Fu Lan and Qi Yin stood at the entrance of the town, staring at each other.
“Brother demon, I’ve already told you ten times. I’m not your bride,” Qi Yin said helplessly.
“Yes, you are,” Fu Lan insisted.
Fu Lan was very certain. “Yes, you are.”
“… ” They had repeated this ten times, and now it was the thirteenth time. Qi Yin was about to go crazy and instead asked, “Why me?”
Fu Lan tilted his head and looked at him for a while, and Qi Yin felt goosebumps rise all over his body under his gaze. Just as Qi Yin thought he had nothing to say, Fu Lan suddenly took a step forward and pulled him into his arms. He immediately felt a warmth on his neck as Fu Lan buried his head in it and took a deep breath.
Qi Yin exploded with goosebumps all over his body. He pushed Fu Lan away abruptly. He covered his neck and backed away, shouting, “What are you doing!”
“The scent is right.” Fu Lan looked at him. “You are the puppy I’m looking for.”
“Hey, kid,” the black cat said, “we took care of you when you were a child. At that time, this fool was twelve years old, and you were only four years old, following him and calling him big brother every day. Later, when the demon race invaded South Jiang, the old man and this fool left Wu Jiang. Who knew this war would last so many years, and your mother… forget it. Kid, you’re kissing and hugging people for no reason in the human world. Why not come with us? Your big brother is now the co-ruler of demons and monsters, and at least can protect you.”
“Co-ruler of demons and monsters?” Qi Yin asked, “This Mr. Cat, are you by any chance Yu Sang?”
“Indeed it is I,” said Yu Sang.
Qi Yin didn’t know what Yu Sang looked like, but Fu Lan’s appearance was clearly drawn on the notice – a pig (1). Qi Yin looked at the pig head on the notice and then at Fu Lan’s white and clean face, and tentatively asked, “Brother, you said you were the emperor of South Jiang. Are you a pig?”
Fu Lan shook his head.
“Where are your personal guards?”
“Just him.” Fu Lan pointed to the black cat.
“What about your eunuch attendants?”
“What about your generals and ministers?”
“What about your beautiful concubines?” Qi Yin was speechless. “It can’t also be this cat, right!”
Fu Lan honestly shook his head. “No, it’s you.”
Qi Yin: “…”
This human and demon duo really had a mental problem. His aunt said that his mother had been troubled by demons and monsters before. Judging from the time, it was probably these two. But they were not bad, just crazy. The big one fantasized about being the emperor of South Jiang, and the little one fantasized about being the military strategist of South Jiang. He had done the same thing when he was a child, imagining that he was the reincarnation of a great god, preferably the son of Fuxi (2) and Nuwa (3), who had made a mistake in the heavens and was demoted to earth, but he would one day return to the heavens as a god.
Later, when he went to school, he found that nine out of ten children thought they were great princes. Qi Yin felt that he was not special enough. One day, he got lost in the wild forest and came across an unknown wild god’s statue. The wild god looked like a white deer, and he held up a mirror and looked at the deer’s face for a long time. He didn’t know how he did it, but he looked more and more similar. Since then, he declared himself the reincarnation of the White Deer God, and maybe there was a goddess in heaven who secretly loved him and followed him to the mortal world, waiting for him to achieve a beautiful marriage.
Children are like that. Everyone wants to be born noble and have an extraordinary destiny. Later, he gradually understood that he was just an ordinary mortal. Moreover, he was a bastard, and he might be even lower than ordinary people.
Qi Yin shook his head helplessly, patted Fu Lan’s shoulder, and said, “Although you are a demon and you are a demon cat, no matter what it is, you have to be down-to-earth and do things seriously. Brother, I am grateful to you for saving my life just now, so I will give you a few words of advice. Find a livelihood, don’t spend all day thinking about being an emperor, a god, a monster, or a demon. You look so handsome, and when you have some silver in your pocket, you will naturally be able to find a wife. Okay, remember that the world is fast and opportunities limitless. Goodbye, see you again someday.”
“Hey, Qi Yin!” someone shouted behind him.
Qi Yin became impatient. Did these two stinky monsters still want him to be the bride? Turning around, he saw that Fu Lan and the black cat were still standing there, and the white-clothed man who didn’t speak at Yao family’s house before was walking towards him with a sword. Qi Yin then realized that the voice just now was not from the black cat or Fu Lan, but from man.
It’s a disaster. He responded to this guy’s call, and now this guy knew that he was the real Qi Yin.
“I am Yun Zhi.” Yun Zhi smiled at him. “I have met Senior Uncle Qi, who looks very similar to you, especially these eyebrows and eyes. It’s like carved from the same mold. You can fool Zhao Ran, that idiot, but you can’t fool me.”
