Chapter 3: Sansheng is the only one for me
I was no stranger to the capital.
Having once been chased around the city by the old monk for more than three months, I’d gone to all the places I needed to go and been to all the places I needed to be; there wasn’t a thing left for me to be curious about.
I was anxious to find Moxi, but since I didn’t want him to know I was so attached to him, I didn’t dare to look for him in the open. It hadn’t been long since he was recommended to be an official. As it was still the beginning, he must be having a hard time with little fame to speak of. I took to the streets to ask around, but no one had any information to offer. There were times when I thought to go to the palace to find him, but the imperial family was surrounded by such resplendent royal air that it suffocated me, and so I could only give up the idea in the end.
After debating back and forth, I decided that during the day I would wait for luck to smile on me, and then at night, go to high-ranking officials’ homes to search for Moxi’s whereabouts.
I had thought at first that looking for Moxi in person would yield better odds than trying to wait around for luck, but my luck ended up surprising me with its remarkable felicity.
That day, the capital was filled with sunshine. I was idly walking down the streets as I tapped a stalk of scallion onto my romance novel. Suddenly, I heard a commotion ahead where groups of people were beginning to amass. In a moment of curiosity, I stuffed the book away, flung the scallion to the side, and walked over to catch the show.
This show turned out to be a rather interesting one. It was a very dramatic “the water flows on with no regards for the flower’s feelings” story that was unfolding.
The ‘indifferent water’ was precisely my husband Moxi, and the ‘falling flower’, if I wasn’t wrong, should be the general’s beloved daughter, Shi Qianqian.
How did I know? Well, largely because her boudoir ornaments weren’t too shabby. I’d been selling a lot of jewelry these days, and hers fetched in the most money.
Shi Qianqian was lying dejectedly on the ground. Her ankle seemed to be hurt. She was looking at Moxi with a pair of peach eyes streaming in tears, but Moxi’s gaze just indifferently swept past her before he turned away. Then, Shi Qianqian rushed forward to catch his hem. Unfortunately, Moxi avoided her quick as a flash, landing her on the ground and causing her face to be smeared in dirt.
The crowd of onlookers sighed pityingly at Shi Qianqian who lay sprawling on the ground in embarrassment, stubbornly biting her lips with reddened eyes. She looked so fragile that it made me feel sorry for her.
Yet Moxi was altogether unmoving. Without giving her one single glance out of the corner of his eyes, he quickly walked away.
Hmm, I rubbed my chin thinking. Moxi had never given me such a look since the day I fostered him since he was nine. I hadn’t thought he’d be such a cold-hearted man away from home.
The young lady was very stubborn. After Moxi left, the others tried to help her but she would not let them, instead choosing to stand up herself. Thinking that she who liked Moxi must certainly be a good-hearted girl who knew right from wrong, I conjured a small spell and treated her injured ankle. Paying little attention to the surprise on her face, I turned around and chased after my Moxi.
Moxi was entering a small tavern. I stopped under a weeping willow next to the building, unable to take another step for the tavern had become different today. It was exuding the same intense royal air as did the imperial palace. I stared up to the second floor where a man dressed in blue was leaning against the window and drinking by himself.
The emperor of this particular world was a fairly wise ruler. Peace and prosperity reigned the land in this good era. Unfortunately, his general wielded so much power that the young emperor was having sleepless nights, and was now thinking of ways to strip the general of his military control.
It hadn’t been long since Moxi arrived in the capital yet he could already meet the emperor in private. It seemed he must’ve thought of an excellent way to help the monarch eliminate his major concern.
While I was appreciating how smart Moxi was, a man dressed in Daoist robes suddenly emerged from the alley next to the tavern.
The Imperial Reverend. This was the most powerful priest in the world, and I instantly recognized him. In the past, the old monk who hunted me down had also entreated this man to help him catch me.
I could already foresee another struggle seeing that I was running into him again. As I was lamenting how shitty life was, he unexpectedly shot me a look, then turned around and left. While I was left in puzzlement, I suddenly heard a soft voice calling from the second floor of the tavern: “Sansheng!”
It was Moxi who saw me from the window.
Having nowhere to hide, I smiled at him in answer. “I’ve come because I miss you every second of the day and the nights are far too long without you. Let’s haste our wedding along, Moxi.”
As soon as I finished, the streets went dead silent for a long stretch of time. Moxi blushed at this long silence.
“Hahaha.” Behind him came the emperor’s hearty laughter. “What a bold beauty. Moxi, you have quite the luck!”
Moxi bowed to the emperor and made a rush downstairs. I beamed at him. Moxi walked over, looking as though he was doing everything he could to rein back his joy. He knitted his brow and asked, “Why have you come to find me so soon? I had thought I’d have to wait another six months. Since you came all alone, did you have a hard journey? Did you encounter any trouble on the way? Are you hungry? Do you want to rest?”
I just looked at him with a smile.
Moxi gave me a good look and said, “I’ve worried for nothing. Sansheng would never let herself suffer. How did you find me?”
“I saw you on the street just now.”
Moxi’s smiling face slightly stiffened. He hurried to explain: “Sansheng, that’s…”
“I know, the girl who likes you.”
He carefully observed my face. “Her looks aren’t bad,” I said, “but she’s a bit short, so she’s not the one for you.”
“But of course,” Moxi laughed at my words. “Sansheng’s the only one for me.”
I patted his shoulder in high spirits. “I’m glad you know.”
“I’ll go say goodbye to His Majesty, and then I’ll take you back to rest.”
It turned out Moxi did not live in the palace, nor did he lodge at some minister’s home. Instead, he bought a quiet cabin, the layout of which was very similar to the plum compound he and I had lived in.
After supper, I pulled Moxi out for a walk in the small garden.
