In the middle of the night, the towering, majestic gate materialized slowly under the glow of moonlight. At first, it was merely a faint shadow. Then it became more and more distinct until it turned into a pillared gate surrounded by fog.
Song Ci raised his head and looked up the pillars. He let loose an exclamation. “What a huge gate.”
It was almost the same as the gate he had seen before,1 except that the patterns on the pillars were different. When the night watchman2 in the city sounded the night gong3, a figure appeared amidst the fog.
“The Demon Gate is open—” Qinyu’s nervous and excited voice rang out beside them. “This is my first trip to the Demon Realm.”
Song Ci grinned. Both of them were like frightened and excited country bumpkins about to enter the city for the first time. The combination of both emotions gave them an energetic vibe.
It was Rong Bai who sized up the massive Demon Gate with a flat expression. Although this was not his first time stepping into the Demon Realm, it was his first time entering through the Demon Gate.
Apart from the Demon Gate, there were still many other places that connected the Human Realm to the Demon Realm. But those places were dangerous to both mortals and even immortals, that was why the mortals knew very little about it.
Because of the earlier news that the City of Qinchuan had been sealed off, there were few people heading for the Demon Gate. Only a scattering of people was waiting by the side of the gate.
The fog gradually dissipated, and the sound of hustling and bustling wafted out from the gate. The sound of peddlers hawking their wares and the tinkling of laughter instantly livened up the entire quiet city of Qinchuan.
The first one to run out of the door was a child with a plait on his short, ink-black hair. His round eyes swept around the scene before him. The joy on his face was palatable. “Wow— So this is the Human Realm!”
His words were like a jab to Song Ci’s heart. It was as if he could see himself in the child. That delight and inquisitiveness… Perhaps, when he arrived at the Demon Realm, his first exclamation would also be, “So this is the Demon Realm!”
As he thought about it, he could not help but arch his eyes in a smile and revealed his pearly whites.
A young woman followed behind the child. She was holding on to the hand of another child. She said with a smile, “Slow down. Be careful not to fall.”
Many other demons then came out of the gate. Qinyu tugged at Song Ci’s sleeve. “Let’s go. Let’s head in.”
Song Ci nodded and subconsciously looked at Rong Bai. Then, he held back his nervousness and followed Rong Bai towards the Demon Gate.
The closer he got, the clearer the scene beyond the gate became. Standing before the pillar gate, he could clearly see the flourishing view within. The brightly lit streets before him instantly lit up those dark eyes of his.
The pillar gate was like a demarcation line. The quiet and tranquil city of Qinchuan lay on one side, while a dazzling world of sensual pleasure existed on the other side. He took it all in. Colorful lights that outshone even the most prosperous Huadeng Street in Qinchuan filled his entire sight.
This was the Demon Realm that Rong Bai said was more beautiful than the Mortal Realm.
Song Ci took a deep breath, then raised his right leg. He steeled himself and was about to step in when a hand stopped him. Only his right leg made it across the gate.
Song Ci stopped his actions and maintained this posture as he looked doubtfully at the man who stopped him. The delicate-looking man smiled and said, “The rule of the Demon Gate is that any mortal who enters must have a matter to attend to, while any demon that exits must have something to do. So, what’s your purpose of entering the gate?”
Song Ci was stunned. He did not expect the Demon Gate to have guards.
On seeing Song Ci’s reaction, the man said, “If you have no business here, please turn back. The Demon Realm is not a place for sightseeing.”
“Hey—take it easy.” Qinyu made her way before Song Ci and grinned, revealing two white fangs. “We are demons. We are heading back.”
On seeing this, the guard smiled and took a step back. Sure enough, he let them pass.
Qinyu pulled Song Ci along. The moment Song Ci turned to look at Rong Bai, his entire body passed through the Demon Gate. The sound of the hustle and bustle filled his ears, becoming a part of his reality. Like the child who had stepped into the Human Realm earlier, he widened his eyes to take in the scene before him. He could not stop smiling.
