I really wanted to post the whole chapter, but I’ve been super busy and classes are starting today, so I decided to post what I have translated on Ch. 7. I will edit this post and add the last part I have yet to translate later.
I love, love, love this chapter. The little local god is hilarious, but Xu Feng’s jealousy is the real treat in this chapter. Poor Xu Feng, he is so overly protective of Jin Mi, but he is just realizing that he may not be the only one she goes to when she needs help. And the other contender is none other than Ren Yu, his older brother that he has been fighting against since he was young. What will our oblivious little Jin Mi do when she is caught in the cross-fire between these two Sons of Heaven?
Chapter 7: Vinegar (Jealousy) Can Also Cause Drunkenness
“In life in this world, there are only four great pleasures – eating, drinking, whoring, and gambling.” The local god’s face was bright red, his tongue swollen, and he was holding a cup of wine in one hand and grasping my sleeve with the other. Appearing to have great confidence, he sincerely said to me: “But if we talk about the stuff in this cup, compared to Lian Guang Gong Zi’s secret family brew, the insignificant wine of the Mortal World, that is, that is what’s-its-name. Oh, that is like cat urine diluted with water, and is not presentable at all!”
I very leniently allowed him to tug at my sleeve, and modestly asked for advice with a smile: “Besides eating and drinking, I don’t know what kind of pleasures gambling and whoring are? This is Lian Guang’s first time here, and must ask this local god for some pointers.”
“Hehe!” The local got laughed shadily: “I’m not making this up. What’s so great about the Heavens? It’s just a bit duller and more desolate. High-brow art and literature is good, but how can it compare to the ready pleasures of earthly life? I am indebted to Lian Guang Gong Zi for coming to this minor god’s place as a guest, so of course this minor god will give you a host’s hospitality!”
While he was saying this, he took me by my hand and boldly said: “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go. This minor god will take you to find pleasure!”
“I have troubled you.” I fisted my hands and straightened my hair. Completely carefree, I followed the local god outside.
During the half of a month that I’ve stayed in the Mortal World, Ren Yu Xian Guan goes on duty at night, and during the day, besides sleeping for a small while, most of his time was spent playing go, playing the zither, discussing poetry, and discussing the classics with me. He took care of me very well. But then, being taken care of too well also has some cons. Not being able to leave the courtyard day after day, gave me the illusion that I was still imprisoned in Shui Jing, only that I had moved to another place.
Xiao Yu Xian Guan warmly said to me: “There are many filthy things in the Mortal World which may tarnish Immortal Lady Jin Mi’s peaceful immortal core. Ren Yu cannot be absolved of that crime even if I die ten thousand times.”
Tarnish me! Tarnish me for now! As long as I can go out and play for a bit. Despite what my heart cried out, in front of Xiao Yu Xian Guan’s water-like and sincere gaze, everything finally turned into one phrase: “Ren Yu Xian Guan is right.”
The past few days, Xiao Yu Xian Guan has been very busy with some kind of official business, and during the day, he does not have the time to play go with me, so he could only ask the local god of wind and water to look after me. The local god respectfully accepted First Highness’s edict and came every day to present local delicacies to me. Some duck neck, dried salted duck, osmanthus duck, salt water duck… I was never picky about food, but did not have any great enmity with the ducks in the Bird Clan, so I asked the local god to change to something else, but the local god’s face was full of incredulity: “Lian Guang Gong Zi does not know, duck is the best dish to pair with wine. Sip on a little yellow rice wine, munch on a bit of osmanthus duck, and that is a content life, a content life!”
This little local god is an alcoholic, but his capacity for alcohol is not very good. Every time, he cannot drink more than ten or so jars, before his tongue becomes swollen. Unexpectedly, his words do not lessen, but he actually becomes even more garrulous, as if he was spilling the beans, he would tell one dirty joke after another.
I tried that yellow rice wine, and it tasted extremely bad. I don’t know how the little local god drinks that so happily. I really couldn’t watch as his ruined himself, so I specially used the osmanthus flowers in the courtyard to brew some wine for him, figuring that I could conveniently knock him unconscious, but this little local god had only drank one jar of osmanthus brew when his eyes began to droop, ready to answer any question. Oh, how lamentable. Even in I drink twenty jars or caskets, I probably won’t be tipsy at all. In Shui Jing before, the other fairies were most afraid of drinking with me, and I couldn’t even find a companion who dared to drink with me, this is the so-called ‘it’s lonely on the top’.
Today, after I planned to knock that little local god unconscious, I had wanted to go out and explore a bit, but who would have known that he enthusiastically offered to take me around himself. I thought this was very good.
Then, that local god took advantage of the energy the wine lent him to take me around in circles until we reached the front of a small shop. The storefront just looked like a little fabric shop, but after entering the shop, the local god asked the shopkeeper: “How does the fresh fish sell here?”
That shopkeeper’s nostrils were assailed by his wine-heavy breath, and with great difficulty, he steadied his thoughts and carefully sized us up and down. He said: “These two young sirs, please come with me.”
I was inexplicably confused, but I followed the little shopkeeper to the inner courtyard and descended down a few levels of steps, entering into a basement. I then realized that it was an altogether different world, this basement was brightly lit, and no fewer than twenty square tables were arranged neatly. Four people were sitting at each table, each with a row of little numbered tofu pieces in front of them, seemingly to be racking their brains, while there were two or three spectators by their side.
“The stakes are higher, and there are more experts. If you want to gamble, you need to go to this underground gambling den to enjoy yourself thoroughly.” The local god said into my ear. After that, he asked the shopkeeper for a set of mahjong, which is the pieces of tofu, and after he roughly explained the rules to me once, he pulled two mortals to scrape a table together and officially start a game.
Two shichen  later, the gambling den’s guards threw the local god and I out onto the streets. “This young sir, we are a small business. We cannot withstand a mighty person like you messing around with us. I must ask you not to gate-crash us again.” In the end, the shopkeeper even bowed three times to me.
The little local god next to me gazed at me, his eyes full of adoration: “Lian Guang Gong Zi is very skilled! Excellent gambling skills! Is Lian Guang Gong Zi’s true form the God of Wealth, Guan Er Ye?”
I carefully recalled that Guan Er Ye who was ever redder than a jujube, and then compared him to my flawlessly white appearance. I really don’t look anything like that. This mahjong thing is not interesting at all. The so-called ‘playing against someone’ is only interesting when you win some and lose some, like when I play go against Xiao Yu Xian Guan. He eats three or five of my pieces, and I engulf five or six of his pieces. It is only interesting when we take turns fussing about who wins, unlike this mahjong, where whenever I need a certain piece, I would draw that piece. I won every game but only won some yellowish white things. This is not interesting at all, whatever, whatever.
I patted the lower hem of my robes and disinterestedly walked forward. The little local god carried the yellowish white things I won in his dalian  and swaggered behind me. Since I have tried out “gambling.” I might as well experience the last of the four pleasures the local god spoke about.
The local god led me to some place called “Wan Chun Lou” and immediately, the scent of rogue and face powders rushed to my head. After feeling dizzy for a moment, a older woman with bright colors smeared on her had already grabbed the local god and me, hold one in each hand: “Oh! Look at these two handsome young sirs. Please come in, please come in! Which girl would you two like to get to know?”
The local god was still dizzy from the wine and had walked quite a bit, so he panted as he conveniently tossed the dalian onto the table. With a mouth full of tea, he said: “For now, just call the best you have over.”
That woman swept her eyes over the open corner of the cloth dalian and immediately straightened. She shrilly shouted towards the upper level: “Mu Dan! Yue Gui! There are important guests!”
Lightning cleaved through my head and I looked blankly. First Flower Lady Mu Dan?!
I towed the little local god and rushed out the door, dashing about wildly. I did not know how far I ran, but when I did not see anyone riding a flower to grab me, I was then able to catch my breath.
Fortunately, I was able to react quickly! If the First Flower Lady captured me again, I don’t know how she’ll punish me. Very lucky, very lucky!
“Why did you do that, Lian Guang Gong Zi?” The little local god did not know the whole story, so he asked me rashly. Before I could open my mouth, he patted the back of his head and said, enlightened: “This minor immortal was careless, this minor immortal was careless. This minor immortal had forgotten what Lian Guang Gong Zi is fond of. I ought to be punished!”
Eh? What kind of things am I fond of?
The little local god did not give me a chance to explain and brought me to a place called “Nan Lou Xiao Guan.” The little courtyard by the door had various grapes and looked rather elegant. As I walked inside, I felt that something was wrong, but I could not figure out what was wrong, until the local god boldly tossed something golden onto the table and two gaudily dressed, but fair and delicate men cuddled up against me, one on my right and the other on my left. I then figured out why this place did not feel right.
Yes! I looked around, in this Nan Lou Xiao Guan, the couples hugging each other were all men with other men.
So this is a place for homosexuals to couple.
“Is Lian Guang Gong Zi pleased with these two young escorts?” The local god squinted happily, leaning against a round back, wooden armchair to drink tea. I heard the sound of his tongue tying into a knot, so apparently he was still drunk.
I drily swallowed my spit and said: “I am very pleased.”
Since I am here already, I might as well stay and make the best of it.
After composing myself, I did not know what to do next. It would not be good if I let others mock me for not being experienced. I turned my head and looked towards the curtain next door, but I only saw a man who looked like a butcher’s block use his folded fan to push up the chin of the young escort in his lap, and say with a smile: “Ying Ge, allow me  to dote on you a bit!”
I understand now!
But, I don’t have a fan in my hands, so what should I do? If I create a fan out of thin air, I’m afraid that I would scare most mortals to death, so, I conveniently grabbed a pair of chopsticks from the tea-table in front of me. I lightly raised the chin of the young escort leaning on my right arm and with a smile, I breathed in, preparing to say the words I had just learned. Who would have known that the young escort by my side feebly raised his head, his eyes staring fixedly behind me, with envy, admiration, shock, and desire.
I raised my head, but I saw the Phoenix standing at the door, wearing green robes and riding boots. The expression on his face surpassed the six worlds and samsara, very mysterious.
I smiled at him: “What a coincidence, is Second Highness here to also seek pleasure?”
“Seek pleasure?!” The Phoenix repeated my words without even a ripple out of place, a cool and dry breeze swept over the nape of my neck: “I came to find you.”
In the grand hall, I don’t know what spell had been used on those mortals, but everyone was watching the Phoenix, dumbfounded. The butcher’s block behind the curtain next door swallowed his saliva and said: “The best product, oh, the best product! As startling as a heavenly person!”
Oh? I was surprised, I didn’t think that there would be such a knowledgeable person hiding himself in this marketplace of the mortal world right now. With just one glance, he could tell that the Phoenix was a “heavenly person,” I really underestimated this butcher block before.
I was then half-twisting my neck to talk to the Phoenix, which was quite strenuous, and I was just preparing to change positions when I saw that the Phoenix’s eyes stared at my right hand darkly. I followed his gaze and looked over, wah, no wonder my hand ached so much, it was from raising the chopsticks to push up the chin of that young escort.
The expression in the Phoenix’s eyes changed, and then, the chopsticks fell onto the floor with a ‘pa-la’. In an instant, a fire started, and shortly after, the area was full of flying ashes and smoldering smoke. The hems of the two young men who were near me also suddenly caught on fire, frightening the two of them into leaping up, perhaps to find a cup of water to put out the fire, but caught in unawares, they accidentally grabbed the cups of wine on the table, and with that cup, the fire thrived even more.
Gauze curtains, wooden chairs, bamboo tables… All the flammable things caught on fire within a few seconds, and only then did all the mortals in the main hall react: “Fire! Fire! Hurry! Run for your lives!”
In the vast sea of flames, amongst the crowd of screaming and shouting people who were scurrying around like rats, the Phoenix stared at me with flames flickering in his eyes, making me wonder if the brilliant raging flames were reflecting from the Phoenix’s eyes, or whether the Phoenix’s eyes ignited that blazing sea of flames.
Besides the Phoenix, only the local god and I had not moved from the hall. I did not move because this was an ordinary fire and could not injure me. Moreover, the Phoenix’s gaze was shooting directly at me, making me afraid to move. The local god did not move because he had seeming gone to the God of Dreams, but I don’t think half closing his eyes to feign sleep looked very genuine.
That fire spread very fast, and in a short while, the whole building was engulfed in flames. The Phoenix finally moved, and he quickly flew to pull me out of the sea of flames, while the local god chased after us and shouted: “Second Highness, fly a bit slower, fly a bit slower!”
“Demons! There are demons!” Two mortals held their heads and trembled.
The Phoenix put me down outside a bamboo grove, and I watched as dark clouds covered the area densely. After the rumble of muffled thunder rolled over, a torrential downpour began, and under the timely rain, the fire consuming the little building not too far away was extinguished.
Treading on bamboo leaves, an immortal being descended from the heavens. His black hair was half draped over his shoulders, his clothes were simple but elegant, and his expression was serene, his age was difficult to determine.
“If this minor deity had not arrived here by chance today, did the Fire Deity want to set the small building on fire and destroy a hundred-some lives?” Even though he did not have the Phoenix’s stature, that immortal being’s reproving gaze was quite awe-inspiring: “The Heavens are entrusted with protecting lives. Crickets and ants are still considered lives, cultivating is for saving the common masses from water and fire. By violating the immortal laws and using such cruel methods, the Fire Deity has wasted these ten thousand some years of cultivation!”
The Phoenix lowered his eyes, a drop of rain that had not been wiped away took this opportunity to fall down, sliding to the floor and a blossoming flower rose from that drop: ”The Water Deity’s admonishment is right. Xu Feng was wrong.”
I have followed the Phoenix for a hundred some years, but I have never seen him scared out of his wits and admitting he was wrong like this, I could not help but be surprised. Then, seeing how the Phoenix’s facial expression in the Nan Lou Xiao Guan just now, looking like he had wanted to skin me and break my bones, I thought that he anger was directed at me this time.
As such, I fisted my hands and bowed to that Water Deity, and self-consciously said: “The Water Deity is so polite. The Fire Deity was preparing to set me on fire just now, but he accidentally missed, and the flame set the place on fire. So, it’s not completely Second Highness’s fault.”
Even though I did not understand why the Phoenix became angry, but then he always had strange temper, so he never needed a reason to get angry. It’s also my fault as a target for not finding a good place to stand and obediently letting him start the fire, that’s why we caused trouble for others. Even though I, Jin Mi, do not have strong immortal powers, the quality of my person is quite good. Furthermore, I heard that now, the debtor is the master. I have not yet received my three hundred years of cultivation, so I must definitely keep him into a good mood.
The Phoenix raised his head, with a difficult expression in his eyes, he said: “Set you on fire? I might as well set myself on fire…” The sorrowful look in his eyes made it seem that he was the one who was almost roasted just now.
The Water Deity looked at me, with a bit of surprise, and after a while, peacefulness pervaded his eyes and he said to the Phoenix: “I hope the Fire Deity will take the matter today as a warning, this cannot happen again. Luckily, no one was wounded this time. Otherwise, for violating the laws of Heaven, obviously, there are Heavenly punishments!”
While he was saying this, Xiao Yu Xian Guan descended into the forest on starlight, and after he saw me, he leisurely tread on leaves and calmly landed on the ground.
“Ren Yu greets high deity, the Water Deity.” Xiao Yu Xian Guan bowed to the Water Deity, his manner respectful and reverent.
I just now remembered, this deity who was full of appearances, this deity that was full of words, and this deity who was full of expressions - this Water Deity is actually Xiao Yu Xian Guan’s future Mt. Tai. He truly is a weighty elder, no wonder Xiao Yu Xian Guan must respectfully call him “high deity.”
After hearing this, First Highness’s Mt. Tai merely gave a relaxed “mmm” sound in reply, the expression in his eyes was very empty. We three in front of him didn’t seem any different than that group of mortals in that little shop, he really is a deity with ample bearing.
Xiao Yu Xian Guan straightened his body, as if he was accustomed to this.
The Water Deity nodded at the Phoenix and Ren Yu Xian Guan, and still treading on a bamboo leaf, he flew away quietly.
The little local god heaved a sigh: “Today, I met the three most revered and respected Heavenly Deities together, this life is complete, complete!” When he spoke then, he drew Xiao Yu Xian Guan’s notice, who turned his head and gazed at him warmly. That little local god seemed to have sobered up and incompetently, he shivered and hid himself without being noticed.
“I wondered who it was.” The Phoenix cocked his eyebrow and half-closed his eyes: “So it was First Highness’s work. No wonder Xu Feng could not find her. What are First Highness’s intentions in hiding Jin Mi’s scent within this town by every means possible?”
Xiao Yu Xian Guan smiled: “Jin Mi is Ren Yu’s friend. She was imprisoned, so Ren Yu obviously must do his best to help her.” Xiao Yu Xian Guan really does hold friendship in high esteem, I sighed with admiration and gazed at him. He also gazed at me and said: “Though, why is Second Highness searching for a little flower fairy with such burning impatience like this?”
Pitter patter, the small flames in the Phoenix’s eyes glittered: “Everyone knows that First Highness lives in seclusion, and does not care about anything beyond his own surroundings. I did not know that your news in both the heavens and on earth is so thorough, you even know about Xu Feng’s every movement so clearly.”
“We are brothers, we should show loving concern for each other. How can you speak with such distance?” Xiao Yu Xian Guan contradicted.
“Oh? Since you say this, I think you are very clear on how the Flower World’s twenty-four Flower Ladies erroneously assumed that Xu Feng kidnapped Jin Mi and have wanted to make trouble in the Heavenly World. For what reason did your younger brother, I, shoulder this blame for First Highness?” The Phoenix’s voice flew past like chips of ice, and he continued to say: “First Highness took care of this friend, Jin Mi, very carefully indeed. Your care brought her to this utterly filthy male brothel!”
Wuyaya, the twenty-four Flower Ladies are looking for me again, I cannot let the Phoenix reveal where I am. I affectionately walked forward, interjecting: “I heard that eating, drinking, whoring and gambling are the four great pleasures in life. I brewed some osmanthus wine, why don’t the two Highnesses try some?”
That night, the moon was dark and wind was strong, getting drunk is a good option.
“Eating, drinking, whoring, and gambling! …” The Phoenix clenched his teeth: “Who taught you that?!”
 Chinese: 时辰, measurement of time equal to about two hours.
 Chinese: 褡裢, long, rectangular bag usually hung from the shoulder or waist.
 Here, he uses the word 爷 (ye), which is a form of address for an official or a wealthy person.
Bahahaha, I never thought I would enjoy a vampire novel, especially after than hideousness that was Twilight, but I am officially hooked on Meng San Sheng’s Dream of a Silver Crucifix. Think of it like a Xian Xia novel, except instead of different types of deities and fairies, there are different types of demons, like vampires…
When she was ten, Dong Fang Xiao woke up in a pile of trash, without any memories of her past. Jia Si adopted her and took care of her five happy years, but on Xiao Xiao’s fifteenth birthday, he disappeared without a trace. Five years later, Xiao Xiao is now twenty and is still waiting for Jia Si to return, but she unwittingly saves a silver-haired man who turns her into a… bloodsucker?! Deserted by her creator, she wanders the streets, fighting her hunger until another vampire, Luo Te, takes her underneath his wing. He brings her to the Demon World, where the vampiric Demon Queen, Bai Yan Xi has set a trap for her. But who is she really? Demon Queen Bai Yan Xi, Satan’s wife Lilith, or just plain Dong Fang Xiao?
This is one of those comedic books with plenty of yummy male leads to drool over, but Xiao Xiao’s wacky humor is what makes this an incredibly enjoyable read for me. I happen to adore Luo Te to bits because he flirts with her so shamelessly, but is always there to protect and help her when she needs him. No need to fight girls, because there are a harem of guys to choose from. But luckily, none of the guys in this story are as abysmal as Fan Li and Gou Jian in Meng San Sheng’s Grand Dream of Spring and Autumn.
Up to where I’ve read, there is Jia Si (the head of the Church’s Judgement Courts), Luo Te (vampire lord), Wen Ren Bai (vampire protector of the Demon Queen), Wei Sheng Yang (aka Satan who claims that she is his wife, Lilith), Mo Wen (vampire seer who selfishly loves Li) and Li (daywalker who co-inhabits Mo Wen’s body).
(From left to right: Satan, Wei Sheng Yang, Bai Yan Xi, Dong Fang Xiao, Luo Te, Mo Wen/Li, Wen Ren Bai/Xiao Bai, Jia Si/Michael)
Scene Translation: A Tooth for a Tooth
That was a man, who seemingly was already frozen. I quickly got up and walked out the door, taking advantage of the light to bend over and look at him.
… All encounters with beautiful men occurred today.
His eyes were closed tightly, his long eyelashes cast a shadow underneath his eyes, and his pale lips were pressed together tightly.
I stretched out my hand to test his breath, my legs crumpled and I fell on my butt.
He… he actually wasn’t breathing…
Trembling, I pulled out my cell phone, preparing to call the police, but I realized that my phone was out of power. How annoying. But suddenly, he moved a little.
He’s still alive?
I quickly used both my hands and my feet, using the energy one uses to suckle milk (as a baby I hope), to haul him back into the room.
I rushed into the bedroom to grab a blanket to bundle him up with.
I touched his face, but it was still as frightfully cold as before, so I turned around to grab the phone, preparing to call 120.
I half dragged, half carried him to the sofa: “Ai!” There was a stabbing pain in my right hand. I exhaled deeply and raised my hand, seeing that a loose nail from the table had left a trace of blood on my index finger. I then sucked on the finger that was pricked, but I suddenly felt that someone was coldly staring at me. I unconsciously raised my head, who knows when that man had actually woke up?
“You’re awake?” Pleasantly surprised, I raised my hand to feel his forehead, but it was still icily cold.
My hand stiffened slightly. I did not notice earlier, but his hair was actually silver-colored! His long and slender eyes were actually a strange blood-red color…
“Who… are you?”
That silver-haired man ignored my question, but his strange, blood-colored eyes stared unwavering at my index finger that I had scratched just now. I unconsciously stepped back, a silver-colored light flashed by and I felt a sharp pain on my neck. That fellow was actually biting my neck, his sharp and pointed teeth piecing my neck. Before I knew to be afraid, surprise passed through my entire body. Panic-stricken, I stared widely, feeling the energy in my body drain out along with the blood.
“Let go of me!” I screamed. That damned fellow, he actually dared to bite me!
At that moment, everything became blurry, but I suddenly thought of the unearthly beautiful man I had met this morning. He told me my fortune, that I cannot save anyone today…
I felt my body gradually become icy cold, grasping onto that last remaining thread of awareness, I took on the appearance of a fierce tiger swooping down on his prey. I pounced on that fellow who repaid my kindness with enmity. I ruthlessly held onto his neck and following his example, I bit down with a ‘ka-cha’.
He dared to bite me! He must be tired of living!
His long and slender body stiffened slightly, his icy cold eyes paused in surprise, absent-mindedly gazing at me, his face full of incredulity. Obviously, he could not believe that I would actually bite him. Humph, my motto is: repay kindness, repay grudges, even if I must die, I must tow someone along with me… I am Little Strength, the Little Strength that returns force with force! Definitely, a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye. You bit me, I would obviously bite you back in return!
“Let go!” He recovered to his composure and glared at me.
“No! You bit me just now… Who should I find if I got infected with rabies?”
Black thread… silence.
“Don’t worry, dead people do not get rabies.” That man looked at me coldly.
“Dead people?” I blinked my eyes and finally let go.
Before I had heard that fellow’s reply, pain fierce enough to attack the skies and level the earth had already passed through me…
Burning pain… Burning pain consumed me like raging fire… There seemed to be something inside my body, trying to split me open to come out, that kind of fierce pain made me wish for death rather than life… My eyes were filled with a blood-red color, like an overgrowth of Hell’s demonic blood-red lotus…
After a long time, everything quieted down.
A pungent and salty fluid was still in my mouth, but that strange, silver-haired man had already disappeared. The pungent taste of his blood would not vanish from my mouth even after such a long time…
“Jerk! You actually dared to run?!”
“Hey… at least leave a name card for me!” I ran out of the room, so angry that I hopped foot to foot.
The sky was as black as ink, and the morning star sparkled distantly in the sky. I didn’t know when the sky had already darkened. Suddenly, a dazzling silver-colored light flashed in front of my eyes, that silver light came from my right hand. I paused in surprise slightly and looked at my right hand. I didn’t know when a silver ring suddenly appeared on the index finger of my right hand.
Did that fellow leave this?
What does he mean by this? Did he leave this to pay for my medical expenses?
So he does have a conscience…
I actually tried to start Once Promised a few months ago, but was unable to get past the heavy introduction and first chapter. I tried again last week and after finally figuring out the political situation in the book, it became unbelievably addicting. Once Promised is Tong Hua’s first attempt at the fantasy genre but still has her key tear-jerking style. I’m not even done with the book and I already want to lock her away for shattering my poor heart so many times and to make sure she will never torture another soul with her vivid storytelling.
The reason I love this story so much is because the non-romantic relationships are so gripping - Shao Hao and Qing Yang’s friendship, Qing Yang and Chang Yi’s brotherly affection for A’Heng, the sworn brother- and sister-hood between Xi Ling Lei, Yan Di and Wang Mu, Shun Di’s affection for A’Heng, and A’Heng’s childhood with Yi Peng.
I’m not going to summarize this book in detail because Chancy and Raini have already promised to translate it after they finish their current project (and because it would be way to emotionally exhausting to remember each and every scene), but I will explain the setting a little. Once Promised takes place in a mythical/semi-historical era, call the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors period. The world is split into three kingdoms ruled by three immortals - Shen Nong’s Yan Di, Xuan Yuan’s Huang Di, and Gao Xin’s Shun Di. Drawing these three kingdoms together is a young immortal girl named Xi Ling Heng, also known as Xuan Yuan Ba, the Tenth and only Princess of Xuan Yuan’s Huang Di. She is betrothed to Gao Xin’s eldest prince, Shao Hao, but on her various journeys away from home, she meets and slowly falls in love with Chi You, a wild beast-turned-man and Yan Di’s only disciple. Xuan Yuan’s Huang Di single-handedly created his own empire while Shen Nong and Gao Xin were both descended from old royalty. However, Huang Di’s ultimate goal is world domination and he uses the people around him to achieve his own ends, causing his wives and children to scheme against each other, and pulling all three kingdoms into war.
This particular scene involves Xi Ling Heng, who has turned from an innocent and happy girl, into a cold and calculating woman. She will do anything to protect her family, even if she has to kill the brother that she grew up with. I bawled like a baby during this scene. I hated Yi Peng with all my guts and then Tong Hua pulls this, making me completely unable to hate him. I think what draws me into Tong Hua’s stories is how complex and fleshed out each of her characters is. No one is simply good or evil, they are all various shades of grey, each with a hidden past.
Edit: Actually, now thinking back, I must clarify that the characters in her historical/fantasy novels have good character development. In her modern novel Secrets Hidden by Time, Su Man started out as a desperate and annoying woman but ended up being a completely insufferable idiot. So in that case, it was major character regression.
