Chapter 9 – Suppression Talisman

Sorry for the late post guys. There’ll be another chapter coming either tomorrow or the day after.
I’ll try my best to slowly make up for things. I have a new editor now. Yay!~ She’s been so wonderfully helpful.
Hopefully I’ll be able to pump out chapters on time now, haha.

Editor: Crooked

Jiang Luo grasped his beer bottle and violently stabbed it towards the voice—his hand was grabbed by the other person.

Chi You smiled and said, “Don’t be anxious.”

“We still have a long way to go.”

……

When the sky was faintly bright, Jiang Luo abruptly opened his eyes.

His eyeballs moved slowly from left to right. The table was on the right; the doorknob was on the left. Jiang Luo tilted his head to look at the window: the handle was on the right. Outside the window, the faint, auspicious golden light could be seen.

He woke up.

His face immediately fell. Gloomily, he sat up on the bed.

The sweat that stained the quilt and bed cover formed a wet, human-shaped imprint, and the back of Jiang Luo’s shirt was thoroughly soaked through. His face was inscrutable as he pushed open the balcony door. He stood on the balcony thick with morning dew and inspected all around.

There was the sound of a bird noisily chirping1叽叽喳喳 – transliteral: ji ji ja ja. An onomatopoeia for a bird’s chirping sounds , and a sparrow flew onto the railing; its two thin claws gripping the protective rail.

A slender and fair hand quickly caught the bird. Jiang Luo’s eyes were dark as he held the bird in front of him. The corner of his mouth pulled up as he sneered, “It was you.”

His hands slowly tightened. The sparrow’s pitch-black and lifeless eyes quietly stared at him. Jiang Luo’s grip grew tighter and tighter; however, when he reached the limit, he suddenly loosened his hand.

“Eighteen times,” Jiang Luo said to himself, his smile pulling wider and wider. He spoke towards the sparrow’s eyes, “Chi You, you killed me eighteen times.”

During Jiang Luo’s very last death, he desperately fought2豁出命地 – meaning to desperately fight for one’s life, especially in a unsightly manner. and managed to pull Chi You down from the balcony. He forced Chi You to take the lead and fall down before him, becoming a puddle of flesh.

“Doesn’t dying feel good3爽:[shuang] used in a lot of ways, mostly means cool/refreshing/overly comfortable in a smug manner. It’s one of those rare words that can’t be fully translated well into English.?” He gnashed his teeth as he spoke in Chi You’s ear.

Chi You, who was bloodied and mangled, smilingly said, “Ah, it’s not as pretty as your death.”

Eighteen times in total, and he only killed Chi You once.

The killing intent within Jiang Luo’s eyes was roiling and tempestuous4the original phrase should actually be 波涛汹涌, but it essentially means billowing waves.. Gently, he petted the sparrow’s head and said with a smile, “What’s the point of killing one of your little puppets, huh?”

He said softly, “How could I possibly do that?”

You won’t feel the f*cking pain.

Jiang Luo loosened his hand. With a cold expression, he retreated to the room.

The fury within his heart and the vindictive emotions after experiencing eighteen deaths was about to burst out. ChiYouChiYouChiYou! He had originally planned to help Chi You find the culprit hidden behind the scenes, which would double as compensation for the original person’s wrongdoing. However at that moment – sorry to say – he currently only had one thought—he wanted to retaliate and kill Chi You.

He absolutely – absolutely – must kill Chi You.

The sequelae of the dreamscape still lingered on Jiang Luo’s person, giving Jiang Luo the illusion that the ghostly aura was dense within the room and might even be hiding Chi You’s remnant soul.

He grabbed everything related to Chi You within the apartment and flung it all into the middle of the living room. The mug that Chi You previously used was smashed; the clothes that Chi You had worn were cast aside like garbage. Within the closet, he even found that all-black suit that Chi You wore within the dreamscape.

Jiang Luo let out a cold sneer. He threw the black suit on the top-most part of the garbage heap and lit a fire with the lighter.

The pile of expensive fabrics burned in an instant. The flames5焰火 – transliteral: flame fire. Supposedly means fireworks, but I only know 烟花 [smoke flower]. In the context of the sentence, I think the author meant flames and embers. quickly leapt towards the ceiling. Jiang Luo pulled out a cigarette and used the raging fire to light the head.

Sparks flickered. Jiang Luo stood beside the bonfire with a vague and gloomy expression. He drew a breath of smoke, coldly observing the flames spread from the centre of the clothing pile onto the floorboards.

The smoke detector sounded rigorously.

The sofa, wooden cabinets, coffee table, room decor.

A complete chaos.

