Edited by renderedreversed
There’s a big snowy mountain behind Shengling Sect. The top is covered in snow all year round. Shengling Sect has a manor on top of the mountain called Fengxueshan (wind snowy mountain) manor. No one lived in the manor. It was only used for martial arts purposes.
Shifu said that since he’s teaching me martial arts, we’ll do it at the manor. He said that the air there is better for practicing. But climbing a mountain was already a challenge for me. I tried for half a month, but there wasn’t a time in which I reached the top. Often when I reached halfway, I would just sit onto the snow and won’t get up. Shifu would then squeeze my face; I would just look at him blankly. Finally, it was always Shifu who would piggyback me down the mountain.
One time Shifu was really angry. He pinched me really hard and said: “You are doing this on purpose, aren’t you?! Is this training you or training me, ah?! Today, I won’t give you a piggyback. If you can go down the mountain, then go down. If you can’t go down, then you can continue to sit here!”
After saying that, he left. I obediently sat there from noon till evening. I then watched the moon climb high above the mountain.
I was hungry and my legs were numb. The moon turned from one to two then to three and finally, it shook with some bright light. I closed my eyes, wanting to sleep. Just as I was about to lie down, someone picked me up.
While cursing, that person cleaned the snow off my back.
I sniffed. It was the smell of Shifu, warm and clean like the first ray of sunshine.
I subconsciously clung to his shoulder in a warm hug. My head rubbed against his neck.
“Shifu, it’s really cold.”
“If it’s cold, don’t you know how to stand up and walk back?!”
“Before, I was too tired to walk, then I was too hungry to walk, and then Shifu said I had to sit…”
Shifu was silent for a long time. Finally, he laughed: “You’ve become so obedient now.”
“I knew that Shifu would come back for me.” I faintly closed my eyes. “Can we not train like this anymore?”
I didn’t hear if Shifu answered or not.
A bit later, I heard many voices. One of them, a hoarse voice, said: “Shaozhu, you…you were too reckless this time. You abandoned a five, six-year-old baby girl on a mountain. Getting a cold is nothing, but if she gets eaten by a beast…”
“Isn’t she lying here safe and sound? What are grumbling about? Just do your treatment!”
“I mean, if she gets sick or injured, aren’t you the one who’ll be the most uncomfortable…”
“Who’s uncomfortable?! Go, go, I don’t want your treatment anymore, you’re too talkative!”
When I woke up again, I was lying on Shifu’s bed. Shifu was sitting with a lifeless face right next to me. Seeing that I’d woken, he pressed his hand to my forehead. He was silent for a long time and then took his hand back. Then, Shifu turned his head and said: “Really…really useless! Lying in bed for three days just because of a little cold. Humph…”
I still didn’t understand what he meant, but since Shifu was unhappy, it must be because I did something wrong. I grabbed Shifu’s hand, afraid that he would turn away and leave me again like that day.
“Shifu, I’m sorry.”
“What do you know…”
He didn’t finish speaking, gritted his teeth, and turned his head again to avoid looking at me.
“Your body is too weak. After you get better, learn some basic martial arts first with the others. Later, if you can climb the mountain on your own, then we’ll go practice there.”
After saying that, he shook his hand. I refused to let it go. Shifu got a little angry: “Why are you grabbing my hand?”
“Shifu, don’t throw me away. Don’t let me be alone, cold and hungry.”
His expression turned strange. His mouth moved, but only after a while did he say something: “Alright, I’ll not let you be alone again.”
He paused, then he reluctantly turned around to pinch my face: “Don’t you dare to put that pathetic look on again. Don’t you dare sell that shameful act again.”
Shifu’s pinch was too hard. Tears dripped down my face from the pain. I was really frustrated. I didn’t know what I did wrong to make Shifu get so angry.
The hand grabbing me loosened. Shifu seemed really tired and muttered to himself: “If you were like this in the Netherworld or in Heaven…I wouldn’t have the heart to whip you.”
He kicked the bed in extreme frustration, gritted his teeth, and said: “But! But…when I could just bully you…you must be acting! You are acting, aren’t you?!”
