Chapter 11: It’s embarrassing to wheedle, Sansheng
My nape burned once again after the Black and White Guards of Impermanence escorted me back to the underworld. It was then that I realized Moxi and I only had one lifetime left.
This time, I didn’t intend to wait for Moxi in the underworld anymore. I didn’t want him to give me another 100 or 1000-year seal the next time we met. At the same time, I couldn’t reincarnate too soon either, lest I give the people of Liubo a scare when I popped out in front of them just as Moxi had buried me.
I went to Yanwang’s palace to ask him when Moxi would be arriving so that I could time my departure.
Before I could utter a word, Yanwang circled me twice, clucking all the while: “Tsk tsk, our Sansheng is quite capable!” Because he was too short, he could only pat my thigh in delight. “You’ve helped His Lordship pass his trial twice. Moreover, you’ve seduced him so successfully each time. The day our underworld sees the light of day is just around the corner! Ahahaha!”
I slapped away his wandering hand that was slowly creeping to my behind and asked, “When will Moxi come down here? I can’t run into him this time.”
Yanwang jumped onto his desk and flipped through the chaos of books on it. “Ah here it is, here it is. This is it.” Yanwang squinted his eyes to read for a second and then continued: “In Siming Xingjun’s Book of Fate, it is written that Liubo’s strength will greatly decline after Hu’yi rebels against them. In less than two years, Zhonghua will be murdered and will pass away in his bedchamber.”
I was stunned. “Who’s going to kill him?!”
“His junior, Qingling.”
“That priestess?” I rubbed my chin. “Her watery eyes are filled with the tragic love-hate of a spurned admirer. How can she kill Moxi?”
“Perhaps love bears hatred, and she destroys what she cannot have. Look, it says right here that after his master’s soul is freed by Hu’yi, Zhonghua drinks himself to distraction. Qingling confesses to him but gets rejected. She then resents him for it, kills him, and then commits suicide.”
I asked him in seriousness after pondering for a moment: “Yanwang, don’t tell me you were the one who came up with this soapy rubbish?”
Yanwang said in equal seriousness: “Lord Moxi’s fates are all personally written by Siming Xingjun, you know.”
I was made even more curious as to how sick that Siming Xingjun’s head was.
I went back to be a stone by the Wangchuan River. These two years quickly flew by. When Jia and Yi left to the human world to escort spirits, I asked them to help me look out for news on Moxi. When they came back, they told me that it was true Liubo’s strength had greatly declined, it was true that Venerable Zhonghua drank every day, and it was also true the priestess named Qingling had turned love into hate. The Book of Fate, however, had failed to include the small detail that he was spending his drunken days in the snowy plum forest and that he had driven Liubo’s heirloom sword into a nameless grave like a piece of scrap metal.
Sealing his sword away and retreating to seclusion.
After listening to everything, I looked heavenward and burst out laughing in front of Jia’s and Yi’s aghast eyes.
“Sansheng, shouldn’t you be pained for him right now?” Jia asked.
I patted Jia’s shoulder. “No matter how he reincarnated, no matter what tribulation it was, Moxi still got seduced by me. I’m so proud of myself. It’s enough for Moxi to be pained alone. All I need to do is put on a grin and wait to seduce him in his next life.”
Yi turned to the side and clasped his palms together in prayers. “Amitabha. Good luck, Your Lordship.”
In a chipper mood, I went back to the stone and sat around for a few days. When I reckoned time was nearing, I dusted my butt and coolly went off to the human world.
After arriving in the human world, there were several times when I couldn’t help myself from wanting to go see him at Liubo, but I was able to barely restrain myself in the end. Then one day, I went to sit on the second floor of a restaurant to read. In the story, the gentleman was reaching his hand under the lady’s dress, at which time the lady delicately cried: “Don’t,” and soon stripped off her own clothes, saying: “Let’s do this one step at a time.” I raised an eyebrow at how bold this lady was. At this time, I suddenly heard a man exclaiming downstairs: “That can’t be true!”
I gazed down to see an old priest clutching a letter while trembling as though he was suffering epilepsy.
He broke out crying: “His Most Reverend has passed away! Liubo is dead! Our faith is dead!” His mournful cries gave people shivers. If I hadn’t known Zhonghua, I would have thought that they were involved in some unforgettable affair.
Zhonghua had finally left. I was determined to watch him grow up this time. I wasn’t going to let him have an unhappy childhood, nor would I let him have a chance to fall for other girls. I smiled wickedly. I was going to wrap him around my finger for sure this time.
At present, his trial was ‘seeking what he shall not have’.
Seeking what he shall not have?
With me here, what couldn’t Moxi possibly seek?
That night, my acquaintances came to find me. Black Impermanence shuddered the moment he saw me. “Sansheng, I’m afraid you’ll need to be more careful the next time you return to the underworld.”