The pedestrians on the streets either had their beast ears and horns on display or had their tail trailing after them. Some of them had fully evolved into a human form, while some looked half-human. Even at night, they were still jostling in the crowd.
There were also the bona fide mortals who had come through the Demon Gate.
Looking down the busy streets, he could see this dazzling light snaking up the mountain. There was a majestic palace in the distance. If it were not for Song Ci’s amazing eyesight, he could not have gotten a clear look at it.
That palace was very likely the residence of the chief of this demon capital.
Song Ci subconsciously extracted himself from Qinyu’s hand and strode over to Rong Bai. “Master Rong, which demon capital is this?”
Qinyu followed him over and butted in. “I know. I’ve made inquiries before coming here.”
“Then, you tell me.” Song Ci said.
“The name of this demon capital is Baihua Capital because there is a huge bodhi tree that had existed for many years in the demon capital. As such, this capital is also called the Bodhi Capital. The chief of this capital is Hua Wuneng. It is said that when the Demon King massacred the Demon Realm, he plucked a flower from the bodhi tree, and that flower cultivated itself into a spirit.4 This demon capital is now under his charge.” Qinyu raised an eyebrow at Song Ci. “Hua Wuneng is a loyal subordinate of the Demon King. Presumably, we can get direct access to the Demon King through him.”
“Hua Wuneng?”5 Song Ci tutted. “What a really good name.”
Rong Bai thought for a moment after hearing Qinyu’s words and corrected her. “He didn’t pluck it, but enlightened it directly.”6
Both of them looked at him at the same time. He added, “It’s a grasslike demon that doesn’t have that much of a use. That’s why he’s called Wuneng.”
Qinyu’s eyes widened in surprise. “How do you know these? They didn’t come up while I was making inquiries.”
Rong Bai fell silent. He did not know how to explain himself.
He couldn’t possibly say that the person who enlightened Hua Wuneng and gave him his name was his own honorable self, could he?
“Oh… about that.” Song Ci spoke up for him and casually offered an explanation, “Master Rong once dwelled in the Demon Realm for a period of time. It’s normal for him to know.”
“Oh.” Qinyu accepted the explanation without question. She waved her hand and said. “Whether he is Hua Wuneng or Hua Youneng,7 he’s a good flower as long as he can help us meet the Demon King.”
“It’s too risky to make a beeline for him.” Song Ci said, “I’d suggest staying in the Demon Realm for a few days to make discreet inquiries about the Demon King. It’s much safer. Besides, Hua Wuneng is the chief of a demon capital. He can’t be totally inept…”
“Here, let me tell you something.” Qinyu summarized everything she had found out these days. “All the twelve famous demon capitals of the Demon Realm each has a chief. The Demon King resides in the northernmost part of the Demon Realm, which is connected to the Immortal Realm. If you want to head there, you have to go through three rivers and five capitals. The journey is so fraught with dangers that even the immortals above dare not set foot on it rashly. Even if we use up all our strength to make our way there, how would we still have the energy to deal with the Demon King if we encounter him?”
“So, what you’re saying is?”
“If you ask me, we should think of a way to get the Demon King to come to us himself. It saves us the energy and let us have the first strike.” Qinyu said.
“What you said makes sense.” Song Ci nodded his head in agreement. Both of them hit it off and began to discuss countermeasures.
Rong Bai stood all alone at a side as he watched them.
But as much as this was a good idea, both of them could not think of a suitable strategy even after discussing it for a long time. Ultimately, it all came down to the question of how they could get the Demon King to come to them on his own initiative.
At last, both of them gave up. They might as well take a stroll around this Baihua Capital first.
After all, it was also the first time they came to the Demon Realm. The novelty meter in Song Ci’s heart remained at the max level.
But as they said, two’s company; three’s a crowd.
