Thank you to Hyunjins fan and vluv for the Ko-fis!
Arc Six: Nameless Burial Mound
When they emerged from the cage, darkness was still blanketing the night.
Tucked away somewhere unknown, cicadas let out long, drawn-out cries that were interspersed with rhythmic pauses.
It was amidst those cries that Wen Shi opened his eyes.
Shadows of trees swayed outside the window. The light from the street lamps filtered in through the glass and landed on Wen Shi, albeit blurred by the cover cast from the trees.
A little blinded by the light, he narrowed his eyes, momentarily at a loss as to where he was.
Quite a while passed before he finally realized—this was the car Lao Mao had driven to Tianjin, and he was sitting in the backseat.
The passenger seat was very tall. From Wen Shi’s perspective, all he could see through the gap between the passenger seat and the car door was Xie Wen’s arm, tilted at an angle to prop up his head.
It seemed as if the other person had also just woken up. His hand closed in on itself slightly before loosening again; then, his arm withdrew from the edge of the window altogether.
The leather seat creaked softly as Xie Wen slanted his body and turned to look back at Wen Shi.
Cages were truly strange phenomenons. Just a moment ago, they were caught in the middle of a kiss, lips locked tightly together, as intimate as one could be. Yet in the blink of an eye, one ended up in the front seat while the other ended up in the back, separated by an imposing distance; the events from earlier felt ambiguous and covert in comparison.
Wen Shi looked at Xie Wen. When their eyes met, both of their gazes still contained residual traces of something deeper. It was almost as if he could still feel the sensation of Xie Wen’s thumb dancing across his skin—as if their intertwined breaths were still falling on the crest of his lips.
All of a sudden, he remembered how Xie Wen had cast his eyes downward as he kissed him: eyelids drooping low, gaze locked on Wen Shi’s lips.
“Where is this?” Xia Qiao’s voice rang out abruptly, mixed with creaking noises from the leather seat.
Wen Shi felt the seat next to him sink down a little, and he averted his eyes sharply before glancing at Xia Qiao.
“The car,” Xie Wen answered leisurely after Wen Shi broke eye contact.
“I know, I was trying to ask—” Rubbing his eyes, Xia Qiao straightened upright and peered around him in a bewildered and lost manner. After surveying his surroundings, he looked at Wen Shi again and added in bemusement, “Hey, ge, why are you red over here?”
It was one thing for that idiot to say it out loud, but he also just had to make a sweeping gesture from his own ear down to the crook of his neck.
Wen Shi: “…”
A byproduct of kissing.
None of your damn business.
Wen Shi could already hear a certain someone’s laughter.
Pretending like he couldn’t hear anything, he said to Xia Qiao icily with a faintly displeased expression, “Too stuffy. It’s from the heat.”
Xiao Qiao silently shot a glance at his slightly rolled-down car window. The post-rain breeze slipped in through the crevice, unexpectedly a bit chilly. Xiao Qiao pondered over it briefly before concluding that his ge’s spirit was probably encased in a steamer basket.
Sure, it’s hot in here, whatever you say.
Xiao Qiao immediately conceded. Picking up his earlier line of questioning again, he asked, “Where are we parked?”
He hunched forward and looked through the windshield to see a compact two-story building in front of them. The car itself was surrounded by a small patch of concrete, seemingly a simplistic parking space that someone had manually created.
Xia Qiao blinked. “Huh? Why does this feel a little…”
Wen Shi lifted his chin in the direction of the building. “Lu Wenjuan’s house.”
Xia Qiao swallowed the “hell” part of his exclamation back down before it could escape. Dumbstruck, he said, “Didn’t we already leave the cage? Zhou… that venerable ancestor Bu Ning told me that the cage was resolved, so why are we still hanging around her house?”
Wen Shi: “Just think a little. We entered the cage here, so of course we’re going to exit here too.”
Only then did Xia Qiao remember that they had initially entered the cage by driving up to this small building. Their original intention was to ask Lu Wenjuan’s parents if they could stay with them for a night, but a dead person opened the door for them instead.
Now they had emerged from the cage. The car was still the same, and so was the house, but if they went to knock on the door, the person who came to greet them would no longer be the woman with the smiling eyes and lips.
He nodded and let out an “ohh,” sighing somewhat sorrowfully to himself.
Suddenly, Xie Wen pointed at Wen Shi and said, “You call him ge, and you call me Boss Xie, yet you refer to Bu Ning as a venerable ancestor. Isn’t the hierarchy a bit messed up?”
