Volume 54: Might As Well Worship The Devil Instead Of Praying To The Gods
"The nine levels of heaven issue the order. Inform Yuqing. Hurry and summon 1000 deities. All will meet at the Emperor's court. Taiyizhenren will oversee this. The double Emperor's wings  monitor ten thousand evils, and protect lives with justice."
"If there’s anything ominous, daring to test the gods and deities and the way of the Jade Emperor, organize the soldiers of the Emperor. The seven gods will lead the army and the soldiers will march on the right. They would press forward, waving their swords and throwing their fiery weapons."
"Order the cavalry and the soldiers of the heavens to fight against the wind and fire together. Fight against the evil spirits, showing your might to the six levels of the heavens above, and catching the demons. Ten thousand evils will be extinguished."
"Divine dagger-axes and lightning descend upon all evils, eliminating them. Holding the Jade Emperor's medallion, do not stop against this order. Disobeying orders will be punished by death..."
In the chamber filled with incense fumes, a man dressed as a Taoist priest sat cross-legged on a prayer mat, holding a fly-whisk in one hand, and forming hand seals with the other as he recited a mantra quietly.
In front of him was a table with offerings of fruits, incense burners, and deity tablets. Opposite the altar table, the elderly entrepreneur, Lu Qixing, sat cross-legged on the ground. His bony, thin upper body was unclothed. He clasped his palms together reverently with his eyes closed. Seven candles surrounded him.
Two men stood by the door behind Lu Qixing to prevent anyone from entering suddenly and interrupting the sacred ceremony. One of them was Lu Qixing’s son, Wang Haitao. After witnessing this extremely absurd scene with his own eyes, Wang Haitao could only sigh in his heart.
At the end of the long mantra, the Taoist master opened his eyes suddenly, his piercing eyes full of energy. His fingers quickly wrote things within the incense smoke and the smoke actually turned into a written spell. They saw him push forward with his palm. This written spell floated through the air and slammed into the deity tablets.
"Hah!" The Taoist master yelled. "According to the order from the Supreme, Immeasurable, Divine Jade Emperor, the three stars of fortune, prosperity and longevity  should quickly show themselves. Hurry and obey the order!"
The yellow-robed disciples who were stationed on both sides quickly placed three straw men on the ground. The Taoist master seemed to be receiving a mysterious signal from the universe. The hand forming the hand seals was trembling, so was his long goatee.
Suddenly, the altar table shook, and the fruit offerings rolled everywhere. More mysteriously, the whole table floated upwards as it shook.
The Taoist master shouted loudly, and pressed the table down with the palm of his hand without touching it directly. The floating table could be seen to sway, as if suppressed by an invisible force before slowly falling down to its original spot.
"The three stars of fortune, prosperity and longevity should show up quickly. If you don't show up, the lightning from the heavens will punish you!"
Lu Qixing took a deep breath and quickly recited a mantra summoning the gods, showing his piety and respect.
The lights in the room began to flicker, and a strange gust of wind rose for no apparent reason, swirling the incense smoke. The three straw men suddenly ignited spontaneously and stood up. Lu Qixing gaped and quickly kneeled down and bowed in worship. "I pray to the three gods of fortune, prosperity and longevity to give me another 20 years of life. Your follower Lu Qixing is willing to reconstruct golden bodies for you."
"Master! The seven-star lights!" A Taoist disciple shouted.
It turned out that the seven-star lights on the ground had suddenly begun to tremble, causing Lu Qixing's face to go pale in fright.
The Taoist master stepped on the table boldly, pushing his palms forward, as if launching inexplicable energy waves. They saw the swaying seven-star lights gradually stilling again. He shouted at the burning straw men and asked, "God of Longevity, what did you say? He has committed too many evils to prolong his life?"
"No, no, no, God, don't abandon me!" Lu Qixing shouted in pain.
"Don't go! Come back and give me a clear explanation!"
Neither the Taoist master’s scolding nor Lu Qixing's pleading could keep the "gods" from leaving. As the straw men slowly burned and turned into ashes, Lu Qixing's hope was also annihilated. A gust of evil wind blew into the house. Six out of the seven-star lights went out in an instant, and Lu Qixing's heartbeat almost stopped on the spot.
"You cold-blooded and ruthless gods, come back here!" The Taoist master's tone sounded almost as if he was cursing, but it didn't work. As the last stalk of straw burned up, he lowered his head wearily. "President Lu, I've done my best. The Longevity God said this matter is hard to settle. Your longevity is already predestined."
