Status Quo. Merely a Pair of Deities.
“Deliver a letter?” Mountain Monster leisurely crunched melon seeds and, without looking over, asserted, “I refuse. I’m a busy lady.”
Long Zaitian dodged an incoming melon seed peel then looked around: “Busy? You don’t even have a job. What are you busy with?”
“What do you mean I don’t have a job? Oi, woman, your voice is different. You drank last night, didn’t you? Oi, tumbler, I saw you sneak into the dancer’s room last night. Bloody useless man’s legs are still shaking. Go chop down a hundred and fifty kilograms of firewood tomorrow to build up your work capacity. Hey, erhu player, get your act together, or I’ll have the three-stringed player replace you while you go do work on a cotton spinning wheel.”
Even though Ming Feizhen left Mountain Monster at Dragon Phoenix Inn and a sentient lock to prevent her from running off, she didn’t behave the way a prisoner would. It isn’t uncommon for new employees to be working hard and behaving relatively more docile to show they were approachable in a team, yet she refused to budge an inch for anyone, while few of them could beat her in a fist fight. In no time at all, she became the boss of the female dancers at the inn, watching the performances from the first floor while enjoying a plate of melons. Though it sounded as though she was only spectating, she proved herself to have a knack for directing the stage over the last two days.
Is she messing with me? She’s acting as if she’s Her Majesty. What is up with Ming Feizhen’s family? He’s a walking collection of problems, and his distant niece is also a stuck-up, spoilt brat!
“Since Ming Feizhen brought you here, you have to listen to us. You can’t just eat without working.”
“Pfft, that blockhead was the one who brought me here, not you. You think you can order me around just because you’re also a blockhead?”
I can’t believe the stuff that comes out of this girl’s mouth. Man, she’s more foul mouthed and ruder than barbarians in the pugilistic world.
Since he had to resist getting into a verbal tirade with Mountain Monster, lest he ruin the inn’s reputation, he had to keep it cultured: “This involves Ming Feizhen.”
“We need him to personally go invite an important guest. Since you’re his niece, you’re the best candidate to go on his behalf.”
“Invite a guest? Isn’t that for errand runners? I thought he’s your brains. You clean with your head?”
Long Zaitian would likely be told to bugger off before he even made it to Wutong Jin Yuxuan’s doors as he was a man. Why should he have to deal with their attitude and run an errand due to a problem Ming Feizhen started?
“He has to deliver a letter today. You just need to tell them that he invited them to come over on the thirteenth of this month.”
Mountain Monster shoved a handful of melon seeds in her mouth without skinning them first and then started deliberating while loudly crunching on them.
I can’t just stay here forever. Evil Spirits have to be searching for me. There’s nothing I can do here. If I step outside, I might be able to regroup with them. That jerk set it up so that I can’t run off on my own accord and to get along with the people here. If I’m leaving on their orders, maybe it doesn’t trigger the attack.
“Wait up.” Mountain Monster ran down the stairs whilst repeating to herself that she was only running an errand. To her delight, Ming Feizhen’s technique didn’t impact her whatsoever. This was an inherent flaw in techniques intended to manipulate one’s conscious. She ran back to Long Zaitian and thumped her chest, declaring, “All right, I’ll help family out… Leave it to me.”
“It’s in your hands. The letter is in the study. It’s the sealed letter with Ming Feizhen’s name on it.”
“Got it, got it.” Mountain Monster fetched a letter from the study with Ming Feizhen’s name on it, only to spot another thick letter. “Bloody Longtard didn’t even clarify which one it is. I can’t be stuffed consulting him… Since they’re supposed to be an important guest, they wouldn’t write such a short letter. This is probably just his salary. It’s got to be the thicker one.”
Thus, Mountain Monster made off with “Yuansheng’s thirtieth year, Nanjing resident Ming Feizhen’s profile”.
Seeing Mountain Monster leave, Long Zaitian sneered: “That’s what you ought to have done in the first place. You want to compete with this great dragon? You two need to wise up.”