Black Impermanence shuddered again. “You didn’t see the anger on the God of War’s face. Knowing you had gone one step ahead, he looked as though Yanwang had stolen his woman away from him. Poor Yanwang is still wetting his pants right now.”
“Was he very angry?”
Black Impermanence shuddered nonstop. I moved my gaze to White Impermanence who said to me: “Remember the Fengzhen granite tiles in Yangwang’s palace? Crushed to powder in three steps.”
I stopped in my tracks. I had forgotten that despite being much stronger than he was in his three lifetimes, I still had to return to the underworld and he’d also finish his trial in the end. By then, he’d be the God of War and I’d be the little Sansheng Stone again.
What’s more, that Fengzhen granite was a hundred times harder than me…
I grabbed Black Impermanence’s arm, eyes streaming in tears. “Brother Bai, when that day comes, you’ll have to save me!”
White Impermanence stared at me for a moment, deadpanned and said, “It’s embarrassing to wheedle, Sansheng.”
I casually dabbed my tears. “It worked on Moxi.”
Black Impermanence tugged White Impermanence away and said, “I can’t talk with you anymore. We have to go first. It’s best if you fend for yourself. That’s right, he is reborn into a farmer’s home on the foothill of Yangshan Mountain this time. If you wish to seduce him, then you had better leave soon.”
Did I need any reminders? That very night, I rushed to the foothill of Yangshan Mountain, perked my ears up and circled the mountain village round ‘n round, waiting for the cries of a newborn.
Aside from a few households that stayed lit through the night, however, I didn’t hear any sound that would indicate child birth from a home despite having waited till the stars nearly disappeared beyond the horizon.
I stood dejectedly on a farmer’s roof. The Black and White Guards of Impermanence had for certain escorted Moxi into reincarnation. The information they gave me couldn’t have been wrong. Where did Moxi reborn to, anyway?
At this moment, I suddenly noticed a man slipping out from a cottage with something in his arms.
The seal on my wrist burned. Worried, I quickly followed him. The man walked to the river outside the village and stopped there. He looked around for a while, then suddenly threw the bundle in his arms into the water. The swaddling cloth opened – a baby’s face suddenly caught my eyes.
I dashed out in outrage, stretched my hand and slapped the man senseless. Then I glided on the water surface and fished Moxi out.
After I found my footing, I took a look at the little livid face. His mouth opened and closed but did not emit any sound.
Moxi… was mute in this life!
Muteness was believed to be ominous.
That was why his father threw him away when he didn’t produce any sound after he was born. That was why… even if there were Sansheng, Moxi was destined to never find what he sought.
Given that Moxi had a disability in this lifetime, I first thought that it was best if we lived in isolation. This way, we could save ourselves from the trouble of earthly gossips. But then I thought that he should have a say in how to live own life. He still needed to cross his trial. If I blindly protected him, I’d cause him to fail his trial… Heavenly law would not spare me.
I shook Moxi’s tiny fists. While he still hadn’t completely opened his palm, I stuffed a coin into his hand and said, “Moxi, if it’s face, we’re going to lie low in the city. If it’s tail, we’re going to lie low in the countryside. Give it a toss.”
He flipped his hand and slapped the coin in my face. I scowled, not knowing whether I should cry or not.
I sincerely felt that Old Meng’s soup hadn’t taken its effect. Otherwise, how could he have had the heart to raise his hand at such a beautiful face like mine?
I glanced at the coin on the ground, saying, “You say so yourself. Lying low in the city it is.” Moxi sucked on his fist, licking it without a care for anything else. Since he was busy drooling all over his chin, he had no extra time to spare me any of his attention.
The dashing God of War from Heaven had become so tragically ugly after reincarnation…
If I were to sketch his appearance right now and let him take a look at it later, I bet his face was going to be priceless.
Since Moxi had chosen to lie low in the city, I picked a big city to make sure I gave him exactly what he wanted. After much deliberation, I concluded that the capital was the most suitable. That very night, we rode on clouds and arrived in the capital the next day.
Considering that I was going to raise Moxi until he reached his adulthood, I couldn’t let myself be the reason for him to spend his childhood moving around from place to place with no stable home. I gathered the forces of darkness inside of me to put away and decided that from here on out, I wouldn’t be using magic again unless it was absolutely necessary.
I rented a cottage and furnished it. Afterwards, I watched Moxi as I very seriously thought about the lives we’d live without magic.
I poked his nose: “And what will you do for a living?”
Perhaps he felt that my tone was too disdainful of him, for he expressed dissatisfaction by drooling onto my hand. I quietly turned my hand and wiped the saliva back onto his hair.
He opened his mouth soundlessly, pushing me away with his tiny fists.
