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药人毒- The Shaman's Poison
“When you love, you will worry. When you love, you will also fear; if you do not love, you will not worry and have no fear.”
< The Dharma[i] >
The ancient metal door opened with a clang, and the foul smell of putrid water gusted outwards, seeking release. The man who opened the door turned to a youth in white and bows respectfully, inviting him in. "Sect leader, this way please."
Bai Tan glanced at the moss on the floor and frowned in disgust. “You said that the best shaman[i] Wu Yan Fu raised is hidden in this water dungeon?”
“Do look in that direction.”
As he finished his sentence, a blue flame appeared abruptly, glowing faintly from deep within the dungeon. It came from the lamp of eternal flame[ii]. In the dark room, it looked like the eyes of a predator that is about to its unsuspecting prey, giving off an eerie feeling.
Having descended a flight of cobbled stairs, Bai Tan found his feet soaking in ankle-high water. As they proceeded into the water dungeon, lamps, on either side, lit up with the same blue flame, illuminating the mysterious ancient murals on the walls.
In the middle of the water dungeon stood a peculiar boulder. Veins grew from cracks on the boulder, tightly bounding a person to the boulder. Some of the thinner, sprouting veins even took root on the person’s neck. The person has white hair and is very pale. From the man's drooping head and motionless body, he looked like the victim of a drowning. If not for the minute movements of his chest, Bai Tan would have thought the man dead.
Considering the environment, it's a wonder he's still alive.
The shaman had been bounded to the boulder for many years without anyone to bring him food and water. Furthermore, the demonic veins that bound him has the ability to bring the dead back to life, but also has the ability to lethally poison a healthy person. The fact he survived showed that he has completely absorbed the medical properties of the veins and has turned into a human Lingzhi[iii].
Bai Tan smiled with satisfaction at the thought of it. It seemed like all his injuries, new or old, can be cured.
As though he had read Bai Tan’s thoughts, the shaman gradually raised his head.
The revealed face was identical to Bai Tan’s worst nightmare.
“Wu Yan Fu!” Bai Tan retreated in shock.
In the blink of an eye, Bai Tan's wrists were bound by shackles. The length of the shackle's chain was in the shaman's grasp!
"Ah!" Bai Tan woke from his dream, chills running down his spine in cold sweat. He looked at the cozy, white tiger fur he was sleeping on and the incense burner by his feet, not understanding why he felt cold.
The stone carving on the wall caught his eyes as he turned his head and he immediately remembered. It was Wu Yan Fu’s death anniversary.
With jumbled thoughts, Bai Tan wrapped his outer coat tightly around himself and saw a bowl of blood red medicine sitting on the table. It was blood, extracted from the shaman.
“Sect leader, the medicine is turning cold. You should drink it soon.” Yin Tuo, Bai Tan’s subordinate, reminded softly by Bai Tan’s ear.
Suppressing the unexplained anxiety, Bai Tan finished the medicine in a gulp.
The bronze mirror facing the bed reflected the beautiful face of a youth. The blood red medicine dyed his lips ardent red, and the mark on his forehead looked ever more enchanting.
Feeling annoyed and weary, Bai Tan closed his eyes.
He was turning 20 years old soon, yet he still retained his childish appearances and looked as though he was no more than 15 years old. It was not just his face, his body remained at his early teens too. He had originally been smaller than other children of his age, but, ever since he took the blood relic[iv], which was extracted from Wu Yan Fu’s body, he stopped growing. Till date, he has not ejaculated. As such, he is unable to find his “Concubine Ming” for double cultivation[v], and his skill level has stagnated at the Fourth Level of the Sky of Six Desires[vi].
Having drunk the medicine, Bai Tan felt chills throughout his body. He knew the chills were a side effect of the medicine.
Bai Tan leisurely untied his robes as he stepped toward the open-air bath. His moon white silk robes fell to the ground and his smooth, pale body was revealed.
Instead of rushing into the bath, Bai Tan sat at the edge of the bath and dipped his feet in the water before slipping into the bath gradually. There were a pair of human bone anklets around his slender ankles, embellished by two larynx bells. Despite the ripples in the bath, it was quiet, and his actions were enticing.
