The Charm of Shadows

WiseClock / 翻译 / Aug 20, 2017

The first chapter of the series. In this chapter, you'll get to know two of the protagonists - yes, there will be a bunch of them ;) - WiseClock

Disclaimer

This is nothing but a fan translation, I do not own any copyrights of the novel being translated. If you are interested in this novel, please have a look at the table of contents. If you were to republish any of the translated content, please reference and give the credit to the original author 可蕊(Ke Rui).

With the development of human civilization, something called Metropolis begins to appear on the planet.

There, buildings are towering, roads are puzzling, and nights are sparkling with lights. A variety of humans lives there – they rely on the city to survive while they also help the survival of the city. However, humans may not realize, each time they build a building, they construct a viaduct, they light up an all-night-glowing lamp, that thousands of creatures will have their homeland lost, that they will never see the familiar starry sky when they once again look up. Humans may never care where they come and where they go. But to survive, they have to force themselves to adapt to the new environment, adapt to the humans, and adapt to such a metropolis.

Humans may never realize, that they are not only sharing the cities with just plants, dogs, cats, birds, or insects – there are even creatures that are smarter than humans, and that disguised under human appearance, either out of goodwill or out of malice, living in the city, to survive, to prey, and to evolve.

When a city gets large, there will be all kinds of creatures…

***

Shinan1 Road is the most prosperous area for nightlife in the City of Lixin2. It is about midnight, but the bustling seems to just start – all kinds of people vent their desire, enjoy their life, and kill their time under the colorful neon lights.

Xue Tong3 desperately runs, passing shops one followed by another, passing crowds of people one by one, and finally turns to a side road. By the moment that she steps into the dim path, the noise behind suddenly fades away, as if she comes to another world. Xue Tong looks back, sees that the two men still tightly follows, so she decides to continue running.

A taxi stops on her side, the door at the passenger side opens silently.

“Get in the car, Miss.”

“A taxi?” Xue Tong surprisingly looks at the red Santana taxi. Probably the driver mistakenly thinks that Xue Tong was hailing a taxi while she was just smoothing back her hair. The two men quickly catch up, makes it no time for Xue Tong to figure out why this taxi doesn’t pickup passengers in the busy streets but instead drives into this empty alley – she hastily leans forward and gets into the car.

The men chase up and swear rude, try to catch the car. One of them even gives the door a kick.

“Where to, Miss?” said the driver in a calm tone as if nothing has happened.

“S, S University.”

The driver must be accustomed to seeing the comings and goings of students of famous universities to the nightclubs like this, Xue Tong thinks, such girl like her ran out from that kind of place and even followed by two men chasing after – who would still stay positive after seeing all those? “You know, they are just…” she feels as if it’s necessary to explain.

But the driver is not even listening.

Xue Tong turns her head and sizes the driver up – unlike other taxis, this one does not have any isolation facility installed, makes it easy to see through. The driver looks to be the kind of very ordinary person. Even if she had seen him ninety-nine times, Xue Tong would not guarantee to recognize him in the hundredth.

The driver does not speak, so the car drives in silence.

Looking at the more and more deserted sceneries, Xue Tong suddenly comes up with a ridiculous idea: late night in a taxi, a silent driver, an unaccompanied female passenger, driving on a road leading to the suburb…

Suddenly there stops the car, Xue Tong turns her head and stares at the driver.

“Here we are.”

“Huh?” Xue Tong looks forward through the window. S University is right in a dozen steps away.

“Fare is thirty dollars.”

Xue Tong takes out a few banknotes without counting and delivers to the driver.

Right after she jumps out the taxi, it speeds away. Xue Tong takes a look at her watch and then looks at the clock hanging on the school gate which is even more accurate than the sun, murmurs, “Ten minutes. It’s 30 kilometers4 from here to Shinan Road, plus it passed through downtown…”

“Hey, have you heard? It’s her.”

“What? Her? There is really someone spending money for such face?”

“What are you guys talking about?”

“That girl… Shinan Road… Hooker…”

“Oh my… For real?”

“…”

Whether the whispers behind are intentionally or not, Xue Tong disdains to curl her lips and picks up the washing utensils, stepping out the washroom.

“Tong,” although Zhang Qian5 also heard the rumors, she still steps forward to Xue Tong and leaves the room side by side with her, “you have any class this morning?”

“Yeah, with Professor Sun6.” it makes Xue Tong a faint smile to see Zhang Qian showing her friendship at this time. “Same here, let’s go together.” Zhang Qian tries to act as she never heard any rumor.

Xue Tong walks with Zhang Qian side by side, not angry about those rumors at all, instead, having a smile on her face.

Zhang Qian stares at Xue Tong: a medium-built body, a normal stature, a rather plain face, and an ordinarily clothing. It took her a year to remember Xue Tong’s name even though they were in the same class. Xue Tong is a girl of few words, not very sociable. Zhang Qian couldn’t believe she would do such a thing, and couldn’t believe that she can do such a thing with her look. However, Xue Tong did really return late for several days, where she went? Zhang Qian wants to ask, but she’s afraid to make Xue Tong unhappy – She’s always treated Xue Tong as a friend, although she doesn’t realize that Xue Tong does not think the same.

“Hey, look at this, another one.” It’s rather noisy before the class starts, a boy holding a newspaper speaks in the tone of irrepressible excitement.

