Pulling Together a Villain Reformation Strategy – Chapter 34

<Just like last time, Trigger Warning for brief references to sexual violence>

Two more exams left… X__X Please let me know where my translations can be improved! (You should be reading this at penjournalhappy.wordpress.com)

 

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Chapter 34 – Older Brother

 

Under the remaining rays of the setting sun, the utterly silent and dead village was swept up in this shocking turn of events1. A heavy sword pierced through the air, its blade a full three finger-widths wide. The inertia and force of its movement was mixed with the boom of a thunderclap1, its frightful rage almost swallowing up the people present.

This old man wasn’t easy to deal with, but it wasn’t like Jiang Xunyi didn’t have the strength to engage in another fight and his hand had originally already moved onto his sword’s scabbard. But when he unexpectedly heard the words “raped my daughter”, a tear-stained meager face flashed across his mind. With an ache in his heart, his movements stopped and he instantly lost the opportunity to act first.

Yun Xie and Jiang Molou struck at the same time. Yun Xie’s sleeves directly unfurled towards the incoming blade’s edge, while Jiang Molou’s personal sword chased through the air to sweep horizontally at Feng Xue. Both men were world-class experts, and their attacks were accordingly no small matter. Fortunately for their opponent, both were intending to save Jiang Xunyi, not to harm Feng Xue. The old man swiftly retreated, dodging the blow and failing to touch Jiang Xunyi.

At the same time, another man rushed out from behind their group, flashing forward to block Jiang Xunyi behind himself.

Jiang Xunyi: “……” His hand was still stopped on his hilt. Everything had happened too quickly, and only now was he able to silently let his hand fall back to his side. He had already imagined being detested and hunted down as the norm. Okay, he could understand his Shidi protecting him. For an enemy to protect him… alright, they had once been die-hard friends, so he could grudgingly understand it. Now, as for this elder brother with a completely unfamiliar background popping out of some nearby hill… what kind of deep sentiment and strong affection would actually cause him to block this knife?

Even though this situation was indeed very moving, his guilty conscience pricked him: his System had clearly set his role as the Villain, okay?! V-I-L-L-A-I-N.

Jiang Xunyi was not the only one both moved and confused. The rest of the people who had rushed over were all renowned sect leaders or venerable and famous on their own. They were already shocked upon first seeing the perfectly alive and well Jiang Xunyi. Now witnessing the perpetually proper and elegant Du Family Head actually go forward to protect him, their disbelief grew even further. The whole scene was more of a spectacle than a great theater play.

Some people immediately started to stutter out: “JiangJiang Xunyi? How did he appear here? Is this a ghost?”

Other people raised their voices: “Family Head Du! What’s the matter with you? Could it be that you have long since known this traitor? You’re actually daring to defy Elder Feng in order to protect him?!”

The man in question did not respond to any of the doubts and suspicions being thrown around. He first turned slightly, revealing the profile of a handsome and gentle face, as he spoke calmly: “Are you alright? Were you frightened?”

Jiang Xunyi had a near-photographic memory, so he immediately recognized this person. This man bore the exact face of the first layer of his mask, exposed back when Jiang Xunyi had washed the blood off his face. That was the older brother of this current body, the eldest son of the Du family, born from a concubine2, the current family head Du Li.

He had originally believed that since Du Li allowed Du Heng to replace him as the sacrifice for the Demon Sovereign, this pair of brothers must have had a completely antagonistic3 relationship. Okay, how one could possibly be antagonistic with an idiot was a matter up for further discussion, but in the end this current scene of harmonious brotherly affection shouldn’t be occurring, right?

Had Du Li seen him before? Did Du Li know that there was a person in this world whose appearance was so similar to his own half-brother? Why was he not the least bit surprised to see that Du Heng was no longer a fool?

Jiang Xunyi looked into Du Li’s eyes, only to see purely clear honesty. He slowly replied: “I’m fine.”

Du Li nodded and did not say anything more. Only now did he turn back around and cup his hands in salute towards the crowd: “My younger brother is blameless, and I do not know how he could have offended all of you. His brain has never worked properly ever since he was little, so if anyone has any issues, please direct them towards this humble one.”

Jiang Xunyi: “…….”

That speech sounded well-intentioned and all, but why was he so angry upon hearing a particular section?

Yun Xie heard Du Li’s words, and actually did not speak for once. After staying silent for a moment, he looked back, wordlessly meeting Jiang Xunyi’s eyes.

Jiang Xunyi felt his gaze, and his heart trembled. He seemed to understand what Yun Xie was asking him through those eyes.

He wanted to say: Du Heng or Jiang Xunyi, what choice will you make? Are you willing to change your name and identity, to throw away those past gratitudes and grudges like clearing the ledger of an unrecoverable debt? Are you happy with this? Are you… capable of actually doing that?

What happened in the past… Is it that you do not wish to remember those events, or can you actually truly forget them? Will those things that you cannot face instead grow deeper and heavier with the passing years if left unresolved, until they become the burden weighing your heart down? One can turn the pages of a book without a care, but when he was so deep in the fray himself, could he really treat all of this as the matters of a book?

Amidst his terror, he came to a sudden flash of understanding.

“I am still Jiang Xunyi.” The corner of Jiang Xunyi’s lip raised as he smiled and looked at Du Li. However, this smile was not soft as the spring breeze, but instead with a touch of vigor and high spirits, adding a sword-like sharpness to his slim figure: “Du Heng is already dead. My apologies, Family Head Du, but you have recognized the wrong person.”

Du Li was originally right in the middle of negotiating with the frightened sect leaders. Given Jiang Xunyi’s wide reputation for obstinate arrogance as well as the “dagger hidden in smiles4 Yun Xie’s currently ambiguous position between enemy and friend… no matter if Du Li had recognized the wrong person or not, those present were completely tense and on guard as if facing a formidable enemy. Their countless mouths and tongues were even more chattery than a gaggle of gossiping villager women, on the verge of talking Du Li to death. Now hearing Jiang Xunyi’s answer, the entirety of this empty village suddenly quieted down. A nearby murder of murky crows seemed to have been startled by this atmosphere, cawing raucously as they flew by overhead and disappeared ominously into the distance.

Du Li’s eyes held the correct amount of amazement and horror. However, for some inexplicable reason, Jiang Xunyi had the persistent feeling that… this person already knew everything deep down. As if Du Li’s surprise wasn’t because Jiang Xunyi wasn’t his brother, but because Jiang Xunyi actually admitted this fact out loud.

Du Li reacted extremely quickly, shaking his head and laughing: “Ah-Heng5, don’t make trouble. Did your sickness strike again?”

Jiang Xunyi: “………” He originally mustered up quite a bit of willpower to stand up and admit his identity, so hearing Du Li’s response did not make him feel particularly good. What was most annoying was how Du Li’s tone was still completely kind and temperate! Was he actually pretending or not?

Du Li turned to the crowd and explained: “I have never seen young master Jiang before, and do not know if his appearance is in fact as similar to my younger brother as you all have identified. However, this child is confused and addled, and I could never mistake my own little brother for another. Ah-Heng, if you open up your clothes and take a look, you can see if your right shoulder has a gold-colored pattern in the shape of a snowflake. That is the snowflake seal carried since childhood by the Du family’s sons of the first wife6. Once the snowflake seal is branded into the body, it will destroy the flesh and extinguish the soul upon death, removing any opportunity for possession or body theft. The seniors present should know this very well, correct?”

The seniors present really did know about this rule in the Du family. However, seeing how Jiang Xunyi’s mannerisms were exactly the same as before… if anyone actually believed he was a fool, they would probably be the real fools here.

Feng Xue was the first to speak: “Fine, then first take off your clothes and let us see.”

Jiang Molou’s wrath prevented his brain from filtering his words before they left his mouth: “Keep dreaming!

Jiang Xunyi: “…….” Do you know how to use that phrase correctly? If you don’t, please refrain from blindly using it!

He strongly felt he couldn’t continue to “…….” any longer, plus he had absolutely no desire to take off his clothes. A manly man going shirtless was originally no big deal, but now after Jiang Molou’s ‘unique’ choice of words, the situation was infinitely weirder. It didn’t help that all these burning gazes were fixated on him. Moreover, why should he prove he is Du Heng?

Jiang Xunyi had no way of denying it, so he simply gave up and didn’t defend himself. Feng Xue’s temper rose: “Come and take it off! What, feeling guilty—”

He hadn’t finished speaking when a powerful gust of wind swept before his eyes. Faced with this great shock, he hurriedly bowed backwards to barely avoid a projectile of overwhelming vital energy. The attack scraped his face like a knife, even shaving off several strands of his white beard. Immediately afterwards, a slender hand curled into the shape of a tiger’s claw, gracefully moving to grip his throat.

Feng Xue was of course no pushover. Despite his shock, he reacted instantly, stretching out one arm to parry the blow and then punching back with his other hand.

Jiang Xunyi did not dodge or evade, his fist attacking in the same manner. The two fists clashed right into each other, knocking both parties back several steps. Jiang Xunyi flung out his sleeves and sneered: “Still can’t recognize who I am?”

Feng Xue had previously had his reputation besmirched because of his daughter’s disgrace, so he hated Jiang Xunyi down to his very bones. They had exchanged blows countless times, both in secret and out in the open. Even though he hadn’t been the one to kill Jiang Xunyi in the end, he was absolutely familiar with Jiang Xunyi’s moves, and abruptly flew into a rage: “Brute! It really is you!”

He raised his sword, ready to rush forward again, but his wrist was blocked by someone from the side, knocking his heavy sword out of his hands onto the ground.

Feng Xue turned his head to see his blocker clearly. He suppressed his anger: “Sect Master Yun, I have always treated you with the utmost courtesy. You clearly know that this brat humiliated Qiu-Er8, so don’t stick your nose into other people’s business. You, how are you worthy of Qiu-Er’s affection for you?”

Every time Yun Xie heard about the matter of “Jiang Xunyi raping Feng Qiu,” he felt the sourness and bitterness of someone force-feeding him two pounds of coptis juice9. Most uncomfortable, even now he still didn’t know for certain whether this incident was true or false. All this time, his breath had been suffocated in his chest, unable to be released. Now that Feng Xue had brought the matter up, he couldn’t help but shoot a fierce glare at Jiang Xunyi, before turning his head to speak calmly to Feng Xue: “Family Head Feng, I say, you’re already getting up there in years, so all your pretentious swaggering has long since lost any amusement value. Given the way you typically treat Feng-Shijie, do you think us all blind and deaf?”

Jiang Xunyi did not see Yun Xie glaring at him. Instead, it was Du Li who murmured to himself for a moment and then opened his mouth to speak: “Sect Master Yun, even though I have never had the honor of meeting with you before, I have often heard of the famous Dual Jades of the Spirit Stage. It was said that you two had a deep and profound friendship back in the day, so you must definitely recognize Jiang Xunyi’s appearance. Does Sect Master Yun also intend to stubbornly insist my little brother is young master Jiang, thus endangering him?”

Yun Xie naturally understood Du Li was hinting for him to avoid screwing Jiang Xunyi over and to hurriedly pluck him out of this messy situation. However, he didn’t agree with this approach at all, instead proudly declaring: “Jiang Xunyi is Jiang Xunyi. Will that fact change whether I acknowledge it or not? What’s so shameful about that name? Please pardon my ignorance, I don’t understand.”

