After leaving the courtyard, Hai Yun Fan looked extremely absent-minded and lost in thought, which did not go unnoticed by everyone in the village, which resulted in much speculation as to what happened. Although around twenty people had tried their luck in resolving the Village Chief’s issue, none had any luck. But it wasn’t Hai Yun Fan’s success that surprised everyone, it was his expression and unusual behaviour upon leaving the courtyard. “Could it be,” they wondered, “that Hai Yun Fan had been violated by that mysterious person in the courtyard?” Hai Yun Fan, however, paid no attention to the people – completing the quest was his only priority.
He decided to go with the most troublesome, but holistic approach. Individually, he talked with the Village Chief, Mrs He Lu and Old Auntie Liu. And with his powers of persuasion, the Village Chief decided to give up on Old Auntie Liu, as well as realise how much his own wife had done for him over the decades they had been together. Moved by this realisation, the old couple wept together.
Mrs He Lu forgave the Village Chief for everything he had done, and reflected on her own misdoings, and even let go of her grudges towards Old Auntie Liu. As for Old Auntie Liu, she too, managed to move past her grudge against Mrs He Lu, and went back to managing her dessert shop with her mind at ease, spending time with her new adoptive grandson, Wen Bao. In three days, the decades of enmity and hatred dissipated like smoke. The three of them were like puppets on a string manipulated by a twelve year-old prince. Those who had been observing him the whole time could not help but marvel at his performance. For this quest, Hai Yun Fan’s performance was one that could not be surpassed by anyone else, unless they used magical treasures or cheated.
Indeed, his marvellous performance also brought him great rewards. Having put out the fire in the Village Chief’s personal affairs, Hai Yun Fan’s relationship with the three of them increased significantly. He was now staying at the Village Chief’s residence, almost becoming his adoptive grandson. Hai Yun Fan’s treatment was even better than Wang Lu’s. It was a pity, however, that the completion of this quest was not the finish line for him. He had solved the Village Chief’s dilemma, became the most famous and respected person in the Garden of Peaches – but what then? No one knew.
Some people had found it too difficult to raise favourability with the Village Chief. One certain youth had instead, gotten quite close with a particular woman from the village. If one disregarded that this woman in question weighed almost 200kg with abundant body hair, one could say that the two had good marriage affinity. However, after enduring that kind of relationship for two days, there was no sign of the next step leaving the village. The youth who had endured the heavy breasts [TLN: terrible, terrible pun here: the normal proverb is 忍辱负重, which means that one is able to endure heavy abuse and humiliation (showing one’s character). However, a pun is used here: 忍乳负重, meaning enduring the heavy breasts] could no longer endure things anymore.
“Lord Wang Lu, please, help me!”
Wang Lu had barely left his residence since entering the village, but his fame had risen as high as Hai Yun Fan’s and Wen Bao’s. Even though they hadn’t left the village yet, the speed at which they advanced was simply terrifying to everyone else – there was definitely a great strategist amongst them, directing them. Even the little pageboy decided to take action.
In such a hopeless situation, Wang Lu became a lifesaver.
“Oh, so you’ve been living worse than a dog for the past two days, but can’t find a clue pointing to the next step, and now you’ve lost all hope? Well, I suggest you put an end to yourself then.”
“You’re not taking the Immortal Path seriously at all. Indeed, all violence is prohibited in the Garden of Peaches, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the Spirit Blade Sect is looking out for us. No, they’re just making things harder from another angle. If there’s no risk of injury or death in this trial, then passing has to be harder in other aspects. If you think being a gigolo for two days will help you pass this trial, you must be looking down on this village way too much.” [TLN: gigolo= male prostitute]
“Then, what do I have to do?”
“If two days isn’t enough, then maybe ten years will be. Maybe after being a domestic animal for ten years you’ll be able to have a chance at becoming an Immortal.”
“What are you ‘ah-ing’ about? It sounds logical to me. Continuing along the Immortal Path after being a gigolo for ten years? Most gigolos would kill for this chance!”
“I- I’m royalty in the You Region! How can I be compared to normal gigolos!?”
“Tsk, I don’t quite like your attitude. As they say, you should love your job. Since you’re a gigolo right now, why are you looking down on your profession? How could you long to be treated like royalty in such a place? Plus, if you want to advance faster, you should learn from Little Hai and do some more challenging quests. Maybe then you’ll be able to move on in just a few months.”
The youth left Wang Lu’s room with a look of despair and hopelessness on his face. Ten years was an incredibly long time… but at least he had obtained a useful piece of information.