Xia Qiao was lost again. “Well, I can’t refer to him as just Bu Ning, right?”
Maybe it was okay to do so back when he didn’t know him yet and was mentioning him in passing. But now that he had met the other person and gotten to know him, it was a bit impolite to call him directly by his name.
However, Xie Wen’s comment did make sense upon further reflection. Bu Ning was Wen Shi’s shixiong and Xie Wen’s disciple, so he was technically ranked between the two of them, meaning that Xia Qiao’s current forms of address were throwing off the hierarchy a little.
Xia Qiao mulled over it for some time before deciding that he should start by resolving the root of the problem first—by amending his appellations for these two people.
He looked silently at Wen Shi and opened his mouth.
Wen Shi immediately knew what was going on in the idiot’s head. “Get out of this car right now if you’re going to call me ‘venerable ancestor.’”
Xia Qiao closed his mouth obediently. “Oh.”
He then looked silently at Xie Wen.
Wen Shi also wanted to know how this idiot was planning to change his form of address for Xie Wen. On top of that, it was no longer quite as “stuffy” in the car anymore, so he followed Xia Qiao’s line of sight and looked over too.
In his peripheral vision, Xia Qiao opened his mouth—
Only for Xie Wen to glance in Wen Shi’s direction and say, “How about this. However you refer to him, do the same for me.”
Xia Qiao: “…”
He was starting to suspect that he was being treated like a fool.
Wouldn’t the hierarchy be even more messed up if he referred to them with equivalent seniority???
Of course, he didn’t dare to say that part out loud. Instead, he only had the guts to reveal an incredulous expression that read “you’re playing with me.”
After discovering Xie Wen’s true identity, Xia Qiao couldn’t even bring himself to utter the words “Boss Xie” anymore. He relied solely on Lao Mao to give him courage… but Lao Mao was still currently “dead” in the driver’s seat.
Xia Qiao dithered quite a bit, but he did eventually end up saying hesitantly, “…Boss Xie, aren’t you my ge’s shifu?”
Wen Shi saw Xie Wen nod. “I am.”
Then Xie Wen looked at Wen Shi, and a beat passed before he spoke again. “But that’s not all.”
A row of question marks slowly floated above Xia Qiao’s head.
He wanted to say, “What else is there? Don’t tell me it’s because you’re also his tenant.” However, when he turned to look blankly at Wen Shi, he discovered that his ge had expressionlessly rolled down the entire window.
The cold wind swept into the car, steeped in post-rain moisture, buffeting Xia Qiao in the face.
He was a little stupefied. His ge must truly be feeling very hot.
As Wen Shi was lowering the window, the door of the two-story building suddenly opened. Two figures emerged from within, one tall and one short; they descended some concrete stairs before approaching the car.
It was an elderly married couple. The old man had silver hair, and he wore an extremely simple outfit consisting of a white sleeveless tank and long gray pants. The old lady had donned an unlined flower-patterned jacket, and she trailed after him.
Xie Wen was already opening the door and getting out of the car.
“Oh my, it’s you!” The old man broke into a smile upon seeing Xie Wen. Pointing at his ears, he said, “I’m getting old, so my hearing’s starting to go. I only came out to take a look because our neighbor Huanzi dropped by our back door just now and told us that a car had been parked for a good while in front of our house. I was wondering who it was, but I didn’t expect it to be you.”
“We were passing by, so I wanted to pay a visit.” Xie Wen deliberately chose to stand with his back to the light. Although half of his face was still relatively illuminated, the other half was cast in shadow, perfectly concealing the signs of his withering, which had yet to fade.
The old man’s vision wasn’t very good, so he didn’t notice anything. He rambled on with much enthusiasm for a bit before he glanced over at the car and coincidentally spotted Wen Shi through the lowered window.
Out of politeness, Wen Shi also got out of the car.
There was a tiny mole in the center of the old man’s forehead. It was in the same exact spot as Lu Wenjuan’s, and it was clear from first glance that they were related by blood. He must’ve been exceedingly good-looking back when he was younger. Even at this age, traces of his former appearance were still faintly discernible.
He smiled kindly at Wen Shi before turning his gaze toward Xie Wen. “This is…”
Xie Wen gestured at the old man and said to Wen Shi, “Lu Xiao.”
Then he did a similar introduction for the old man. “Wen Shi.”
The old man was accustomed to the old-fashioned way of doing things, so he showered his new acquaintance with compliments and praise. Afterwards, he subconsciously asked, “Are you two colleagues? Or friends?”