A group of disciples from Wutong Jin Yuxuan earnestly worked on repairing the roof the Bodhi put a hole in and cleaned up the mess left behind. Abbess Huofeng dropped down into a stool once she was done giving out instructions and peered through the hole that was gradually shrinking.
“How is she ever going to marry if they two of them are always so impulsive? I didn’t even get the chance to tell them not to chase him.”
Ironically, Lian Qingluan and Yu Feiyuan were the least fiery disciples. If anything, their courage and sense of initiative to spearhead things should be praised, and concern should be offered.
Even though Huofeng was the only nun among the three senior disciples, it didn’t put up a wall between them. Yu Feiyuan’s disciplined character was close enough to mimic a monk’s lifestyle exactly. Lian Qingluan always loved following in Yu Feiyuan’s footsteps, therefore suppressing her emotions, though part of it was just her inherent nature. As such, Huofeng was arguably the most stereotypical maiden among the three.
Discussing their romances was a pre-bed ritual between the disciples of Wutong Jin Yuxian despite there being barely anything to discuss. Huofeng was a nun. Lian Qingluan was still on the young side for marriage. Hence, Yu Feiyuan was the only candidate left. In this era, parents would be fretting if their daughter still wasn’t married at twenty-five years of age. According to rumours in the sect, Huofeng had the most knowledge on Yu Feiyuan’s romance story.
Huofeng told her fellow disciples that Yu Feiyuan was engaged to a condemnable rascal since she was five. Unlike the romanticised stories out there, they weren’t the sort of couple engaged prior to their births and married at first sight. If they were, Huofeng wouldn’t boil every time she brought up the topic. She heard that the dastard took advantage of Yu Feiyuan’s return to Emei to hit on the ten year old and cohabited with her senior for a year. She’d rage, “She was just ten years old, yet he had the audacity to after her. He deserves to be eunuch-ed!”
Huofeng didn’t care Ming Feizhen was only eighteen at the time. If Ming Feizhen wasn’t unbeatable, Huofeng, she would’ve used her version of Yu Feiyuan’s version of “Put them on their back first and then talk” – “Castrate them and then talk”. That said, that was only part of the story. After all, Huofeng never backed down just because someone was strong. The reason that Lian Qingluan, Huofeng and even Zi Wutong didn’t push him was because Yu Feiyuan. Just mention “Ming Feizhen”, and Yu Feiyuan becomes restless. For that same reason and his “Put them on their back first and then talk” lesson, Huofeng understood just how much her senior liked him. Whenever Yu Feiyuan practiced the swordplay Ming Feizhen taught her, which was annoyingly regularly, she would look as though she was refreshed.
“I can’t even bring it up…”
Huofeng exhaled a long breath and then took out a thick stack of letters, gradually pulling her browns in. The stack of letters was a collection of letters from various sects and eminent families asking for Interim Patriarch Yu’s hand in marriage. The collection numbering over a thousand was am exhaustive collection of the candidate’s background, martial prowess, personality, accomplishments and anything else brag worthy.
Since Wutong Jin Yuxuan shared origins with Emei and had roots in Buddhism, it came as no surprise that many of their disciples were nuns. Their disciples who didn’t convert to nuns didn’t adhere to taboos, such as following a vegetarian diet or avoiding liquor. Accordingly, the disciples who weren’t nuns were eager to enjoy themselves on Flying Swallow Island, and Yu Feiyuan permitted them to enjoy life until Huofeng alone opposed the decision vehemently, fearing the men would find a way to trick Yu Feiyuan into their beds. Wutong Jin Yuxuan was the beauty pageant winner if they were to line up everyone for a beauty pageant.
