Chapter 40 Part 1
Middle of the seventh month, the gates of Hell open.
Paper effigies hidden, river lanterns glimmer.
The Ghost Festival during the middle of the seventh month was a special day. As night approached, the yin energy in the mortal world greatly flourished and the Hell Gate of Fengdu opened. Many wild ghosts that have been lingering in the human world after passing Ling Xiao’s heart tribulations in the past year would pass through the Hell Gate to go to the netherworld on this day and seek for a chance to reincarnate.
Two months before the Ghost Festival every year, the Xuanxue world would gather for the Celestial Masters Representative Assembly. At the meeting, everyone would sleep with their legs up to pass the most unbearable ten days and ten nights of the year. At times, they would discuss about the current year’s Fengdu Hell Gate in passing.
When Qishan-daoren set off from Haicheng, it was already 2 o’clock in the afternoon. The scorching hot sun of June shined down causing Qishan-daoren’s face to become beet red.
No one wanted to go out on this sort of day. Qishan-daoren was naturally also unwilling. He carried a huge pile of things in his hand and stood in front of house, basking in the big sun and nagging his son.
“This old man has to go out for these ten days, you better look after the house well. Three days later, Tian Gong Pavilion will have a coupon event, don’t forget to scramble for it. This old man needs to buy 3 jumping corpses and 5 millennium snow ginsengs at this year’s Ghost Festival shopping holiday.1 If you can’t grab a coupon and this old man needs to spend extra points, it’ll be deducted from your modou account!”
Qishan-daoren’s son was so hurt that he wished he were dead, “Dad, I know. I will definitely scramble for the coupon.”
Qishan-daoren continued to rant, “Oh right, there’s also Shennong Valley’s products. This old man ordered from Shennong Valley’s online shop yesterday. Chequ, that old chap, borrowed a power bank from this old man last year. The goods are cash on delivery, you have to force them to give 20% discount.”
“Dad, I really got it!”
“Also, those succulents on the balcony that this old man is raising, aiyo, they’re all my little babies, you have to remember to water them……”
“Right, there’s also a medicinal pill that this old man had refined this morning. You have to carefully watch over it. It needs to refine for seven sevens, 49 days……”
“As for the drama that this old man was watching last night, what was it called again, the ending is in 8 days. God damn it, this old man’s power bank will definitely be used up after 8 days, and the phone will be out of battery. When it’s time, you have to memorize the ending for this old man. This old man wants to know after coming back.”
With this shout from his son, Qishan-daoren suddenly returned to his senses and fixed his eyes on his son.
The 60+ year old Celestial Master with a head full of white hair said as his tears flowed bitterly, “Dad, you just don’t want to attend the Celestial Masters Representative Assembly so you’re here to nag me, but you still have to go. Cengxiu-zhenjun is waiting for you at the capital. You can’t slip away……”
Qishan-daoren’s old face became red, “S-spouting nonsense! When did this old man not want to go? When did this old man nag? Unfilial son, watch my move!”
After beating up his son for a round, the stuffiness in Qishan-daoren’s heart finally dissipated. Holding all sorts of things, Qishan-daoren flew into the clouds and headed towards the capital at high speeds. In the evening, he arrived at the borders of the capital and distantly saw Zhuzhao-zhenren flying over from the west.
Qishan-daoren flew over.
They greeted each other, and Qishan-daoren asked, “Fellow Daoist Zhuzhao, why’re you carrying your things with your hands?”
Zhuzhao-zhenren held his cell phone plus 38 portable chargers in his hands. He confidently asked back, “Aren’t you also holding it with your hands?”
Qishan-daoren laughed, “If a bag is used, it’ll be some weight. This year, this old man has already carefully weighed them. An iPhone and 39 Xiaomi power banks, exactly 10 kg. Not one more, not one less.”2
Zhuzhao-zhenren wholly couldn’t believe it, “38 power banks is just right. Qishan, you went over.”
Qishan-daoren glared, “Nonsense!”
The two masters hadn’t even entered the capital yet and started to quarrel above the clouds. This time, no one believed the other. Zhuzhao-zhenren insisted that 39 portable chargers was absolutely overweight. Qishan-daoren claimed that it was just under the limit. The two of them flew to the Celestial Masters Representative Assembly’s meeting place in a rage. Master Buxing was currently holding a huge pile of compressed biscuits and was about to go in when he got knocked away by them.
“You, young lady, weigh this for this old man and see how heavy the 39 power banks are!”
The young lady Celestial Master who was responsible for receiving the great masters was instantly scared witless. Her hands trembled as she picked up the cell phone and portable chargers that Qishan-daoren had brought and placed them on the electronic scale. In the next moment, a sharp voice sounded, “Overweight, overweight, 10.015 kg, overweight, overweight!”
Qishan-daoren was immediately dumbfounded, and Zhuzhao-zhenren burst into loud laughter.