Xue Tong, who sits beside him, takes the newspaper from his hand. On the newspaper, it impressively prints a colored headline: “Crime Continues, Ex-convict Became the Sixth Victim.”

Looking at such a title, Xue Tong thinks perhaps the newspaper is as same excited as the boy. In this impetuous city, it seems that only news like this can deter people’s numbing nerves.

What happened is, in just a dozen days, six dismembering cases have occurred in Lixin. Even though they are called dismembering cases, there are only deceased heads found. The serial crime starts with a head found in the garbage bin by a cleaner, and then the second, third, and to this day there is a total of six victims discovered. The common things between these cases are: victims are all male; deaths occur after midnight; and the heads are cut off by sharp tools. In two of the cases, the blood had not even solidified when their heads were found before dawn. But the victims cover from company employees, college students, to even street bullies and such other statuses, they have no common ground regardless of age, occupation, or appearance. There is also another major doubt in the cases difficult to explain, which is…

“Six bodies, they can fill up a bunch of sacks even after chopped, right? But the police have searched every corner as if the city is turned over and over again, not even a minced meat has been found. Since the murderer even dares to litter their heads, it doesn’t make sense that he’s afraid of the bodies being found.” students use the gap before classes to discuss the case.

“Will it be a triad organization selling human organs?” a student asks.

Another one shakes his head and says, “I think the murderer must be a psycho. Maybe he collects corpses and places them in his home and stares at them every day…”

“Ahhh…” His description makes a girl screaming, and everyone else laughs at it together.

Xue Tong looks down at the newspaper, murmurs, “Hmm… The bodies… are eaten…” The victim’s photo gets more and more familiar, “Isn’t it one of the guys chasing me last night?” Don’t know why, but Xue Tong again recalls the taxi drove her back, the silent driver, and the ten-minute-only trip…

“That driver… What he looks like? I can’t remember…” Professor Sun begins the lecture, and the classroom finally gets quiet down. Xue Tong looks out the window, holding her cheeks and thinks, “Well, let me visit Shinan Road again tonight… Damn, so hungry, what should I eat before it…”

***

Xue Tong strolls around Shinan Road, staring at the taxis passing by one followed by another, and recalls the taxi she took yesterday, “If I remembered right, the plate number was 00544, yeah, it should be 00544…” she mutters, suddenly leans on the lamppost beside and starts laughing, “00544, ‘try me I dare you7?’ Hahahaha, how could such a number exist? Hahaha, makes me laugh so hard. ‘try me I dare you,’ haha!” Xue Tong laughs out loudly, not attending to manage that people around are seeing her as a freak – it’s been so long since the last time she laughed so jolly. “‘try me I dare you,’ interesting, then I’ll give it a try,” she slightly squints.

A taxi comes slowly.

“00544!” Xue Tong quickly beckons.

“Please get in.” it is still the driver with a tone of no emotion, “Where to, Miss?”

“Chengxin8 Chicken Farm at the eastern suburb.”

***

At the corner of Shinan Road, a girl with long dress stands at where Xue Tong was, perplexedly looks at the direction where the taxi drove away. The naive and thoughtful emotion has attracted a lot male, and finally, there goes two young men striking up with her. She originally wanted to tail with Xue Tong and the taxi, but looking at the youths in front, she finally changes her mind.

***

Chengxin Chicken Farm is located at in-between the urban and suburban areas. The car drives on the path without even one street light. And outside the window, there are only corn fields and the dark night sky.

“Stop, right here.” It’s still far away from the destination, but Xue Tong asks the driver to stop the car.

The driver says nothing. Not only he stops the car, but also shuts all the lights, turns the engine off, and looks back at Xue Tong.

The two stare at each other in the dark. Xue Tong asks, “You, not human, right?” clutching the driver’s neck, “It’s all because of you, I’ve not eaten any tasty for half a month. Even if you are not human, I have no other choice!” She bites right at the driver’s throat.

“Even if you want to eat me, I have no blood or meat for you.” While being bitten by Xue Tong’s sharp fang, the driver still sounds calm: “So a Deewolf9 it is. All because of you glutton, I was up to the hilt in trouble.”

Xue Tong then realizes that she does not feel any flesh tearing under her teeth, nor does she feel any warm blood filling her mouth. She pulls with her knife-edged paws, and there it rolls down the driver’s head, all the way off to the ground outside the window. But before Xue Tong reaches out, the body in the driver’s seat along with the head rolling on the ground have all vanished.

“Pooh! Pooh! What a strange stuff I’ve eaten…” Xue Tong spits while pulling the door and gets off the taxi.

Now, she is no longer the young college girl. Instead, he turns into a monster with long hair, sharp paws, and red eyes – Deewolf.

Suddenly a hand stretches out from the taxi’s shadow and grabs Deewolf’s feet, catching him off guard, and throws him into the farm hard. Deewolf picks himself up from the popcorn field he crushes on, staring at his enemy who has just revealed from the shadows. He is, too, no longer the taxi driver anymore, but becomes a shadow of the human form, leaving just a pair of pale eyes rolling, and staring at Deewolf.

“An inferior Scharmdow10, no wonder! Pooh, pooh! Such things simply no one eats!” Deewolf waves his paws, “It must be tough on you primitive thing to cultivate a human shape, but I have to destroy your effort now.”

