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Chapter 80
Chapter 80: Undeserved Fame

Translator: sophiaxlm  Editor: Kurisu

 

There were indeed very few tourists in the temple. As a matter of fact, apart from a couple taking pictures on the stairs, the three of them were the only ones inside. The Jade Emperor Hall was not particularly interesting and Xiaojin only stuck her head in to take a brief look before moving on swiftly to the next floor up.

The second floor was the most spacious one; enshrined in the front was a Doumu statue with four heads, three eyes and eight arms, each holding a magical instrument. It was flanked by sixty Tai Sui deities equally divided on both sides, all so vivid that they were lifelike in appearance.

That was the Hall of Auspicious Day.



"Excuse me, laywoman…"

As soon as they stepped in, a young priest came up to them and asked Xiaojin, "Are you here to light the incense?"

"I am!"

"In that case, you might want to choose a high-quality one. It’s on the pricy side, but would do you good in your health, wealth, and love life," sales pitch flowed out of the priest like a cracked dam.

"Burning a high-quality incense can guarantee so many blessings for me?" Xiaojin was amused.

"Well, the immortals are very spiritual beings. They’ll know whether your prayer is sincere or not. We mortal men have no means to reach them other than lighting incense and kowtowing to show respect. Therefore, what incense you choose becomes very important. Burning high-quality ones will guarantee your prayers be heard by the immortals, which will enable them to give us thorougher blessings…"

The priest let loose a flood of eloquence, spurting out little droplets of spit as he spoke. He went on and on about karma and fortune (or misfortune), associating them with the benefit of burning high-quality incenses. Xiaojin was teasing him in the first place and would never take his blabbering seriously. She only replied, "It won’t be necessary. These work just fine for me."

Seeing his sweet-talk was to no avail, the priest changed his target and turned to greet the other two. "Hello, layman and laywoman…"

"Hello, priest!"

He barely said hello when Xiaozhai greeted him with a traditional salute gesture. She slipped her left thumb through the gap between her right thumb and index finger, touching the base of her right ring finger. Her right thumb was in a bending position beneath the left one, touching the tip of her right middle finger. Her two hands formed a shape resembling the Taiji diagram. [1]

It was called the Zi-Wu hand gesture, a Taoist etiquette passed down from ancient times. [2] The meaning behind the gesture was that the left side was of Yang quality, representing vitality, while the right side was of Yin, suggesting an intention to kill. By wrapping Yang around Yin, death was overpowered by life.

Taoist priests on screen greeted others with fist-and-palm salutes all the time. In fact, there were two other common greeting gestures, one being the hand-cupping gesture and the Zi-Wu gesture the other.

"..."

The priest was taken aback by Xiaozhai’s gesture and as if trying to hide his guilty conscience, he didn’t have the heart to continue the conversation, but backed away to where Xiaojin was instead. "Obviously, we won’t force you to buy one if you insist on burning those. Here, let me show you how to worship your birth star."

He then asked Xiaojin’s date of birth, found the corresponding Tai Sui figure, and started lighting incense and kowtowing.

"What was that all about?"

On the other side, Gu Yu asked under his breath.

"He’s a knock-off," Xiao

zhai answered in a whisper, "he dared not return my salute, which means he has no idea what to do."

"A fake priest?"

Gu Yu darted a look at the man and shook his head. "This Shangzhen Temple really does not deserve its reputation."

"Hehe, since we’re already here, we might as well look around." Xiaozhai chuckled and turned to observe the row of deity statues. She asked unexpectedly, "Hey, which one is your guardian deity?"

"Mine is… well, it should be this one."

He moved a few steps away and stood in front of a statue. It was a star deity with a scholarly appearance. He wore a green rope and looked gentle and elegant. In his hand was a jade Ruyi. [3]

His name was labeled on a plate: Tai Sui Bing-Yin, the Great General Geng Zhang. [4]

"Nice. He takes after me a lot."

He was greatly satisfied with this discovery and looked to the left. Since Xiaozhai was one year older than him, it went without saying that the one up the line was her guardian deity. He looked up and guess what!

That star deity was wrapped in a bright red robe gown and carried a majestic look. However, he had a rather conspicuous hairstyle. He was bald apart from two symmetrical horn-shaped buns on either side of his head.[TL/N: Think hammerhead shark. Replace the eyes with buns.] The statue had a ruddy face and was holding a red-tasseled spear in his right hand.

Despite the label "Tai Sui Yi-Chou, the Great General Chen Cai", his fancy, unruly look rather reminded one of certain lotus-root-related figure in a mid-life crisis.

"That’s awesome. Your guardian deity is Nezha!" [5]

Gu Yu was cracking up. Having been "overruled" by Xiaozhai all this time, he finally found something about her that he could laugh about. Surely he would not let go of this chance easily.

"..."

Xiaozhai was utterly speechless—partially for the guffawing idiot over there, partially for the idiotic statue itself.

While they were messing around on the other side, Xiaojin had finished praying with the incense. Standing up, she asked, "Do I need to make a donation?"