Destroying Chi You’s things hadn’t lifted Jiang Luo’s mood in the slightest. He stood in front of the raging fire. Just when the flames were about to hurt him, he opened the door and retreated outside.

It wasn’t long before someone hurriedly rushed over, carrying a water hose with them.

Soon afterwards, his classmates rushed over with dishevelled appearances. All seven people were there without exception. With one glance, they immediately caught sight of Jiang Luo, who was wearing only a shirt and entirely covered in thick smoke.

Jiang Luo was still barefoot; his appearance was disgraceful. The ends of his hair were slightly singed, but overall, he didn’t seem to be injured.

Wen Renlian took the lead and took off the cloak he was wearing to wrap around Jiang Luo’s body. He put away his smile, “Let’s go to my place first.”

Kuang Zheng found a pair of rubber boots from the storage room downstairs and silently placed them beside Jiang Luo.

The location of the teachers residence was neither near nor far from where the students lived, separated by a few buildings in between. The apartments above, below, left, and right of Chi You’s suite had no owners, so it took quite a while after the fire started before being discovered.

After going downstairs, Jiang Luo turned his head and glanced back.

There was dense black smoke billowing from Chi You’s window. The fire had already been extinguished.

Jiang Luo’s lips rose coldly. He buried his head as they went towards the student dormitory.

When they arrived at the student dormitory, he realized that Lu Youyi’s estimate of fifty square metres was inaccurate. Although the student dormitory was not as big as Chi You’s apartment, it was still around eighty square metres. Being a studio apartment, this place was more than adequate. It was even somewhat luxurious.

The layout of Wen Renlian’s dorm was very simple. Everyone sat down in the living room. Jiang Luo borrowed a set of clothes and went to take a shower. Within the mirror in the bathroom, he saw a drop of blood between his eyebrows.

He instantly thought of the wound on his hand from being pecked by the sparrow’s beak. This drop of blood… It was most likely Chi You who had manipulated the sparrow to collect his blood.

Was this the method he used to drag him into the dream?

Jiang Luo rubbed away the blood from his forehead; his eyes were frightening. He took a deep breath to calm down and quickly composed himself.

When he came out again, the people sitting outside had already begun to discuss the fire incident. Seeing Jiang Luo had come out, Lu Youyi took the lead and asked, “Jiang Luo, why was there suddenly a fire where you were staying?”

Jiang Luo wiped his hair as he calmly walked over to sit down. “When I got up, the room was already on fire.”

Lu Youyi furrowed his brow, “That’s so weird. Could it be that you didn’t put your cigarette butt out properly and that caused the fire?”

Zhuo Zhongqiu spoke, “Lu Youyi, how can you be so stupid? Can you really not see it?”

She glanced towards the centre of Jiang Luo’s eyebrows, “When I saw him just now, there was blood dripped onto his glabella. The blood had a dark colour. It should contain a bit of a corpse’s breath, which suppresses the vitality of the living. Jiang Luo was dragged into a dreamscape by someone.”

The Zhuo family’s faction specialised in the dual cultivation of both soul and body. Towards things pertaining to the spiritual body, Zhuo Zhongqiu’s senses were much more perceptive than ordinary people. She could see the vague yin energy6阴气: meaning negative energy; the yin is from the Yin and Yang concept. Yin encompasses things like negative energy, the cold, the moon, femininity, etc; Yang encompasses positive energy, the heat, the sun, masculinity, etc. that twisted around Jiang Luo’s body; however, she couldn’t figure out the source of this evil yin aura: “Jiang Luo, what did you dream about?”

Jiang Luo sluggishly squeezed the towel, absorbing the water droplets from the ends of his hair. His eyes were serene. Suddenly, he let out a brilliant smile.

“I saw Chi You,” he said softly, “He…”

His words abruptly broke off. Jiang Luo gradually straightened himself; his gaze travelled across everyone.

Lu Youyi, Ye Xun, Zhuo Zhongqiu, Ge Zhu.

Kuang Zheng, Wen Renlian, even the blonde, aquamarine-eyed foreigner with whom he was not familiar with, Cyril.

He looked them in the eyes, not discovering anything suspicious.

Jiang Luo looked towards the balcony again.

The windows and door of the balcony were tightly shut. There were no sparrows or any other animals present.

Chi You should not have been there, but his Puppet Soul Refining technique made Jiang Luo, who had just been duped, feel extremely irascible.

“What about him?” Ye Xun asked curiously.