Scharmdow bows and escapes from Deewolf’s palm, vanishing in the dark again. Deewolf vigilantly looks at the darkness all over in the night, not sure where would the shadow-soluble Scharmdow come out next.

When Scharmdow abruptly jumps out from Deewolf’s shadow, Deewolf swiftly bounces up to the taxi’s roof. Scharmdow wants to chase, but finding himself unable to move. He looks down and discovers that one of his feet is stuck in the ground from time uncertain, now he could not even pull them out.

“You think the name deep wolf comes from nowhere? Well, earth grabs all, even if you are just a shadow.” With this, Deewolf waves his hands, then muds and stones all float up and shoot to Scharmdow as if they are arrows. Scharmdow vanishes again before he is hit, and appears little by little from the small pieces of the muds’ and stones’ shadows, regathering together. He dares not to land on the ground, but floating in the air and stares at Deewolf.

“Wait a minute…” Deewolf recalls something, “Shadows don’t eat, right? It wasn’t you who ate those people and left their skulls behind?”

“Wasn’t it you?”

“…”

Deewolf reluctantly rests on the taxi roof, shrugging: “Wow, what. Found the wrong person, and wasted my effort for half a night.”

Scharmdow falls off, doubts: “It really was not you?”

Deewolf sits on the roof with legs crossed, and says: “What can I get lying to you? Besides, do I look like a picky eater who leaves heads for the humans to discover?”

Scharmdow falls on the ground and slowly reforms to his human shape: “So, you are finding that guy, too?”

Speaking of “that guy,” Deewolf is so fed up: “Of course! Don’t you know how much trouble he brought to me? Shinan Road was such a wonderful foraging place – it was even hard to choose my prey among the variety of them. And after his farce, it’s packed with the police, I can’t eat anything. I’d forgive him if it was him on my turf only to eat, but he was such a rule breaker that made a big stink. Don’t you think we should teach him a lesson?” he pauses for a while, asks, “And you are also finding him. Why? It can’t be of food…”

Scharmdow says: “Because he put me in big troubles, too. One of his victims is a taxi driver that I hired for daytime driving – I only work at night. Now that he’s dead, and the police have investigated all his social relations, and found that he has had stolen a big number of my taxi money. Plus, I only drive at night, there was no such alibi for me, so they list me as a suspect. I don’t like to be noticed too much by the humans, so things like this are very annoying. Now the police follow me every day, if he doesn’t stop the mess, my life would be totally ruined.”

“Then we are of the same goal.” Deewolf jumps off the roof, “Mind we team up and give that rule breaker some works?” stretches out Deewolf, “My current name is Xue Tong.”

Scharmdow shakes her hand, says: “Zhou Ying11.”

“Zhou Ying? Hahahaha…” Xue Tong laughs out, “You are a Scharmdow, and your name is Zhou Ying – surrounded by shadows12? And your car plate is ‘try me I dare you’… Hahahaha, wasn’t expecting you to be this humorous.”

Zhou Ying looks at her, expressing a typical face that humans do to psychos only.

Seeing Zhou Ying not chiming with her, Xue Tong gets bored after laughing for a while. So, she waves her hands and is about to go. But only after a few steps, Zhou Ying stops her: “Wait a minute.”

Xue Tong holds her arm and turns back.

“You haven’t pay me.”

“What?”

“Forty dollars, thank you.”

Xue Tong stares at him with her wide-opened eyes: “You aren’t this stingy, are you?”

“I’m not even charging you for the return fare. Places like this won’t get me any business, I have to drive back alone.”

Xue Tong takes her wallet reluctantly, muttering: “Just drive for the sake of appearance – do you really expect to make money off it? Come on, we have tons of ways to get cash.”

“Humans earn through jobs, and my job is to drive.”

“You are not human.”

“That’s why I need to learn to be a human.”

Xue Tong frowns: “We live longer and are more powerful than the humans. Why be a human?” then stuffs a note of one hundred to him, waving her hands, “Keep it.”

Zhou Ying still returns sixty dollars to her, and says: “For a low leveled Scharmdow like me to cultivate to the fruition, I have to be a human first – there’s no shortcut.”

“Wait… What?”

“There’s no shortcut.”

“No, before this.”

“Be a human first.”

“Even before.”

“What exactly are you trying to say?”

“You just said that you want to ‘cultivate to the fruition’. I’m not getting it wrong, am I?”

“Sure.”

“‘Cultivate to the fruition?’ Hahahaha!” Xue Tong laughs so hard, and even lies on the car cover, punching the taxi, “I haven’t heard of it for hundreds of years, and there’s still a monster wants to ‘cultivate to the fruition?’ Gosh, you are so funny! Hahahaha… I can’t… can’t resist! You are just… just… hahahaha…”

Seeing her hitting the car fist by fist, Zhou Ying distressingly frowns: “Isn’t the life goal for us monsters to cultivate to the fruition?”

“Hey, hey, hey, it’s not ‘us.’ You must be the last psycho to have such an idea. Whether it is me, or the other guys, we’ve never heard of anyone having this thought.” It is not easy for Xue Tong to hold back her laugh, she wipes the tears and stands up: “Maybe it was like this before. Remember when I was young, friends around me were still busy gathering the essence of the Celestials; exploiting weaker creatures; or cultivating meditatively for that one day they can succeed to the fruition – but those were all old school stuff from several hundred years ago. Now that the human civilization is more and more developed, there are big bustling cities like this every where, making our life easier and easier. Who cares about the fruition anymore?