Scene Translation: At Death’s Door, Their Final Meeting
That day was also Tong Yu Shi’s  funeral, but because Lei Zu is the Queen, Qing Yang is the future Huang Di in everyone’s hearts, and Huang Di announced that Chang Pu had been wounded on the battlefield, and had died from her wound, so her funeral was obviously more important than the Tong Yu Shi “passing due to illness”. Tong Yu Shi’s grave was drearily silent, with only Yi Peng accompanying her.
A’Heng walked over, Yi Peng shouted: “Get lost!”
A’Heng ignored him, and still walked toward the grave. Yi Peng flew into a rage and raised his palm to strike A’Heng, each strike was violent with the intent to kill: “Have you come to gloat?”
While evading him, A’Heng said: “What should I gloat about? Gloat that you have my caused the deaths of my three blood-related brothers? Gloat that your mother has forced my mother so much that she does not have many days to live?”
Surprised, Yi Peng uncertainly asked: “What rubbish are you talking about? Isn’t Qing Yang alive and well?”
“He is already dead. When you plotted to make our Royal Father mistakenly believe that he really wanted to poison our Royal Father, the poison he drank began to take effect just when he was dueling with Chi You, so he died at Chi You’s hands.”
“Then that Qing Yang who is living in seclusion underneath Gui Xu Shui to heal his wounds is fake?” Yi Peng began to laugh loudly, laughing so hard that he could not catch his breath: “Mother, did you hear this? The villain who caused elder brother’s death had actually died long ago! That old poisonous woman is also about to die!”
A’Heng watched coldly. After Yi Peng was finished laughing, he then looked at A’Heng and said: “With you personality, this should be the memorial you are giving to me. Little sister, how are you planning to kill me?”
A’Heng said: “I already have.”
Yi Peng smiled and said: “I believe you, but I don’t understand.”
“A few thousand years ago, my mother and Yan Di were sworn brother and sister. When Yan Di was critically ill, he gave me his life’s work, Shen Nong’s Book of Chinese Medicine.”
Yi Peng suddenly understood: “No wonder you could hide how long you were pregnant with that little bastard, but even with Shen Nong’s Book of Chinese Medicine, you cannot easily poison me.”
“I know, but have you forgotten? We were taught by the same shifu , and I am very familiar with how your lingqi  operates. I prepared the poison in two steps. The first step, was just right here.” A’Heng looked at Tong Yu Shi’s tomb: “These past few days, you have been kneeling here, often for the entire night. When you are grieved, the lingli that protects your body weakens a lot and can easily be invaded by evil influences.”
“This is an open grave that has been blessed with lingli, if you used poison, it would have definitely changed.”
“Yes, so what I used cannot be considered a poison. Actually it is a medicine to greatly increase lingli, and can cause your lingli to rise quickly in a short amount of time. I had just told you that Qing Yang had already died, and your spirit was agitated. When you laughed uproariously, you breathed in many things that you shouldn’t have breathed in. This is also not a poison, but when paired with the medicine that was already in your body, combined with how your lingli specially operates, it will lead all your lingli to converge in your heart. In the end, your heart will not be able to control your powerful lingli, so your heart will and explode and you will die.”
Yi Peng paused in surprise and A’Heng said: “I am Yan Di of Shen Nong’s disciple, not the disciple of Jiu Li’s King of Poison. I do not need poison to take someone’s life.”
Since life no longer has joys, why should he be afraid of death? Yi Peng smiled, gathered all his lingli and wanted to kill A’Heng with one strike: “Then that’s fine. We will go together!”
A’Heng quietly stood there without moving. Yi Peng released half of the force in his palm and fell down in front of the grave.
The lingli he had just gathered all surged into his heart, the blood vessels in his heart were seemingly about to burst open, putting him in so much pain that his entire body twitched.
Yi Peng tried his best to control the turbulently flowing lingli. His face turned from white to green, and from green to red, his countless lingqi seemed like a countless number of poison snakes delving into and biting at his heart. His face trembled with pain.
A’Heng squatted next to him, the emotion in her eyes was very complex. She hated him, so she planned this painful death for him, but seeing him in so much pain now, she also was in a lot of pain.
“Yi Peng, if I do not kill you, will you still try to kill Zhuan Xu?”
Yi Peng was in so much pain that his face was contorted, but he still laughed wildly and fiercely said: “Yes! His mother killed my mother. How could I let him off? All of you must die… ah!” He was in so much pain that he could no longer speak, his hands beating at his chest. He tore his clothes to shreds, revealing a scar on his right shoulder. It was circular with five faint purple shadows, in the shape of a claw.
A’Heng’s expression quickly changed and her eyes were filled with tears.
“Ah—ah—“ Yi Peng was in so much pain that he cried out pitifully, falling at A’Heng’s feet, coiling into a ball, and the scar on his shoulder became even more pronounced.
A’Heng stretched out her trembling hand, placing it on Yi Peng’s shoulder, sending her lingli into his body, slowly relieving Yi Peng’s pain. Yi Peng tore at her, pushed her, and hit her: “Scram!” But she did not move away, allowing Yi Peng to strike her. Yi Peng ripped her sleeve, revealing her arm. There was a scar on her arm, very similar to the scar on Yi Peng, and looked like half of a claw.
As Yi Peng hit her arm, he suddenly slowed.
A’Heng’s lingli began to work and the pain slowly vanished. This disappearing pain seemed to have emptied the grief and hate in his heart. His heart seemed to have turned into a deep pool of water, clean and clear, with sunlight passing through. At the bottom of the pool was a young man who did not know what worries were.
Their Royal Father mandated that he would study together with A’Heng, and chose the same shifu for them, but his mother forbade him from speaking to A’Heng. Every day in the early morning, A’Heng would always hide in the corner waiting for him, and they would go to class together, holding each other’s hands.
In the summer afternoons, they jumped into water together from a high bridge, competing who would make the largest splash. In the snowy winter, they would lie in the snow together, using wicker baskets to catch birds. He gave the parrot he liked most to A’Heng and A’Heng embroidered a hebao  for him, making the most beautiful tassels on that hebao.
The Huang Jing Mountain overgrown with weeds was their secret playground. They would race each other, catch butterflies together, catch crickets together, and dig for earthworms together. She would say to him: “Ninth brother, slow down a bit” and he would say to her: “A’Heng, hurry up.”
Perhaps it was because their mothers and older brothers forbade them to play together, but both of them were rebellious and wanted to be together even more. They were obviously very good friends, but when their entire family got together, they would pretend not to know each other, but behind other people’s backs, they would smile at each other and secretly make funny faces at each other, pleased that their parents and older brothers did not know their little secret.
When they ate together, because of age, the two would sit next to each other. They did not dare to speak, but underneath the table, he would poke her and she would kick him lightly, both pursing their lips to hide their smiles.
They heard that Uncle Xiang Wan caught a very powerful demon, so they skipped class to see the big demon together. Their heads inched together, and after whispering for while, they came up with countless cunning schemes and actually tricked all the guards to leave. They ran in and unwittingly destroyed the restraints, releasing the fierce and brutal demon. They were so afraid that they ran wildly. A’Heng was wearing a skirt so she was unable to run quickly and was caught by that demon’s claw, and broke her arm. He turned around and saw A’Heng, half of her body was covered in blood, and she was shouting at him: “Ninth Brother, run away! Hurry and run away!”
He was so scared, he really wanted to run, but he was even more afraid that the demon would eat A’Heng, so he ran back to save A’Heng. He jumped towards the demon, waving his hands: “Come at me, come at me! Come and chase after me!”
The demon was infuriated, it abandoned A’Heng and came to pursue him. He could not outrun that demon and was caught by that demon, whose sharp claw pierced his shoulder, while the other sharp claw headed towards his heart. Dragging her broken arm, A’Heng quickly leapt on that demon’s shoulder and forcefully smashed that demon’s eyes, why crying: “Ninth Brother, Ninth Brother. Are you hurt?”
He did not want to be weak like a girl, so he used all his effort to make a funny face at A’Heng. Acting like he wasn’t bothered at all, he breathed in and said: “This demon can be considered quite powerful.”
A’Heng was teased by his funny face that she stopped crying and smiled.
Luckily Uncle Xiang Wan quickly appeared and saved the two of them. Even though their uncle and their brothers all begged leniency for them, their Royal Father was very angry, so he confined them and ordered the physicians to keep their scars, as a reminder of their punishment.
Those days when they studied together, played together, rebelled against their parents together, tricked their older brothers together….
Yi Peng grasped A’Heng’s arm, with an absent-minded expression, as if he didn’t understand how they became like how they are today.
“A’Heng.” Yi Peng called out lightly. Since Third Brother Xuan Yuan Hui had died, he had only been willing to politely call her little sister.
A’Heng’s tears trickled down: “Ninth Brother.” Since Qing Yang had died, this is the first time she has truly viewed him as her older brother.
Yi Peng smiled slightly and said: “If we didn’t grown up, wouldn’t that be great? I really want to go back to how we were when we were little.”
A’Heng’s lingli could no longer fetter his lingli and the pain began to intensify. Yi Peng quietly took the dagger from A’Heng’s waist – that dagger Chang Pu used to commit suicide, and used the last bit of his energy to stab it into his heart: “A’Heng, this time, the demon was too powerful. We all lost.”
“Ninth Brother, Ninth Brother…”
A’Heng called out, frightened and confused. Her entire face was covered in tears, but Yi Peng only made a funny face at her.
That funny expression stiffened on his face and became his eternal goodbye.
“Ninth Brother!” A’Heng hugged Yi Peng, choking with sobs.
On the hillside, butterflies fluttered quickly. There was a young man and a young girl running and leaping in the wind, and their happy laughter rippled with the wind. A’Heng, A’Heng, hurry up, hurry up!
Ninth Brother, Ninth Brother, slow down a bit, slow down a bit!
 Chinese: 氏, used to indicated ‘belonging to the family of’
 Chinese: 师傅, teacher
 Chinese: 灵气, spirit/power
[4[ Chinese: 荷包, a small bag for carrying loose change and other small things.
This is one of the shorter chapters, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less action-packed than the other chapters. The First Flower Lady forces Jin Mi to return to Shui Jing and Jin Mi anxiously awaits her knight in shining armor (He is! She just doesn’t knows it yet…) to come and free her from her prison. Xu Feng comes but heart-brokenly leaves without her. Luckily, someone else is also there for her in her times of need.
Chapter 6: The Mortal World in a Flash
I looked around, the grave of that old lady, the previous Flower Deity was still as low-key as it had been in the past. I have left the Flower World for a hundred years, but I still did not see a few blooming flowers to decorate her funeral mound. The past four thousand years, when I lived in Shui Jing, the season I looked forward to most was “Shuang Jiang ”, because that was the anniversary of the previous Flower Deity’s death. Every year, during Shuang Jiang, the First Flower Lady would open Shui Jing up and allow us little immortals and little fairies to leave the boundary. She would allow us to go in front of the old fellow, the previous Flower Deity’s grave to hold a memorial service, respectfully fulfilling us younger generation’s filial duty. Even though it did not take more that the time to burn one joss stick to fly from Shui Jing the grave, to us fairies who had been imprisoned in Shui Jing for many years, this was as precious as the mortals treated their New Year. Even though it seemed like we needed to accompany the twenty-four Flower Ladies and put on the appearance of grievously profound pain, we were actually jumping for joy in our hearts.
But, I kneeled in front of the grave and counted on my fingers. Right now, it wasn’t even the summer solstice, so Shuang Jiang was little too far away, and the Tomb Sweeping Festival had already passed…
“Our previous master’s ghost in heaven knows. In front of her burial mound, I’ll ask and you answer, do not dare to even speak half a lie!” The First Flower Lady opened her mouth commandingly.
After scrutinizing the First Flower Lady’s expression, I obediently placed my palms together and bowed three times to the burial mound, my entire face full of devotion.
“Where is the hairpin that was on your head?”
“I lost it.” Why does everyone care so much about the Spirit-Sealing Hairpin?
“Besides the Fire Deity, how many other people have seen your true appearance?”
“There’s also Yue Xia Xian Ren, Le Ting, Fei Xu, the Night Deity, Lao Hu, Ji Dou Xing Jun…” I counted using my fingers, doing my best to remember, but a murderous look seethed out of the First Flower Lady’s eyes. It scalded me and I shivered a little, unable to continue speaking.
“Was the Fire Deity the one who brought you out of Shui Jing?” The First Flower Lady’s gaze pieced me.
“Yes.” I timidly replied.
“During the hundred years you’ve left Shui Jing, you have been staying at the Heavenly World’s Palace of the Parasol Tree Perch?”
“After the Fire Deity was wounded by the fever needles, were you the one who grew the Ling Zhi Xian Cao and saved his life?”
“Finally, let me ask you…” The First Flower Lady clenched her teeth, and determinedly opened her mouth: “Do you have romantic feelings for the Fire Deity?”
“Yes.” Since I had answered her previous questions so smoothly, I did not even think before that escaped my lips.
“What evil! This is really a sin!” The First Flower Lady’s reason cracked, and she closed her eyes: “Previous Master! Mu Dan was useless! I do not deserve your great trust! Today, I am willing to destroy half of my immortal powers myself as punishment!” While she said this, she solemnly knelt in front of the burial mound with a ‘pu-tong’ and raised her hand to strike herself on the forehead.
“No, no, it’s not that at all!” I quickly refuted. Why does everyone become so agitated when they hear that the Phoenix and I have some kind of relationship? Lao Hu was like that and the First Flower Lady is also like that right now. Oh, half of her immortal powers. Isn’t the First Flower Lady is being a bit too ostentatious and wasteful?
The First Flower Lady raised her hand with a rustle, and with a turn of her body, her eyes ablaze with anger imprisoned me: “Tell me the truth, is what you just said real?”
Seeing her fuss over this answer so much, I could not help but seriously think it over. But what can be considered to have developed romantic feelings for the Phoenix?
I remembered the love stories that the fox immortal had told me, and putting them together, it roughly boiled down to the eight big words “Making love and threatening to commit suicide repeatedly”. Even though the Phoenix had taught me some methods of self-cultivation, he has never practiced the method of coupling with me, thus, “making love” can be thrown out; as for asking me to “threaten to commit suicide repeatedly” for that Phoenix, that would be stretching the limits of my imagination even more.
So, I nodded at the First Flower Lady and said: “It’s true.”
The First Flower Lady slowly gazed at my face: “Then why would you save his life? Why would the words you said to him before we left be so inviting?!”
Were they? I blinked my eyes: “He promised to use three hundred years of cultivation in exchange for the Ling Zhi Xian Cao, and still has not fulfilled his promise yet.”
The First Flower Lady tottered, closed her eyes and after she was silent for a while, she opened her mouth to say: “It was only for cultivation?” Then, she sighed, relieved, and murmured to herself: “Nevermind, I was muddled and overestimated you…”
Seeing that the old lady’s disease had finally passed, I rubbed my knees and prepared to stand up, but who knew that she would suddenly open her eyes and sternly stare at me, forcefully preventing me from moving: “You need to firmly keep in mind, the Heavenly World and our Flower World have irreconcilable enmity! Today, in front of this grave and in front of the previous master, you must make an oath to never have any connection to the Heavenly World!”
I obediently raised two fingers on my right hand to my forehead: “I, Jin Mi, will swear right now, that I will never have any relations with people from the Heavenly World for the rest of my life! If I break this oath, may my lingli be destroyed, unable to become an immortal for this life. In the next life, may I be demoted to a human, and in the life after that, may I become a carrot for rabbits to nibble on…”
“That’s enough, that’s enough. We’ll leave it like this for today.” The First Flower Lady probably felt that I acted very commendably, and the oath I made was vicious enough, so satisfied, she stretched out her hand to help me up. I reservedly hugged myself with delight, the old lady was actually this easy to deceive. “People from the Heavenly World, people of the Heavenly World”, since it is the Heavenly World, how would there be people?
This was a bit too ostentatious, as after the First Flower Lady personally brought me back to Shui Jing, the other twenty-three Flower Ladies all arrived to look at me, and the fairies in Shui Jing also joyfully squeezed in front of my door to watch the liveliness, besides Lin Qiao, who apparently mistakenly reported something to the First Flower Lady and was sent to the neighboring vegetable garden to grow vegetables as punishment, and Lao Hu who wailed and shut his door, saying that I wounded his heart when I tricked him and didn’t want to see me ever again.
But, what did the Heavenly World do to the Flower World? Whenever the Flower Ladies talked about the Heavenly World, their faces would have contempt and their eyes would be full of hatred. One after another, they would sincerely urge me to not have any connections with the Heavenly Family, but they wouldn’t be willing to tell me the reason, so I could only woozily use my curiosity to torment my mind, over and over again.
After the Flower Ladies left, the First Flower Lady pasted three magical amulets on my door and forcefully told me to reflect on my mistakes in seclusion.
Even though the Phoenix usually cannot be considered warm and close to me, he can be considered an deity who keeps his word. Since he had joyfully agreed to come to the Flower World the day before yesterday, I definitely think that he will come today. I’ve always considered the Phoenix’s immortal powers to be very great, so the three magical amulets on my door should not be any different from a pair of duilian  to him.
As such, I rose very early, and after I washed up, I waited for the Phoenix to come and take off those magical amulets and let me out. I stepped on a grape trellis and climbed on the wall to look outside of the door three times, and finally waited until one cloud, two clouds, three clouds… a total of twenty-four clouds appeared at the edge of the sky. I pulled my head in, preparing to get down the way I climbed up. Those weren’t clouds, they were obviously the slim and supple figures of the twenty-four Flower Ladies heading here on flowers.
I was just about to return the way I came, when the corner of my eyes swept over a clear, seven-colored light sweeping through the clouds. It was extraordinarily brilliant, and when I fixed my gaze on it, I saw that it was actually that guy, the Phoenix, suddenly appearing out of nowhere and landing in front of the door to my courtyard. Today, he was wearing a red, wide-sleeved robe, with gold colored phoenix design border. His hem reached the ground, and he garishly stood in front of my door like this, so that the entire Shui Jing became a few degrees brighter.
Then, when the twenty-four Flower Ladies saw his flash of gold light, their expressions darkened quite a bit, and one after another, they stepped off of their flowers, landing in front of the Phoenix. The Phoenix leisurely fisted his hands in greeting: “This minor deity, Xu Feng, greets all the Flower Ladies.”
The First Flower Lady used the corner of her eye to sweep over him: “For what reason has the Fire Deity traveled from a thousand li  away to enter my Flower World without permission, not only once, but twice?”
“This minor deity has called on you this time for the Immortal Lady Jin Mi.” The tip of the Phoenix’s eyebrow curved into a thread of a smile, and without reservations, he said: “Xu Feng promised Jin Mi that I would come today. I must keep my word, especially to the person that this minor deity admires. Even if mountains of daggers and seas of fire obstructed me, I must come. I beg the Flower Ladies to bend the rules this one time.”
A person he admires? According to the fox immortal’s words, how would he explain this? Wah, that’s right, the fox immortal would definitely say: “This old man thinks that the word ‘admire’ is very graceful.” So it seems that the Phoenix wants to practice that method of coupling with me?
I propped my chin in my palm and considered it for a while. Yes, actually there is nothing wrong with that. As long as I can increase my lingli.
“This is preposterous!” The little Flower Lady Ding Xiang  clenched her teeth and pushed the words over her tongue, so angry that her entire body was shaking: “This really is a sin! The heavens and earth are so large, with more that thousands and ten thousands of women, but why won’t your Heavenly Family let our Flower World off?! Especially Jin Mi, the Fire Deity should not hold such vain hopes anymore!”
“Especially Jin Mi?” The Phoenix raised his eyebrow, the corners of his lips seemed to be savoring those words: “This minor deity only knows that Jin Mi is a fruit fairy who was be self-cultivating for a few thousand years. After hearing the Flower Lady Ding Xiang, I would like to ask why Jin Mi is ‘special’?”
The little Flower Lady paused, and appeared to be vexed.
The First Flower lady lifted her eyes and lightly glanced at the me who was then lying on the top of the wall: “The Fire Deity does not know all the many stories of the world. Today, this minor immortal will sincerely advise Second Highness. Do not be misled by Jin Mi’s appearance. In the end, the one who will be heartbroken after such a brief dream of grandeur, will be you.”
The Phoenix raised his hand and shook his head, saying: “This minor deity is not such a shallow person to judge people by their appearance. Xu Feng admires Jin Mi, obviously because I like her spring water-like disposition and has no connection to her appearance.”
The little Flower Lady Ding Xiang sneered: “The people of the Heavenly Family are so fickle. Did you know that then thousand years ago, a deity said the same thing you did? And what happened in the end? After waking from the dream, the so-called ‘passionate love’ is just an outrageous lie.”
The Phoenix wrinkled his brow: “This minor deity does not know for what old reason the two worlds have had a long-standing grudge for these ten thousand years, but not matter what happened in the past, it is a thing of the past. It would be unwise if every world and every generation continues to be affected by it. I beg the twenty-four Flower Ladies to tell this minor deity the origin of this grudge, perhaps it is a misunderstanding.”
“Since the Fire Deity has the time to raid my Flower World, why don’t you go and ask His Almighty Majesty, the Heavenly Emperor?” Flower Lady Yu Lan  coldly interjected.
The First Flower Lady raised her hand to stop the Flower Lady Yu Lan: “I have spoken enough about this. I only have one sentence, all the women in the are fine, but not Jin Mi by any means!”
“Not Jin Mi by any means?” After hearing this, the Phoenix bowed his head a pondered for a second. In a flash, his expression changed abruptly, like a rising storm, as if his dream had been decisively shattered: “The Heavenly Emperor… the previous Flower Deity… is Jin Mi…”
“It is useless to speak anymore. Lao Hu, see him out!” The First Flower Lady angrily turned around.
Lao Hu, who was squatting in a corner and had been secretly listening for quite a while, paused in surprise as the First Flower Lady had caught him. He rubbed his head, smiled awkwardly and shifted his round little body out. Turning his head, he solemnly stretched his hand out to the Phoenix: “You Highness, the Fire Deity, please —-!”
“Ai!” I held onto the wall, listening to them trying to guess riddles and exchanging code words until I was completely muddled. Why is he leaving all of a sudden? I’m still locked up here. As such, I hurriedly made a noise to call out to the Phoenix, but who would have thought that he couldn’t hear me at all and just turned around. I just saw that the First Flower Lady had used camouflage magic outside my door and besides the person who created the spell, others wouldn’t be able to see even a bit of me.
The First Flower Lady probably heard me call out and quickly looked at me with daggers in her eyes, so I clapped my hands over my mouth and obediently closed my mouth.
I’ve seen an arrogant Phoenix before, a cold Phoenix, an amorous Phoenix, a disagreeable Phoenix, but this is the first time I’ve seen this Phoenix who has seemingly lost his soul. I could not help but look at him a couple more times, but I only saw him slowly walked outside Shui Jing in utter confusion. He even forgot to climb onto a cloud and didn’t turn his head back while he walked outside of Shui Jing.
At this moment, I understood something insightful. It does not matter if your lingli is great, if your mouth is deft, you can still defeat the enemy. A good example is the First Flower Lady towards the Phoenix in this matter, so I could not help but admire the old lady a bit more.
But since the Phoenix has been told off by the First Flower Lady, who is going to remove the three magical symbols on my door? Before, at least I could exercise my muscles a bit in Shui Jing, but now, I can only stay in my little house, pacing a hundred steps east-to-west and a hundred steps north-to-south. Very stuffy.
After another two days, the First Flower Lady came to Shui Jing as usual to make an inspection, and after she left, I looked at the water clock on the table. It wasn’t even past hai period . Bored to death, I pinched a grape leaf to entice a group of fireflies, and one after another, I pulled off their wings to relieve my boredom.
Just as I was pulling happily, I saw a twinkling stream of light glide over from the horizon, I didn’t know which Star Lord was coming down to play today. I’ve heard that the mortals have a custom; whenever they see a meteor, if they take advantage of the light to make a wish, it will definitely come true. Even though I don’t think mortals are very knowledgeable, this custom is rather charming, so I silently made my wish on that shooting star from the depths of my heart, praying that I will be able to get my freedom soon.
My eyes silently followed that meteor for a while, and saw that its path wasn’t quite right, but after a moment, a dazzling light rose from inside the courtyard. Hey, as I expected, it fell into my courtyard. Don’t let it smash the banana tree I planted.
I ran to the inner courtyard quickly, and after a shining immortal light dispersed, but there wasn’t some little Star Lord riding a broom. Under the water-like moonlight, Xiao Yu Xian Guan was leading a sika deer Nightmare Beast, silently standing in the middle of the courtyard and gracefully smiling at me. A green embroidery design tastefully decorated his white silk robe, which rose and fell with the night wind.
“This minor deity did not send a calling card, and appeared here rudely. I must ask the Immortal Lady Jin Mi not to be angry. Xiao Yu Xian Guan is truly a courteous deity.
“Not at all, not at all. I have been terribly idle these two days, Xiao Yu Xian Guan came just in time to relieve my boredom. Jin Mi likes this very much.” I quickly said a few courteous sentences.
Xiao Yu Xian Guan looked at my hand, and a hint of a smile appeared on his lips. I followed his gaze and saw that the wings of a small firefly were still in my hands. That little bug had its wings pinched and was then twisting vehemently. I hurriedly tossed it away, rubbed my hands and laughed awkwardly.
Xiao Yu Xian Guan withdrew his gaze, and lightly hid his smile: “I think since Immortal Lady Jin Mi is bored to death indeed. Can this minor deity have the honor of taking Immortal Lady Jin Mi out of Shui Jing to relax a bit?” Xiao Yu Xian Guan is truly a perceptive and good deity.
Looking like I wanted to make the best out of an abysmal situation, I said: “That’s fine.”
I climbed on the Nightmare Beast’s back, Xiao Yu Xian Guan pulled the lead, and he lightly led us out of the boundary that the First Flower Lady constructed, and bright light suddenly appeared before my eyes. I felt even more that Xiao Yu Xian Guan is a good deity whose immortal powers aren’t bad.
So it seems that the mortals sometimes have their own knowledge, as this custom of wishing upon a shooting star is very effective indeed.
Numerous specks of starlight converged on the horizon, flowing into the Heavenly River. Xiao Yu Xian Guan led the sika deer Nightmare beast to step on the river and go upstream, against the current.
I was riding on the Nightmare Beast’s back, and petted over its hair that was as smooth as water. I turned my head and said to Xiao Yu Xian Guan: “Ren Yu Xian Guan’s job, if considering your rank, it is pretty good, but if considering charm, Jin Mi thinks that it is not as good as Mao Ri Xing Jun’s .”
“Oh? I’m interested in hearing Immortal Lady Jin Mi’s respected opinion.” Xiao Yu Xian Guan paused his steps and gazed at me.
“Mao Ri Xing Jun is on duty during the day, which is rather lively due to the crowing of roosters and the barking of dogs. But in the middle of the night, everyone is already asleep, so it is dreary. You only have this mute little Nightmare Beast to accompany you, without even another person to talk to. Isn’t Xiao Yu Xian Guan a little too lonely?”