It did not take long for Qinyu to find herself a little redundant. Compared to a little matchmaker from Heaven like her, Song Ci preferred to stick to that stoic Rong Bai’s side.
Song Ci picked up a lantern from a roadside stall. The yellow paper lantern was glowing with soft light. But when Song Ci took a closer look, he realized that there was no candle inside. He asked in amazement, “This can remain lit even without a candle?”
The stall owner was a young maiden with sheep-like ears hidden under her hair. She smiled and said, “There’s a Light-Bearing Pearl inside. As long as you infuse magical powers into it, it will remain lit.”
“What’s a Light-Bearing Pearl?” Song Ci asked again.
Qinyu knew what this object was and took a step forward. She was about to speak and seized the opportunity to ingratiate herself into the team when Rong Bai beat her to it.
“It’s a low-level artifact used for illumination and decoration. Of the Six Realms, only the Human Realm doesn’t have this.” He spoke slowly, although not to the point where others would want to urge him on.
Qinyu stood aside in a daze and sniffed, thinking, how about we just go our separate ways?
“So, I see…” Song Ci said, “That’s quite convenient.” This was so unlike the mortals who were still using candles and oil lamps as a source of light. As expected, the human race was the most backward and weakest among the Six Realms.
“How much is this selling for? I’m buying it.” Song Ci picked up the lantern and reached for his money.
“Thirty coins”.8 The maiden smiled and answered.
After groping for his money, Song Ci suddenly thought of something. “Can the Human Realm’s currency be used here?”
“Yes, all the currency in the Demon Realm is imported from the Human Realm. That’s why some humans come to the Demon Realm to do business.”
Song Ci nodded his head. After buying the lantern, he ripped away the outer layer of paper and took out the small and exquisite pearl to study.
“This is good stuff. I can buy more of it.” He sighed and said.
“This kind of Light-Bearing Pearl is of very inferior quality and will not last long. If you really want it, you could spend more money to buy a better one. Why buy this kind of cheap stuff?” Qinyu said.
“That’s easy for you to say. I have to be able to afford it.” Song Ci muttered and shoved the pearl into his bosom. His chest lit up with yellow light. He looked rather comical.
When Rong Bai saw this, he reached out his hand and took out the pearl. “I have lots of this. I can give them to you.”
With that, he pinched the pearl, smashing it into smithereens with his fingertips.
Song Ci watched helplessly as the first thing he bought in the Demon Realm “perished without a trace left.” His heart ached. Clutching his chest, Song Ci said, “Then, I won’t stand on ceremony, Master Rong.”
Rong Bai rubbed his fingertips and smiled. “When the opportunity arises, I’ll take you to my residence.”
Qinyu stood behind them and watched with a blank expression.
Her urge to part ways was even more intense right this very moment.
- Referring to the gate in Mo Yao.
打更(人) A night watchman typically patrolled the streets at night with a gong and a mallet and regularly sounded the gong at certain intervals to remind the others of the time and to look out for potential fire hazards.
锣 The Chinese gong is a musical percussion instrument that takes the form of a flat, circular metal disc which is hit with a mallet.
- 成… 精 literally become a spirit. For example, when animals, plants, and even objects have cultivated enough, it might gain intelligence and turn into a spirit, like this flower. (Technically, this flower spirit will be classified as a demon; for clarification on this, you can refer to the glossary.) It’s also used to say someone is intelligent or skilled, but in a derogatory way (i.e., to belittle someone).
- 花 Hua means flower. 无能 Wu-neng means incompetent. So his entire name means ‘incompetent flower’ LOL
- Other than cultivating oneself, which is a slow process and takes time, another way is for an immortal (or some other powerful beings) to “enlighten” it (typically plant/animal/object) instantly by bestowing it some of his or her cultivation and/or powers. That way, they can obtain intelligence and change form right away (or in a much shorter span of time) without having to spend hundreds or thousands of years cultivating.
- 花无能 Hua Wuneng = incompetent flower; 花有能 Hua Youneng = competent flower