Yin Tuo averted his eyes uneasily to pour and stir a medicated powder into the bath. When he was done, Yin Tuo inserted a hollow silver needle into an acupuncture point on Bai Tan’s back, as per usual.
Blood blackened by poison dripped from the hollow needle and fell into the bath. The moment a drop of blood came into contact with the water, wisps of green smoke emerged with a sizzling sound. The green smoke gathered around Bai Tan's fair neck like a coiling snake. With his eyes tightly closed and head reclined, Bai Tan gripped onto a rock by the bath with his hands.
Bai Tan felt as if he were being burnt alive and thought that maybe death was a better option. The bath water was not hot but filled from the gelid waters of Tian Shan which has been accumulating for a millennium. Bai Tan was suffering.
Yin Tuo looked on from the side with mixed feelings.
Rumor has it that Bai Tan was not only Wu Yan Fu’s disciple, but also Wu Yan Fu’s handpicked “Concubine Ming”. Bai Tan was supposed to be a tool for Wu Yan Fu to practice the art of the Sky of Six Desires. The moment Wu Yan Fu succeeds in achieving the final level, Bai Tan would be killed. However, when Wu Yan Fu was one step from success, he lost control of his powers and was assassinated by Bai Tan. Bai Tan then replaced Wu Yan Fu as the leader of the Sect. Life is, indeed, unpredictable.
As Yin Tuo was lost in his thoughts, he heard movement in the bath. Bai Tan had stood up.
Bai Tan’s body swayed as he stood in the bath. Yin Tuo grabbed and covered Bai Tan with Bai Tan’s robes as he hurried to get Bai Tan out of the pool. Yin Tuo then carried Bai Tan to a wide bench. Just as Yin Tuo was about to put Bai Tan down, Bai Tan grabbed his arm.
“Hold me for a while… it’s cold,” Bai Tan whined.
Hearing the little sect leader whine, Yin Tuo’s heart skipped a beat and his body became stiff.
Bai Tan is very light and, as he curled into Yin Tuo’s arms like a frail girl, Yin Tuo could see, from the corner of his eyes, Bai Tan’s partially exposed shoulder. It is as the rumor say, Bai Tan has a seductive body. Yin Tuo was aware that had he not been castrated, he would have caved in to the temptation and would have violated the current Sect Leader.
When Bai Tan’s body temperature raised slightly, he tidied his robes and leaned on the bench. As Bai Tan’s thoughts gradually returned to him, he recalled a matter. He gradually opened his eyes, eyelashes fluttering, and asked in a whisper, “How is the shaman now?”
Yin Tuo bowed his head as he reported, “He is soaking in the glass barrel and is living well.”
“Bring him here. I want to see him.”
A moment after, the wind chime in front of the door tinkled.
“Sect leader, the shaman is here,” Yin Tuo reported.
Bai Tan signaled with a raised hand and Yin Tuo proceeded to light the candle by the door and open the door.
The sound of iron chain sliding across the floor accompanied by the sound of a wet body moving entered the room. When the shaman was brought in front of him, Bai Tan lazily opened his eyes and observed the person dragged in by his subordinate.
Or perhaps, he cannot be considered a human anymore.
The man on the ground was almost fully naked. His entire body was covered in vines, but it could still be seen that he is tall, slender, and fit; his shoulders are broad, his bone structure is large, too. He might have practiced martial arts in the past. The demonic vines seemed to be taking root in his body, becoming a part of him. His skin peeked through the gaps between the vines. Veins and arteries can be visible as his skin is extremely pale from being soaked for extended periods of time.
As the nerves in his four limbs were severed when he was made into a shaman, he could only crawl. With his dripping wet, white hair splayed out behind him as he crawled on the floor, he really looked like a water demon clambering onto shore.
Bai Tan leaned on the bench and leisurely smoked the hookah Yin Tuo had lit for him. Bai Tan squinted and lifted the shaman’s head with his foot.
The shaman lifted his head dazedly and the revealed appearance stunned Bai Tan.