Feng Xue grew angry: “What about him isn’t shameful? He originally was the spawn of a lowly brothel slave, born to be base and treacherous!”

Yun Xie flew into a fury: “You old fart, what are you saying?!”

Jiang Xunyi couldn’t bear it any longer. He raised his hand and unsheathed his sword, ready to beat the living daylights out of this old man. But at this time, a quiet feminine voice whispered: “……Xunyi.”

Jiang Xunyi’s hand paused.

It was Feng Qiu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Footnotes:

1.  Fun fact: 惊雷 lit. “shocking thunder” is used to refer to both a “shocking turn of events” and the actual sound of a thunderclap.

2. Du Li is referred to as a “庶子.” 庶 means he was born of a concubine, not the main wife. The opposite of 庶 is 嫡 (see footnote 6).

3. 水火不容 lit. “water and fire do not mix.” The English equivalent would probably be the phrase “like oil and water”

4. 笑里藏刀 lit. “dagger/knife hidden in smiles”

5. Just like how Yun Xie calls Jiang Xunyi “Ah-Xun”, Du Li similarly nicknames Du Heng by taking the first character of his name and adding “Ah-” in front.

6. Du Heng is referred to as a “嫡子” where 嫡 means “legitimate” or “born of the first/main wife”

7. Jiang Molou specifically says “你痴心妄想!” This is similar in tone to the phrase “Keep Dreaming” which is usually “做梦!”. However, 痴心妄想 has the added connotation of a particularly fond dream or wishful thinking.

8. Feng Xue adds 儿 (ér) to Feng Qiu’s name. This is an affectionate nickname for someone you see as a beloved child. You might recall that Immortal Master Ti Ming referred to Jiang Xunyi as Xun-Er and Yun Xie as Xie-Er, and Wu Tianqi referred to his daughter Wu Hui as Hui-Er.

9. 黄连汁 is the juice of the plant Coptis chinensis, also known as Chinese goldthread and known for its very bitter flavor.

 

 

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Pulling Together a Villain Reformation Strategy – Chapter 33

<Trigger Warning for brief mention of sexual violence at the end of the chapter>

Oh my gosh I’m so sorry for the extensive delay! I’m not dead, I just feel a little bit lied to because my upperclassmen told me this quarter would be easy, but so far the content has been the most difficult yet. I’ve readjusted my goals: hopefully in the summer I’ll definitely have more free time.

Of note, I did take some artistic license with some of the phrasing in this chapter. There were also two poems referenced, so of course I had to look them up and get distracted trying to translate them~ Please let me know where my translations can be improved! (You should be reading this at penjournalhappy.wordpress.com)

 

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Chapter 33 – Still Afraid This Reunion is Only Within A Dream1

 

But just as the words left his mouth, even he wasn’t able to hear his own speech—from the north, the sharp whistle of a sword pierced the air. A blue-robed man standing on his sword rushed over with the swiftness of lightning. Even the black fog present was swept to the side by his fierce momentum.

His posture as he rushed out was very handsome and cool, but the angle was tricky and his timing unfortunate. Due to the obscuring black fog, Yun Xie’s attack just happened to be aimed straight at this newcomer. Seeing this problem, Jiang Xunyi didn’t have time to think—he borrowed the momentum of a nearby large tree by kicking off it and leaping into the air. A bolt of spiritual energy burst from his fingers to shoot the flying sword and its rider down from the sky.

Wei Xiuqi and Nie Yan exclaimed in unison: “Shizun!”

Thankfully, Jiang Molou was indeed a peerless martial arts master—even though the black fog had blocked his line of sight and he was caught off guard by this attack on his personal sword, his posture was still neat and clean as ever as he made this surprise landing. Just as his feet touched the ground, he took advantage of the chance to unsheathe his sword for an “Ignition Dragon Curse,” aimed straight at the Jiang Xunyi who had sneak attacked him.

At the same time, Jiang Xunyi also used “Ignition Dragon Curse” to meet this attack. The two swords originating from the same master’s teachings thus crashed straight into each other.

The moment the two blades crossed, their long call rang loud and clear, piercing the very heavens. Jiang Molou’s wrist turned to pull back the blade’s edge and he indifferently looked up, but the moment his gaze met his attacker’s, his eyes suddenly opened wide.

His face, normally as cold as the ice and frost, revealed shock and surprise for the first time. His long sword fell to the ground but he seemed to be completely unaware, instead raising his hand to grab Jiang Xunyi’s right shoulder: “You!”

What met his hand was a thin layer of clothing as the sea wave-patterned robes of the two men overlapped, holding the vague familiarity of bygone days. Jiang Molou felt almost as if a raging fire had ignited in his heart, while in reality a rush of scorching hot blood flooded through his chest. Under this extreme swing in emotions, he could not tell whether this was an illusion or reality, dream or waking.

Jiang Molou’s other hand trembled as it lifted up, seeming to want to touch Jiang Xunyi’s face. But with this movement, his ice-cold touch accidentally crossed the skin on his own chest.

As if a bucket of cold water had splashed him right in the face, the fire in Jiang Molou’s heart was instantly extinguished.

It was the Sect Head Seal that hung around his neck. Within this single year2 since he had mourned the loss of his Shifu and Shixiong, the Sect Head Seal had been stolen away by the traitors in the sect and then returned to his hands after many twists and turns. This eternally cold piece of jade was akin to a drop of ice-cold heartblood3, reminding him at every second and every moment of the decaying of their sect and how much had been lost since those previous days.

Even though all this time he had stubbornly refused to take off his sea wave-patterned robe and replace it with the sect master uniform, the events of that year would forever be engraved onto his heart.

Jiang Molou lowered his gaze. His chest rose and fell fiercely as he used his entire life’s supply of perseverance to keep his calm and wave-less exterior, and slowly let go of Jiang Xunyi’s shoulders.

He was not the only one losing control of his demeanor—under this completely unexpected face-to-face encounter, even Jiang Xunyi was stupefied. In contrast to Yun Xie, he did not hold the tiniest bit of vigilance towards Jiang Molou, so before his brain could process the scene, his mouth had already blurted out: “Molou?”

Jiang Molou’s reaction did not have any of his imagined happy surprise. The grasp Jiang Molou had just released from his shoulder instantly moved to press his sword hilt, full of murderous intent: “Who are you? You dare pretend to be my Shixiong?!”

Jiang Xunyi: “……What do you think?”

Jiang Molou looked Jiang Xunyi over intently. Even though Du Heng had exactly the same appearance as his previous body, a few differences in the details could ultimately still be picked out, so Jiang Molou refused: “You absolutely can’t be him! He is already dead!”

When he didn’t want to admit his identity, there was always someone pressing him to admit it. Now that he was finally recognizing it from his own mouth, other people didn’t believe him. Jiang Xunyi had already accepted this reality, and resignedly said: “Okay, okay, you don’t believe it…”

Without warning, he was pulled behind another person. Yun Xie directed his faint words towards Jiang Molou: “It’s truly for the best that Sect Head Jiang thinks such. I hope that in the future you will remember your words today and refrain from coming to pester us.”

Jiang Molou had always possessed a strict and rigorous personality, so words like “miracle” and “coincidence” were a foreign language to him. He had originally held the firm belief that dead was dead, and the person in front of him being dressed like this must be an immense conspiracy. But Yun Xie now standing to the side and saying these words instead caused him to hesitate and doubt.

Below Jiang Molou’s eternally frosty and bitter face lay hidden confusion and entanglement. His gaze darted back and forth between the two men, until Jiang Xunyi finally didn’t have the heart to keep watching him like this: “Alright, what are you looking at me for. You and I have grown up together all this time, yet you actually can’t even recognize whether it’s me. Fine, how about this: back when you were five years old, you wanted to eat the offerings that Shizun had presented to the ancestral sect founders, but you were too embarrassed…”

Jiang Molou’s conditioned reflexes kicked in: “Shut up!”

Yun Xie’s smile was a tad gloomy. Jiang Xunyi didn’t say a single sincere word in his presence, but upon encountering Jiang Molou his entire person seemed to have completely relaxed. This subconscious difference in treatment was even more unbearable for him than Jiang Xunyi’s malicious attitude.

Just as the “Shut up” left Jiang Molou’s mouth, he seemed to realize what had happened. His voice trembled slightly: “…You really didn’t die!”

Jiang Xunyi wasn’t too happy with him: “Your tone sounds pretty disappointed, huh?”

Jiang Molou’s lips quivered, and he didn’t say anything for a long while. Instead, Jiang Xunyi smiled, shaking his head and sighing with both helplessness and indulgence.

This scene of “With clasped hands, we look into each other’s teary eyes; Unable to utter words, choking on emotion4 almost gave the watching Yun Xie a myocardial infarction. He took a deep breath; in this moment of silence, he heard a noisy din in the distance, getting closer and closer like the advancing tide.

Jiang Molou’s expression changed: “Oh no, I actually forgot, it’s that herd of old men… What…What’s going on with you? Never mind, now’s not the time to talk, hurry and come leave with me!”

He wasn’t good with words in the first place, and under this excitement his speech devolved into incoherent rambling. He only grabbed Jiang Xunyi’s hand directly to take him to leave, and had even forgotten about his two poor disciples.

Jiang Xunyi: “Wait a moment, I haven’t figured out the mystery here… you have to first explain!”

Yun Xie flew into a fury: “Jiang Molou! Are you treating me as if I’m dead?”

The two men’s words mixed together and Jiang Molou couldn’t hear either one clearly. Just as he opened his mouth to speak, another man had already arrived behind him, laughing as he rode his sword through the air: “Sect Head Jiang, what are you running so fast for…….. Jiang Xunyi, you’re not dead?!”

The volume of his voice suddenly increased for that last sentence. Immediately afterwards, his figure suddenly landed in front of these people stuck in a deadlock.

Hearing this voice, Jiang Xunyi instantly understood what Jiang Molou had meant by his concern. Unfortunately, it was already too late. He turned his head, half of his snow-white face hidden in the shadow of the towering trees, and coldly said: “Feng Xue.”

His face no longer showed that mocking hint of a smile, and his entire person’s temperament instantly became gloomy. The contrasting black and white in his eyes made his gaze akin to two bolts of cold electricity, razor-sharp and threatening, so it was the originally aggressive Feng Xue who instead took a step back.

There were four great families in the cultivation world: Du, Feng, Yue, and Han. Feng Xue was indeed the head of the Feng family5, and had achieved fame over a hundred years ago. Even though he now appeared to be an old man past his prime, his strength could not be underestimated. Moreover, in the past he had conflicted significantly with the Dual Jades of the Spirit Stage. Yun Xie’s expression was calm even as his mind ran as fast as lightning. He darted another glance at Jiang Molou, who held the position of head of a sect. It was currently unclear why these two men appeared in this desolate wilderness at the same time and happened to know Jiang Xunyi.

However, even though this situation was a perilous one, he actually felt this wasn’t a bad arrangement. After all, no one would want their beloved to hide their identity and bury their name for an entire lifetime. If no one forced him, Jiang Xunyi would likely never be willing to admit who he himself was.