“In the past, if you ever ate someone, there must be commotions in the place they live. Now it’s different in huge cities, not to speak of one missing, or ten missing, even if it was hundreds missing, there won’t be much trouble caused – you just need to be nimble.

“In the past, you have to prepare piles of lies to mingle with the crowd. People around you would constantly ask for your past and background. Now? You are a dignified man after showing some legally valid forms. You stand there in a human shape, no one would care about what’s inside of you.

“What’s really about the so-called fruition? It’s to become stronger, and to live a better life. There are not so many psychic hunters left in nowadays society, so nearly nobody can defeat us. I myself am so appreciating the life I’m having now – to enjoy the material life at usual times, and to chew a man or two every so often. The other guys are like me, too – they consider it a good life. So, why to cultivate and struggle for thousands of years, what do we get from it? Cultivate to the fruition, then what? Become a divinity, a demon, or an immortal, so what? Would it be a better life? Our life isn’t unlimited, seize the day. There’s hardly one in ten thousand succeeds at the end, I’d suggest you to not get into hot water. You don’t like to eat humans, then I’ll recommend you some other interesting stuff next time. Just don’t waste your energy on things like this.”

Xue Tong waves her hands after she finishes talking, vanishing in the ground and leaves.

Looking at her leaving, for the first time, Zhou Ying starts to think why he wants to cultivate to the fruition.

He was once a lowest-leveled Scharmdow. Shadow spirits are already the most inferior monsters with almost no intelligence and power, and Scharmdows is even the weakest among them. Scharmdows do not have any form, they are just a group of shadows. They float in the air without any purpose, to form, or to scatter, not even having any thinking ability. It was such a miracle for Zhou Ying to have his thought, and to cultivate to a monster.

He spent two hundred years to become a monster, and another hundred years to become Zhou Ying. Zhou Ying came to the city to learn to be a human, because he instinctively knows that, in order to reach the fruition as a monster, he has to learn to be human first.

Cultivating to the fruition was the only goal for Zhou Ying. But if every other monster is not doing it, why would he continue? What can a monster do instead of cultivation? Eat humans? Enjoy the life? All this and why?

Zhou Ying knocks on his head.

He understands that he knows nothing. Although he finally gets his own shape and thoughts now, not only he has no idea of being human, he has not even learned to be a monster, too.

***

“Still can’t find him.” sighs Xue Tong, leaning against Zhou Ying’s car feebly.

They have teamed up for two days finding that serial man-eating monster. There were victims every day, but Zhou Ying and Xue Tong did not find any clue.

Xue Tong groans: “It was one every second day before, and now it becomes one every day, plus he still leaves the head behind every time. I’m gonna starve to death if it’s still like this.”

Zhou Ying then recalls something, and seriously asks: “Would you be well fed if you eat things other than human? Would you starve to death?”

“Well, human foods are tasty, I sure can be well fed. I was just kidding saying that. But humans taste great, too. I’d love to get one every once in a while, to satisfy myself. Why?”

“So how long would you have one?”

“It depends, sometimes after years, and sometimes after days – all depends on if I meet someone I want to eat. Aren’t you a vegetarian? Why do you ask?”

“Are the other monsters all like you?”

“I told you last time we are all kinda similar. What on earth do you want to know? You wanna learn to eat humans? I’ll teach.”

Zhou Ying stares at her, asks: “Then why is he eating every single day?”

“Right… Why didn’t I think of this? He’s having humans so frequently, it can’t be just so greedy. Unless…” They look at each other, says in unison, “Human is his staple food.”

“How many monsters take human as staple food?”

“Generally, not that I can think of unless he is a reckless selfish guy.” Xue Tong pounds on the taxi roof, “He’s crazy, the humans will notice it sooner or later! Being this arrogant, once it provokes those psychics, or even those nosy immortals, we the monsters living in this city would be in trouble with him altogether.”

“But we knew he is around, just can’t find him. Why?”

“Because… Because he’s higher-leveled than us. Maybe a fairy, maybe a genie. He’s stronger than us, so he can hide his spiritual odor in front of us. He might be just beside us and watches for us seeking him everyday, and giggling.” Xue Tong shudders after saying all this.

Zhou Ying asks with a paled face: “Then do we continue?”

“Maybe we’d become his food before we found him.” Xue Tong sighs, “What do you think?”

Zhou Ying says: “I’ve told you already. I have no blood or meat for him, and plus that I have an ‘amulet’ that I can rely on. I feel that I can’t live in this city without worry if I don’t find him out. I’ll continue, you?”

“You are right. Let’s continue.” Xue Tong shrugs, “Anyways, I won’t leave you alone.” She pulls the door and sits beside Zhou Ying: “drop me off at my school first, I’m too tired to walk – I’ll pay you.”

Zhou Ying looks at her, starts the engine and says: “No charge for today, I’ll drive you free.”

“Hey, Zhou Ying, what is the ‘amulet’ you were talking about? Can I see?”

“Not here right now.”

“Don’t be stingy. An amulet that you keep at home? Let me have a look.”

“Don’t disturb me while I drive.”