“I dreamed of him last night.” Jiang Luo retracted his gaze. He leaned back and calmly spoke. “He said he felt lonely down there… All by himself and always hoping that I’d accompany him more. He confessed to me again. The dream I had was actually very strange; I had eighteen different dreams in a row, and each dreamscape was a scene of us being together.”

“We did the most intimate things in the world together.” He killed Chi You, and Chi You killed him.

“Experienced many stimulating and profound dates together.” Burning to death, drowning to death, hanging to death, falling to death.

“There were several times when I almost couldn’t tell if I was in a dream or in reality.”

Jiang Luo suddenly laughed, “There was one dream where I stood with him on a high-rise, and he told me that if I jumped down, I would be freed. In the future, I would have no troubles in life.”

When he finished speaking, he looked around, stunned still, “What’s with your awkward expressions?”

“Evil spirits really are evil spirits. Even if Chi You had become an evil ghost, isn’t he being a little too virtuous7这幅德行 – an idiom that’s often used sarcastically. ZZQ means that Chi You’s adhering to the ‘rules’ and ‘morals’ of a ghost too well that it’s disgusting.?” Zhuo Zhongqiu said with a solemn tone.

Ge Zhu frowned and said, “An eighteen-levelled dream, that’s…”

“Doesn’t it obviously mean he wants to be a killer,” Zhuo Zhongqiu barked out a mocking laugh, “Freed from troubles? Forget your sorrow? It’s all the same shtick. What a load of dog sh*t! I had originally thought that Chi You could still be saved, but now it looks like he can no longer see reason. An eighteen-staged dream—if one’s willpower wavered even a little they wouldn’t even be able to f*cking wake up. You saw how that fire just suddenly appeared. If Jiang Luo woke up just a little later, what would’ve been waiting for him?”

She was afraid it would’ve only been a long, endless sleep.

Zhuo Zhongqiu cussed like a sailor8骂骂咧咧 [mama liēliē] -means to scold with lots of curses in between. means to. Suddenly she stood up and stared pointedly at Jiang Luo, “You better wake up and smell the roses9好清醒点 – no roses, but has a similar meaning. .”

Jiang Luo said, “I can’t prevent him from coming to find me.”

This sentence only sounded like an excuse to everyone’s ears. As a student of metaphysics, how could he have no way to break free after being pulled into a dream by an evil ghost? He was just like a naive young woman who insisted on falling in love early because she wasn’t allowed to, stepping into the maelstrom of a scum man’s wiles. His lies weren’t even the least bit believable.

Ye Xun casually stated, “Jiang Luo’s credits total to three points.”

“…”

A suffocating silence befell them.

Ye Xun added: “After Chi You’s death, he didn’t even care about the most basic things. Asking him to break the dream after being able to meet Chi You? That he was even able to wake up in time is already considered good enough.”

Kuang Zheng shook his head and said, “That’s not enough.”

Several gazes were cast towards Jiang Luo, hating iron for not becoming steel10恨铁不成: common phrase meaning to dislike something/someone for not living up to the expectations of others.. Wen Renlian probingly asked, “Jiang Luo, when you saw Chi You in the dream, were you happy?”

Jiang Luo smiled widely, “Happy, extremely happy.”

“You guys don’t need to worry though, I won’t follow him so quickly,” Jiang Luo laughed, “I said it before. I will avenge Chi You and hunt down the murderer who killed him.”

“I want to become stronger,” Jiang Luo muttered, slowly opening his hand. He looked down at the centre of his palm, “If one doesn’t have capability, then one can’t do anything either.”

That sense of urgency he had felt since earlier that compelled him to become stronger intensified. It became entangled with Jiang Luo’s massive fury.

Jiang Luo clenched his hand once more.

He also wanted to make Chi You have a taste of what it was like to die eighteen times in a single night.

Jiang Luo didn’t pause for even a second. After eating breakfast, he went to class with the rest of his classmates.

The curriculum of the Natural Sciences and Social Studies Program was divided into many courses. In general it was: Cultivation Studies, Medicine Studies, Fate Studies, Divination Studies, and Physiognomy Studies11为山、医、命、卜、相: referencing the 五术- the Five Arts of Metaphysics . That morning was their Talisman Studies class.

Jiang Luo flipped through the original owner’s memory in his mind. He succeeded in digging out nothing useful.

The teacher of the Talisman class was an old professor who wore a Taoist robe. He looked especially stern and seemed very unapproachable.

Jiang Luo sat in the original owner’s seat. The materials for writing talismans were already laid out on the table. Yellow talisman paper, red talisman paper, brushes, ink solution12墨汁: means prepared ink. Traditional Chinese ink came in the form of sticks that needed to be prepared. , an inkstone, and a Dharma seal13法印: a stamp made of wax or wood with carvings of runes or script, usually used as a signature..

