Thirty Years of Demon Slaying at the Demon-Slaying Department - Chapter 19
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The Longevity Palace.
There was smoke rising in curly wisps.
There was a faint chanting of scriptures.
Wang Ye sought an audience with Emperor Jingtai. A eunuch went to report his request and he was kept waiting for a long time before he was allowed to enter.
Emperor Jing Tai, otherwise known as Li Xian, was dressed in a navy-blue Taoist robe. He was sitting cross-legged on a futon and holding a scroll of Taoist scripture. When he saw Wang Ye entering, he smiled.
“What brings you here today? If it is a matter of the court, you just have to discuss it with the Crown Prince.”
Wang Ye looked around the hall, where a dozen middle-aged and elderly Taoist followers were meditating while cultivating their Qi.
Emperor Jing Tai said, “Don’t worry, feel free to speak your mind.”
Wang Ye bowed and said, “Please allow me to report this matter to you, Your Majesty. An hour ago, around a hundred miles away from the southeast of the capital, a swordsman of the Way of Tao had just cleaved the top of a mountain peak with a single strike of his sword. Immortal Wuchen claimed that this was definitely the doing of a first-grade level master.”
“Hmm? The first-grade level of sword cultivation. Indeed, this must be some extraordinary master.”
Emperor Jing Tai put away his Taoist scripture. The expression on his face was subtly more solemn now.
The Great Qian dynasty was proclaimed as a Dynasty of Gods. While it had many upper third-grade masters, it was extremely rare for most of them to advance to first grade, not to mention to attain the level of sword cultivation that was famous for war and killing.
Wang Ye went on to say, “Master Wuxiang used the secret method of Karma and detected remnants of the sword Qi. And he concluded that it was an immortal sword.”
“An immortal weapon!”
Emperor Jing Tai’s voice turned serious, and he asked, “Is Master Wuxiang sure that he has not seen wrongly?”
Those who could attain the first-grade level of sword cultivation were extremely rare in the world. But there were still a few to be found within the Great Qian dynasty, such as Elder Qianxiu of the Lourve Sword Palace and the former chief of the Heavenly Sword Sect.
Immortal Weapons were supreme treasures beyond the first-grade realm. Once they unleashed their power at full potential, they could be as powerful as the numen of Arhat.
The Great Qian had ruled the Yun Continent for one thousand and five hundred years, but there had never been any immortal weapon to control the fate of the nation.
“The remnants of the sword Qi contained a pure Yang aura. It is most likely going to be a pretty good weapon.”
Wang Ye pointed out a finger, gently tapped the air and a bright screen appeared. The image on the screen was that of the broken mountain peak.
With a wave of his hand, Emperor Jing Tai retrieved a wisp of aura from the screen and sensed it very carefully.
“It’s really an immortal sword! Chu Daban, go and investigate this personally. Remember to keep this a covert operation.”
A figure emerged from a corner of the hall. It was Eunuch Chu, the head chef of the eunuch department, one of the big four immortal departments.
Of the Big Four Celestial Departments, the Demon Slaying Department was tyrannical and killed decisively and mercilessly. The Dragon Protection Department was mysterious and was often associated with profound and esoteric matters. The Deity-worshipping Department boasted a wide circle of acquaintances, while the Eunuch department, though neither good nor bad, made people go pale at the mere mention of it.
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
The East Palace.
The crown prince, who was governing the nation and administering state affairs in the emperor’s stead, was reviewing the memorials to the emperor.
The vast expanse of land that belonged to the Great Qian was occupied by the sixteen states that were once individual kingdoms. Now that they were all brought together under a unified administration, there were piles of paperwork and matters to be reviewed daily.
A young eunuch entered through the side door and whispered a few words in the Crown Prince’s ear.
The look on the crown prince’s face was calm but the pencil in his hand was forcibly snapped into two.
“Get Sir Tan here.”
A moment later, the expositor-in-waiting of the East Palace entered.
The crowned prince dismissed his aides, then finally, he could not control himself anymore. His face darkened and a gloomy expression appeared.
“Sir, the minister of the Ministry of Rites, Wang Ye, has met with the emperor and reported to him that there were traces of an immortal sword…”
Tan Hong sipped his tea unhurriedly but paused slightly at the mention of an Immortal Sword.
“Your Highness, there is no need to be bothered about the immortal sword. There’s no need to even talk about whether it can be found or not. This is someone with a first-grade level of sword cultivation, who can take it from him?”
The crown prince said in a deep voice, “Sir if we can recruit this person under us…”
Tan Hong interrupted the crown prince and said, “Your Highness, you are now the crown prince entrusted with the responsibility of governing the nation and overseeing all state affairs. You hold great authority and power. There’s no need for you to do anything, just take your time and wait.”
The crown prince’s voice went up by a notch and he said, “I have been the crown prince for thirty years, do I have to continue overseeing the nation’s matters on behalf of someone else for another thirty years? Since the reign of the first emperor of the Great Qian up till now, have you ever seen anyone holding the title of crown prince for as long as sixty years?”
“Your Highness is exceptionally gifted in the Way of Martial Art. It only took you ten years to enter the third-grade realm. Back then, the late Emperor had sung praises of you, saying that you are similar to Emperor Guangming.”
Tan Hong said, “Now that he can extricate himself from matters of the imperial court and focus on cultivation, he has since given Your Highness the authority to govern and oversee the kingdom in his stead. In doing so, he has already made his stance clear.”
“I am no longer a teenager. I have passed my prime and Sir, do you honestly believe that I have the absolute power to oversee this entire dynasty?”
