Chapter 120: Extra—Intrusion (Part One)
Translated by K of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
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The story began the night three days ago.
That evening, Young Master Qin returned from a social full of alcohol and fatigue. Just as he was about to retreat, he suddenly heard the sound of someone hitting a door.
Again and again, a person was slamming on the main doors of the Qin estate.
The servant watching over the courtyard mumbled in response, crawling up as he went to examine the situation with a lantern. Just as he was about to ask whom it was, the one knocking on the door seemed to have suddenly gone mad, madly banging on the door.
And it was truly banging. The bolt creaked. It seemed as if ten claws of iron were scratching the planks unstoppably.
The commotion was too loud. Soon, the courtyard was filled with roused servants. Holding lamps, lanterns, and clubs, the crowd of people stared at one another. Finally, robed only in an outer coat and gripping a sword in his hand, the owner of the estate finally arrived.
Young Master Qin unsheathed his sword with a sharp ‘clang’ as he shouted, “Who is it?!”
At once, the scratching outside the door became louder.
One of the servants was curled up in a corner, leaning against a broom. Young Master Qin pointed to him, “Climb up and look outside.”
The servant didn’t dare disobey. Dark faced, he slowly inched up as he turned his head around with much difficulty to look at Young Master Qin, only in exchange for impatient urging.
In the end, he put two trembling hands on the roof tiles and peeked. With only one glance, he plummeted head-first onto the ground.
Young Master Qin, “He said that the one knocking the door was a monster in burial robes. Messy-haired and covered in blood. It wasn’t a living person.”
At this point, Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi exchanged a look with each other.
While Lan SiZhui asked, “Young Master Qin, is there no description with greater detail?”
Young Master Qin was not of the cultivation world. He only found the right people by chance. He knew that these were cultivators, but not their identities and names. Nonetheless, Lan WangJi had an ethereal demeanor, Wei WuXian seemed nothing short of confident, and despite still being young, Lan SiZhui was quite graceful around the corners. Thus, he didn’t dare treat them badly, “No. That servant’s a coward. He passed out with just one glance, and I only managed to wake him up after pinching his central acupoint* for ages. You think you can expect him to see it clearly?”
*TN: The central acupoint is on one’s face, at the portion between the end of the nose and the tip of the mouth. In traditional Chinese medicine, it’s often stimulated in emergencies (such as when a person falls into a coma).
Wei WuXian, “Could I ask something?”
Young Master Qin, “Go ahead.”
Wei WuXian, “Young Master Qin, did you only order your servant to look and not look outside yourself?”
“What a pity.”
“What’s there to pity?”
Wei WuXian, “According to your words, the one who paid a visit to your door was a fierce corpse. When fierce corpses drop by, they’re usually there for a particular person. If you looked, perhaps you’d find that it was an old friend of yours.”
Young Master Qin, “And perhaps I’m the rare case. Besides, even if it came from someone, it wouldn’t necessarily be me, would it?”
Wei WuXian nodded with a smile, “You’re right.”
Young Master Qin continued, “That thing went on until daybreak. When I went out to look in the morning, the doors were already in shambles.”
Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi strolled before the main doors.
Lan SiZhui followed them, probing with care. The doors of the Qin estate was covered in hundreds of savage scratch marks, five a group, as long as a few feet and as short as a few inches. Indeed, it was in shambles.
Although it was undoubtedly the marks of human hands, it didn’t seem like something the fingernails of a live person could make no matter what.
Young Master Qin, “In any case, as you are of the cultivational world, Young Masters, do you have a way to exorcise this being?”
Wei WuXian, however, responded, “There’s no need.”
Lan SiZhui was surprised, but he didn’t say anything. Young Master Qin also found it strange, asking, “There’s no need?”
Wei WuXian stated, “There’s no need. The so-called ‘house’ adopts the task of shelter the moment it’s built, the moment it’s owned by someone. The doors to a house form a natural barrier. They not only obstruct the human, but also the inhuman. Because you’re the owner of this house, as long as you don’t say or do anything to invite creatures of darkness inside, there would be no way for them to invade. According to the remaining evil energy on the doors, it’s not some rare, bloodthirsty creature either. A door’s enough to fend it off.”
