and iron. Legend has it that the swords they made were alive. The Mountain king eventually surrendered to the human tribe and sent his adopted son to serve as a attendant to the Emperor of Humanity, hoping to find a way out in the chaotic world. Unfortunately, he was just seeking sympathy from the tiger. The Emperor of Humanity used them and then turned around and attacked the Mountain king's palace, slaughtering all the Mountain warriors and seizing their accumulated wealth. Since then, the Mountain people have disappeared from history."

Old Lady Yu squinted her eyes, "Witch people, Mountain people, and the Yin Sacrifice ritual... the people behind you really know a lot." 

"I said, we may not be unable to turn the world upside down," Mr. Nian said softly. "Before the genocide of the Mountain people, the prince who was held hostage by the emperor received news in advance and escaped. Before being chased to death by the emperor, he hid a batch of spiritual divine weapons."

"So, this is why you came to find me," Old Lady Yu shook her head. "This is true, but the Qingping Division has been looking for a thousand years and has not found any clues about those weapons. If you ask me, that's..."

"You may not know," Mr. Nian said, "but someone must know - like the prince himself."

The Mountain prince? Didn't he die long enough ago to become a fossil?

Old Lady Yu was first stunned, then remembered something. "Wait, you mean..." 

Mr. Nian spoke in a deep voice, "The prince died with resentment and became a demon after his death. His tomb is the seal - that burial ground has always been a secret of the human race, hidden deep within the Qingping Division. Old Lady Yu, you have many old items from the Qingping Division in your hands, right?" 

"Do you want to use the Yin Sacrifice ritual to summon the Mountain prince?" Old Lady Yu frowned and pondered for a moment. 

"The initiator of the Yin Sacrifice ritual, who is also the sacrificial person, needs to be of the same origin as the sacrificial host. According to the information I have received, the two previous 'rituals' you held were unsuccessful because the sacrificial people were not qualified enough. Therefore, the demon summoned was only half-baked, at least not with the full power that a demon should have. 

"The first Yin Sacrifice ritual had an unknown sacrificial host with an unknown bloodline. The sacrificial person you used, Bi Chunsheng, had already fallen and become a half-demon 'human candle', barely connected to the 'demon'. The second Yin Sacrifice ritual was even more ridiculous, as you couldn't find a descendant of a witch, so you used an ordinary person who was cursed by a witch. Did that demon have even one-tenth of his original strength? He didn't even make a splash and was taken care of by the Bureau. Now, with this Mountain prince, who do you plan to find?" 

Mr. Nian: "A descendant of the Mountain clan." 

"What?" Old Lady Yu widened her eyes slightly, then realized something and looked at Mr. Nian with suspicion, "You?" 

Mr. Nian smiled and said nothing. 

"You are actually a descendant of the Mountain clan? No wonder..." 

No wonder what, she refused to say more. 

Old Lady Yu paused and then said, "Summoning demons with the Yin Sacrifice ritual, you might become the first casualty of the heavenly demon if it's successful. Bi Chunsheng is a warning, aren't you afraid of death? What are you trying to achieve? Just to repair a sword?" 

"I have long been dead. The Mountain prince was a master craftsman and was once known as 'Tian'er' during his lifetime. If he really can..." Mr. Nian's expression remained unchanged, but his fingers on his knee curled up, "As a lingering ghost, what does it matter if I give this miserable life to him?" 

Finally, Old Lady Yu let out a sigh. 

Mr. Nian, who was observant of her expressions, immediately said, "Thank you in advance." 

"This time, I am only moved by your persistence and helping you privately. I have no connection with your religion. Remember that," Old Lady Yu stood up, looked deeply at Mr. Nian, and called out his real name, "Yan Qiushan." 

'When the great Dao is abandoned, there is benevolence and righteousness; when wisdom emerges, there is great deception; when family relations are broken, there is filial piety; when the country is in chaos, there are loyal ministers.' - This calligraphy was hanging on the wall of the Cemtral Dispatch Room of the Bureau. 

