Chapter 12 – Zhulong Town

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There was blood splattered on Dugu Zhuo’s face, appearing especially vivid under the moonlight.
Ye Zhou remembered his disciple’s special ability and raised a hand without thinking, wiping at the bloodstain with a fingertip.

“Did you get hurt?” he said with concern.

“It’s someone else’s.” Dugu Zhuo casually wiped the blood off with a sleeve.

Blood was also splattered across his clothes, but his complexion looked healthy and his HP bar was full.
It seemed it was all other people’s blood.

Dugu Zhuo valued propriety.
Though he seemed to be holding Ye Zhou, he only had an arm thrown around his waist, without actually touching him, as he used his own body to separate Ye Zhou from the black cat.

Even so, they were currently too close to each other.
Ye Zhou could actually see each of Dugu Zhuo’s eyelashes.
They trailed down from his eyelids, thick and long like small combs.

They were standing on a branch, so Ye Zhou couldn’t even back away if he wanted to, or he would fall off.

Fortunately, though, Dugu Zhuo noticed his discomfort and distanced himself from Ye Zhou right away.
He hopped off the tree with the cat in his hand.

Ye Zhou followed him down.
He saw that several stalks of bamboo had fallen over, lying scattered in a pile.
Dugu Zhuo landed right between two stalks, while the recently spawned beasts wandered in circles outside.

“Dashen, you ran off too fast!” Two more people ran up, out of breath.
Based off their speech, they appeared to be players.

Without being affected by the bamboo, they leapt into the midst of them, and the female player said, “It’s a good thing dashen sent us the Misdirection Array, or we wouldn’t have been able to enter it.”

“Doesn’t this array have a time limit, though?” the male player said doubtfully.
“I can’t believe it can still trap people after so long.
Doesn’t an array without a time limit seem like a bug?”

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“These guys are…” Ye Zhou looked toward Dugu Zhuo.
These two players seemed quite familiar with his disciple.

“I met them recently,” Dugu Zhuo said.
“One is Long Aotian, and the other is Qingyue…”

Dugu Zhuo pursed his lips.
He didn’t know how to read the symbols after Qingyue.

The numbers were still pronounced the same as the ones he was familiar with, and since the game constantly showed him his experience value, he had figured it out easily.
But the words “love” and “bug” came from a completely different language family from the words Dugu Zhuo was familiar with, so he had no basis to infer from.

Qingyue also thought the username she had come up with was overly childish and quickly said, “Qingyue love.”

“Yi Ye Pian Zhou,” Ye Zhou said to introduce himself.

It was far simpler to make friends with someone in a video game compared to real life.
You just had to exchange names and add each other as friends, and now you could be considered to know each other.

“Didn’t you say you would return at 9 am tomorrow? Why are you here now?” Dugu Zhuo asked, concentrating on Ye Zhou without paying any mind to the black cat.

“I wanted to play a bit, so I snuck online,” Ye Zhou said.
“I can stay until 11.”

Dugu Zhuo was very happy to be able to spend two more hours with Ye Zhou, but remembering his diagnosis from reading Ye Zhou’s pulse earlier today, he put a hand lightly on Ye Zhou’s arm and said, “If your health isn’t good, you should rest more.
Don’t let yourself be distracted by games.”

Ye Zhou smiled at him.
“Normally people would encourage their friends to play more, but you’re not like other people, are you? Don’t worry, I can limit myself.
I feel much better today, or I wouldn’t have gone online secretly.”

He felt better? Remembering the piece of soul which had entered Ye Zhou’s forehead, Dugu Zhuo wanted to say something, but he sensed a gust by his hand, as if something sharp was aiming at him.

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Without glancing over, Dugu Zhuo caught the black cat’s hand.

Ye Zhou also saw the cat in Dugu Zhuo’s hand transform back into a cat-man.
He might be lured astray by furry animals, but he had no mercy towards a cat person.

Whirling around, Ye Zhou pulled Dugu Zhuo behind him, drawing his sword from his waist.
Its fierce sword light slashed forth, causing damage to everything it touched.
The sword aura scattered the bamboo stalks on the ground, destroying the Misdirection Array.

“Oh, so it can last a long time because it’s very easy to break,” Aotian said at one side in realization.
“It was formed using bamboo, which can easily be moved or cut apart.
You just need to destroy a few pieces of bamboo to break the array.”

The reason the black cat hadn’t been able to escape for so long was because his body was small during the day, plus he didn’t have much strength and his level was low, so he couldn’t break the array.
After night fell, when he could transform into the cat-man, he had quickly dashed out.

This didn’t mean the Misdirection Array was weak, though.
It was easily broken if set up with bamboo stalks, but with other materials, it might not be.

The jade slip said that the Misdirection Array could be formed using weapons, rocks, plants, or spiritual stones.
The better the material, the stronger the array would be.

At Ye Zhou’s current level, his sword could be considered a legendary weapon, and in one slash, he knocked off 60% of the level 8 cat yao’s health.
In one more blow, the cat would certainly be dead.