Young Master Qin was still doubtful, “It’s really so easy?”
Lan WangJi, “Yes.”
Wei WuXian stepped on the threshold, “Really. And in reality, the threshold is a barrier as well. The living dead are lifeless in both blood and breath. They can only move by means of hopping. Unless the walking corpse had shocking leg muscles and could jump a meter high, or else, even if the doors are wide open, it wouldn’t be able to hop in.”
Young Master Qin was still worried, “Isn’t there anything else I’d need to purchase? Like talismans for defense or swords for exorcism? I’d be more than happy to offer great reward. Money isn’t an issue.”
Lan WangJi, “Invest in a new door bolt.”
Seeing Young Master Qin’s face of disbelief, implying that he thought the whole suggestion was to shoo him away, Wei WuXian responded, “It’s your choice. You can decide for yourself, Young Master Qin. If anything else happens, you’re welcome to come to us again.”
After leaving the Qin estate, Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi walked side by side for a while, wandering around as they conversed casually.
Right now, the two were already half retired. If there was nothing important, they’d roam around aimlessly, from only a few days to almost an entire month. When Wei WuXian heard of Lan WangJi’s reputation for being wherever the chaos was, he didn’t think it’d be too hard, but right now as he tried it in person alongside Lan WangJi, he discovered that it was truly a test of one’s resolution. It wasn’t difficult. In fact, it was too easy. When he went on night-hunts in the past, he always liked to choose strange, adventurous locations, so naturally his trips were full of thrill and surprise. However, Lan WangJi wasn’t picky. He did anything he deemed that he ought to do, and so he’d often come across some night-hunt targets that were unchallenging to Wei WuXian. This case of the fierce corpse, for example, was really not too interesting compared to the things Wei WuXian had hunted in the past. Most others would likely also deem it unworthy for him.
However, because he was together with Lan WangJi, even if the incident itself wasn’t so engaging, having each other as company made it quite a relaxing process.
Lan SiZhui followed them in silence, holding Lil’ Apple’s rein. After some thought, he still couldn’t help but asked, “HanGuang-Jun, Senior Wei, is it really alright to leave Young Master Qin’s house like that?”
Lan WangJi, “It is.”
Wei WuXian grinned, “Do you really think I was spouting nonsense and making up lies, SiZhui?”
Lan SiZhui hurried, “Of course not! Ahem, that was not what I meant. What I wanted to say was that even though house doors do carry the power to fend things off, those doors were almost about to break. Would it really be fine, without giving him even a single talisman?”
Wei WuXian, “Naturally so.”
Lan SiZhui, “Oh…”
Wei WuXian, “Of course it wouldn’t be fine.”
Lan SiZhui, “Huh? Then why?”
Wei WuXian, “Because Young Master Qin was lying.”
Lan WangJi nodded lightly. Lan SiZhui, however, seemed somewhat surprised, “How could you tell, Senior Wei?”
Wei WuXian, “I only met Young Master Qin once, so I can’t say for sure, but his personality is…”
Lan WangJi, “Stubborn and cold.”
Wei WuXian agreed, “Pretty much. Anyhow, he’s definitely not easily-scared. That night’s situation was strange, but it wasn’t so strange that it could scare someone out of their wits, according to his description. Would it be so difficult for him to climb up to the roof and look outside?”
Lan SiZhui realized, “But he insisted that he did not take a single look…”
Wei WuXian, “Right? If someone comes slamming on your door at night, everyone has some curiousness in them and you’ve also got some guts, so what’d be normal is to take a sneak peek. Wouldn’t it be strange if you insisted that you didn’t look?”
Lan WangJi, “Agreed, entirely.”
Wei WuXian, “Great minds think alike!”