No one knows who chose it, but it was already there when Xiao Zheng moved in. Xiao Zheng wasn't a scholar and couldn't tell what font it was. He only felt that the words were all skinny and bony, like a group of malicious starving corpses. 

Next to him, an investigator was reporting on their work: "We looked into the accounts of several field agents at headquarters and found that they had all transferred money to the same account belonging to a shell company. The highest amount was 180,000 yuan, and the lowest was 34,000 yuan. After the transfers, they all called Gong Chenggong, the former head of the aftermath department. One of the field agents even sent a message to the former bureau chief saying, 'Director Gong asked me to convey my thanks to you, and I will personally come to thank you in person with a return gift soon.'"

Xiao Zheng's gaze returned from the calligraphy. "What does this mean?" 

"The idea is, when you guys, the incompetent field agents, mess up during a mission and the number of casualties exceeds the limit, you have to go to Gong Chenggong to buy some Mirror Flower Water Moon Butterflies to cover it up. But of course, this illegal product is not something anyone can buy. You have to go through acquaintances and it's a membership system..." Xuan Ji walked into his office with a cup of coffee, looking like he was still half-asleep and let out a yawn. 

He lazily said, "'Return gift' is just a commission fee, commonly known as a 'kickback' in the private sector. If you haven't taken it, you're not a member of society."

Xiao Zheng caught a glimpse of his tired face and frowned, "What's wrong with you again? Did you take drugs yesterday?"

Xuan Ji had just finished resting, but his face was heavily fatigued, weighing down his bright and handsome features with a layer of gloom, like a smoker addicted to cigarettes. 

"Haunted by a seductive ghost, I fear my days are numbered," sighed Xuan Ji as he yawned and gulped down the remaining half cup of strong coffee. The bitterness nearly caused his heart to skip a beat, and he clutched his chest in agony. 

"Mr. Xiao, if I were to sacrifice myself on the job, how much funeral expenses would the organization reimburse me? And could you help me pay off my credit card first?"

"No problem," replied Xiao Zheng coldly as he kicked a chair towards him. "Then we'll sell you to the medical school to pay off your debts."

Xuan Ji clicked his tongue and impolitely rummaged through Director Xiao's drawer, taking out a box of cigarettes for himself. 

He then turned to the investigator who had come to report to him and asked, "So, are Bi Chunsheng's accusations of your former bureau chief true then?"

The investigator's expression turned serious as he opened his tablet. 

"This is the transcript of the mental interrogation of the individuals involved." The spiritual-type ability users were particularly skilled in interrogation, just like when they interrogated Master Yue De in Dongchuan. This time, they extracted memories directly from the person's brain. 

On the screen, the person being investigated was covered in dust and trembling as they held the phone. "Chief...I...I need to report something...when we were capturing the mutant scorpions, there was a gas station caught fire, it wasn't intentional...they all died, died..." 

As the person's gaze moved, the screen showed numerous bodies of all sizes on the ground. Most of the gas station staff and tourists who happened to be nearby were now unrecognizable masses of flesh and blood. 

"It's my fault, all my fault," the person on the phone cried with a heavy sob, "Can the bureau please make an exception this time and not implicate others? Let the casualties be counted on my head... There are still more than ten brothers in my team, some who have just finished their internships and have a bright future ahead of them, and... and an old comrade who lost a finger on a mission and is about to retire... They can't be ruined because of this negligence. Director, I beg you, please, punish me instead..."

There was silence on the other end of the phone for a moment before the voice of the old bureau chief came through, "Do you know Gong Chenggong from the aftermath department?"

The person on the phone didn't react for a moment, "Ah..."

"Contact him and tell him you need a 'protective talisman,' say that I agree... If you're short on resources, come to me." 

As Xiao Zheng listened, his palms grew cold. 

"There are others," the investigator said, "because of this 'intermediary' system, the people involved are all connected in a complex web. We followed the memory of the cursed people and have now compiled a list of names. In short, be prepared." 

Xiao Zheng took the list and looked at it for a while before silently handing it over to Xuan Ji. Xuan Ji took a quick glance and suddenly became energized. 

"Wow, it's true that 'only the stone lion at the door is clean'." 

