Translator’s note~~ Shen Li has been changed into Chen Li
The sky was black
The thunder roared and winds flew chaotically at a small town. The townspeople huddled in their homes, not not one stepping foot into the mighty storm. Despite this, in the far west, the door was open as one man entered a tall courtyard, his hair and robes fluttering madly within the whistling wind as bamboo leaves swirled in the air.
“The weather…has turned bad. His lips curved as he tilted his head to the sky, black clouds allowing only a hint of silver light as it slowly disappeared among the landscape outside of the small town. “Things are beginning to change.”
The next day, Xing Yun dressed in azure scholar robes, walked through the noisy road, the street vendors constantly called out as they struggled to sell their products. Among those, one seemed to ring out exceptionally clear. “Selling young chickens!! Very fat!” Xing Yun’s feet moved to a stop as he turned and walked to the direction of the booth. Soon, chickens appeared before him in crowded nests, and within them, one stuck out like a sore thumb. The pure white, featherless chicken looked unhealthy, it’s head bowed low as if it going to die any second. Somehow though, it seemed as if it had a proud and lively spirit within it. Xing Yun stared intently at it, before breaking out into a wide smile, saying, “I want this one.”
The shopkeeper took one look before shouting, “Ah! This chicken is far too ugly! I’ll give you a small discount for this one.”
“No need.” Xing Yun dug out the money from his pocket to give to the vendor, “She’s worth it. If I pay too little, she’ll surely get angry.”
The shopkeeper stared blankly, “A broiler chicken will get angry?” He touched his head in confusion as he watched the young man depart. Shaking his head to count the coins, his eyes widened as he looked down at his palm where the coins laid.
“Ah! You didn’t give me enough money for the chicken!! Oy, kid!! Wait!” He yelled loudly at Xing Yun, “Ai yah!!! Mischievous bastard!”.
But alas, Xing Yun could already not be seen.
Chen Li felt as if she had just opened her eyes for the first time; The world can truly be evil and turbulent. She stared at the man before her. A sturdy man, a stubble on his fac- Ah! He hauled Chen Li up painfully, a wicked smile on his face as evil laughter exploded out of him.
“You must have guts as big as the sky, let go of this king!!!” Chen Li glared venomously at the stranger as her skin burned with pain. Chen Li struggled relentlessly as she tried her best to escape. But her strength was too weak, and despite her best efforts, she was still clutched tightly by her wing and then he…
Plucked all her feathers out!!
Hateful!! Chen Li swore to herself; When she gets out, she will surely poke out his dog eyes!!!
Chen Li woke up panting. A nightmare? Shaking her head, Chen Li lifted her head from the soft grass to peer at her surroundings. It looked as if it was someone’s courtyard. Stone steps led up to a small pond as budding grapevines twirled around. Near it, laid a bamboo rocking chair, and in it, was a sleeping man. That man didn’t seem to be strong or dangerous, like the hunter, nor did he seem gruff and indecent like that chicken trader. Rather, he was a pale, slender man in azure robes. His eyes laid closed as pockets of sunlight fell on his body.
Chen Li is not a shy, naive maiden, and has admittedly seen men even more good looking than this. However, even in the world of immortals, men of such grace was truly rare. However, Chen Li forced herself to look away; Now was not the time to admire men. She knew that if she stayed in a single place for too long, she will surely be found. She had to go, quickly.
“Ah! He got up!”
Chen Li had still not even gotten up, yet the young man was already awake.
“Oh? I thought it was going to die,” The guy spoke. Chen Li turned her head to look at him to see the man sitting on the rocking chair. Even though her body didn’t move, he smiled at her before throwing the crumbs of his mantou1 near her. He then made some funny noises, almost chirping like a chicken, as if to coax her into eating.
…. What? Is he playing with her?
In that moment, the surrounding air seemed to have gone several degrees colder.
Although her original body was that of a phoenix, she was born in a mortal form. From young, she was loved and respected by everybody. At 500 years old, she fought a grand battle and won an achievement from the emperor himself. She was then crowned the “Azure Sky King”. Since then, her fame and prestige has only risen more, yet today, she was belittled and treated as a chicken by a mere mortal?!?
Chen Li fought to stand up, however, she did not expect the sword that she’d been stabbed with would be bothersome to the point where she couldn’t even move! As such, she laid on the floor as resentment and frustration washed over her. She could only turn her head wearily to look at the man, who then smiled and gestured with his hands as he beckoned her: “Chicken, here! Come here, chicken!”
“Chicken? Who are you calling a chicken!”
Chen Li was furious, forcing herself again and again to get up. When she finally succeeded, she hopped slowly towards the man, anger in her ey- THUMP!!! Only to fall after not even one hop, her beak landing coincidentally into the mantou.
Seeing this, the man smiled. “Slowly, slowly! There is still more.” He then entered the residence, appearing again with another mantou in his hands. Squatting down in front of her, he gave her a gentle smile and said, “Here.”
“Who wants your bread!”
But in the end, she knew that she needed to regain her strength as soon as possible. Even so, she almost wished that she could just dig a hole with her beak and stuffed her head inside. Why couldn’t that man just bury himself and die!
The man just stared at her bald head, a smile on his lips then said, “If you do not want to eat it then, taking a bath now is good too.” He plucked her up by her two wings and immediately walked over to the side of the pool.
“Ah- Wait, wait! Do what? A bath?!?? Who wants to take a bath! Hateful! Release this King! This king’s feathers are precious! To damage a single one is to punish their family for 19 generations2! ”
Chen Li stared at her reflection- Not a single feather… really not a single one left…….she thought back gloomily.
That day when she was stabbed, she had fallen into the wilderness. A hunter had picked her up. She knew that her gorgeous golden feathers were forcefully plucked off, but she never imagined that he was so nastily greedy to the point that he did not leave a single feather on! What was she to do! Might as well throw her into a pot of boiling water! From tip to toe, there is not a single feather! Not a single one! What was she to do! She cried out in exasperation. Chen Li felt hot tears streaming down her face.
She suddenly remembered a few days ago, in the royal court, she was laughing at one of the balding officials! She was confused and could not understand why he would be so upset and had continued laughing at him. Yet now, it was like she was slapping her own face! This must have been karma for that day. Retribution!
“Go bathe.” Without waiting for Chen Li to protest, he casually tossed her straight into the pond.
Choking, she quickly coughed out water as her will to live surged within her. She flapped her featherless wings quickly, flopping madly against the water. The man was still laughing, but when he saw her gasping for breath, he let out a worried frown. “You cannot swim?”[Can your chicken’s swim?! Do you really not have the slightest bit of common sense?]
Seriously injured, without a trace of spirit power and not an ounce of strength left. She really did not think that she could survive such an ordeal. She thought that today, she would die at the hands of a mortal. A long stick of bamboo quickly swept to her, roughly bringing her to shore. She let out a groan, and the man quickly squatted, his hands pushing down at her bare breast. “Quickly breathe!! If you do not, you may not survive.”
Her soaked body convulsed violently, her eyes rolling as she fainted. Her last thought was-
How lecherous! This man must be doing this on purpose!
Xing Yun watched with a faint smile as Chen Li fainted, poking her forehead gently. “Ah, how impolite. My name is Xing Yun, not ‘this guy’.”
Footnotes: 1: Mantou is like this kind of round, soft bread, usually eaten as a staple. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mantou
2: Punish Their Families for 19 Generations is this saying to end a family line, and punish both the offender’s ancestors and descendants.