“Where is it? I’ll find it out myself…”

“Xue Tong…”

“…”

The red Santana drives away. A pair of eyes has been always staring at it, full of mockery.

***

“How about this?”

“Too fat, I’d gain weight after it.”

“How’s that?”

“Too skinny, it’s gonna hurt my teeth.”

“The shapely one?”

“Too ugly, no.”

“You’ve been picking for three hours, there’s not even one satisfies you among all the people in this street?” It is really difficult for Zhou Ying to understand a picky eater.

“It’s just too rare an opportunity, how can I have something that doesn’t even look good.”

Zhou Ying and Xue Tong sit in the car, picking on the crowd passing by.

They think that since “that guy” dares to be so arrogant to eat humans, he must be considering this area as his own territory. If any other monster hunts here, the pompous guy must not bear it. Therefore, they have come up with a decision to let Xue Tong eat someone here, and see if it can anger him, making him comes for them. But Xue Tong adheres that food should be good in color, flavor, and taste, making them not having any target after picking for half a night.

A noise comes from the street, Zhou Ying then drives forward for a little bit, and they see a group of drunks beating a girl. Only a few minutes after, the girl’s shirt is ripped off, curling up with her top naked, crying. One of the drunks grabs her hair and forcibly kisses on her mouth. Afterwards, he slaps her down to the ground, takes her handbag, hums the dirty tunes, and walks away with the other guys. The lookers then all make way for them.

The girl sits on the street, crying, but no one helps her up.

This city, this street, they are all like this, cold, cruel, and obeys the jungle justice. Not only the humans living here are used to it, even the monsters here see it as a common occurrence.

“I’ll eat him.” Xue Tong points to that guy.

“He’s drunk, will it be tasty?” Zhou Ying comments.

“I just love liqueur chocolates, what.”

Zhou Ying’s eyes flash a hint of clear, he starts the car and follows them quietly.

In a dark popcorn field, Deewolf drops his prey on the ground, and looks around. After making sure that there’s no one else around, he then bites off the prey’s throat at ease, starting to taste his food slowly.

A piece of dark clouds moves over, covering the already dimmed crescent moon.

A shadow jumps out from the field, rushes onto Deewolf. But Deewolf has long been prepared, dodging out before its teeth reach.

“You finally show up.” Deewolf licks the little wound on the back of his hand, staring at it, “Rule breaker, causing much trouble, and now without even a word of apology.”

The attacker is a human girl. She puts away her razor-like claws, licking the only drop of Deewolf’s blood she has on her fingertip, staring at Deewolf with a charming look and says nothing.

Deewolf stands up, says solemnly: “I have no objection to you living in this city, but please – don’t disguise to an extremely beautiful human; don’t be too picky when you eat, or at least handle the residues you’ve had; and the most important one, don’t attract the human’s attention no matter when.”

“It’s easier to attract my preys in a pretty look.” the girl says in a soft voice, “And I actually don’t wanna stay in a human city. To me, it is only a food storage here. I don’t care if they’ll notice me or not – do you care about what your prey think, Deewolf?”

Deewolf looks at her coldly, says: “To me, there are not only foods here, it is my home, too. My life is already affected, if you still insist on doing so, I have to bid you a farewell.”

“Foods here are tasty, I don’t want to leave now.” says the girl coquettishly, “I will leave someday, but definitely not now.”

“Now, you have to leave now – but you can choose, to leave dead or alive.”

“Hehehe, Deewolf, you are just a monster, dare you to boast in front of me. You’ve thought about the consequences, right?”

“Well if you don’t listen to the good words, then die.”

Right after Deewolf’s voice fades, the “corpse” lying beside the girl’s feet suddenly jumps up and grips her from the back, piercing the hands into her shoulders. Deewolf takes the opportunity and flutters, opening his mouth then bites at her throat. The girl forcefully twists her neck, making Deewolf bites only her shoulder. Along with the sharp sound the girl shouts, the “corpse” behind her quickly jumps and pushes Deewolf away. After a dazzling light flashing as lightning, the “corpse” blocking in between Deewolf and the girl has abruptly broken into thousands of fragments, scattered around the girl.

Deewolf looks at the girl again – she is still of a human body, but her feet are like horse hoofs; her hands are like tiger claws; there are even long manes growing on her back. Ten fingertips are as ten sharp and curved sickles, shining under the faint stars – they can cut any rock off with no effort. On her dragon-like head, the incisive fangs stick out of her mouth, and the egg-sized eyes emit a cyan glow.

“A Yahyoo13!” Deewolf takes a deep breath, “Seems like we are in big trouble. Zhou Ying, you okay?”

Zhou Ying is cut and broken into countless shadow pieces after the tearing of Yahyoo’s claws. He laboriously squirms, piece by piece, and finally gets together, forming a human shape and sits there – if it wasn’t his timely jump, it would be the unregenerable Deewolf who is torn off.

“I’m good, are you alright?”

“Soon it’ll be ‘all wrong’, it’s a Yahyoo!” Deewolf nervously stares at his enemy, sweat begins oozing his skin, “We might be overconfident.”

***

Yahyoo was originally a divinity, but murdered by his colleague ErFu and ErFu’s courtier Wei. The resentful corpse then turned into a dragon-headed tiger-clawed monster. The monster-being Yahyoo completely lost his temperament of a divinity, and had become brutal and tyrannical, then started to eat people for life. Over time, it evolved into a species of monster. Although they are considered as monsters, they still keep the power of divinity more or less since they are derived from a divinity’s body. Therefore, Yahyoo is counted as one of the best among fairies, monsters, ghosts, and beasts when talking about their power.