That day at midnight, all the Celestial Masters placed the items that they had brought onto the electronic scale. After weighing, they entered the meeting in succession.
The Celestial Masters who were able to attend the Celestial Masters Representative Assembly were all well-known figures of the Xuanxue world. Cengxiu-zhenjun went up to the podium. He lightly coughed twice, but he hadn’t even started to talk when Master Buxing who was sitting in the first row raised his hand, “Fellow Daoist Cengxiu, Young Daoist Ye has yet to arrive. Is it possible to wait for him?”
Cengxiu-zhenjun calmly said, “Young Daoist Ye has requested for leave of absence this year.”
His voice just fell, and everyone present was in an uproar.
More than 20 Celestial Masters looked at the empty space next to Master Buxing. They mutually glance at each other and everyone stood up to speak.
Zhuzhao-zhenren, “Why would Young Daoist Ye ask for a leave? He has never asked for a vacation all these years!”
Qishan-daoren, “That’s right. If Young Daoist Ye isn’t here, who would ‘Ghosts Know’ take a picture of for publicity?”
Shennong Valley’s Chequ-daoren echoed, “Fellow Daoist Qishan is right. If ‘Ghosts Know’ isn’t able to take a good picture, how can we influence the juniors? How can we set up an example for the juniors?”
Cengxiu-zhenjun said, “Wouldn’t it suffice if they take your picture?”
All the Celestial Masters spoke in unison, “No!”
Everyone caused a racket for a period of time. Qishan-daoren stroked his beard and made a suggestion, “Fellow Daoist Cengxiu said that Young Daoist Ye had originally wanted to attend. But since he has something going on, he had no other choice but to request for leave. This old man understands Young Daoist Ye’s character. He must have something very urgent in order for him to be absent. Since that is the case, fellow daoists, how could we disappoint Young Daoist Ye and start such an important meeting?”
Ye Jingzhi who was currently in C Province holding Song Song and eating a midnight snack with wife, “Achoo.” It seems to be a bit cold.
Once Qishan-daoren words fell, the other Celestial Masters responded one after another.
If any one of them didn’t come, it would be fine. If Cengxiu-zhenjun didn’t come, Master Buxing could also take charge of the Assembly. But if Ye Jingzhi didn’t come, they would be finished. If the editor of “Ghosts Know” couldn’t take the picture, how could they write the article? The most important point was……
“How about we don’t hold a meeting this year?” Qishan-daoren made a suggestion.
Cengxiu-zhenjun firmly glared at him, “Absurd!”
However, in the next moment, the rest of the masters hurriedly stated.
“Exactly. If they don’t take Young Daoist Ye’s picture, whose do we take? If my family’s two little scoundrels see this poor daoist leaning over the table, sleeping, and drooling while attending the Assembly, where would this poor daoist put his face?”
Cengxiu-zhenjun, “……” Can’t you just not sleep?!
“That’s right, that’s right. This poor monk has brought a lot of rations in order to not starve this year. If the disciples see this poor daoist miserably nibbling on bread at the Assembly and hungry to the point of dizziness, how should this poor monk convince them when this poor monk goes back?”
Cengxiu-zhenjun, “……” Eating bread will make you dizzy, don’t tell me that you, a monk, still wants to eat meat?!
“Amitabha, this poor monk also feels that this proposal is very good. This poor monk really wants to go home and eat (vegetarian) meat.”
In reality, there weren’t many reliable Celestial Masters present. Cengxiu-zhenjun was sage-like on the surface, but he actually also didn’t want to attend this boring and useless Assembly from the bottom of his heart. However, as the Xuanxue world’s leader, Cengxiu-zhenjun couldn’t really dispose their predecessors’ tradition that they had left behind. He started to haggle with the masters in the audience.
“Postpone to one week later and wait for Young Daoist Ye?”
“Postpone 2 weeks?”
“……Postpone 3 weeks?”
Next, he flew into a rage out of shame, “We will hold the meeting now!”
“Okay okay okay, reconvene after three weeks!”
Everyone dispersed disorderly.
This was probably similar to an “about to take the test for 4th grade, even though the test still needs to be taken after putting it off, but still want to be a salted fish for a few more days” sort of strange mentality.3 After obtaining Cengxiu-zhenjun’s permission, the Celestial Masters hastened to fly home to enjoy a few more days of leisure.
Qishan-daoren sat in the innermost area. He flew out of the door with excitement, but he hadn’t flown a few meters away when he was stopped by Cengxiu-zhenjun: “Fellow Daoist Qishan, the barrier outside of the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor has experienced some problems in these past few days. Go take a look with this old man.”
Qishan-daoren was instantly dumbfounded, “Ah?”
Cengxiu-zhenjun patiently said it again.
Qishan-daoren’s resentment soared, “Why does it have to be this old man?!”
