Chapter 303: Rolling Girl
Ling Pingan leaned against the back of his chair, bored out of his mind as he scrolled through his newsfeed on WeBook.
A popular artist had recaptured the media’s attention today and it turned up as the number one search trending on WeBook.
Ling Pingan looked at the long article that had just been posted by a fellow netizen.
His understanding of the article that had popped up on his newsfeed was virtually non-existent.
He really couldn’t understand what this article of a few hundred words was talking about.
Was it something to do with the sea? Or the moon?
Ling Pingan scratched his head in befuddlement. He was really starting to feel his age, what with being unable to keep up with the times.
“No wonder I have never managed to write a novel…” he sighed.
As he continued scrolling, the complaints of the netizens seemed to pile on endlessly.
Only then did Ling Pingan understand that this flurry of hateful comments had been sparked by the leak of the popular artist’s secret relationship.
Naturally, his fans went berserk.
And the netizens were captivated by the drama unfolding.
After all, this was just another day in the life of a popular artist.
Artists enter the industry with the understanding that they are merely tools for their fans and capital.
How could a tool have its own thoughts and emotions?
How could a tool fall in love?
The volume of comments was torn between angered fans and others trying to douse the fire.
This was the nature of their discourse.
Before anything happens, don’t say anything. If asked, say you’re afraid of women or that you are single.
If something does happen, be a good celebrity, break up immediately and apologize.
He didn’t have a shred of self-respect in him.
Ling Pingan shook his head and continued to peruse his WeBook feed.
Another trending topic caught his attention.
It was still regarding the same issue.
As Ling Pingan read through the subject material, he once again felt the weight of his years.
This girl, having read about the scandal, took to the interweb and started railing on the affair.
The comments featured were terrifyingly explosive.
Pseudonyms, cheating, cohabitation…
One nail after another was hammered into the coffin that was the celebrity’s career until it was stained a lustreless black.
Ling Pingan shook his head in dull resignation. “This person is finished…”
The previous article had only highlighted an affair that had taken place.
Hurt was the most his fans would feel.
With his actions, the artist had nailed himself to an insurmountable pillar of shame that no one in showbiz would forget easily.
The people of the federal empire held their public figures to high moral standards.
It was not just popular artists who fell into this category. Even those big shots, best actors and actresses would still be sentenced to death if they were caught in nefarious relationships.
It would sentence death for their careers!
No company or production team would not dare use him again.
The industry would boycott him.
It was the cruel but logical truth of the matter.
Public figures were role models for the general populace.
They could not be perceived as having corrupt morals.
Let alone corrupt morals, this artist was no better than the scum of the earth.
Ling Pingan remembered a similar event that had taken place last year. It involved a popular artist who smoked in public and had been ridiculed for bringing Bao Huazi.
Time passed by unknowingly as he scrolled through his newsfeed.
When Ling Pingan came back to his senses, it was almost 11 pm.
He turned his head and looked out the door. He had not noticed when the fog rolled in but he was not surprised by its abrupt appearance.
Autumn fog was common around this time of the year. It drastically reduced visibility.
Not even light from the streetlamps lining the roads could penetrate the thick fog.
“With such thick fog, it will definitely be very cold tomorrow morning!” Ling Pingan murmured absently.
“It seems I will have to wear thicker clothes tomorrow…”
Fortunately, he had bought enough clothes to last the long autumn months the last time he shopped at the mall.
Winter, in Jiangcheng City, was usually mild.
Therefore, in theory, there should have been no need for him to procure winter apparel.
The climate in recent years had shown strange signs of change.
So, who knew?
Maybe it would even snow in Jiangcheng City this winter!
Hobbling to his feet, he got up to close the door.
Just as he was about to do so, Ling Pingan saw a thin figure traversing through the dense fog towards the bookstore.
Intrigued, he muttered under his breath, “Are there people who would venture out in such cold weather?”
But the more he mulled over the peculiar figure he had seen, the more it appeared normal in his mind.
Although the college entrance exams had ended, the national exams had not started yet.
Thus, there was certainly enough time for youngsters to wander out in the cold.
With the weather only growing colder by the day, the nearby barbecue stall’s business was likely booming.
Who wouldn’t want to eat freshly barbecued skewers or enjoy a heartening bowl of piping hot soup in such weather?
“It’s probably just some passerby who noticed that the bookstore has yet to close and is hoping to buy a few books!” Ling Pingan traced the figure who was slowly approaching with his eyes, “So…”
“Diligence is definitely a heavenly axiom concealing a grain of truth!”
He had thought that paying the day’s water and electricity bill would result in a loss.
Thankfully, by virtue of his diligence and perseverance, there was still hope for him to make a small profit.