After he finished, he grinned before touching his chin, “And even though the scratch marks left by the corpse on the doors looked quite frightening, they weren’t at all heavy with evil energy. It definitely didn’t come to kill for revenge—this I know for sure. We’d have to wait and see to find out what’s really the case.”
Lan SiZhui, “If so, Senior Wei, why not summon the corpse and ask it directly?”
Wei WuXian responded without hesitation, “You know how much blood it takes to draw a Spirit-Attraction Flag? I have a weak constitution.”
Lan SiZhui really thought he was too lazy to let out blood, “Senior Wei, you can use my blood.”
Yet, Wei WuXian burst out with a laugh. He spoke, “SiZhui, to be honest, this isn’t the problem. This time, we came here for you to gain more experience, didn’t we?”
Lan SiZhui paused in surprise. Wei WuXian continued, “Of course I can summon the corpse and directly make it leave. But, can you?”
Hearing this, Lan SiZhui immediately understood.
After having been through a series of events, both he and the other juniors of the GusuLan Sect had begun to rely on Wei WuXian a bit too much. Summoning spirits and controlling corpses were indeed the quickest way, but not everyone was able to use such a means, and it wasn’t as if he cultivated the ghostly path. And thus, to him, it wasn’t the best to study too much of these skills. If this time again, Wei WuXian did whatever he was good at and solved the mystery in just a few tries, how could it be gaining experience?
This time, Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi were here to take him through the ordinary path, to see how this matter could be dealt with through the usual means.
Lan SiZhui, “So HanGuang-Jun, Senior Wei, what you intended was that since Young Master Qin refused to tell us the truth, we can ignore him for now and give him a good scare?”
Wei WuXian, “Exactly. Just watch for now. That door bolt could at most hold up for two more days. HanGuang-Jun kindly gave him such a practical advice, telling him to get a new one, but it seems like Young Master Qin didn’t take it to heart. No matter what, if he really hid something important, it’d be no use even if he gets ten new door bolts. It’ll come back sooner or later.”
Yet, that door bolt couldn’t even last a single night. The second day, with a dark face, Young Master Qin went to visit Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi again.
Prominent sects all had multiple external establishments. After the three came, they settled down at a small, elegant building of the GusuLan Sect’s, named Bamboo Cottage. Young Master Qin called on them rather early, coincidentally bumping into Lan SiZhui tugging at the donkey’s rein. Poor Lan SiZhui was trying hard to drag Lil’ Apple outside as the latter gnawed at bamboo shoots. The moment he turned around, he saw Young Master Qin’s lips twitch. Blushing slightly, he let go of the rein and invited Young Master Qin inside.
Carefully, he went to knock the bedchamber of the two seniors to report. When he saw the already-dressed Lan WangJi open the door soundlessly and shake his head, he knew that Senior Wei wouldn’t be able to wake up anytime soon. Lan SiZhui felt quite cornered. In the end, he still toughened up and violated the sect rule of ‘lying is prohibited’, telling Young Master Qin that his senior was still resting due to having fallen ill. Or else, he couldn’t openly say the big truth of ‘Senior Wei is sleeping, and HanGuang-Jun told you to wait on your own’, could he…?
Wei WuXian slept all the way until the sun was high up in the end. Only after much hugging and caressing from Lan WangJi did he finally manage to crawl up. As he proceeded through his morning routine with closed eyes, he even put on Lan WangJi’s inner-wear by accident. A few inches of white sleeves extended from below his outer robe, rolled up many times. It was quite unbefitting, really. Fortunately, Young Master Qin wasn’t in a state of mind good enough to mind whether or not Wei WuXian was dressed properly. At once, he hauled the three away.
The doors to the Qin estate were tight shut. Young Master Qin went up to knock the door, making no small talk, “After the advice yesterday, I relaxed somewhat, but I still couldn’t sleep. I was in the hall reading, minding any noise outside.”
Soon, a servant opened the doors and welcomed the three into the courtyard. The moment they walked down the steps, Wei WuXian paused slightly.
Crimson footprints were scattered all over the courtyard. It was a fearsome sight.
