The city was known for its spring-like climate, hence the name Spring City. 1
The intense heat of the summer was over and with the arrival of September, so came the most pleasant time of the year in Spring City. Through the slightly yellowed leaves of ginkgo and plane trees, the sun left soft mottled marks on the ground, tickling at the peaceful minds of those walking the streets.
Gu Yu and Xiaojin were strolling along a street of this unfamiliar city, taking in the carefree air they hadn't experienced for a while. Their hearts were filled with the pleasant stability of this mortal world and all felt perf— bah! That was not what was happening!
"Brother-in-law, Brother-in-law, I want this one!
"Brother-in-law, Brother-in-law, buy me that one!
"Fine, fine, fine! Let's buy them all!"
As soon as they put down their stuff in the hotel rooms, they went out to walk around. Merely an hour had passed and there were six bags and three portions of snacks in Gu Yu's hands. Meanwhile, Xiaojin herself was still hopping around in the front, looking around for the next thing that would catch her eyes.
What else could he do but be at her service!
After leaving Shengtian, Spring City was their first stop. The city was in the province of Diannan 2 , which was located in the southwest border of the country, adjoining the three countries of Myan, Laos, and Viet, which were historically influenced by this country culturally and all had a tradition in practicing Tame Head.
Now that the "patients" were mostly cured, those masters got what they were promised and were permitted to preach and set up religious facilities in this country. It was only natural that they should cash it in. However, they wouldn't be that foolish to go straight to the capital city, but were likely to start from somewhere close at hand.
Diannan was a province consisting of multiple ethnic minorities and the art of casting spells had a long tradition in this region, making it an ideal place for the three countries. Hence, this major province of the Southwest was to become the beginning of everything.
Gu Yu was actually a little flustered: an older brother-in-law taking a younger sister-in-law a thousand miles away from home on a trip of two; there could only be one end to this story—an x-rated mangstyle one! Obviously he wasn't going to elope with his younger sister-in-law, but the whole thing still gave him the jitters.
The girl was so unpredictable!
"Brother-in-law, do I look nice in this?"
In a small shop by the side of the road, Xiaojin put on a white sun hat and batted her eyelashes at Gu Yu.
"Nice! Very nice! We'll take it!"
Gu Yu did not hesitate and paid for it right away. Gosh, that motherly grin on the female shop owner's face, which was saying "such a cute couple, they're made for each other!"
Xiaojin was very pleased with Gu Yu's attitude. Like Confucius once said (not), "Only when a man is alone with his younger sister-in-law can one tell that whether or not the man really loves the older sister."
During the past 24 hours, Gu Yu had been behaving decently, was generous with the money, caring but not too caring to the point of showing vulgar flirtation...
'Mwahaha! In that case, I can begin to safely set him up (and work my charms)!'
The delighted Xiaojin hopped happily out of the shop wearing that hat. She had probably forgotten to watch the road, for the minute she walked out, she bumped into a passerby, who almost flew out sight. The man bellowed, "Where do you think you're going?"
He was so loud that his anger far exceeded what one would express when they got knocked into. Xiaojin was surprised for one second before yelling back, "Where do you think you're going?"
The man did not respond to that. He looked at Xiaojin up and down and asked suddenly, "You're not from around here, are you?"
"What does that have anything to do with anything… hey, f**k, what's wrong with him?"
The man turned around abruptly and left the scene, leaving Xiaojin utterly baffled behind. She gave her brother-in-law a nudge. "What was that all about?"
"No idea. But I began to notice a while ago, people here are really weird. Did you notice the look on their faces?"
Xiaojin looked around for a while and realized it too. The passersby all had a look on their faces that suggested a strange conflicting feeling of, well, hoping you'd know and hoping you'd not know at the same time.
"These people are out of their mind! I'm not gonna mess with them!"
She had a memory not much better than a goldfish and soon forgot all about the incident, resuming her happy hopping around.
She was no longer looking for things to buy now. Instead, she went all sneaky as if she was looking for some secret location. Gu Yu followed her around for a while and had to ask in the end, "What are you looking for?"
" Jade gambling 3 ! Isn't that a must-triggered plot for anyone coming to Diannan? Why isn't it happening to us?" She was not happy.