There should have been some medicinal herbs to exorcise and eliminate evil spirits added to the ink solution because there was a thick medicinal scent. The writing brush had ancient incantations engraved on it and looked quite old.

When everyone had arrived, the professor said, “Today’s incantation is quite difficult to learn. Among those who have learned them, there are at most half who could become old fogeys and be satisfied with their skill. If you feel that it’s too strenuous and can’t continue writing the incantation, please stop immediately for your own safety. Do you all understand?”

Ge Zhu answered, “Professor, we understand. Please teach us.”

The professor was calm and collected14沉心静气 – meaning to immerse oneself in serene concentration as he began continuously chanting. Immediately after reciting the specific mantra for the creating the talisman, he focused his spirit on the tip of his brush and completed the runes on the yellow talisman in one breath.

After drawing a single talisman, the professor’s face was already faintly sweaty. He put down the brush and breathed out a sigh of relief. Jiang Luo unexpectedly saw a pale, golden light flash across the surface of the paper talisman. Examining a little closer, the writing on the paper talisman was smooth and beautiful; the characters seemed alive and vivid; powerful enough to subdue dragons and tame tigers15The author may switched the idioms by accident. I think they meant: 降龙伏虎. The one the author wrote 潜龙伏虎; the 潜 means subdued as in on the down-low. The one I think they mean to use 降龙伏虎; the 降 actually means to subdue a dragon and comes from a story about a monk fighting and winning against a dragon/tiger.. It faintly exuded spiritual energy.

As it was the first time Jiang Luo had seen someone writing runes, he would inevitably feel it unfamiliar. The peculiar thing was that without seeing it a few more times, he unexpectedly remembered the runic symbols.

Lu Youyi, who was beside him, made a face of utter despair16愁眉苦脸: idiom meaning woebegone, “Why is this Cultivation Suppression Talisman so complicated? I definitely can’t draw it.”

Jiang Luo turned his head towards him and asked, “Suppression Talisman?”

“Talismans have numerous different types. Other than Suppression Talismans, there are Summoning Talismans, Healing Talismans, and so on. This is the Cultivation Suppression Talisman which can exorcise and suppress evil spirits.”

Jiang Luo’s smile deepened, “Interesting.”

It would be great if it could suppress Chi You as well.

“Even if it’s interesting, it’s useless if we can’t write it,” Lu Youyi sighed. “To make a talisman, you need to circulate Qi17炁 – so this Qi… is the original character for ‘Qi’ in cultivation terms before it was made obsolete by ‘气’ which actually means gas or air , however, a person’s Qi is extremely limited. For such a talisman with complex runes both powerful and effective, most people would only be able to write out half before their Qi is used up. If they continued to write it forcibly, they would only hurt themselves instead.”

Nevertheless, Jiang Luo still felt an inkling that he could very easily draw it out. After listening to Lu Youyi’s words, he couldn’t help but wonder if he had thought too much, “If I used up my Qi, what would happen if I forcibly continued to write?”

Lu Youyi replied in a serious tone: “It will most likely result in acute chest pain18岔气: acute chest pain caused by excessive exercise..”

Jiang Luo: “…”

He speechlessly returned to his seat, picked up a brush. The air stilled as he concentrated.

Jiang Luo hovered the brush over the yellow talisman. He wanted to recite the mantra like the old professor, but unfortunately, he couldn’t recite a single word.

Hence, he lowered the pen again, opened the Talisman Arts Manual, and found the mantra chant he needed after going through them one by one. He blindly read the chant verbatim a few times19囫囵吞枣 – literal meaning is to swallow a jujube whole without chewing or tasting; an idiom meaning to do something without understanding or thinking about it.. The old professor, who was patrolling amongst the students, caught sight of his actions. He couldn’t help but shake his head and heave a sigh. Hating iron for not being steel, he said, “Some children just can’t be taught20孺子不可教也 – a pun playing off of the saying 孺子可教: meaning ‘this child can be taught’ which is often used as praise by a teacher/mentor when they are proud..”

Ge Zhu glanced sideways at Jiang Luo and also couldn’t help but sigh. He straightforwardly stood up, intending to teach Jiang Luo how to write a talisman step by step.

Jiang Luo had just put down the book. He had memorised the mantra by rote and was about to pick up the pen again, when he suddenly thought, ‘drawing talismans required the use of Qi… what did they mean by ‘Qi’?’

