Fragrant meat buns, barbecued meats and roasted chicken can be seen everywhere. Hu Sha’s mouth is watering as she stares at everything. She directs her eyes at her shifu in front. Didn’t he said he will buy her food? Why isn’t he buying?
There is a little stall selling pastries in front, right from the stove. The scent is filling the entire atmosphere. Hu Sha wipes her mouth and looks at her shifu in grievance. He is casually walking past all the stalls without batting an eyelash.
She cannot hold herself back anymore, “Shifu…..”
Fang Zhun looks at her innocently, “What’s wrong?”
“……….Nothing.” In the end, she cannot bring herself to say it. She lowers her head and follows him pitifully, maneuvering through the crowd.
They stop in front of a book store. The shopkeeper is a simple and honest-looking young man. He seems to be an old acquaintance of Fang Zhun. He nods at her shifu before speaking to him in a low voice, “The sixteenth book on the left side of the third shelf on the second floor.”
Fang Zhun says, “It was hard on you.” Then, he turns around to face Hu Sha, “Wait here. Shifu wants to buy a book. Shifu will return soon. Do not run around and speak with strangers, understand?” And then, he climbs the stairs to the second floor.
He said he would buy her food! Shifu is a liar!
She sits by the entrance dejectedly. She exchange a look with a cat that is sitting by a window. The aroma of food occasionally drifts by, making her feel really helpless.
This is all shifu’s fault! Had he not dragged her here, promising food, she wouldn’t have been greedy to this extent. She has only started abstaining; he ruined it all!
She looks at the shopkeeper who is immersed in a book. Without even lifting his head, he says, “You must be Fang Zhun’s new disciple. You are not from any prefectures in this continent.”
Hu Sha looks around, trying to be sure that he is talking to her.
The man finally looks away from his book, fixing his gaze on her for a moment before saying, “Your face carries an unlucky air. Did you offend an esteemed one?”
Correct! Hu Sha laughs bitterly. Not only did she offended someone, she offended a celestial figure, hence her being exiled to this place.
“You are not from here, but since you are here, it means that you have a predestined affinity with this place. It is also your destiny to be Fang Zhun’s disciple. Meeting me today is also a destiny. Since everything has been driven by the force of destiny, I must help you read your fate. Come closer, little miss.” He beckons Hu Sha over.
Hu Sha looks at him suspiciously, “Shifu told me to not speak to strangers.” She has always been an obedient little disciple.
That person laughs loudly, “You are right. You are not allowed to speak to strangers. I am not a stranger.”
His eyes turn black as green air radiates from his body. He lifts his robe, revealing three long tails.
He is a fox! She has been talking to a fox!
The fox regains his original appearance. No matter what, seeing him sitting there while reading a book makes him look so normal. Hu Sha remembers reading traditional folklores before.
Fox spirits are always said to be enchantingly beautiful and seductive; how come this man looks so normal?
“The fox celestial is offering to read your fate. This is an honor that is not to be bestowed to just about anyone. Why are you hesitating? Come over?” he continues beckoning her over.
Hu Sha casts her doubts away as she walks to him, offering her palm on the table.
That man sweeps his eyes over her palm before looking at her forehead, and then, her nose, and down and down up to the tip of her toes.
“You have good luck,” he says.
Hu Sha is ecstatic upon hearing that, “Really? Will I get to return home soon?”
That person simply laughs without explaining anything. After a while, he leisurely says, “You must avoid going to the South. 5 years later, you will see your outcome.”
“5 years? Are you saying that I will only manage to go home after 5 years?” Hu Sha is anxious now. “Why does it take so long? Do you know a way to help me go home faster?”
That man laughs placidly, “It depends on you. I can only see, I cannot give you any guidance.”
Hu Sha wants to ask more, but Fang Zhun already descends down from upstairs, carrying a book that he puts inside his sleeve.
“What? Are you reopening your fortune-telling business?” Fang Zhun walks over and places some silver on the desktop. It seems to cost around 5 liang of silver. What kind of book is he buying?? 5 liang of silver is enough to feed Hu Sha’s entire family for a long time.