Jiang Molou was standing closer to the two of them, and whispered to them in an impartial and flat tone: “Half a month ago, Xuan Li re-emerged into the Jianghu, and the Solar Envy Sect Master fell into the Imprisoned Demons Valley with his whereabouts unknown. Both these events were important affairs, so the heads of the various major sects in the cultivation world convened twenty Li west of the Imprisoned Demons Valley entrance for a congress discussing countermeasures. The meeting had not yet begun when we felt an incredible amount of sinister aura coming from this direction, so we each came over to check it out… I was the earliest to arrive, and most likely everyone else is about to get here.”

In that last sentence, even his tone could not help but reveal a subtle bitterness.

Wei Xiuqi and Nie Yan were already used to being treated as background props. Even now, they still couldn’t believe their ears. Wei Xiuqi quietly said: “I didn’t… I didn’t hear that wrong, did I? That senior is eldest Shibo?! No wonder…no wonder he’s so powerful!”

Nie Yan was so dumbstruck he could hardly reply. Of course, he himself was completely confused too: “Didn’t eldest Shibo pass away? Wasn’t he killed by Yun Xie?”

Due to his excitement, his voice was a little on the loud side. Although the current situation was an emergency, Yun Xie still took a bit of effort to pull himself out of his busyness and give Nie Yan a furious eye-roll. He had a deep suspicion that the reason this disciple was so terse must be because even he himself knew he was simple-minded and was thus too ashamed to speak.

Hearing this, Jiang Xunyi said to Jiang Molou: “This bunch of people do not possess a united will. Even if they do arrive, they won’t be able to do anything to me. On the contrary, you’re the one who’ll be in trouble, so you should first take your two disciples and leave until this all blows over.”

Jiang Molou stared at Jiang Xunyi, and faintly said: “That is impossible.”

Yun Xie’s anger rose, and he coldly said: “Stop arguing. Everyone’s already arrived, none of us will be able to escape.” His style had always been to act however he felt like acting. Now at this moment, he held even more of a desire to stir up trouble, so he idly waved his hand in greeting to the newcomers: “Sect Head Liu, Family Head5 Du, Old Man Cheng… Hey, it looks like everyone’s here? Wow, you all covered the distance quite fast!”

Jiang Xunyi: “…….”

Jiang Molou grew furious in return: “Yun Xie, what are you posing as a good person for? Go stand on their side, don’t get so close to me and my brother6!”

Yun Xie hadn’t replied yet when on the side, the Feng Xue who had been ignored for a long while now couldn’t hold himself back anymore. He abruptly burst into a rage: “Jiang Xunyi! You wanton thief and traitor! Back then I just didn’t believe Yun Xie would actually kill you. Now what crafty trick are you going to use to feign death and escape this time? Whatever, if heaven won’t take care of you, I will!”

He pulled out his sword: “Don’t think that just because you faked death once, all those things are resolved. You bastard who raped7 my daughter, you and I are mortal enemies who can’t share the same sky!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Footnotes (I hope y’all like poetry):

1. The title of this chapter comes from the poem 《鹧鸪天》 by the Song Dynasty poet Yan Jidao. The poem’s title literally translates to something like “Pheasant Days”, and it is about the moment when two lovers reunite after a separation.
Here’s my extremely rough and crude translation of the full poem:

彩袖殷勤捧玉钟,当年拚却醉颜红。
“Rainbow sleeves attentively held up a jade glass; yet back in the day, I willingly inebriated myself to a flushed red.”
[“Rainbow sleeves” refers to the ancient colorful dresses of songstresses. “Jade clock” is an ancient term for a precious and beautiful wine cup.]

舞低杨柳楼心月,歌尽桃花扇底风。
“Dancing until the moon above the tower fell below the arched willows, until the song ended and the wind of the peach blossom fan stopped”
[The peach blossom fan would be an accessory used by a songstress in her dance. Here after a long night together, the songstress finally grew tired]

从别后,忆相逢,几回魂梦与君同。
“Ever since parting, I remember that encounter; my dreaming soul has so often met with yours.”

今宵剩把银釭照,犹恐相逢是梦中。
“Tonight, I must shine the silver lantern, still afraid this reunion is only within my dreams.”

In plain language, the poem is basically saying “All those years ago in our first encounter, your hands were attentively holding up a wine cup with such charm and grace, and I willingly drank until my face flushed red from drunkenness. Your song and fan dance began with the bright evening moon on the willow branches, until the moon above the tower fell into the dark night. All this time we danced and sang together, until you were so exhausted that you could not wave your peach blossom fan.

Ever since that parting, I have always fondly remembered that beautiful encounter. In my dreams, I have embraced you so many times. Tonight, I must raise up the silver lantern to examine you carefully, still afraid this reunion is yet another dream.”

 

2. Yeah apparently it’s only been a year since Jiang Xunyi’s death? Don’t ask me how the timeline works lol…

3.  心头血 literally translates to something like “blood from the tip of the heart.” In traditional Chinese medicine it’s supposed to possess special properties (something like “it’s the most condensed blood in the body”), and is therefore considered very precious. (Fun fact: in some cultivation novels it’s associated with one’s spiritual powers.)

4. This is a line from the poem <雨霖铃> [Bells Ringing in the Rain] by Liu Yong, a Song dynasty poet. The original Chinese is “执手相看泪眼,竟无语凝噎”. I believe the topic of the poem is about lovers bidding farewell to each other lol.

5.  家主 lit. “head of the family.” Of note, this is a cultivation world where families can be so powerful as to rival actual sects.

6. Cute fact: When Jiang Molou is excited or otherwise not paying attention to formalities, he calls Jiang Xunyi by the informal 哥 (somewhat similar in tone to “big bro”) just like he did when they were little.

7. Feng Xue uses the term 强暴, which was partially censored in the original text. This term carries the connotations of an especially violent/brutal rape.

 

 

 

 

Translator’s Comments: Yes, the “Du” is the same Du as the one you guys know.

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Pulling Together a Villain Reformation Strategy – Chapter 32

Phew those were some rough classes… I’m hoping this coming quarter will be lighter so that I might be able to return to some semblance of my fast pace before the New Year 😛

Please let me know where my translations can be improved! (You should be reading this at penjournalhappy.wordpress.com)

 

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Chapter 32 – Body of Dust1

 

With an expression of speechlessly beseeching heaven, Yun Xie rolled his eyes. He slowly stood up and immediately switched faces to his most amiable and personable smile, as he explained: “I am currently…”

No one paid any attention to his words. A village woman who looked over 40 years old seemed to have been suddenly awakened from a dream. She rushed over with agile and swift movements, scaring Yun Xie to take a step back. In this short period of time, that woman had already thrown herself on the corpse and begun to weep her heart out: “My son… You were born under such an ill star, even after you’re gone you still have to undergo this kind of suffering… It’s all because Dad and Mom are so useless……”

The veins on Yun Xie’s popped and he was about to open his mouth to speak, when out of the corner of his eye he saw Jiang Xunyi with his arms crossed watching from the side, a hint of a smile playing around his lips. A thought raced through Yun Xie’s mind–he intentionally put on a helpless expression, the words at the tip of his tongue changing direction as he smiled bitterly and cupped his fists in salute: “Aunt2, you’ve misunderstood, I was just inspecting your esteemed son’s body, that’s all…”

The woman banged her head on the ground in her immense grief. She clutched his clothes, dragging the hem down to madly wipe her tears, and shouted: “Hurry and look! So heartless and conscienceless… this person saw my son’s handsomeness and actually did such a despicable thing yet does not admit it… As a little old lady, what can I do? Even after suffering this injustice, I can only swallow it down into my stomach…”

The woman’s tears intensified the more she cried, echoing up to the rafters with ever increasing pathos. Suddenly, her vision lit up as a shining white silver ingot shook in front of her eyes. Jiang Xunyi sighed from his crouched position: “Hold this then, as the fee for your singing performance.”

The village woman couldn’t understand the meaning of the last half of his speech, but this didn’t affect the lightning speed with which she took the silver from Jiang Xunyi’s hands and bit the ingot with her front teeth3.

Only after seeing her accept the money did Jiang Xunyi then glance over the faces of these Fang family members who had come over. He asked: “Aunt2, why is it that after seeing your son’s body to be in this state, you’re not surprised at all?”

The village woman had already finished checking the silver and was just about to happily stuff it into her bosom. Upon hearing Jiang Xunyi’s question, her expression immediately turned vigilant: “Where is there anything wrong with my boy? What’s there to be surprised at? I’m telling you guys, don’t think that……”

Jiang Xunyi quickly raised a hand to stop her: “Alright, alright, it was him who held malicious intent towards your son, he’s a contemptible person. But we’ve already given compensation, can you stop bringing up this topic for now?”

Yun Xie felt greatly wronged: “You clearly know that you are the only one for me4…”

Jiang Xunyi treated his words as utter nonsense, and didn’t even look back: “Shut up.”

Having successfully teased him, Yun Xie’s heart was already satisfied. He followed Jiang Xunyi to crouch down. While casually knocking on the corpse’s face, he idly said: “Me, interested in him? That’d be impossible even just based off his skin. I say, Aunt, can you tell me why your son’s body has so many threads and stitches?

The village woman glared at him and confidently said: “What’s so strange about that! Everyone’s like this, what’s special about my son?!”

Jiang Xunyi’s nostrils flared and he let out a cold scoff, with a tone of warning: “That’s about enough. If you want to extort more money, you still have to remain within the realm of reason. At least try to make up something a little closer to reality.”

A youth behind the village woman grew impatient and yelled: “It was obviously you guys who harmed my big brother’s body, what are you looking for an excuse for! It goes without saying that everyone’s like this, what, are you guys not?”

Yun Xie chuckled: “If everyone was like this, we’d all long since be dead already. Little kid, telling lies will get punished by thunder and lightning.”

After he said this, it was unclear if it was just his illusion, but he actually felt that all the villagers in front of him stiffened at the same time.

Yun Xie’s smile faded. He frowned and stood up, and exploratively tried a: “You all…….”

The talking youth stared straight into space, his eyes losing all focus, gaze fixated on him like a dead fish. In a dazed and wooden voice, he repeated: “Long since be dead already…. Long since dead already…”

His voice grew faster and faster, and more and more urgent. Soon, the people around him seemed to have been infected, and this chant transformed from one voice to many. Alarmed and bewildered, Jiang Xunyi said: “Were they bewitched?”

He raised his hand, a layer of purple light amassing at his fingertips, and hesitated for a moment. But who could have imagined that before the purple radiance even fired, all the villagers in front of them suddenly collapsed.

They truly did “collapse”: these people which had just now all been standing before the four of them, actually crumbled into a pile of scattered body parts.

Jiang Xunyi’s hand was still raised in mid-air, and it was a long while before he recovered. At a loss, he turned around to look at Yun Xie. Yun Xie opened his mouth to speak, when his expression suddenly changed and the words at his lips suddenly became a: “Not good!”

The echoes of his voice had not yet faded when Jiang Xunyi had already rushed out. Wei Xiuqi and Nie Yan fell behind, their eyes meeting in total confusion and ignorance. Nie Yan asked: “Shixiong, what’s not good?”

Wei Xiuqi frowned: “I don’t know. Everything about this place is strange, we should still follow them out to see.”