Xiao Yu Xian Guan bowed his head, staring at the glittering flow of the Heavenly River underneath his feet, and lightly smiled at his reflection: “Only people who have experienced liveliness know what loneliness is. I am fated to be alone for tens of thousands of years. Every day, every year, I eat by myself, practice self-cultivation by myself, read by myself, and sleep by myself. I have never experienced liveliness so how would I know what loneliness is?”
I turned my head towards him and said: “I sleep late. If you are terribly bored, you can look for me, or I can look for you. Us two can be bored together. But, where does Xiao Yu Xian Guan live?”
Xiao Yu Xian Guan lifted his head, his eyes reflecting fragments of stars, as clear as glass: “I live in Xuan Ji Palace  at the end of the rainbow, in the middle of the An Forest. That day when Immortal Lady Jin Mi encountered this minor deity by chance was just outside of An Forest.”
I nodded my head, dug out a seed from my sleeve and handed it to him: “This is a tuberose seed. This flower likes to bloom during the night and retract its flower petals during the day. It has some similar habits to Xiao Yu Xian Guan, so it can accompany you.”
Ren Yu Xian Guan accepted the seed, carefully placed it into his chest pocket, and smiled at me: “Thank you, Immortal Lady Jin Mi.”
“Think nothing of it, think nothing of it!” I patted the little Nightmare Beast underneath me and pretended to be courteous: “But… but, can the Night Deity not send me back to Shui Jing? Would it be alright if Jin Mi imposes on your hospitality for a couple of days at First Highness’s Xuan Ji Palace?”
Xiao Yu Xian Guan could not help but laugh: “Since I have taken Immortal Lady Jin Mi away from Shui Jing today, I obviously was not planning to send Immortal Lady Jin Mi back. I am honored that Immortal Lady Jin Mi does not think too lowly of my Xuan Ji Palace, so where does the ‘imposing on my hospitality’ come from? But, if the twenty-four Flower Ladies become aware of your disappearance, they will learn from their mistakes and will definitely search through the Heavenly World. As such, if Immortal Lady Jin Mi wants to remain free for somewhat longer, Ren Yu does not think the Heavenly World is the best choice.”
“You are right.” I nodded in agreement, again and again. Xiao Yu Xian Guan thinks things over so thoroughly. “But Jin Mi does not know the six worlds very well, so I still need to ask Ren Yu Xian Guan to direct me.”
Xiao Yu Xian Guan smiled warmly but did not answer, only leading the Nightmare Beast upstream. After reaching the head of the Heavenly River, he stepped on the riverbank and said: “The worlds of the Milky Way, Heaven is above, Earth is below, and across the Heavenly River and a bit further down is the Mortal World. There are hundred of customs, forms and smells mixed in the Mortal World. To seek Immortal Lady Jin Mi’s scent from all those numerous ones is not an easy matter.”
“Your Highness, the Night Deity, truly has the rare talent for becoming a statesman. Jin Mi thinks very well of you.” Overjoyed, I sincerely said to Xiao Yu Xian Guan.
Xiao Yu Xian Guan helped me leap off, and the noise of the bustling place billowed over my face.
Xiao Yu Xian Guan found a passable house for me to stay at and changed my appearance into that of a man just now. I was barely able to lift the mirror and look at myself, when the local god of wind and water rushed in, following the scent of immortal like a little kitty.
“Oh…” That local god raised his head, he stared for a while as if his eyes were seemingly attached to my neck. I uncertainly turned around. So it seemed that the satin ribbon used to tie up my hair was too long, I wasn’t paying attention just now, and the ribbon fell onto the nape of my neck, sliding into my clothes. Xiao Yu Xian Guan had then attentively stretched out his hand to take the ribbon out and move it outside my clothes, so the ribbon would not rub against and itch my neck.
After he properly shifted the ribbon, Xiao Yu Xian Guan turned his head and amiably said to the local god of wind and water: “This time, I must borrow this local god’s place. I did not officially inform you, please excuse me.”
The local god of wind and water finally recovered, he bowed and respectfully said: “First Highness, the Night Deity’s presence really honors the hundred li surrounding my humble abode, what a pleasure! This is this minor immortal’s first time to see First Highness’s extraordinarily graceful bearing. I really have the good fortunes of three lifetimes, and unlimited luck! This minor immortal…”
“This is this minor deity’s new friend Ling Guang Gong Zi . Because he encountered some problems, he must borrow your place to stay at for a few days. I must ask this local god to look after him greatly.” Xiao Yu Xian Guan raised his hand to introduce me. I thought this alias “Ling Guang” is quite good so I tacitly agreed.
After Xiao Yu Xian Guan interrupted that local god’s feverent and lengthy opening remarks, he was not angry at all, and cleverly turned around to bow to me: “This minor immortal greets Lian Guang Gong Zi.” Then, he generously patted his chest and assured Xiao Yu Xian Guan: “I’m opened this mountain! I constructed this road! I’m in charge of this place! If someone wants to harm Lian Guang Gong Zi even an iota, he will have to step over my dead body first!”
Wah, these words sound rather impressive.
Xiao Yu Xian Guan lightly whispered into my ear: “Before this local god had achieved immortality, he was a mountain bandit who robbed and plundered.”
Enlightened, I nodded my head.
“So, I must trouble this local god.” Pleased, Xiao Yu Xian Guan acted courteous to that local god.
“That…” This local god’s clever eyes darted between me and Xiao Yu Xian Guan. Sticking to convention, he straightened his face and said to Xiao Yu Xian Guan: “Actually, this minor immortal has very poor eyesight which gets even worse during the night. Anything beyond the width of two hands, I can only see as a blurred shadow. First Highness, the Night Deity, should not worry about this minor immortal. Feel free to continue… to continue… This minor immortal will take his leave.”
I watched that little local god with his so-called poor eyesight nimbly and carefully close the door for us, and dash away into the heavy night, deftly go around the ornamental mountain and pond, with the wind rising underneath his feet as he withdrew. I could not help but be puzzled, what are we continuing? Perhaps Xiao Yu Xian Guan has some important matters he needs to take care of? So I followed his lead and turned my head to say to him: “Xiao Yu Xian Guan, please feel free to continue!”
Not knowing whether to laugh or cry, Xiao Yu Xian Guan massaged his temples.
 The eighteenth solar term, from October 23rd to November 6th
 Chinese: 对联, couplet often mounted outside doors
 Chinese mile, approximately 500 meters
 9 PM to 11 PM
 The immortal in charge of sunrise.
 Chinese: 璇玑, stars 1-4 of the Big Dipper.
 Term used to address respectable young men, meaning young sir.
This is one juicy and exciting chapter. Not only does Xu Feng save Jin Mi again, but Jin Mi also saves Xu Feng in return, but by doing so, she only fuels his suspicions that she is not merely some little grape fairy. Xu Feng has to make a big decision in this chapter, will he continue to fight his growing feelings for this troublesome little fairy, or will he stand by her, come hell or high water? One thing is certain though, the twenty-four Flower Ladies will not allow him to continue seeing her without a fight.
Chapter 5: A Clue is Revealed
“Humph!” A bewitching and difficult voice sounded from above my head. I was squatting by the side of the pool and raised my head, and saw a girl in a flimsy skirt pointing a sword at the two people in the image of the dream. She clenched her teeth and said: “Speak! Who is that girl?”
Seeing her red-eyed appearance emitting irreconcilable hatred, I subconsciously covered my face, and then remembered that the Phoenix had used magic on my face, so that person could not see my real appearance. I lowered my hands and answered: “I don’t know.”
That girl doubtfully measured me with her eyes, probably thinking that I looked peaceful enough, so she turned her anger to the image on the ground. Brandishing her sword, she cleaved the head of the girl in the dream open with a ‘ka-cha’.
Amitabha, I rubbed the back of my head and saw that the scene from the dream had disappeared without a trace after her sword had descended on it. I suddenly felt that this girl wasn’t very nice, as she destroyed my enthusiasm for watching the erotic dream.
“You are accompanying the Night Deity, aren’t you? Speak! Where is the Fire Deity?” Her almond-shaped eyes were opened wide, very fierce.
Her manner seems… I pondered for a while, she should be the Phoenix’s enemy, so I eagerly responded: “Yes.” I smoothly raised my hand and pointed to the right path for her: “Turn left, turn left, and turn left again. Walk straight into the door on the right, he’s in that hall.”
That girl did not fail my expectations, and brandishing her sword, she rushed towards the left.
I patted my hands and headed directly to the right, walking into the hall. But I saw that the Phoenix and Xiao Yu Xian Guan were sitting across from each other at a rectangular peach blossom table, each holding a cup of high-quality, fresh tea, but the dishes on the table were untouched.
When watching a scene unfold, one must pay attention and get a good seat, and in this scene, the Phoenix was singing the lead part, so I obviously had to sit across from him to see a bit more clearly. Thus, without hesitating the least, I chose the seat next to Xiao Yu Xian Guan.
I had just sat down, when the Phoenix raised his eyes and looked at me coolly. He ordered: “Come here.”
The sound of his words had just disappeared when I heard the curtain make a ‘ba-da’ sound, and the scene begun. I ignored the Phoenix, and holding a cup of tea, I sat there silently. That girl in the flimsy skirt was tricked by me into going around in a circle and had finally found the right place. The Phoenix was not aware that his archenemy was about to descend on him, so he only furrowed his brows and glared at me.
I saw that girl lift her sword and rush over here, but when she saw us, she was dumbfounded. She then bent gracefully to pay her respects: “Liu Ying greets Second Highness, the Fire Deity, and First Highness, the Night Deity.”
Eh? So she’s not here to take revenge… what a party-pooper.
Xiao Yu Xian Guan nodded at her slightly, but he only smiled without speaking. That Phoenix guy finally moved his icy gaze from my face, and glanced at the person who had just arrived. Under the Phoenix’s gaze, that girl’s face reddened in a flash.
The Phoenix smiled lightly: “So it is Princess Bian Cheng. Long time no see, are you still in good health?”
I’ve followed the Phoenix for a hundred years, and understood his temperament well. In front of all women, he would inevitably put all his effort in appearing modest and refined. In addition to that face, the heart of each and every the female immortal and young immortal girl was willing to pound for him.
This time, this princess was also unable to escape him. I saw that the expression in her eyes rippled as the Phoenix smiled amorously, and her whole body seemed to weaken a bit. That endearing little bird sat in the empty seat next to the Phoenix, completely without the vehemence she had in the courtyard when she was brandishing her sword: “Liu Ying is not very well. When Second Highness descended into the Demon World, you didn’t even notify the little ghosts, and are staying in this crude inn with First Highness. Others will think that my father and I are inattentive hosts.”
“There is a good reason for this. I did not come to the Demon World this time just to stroll about and enjoy the sights, but I came for an official matter, so I was unable to go to your estate and thank you for your hospitality.” The Phoenix moved to the side almost unnoticeably.
“Does Second Highness have someone you admire, so that us demon girls cannot catch Second Highness’s eyes anymore?” That princess’s eyes reddened, her tears about to pour down: “In the courtyard just now, Liu Ying saw a dream image that the Nightmare Beast had swallowed and spit out. The girl in the dream was very intimate with Second Highness. Is she the person Second Highness admires?”
Cough, cough, cough. I choked on a mouthful of tea and coughed incessantly. Xiao Yu Xian Guan stretched out his hand to pat my back and clear my breath.
“The girl in the dream?” The Phoenix’s expression darkened: “First Highness’s Nightmare Beast can steal dreams and is even more strong now, as it can even steal the dreams of deities. Doesn’t it fear breaking the laws of Heaven, banishment from court and being forced to return to samsara?”
“Whenever high deities retire, they usually form a barrier. Even if my Nightmare Beast had exceedingly great abilities, it cannot enter the barrier. Does the Fire Deity not know this?” Xiao Yu Xian Guan calmly and leisurely stroked my back again and again.
I said “oh no” to myself, afraid because I brought the Nightmare Beast into the room last night, breaking through the Phoenix’s barrier, so it ate the Phoenix’s erotic dream by mistake. I looked at the Phoenix’s lead-colored face and shook a little, unable to stop coughing.
The Phoenix raised his long eyebrows slightly, his long and slender eyes looking at the hand on my back that Xiao Yu Xian Guan was using to clear my breath, and ordered me: “Come over here for now. First Highness, the Night Deity, is engaged. If his reputation is ruined by you, a little immortal maidservant, how can my Palace of the Parasol Tree Perch handle that?”
Seeing that the expression in his eyes was vehemently oppressive, I dangled my head, and forcing back my coughs, I stood behind him. Only then did his expression relax a little.
Perhaps that princess was frightened by his imposing appearance, but she did not dare to mention his erotic dream anymore. I also did not find out what the Phoenix’s innermost feelings were.
“I have long heard that the Heavenly Emperor has arranged a marriage for First Highness, the Night Deity, but I don’t know which young lady of the heaven, earth, or the six worlds has this great honor?” After a moment of silence, Princess Liu Ying changed the topic.
After Xiao Yu Xian Guan heard these words, he lowered his eyelids and a faint shadow covered his face. His lips curved and he faintly said: “The eldest daughter of the Water Deity.”
“The eldest daughter of the Water Deity… Aren’t the Water Deity and the Wind Deity still childless?” After that Princess Liu Ying’s words sounded, she seemed to regret speaking, and she awkwardly stiffened there.
Clearly, this change in topic was not very smooth, in other words, Xiao Yu Xian Guan’s Heavenly Lady Consort has not been born yet. Bringing it up like this made him feel very disconsolate.
I sighed in my heart, Song Zi Guan Yin Niang Niang  really isn’t giving the Heavenly Family any face at all.
But Xiao Yu Xian Guan nonchalantly gave a yawn and said: “During this clear and bright day, it is a good time to sleep. You guys continue chatting, I’m going to sleep for a bit.” While he was saying this, he moved and with a few quick steps, he had already disappeared, probably to return to his room. I just remembered that Xiao Yu Xian Guan is the Night Deity, so he obviously had to be on duty at night and sleep during the day. No wonder Lao Hu had said that he only comes out at night before.
Since Princess Bian Cheng’s pleas to the Phoenix to stay at here estate were fruitless, she, completely infatuated, found a room next door in this inn and stayed there. This Princess Liu Ying is not any other, but was the beloved daughter of Tenth Highness Yan Luo , the Sixth Princess Bian Cheng. Once her activities were known, the entire Demon World knew that the two Highnesses of the Heavenly World came to remove pests from the Demon World, and their Sixth Princess was then cautiously attending to them. As such, this small little inn became bustling, day after day. Infatuated women and demons took turns calling on them, almost like a galloping-horse lantern .
My careful conclusion: In heaven and on earth, obviously no one can compare to the Phoenix in his ability to attract peach blossoms.
Furthermore, a demonic beast, Qiong Qi was fighting against a malicious ghost, Zhu Jian, whenever one would release a handful of demon fire, the other could create a plague. They fought heartily, but during this, they killed a lot of humans and plants. This was not such a big deal, but in the end, the higher authorities in heaven heard, and together, when the Fire and Night Deities captured the two, they felt somewhat wronged. Then, even if there were a hundred grievances, there was no one to tell them to.
The Phoenix stuffed the two demons into a gourd, sealed them with a brand, and after a few days, they would be punished with flying ashes and smoldering smoke.
The Phoenix and Xiao Yu Xian Guan were not very fair. When they went to catch the demons, they immobilized me with magic and left me by myself in the inn, so I missed a brilliant battle. I was not able to see whether the Qiong Qi or Zhu Jian was round or flat, but I only saw the Phoenix carry two bright yellow gourds back by himself, as Xiao Yu Xian Guan had some important official business rise up at the last minute so he already returned to the Heavenly World.
The Phoenix was already not very affectionate towards me, and that day, perhaps some demonic spell was put on him, so his attitude towards me was even stranger. He would obviously look at me in a manner as if my eyebrows were not eyebrows and my nose was not a nose, but he still forced me to stay by his side. Other than when he went to catch demons today, he would use his magic to obstruct and track me. He made me stay be his side, and did not let me walk more than a hundred paces away from him.
“The saying goes” is the inescapable truth. The saying goes: the opposite of dreams are true. So, I pondered over the opposite of the Phoenix’s erotic dream that the Nightmare Beast had accidentally caught that day, and those are probably his real feelings.
My status at the moment was just an insignificant maidservant of Second Highness, but that Princess Bian Cheng saw me as only an eyesore, and always tried to find ways send me away so she could spend time alone with that Phoenix. Actually I really did want to help her, but it was to no avail, as the Phoenix did not understand my perceptiveness. My magic was not as good as his, so I could only continue to silently suffer the angry and fierce glares of that Princess Bian Cheng and another thousand female demons.
Le Ting often sighed with regret, when could a woman finally obtain Second Highness’s heart? But I only sighed to myself, when will an immortal or demon be able to pluck that Phoenix’s Nei Dan Jing Yuan?
Of course, if I cannot pluck that Phoenix’s Nei Dan Jing Yuan, plucking a demon’s Nei Dan wouldn’t be bad either, and now, I even have two readily available. During a night when the moon was dark and the wind was strong, and ten thousand beasts were already asleep; I took advantage of the fact that the Phoenix did not use chains to obstruct me. Because he had just returned from dueling with the demons and was now resting in his room, I set little demon-sealed gourds upright.
Muttering an incantation, I looked at an image of the insides of the gourd, but I only saw something grey lying on the bottom of the gourd. It looked a little like a rat of the mortal world. Its eyes were tightly closed and was breathing out but was not breathing in, its breath seemed to be getting weaker and weaker. I guessed that its sub-standard lingli was no match for mine by far, so I boldly removed the brand on that gourd and took it out.
“Get down!” I suddenly heard a shout from behind me, and saw that rat open its eyes with a swish. There seemed to be tens of thousands of needles flying out. I still did not have time to move but a tall and warm body threw itself over me, pushing me to the floor.
The sound of a sharp weapon entering a body came from above me and someone groaned quietly. I could tell that it was the Phoenix’s voice.
“Hurry and leave!” I heard the chest pressing down on me give a swift and fierce shout. In an instant, I felt the thing that was pressing down on my body move away, and I immediately used both my hands and feet to get up.
I only saw the Phoenix in a plain white robe standing before me, with his back towards me, and a white-skinned person ten steps away holding a halberd pointing to the heavens. The thread of blood at the corner of his mouth was distinct, and seeing the color, it looked as if it were fresh blood. I silently cried out ‘oh no’ and turned around, wanting to silently run away.
After I had just murmured a fleeing incantation, steel needles began rising from the ground with a rustling sound, aiming directly for the center of my feet. Good thing I was able to evade them just now. Since running away was not an option, I used the Impenetrable Wall Skill, but the wall that rose from my incantation had steel needles emerging from one side. The wall could not be penetrated, and I could not run away, so I could only turn around.
The Phoenix raised his hand, and a red light gathered at the palm of his hand. Looking carefully, I saw that it was a cluster of gradually igniting and gradually burning flames, dimly flickering like a vibrant red lotus. In the middle of that red light, the Phoenix towered proudly into the skies, his robes rising with the wind.
The face of person holding the halberd became even more deathly pale when bathed in the red light. Seeing the God of Death approaching, his pupils widened and he stumbled backwards. The steel needles on the four walls dropped to the floor, one after another, like withered pine needles. So it is a demon who is afraid of fire.
But, why do I feel like I am boiling and burning from the baihui, houding, fengfu, and tianzhu  to the rest of my body, until some light water vapor escaped from my forehead. I began to lose consciousness and finally felt the same kind of pain I had that day when I wrongly ate those rosefinch eggs.
The Phoenix’s eyes glittered, and his brows creased. He withdrew the hand that was raised, the red light was swiftly extinguished, and startled, I was able to awaken again.
The person holding the halberd released his breath, and his gaze darted between the Phoenix and me: “Hahaha! What’s this? His Highness, the Fire Deity is not willing to use the Red Lotus Hell-Fire against me? Is it because of this little immortal lady who is afraid of fire? Since the Fire Deity is now showing his weakness for women, do not blame me for not showing any mercy!”
That demon fixed his stare and a hundred thousand laser beams shot out. In return, the Phoenix created an immortal barrier, enveloped me within it, and turning around to withdraw his sharp weapon, he began to fight.
That sharp weapon was a sword, yet not a sword, and resembled a sabre, yet was not a sabre. It was a fast as lighting but also flooded the room with seven-colored lights. The Phoenix wielded it in a perfect dance, completely blocking all the lasers. But he did not know it was a tactic to lure the tiger out of the mountain, that demon took advantage of the moment the Phoenix was blocking all the needles, and lifted his halberd and jabbed it at me.
The Phoenix’s eyes moved quickly, and he followed behind the demon, wanting to stop him, but he did not expect the demon would suddenly turn around, piercing his halberd at the Phoenix’s throat. Very cunning.
Benevolence, benevolence. I closed my eyes.
I heard that demon’s shout and opened my eyes to look, but I only saw the Phoenix nimbly turned his body to avoid the attack. He lightly bent backwards and lifted his foot to kick out. The tip of his foot achieved huge results without expending too much effort by kicking the center of the demon’s wrist. The demon lost strength, and his halberd fell to the floor. After the Phoenix flipped backwards, he leapt forwards, and steadily held the sharp weapon in his hand at the demon’s throat.
The demon opened his eyes wide, fixing his stare and releasing his needles, wanting to fight this to the end, but with a twist of his fingers, the Phoenix stuck a brand on that demon’s forehead. The demon screeched and turned back to his true form, shrinking back into the appearance of a rat as I first saw him.
I looked at the needles covering the floor, and a small wind lightly fluttered in. So the needles that the rat used were just silver-grey rat hairs. The Phoenix humphed and withdrew that sharp weapon the he had held against its neck, but when I looked more closely, it wasn’t any kind of sharp weapon, it was only a seven-colored phoenix feather.
Oh my goodness, so when they fight, the weapons they use were all plucked from their own bodies? After a long time, if they continued to pull out their own hairs, wouldn’t they become bald? I have seen a scorched phoenix before, but I don’t know what a bald one would look like. I squatted in the corner and imagined.
Good thing that we grapes don’t have long hairs.
The Phoenix placed that rat back into the gourd and released the barrier around me. He raised his eyes to glance at me and I obediently dangled my head, avoiding the gaze that continuously cleaved at me. After a while, I raised my eyes and looked at the Phoenix, full of admiration: “Second Highness captured this rat very cleverly, very cleverly! This time, Jin Mi has gained experience.”
“You! …” The Phoenix looked like his breath and blood were not flowing very smoothly, and after a while, he flung his sleeves behind him: “Nevermind! Explain to me clearly why you secretly let this demonic animal loose!”
I lowered my eyes to look at the tips of my toes. Hesitatingly, I said: “To take its Nei Dan Jing Yuan.”
The Phoenix raised his hand to rub his forehead: “Nei Dan Jing Yuan? You are already lucky that he did not turn around and take yours. If I did not come to see you…” He only said half this sentence, but he suddenly shut his mouth, a strange, faint pink color rising on his face.
I glared at him, somewhat angrily. Even though I could not defeat that demon, I am not so weak as to have him take my Nei Dan Jing Yuan. Wah, at the most, at the most, I would have been turned into my true form…
The Phoenix saw that I was staring at him and that pink color spread through his entire neck. Very strange. Usually, his gaze was like the sharp edge of a sword, but at this moment, his eyes were filled with a strange, limpid light but the glittering light quickly faded. After he moved his hand and gently coughed, his face became like a plank again and he stretched out his hand to flick my forehead.
I was startled and tried to evade it, and thought back to how Qiong Qi was forced to return to his true form and exhausted all its powers after he flicked it on the forehead, I definitely cannot repeat that mistake. It was to no avail, as the Phoenix’s strength was too great. He simply grasped my shoulder and flicked my forehead.
I shakily closed my eyes, but only felt his fingertips softly touch my forehead, like a spring breeze or rain: “Do you feel well? I was a bit anxious just now and had forgotten that you were of the water composition.”
I obviously grew from the earth, this Phoenix! I opened my eyes and was just about to argue back, but saw bloodstains on the Phoenix’s palm, criss-crossed and mottled.
Only then did the Phoenix follow my gaze and flipped his palm over to look at it. His brows slightly wrinkled: “I was probably injured by that Qiong Qi’s fever needles.”
I had just remembered the things that shot out of the little rat’s eyes when the Phoenix had pushed me beneath him. I definitely heard the sound of something sharp entering his body, so the Phoenix had used his hand to block the little rat’s steel needles for me.
At this moment, a light knock sounded from the door: “Is Second Highness inside the room?” The sound was tender and charming, probably that Princess Bian Cheng’s.
Before the Phoenix answered, I approached the door and smoothly opened the door.
“Liu Ying had just head the sound of fighting… Aiya!” That Princess Bian Cheng had just entered and began to call out in alarm. I thought that the room full of rat hairs probably frightened her.
“Did that Qiong Qi escape? Was Your Highness, the Fire Deity wounded somewhere?” Princess Bian Cheng’s face was full of concern and she inched closer. The Phoenix moved back slightly and said: “It’s not a big problem.”
“His hand was pricked by some steel needles. Does the Princess have some gauze?” Anyhow, the Phoenix was injured by the needles because of me, and I obviously needed to bind it up for him, so I conveniently begged that princess for some gauze.
Who knew that when that princess heard these words, her expression fell with a crash: “Second Highness was injured by that Qiong Qi’s fever needles?!”
Seeing her like that, was there some secret about those fever needle? I could not help but have some doubts.
“Liu Ying will go to the Flower World at once to beg some Ling Zhi Xian Cao  for Second Highness. I will definitely return within forty-nine shichen .” That Princess Bian Cheng bowed to the Phoenix and extremely worried, she darted away without a trace.
“Hold on, Princess Bian Cheng…” The Phoenix tried to call out and stop her, but did not do it in time.
“What will happen if you are wounded by the fever needles?” I raised my head and asked the Phoenix.“
“Qiong Qi is a plague demon beast of the Demon World, and the grey hairs all over his body carry a hundred different contagious diseases. If it enters a person’s body, then he will contract a contagious disease. In forty-nine shichen, his lingli will be destroyed.” The Phoenix said this to me lightly.
“Ling Zhi Xian Cao can cure this disease?” Seeing that princess’s countenance, it must be so.
“Yes.” Drops of sweat slowly dripped from the Phoenix’s forehead. Leaning against a chair, he slowly sat down: “But, the Flower World had deep grudges against the Heavenly World. The First Flower Lady will definitely refuse to give her that sacred herb.”
Lao Hu had said before: “Only people with plain faces are good. If all the nutrition is spent on one’s face, then one’s brain is probably not very effective.” Now, I heartily agree, the Phoenix is probably like this.
The First Flower Lady is usually burdened with various matters, and they want to bother her for a trivial handful of grass. They must be lacking in common sense and will obviously provoke her anger. If she becomes angry, she will obviously not be willing to give it to them. This has nothing to do with old grudges between the two worlds.