“Now is the only time I can pick on you. When you’re back to being the God of War, I’ve no idea how you’re going to get back at me. I can’t afford to suffer a lost.” Like that, I wiped my saliva-stained hand onto him even harder.
I was still thinking about our livelihoods into the next day.
It wasn’t difficult to make money from magic. The difficulty lay in how to divert the neighbors’ suspicion from my making money by just sitting around at home all day. I sat in the doorway cradling Moxi. In this exact moment of headache, a drunkard wobbily passed by our house. I stared at his back for a second before turning to ask Moxi: “How do you feel about booze?”
He was sucking on his finger, fast asleep.
Seven years later. There stood a tavern on the east side of the capital.
I knocked on the counter. Behind it, the shopkeeper who was settling accounts raised his eyes to look up. When he saw me, he smiled and said, “Miss Sansheng, why are you visiting the tavern today?”
“I couldn’t find Moxi at home. I thought he might have come here so I came to take a look.” I looked around but didn’t find Moxi. “How is business lately?” I asked.
“Business is very good recently. Would you like to check the books?” Accountant Liu was an honest, good-natured elderly man. I had always trusted him. Besides, this pub was just a front. When I really needed money, all I had to do was flip my hand and make a turn. I waved my hand telling him there was no need.
Upstairs, a small figure flashed by the corner of my eyes. I looked up to find that it was Moxi. I smiled and waved to him: “Moxi! Time to go home for dinner.”
When he saw me, Moxi beamed and made a dash down the stairs.
Some of the guests who came to drink couldn’t help themselves from clucking curiously. Accountant Liu couldn’t help shaking his head. “You’re still young, Miss. People are bound to misunderstand if you keep sticking by the young master’s side this way. Over time, I fear you will ruin your future prospects!”
I told everyone that Moxi was a child I had adopted – a little brother I was raising. Toward this ‘noble’ action of mine, those who knew me always responded with a rueful look.
Moxi ran to my side. Hearing this, he looked quizzically at Accountant Liu and then turned around to look at me. I crouched down to wipe the dirt from Moxi’s face before replying with little concern: “Then let them misunderstand. It’s not as if I want anything from them. For me, all I need in this life is Moxi.”
Like a little grown-up, Moxi smiled and brushed aside the messy bangs on my forehead for me.
Accountant Liu sighed again. “Miss Sansheng, you’re still too young after all.”
I held Moxi’s hand as I said to Accountant Liu in all seriousness: “I’m not young. My skin just doesn’t wrinkle and my hair doesn’t gray, that’s all.” It was difficult enough for a rock to grow hair, let alone wrinkles and creases.
Accountant Liu continued to think I was just joking. Not wanting to explain anymore, I took a hold of Moxi’s hand and slowly made our way home.
While we were having dinner, Moxi suddenly and very anxiously gestured something to me. I watched for a time before I realized that he was asking me if I would be leaving with someone else.
Cool as a cucumber, I gave him a drumstick. “Do you want me to leave with someone else?”
Holding his bowl, he shook his head somewhat dolefully. After half a day of gestures, he essentially told me that Xiao Ding’s older sister next-door had gone away with someone else and wouldn’t be coming back to see Xiao Ding anymore. He was afraid I’d go away just like Xiao Ding’s sister.
I had never hid his origins from him, and in the past, he had never felt there to be anything amiss. But since the year before last, after starting school, he was beginning to realize that there was something different between himself and the others. Perhaps people had said something to make him afraid that even I did not want him anymore. He did everything by himself and became so well-behaved that he wasn’t nearly as troublesome as other children.
His mindfulness broke my heart.
Had I known this, I would’ve taken him to the mountains where he could live more freely and I could be a more comfortable guardian.
I patted his head, warmly saying: “Sansheng won’t go anywhere. Wherever you are is wherever I’ll be.” I came here to seduce him, so how could I ever have the heart to leave?
His eyes gleamed upon hearing this. He let me play with his soft hair as he finished his plate.
In the evening, I had just sent Moxi to bed when I heard a small sound in the yard.
I furrowed my brow in thought, wondering which idiot had picked my yard to steal from. I was slightly startled when I opened the door. It wasn’t a burglar but a large man in night-traveling clothes. At this moment, he was clutching the wound at his waist and leaning against the wall as he hid himself in the shadows of the night.
He had no idea that I could still see everything even if I were blindfolded.
Pursing my lips, I pretended not to have seen him and went to the far corner of the yard to bring a bucket of water back to the house.
The capital was placed under curfew that night. Outside, the entire sky was lit by bright torches. I hugged Moxi and fell to a peaceful sleep. But before I fell asleep, I faintly wondered if perhaps Moxi’s tribulation had begun or if this was merely a coincidence. Whatever it may be, it was going to be a pain in the neck. If I still found him here tomorrow…
I’d have to knock him out and throw him into the street.