This sentence was like a burning iron, branding Qi Yin’s heart. He turned his head and happened to face the red-painted pillar of the archway, reflecting his face. His ink-colored eyebrows and black eyes were the same as that man? He felt disgusted.
He plastered a nonchalant smile, and said, “Master Yun, there is no need to say more. Anyway, my cousin is going to the immortal mountain in my stead, so let this matter go. Qi Yin bids farewell.”
“I’m not here to persuade you to climb Mount Wu Fang. I just feel disappointed.” Yun Zhi smiled and looked at him. “When I was seven, I met Master Qi once. He was proud and upright, standing among the disciples like a crane among chickens, radiating brilliance. I thought his child would be just like him, or at least not far behind. I just didn’t expect his son to be so…” Yun Zhi paused for a moment, as if trying to find the right word, and finally said, “Pathetic.”
“…” Qi Yin looked at him and said, “Brother, speak your mind.”
Yun Zhi smirked and continued, “Zhao Ran spoke ill of your mother and you weren’t even angry. Your mother worked hard to raise you, but I heard she was dragged into the water by a water ghost in the end. Zhao Ran disrespected your mother, but you didn’t even get angry?”
Qi Yin took a deep breath and was about to say something, but Fu Lan suddenly spoke up, “Are you bullying him?”
Yun Zhi was stunned and looked at him.
Fu Lan said, “If you’re bullying him, I’ll kill you.”
He said this without any expression, as if he were saying something as ordinary as “Have you eaten?” Qi Yin was scared by him and worried that this Dai Ge (4) might really do something out of line, so he quickly pulled him aside and said to Yun Zhi, “Alright, Daoist Yun, you’re right. I’m just so pathetic. You can insult me all you want. I’m just not worthy of being called Master Qi’s son. Is that enough? Let us go now.”
Yun Zhi looked at him for a moment, bowed, and stepped back.
Qi Yin pulled Fu Lan and walked away, and the black cat followed closely behind Fu Lan. Yun Zhi suddenly said, “Qi Yin, if I told you that nowadays, people on Mount Wu Fang make fun of your mother for fun, and any woman who tries to seduce a disciple of Mount Wu Fang beyond her capabilities will be mocked as ‘Meng Fu Niang’, can you still endure it?”
Meng Fu Niang was his mother’s name, and he hadn’t heard that name in years. Qi Yin paused for a moment, and slowly turned back. He felt a fire burning inside him, but the more he felt this way, the less he wanted to act. He felt the same way when he overheard his aunt’s family’s conspiracy under the window. Although he was furious at the time and wanted to go in and scold them, he ended up leaving in silence, kicking stones on the stone path.
He knew that the people from Wu Fang Mountain looked down on him and his mother. What could he do about it? He was a failure. His father didn’t love his mother and she died young. The girl Qi Yin liked was already married off to someone else. The most he could do was play some tricks, switching the ingredients for his aunt’s beauty soup to make her wake up at night and discover the family’s ugly secrets, causing chaos in the family, and then silently leaving home to protest. That was his biggest retaliation.
But he didn’t expect that in the end, his aunt’s family would all be ruined, and all his emotions of joy and anger were for nothing. The dead bodies and blood of the strange birds littered the ground, making him dizzy. He just wanted to find a place to sleep tonight.
“You guys are so amazing with your cultivation,” Qi Yin said, feeling resigned to his fate, shrugging his shoulders, “I’m just an ordinary person. I can’t fly around like you guys. I also wanted to say to that dog Zhao Ran, ‘Motherfcker, what kind of nonsense is Wu Fang Mountain, fuck off!’ But can I?” Qi Yin laughed tastelessly, answering his own question, “I can’t.”
Fu Lan poked him in the back and said, “I can.”
Impatience and anger finally broke out, and Qi Yin turned his head and cursed, “Shut up, or I’ll hit you first!”
After saying that, Qi Yin regretted it. Although this Dai Ge was annoying, he had saved his life. Seeing Fu Lan staring at him blankly, Qi Yin felt helpless and sad, taking a deep sigh.
“Calm down, calm down.” Yun Zhi was not bothered by Qi Yin’s anger at all. He said, “Qi Yin, let me point you in the right direction. As far as I know, you have no family, and even if you want to hide, there’s nowhere to go now. If you don’t want to go to Wu Fang Mountain, there are other places you can go.”
The black cat bit Qi Yin’s trouser leg. It didn’t have any demonic energy, and there were outsiders around, so it had to pretend to be an ordinary cat and couldn’t speak. It could only signal to Qi Yin that he could follow them to the Southern Border.
“I forgot to mention, I’m not from Wu Fang Mountain.” Yun Zhi held his sword, his eyes shining brightly, “I’m from Feng Huan Immortal Mountain. We have always had a grudge with Wu Fang Mountain. My master sent me to take you away. Fortunately, Zhao Ran didn’t recognize you, or else we would have had to fight.”