"Why do you need to gamble a jade stone for? It's not like you need the jade or the money." Gu Yu felt his temple was throbbing again.
"I like to collect my achievements! I'm OCD like that… Hey, check that out!"
She literally could not stay still for more than a minute and was all of a sudden pointing at a shop by the side of the road. Gu Yu followed her finger and saw a quaint shop front with a black horizontal plaque hanging above the gate with its name inscribed in a blackish green color, which read "Pavilion of Safety".
Pavilion of Safety?
The name itself was very bizzare to begin with. Gu Yu and Xiaojin exchanged a look and reached a rare tacit understanding. They moved towards the shop in unison and pushed the door open.
It was incredibly spacious inside. The decor had adopted a comfortable color theme, reminding one of one of those specialty shops for ginseng, vintage wine, or famous tea. Counters and storage racks lined the wall on both sides and the floor in the middle was set relatively lower. Carved wooden tables and chairs were set out there.
A middle-aged man was making tea. Seeing the two coming in, he rose to his feet and greeted, "Welcome! What can I help you with?"
"Well, what do you sell here?" Gu Yu put on an ignorant face.
"I see, you two are from other provinces, aren't you? First time in Spring City?"
"What's wrong with you people? Why is everyone asking if we're from around here?" Xiaojin acted even more ignorant.
"Haha, please don't get it wrong, I mean no offense. Here, let me show you around first."
With that, the owner led them to the counter and explained, "We're called Pavilion of Safety. As the name suggests, we sell things that will keep you safe. Here, all these jade plates, pendants, amulets, and statues are for you to take back and bless you with safety."
"Take back? You mean you're giving them out for free?" said Xiaojin.
"Haha, you're making fun of me here. Even the Buddha himself gave a price for teaching his scriptures, not to mention things concerning your own safety."
"Why is my safety concerned?" She looked very confused.
The owner was the one surprised now. "Don't you know? There is going to be a great change of the world! Or is it possible that things have not happened in your area yet? But that's unlikely. Don't you go on internet?"
"Ah! Oh! I see…"
Xiaojin smacked her head and gave him the look of sudden realization. "It just did not occur to me at first. Speaking of that, we really don't need anything. We've got things prepared back at home."
"That's more like it. You both are too young to be ignorant of such things."
The owner removed the glass cover and picked up a yellow talisman. "Although you said you had things prepared at home, but one can never have too much protection. It's all for the peace of our minds, isn't it? This talisman was drawn by Priest Chen Qingyou of Longquan Temple himself. One piece of this on your doorframe and no evil shall enter your home!"
"How much?" asked Gu Yu.
"It's a bargain—fifty thousand yuan."
Gu Yu darted the owner a quick look saying 'what sort of idiot are you?' There was no fluctuation of spiritual essence of any sort on this talisman and it would be the greatest joke if this thing could dispel anything. He was about to reason with the man on that when Xiaojin spoke, "Fifty thousand only? I'll take three of that!"
"Wow, very generous!"
The owner raised an eyebrow and went on to the next object. "This Buddha amulet was blessed by a master from Siam personally. Wearing it will keep all evil away. It's also sold at fifty thousand."
"Give me, um, my dad, my mum, my brother, my sister… give me five of that!" Xiaojin waved her hand.
"Sure, I'll bag them for you in a minute."
That was 400,000 yuan worth of sales in a heartbeat, which was more than enough to bring a beam to anyone's face.
The owner blossomed like a rose. Wow, he could almost see a Buddha's halo around the girl's head which was glaring out three words: stupid and rich.
Before long, he had packed the three talismans and five Buddha amulets, while Xiaojin paid without hesitation. She then said, "By the way, do you have anything for businesses? My company has just moved to a new building and I want something to suppress the evil energy."
"Sure, sure thing. This way, please." The owner immediately led her to another row of counter and pointed at a gold lacquer statue. "The saying goes that ' the Southern Dipper 4 ' takes care of life and the Northern Dipper 5 takes care of death.' The one we have here is called Star King Du'e 6 . He ranks the fifth among the six Southern Dipper Star Kings and is in charge of misfortunes and calamities. Take him back and set up a shrine in you company, I can guarantee that your business will prosper with money flowing in unstoppably."