The prince stroked his head of white hair and said, “Of all state matters in court, is there any that is not under the emperor’s control? I am just a tool. A few days ago, I went to pay my respects to my father. I am already with a head of white hair, but my father is still in the pink of health. Even I am starting to wonder who is a father and who is a son!”
“Your Highness, be mindful of what you say!”
With a wave, Tan Hong laid an insulating layer to soundproof their surroundings. Who knew how many pairs of eyes and ears the emperor had planted around the East Palace?
“Your Highness, don’t worry. There is no need for us to do it ourselves. We just have to wait for Eunuch Chu to locate the traces of that immortal sword. Given His Majesty’s character and way of thought, there is bound to be a conflict. It will not be too late to do the recruitment then.
“Sir, you are really my trusted confidante!”
Tan Hong bowed his head slightly and pretended that he did not hear what His Highness said.
Early in the morning.
Zhou Yi woke up from a good night’s sleep and took his breakfast at the inn.
Steamed buns, congee, and salted vegetables. These were a far cry from the delectable meats served in the torture rooms of prison. But the food greatly whetted Zhou Yi’s appetite.
He chewed slowly, then swallowed everything but whatever he ingested was immediately refined into nothingness by the Huang-ting Scripture. Not a trace of it was left in his body.
Most cultivators did not eat whole grains. This was to avoid contamination of their innate bodies, as well as to avoid wasting time and power on getting rid of any contamination. But Zhou Yi was unwilling to give up on the kind of life on Earth and the ways and habits of people on Earth.
The Huang-ting Scripture had no special attributes like freezing ice, raging fire, lightning, and thunder, as well as gales and winds. The only special characteristic it had was that it would continuously run on its own.
Zhou Yi wiped his mouth after he was full and satisfied, then he asked, “Boss, how come I don’t see that young attendant from yesterday?”
The boss of the inn was in the midst of settling his accounts. Without raising his head, he replied, “He went out to appreciate the lanterns last night, but for some reason that I don’t know of, up till now, he has yet to return.”
Zhou Yi subtly shook his head and did not continue to probe with more questions.
Traveling all the way across half the southern city, he arrived at the base camp of the Demon Slaying Department.
He flashed his token to the logistics department to verify his identity, and then returned to the logistics department.
Zhang Cheng had not arrived, but Coroner Liu had already delivered a booklet that recorded the demon materials that were sent to the torture rooms the day before.
“Zhang went to Spring Breeze Court yesterday, so I guess it’s highly possible that he won’t wake up on time to get to work today.”
Coroner Liu laughed heartily and said, “That old man with his frail old limbs, yet never afraid of dying amidst a pile of women.”
“Amidst a pile?”
Zhou Yi accurately grasped the important point. Death was impossible, for he had never heard of a master with a high level of spirit cultivation dying of exhaustion.
The two exchanged gazes as if they finally met each other’s confidantes. This enlivened the place and suddenly, the atmosphere became merry.
Clerical officials from the other sections arrived progressively. They greeted Zhou Yi, made small chats for a while, and then started transcribing and recording in their booklets.
When it was nearing evening time, Zhang Cheng turned up at work. He was apparently still tipsy from the effects of the alcohol.
Zhou Yi handed him the transcription that he had completed and after flipping through a few pages, Zhang Cheng went to Secretary Chen to deliver the booklet. In the passing, he sang a few words of praises for the star courtesan of Spring Breeze Court.
Secretary Chen was once a carefree and talented man, and he found Zhang Cheng’s taste in women seriously contemptible.
It was only his second day here, and Zhou Yi could already feel the difference between the logistics department and the torture rooms. The similarity between the two departments was that at both places, he was still a small official not listed on the court rankings, and the difference was probably that of a formal worker and a contract worker.
After more than half a month, Zhou Yi had familiarized himself with his environment and gotten acquainted with his fellow officials. He had even gone for a few drinks with them.
And of course, Zhou Yi would not be the one to settle the bill. Even the money he used to pay for his room at the inn was a loan from Zhang Cheng, he was really no different from being penniless.
Finally, it was time for the monthly salary payday.
Since the minor officials working in the logistics storeroom were not listed on the court’s officials ranking, their monthly salary was not directly paid by the court. Instead, they received their pay from their respective departments.
Zhou Yi followed Zhang Cheng to see Official Bai receive his salary as a clerical official.
“Zhang, this is yours. Two offal pills, ten cities of inferior meat, a thousand five hundred copper coins.”
Official Bai handed a packet of stuff over to Zhang Cheng, looked at Zhou Yi, and said, “Thirteen days of work last month, so we will count it as half a month. One offal pill, five catties of inferior meat, and five hundred copper coins.”
Zhou Yi received the money, a white porcelain bottle, and a black strip of meat.
And then, they left Official Bai’s room.
Zhou Yi sniffed the strip of meat and easily identified it as the offal of a demon from a tiger-familial race.
He opened the porcelain bottle and saw a black pill inside. After a brief sniff, he concluded that it should be a vitality pill.
Vitality pills were classified as the lowest grade of elixirs and pull. Refined from the essence of the blood and flesh of demons, they could replenish one’s blood and Qi. Ordinary people could take these pills to strengthen their bodies and regulate their Qi.
“There’s no need to look, the meat is of good quality and there is nothing wrong with the pills either.”
Zhang Cheng opened the porcelain bottle, poured out a pill, and threw it straight into his mouth. Nom-nom-nom.
“The taste is not as good as before.”