Furthermore, it is only a handful of grass, we can just create it without too much effort. Do we really need to make everything so complicated? What is the Phoenix worried about?
I took out a red thread from my breast pocket and unrolled it in front of the Phoenix: “If I can grow a Ling Zhi Xian Cao , how are you going to thank me?”
Surprised, the Phoenix gazed at me, and after lightly scrutinizing me for a while, he simply closed his eyes and meditated in the end, no longer paying attention to me.
He’s looking down upon me! He is obviously looking down upon me!
By myself, I pinch the red thread and contemplated what glossy ganoderma looked like. With such thoughts, the red thread in my hand turned into a mushroom spore in very little time. It landed on the floor, grew roots, and during the time it took to drink half a cup of tea, a pair of reddish-brown glossy ganoderma bloomed.
I happily took the magical herb and lifted in front of the Phoenix’s face. The Phoenix opened his eyes and looked very perplexed, his expression wavering between cloudiness and clarity. In the end, he looked as if he could neither laugh or cry, and commented: “Yes, the shiitake mushroom you planted is all right for cooking.”
I rounded my eyes, laughed awkwardly, and pulled the shiitake mushroom back: “I’ll try again. I promise you that I won’t make a mistake this time.”
You really cannot blame me for this, the crested starling and the crow look identical. To me, the glossy ganoderma, shiitake mushroom, black wood ear, all those of the mushroom family seem to be made from the same mold. There really isn’t much of a difference, so getting them mixed up is understandable.
The Phoenix propped his chin in one hand, and lowered his eyes to watch me as I squatted on the floor, planting shiitake mushrooms, wood ear, button mushrooms, straw mushrooms, tea tree mushrooms… like a raging fire. Even though his complexion was a little pale, his mood gradually became better. The dimples at the corner of his mouth appeared and disappeared: “If you are able to grow Ling Zhi Xian Cao, I will transfer two hundred years of cultivation to you. How about it?”
I saw that he was making fun of me, but we fruits cannot lower ourselves to the same level as a bird, so I magnanimously stretched out three fingers and gestured: “Three hundred years of cultivation.”
“Fine. Three hundred years of cultivation.” The Phoenix dimpled lightly.
The mountains multiplied and the streams doubled but there still wasn’t a path, there was a village full of beautiful willows and flowers. After I grew ten or so types of mushrooms and unthinkably, a string of lychee, a plump and tall glossy ganoderma full of divine spirit finally strove to bloom in front of the Phoenix.
Who knew that the Phoenix’s face would darken and he would stretch out his hand to grab my wrist. A cold light flashed through his eyes, and oozing chilliness, he said into my ear: “Speak! Who are you really?”
This is not right, this is not right, scaring people in the middle of the night. I used my empty hand to stroke his forehead: “Well, this rat hair moved a little too fast. Has it already entered your brain?”
When my hand touched him, the Phoenix’s forehead seemed to be burning to a frightening degree, but his eyes flashed with even more iciness: “How can a little flower fairy grow the glossy ganoderma of the Flower World as she wants?! Speak! What is your relationship to the late Flower Deity?”
The strength of this fever is fierce indeed, the Phoenix was already ill to the point that he has started to speak incoherently. The previous Flower Deity’s supernatural power is said to only be inferior to the Heavenly Emperor’s, and above all other deities. If I could hope to have some relationship to her, why would I haggle with him over these measly three hundred years of cultivation?
The Phoenix was overbearing, the strength of his hand had not diminished the slightest due to his illness and was still grabbing my other hand. If I do not save him on time, I’m afraid that in a little while, His Highness, the Fire Deity’s soul would have to part regretfully from the heavens. Then, I should not expect to receive my three hundred years of cultivation. At the moment, knocking him unconscious and applying the medicine is the most important.
But he had my hands tightly pinned, to the point that I could not even move. Seeing his face up close, I had an idea. If I am not able to knock him unconscious, I could also scare him unconscious.
I took advantage of this moment to raise my head and move forward. I pasted myself against his face, and opened my mouth. I held his thin lips in my mouth and lightly circled them with my tongue.
When I looked at the Phoenix again, his eyes were as round as if frost was struck by lightning, and was just staring in surprise there. Haha, so it was effective, he was frightened. I lightly withdrew my hands that he had released, and put my arms around his neck. With one quick chop, I cleaved my hands against the nape of his neck, and finally, the Phoenix smoothly crumpled to the ground.
I murmured an incantation to move him back inside the room and placed him on the bed. I used grapevines as a pestle and pounded half the Ling Zhi Xian Cao to pieces to apply on his wound, while I stewed the other half into juice and poured it into his mouth.
To prevent the Phoenix from going back on his word and refusing to grant me those three hundred years of cultivation once he awoke, I sat next to the bed and guarded him. After guarding him for the time it takes to drink two cups of tea, I saw that he was in a deep sleep. I could not help but be envious, so I also leaned against the bed, closed my eyes and dozed off.
I did not know how long I slept, but only felt that my forehead was a bit itchy. I thought there was an aphid slowly crawling past and could not help but be frightened. Besides snakes, we grapes dread the little white aphids the most, because once we contract them, everything becomes awful.
I pretended to be sleeping deeply, and suddenly stretched out my hand to pinch that little aphid to death, but when I opened my eyes, I saw the Phoenix leaning over me, with only the width of two palms between us. His face reddened, and there was one part surprise, two parts doubt, three parts gleaming flashes of light, and four parts a dim and mysterious expression. The thing I was pinching in my hand was not an aphid but was the Phoenix’s smooth and shiny fingertip.
What kind of situation was this?
I did not understand but continued gazing at him, and he also returned my gaze.
“What are you doing?!”
Just as we were inexplicably gazing at each other, a severe voice forcefully cleaved between us.
I turned my head, and amongst the splendid scenery of the room, the First Flower Lady, who looked exactly as she did before, was wearing her fine clothes. There was not a stray hair out of place in her bun, and her hands were tightly crossed. Behind her swinging skirt, two flower servants were standing respectfully with their eyes lowered, holding flower canes in their hands. That Princess Bian Cheng stood not too far away.
I have not seen the First Flower Lady for a hundred years, and having encountered her in the Demon World today, I have really met an old friend from home. Some happiness rose inside of me, and I smiled at her, but she did not seem to be happy at all. Her expression was dark and her severe gaze landed on my right hand, swift and forceful.
I followed her gaze and looked, wah, the Phoenix was holding my right hand. I vaguely remembered that it was my right hand pinching his finger just now, how did it turn into this? I did not even have the slightest impression when it turned out like this.
The Phoenix leisurely let my hand go, and bowed with his hands clasped towards the First Flower Lady: “First Flower Lady, your honorable self has graced me with your presence, but Xu Feng is indisposed and cannot greet you properly.”
The First Flower Lady humphed but was not distracted: “How can this minor immortal dare to receive the Fire Deity’s greeting?” She turned and said to me: “Jin Mi! Come here!”
The First Flower Lady had always been hot-tempered, and disobeying her would definitely be unwise. With my intelligence and cleverness, I obviously would obey her and stood next to her.
“You left Shui Jing by yourself, recklessly entered the Heavenly World, and broke the rules of the Flower World. Do you admit to these wrongdoings?!”
Come again? This string of crimes struck me until stars sprouted from my eyes. How come there are so many rules against leaving the Flower World?
“This is not Immortal Lady Jin Mi’s fault. This minor deity enter the Flower World by accident and after encountering her then, she continued to accompany me.” The Phoenix adjusted his robes, and rose from the bed.
“Outsiders should not interfere with the internal affairs of my Flower World. I must ask the Fire Deity control your words and deeds. I cannot control other female immortals or young immortals, but You Highness, the Fire Deity, do not even think about laying a finger on my Flower World’s fairies or immortal ladies!” Wah, the First Flower Lady has combusted.
The Phoenix’s face darkened a little: “This minor deity has never said anything dishonorable, and the First Flower Lady should not believe such rumors. As for Immortal Lady Jin Mi…” He turned towards me and his eyes flashed with a dazzling brightness: “She has indeed stolen this minor deity’s heart.”
“You! …” The First Flower Lady’s face turned green, and in a flash, Princess Bian Cheng seemed to be on the verge of tears, and the two little immortal servants stared with their eyes wide.
I had not realized what “stolen my heart” meant, but the First Flower Lady had already firmly entangled my wrist with flower vines.
“This minor immortal will take Jin Mi back right now. The Fire Deity should not hold such vain hopes anymore! From now you will be separated, and will never meet again!” Seething, the First Flower Lady was seething.
“The First Flower Lady should not speak with such finality, this minor deity will definitely call on you another day. Perhaps I can take advantage of that opportunity to improve the relations between our two worlds.”
The First Flower Lady ignored the Phoenix, and taking me by the hand, she turned and was about to leave.
In that instant, I suddenly remembered that the Phoenix still had not given me that three hundred years of cultivation, and the next time we meet, I must request him for it, so I turned around to ask him: “What day is ‘another day’?”
After hearing my words, the Phoenix’s eyebrow twitched slightly. The bright light in his eyes swayed as if it were hanging by a thread, and his dimples appeared suddenly, like a shower of rain hitting a shallow pond, the ripples drifted: “Another day will be the day after tomorrow.”
The First Flower Lady did not let me speak again, and in a instant, she seized me, towed me to a lotus blossom, and flew back to the Flower World. But we did not return to Shui Jing. When the lotus flower stopped, the First Flower Lady threw me onto a pile of luxuriant grass. I strove to crawl up, but I saw a lone burial mound situated amongst an expanse of mugwort.
The next instant, the First Flower Lady had changed into a plain gauze skirt. Her face was livid as she ordered me: “Kneel down!”
 Chinese: 送子观音娘娘, the Goddess of Fertility.
 Yama, King of Hell.
 Lantern with revolving cut-out figures.
 Acupuncture points in the body.
 Chinese: 灵芝仙草, the glossy ganoderma.
 Chinese: 时辰, measurement of time equal to about two hours.
This chapter mostly just sets up what will happen in the chapters to come, so I just wanted to skip everything until the last juicy part at the end. Jin Mi has lived with Xu Feng for a hundred years, and during that hundred years, the Flower Ladies have been turning the six worlds inside out, searching for her. She will eventually have to return to Shui Jing in the Flower World, but that does not mean she won’t try all possible ways to escape from being hauled back to her prison. If that means she has to lie underneath a stack of books and sneak into the Phoenix’s clothes, then so be it.
Chapter 4: A Dream in the River of Forgetfulness
I knocked on the vermillion gates of the Estate of Conjugal Bliss, and the little immortal gatekeeper paused in surprise when he saw me. With a red face, he bashfully said: “Did this immortal lady came to find my immortal lord? Unfortunately, my immortal lord has a guest today, why don’t you come back another day?”
Eh? I’ve been coming in and out of this Estate of Conjugal Bliss for a hundred years, and this little immortal servant always holds the door. Why does he not seem to recognize me today? Unless… I gazed at him with pity, it seems that the fox immortal’s poor memory is contagious.
“I am Jin Mi. Since Yue Xia Xian Ren has an appointment with someone else, I will come again tomorrow.”
The little immortal gatekeeper opened his mouth wide, and stood there like a wooden pole.
By the time that I turned to leave, that wooden pole directly reached out a hand to stop me, but suddenly, perhaps because he did not think it was appropriate, he withdrew his hand and worriedly said: “Jin… Jin… Jin Mi?!”
I nodded my head pityingly.
He also muttered pityingly: “A boy turned into a girl indeed, a boy turned into a girl, a boy turned into a girl, things aren’t like they used to be…”
Just at that very moment when we were pitying each other, the fox immortal arrived before I was announced: “Has Jin Mi arrived?”
Before I had the chance to answer him, the fox immortal had already floated to the gate on a sunset-red cloud. Upon seeing my face, he also paused in surprise, and then, he slowly looked me over: “Tch, tch, tch! The baby girl that my Xu Feng raised! Very effective, very effective!”
I suddenly felt that something was wrong and I touched my head. The Spirit-Sealing Hairpin that I had put on this morning was gone, no wonder these two did not recognize me. Perhaps the hairpin fell off when I was riding on the cloud. Whatever, it’s only a hairpin.
I laughed and saw that immortal servant breathe in deeply and turned away. The fox immortal earnestly said: “Come in, come in, we’ll talk inside.”
I saw that the fox immortal looked a lot thinner than before, his sleeves were drifting about, and his tail was also not as fluffy and smooth, so I congratulated him: “Yue Xia Xian Ren’s diet was successful. That is something worthy of celebrating.”
Slighted, the fox immortal stopped walking and stared at me: “Was I really that chubby before?”
Not waiting for me to respond, he continued to say: “It’s all that Bird Clan’s fault. For the past few days, the chickens that they’ve sent are all smaller than pigeons and so thin that it strikes terror into a person’s heart. I’ve been going hungry for several days and often am awaken by hunger during the night. A few days ago, I fainted from hunger and even missed your important matter.”
No wonder he only called me over today.
“Eh, is it bird flu?” I asked.
“No, it’s a long story. I heard that a hundred years ago, a crow from the Bird Clan captured a fairy from the Flower World. The Flower World’s First Flower Lady Mu Dan went to demand her back, and the Bird Clan went into every unhatched egg and asked them, but every one of them said that they did not do such a thing. The First Flower Lady insisted and said that a little flower fairy saw the whole thing. The chief of the Bird Clan indignantly contradicted her and the First Flower Lady became angry, saying that the Bird Clan’s peacock chief was covering up for his subordinates, causing ill-will between the two sides. In the past, the Bird Clan’s main source of food besides little bugs was flowers, fruits, grains and seeds. Recently, the First Flower Lady cut off the Bird Clan’s feed, saying that for every day the Bird Clan does not hand over the little flower fairy, the Flower World will not provide food for them.”
“Baby chicken are classified as part of the Bird Clan. So, since they are undergoing a famine, they have already exerted all their effort to grow into the size of a pigeon.”
“This problem is very pressing.” I sighed with regret. The First Flower Lady was always hot-tempered, the chief of the Bird Clan a thousand times, ten thousand times should not have contradicted her old self.
“Yes, the flowers and birds are fighting, but innocently involve the foxes! This old man really is wronged.” The fox immortal elegantly expressed his dissatisfaction, but suddenly changed the topic: “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go to listen to the opera.”
The opera we listened to today is called “Wu Song Killing Tigers”. Just as were heard tiger-killing Lu Nan Zi shout from the mirror to the mortal world: “Tiger! Where are you running away to?!”, a round orange shadow flopped inside, and we saw a little immortal servant following him, anxiously calling out: “Hey! How can this immortal fellow burst in so rudely? I already told you that my immortal lord has another guest…”
After that round orange shadow entered, it bolted the door and then it furtively peeked outside. Once it confirmed that no one was following it, it then gasped with relief and turned its round little body around.
I called out at the same time as the fox immortal.
Lao Hu walked over and grabbed a cup of tea, gulping it down. After slaking his thirst, he patted his chest and said: “Oh, Hong Hong, I was so frightened! Guess who I saw just now?”
“Could it be the Jade Rabbit from the Moon Palace?” Although the fox immortal had ‘it must be so’ written all over his face, he dutifully propped up his chin, expressing his uncertainty.
“Exactly right!” Lao Hu’s face was deathly pale, “After not seeing that rabbit for a few thousand years, it has fattened up a lot, I don’t know how many little carrots it has destroyed! Immortal Lady Chang’e doesn’t even control it.”
“Luckily, I run fast. Luckily, luckily.”
“But I don’t know what kind of wind blew in today, blowing you, old brother, into my place to encounter all these catastrophes.” The fox immortal patted Lao Hu’s tummy.
Lao Hu sobbed: “Ay, this old man is really in a predicament this time. I was chased out of Shui Jing by the First Flower Lady. Thinking back and forth, I thought seeking refuge from you was the best thing to do.”
I only left the Flower World for a short hundred years, how did so many things happen? The First Flower Lady, wah, is a bit too heavy handed. I asked Lao Hu: “Why did the First Flower Lady chase you out?”
“This immortal lady is…?” Another person doesn’t recognize me…
“My niece-in-law.” I answered at the same time as the fox immortal.
Lao Hu is always Lao Hu: “Jin Mi? Who’s that?”
I gazed at the sky and responded: “I am Tao Tao.”
After hearing this, the three layers of fat on Lao Hu’s belly shook three times: “Little Tao Tao?!”
“Aiyawei! Oh my little ancestor! You have cruelly made me suffer! How can you just disappear like that? The twenty-four Flower Ladies almost cut my old carrot skin to pieces! Now they have charged me with not protecting you properly, and have kicked me out me to search for you. They said that if I cannot find you, they would toss me in a rabbit nest. My life is not easy, is it…” Lao Hu was in tears.
Haha, so it seems that I am slightly important, I felt extremely flattered.
Lao Hu did not say another word and stuffed my wrist under his armpit: “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go, I will return with you right now. My old life is actually safe.”
The fox immortal was not happy: “Hey! Where do you senile old duffer want to take my second niece-in-law to?!”
“Second niece-in-law?” Lao Hu looked at me, astonished. Then he said with severe resentment: “Oh Little Tao Tao! Were you wrongly tied with red thread by that blind old fox? With his second nephew’s peach blossom-like appearance, in the future, if he doesn’t have ten or so wives, he will at least have seven or eight concubines. Let’s go find Tai Shang Lao Jun’s sword to cut off that red thread.”
“Eh?” When I heard this, I was very confused and said: “I have been learning skills from the Phoenix.”
Lao Hu’s footsteps stopped: “Really?” Seeing me nod my head, the wrinkles on his finally spread out a bit: “Haha, then let’s take out leave of him and return to the Flower World.”
Don’t be mislead by Lao Hu’s usual inching here inching there, because, at this time, his footsteps were very nimble. We whizzed by on a cloud towards the Palace of the Parasol Tree Perch, with the fox immortal chasing and shouting behind us.
After entering the Palace of the Parasol Tree Perch, it was a mealtime then, and the usually unhurried Phoenix was unavoidably surprised by us. His pair of silver chopsticks paused in midair as he lifted his head.
After Lao Hu entered the palace, he released my hand and directly dashed towards the dining table. He hugged a plate of vegetables and started to wail: “Oh Cai Cai, my cruel-fated Cai Cai. I’ve only not seen you for the past two days and you’ve ended up in murderous hands! Oh, these black-hearted, short-lived Heavenly Deities! Oh, how evil.”
Eh… I smiled around the room with a ‘hehe’ and squatted next to Lao Hu to ask: “Who is Cai Cai?”
“It’s Yu Choy , the lover of Chive Mei’mei from the land holding next to Shui Jing! He’s the Yu Choy that praised your lingli when you were little.” Lao Hu tearfully denounced.
I looked at plateful of stir-fried dark green vegetables and solemnly asked: “After you said this, it does look a bit familiar. But, how did you recognize it?” “Cai Cai’s leaves are very green, his stems are very white, his head is very round, and his heart is very tender. Just like this!” Lao Hu insisted.
“Don’t all yu choys look like that?” Le Ting timidly asked from the side.
“May I ask who this immortal is…?” The Phoenix opened his mouth and interrupted, with some impatience on his face.
The fox immortal following behind us raised his sleeve to wipe his sweat, and interrupted us, panting: “He’s carrot immortal that you let the Jade Rabbit chase around the Heavenly Palace, Lao Hu.” The Phoenix bowed his head and coughed lightly, while Lao Hu glared at the Phoenix with wrath and indignation. Hugging Cai Cai’s corpse, he said: “I just knew it, evil bamboos cannot sprout good bamboo shoots. No one is kindhearted in your Heavenly Family. Your father is like that, your mother is like that, you are also like that, I think even your brother who only comes out during the night would be like that.”
“Xu Feng was young at the time and did not understand, so I offended this immortal, and am apologizing to this immortal for everything I did. But the Heavenly Emperor and Heavenly Empress are the most revered and respected of the six worlds, and should not be criticized like this by you.” The Phoenix lowered his eyelids, his eyes sweeping quickly and forcefully over Lao Hu.
Lao Hu’s face turned pale, but still straightened his back and glared at the Phoenix.
“Do not be agitated, do not be agitated, everyone should be polite and amiable, and speak good-naturedly.” The fox immortal stood in the middle, unable to turn left or right.
I watched for a while, and felt that it wasn’t interesting, so I grabbed a seat next to Fei Xu, and sat down. I selected a lotus pastry and was just about to place it in my mouth. But Lao Hu suddenly released his affectionate stare from the Phoenix’s gaze and came over to tug at me: “Tao Tao, you cannot eat anything at his place. Hurry, say your farewell and return with me to the Flower World to report to the twenty-four Flower Ladies.”
The Phoenix’s eyes swept over my face along with the wind, taking advantage of the time I used to put down the lotus pastry and pat my hands to clear the crumbs. He slowly said: “I heard recently that the Flower World suddenly turned hostile towards the Bird Clan over a fairy. Is the cause of this falling out Jin Mi?”
I rounded my eyes and unassumingly said: “This… I don’t think so.” Even though the story the fox immortal told about a crow capturing a flower fairy was somewhat familiar, but it definitely had nothing to do with me.
Lao Hu’s whiskers shook and he said: “What if does have something to with her? And what if it doesn’t?”
The Phoenix’s piecing gaze brushed over me, up and down, and he turned his head to leisurely say to Lao Hu: “The Flower World has not interacted with the Heavenly World for a few thousand years. I did not think that losing a little flower fairy would trouble the twenty-four Flower Ladies to come personally, I think they would usually be very busy.”
“That is my Flower World’s business, it should not trouble your Heavenly Family.” Lao Hu straightened his neck, actually, this was just accentuating his short-comings. I unkindly stared at his short and round, short and round neck for a while.
“Do you really want to leave?” The Phoenix lowered his eyelids halfway, lightly caressing the cloud design on his sleeve.
I thought for a bit, this question was probably directed at me, so I replied: “Yes.”
The Phoenix lifted his eyes and glanced at me lightly. Unperturbed, he said: “That is very good. Recently, the Demon World has had some disturbances, the Heavenly Emperor dispatched me to make some inspection rounds. I will leave tomorrow, and may have to stay for several years. If you continue to stay in the Heavenly World, no one would be able to teach you, so you would only be wasting time. It’s better for you to go back.”
Wah, the Demon World.
I bowed my head and perked up my ears.
To the side, the fox immortal’s tears were brimming up to his eyelashes while he murmured: “How can you just leave, how can you just leave….”
“Hey, Little Tao Tao, after you take leave of him, follow me back to Shui Jing.” Lao Hu anxiously walked towards the outside of the palace with his round little body.
I obediently followed behind, but after walking four or five steps, I patted my forehead as if I had just remembered something: “Aiya, I did not prepare my luggage!”
Lao Hu walked as he held his round little tummy and turned his head: “You’re a girl, but are even more muddled than I am. You aren’t a human, why do you need your luggage? All you have to do is raise your hand and make it appear, and you’ll have any clothes you want.”
“Eh, it’s not clothes, I was talking about scroll sutras.” When Lao Hu heard my explanation, he finally stopped walking. He stared with his eyes wide, his mouth open and asked, astonished: “Scroll sutras?”
I sincerely nodded my head: “In these hundred years, I studied a lot of sutras, and have not understood a few passages just through meditation, so I wanted to take them back to ask the First Flower Lady for instruction.”
Then, I turned my head, and adopting a earnest expression, I gazed at the Phoenix and asked: “If I take a few scrolls from Sheng Jian Ge with me, would that be alright?”
The Phoenix pondered for a moment, and curving his lips, he lightly said: “It is rare that you want to learn, and I am very pleased. You may select a few books from Sheng Jian Ge to take along.”
“The heavens have finally opened their eyes. Little Tao Tao has finally improved somewhat, besides just in playing around!” Lao Hu tugged at his clothes, in tears, comforted that he could die without regrets: “Then, let’s leave tomorrow. Tao Tao should take time to prepare well. Do not worry about heaviness, bring a few extra Taoist writings, this old man will help you carry them.”
That night, Lao Hu stayed in the fox immortal’s Estate of Conjugal Bliss. I walked towards Sheng Jian Ge with a firefly light. I earnestly rummaged through everything, and finally carried two light little booklets, thanked the little immortal servants guarding Sheng Jian Ge, walked outside to the stone veranda, left the little booklets next to the Pond of Still Catalpa, and headed for the wing where the Phoenix’s bedroom was located.
Indeed, I lived in the Flower World for four thousand years, the Heavenly World for a hundred years, but I do not know what the Demon World looks like.
How could I go with the Phoenix to the Demon World without him noticing me? I stood in the empty bedroom and hesitated for a moment. I resolutely changed to my true form and hid myself in the sleeve pocket of the brocade robe that Fei Xu had washed, folded and placed at the head of the bed for the Phoenix.
I hid myself just as the right time, because just as I entered the sleeve pocket, I heard the door open, probably that guy, the Phoenix, returning from Xi Chen Palace.
I held my breath, not moving an inch. The Phoenix’s powers were very strong and I did not want him to become aware of me.
I was terror-stricken for a while, but besides the sound of lighting a lamp and \the pages of a book turning, I did not hear any other movement. Haha, it seems that this fellow, the Phoenix, also had times when he isn’t careful.
I safely found a soft and cozy corner in the sleeve pocket and rolled over. Just as I was in a deep sleep, I suddenly felt Mount Tai pressing down on me. There was something crushing my body, so I reluctantly woke up. I sniffed and coughed, it was the musty smell of an old book.
This Phoenix fellow actually piled his stack of books on the brocade robe at the head of the bed! Right on top of the sleeve where I hid myself!
Well! Reading before sleeping really is a bad habit. In order to not make any noise, I could only endure and stay still the entire night.
With great difficulty, I was able to wait until the rooster crowed. Le Ting and Fei Xu entered to wait on the Phoenix as he rose. I don’t know who moved the old books on my head, but I was very grateful. I heard Fei Xu say: “Aiya, there is some dust on this robe.”
Le Ting said: “This old book probably was not cleaned thoroughly and left some on it.”
Fei Xu continued to say: “Your Highness, why don’t you change into another robe.”
The Phoenix agreed lightly.
Crash, bang, bang, a sudden thunderclap! Using a bamboo basket to draw water, it has all come to nothing. I became a little dizzy as the anger went straight to my head. I must calm down, I must calm down…
“How is this gold-colored robe?”
“It’s a little too bright.”
“Yes, does Your Highness like this purple-colored one?”
“It’s a little dull.”
“How about this red one? What does your Highness think?”
“It’s a bit too frivolous.”
While listening to Fei Xu and Le Ting rummaging through his chests and drawers, I meditated. As I breathed, my insides flipped slightly, and when I breathed again, they flipped completely.
Finally, I heard a content and leisurely voice say: “Let’s go with this one. A little dust is not a big deterrence.”
Le Ting shook open the brocade robe and draped it over that guy.
I swayed in the sleeve pocket.
I must be calm, I must be calm.
This time, the Phoenix flew rather steadily, and did not make me roll here and roll there. Only, the journey was a bit long, so I laid in the pocket and napped a couple of times. I felt that the whispering sound of the wind had stopped. We’ve probably arrived.
