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    Asianovel

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    Chapter 57

    Upon hearing that his master intended to kill a protected animal, Unity Righteousness was horrified and rushed forward to intervene. The giant boar beneath him struggled desperately, reiterating its social status. Amidst the cacophony of objections around them, the hand warmer hanging from Wei Xi's neck began to heat up. Gripping the knife in his hand, Wei Xi's gaze turned razor-sharp, his entire body exuding a murderous aura.

    At this point, he might as well find a reason to get rid of the creature.

    Suddenly, his wrist was grasped firmly. His second disciple crouched down beside him, his low voice ringing in Wei Xi's ear, "Wei Xi, it has attained spiritual intelligence."

    Spiritual intelligence...

    Wei Dedao!

    After leaving the mountain, he had yet to encounter a spirit creature with such intelligence. He almost forgot! With gritted teeth, Wei Xi stared at the wildly trembling giant boar spirit.

    The hand on his wrist moved upward, gently prying open Wei Xi's fingers. Despite his sullen expression, Wei Xi eventually allowed his second disciple to take the knife and pull him to his feet.

    A finger brushed across his face. As his second disciple helped him up, he whispered, "Are you injured?"

    Shaking his head, the tension that had gripped him while attempting to strike the final blow suddenly dissipated. Now, Wei Xi's mind was filled with Wei Dedao's nagging, causing an inexplicable sense of fatigue. However, he was unharmed. All the blood on his body and face belonged to the boar spirit.

    After the boar demon narrowly escaped, it hid behind the old Taoist who had blocked Wei Xi earlier, snorting with gratitude and no longer daring to act tough. It thanked the country wholeheartedly!

    It assumed that Wei Xi had spared its life due to its status as a protected animal. Most of the others present didn't know Wei Xi's true intentions either, and they thought he was merely retaliating against the boar demon for its impertinent words.

    For a moment, everyone was speechless at the sight of the nearly dead, severely injured boar demon, which led them to recall an oft-discussed topic:

    The Taicang Sect... really left people at a loss for words.

    *****

    The situation was no different on the side of the aggressors; the boar demon's followers were even worse off. The timid ones had already fled, leaving only a few who were terrified at the sight of their leader's battered state.

    The tall green bamboo ceased swaying, standing still like a lifeless entity rooted to the ground.

    With the incident escalating like this, there was no way the original Taoist ritual could continue. The immediate priority was to tend to the seriously injured boar demon. Assuming it had found support, the creature began to revert to its old ways, speaking smoothly without posing any threats. Lying on the ground, it whimpered to the old Taoists, "You all witnessed him harming a second-class protected animal. I'm going to report him..."

    Everyone was unsure how to respond. Upon hearing the pig plan to report his master, Unity Righteousness couldn't help but jump up to argue, "If you're reporting us, we'll report you too!"

    The boar demon was so enraged by the reversal of facts that its piggy eyes bulged. "What did you say?"

    United Righteousness: "When did you become sentient, huh?"

    The Pig Spirit was taken aback. "Half a year ago. Why do you ask?"

    United Righteousness immediately felt empowered. "Half a year ago, didn't you know that creatures can't become sentient after the founding of the country? Who allowed you to do so? Do you have the proper documentation? I don't believe it! Let's both report this and see whose case is resolved first! What do you say, fellow Daoists?"

    The Daoists: "= ="

    Becoming sentient required paperwork... Kuang Zhiming looked at United Righteousness with a face full of disbelief, wondering where he got all these absurd remarks from. More astonishingly, the Wild Pig Spirit actually believed him! After a moment of confusion, the resentment in its huge pig eyes faded, replaced by anxiety over its illegal status.

    Seeing that it was about to inquire about obtaining documents, the Daoists turned their heads away. Suddenly, there was a rustling sound behind them, and they turned to see Qiu Guokai and Director Wang approaching cautiously.

    The two had been too afraid to act alone. They had just witnessed Wei Xi's "exorcism" with the Daoists, and identical expressions of astonishment adorned their different faces.

    "Mas... Masters," Director Wang asked cautiously, "is this the creature causing trouble in our production?"

    Everyone nodded. "It should be them."

