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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 to a mortal’s. It is skilled in growing unusual, treasured medicinal herbs. Initially nameless, its flowers(hua) gave rise to Hua (or splendid), and the ancient name Fang Hua Beast. — ?Discussions of Yi Zhi?
“If you agree to come home with me, I’ll give you three meals a day and promise you’ll eat until you’re full.” The mild but innately tempting words of the male had the obvious markings of a kidnapper. His hand was very warm. A person had yelled at me once for being a smelly beggar, but no one had ever led me along like this.
Thus, the young and clueless me fell into enemy territory, led by food and his charms. For a trifling mantou, I shyly nodded my head and obediently allowed him to take me away. But my heart was surging like a river inside.
The main streets were rather chilly and occasionally, two or three shabbily-clothed people would breathe, eyes half-open, as they leaned against some stone steps. A little beggar wearing a rough burlap gown raised a hand to block the way ahead of him.
Geez… what for?
He’s not thinking to stop and rob him, right? I raised my head, lifting my eyes to take a look at the beautiful person. He seemed to show no interest, indifferent to asking or listening.
Although this other child had a filthy face, he looked intelligent and strong. A pair of dark, swarthy eyes stared at our hands as he half-jogged to follow along, trying to hold the beautiful person’s hand. But the latter waved his sleeve and pushed him away. I thought he had a good temper, but it seems that wasn’t so…
“Remember, I don’t like coming in contact with people.”
The leaves on the willow branches flew wildly, while a gentle breeze ruffled his sleeves. Beneath the sunlight, his face was so beautiful that it was hard for people to see clearly, as if a pale glow of moonlight shrouded him. He used this sort of soft manner to speak, even as his hand was firmly led me along
There was a delicate expression on his face.
I grew silent. He did as well, and without uttering a sound, led me along a fragrant lane towards the depths of a forest bordering the edge of civilization. I started to feel dread and tugged my hand free, wanting to run away. But the beautiful person only gripped it tighter.
Rumors went around that there were people who intentionally preyed on little urchins and used them as catamites in remote, out of the way places. I also heard that while the poor people had nothing to eat, some rich people bored of the same foods, enjoyed washing and steaming five or six-year-old children in a clear soup. Of course, this was also done in remote, out of the way places.
The whole time I followed, I was confused and shaking, my entire body weak.
I wasn’t sure how long we walked. But by the time I was stumbling along to keep up, he lightly caught me up and carried me in his arms. It was an unexpectedly flattering favor that made me blank out.
“Don’t move around.”
The beautiful person emanated an unusually sweet scent that calmed the heart and made me drowsy. His warm, soft words continually echoed in my ear, “We’re almost home.”
There was something else he said afterward, as if it was very important. But I didn’t hear as exhaustion poured over me like a sudden tide. Leaning against his warm embrace, I fell into a deep sleep.
During the bitterest, coldest days of starvation, the old beggar had held me and said, Child born under an unlucky star, you should have been fortunate and wealthy. Endure and grit your teeth to pass through this… your mother will come to pick you up.
I dreamed for a long while, though I wasn’t sure of all the details. When I opened my eyes again, I found myself lying on a carved wooden bed, staring up at the roof beams shaking… no, it was the bed that was shaking, with its warm, soft bedding that felt like an embrace. A surprisingly sweet scent appeared, and a sense of carefreeness swept over me, but everything felt familiar…
I thought and thought…
A warm breath stroked my neck, at times slow or quick, but persistent. It felt unbearably ticklish. As soon as I turned over, I ran into a person’s chest whose face was right before my eyes, giving me a severe shock.
The beautiful person was like jade parted by the clouds as he looked at me. He had phoenix eyes like lustrous jade, limpid and bright, that curved up slightly in the corners. Beneath the left eye, there was an exquisite cinnabar mole on the white skin, the red coloring as soul-stirring as a plum blossom in snow.
My heart started to beat rapidly, and I starting staring at him for no reason. In all the time I had lived, I’d never seen a beautiful person who could dazzle with every look.
“Awake?” his voice was clear and melodious like cool spring water, but also gentle and soft like a woman’s. The sound was a bit low but extremely pleasing to hear.
“Un.” I faintly broke out of a trance, realizing I’d never looked at him so closely before. As I looked once again, I really had trouble figuring out whether he was male or female.
The old beggar said that my mother had a teardrop-shaped birthmark below her eye.
That there would come a day when she came for me.
Looking at his face, I dazedly gave out a silly giggle.
“Behind the house, there’s a clear spring, while your change of clothes is at the head of the bed. After cleaning yourself, come to the front room to eat.” He raised himself up with his hands and walked to the door, where he paused. “That smell on your body, if you can’t get rid of it… don’t come inside the house.”
I stared as he walked away, those white robes elegant and graceful, that fine, beautiful figure like the demeanor of a transcendent being. My head hung, and my heart trembled. Could it be…? Is it possible that I’ve met an Immortal?
It really was strange. Why did he pick me out of all those people?
Could it be that his compassion was like a Bodhisattva’s, and he couldn’t bear to see a group of grown-ups picking on a child? But he clearly treated that starving, dying beggar child on the streets with indifference and didn’t give him half a penny.
He really wanted to foster a catamite or eat a child?
But the urchin that blocked his path on the way was much smarter, and looked much better than me. He even offered himself up, so it just wasn’t logical to pick me and not him.
My face was full of doubts.
After changing into my clothes, I observed my reflection in the mirror. There stood a thin and weak under-grown child wrapped up in oversized, draping clothing. No matter how much I washed, my face still looked a little dirty, and my hair was like withered and sallow like grass. It looked like I had a head full of feathers. No wonder that he left me a boy’s robe, but no matter… since they were new clothes, I was content.
When I arrived in the front room, the beautiful person was already sitting there waiting with a bowl of white rice, fresh greens, tofu and a big bowl of red braised pork.
“Eat,” he raised a finger to point at the dishes on the table.
Too busy to care about him, I picked up my chopsticks and swooped over, right hand trembling as I picked up the food to scarf it down like wolves and tigers. Vaguely I muttered, “You… aren’t eating.”
He only smiled at me but remained motionless, not picking up any chopsticks.
“I’m not used to eating these type of things.” So speaking, he rose to take a basin of fresh water and soaked his hand inside before leaving the room.
A strange person.
What kind of person wasn’t used to eating food? Unless all of this was… especially cooked for me?
I smiled so much that my eyes turned into crescents.
It looked like this place wasn’t bad.
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