This encouraged him greatly!
… … … … … … ..
Xiao Man approached the source of light with caution.
Bit by bit, bit by bit.
As she wandered closer, the source of light grew clearer and clearer.
The building was made up of green bricks and red tiles.
A lonely isle trapped in a sea of fog.
A strange orange light flickered in the room.
Its glow shone like a torch, unimpeded by the opaque fog.
Its light pierced through shrouds of water and cloud, radiating a pleasant warmth.
That lamp has to be a powerful immortal artefact! Xiao Man thought.
She didn’t know.
After the heavens collapsed, the names of the immortals became taboos, and their immortal artefacts were lost to the pages of history and myth.
Even those who knew of them didn’t dare break the taboo.
Any action to the contrary was tantamount to attracting disaster upon themselves.
The reason for which being that no one could guarantee that the bodies of the immortals had not been stolen by the Sky Devils.
If that were the case, once their honorific names were used, it would garner the attention of the Sky Devil who had stolen the corpse of the immortal.
That would be nothing short of a disaster!
As she inched her way closer, Xiao Man could make out more details of the building’s structure that had been concealed by the dense fog.
Its exterior was made up of some peculiar material.
It was white in colour, and small pieces of it were stuck to the wall.
Above the building, was a swirling expanse of fog that stretched as far as the eye could see. It was a veritable wall of whirling water that encompassed the unusual building.
Almost as if it were the eye of a storm.
“This should be the core of the fog!” Xiao Man exclaimed.
This building was very likely the core or even the source of the fog.
She slowly walked closer and saw a figure swaying under the light.
Xiao Man gulped.
Someone was there.
Mustering her courage, she edged closer warily.
The figure seemed to have noticed her and walked out.
He strolled to the door.
Xiao Man looked at him.
Xiao Man felt her knees quake and her stomach churn.
The man who came into view could not be human!
Only his lower body was that of one.
He was wearing clothes of a material she had never seen before.
Upon closer inspection, Xiao Man realized that the shapes and lines on the clothes formed a pattern that constantly repeated itself. It looked like something out of a mould.
This came as a shock to her.
It was something that only immortals and gods could possibly wear.
According to legend, the immortals and deities in the sky had miraculous tools specialized in the art of weaving.
These immortal tools extracted the spirit qi of the mortal and heavenly realms, enabling them to control the sizes of their needles and threads; thereby granting them the ability to replicate patterns flawlessly.
Clothes made by these immortals were, thus, perfect in all shape and regard.
Heavenly craftsmanship, it was called.
However, the mortal realm didn’t possess such wonderous conditions. Even the most powerful cultivators weren’t able to weave immortal clothes or divine robes that were seamless.
The clothes on his body didn’t have the slightest trace of spirit qi.
“The Great Dao is simple, this should be the fabled state of returning to simplicity!” Xiao Man deduced in her heart. “He must be wearing a robe covered in powerful restrictions and magical array diagrams!”
This could be the only explanation.
The view of his head had already revealed his identity.
Fog enshrouded his features, blurring them from sight. It rolled off and around him in a state of constant flux.
Within the fog, neither time nor space seemed to exist.
The fog hovering over the man’s head transcended all causality as if it had always been a part of the man’s face since the days of yore.
Two balls of flame rose from his eyes.
They burned like dazzling stars, recalling a time whereby Golden Crows still flocked the lands.
Xiao Man took a deep breath. Stories and legends that her grandfather had shared with her as a young girl flashed in her mind.
Once, there was a certain someone who had entered a lush forest deep in the mountains mistakenly. It was there that the unnamed individual chanced upon a cave burrowing into the mountain’s side.
In the cave lived a monster with long hair.
The monster welcomed its guest in a human tongue and asked, “Who are you?”
The traveller replied, “I’m from Country X…”
The monster was confused. “Country X?”
“Where is country X?”
The traveller squeaked in fear but answer the question that was asked.
Confused and not comprehending the traveller’s words, it asked, “have you heard of Tianshang?”
The traveller was shocked. “Tianshang was destroyed a long time ago!”
Startled by the traveller’s reply, the monster could not help but ask, “Has Tianshang fallen? Who destroyed it?”
The monster told the traveller that it had once been a general of Tianshang. As it had committed a crime in the past, it was punished and entrusted with the task of guarding the ancestral tomb. It had not known of Tianshang’s fall at all.
The traveller took the humanoid monster as his teacher and learned magic.
A few years, the traveller felt that he had learnt everything he could from his master and bade him farewell, ready to return home to his family.
When he trekked out of the forest and arrived at the foot of the mountain, he met a traveller who was passing by. From this traveller, he discovered that more than a thousand years had passed in the time he had spent under his master’s tutelage.