A few months! According to Wang Lu, even Hai Yun Fan needed a few months to pass the trial. That meant it would take other people years… this trial was simply way too long. However, from the Spirit Blade Sect’s position in the Ten Thousand Celestial Alliance, it was somewhat reasonable for them to design a trial like this. There was one time when the Ten Thousand Arts Sect designed a trial where hundreds of challengers were required to stay at a swamp for 2 years. And the Kun Lun Sect took 30 years to choose disciples.
After finding out about how long it would take to complete the Garden of Peaches trial, most challengers decided to slow down their pace. If it was going to go on for that long, why be in such a rush?
Hai Yun Fan continued to interact with the three main people of his quest, continuously increasing their favourability towards him. He naturally understood that ‘favourability’ was not something that had limits. Right now, Hai Yun Fan was only someone to whom the Village Chief was grateful too… which could not even be compared to Old Auntie Liu and Wen Bao’s adoptive grandma-grandson relationship. As such, Hai Yun Fan didn’t feel disappointed at all when the next ‘step’ did not immediately appear- as long as he continued, success would come sooner or later. This sort of determination and resolution was rare, especially for youths of eleven or twelve years of age.
“Heheh. Second-rate talent, first-rate intellect and willpower above first-rate. Little Hai, you’re really something.”
“Brother Wang, you’re really flattering me.”
“Well, because of that, we’re going to have to say goodbye soon.”
Hai Yun Fan’s eyes lit up. “You’re saying… wait. Didn’t you say it would take a few months?”
“I was talking about a perfect finish. With your personality, you wouldn’t be going after something like that, right?”
“… I see. Recently I’ve had a feeling that the Village Chief wants to talk to me about something, but I don’t it’s the right time yet… that should be the key to the next step.”
The next step for Hai Yun Fan came very quickly. After staying in the Garden of Peaches for fifteen days, the Village Chief, who he had greatly moved, said to him, “Child, there are some things I want to tell you…”
Although Hai Yun Fan was someone who was usually very calm and composed, he couldn’t resist smiling. “I’ve been waiting for you to say this for a long time.”
Hai Yun Fan left the Garden of Peaches three days later. Staying for only eighteen days, he was the first out of all of the challengers to leave, completely exceeding everyone’s expectations.
One of the very reasons why it was possible was that before leaving, Hai Yun Fan had told everything about his quest to Wang Lu – as was the agreement between the two of them.
According to Wang Lu’s predictions, achieving a perfect finish in the Village Chief’s quest would take many months. But if one did not seek perfection, and wanted a simple pass, it would take a significantly shorter period of time. However, there were bound to be some downsides in doing so. And that was exactly what Hai Yun Fan and Wang Lu had been deducing together.
One’s results in the Garden of Peaches would, to some degree, directly affect their next trial, just as one’s results in the Cloud Wave Map affected their starting point in the Garden of Peaches. Even though Hai Yun Fan had completed the minimum requirements for the Garden of Peaches, he would not have a very favourable starting point in the next trial. Just by completing the Village Chief’s quest, Wang Lu had estimated Hai Yun Fan’s true completion to about 30% of the entire trial – if he wasn’t in such a rush to leave the Garden of Peaches. Hai Yun Fan’s impatience had ruined his performance in the next trial. However, to most other challengers, this sort of ‘downside’ would be considered a blessing.
As one of the top sects, the second half of the Spirit Blade Sect’s Celestial Gathering was an incredibly difficult trial. The Frozen Wind Valley, the Red Ridge Mountain – no one had been able to complete it in the past 300 years. There would usually be a small handful of people who could get into the Serenity Peak, let alone the Ethereal Peak. But this time there was a Garden of Peaches added into the trials. It would be fair to think that the Spirit Blade Sect were lowering the difficulty of their trials as well as their standards. Hai Yun Fan’s exit gave all the other challengers a sense of hope. While it proved to them that it was possible to leave the village within a short period of time, no one was in a rush to follow after him. They had understood that taking their time in this trial would make the next trial easier for them.
It was a pity though, that there were increasingly less people who could achieve a minimum pass for the trial. A week had passed after Hai Yun Fan left, and no one was able to follow after his footsteps, except for the two idiots who were too eager to leave and who made a mess of their own quests.
“Little Fong, Little Fong, let me explain. I truly love you! I don’t hate your thick waist or your body hair! You have to believe me! There’s nothing going on between Little Lan and myself. Little Fong, please forgive me!”
“You unfaithful trash. Get the hell out of here!”