There were only so many types of relationships two people could have, after all, that would lead to them traveling long-distance together.
Wen Shi reflexively chose “friends” in response to the two options provided by Lu Xiao. But just as he was about to answer, he heard Xie Wen say to Lu Xiao after a few seconds of contemplation, “My beloved—family1.”
This was a descriptor that was rarely used in casual conversation anymore. However, a long, long time ago, it was used to describe someone special.
Gentle and tender, it spoke of a bond that was deep and heartfelt.
Xie Wen’s answer wasn’t really intended for Lu Xiao. Rather, it was meant purely for Wen Shi.
Lu Xiao was clearly a bit thrown off by the response, and he was startled for a moment before he pieced it together. Nodding, he said, “Oh I see, you’re family. No wonder, you both have such top-tier looks…”
He continued to chatter away eagerly, with his wife chiming in occasionally at his side. Pointing at the door to his house, he said, “Well, since you’re already here, how can you not stay for the night? We have plenty of food inside. There’s no way we can make you leave right after dropping by.”
But Wen Shi wasn’t listening anymore.
With a calm expression on his face, he gazed politely at the old couple and nodded at the appropriate times, all the while kneading the ear closest to Xie Wen.
It felt as if Xie Wen had imbued the words “my beloved” with a touch of heat when they left his mouth. They trickled into Wen Shi’s ears, low and deep.
Xia Qiao also came out of the car, spurring another round of greetings and pleasantries. He kept calling Lu Xiao and his wife “Grandpa” and “Grandma,” which delighted the old couple and filled them with joy.
They were seldom able to experience such liveliness anymore, so they weren’t about to let them leave so easily. The couple insisted on inviting them inside to sit a little, eat something, and stay the night.
It was truly an offer so warm-hearted that it was difficult to refuse.
Xia Qiao was dragged into the house, accompanied by their coaxing and cajoling. Xie Wen glanced at them before he turned his head and said to Wen Shi, “Let’s go.”
Wen Shi made a vague noise in response. Just as he was about to follow after them, Xie Wen suddenly reached out and stroked the skin just under his ear.
His fingertips left behind a very distinct sensation. Wen Shi stiffened slightly and shot a look at him. “What are you doing?”
Rubbing his fingers together, Xie Wen said, “Nothing, just wanted to see if this redness of yours would stain.”
Wen Shi: “…”
As Lu Xiao was cheerfully ushering his guests inside, movement came from both of the houses flanking Lu Xiao’s. Several slipper-wearing neighbors ran out and started to head towards the other side of the village; it seemed like they were on their way to watch a scene.
Lu Xiao and the rest paused in place. Raising his voice, he asked enthusiastically, “What’s going on, Huanzi? Why’s everyone running towards the east?”
The neighbor called Huanzi pointed into the distance and said, “Someone accidentally hit the gas pedal of their car and almost went into the river over there. It looks like the car isn’t from around here either. I heard the front of it is already almost in the water, and only the back half is still on the bank—I’m gonna go check it out.”
This was just how villages were: the tiniest bit of excitement was enough for the entire village to bustle over to take a look.
However, when Wen Shi and the others heard that it wasn’t a local vehicle, a few people came to mind…
Just as they had guessed, the people who slammed the accelerator instead of the brakes and nearly turned their car into a boat was none other than Zhang Lan and the rest.
Back when they were trailing Wen Shi’s car, they were too embarrassed to openly follow them. As a result, they took a different path to enter the village and drove over to the east side, where they found another door to the cage and went in that way.
Now that they had left the cage, they were naturally still in the same spot as before.
Immediately after opening their eyes, the Zhang siblings had the same reaction as Wen Shi and the rest. Since they had stayed inside the cage for too long, they couldn’t figure out where their real bodies were for a brief moment.
Xiao Hei’s head was the first to clear. In the driver’s seat, he obediently started the car while waiting for the rest.
With a gust of cold air conditioning, Zhang Lan and Zhang Yalin quickly came back to themselves too.
Zhang Lan’s phone was vibrating nonstop—who knew how many calls and texts she had missed. As she instructed Xiao Hei to drive out of the village first, she unlocked her phone. Right as she was about to check who was looking for her, she heard another person gradually return to consciousness and mumble hoarsely, “Where is this?”
Zhang Lan and Zhang Yalin quivered at the same time and subconsciously turned to look at that person in unison. Respectfully, she said, “This is a village. Laozu, you most likely aren’t aware, but this is where we initially entered the cage.”
