Heaven Official’s Blessing – Ch 35 (2/2)

Chapter 35 : Entering Ghost City, Crown Prince meets Ghost King 

Dance of the Devil 

At her question, the rest of the deathly pale women in front of them turned to look. Puzzled, they shuffled back and surrounded Xie Lian and Shi Qing Xuan. “When did they start following us? These two were not with us when we left the graveyard.”

“Which graves do you live in? Why have we never seen you before?”

Xie Lian gave a light cough. “We…… came from another grave site further away. Of course you’ve never seen us before.”

Shi Qing Xuan chimed in with a smile, “That’s right, we came from far, far away just to visit the Ghost City.”

The group of women in white stared at them silently with stony expressions. If it had been anyone else standing in their place, their knees would have probably started shaking from being scrutinized so intensely. Xie Lian wasn’t worried about his identity being exposed, as these weak and feeble ghosts would not pose a threat to them. Merely, the Ghost City was just right in front of them, so near yet so far. If they were really unfortunate enough to have to engage in a scuffle here, they may end up alerting the enemy.

One of the women who had been staring at Shi Qing Xuan narrowed her eyes.

“Little sister, your face is remarkably well preserved.”

Xie Lian and Shi Qing Xuan froze in surprise.

Then they immediately began nodding in unison. Xie Lian said, “It’s not bad, not bad at all.” Shi Qing Xuan followed his cue, “Yes yes, it’s very good right?”

The flock of ghost women gathered around them as they began discussing Shi Qing Xuan’s face.

“Very nice, there’s no sign of rot at all.”

“Little sister, where did you get your face done?”

“Are there any secrets to preserving your skin?”

“Can you recommend the place to us?”

Shi Qing Xuan was at a loss for words, and could only force out a laugh, tinged with hysteria. “Really? I think my face is really good too, haha, hahaha, hahahahaha……”

How would he know anything about preserving a dead person’s face? He could only continue trying to laugh his way out of the situation while stalling for time. At this moment, the party of ghosts suddenly turned around, and Xie Lian’s eyes widened as crimson lights shone in his sight.

A wild and wonderful world has opened up before them.

A long street stretched out, with seemingly no end in sight. Shops and peddlers hawking their wares were stacked together on both sides of the street. Garish banners of every colour fluttered in the air, beckoning to customers, and large, red lanterns were strung up haphazardly with no sense of order. Most of the “people” bustling around on the street wore masks, the faces either twisted in sorrow, gaped in laughter, or contorted in exaggerated fury. Some looked human, some did not. And those who were not wearing masks could only be described as “grotesquely bizarre”. Large heads bobbed on disproportionately tiny bodies, figures slender as bamboo poles lurched past, and creatures as flat as pancakes clung to the ground, protesting vehemently every time a pedestrian stepped on them.

{T/N: I imagine it would look something like this. Unfortunately, I visited this place (Jiufen, Taiwan) during daytime, it must be amazing at night.}

Xie Lian cautiously skirted the strange things on the ground so as not to step on them. As he passed by some stalls selling food and snacks, he saw one of the stall owners vigorously stirring a giant pot of soup with a long, bone club. As it stirred, saliva leaked out between the gaps of its teeth, drip, drip, dripping into the soup. The soup itself was a strange, ominous colour, with eyeballs swirling and bobbing around on its surface. As Xie Lian watched, he felt a burst of confidence in himself.

{T/N: Confidence in…. his cooking.} 

On the other side of the street, there were some strange people engaged in acrobatic displays. One burly man seized a little ghost who looked weaker than a chicken, opened wide his mouth and spewed out a mighty blast of flames. The little ghost in his hand screeched and howled like a dying pig as it was roasted, flailing and struggling desperately. The audience laughed and clapped, hooting cheers and encouragement. Some of the more exuberant ones even tossed money up into the air, where it began fluttering down like snowflakes. As the money drifted in front of Xie Lian, he reached out and plucked one from the air for a look. Sure enough, it was ghost money.

{T/N : Ghost money, aka joss paper, are offerings burned for the deceased as a form of underworld currency. Pic. Usually sold as paper squares and will sometimes be folded into ingots to resemble gold/silver}

As he continued down the street, he paused before a butcher’s stall. A row of wan, sunken-cheeked human heads were strung up at the front of the stall, neatly arranged from children’s heads to adults’. The prices were also clearly marked out; this much for a child’s flesh, this much for a youngster’s, this much for a man’s, this much for a woman’s, this much for the crunchy bones of the elderly. The owner, with an apron tied around its waist and a butcher’s knife in hand, had the head of a wild boar, full of coarse, black hair. It was hacking steadily away at a thick, human leg which was still twitching.

This was truly a chaotic scene of devils cavorting in hell.