Among the suspects involved in concealing the number of casualties with Mirror Flower Water Moon Butterflies, there are four at the level of sub-bureau chief and above, including the former chief of the Bureau and Director Song of the current Security Department, and eleven heads of regional security departments...and these are just the ones who were actively involved.

In recent years, nearly 30% of the "Level 2" or higher dangerous missions of the  Bureau have had traces of Mirror Flower Water Moon Butterfly used, and almost all frontline elite agents have received "protection" from it, whether knowingly or unknowingly.

This includes Xiao Zheng himself.

It's almost a paradox, because the "useless snacks" are all in logistics and don't need to take risks or be in the spotlight. Only the best field agents are sent to handle the most dangerous missions. It's a job that requires walking on the edge of a cliff while adhering to strict management regulations. 

In the end, there seem to be only two paths left for the former "heroes" - either ending up like Yan Qiushan, who couldn't even keep his own knife and left in disgrace, or like the old bureau chief, who finally bought a witchcraft curse from Gong Chenggong thousands of years ago, stepping on his conscience to climb higher.

"Director Xiao," Xuan Ji took a drag of his cigarette, "as a beneficiary, what do you plan to do?"

"With all the evidence presented," Xiao Zheng said hoarsely after a long pause, "I will...I will go to Chief Huang and request an arrest warrant."

The bodies of Bi Chunsheng and the others...their corpses were not even cold yet. 

An hour later, on the Wall of Fame of the Intranet of the Bureau, more than half of the photos representing illustrious careers were urgently removed. The page was left looking like it had been chewed up by a dog, with no time to be re-edited.

As soon as Director Song from the Security Department arrived at work, he was disarmed at the door. The golden dragon in the headquarters hall climbed up the pillar and let out a resounding roar that echoed through the vast hall.

Xuan Ji locked eyes with the dragon for a moment, then suddenly asked Xiao Zheng, "Old Xiao, even though your whole family are ordinary people, do you ever feel like, as a special ability person, you should have privileges?"

Xiao Zheng's face remained expressionless. "The feudal system has been abolished for many years. All beings are equal." 

"All beings are equal." Xuan Ji silently recited these four words, scanning the anxious faces of the people around him. He couldn't help but wonder, 'Then how did you treat the 'Zhi Chun' sword?' 

Xiao Zheng asked, "What are you smiling at?" 

"Nothing, just beinghappy for you." Xuan Ji patted Xiao Zheng's shoulder and said, "You've worked hard." 

The reason for this moment of reflection was because Xuan Ji had a nightmare the night before. He dreamt that he had turned into a sword and was smashed into countless pieces - not the painless destruction he had done to the spirit vessels in Chiyuan, but the person who shattered the sword had a deep grudge against him and deliberately refused to release him, smashing him into eight pieces while he was still alive. 

That night, he was "torn apart by eight horses" two or three dozen times. When he woke up in the morning, he almost collapsed on the spot. After drinking five cups of strong coffee, he was finally able to walk to work.

Xuan Ji forced himself to stay alert and stayed at the Bureau to help Xiao Zheng. 

The ones being arrested were all elite field agents and they were afraid of accidents happening during the arrest. To stay awake, Xuan Ji even ate a whole can of chocolate.

Ping Qianru looked at her leader, who could eat without getting fat, with envy and jealousy. She quietly went online and placed a few orders.

At that moment, Xuan Ji's phone vibrated. It was a group chat that Ping Qianru had added him to when he was being chased by Aluojin in Dongchuan. He had forgotten to mute it.

He saw that Wang Ze had posted a few short videos in the group chat. 

When Xuan Ji looked closely, he saw that the video title read: 'Little Gege Playing the Ocarina on the Streets of Yuyang, Witness a Rare Scene of Hundreds of Birds Flying Together, Not Magic.'

What the hell... 

Wang Ze, the silly guy, shouted in the group chat, "Hey, Director Xuan, is this your sword? It's becoming a hot topic! Have you signed the full responsibility agreement yet? Hurry up and sign it! Once we're on the platform and get advertisements, we'll be making 300,000 yuan a month and never have to work a day job again!"


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