His family and country had ceased to exist.
Worry wormed its way into her thoughts as she recalled the memory of the story recounted by her grandfather and she wondered if she had been put into a similar situation.
Perhaps the person hidden in the fog was an ancient immortal who had been living in seclusion for an uncountable number of years.
Xiao Man pondered for a time but eventually concluded that such an event was not beyond the realm of possibility.
A particular legend had endured in the world Xiao Man lived in.
It was said that a long, long time ago, during the era when Zhulong created the world, there was another powerful existence that came into being at the same time as Zhulong had.
After Zhulong created the world, that existence helped Zhulong in the creation of both humans and demons; disappearing from the annals of myth, thereafter. Before that existence departed, it left behind its legacy in the form of a cultivational art.
No one knew the name of this existence for no name had been left behind by it.
A burst of excitement welled up from the depths of her soul.
If the individual in the fog was that person, perhaps he would be willing to save the world from the calamity that was to beset it!
After all, that existence had had a share in the creation of the world.
Before Xiao Man had a chance to speak, the other party’s voice broke the silence.
“Welcome…” Xiao Man did not know how the being had spoken to her. She simply heard the man’s voice droning in her ears. “Dearest patron… May I know what you need?”
He pushed the door open and invited her in.
Xiao Man swallowed the words she had prepared.
Above the mysterious man hung a sign inscribed with the words: Qiyuan bookstore. It was written in a peculiar but distinct script.
Though the words looked a little strange they were close enough to the words she used on a daily basis, hence allowing her to recognize them,
The words were simplified and adjusted such that they expressed a fewer number of strokes than what she was accustomed to.
“Is that a bookstore you are in?” Xiao Man asked nervously.
Ling Pingan looked at the little girl in front of him.
She was about seventeen or eighteen years old, and she had a small face that many would have described as being a classic beauty.
Ling Pingan wasn’t too sure about this.
That was because he could not tell.
Though he would be the first to admit that there was something special about the girl.
Her fair face had a healthy glow to it and her silken hair glimmered obsidian.
She had a sharp aquiline nose that, though petite, was exquisitely arranged on her face.
Her pair of bright phoenix eyes glittered cutely.
She had to be as cute as a panda!
Ling Pingan was not sure why, but when he looked at the little girl, he thought of the little panda who had been born in the zoo last year.
That was when they were the cutest and most likeable.
“Why do I look at people in the same way I do pandas?” Ling Pingan didn’t quite understand why he felt that way.
Could it be because he couldn’t recognise people by their faces?
Regardless, he had a good impression of this little girl.
After all who would reject a baby panda?
Ling Pingan wouldn’t!
His favourite land animal was the panda, while killer whales were his favourite sea-dwelling animals.
A creature as cute as a panda was too much for him.
Unfortunately, they were both endangered animals.
Otherwise, Ling Pingan would have tried to buy one and raise it as a pet.
Riding a panda to school had always been a childhood dream of his!
Therefore, when he heard the panda girl’s question, he laughed. “Yes, Miss, as you can see, this is a bookstore…”
Pausing for a moment to collect his thoughts, he explained, “This bookstore is a place selling knowledge and skills!”
He looked at the short sword in the girl’s hand.
It was an ancient short sword of a very distinct style.
He then sized up the clothes she was wearing.
It was the very picture of a costly traditional costume.
Traditional clothes woven with silk and satin and her hair curled at the temples.
This reflected the cute panda girl’s dressing preferences… She certainly had to be a fan of ancient culture and martial arts…
Ancient martial arts and costumes.
It wasn’t a rare hobby by any means.
Many youngsters embraced this fad with great relish.
Ling Pingan remembered a customer who was also a fan of ancient costumes that had dropped in last year. He had even used a few half-dollar coins from last week to exchange for the “Annals of the Qin and Han Dynasties.”
Thinking of that customer, Ling Pingan felt a little regretful.
That customer of his never returned.
Otherwise, a fat sheep like him was the perfect golden goose to fleece.
Recalling that customer in his mind’s eye, Ling Pingan looked at the little panda in front of him… No, little girl.
His face revealed an incomparably brilliant smile.
The poor had no money to spend on such lavish hobbies. They would not spend what little they had on ancient clothes or phoney martial arts.
Since ancient times, the poor were versed in literary arts and the wealthy in martial arts!
Having reached a suitably reasonable conclusion, Ling Pingan rubbed his hands together eagerly and a flattering smile bloomed on his face. Even his tone of voice became gentle. “Customer… Please come in and have a look…”
“I have everything here…”
“As long as there’s something you want…” he said seriously.
The bookstore had not opened for a few days and was in dire need of a plump cash cow to remain afloat.