Humans butchering pigs was a common enough sight, but pigs butchering humans was something of a rarity. Xie Lian could not help sneaking a few more looks, but was found out by the pig. It demanded irately, “What’re ya looking at? Buying or not?”

Xie Lian shook his head. “Not buying.”

The pig drove its cleaver down hard on the chopping board, sending flesh spattering. “Quit looking if ya not buying!” it said gruffly. “Fuckin’ looking for a fight? Beat it!”

Xie Lian obediently beat it. But after taking a few steps, he suddenly realized something disconcerting.

The group of ghost women and Shi Qing Xuan have all disappeared without a trace.

Xie Lian came to a halt, stunned. He immediately attempted contacting the Wind Master through the spiritual communication array, for fear Shi Qing Xuan had really been dragged away by the group of ghost women to get some work done on his face. However, the divine magic of the spiritual array was restricted within the Ghost City. After a fruitless attempt and left with no better options, Xie Lian wandered the street aimlessly in search of his companion. As he meandered around, someone caught his arm. Alert and wary, he immediately demanded, “Who is it?”

The one who had grabbed hold of him was a woman. She jumped a little, looking startled by Xie Lian’s wariness, but after peering intently at his face, she broke into simpering giggles. “Aiyo, little man,” she crooned sweetly. “Aren’t you just the cutest thing.”

The woman’s clothing gaped open in certain areas, leaving little to the imagination. Her face was thickly caked with garish makeup, her face powder was smeared on unevenly so that flecks of it would sift down every time she opened her mouth to speak. Her chest bulged alarmingly, as if there was some kind of stuffing within her breasts, the sight of which was enough to terrify any man. Xie Lian gently pried off her skinny, claw-like hands. “My lady, there’s no need for this.”

The woman gave him a blank stare, then burst into a fit of laughter. “My goodness! Hear that? Did he just call me a lady? There’s still someone who would call me a lady these days? Hahahahahaha!”

The people around them seem to find it hilarious as well, and began laughing uproariously. Xie Lian shook his head, but before he could say anything else the woman pounced on him again. “Oh, don’t leave! Little man, I like you very much, spend a fun night with me won’t you? I won’t take your money.” She pouted her lips and fluttered her lashes at him, simpering, “I don’t mind making a loss for you, heeheeheehee……”

Xie Lian uttered a silent prayer for forgiveness in his heart, then gently but firmly pushed her away. “My lady, please,” he said, tone mild.

Yet the woman seemed to have suddenly lost her patience. “Who the hell’s your lady! You think all girls like hearing that? Quit this nonsense, are ya coming with me or not?”

As if trying to entice Xie Lian, she suddenly loosened her already revealing garments. Xie Lian had not expected her to be this brazen and did not manage to stop her in time. He sighed softly, averted his gaze and tried to walk past her, but the female ghost moved to stand in his way again. “Do you like this?” she wheedled.

Xie Lian had been steeped in the teachings of the Royal Monastery since he was a child. Having practiced asceticism for many years, the defenses of his mind and body were as unassailable as Mount Tai, his heart remaining calm and still regardless of what his eyes see. Like clockwork, his brain would automatically start reciting the sacred texts of the Tao, his entire spirit radiating peace and indifference. Seeing her attempts at seduction fail, the female ghost’s expression turned ugly. “You don’t want this even when it’s free? Are you even a man!” she spat.

{T/N : Mount Tai is one of the 5 sacred mountains in China. The book of Tao, aka Tao Te Ching, is a fundamental text for both philosophical and religious Taoism} 

Xie Lian gave her a sideways look. “I am.”

“Prove it to me!” the female ghost hissed.

Someone from the crowd hooted and jeered, “Stinkin’ whore, the guy thinks you’re old and ugly and wants nothing of you, why’re ya still clinging to him like a limpet?”

Without so much as a blush, Xie Lian refuted calmly, “Not at all, the fault lies with me. Sadly, I have an illness. I can’t get it up.”

The crowd froze. Then, like a wave crashing down on the rocks, they began screaming and howling in laughter. “HAHAHAHahahaha……”

This time, the object of their ridicule became Xie Lian. Never before have they seen a man brave enough to publicly admit that he has an unmentionable disease. To Xie Lian however, who had no interest in engaging in such acts to begin with, it did not matter one whit whether or not he was capable of performing in that area. He had used this excuse many times to evade such similar scenarios, it was his tried-and-true method. And sure enough, the female ghost immediately released him and pulled her clothing back together in a huff. “No wonder you were acting all virtuous,” she said spitefully. “You pig, say something earlier if you’re sick! Cui!”

{T/N: Cui – spitting sound}

From a little distance away, the pig butcher slammed its cleaver angrily on the chopping board again. “Damn bitch, watch your whore mouth! Do you have something against pigs?”

The female ghost was not in the least bit intimidated, and shouted right back. “Damn right I do. What’s so great about pigs? You stinkin’ livestock!”

