A Difficult Pilgrimage. Drifting in Thoughts.
Ribbons of golden sunlight spilt onto the forest. My breaths were invisible, and the sun gave more heat than it leeched from me. Everything was perfect if there weren’t two hundred burdens behind me. For crying out loud, the two hundred followers in white had to march at a turtle’s pace to ensure they strode in unison! They couldn’t speak Mandarin, not they would’ve even dared to speak to me!
“Why do you have to bring along so many people?!” Two hours ago, I shooed off all irrelevant personnel to speak with Ol’ Ge in private.
“According to our traditions, there needs to be, at the very least, fifty followers opening the path for Great Spirit Shaman. As you are Shaman Monarch, you need a bigger entourage.”
“How does that justify adding another one hundred and fifty wooden dummies?! I don’t understand half of what they say. Why would I need them following me?!”
If I didn’t see their grateful faces, I would’ve thought they were cursing me together when they recited, “Welcome back, Your Majesty.”
“You make it sound like you understand what villagers and indigenous people say. Without the followers, who will believe His Majesty Shaman Monarch has arrived? Shaman Monarch has not been associated with Xiacang Anxi’s administration for centuries, but people have never stopped worshipping him. Without the glamour, who would know you are Shaman Monarch? They’d think some nutcase from the Central Plain came.”
No matter how sound Gegewu’s assertion was, I didn’t believe for a second that they weren’t his agents or assassins, not when I could see the fangs behind his smile.
“Also, White Cleric and Wood Guardian will accompany you.”
“Their main job is t-”
“Whatever. You can save yourself the trouble of fabricating stories. Your mouth might not feel tired, but my ears have been working overtime. Let me summarise it for you: their task is to shadow and irk me.”
“You’re really paranoid, aren’t you? You’re not wrong about irking you, though. You came out of nowhere and blackmailed me into letting you rule over me. Don’t you think I should pay you back? Even if I have to put up with that, I’m not in such a pathetic state that I have to wait on you or beg you. If you can bear it, bear it. Otherwise, bug off. I’d rather not have to see you.”
… Son of a…
“That aside, you don’t know the followers or language. Without them leading, you will face challenges, won’t you? That’s why this old one wants them to accompany you.”
Hats off to him for passing me a problem, yet leaving me with no retort. I was still going to try floating a dispute, nevertheless. “By the way, if I go to the foot of the mountain and tell people Shaman Monarch has returned, won’t I scare the living daylights out of the hunters, fishers and villagers? I mean, we are talking about a legend who vanished for a century.”
“Of course not. Shaman Monarch has always existed; he was merely absent from Shaman Monarch Palace. His Majesty does not have a fixed appearance. In the centuries that followed the first Shaman Monarch’s passing, every Shaman Monarch’s appearance has varied. For the record, none of them have been related by blood. Sometimes, they’re an elder. Sometimes, they’re a young girl. Sometimes, they’re a child.” Ol’ Ge then proudly stated, “Of course, we used our divination to find them.”
You’re the ones enthroning them, aren’t you?! You’re the one calling the shots, no?! How does anyone know if they’re blood relatives, then? For all we know, they could’ve all been from the same family.
I couldn’t decipher what the emotion Ol’ Ge wore on was, but mayhap it was sincerity.
“Shaman Monarchs are born with their abilities; nobody can take their abilities from them or learn them. No matter how long the night is, the sun is still the same sun when it inevitably rises again as always. Shaman Monarch’s disappearance is tantamount to the night. Once he returns, he will shine once again. Long-story short, nobody can pose as him.”
“Ability? Are you saying the real Shaman Monarch can summon winds and rain, transform beans into soldiers, braise pork shoulders with fire and freeze frogs?” I stroked my chin, pretending to be invested in the topic.
To my surprise, Ol’ Ge reacted as though he said too much and then put his figurative guard up. “Why are you inquiring about it? Regardless of what you do, you’re a fake Shaman Monarch for three months who became one via unscrupulous means. Once you’re done, you can bugger off. I’ll fight you to the death if you dare to stay for an extra day!”
Damn, I underestimated you. Never expected my perfect wordsmith skills to fail me.
“Can you lot hurry up?!” I shouted at the people behind me subsequent to exiting my memories.
“Shut up. You’re ruining your reputation as Shaman Monarch.” As chief officer, Wood Guardian was allowed to follow right behind me, along with Iron Guardian and some White Cleric buffoon, to supervise me. “Also, they don’t even understand what you just said.”
Oh, and your attitude is constructive for my reputation?
I called, “Yang, uh, Rou.”
The young girl I interviewed yesterday – I couldn’t pronounce her name – also followed behind me. Cheeks puffed, she corrected, “It’s Banan Mucuo Yangyangman or Yangyang for short!”
Yangyang wasn’t afraid of me since she conversed with me last night. Look, just remember she spoke two languages, Mandarin included, which was I kept her close by to be my interpreter.
Even though my voice echoed for kilometres, Hong Jiu didn’t show up. I had to trace the gaze of people around to work out where he was. My bloody assistant was right in the back of the line, but that wasn’t all. He was still sleeping in his pyjamas – even still had his freaking pillow – and he had four followers carrying him. Of course I kicked him over.
Waking up as if he was in danger, Hong Jiu shouted, “Miss, Mistress, please donate some spare change!”
Mother! Flipper! I want my flipping sleep!
Yang Rou – Ming Feizhen literally called her “lamb”, as in a slab of lamb for consumption.