Nie Yan agreed and the two disciples turned to exit. But neither of the two saw that from the piles of body parts on the ground, a stream of black gas was overflowing, and gradually taking a shape…

 

 

Jiang Xunyi hurriedly ran outside, originally hoping to be able to save at least one or two people. But upon making it to the Fang family’s gate and seeing the scene outside, he instantly stopped in his tracks, his feet feeling as heavy as lead and incapable of taking another step.

Before his eyes, the village that had just now still been so lively and bustling… seemed to have become another world. Not even a whisper could be heard of the previous clamorous talking; instead, the atmosphere had solidified into an uneasy and disturbing dead silence. The farmers plowing the fields, the women embroidering in the yard, those villagers at the river bank who had just now been enthusiastically discussing among themselves, reluctant to leave… without exception, every single one had turned into a pile of horrifying dismembered corpse parts.

Like hell on earth.

In the same way, strands of black gas emerged from the corpse parts and spread through the air. However, Jiang Xunyi now had no way of seeing those small strands; for some unknown reason, at this moment those things seemed to have come alive, slowly squirming together to form an enormous human figure. It seemed to creep and crawl towards him, while his own limbs seemed to have suddenly become shackled down by invisible chains. Despite his great ability, he could only watch with wide eyes as that monstrous thing came closer and closer to himself…. In the distance, the sun had set in blink of an eye, leaving the heavens and the earth as black as pitch.

Uneasiness, like a man-eating python stalking and devouring its human prey, crawled up his spine, climbing up higher and higher…….

 

Suddenly, he felt a tightness and a warmth around his shoulders. Jiang Xunyi’s entire body quaked, and those illusory shackles immediately lost all control over him. He took a step back and gasped heavily for breath. He could feel how his cold sweat had already dampened his heavy clothing, as if he had just escaped from a nightmare. However, he now looked up once more to see the scene before him again: Even though the landscape was strewn with corpses, there was no longer that sinister and terrifying ambiance seeking to devour him. Instead, the sky above him was cloudless and the lazy sun shone down to illuminate the entire scene, giving one a clear sense of “life” and “existence.”

Jiang Xunyi let out a long breath, and straightened his back. Yun Xie retracted his hand. He knew Jiang Xunyi’s dogged pride, so he rapidly covered up the trace of concern in his own eyes: “This body of yours has not undergone training and is incapable of resisting illusions, be more careful.”

Then he stuffed a wad of something into Jiang Xunyi’s arms: “I just borrowed this from those two children––these current clothes of yours have almost broken down into rags. You should change first, in case you catch a cold.”

Jiang Xunyi silently glanced towards Yun Xie, and seemed to feel something different about him. If he had to pinpoint it down, it would be how his initially careful and apologetic attitude had changed into natural familiarity. The way Yun Xie now treated him was the same as back when the two of them had been so close as to be inseparable: casual, and not as polite.

But his shoulders still felt that residual warmth. It wasn’t clear if it was because his mood had not yet stabilized, but he actually accepted the clothes without saying a word. He didn’t even ask how Yun Xie had “borrowed” them from his beloved Hidden Spirit Sect disciples, and did not pursue his manner of address.

On the surface Yun Xie had successfully pretended to be a serious and strict big gray wolf, but in reality he was so nervous he could feel his heart hammering in his chest. Only when Jiang Xunyi accepted the clothes did he silently let out a breath of relief and feel his internal organs falling back to reality.

 

By now, the black gas emitted from all the corpses had gathered together, and condensed into a faint giant face in midair. Its eyes protruded from their sockets, its nose concave and its teeth long and sharp, looking extremely ferocious. Jiang Xunyi did not delay at all––he directly ripped off his tattered robes and threw them to the side, and spoke while putting on the clean clothes: “This is probably the residual air that came out from the thirteenth air aperture––sure enough, there was something afoot!”

His tone was very hurried. Yun Xie looked back intending to answer him, but he forgot his lines when his words had reached the tip of his tongue: Upon changing into the Hidden Spirit Sect uniform, Jiang Xunyi’s elegance shone through, his features as fine as a painting. The slim girdle and wide sleeves of those light blue robes inlaid with white seams made his posture even more graceful, a true talented beauty5. It seemed that at this very moment, the torrent of time had silently surged backwards, and those unspoken emotions of loss and grief departed to some faraway place. Looking back at the past and present, it was the person before him who was the only real thing in this world.

At the edge of this trance, the rays of light before his eyes seemed to rise and fall like waves of water, while the beautiful features of the other party were also caught in these ripples and blurred in his vision.

Yun Xie blurted out: “You look really good in those clothes.”

After all this time, Jiang Xunyi had finally received the opportunities to wear the clothes of his old sect, and there were some deep feelings rising in his heart. But this emotion had not had the time to ferment into desolation and sorrow, when it evaporated like the smoke thanks to Yun Xie’s incapability to remain serious for more than three seconds. Jiang Xunyi only treated it as Yun Xie looking for a beating, and his temper worsened accordingly: “Are you sick or something?6

The fierce wind whipped up the sand and stone in the empty land before them, as the mass of black gas was already about to reach them. Yun Xie couldn’t help but laugh at Jiang Xunyi’s words, while casually tearing a branch off a nearby tree. Using this a sword, he stabbed towards the giant face in front of them.

In his hands, a simple tree branch became a peerless weapon of the ages. In a split second, the sword aura exerted its pressure on all present, and rainbow light dazzled the eye. Spiritual power and resentful energy smashed into each other, with a ripping and tearing sound that sent chills down one’s spine. At the same time, Wei Xiuqi and Nie Yan had chased on up. Their personal swords buzzed and hummed in unison, while Jiang Xunyi’s Extinguished Flower remained completely silent and still.

Wei Xiuqi’s surprise was mixed with disbelief, as he whispered: “Is that……who came?”

Their surroundings were too noisy; Jiang Xunyi was not able to hear the two most crucial words, so he casually asked: “Who is it?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Footnotes:

1. I’m actually not super sure why the author chose this title 粉身… There are some things this chapter which may have a vague connection. Or it could also be a homonym for something slightly more relevant like 分身 😉

2. Again, Chinese loves using familial terms as a polite way to address people who aren’t actually related to you. 大婶 means “Aunt”, and is a respectful form of address to a woman around the age of your mother.

3. No, she’s not trying to eat it. Biting gold or silver is an old-fashioned way to crudely test the purity of the coin/ingot by seeing their softness. (The much softer lead was sometimes used to make fakes of silver coins.)

4. To be precise, Yun Xie says “我只对你….” which is an incomplete sentence. Literally translated, it would just be a fragment along the lines of “I only ___ for you” (yeah Chinese grammar is much different than English sometimes). It’s implied that what he intended to say was something like “I only hold those feelings for you”. I just did a more liberal translation.

5. 芝兰玉树 lit. “orchids and jade trees”

6. The connotations of this line is a little finicky to translate… Jiang Xunyi specifically says “你有病吧”, which literally translates to something like “Are you sick? / You’re sick, right.” However, the more liberal translation would be something like “Dude, what the hell’s wrong with you?”

 

 

 

 

Translator’s Comments: Thanks for all your guys’ feedback last chapter! I’ll probably translate Jiang Xunyi’s cameo from the other novel at some future time, probably when this story drops a couple more details on his past life.

 

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Pulling Together a Villain Reformation Strategy – Chapter 31

I’m currently in the middle of my finals, so I’m sorry about the temporary hiatus! Hopefully I should be able to get a few extra chapters out when spring break comes around.

Please let me know where my translations can be improved! (You should be reading this at penjournalhappy.wordpress.com)

 

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Chapter 31 – Researchers

 

The two of them were working themselves to death over here, all because they were getting completely dragged down by this idiot. On the contrary, Jiang Xunyi was just standing on the side and blabbering away without a care—have some shame, will you!

Nie Yan couldn’t hold himself back any longer, and his anger and agitation burst out: “I’m facing him straight-on, how could I attack his back? If you’re so capable, you do it!”

Jiang Xunyi had not expected to see the “you can you up1 phrase here—it seemed that sarcastic commentary wasn’t any different between ancient and modern times. Jiang Xunyi gave a jeering laugh: “Then watch closely!”

He hadn’t finished speaking and how he lifted his legs couldn’t even be seen, when his entire person had already flickered in front of Wei Xiuqi and Nie Yan with the lightness of the morning mist. With a casual raise of his hand, the edge of his palm assumed the shape of a knife to slice into the corpse’s back. He smiled: “Just like this, victory.”

He withdrew his hand, and that corpse which had just now been moving with incomparable toughness and violence… now toppled head-first onto the ground.

This fierce corpse with which they had been entangled in a long battle and had believed to be the most dangerous and sinister thing they had seen… was actually disposed of with a single laughing gesture. Wei Xiuqi and Nie Yan both had the same sensation that this was a dream, as they felt their self-esteem and worldview being thoroughly overturned.

“……Senior.” In the end, Wei Xiuqi was a little older than Nie Yan, plus his mind was more careful and meticulous. He was therefore the first to react, slowly sheathing his sword: “Many thanks for Senior’s directions and pointers. Xiuqi2 and my Shidi are both infinitely grateful. But… but… if I may take the liberty to ask, the ‘Famed Flower Toppling Kingdoms3 trick you just used is clearly a Hidden Spirit Sect move. How did Senior come to know it?”

“……” Jiang Xunyi didn’t even think before his finger had already habitually pointed towards his long-standing scapegoat hero, Yun Xie: “Oh, he taught it.”

Yun Xie: “……….”

As a quiet member of the peanut gallery4, he probably would never have expected to suffer this trouble not of his own making. But at the same time, Jiang Xunyi unintentionally “looking at him in a favorable light”5 made his heart feel a sliver of sweetness. He therefore happily took this blame6, reacting with extreme quickness to take a step forward and re-introduce himself: “Yun Xie from the Solar Envy Sect. I did not clarify my identity just now, may the two of you please refrain from blaming me.”

Given Yun Xie’s status, he was already being quite modest by speaking to these two juniors in such a tone. Moreover, although he was the Solar Envy Sect Master, everyone knew that Yun Xie’s Shifu Chengwu-Daozhang and the previous Hidden Spirit Sect Head Immortal Master Ti Ming had been bosom friends7. By association, the head disciples of their sects, Yun Xie and Jiang Xunyi, had mingled together from an early age. It was therefore a matter of course that Yun Xie could have learned moves from the Hidden Spirit Sect.

However, after Wei Xiuqi and Nie Yan heard this, they looked at each other and actually showed alertness and vigilance. They stepped back together, and Wei Xiuqi reluctantly said: “It turned out to be Sect Master Yun.” However, neither bowed.

Nie Yan’s hostility was more intense than his fellow disciple’s. He straightforwardly said: “Our master once said that my Shibo Jiang Xunyi died under Sect Master Yun’s sword. As long as one man from our sect remains, we refuse to live under the same sky8 with you. Forgive this humble one for being unable to salute Sect Master Yun.”

In front of Jiang Xunyi, Yun Xie acted eternally humble and servile, and never shrank from showing his regret and guilt. But this was because his heart held affection towards Jiang Xunyi; it did not mean that he would also assume a lowly posture in front of two little disciples. He just could not help but become alarmed at them raising this topic in front of Jiang Xunyi. In the space of a brief moment, he was already racking his brains for a method to grab Jiang Molou over and give him a sound berating. However, thanks to immense self-restraint, his face smiled: “The two of you are not disciples of my Solar Envy Sect in the first place, so whether you salute or not is entirely up to you. It’s just that I am still your elder, so if I may put on airs and speak a few extra words: Sometimes, an onlooker not personally involved in the situation may not be able to see everything clearly. Those who cultivate should still be cautious in word and deed when it comes to the phrase ‘truth’.”