Sitting on the left side of Jiang Luo, Cyril, the foreigner, also had a look of despair. Clumsily clutching the writing brush like a pair of chopsticks, his face was stained with ink here and there. After seeing Jiang Luo frozen before his desk, he let out a big, dopey21缺心眼 – transliteral: without using heart’s eyes; actually means something close to tactless, insulting people without meaning too. smile. With a heavy accent, he comforted Jiang Luo. “Are you okay? No worries, I can’t either. Everyone also can’t.”

Jiang Luo felt unreconciled with the fact that ‘he couldn’t’.

Eventually, he needed some means of strengthening himself to deal with Chi You.

To experience that kind of helplessness like last night, he never wanted to go through such a situation ever again.

Intense anger and unwillingness surged from the depths of his heart. Jiang Luo took a deep breath and just stopped contemplating on how to draw out his Qi. Without hesitation, he put down his first brushstroke.

From the first stroke, Jiang Luo poured his entire heart and soul into drawing the talisman. Every quivering stroke of this Cultivation Suppression Talisman, harboured a sharpness that was actually quite skillful in his thoughts. Jiang Luo concentrated wholeheartedly; there was no confusion nor pause in between. Unexpectedly, he completed the drawing in one stroke.

After Jiang Luo finished writing, however, he felt that something was amiss. The old professor, after drawing out this talisman, was already lightly covered in sweat, yet when he finished drawing, it felt rather refreshing. As simple as if he had just casually drawn out a blueprint at work.

To be completely honest, compared to drawing blueprints, this rune’s design was not all that difficult.

Jiang Luo, who thought that he had failed, put down his pen and looked up. Standing in front of his desk, Ge Zhu stared fixedly at the paper talisman on the table. His eyes were ready to pop right out.

“Jiang—Jiang Luo,” he said, trembling, “You—do you se—sell talismans?”

——————–

The author has something to say:

Shou: Hm? I’ve got it.

  • 1
    叽叽喳喳 – transliteral: ji ji ja ja. An onomatopoeia for a bird’s chirping sounds
  • 2
    豁出命地 – meaning to desperately fight for one’s life, especially in a unsightly manner.
  • 3
    爽:[shuang] used in a lot of ways, mostly means cool/refreshing/overly comfortable in a smug manner. It’s one of those rare words that can’t be fully translated well into English.
  • 4
    the original phrase should actually be 波涛汹涌, but it essentially means billowing waves.
  • 5
    焰火 – transliteral: flame fire. Supposedly means fireworks, but I only know 烟花 [smoke flower]. In the context of the sentence, I think the author meant flames and embers.
  • 6
    阴气: meaning negative energy; the yin is from the Yin and Yang concept. Yin encompasses things like negative energy, the cold, the moon, femininity, etc; Yang encompasses positive energy, the heat, the sun, masculinity, etc.
  • 7
    这幅德行 – an idiom that’s often used sarcastically. ZZQ means that Chi You’s adhering to the ‘rules’ and ‘morals’ of a ghost too well that it’s disgusting.
  • 8
    骂骂咧咧 [mama liēliē] -means to scold with lots of curses in between. means to
  • 9
    好清醒点 – no roses, but has a similar meaning.
  • 10
    恨铁不成: common phrase meaning to dislike something/someone for not living up to the expectations of others.
  • 11
    为山、医、命、卜、相: referencing the 五术- the Five Arts of Metaphysics
  • 12
    墨汁: means prepared ink. Traditional Chinese ink came in the form of sticks that needed to be prepared.
  • 13
    法印: a stamp made of wax or wood with carvings of runes or script, usually used as a signature.
  • 14
    沉心静气 – meaning to immerse oneself in serene concentration
  • 15
    The author may switched the idioms by accident. I think they meant: 降龙伏虎. The one the author wrote 潜龙伏虎; the 潜 means subdued as in on the down-low. The one I think they mean to use 降龙伏虎; the 降 actually means to subdue a dragon and comes from a story about a monk fighting and winning against a dragon/tiger.
  • 16
    愁眉苦脸: idiom meaning woebegone
  • 17
    炁 – so this Qi… is the original character for ‘Qi’ in cultivation terms before it was made obsolete by ‘气’ which actually means gas or air
  • 18
    岔气: acute chest pain caused by excessive exercise.
  • 19
    囫囵吞枣 – literal meaning is to swallow a jujube whole without chewing or tasting; an idiom meaning to do something without understanding or thinking about it.
  • 20
    孺子不可教也 – a pun playing off of the saying 孺子可教: meaning ‘this child can be taught’ which is often used as praise by a teacher/mentor when they are proud.
  • 21
    缺心眼 – transliteral: without using heart’s eyes; actually means something close to tactless, insulting people without meaning too.

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