The street was filled with excited cries and jeers of “That Lan Chang’s at it again!” and “The pig butcher’s chopping ghosts!”. Amidst the uproar as the two sides began tearing into each other, Xie Lian finally managed to slip away. As he moved further away, he threw a few glances back at the riot and sighed.

Before long, there was another burst of noise and clamour somewhere ahead of him. As he walked, he arrived before a grand, red building.

The building could be described as flamboyantly majestic. Its pillars, walls and roofs were all painted a magnificent red, and thick, lush carpets draped the floors. Compared to the palace halls in Heaven, it wasn’t lacking in grandeur in the least, and its unrestrained style, as opposed to the more dignified architectures in Heaven, somehow made it more gorgeous. People streamed in and out through the front doors, and excited babbling could be heard from within. The entire place was lively and filled with frenetic energy. After listening carefully and observing for a moment, Xie Lian concluded this was a gambling house.

When Xie Lian took a step closer, his eyes caught on the two pillars flanking the doorway, each bearing bright, red scrolls. The one on the left read “Wealth over Health”, the one on the right had “Victory over Integrity”, and scrawled over a single, horizontal scroll which dangled above both pillars was “HAHAHAHA”.

“……”

Such obscenity was unworthy of being a rhyming couplet. Not only that, the handwriting was crude and clumsy, wild and unrestrained, utterly lacking in finesse. In short, there was no calligraphy skill to speak of. It looked like the tortured writings of a drunkard who, driven by a heart filled with malice, had picked up a large brush and, influenced by ill winds, scrawled out this abomination. As a former crown prince and heir to the throne, Xie Lian had been tutored in calligraphy by famous masters. In his eyes, these scribbles were simply a sight too tragic to behold. In fact, the characters have reached such fiendish levels of atrocity, that Xie Lian even wanted to laugh a little. Shaking his head, he deduced that it was highly unlikely he would find the Wind Master amusing himself inside. It would be better to take a look at those stores which offer skin care and beauty services to women instead.

{T/N : Rhyming couplet – pair of lines of verse written vertically down the sides of a doorway. Usually for decoration purposes.}

He really ought to have left just like that. Yet, for some strange reason, after only taking a few steps away, Xie Lian abruptly turned back around and entered the gambling house.

The great hall of the gambling house was packed with people, the air filled with mingled laughter and wails of distress. Xie Lian had only taken a few steps in when he suddenly heard a blood-curdling shriek. As he stared, four burly men in masks came walking out, dragging another person with them.

The person seemed to be in agony, writhing madly and screaming as he was hauled away, leaving trails of blood in his wake. Both of his legs had been neatly sawed off. As his blood poured out like a stream, a little ghost followed after them, lapping eagerly at the puddles on the ground, leaving it spotlessly clean.

The scene was horrifying, yet no one within the gambling house spared the spectacle more than a passing glance, still engrossed with their games as they cheered and hopped with excitement. But then again, most of the people here were likely not human, and those who were human would not have been ordinary people to begin with.

Xie Lian stood aside to let the four burly figures walk past with their howling burden, then continued walking further in. A girl wearing a smiling mask over her face and her hair twisted up in a little bun greeted him. “Welcome, sir. Are you here to play?”

Xie Lian gave a small smile. “I have no money on me. May I just look?”

From his experience, saying such things in any store or establishment would get himself thrown out there and then. Why enter if he had no money? However, the girl giggled and said, “That’s perfectly fine. Most of the players here do not gamble with money.”

“Really?”

The girl covered her mouth with a titter. “Oh yes. Please follow me, sir.”

She beckoned to Xie Lian, then walked in with mincing steps, her hips swaying. Xie Lian followed her calmly while taking measure of his surroundings.

Whether viewed from the outside or the inside, the gambling house was lavishly and tastefully decorated, gorgeous yet refined, flamboyant without being garish, the perfect example of elegance and artistry. The attendant led Xie Lian to the far end of the main hall, where people crowded around a single long table, packed full to bursting. As Xie Lian approached, he heard a man saying, “I’ll bet one of my hands!”

Short of elbowing his way in, Xie Lian had no choice but to stand at the sidelines and listen. Suddenly, he heard another voice reply lazily, “No need. Your life’s worth shit here, what do I need your one hand for.”

Xie Lian felt his heart jump at the sound of that voice.

He silently mouthed, San Lang.

The voice did belong to the youth, of that Xie Lian was sure. Yet it somehow sounded a little deeper than he remembered.

However, the voice sounded even more mellow and pleasant to the ears because of this. All around him were the hee hee ha ha sounds of laughter, yet the voice was clear and distinct, penetrating through the hubbub in the gambling house and into his ears.

Xie Lian lifted his head, and found that at the far end of the long table, a section was curtained off. And behind the curtains, he could vaguely make out a figure in red, reclining lazily on a chair.