His words were spoken with profound meaning and unfathomable enigma, pretending to be cool with perfect success. In the end, these two disciples were still young and tender, so Yun Xie’s words left them speechless. The most qualified one to speak, Jiang Xunyi, did not follow them to accuse Yun Xie. He only casually changed the topic, turning to Wei Xiuqi as if this matter had nothing to do with himself: “I haven’t seen him for a long time—is Jiang Molou doing well?”

Wei Xiuqi originally should have felt angry at how he directly called Jiang Molou by his name9. But looking at the newly appeared seriousness in this person’s expression and dignified manner, Wei Xiuqi had the feeling Jiang Xunyi’s entire person had been swapped out, and he involuntarily answered: “Our master is still in good shape physically, but the sect’s general affairs are many and complicated, and his mood is somewhat depressed. Many thanks for Senior’s concern.”

Jiang Xunyi hummed in acknowledgment: “That’s good.” He looked back at the corpse on the ground and said: “You two are calm upon encountering an enemy as well as quick and nimble to react, so you did not lose face for him. Unfortunately, your actions are too rigid and inflexible. When encountering these kinds of things, the first priority in your thinking should not be which taboos to obediently avoid, but instead what methods should be used to suppress it when it does erupt. In the same way, when you encounter a strong enemy, should you think about how to face this adversity, or how to plead for leniency and avoid enraging the opponent? These taboos are only boundaries and limits set for the weak.”

He looked so young and elegant, but his words carried deep judgment and insight more penetrating than some sect elders. His tone was also permeated by an aura of domineering arrogance that considered everyone and everything beneath his notice. Wei Xiuqi and Nie Yan looked at Jiang Xunyi differently. Together, they turned their sword hilts and bowed ceremoniously, expressing their gratitude for receiving instruction.

Jiang Xunyi lowered his gaze and smiled, unperturbed as he accepted their salute. His eyes then turned towards the dead body on the ground, and his expression became solemn: “However, I have never seen such a strange corpse before. Thirteen air apertures? What is this, could it be a deformity?”

Yun Xie also walked over. With great calm and composure, he ignored the vigilant eyes of Wei Xiuqi and Nie Yan: “I don’t think so.”

Jiang Xunyi tilted his head to look at him, and Yun Xie went on to say: “Have you ever imagined the possibility that air apertures could be artificially opened by someone?”

Jiang Xunyi really had never imagined such a possibility. Yun Xie’s words seemed to open a new line of logic for him, and Jiang Xunyi murmured to himself for a moment. Suddenly, his sharp eyebrows arched. He pulled out his sword and swung it down at the corpse in front of him: “If that is the case, there should be trauma left behind on the body…”

Without finishing speaking, his sword aura had already sliced open the clothes of the deceased without leaving even a single mark on the body. However, upon seeing the resulting scene, not only did Jiang Xunyi choke on his words, even Yun Xie, Wei Xiuqi, and Nie Yan all could not help but widen their eyes at the same time——

The corpse was completely covered in stitches of various colors; it was actually composed of countless pieces sewn together while still alive!

Jiang Xunyi had trouble believing his own eyes. Without caring for any of his usual fastidiousness or obsession with cleanliness, he crouched down and exploratively touched the thickest seams at the corpse’s left chest.

Yun Xie’s expression stiffened. But this corpse probably wanted to maintain its chastity even in death—before Jiang Xunyi could make contact, it suddenly sat straight up. Akin to a dying flash of activity10, it actually opened its mouth to bite the corner of Jiang Xunyi’s robes.

Jiang Xunyi was thoroughly caught off guard and startled. He agilely jumped away, only to hear a ripping tear: his originally tattered robe was thus transformed into a cardigan.

Jiang Xunyi originally wanted to stand firm, but his right foot tingled numbly and he almost fell backwards. Yun Xie supported him with an arm around his waist, and sourly said: “Be more careful, what are you so excited to touch its lower chest for?”

Jiang Xunyi: “……” He would die before admitting that was actually a muscle cramp just now. This body’s physical fitness is truly too lacking, he needs supplemental calcium.

Upon slapping away Yun Xie’s hand and looking forward again, the corpse had already been beaten back down by Nie Yan’s sharp eye and deft hand, and no longer got up to cause trouble.

Jiang Xunyi said: “His thirteenth air aperture is located on the left chest, and is indeed man-made. But just opening an air aperture absolutely does not require such a large-scale…. undertaking. What kind of person wants to torment a corpse thus? And what is their goal in doing so?”

Yun Xie walked in front of Jiang Xunyi and crouched down. His hand investigatively pressed down on each inch of this rough and gnarled body: “No, it’s not that someone wants to torment the corpse. Look, the color of this thread has faded with the passing of time, and these stitches are embedded deep into the flesh. This was already in place many years ago…”

Upon speaking to here, he had trouble continuing. Jiang Xunyi said: “You realized it too, right? So much needlework, and all connected to vital areas. This is clearly the result of having been chopped up into pieces and then put together afterwards—How could such a person still be alive! But against all reason, this person only just died; the body has not even completely cooled yet. What exactly is going on here?”

He and Yun Xie had already completely entered a working state of mind. On the side, Wei Xiuqi and Nie Yan tried to exercise their brains at full speed but still ended up stupefied, deeply experiencing the feeling of their IQ being rolled over and crushed.

 

At this time, there came a commotion outside the door. Since Nie Yan’s brain was currently deficient in oxygen, he naturally looked to the entrance, only to see a group of Fang family members walking inside. They wore white mourning garments and their faces were covered in tear tracks, so they were probably here to observe the ancestral rites for the deceased.

But those people had just stepped inside when they immediately stopped in their tracks. Horror and dismay was written all over their faces, as dumbstruck as wooden chickens.

Nie Yan subconsciously followed their gaze to look at the four of them gathered around the corpse. He instantly became a wooden chicken too——

In the dimly lit spiritual hall, four people surrounded a corpse that had been stripped completely naked. Among them, one person was not properly dressed and his expression showed ardent eagerness. Another person had leaned over the corpse and was currently touching all over the body…..

Even if his own role was just a minor onlooking character in the background, Nie Yan’s face still flushed red.

Yun Xie’s hand was about to touch the corpse’s buttocks area when he involuntarily paused—He had obviously sensed the awkward atmosphere around him. Upon looking up, he saw the relatives of the deceased in a crowd at the door. In a daze, he turned his head away, only to then see Jiang Xunyi, Wei Xiuqi, and Nie Yan standing away from himself in a “This has nothing to do with me” manner, all watching him with eyes full of condemnation and bitter grief.

Yun Xie: “…………….”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Footnotes:

1. “You can you up” is a popular Chinese phrase on the Internet. It’s written out in English but is the direct literal translation of “你行你上”. It basically translates to “If you’re so capable of doing it, go ahead!”

2. Wei Xiuqi refers to himself by his first name, which is another informal/humble way of self-address.

3. 名花倾国: 名 = “fame, reputation”, 花 = “flower”. 倾国 is a shortened version of the Chinese phrase 倾国倾城 lit. “toppling states and cities”, which refers to a stunningly devastating and calamitous beauty (think Helen of Troy :P)

4. 吃瓜群众 literally translates to something like “the crowd eating melons”. It refers to bystanders who are just watching an event for the entertainment, who don’t have any actual attachment to what’s going on. I translated it to peanut gallery here, but another English equivalent would be a spectator happily munching popcorn.

5. 另眼相看 usually translates to “viewing someone in a new light / treating someone favorably”

6. 背了这个黑锅 literally translates to something like “Carrying this black pot on your back.” Of note, “carrying a pot on your back” is a Chinese idiom for “taking the blame for something.”

7. 莫逆之交 means very close friends, “bosom buddies”, someone you can confide everything in. (In short, Chengwu-Daozhang and Immortal Master Ti Ming were BFFs :P)

8. 不共戴天 refers to enemies who are so irreconcilable that they “cannot live under the same sky.”

9. Calling Jiang Molou by his name instead of his title (“Sect Head Jiang”) is usually an impolite act unless you are actually very close to him.

10. 回光返照 lit. “final radiance of the setting sun” refers to the last spurt of activity or lucidity before death

 

 

 

 

Translator’s Comments: I only recently discovered that Jiang Xunyi has a brief cameo in one of this author’s other novels, and that cameo gives a few more details on his backstory/previous life. I highly doubt that other novel will ever get translated into English, and the cameo itself is near the end of the book too. Any thoughts or preferences on whether/how I should “spoil” the extra information from that cameo?

 

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Pulling Together a Villain Reformation Strategy – Chapter 30

Wow I think this broke a record for VRS footnotes lol.

Please let me know where my translations can be improved, especially the astrological stuff! (You should be reading this at penjournalhappy.wordpress.com)

 

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Chapter 30 – Imbecilic Little Fresh Meat1

 

His transformation from the little lamb to the big gray wolf was so sudden that even Jiang Xunyi was dazed. He actually didn’t fight back, only looking up in astonishment.

Their eyes met in midair. Jiang Xunyi immediately lowered his eyelashes, but Yun Xie did not dodge or hide: “What? Want to say you’re Du Heng and that I have recognized the wrong person again? Jiang Xunyi, I don’t dare to say this about anyone else, but I would still be able to recognize you even if you turned into ash or smoke. I know you hold resentment towards me in your heart, so just say it out loud! You don’t even dare to admit your own fucking identity, all you know is to butt heads with me over some stupid trivial things. Are you some spoiled missy? You’ve always been like this since you were young, always this eccentric and lousy behavior. If there’s trouble you just keep it suppressed in your heart, and you won’t speak out when you’re uncomfortable. If you don’t say… if you don’t say it, how the fuck am I ever going to know about it!”

The front half of his speech was still very aggressive and quite intimidating, leaving the listening Jiang Xunyi stunned. But as he continued speaking, he seemed to think of something, and his voice carried a hint of a sob. Jiang Xunyi looked at his reddened eyes with surprise. He found that after his own rebirth, this person had actually become a crybaby, someone he dared not provoke, to the point where tears would fall after a single unsuited sentence.

Jiang Xunyi slowly let out a sigh. He pulled off Yun Xie’s claws to discover that his grip was not tight at all. “Sect Master Yun,” he said indifferently: “Even though this place is in the middle of nowhere and there is no great need to rely on your looks for food, you should still pay some attention to your image.”

Jiang Xunyi did not say that he was Du Heng again, and did not say he wasn’t either. But in the end, his mouth did not spit out a single word truly from his heart. He deliberately ignored how Yun Xie’s gaze instantly dimmed. Instead, he brushed shoulders with the two teenagers poking their heads out in consternation from inside the door as he strolled into the room.

Great cultivation sects such as Hidden Spirit Sect had always held the young disciples they trained to strict standards, requiring self-control, self-discipline, patience, an even temper, as well as a slow voice and unhurried pace. These two fledgling youths had never had the chance to see such a scene before, so after the initial surprise was over with, they eagerly continued to spectate. It was only when Jiang Xunyi exited the scene to walk over did they realize the inappropriateness of their behavior, and their faces immediately flushed red. Fortunately, Jiang Xunyi directly entered the room without saying anything.

