Chapter 13 – Dugu Yue

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Dugu Zhuo didn’t know whether the torch dragon he was familiar with would be the same in this world, but he spoke his knowledge anyway.

If someone questioned him, acting like they hadn’t heard any such legend, Dugu Zhuo could just pretend that he had misremembered.
No one would suspect his identity because he failed to remember a myth correctly.

Though he had braced himself for all this, he heard Ye Zhou say, “I’ve heard that legend.
When I was leveling up during the day, I didn’t notice the town’s name at all.
You’re so observant.”

“Back then, you had not seen the situation at night,” Dugu Zhuo said.

Since Ye Zhou hadn’t questioned the torch dragon’s legend, it seemed the two worlds’ mythologies were similar.
Dugu Zhuo was even more convinced that there was a connection between these two worlds.

“The starting village was different during the PC game,” Ye Zhou said.
“There’s been a huge change in that aspect.
I think this difference between day and night might not just be for the different races.
It might lead to the first main questline.”

“Main questline?” Dugu Zhuo looked toward Ye Zhou.

Thinking of himself as Dugu Zhuo’s master, Ye Zhou explained patiently, “Nine Heavens was a game with a main questline.
‘Nine Heavens’ actually refers to the name of the realm.
This world is divided into the upper, middle, and lower three heavens, with the mortal realm located at the bottom three heavens.
These lower layers are all equal and the six races can coexist in peace here.
The middle heavens are empty, filled with a celestial wind difficult for mortals to cross, while the upper heavens is where the divine palaces are.”

Dugu Zhuo was deeply shaken by Ye Zhou’s explanation.
He grabbed Ye Zhou’s wrist, gripping it hard, his shoulders trembling faintly.

“What’s wrong?” Ye Zhou had lowered his pain and touch sensitivity, so he didn’t realize how much force Dugu Zhuo was using.

Dugu Zhuo’s fingers were ice-cold.
It took all his willpower to remain calm as he spoke.
“I think I once heard someone talk about the game’s setting.
Are the upper and lower heavens connected by a Pillar of Heaven in the Canglan mountain range?”

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“That’s right,” Ye Zhou answered, not noticing anything wrong.
“Before mobile games took over the market, Nine Heavens was really popular, so it makes sense that you’ve heard it talked about before.”

Aotian also cut in.
“There’s also the two divine swords of creation, which are passed down through the generations by the Qingtian Sect.
I used to be a big fan of Nine Heavens and was always waiting for the company to release the ‘Sword Tomb’ storyline, but then the game declined.
I heard the company couldn’t find new investors back then, so they gave up on the latter half of the storyline.”

“Two divine swords?” Dugu Zhuo unconsciously touched the bundle.

“They’re called the Xuan Sword and the Su Sword,” Aotian said.
“It was said that they were born alongside the Pillar of Heaven during the formation of the world.
The two swords each have a different wielder.
One of them was named… what was his name? It’s really similar to yours.”

“Was it Dugu Yue[1]?” Dugu Zhuo asked.
“Yue as in the Five Sacred Mountains?”

“That was the name!” Ye Zhou said.
“He was the wielder of the Xuan Sword.”

“What about the Su Sword?” Dugu Zhuo asked.

Ye Zhou and Aotian shared a glance, looking lost.
Aotian shook his head.
“The company only revealed the wielder of the Xuan Sword.
The Su Sword wasn’t brought up, and the Sword Tomb storyline was never released.
Who knows if it’ll be released in the VR edition.”

Dugu Zhuo let go of Ye Zhou and backed up a few steps.
Leaning against a thick bamboo stalk, he managed to stay steady on his feet.

Dugu Yue was the name of his father.
He had stolen this sword from his own father’s hands, becoming the master of the Xuan Sword by force.

In the bundle, the Xuan Sword seemed to sense Dugu Zhuo’s complicated emotions and started clanking, shaking the bag vigorously.

“What’s in your bundle?” the black cat said, approaching.
“Why didn’t you put it in a storage item? Did it get full? Woah, it’s moving!”

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In curiosity, the cat raised a paw, wanting to touch the wildly moving bundle.
Dugu Zhuo gave him a vicious look.
He lifted a hand, about to kill this little cat yao who didn’t know his place.

Ye Zhou knew Dugu Zhuo’s identity as a mythic.
Though he had seen the swords in Dugu Zhuo’s bundle, he didn’t know they were the Xuansu Twin Swords, and only assumed Dugu Zhuo didn’t want other people seeing the swords and discovering his identity.
He reached Dugu Zhuo’s side in a dash and picked the cat up by his scruff.

He copied the way Dugu Zhuo had carried the cat before, barely whisking the cat away from Dugu Zhuo’s strike.

“You think you all can pick me up whenever? Mrow!” the black cat fumed, struggling.