“This young sir wants to ferry over?” I suddenly heard a scratchy old voice.
“Yes, I must trouble this elder.” I swayed, and guessed that the Phoenix walked onto the boat. So to get to the Demon World, we must also cross a river.
“Young sir must stand firmly, the immortal lady in your pocket should also grab steadily. This old man will start up the boat!” The old man shouted.
“Yes, has the immortal lady in my pocket grabbed on firmly?” The Phoenix leisurely repeated.
These two both discovered me?
I slid out of his sleeve pocket and returned to human form. I raised my head, clapped my hands and said: “Aiya! How did I end up sleeping in the wrong place last night? This very such a coincidence, such a coincidence.”
The Phoenix curved his lips and clasped his hands behind him, no longer paying attention to me. I laughed and looked around. A small, swaying skiff was moving forward, but there wasn’t any water dripping from the skiff, as you cannot say this is a river. The space between the two banks was so deep that you could not see the bottom. Even though there wasn’t any water, you could hear the slap of the water against the bottom of the skiff, and you could also feel swaying of the waves. Very bizarre.
I had just stretched out my hand, wanting to cup a handful of the nonexistent water, but something smacked my hand away. Frightened, I withdrew my hand, but it was phoenix feather that had slapped my hand.
“This is the River of Forgetfulness.” The Phoenix withdrew his phoenix feather: “If you don’t want to feed the ghosts and wild spirits in the river, then stand steady.
I cautiously stilled my hand, raised my head and saw that the old grandpa who was poling the boat was staring at me, so I smiled at him happily. The Phoenix coughed lightly and wrinkled his brows: “Where’s your Spirit-Sealing Hairpin?”
“I lost it.” I truthfully replied, and upon seeing his face darken, I quickly added: “Yesterday, when I went to the Estate of Conjugal Bliss, I was too rushed when I rode the clouds, so it probably fell into a cloud.”
The Phoenix was just about to speak, when the grandpa who was poling the boat interjected: “This old man has guarded this River of Forgetfulness for a hundred thousand some years, and this is only the second time I’ve seen a rare beauty like this young lady.”
Wah, this grandpa’s job is too lonely. In a hundred thousand years, he’s only seen two young ladies.
“I remember that twenty thousand years ago, a woman came here and asked this old man for a handful of water from the River of Forgetfulness. That woman’s appearance was so beautiful that she could cause the downfall of an entire nation, and with her every step, flowers sprouted. Even though her appearance was exquisite, she had an expression of misery, unlike how this young lady is bright and enchanting, free from all worries.”
“What happened afterwards?” I asked enthusiastically. I thought, if this was an interesting story, I could go back and tell it to the fox immortal and he would definitely be very happy.
“Afterwards? Afterwards, a young sir wearing a brocade robe pursued her from the banks, and urgently upended the water in that young lady’s hands. After the two argued, that young lady finally tried to jump into the River of Forgetfulness, but the brocade-robed young sir became very agitated and pulled the young lady back in a frenzy. After that, the two disappeared together without a trace.”
“River of Forgetfulness, River of Forgetfulness, the memories one wanted to forget has already become a river.” The grandpa shook his head and sighed.
So it was a story with a lion’s head and a serpent’s tail, what a party-pooper. But the Phoenix just pensively gazed at me, appearing to be serious.
During our conversation, we have arrived at the other bank. The Phoenix handed the Lao Jun’s miracle pill to the grandpa poling the boat as payment, and got off the boat first. When I left the boat, I raised my head and saw the scenery of the Demon World. The foot on the boat was unsteady and I lunged forward. It was a good thing that the Phoenix turned around quickly and was able to catch me.
I rubbed my painfully bumped nose and raised myself from his embrace. He paused, let go of my hand that he was supporting in his palm, and suddenly strode forward without a backwards glance.
Oh, such fickle mood swings, such fickle mood swings. I steadied myself but almost fell forward again, and followed behind him.
The sky of the Demon World was an unbridled blood-red color. Dim green flames flew here and there around us, the flickering shadows of ghosts. I trembled a little and squeezed these words from my throat: “That… Phoenix, wait for me… I’m… I’m afraid of ghosts.”
The Phoenix in front of me finally stopped and turned his head around. With a flash of his dimples, he said to me, not knowing whether to laugh or cry: “Why would a demon like you be afraid of ghosts?”
I thought for bit, he’s right. I thought a bit more, he’s not right. I’m a fairy, not a demon.
Luckily, the Phoenix did not leave me behind anymore, so I did not argue with him and followed behind. Along the way, the Phoenix used magic to change our appearance and our robes were also changed to a greyish color. He said to me: “You must walk along with me. From now on, in the Demon World, you are my personal maidservant and must follow by my side. I can protect you from being seized by ghosts.” I thought for a bit, I’ve already been his office boy for a hundred years. A personal maidservant is not much different, so I agreed.
The Demon World was bustling, and even though the demons walking past us were roughly in human form, there was always something different on their persons. Perhaps a tail, perhaps horns, perhaps protruding fangs. There was so much that my eyes could not take all of it in, what a delight!
Facing me was a little demon as tall as my waist, who was holding a gigantic tray. Flatteringly, he inched towards the Phoenix and said: “This Demon Lord, you should buy a tail. These are all fresh merchandise, if you wear it, no one will be able to recognize your true form!”
The Phoenix shook his head without even a glance. I enthusiastically stared at them, it really was a large tray of tails. On it were bull tails, sheep tails, rabbit tails, fish tails, and bird tails. I stretched out my hand and rummaged through them. They were soft and warm, and did seem fresh indeed. I asked the little demon: “These tails are quite nice, do you happen to have ears?”
The little demon quickly replied: “I do, I do.” He busily pulled out several pairs of ears from his pocket. After one glance, I saw a pair of long, white rabbit ears. Wah, if I had this pair of ears, the next time Lao Hu comes to catch me, I could put these on and frighten him away.
The little demon clicked his tongue: “Demoness has good taste. These rabbit ears are fashioned from the ears of the Moon Palace’s Jade Rabbit.” I stroked those rabbit ears and happily stuffed them into my breast pocket. By my side, the Phoenix ridiculed: “It’s only a small appearance-changing trick.”
Just as I was about to leave, the little demon hurriedly called out: “Demoness has not given me money yet?”
“What is money?” I uncertainly turned back.
The little demon rounded his eyes, and stamped his foot. A pair of hands intervened from the side, tossing something bright and silverly at the little demon: “I will pay for this demoness.”
I turned around and saw a black-robed demon leading a deer smiling lightly at me. Haha, the Demon World is really friendly.
But the Phoenix’s face became cold. He dug out something gold colored, tossed it at the little demon and took the silver ingot that the demon had just thrown, returning it to him: “Obviously, I will pay for the things my maidservant buys. There is no need to trouble First Highness.”
That demon nonchalantly took back his silver ingot and said: “Since we are one family, where does the ‘trouble’ come from?”
One family? The Heavenly family is very mysterious. This Phoenix has a fox as his uncle, and now, there is even a demon who claims kinship to him. I looked at the demon for a bit, and he looked somewhat familiar.
The Phoenix smiled lightly: “Long time no see, why does First Highness have the interest to travel to the Demon World today?”
“I heard that Brother Phoenix was ordered to personally come to the Demon World. Your brother was unable to contain his curiosity, I don’t know what public matter you need to personally take care of.” The demon’s voice was very warm.
The Phoenix brushed his fingers over his sleeve, and unmindfully replied: “The demonic beasts are fighting with the malicious ghosts. They are making demon fire, releasing plagues, harming the innocent and scattering corpses all around. Does this count as an important matter?”
“So, your brother should also travel with you and offer you my help.” The demon suddenly turned towards me: “I hope that Immortal Lady Jin Mi has been well since our last meeting.”
After he said this, he reached out his hand and warmly stroked the neck of the little deer at his side.
I slowly examined that little deer and remembered: “Xiao Yu Xian Guan?”
Xiao Yu Xian Guan smiled warmly: “It really is a small world.”
“Xiao Yu Xian Guan?” Expressionless, the Phoenix repeated my words: “I did not know that you two have met before.”
“Yes, we met by chance when Ren Yu Xian Guan was herding his deer yesterday.” I said to him.
“Herding deer? Fish ? When did First Highness Night Deity not want to be a dragon anymore, and wanted to become a fish instead?”
Ren Yu Xian Guan bowed his head and smiled: “Since the Fire Deity can be a crow, it does not matter too much if I am a fish.”
With this question and answer, I finally understood that this Xiao Yu Xian Guan is actually the Phoenix’s elder brother, the True Dragon Night Deity. So having a scaly tail did not mean one was a fish, one could also be a low-key dragon.
After that, Xiao Yu Xian Guan travelled with us and the Phoenix’s expression became all the more chilly. I really don’t understand why such a cold person is the Fire Deity.
We stayed overnight at an inn. The Phoenix asked for a suite, and ordered me to sleep in the outer room. He naturally said: “You are my personal maidservant, of course you will have to wait on me.” Xiao Yu Xian Guan stayed in the room next to us.
In the middle of the night, the Phoenix said that he was thirsty and called for me to bring water, so I sleepily walked downstairs to search for the inn’s little ghost and asked for a kettle of tea. I saw the Night Deity’s little deer silently staring at me from the stairs. I saw that it was rather pitiful, probably because it was also afraid of ghosts, so I carried the water in one hand and led it into the guest room with the other.
During the early morning of the next day, I found a handful of grass in the inn’s inner courtyard and tried to feed the deer, but it stubbornly would not eat. Someone behind me laughed lightly, and when I turned around, I saw that the Night Deity was standing there. He said: “Do not feed it, Immortal Lady Jin Mi. My deer is called ‘Nightmare Beast’ and only eats dreams, not grass. As long as you let it out during the night, it will search for dreams and nightmares to eat.”
I patted the little deer and clicking my tongue, I helpfully said: “This is a treasure of the Heavenly Family indeed. Very interesting.” Suddenly, that deer burped, and I rubbed its round little tummy. It probably ate a lot of dreams and nightmares last night, and was now bloated.
“These two guests, breakfast is ready. The demon lord in the inn seems to be very hungry, as his facial expression isn’t very pleasant. These two guests, please go inside and eat.” The little ghost stretched his head from outside the courtyard.
I said to the Night Deity: “Why don’t you eat first. I think this little deer is bloated so I will lead it around the courtyard and let it digest.”
The Night Deity smiled: “That’s fine.”
After he left, I squeezed the Nightmare Beast’s belly left and right: “You can eat dreams, but can you spit out dreams? Spit out a dream for me to see.” It dodged left and right, but I circled around it, not letting it go, and rubbed its belly here and there.
This Nightmare Beast probably ate too much, and in the end, it really did spit out something the size of the legendary Luminous Pearl. I happily stretched out my hand to pinch that pearl, but the pearl suddenly vanished into the earth.
In an instant, a thin image emerged from the ground. I squatted to the side and watched, full of interest. The image was somewhat familiar. I thought back and it looked like the place where we got off the boat yesterday, the ferry landing on the River of Forgetfulness. Looking at the banks of the River of Forgetfulness, a tall and elegant man, holding a girl in his arms, stood up. The image slowly changed, sweeping to the man’s face. I looked carefully, it was actually that guy, the Phoenix.
That girl leaned against the Phoenix’s chest, but I could not see her clearly. I only saw her slowly lift up her head, while the Phoenix slowly lowered his. The two gazed at each other for a long time and then, wah, they kissed.
So, this is probably the “erotic dream” that the fox immortal spoke of.
The Nightmare Beast slept in the Phoenix’s and my room yesterday. I very rarely have dreams, so this erotic dream is probably the Phoenix’s.
Full of interest, I watched the image of the Phoenix and that girl kissing here, kissing there, kissing here, kissing there. They kissed until that girl panted delicately and the Phoenix finally released her, but he still tenderly hugged her waist. That girl leaned against his chest like a willow tree against the wind, and turned her slightly reddened face around.
She looked familiar.
I used the little pool in the garden to look at my reflection, to compare it to hers.
Finally, my conclusion was that the girl in the image looked exactly like me.
 Chinese: 鸡毛菜, Chinese Rapeseed plant/You Cai/Yu Choy/Chinese Cabbage.
 The Phoenix is referring to why Jin Mi calls Ren Yu ‘Xiao Yu Xian Guan’.
Okay, I know that I’m ridiculously behind on my Heavy Sweetness, Ash-like Frost translation, considering my last few posts have all been about other books, but I recently started my first modern C-Novel, Life is a Twice-Blooming Flower, by Tang Qi Gong Zi (author of Three Lives Three Worlds, Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms and Hua Xu Yin). It’s a bit of a rough transition from my normal historical novels, because I didn’t understand many of the jokes and colloquial phrases, but I still have to say, it has been a blast so far. I’m about two-thirds the way through and luckily, it’s a short book, so I promise that I will have next chapter of Heavy Sweetness up soon. I just wanted to share a funny scene (these quirky scenes are littered throughout the book, but this one particularly stands out to me).
A quick synopsis:
This is a story about forgetting, protecting and meeting again.
How did I love you? Was it our unbearable experience five years ago, or the wordless way we looked at each other five years later?
How did I love you? Was it the remaining memories of eight years ago, or the attachment unable to be severed eight years later?
Life is a twice-blooming flower. After wading through a river, and a thousand flowers bloomed, surprisingly, I looked back. How did I love you?
A pregnant, sixteen-year-old girl was accidentally hit by a car, but the only repercussions from that accident were that she lost all memory of the past sixteen years of her life and her son popped out a bit earlier than expected. This girl was adopted by the woman who accidentally hit them and was renamed Yan Song, while her son was given the name Yan Lang. She continued her schooling as a normal girl and fell in love with the top student of their class, Lin Qiao. After three years of hiding her feelings and one drunken night later, she finds herself at a low point in her life - her mother was thrown into jail for embezzlement, her grandmother was deathly ill, she was rejected from the colleges she applied to, and even had a difficult time feeding and clothing herself and her son.
Five years later, a thirty-two-year-old man named Qin Mo seemingly appears from nowhere and causes her life to become chaotic again. He appears to know more about her forgotten past than he lets on. She also meets Lin Qiao again and painful memories are reawakened. Can Yan Song forget about that drunken night with Lin Qiao and the suffering he caused her to start a new relationship with Qin Mo? But who is Qin Mo and what kind of a past is he hiding?
And of course, a spoilery MV:
Liu Yi Fei as Yan Song/Lolita
Hu Ge as Qin Mo/Steven
Raymond Lam as Lin Qiao
Scene Translation: A Physics Problem
This situation really seems like a physics problem, asking, Qin Mo and Jiang Tian are heading in the same direction. Qin Mo walks sixty meters per minute and Jiang Tian runs 300 meters per minute. The distance between them is thirty meters, so, how long will it take for them to meet each other? Then, after careful calculations, a panting Jiang Mi ran to where Qin Mo was, and after evening out her breath, she gently said: “Teacher Qin, why did you leave right after the show ended? My father wanted me to ask you, do you have time this Sunday? He wanted to invite you to our house~”
Qin Mo put on an expression as if he was recalling his schedule, and after recalling for two seconds, he said: “I have a meeting on Sunday. Please thank your father for me for his good intentions. Perhaps next time.”
Jiang Tian revealed a look of disappointment, and then, her face suddenly reddened, as she asked gently: “When will Teacher Qin have time?”
I felt as if something grabbed at my heart roughly. I had a bad feeling that I had been reincarnated as a wooden stake and had been cleaved by an axe, immediately collapsing with a boom. The desire to collapse became stronger and stronger, so I said: “I’ll head back first.”
Qin Mo glanced at me, and quickly grabbed my hand: “Walk with me a bit more.”
The documents in Jiang Tian’s hands suddenly fell on the ground, with a ‘pa!’ sound. That loud and sudden noise in such an open area almost made me jump up. She also seemed to be frightened awake and immediately squatted to pick them up. When she rose, her face was pale, she said: “Teacher Qin…”
Before she was able to clearly express what she wanted to say, Qin Mo interrupted her. He stood underneath the three or four o’clock sun and lightly said: “You have worked hard this afternoon. Goodbye.”
While I escorted Qin Mo back to the parking lot, I kept thinking about what Jiang Tian wanted to say before Qin Mo had cut her off. Many different situations flashed through my head, but in the end, only one sentence branded itself in my heart, and that was: “Teacher Qin, I’m pregnant…” I restlessly thought about it for a while, and when we arrived at his car, I finally mustered enough courage to ask: “You and Jiang Tian have… what kind of relationship?”
Qin Mo paused in surprise: “Who is Jiang Tian?”
I gestured: “The one back there. You even cut off her words. Maybe it was an extremely important sentence, like…” Before the words left my mouth, I suddenly realized that my tone wasn’t quite right, so I immediately shut my mouth tightly.
He leaned against the car door and asked with a light smile: “Like?”
I said: “Ah, the weather is so good today. I’m buying a pound of dumpling skins tonight, right?”
He pulled me upright and insistently continued to ask: “Like?”
In a flash, many different thoughts fluttered through my head. I clenched my teeth and said: “Qin Mo, I’m pregnant.”
He started blankly at me and said with surprise: “I obviously…”
I said: “Ah?”
The expression on his face changed quickly. One second passed, he held me in his arms and another second later, he tightly pressed me against the car door. He asked: “Whose is it?”
And I finally reacted. For a while, I did not speak, but then, I pushed him away while saying: “That’s not what I meant. You asked me to make up a scenario, so I made one up for you.”
Qin Mo did not say anything, he only looked at me. The way he was looking at me made my hair stand on end, so I unconsciously lowered my voice and said: “I’m not. I really am not.” After saying these two sentences, I immediately despised myself. What does it matter to him if I was pregnant or not? I’m actually this weak-spirited. Who did I provoke?
Qin Mo leaned his head against my shoulder: “Don’t make these kinds of jokes anymore.”
After he said this, I saw Zhou Yue Yue and Young Master He get off the car across from us. Zhou Yue Yue opened her mouth wide: “Wow, Song Song. You guys are so passionate.”
I thought, life really is quite fickle.
I love this music video because it is so well made and well casted. Out of all the Yun Zhong Ge (Song In the Clouds) MVs I’ve watched, this is the only one that had me bawling halfway through. Even though I already know what happens in the end, I still can’t bear to pick up the second part of Yun Zhong Ge because (a) it takes too long to read without an audiobook and (b) tears start welling up every time I think about the ending.
Yang Mi as Yun Ge
Hu Ge as Meng Jue
Qiao Zhen Yu as Liu Fu Ling/Ling Ge’ge
Huang Xiao Ming as Liu Bing Yu/Liu Xun
Chen Zi Han as Xu Ping Jun
Yuan Hong as Da Gong Zi/Liu He
Liu Shi Shi as Hong Yi
Tong Li Ya as Huo Cheng Jun
??? as Shang Guang Xiao Mei
I’ve never thought Qiao Zhen Yu was good looking, but he is actually quite beautiful and fitting as Ling Ge’ge. Though, the most handsome guy in the MV is definitely Huang Xiao Ming. *wipes away the drool leaking from the corner of my mouth*
Also, if any C-Novel fans want somewhere to gush about your favorite novels, chancy426 and raini have kindly created a playpen for us: http://www.shushengbar.com.
I know when I’m reading a good book when I obsessively disregard my need for sleep in favor of reading just one more chapter the novel. One chapter turns into two, and then three, and the next thing I know, it’s 5 AM in the morning. Grand Dream of Spring and Autumn by Meng San Sheng is one of these books.
Grand Dream of Spring and Autumn takes place in…. the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history. Specifically, it’s a retelling of the love triangle between Xi Shi, one of the Four Great Beauties, Fu Chai, the King of Wu, and Fan Li, a general of the Yue Kingdom. My chinese history is abysmal (I only know a bit of the major dynasties and Min Guo, or at least what I’ve learned from historical and wuxia dramas), so when I began the book, I had no idea that these people were real historical figures, which might not have necessarily been a bad thing, because I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have picked up the book if I knew what that wangbadan Fan Li did to Xi Shi beforehand.
So before I delve into the summary of the novel, I wanted to give a few character introductions. There are a lot of men in the story and I had a hard time keeping all of them straight.
A’Fu - (marriageability rating: 7/10). A’Fu is the first person to fall in love with Xiang Bao/Xi Shi and is a distant relative of Gan Da Niang, the ladyboss of the entertainment house, where they grew up in. He made sure to take care of her, even if he himself had to go hungry to feed her, and loved her despite the ugly birthmark on her face. He later became a great general of the Yue army and invaded the Wu Kingdom to rescue Xiang Bao from life as consort to the Fu Chai. Albeit his attempted rescue was sixteen years too late, he ultimately sacrificed his life for her.
Wei Qin - (marriageability rating: 9/10 if they weren’t siblings, otherwise a big ole 0/10). First of all, Wei Qin is ALL MINE MINE MINE *_____*. Wei Qin and Xiang Bao first meet when he steals the money she is suppose to use to complete her errands. She tells him that he shouldn’t steal from poor people and he eventually returns the money he stole. Xiang Bao saves him several times and he begins to develop feelings for her. Of all the men in the story, he is the one who sacrificed most for Xiang Bao: he willingly put his life on the line in the fighting arenas to earn semi-honest money to buy her medicine, he helped her escape when she was going to be sold as a concubine and when she was going to be sent to the Wu Kingdom as a consort, he suffered bee stings on his entire body just to get a bit of honey for her, and he ultimately gave up his love for her just to remain by her side as her brother, because he knew that his love would only cause her pain. He was the one who constantly watched over her, only revealing himself when she needed help.
Fan Li - (marriageability rating: -1/10). Fan Li was the only man who didn’t need to earn Xiang Bao’s love because she had already given it to him the first time they met. He is a general of the Yue Kingdom and is single-heartedly loyal to the King of Yue. His promises are worthless and betrays Xiang Bao again and again in the name of saving his country. He is only a glorified pimp, as he offered up Xiang Bao to the King of Wu so there could be peace between Wu and Yue. Yes, he did lose his memory when he made that choice, but ultimately, he could have chosen to take her away like Wei Qin did, but he chose to use her as a mere chess piece instead. I’ve never loathed a male lead like I loathed Fan Li, as he only regretted his actions when he lost Xiang Bao. After defeating the Wu Kingdom and hearing the news of her death, he resigned from his office and spent years roaming the wilderness on a fishing boat, but later became a successful businessman as he had once promised Xiang Bao that he would become the richest man in the world so she could spend his money however she wanted. Even though he did become extremely wealthy, he was also cursed to spend the rest of his life pining after the love that he once had, but could no longer find again. If I had my way with him, I would have chained him to a rock and have vultures tear out his innards every day for eternity, as punishment for being so heartless (没心没肺) to Xiang Bao. Yes, I am rather vicious.
Gou Jian - (marriageability rating: -100000000000/10) Ugh. This guy might be a decent ruler, but is the worst friend, husband, brother, vassal, and basically anything else you can think of. He tries to buy Xiang Bao using ten caskets of pearls, but because Wei Qin ends up taking her away, he was not able to get his hands on her. When he meets Xiang Bao again, Fan Li introduces her as his fiancee to stop Gou Jian from forcing her to be his concubine. Gou Jian sends Fan Li off to battle and tells Xiang Bao that he doesn’t want Fan Li to return safe and sound, because he wants both the jiangshan and the meiren. He uses the people around his merely as tools to fulfill his ambition and when they no longer are of any use to him, he doesn’t hesitate to dispose of them, regardless of how much they sacrificed for him. A man like this is loyal to no one, except for himself.
Fu Chai - (marriageability rating: 4/10) Fu Chai is the coolly collected King of Wu. The only person who can upset his calm demeanor is Xi Shi/Xiang Bao. The first time they met, he saved her. The second and third times they met, she tries to save him, not knowing that he was actually the fearsome King of Wu, the person has turned the Yue Kingdom into an uproar. He gives three conditions for peace between the two nations, one of which is that the woman Fan Li loves must enter Wu as his consort. At first she was unwilling, but he gently spoils her until Fan Li becomes a mere shadow in her heart. However, he is not a good sovereign, as he kills his most loyal vassal, Prime Minister Wu, for Xi Shi, nor is he a good husband or a good father, as he tricks Xi Shi into drinking medicine to abort their baby. Despite the grief he causes his country and the woman he loves, he ultimately chooses to let go of the jiangshan and spend his days as normal man with his one wife, Xiang Bao.
Shi Lian - (marriageability rating: 8/10) A general of the Yue army, Shi Lian vows to take revenge on Xiang Bao for his brother’s death. Yet, he follows Lord Gou Jian’s orders, forcing her to return and prepare to enter Wu as Fu Chai’s consort. He begins to admire her for her strength and although he had many opportunities to take revenge, he protects her time after time. He continues to act cold towards her, but when she asks him to teach her how to read and write, he painstakingly prepares exercise booklets for her. When the citizens of Wu blame Xiang Bao for Prime Minister Wu’s death and howl for her blood, he willingly takes all the blame and dies to protect her. After his death, Xiang Bao realizes that he protected her from the shadows all these years not because Lord Gou Jian ordered him to, but because he loved her.
Wen Zhong - (marriageability rating: 6/10) State advisor to Lord Gou Jian of Yue. Falls in love with Xiang Bao’s sister, Mo Li, but is unable to protect her from Gou Jian’s evil clutches. Mo Li commits suicide so she cannot be used to threaten Xiang Bao anymore. Wen Zhong looks out for Xiang Bao, urging Wei Qin to take Xiang Bao far away from Yue Kingdom and Gou Jian’s ambition. He manages state affairs while Gou Jian stays in Wu Kingdom as a vassal lord for three years, but the only result of his loyalty and hard work is a sword that Gou Jian orders him to commit suicide with.
The story begins as Xiang Bao is punished for losing the money Gan Da Niang, the lady boss of the entertainment house Xiang Bao works at, gave her to run errands. Gan Da Ning decides to starve Xiang Bao for a day, but A’Fu gives her his meal and goes hungry instead. A’Fu tells her that she is really quite beautiful, as she thinks to herself that A’Fu and her sister are the only ones who would say that, because she has an ugly red birthmark on the side of her face. The next day, Gan Da Niang sends her on errands again, but the same red-clothed boy steals her money. This time however, Xiang Bao chases after and catches the young thief, threatening to report him if he doesn’t return her money.She tells him that it’s wrong for him to steal, especially from other poor people, but just as she was lecturing him, an old man accidentally runs in to her, calls her a harbinger of misfortune (Chinese: 祸水, huo shui), and spits on her. A young man dressed in white helps her up and wipes the spittle off her face. She asked him: “What is a huo shui?” He asks her if she means hong yan huo shui. She then asks him what hong yan means and he replies with a smile that hong yan means a beautiful woman. Before she is able to ask his name, he walks away while she just stares. He is her first love.