Cengxiu-zhenjun calmly said, “Fellow Daoist Qishan is proficient in formation enchantments.”
“Jiang Liu that old guy is also good at it!”
Cengxiu-zhenjun, “……because you run the slowest.”
Qishan-daoren, “@#$!$!#@$!!!!” Next time, this old man will sit by the door!
At 1 o’clock in the morning, Qishan-daoren with a belly full of resentment was forced to follow Cengxiu-zhenjun and flew towards Chang’an together.
Xi Jia completely didn’t know about these things. He had just arrived at C Province and hadn’t eaten anything since this afternoon. He ordered a few midnight snacks at the hotel and ate some things with Ye Jingzhi.
The cuisine of C Province was famous nationwide. Xi Jia especially liked to eat spicy foods. Unfortunately, his diet wasn’t regular in recent years, resulting in a bad stomach. He couldn’t eat spicy foods. He could only give himself some fried rice and silently watch Ye Jingzhi eat spicy foods.
The fragrant spicy scent wafted over from Ye Jingzhi’s bowl of noodles and straight into Xi Jia’s nose, causing him to salivate. Xi Jia stared and couldn’t help but swallow. Finally, he helplessly looked down, scooped a spoonful of flavorless fried rice, and pitifully ate a mouthful.
Song Song was lying in Xi Jia’s arms, clutching a small dried fish and happily biting it.
Xi Jia could only watch Song Song in order to comfort himself: At least Song Song can’t eat spicy food. En, Song Song also can’t eat it.
Ye Jingzhi had only ate two bites of noodles when he sensed Xi Jia’s passionate gaze. He blankly set his chopsticks down and thought for a long time before pushing his bowl over and saying, “For you to eat.”
The bowl of noodles was pushed towards Brother Jia, and the spiciness wafted up his nose even more. Brother Jia craved it so much that his eyes became green.
After struggling for quite awhile, he nevertheless pushed the noodles back and forced a smile, “Master Ye, I can’t eat spice.”
Ye Jingzhi asked in concern, “Why?”
Xi Jia said, “My stomach isn’t good. If I ate this bowl of noodles, I might not be able to sleep tonight.”
Ye Jingzhi’s eyes brightened. He immediately rummaged through his Qiankun bag for a moment to find something and found a bag of multi-colored small candies. He poured a green candy onto his palm and passed it over to Xi Jia, “Eat. Eat it and your stomach won’t hurt.”
Xi Jia took the candy in surprise. After taking it, he really felt a warm feeling rush forth from his stomach. He suspiciously glanced at the bowl of noodles in front of him before looking up at Master Ye on the other side.
Ye Jingzhi hurriedly pushed the noodles back in front of him and said, somewhat blushing bashfully, “Eat.”
The Heavens and the Earth were big, but fine food was bigger.
Xi Jia couldn’t resist any longer. He set aside the flavorless fried rice and rushed to eat the noodles. With this bite, the fragrant spice was spicy and sour as expected. This was called eating! In addition, just like Ye Jingzhi had said, Xi Jia’s stomach felt warm. It didn’t hurt at all and was completely comfortable.
Ye Jingzhi carefully pulled Xi Jia’s fried rice towards himself. Xi Jia suddenly saw it and immediately said, “Ah, I accidentally ate yours. Master Ye, you continue to eat this bowl of noodles, I’ll order another one.”
Ye Jingzhi shook his head and scooped some fried rice, “It’s delicious, I’ll eat this.”
Xi Jia mentioned it a few more times, but Ye Jingzhi kept on saying that the fried rice was very delicious. He thought that Master Ye had a very……unique taste. Xi Jia didn’t try to persuade again.
After a midnight snack, the two of them ate until they were completely satisfied. At the end of the meal, Ye Jingzhi no longer moved his spoon. He quietly watched Xi Jia and saw him eat until his forehead was covered with sweat, his eyes curving after eating his fill.
A feast for the eyes, this bowl of fried rice was particularly tasty!
In this kind of mountain area, the number of hotel rooms were very scarce. Xi Jia and Ye Jingzhi were assigned to a two-person standard room. Xi Jia was lying down on the bed with Song Song. Ye Jingzhi slept on the other bed. With a bedside cabinet in between them, they talked for a while before Xi Jia got up to close the lights.
“Master Ye, good night.”
*insert meme* One does not simply hold the Assembly without Mirror.
(b/c it’s important to take a good picture for the article!)
1 雪参 Snow ginseng – translated literally. May refer to the Chinese medicine name for the roots of prickly blue poppy. ↵
2 小米 Xiaomi – Chinese electonics company. ↵
3 咸鱼 salted fish – literally salted fish, but fig. Someone who’s unambitious in life or have no goals in life. Kinda like they’re just “hanging” there like “salted fish.” ↵