This Yahyoo standing right in front is absolutely in contempt of her opponents Deewolf and Scharmdow.

***

Deewolf raises his hand, the ground then cracks and all the dirt and rocks inside start to aim at the Yahyoo and shoot like they are weapons. But Yahyoo does not even move, instead, she moves her hands and then the things flying to her blast to dust. In the shadows of these things, Zhou Ying suddenly jumps out carrying a long blade formed by shadows, piercing into Yahyoo’s chest. Yahyoo giggles, straightening her back and goes up to the blade – Zhou Ying’s shadow blade does not even hurt her skin. Afterwards, she raises her claw, and Zhou Ying then flies onto the field.

Yahyoo uses a strong power on this beat. Zhou Ying kneels on the ground, the crack on his shoulder does not even recover for a while.

Deewolf lifts up a big rock, smashing it right at Yahyoo’s head, but taking the opportunity when Yahyoo looks up and crushing the stone, Deewolf sneaks into the ground. He swims under Yahyoo, grabbing her ankles and pulls them down hard. Yahyoo sinks into the ground to her legs, making her unable to move. Then, Deewolf reaches out his sharp paws from the underground, piercing his five finger nails into Yahyoo’s thigh. Yahyoo whispers a moan, forcefully kicks her legs out, a big hole momentarily appears on the ground. Not only a lot of rocks are kicked out, but also Deewolf is brought out. Deewolf clutches the left paw he just used to grab Yahyoo, turning a few rolls on the ground and then finally he stands up – but his left paw fractures through the kick.

“Am I really going to die on her today?” Living for hundreds of years, for the first time, Deewolf hits such a desperate idea.

“You are a brave Deewolf.” Yahyoo’s voice is like a human baby, sweet and lovely, “I will break the habit of only eating human for you – though you don’t look anywhere close to tasty.” Then, she moves towards Deewolf step by step.

After a few steps Yahyoo walks, she realizes that she can’t move anymore, and thus finds out the dense popcorn shadows around her are all turned into solids from some point, they are like a cage trapping her. “Scharmdow!” she gnashes and calls the name out. But the shadow of herself even jumps up and rushes over with claws waving.

Shadows do not have the strength as solids, but they are unbreakable and unkillable. While Yahyoo fights with her own shadow, she has to pay attention to Deewolf as well, thus making her irritable. Suddenly, she shouts out loudly, and her body starts to inflate, countless water arrows shoot from her mouth. Deewolf and Zhou Ying are both hit, falling down under her.

Deewolf’s abdomen is shot through with a water arrow, bleeding, making him feebly lies on the ground.

For Zhou Ying, it is already extremely energy consuming to control a creature’s shadow, not to mention a strong monster like Yahyoo. He has exhausted his energy, and even shot by an arrow, so the shadows including himself get lighter and lighter, to almost translucent enough to see through.

But Yahyoo is also no longer at leisure, bloodstains by Deewolf are all over her body. Her ear is torn by Zhou Ying, too, and the blood drips on the ground makes a ticking sound. She looks at the two opponents, not sure if it is because of excitement or anger, she sounds somewhat tremblingly: “You… You actually push me into such a state, you inferior bastards!” Then she tramples on Zhou Ying.

“Ahhh!” Deewolf shouts, helplessly sees Zhou Ying dispersing under Yahyoo’s foot, and forming together hardly, and dispersing after another step, and forming again with struggle.

“Stop touching him you jerk!” Deewolf abruptly jumps over Yahyoo, strangling her arms with his last effort and drags her away, “Run, Zhou Ying!”

“Deewolf…”

“Run!”

Yahyoo’s sharp claws are inserted to Deewolf’s back shoulders, but he still hasn’t let go, grabbing her tightly.

“Huo’er14, now!” Zhou Ying shouts loudly, and throws something to the immovable Yahyoo, “It’s your turn!”

Deewolf looks at the little thing flying towards them with fire. “Just a lit match?” Right after Deewolf thinks, a glare jumps out from the little firing blaze, making him dares not to see it directly and closes his eyes. But a smell of flesh burning goes into his nose.

Zhou Ying runs into Deewolf and pulls him away from Yahyoo.

Deewolf watches at the sky incredibly, asks: “What… is that?”

“My ‘amulet.’”

“Oh my, that’s… that’s a Bhoenix15!” Deewolf shakes his body and catches Zhou Ying’s shoulder tightly. If it was just surprising and cringing for him to see a Yahyoo, then he must be frightened to even unable to stand straight after seeing the Bhoenix.

There it flies an eagle-sized “bird,” he looks like a phoenix, but with only one claw. White beak, cyan eyes, but the feathers all over his body are as firing flames. It is burning so violently right now, making it not only brightens everything around, but also turns himself golden.

Bhoenix, the genie of fire.

Genie is the most special type among divinity, demon, immortal, genie, fairy, monster, ghost, beast, and shadow spirits. Genies are born with power, they do not have to cultivate to obtain power, but, on the other hand, they cannot cultivate to a higher level, or to the fruition. Genies usually live in a place called “Kunlun16,” and since their power is second only to divinity, demon, and immortal, only these are able to summon or control them. Somehow, there is a Bhoenix around Zhou Ying, and it unexpectedly listens to a Scharmdow that of which a lot low-leveled than genies.

