Part of a Peony’s Tavern translation project at fruitydeer.com.
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Source: 芍藥客棧 by Yi Mei Tong Qian // Translated By: Xin (fruitydeer)
This chapter, we get a teeny, tiny peek at what kind of background the scholar might has as well as how far back his history with Shao Zi goes. Of course, it’s all speculation at this point.
I kind of love Shao Zi in this chapter. She’s a bit of a dummy, but the beauty of it is that she’s literally an innocent little flower plucked off a mountainside. How smart can you really expect her to be? At least she possesses the more important thing: A ton of heart.
Cold sweat formed on Shao Zi’s forehead…There was obviously ill will and they were filled with ill intent, okay…Were they trying to make a provocation here?
The scholar chuckled, firmly moving Shao Zi behind him. He uttered: “Go back, I won’t hand Shao Zi over to you.”
The fiends were incredibly shocked while the backyard demons pressed up against the pillars in the back, their legs turning to mush as they fixed their attention on the scene. How hubristic of the scholar! The elder spoke in a heavy voice: “Though I do not know who you are, you have the capability of leaving the Devil’s Realm unscathed as well as summon an ancient divine beast. However, the Devil’s Realm is not that easy to bully. When one gives you face, don’t be so shameless!”
With that, he began humming softly and Shao Zi’s legs instantly started trembling along with the shaking floorboards. How terrible, who knew that mere souls could be this powerful, too? Should their physical bodies make their way over, could Tao Tie still eat them up?
Whilst she fretted over this, a warm palm already clasped her hand. Long and slender fingers, filled with strength. Shao Zi quickly latched onto his arm, shaking so much that her voice was a little fluttery: “If it shakes any more~ will~ the~ tavern get~ shaken down~”
“No, but they’re so bothersome.” The scholar’s brows pinched imperceptibly. His feet sunk down and the ground instantly returned to normal with not even the slightest tremble remaining.
Shao Zi suddenly really wanted to touch his legs…
The elder took pause, then said: “Right now, the Devil’s Realm is in turmoil. The Devil King still needs a few days to sort out the matters of selecting the next successor, otherwise the realm will fall into great chaos over the fight for power. With one realm in chaos, the rest of the five realms will also become chaotic. You don’t plan on breaking away from the Six Realms while turning a blind eye to this systemic problem, do you?”
The scholar stilled slightly: “How much longer can the Devil King last?”
“At best, no more than one month. But we still need three months.”
The scholar’s brows lowered for a moment, then he said: “I will help him find another divine grass to extend his life. All of you go back first.”
The elder, the several venerables, and the mages exchanged several glances. Knowing that there was no way for them to gain some other advantage here and that there was no way to take the peony away, they could only reply: “If you cannot find it within ten days, even if we must exhaust tens of thousands of men and horses,1 we will obtain the peony demon.”
The scholar replied frigidly: “If, within these ten days, you dare to take her away without permission, I definitely will not let any of you off either.”
The fiends froze for a brief moment, but still went away in the end. The hostile energy enveloping the town immediately scattered and disappeared.
Shao Zi buried her head into his sleeves and rubbed off the beads of sweat on her forehead. In any case, these clothes were all washed by her so it’s no big deal!”
“Shao Zi, you’re trembling.”
“…It would be weird if I wasn’t!” Shao Zi was scared to tears. It was more terrifying than getting swallowed and spat out by that giant head. “So…if you don’t find that divine grass in ten days time, I’ll get turned to soup by them?”
The scholar shook his head: “Of course not, did I say that I would let them snatch you away if I couldn’t find anything?”
Swiftly, Shao Zi used her strength to hug his arm, unwilling to let go. She whimpered: “Innkeeper, let’s not part for even one moment, okay? Let’s go grocery shopping together, eat together, bathe together, and sleep together.” A world without the scholar was simply too dangerous!
The scholar’s nasal cavity inexplicably began to heat up. Though he really wanted to nod in agreement, he would definitely be called out for taking advantage of another’s difficulties. As soon as that petty little villain in him emerged, it was immediately shooed to the skies. He smiled: “You stay here at the tavern. I’ll go pick the divine grass and be back very shortly.”
As soon as she heard that he was leaving, Shao Zi’s heart shook with trepidation: “Can I go, too?”
Swiftly, the scholar nodded in happiness: “If you want to come along to play, then of course.”
Upon deciding to go seek out the divine grass together, Shao Zi went to the flowerbed and dug out her demon’s heart, urging the demons to manage the tavern and keep business going. Then, she went to the scholar’s room and drank a large gulp of the tea he had simmered, which left her in good spirits.
By the time all these matters were settled, it was already noon.
Just as they were about to leave, Shao Zi finally thought of a very serious question. She tilted her head and asked: “Innkeeper, where are we going?”
Shoa Zi’s eyes instantly shimmered: “To the Dragon Palace?”2
“No. The path to the Immortal Realm of Peng Lai3 is through the sea, yes? So we’ll naturally need to head to the sea in order to get there.”