“Wait!” The cat didn’t want to lose more levels, begging, “Stop fighting, I surrender! After you trapped me in this forest earlier, I’ve already been bitten to death by the beasts three times.
I don’t want to die anymore today.
Be the bigger man, alright?”

In order to show that he meant no harm, the yao transformed back into a cat, waving his tail at Ye Zhou.

While he could go all-out in attacking the cat person, Ye Zhou couldn’t bring himself to attack a little cat, and the situation the black cat had just described was too pitiful.
Feeling sympathy, Ye Zhou withdrew his sword.

“He had wanted to steal your vital essence to level up,” Dugu Zhuo said.
“This yao bore wicked intentions.
He ought to be eliminated.”

Hearing Dugu Zhuo speak archaically, Ye Zhou thought his chuunibyou was acting up again.
He held back Dugu Zhuo.
“We can’t eliminate him.
Even if we drain all his levels, what good will that be? He’s already lost enough.”

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Dugu Zhuo’s thinking had been stuck in his original world, and only now when he heard Ye Zhou speak did he remember that this was all but a game.

When sensing Ye Zhou log on, he had remembered that Ye Zhou was within the Karmic Forest and been anxious about his safety.
Disregarding all else, he had charged out of the inn, cutting down demons, ghosts, and yao as he met them.
Only upon reaching the forest did he remember that Ye Zhou had a spiritual sword that he had strengthened.
Even if the monsters were powered up at night, they likely still couldn’t stand up to Ye Zhou.

He hadn’t been thinking, in his worry.

“Right, right,” the black cat said, following Ye Zhou’s words.
“I’m just level 8, so even if I lose all my levels, it won’t amount to much.
Plus, look how cute I am! Could you bear to? Mrow~”

The black cat crooked his head at the watchers, innocence and harmlessness filling his large eyes.
He looked absolutely adorable, even drawing out his meow in a coquettish fashion.

“You really do know the power of this character of yours,” Qingyue muttered.
Even though she knew the cat’s personality was terrible, she couldn’t help but be lured by him.

Ye Zhou’s fingers twitched on their own.
As he held back his hand from petting the cat, he looked uncertainly at Dugu Zhuo.
“It’s so nice being a yao.
I almost want to make a new character.”

Ye Zhou, playing a yao? Dugu Zhuo looked at the black cat, then the youthful Ye Zhou.
He rubbed his nose a little, then said, “If you try to attack us again, I’ll kill you on sight.”

“I wouldn’t dare!” the black cat said frantically.
“Come to think of it, you’re really something, dashen.
Everything you said during the day came true at night.”

“What happened at night?” Ye Zhou asked, unaware of the changes.
“I had heard that yao and spirits could only become human at level 20.
This cat could turn into a cat person at level 8.”

Aotian liked to talk, so he described all the changes that had happened at night to Ye Zhou, as well as emphasizing Dugu Zhuo’s wisdom, how he had found them a place to stay before 8 pm and kept them from being trapped in the village of demons.

“There are a lot of people yelling on the forums about the game company not caring about their customers,” said the black cat.
“After getting killed so many times by the monsters, I got pissed and logged off, and only came back on after someone said on the forums that yao would be stronger at night.”

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“This truly isn’t very logical,” Ye Zhou said.
“During the day, I felt like this game was too biased toward humans and spirits, and now it’s too harsh on them.
Even as humans level up, their enemies will level up with them.
It’ll affect the balance too much, and we won’t be able to play this game anymore.”

As he spoke, with the Misdirection Array broken, the monsters began to surround them.

Ye Zhou cleared them with a single swing of his sword.
He was still in a party with Dugu Zhuo, so Dugu Zhuo rose to level 10.

[Ding! Congratulations upon reaching level 10, the Qi Refining stage.
At level 10, you can choose to join Tanye Temple, abandoning the secular world and becoming a monk.
You can also find a way to leave Zhulong Town[1], and search for a sect that suits you within Nine Heavens.]

An idea came to Dugu Zhuo upon hearing this prompt.

He asked the other players.
Ye Zhou, Qingyue, and Aotian had all already reached level 10 and received the prompt.

The cat was only level 8, so to see the prompt yao would receive upon level 10, Dugu Zhuo added him as a friend and invited him to their party.
After letting him share experience for half an hour, this player known as “Jet Black”[2] finally reached level 10.

The prompt he got was:

[Ding! Congratulations upon reaching level 10, the Wisdom Unlocking stage.
At level 10, you can choose between cultivating by moonlight or by stealing human essence.
You can also find a way to leave Zhulong Town, and search for a suitable place for yao to cultivate within Nine Heavens.]

“So we really need to leave this town first,” Ye Zhou said.
“I walked around during the day and didn’t find an exit anywhere, though.
It’s surrounded on all sides by fog, so I couldn’t see any paths.”

At that moment, Dugu Zhuo spoke.
“This town is called Zhulong Town.”

“What about it?” asked Aotian.

“In the legends, the torch dragon brought day by opening his eyes and night by closing them.
And this Zhulong Town is habitable by humans by day, and haunted by night.”

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