Young Master Qin continued gloomily, “Last night, that thing came again. It scratched and banged the door for almost an hour. Just as I felt annoyed by the commotion, I suddenly heard a creak, and the door bolt was snapped in half.”
The instant he heard the door bolt break, Young Master Qin felt all the hair on his back rise.
He sprinted to the door and peered outside from the wooden door of the main hall.
The moon was dark. He could see from afar the two opened door flaps. A figure stood before the entrance of the Qin estate, hopping like a piece of wood with a spring underneath it.
It hopped for a while and still couldn’t get in. Young Master Qin let out a breath of relief. He thought that, as expected, it was the same as how Wei WuXian described it to be in the day, its body rigid and its legs unable to bend. It definitely wouldn’t be able to jump over the tall threshold of his house.
Yet, before he could even fully let the breath out, he saw the figure hopping at the door suddenly leap high up into the air—just like that, it jumped through the doorway!
Young Master Qin spun around, slamming his back into the door.
The creature passed the main entrance and entered the courtyard, hopping straight forward. Thump. Thump. Just a few jumps, and it ran into the door to the main hall.
Young Master Qin felt a shudder come from the wooden door behind him. Realizing that there was but a single door between the creature and him, he scrambled to run away.
Young Master Qin, “Under the moonlight, that creature’s shadow reflected onto the paper windows. It couldn’t come in, so it circled around the hall. It left all of these footprints inside the yard! Young Masters, it’s not that I don’t believe what you say, but you really said that it couldn’t jump inside.”
Wei WuXian stepped the threshold, “Young Master Qin, most of the time, rigid corpses indeed can’t jump in. No blood flows in the dead, so of course they can’t bend their legs. Feel free to ask any cultivational sects anywhere in the world. They’ll all tell you the same thing.”
Young Master Qin spread his palms, as if to show him the courtyard filled with red footprints, “Then how would you explain this?”
Wei WuXian, “I can only say that the thing that came through your doors isn’t too ordinary. Young Master Qin, think for a second—did you notice anything wrong with the corpse when you peered at it last night?”
Young Master Qin thought about it for a long while, his expression unsightly, before he finally answered, “Speaking of it, that thing jumped in quite a strange pose.”
Wei WuXian, “How so?”
Young Master Qin, “Almost as if it was…”
Over on the other side, Lan WangJi had already walked once around the courtyard. He walked back to Wei WuXian’s side, his voice calm, “Limping.”
Young Master Qin exclaimed, “That’s right!”
Immediately, he asked, “And how do you know, Young Master?”
Lan SiZhui was wondering the same thing. But because as he understood it there was nothing that HanGuang-Jun didn’t know, he was only curious, not confused, calmly waiting for the answer.
Lan WangJi, “The prints on the ground.”
Wei WuXian bent down, and Lan SiZhui squatted as well, carefully examining the footprints. Wei WuXian looked up again after just a few glances, turning to Lan WangJi, “A single-legged corpse?”
Lan WangJi nodded. Wei WuXian stood up, “So that’s why it could jump over. All these footprints are half heavy and half light. One of the corpse’s legs are broken.”
He thought about it some more, “Do you think it broke it before or after death?”
Lan WangJi, “Before.”
Wei WuXian, “Yes. If it were after he died, it wouldn’t be affected by anything no matter which part of it broke.”
Just like that, they began to converse without any hindrance. However, Lan SiZhui was unable to follow it. He had to stop them, “Wait, HanGuang-Jun, Senior Wei, let me sort this out—you are saying that this corpse has a broken leg and walks with a limp. But because of this, it is rather easier for it than two legged… uh, able-bodied corpses, to jump over the tall threshold?”
Clearly, Young Master Qin was thinking about the same question, “Did I hear wrong?”
Lan WangJi, “No.”
Young Master Qin seemed to find it absurd, “Do you mean to say that someone with one leg would run faster than someone with two?”