That person quickly takes the money away, “I can only read the future of a person who is destined to be read by me. Why? Do you want me to read yours?”
Fang Zhun laughs, “You kept insisting to read my future even when you were still my spirit beast. When will that illness of yours go away? Will you really be able tell me my future if I let you read mine?”
That man looks at him in concentration for a while before shaking his head, “……….. Never mind. Go. Come again next time. I will prepare everything for you.”
Fang Zhun thank him and leads Hu Sha out. He finds her staring at his sleeve, as though wanting to say something but too reluctant to. “What’s wrong? Is there something wrong with shifu’s sleeve?”
Hu Sha hesitates for a while before saying, “Shifu, why does a book costs you 5 liang of silver? Why is it so expensive? Can I see it?”
Fang Zhun fixes his sleeves before smiling mysteriously, “Oh. It is a…… rare fox book. Good children shouldn’t see it.”
Hu Sha is silent.
Fang Zhun sounds a little apologetic when he speaks, “Oh right, shifu originally promised to treat you to a meal. But shifu already used the money. Why don’t you write this off, first! Shifu will definitely treat you in the future.”
It is true then! Her shifu is a liar! Hu Sha painfully nods with a long pout.
“There is something else, Hu Sha.” Fang Zhun suddenly stops walking. He turns around and looks at her, “Shifu wants you to promise two things.”
This is the first time Hu Sha is seeing him so solemn. She is a little shocked as she nods.
“First of all, do not tell anyone other than shifu about your identity and how you came to Hai Nei Shi Continent. Second of all, once you do meet Qing Ling Zhen Jun, you must tell shifu everything he told you, whatever condition or request he gives you. You are not to hide anything. Understand?”
(TN: Hai Nei Shi Continent is the land she is at. Hai (海) = Sea; Nei (内) = Within; Shi (十) Ten.)
Hu Sha blanks out before promptly panicking, “Ah…. B-But, I already told Second Senior Brother….. Also, shifu, what do you mean by condition or request? I thought I only need to admit fault to him?”
Fang Zhun simply looks at the distant outline of Mount Tao Yuan. After a while, he finally speaks, “It is okay if you have already said it, but do not tell anyone else in the future. As for Qing Ling Zhen Jun, you only need to remember what shifu said. That will be enough.”
When he sees Hu Sha who is itching to ask questions but does not dare to, he smiles at her warmly. He pats down her hair that has been blown by winds as he gently speaks, “Silly child. Shifu will never harm you. Don’t worry.”
She will never understand the rules of this strange land. Everyone are secretive, unwilling to tell the truth. They keep people guessing.
Hu Sha softly says, “I am not an idiot, shifu.”
Fang Zhun looks at her in surprise.
“I am also not a small dog that has to stand when told to stand and stay when told to stay,” she lowers her head, no longer looking at him.
Fang Zhun is quiet for a very long time. After a while, he pats her in the arm, “Are you still blaming shifu for not buying you food?”
“Of course not!” Hu Sha’s face turns red as she quickly says.
Fang Zhun laughs, “Alright, it is shifu’s fault. Shifu will buy you food now, in case if Hu Sha says I lied to her.”
“I-I didn’t mean it that way…….” Hu Sha anxiously grabs him by the sleeve. The clear issue has turned muddled now, because of him. She does not know how to explain this better to him.
Fang Zhun laughs happily as he drags her over, “I remember seeing a good restaurant around here. Their pear blossom wine looks really good. Let’s give it a look.”
He drags her for a couple of steps before suddenly stopping. Her head bumps into his arm as she covers her nose in pain.
“Something has happened,” he says before he turns around to look at Mount Tao Yuan.
Hu Sha looks at the direction that he is looking with a muddled head. She can see ripples forming on the demon barrier surrounding Mount Tao Yuan. It is as though something is stirring it.
In the blink of an eye, the barrier disappears like smoke.
“Let’s go back!” Fang Zhun pulls her over and uses the Art of Teng Yun.