Jiang Lan agreed to meet Auntie Xu at Yu Wan Plaza at half-past six.
Yu Wan Plaza was located near the Yu Wan Apartment Complex. With many recreational facilities, this plaza was the local people’s favorite place for their evening activities.
Most of the members of Auntie Xu’s dance group are the residents in Yu Wan Apartment Complex. With around forty regular members, plus the passing pedestrians who decided to join the dance on the spur of the moment, this group always attracted high attendance every evening. Before the dispute, they always occupied a prominent spot in the middle of this plaza.
According to Auntie Xu, the other dance group in a dispute with them came from another upscale new apartment complex called Chun Jing. That apartment complex had its own plaza to accommodate the resident’s evening activities. Because most of the residents were young, upper-middle-class, square dancing didn’t have a huge following. With around a dozen members, this dance group was denied the use of the plaza after some residents complained anonymously that their dancing created too much noise. Under the mediation of the property administration office, they agreed to move the venue of square dancing to Yu Wan Plaza.
Henceforth, there were two dance groups in Yu Wan Plaza.
The Yu Wan Plaza was big enough for two dance groups. But the fragile peace between them ended this week when the newcomer decided that it was unfair that Auntie Xu’s group had the exclusive use of the best spot and proposed a competition in which the winner would have the use of the best place from then on.
At first, the idea of competition didn’t intimidate her. But the lead dancer in the new group appeared to be a professional dancer, and some of the members also seemed to have professional training. In contrast, the members in Auntie Xu’s group were all amateurs. So the competition wasn’t going to be fair.
That’s why Auntie Xu rejected their proposal on the grounds of unfair competition.
After that, the lead dancer visited her several times, but Auntie Xu wouldn’t budge. Their dispute then turned ugly, with the lead dancer conjuring up nine heads to intimidate her. In a rage, Auntie Xu turned to the street administration office for help.
While walking towards Yu Wan Plaza, Jiang Lan thought about the nine heads Auntie Xu mentioned, whether they were part of magic tricks or the original form of a monster.
But was there such a thing as a monster who likes square dancing?
When he arrived at the Yu Wan Plaza, Auntie Xu was already there with her dance group members and equipment. Opposite them stood three people. Among them, a beautiful woman in her thirties was obviously the leader. Dressed in fashionable clothing, she wore heavy makeup and curly hairs reaching her waist. She had an aggressive look on her face.
At that moment, Auntie Xu was in the middle of a heated argument with this woman. After seeing Jiang Lan, she dragged him to her side.” Look, little comrade, If I didn’t anticipate this and come early, they would have occupied this spot already! How come a grown-up person dressed like this behaved in such a disgraceful manner?”
Hearing this, the woman was furious.” Who do you accuse of being disgraceful?”
Having always been sharp-tongued, Auntie Xu immediately retorted.” I accuse anyone who talks back! Does the rule first come first served sound familiar to you? The use of this spot belongs to any group who first laid claim to it. It is so disgraceful to sneak here early to take over our spot!”
With her chest heaving, the woman said angrily.” Do you think I like to dance in this shabby place?”
Auntie Xu:” Oh, then you think this place is beneath you! The Yu Wan Plaza is not fit for a person of your noble status? Then why don’t you go back to your own apartment complex? I knew already that your group had been banned from dancing there for creating excessively loud noise. So disgraceful!”
Looking at Auntie Xu and the woman with flushed cheeks, he thought he shouldn’t be here.
Changing her tactic, this woman sneered.” Ok, we can stop talking nonsense now. Name your price for giving this spot away.”
Auntie Xu immediately turned to Jiang Lan.” Do you hear that? Little comrade? What kind of people will talk like this? When they know they can’t talk us out of this spot, they want to buy their way in! Do I look like I am desperate for money? Why don’t you just buy the whole Yu Wan Plaza? When you have the ownership of the whole plaza, you can dance wherever you want, and we will stay out of it.”
Jiang Lan had an embarrassed but courteous smile on his face.
He didn’t dare to say a word in the middle of this.
The bickering aunties were much more formidable than any monster he had seen.
Perhaps sensing she was losing this debate, the woman paused before asking a question.” If I acquire this plaza, can we use this spot?”
Then she turned to Jiang Lan.” Little Comrade, Is it possible for her to buy a government property? This plaza is government property, right?”
Now she concluded that this woman was quite wealthy and was used to getting her ways.
Now the attention of everyone here turned to Jiang Lan. Clearing his throat, he said with a professional smile on his face.” This plaza is big enough for two dance groups. Wouldn’t it be better if everyone agreed to split the spot? I don’t see the need to argue over something like this.”
Proudly raising her head, the woman gave a sneering laugh.” I am Jiu FengTL’s note: 九凤 means nine phoenix, I have never shared anything in my life.”
Auntie Xu couldn’t stay silent.” Nine Phoenix? Are you trying to impress me? As a retired school teacher, I have never seen someone acted in this outrageous manner!”
The name Jiu Feng sounded vaguely familiar to Jiang Lan. But before he had time to recall, Jiu Feng’s smile suddenly vanished, and her face grew grim.” Now I think we can dispense with this chitchat!”
Auntie Xu.” So you want to use violence? If you dare to raise your hands, I will call the Police.”
He had never coped with a situation like this. While he was trying to figure out how to restore the peace between them, Jiu Feng suddenly raised her hands, and everything, everyone instantly fell into silence.
Psychic FieldTL’s note: the original text is 结界, means a magical field in which nothing goes in or out!
Jiang Lan calmly observed his surroundings. Looking around, he could still see the traffic on the road. But the sound seemed to be insulated. They would be invisible to anyone who happened to look in their direction.
Unaware of this change, Auntie Xu still tried to argue with Jiu Feng.