Wei Xiuqi saw Yun Xie standing there all alone, and somehow had the inexplicable feeling this young master Yun was a little pitiful. Just as he wanted to go up and give a couple sentences of comfort, he saw Yun Xie raise his hand to heavily wipe his face.

With this wipe, it was like he had put on an invincible mask capable of conquering any obstacle. When he raised his head again, he had again assumed that elegant and cultured appearance. Like a refreshing spring breeze caressing one’s face, he greeted the two youths: “What are you doing just standing there? Hurry and go in.”

 

Although Yun Xie was proud down to his very bones, in reality he was always reliable and dependable when it came to handling affairs. There were very few things in this world that could make him lose control, but at this time he was already regretting his loose tongue just now.

It always seemed that whenever he faced Jiang Xunyi, because he cherished him so much, he repeatedly tried to measure his behavior, and always found himself regretting, regretting, regretting….

He had originally planned everything out already, knowing that this time he must treat Jiang Xunyi with sufficient patience. He understood this man’s personality too well: reserved, stubborn, and always hiding an unknown heap of things in his heart. Over all these years, he had still never been able to truly see through Jiang Xunyi. Dealing with this person required more than ten times the energy of dealing with the most dangerous of enemies. However, every time his mind had planned everything out nicely, once he did face off with that man, he would involuntarily lose control, making all his best laid plans go to waste.

While his mind reflected, Yun Xie sanctimoniously patted the shoulders of these two little fresh meat1 as they opened their mouths to speak but hesitated. The three of them went in together.

 

 

Yun Xie and Jiang Xunyi had recently displayed their talent from catching the turtle at the riverside, so they received the admiration of all the villagers. As a result, just as Jiang Xunyi entered to show his face, the person originally guarding the spirit directly and efficiently left, handing the scene over to them.

When Yun Xie and the two young disciples later entered, Jiang Xunyi was already standing in front of the corpse, arms crossed in deep thought. Wei Xiuqi looked over at him and felt that this extraordinarily handsome young master Du did not appear to have any great plans for the time being, so he thus moved close to Nie Yan. The two of them began gesticulating and pointing together. They even took out paper and brushes, looking like they planned to conduct observation and emulation field work on the spot.

This action could no longer be said to originate from Jiang Molou’s teachings, but instead looked like an exact copy of his style. Even the lost in thought Jiang Xunyi and the very  frustrated and disappointed Yun Xie both unconsciously raised their heads, sizing up the two youths at the same time.

After their eyes met, each turned their head away.

Nie Yan carefully went through one round of observation and comparison, and whispered: “Shixiong, I think this person should not be an ordinary corpse. This is the empty shell left when a living corpse dies for the second time. Look, there should be twelve breaths within the human body, evenly divided into base breath, middle breath, and residual breath2. After death, a person’s air apertures3 will open, and all these breaths will leave. But this person’s body has thirteen air apertures, and only that extra air aperture’s breath dispersed recently. This is truly very strange… I’m afraid that a person with thirteen air apertures is even harder to find in this world than a person with three eyes, and we actually ran into one. ”

Wei Xiuqi’s hand pinched a small book and he nodded in agreement: “Is what you said from the  《Corpse Scripture》that Shifu required us to memorize before? I missed that class due to illness, but I heard An-Shidi say this book was written4 by Shibo5. The ‘Air Aperture Theory’ inside was even first proposed by that old man himself. Shifu said we’re required to know it by heart, so make a copy for me in a bit.”

“That old man” Jiang Xunyi silently covered his eyes with his palm. He felt the kind of sorrow and grief6 similar to a modern student skipping school only to accidentally encounter the top of the class.

However, his ears still continued to pick up on the noisy whispers of those two little fellows: “Nie-Shidi, you should also be more careful. I heard that one should be extremely careful of breaking taboos in front of these kinds of corpses, so as to avoid any corpse transformations7. See here, it’s written that one must first be careful not to make improper comments judging this person’s life before death, and especially not to make any random promises. Second, one must not use one’s skin and flesh to directly touch…..”

Jiang Xunyi couldn’t bear it any more. He suddenly stepped forward, staring at the corpse and talking to himself: “This person did not even close his eyes upon death. He was born with an unlucky appearance8, and looks to have led quite an immoral life——no wonder he met an early death.” As he spoke, he reached out and directly closed the eyes of the dead: “But don’t worry, I will definitely find out your cause of death, and allow you to die with understanding.”

Wei Xiuqi and Nie Yan were utterly dumbstruck, watching with wide eyes as this Second Idiot9 committed the entire set of taboos. Their young minds had encountered too great of a shock, and were stupefied into two tree stumps.

Wei Xiuqi: “…….the deceased’s skin and flesh……”

It wasn’t clear whether they should be called unlucky or lucky. If they were swapped for someone else, Jiang Xunyi naturally would not be willing to teach them. But seeing these two kids were pure of heart and also disciples of Jiang Molou, even direct disciples10…. When the young Jiang Molou was able to use this learning method to achieve success, that was because of his tenacious personality and extraordinary talent, making him a rarity seen maybe once every hundred years. But not everyone could learn this way, so Jiang Xunyi finally decided to temporarily detach his mind from “the out-of-control system” and “the brain-dead Yun Xie” and educate these two juniors properly.

Seeing Jiang Xunyi breaking the taboos with such extreme audaciousness, the corner of Yun Xie’s lips turned up slightly. He did not show any hint of worry at all, but instead put his hands in his sleeves and took a few steps back to avoid hindering his actions.

The Hidden Spirit Sect’s textbooks were indeed authoritative publications, not on the same level as those inferior scripts sold for one yuan a stack. After Jiang Xunyi finished his series of actions, the four people in the room clearly noticed a dark and cold wind suddenly blowing through the room with a long hooting cry.

The portent of a corpse’s sudden movement11.

It wasn’t clear if Wei Xiuqi swore and cursed in his heart, but in any case he still expressed his determination to protect Jiang Xunyi. With one hand, he pushed this obvious Jianghu swindler who didn’t know a single thing behind himself. He and Nie Yan both pulled out their swords, nervously watching the corpse on the deathbed with round wide eyes.

The corpse’s originally blue and purple face gradually turned white. Its mouth slowly opened wide as well, revealing the blackened teeth inside. Accompanying the angry bellow of the dark wind, it stiffly stood up straight.

At the same time, the keen and astute Jiang Xunyi turned his head back, exactly facing off with an enormous ghost face making a threatening expression as it hovered in midair. His brows did not even wrinkle as he carelessly waved a random hand. This resentful spirit which had run here from who-knows-where to try and do some borrowed intimidation… instantly dissipated into ash and smoke. The two youths in front with their backs turned didn’t even notice a thing.

With his momentary effort looking back, the harsh sound of a chittering laugh suddenly came from the deathbed. Jiang Xunyi immediately turned back around, only to see the fluttering white cloth curtains had all been pulled down by a large hand with entirely sharp nails as well as dark purple skin. That corpse let out a shrill scream, and threw aside the rotten cloth to pounce at Wei Xiuqi.

Under this great fright, Wei Xiuqi pointed his sword and hurriedly stabbed, but the corpse’s knees curved and it flexibly bent its waist to dodge. This time even Jiang Xunyi and Yun Xie were somewhat surprised——Even if a normal person’s corpse transformed after death and was made into a living corpse, the stiffness of their body could not be altered and their joints were often unable to bend. It was unclear why this corpse was so mysterious, not only able to move freely and flexibly, but also using what appeared to be proper techniques just like a martial arts master.

Upon escaping Wei Xiuqi’s stab, it turned around and actually rushed towards Jiang Xunyi. Jiang Xunyi dodged behind Nie Yan’s back with complete and utter shamelessness, and encouragingly said: “You can do it.”

Nie Yan seethed with rage12, and had to use his entire life’s accumulation of self-restraint to hold himself back from saying certain words. He raised his sword and attacked the corpse, his strike both fierce and accurate——it was unknown whether he was treating this enemy as Jiang Xunyi as he tried to cut it down. Wei Xiuqi hurriedly ran over to help out.

Taking advantage of this tussle between two people and one corpse, Jiang Xunyi chose a spot not too close and not too far away, and began to spectate. This position was perfectly placed so as to ensure that if the two youths encountered danger, he could take the shot at any time, while also enabling him to observe any inadequacies in the teenagers’ moves. He stood with his hands behind his back as he watched, and from time to time would provide commentary: “Right shoulder, left chest, lower abdomen….. attack his lower body13…”

Of those on the scene, only Yun Xie could understand the impeccability of Jiang Xunyi’s gaze. All his directions were aimed at the opponent’s greatest flaw in each move. Mastery to this point was extremely difficult, and unfortunately these two teenagers were not able to comprehend that mentality.

At this time, Nie Yan had just performed a horizontal slice to cut towards the corpse’s chest, but he himself almost received a direct blow by that swipe. If it weren’t for Wei Xiuqi’s timely rescue, half of his skull would likely have been destroyed. Jiang Xunyi clicked his tongue and let out a sigh: “Aw, you should have hit his back.”

 

 

 

 

 

Footnotes: (still haven’t beat WAFIL’s record yet)

1. 小鲜肉 lit. “little fresh meat” is modern Internet slang for young fresh energetic good-looking men, usually referring to teenage male idols. The closest thing might be “young hunk” since that also carries connotations of meat, but in this case I decided to keep it as is since the two youths don’t really come off as “hunky” lollll

2. The original terms are 本气、中气、余气. I think this also has to do with Chinese divination/astrology. I tried looking it up but this kind of stuff is honestly gibberish to me… It’s something like “本气 is related to the five elements and is the strongest, while 中气 has to do with the heavenly branch, and finally 余气 is related to the earthly branch and is the weakest.”

3.  气窍: 气 = “air, breath”, 窍 = “aperture, opening, hole, orifice”

4.  He specifically uses the verb 编, which is a little ambiguous. It could be “write”, but it could also be “compile” or “edit.” I chose “write” just to make Jiang Xunyi more of a genius lol.

5. Wei Xiuqi says 师伯, which is another term within the disciple-master family tree. 伯 means an uncle who is older than the father figure. In this case, Jiang Xunyi is the Shixiong to Jiang Molou, so Jiang Molou’s disciples will call Jiang Xunyi Shibo.

6. Fun fact: the term used here is 忧桑, which I think is distorted Internet slang for the similar phrase 忧伤 (“distress” “grief”). Or maybe it’s just a typo, who knows.

7. 尸变 lit. “corpse + change/transform” refers to how some dead corpses can come back to life in a twisted and inhuman way, basically like the process of zombification lol.

8. What Jiang Xunyi does here is Physiognomy, or fortune-telling by reading one’s face/appearance. (Holds similarities to Palmistry, which is reading one’s palm.)

9. This term is a call back all the way to the beginning of the story, when Du Heng was labelled as an 二愣子 lit. “Second Idiot” for being the second son and an idiot.

10. 嫡系 refers to the disciples who are in the direct line of descent within the sect, who directly receive teachings from their master. These are the most prestigious disciples of a sect, compared to some other disciples who do not get direct teachings from their master or some who have not even been picked up by any master.