    "Amazing," Director Wang recalled the scene he had just witnessed, his face expressing newfound understanding as he addressed United Righteousness. "I used to speculate that there might be monsters in this world, but I never imagined that monster hunting would be done this way. It's bold, thrilling, and so efficient!"

    They had directly defeated the monster! He had initially thought that they would need to hold another ritual.

    United Righteousness proudly shook hands with Qiu Guokai. "Not at all, not at all."

    Everyone: "...."

    They really wanted to tell the two of them that only Tai Cang Sect used such a method to exorcise demons. Normal Taoist priests would genuinely hold rituals when encountering monsters.

    Qiu Guokai and Director Wang had been terrified when they encountered the pack of beasts earlier, but now, seeing the boar leader in such a state, they weren't as scared anymore. After shaking hands with United Righteousness, Director Wang still had the mind to inquire about the cause. "Master, can you divine why they came to disrupt our production? Our props and costumes have been destroyed like this; it can't be without reason, can it?"

    The boar demon lying on the ground glanced at him disdainfully, snorting out two clouds of hot air through its pig nostrils.

    This was clearly an uncooperative attitude, and it seemed to despise Director Wang immensely. Everyone couldn't help speculating about the reason—

    Was there an evil aura brought by the production team's arrival in the mountains? Had they violated some taboo during filming? Had they disrupted the ecological balance of the mountain?

    Or...

    Did they simply want to harm people?

    At this moment, Wei Xi had been wiped clean of blood by his second disciple. He gazed silently as the boar demon approached. The moment the boar demon caught his scent, its emotions flared up, and it frantically wriggled on the ground, trying to escape. Its arrogance vanished as it howled, "What do you want! I'm a protected wild animal!"

    Feeling that it had been unjustly beaten, it vented its frustration loudly to everyone, "How dare you treat me like this! It was you who disrespected us first! What's wrong with us fighting back?"

    "???" Director Wang grew anxious, "Where did we disrespect you?"

    "You're still denying it!" The boar demon's eyes reddened with anger, and snot dripped from its nostrils, "I live in the same hotel as you all! Everyone saw the clothes you distributed that day! Your portrayal of those spirits... It's simply... a disgrace!"

    Director Wang froze upon hearing this, then suddenly recalled the torn costumes scattered on the ground. He finally realized what had happened and fell into an unprecedented silence.

    Wei Xi stood next to his second disciple, holding the now-warm jade pendant, listening half-heartedly. He understood that the group of mountain spirits had coincidentally stumbled upon the extras receiving their costumes from the production team. Many of the extras' roles overlapped with the mountain spirits, and when they learned that these unknown, misshapen creatures were going to portray them in crude, makeshift attire, the spirits became furious.

    The boar demon lied on the ground, arguing, "We are all elegant and charming. How could we look like the way you dressed up?"

    Everyone looked at its robust body, the endless flow of snot, and the wildly thrashing tail on the ground, unsure of how to respond.

    ******

    Wei Xi glanced at his second disciple, who was scanning the boar demon and then looking towards the other spirits hiding secretly in the bushes. His expression was unusually solemn.

    Wei Xi licked the coagulated boar's blood from his wrist and asked, "Lu Que, what's wrong?"

    The disciple retracted his gaze, briefly glancing at the tongue that had just touched Wei Xi's hand, then turned his face away indifferently. "There are too many sentient spirits in Mount Mao Hua."

    Estimating the surroundings roughly, he reckoned that there were no fewer than twenty different creatures, excluding any undetected plants.

    This number was clearly abnormal. Shuo Zong lowered his eyes in thought for a moment before slowly directing his gaze to the sky.

    Heaven's Will...

    Wei Xi didn't know what he was thinking about. He savored the lingering taste of blood on his tongue and snorted in agreement. "Indeed, there are too many!"

    If that boar hadn't gained sentience, it would have been on his plate already. How could it still be alive?

    Seeing his master keep casting glances at the boar spirit as if unwilling to give up, Unity Yi grew concerned that his master might take unnecessary risks. He couldn't help but approach and advise, "Master, you can't just kill protected animals. We don't have a hunting permit. If we're caught, we'll be in trouble."

    Wei Xi frowned. "In trouble?"

    Unity Yi: "Not only that, but we might even get fined or detained!"

    Fines! There will be fines!