“The capital is very different from the small town we used to live in. You must not have been accustomed to living here by yourself?”
“There’s not really much I have to get used to. But there were mornings when I got up and didn’t see the dishes you laid out for me, or the evenings when I came home and didn’t see the candle light you left on for me. When I thought of your being all alone at home, I wasn’t sure how you would be able to take care of yourself, and it had made me feel a little rueful.”
I giggled as my heart burst in joy. I held his hand and gazed to the stars over our heads, swinging leisurely as we walked. “Moxi.”
“What is it?”
“I just want to call your name,” I said. “Every time I call your name, I get to hear your reply. I suddenly feel that this sort of happiness isn’t very easy to have.”
Moxi lightly smiled. I continued: “It must be hard to come to the capital and be an official?”
Moxi was silent for a while before saying: “Being able to use my power to help people in need, being able to rely on my own hands to fulfill my compassion so that there’d be people who would become happy as a result of my actions. Even if palace intrigues are rather troublesome, if these powers I achieve can be used for the people… Sansheng, do you understand this sort of satisfaction?”
I could not help but shiver as I looked up at him. In his eyes was unmistakably a gleam I had never seen before.
At this moment, I seemed to see once more the Heavenly God of War who had come to the underworld accompanied by the radiance of light.
This was the true Moxi. I all of a sudden recalled the words Jia had said to me many moons ago: “Lord Moxi is the God of War from Heaven. Although nothing is impossible in this world, he only cares for the world’s welfare. If his heart is occupied by the common people, will there be any space for love?”
I had thought little of these words at first, but when I saw the expression in Moxi’s eyes today, I came to realize Jia was actually a rather perceptive prophet.
Moxi truly had a heart for the common people, no matter what form he took…
The next day, Moxi went to the palace; and as usual, I stayed home and read my books.
I hadn’t yet turned to the second page when I suddenly heard light, steady footsteps from the courtyard. Soldiers? Ever since I gained spiritual cognizance, I had been a behaving spirit. All right, so I’d been held captive by a ghost, scolded by Yanwang, hunted by a monk, and attacked by a priest, but I had yet to be apprehended by the hooligan authorities.
Since this was to be my first experience, I was tingly with excitement.
I was looking forward to their rushing in and accosting me, wanting to see what sort of offensive they were organizing. But after waiting forever long, there only came a neat series of knocks rapping at the door. I was quite disappointed. I had no choice but to answer the door as was required by proper etiquette.
The soldiers were probably in hiding somewhere, for only a handsome girl stood by the doorway. I looked at her for a long time before some recognition came over me. Why, wasn’t this the girl Moxi had tossed away on the street just yesterday – Shi Qianqian?!
When she saw me open the door, she suddenly looked as if she was struck by lightning. “There really is a woman,” she muttered to herself. “He had really brought a woman home.”
Liking a man was one thing, making a ruckus in someone’s home was another. Thinking to myself I couldn’t let this girl’s feelings get ahead of themselves, I crossed my arms in front of my chest, leaned against the door and said, “That’s right, I am his woman. I’ve shared a bed with him among other things since we were children. Is there something you would like to say?”
The young ignorant girl was shocked by my words. She stumbled two steps backward and almost fell to the ground. I raised an eyebrow at her, feeling slightly cruel, but at the same time, vindicated.
At this point, a middle-aged woman suddenly jumped out from the side, pointed at me, and began her condemnation: “Don’t you dare harass our young lady! Don’t let your obscenities soil her ears!”
I was utterly innocent. “I answered because she asked. Every word I said is true. Why would any of it be obscene?”
Shi Qianqian’s face went even whiter. The woman railed at me: “Brazen harlot! How dare you be insolent to our young lady! Men, take her away!”
I rubbed my forehead in frustration. She was clearly the vexatious one. As I was about to reason with her, a group of blue-uniformed soldiers suddenly sprang out.
“Oh!” My eyes lit up as I gasped in excitement. The woman shouted, “She’s about to release her hidden projectiles! Protect the young lady!”
The sharp sounds of swords leaving their sheaths raised the hair on my arms.
I opened my mouth, but the phrase “let’s keep the peace” hadn’t sounded when a large blade had swung straight down my head. Through the tempering of the human world, my temper was now much more restrained compared to when I first came here. Nevertheless, I couldn’t let people bully me like this. My expression at once frosted up as I fiercely glared at the first soldiers to rush toward me.
Mortals who had never practiced sorcery would immediately become petrified by one icy stare of mine. They would plop to their knees in a desperate kowtow.
But the people in the back did not learn their lesson, still flying at me like a swarm.
I recited an incantation, gently waved my arm, and the soldiers who came to siege me all flew away. I sighed: “If we’re going to live as humans, then let’s learn to observe and assess the situation at hand, shall we?”
Shi Qianqian and the other woman were both swept off their feet by the forces of darkness and fell to the floor. They looked at me in stupefaction. I stepped forward and offered my hand to pull the woman up, but she screamed “monster” and scrambled away. I had no choice but to turn and help Shi Qianqian.
By contrast, she docilely let me help her up. I wiped the dust from her face for her and said, “No matter how much you like someone, you should still have some self-respect. Don’t come to others’ homes and make a ruckus anymore. Not only will it belittle your status, it is also of little use. Oh, Moxi’s three lifetimes have also been destined for me. If you really want to seduce him, then come back in another three lifetimes.”
Everything I said was the truth; I didn’t think her ears would actually process it to be something different. Her eyes were red as she turned and ran in tears.
I gave the house a good sweep, then tranquilly returned to my book again. I remembered I had left off at the couple’s first meeting where the girl gave the hero a kiss. In my opinion, the scene could bear to be a bit more tasteful.