“Oh.” Qi Yin was indifferent. “I’m not going.”
“Think about it. When your skills are fully developed, you can fight whoever you want to fight. I’ve never liked that Zhao Ran guy anyway. When the time comes, we can all gang up on him and beat him up in a sack,” Yun Zhi said with a smile.
Qi Yin walked away without turning his head.
“Hey, Qi Yin,” Yun Zhi called to him from a distance. “Don’t you want to know what kind of path to immortality your father abandoned you and your mother for?”
Qi Yin stopped in his tracks.
Yun Zhi walked up to him and said seriously, “Your mother was taken away by a water ghost when you were only five years old. Qi Yin, if you can cultivate the supreme sword heart and become an unbeatable sword, you will be able to protect your loved ones when faced with difficulties and dangers.”
Qi Yin sighed and said, “I don’t want to be a bachelor.”
“Get married after you finish your studies.” Yun Zhi raised an eyebrow.
The black cat continued to bite his pants stubbornly, tearing holes in the fabric. Qi Yin didn’t know how to feel. What was going on now? He had become a treasure that everyone wanted, but he didn’t feel happy at all. He felt heavy-hearted as if a huge stone was weighing him down.
Closing his eyes, he seemed to see his mother’s blurred face being dragged into the river by the pale water ghost while he stood on the shore unaware. Then, the bird demon from the Yao family came out of his aunt’s mouth and screeched at him.
Without strength, he could only be at the mercy of others. But could a person who was used to being a sparrow really become an eagle soaring in the sky?
“If I change my mind later, can I still come down from the mountain?” Qi Yin hesitated and asked.
“Of course,” Yun Zhi said, “I’ll personally escort you with my sword.”
Since there was nowhere else to go, and there was a place to sleep and eat at that Feng Huan Mountain, Qi Yin made up his mind and said, “Then I’ll give it a try.”
Yun Zhi was just about to cheer, but he looked down and saw the black cat still tugging at Qi Yin’s pants. Yun Zhi poked it with the sword hilt and asked, “What’s wrong with this cat?”
Qi Yin turned his head to look at Fu Lan, who was standing next to the red pillar of the archway, like a dark shadow. He remembered that this guy was like him, with no parents, and couldn’t help feeling sad. Maybe if you didn’t have parents, you would want to get married earlier so you could have a warm embrace and cuddle with each other under the quiet and cold eaves.
“Puppy, do you want to break off the engagement?” Fu Lan looked at him quietly.
“…” Yun Zhi scratched his head. “Uh, Qi Yin, you might want to learn from your dad and abandon it halfway.”
Qi Yin was helpless. Dai Ge, although you are very pitiful, you are also a man who tears apart monsters with your bare hands. Can you not act like a resentful woman? And Qi Yin was not a puppy!
“But…” Yun raised his chin at Fu Lan. “Demon, I see that you don’t have much demonic energy and haven’t been on the demonic path for long. What Zhao Ran said makes sense. The demonic path is treacherous, so it’s better not to get involved. Do you want to join us and go to Feng Huan Mountain? It’s fine as long as you guys don’t go too far up the mountain and don’t let the masters find out.”
The black cat had heard of the name Feng Huan Mountain, one of the four immortal peaks, a place that produced stinky Daoists who looked down their nose at others. Demons and Daoists were natural enemies, so how could they sneak into the thief’s den? Just as Qi Yin was starting to get anxious, Fu Lan had already spoken up, “I’ll go.”
The black cat was stunned, turning his head to look at Fu Lan. Fu Lan looked indifferent, as if he didn’t know the danger of this road.
“What’s your name?” Yun Zhi asked.
Yun Zhi fell silent for a moment. Then he covered his stomach and burst into laughter, “What was your father thinking? Why did he give you a pig’s name?”
Black cat: “……”
Fu Lan: “……”
1. Pig demon – similar to Zhu Ba Jie from Journey to the West.
2. Fuxi – a deity born from a divine egg that was laid by a primordial being named Nüwa, who is often depicted as his sister and sometimes as his wife. Fuxi and Nüwa were said to have ruled the world together as a divine couple, and their descendants became the ancestors of the Chinese people. Fuxi is often depicted as a serpent with a human head, and he is sometimes associated with the practice of divination and the worship of ancestors.
3. Nüwa – a deity in Chinese mythology who is traditionally associated with creation, fertility, and the arts of civilization. According to legend, Nüwa was responsible for creating human beings out of clay and breathing life into them, and she is sometimes regarded as the mother of all humanity. Nüwa is often depicted as a beautiful woman with the body of a serpent.
4. Dai Ge – the literal translation is “Silly Brother.” It’s a term of endearment, referring to the fact that Fu Lan seems a bit slow-witted.