As per Luo Sword Manor’s arrangements, the majority of men were on Flying Fish Island, while the majority of women lodged on Flying Swallow Island. As Flying Swallow, Flying Fish and Flying Bear islands were right next to each other, it was simple for those lodging on one island to travel to another. Huofeng worried that Refining Divine Convention would become Yu Feiyuan Courtship Convention. Yu Feiyuan had already gained enough fame that she was in “danger”.
As a nun, Huofeng adamantly refused to read Pink Reflection. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop others from others informing her that Pink Reflection ranked Yu Feiyuan as the nation’s fifth most beautiful, while Heavenly Fragrance Rankings ranked her in third place. Meanwhile, Leglicious Rankings ranked her in first place. If only Huofeng’s concerns ended there.
Huofeng’s main concern was where Yu Feiyuan’s damn, jerk of a fiancée was when the latter was already twenty-five years old. From the disciples to Matriarch Zi, everyone shared the same concern. Before Matriarch Zi secluded herself to train, she tasked Huofeng with helping Yu Feiyuan find a dashing, prodigious and accomplished man, hence the stack of letters.
After arriving at Canhu Town, Huofeng “accidentally leaked” the stack of letters to Yu Feiyuan, hoping the latter would take a liking to one of them, only for Yu Feiyuan to raise an eyebrow. Huofeng was delighted to see Yu Feiyuan make off with the letter introducing Chang’an City’s Young Master He, a flower boy with the skills to complement his looks. When Yu Feiyuan came back, she wore a wry mug that puzzled Huofeng. Yu Feiyuan, smirking, demonstrated He Clan’s empty-handed style and swordplay and then designed counters for every technique they had. She praised Huofeng for diligently studying other styles to expand her horizons, telling her junior to keep it up. That night, Huofeng, one of the idols at Wutong Jin Yuxuan, had to wear a stiff smile all night long.
“Shifu… You are pushing me to commit suicide… Why am I the one stuck between two people with excruciatingly-tough-to-deal-with temperaments? Someone take over for me!”
“Senior Sister, someone has a letter to deliver,” a disciple knocked on the door to relay.
Although people often address Huofeng as “Abbess” out of courtesy, she was only twenty-two years old and, thanks to her internal strength, resembled a girl eighteen year old at max. As such, her fellow disciples didn’t refer to her as “Abbess”.
“What kind of letter?”
“It appears to be a confidential letter with drawings inside. Senior Sister, why are there letters all over the ground?”
“Great… Is that the eight hundredth one?” Huofeng wagged her hand and commanded, “Bin it. There’s no use for it.”
“True that. You already have so many here. I can see why you are so angry. This letter is rather special, though. The material for it is high quality. It’s just that the author’s name is weird. His name is Ming Feizhen.”
Huofeng’s eyes flew open: “Wait! Who’s letter?! Ming Feizhen?! Bring it here!”
Huofeng thereupon speed walked out to see Mountain Monster: “Missy, are you the one who delivered the letter? Are you here on Ming Feizhen’s behalf, Mount Daluo’s Ming Feizhen?”
Missy?! How freaking dare you call me “Missy”?! I just knew all the orthodox sects’ are pieces of crap.
“Yes, him. It’s not like I’d earn a penny for impersonating him.”
Too occupied to care for Mountain Monster’s brusque tone, Huofeng pointed to the letter, stuttering, “Wh-what is this about?”
“It says it nice and clear on there.”
This is material only the imperial family would use. I’m not convinced he can be so sincere.
“I’m just the messenger. I’m leaving now.” Mountain Monster couldn’t care what the contents inside were, so she never checked. Walking off, she added, “Ming Feizhen will be waiting for your senior sister at Dragon Phoenix Inn on the thirteenth of this month.”
Huofeng, eyes on the letter, narrowed her eyes and then opened them wide. Mist obstructed her vision as she cried out, “At long last! You’ve finally decided to take responsibility, Ming Feizhen!” Huofeng then spun around and instructed, “Send a letter to Hangzhou’s Thousand Hand Divine Weaver and Sanjiang’s Famed Weaver to get to work on a wedding gown!”