After that day, I was really afraid that Shifu would leave me again on the mountain. So, I trained really hard with the people of Shengling Sect, learning what Shifu called “basic martial arts”. When I was eight, I could finally climb the mountain.
After that, Shifu and I settled down in Fengxueshan Manor. He didn’t teach me anything else. He just gave me a sword and told me some formulas that I couldn’t even memorize.
Shifu resented me for being stupid; he comforted himself by saying that I was still young, but in a blink of eye, five years had passed. I was thirteen and Shifu was sixteen. He patted my shoulder and finally admitted: “Drinking too much Soup of Oblivion has made you stupid…”
I couldn’t figure out from his tone whether he was happy or unhappy while saying those words. But he always said things I didn’t understand, so I was used to it.
Today was the day we went down the mountain to Shengling Sect in order to restock our supplies. When we were there, I heard something I was really puzzled about. I didn’t have the nerve to ask then, but now that it was only Shifu and me, I asked heartily: “Shifu, are we harmoniously cultivating together?”
At that moment Shifu was drinking tea. Hearing my question, he spit out his tea and raised his head to look at me. I saw that his ears were inexplicable red.
“Where did you hear that?”
“Today when we went to get more food, there was a bunch of people crowded together, saying that the reason we always stayed at the manor is because we’re harmoniously cultivating every day, every night, without pause and without rest.”
- 和合双修 (hé hé shuāng xiū): I couldn’t translate it literally, so I decided on harmonious cultivation, but the meaning in that sentence is sexually. I think the people of the sect mean that Chu Kong and Xiao Xiang Zi are having sex day and night without resting. Even if it is the great celestial Chu Kong can’t have so much energy (blushing). What are the sect people thinking?
Shifu’s mouth moved. He repeated the eight words “every day, every night, without pause, without rest” twice. He pressed his hand to his forehead and rubbed at it.
“There’s enough spiritual power at the top of this mountain. We’re just doing ordinary cultivation. No, you’re too stupid to practice cultivation. I’m the only one absorbing the spiritual power, filling my body.”
“This isn’t right, ah…”
I felt pity for him, scratched my head and said: “Shifu, I heard them say that, that “harmonious cultivation” is a really good method to improve one’s power. It’s like no other: simple, convenient, and the effect is really good. Should we give it a try?”
Shifu put his cup lightly on the table. While walking out he said: “This method isn’t suited for us. I’ve got something to do at the base of the mountain. You go memorize the things I taught you two months ago.”
Later, I heard that the people of the sect were severely beaten that day…
That day, I also met a demon. I could see some things that ordinary people couldn’t see. After thinking about it, it began after I learned the things Shifu taught me.
Originally, I didn’t think that the things Shifu taught were useful. But today, I thought that they’re pretty useful, because marching into the manor’s backyard with a panicked face was a big ginseng demon. He was standing next the hens, shivering in the backyard. A naturally fragrant pot of soup appeared in my mind. Just watching him, my mouth filled with saliva.
I pulled out my sword that could kill demons. That pretty ginseng suddenly dropped to his knees. Kneeling, he shuffled over to me and knocked his head three times on the floor: “Good girl, good girl, good girl! Help me!”
Those three cheers of “good girl” made me feel very pleased. It wouldn’t make a difference if I waited a little longer before making that ginseng soup, so I pulled him up and asked: “What’s the matter?”
The ginseng demon wiped his tears and sobbed: “I…I’m being hunted down by people.”
This demon shouldn’t know that I could see his true identity.
I nodded my head. My mind was thinking that if I found something good, I needed to wait till Shifu came back before cooking it. So, I answered: “Then you come in and hide for a while. My Shifu has great ability. After he comes back, he’ll surely help you.”
Around midnight, Shifu came back. I didn’t have a chance to explain the situation to him. The moment he entered the hall, he frowned and asked me: “What did you bring here?”
I was about to speak, when the ginseng demon with a face full of grievance came out. He bowed to Shifu and said: “I’m Nanpei. Sorry to disturb you today, but I don’t have a choice…”
- 男配 (Nán pèi): his name means male mate. Poor him, why did it have to be that name.
He didn’t finish speaking. Shifu raised an eyebrow, sneered, walked over to me, and pinched my face.