Zhang Lan spoke again. “We’re getting ready to go back to Ningzhou now. I’m not sure if laozu has any other plans, or perhaps another place in mind that we can help send you to?”
Zhang Yalin added, “You are also welcome to return with us to Ningzhou. Whatever you wish, laozu.”
Zhang Lan echoed, “Yes, whatever you’d like.”
The ancestor stared at them silently for a long moment. Then he licked his dry lips and said, “There’s a small store over there. I want a Pepsi.”
Xiao Hei’s foot shook, and he mistakenly slammed on the gas pedal, jolting the entire car forward towards the river before he hastily hit the brakes.
Zhang Lan: “?”
Zhang Yalin: “…”
The ancestor: “Sprite is fine too.”
The car was dead silent.
After regaining control of the car, Xiao Hei wordlessly twisted to look behind him. “What the hell are you saying” was written across both Zhang Lan and Zhang Yalin’s faces as they stared at the person who wanted to drink soda.
After quite some time, Zhang Lan finally said shrilly, “Zhou Xu???”
Zhou Xu: “Uh-huh.”
“Uh-huh you—” Zhang Lan expended a significant amount of effort to swallow down her curses before slumping back in her chair. “If you’re back, you should’ve said so sooner! Is it fun to scare me and Zhang Yalin?”
Now that it was Zhou Xu, Zhang Yalin stopped holding back. He said irritably, “It’s fine, as long as you’re back. Pick whatever soda you want, we’ll buy any drink for you. Consider it a celebration.”
Zhou Xu: “Celebrating what?”
“Celebrating the fact that those ancestors are gone at last,” Zhang Lan said on behalf of her little brother.
Zhou Xu let out a long, drawn-out “oh.” There was a distant look in his eyes.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Zhang Lan said.
Zhou Xu: “Nothing, I’m just trying to think of a way to say this more tactfully so it won’t scare you. And also to prevent you from getting the urge to hit me.”
Blinking her almond-shaped eyes, Zhang Lan sat bolt upright in her chair again as a faint sense of foreboding swept through her. “…What do you mean? Don’t beat around the bush if you have something to say. Why would we want to hit you?”
Zhou Xu said, “Well… I was actually able to see and hear everything that was happening in the cage. I was just lending my body to that person briefly.”
Green was already starting to tinge Zhang Lan’s complexion. “And so?”
Zhou Xu: “And so… Since we’re both linked by reincarnation anyway, it seems like we’re basically the same person, and I felt kinda bad just letting him float out there. So—I let him stay with me.”
Great Lady Zhang’s voice cracked. “You let who stay where???”
“Bu Ning.” In the past, Zhou Xu would’ve added a deferential laozu to the name, but after finding out that he and said ancestor used to be one and the same, he discarded the honorific without a second thought. “I let him stay in my body.”
Immediately after, his expression shifted, and he said courteously, “Apologies for the trouble.”
His expression instantly changed again, and he responded to himself, “Seriously, it’s no trouble at all. You’re me, what’s there to be polite about?”
Zhang Yalin: “…”
He was about to lose it.
His sister had already lost it.
Zhang Lan’s phone was even worse off than both of them. It vibrated for seemingly forever before Her Great Ladyship finally answered it in a daze. A voice immediately sounded from the other end. “Lan-jie, where are you all? Have you seen the name register mural? Fuck, something huge just happened, did you know? Bu Ning—that venerable ancestor Bu Ning! His name suddenly just lit the hell up!”
- 家眷 is what XW says here. It’s a rather archaic way of referring to one’s “wife and children,” sometimes specifically the wife, but it can also be interpreted as just family. I compromised with this TL b/c I couldn’t really find an English equivalent that encompasses the weight of the word, but doesn’t explicitly refer to a significant other (since LX misunderstands their relationship). ^
6 thoughts on “PG Chapter 86: Beloved”
Thank you for the update 😊
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the dead are coming back!! 🤣
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Thank u for the update!
Xie Wen using every opportunity to tease Wen Shi is too funny 😂 they’re so cute!!
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I thought the reason xie wen and party decided to visit lu wenjuan was related to wen shi’s soul…
But it looks like the parents know xie wen and he’s been a regular visitor?
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can’t believe they drove their car into a river lmaoooo I love these guys
So Zhou Xu saw everything in the cage, including Wen Shi and Xie Wen’s kiss uhuhuhu
I look forward to the circus that ensues
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It is such a fun novel! I am really enjoying it. Thank you 🙂
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