Chapter 7: Fang Hua Beast
After returning from the bamboo forest, my spirits were very low, as if I had ruined some secret. But I couldn’t figure out where I was in the wrong. This sensation was like a fish bone lodged in my throat, giving my entire body an unspeakably uncomfortable feeling. The house was empty and deserted.
Fang Hua hadn’t returned yet…
With a small exhale, I went to the kitchen and soaked some cold rice in water. My head remained bowed as I rolled up my sleeves, docilely preparing my dinner. After eating my fill, my stomach felt even worse and my heart was completely empty. All I wanted was to find some work to do.
We’d long split enough logs for the firewood.
We’d collected enough water, too.
I could only prop up my chin with my hand and space out in the courtyard.
Fang Hua always had a magnanimous expression when he reproached me, saying I slept too much, or that I was too lazy, or that other people had filial sons while he was stuck raising a self-professed elder.
Actually, even if I got out of bed before dawn to roll up my sleeves and get to work, I’d discover the kitchen fire was already lit, the clean clothes hung up to dry and everything else finished within the house. I knew he wanted to spare me from doing such heavy work. Yifu was a good person, even if he always thought one way and acted another. I wanted to stay with him for the rest of my life.
The sky gradually grew darker.
I tilted my head towards the door, but Fang Hua still wasn’t back.
Some stems of medicinal plants had already ripened, and many flowers had bloomed, but they didn’t smell as fragrant as they usually did. It looked like things here were much lonelier with one less person.
I dragged over a broom and ran towards the study. I kicked open the door and–
This was what they called a mess. Multiple books were missing from the racks, some fallen to the floor or across the desk, and a big chunk of space was taken up by papers…
Ah, a rare event.
I couldn’t even tell that yifu could be such a idle and carefree person. Was he trying to compose a poem or paint a picture here? Even though the papers were held in place by an inkstone, the wind outside the window blew against its surfaces, lifting up a few sheets and make them tremble as they rustled.
A brush laid quietly on one side, the ink on its tip half-drying.
I went to take a closer look and saw a completed painting. There were mountains and water, and a distinguished male youth in the middle of playing the qin. A teardrop-shaped mole beneath his eye caught my attention. His red robes made an extremely tasteful scene.
Between the land of cloudy mountains and rivers, a moon hung high in the skies. One could just make out the outline of a figure on the opposite shore of the river. However, there was only a faint sketch of that person’s face, and the easy flowing brush stopped here, unable to continue.
I hesitated for a moment, but was too afraid to touch it. Instead, I collected the scattered books in my arms and gave them a glance, preparing to arrange them all in categories.
In the middle of brushing my sleeves aside…
A length of tough silken cloth floated out to land on the desk, like water flowing gently as it tumbled towards the ground.
The sudden excitement I felt made me curious. Logically speaking, secrets were hidden in books: if not love poems or popular songs, then secret martial arts manuals. I bent forwards and scooped the cloth up in my hands.
Glancing out the door, I saw that yifu still hadn’t returned yet.
I shook open the cloth scroll, scattering dust everywhere, before spreading it out across my palms.
The lighting was a bit dim…
I couldn’t see very clearly, but felt that everything was densely packed together. There were very delicate, fine characters written neatly across the work.
I hadn’t been able to find the flint for half a day, so I had no way to light the lamps. Still holding up the object, I walked straight to the window and saw a thin, warm ray of moonlight. Fortunately, it shone right upon my piece of silk.
‘The Fang Hua Beast is a primarily male animal with a peaceful disposition. It prefers to live alone and its figure is not much different from a mortal’s. It is skilled in growing unusual, treasured medicinal herbs. Initially nameless, its flowers (hua) gave rise to Hua (or splendor) and the ancient name Fang Hua Beast.’
Fang Hua Beast?
Wasn’t this talking about yifu?
I narrowed my eyes and leaned against the wall, raising my sleeves as I lifted the length of silk closer to the light to continue reading.
‘The Fang Hua Beast is taciturn and often has still and silent expressions. Its white skin resembles that of a woman, and it exudes an unusually sweet scent all year round. Beneath its eyes and eyebrows is a cinnabar mole, and the color of its teardrop-shaped mark pales according to youth. Upon reaching blackish-red, dim red, or pitch-black, the Fang Hua Beast will flee. After fleeing it turns into a sea, then transforms into a piece of dead wood called Fang Hua Wood. This is considered the Fang Hua Beast’s soul, and it is capable of dispelling tens of thousands of poisons on Earth. If one buries the wood in the dirt, and feeds it a mixture of crushed medicinal herbs mixed with dew touched by the first rays of the morning sun, one month later the dead wood will be as red as fire, with the disposition of jade.
Two months later, the wood will grow four branches, and its color will fade. Three months later, the wood will develop the five senses of a human adult, whereupon the wood will turn soft and supple, white without compare. Four months later, the root of the wood will break, and the Fang Hua Beast will be born. If the Beast grows to be ten months old, use true love’s blood to wash it daily so its soul can continue to exist. This will help the young Beast recall its memories from a previous incarnation.
A young newborn Beast does not know human language and eats flower nectar as well as a small amount of medicinal herbs. But he grows very quickly, and in half a year will appear no different from a young child. His language skills will become fluid and smooth, and he will become exceedingly intelligent. Afterwards, its every ten days will be equivalent to a cycle of one year in human terms as it continues to mature.
Fang Hua Beasts are animals who possess pure feelings. If adult Beasts can maintain a heart of clarity in the world of mortals, they can extend their longevity and cultivate to become Immortals. Those who are moved by sentiment end up as grassy weeds, withering year by year, bathing in a sea of fire until they return to the cycle of reincarnation. If they are injured by sentiment, its every ten days will be equivalent to a cycle of one year in human terms, and it will sink into the cycle of reincarnation, turning back into dead wood. If they are heavily injured by sentiment, the color of the wood will turn black, and act as a strong dilution agent against poisons.’
Fang Hua have an exceedingly unrivaled beauty resembling that of a woman’s, that is difficult to find in the world. As an animal that possesses a sentimental disposition, they will be tied down by the threads of sentiment all their lives. Those who cannot escape the bonds of sentiment are robbed of their lives and die young, leaving the numbers who manage to attain Right Fruit fewer and fewer.’
So it was like this… …I clutched my head. This wasn’t written like vernacular speech.
I can’t understand it…
Again I clutched at my head. This wasn’t a secret martial arts manual, nor did it resemble a love poem or similar things. It was a pity I didn’t usually put in much effort studying, so my literacy rate was too low. I sucked in a deep breath and prepared to fold it carefully so I could replace it in the original place. But suddenly a voice came in from the window.
“What are you doing?”
The voice was neither high or low, nor fast or slow, but possessed a level of severity I’d never heard before.
-o- [Most up to date translations for this series can be found on volaretranslations.]
qin (琴) －a seven-stringed plucked instrument similar in some ways to the zither. In ancient times, qin strings used silk or other soft materials; metal strings are a relatively modern invention, made after the world got a bit too noisy. ^^;
sentiment (情) －this is something to describe the entire realm of human feelings/emotions/attachments. Cultivators shouldn’t be attracted to things in the mundane world if they want to ascend to immortality, those who are can be said to be lost/entrapped by qing, or sentiment, whether it be bonds between people or unresolved feelings in their hearts. More or less.
Right Fruit (正果) －a cultivation status in Buddhist belief that occurs right before enlightenment.