“Nanpei? You really know how to bring people here, ah.”
Shifu pinching my cheeks has become a habit now. I didn’t resist, followed his strength, and leaned over to whisper into his ear: “Shifu, ginseng essence is very nourishing.”
I said these words a little too loud. The ginseng demon instantly looked scared, took few mouthfuls of air and sat on the floor.
“You…you…are not a good girl…”
He desperately looked at us.
Shifu raised an eyebrow, rubbed my head and said: “Well, it’s rare that you’re smart for once, but…”
He glanced at the ginseng demon, curled his lips and said: “Eating vegetation of a thousand years will harm the yin side. You and I are not ordinary people. It’s better to let him go.”
I was shocked, pulled at Shifu’s sleeves and said: “The hens in the yard grew too old…they’re all old.”
“So, we can kill a chicken and eat it.”
I was not willing, but I couldn’t find a reason to rebuke Shifu. I scratched my head and glared resentfully at him. Shifu didn’t look at me. He glanced at the ginseng demon and said: “Go back to where you came from. Otherwise, if this girl eats you, I wouldn’t care.”
I gritted my teeth. I really wanted to charge over and take a bite.
“But…but out there, there are people who want to kill me. They want to make soup out of me…”
The ginseng demon sat on the ground. While wiping his tears, he said: “I escaped for so many days; I’m really exhausted.”
“Someone dares to dig in my Shengling Sect’s mountain?”
Shifu’s voice raised a decibel. I looked up and saw Shifu thinking for a moment.
“Alright, this young master just has too good of a heart. Nanpei, I allow you to hide in this manor for three days.”
I kept staring at the ginseng demon. Shifu covered my eyes and dragged me to his room.
“Not allowed to eat means not allowed to eat. I’m tired today. Come, massage my shoulder.”
I was accustomed to receiving orders from Shifu, but today I was unhappy.
“Shifu, ginseng soup with chicken is really nourishing.”
“En, I’ll let the cook give you a basket of ginseng another day. As long as you love eating nourishing meals, you’ll be well nourished.”
“But that’s a ginseng of a thousand years…”
“Eating it will harm our yin.”
Anyway, he didn’t allow me to eat the ginseng demon. I was very unhappy and didn’t massage Shifu’s shoulders, heading back to my room instead.
The moon’s light was shining into my room. I tossed and turned in my bed, but I just couldn’t sleep. My mind was full of images featuring the ginseng demon and the mother hen together. Suddenly, a light flashed in my mind and I remembered something else. The people of the sect at the base of the mountain said that harmonious cultivation is a quick method to improve one’s energy. Shifu said that the method was not suited for us. The ginseng demon became such a fine ginseng essence; he must’ve used some cultivation. Should I just go cultivate harmoniously with him? Every day, every night, without pause and without rest, for about ten days. Then my progress would quickly improve and Shifu wouldn’t call me stupid anymore!
As I was thinking, I felt that I wasn’t as stupid as Shifu usually said. I was actually pretty smart.
The next day, I didn’t know why, but Shifu went down the mountain again. I searched for a really long time before I found the ginseng demon hiding in the firewood storage. The moment he saw me, his face turned pale.
“Don’t! Don’t eat me! I can do anything! I can do anything!”
After what he said, I immediately laughed.
“Good, good. Let’s go cultivate harmoniously!”
The ginseng demon’s face froze or a moment. His pale face turned red.
“I-I-I-I-I have always been doing clear cultivation (meaning he’s a virgin)…I-I-I-I don’t know how…”
I frowned. I felt that besides cooking this ginseng, he really wasn’t useful. He looked up and glanced at me, seeming to know where my thoughts were going. There was cold sweat dripping down his red face.
“How-however, I generally know how it’s done, if-if ….”
The ginseng began to cry, looking very miserable.
“If you really…need to, then I’m willing to try with you.”
“En, then let’s try here first.”
The ginseng demon’s face turned white: “Here?”
“Should we do it in the hall?”
He was stunned again.
I angrily asked: “Why don’t you suggest where, then?”
“This, this is more suitable to do in a room.”