“I just… thought you’d feel nice, so I wanted to try it,” Ye Zhou said, changing the topic of conversation.
“Don’t you think your form is cute?”

Pleased at being complimented by Ye Zhou, the cat stroked his whiskers with a paw, raising his head proudly.
I can agree with you.”

Ye Zhou released the cat.
Under the moonlight, he surreptitiously gave Dugu Zhuo a clap on the shoulder, then turned to everyone else. 

“Speaking of the two swords, I heard that one’s white and one’s black.
One of them maintains the pure qi of the human realm and can cleanse all, while the other carries all the impure qi of the human realm, and can contaminate all.
I thought the situation of Zhulong Town was a bit like the twin swords, so I guessed it might be related to the main storyline.”

“That makes sense,” Aotian said in realization.
“Maybe the game company really does want to reopen the Sword Tomb storyline, so they put a clue in the starting town of this game.”

Qingyue hadn’t played the PC version, being a player who had been drawn in by the VR technology.
After listening closely to the conversation, she said, “If Zhulong Town resembles the main storyline so much, then since we were able to think of it, surely other players of the PC version would also be able to.
Maybe if we complete it ahead of them, we’ll get some sort of prize.”

“There’s sure to be a big prize for whoever first completes even a part of the main storyline,” Aotian said.

“Then let’s hurry up and come up with a way to complete it,” Qingyue said, excited.
“I don’t want anyone to take the lead from us.”

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“No need to worry,” Aotian said.
“We only have a guess right now and we don’t even know where to look for clues.”

With Ye Zhou’s reassurance, Dugu Zhuo had managed to calm down.
“Tanye Temple,” he said.

Dugu Zhuo took Ye Zhou’s hand into his grip, placing his fingertips against his pulse and feeling the beats of his heart, one following another.

The reading told him that Ye Zhou might be bedridden, possibly paralyzed, and his life would likely be short.

Dugu Zhuo remembered how Ye Zhou had said that he felt especially good today, not as tired as usual, and his current pulse indeed seemed much healthier than before.

Possibly, Ye Zhou’s poor health had to do with his incomplete soul.
If he found every piece of Ye Zhou’s soul, perhaps Ye Zhou would be able to walk and live his life in good health.

Dugu Zhuo had once walked across the entire world.
The pieces of Ye Zhou’s soul weren’t present in his world.

Were they here, then? Was Ye Zhou’s soul hidden in this world which had so many connections to his own?

And Dugu Yue…

If he wanted to know the truth of everything and find Ye Zhou’s missing soul, it seemed he could only level up and advance on the main questline.

Looking at the surrounding bamboo forest, Dugu Zhuo said, “Tanye Temple is a place which allows no wickedness.
When the black cat tried to sneak in for the life release task during the daytime, the monk even killed him.
Right now, demons are running wild in the streets and killing human players, so why do the monks of Tanye Temple do nothing?”

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“You’re right!” Aotian exclaimed.

“Speaking of which,” Qingyue said, “back when we left the inn, the waiter who had watched us work told us that if we left during the night, we couldn’t return, and our room fare would be wasted.
I was worried back then that we wouldn’t be allowed to enter Tanye Temple either, but we just hopped over the wall without meeting a single monk.”

The other buildings in the town held demons, and the inns were forbidden to enter, so the only place in town which could be entered day and night was Tanye Temple.

Since he had been preoccupied with Ye Zhou, Dugu Zhuo had paid no attention to his surroundings as he rushed to the Karmic Forest, and had no idea what Tanye Temple was like at night.

“We’re all level 10 now, so why don’t we go outside to see?” Ye Zhou said.

They all formed a party.
Since Ye Zhou had originally formed the team, everyone recognized him as the team leader.
He led them out of the Karmic Forest, where they saw that the bustling Tanye Temple from the daytime was now quiet, with all the humans and spirits having disappeared off to somewhere.

“Let’s check the main hall,” Dugu Zhuo said.

Ye Zhou led them all to the temple, but the door was sealed.
Ye Zhou pushed and it didn’t open, so he knocked lightly and asked, “Is anyone there?”

“Amitabha,” someone recited from inside.
“Players who have offered incense during the day can stay the night in the back courtyard, but other players may not.”

“Oh, so the incense offering task can also be a lifesaver,” Qingyue said.
“I don’t think we’ve offered incense.”

After some thinking, Dugu Zhuo said, “We are not here for shelter.
We just want to ask questions regarding Zhulong Town.
Great master, as yao and demons roam the streets, why does the Tanye Temple, upholders of the righteous path, allow them to act as they please?”

Silence came from behind the door for a long time, until there was finally a deep sigh.
The door opened, and inside the main hall, two rows of candles placed next to the Buddha statue automatically lit.

An old monk knelt on a prayer mat in front of the statue.
His eyes were shut, a rosary in his hand and his back to the group.
“Please enter, benefactors.”

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