A few days later, Xiang Bao’s sister, Mo Li, the most famous girl at their entertainment house, invites Fan Li and Wen Zhong to visit her. Xiang Bao recognizes Fan Li as the young man dressed in white who had helped her before. Mo Li tells the two young officials that she wants to help them against the kingdom of Wu, as her father was Yao Li, the famed assassin for the King He Lu of Wu. In order to gain the trust of his target, Yao Li pretended to betray the King He Lu, causing the death of his wife and the disappearance of his children. Mo Li wants revenge against the Kingdom of Wu for the destruction of their family and she offers to work with Fan Li and Wen Zhong under one condition - that Xiang Bao is never to know about their family history. Mo Li only wants Xiang Bao to be carefree and happy.
During this time, the red-clothed young thief finds her and returns her money, but then falls over, sick. Xiang Bao takes care of the red-clothed thief, later finding out that his name is Wei Qin. Weeks pass, and Xiang Bao gradually gets to know Fan Li better. She wants to express her feeling for him by making him a new robe so she takes her savings to the market to find a suitable piece of cloth. She sees a crowd of people surrounding a few men and goes to see what was happening. The men were then kicking what looked like a pile of rags on the ground, but Xiang Bao recognized the red clothes as Wei Qin. She rushes up to the angry man, and hugging his leg, she pleads for mercy, saying that her brother was not right in the head and that they were orphans. The man lets them go and the crowd scatters. Wei Qin hurriedly pushes her behind a bush as he sees a group of gangsters walk up. They beat him for not being able to even steal money without being caught, but he tells them that he won’t steal ever again. They threaten to kill him if he doesn’t show up with enough money the next day and walk off. Xiang Bao rushes to look at Wei Qin’s injuries, but the gangsters return and see her. Wei Qin hides her behind him and tells them that he will get the money for them as long as they don’t touch her. The gangsters cackle and double the amount of money he has to steal and then said that the girl is so ugly that they don’t even want to touch her. The gangsters force Xiang Bao and Wei Qin to return with them but it suddenly begins to rain, washing off Xiang Bao’s birthmark. Wei Qin rubs some of his blood on her face to disguise the disappearing birthmark.
By the time they return to the hovel where Wei Qin lives with other young boys, the gangsters have noticed that Xiang Bao’s birthmark has disappeared. before they could do anything, Wei Qin leads the other boys and beat the gangsters to death with bamboo poles. They then set fire to the hovel. Xiang Bao tells Wei Qin that when she opens her own entertainment house, he can live there with her and will no longer have to steal. They see Fan Li riding up and Wei Qin rushes off without another word. Fan Li takes her home, telling her that her sister has been worrying about her the entire day.
A few days later, Gan Da Niang discovers that her birthmark isn’t real and while Mo Li is away, she dresses Xiang Bao up and forces her to entertain men. That night, a man gives a pearl to Gan Da Niang just to see her face and announces that Xiang Bao is indeed a great beauty. He offers Gan Da Niang ten caskets of pearls in exchange for Xiang Bao, but Mo Li rushes in before the man could take Xiang Bao away. The man’s servant says that they will return the next day to collect Xiang Bao. Mo Li and Xiang Bao are locked in separate rooms and one of the other girls gives Xiang Bao a pill that could make her erupt in hives. Xiang Bao takes the pill and begins to run a fever in the middle of the night. At that time, Wei Qin rushes in and takes Xiang Bao away, distracting the servants guarding her door by setting the place on fire.
Wei Qin takes her to a small run-down house and upon discovering that she was running a fever and was breaking out in hives, he rushes out, returning later with wounds all over his body and a packet of medicine. Xiang Bao stays with Wei Qin for five days, and each day he returns with fresh wounds and a packet of medicine for her. One day, she secretly follows him and watches him fight and kill men much bigger than him at the fighting arena. When he walks out, he merely smiles as he sees her, but she slaps him, crying that nothing is worth risking his life like that. He smiles and replies that he is used to it, pulling her along to buy her medicine. She makes him promise her that he won’t ever fight like that again. The next day, Wei Qin rushes back to find her, telling her that they can no longer stay there. Xiang Bao sees that the owner of fighting area is attacking them. Xiang Bao uses her own body to block a knife aimed at Wei Qin, who then furiously slaughters the men attacking them. He piggybacks Xiang Bao into town to find a doctor.
When she wakes up Wei Qin is by her side, but then Mo Li, Wen Zhong and Fan Li enter, finding her at last. Wei Qin hops out the window before they are able to see him clearly. Mo Li agrees to let Xiang Bao stay in Fan Li’s estate and he gives a thousand dollars to Gan Da Niang, telling her that she was at his estate so she should give up all hope of selling off Xiang Bao. Xiang Bao stays at Fan Li’s estate for half a year while her wound heals. Mo Li tells her that the Gan Da Niang perished in a fire and that she was now the owner of the entertainment house. Immediately, Xiang Bao thinks of the young man dressed in red as he set fire to the hovel he was forced to live in with the gangsters. Could the person who set Gan Da Niang’s room on fire be Wei Qin? Mo Li asks her if Xiang Bao wants to return and live with her, and Xiang Bao happily agrees. Mo Li leaves to speak to Fan Li.
After she leaves, Wei Qin appears, but Xiang Bao hurriedly drags him into her room, worried that someone would recognize him as the person who set the fire. She asks him, why he did he set Gan Da Niang’s room on fire? He replies with loathing in his voice, because she sold Xiang Bao and when he saw her counting the money Fan Li gave her, he flew into a frenzy. He tells Xiang Bao that he followed Mo Li here, and asks her why she used herself to shield him from that knife. No one has ever protected him before, because he has always been alone. Xiang Bao replies that she just didn’t want for him to be wounded and impishly asks if he is so moved that he wants to cry. Wei Qin turns red and replies with an “of course not!” At that moment, they heard Fan Li’s voice calling for Xiang Bao from outside her room. Wei Qin quickly jumps out the window as Fan Li enters her room, asking her if she really wants to return with Mo Li. Xiang Bao happily smiles and says, of course, managing an entertainment house is her dream. Fan Li also smiles, and says that he’s afraid that he can’t let her go, because she signed an agreement to sell herself to him. He explains that the agreement she signed when he promised to give her a thousand dollars, was actually a agreement to see herself to him for three years. Xiang Bao half-angrily claims that he tricked her because she couldn’t read. Fan Li smiles again and asks her to stay by his side for a year and a half, that’s all he wants. Xiang Bao agrees.
A few days later, Mo Li storms into Fan Li’s estate, demanding him to release Xiang Bao. She tells Fan Li that she doesn’t like him, because he is a ‘hero’ and ‘heroes’ like her father and Fan Li will always choose to sacrifice their family for their country. Fan Li tells Mo Li that he loves Xiang Bao and that he would never desert her. Mo Li angrily replies that men always have reasons to excuse their behavior, but Fan Li swears that if he is unable to protect Xiang Bao, despite any reasons or excuses, he will be cursed to spend the rest of his life alone. Mo Li is finally touched by his resolution and reluctantly agrees to allow Xiang Bao to be with him.
One day, Lord Gou Jian arrives at Fan Li’s estate to discuss official business with him. Fan Li warns Xiang Bao to stay in her room, but Xiang Bao wanted to search for the bamboo scroll on which Fan Li wrote their names. She sneaks into his study, but was discovered by Fan Li and Gou Jian. She realizes that Gou Jian was the man who offered ten caskets of pearls in exchange for her. To protect her, Fan Li reveals that Xiang Bao is actually his fiancee and that he hopes Lord Gou Jian will allow their marriage. Gou Jian smiles coldly and replies with a yes.
Fan Li is sent to lead the Yue troops against the Wu army. On the day he leaves, Xiang Bao sends him off and meets Gou Jian again. Gou Jian asks Xiang Bao if he should wish that Fan Li returns safely or if he should wish that Fan Li would die on the battlefield. Surprised by the coldness in his eyes, Xiang Bao replies that of course he should wish for Fan Li to return safely. If Fan Li returns safely, the Yue army will return safely, bringing the Kingdom of Yue a victory against Wu. As the sovereign of Yue, shouldn’t he wish the Yue troops to be victorious? Gou Jian coldly tells her that he wants both the jiangshan and the meiren (her) and Xiang Bao shudders at his wild ambition.
Fan Li is injured and is briefly reunited with Xiang Bao, but is ordered to return to his army. Before he leaves again, Fan Li sends Xiang Bao back to live with her sister, promising to ride his horse and marry her properly when he returns. However, Xiang Bao accidentally eavesdropped on a conversation between Gou Jian, Wen Zhong, and Mo Li, who had been gathering intelligence from the patrons of her entertainment house, and she discovers that Fan Li has disappeared, no one knows whether he is dead or alive. Xiang Bao immediately rushes to the battlefield to find him, but is stopped by bandits at the foot of Fu Jiao Mountain. A yellow-robed young man is also stopped by the same bandits, but he arrogantly tells them that as long as they let him go, he won’t stop them from doing their business (stealing from Xiang Bao). However, the young man is so beautiful that they mistaken him for a woman in men’s clothing and refuse to let him pass, inciting the young man’s anger. He mercilessly slaughters them without getting a single drop on blood on himself, and just as he is about to ride off, Xiang Bao asks for directions from him, saying that she is looking for someone. He asks back, who are you looking for? Hesitantly, she replies that she is looking for Fan Li and the yellow-robed young man laughs, saying that he also hopes that someone can find Fan Li. He gives her directions to the battlefield he was last seen at and rides off.
Xiang Bao is nearly killed by a few enemy soldiers, but a red-robed young man, Wei Qin, grabs her before the arrows could strike her. Wei Qin angrily asks her why she is here but she blindly stumbles around, calling out Fan Li’s name. Wei Qin grabs her shoulders and angrily says that Fan Li is dead, he fell off this cliff. Xiang Bao asks how he knows, did he see Fan Li fall of with his own eyes? Wei Qin hesitantly replies that yes, he did see it with his own eyes, because he was the person sent to assassinate Fan Li. Xiang Bao cries bitterly, forcing herself to stumble away from Wei Qin. Wei Qin reaches out to help her, but she pushes him away. He asks, was he really that important to her? She doesn’t reply but climbs on her horse and gallops home.
By the time she returns, she had already been missing for several days and immediately begins running a high fever. For months, she remains abed, in a semi-concious state while all the doctors Mo Li calls shake their heads, saying that Xiang Bao will not live past the winter. Every day, A’Fu cuts firewood for her and tends the fire in her room because he does not want Xiang Bao to be cold. During this time, Wei Qin watches her from the shadows, as he secretly followed her back from the battlefield because he was worried about her. He angrily watches A’Fu take care of her day and night, hating the way A’Fu looks at Xiang Bao.
As spring arrives, Xiang Bao mysteriously recovers to her her former self, but never mentions Fan Li again. One day, she is abducted and imprisoned at the Wu encampment, because she is accidentally mistakened for Mo Li, but escapes by killing her guard. She then meets the enigmatic Ji Gong Zi, the same yellow-robed man she had met before, and they escape from the army camp together. He sends her back to Mo Li’s side.
A few days later, Lord Gou Jian requests both Xiang Bao and Mo Li’s presence at a banquet he is holding and they discover that Fan Li did not die, but has returned with the woman who had saves him as his fiancee, whose name is Xi Shi. Fan Li has lost his memory of Xiang Bao and he coldly brushes her off when she approaches him. Heart-broken, she returns to her room and cries. Ji Gong Zi appears and soothes her, telling her it’s good thing she can still cry, because not being able to weep while in such pain is even worse.
The Wu army has entered their city and the soldiers imprison Mo Li and Xiang Bao separately. The clever Xiang Bao escapes and happens to meet Ji Gong Zi in the Wu encampment again. Surprised, she asks if he was captured by that evil Fu Chai again? By this time, Prime Minister Wu has surrounded them with troops. Xiang Bao tries to protect Ji Gong Zi by saying that she ran away herself and it had nothing to do with him, if they let him go, Xiang Bao will return with them. Wu Zi Xu glares at her and calls out “Your Majesty”. Xiang Bao looks around for Fu Chai, but does not see him and asks Wu Zi Xu who he is calling “Your Majesty”? Ji Gong Zi laughs and embraces her, while Wu Zi Xu shoots her a dirty look, begging this seemingly invisible King of Wu to put her to death, as she may be a Yue spy and is definitely a hong yan huo shui (a beautiful woman who will cause the downfall of their kingdom). Ji Gong Zi laughingly replies, have you ever seen such a dumb spy? She bites his arm and he asks her, is this king’s meat that yummy? She immediately releases his arm and Ji Gong Zi/King of Wu/Fu Chai picks her up and returns to his tent. Xiang Bao begs Fu Chai to let her sister go, and he smiling replies that she has already escaped, leaving her to defend for herself. She gives a relieved sigh and Fu Chai orders her to rest as he needs to go out and take care of some things.
A few days pass, and Fu Chai suddenly summons her to his office, where Fan Li is already waiting. Fan Li smiles and approaches her, saying that he remembers her now, she is Xiang Bao. Xiang Bao begins to weep and Fan Li hands her a handkerchief. Fu Chai watches this exchange with a faint smile, and asks Fan Li if he really doesn’t want to work for the Wu Kingdom. Fan Li resolutely replies that he belongs to the kingdom of Yue and walks off. Fu Chai notices that there are four words written on the handkerchief, telling her to meet him by the river. Xiang Bao suddenly realizes Fan Li was lying to her, he didn’t actually remember her, because the old Fan Li would have known that she only recognizes the four characters of their names, the only words that Fan Li taught her.
That night, she crosses the river but almost drowns because she did not know how to swim, vainly hoping that her Fan Li would come and save her. Fu Chai watches all this from a distance, his heart in turmoil as he watches her struggle in the water. The servant by his sides asks, why is he letting her return to Fan Li’s side? Fu Chai coldly replies that he is going to make Xiang Bao understand that the man does not love her at all, because Fan Li will bring her back to Fu Chai’s side with his own hands.
Fan Li returns with Xiang Bao to the Yue army camp, and Gou Jian decides to surrender to the Wu army. Fu Chai sends Bo Pi, an official that Gou Jian bribed, with three conditions for surrender. 1. The kingdom of Yue becomes a vassal state of Wu. 2. Gou Jian enters Wu as a vassal lord. 3. The woman Fan Li loves enters Wu as Fu Chai’s consort. Gou Jian quickly agrees to the first two conditions, and Xi Shi reluctantly agrees to the last condition. Xiang Bao knows that the woman Fu Chai wanted was her, but she did not want to enter Wu for Fan Li. Does that mean that she does not love him enough?
However, Gou Jian’s wife entraps Xiang Bao into agreeing to enter Wu as Xi Shi by using Mo Li’s life to threaten her. As she leaves for Tu Cheng, where all the maidens that Gou Jian prepares to offer to Fu Chai as consorts are gathering, Wei Qin rushes out from the crowd and takes her away. He tells her that Mo Li is dead, she committed suicide because she did not want her sister blackmailed into entering Wu. Upon hearing this, Xiang Bao immediately falls ill but she realizes that she cannot shed any tears for her sister. She cannot believe her sister would leave her alone in these troubled times. Wei Qin takes care of her for several days, but Wen Zhong finds them and tells Xiang Bao the news of Mo Li’s death. He regrets being unable to protect her, but he will fulfill her last wish and urges Xiang Bao to leave the kingdom of Yue with Wei Qin. Before they leave, Wei Qin rushes off to find some honey for her, because he remembered her asking for sweet rice balls to cleanse the bitterness from her mouth.
While Wei Qin was away, Shi Lian, a general of the Yue army whose brother died after Xiang Bao incited his troops to rebel against him, arrives to take Xiang Bao back to Tu Cheng. Xiang Bao agrees to leave with him, but at this moment, Wei Qin returns with the honeycomb he found for Xiang Bao. He immediately pulls out his sword to protect Xiang Bao, but she tells Shi Lian that she will return with him if he lets Wei Qin go. Shi Lian coldly replies that he cannot let this bandit go as Xi Shi/Xiang Bao’s reputation will be destroyed as long as this man is alive. Wen Zhong returns to stop Shi Lian from killing Wei Qin by telling him that Xiang Bao and Wei Qin are brother and sister. The reason Mo Li committed suicide was because she knew that Wei Qin was there to take care of Xiang Bao. Shi Lian smiles icily and stabs Wei Qin. Xiang Bao runs to look at Wei Qin’s wound, but he only smiles at her and feeds her a bit of honey. It tastes so sweet but still so bitter because she also tasted Wei Qin’s blood. Shi Lian puts the edge of his blade against Xiang Bao’s neck, but Xiang Bao only hugs Wei Qin even more tightly, gazing at her brother, the only person who shares the same blood with her in this world. Shi Lian coldly reminds her that it is time for them to return to Tu Cheng. Xiang Bao turns around and tells Shi Lian that if he does not kill her today, he will regret it later, because he will eventually die because of her. She then asks, is no one going to help me onto the horse? Shi Lian motions for a soldier to help her, but she waves him off, staring at Shi Lian, she reminds him that she is Xi Shi, the future consort of the King of Wu, and the heroine of the Yue Kingdom. Does she not deserve the respect of having General Shi Lian help her up himself? Shi Lian slowly walks over and kneels on the ground. Xiang Bao roughly steps on his shoulders, mounts the horse and quickly rides off. Wei Qin calls out to her with pain in his heart, he does not want to be her brother… because he loves her.
Shi Lian and Xiang Bao meet up with the entourage sent to escort her to Tu Cheng, including Xi Shi and Fan Li. Fan Li has finally remembered his past with Xiang Bao and tries to speak with her time after time, but she coldly brushes him off. Mo Li died because he and Gou Jian forced her to this point, and she cannot forgive him for that. One night, Xi Shi disappears from their carriage, and Xiang Bao searches for her, finally finding her at the edge of a cliff. Xi Shi tells her that Xiang Bao doesn’t know how much Fan Li loves her, shoves her off the cliff and runs back to their camp. Xiang Bao manages to break fall on a tree growing on the edge of the cliff and is stuck there for an hour, until Shi Lian finds her and pulls her up to a small cave. Because she had been frozen on the winding cliff for so long, she begins to run a fever and Shi Lian takes off his robe and wraps her in it. She shivers uncontrollably and feverishly leans into his embrace as he takes care of her the entire night. The next morning, Fan Li discovers that Xiang Bao is missing and Xi Shi reluctantly says that Xiang Bao fell off that cliff while trying to save her. She asks Fan Li, are you going to kill me as revenge for Xiang Bao. Fan Li smiles lightly and says no, but he will die with Xiang Bao and then jumps off the same cliff. By the time Xi Shi returns to the camp, she sees Shi Lian carrying Xiang Bao into the camp. Xiang Bao did not die but has only lost her voice. Later that day, Fan Li also returns. He found the rope that Shi Lian used to rescue Xiang Bao and realized that Xiang Bao did not actually die. Xi Shi agrees to leave Fan Li and returns to her hometown.
They reach Tu Cheng and Xiang Bao meets the other women entering the kingdom of Wu with her. Notably, there is the friendly Hua Mei and the cold Zheng Dan, who recognizes that she isn’t the real Xi Shi. She could not speak, so Fan Li explained on her behalf that Xi Shi was ill so Gou Jian arranged for her to enter Wu as Xi Shi. Fan Li could not bear to see her bullied by the other women like that, and he tells Xiang Bao that he will take her away from all this, that they can wander the world, free from all other cares. Her heart is warmed by his earnestness and she agrees.
One day while Xiang Bao is changing, she sees a familiar face - Ji Gong Zi, no, Fu Chai?! The face quickly disappears but later she finds him waiting in her bed. She stares at him, stunned, and he begins to laugh loudly at her expression. Xiang Bao pounces on him to cover his mouth, afraid that someone will find him. Because he is in Yue Kingdom’s territory, she’s afraid that Gou Jian will use this as an excuse to kill him. Fu Chai playfully licks her hand and pulls her down on the bed, ordering her to go to sleep. And she actually does.
The next day, she hears that the King of Wu has arrived in Tu Cheng. The women quickly ready themselves to be presented to Fu Chai. Gou Jian’s wife introduces her as Xi Shi, and Fu Chai stars at her, asking her if she really is Xi Shi. Xiang Bao looks towards Fan Li but he remains silent, and she realizes that he would never help her and ruin the plan the Gou Jian has prepared so carefully. Just like he would never take her away and destroy all hope of reviving Yue. She calmly looks at Fu Chai and replies that yes, she is Xi Shi. Fu Chai stays in Tu Cheng for several days, until Wu Zi Xu appears to escort Fu Chai back to the kingdom of Wu. Fu Chai smiles at Xiang Bao and tells her that he will wait for her in Wu.
One day, Hua Mei pulls Xiang Bao outside, saying that Shi Lian and a young man dressed in red looked like they were about to start fighting. Xiang Bao immediately thinks of the missing Wei Qin and rushes out into the courtyard, where Wei Qin and Shi Lian were staring daggers at each other. When Wei Qin sees Xiang Bao, he immediately smiles and asks the girl beside him to examine Xiang Bao’s pulse to see why she cannot speak. This girl is named Yue Nu and Wei Qin purposefully brought her from the kingdom of Wu to examine Xiang Bao. Yue Nu tells them that Xiang Bao’s throat is fine, and she cannot speak because she herself does not want to speak. If she cures the illness of her heart, she will be able to speak again. Fan Li arrives in the courtyard and when he sees Wei Qin, he immediately draws out his sword to attack Wei Qin. He recognizes Wei Qin as the man who was sent to assassinate him, the man who caused him to lose his beloved Xiang Bao. Xiang Bao stands in front of Wei Qin to protect him and tells Fan Li that Wei Qin is her brother, whom she’ll protect no matter what. Wei Qin’s eyes dim as her hears her call him her brother and Fan Li smiles bitterly, saying that she isn’t fair. She is angry that he lost his memory, she is angry that he forgot about his promises to her, but all of this is Wei Qin’s fault.
At the beginning of spring, Xiang Bao, Fan Li, Shi Lian and the other women return to the capital of Yue Kingdom. However, en route, a band of assassins attack them, but Shi Lian and Fan Li manage to fight them off. Shi Lian blames Fan Li for putting Xiang Bao in danger by giving Wu Zi Xu news about the whereabouts of Fu Chai when he visited. The day after they arrive back at the capital, Gou Jian, Fan Li, Shi Lian, Xiang Bao and the other women begin their journey to the kingdom of Wu. That night, Gou Jian tells Xiang Bao that the day the kingdom of Wu falls, is the day Gou Jian will bring her back to his side. Xiang Bao is frightened by the ruthless ambition in his eyes. Before they cross the river leading to Wu, another band of assassins attack them, but this time, one of the assassins manages to wound Xiang Bao. She falls into the river, pretending to die, but is actually rescued by Wei Qin who was waiting on a boat nearby.
Days pass, but her wound still does not heal. Wei Qin worriedly enters the palace to find Yue Nu, but Fu Chai follows Yue Nu and finds out that as he expected, Xiang Bao wanted to use the assassins sent by Wu Zi Xu as an act to hide her escape. Fu Chai takes her back to his palace, installing her as his consort. When she wakes up, she sees Fu Chai watching her. Frightened, she asks, who are you? Where am I? Who am I? Fu Chai stares at her, not believing that she actually lost her memory. He gently tells her that he is her husband and she is Xi Shi, his wife. But Xiang Bao did not actually lose her memory, she chose to pretend to forget everything, so she did not have to think of her painful past with Fan Li and could start anew. When Wei Qin hears about her memory loss, he hugs her and tells her that he loves her. Perhaps if she forgot that he was her brother, she would accept his love for her and they could be together. She immediately stills, and looks at him, shocked. From her reaction, Wei Qin could tell that she didn’t actually lose her memory. Heartbroken, he jumps out her window and disappears.
In the palace, Xiang Bao meets a little boy, who has the severity of an adult. This boy is Si Xiang, the crown prince of Wu. Si Xiang gradually warms up to Xiang Bao, who does not treat him as a crown prince, but just as the little toddler her is. She hugs him when he cries, plays with him, and takes care of him when he is sick. Fu Chai introduces Si Xiang to Xiang Bao as her son, so Si Xiang begins to call her Mother.
Fu Chai takes every opportunity to shame Gou Jian. He orders Gou Jian to bend down so Xiang Bao can use his shoulders to mount the horse. He orders Gou Jian to bring in platters of food at the banquets. Gou Jian endures it all, because he knows that if he kills Fu Chai now, Wu Zi Xu would not hesitate to kill him and protect the Wu Kingdom.
Xiang Bao gradually falls in love with Fu Chai because he tenderly protects her from the other vicious consorts and Wu Zi Xu. The girls from Yue who entered the palace with her die, one after another, leaving only her, Hua Mei and Zheng Dan. Xiang Bao becomes pregnant with Fu Chai’s child, but he mercilessly feeds her medicine to abort the baby, because he ultimately does not trust her. When Zheng Dan also becomes pregnant, Fu Chai forces medicine down her throat, again aborting his child. From this, Xiang Bao realizes that Fu Chai caused her to lose her baby and confronts him about it, asking him if this is why he won’t touch her anymore? Fu Chai storms out of her chambers.
Months later, Fu Chai drunkenly appears outside her palace. Exasperated, she helps him inside, but he falls into a dead faint. Xiang Bao realizes that he was poisoned and immediately calls the imperial physicians. Wu Zi Xu and the other consorts force her out of her own chambers, calling her a hong yan huo shui. She leaves the palace to find Gou Jian, who she expects to have poisoned Fu Chai. Gou Jian’s wife sends assassins after her, so she cannot plead to Gou Jian to spare Fu Chai’s life, but Fan Li saves her. She reasons with Gou Jian, if he is able to produce the medicine that saves Fu Chai, he will be considered a trustworthy vassal, but he allows Fu Chai to die, Wu Zi Xu will immediately rally troops to slaughter the kingdom of Yue. She returns to the palace to wait for Gou Jian’s decision, and he does provide the antidote to save Fu Chai in the end, but he orders Hua Mei to confess to adding the poison to Fu Chai’s food. Hua Mei is executed.
After Gou Jian’s medicine saves Fu Chai, Gou Jian and the rest of the Yue officials are allowed to return to Yue Kingdom. Three years later, Fu Chai builds a new palace for Xiang Bao, called Guan Wa Gong (the Palace of Beautiful Women). Xiang Bao has been taking the same medicine for the past three years, and she finally asks Fu Chai if he is going to continue taking this medicine forever. He asks, what kind of medicine do you think this is? Without hesitation, she replies that it’s a birth control medicine. His face tightens and he storms out. Xiang Bao later finds out that the medicine is just a tonic to strengthen her body.