My room was too small. There wasn’t any place to practice. I thought for a moment. Shifu’s room was the best place. It was broad and large and the air was good there. If something went wrong while we practiced there, Shifu would know when he came back. So, I took him to Shifu’s room.
I and the ginseng demon sat on Shifu’s table for a very long time. I didn’t know how to cultivate so I just glared at the ginseng demon. I didn’t know what he was thinking, but he looked like a madman. He was trembling and his face was all red.
He… he must be getting into the right state, right?
I copied him and began trembling and trying to get my face flushed. The ginseng demon asked: “You…what are you doing?”
“Copying you, ah.” I blinked and asked: “How do we start?”
He pointed his trembling finger at Shifu’s big and soft bed.
I walked there and sat on the bed.
The ginseng demon also walked to the bed and sat down beside me. He lowered his head.
“Then, then, probably, probably undress.”
I remembered Shifu once telling me that I wasn’t allowed to casually undress in front of other people. But then I also remembered that Shifu said I shouldn’t treat learning martial arts as a casual thing. I was conflicted, so I obediently took off the coat.
The ginseng demon also took his clothes off, piece by piece. He lowered his head even lower. His voice was barely audible as he said: “Continue…continue to take more off.”
I obediently took my clothes off, then I waited for the ginseng demon to take all of his clothes off. Suddenly I saw a stream of blood gushing down the ginseng demon’s face.
I was shocked and grabbed the ginseng demon’s face. He was having a nosebleed.
“Ah! Fire entered your demons!”
- 你走火入魔了 (Nǐ zǒuhuǒ rùmóle): the literal meaning is fire entered your demons. It’s a saying used when someone is obsessed with practicing martial arts that they get side- effects. Most of the time they turn mad. Xiao Xiang Zi thought the ginseng practiced too much and got a nosebleed.
Suddenly, I heard the door make a “zhiya” sound. Someone opened the door. Shifu stood in the doorway looking at me. His brows rose.
“Shifu,” I yelled. “Something went wrong.”
Shifu walked at a very slow pace into the room and stood by the bedside. He squinted his eyes and looked back and forth at me and the ginseng demon. With a very soft but really scary voice he asked: “Xiao Xiang Zi, what did you want to do on Shifu’s bed?”
I stared at Shifu and seriously answered: “I was going to cultivate harmoniously with ginseng demon.”
Shifu took a slight step back. His expression was really strange. It gave me an unfamiliar feeling.
I wanted to say more, but Shifu suddenly grabbed ginseng demon’s collar and dragged him to the window. Shifu didn’t even bother to open it. Instead, he broke the window and threw the ginseng demon out, just like he was throwing out trash.
Very, very far away did the ginseng demon land on the mountain. I didn’t know where. Only the traces of the ginseng demon’s nosebleed was proof that he had really been here.
My mouth fell open in surprise and I looked blankly at Shifu.
He turned. The cold wind entered the room through the broken window, mussing up his hair. He looked at me and said in a tone that he usually used when joking with me: “Xiao Xiang Zi, your gut turned fatter. Say it carefully again, what were you doing?”
I vaguely saw that something in Shifu’s eyes wasn’t the same as usual.
I didn’t care about the storm in Shifu’s heart. I felt that no one in the whole world could understand the pain in my own. I shook my head, stared at Shifu, and said tearfully: “You don’t let me make chicken soup, you don’t let me cultivate harmoniously, you even threw him away! Do you really not want to see me well?!”
I hugged my head and hoarsely said: “You do not hate Xiao Xiang Zi; you’re just in love with Nanpei, the ginseng demon!”
I heard Shifu take several deep breaths. The thought that master no longer liked me made me feel like the sky was falling on me. It was so heavy that I couldn’t face the reality of it.
I picked up my clothes and began dressing myself while walking out.
“Shifu doesn’t want me! Fine, I also don’t want Shifu anymore! I don’t have any ginseng to make soup with chicken, but there’s still mushrooms!”
Thirteen-year-old me did the greatest thing I had ever done in my entire life. I, Xiao Xiang Zi, without dressing properly, ran out of Shifu’s room while crying, ran down the mountain, then…. ran away from Shifu (home).
Poor ginseng demon, victim of all of this. Now I really want to eat ginseng soup with chicken.