The shaman had a high nose bridge and piercing eyes, similar to one with a Persian lineage. The shaman’s pale face was as beautiful as an ice sculpture, but his eye color was too light. In the candlelight, it was like a pair of matte blue moonstone. His eyes were pretty, but they seemed lifeless and indifferent, like a blind person.
Bai Tan sighed in pity and bent down, reaching the pipe towards the shaman’s eyes. Irritated by the smoke, the shaman blinked several times.
The shaman was able see and yet he did not budge, as if he had no ability to resist and is willing to receive anything, even death.
Bai Tan curled his lips, “Are you not afraid?”
The shaman shook his head in denial, but his eyelashes trembled, proving otherwise.
Bai Tan looked at the shaman’s entire body and concluded that aside from his handsome facial features and not having a withered body, the shaman was pretty much like other shamans.
Bai Tan did not understand why he would have such a dream. He probably got caught in a curse that was placed on the items he found a few days back. They belonged to Wu Yan Fu and Wu Yan Fu might have casted a curse on them. The curse, coupled with the fact that it was Wu Yan Fu’s death anniversary, caused him to be paranoid.
No matter what the reason was, Bai Tan had killed the devil personally, dissected the devil’s heart, and ate his blood relic. The devil should no longer be able to take his life.
It was a pity that Bai Tan, tortured by the poison from the relic, was unable to digest the blood relic despite having ingested it a year ago.
“Hey, will you be able to help me?” Bai Tan muttered under his breath while looking at the shaman.
Bai Tan reached out and slid his fingers along a vine covered arm of the shaman’s. The shaman’s arm was cool and smooth to the touch. Upon contact, the poison-induced irritation decreased, but, at the same time, Bai Tan felt a thirst for the shaman’s blood. Bai Tan seemed to have gotten addicted to it.
Bai Tan tilted the shaman’s head with a hand and buried his head in the shaman’s neck. It almost seemed like a little snow leopard pouncing on its prey while baring its sharp fangs and biting once an artery is located.
The shaman trembled in fear.
Ignoring the robes that had slipped to his waist, Bai Tan wrapped his arms around the shaman as he drank the shaman’s blood. Bai Tan’s legs were exposed in the process and their state suggested they were having sex. Bai Tan’s subordinates were all stunned. Yet, they were afraid that their presence would displease the temperamental little sect leader, so they all left silently.
Yin Tuo closed the door and knelt by Bai Tan’s side, persuading in a low voice, “Sect Leader…. no matter how beneficial the shaman’s blood is, it has part of the demonic vine’s poison, it is not advisable to consume excessively.”
“You’re noisy; get out.” Bai Tan glowered and glared at Yin Tuo.
Yin Tuo did not dare to defy Bai Tan’s order and left cautiously.
"Concubine Ming" is a male senior practitioner's heterosexual companion in Tantric* Buddhism, these partners provide physical and mental support to the male.
In this novel, the author uses it as a term for all and any partner, regardless male or female.
"Love results in sorrow, it results in fear, as leaving one's lover, is without fear or sorrow." Is a quotation from a Buddhist work 'Miaosewangqiufaji' (Translated as the king's request for a wonderful color of the Buddhist laws)
[i] The direct translation of the term would be drug person(药人). These people would be crippled by severing their nerves, constantly fed herbs and medicine to absorb the medical properties. When successful they would be used as an ingredient for medicine. The term shaman is used instead because it seems flow better.
[ii] Eternal fire is a candle that is said once it's lit, it will never burn out. It is commonly used as light source before electricity
[iii] Ling Zhi(灵芝) A Chinese herb that has a calming effect on insomnia, coughs, anxiety and can relieve chronic fatigue. Also known as reishi mushroom or Ganoderma lucidum. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lingzhi_mushroom
[v] Double cultivation(双修) is a type of skill, practice or cultivation where it requires two person to complete or be successful.
[vi] Sky of Six Desires(六欲天) is a direct translation, probably means a set of skills in the novel.
[i] The Dharma is the teachings of the Buddha to the path of enlightenment. A poetic/old way of saying love is the cause of sadness and fear, and without love, those feelings won't exist.
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