Six years later, Xiang Bao finds out that she is pregnant again and this time, Fu Chai tells her to keep the baby if she wants to. One day, someone tries to assassinate Fu Chai, but the assassin does not succeed and escapes, injured. Later that day, Xiang Bao sees a man that she has not seen for ten years, Wei Qin. He is no longer the young man that she remembered, but has completely grown up now. She realizes that he was the assassin that Gou Jian sent to kill Fu Chai and hides him in her garden. When she goes to bring him food and medicine later, Wei Qin does not appear because she calls him her brother. Fu Chai manages to capture Wei Qin and sentences him to death. The heavily pregnant Xiang Bao rides to the execution grounds to stop Wei Qin’s limbs from being pulled apart by five horses, the punishment for a traitor. Fu Chai arrives to find Xiang Bao and she pleads with him to release Wei Qin, because he is her brother, the only person who shares the same blood with her. He agrees and they take the injured Wei Qin back to Guan Wa Palace. Xiang Bao reveals to Fu Chai and the angry Wu Zi Xu that Wei Qin is the only son of Yao Li, the man that all of Wu calls a hero.
After Wei Qing awakens, Fu Chai tells him that he was only pardoned Wei Qin because Xiang Bao wanted him to live. Since Xiang Bao is still under the guise of Xi Shi, they cannot announce that Wei Qin is her blood brother, so Fu Chai betroths Yue Nu to Wei Qin to protect Xiang Bao’s reputation. Fu Chai then sends Wei Qin to fight against the state of Qi. Before he leaves, cuts off a lock of her hair and braids a safety knot to protect him in battle.
A month later, Fu Chai also rides off to fight against the Qi Kingdom. He promises that he will return to Xiang Bao, safe and soon, without even a hair missing. Before he leaves, he entrusts her safety to Shi Lian and the mischievous Xiang Bao asks Shi Lian to teach her how to write. Xiang Bao drags Shi Lian off to the study and he teaches her a few words, calling her an idiot all the while. He also personally prepares exercise booklets for her to copy and she learns to write beautifully, each stroke identical to Shi Lian’s.
After Fu Chai leaves, Yue Nu arrives at Guan Wa Palace and tells Xiang Bao that Gou Jian ordered her to abort her baby. Xiang Bao asks, what is your relationship with Gou Jian and the Yue Kingdom? Yue Nu honestly replies that she is actually Gou Jian’s sister, whom he sent to Wu as a spy. Upon hearing this, Xiang Bao goes into labor, and Yue Nu leaves her in her room alone. None of the maids answer her calls, but luckily, Shi Lian goes to check up on her. Upon seeing her lying on the floor with blood all around her, he immediately grabs Xiang Bao’s missing maids and orders them to take care of her while he finds an Imperial Physician. Wu Zi Xu had bribed all the Imperial Physicians to leave the palace, so Shi Lian could only leave the palace to find a common midwife. By the time he returns to Guan Wa Palace, Wu Zi Xu’s troops had surrounded the place. Shi Lian slaughters a way into the palace and pushes the frightened midwife towards Xiang Bao’s room. Xiang Bao delivers a baby girl, but her baby is breathing very feebly, so she rushes out of the palace to find a physician. Wu Zi Xu does not allow her to leave her palace and the baby girl dies in the Xiang Bao’s arms while she pleads with Wu Zi Xu. Shi Lian richly pays the midwife, who also takes Xiang Bao’s baby out of the palace to be buried, as Xiang Bao does not want her baby to remain in the bloodbath of a palace.
Fu Chai returns to the palace unharmed and comforts the dry-eyed Xiang Bao. Wei Qin has also returned, but he has lost an arm during battle. He apologizes to Xiang Bao, but she weeps in his embrace, asking him why is he apologizing to her? He should be apologizing to himself, because it’s his body he is torturing. Wei Qin replies that he has caused her pain and worry, but she should always remember that he, her little brother, the only other person who shares her blood, will always be here for her. Surprised, she gazes at him because this is first time that he has admitted that he is her brother. He knows that his love for her only brings her pain and the only thing she wants in this world is a family. He will sacrifice his own love for her to grant that wish.
Xiang Bao finds out that the Imperial Physician who was suppose to deliver her baby was murdered with the word ‘greed’ written on hi in blood. She knows that Wei Qin is taking revenge for her. Wu Zi Xu arranges for his son to leave the country and soon after, Wei Qin delivers Fu Chai’s final imperial decree to Wu Zi Xu - to commit suicide. Wu Zi Xu laughs and tells Wei Qin to hang his head on the city gates so he can watch the Yue army take over the kingdom of Wu. Before he dies, Wei Qin tells him that the woman in Guan Wa Palace that he’s tried so hard to kill for the past ten years is not a Yue woman named Xi Shi, but is actually the only surviving daughter of his hero, Yao Li.
Xiang Bao leaves the palace and meets A’Fu by chance. A’Fu is now General Cang Wu of the Yue army and he promises Xiang Bao that he will destroy the Wu Kingdom and rescue her. When Xiang Bao returns to her palace, Fu Chai has been waiting for her with Shi Lian by his side for a long time. He tosses a bamboo scroll at her with the words “I have completed my mission and Wu Zi Xu is dead” written on it. He coldly asks her to explain herself, but Xiang Bao only looks at Shi Lian, bitterly laughing at herself for trusting him, while he was just looking for an opportunity to avenge his brother all this time. She bows her head and asks Fu Chai what does he wants to do with her (she addresses herself as chenqie, 臣妾, or your servant-wife, which she has never done before). Fu Chai asks her if she would betray him again if he lets her go this time. She replies that she wouldn’t and she didn’t kill their daughter just to destroy Wu Zi Xu. However, at that time, crowds of Wu citizens were howling for Xi Shi/Xiang Bao’s blood because they heard the rumor that she trapped Wu Zi Xu and caused his death. Xiang Bao looks at Fu Chai, wondering if he will choose to forsake her or risk losing the love of his citizens. Shi Lian then steps forward and admits that those words were written by him, and writes the same message on a piece of cloth with his fresh blood. The handwriting is the same, he explains, because he was the one who taught Xiang Bao to write. Fu Chai orders his men to drag Shi Lian off and hand him to the angry mob. Shi Lian gazes at Xiang Bao but she turns her head aside, refusing to look at him because she still believed that he and Gou Jian wanted to use this weaken Fu Chai. Fu Chai tells her to watch, and she sees that mob beating Shi Lian to death, but all the while Shi Lian’s gaze never left her face. Xiang Bao asks Fu Chai, if Shi Lian did not confess, would he really have sent her to die at the hands of the mob? Fu Chai does not answer.
That night, Yun Ji, the niece of Wu Zi Xu and another one of Fu Chai’s consorts, sets fire to Guan Wa Palace. The woman stabs Xiang Bao, asking her why she won’t die? They’ve tried to kill her so many times and were so sure that Fu Chai wouldn’t let her go after finding the bamboo scroll, but Shi Lian takes the fall for her instead. Xiang Bao is shocked and asks if she was the one who set up that trap. Yun Ji laughs madly, telling her that Wu Zi Xu’s son, the man that she’s loved for so many years, was assassinated by Fu Chai’s men, as revenge for the child she had lost. Xiang Bao pushes her away and runs from the burning palace. She walks until she see Shi Lian’s body hanging from the city gates. She screams at his body, calling him an idiot and a fool. Why did he sacrifice himself like that? Why did he leave without explaining anything to her? Was it so she wouldn’t be able to ever forget him? Xiang Bao suddenly remembers the words that she said to him all those years ago, that if he didn’t kill her, he would never have the chance to again, that she would cause his death one day. She weeps bitterly, because Shi Lian did end up dying for her. An arm hugs her tightly, Wei Qin’s arm. She asks him if he can take Shi Lian’s body off of the city gates and give him a proper burial? Wei Qin orders his men to take down Shi Lian’s body and he piggybacks the wounded Xiang Bao back to Fu Chai’s palace.
Another four years pass quietly. Gou Jian has already rallied his troops to begin fighting against Fu Chai, but Xiang Bao does not care about that. She has spent the last four years copying the exercise booklets that Shi Lian had so carefully written for her. Her handwriting is exquisite, just like Shi Lian’s. Her maid tells that the Yue army, lead by General Cang Wu, is at the gates and that the Crown Prince Si Xiang, who is now a young man, is leading the Wu army to fend off the attackers because Fu Chai is away from the city. She jumps up and runs to the city walls. Cang Wu, Cang Wu - is A’Fu! A’Fu sees her and fights towards her. He yells, Xiang Bao, I’ve come to take you away, but his words are cut short by a golden arrow. Xiang Bao holds A’Fu as he dies and she sees that her beloved Si Xiang had shot that arrow. He really has grown up and entered this bloodbath.
That night, Yue Nu appears in front of her again and tells Xiang Bao that she really should die. Yue Nu knows that she cannot kill Xiang Bao herself, because Wei Qin will hate her, but if someone else does it…
Si Xiang wakes her up the next morning, apologizing for killing A’Fu. However, a group of men storm in, calling themselves citizens of Wu and demanding for Xi Shi’s blood. Si Xiang tries to protect her and Xiang Bao suddenly remember’s Yue Nu’s words. She tells Si Xiang to kill them because they weren’t actually Wu citizens. The men drag her out and tie her up, but set fire to the rest of the palace. Xiang Bao cries out to Yue Nu, telling her to let Si Xiang go and kill her instead. Full of hate and anger, Yue Nu replies that she must remember that Si Xiang died because of her. Wei Qin suddenly appears, but the men use Xiang Bao’s life to threaten him. Xiang Bao puts her own neck against their blades, telling Wei Qin that if he does not retaliate against them, she will kill herself. When Fu Chai hears that Xi Shi’s life is in danger, he takes his army and sweeps into the city. The men beg Fu Chai to kill this harbinger of destruction, but Fu Chai reveals that she is not Xi Shi, but is Xiang Bao, the daughter the the Wu hero Yao Li. When they let Xiang Bao down, Wei Qin slaughters the men who threatened Xiang Bao.
Fu Chai asks Xiang Bao if she wants to leave the palace, and she eagerly agrees. But then she asks what about him? He replies that he is the King of Wu, he must stay in the palace. Xiang Bao then says that she would rather remain as Xi Shi because he is here. Fu Chai drugs Xiang Bao and sends her away to the kingdom of Qi with Wei Qin. Xiang Bao buys and entertainment house and adopts a boy named A’Fu and a dog named A’Wang, just like how it was when she was at Gan Da Niang’s entertainment house.
Three years later, she hears the news that the kingdom of Wu has been destroyed by Gou Jian’s Yue army and that Fu Chai covered his face before he committed suicide because he cannot bear to face Wu Zi Xu.
Fan Li enters the palace, looking for Xiang Bao, but he hears from Zheng Dan that Fu Chai had her bagged and tossed in a river, left to drowned. Heartbroken and hopeless, Fan Li resigns from his office and spends the next few years drifting about on the river and lakes, alone. He renames himself Tao Zhu Gong and becomes a successful businessman, remembering how he had once promised Xiang Bao tht he would become the richest man in the world, so she could spend his money however she wanted to. But now, she was gone and he had this money and no one to spend it on.
Xiang Bao was forced back to the kingdom of Yue by Yue Nu because Gou Jian now had the jiangshan and still wanted the meiren. Wen Zhong prepared a horse cart for her to escape but en route back to the Qi kingdom, she and the driver were attacked by bandits. The driver reveals himself to be Fu Chai and he quickly defeats the bandits. He tells the bandits that he will spare their lives if they beg him to. Unlike the first time they met and were attacked by bandits, Fu Chai does allow these bandits to live. Xiang Bao thinks to herself, Fu Chai really has changed.
Fu Chai turns to her and mumbles: “Bao’er, my kingdom has fallen,” as nonchalantly as if he was telling her that he had finally returned home. Xiang Bao asks with tears in her eyes, didn’t you die already? He smiles and asks, are you crying for me? She stubbornly replies, who would cry for you? Fu Chai and Xiang Bao return to the Qi Kingdom to start a new life together, just him and her.
(I think this is one of the pictorial inserts from novel in print. Pictured from left to right: Xi Shi/Xiang Bao, Fu Chai, and Fan Li)
Scene Translations: We Seemingly Met by Chance
The moon was dark, the wind was strong, and no one was around.
Xiang Bao walked softly and stealthily, ready to sneak off.
She walked forward a few steps, but when she turned her head, she saw that Ji Gong Zi  was still standing in the same place.
“You’re still not moving?” Xiang Bao said with a lowered voice.
“Hm.” Ji Gong Zi nodded his head and walked forward, his posture was elegant, just as if he was taking a stroll in a quiet garden.
The corners of Xiang Bao’s mouth twitched a few times, and she thought to herself, this arrogant fellow… does he think that the Wu encampment is the inner courtyard of his house?!
Just as she was thinking to herself, the sound of footsteps passed by. It was the Wu army’s night patrol!
Xiang Bao hurriedly jumped up, and pulled Ji Gong Zi behind a tent. The space between the tents was narrow, so it was a tight squeeze for the two of them.
“Why did you pull me in here?” Ji Gong Zi was a little astonished.
“We said that we would escape together,” Xiang Bao whispered. “Shh, they’re coming over…”
Xiang Bao worriedly watched as the Wu army’s night patrol walk past, and then released her breath.
“Are you really worried?” Ji Gong Zi asked with a smile.
“Of course not.” Xiang Bao denied it with a shake of her head.
“But your heart is beating really fast.”
“Eh?” Xiang Bao blinked, just now realizing that the space was too narrow, so she was tightly glued to his chest.
“Hmm?” Ji Gong Zi pretended to mutter to himself. “Now, it’s beating even faster.”
“Ah!” Xiang Bao was very embarrassed. She turned around and ran out.
“Who’s there?!” Her shout alerted the Wu army’s night patrol, and they surrounded the area.
With a stretch of his arm, Xiang Bao was imprisoned within his embrace and could not even move.
“What are you doing—mm!” Xiang Bao opened her eyes wide, unable to believe that he would actually cover her mouth.
“Shh, someone is here.” Inching next to her ear, Ji Gong Zi lightly said.
His face was completely serious, but for some reason Xiang Bao always felt that those fox-like eyes were hiding laughter.
“Come out!” The sound of orders from the Wu soldiers gradually drew nearer.
Ji Gong Zi turned and took Xiang Bao into the tent on the right.
“Where are they?” The doubtful voices of the Wu soldiers floated in.
“Did they go into the King’s tent?” Someone called out in alarm.
“It’s probably just a stray cat…”
The Wu army night patrol did not enter the tent, but turned around to leave.
Xiang Bao gasped for air, so frightened that she almost lost consciousness.
“This is the King’s tent?” Xiang Bao stealthily whispered as she looked around.
“…It seems that it is indeed.” Ji Gong Zi muttered to himself, with a serious nod of his head.
“That… Fu Chai… he isn’t in here, is he?!” Cold sweat was pouring from Xiang Bao’s forehead, and her body was trembling.
“Hmm…” Ji Gong Zi continued to mutter to himself.
“There’s no one here…” Walking gingerly, she twirled around. Xiang Bao walked towards Ji Gong Zi and declared with satisfaction: “Fu Chai isn’t here!”
“So it’s like this…” Ji Gong Zi lowered his eyelids and smiled slightly.
“Yes, yes, let’s hurry up and leave this miserable place!” Xiang Bao noticed the many dates on the side table, so glistening red, inviting her gluttony.
“Miserable place?” Ji Gong Zi lifted his brows and turned his head to find that Xiang Bao was stuffing the dates from the side table into her chest pocket. The corners of his mouth twitched a bit: “What are you doing?”
“These dates look very yummy…”
“This is the King’s tent…” Ji Gong Zi lightly opening his mouth to remind her: “The King of Wu, Fu Chai’s tent…”
“Yes, yes. There’s actually this many dates! That Fu Chai really can eat a lot…” Xiang Bao plundered while muttering with satisfaction.
“Ke…” JI Gong Zi coughed gently, and reminded again: “My point is… you aren’t going to stealing something more important?”
“Something more important?” Xiang Bao picked up a date and dropped it into her mouth: “Chomp, chomp.” Two seconds later, she spat out the seed.
“Like… an army map? Army positions…” Ji Gong Zi said lightly.
“The important matters of the world concern important people, they have nothing to do with me.” Xiang Bao was almost done plundering, and quickly tugged the longwinded Ji Gong Zi and stealthily sneaked outside.
Ji Gong Zi closed his mouth and did not say anymore. He looked at that small and exquisite form pulling him, and his long, slender eyes became even more tranquil.
After they escaped out of the Wu encampment, the sky had already brightened.
Following the rugged mountain path, they continued to run until they reached a place with signs of human habitation. Xiang Bao released a long breath, and sprawled down on the grass… first, she was mysteriously captured… then, she killed someone to escape… then, she encountered this enigmatic Ji Gong Zi… Xiang Bao felt so tired that she was about to fall apart.
Ji Gong Zi sat by her side, still with the same calm and composed appearance.
“Are you hungry?” Turning her head to look at him, Xiang Bao generously took out the dates that she had plundered from the King of Wu’s tent and shared them with him.
Ji Gong Zi glanced at them, and smoothly grabbed a date, placing it in his mouth.
Then he grabbed another one…
And another one…
A short while later, not one remained…
Xiang Bao was dumbfounded, her eyes watching as all the dates that she had worked so hard to steal ended up in someone else’s mouth.
“This is the first time I’ve met someone who can eat even more that I can…” Xiang Bao sighed, with the feeling of a hero recognizing another hero.
“Thank you for the compliment.” Ji Gong Zi said with a smile.
Humming a little tune, Xiang Bao bounced forward, without a second of peacefulness.
The whole route was full of flowers and grass, brightened by the sun. Ji Gong Zi slowly followed her.
“What song is that? It’s very pretty.”
“A song without a name.” Xiang Bao turned around and replied as her lips curved into a smile.
That carefree smile under the warm sunlight suddenly even made the mountain flowers lose their color.
Ji Gong Zi was dazed for a second.
“I just braided this…” Waving the dogtail flowers in her hand, Xiang Bao grinned, showing her teeth with some satisfaction.
Ji Gong Zi could not help but smile.
“Oh right, why were you captured into the Wu encampment?” Xiang Bao leaned her head to one side, asking him uncertainly.
“Um…” Ji Gong Zi lifted his head and looked at the sky: “What about you?”
“That group of fools… captured the wrong person!” Xiang Bao covered her belly and laughed loudly.
“That group of fools…” Ji Gong Zi ground his teeth.
“But… it’s a good thing that they captured me.” Xiang Bao smiled and looked up.
Luckily, it wasn’t my jie’jie …
“Why?” Ji Gong Zi cocked an eyebrow.
“Ah! There’s a small stream!” Xiang Bao did not seem to hear Qi Gong Zi’s words, and she ran to the riverbank, full of joy. The sunlight cast a layer of gold on the water, the waves of light pierced the clear water. It was very beautiful.
Xiang Bao kicked off her shoes, and stepped into the water: “Wah… there are fish!”
Qi Gong Zi stood on the riverbank and looked at the urchin-like but exquisitely beautiful girl in the stream, and was perplexed for a moment.
”Wah, wah, wah! Fish! So many fish!” Xiang Bao’s eyes lighted up, and kicked around in the water.
Qi Gong Zi laughed in spite of himself.
“Just wait, I’ll catch a few large fish for us to roast and eat!” While kicking around, Xiang Bao did not forget to turn her head and shout loudly at the man standing on the riverbank.
“With you like this, all the fish will be scared away. How will you catch… any?” Ji Gong Zi’s light voice suddenly became louder, and the corner of his mouth twitched.
Standing amongst the light rays in the stream, Xiang Bao was holding an very large fish, and was grinning at him with satisfaction.
“Ahhaha… we can eat roasted fish…” Holding the large fish, Xiang Bao climbed onto the riverbank.
She deftly started a fire, and Xiang Bao turned her head to look towards the Ji Gong Zi standing by her side: “Let me borrow your sword.”
“Eh, what for?”
“So stingy, I’m not going to eat it!” Xiang Bao moved to unfasten his sword herself, and that movement showing that she considered Ji Gong Zi was a friend in times of need, she forgot the terrifying appearance he had when he was killing people at the foot of Fu Jiao Mountain,
“What are you doing?!” Glaring with his eyes wide, Ji Gong Zi asked disbelievingly.
“Killing the fish.” Xiang Bao replied succinctly and clearly.
In Xiang Bao’s hands, the treasured sword that was used to kill people turned into a kitchen knife used to slaughter fish….
“Hey, this blade is very sharp. It’s much better than cleaver in my kitchen.” Xiang Bao cut open the fish stomach while praising the sword.
Ji Gong Zi clenched his fists, and then released them, controlling his impulse to hit the little girl in front of him.
“Yes… so fragrant.” Sitting cross-legged in front of a pile of firewood, Xiang Bao turned the sword hilt as she drooled.
That’s right! That large fish was skewered on Ji Gong Zi’s treasured sword and roasting in the fire.
A scorched fragrance began to drift about, and Xiang Bao wiped her drool: “It’s cooked, it’s cooked! Come here and eat.”
While saying this, she removed roasted fish and returned the treasured sword to Ji Gong Zi.
Seeing his treasured sword covered in black scorch marks, the edges of Ji Gong Zi’s mouth twitched and he took his treasured sword back. If the treasured sword knew what it was just used for, it would probably cry.
Xiang Bao opened her mouth wide, and watched Ji Gong Zi shake his treasured sword lightly, shaking of a layer of black soot. That blackened sword immediately glittered coldly again.
How mysterious… Xiang Bao watched with her mouth wide open.
After resheathing his sword, Ji Gong Zi sat next to Xiang Bao and reached out his hand.
“Eh?” Xiang Bao blinked.
“The fish.” Ji Gong Zi stretched out his hand.
“Oh.” Xiang Bao obediently offered the roasted fish to him.
His long and slender hands elegantly picked out the fish bones, and Ji Gong Zi elegantly placed the fish meat into his own mouth.
“Hey?!” Xiang Bao stared at the pile of fish bones.
He actually… isn’t even going to leave her even one bite!
This is really… too, too, too unbelievable.
Glancing at Xiang Bao, Ji Gong Zi suddenly smiled lightly, and divided the fish meat in his hands in half: “Here.”
Xiang Bao immediately smiled, forgetting her previous enmity, and accepted the fish meat.
“Did you find the person you were searching for before?” Ji Gong Zi asked absent-mindedly.
When she heard his words, her mouth was crammed full of fish meat and she was chewing the meat in her bulging cheeks then, but Xiang Bao suddenly paused in surprise.
The black roasted fish paste bulged in her cheeks, looking quite comical.
“The person named Fan Li that you talked about, did you find him?” Ji Gong Zi asked again.
Lowering her eyelids, Xiang Bao stuffed the rest of the fish meat left in her hands into her mouth, and began to chew with some difficulty.
Ji Gong Zi sighed and looked away. He never expected her to be able to stuff so much in her mouth, and was then worrying about whether it would start leaking out…
“Be careful not to choke…” Ji Gong Zi only said half of the sentence when he saw Xiang Bao stretch out her neck, with a pained expression on her face. Her face became red from repression, and snot and tears covered her entire face as she continued to choke.
Those tears streamed down her face.
Ji Gong Zi sat by her side, and continued to eat his fish while watching Xiang Bao choke, very pleased.
Seeing her stretch out her neck, finally able to swallow that mouthful of food, Ji Gong Zi slightly cocked an eyebrow.
“I’m going home, my sister is probably worried.” Wiping her face, Xiang Bao stood up and patted her skirt.
Ji Gong Zi did not stop her.
After walking forward a few steps, Xiang Bao suddenly turned around, and slowly walked back to Ji Gong Zi’s side.
“Excuse me… where is this place?”
Ji Gong Zi smiled slightly: “I don’t know either.”
The corners of Xiang Bao’s mouth began to twitch.
Crestfallen, she sat back at her original place. Xiang Bao turned her head and looked at Ji Gong Zi, who still remained calm even though they were lost: “Do you think someone will pass by here?”
Xiang Bao was silent.
 Form of address for a young sir.
 Elder sister.
Oh Jin Mi, Jin Mi, why are you so cute? Her innocence and simplicity make this chapter a gem. Not content with only stealing the hearts of the Fire and Night Deities, she manages to bewitch everyone, regardless of whether they are male or female. Her true appearance as a beautiful young immortal maiden is finally revealed in this chapter, and this picture of Liu Shi Shi is fitting indeed. Her smile is so uninhibited and innocent. I can imagine Jin Mi smiling at the Phoenix like that as his previously untouchable heart gently warms to her.
Chapter 3: Grace Begins to Appear
Mao Ri Xing Guan had just let the burning hot sun in the middle of the sea, the bats who came out in full strength during twilight, suddenly covered the world.
I was lying face-up on the branch of a flowering crabapple tree, sitting in repose with my eyes closed. Underneath the tree was the lingering shadow of the moon and rippling, jade-green water. This pool of jade-green water stretched as far as the eye can see, called “Pond of Still Catapla”, and can be considered the place with the best scenery in the Palace of the Parasol Tree Perch.
In the midst of sleeping lightly, I heard a faint tinkling of water. I followed the sound and looked down, but saw that there seemed to be a person in the jade-green water, who was then sprinkling water on his body and bathing,
Taking advantage of the moonlight, I watched, rapt with attention. Wah, it’s the Phoenix.
The female immortals and the young immortal girls like to secretly discuss him. According to them, the Phoenix is the best looking male deity of the six worlds in the past eighteen thousand years. I had never examined him carefully before, so today, I attentively gazed at every part of him exposed above the water’s surface, but I didn’t see anything extraordinary. I was just about to use my magic to look and see if the other half immersed within the water had any special qualities, when I felt my body lighten as someone forced me to return to my true form and I fell into the pond water.
When I stood up from within the water, I saw that the Phoenix had already draped a green robe over himself and used a emerald hairpin to coil his hair, and was standing on the shore, looking downwards at me with his arms crossed.
“You aren’t self-cultivating, what are you doing on the treetop?”
“Meditating.” I wrung out the water in my clothes, and replied calmly.
“Have you memorized the Buddhist chants that I taught you this morning?” As usual, the Phoenix pinched the bun on my head, and as usual, I was not able to evade it, so I replied unwillingly: “I’ve memorized all of it.”
“Recite it for me.” The Phoenix stepped on a cloud and began to float in front of me, I also, not very skillfully, stepped on a cloud and followed behind him unsteadily, while stumbling through those forty-nine Buddhist chants. Just as we were about to arrive palace gates, I finally recited all of them. The towering Phoenix turned around, and I almost bumped into him. But he suddenly smiled, a dimple showing at the corner of his mouth: “You even memorized a short Buddhist chant this confusedly and roughly. Out of the forty-nine lines, you only got five lines right, though that is already very uneasy.”
I forced a smile and looked at the tips of my toes.
“Go back and commit this and Wu Xiang Sutra to memory. Tomorrow, come here during mao to recite everything again.”
I watched respectfully as he turned around and then raised my leg to stomp on the shadow that the moonlight cast behind him.
Since a little over a month ago, after eating those rosefinch eggs and losing over half of my lingli, I have been living at the Phoenix’s Palace of Parasol Tree Perch, recovering from my wound. Most days, I chat with the young immortal girls and heard that even tough the Phoenix was only fifteen thousand years old, he already controls the five Heavenly armies, and was the Fire Deity with the strongest lingli in history.
My hopes were fueled, and I thickened my skin to go ask the Phoenix to give some of his lingli to me, but he refused.