Comparing to other genies like Yellong, Dyephoon, Flyan, or Yoglare, fire-typed Bhoenix has more deterrence over low-leveled monsters because monsters are usually afraid of fire. It is the first time for Deewolf to see a Bhoenix, it is much harder to hide his fear than seeing a Yahyoo. But he understands that this Bhoenix is still a cub, too, because an adult Bhoenix should be phoenix-sized. Moreover, an adult Bhoenix would overcook the Yahyoo from only one hit, but now Yahyoo is still scratching around, trying to hit the Bhoenix off.

“Huo’er, look out for his water arrow!”

Bhoenix has hit Yahyoo out of surprise, burning the latter’s eyes, but Yahyoo then waves and scratches randomly towards the sky, attacking everywhere around, making Bhoenix unable to reach again. After a few laps flying around her, Bhoenix is a little anxious, even tries flying into her for a few times, but is then hit up and loses some feathers instead. The feathers turn into flames right after falling off him, scorching a few fields.

Zhou Ying knows that the young Bhoenix is not enough to confront Yahyoo, so he jumps in and helps.

Yahyoo is burnt to blind, painful and angry, so she waves her claws more and more out of patterns. Most of her attacks are solved by Bhoenix, so Zhou Ying finally obsesses her body, making it possible for Deewolf to jump over and then bites her throat off.

Yahyoo shakes for a second and falls to the ground, after a few times of limb-twitching, she finally stops her vital signs.

Deewolf and Zhou Ying looks at each other, dropping to the floor together, unable to move anymore, too.

“Ying, I’m still the best.” Bhoenix boasts and falls onto Zhou Ying’s shoulder, stuffing his head into Zhou Ying’s arms like a baby. Deewolf rolls and crawls to a few steps away, pointing at Bhoenix and says: “Hey, don’t get that guy anywhere near me!”

Zhou Ying caresses Bhoenix’s feather, giving him a supercilious look: “Huo’er is only a kid, why are you so scared? He just saved us.”

“Yeah, yeah!” Bhoenix stretches his head out and smacks his beak, “So ungrateful, I’m gonna eat you later.”

Deewolf curls his lips, and backs a few steps more – anyway, he dares not to get close to that Bhoenix, despite the fact that he is still a child. He efforts to move to Yahyoo’s body, kicking her and says: “Would you ask the Bhoenix to burn it off… So that the humans won’t discover it and fuss.”

Bhoenix Huo’er starts to squint at him.

“Didn’t you say hungry? Just eat it off.” Zhou Ying thinks it is too eye-catching to start a fire. Huo’er then squints at Zhou Ying.

Deewolf turns his neck and looks at him: “We male Deewolves don’t eat females, even if it’s of another species.”

“Huh?” Zhou Ying widens his eyes, “But, isn’t Xue Tong a female?”

“Xue Tong? That’s for easy-preying. Look at me now…” Deewolf looks at himself, “Do I look anything close to a female? Don’t tell me that…” he squints his eyes, “you can’t tell a Victor and a Victoria.”

“It’s easy to distinguish between human males and females.”

“Only humans? So, you really can’t tell between them.”

“We shadow spirits are genderless anyway.” Zhou Ying says with a little bit anger.

“Then, you always think I’m a female? Hahahaha! Oh geez! Hahahahaha…” Deewolf wantonly laughs. While he wants to laugh, he also suffers from touching his wounds, so the expressions on his face become very funny. Finally, he stops laughing, waving his hands and says: “Well but that’s okay, I’ll teach you. I’ll teach you how to live better, too. And I’ll teach you how to enjoy the human inventions. Did you ever have a girlfriend? I know hundreds of them, I can give you some. Do you like humans more or monsters more? Do you go online? I’ve recently just found an online game, I can teach you that, so we can team up to fight. And there’re guns in it, so we can shoot, ‘bang, bang!’”

“Thank you. But I have to continue my cultivation. I’m afraid I won’t have the time to learn these.”

“Cultivation? You still haven’t given up the fruition?”

“I have never thought of why I cultivate so hard, but since everyone is different – you like the human lifestyle, like to have a comfortable life, and would dare to fight monsters like Yahyoo to protect this kind of life; Yahyoo then, on the other hand, likes to eat humans whenever she wants to, scrupling nothing; but me, I like neither of these two. Unlike you two, you were born with everything – thoughts, shapes, and powers – it’s absolutely okay for you to choose your own lifestyle, I’m only a lowest leveled Scharmdow that was born from swampy Yin spirits. I had no thought, no shape, no nothing. If I didn’t cultivate to higher levels, I would have already dissipated without a trace. Though, now I can choose my own life, I still want to know, of what extent can a Scharmdow like me get to. I don’t know if I made it clear, it’s not that I have to get to the fruition, it’s just that I want to know, I, as a Scharmdow, what’s the furthest I can get to after exertion.”

“You will get to the fruition.” Deewolf says, “Because you are obsessing so hard, and because – I, a smart Deewolf am not competing with you, so of course you have the chance.”

Zhou Ying laughs: “Is it?”