11. 诈尸 lit. “swindle/cheat/pretend + corpse” refers to the belief in Chinese folklore that a corpse holds a single residual breath of air. If this air is disturbed by an animal, the animal’s soul will enter the corpse, and it will come back to “life” as a monster that only knows how to bite like a wild beast. In this context, I think 诈尸 is used as the superstitious sudden movement of a corpse as it comes to “life”.

12. 七窍生烟 lit. “spouting smoke through the seven orifices”

13. Jiang Xunyi specifically says “下盘”, which is a term used in martial arts to refer to everything below the waist, especially the legs because they are the source of a martial artist’s stability and generation of force.

 

 

 

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Pulling Together a Villain Reformation Strategy – Chapter 29

I did a little more embellishment this chapter than usual so that the language flowed better… Please let me know if any translations could be improved!
(You should be reading this at penjournalhappy.wordpress.com)

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Chapter 29 – Breaking Open The Cocoon

 

Speaking to here, Huang Wei took a deep breath. His eyes widened, and his entire body unconsciously trembled, as if he could still see that scene. Although Yun Xie and Jiang Xunyi were not afraid of these kinds of things, they were still a little bit infected by his expression. They unconsciously listened with bated breath, to hear Huang Wei say:

“I saw——I saw a sewing basket had fallen onto the ground inside the door, scattering its contents. That corpse was sitting on the ground, in the middle of using a needle to sew on the remaining half of his head! Seeing us enter, he continued sewing as he slowly turned his head to look at us—His eyeballs were like fake ones, wobbling in their sockets, as if they would fall out any second! Then his mouth slowly split open, and he smiled at me!”

Huang Wei’s voice grew louder and louder: “His teeth had begun to rot, so with this smile, I could see the dark yellow gums and….”

“Okay!” Yun Xie suddenly patted Huang Wei’s shoulder. Huang Wei’s voice abruptly stopped, his eyes still filled with fear that had not yet dissipated. He looked at Yun Xie with confusion and fright. Only after a long while did his gaze refocus. He sucked in a deep breath and wiped his face in dejection, forcing himself to raise his spirits: “That’s how it was. In short, this village is extremely weird and grotesque, and this was not the first time strange things have happened here.”

Jiang Xunyi murmured: “What then? Did that corpse attack you?”

Huang Wei shook his head. “We were all very badly frightened and ran out of the house. When we went back, that half of the head had already been sewed back on. The corpse was lying on the ground as it should have been all along, and showed no more abnormalities by the time it was buried.”

Jiang Xunyi rubbed his chin and did not speak for a long time, his thoughts still lingering on what the system’s purpose could be. It was instead Yun Xie who asked: “Besides this matter, have you seen with your own two eyes any other anomalies in this village?”

Huang Wei thought for a moment: “I have heard before that the people of this village have far too many strange bad habits. One of them is that they never eat hot food. I originally thought this was just hearsay. I didn’t expect that upon coming here in the dead of winter, I actually couldn’t even get hot water to drink. When I asked why, the people only said these were rules set by their ancestors. They didn’t know the original reason and have just followed this custom over the generations.”

Yun Xie recalled the events of the past couple days and realized that yesterday night in the village, Xu Da’s family had indeed brought only cold dishes for them as guests. A haze of suspicions clouded his mind. He felt that some faint idea had flashed through his head, but was unable to catch it in time. However, his face didn’t change expression as he nodded: “I understand. This matter…” He looked over at Jiang Xunyi and made sure he had no objections before continuing: “We will solve it.”

Jiang Xunyi sneered slightly. Yun Xie never said “We’ll do our best”, “We’ll try”, or any other similarly ambiguous promises. He had always been extremely confident he could do whatever he set his mind to, full of that protagonist’s aura.

His body probably did have some power to convince others; when Huang Wei listened to Yun Xie’s words, he really did breathe a sigh of relief and cup his hands in obeisance1, “Then I must greatly thank these two young noblemen.”

Yun Xie said: “Regarding Village Chief Wang’s son, you two go take it back and first lock it up. If I discover the truth of this place, maybe I can find a way to restore him to his original state…”

He hadn’t finished talking when a distant voice yelled towards the remaining villagers at the riverbank: “Are the people of the Fang family here? Hurry and come back with me, your little third son doesn’t have much time left!”

Jiang Xunyi perked up and immediately interrupted Yun Xie: “Another death, let’s go see!”

He felt that it really was quite lucky of them to be able to make it to the rare occasion of a death. Out of his eagerness to solve this case, his running sped up and he left Yun Xie in the dust a few steps behind. Just as his front foot stepped into the door, he looked up, and could not hold back his surprise.

Inside the door stood two fine-featured youths dressed in light blue robes decorated with sea waves, their sleeves fluttering and personal swords hanging by their waists—the standard for Hidden Spirit Sect disciples. Jiang Xunyi saw their get-up and immediately felt a cold wind blowing past his unmasked face. He unconsciously turned straight around to leave, and crashed right into the Yun Xie behind him.

Yun Xie froze for a moment. He quickly caught sight of the two youths and instantly reacted to pull Jiang Xunyi behind him, blocking him from their sight. His mind raced to think of what he should say to mediate.

Unexpectedly, the two teenagers only stared in confusion at their chain of actions. The two of them looked at each other before one of the youths cupped his hand in greeting1: “Hidden Spirit Sect’s Wei Xiuqi and Nie Yan. You two are?”

These two youths appeared to not recognize Jiang Xunyi, and actually seemed to have never seen Yun Xie before either. Hearing these two names, Jiang Xunyi suddenly remembered that Hidden Spirit Sect had always set up a branch garrison in the Western Region. Many disciples there only stayed in that remote area and had never even come to the Central Plains. Only after his own defection did these Western disciples follow Jiang Molou back to the main sect, so it was normal for him to have never met them. He had once read over the name list of branch disciples, and seemed to recall these two names truly had been among them.

He thus heaved a sigh of relief, and turned back from behind Yun Xie: “Ah, so the two of you are originally immortal masters from the Hidden Spirit Sect. The two of us are but nameless pawns, not worth mentioning. My surname is Du, his is Yun. We passed through here just to put up for the night. After hearing a life was lost, we came over to check it out.”

Yun Xie did not know the inside story, but hearing Jiang Xunyi’s tone, he knew the crisis was gone. He thus followed Jiang Xunyi’s lead to smile, and nodded at the two youths.

The two youths probably could never have imagined any famous figures appearing in this remote and desolate place, so Jiang Xunyi being too lazy to make up different surnames did not attract their attention. Wei Xiuqi looked these two men over: although it was said that one could not tell the age of a cultivator, both of these people had magnificent appearances, with dazzling elegance as well as still-tender youth. However, their bodies gave off the aura of seasoned veterans acting cool2, plus the long sword by Jiang Xunyi’s waist looked vaguely familiar. Wei Xiuqi therefore cupped his hands in obeisance1 again, and politely called out “Young master Yun, young nobleman Du.” He then explained: “Nie-Shidi and I were also passing by here when we felt this village had an extremely heavy atmosphere of death. Then when we entered, we heard someone had passed away here, so we came here to see what was going on. Since we have encountered each other like this, why not go in together?”

Yun Xie secretly shot a glimpse at Jiang Xunyi, and flatteringly said: “That would be excellent. I have long since heard that although the Hidden Spirit Sect’s disciples come from such an illustrious background, their bearing and demeanor are all first class without exception. This humble one has admired them for too long. Now seeing them first-hand today, this reputation is indeed fully justified.”

This painstaking effort was really tough on poor Yun Xie. Normally, aside from when he looked in the mirror, he never gave anyone else the honor of looking straight at them. Nowadays in order to please Jiang Xunyi, he was even shamelessly saying such things to two mere juniors3.

Jiang Xunyi secretly spat in his heart, but a hint of a smile leaked out in the way his eyes curved. After all, everyone loved listening to pleasant words of praise. Even Nie Yan on the side, who didn’t seem to like speaking, could not help but show his face: “Young master Yun is too polite. Since it has been thus settled, then please go ahead.”

The four people entered the house together. Upon walking halfway, they could hear faint sounds of sorrowful weeping. Wei Xiuqi and Nie Yan were still unpracticed and inexperienced, and had not witnessed many partings of life and death. They could not help but show a faint expression of being unable to bear this. On the other hand, Yun Xie’s refined and cultured false smile still hung on his face like a mask as he stepped forward at a normal pace.

Only Jiang Xunyi’s footsteps paused. He shut his eyes and took a deep breath as the spinning scene before his eyes made him dizzy. The lamenting cries in the distance seemed to evoke another memory, appearing in his mind like returning waves beating against the shore——

That scene did not belong to the current antique and ancient world. High-rises, elevators, long hallways, white doctor’s coats coming and going… That was the hospital he used to live in. Jiang Xunyi had been placed on the top floor. In those two years when he was sick, he was the only patient in that entire floor. Except for that scene, the only other things he could see were his parents and older brothers coming to visit from time to time, as well as the medical staff. That monotonous white color could almost drive one insane.

So when the day came that he felt he was finally going to leave this place, he could almost say he let out a sigh of relief. However, his parents’ bitter weeping and the pain of parting had been transmitted into his heart. At the same time that unwillingness and reluctance surfaced in his heart, he suddenly heard an inorganic mechanical voice: [Through transmigrating into a novel and finishing tasks, you can earn this one chance to come back to life. Does the host accept?]

Alarm and fear, joy and surprise, confusion and bewilderment, hope and anticipation… all kinds of emotions had mixed and intertwined at that time. Now remembering back, it seemed like only yesterday. And after coming to this world, he took those first difficult steps until he gradually adapted, and then personally overturned everything he had built…

Suddenly, a pair of hands warmer than his own body pressed down on his shoulders, actually scalding enough that Jiang Xunyi’s soul returned from its wandering and he gave a start. He opened his eyes to meet Yun Xie’s worried and anxious expression: “I called you many times and you didn’t answer, what are you standing here for? Is your body uncomfortable again?”

His gentle eyes were tender with concern. But Jiang Xunyi instantly felt like he seemed to have been seen through, or perhaps he was extraordinarily unwilling to show weakness in front of his person—he waved aside Yun Xie’s hand to fiercely and angrily say: “It’s nothing!”

But this time, Yun Xie did not let go as usual. Instead, he flipped his hand to grasp Jiang Xunyi’s wrist, and coldly said: “Jiang Xunyi, are you done?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Footnotes:
1. 拱手 indicates cupping your hands in a greeting/salute, like in this picture: cup hands
2. 装逼 = Acting/pretending to be cool even when you’re not actually that cool on the inside 😛
3. 后辈 lit. “later generations”. Yun Xie and Jiang Xunyi are still quite young themselves, but these disciples are basically still teenage kids, so Yun Xie and Jiang Xunyi definitely have the honor of seniority here.

 

 

Translator’s Comments: We finally get a little more information on Jiang Xunyi’s past life!
It’s unclear what Jiang Xunyi died from in his first life. Genetic diseases are rare in Asian populations plus he mentioned he died past the age of 20 back in chapter 21, so if he did have a genetic disease it would be a very rare one. It was probably cancer since he was hospitalized for two years, though a more severe chronic autoimmune disease is another possibility. (Sorry, my medical school studying is leaking >___<)

 

 

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Pulling Together a Villain Reformation Strategy – Chapter 28

Please let me know if any translations could be improved!
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Chapter 28 – Huang Wei’s Story

 

Jiang Xunyi was as laconic as ever: “Speak.”