He was speaking so ostentatiously again…Shao Zi decided she must spend some time reviewing those ancient texts. But she felt that something seemed off. Blinking, she asked: “Where are we going to find the divine grass?”
The scholar turned his head and looked at her with a smile: “The Immortal Realm.”
A flower demon going to the Immortal Realm…Shao Zi felt grievances in her heart. She looked up at the dark and overcast sky. It seemed she wouldn’t be coming back alive…
The gateway to the Immortal Realm was in the middle of the sea. The scholar originally wanted to carry her and go in directly, but after returning from surveying the terrain, he found that she had hauled over a giant sea turtle and was in the midst of struggling her way over. With no other choice, the sea turtle swung its tail, sending Shao Zi flying. The scholar rushed over to catch her. Holding back his laughter, he asked: “What are you doing catching a turtle for?”
“To ride it!” It was the first time Shao Zi had seen the ocean, so she was simply too excited. While she was in the midst of gleefully collecting up seashells, she came cross a sea turtle bathing under the sun. So delighted was she that immediately went over to catch it.
The scholar’s brow twitched softly: “You want to ride…it to the gates of the Immortal Realm?”
The scholar took a gander at that sea turtle. With a faint, genial smile, he said: “Little Sea Turtle, come here.”
Sea turtle: “…”
He…he already had two handfuls worth of a beard! After living for eight million years, he dared call him little, sea, turtle!
Shao Zi sat on the turtle’s back. It was actually quite flat. When she looked down, she saw its four legs paddling forth. Though it seemed slow, it was actually moving very quickly. As waves upon waves of ocean scent billowed over, she suddenly recalled the ferocious Mermen. Didn’t their energy also carry this sort of scent? At once, she docked several points off the vast and grandiose views of the ocean. She also felt that this scene of water, water, and more water, gave her a feeling of nearly drowning. This type of oppressiveness was really intense, ya.
When the sea turtle first came to a stop, Shao Zi did not notice that there was anything out of the ordinary. But upon looking up, she saw a magnificent, multi-colored cavern that looked as if it were a hole torn by the skies. Bubbles came out the sea turtle’s mouth as it said: “We’re here.”
The scholar reached for Shao Zi’s hand to help her down, but it seemed a little chilly and not quite as warm as before. Seeing how her expression seemed to drift off, he asked: “What’s wrong?”
Shao Zi frowned: “I don’t know why, but that hole seems so familiar.”
The scholar paused. He glanced at it and wrinkled his brows. That made no sense. Shao Zi never ought to have come here before. Only after looking at it several more times did he come to a realization. He smiled faintly: “Is it that it looks like that hole from when Nu Wa mended the skies?”
Shao Zi laughed: “When Nu Wang niang-niang4 mended the skies, who even knows where I was. How could I have seen this rainbow hole before?” And then she was bewildered: “You actually called her Nu Wa, hurry and add a ‘niang-niang‘ for honors!”
The scholar did not even need to think twice: “No.”
“…” Shao Zi was annoyed, this was just too arrogant of him! Was his plan to stampede through the Six Realms, then go on stampeding through the areas that had detached themselves from the Six Realms? But those people beyond the Six Realms…She thought about it, then shivered. It was best to not think about them at all. Those were all great beings that could defy natural order5 The scholar was invited to a banquet in the Realm of Gods, so he must be of that realm. There was no way that he could be a creature that could defy natural order.”
Passing through the immortal gates did not necessarily mean that they had arrived at the Immortal Realm. After moving forward a hundred zhang, the scholar once again took out the obscuring umbrella, opening it up with a “pa.” Shao Zi swiftly burrowed at his side, hugging his arm and hiding beneath the umbrella: “Innkeeper, this umbrella is so useful. It lets us go anywhere.”
“Mn, speaking of this, it was gifted by Nu Wa.”
“…” Shao Zi stared at him. “Innkeeper, who in the world are you? A great, order defying being gifted you an umbrella?” After a long time, she suddenly understood, her face carrying a look of “I have figured out the truth.”
“…Don’t let your thoughts go askew.” The scholar laughed faintly. “We’re almost at the Southern Gates of Heaven. Remember not to make any noises.”
- 千軍萬馬: Fig. An impressive display of manpower.
- In Chinese folklore, the Sea Dragon King (海龍王 // hai long wang), also called Ao Guang, resides in an undersea palace in the East Sea. You may know of him from Journey to the West and the story of Ne Zha. He’s not the only sea dragon king, but he’s definitely the most famous.
- The most famous of the legendary islands of Bo Hai Sea in Chinese folklore. This is where Eight Immortals dwelled. Recall that Little White crashed their one of their banquets while masquerading as the dragon deity in Chapter 2.
- 娘娘 // Niang-Niang: Form of address for an empress or imperial concubine. Similar to saying mistress or lady as part of a title.
- I.e. super powerful. She means creation gods and creatures such as Nu Wa, Fu Xi, and the like, who are ancient similar to Titans in Greek mythology.