On the other side, the two were quite engaged in discussion. Wei WuXian spared a moment to grin at him, “You understood wrong, but perhaps you’d get it if I explain it this way. Some people are blind in one eye, and so they take better care of their remaining one. Thus even though they are half blind, their eyesight may not be worse than those with two eyes. In the same sense, if a person’s left arm is broken and can only use their right arm, after a long time, maybe their right arm would be abnormally strong, even twice as powerful as someone with both arms…”
Lan SiZhui understood, “And because the corpse was limp in one leg before death, it often jumped around on one leg after death, and so it would be able to jump higher than corpses with both legs?”
Wei WuXian gladly replied, “Precisely.”
Lan SiZhui found this intriguing and made sure to remember it. Young Master Qin seemed irritated, “It’s my bad. I argued with my wife yesterday and tended to household matters late into the evening, so I didn’t have the time to reinstall the front door. I’ll fix it right now—I’ll make sure the door’s as sturdy as a bucket made of steel!”
However, Lan WangJi shook his head, “It would be futile. ‘No precedent shall be set’.”
Young Master Qin jolted, feeling that the statement wouldn’t be anything reassuring, “And what does ‘no precedent shall be set’ mean?”
Wei WuXian, “What he said is a jargon of ours. It means that when dealing with dark creatures, some defensive tactics can only be once. They’d be useless the second time around. If you reinstalled it yesterday, it would’ve been able to hold up a while longer, but now that it once managed to enter the door, it’d be able to travel in and out freely from now on.”
Young Master Qin was both shocked and regretful, “Then! What should I do?”
Lan WangJi, “Sit and wait.”
Wei WuXian, “There’s no need for panicking. It can go through the main entrance, but it can’t cross the second door. Think of your estate like a city. As of right now, only the outermost walls have been breached—two more remain.”
“Two more? Which two?”
Lan WangJi, “The door of company. The door of privacy.”
Wei WuXian, “Your living room and your bedroom.”
During the conversation, the group had already passed through the courtyard and taken seats at the main hall. Surprisingly, nobody brought tea for a long time, with all the servants having disappeared. After Young Master Qin’s yells, someone finally came up to them before being kicked away quickly after. Now that he vented his anger, Young Master Qin’s expression calmed slightly, still unwilling to settle, “Could you really not give me some talismans to suppress it? Please don’t worry, young masters. Payment really isn’t an issue.”
Yet he didn’t know that these people never expected any payment to come from the night-hunt either. Wei WuXian, “That depends on the way you want to suppress it.”
And Wei WuXian began.
He spoke, “Suppression mends the symptoms but not the root of the issue. If you only want to prevent it from entering your doors, that’d be relatively easy—switch up the talisman every two weeks. It’d still be able to wreck your door, though. At that time, I say your door would need to be changed more often than the talisman. If you want it to back off, you’d need to switch it up every seven days, and these talismans are often quite complex to make and expensive in pricing. On top of that, the longer you suppress it, the stronger its resentful energy would grow to be…”
Quietly, Lan WangJi sat and listened to Wei WuXian’s nonsense, saying nothing.
It was true that suppression wasn’t a good strategy, but the construction and usage of talismans weren’t as difficult or complex as how Wei WuXian made them to be. But in terms of this, nobody’s mouth was more clever than Wei WuXian’s. Even Lan SiZhui, with his excellent grades, was befuddled by the explanation, almost believing it. Young Master Qin found it quite a hassle, as if he’d encounter countless repercussions if he chose to suppress it. He couldn’t help but began to doubt, repeatedly glancing at Lan WangJi who was sipping tea. But because there was never a single flash of ‘he’s exaggerating’ written on his face, he couldn’t do anything but to believe it, “Isn’t there something that deals with it once and for all?!”
Wei WuXian’s tone of voice turned, “Whether there is or isn’t would be a decision up to you, Young Master Qin.”
Young Master Qin, “How come it’s up to me?”
Wei WuXian, “I can make a talisman specially for you, but that’d depend on if you’re willing to answer my question honestly.”
Wei WuXian, “Did you know the corpse before its death?”
After a moment of silence, Young Master Qin finally replied, “Yes.”