“Great progress, great progress!” Deewolf shouts loudly, “You are laughing! It’s the first time I see you laughing after knowing you, more and more human-like. That’s a great progress!”

Zhou Ying’s laugh freezes on his face, all of a sudden, he does not know what expression to make.

“But there’s more to it, let me teach you how to laugh.” Deewolf says, stepping his foot on Yahyoo’s body and points to it, “You overconfident bastard, how dare you to against me! Now you are taught. I’m the best Deewolf in the world, haha! Hahahaha…” He starts to laugh insolently.

“Poom!” Not even after he finishes, he is hit off the body by Huo’er’s wings.

“Get off, Deewolf! This is my dinner!” Huo’er angrily says. Deewolf and Zhou Ying were discussing how to deal with Yahyoo’s corpse, ignoring him and not mentioning to “feed it to Huo’er” make him angry already. Now that they do not even admit their mistakes but keep chatting to each other, completely forgetting about him. “Robbing my food? Are you tired of living?” he roars to scare the freak out of Deewolf. Until Deewolf is scared to sit on the ground, he is then satisfied and takes some bite of Yahyoo’s body, praising: “Tastes good, I haven’t been eating monsters for so long – my tongue even gets numbed eating humans all the time – I have to enjoy it well, and also this Deewolf after, it’s enough for some good days…” he squints at Deewolf and says. But before he ends his sentences, his wings are already hung, his head is already bowed, covering and protecting his dinner still, and he falls asleep. He is too tired copping out Yahyoo.

Deewolf looks at Huo’er, who accidentally falls onto him. He dares not to push him away, but not really willing to let him go on, so the laughs freeze on his face, making it embarrassing.

Zhou Ying looks at him with a curve on his mouth at first, and irresistibly laughs at the end.

“Hahaha…”

“Hahahaha…”

***

A young man standing on the street attracts most of the women passing by. This handsome slim man smiles like there is no one around, making eyes at the girls. A taxi stops at him before he even waves, he then gets into the car.

“Where to, Mister?”

“XX Hotel, dating a ‘female.’” the young man replies, coquetting with the rear mirror.

Zhou Ying rolls his eyes: “I thought you said that to not excessively dress up and attract humans living in them.”

“That’s when you hunt. Now it’s nothing about it.”

Zhou Ying shakes his head with a faint smile.

“Right, now I go by Liu Di17. It’s my favorite one, remember it.”

“Liu Di?”

“You can be ‘shadow-surrounding,’ why can’t I be ‘ground-staying18?’”

“Up to you.”

Liu Di takes a deep breath, wrinkling his nose, and asks: “What’s the smell in your car? Disgusting.”

“I’ve had a family of weasels, it might be them.”

“Weasels?”

“Yeah, they went to KFC.”

“Weasels go to KFC19? Hahahahaha…” Liu Di stares at the bustling street views outside the window, sighs: “When a city gets large, it surely lives all kinds of creatures…”


  1. 市南, or shì nán, pronounced as Shr Nan. 

  2. 立新, or lì xīn, pronounced as Li Hsin. 

  3. 薛瞳, or xuē tóng, pronounced as Sywe Tong. 

  4. About 18.6 miles. 

  5. 张倩, or zhāng qiàn, pronounced as Jang Chian. 

  6. 孙, or sūn, pronounced as Swen. 

  7. 00544, pronounced as “líng líng wǔ sì sì.” But 0, or líng, is sometimes pronounced as dòng, which means a hole, for clarity. Thus, makes it “dòng dòng wǔ sì sì,” a homophone of “dòng dong wǒ shì shi,” or try me I dare you. 

  8. 成信, or chéng xìn, pronounced as Chung Hsin. 

  9. 地狼, a species of monster that lives in deep underground. They look like dogs but can form a human shape when cultivating to a certain extent just like other monsters. 

  10. 影魅, a species of monsters of shadow. 

  11. 周影, or zhōu yǐng, pronounced as Jhou Ying. 

  12. The first character of 周影 is a surname in Chinese but also has a meaning of the surroundings; the second character means shadow. 影 is also identical to the first character of his species, 影魅. 

  13. 猰貐, also known as 窫窳. In ancient mythologies, there is only one of it, and was killed in the story Houyi Shooting the Suns. In the Urban Legends of Monsters, the author writes them as a species. 

  14. 火儿, or huǒ ér, pronounced as Hwo Ar. 火 means fire in Chinese. 

  15. Bhoenix is a genie of fire. In the legends of Yellow Emperor convening all the spirits under the west of Mount Tai, the Emperor was sit in a carriage of six dragons. The one who drove for him was a Bhoenix. Since Bhoenixes are qualified to drive six dragons, they can clearly be seen as a powerful genie. 

  16. 昆仑, or kūn lún, pronounced as Kwen Lwen. 

  17. 刘地, or liú dì, pronounced as Liou Dee. 

  18. Liu Di, or 刘地, shares the same sounds and tones with 留地, which separates to ‘stay’ and ‘ground.’ Also, 地 is the same character used in his species, 地狼, or Deewolf. 

  19. In Chinese culture, weasels are seen as chicken-eaters. People think weasels like to eat chicken and because they are so smart, so that they even go to chickens and wish them a happy New Year, making the naive chickens to trust them, and thus they can eat the chickens easily after. 

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  1. 小仙女 小仙女

    爱您哟~

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