Chapter 3: Foster Father Fang Hua
Were all Immortals so removed from the attractions of the mundane world?
I carried this question inside me for three days until I wanted to pound my head with my own fists. It was too oppressing.
Recently, the beautiful person always watched me eat before leaving. He would return to the residence after a long while, pleased, and then spend the entire afternoon reclining on a bamboo mat to doze.
Fang Hua never arranged any work for me to do, and spoke to me very little. He seemed to have thoroughly forgotten a person like me existed. Even if I tried to increase my popularity by wandering back and forth before him, he never looked directly at me. Despite this ill-treatment, he always arranged for three meals a day and waited upon me. It was as if I wasn’t led here to be ordered about, but to enjoy a happy life filled with ease…
Seriously, what a weird guy…
As usual, he cooked some dishes and placed them on the table. Without even touching the chopsticks, he immediately ignored me to grab his robes and head out the door. I quickly swallowed a few mouthfuls of rice, used my sleeve to wipe my mouth and bent forwards, holding my breath as I tailed along behind him.
The house he built here was pretty out of the way. There weren’t even any neighbors around, and a field of medicinal herbs grew behind the building. The shade of the green trees was dense beneath the summer sun and beneath it, a pond of water rippled with jade-green waves that gave people an immeasurably cool feeling.
A white-robed silhouette disappeared into the ancient forest.
Weird, why did he slip into a place where the birds wouldn’t even go to poop? Enduring the rays of the scorching sun, I broke into a run until I found and leaned against the back of an ancient tree. My neck craned around to look quietly.
I saw the beautiful person rise to the sky with a leap, his image reflected in the pond below. The white robes were airy as his foot stepped lightly on the surface of the pool without stirring a ripple. Then, slender hands stretched forward to grab something I couldn’t see as his body slowly floated to the ground, as lovely as an immortal’s. Only now, there was the stem of a lotus flower in his hand.
Ah…I didn’t know he could set the mood so well. Using qinggong on a hot day to approach the water’s surface and gather lotuses was pretty yuppie. At that time I really wanted to express the surging within my heart.
The beautiful person was like a painting, with long hair swirling in the air and flowers falling in riotous profusion. He flawlessly tore off the petals from the lotus flower…please take note, he tore them…and then stood up, placing them in his mouth as he began to chew.
His expression then was as if he was trying a delicate, delicious flavor of the mortal world.
I clung to the old tree, eyes wide as I watched this so-called immortal fly upwards. In the span of a second, he had gathered various flowers into his hands, settled into the tree, and stuffed them all into his mouth.
After seeing him move like floating clouds and flowing water, I became as dumbstruck as a wooden chicken. His table manners were refined, his lips slightly part in a way that radiated appeal. Even if he had been eating the Five Grains or similar, he’d still look dazzling. Whoever heard of someone who ignored normal food in favor of such non-human things…
Wait, a proverb said: many esteemed men of noble character do not follow normal conventions. His high martial prowess definitely had something to do with his diet. Perhaps those flowers could improve the potency of one’s inner energy?
Yes, that must be it.
My face filled with greed as I ran below his tree to squat on my heels, head raised. The only thing I was missing was a wagging tail. He lowered his head to look at me without a word, but the message in his eyes was obvious: why did you come here?
I feigned ignorance. He tilted his head to one side, still chewing. I stared fixedly, eagerly looking at him with adoring eyes.
“…you want to eat some?” He finally opened his mouth.
My eyes shone and I couldn’t nod fast enough. He really was generous, because my palms had just reached out before he gave me an entire bunch of flowers. I bent my head to sniff them.
But I couldn’t smell anything particularly extraordinary.
Earlier in the year when there was no food, I was even willing to eat tree bark. Yet I’d never ate flowers, because I couldn’t tell between poisonous and non-poisonous types. Not to mention it felt unpleasant on the tongue.
Perhaps it was different.
I copied Fang Hua, savoring the flavors of the pieces in my mouth before chewing fiercely. In a flash, I was struck speechless by the incomparably bitter taste. It was extremely distasteful, both harsh and astringent. The only other thing was a fragrant aroma that spread across my tongue.
These were just regular flowers, wasn’t he just making himself suffer? Phooey…the entire root of my tongue turned numb…
His eyes curved.
“Does it taste good?”
“Your mom! From the start, this wasn’t fit for human consumption!”
“Correct.” He gently propped up his head with a hand, half-reclining on the tree, the position giving off a feeling of high command as he looked at me. His almond-shaped phoenix eyes, accented by a mark shaped like a single tear, had a certain indescribable charm. “This isn’t fit for human consumption.”
Then, since he ate it…
Wasn’t he mocking himself? Yet he seemed to be expounding on a truth.
In any case, it was hard to say. He looked respectable, and there were no emotions on his face. After looking at me for a while, he suddenly jumped off the tree, scattering crabapple cores all over the ground.
His expression was cold.
Esteemed senior, you’re not mad, right? My guaranteed financial support for the rest of my life, my white rice , will I watch as they all leave me like a bird…? If I had offended him, I’d probably need to return to that place where life was worse than death, and suffer the same days of unbearable hunger.
They say being too gutsy only got you bad ends.
Pulling up my robes, I anxiously hurried after him and caught him in an embrace from the back. He was very soft and warm, as well as fragrant… This feeling was like the one I remembered every night, calling to mind many different shades of the past. I cried out a word then that would make us tremble with laughter in the future.
His body shook, as if frightened by me, and he tried to pry me loose.
I stood dumbfounded, knowing that I was in trouble.
Aye, how shameful. I hugged him tighter.
He seemed flustered, at a loss but unable to cast me aside. Afterward, he could only pat me gently to calm my sobbing before pulling me away. He knelt before me with a helpless gaze in his eyes, both indignant and distressed. “Listen, you can treat this as a home, but I’m not your mother…and also…” His low voice seemed to be mixed with a great effort to conceal something. “And also I’m a male, different from you humans. I am a Beast and you can call me Fang Hua, but don’t call me mother.”
I blinked a few times, raising my head to look at him, and saw that the space between his eyebrows was weighed down with sorrow.
Sadly, I understood too little back then.
Many years later I came to regret, because in that moment I called him:
-o- [Most up to date translations for this series can be found on volaretranslations.] qinggong (????qinggong, lightness technique, in which a cultivator is able to walk on air and water effortlessly. Five Grains (??) ?wugu, in ancient times, the five fundamental cereals that included: rice, wheat, beans and two kinds of millet.  Beast (???shou, animal, beast. yifi (??) ?foster father, adoptive father