    This term, Wei Xi understood immediately, and he couldn't help but frown deeply. What was going on outside the mountain?

    Establishing a sect requires countless certifications and permits, and paying taxes on earnings is tolerable, but even hunting a wild boar for personal consumption is forbidden! And they impose a fine on top of that!

    Frustrated and feeling wronged, he had finally managed to escape Wei Dedao's ceaseless lecturing, only to find himself surrounded by an array of bizarre rules outside!

    As an accomplished translator of both Chinese and English novels, specializing in the realm of danmei fantasy, I meticulously undertake the task of translating a passage that encapsulates the essence of this captivating genre, where ethereal realms intertwine with profound emotional connections. Please find below the elegant rendering of the given text into English:

    Both Qiu Guokai and Director Wang wore expressions of shattered worldviews after figuring out the wild boar spirits' dilemma.

    Especially the cunning merchant Qiu Guokai, in an effort to cut production costs for the drama crew, was the one who initially suggested economizing on the extras' props. Little did he anticipate that this very idea would backfire on him so spectacularly, leaving him infuriated to the point of nearly weeping aloud.

    What the hell is going on here! Isn't it an unspoken rule in the industry to focus on props and costumes?

    Qiu Guokai thought of how his own production team had been embroiled in a sensationalized ghostly scandal because of this very issue, and his heart ached. To make matters worse, it was true that their costumes and props had been subpar, and they were filming a fantasy drama set in ancient times. This situation was akin to depicting someone's ancestors in a derogatory light, only to be sued for defamation. As the defendant, they would be at a loss for a valid defense from the start.

    "So... It's actually like this..." Director Wang was also at a loss for words, "We can indeed recreate the costumes and props, but with such tight timing, we'll be facing snowfall in no more than two days. There are over a hundred people on set waiting – how can we afford to delay any further?"

    More importantly, the chaos had negatively impacted the open casting call for extras for "Screams." The assistant who had gone to the city to find actors called early in the morning, reporting that rumors of a haunted set were spreading like wildfire among extras at the film studio, even more than the online gossip accounts. Now, almost no one dared to come to Mount Mao Hua for a minor role.

    What a calamity!

    In Fang Xiaojie's unseen world, he was so agitated that his ghostly form was trembling. He pressed against Wang Director's side, shouting frantically, "Director Wang! Choose me!!! Choose me!!! I'm really great at acting!!!"

    During this period, Unity Righteousness had been studying talisman-making and always carried an eye-opening spell on him. Witnessing the situation and sensing the director's palpable anxiety, his simple mind suddenly sparked with a brilliant idea that could compete for a Nobel Prize. He exclaimed in surprise, "Oh my God! How smart am I?!"

    The wild boar demon on the ground jolted in fright, staring at him with alarm.

    Unity Righteousness: "Someone's gaze is locked on you."

    **********

    In the early morning, the cast of "Screams" stepped out of the hotel wrapped in their down jackets, breathing in the fresh mountain air.

    "I feel much calmer now that the ritual is over," someone said. "Ah, speaking of which, didn't the production manager mention that we're shooting the outdoor ensemble scene today?"

    Another actor nodded, "Yes, but who knows if we'll actually be able to shoot. With all the commotion on our set previously, I've heard that no extras dare to come to the film studio anymore."

    At that moment, a crew member walked past them and said, "Director Wang and CEO Qiu have already gathered the extras. They should be arriving soon."

    "Hmm?" Everyone was surprised. Despite the rumors, these extras still dared to come to Majuhua Mountain. They must be quite courageous.

    Just as they were talking, a bus slowly drove into the hotel, bearing the logo of Qiu Guokai's investment company.

    "They're here!" Everyone at the entrance focused their attention, eager to see what kind of people had been recruited. As the bus came to a stop and the doors opened, they eagerly awaited, and finally caught a glimpse of a vivid green color.

    Upon closer inspection, they realized that the green was from a garment. The dress was intricately designed with countless bamboo patterns in the same hue, featuring loose sleeves and a lightweight, flowing fabric that exuded an ethereal quality. A young lady with lustrous hair stepped out of the bus, and as she moved, her outer robe billowed behind her like a mist.

    Has the production team been bewitched to provide such high-quality props for extras?

    And isn't this extra too dedicated? To actually wear the costume before even joining the cast?