Huang Wei choked for a moment before reacting, He shuffled closer and was just about to speak, when Yun Xie stopped him unhappily: “If you’re going to talk, just talk. What are you getting so close for?”

“…” Jiang Xunyi rolled his eyes at Yun Xie. Huang Wei felt it was very necessary to give an explanation first, so he took a few steps back before speaking: “What just happened… was indeed us rudely mistreating the two of you young noblemen. But this is truly because too many Jianghu wizards1 had come by before. They not only scammed away lots of money, but are even so detestable as to trick people into losing their lives. I abhor those types of situations, so that’s why I temporarily misunderstood the two of you.”

Jiang Xunyi immediately heard something not right about these words, and asked: “Too many previously came by? Didn’t this abnormality appear in the river only recently? This alone required inviting so many people?”

Huang Wei looked at him in surprise and froze for a moment before replying, “No, no, it’s just because this village was originally a ghost village2, so strange things often happen here.”

Yun Xie and Jiang Xunyi met each other’s eyes, and both thought of the dense aura of death in the village. Huang Wei continued: “It seems both of you young noblemen know about it too. Us local officials have always avoided these affairs of gods and ghosts as taboo. Numerous very strange things have happened in this village before, but every time we sent people over, they were completely baffled and could not find what was going on. We could only leave the matter unsettled, and suppress all those files. It’s funny, really, how ignorant I was at that time. I thought it was because those other people were too incompetent and therefore pushed the matters they could not solve onto the ghosts and gods. It was only when I came to this place five years ago to handle a case, that I realized it wasn’t like that.”

“That case wasn’t originally too strange. It was just a family surnamed Sun reporting to the authorities that the elderly grandfather in their family suddenly couldn’t breathe for some unknown reason. None of the methods the family members used did anything. They could only watch wide-eyed as the old man suffocated until his face turned purple and swollen, and then stopped breathing…”

Yun Xie raised an eyebrow: “Isn’t that the same way the village chief said Wang Yi died?”

Jiang Xunyi followed up: “But when one is elderly, passing away from some hidden illness is quite normal and reasonable. What could reporting this to the authorities accomplish?”

Huang Wei said: “My tale is a long one so if the two of you may listen to my slow talking for the time being… In fact, this method of dying was already not uncommon in this village. Many people had died in this sort of inexplicable way. Before when we looked at the file, we also guessed as such. We believed that because of the village’s remote location, most of the villagers had intermarried between each other, so it was inevitable for there to be some inherited diseases passed along. As a result, we didn’t take it seriously. But this report was not because of Grandfather Sun’s death alone, but because after his death, someone had chopped the corpse apart.”

“The people of this Sun family were extremely filial. After Grandfather Sun passed away, they had originally taken turns to guard the spirit, so the body had never been left alone. On the third day when they opened the coffin, they unexpectedly discovered this matter. They couldn’t think of any enemies who would have done this, and were not willing to leave this unsettled. They came to the government office to report this case because of their anger. The government office was handling a lot of cases around that time and I was the only one free, so I followed them over.”

Hearing the word “coffin”, Jiang Xunyi suddenly thought of the miniature coffin holding his corpse hanging around Yun Xie’s neck. It had previously been knocked down by him, and was later taken back by Yun Xie to keep wearing. Jiang Xunyi still didn’t know what Yun Xie was keeping his corpse for. At this time he subconsciously glanced over at Yun Xie’s neckline.

Yun Xie noticed his gaze looking over and his lips could not help but turn up a little into a smile, but his body did not dare to move. Pretending like he hadn’t seen anything, he continued to listen to Huang Wei speak:

“Upon arriving, I followed the Sun family members to see Grandfather Sun’s corpse, only to see that the corpse had indeed been shattered into pieces. The cut surface was very neat and fine, definitely the result of someone’s deliberate intention and extensive effort. Fortunately it was winter, so the body had not yet begun to rot. Except for having been sliced apart, there was no other damage. The way I saw it… it didn’t seem like someone was venting their anger. Despite much pondering, I was still puzzled and perplexed. I repeatedly questioned the separate Sun family members on their own, but all of them insisted that no one had ever left, and that body had always been lying inside the coffin.”

“In the end, I had no other way except to declare it an unsolved case. The Sun family members found a corpse stitcher to sew the body back together…”

Jiang Xunyi: “Corpse stitcher?”

Deng Zhi interjected to explain: “Craftsmen who specialize in sewing and mending corpses. Some people who met a violent death die in quite a miserable state, so their families will find a corpse stitcher to make the corpse intact again. The higher the level of the stitcher, the more durable and more invisible the traces of sewing.”

Jiang Xunyi nodded in acknowledgment.

Huang Wei continued: “However, it was getting late that day. When the sun was about to set, there was still half a head that hadn’t been stitched on yet. The corpse stitcher announced they would come back the next day, and then left for the night. I thought the roads would be slippery on such a snowy day and I probably wouldn’t be able to make it back to the government office, so I stayed in this village for a night. But I didn’t expect that in the middle of the night, something went wrong again.”

When Huang Wei said the phrase “something went wrong”, Jiang Xunyi suddenly felt his mind seemed to be “ripped away” by some extremely sharp object, and his vision immediately darkened from the sheer pain. The world spun before his eyes, and he almost toppled over. Given his consistently tenacious and proud personality, he clamped his teeth into his lips to avoid shouting out loud. But in that moment, sweat had already covered his face, and even the veins on his forehead seemed about to burst.

Although Yun Xie seemed to be seriously listening to Huang Wei on the surface, he was actually paying great attention to Jiang Xunyi’s every move. At this time he immediately noticed Jiang Xunyi’s abnormality and was so scared his heart skipped a beat. He pounced forward to support Jiang Xunyi, but because he used too much force, he himself swayed and almost lost his balance before the two of them managed to stand firm by leaning on a big tree: “Ah-Xun? What’s wrong? Where are you uncomfortable?”

A sharp pain lanced through Jiang Xunyi’s head and his ears buzzed incessantly. Beads of cold sweat slid down those white jade-like cheeks, soaking a portion of his collar in a mere moment. He subconsciously grasped Yun Xie’s wrist tightly to the point where the veins bulged on the back of his hand. In this foggy haze, he couldn’t clearly hear what Yun Xie was saying. He almost felt like he was about to die yet again.

Yun Xie knew Jiang Xunyi’s usual temper, so when he saw Jiang Xunyi actually driven into this state by the sheer pain, his hands and feet felt cold. He didn’t know what to do. He could only wipe the cold sweat from Jiang Xunyi’s forehead with shaking hands, and whisper: “Ah-Xun, don’t… don’t scare me anymore…”

Only when the words left his mouth did he notice his voice break.

Fortunately, Jiang Xunyi’s pain had come quickly and left just as quickly. Within just a moment of effort, that sensation of agony coming from the depths of his brain had actually disappeared without a trace. When he regained clarity, his entire body felt ice-cold and seemed to be soaked in cold sweat, reminding him that everything that had happened just now was in fact real.

Jiang Xunyi recuperated for a moment before finally reacting that he was currently leaning on Yun Xie, and one of his hands was even grasping Yun Xie’s wrist. He didn’t feel that two grown men leaning on each other like this was any big deal, but he did feel a little bit embarrassed, so he immediately let go and stood up straight. He glanced over at Yun Xie’s hand to see five bruised and swollen fingerprints on his wrist. Jiang Xunyi lowered his gaze and his lips moved slightly, before looking away again.

Yun Xie watched him cautiously. Although he had been pushed away, his hands still protected Jiang Xunyi’s side as if afraid he would fall. He asked in quick succession: “Are you okay now? Still uncomfortable? What happened just now?”

Jiang Xunyi wiped cold sweat away with his sleeves. He couldn’t help but tremble a little upon recalling that feeling worse than death3, but he had still sensed someone closely supporting him the whole time. He had originally wanted to ignore Yun Xie’s questions, but after a pause, he spoke: “I don’t know, but I’m fine now.”

This attitude of casual understatement just made one feel even more vexed and upset. Yun Xie frowned, both worried and helpless. He really wanted to open up Jiang Xunyi’s skull to take a good look at what was inside, but there were currently too many misunderstandings between the two of them. Even though his hands and teeth both itched, he could only pent up his grievances and hold his clenched fists behind his back.

Jiang Xunyi thought for a moment and felt the crux of the issue might lie in this strange case. In addition, the system had never sent out the notice of a task completion, so he looked over at the blankly staring Huang Wei: “Keep talking, what exactly happened that night.”

Huang Wei snapped out of his absent-mindedness, and hurriedly responded: “That night I had slept until the middle of the night, when suddenly the Sun family members came over to knock on my door. When I got up to ask, they said ‘The corpse of our grandfather suddenly disappeared’!”

Due to Yun Xie’s pent-up resentment, his words turned cynical and peculiar: “That’s strange. It’s just a single dead person, how come he keeps being cut up and now stolen? What, was he made of gold?”

Huang Wei smiled bitterly and shook his head: “This time, it can’t be said he was ‘stolen’.”

Jiang Xunyi carelessly said: “You mean that the dead man grew legs and ran away himself? Oh, and an incompletely sewn together dead man at that.”

Unexpectedly, Huang Wei nodded heavily: “That’s exactly right.” He continued: “That night it was originally supposed to be Sun Erlang and Sun Sanlang4 rotating shifts to keep watch. The first half of the night was calm and peaceful. But in the later half, when Sun Sanlang went to take over, the two brothers spoke a few words to each other and didn’t pay much attention for that brief period. When they turned around, they discovered that the coffin cover was open, and that body—that body with half a head still not sewn on—was actually gone!”

“I was very puzzled upon hearing this, so I went to check out the footprints on the ground. I discovered there was only one shallow trail, and didn’t find a second person. I didn’t think too much of it at the time, because if someone had stolen the body and carried it on their shoulders, it would be normal for them to leave only one trail of footprints. I just had trouble imagining how this person had done so. Therefore, the three of us followed the footprints all the way to the door of a house. The footprints disappeared there, but Sun Sanlang suddenly stopped in place.”

“I was surprised: ‘Why did you stop walking? The way I see it, that thief probably entered this house.’ But Sun Erlang stuttered out: ‘Sir Huang, this… this… this is the house our grandfather lived in before his death!’ I immediately felt a chill in my heart, but with these two boys watching from the side, I couldn’t just give up and turn tail5. So I mustered up my courage, pulled out my personal sword, and then kicked the door open and went inside!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Footnotes:
1.术士 can mean a variety of things including “wizard”, “magician”, “warlock.”
2. 鬼村 lit. “ghost village”. I’m not super sure what a good non-literal translation would be… perhaps “haunted village” or “cursed village”? Whatever the case, living people definitely don’t want to live there.
3. 生不如死 lit. “living worse than death”
4. Remember how commoners in ancient times didn’t really have proper names, but more like “titles” indicating their order of birth among their siblings? In the same vein as Xu Da, the names of these two youths were 孙二郎 and 孙三郎, which roughly translate to “second son of the Sun family” and “third son of the Sun family.”
5. 打退堂鼓 lit. “beat the drums of retreat”

 

 

 

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