The Sin of Purple Rice Dumpling
Hu Sha died when she was only 15 years old.
Her parents had been busy planning for her marriage from when she was only 13. At that time, exchanging the portrait of oneself with each other was a norm between young men and women. If you see any portrait that you like, you only need to say so. So every day, a huge number of scrolls will be presented before Hu Sha, asking her which one she preferred.
Hu Sha will smile and says, “No one is as good as an immortal.”
That was the truth, how can ordinary people be as attractive as immortals. Her parents thought she wants one with unrivaled face, and from then on, continue to pathetically exert more efforts to find her the one she wants.
At early spring, when she was 15 years old, her mother secretively pulled her into a room. This time, there is only one scroll in her hand. She carefully opens it for Hu Sha to see. The man in the painting wore a robe with wide sleeves while a tall headpiece is worn on his head, indeed is handsome in a startling way.
“If even he does not appease you, there’s no one out there who can,” her mother sighed.
Therefore, Hu Sha had to agree. Their two families discussed about their betrothal and in the end decided to hold the wedding on the fifth month. Such a pity Hu Sha had to die before meeting that gorgeous husband of hers.
Speaking about her death, Hu Sha can’t help but be embarrassed.
Her father is a Fire Taoist Priest. For as long as Hu Sha can remember, their lives had always been full off Taoist scriptures and secret books about alchemy. Regardless if she was willing or not, she was made to wake up early every morning and dedicate a portion of her day presenting joss sticks to the celestial beings above.
That day, for which celestial fairy was the offering for, she did not know. All she knows was that, on the offering table, there was a bowl of her favorite dessert, purple rice dumplings.
She looked left and right, both her parents weren’t there. She took one and put it directly into her mouth.
She suddenly heard the faint sound of someone coughing, she looked up in uncertainty and saw the painting of a celestial being of which the offering is dedicated to. The celestial deity with white beard inside the portrait was holding two pieces of purple rice dumplings, his beard trembling with every bite he took while purple rice trickled down his beard.
She froze, and the celestial in front seemed to have noticed her as well. He raised his white eyebrows, appearing to be in similar state of shock, before the shock turned to shame, and then to anger. His flipped his sleeve violently before disappearing into the paper.
Because Hu Sha was so shocked, the purple dumpling inside her mouth got stuck in her throat. No matter how she pull, slap, hit and roll, the dumpling remains there, neither spit out nor swallowed.
So in the end, she died from choking.
The weather is so good. Auntie Lu who sells buns woke up early. She opens the door and take a basket of her steaming hot buns out with her. She glance at a certain distant summit idly, just like how she and everybody around her always do.
Even though this land is spring all year round, that particular mountain is an exception. The peak will be covered in constant ice. According to folktales, celestial beings all lives at the peak of that mountain, eating winds and drinking dews. The mortal people rarely see them, but often receives their blessings.
Auntie Lu recite a prayer to the deities, put down her basket neatly and was just about to promote her buns when she hears the soft sound of footsteps behind her. “Little Hu Sha, why did you wake up so early today?
A small face that is about 14-15 years old peeks out from behind the door, her face fair and her eyes round. Auntie Lu smilingly hands her two buns, “Eat something. You must be hungry.”
Hu Sha lets out a small “en” as she heads over and sits beside her. “Auntie, you once told me that the immortals lives in Qing Yuan Mountain, were you telling the truth?” she asks while she eats.
“Of course I was telling the truth!” Auntie Lu points towards the distant mountain in a serious expression. “Within the ten continents, there are lot of places where immortals gather. Qing Yuan Mountain is just one of them! Immortals on that mountain will accept mortals who have predestined affinity with them as disciples, teaching them how to live forever and how to dispel demons. I am not bluffing you. Every day, the number of mortals camping at the foot of the mountain, trying to be their apprentices are as many as ants!”
Hu Sha swallows her bun, staring at Qing Yuan Mountain. If she goes there, will she be able to find the way to go home?
She thought she was already dead, but turns out, she’s still alive. It’s just that she’s living in a completely different world. This place has real immortals, spirit beasts that can speak, and a lot more things she’s never heard of. But this place isn’t her home.
She remembers while she was sleeping deeply, a voice keeps speaking to her, telling her that if she wants to go home, she must find Qing Ling Zhen Jun. After living with her father for so many years, she’s never heard of the immortal’s name. Could it be that, that Qing Ling Zhen Jun is the reason why she’s here right now?
After that, she somehow woke up and found out she’s in this strange land. She looks around in a daze, not knowing where to go.
She was lucky she bumped into the warm-hearted Auntie Lu who brought her back to her house and care for her. It’s been 5 days now.
“Two days from now, auntie’s daughter will visit me here, let her take you out to buy some new clothes. Her age is around yours, so your tastes should be similar. Auntie is old now, does not understand style or makeup.”
Hu Sha looks at the grey clothes she is wearing right now, Auntie Lu had to make her own clothes smaller so it could fit Hu Sha. Her own clothes disappeared after she took them off, as though they’ve never existed on the first place.
“Auntie, there are so many immortals in Qing Yuan Mountain, is Immortal Qing Ling Zhen Jun also there?”
That voice says if she wants to go home, she must find Qing Ling Zhen Jun. No matter what, she has to try.
Auntie Lu stares at her, “Qing Ling Zhen Jun? Never heard of that name…. Do you want me to ask other people for you?”
Hu Sha shakes her head, “No, I don’t want to trouble you. I was just randomly asking.”
Auntie Lu lovingly laughs at her, “This child, why are you being courteous to me.”
Hu Sha smiles in embarrassment, “Auntie, is it hard trying to become an apprentice in Qing Yuan Mountain?”
“I heard it was very hard,” Auntie Lu points towards a neighbor’s house, “Old Zhang’s grandson went 2 years ago, even the entrance gate he couldn’t find. I heard, only people who have pre-destined affinity with the immortals can find their way in, if not, even you search until you die, you may not necessarily find the entrance gate. Despite that, the number of people who go there every day are a lot. There are too many people who want to become an immortal.”
Hu Sha was quiet for a while, before she softly says, “Auntie, I want to go there too.”
‘Pu’, the buns in Auntie Lu’s hands falls into the ground.
Translator’s Note： The first chapter!