When Jiang Lan returned home, it was already two o’clock in the afternoon. On opening the door, Jiang Lan saw a black myna acting suspiciously on the balcony. He walked back and forth on the security windowA common installation in a Chinese Apartment, now gradually went out of fashion, unaware that Jiang Lan was already home.
After exchanging a look with Jiang Lan, Suan Ni Lowered his torso to assume his attack position and squinted his golden cat-like eyes at the Myna. He jumped from Jiang Lan’s arms like an arrow towards his prey. In an instant Suan Ni pinned down the unsuspecting Myna between his paws, who was struggling to no avail with feathers flying in all directions.
Suan Ni’s hunt succeeded on the first try. With Myna’s neck between his jaws, he proudly presented his prey to Jiang Lan, who patted his little head.”Good job.”
Suan Ni was pleased with his brother’s praise. He opened his jaws to let myna drop to the ground and pinned him down with one paw while wagging his tail in joy.
Shocked, Black Myna finally caught a glimpse of his captor in his futile struggle. His orange beak uttered a few human words.” Master, please spare my life.”
Grabbing him by the wing, Jiang Lan lifted him up and said.” Aren’t you the bird in Grandpa Yao’s care? Why did you sneak into my house?”
In the morning, he had already noticed that the bird in Grandpa Yao’s birdcage was no longer the same one. Grandpa Yao’s old Myna was adopted before his wife was still alive and had been in his care for more than ten years. Pet Myna has a typical ten-year lifespan. That Myna was ancient with thickened skin wrapped around his claws.
But the Myna in front of him was very young with a smooth feather, obviously in good shape. But what was foremost in their mind was that this Myna had acquired human intelligence.
Creatures with human intelligence were regarded as Monsters.
The Monster Bureau maintains tight control on monsters living among humans. A regulation of forty-nine clauses was drafted to regulate the Monster population. One clause stipulated: Monsters are not allowed to disguise themselves as pets to deceive humans.
It’s a legal safeguard to protect the human race as well as the monster race.
This Myna used magic to disguise as Grandpa Yao’s pet, which was clearly a violation of the regulation. In his estimate, this Myna probably didn’t register in the Monster Bureau and was, therefore, an illegal resident.
Jiang Lan had caught many unregistered monsters who committed crimes in his line of duty. So he was not very gentle in the handling of the black Myna.
Black Myna cried out in pain while in his grasp. Sensing Jiang Lan was indifferent to his suffering, he dropped his head in resignation.” Please spare my life, master! I am just here to pay my respect!”
When he was cultivating in the mountains, nearby monsters told him if he wanted to avoid the terrible fate of being eaten by the high monster, you have to pay respect to them the first thing when you come to a new place.
“Pay respect?” Jiang Lan stared at him in disbelief. The black Myna was speaking in a very old-fashioned manner.” Now is modern time. The practice you talked about is long gone. Have you registered your information in the Monster Bureau? Do you have an identity card? What’s your purpose for sneaking into Grandpa Yao’s home?”
The questioning seemed to mute the black Myna. He turned stiff as if dropped dead. Perhaps he was overwhelmed by too much new information. Jiang Lan shook him to force a few words out of him.” What’s Monster Bureau? Only a human has an identity card, doesn’t it?”
It would take more than a few words to explain to him, so Jiang Lan decided to ignore his questions for the moment.” Tell us first why you sneak into Grandpa Yao’s home. Where did you take the old bird Da Hei?”
Grandpa Yao’s old pet was called Da Hei.
“Da Hei….is dead.” Myna no longer tried to struggle. He answered in a sad tone.” She was my mother.”
Black Myna said that his name was Xiao Hei. He gained human intelligence not long after birth. Without a tutor, he taught himself to absorb the Moon’s essence to cultivate.
After gaining human intelligence, he no longer wanted to stay at Grandpa Yao’s home. So he left. Guided by his instinct, he found a place in the mountain where the spiritual force was strong. After many years of cultivating, he came out of the mountain to visit his mother, only to find his mother was dying.