 

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Note : Character list & Appendix 

Thank you to Regina, Anon (Stitching), Maria and Lenette for the kofis!!!! ❤

Am I the only one who wonders what the heck XL’s parents were thinking, letting their only son practice asceticism? Did they not want royal grandchildren or something? 0.o

If the 33 Heavenly Officials had challenged HC to a calligraphy contest instead of martial arts and literature debates back then, this story would have ended before it began. XD

Next chapter is also pretty long, so I may split that as well, for my sanity’s sake.

Happy reading.

-Syeki

Like what I do? ❤ Please consider buying me a Ko-fi~ 🙂

Coffee Counter ☕️ 

 

46 thoughts on “Heaven Official’s Blessing – Ch 35 (2/2)

Add yours

  1. Whoaaa no wonder XL felt compelled to go in~ Hubby is inside!

    The depiction of ghost city….. I am grateful I didn’t read it last night lol My scaredy cat self might have insomnia 😅😅

    And where did Wind Master run off to? 😅

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome translation as always. You managed to bring out the creepy imagery very well, to be honest. Good thing I’m reading this during daytime. 🙂

    How galant our protagonist is. I love his politeness, compassion, courage and his clarity of mind. He is definitely a character that has grown on me quite a lot. I’ve been trying to put off reading the last two chapters because I know that if the last one ends on a cliffhanger I’ll have problems concentrating on my work after that. Oh well. My will is too weak. Last chapter, here I come!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so much for the translation! I have been looking everywhere for this story, I am glad that I was able to find it. I look forward to reading the rest of the story!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so glad that I was able to find your translations. I almost thought I wouldn’t be able to finish this book. Thank you so much for translating it!!!!!!! I honestly spent my entire day reading this instead of doing any of my homework!!!
    Keep up the amazing work. I will anxiously await for the next chapter

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank You for the translation! You’re words really fits in the chapters but may I ask if I can make a doc for myself? I just want to save it. But if you don’t want to I won’t do it, thank you! 💛💙

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Tbh I’ve never been interested in translated novels since I’ve never come across a good enough translation. But seriously, this translation is so good that I’ve become too fond of your works, I was bummed to see sakhyulations had stopped midway but I really appreciate you guys picking it up. Amazing work, I love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Came here after I realised Sakhyulations were no longer updating HOB. Thank you for taking the novel on. I look forward to every new chapter as it’s posted!

    Am also learning a lot through the notes!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. omg! i didn’t know the ghost money in mainland china are sold in squared packets! another new culture learning…! i’ve always just thought them as the yellow papers, not how they were packaged. and, YES, that was my exact thought when i saw the calligraphy! LOL SanLang always reminds me of that meme — i have no fear. wait. one fear. (¬‿¬) thank you so much for updating this chapter! 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

  8. thank you for the chapter!

    i enjoy your translations very much, you always find the right words to use.

    it’s not hard to read and the words you use are still pretty💕

    Liked by 1 person

  9. OMG, i was so happy since I found your translation. It’s so god damn amazing. The words you choose are perfect, I understand everything very well, only some words I don’t understand but it’s my own fault haha, not a native english speaker xD
    Thank you so much that you are devoting your time over this novel. I love this novel. Since I read MDZS I wanted to read HOB because of the perfect story that MX always does. And translation is difficult as hell. You need to search so much synonym of words, sometimes you even don’t understand what one phrase means etc etc… I’m in the same business and I have sometimes so much struggle… But don’t ever give up, do you hear? I will be patiently waiting for the next update, take so much time as you want. So excited to know how Hua Cheng will react of seeing Xie Lian in the Ghost Town haha xD
    And again THANK YOU. If you need any proofreader or something, I would be happy to help you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind praises! 😀 That means a lot to me, especially since I DO spend a lot of time mulling over which words to use in my translations, hahaha.

      Like

  10. asdf XL is such a gentleman i’m crying also s a n l a n g i am LOOKING (respectfully) Thank you for the quick update and your hard work!! I love your choice of vocabulary and how well your sentences flow aaa 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. thank u so much qwq we love u… the translation is so good eng is my second language after arabic and i saw many sites but here the translation is the best thank you for allowing international fans to enjoy the novel

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for this chapter. I totally agree with you on Xie lian not practicing asceticism if he’s the only child. A guy like him deserves children 🥰. I seriously thought Xie lian would find the Wind Master at the gambling ( it’s sounds like her to do such a thing). Keep up the good work💕

      Liked by 1 person

  12. And they finally meet each other (✷‿✷)
    Men must have at least one flaw within them, and HC’s is calligraphy (at least we can say he has a secret code?)
    Aaaa gambling den’s here we gooo

    Thank you for the chapter!

    Liked by 1 person

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