    These thoughts swiftly crossed everyone's minds as the young lady in costume stood firmly on the ground and turned towards the hotel.

    The moment her face was revealed, the crew members gathered at the hotel entrance fell silent collectively.

    "Damn it!" someone exclaimed in astonishment, "This level of beauty, this figure – you're telling me she's an extra? Director Wang didn't find a new actress to replace the lead female role, did he?!"

    Yet, the astonishment didn't end there. One after another, more than ten people alighted from the bus, both men and women of varying heights. The only similarity among them was that their looks and demeanor were outrageously impressive!

    Even the man with slightly tanned skin, an impatient expression, a band-aid on his face, and a persistent sniffle from a cold could rival the male lead, who was renowned for his handsomeness in the production team!

    Well, it seemed there was one exception.

    The last person to step down from the bus was a long-haired man dressed in white, exuding a gloomy aura. Compared to the others, he appeared rather ordinary. However, he was incredibly agitated, clinging to Director Wang like a lovesick maiden, chattering incessantly. Director Wang tried to avoid him, unable to conceal his awkward expression.

    Qiu Guokai ignored the star-struck scene around him and approached the crew at the hotel entrance. With a smile, he introduced the group behind him, "These are the extras who will be working with us today. Let's all get to know each other."

    The crew silently focused on his face, genuinely surprised—these were indeed extras...

    What grave had President Qiu dug up to lure away the star talents of an entire talent agency?

    *****

    United Righteousness gleefully showed his master his phone, "Wow, Master, acting is so lucrative! Even the pay for extras is this high!"

    Although the mountain was home to many supernatural creatures, not all could assume human form. Including the wild boar spirit and the bamboo spirit, only about a dozen were capable of taking on roles. Qiu Guokai had been highly satisfied with their appearances, and since they provided their own costumes and props, the remuneration he offered was substantial.

    However, they were all still undocumented, so naturally, the money couldn't be pocketed by them.

    Tuanjie Yi, much like a living Lei Feng, reluctantly took on the task with great difficulty.

    Upon hearing the remuneration mentioned by his eldest disciple, Wei Xi glanced at the Alipay page displayed on his disciple's device, then swiftly redirected his gaze to the handful of spirits waiting patiently nearby.

    If only it could be locked up and made to earn money for me.

    The spirits that fell under his gaze trembled in unison, not daring to mention any compensation for their performance. The wild boar spirit, with its bandaged wound, stammered fearfully under his stare, "I... I... I'm a protected animal..."

    "Hmph." Wei Xi had long been annoyed by the sight of him and couldn't be bothered to respond. Instead, he turned his attention to the woman sitting beside him, gazing at her incessantly.

    As he watched, his second disciple's slightly somber voice sounded from the side, "What are you looking at?"

    With evident interest, Wei Xi gestured with his chin, "Her."

    Shuo Zong's cold gaze followed his lead, focusing on the same target. They discovered that Wei Xi was intently staring at a wild fox spirit. This fox spirit embodied the essence of a seductress, with alluring long hair, a sharp face, large eyes, rosy lips, and pearly whites. Her unique aura, combined with her graceful posture, accentuated her lithe figure, drawing the attention of both actors and crew members passing by. As Wei Xi observed her...

    She sensed their gaze and shifted, leaning to one side while casting a coquettish glance in their direction.

    Shuo Zong's face remained cold as he withdrew his gaze, steadfastly looking at Wei Xi, his voice devoid of any emotion. "Is she pretty?"

    Wei Xi nodded. "Not bad."

    Shuo Zong fell silent for a moment. "What do you think of her?"

    Upon hearing this, the Wild Fox Spirit's lips curled into a sweet smile. She gazed in Wei Xi's direction and, with a lazy gesture, brushed aside the black hair near her ear.

    Wei Xi, observing the tender ear revealed by this action, commented appreciatively, "I think she'd be delicious. Her ears must be crispy."

    Shuo Zong: "..."

    Wild Fox Spirit: "..."

    The Wild Fox Spirit's face paled as she dropped her hand, sitting up straighter and tucking her hair back behind her ear. Swallowing a gulp, she stammered, "R...Red foxes are also second-class protected wild animals in the country..."

    Wei Xi frowned. "Tsk."

    What a waste.

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