The average lifespan of a myna is ten years, and his mother’s age was fourteen years which is considered long for a Myna. In the last few days before she died, Da Hei couldn’t take in water and food. Grandpa Yao took her to see all the veterinarians he could find, but all of them offered the same verdict: She was just too old. Nearing the end of life, she was beyond remedy.
Grandpa Yao was sad. Hiding outside, Xiao Hei was sad too.
Although Da Hei was just an ordinary Myna without human intelligence, Xiao Hei could still sense her attachment to Grandpa Yao on the last night.
Grandpa Yao and his wife had been nurturing her since her birth. After his wife passed away, Grandpa Yao became a widow without children, so he treated Da Hei as his child. After ten years, they had a strong bond.
Xiao Hei said.” Now Grandpa Yao had cancer; he probably had a year left to him.”
Jiang Lan didn’t expect that the merry old gentleman who likes to play chess didn’t have long to live. Looking at the sad Xiao Hei, he said in a soft tone.” So that’s why you disguised as Da Hei. You did it to avoid breaking his heart in the twilight of his life.”
“Yes.” Xiao Hei was placed on the floor with ruffled feathers. After using his beak to comb through his feathers, he said in a solemn tone.” Grandpa Yao didn’t have children. My mother and I owe it to him to make sure that he lives out his remaining life in our care and in comfort.”
“You are a grateful good bird.” Jiang Lan patted him and smiled.” But in your present condition, you probably wouldn’t be able to make much difference for him. It seems more likely he has to take care of you.”
Xiao Hei never thought about how to go about taking care of Grandpa Yao. Dropped his head, he seemed at a loss.
Jiang Lan offered a solution.” Come with me to the Monster Bureau. Can you turn into a human form?”
Xiao Hei Clumsily transformed himself into a young man in his twenties. With moderate height, an innocent look on his handsome face, he looked the part of a simple boy.
Signed, Jiang Lan offered him his clothing.” Ok, let’s go to the Monster Bureau.”
Despite not knowing what Monster Bureau is, Xiao Hei still followed him out.
On the way, Jiang Lan gave him a brief introduction of Monster Bureau and its regulations. Xiao Hei thus knew that the age in which the predatory high monsters were in power was long gone. In this new age, all the monsters were under the jurisdiction of the Monster Bureau. They received Socialism education and obeyed Socialism law.
Jiang City Monster Bureau was just a few subway stops from where they live. They arrived at the front of the Monster Bureau Administration Building by subway. Clinging to the Jiang Lan, Xiao Hei acted like a fledgling little bird, looking at everything with curiosity and marvel.
Jiang Lan walked into the building like he owns the place.
This administration building was shared by Monsters and Human Cultivators. One half belonged to the Monster Bureau, the other half belonged to the Special Human Bureau. These two bureaus were on the same administration level. Both were under the administration of the Centre Security Department. These administrations and their equal status were the fruit of joint endeavours by humans and monsters, which lie at the heart of peaceful coexistence between humans and monsters.
The ground floor hall was the reception hall. There were ten reception counters labelled in red and blue. Red counter handle monster affairs, and blue counters were reserved for human cultivators.
After a brief introduction, Jiang Lan led Xiao Hei to join a line before the first counter. Perhaps because now was the holiday season, there were long lines in front of every counter. Well-off elites and poor monsters mingled in the same line.
Xiao Hei didn’t know these people’s origin, but he could sense they were all monsters. There were fewer people in front of the blue counter. But he instinctively dreaded the people there, which made him follow Jiang Lan a little closer.
Soon it was their turn.
The clerk who manned the counter was surprised to see Jiang Lan and stood up quickly. He said in a timid tone.” You don’t need to join the line here. May I arrange an exclusive reception for you?”
Jiang Lan didn’t appear surprised by this treatment. Any monsters who knew his origin and background always acted cautious and fearful around him. After tens of thousands of years, the legend of the evil monster Tao Tie didn’t fade away. It remained vivid in people’s minds and still commanded fear.