"It’s totally up to you. The immortals will be informed of your wishes accordingly," replied the priest with a straight face.

"Ok."

Hearing that, she dug out a one-yuan coin from her pocket and inserted it into the donation box, which hit the bottom with a clang, loud and clear.

"Thank you. Kindness knows no bounds!"

The priest miraculously held his posture and did not seem to be affected at all. He went on, "Currently, there is a master on short-term stay in our temple. If you wish to pray for blessings for your family members, please proceed inside."

"I’d like that!"

Xiaojin was going to say yes to anything anyway and gladly walked into a small room, where she found tables, chairs, and a hatchet-faced priest. As soon as he saw her entering, he put on a smiling face and said, "Write names here, your wishes are sure to come true."

Her mouth twitching, she made up two names on the spot and wrote them down on a yellow paper notebook.

"Are these your parents? Well, rest assured, we will chant the scriptures and say the prayers for the well-being of your entire family."

Flipping through the notebook, the hatchet-faced priest revealed pages upon pages of tourists’ names, below which numbers were written. He explained, "Here, these are the amounts all those laymen left us to pay their regards. The amount of donation we accept here is from 99 yuan to 9999 yuan. I see that you have a rather pleasant face. A donation of either 999 or 699 will do."

"I don’t have that much money on me."

"You’ll have to give 99 yuan at least. We chant the scripture once a day for 99 days. That’s as little as one yuan per day."

"Didn’t you say it was up to me? In that case, I’ll donate 10 yuan. A perfect ten."

"No, you can’t do that!" The hatchet-faced priest’s face darkened immediately and threatened, "Let me be clear with you. It you do not donate enough, it will be very bad for your family!"

"But I only have 10 yuan on me."

"Don’t you have friends with you? Borrow some from them."

"Nah, we aren’t that close. It’ll be too awkward."

This seesaw went on. Xiaojin made a fool of the priest with a straight face and would not pay up. Seeing that he was going nowhere, the priest put on a stern look and said, "There’s no other way, then. You have shown no sincerity and the immortals would surely not give you any blessing."

With that, he picked up the pen and crossed out the two names.

What the heck!

Xiaojin had been taking the whole scam with much indifference ever since the woman gave her the incense. However, the priest had gone too far this time. Luckily, she did not give any real names, or she would be murderously angry by now. Even so, she could not put up with this behavior.

"Smack!"

Banging the table, she leapt to her feet and yelled, "You people are ridiculous! If I don’t pay up, you’ll just cross out the names like that? I’ve seen nasty stuff before, but not as disgusting as that!"

"This is a quiet place. Please leave."

The hatchet-faced priest could not be bothered to argue and beckoned her to leave.

"Quiet my ass! Can Taoist priests behave like this? Are you even a real one?" Having full confidence of Gu Yu’s backing her up, the young sister-in-law demanded, "Show me your Taoist priest certificate, or I’ll report you!"

"Huh!"

Such claim made the priest restless. He called out, "Xiao Zhang! Xiao Zhang!"

"What’s wrong?"

The door opened and the young priest came in.

"This one is causing trouble here. Throw her out."

The hatchet-faced priest pointed at Xiaojin, who would never let herself be wronged if she could help it. Before the priests could make any move, she ran out of the door on her own first.

"Sister, Brother, they’re all yours!"

Yelling and running, she was not nervous in the slightest bit, but was rather enjoying herself—after going through all the bullsh*t, she finally felt avenged.

"..."

Gu Yu and Xiaozhai were still bewildered with what was going on when Xiaojin dashed down the stairs, followed by a priest who bellowed at them, "Don’t cause trouble here. No one will get out unscratched if things got out of hand. Go away. Bug off! Leave before I call someone. Now!"

So that was what happened. The two of them saw at once that their devilish brat had stirred up some trouble again. She was such a pain in the neck. They did not want to engage in a conflict for nothing and had to turn around to leave.

[1] TL/N: The "子" (year of Rat) and "午" (year of Ox) in the raw are elements of Earthly Branches (地支) or Animal Zodiac, a Chinese system of reckoning time. The branches could be used in various ways. When arranged on one’s palm, it could be used for fortune-telling. An illustration of how they are arranged could be found here: https://kevinchanbazi.wordpress.com/2014/07/19/bazi-relationship-earthly-branch-combination/

[2] ED/N: Just google in google images and you should be able to see it somewhere on the first two pages.

[3] TL/N: Ruyi, or 如意 literally means "as desired". It is a curved decorative object that serves as a ceremonial scepter or a talisman symbolizing power and good fortune.

[4] TL/N: Bing-Yin is the year number under the time-reckoning system of the sexagenary cycle, aka the Stems-and-Branches or ganzhi (干支).

[5] TL/N: Nezha is a protection deity in Chinese folklore. According to the legend, he committed suicide and was brought back to life via a new body made from lotus root, hence the mentioning of "藕霸" in the previous paragraph, which is also homophonic to "oppa", the term used in Korea for girls to call men older than them.


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