Looking down at her, Jiu Feng’s voice seemed to have a strange tune.” Ceding the spot to me.”
Auntie Xu was adamant.”No!”
Jiu Feng didn’t expect she would refuse. She again gazed at her, and nine heads vaguely appeared on both sides of her neck.” Ceding the spot to me.”
The appearance of the nine heads finally brought back those distant memories from Jiang Lan’s mind.
Witch God Jiu Feng had nine human heads and the body of a bird.
In ancient times, the distinction between humans and gods was blurry. To ensure their survival, weak humans would choose to worship those mighty and merciful humans or monsters as gods. Annual spiritual services had been held for them, offering them sacrifices and asking for their divine protection.
Jiu Feng was among those gods.
Before Jiang Lan was brought back to the Dragon Palace, he encountered Jiu Feng. At that time, he was mad with hunger and would bite anything he could lay his hands on. When Jiufeng met him on a desolate plain, unsurprisingly, a fight broke out between them. In the end, he bit off Jiu Feng’s tail feathers. For that, Jiu Feng chased after him for a long time, almost managing to break his horn. Finally, their fight ended in a stalemate.
Jiang Lan watched Jiu Feng calmly, thinking it was fortunate that Jiu Feng didn’t recognize him in his human form.
Hiding true identities was second nature to most monsters. High monsters were especially good at this. It was impossible to know their identity once they transformed into human forms unless they chose to reveal themselves.
Jiufeng was still trying to hypnotize Auntie Xu. But as a fierce fighter, she was not very good at hypnotism. Her hypnotism seemed not to work on stubborn Auntie Xu.
Auntie Xu’s answer kept changing back and forth between “ok” and “no.”
Appearing increasingly agitated, Jiu Feng said to one of her minions.” Go get me someone who is good at hypnotism. I must get her to say yes.”
Then she glanced at Jiang Lan.” You see nothing.”
In her eyes, galaxies seemed to twirl in an endless universe.
But Jiang Lan didn’t lose consciousness as she expected. He took a step forward to block her path.” The Clause 31 of the Monster Regulation clearly stated: Use of magic spell on humans is forbidden without a probable cause. If you don’t stop what you are doing, I will report to the Bureau and demerit points will be awarded according to your offence.”
Every monster registered with the Monster Bureau will be issued an identity card containing a memory chip. Besides the basic information about the card bearer, this chip also stored demerit points as part of a penalty system. These demerit points accumulate in a ten-year period. If a monster violates the Monster Regulation during this ten-year period, certain demerit points will be awarded depending on the offense committed. If the accumulated demerit points reach 50, the offender is obligated to attend a one-year education program. If the accumulated demerit points reach 100, the offender would be denied the right to live in a human city for the remainder of the ten-year period plus the one-year education program.
Hearing this, Jiu Feng stopped to look at Jiang Lan with a shocked expression.” Aren’t you sent from the street administration office?”
Her looks seemed to be saying: Now, even the street administration offices were infiltrated by the people from the Monster Bureau.
Jiang Lan tried to look innocent.” Yes, I work in the Street Administration Office. And Auntie Xu asked me to mediate a dispute.”
Jiu Feng now had a despairing look.” Ok, Ok, I will give up this spot to her. Please don’t report me; I have already been awarded 90 points.”
Only 10 points to being denied the right to live in a city, what an impossible feat to pull off!
Jiang Lan thought to himself. After these years, even Tao Tie was trying to be a model citizen nowadays. Why does Jiu Feng still retain her fierce temper?
The last time they met, Jiu Feng had pursued him for almost two months after the feathers in her tail were plucked off by him. Luckily he could fend off her attacks easily; otherwise, he might end up losing his horn.
Unsettled by this possible outcome, Jiang Lan continued.” If you could end this dispute peacefully, I wouldn’t report you. There are only around ten members in your group? Is it a waste of space if you have the exclusive use of the biggest spot?”
Jiu Feng raised her head proudly.” Humans have worshipped me for thousands of years. Now I can’t even use the best spot in a plaza?”
Jiang Lan tried to reason with her.” Now we live in a modern society and abide by the rule of a modern society. Now everything is run on the first come first served basis. Even the high monsters had to queue in line.”
Jiu Feng.” When I buy the Yu Wan Plaza, I don’t need to queue in line.”
Jiang Lan.” If you continue like this, I will report you.”
Jiu Feng immediately conceded her defeat.” Ok, ok, I will wait in line.”
But she again showed her displeasure with her nine heads turning to face Jiang Lan in unison.” If you threaten to report me again, I will devour you.”
Jiang Lan didn’t budge.” Threatening government employees will be punished with 10 demerit points.”
“I am wrong, little brother, please leave,”
She even withdrew her psychic field.
But Jiang Lan refused to leave. He insisted.” Before I am sure your dispute with Auntie Xu have been resolved, I can’t leave.”
While maintaining her smile, Jiu Feng cursed him in her mind.
With the psychic field gone, Auntie Xu came back to her senses.” Oh, yes, our business wasn’t finished yet. Oh, What was I saying?”
Jiang Lan looked at Auntie Xu reassuringly.” Madam Jiu Feng had realized she made a mistake, and didn’t want to argue any more.”
Shocked, Auntie Xu looked at Jiu Feng suspiciously.” When did she admit her mistakes? I have no recollection of that.”
“A moment ago.” Jiang Lan smiled at Jiu Feng.” Isn’t it?”
Gritting her teeth, Jiu Feng glared at this fearless little monster.” Yes, I have made a mistake. I shouldn’t bully you like this. You can continue to use this spot.”
Being a forgiving person, Auntie Xu smiled at her admission.” Oh, we wouldn’t come to this if you realized your mistakes earlier. So we still stick to our previous arrangement?”
Jiu Feng nodded reluctantly.