“It’s all right, no need.”
Jiang Lan smiled friendly and said.” I came with a friend to register. He just learned the way of human transformation and didn’t know much about the rules here. Perhaps I have to trouble you to give him a tutorial.”
The clerk was a Bear monster. He didn’t expect the famed evil monster Tao Tie to be this friendly. He nodded quickly and asked Xiao Hei to fill out a form. After that, he personally led Xiao Hei away to prepare an identity card.
The bear monster visibly relaxed after leaving the sight of Tao Tie. The sixth floor was occupied by the special service branch. They had long heard that the latest addition to the special service branch a year ago was a Tao Tie named Jiang Lan. No matter whether the office workers were humans or monsters, they all love to gossip about it. Even they can’t prove the authenticity of the gossip; they all acted in a very courteous manner around Jiang Lan.
The high monsters in the special service branch were not known for their good tempers, especially the evil monster Tao Tie who eats people for a snack.
But today’s encounter with this famed monster made him feel less sure about the gossip. He whispered to his colleague. “Is he really the Tao Tie everyone is talking about? Why did he look like a good guy?”
His colleague was just typing Xiao Hei’s information into a computer. He said.”The first impression could be deceiving, man. You have to bear in mind that every member of the special service branch is not to be messed with. The minute you cross them, you are doomed.”
He asked Xiao Hei.” What’s your name?”
“….Yao Xiao Hei.”
“What’s your origin?”
Raising his head from the computer, the monster quickly scanned Xiao Hei’s uncomprehending face. How comes a timid little bird monster get to know a Tao Tie? Maybe the gossip was baseless after all.
After registration was completed, Bear Monster led Xiao Hei out and told him.” Keep this receipt and come to pick up your identity card after ten days. There will be a tutorial waiting for you then.”
Yao Xiao Hei looked a little lost, he said.” That’s all?”
Patting his shoulder, Jiang Lan said.” Yes, from now on, you are a monster with a legal status. After getting your identity card, you are allowed to work or live among humans.”
Xiao Hei’s eyes brightened, he said excitedly.” Then I can visit Grandpa Yao?.. perhaps ask him to adopt me as a son!”
Jiang Lan smiled.” If he doesn’t object.”
Xiao Hei had a silly smile on his face.” Then I have to figure out how to ask him to adopt me.”
Ying Qiao walked out of an elevator with Ya Yu in his custody. It was a monster with a human face and a cow body. After scanning the hall, he halted his steps.
In the ground floor hall, the lion monster he just met today was with another monster. They leaned close in an intimate manner, talking in a very animated way.
His gaze lingered on them for a while. Tai Feng followed his gaze but didn’t pick up anything unusual.
“What’s the matter?”
Ying Qiao withdrew his gaze and didn’t answer. Instead, he kicked the restless Ya Yu and shouted.” Behave yourself! Or I will cut you to pieces.”
In shackles, Ya Yu roared in anger. The high pitched sound was like an infant’s crying except that the force the sound carried slightly rattled the ceiling and floor of the ninth floor. But the ground floor hall appeared unaffected as if an invisible barrier had absorbed the sound.
Still, Ying Qiao’s face grew grim. He looked coldly at Ya Yu, who dared to disobey him. In a flash, he broke Ya Yu’s horn with bare hands and shoved the horn into Ya Yu’s mouth with a smile, forcing him to swallow it.
Ya Yu’s face became white.”…”
No, I don’t dare now.
Witnessing his sudden change of mood, Tai Feng took another curious look at the ground floor. How come he was all calm a few minutes ago, then suddenly erupted in terrifying anger? Did he reach his menopause?
Of course, he wouldn’t dare to say these in Ying Qiao’s face. He coughed to remind Ying Qiao.” They are waiting for us; let’s go.”
Snorting his agreement, he gave Ya Yu a second kick.” Move your ass.”
Ya Yu was speechless. I didn’t shout this time and still got a kick.
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