Lu Qixing sat paralyzed on the ground, and looked as though he was about to cry. "Taoist Master, your powers are so mighty. Can't you think of a solution?"
As he spoke, the middle of the altar table suddenly exploded and split, toppling all three tablets over. The Taoist master stepped back in fright. He quickly made calculations on his fingers and displayed a shocked look. "Who are you? Why did you trespass into my altar? Aren’t you afraid that the heavens will punish you? ... What? You said you have a way?"
Lu Qixing widened his eyes and regained hope. He asked eagerly, "This... Which great god is this?"
"He..." Cold sweat dripped down the Taoist master's forehead. "No, no, no, he’s not a proper god. He’s a demon!"
"Taoist Master, I'm already like this. Even if it's a demon, a devil, or an alien, as long as it allows me to live a few more years, it doesn't matter!"
"President Lu, are you sure?"
The Taoist master shook his head helplessly. "Well, he said that he was a god who was punished and sent to the human realm for violating the heavens’ rules five hundred years ago. After he was reborn in the mortal world, his name became Zhou Xiao!"
There wasn’t anyone in Long’an who didn’t know this name. Wang Haitao suddenly noticed that there was something wrong with what this master was peddling, and stopped him verbally, "Father, don't believe his nonsense!"
"Shut up!" Lu Qixing shouted. "You’re so filial! Are you hoping I’ll die?"
Wang Haitao clenched his fists in pain. He couldn't interfere at all in a situation where both parties were willing. He could only retreat, and continued to watch this farce with a dead heart.
The Taoist master was talking to this evil god as if he was on the phone with him, occasionally muttering. Listening carefully, one will discover strange wind sounds in the room, just like the soundtrack of a horror movie. The flags hanging on the beams of the house were fluttering and the lights kept flickering.
The last candle that symbolized Lu Qixing's life was flickering in the wind, but it remained stubborn.
The Taoist master finally said to Lu Qixing, "President Lu, this evil god can bestow longevity upon you, but the longevity wouldn’t be yours but stolen from others... However, this method not only hurts your karma, but also hurts my cultivation. President Lu, please be cautious!"
Although the words were seemingly dissuasive, every sentence was full of temptation. Lu Qixing desperately pleaded, "Master, I will do everything to make up for your loss. No matter what method I use, as long as I can survive, even if... even if you want my biological son to die, it’s fine!" He pointed at Wang Haitao, who looked embarrassed.
"It’s fine. Since I promised to prolong your life for you, I have no choice but to do this. I can’t help being someone who keeps my promises!" The Taoist master sighed.
"Thank you Master, thank you Master!"
Bang bang bang bang...
The six candles that had been extinguished suddenly reignited, but this time, they burned with eerie blue flames. Lu Qixing seemed to have been given a shot of determination, and said, "Master Evil God, I can promise anything!"
The Taoist master relayed his words on his behalf. "The evil god said he will give you instructions on the night of the full moon, and you only need to follow his instructions."
"Of course! Of course!"
The Taoist master swished his fly-whisk. "The ceremony is finished. Please head back and rest, President Lu!"
"Son, give me a hand." Lu Qixing was already exhausted, and his thin, frail body was covered with cold sweat.
Wang Haitao stepped forward, but Lu Qixing said to him viciously, "I didn't call for you!"
Standing at the other side of the door, the man in sunglasses who hadn’t said a word the entire time sneered and stepped forward to help Lu Qixing. He even intimately called him, "Dad".
"Aiya, my good son." Lu Qixing held his son's arm and slowly exited the room.
The Taoist master breathed a sigh of relief and said to his disciples, "Tidy up!"
He took off his robes, lit a cigarette, and exhaled contentedly. Wang Haitao stepped forward and stared at him with hatred. "Swindler, what motive do you have for harming my family like this?!"
"Haha, the secrets of heaven cannot be revealed!" The Taoist master grinned.
1. The first four paragraphs are usually recited by the Jade Emperor (supreme deity in Taoism) in the heavens above when exorcising evil. I’ve tried translating it part by part based on the meaning, but it’s usually a lot more poetic/catchy.
2. Meaning an order from the Jade Emperor who sits at the top of the nine levels.
3. Referring to one of the three major Taoist deities Yuanshitianzuan.
4. A red-crowned crane which is known as a symbol of luck, longevity and fidelity.
6. These candles are all in different colours.
7. The gods of the three stars or constellations considered essential in Chinese astrology and mythology (Jupiter, Ursa Major and Canopus) representing fortune, prosperity and longevity respectively.
8. Statues of the gods made out of gold.
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