Xiaojin eyed the statue from various angles, exhibiting the typical characteristic of a girl on a shopping trip. "Nope. it's too ugly."
"That's perfectly fine. If you could have a look at this one, please."
The owner had probably heard enough of such comments and did not think much of it. "This is the Celestial Venerable of Good Life, one of the Celestial Venerable of Ten Directions. It will also bless you with safety and good fortune."
"Nope, it's still ugly."
"Oh, then let's have a look at this…"
They went through the next four or five like so and Xiaojin was pleased with none of them. She shook her head. "Well, I don't think you have what I need. I'll go have a look somewhere else."
She took Gu Yu's arm and said casually, "There's another one down the road. Let's check it out."
Gu Yu had by now realized what she was trying to achieve and played along. They began to walk towards the door, but only make a few steps before the owner called out from behind, "Please wait a moment!"
The owner hurried near and after a little hesitation, said, "I'm actually breaking rules here by telling you this, but since you two seemed sincere, I'm willing to make an exception. If you fancy nothing in my shop, there is a place I can promise will. The only thing is, hoho, I'm not sure if you're ready for it."
"Excuse me? Don't give me that crap, okay? I don't mind spending 400,000 on a piece of sh*t as long as I'm happy. Who the hell are you trying to scare off here? I'm not prepared? Really?"
With the show Xiaojin was putting up, she was a mink coat away from a fearless Northeastern chick.
The owner actually bought it all and apologized right away. "I'm sorry for putting it that way, but that place is really important and even I have to take extra care. How about this: leave me you names and phone number now. There happens to be an event tomorrow and I'll let you know then."
"Thanks a lot!"
Gu Yu made a frown and said impatiently, "I'm Gu Jiang!"
"Jiang as in 'river'?"
"As in 'ginger'. Her name is—"
Before Gu Yu could finish the sentence, Xiaojin held his arm and interrupted, "I'm Gu Xiaoqiu, his younger sister!"
The owner eyed them suspiciously. Xiaojin glared. "What are you looking at? Are you saying we don't look alike?"
"You do! Of course you do!"
The owner nodded right away, 'you do look like the brother and sister that would sleep together…'
"Well, I'll have to check your ID as well."
"Tsk, what's with all the fuss. There!"
The owner took the two ID cards and glanced at them. All of a sudden, his mind went blurry as if the computer of his head had been rebooted. He thought he read the names on the cards.
One was Gu Jiang and the other Gu Xiaoqiu.
"That'll do. Come back here tomorrow evening. Please keep in mind not to mention it to anyone else."
"Yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah. See ya!"
With that, the two left the shop.
Xiaojin hopped around as if nothing had happened. Turning around unexpectedly, she saw that her brother-in-law was staring at her. She immediately covered her breasts with both arms and jumped back. "Ah! You're finally going to do it!"
"Do my a*s!"
Gu Yu made a gesture to give her head a knock and sighed along with a laughter, shaking his head.
After what had just happened, he couldn't help but make the comparison. Having Xiao Qiu as a helper would save him a lot of worry. Yet despite Xiao Qiu's capability in carrying out orders, she was not very good at taking initiatives, hence of little use in providing advice.
Whereas Xiaojin, who might be too loud for his liking, could start World War Three by stepping on someone's big toe, which turned out to be a quality rather useful this time.
Hail Boss Jin the experienced traveller; she might not have the curves, but she had a lot of social connections! In that sense, she could also save him a lot of worry.TL/N: the alternative name of Kunming of Yunnan Province TL/N: Yunnan Province TL/N: Raw jade is covered by base material, meaning that in its natural state, it's impossible to tell the quality of the stone within. A raw stone of any shape or size is purchased—neither the buyer nor the seller know what is inside. The buyer slices it open, revealing the stone's true value. For most its worthless, but there's always a chance of finding priceless jade hidden inside—hence the gambling of jade stones. TL/N: the name in the traditional Chinese constellation system of six stars from Sagittarius TL/N: the Big Dipper TL/N: meaning "surpass suffering"