The fox immortal had said that the biggest secret weapon to deal with men is not to use force, but to pretend weakness, to show your weakness and retreat in order to advance later.
I saved up my tears and pretended to be good and clever for two days, often gazing upon with hidden resentment in my limpid eyes. It did indeed prove to be effective, as on the third day, that Phoenix released his breath, and even though he still wasn’t willing to transfer some of his lingli to me, he agreed to teach me some key methods to self-cultivation.
I happily reported in front of him every day, but I did not see him impart a bit of secret knowledge to me, I only saw immediately him bury his head in official documents, often ordering me to make some more ink or a cup of tea. If he went to the military training grounds, he would also take me along with him, and I often stood to the side, watching him drill the Heavenly Soldiers for nine or ten hours.
After three days like this, I guessed that this “showing weakness” was showing a bit too much weakness. We fruits also have principles, and after deliberating for a while, I was just about to go find and reason with him, but he wrote two pages and relaxedly handed them to me: “This is the secret to Cha Suo, go back and memorize it. If there is something that you don’t understand, you can come over and I’ll teach it to you.“
He bumped into my Achilles’ heel. Since I started having memories, the thing I disliked most was reciting from memory, and whenever someone mentioned memorizing a book, I began to be impatient.
I held the two sheets of paper, and wrinkled my brows in distress.
The Phoenix was never without a book in his hand, and without lifting his head, he said to me: “I see that you are naturally passable, the reason that your lingli is not very high must be because you do not have a good foundation. There are no rules to self-cultivation, so now you must start from the theory.”
“Wah, Yue Xia Xian Ren also said that.” I thought of how that fox immortal had also said similar words.
“Oh? Uncle also said this?” The Phoenix lifted his dark eyebrows a little.
“Yes, Yue Xia Xian Ren said that to become aware of love, you must start from the theory.” I truthfully replied.
The Phoenix’s face darkened a bit.
I took on a difficult job and did the best I could by going back to memorize. The second day, when I went to the Xi Chen Palace, the Phoenix buried his head in official business and called me to make ink and tea, as usual. Seeing my indignation, he calmly said: “During self-cultivation, you must avoid impatience by all means, calmness is essential. If you cannot endure even these two days, how are you supposed to reach immortality?”
So he was taking advantage of his position to take revenge on me, I thought. He probably had a grudge against me because I had wanted to take his Nei Dan Jing Yuan before. After looking through pornography for a couple of days, I finally understood that it wasn’t Nei Dan Jing Yuan, but the fox immortal said that to a man, it was just as important and would be a huge problem if it was lost.
Since the secrets to Cha Suo he gave me yesterday was somewhat useful, I admitted that I was wrong and did not argue against him.
Then, I sat across from the Phoenix in Xi Chen Palace every day, besides him monitoring me while I memorized some scriptures, rhymes, songs and chants, I was also ordered about as he pleased. More than a month passed, I felt I was just like Le Ting, two immortal servants fluttering about like his office boys .
Actually, the position of that Phoenix’s office boy wasn’t completely without its charm, every few days, there would always be someone who would relieve my boredom and please me.
Wah, it’s all because of the Phoenix’s appearance, supposedly incomparable in the six worlds, which did not only bewitch thousands upon thousands.
When the Phoenix is in Xi Chen Palace, taking care of official documents, there are always female immortals, young immortal girls or enlightened female demons who take advantage of my free time to hand me letters, wafting with fragrant powders, and entrust me to pass them on.
I am not at disadvantage, because before I pass them on, I naturally look them over. The rumored love letters are really all-inclusive, the style of writing exquisite, and can be considered restrained and the new literature consisting of shallow love stories were perfect, in unity, the pinnacle of achievement, allowing me to greatly increase in knowledge.
Whenever the Phoenix sees these pink-colored letters, he would wrinkle his brow, open up the letters, and using the same expression he would use to observe fruits or vegetables, he would look at them and throw them aside.
If the Phoenix walks outside of Xi Chen Palace and steps on a cloud to float away, after three or four steps, there would be one or two feeble beauties who would unsteadily come forward, almost about to topple off.
The Phoenix would courteously help steady the beauties, smile romantically, and say considerately: “The wind is strong today, this beauty must be careful to not allow the cloud furl up.”
The immortal ladies would use colorful handkerchiefs to hide their smiles, and would tenderly reply: “I have troubled Second Highness. The wind is strong, why is Second Highness wearing such light clothing? This immortal has weaved a brocade robe, why don’t I send it over to the Palace of the Parasol Tree Perch tomorrow?”
The Phoenix would smile like that again: “Immortal Lady has troubled herself.”
I gazed at the completely still cloud and the grinning sun, and I quivered a bit. Wah, the wind is strong indeed.
In the smoking and fiery mortal world, the little Kun Qu opera singers would smoothly turn the water mill: “Time can easily abandon people, redden cherries, and make a banana green…”
Looking through the mirror to the mortal world, the fox immortal held his bundle of smooth and radiant tails, humming along with his eyelids lowered. I was lying face-down, watching on the other side of the mirror to the mortal world, my hands supporting my chin, enthusiastically fighting against my drowsiness.
In order to cultivate more lingli this a hundred years, I have stayed with the Phoenix as his office boy, which expends a lot of energy. The amount of free time I’ve had with the old immortal like this really cannot amount to much, so I fought against my drowsiness very elatedly.
Besides elation, there was some unavoidable dream-like quality. In my dream, I was on a cloud, red-crowned cranes flying in circles above me, and my skill was finally enough for me to become a high immortal, All the immortals and officials in heaven came to congratulate me, and even the two gentlemen of Guan Kou came, leading their Heavenly dog. The short and stocky Heavenly dog bowed with his paws clasped while drooling, stirring up incessant laughter from all the deities and immortals. I was then happy so I also brought out my own pet – a large black crow.
I tugged on it’s tail and ordered: “Little Feng, sing a little song for the immortals.” Xiao Feng flexed its claws, and glanced at me with a superior air. Silence, silence.
I forced a smile at all the immortals: “This birdie had just been roasted„ I’m afraid that his throat has been roasted dry.” Before the sound of my words had disappeared, Xiao Feng rushed recklessly and spread his wings to fly, his sharp claws scraping against my bun. It coldly chanted: “Is the ink ready? Is the tea ready? Have you memorized the Sun Scriptures? Do you not want your lingli anymore?”
I was startled, opened my eyes, stared into a pair of glittering eyes, and was startled again.
I leaned backwards, almost knocking over the mirror to the mortal world, putting space between the owner of those large eyes, whom I had just now seen clearly. A blushing little female immortal was standing in front of me timidly, her eyes fluttering to my face. I was wordless.
This movement surprised the fox immortal who had been listening to the opera. The fox immortal extinguished the mirror to the mortal world, but the song caught in the singer’s throat was cut short.
“Ah, ah. How are you, Zi Qi Xing Shi? How do you have the free time to come and visit this old man today?” The fox immortal inched closer, seething with enthusiasm.
The little female immortal timidly blushed even more, and wiping her hands on her handkerchief, she clearly said: “Greetings to Yue Xia Xian Ren, my name is Yue Bei, Zi Qi is my elder sister. This young immortal… this young immortal… this young immortal…”
Wah, why are there echoes when this little female immortal speaks?
The fox immortal clapped his hands, and jumping for joy, he said: “Yue Bei Xing Shi came to ask for a red thread?”
The little female immortal turned a deeper shade of red, her nod was almost unnoticeable, and then glanced at me again: “Yes, how should I address this high immortal?”
In heaven and on earth, there is finally someone who called me ‘high immortal’. I was so touched and was just about to open my mouth, but was beaten by the always enthusiastic fox immortal: “Ohohohoh, this is Jin Mi, the baby that my Xu Feng raised. Isn’t he tender and radiant?”
I accepted fate and sighed. I am not fazed by this anymore.
Whenever the fox immortal meets someone, he always introduces me by saying that I was raised by that Phoenix. I only lived at the Palace of the Parasol Tree Perch for a short hundred years, and received a few methods on how to self-cultivate from that Phoenix. Even though I have grown quite a bit in lingli and height, how did I become raised by him….?
The little female immortal slightly nodded, and after that, she completely bowed her head and did not raise it again.
The fox immortal took out a red thread and handed it to her. I thought, in any case, this little female immortal is the first person with the foresight to call me ‘high immortal’, and at the moment, I did not know how to repay her, so I took the red thread and fashioned a flower out of it. Then, I handed it to her and instructed: “Yue Bei Xing Shi  only needs to put this flower inside a cloud, and it will be able to grow roots.”
The little female immortal finally raised her head and accepted the flower. There was sweet happiness in the corners of her eyes and between her eyebrows, and before she left, she did not forget to gaze at me for a bit.
The next day, when the color of the sky was still ambiguous, between bright and not bright, I rose and went to the inner courtyard of the Palace of the Parasol Tree Perch to sit for a while, because the Phoenix said: “At yin, when the day and night are replacing each other, when the air from the heaven and earth are mixed together, a hundred holes will open up, which is the best time for self-cultivation.” And so, these past hundred years, I have not been able to taste what lazing about in in bed feels like, I don’t know how many deities and immortals can wake up earlier than the Lord of the Sun and Stars, like I do.
Just as I looked like I was sitting in meditation from far away, and I looked liked I was sitting in meditation from up close, when I was actually taking a nap, the little immortal servant Fei Xu, who looked like he was having rapid convulsions, flew in front of me: “Jin Mi, a beautiful immortal lady jie’jie  from Jiu Yao Xing Palace is outside and wanted me to give this letter to you.” Before the sound of his words had disappeared, he had already spastically leapt up and strode away. I lifted the letter that had almost hit my forehead and sighed. When will Fei Xu become a bit calmer, like me? When will the Phoenix become a bit more low-key and not attract as many peach blossoms?
During mao, I handed that pink love letter to the Phoenix, the Phoenix routinely opened it, but this time, he did not scrutinize it as if he were looking at vegetables, but he half-closed his eyes, his face full of interest. Finally, he savored it with a tittering laugh.
I could not help but be very regretful that I did not look at that mysterious love letter beforehand. It seems that the immortal ladies who have practiced their letter writing for a hundred years have made great progress.
Just as I was berating myself, the Phoenix arrogantly opened his long and slender eyes, and acting like he was weighing candied fruit, he glanced at me and beckoned: “Come here.”
When I came closer, unexpectedly, he handed the fragrant roll of paper to me: “You read it.”
Haha, just as I wanted.
I pinched that letter and carefully savored it, and the Phoenix asked: “How is it?’
I deliberated for a moment and seriously commented: “It is smoothly written, sincerely worded, and the handwriting is beautiful. The only thing that is not beautiful enough is that she uses too many punctuation marks. I suggest that she revise this.”
Obviously, the Phoenix was not interested in my impartial and pointed criticisms, so he lightly pointed to a few words on the header: “Read this.”
“High Immortal Jin Mi, read this as if I was speaking to you, face-to-face.”
Hey, this love letter is actually written for me! I must be calm, I must be calm, so I silently put it away.
“Nowadays, the tastes of the female immortals aren’t very good.” The Phoenix crossed his arms and glanced at me.
At noon, when I was full of wine and food, Fei Xu hurriedly came to report: “Jin Mi, there is someone looking for you outside.”
I guessed that a sleepyhead went to the front door, but saw a bashful and anxiously delicate little female immortal standing outside. When she saw me, her face immediately turned to a deep shade of red that even surpassed Lao Hu. Oh, this blush, I remember now, it’s the Yue Bei Xing Shi that I met yesterday at the Estate of Conjugal Bliss.
The Yue Bei Xing Shi who called me “high immortal”!
I ran over, and affectionately said: “Good health to Xing Shi!”
“Jin Mi… Jin Mi… high immortal… good health. That… that… have your approved of it?”
This question stumped me, what have I “approved of”?
Seeing me like this, the little female immortal became so red that water almost dripped out of her. She said, hemming and hawing: “Just that… letter… today… morning….”
The horizon glittered. Oh, so Yue Bei Xing Shi wrote the letter from this morning for me, I forgot to look at the sender’s name. I mulled over this, the fox immortal said that a man with another man is being gay, but what would was a woman with another woman be? So puzzling.
A fluttering breeze passed by, and that Yue Bei Xing Shi suddenly swayed, leaning towards me. I evaded her, and she missed her target. She was unable to lean into my body, but those red lips pasted themselves on my cheek.
Three sounds of thunder crashed into me.
I must be calm, I must be calm. Seeing that little female immortal walk away with a reddened face, I raised my hand and wiped at the mark on my face, and then turned around to go back and nap.
Another day passed, I was just reciting books until my head began to hurt when Le Ting reported that someone was asking to see the Phoenix. From his sparkling little eyes, I smelled something gossipy, so I sat up, straightened my clothes and propped the book in my hands, waiting to watch a scene unfold.
As I expected, before the Phoenix opened his mouth to announce that he would receive the visitor, a robust immortal lord vigorously strode in Xi Chen Palace, a line of immortal servants carrying large and small chests and baskets following him.
The robust immortal lord fisted his hands in greeting and vehemently opened his mouth: “Jiu Yao Xing Palace’s Ji Dou greets Second Highness!”
The Phoenix put aside his writing brush nonchalantly, and gave a sound of affirmation, but his gaze still remained on the official documents without moving an inch.
That immortal lord cleared his throat, stared at him and stormily said: “Ji Dou is an unrefined person, and does not know how to beat around the bush. I have come today to propose marriage to Second Highness.”
The entire Xi Chen Palace immediately became so silent that one could even hear a hair falling. Le Ting’s eyeballs looked as if they were about to pop out. I could not help but sigh, this Heavenly World is mysterious indeed. Yesterday, I was kissed by a little female immortal, and today, there is a rash fellow who wants to marry the Phoenix. Good, very good.
I looked at the Phoenix, but that fellow just rubbed his forehead. No wonder he is an expert amongst a hundred flowering shrubs, his expression still didn’t change, but he only raised his eyes.
At this moment, the little immortal servant standing behind Ji Dou Xing Jun coughed loudly, and worriedly rushed to say: “Second Highness, do not blame him. My lord did not mean it in that way. My lord came to propose marriage to Second Highness on the behalf of Yue Bei Xing Shi.”
Another little immortal servant tugged on his hem, and said with a frown: “Wrong, wrong, wrong again! My lord is proposing marriage to Second Highness’s outstanding student, High Immortal Jin Mi, on the behalf of Yue Bei Xing Shi.”
This circle we went around was very big, and after a while, everyone in Xi Chen Palace finally realized that this lord did not come to snatch their Second Highness. When they understood this, they let out a loud, relieved “oh!”, but after thinking it over a moment later, an “eh?” sound rose again. In the end, everyone’s gaze settled on me.
Ji Dou Xing Jun laughed awkwardly: “Yes, yes. I came to propose marriage to High Immortal Jin Mi.” I must be calm, I must be calm. The book landed on the floor with a ‘pa-da’ sound.
Ji Dou Xing Jun did not act awkward anymore, following everyone’s gaze to find me. He walked up and patted my shoulder with a smile, but when his palm landed, my shoulder burned up with pain. But he just laughed and talked to himself: “A man like this, of such extraordinary appearance, must be High Immortal Jin Mi! I heard that yesterday, my Yue Bei philandered you outside of the Palace of the Parasol Tree Perch. Our Jiu Yao Xing Gong always takes responsibility for our actions. These are betrothal gifts, I don’t think there is a need to choose an auspicious day, return with me today to marry that tricky little girl, Yue Bei!”
The Phoenix was finally interested, crossing over the center of the hall towards me. He effortlessly lifted that bear paw away from my shoulder, and knitting his eyebrows, he gazed at me swiftly and forcefully. While he was doing this, he used his usual tone, dripping with ice, to say: “Philandered? Oh?”
I rubbed my face: “Hehe, it was only a kiss. It’s no big deal, no big deal.”
The Phoenix raised his head and looked at the sky, rubbing his forehead. After that, he said to Ji Dou Xing Jun: “I’m afraid that I must disappoint Ji Dou Xing Jun. Jin Mi cannot marry Yue Bei Xing Shi.”
Ji Dou Xing Jun blazed up like a firecracker: “Why cannot he marry her? Is my Yue Bei not good enough?”
The Phoenix pressed down on his hand a bit: “Xing Jun does not need to be agitated. Even if Jin Mi has the heart to, she may not have the power to. Since the olden times, male mandarin ducks are paired with female mandarin ducks, while secondary rainbows are paired with rainbows. Jin Mi is a girl, so she obviously cannot marry Yue Bei Xing Shi.”
With the Phoenix’s words, all the eyeballs of immortals in the hall popped a little. Ji Dou Xing Jun reacted pretty quickly, gazing at me up and down. His eyes were full of suspicion: “Really?”
The Phoenix sighed and reached out his hand to pull out the hairpin on my head. My long hair flowed down: “Does Xing Jun believe me now?” Perhaps the change in my appearance shocked them, as one or two looked like they were about to topple over.
“This… this… this…”
“Before, her appearance was disguised by this Spirit-Sealing Hairpin, it’s no wonder that Xing Jun and Yue Bei Xing Shi had failed to recognize her.” Eh? How does the Phoenix know about this “Spirit-Sealing Hairpin”? I didn’t even know. A thousand years ago, Eldest Flower Lady Mu Dan gave me this hairpin , and told me that this could increase my lingli, so I happily wore it until now. Even though my lingli has not increased very much, my height has increased a bit in the past hundred years, and I realized that when I removed the hairpin, my facial features and figure would change. Very mysterious.
After a while, that impetuous Xing Jun finally recovered, and his face suddenly reddened. He turned his face away with a bit of bashfulness and said: “Immortal Lady Jin Mi, I apologize for offending you, I apologize for offending you.”
Jiu Yao Xing Palace’s baskets, chests and immortal servants followed in a line, and jerkily walked back.
In less than two days, everyone had heard.
“Did you know? The little office boy of Second Highness, yes, just that pretty boy with red lips and white teeth, is actually a vivacious little girl.”
“Yes! I heard that the little office boy has not only seduced Second Highness, but has also philandered Ji Dou Xing Jun.”
I must be calm, I must be calm…
For the next few days, it seemed as if the Phoenix wasn’t in a good mood, especially when he saw me. His gaze clearly wrote the words “sick and tired of” in outwardly gentle block letters. As such, I tried to figure him out. It’s probably just envy.
The Phoenix’s appearance was considered the best of the six worlds for ten thousand-some years, he probably felt very used to thousands and ten of thousands of people idolizing him. Now, there was actually a Yue Bei Xian Shi who had slipped through and wasn’t bewitched by him, but who took a fancy to me instead, causing him to feel unhappy in his heart.
I thought for a bit, I had wanted to be a low-key fruit with boundaries, so I decided to put away that “Spirit-Sealing Hairpin”, and wear a hairpin made from grapevines instead. If I reveal my true appearance, others would not mistaken me for a male immortal again, and I would be able to avoid bewitching another little immortal girl like Yue Bei Xian Shi, so the Phoenix’s self-esteem would not be injured again.
I wore the grapevine hairpin every day when I entered the Palace of the Parasol Tree Perch, but the Phoenix’s facial expression became even worse, even the facial expressions of the female immortal jie’jies weren’t very good. Only when the little immortal servants saw me, their faces would become as red and as joyous as the rosefinch eggs.
When I arrived at Xi Chen Palace today, the female immortal jie’jie who was sweeping away the dust took a hard look at me, and said seriously: “Jin Mi, your looks really do attract bees and butterflies .”
Eh? These words sound so strange, we flowers, grasses, and fruits obviously want to attract bees and butterflies. Otherwise, if bees and butterflies weren’t there to spread the pollen, how would we make fruits? If there weren’t fruits, how would there be grapes?
As such, I agreed straightforwardly and said: “Haha, this is my fate. It should be like this, it should be like this.”
The female immortal jie’jie paused there in surprise, but the Fei Xu to out side coughed loudly: “Jin Mi, dimwittedness is not your fault, but dimwittedness with your looks is really quite a shame for your body.”
By the time I opened my mouth, I heard someone laughing lightly from behind. The female immortal jie’jie and Fei Xu suddenly stood up, and politely stood to the side. I turned around to look, it was the Phoenix who had arrived sometime ago, and was standing behind me.
I glanced at him, this fellow’s facial expression looks better today, but the dimples at the corners of his mouth rapidly disappeared. He glanced at me, and with clear skies and only a few clouds, he flicked his sleeves and said: “Everyone can leave now.”
“Yes.” Fei Xu and the female immortal jie’jie bowed and withdrew. I also was about to head outside, but the Phoenix stopped me: “If you leave, who will grind ink?”
I pouted a bit, but I added some water to the fragrant ink and began to grind ink. By my side, the Phoenix held his writing brush and with a swipe, swipe, swipe, he began to immerse himself in official documents. Suddenly, he said to me without even raising his head: “It would be better if you wore that Spirit-Sealing Hairpin.”
“Eh?” What is he playing at now? He wrinkled his brows, and flicked his eyes to look at me: “What’s wrong? You don’t want to?”
This fellow’s imposing manner really is quite frightening, so I hurriedly said: “I really didn’t mean to look more attractive than you. It’s all an coincidence, a coincidence.”
The Phoenix paused in surprise, and was not able to keep himself from laughing. He raised his hand flick my forehead: “Oh, you… scatter-brained…”
He really is a birdie who is subject to changing moods.
“This is the calling card that Uncle asked me to give you.” He took out a bright red card from the pocket of his sleeve and handed it to me.
Indeed, the matter of Ji Dou Xing Jun coming to propose marriage had probably already spread far and wide, into every nook and cranny. The fox immortal has such a lively temperament, so he probably found out early on. I already thought it was very difficult for him to endure until today to make his move. Only, when the fox immortal usually finds some joyous event, he always rushes to Xi Chen Palace to find me, or orders a little immortal servant to send word to go to the Estate of Conjugal Bliss. Why is he so fastidious today?
I wanted to ask the Phoenix, but that guy looked busy and I did not want to have things go badly. Nevermind.
The next day, I pocketed a piece of high quality jade-green fragrant ink from Xi Chen Palace as a gift and headed to the Estate of Conjugal Bliss. The edge of the sky had just rained a bit, outside the Palace of the Parasol Tree Perch was a bright, seven-colored rainbow bridge, and the so-called color of the sky was wonderful.
I had always liked racing through the sky on clouds, and seeing such lights right then, my mood suddenly became more cheerful. I walked slowly on the rainbow by foot, and looked on the scenery while I was walking. But I forgot that you should only look at beautiful things from far away, if you get too close, they become untrustworthy. For example, the rainbow at this instance, the seven colors blurred together is indeed very lovely, but once you walk on it, you will find that it is very slippery. I was not able to stand steadily, so I slipped from this side to that side.
At the end of the rainbow, I stood up, cutting a sorry figure, and before I was able to straighten my clothes, I was puzzled by the scene before me.
In the complete silence, a dark green, almost black, luxuriant forest surrounded a bitter, brown-colored lake, almost like a pond of medicine, slowly billowing with waves. By the side of the pond was a herd of sika deer either sitting or lying down, their posture idle. One of the resourceful little deer in the middle seemingly heard some noise, its ears moved a little and two round eyes turned towards me. For the most part it felt that my expression was kind, completely without any evil intentions, so it turned around again.
As it turned around, I saw a fish tail, a fish tail on the shore. Wah, the fish have now been forced onto land? So this is the phenomenon of environmental destruction that people hate so bitterly. I walked forward and stretched my head to look, and saw a fish. Actually, I saw a person, but that’s not right either. It’s a his lower body was a moonlight colored fish tail, while the upper half of his body was that of a white clothed young man with his eyes closed and his head resting on the belly of a sika deer, dreaming sweetly.
In a flash, that person had already woken up, that pair of eyes limpidly gazing at me. I pointed to his fish tail and excitedly said: “Oh this is really a peerless tail!”
The person also looked at his tail and said: “It’s ordinary, it’s ordinary.” His manner was modest and amiable.
The sika deer around him saw that he had woken, so they immediately stopped their movements and turned their heads over here. In such a scene, I knew that this person was probably an immortal herdsman in charge of deer.
In a flash, that silvery-white large fish tail with a pearly luster turned into two legs, and I saw the immortal deer herdsman lazily straightened the front of his clothes and stand up. I did not notice when he was lying down, but when he stood up, I realized that this immortal herdsman was about as tall as the Phoenix.
I looked up and said to him: “Immortal herdsman’s deer are excellent, plump and sturdy. Which family’s kitchen are you sending them to?”
That herdsman paused a little: “Herding deer? Kitchen?” There was a bit of gloominess in the expression on his face.
I was surprised, did I touch on his wound? The levels of immortality are strict in this Heavenly World, there are quite a few fastidious rules. The Xiao Yu Xian Guan  in charge of herding is probably not in a high position, and lost face when I directly mentioned it like this. For example, officials in the mortal world, ranged from as high as the Prime Minister to as low as a ninth ranked official, but when they see each other, they would always salute one another modestly and call one another “some kind of Da Ren ”, not differentiating between the ranks, so that the lower-ranked little officials were not embarrassed.
This time I understood, so I quickly remedied the situation by saying: “Haha, high immortal has many prospects with this position. Think back to the past when Qi Tian Da Shen  Sun Wu Kong revealed himself by helping out at a horse stable, this kind of animal husbandry. Then, the people in Western Paradise  seeking the prestigious Buddhist sutras, heard that he was given the title ‘Buddha of War’. Yes, there’s also the eldest old man of the Eight Immortal Fruits. Before he became an immortal, he even herded donkey, such a reputation is glorious indeed. As such, Jin Mi thinks that high immortal’s prospects are limitless!”
That immortal herdsman bowed his head and pondered for a while, but soon after, he gave a beaming smile: “Immortal Lady has an abundance of praises, and today, I have been enlightened, I have been enlightened. Thank you, thank you.”
I generously saluted him, and replied in a carefree manner: “High Immortal is too polite.”
“This little immortal’s name is Ren Yu, how should I address Immortal Lady?” Xiao Yu Xian Guan smiled charmingly.
“My name is Jin Mi.” I raised my hand, and the jade-green fragrant ink slid out of the pouch on my sleeve. I patted my head, remembering the fox immortal’s invitation just now. After tarrying like this, I must not be late.
I urgently picked up the fragrant ink and said goodbye to Xiao Yu Xian Guan, and gingerly crossed the slippery rainbow, heading towards the Estate of Conjugal Bliss by cloud.
 Chinese: 书童. Shutong are boys who attended to scholars or teachers in former times. I couldn’t think of a good name for these, so I decided to call then ‘office boys’ though it sounds a bit too modern.
 Chinese: 星使. Star Lady.
 Elder sister
 Chinese: 星君. Star Lord.
 Chinese: 招蜂引蝶. Literally ‘attract bees and butterflies’ but idiomatically means ‘coquettish’.
 Chinese: 小鱼仙倌. Literally ‘Immortal Herdsman Little Fish’
 form of address for court officials
 Great Sage Equal to Heaven in Journey to the West (Xi You Ji)