Zhou Shu was originally Li ErThe founder of the Taoist tradition, also known as Laozi’s buffalo mount. He had gained human intelligence a long time ago but remained ignorant. After Li Er recruited him as his mount, he constantly remained by his side to listen to his preaching, which unwittingly led him down the path of cultivation. After the collapse of the Zhou Dynasty, the classic works of literature in Li Er’s charge were taken away by Wang Zizhao to the Kingdom of Chu, and Li Er was stripped of all his official titles. In disappointment, Li Er went westward with his buffalo mount, passing the fortress of Han Gu, which guarded the westernmost frontier. One person, one buffalo, set out to wander the earth to preach about his Dao. Under the influence of his master, Zhou Shu gradually enhanced his cultivation. After the passing of Li Er, he finally made it into human form.
It took place two thousand years ago.
At that time, he was just a newly transformed monster. The decline of the Zhou Dynasty left a power vacuum in which several warring states vied for domination. In the end, the Kingdom of Chin prevailed, unifying China under its rule. After China was unified, the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty, after returning from a trip outside the great wall, had the good fortune to catch sight of a Ying Dragon in the area around Peng City by the Si River’s bank.
This sighting happened twenty-eight years after the first emperor came to power. Following the example of King Yu, who placed the DingsA cauldron-like vessel used in ancient religious service to hold material offerings. Only religious services performed by emperors could use nine Dings, later nine Dings were regarded as the symbol … Continue reading in Yang City”, First Emperor dispatched many people to search for the lost Nine DingsHow they were lost will forever remain a mystery. Most of the written records indicated they went missing after the collapse of the Zhou Dynasty. Some historians believed they were melted during the … Continue reading. Finally, the First Emperor found out that Nine Dings was thrown into the Si River by the Peng City. After performing rituals appeasing the Gods, thousands of people were sent diving into the river to locate Nine Dings. But when the Nine Dings were found and dragged out of the water, a Ying Dragon suddenly emerged from the river, cut off the rope, and made waves and wind to thwart the First Emperor’s efforts to recover Nine Dings.
The First Emperor was Heaven’s son on earth, endowed with the ultimate authority over the human race. On the other hand, Ying Dragons were gods coming to earth with mythical power, impossible to subdue.
The standoff between the two parties lasted more than ten days. In the end, the First Emperor gave up the efforts, letting this Ying Dragon sink back into the Si River, together with the Nine Dings.
It was the first time Zhou Shu saw a Ying Dragon. A glimpse of its majesty left him in awe of ancient witch gods’ overwhelming power.
Later while cultivating, he paid particular attention to any news related to Ying Dragons. Therefore, he learned that the Ying Dragon he saw was not the Ying Dragon who, legend has it, helped the Yellow Emperor A Deity in Daoist tradition, a mythical Chinese Sovereign defeat Chi YouA mythical tribal leader, also honored among Hmong people.
The Ying Dragon clan was originally God in Heaven. In the battle between Huang Di and Chi You, a Ying Dragon named Geng Chen led his clan down to the earth to fight on Huang Di’s side. They helped to chop down Chi You and killed Kuai Fu. But the battles exhausted their divine power, leaving them unable to return to Heaven. They were forced to stay on earth and settled in the big rivers in the south.
The Ying Dragon he saw in the Si River was one of the little dragons who followed Geng Chen out of Heaven.
Acted on his belief in humans, Geng Chen later helped King Yu tame the flood and slay Wu Zhiqi…….in the end, he spent the remaining divine power. He melted away between the sky and earth.
It was said that before his demise, he infused the last strand of dragon soul into the Nine Dings forged by the Yu King.
The Nine Dings was relocated three times during the Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties and went missing after the Zhou Dynasty, and was rediscovered by a Ying Dragon in the Si River after several decades.
But again, Ying Dragons and Nine Dings disappeared without a trace.
After thousands of years, Zhou Shu grew from a newly-transformed little monster to a powerful high monster.
It was not until the establishment of the Security Department that he met a Ying Dragon again.
With the ending of an era, the old religion vanished, countless witch gods gradually died out. Monsters and Human cultivators had a hard time adapting to the new world order. The surviving witch gods were a far cry from their former glory. Lost their divine status, they no longer acted like gods.
Ying Qiao was among the surviving witch gods.
To ensure their survival under the Heavenly Law, both high monsters and human cultivators began to actively cooperate with the Security Department to establish the Monster Bureau and the Special Human Bureau as parts of their efforts to ensure peaceful coexistence with the human race.
Li Er’s teaching had benefited Zhou Shu’s transformation greatly. In his youth, he was influenced by Geng Chen’s sacrifices made for humans. Naturally, he had played an active part in these efforts.
Out of his respect for Geng Chen and the Ying Dragon clan, he had tried to approach Ying Qiao.
But it slowly dawned on him that Ying Qiao and Geng Chen don’t share the same ideal although they are in the same clan.
Geng Chen’s heart laid with the human and earth, and his love for them led to his ultimate sacrifice. At the same time, Ying Qiao, he vaguely felt, didn’t hold a favorable opinion of the human race and this land.
This was just speculation based on his limited contacts with Ying Qiao.
Considering his immense power, the Security Department first invited him to assume the Central Monster Bureau Director position. But he turned down the offer without a second thought. Later he reluctantly accepted the position of deputy director in Jiang City Monster Bureau, a CMB regional office, due to repeated invitations.
As far as Zhou Shu knew, he rarely involved himself in the management of the Monster Bureau.
Like other high monsters, he seemed to blend into the human society, setting up a company, living in a human city. Once in a while, in an emergency, he would lend a hand at the authority’s request.
On the few occasions they met, Zhou Shu always sensed the same sentiments in him.
Under the cold surface, Ying Qiao hid a more profound disgust.
He always tried to conceal his feelings, sustaining an illusion of a peaceful existence.
Zhou Shu had never shared his suspicion with anyone, but there remained a vague worry in his heart. Several years ago, after he stepped down from his active duty before his retirement, he relocated to Jiang City from the Capital city, a move born out of this worry.
But he didn’t lose touch with the Monster Bureau after his stepping down.
He knew Ying Qiao’s temper grew worse over the years to such an extent that the high monsters in his close circle didn’t dare to provoke him.
Luckily despite his foul temper, what Zhou Shu most dreaded didn’t materialize.
This more or less put his mind at ease.
But in his wildest imagination, Zhou Shu never expected Ying Qiao, whom he secretly kept an eye on, to suddenly appear in his tiny street administration office and call him “Uncle Zhou” with much courtesy.
It was not the Ying Qiao he knew.
This put him off balance, and he also felt a little flattered.
Alternating his gaze between Ying Qiao and Jiang Lan, he sensed something from the menacing looks in Ying Qiao’s eyes and immediately decided to play along.” Oh, you are Jiang Lan’s….brother, welcome, welcome.”
The smile on Ying Qiao’s face became more sincere at this. He even took out a tin of tea from the bags and ceremoniously offered it to Uncle Zhou.” I heard Jiang Lan talk about your love for tea. Coincidentally I have an abundance of tea at home, so I bring you a tin of tea.”
Uncle Zhou had much trouble maintaining his smile, and he almost bent down to accept the gift from him.
Ying Qiao distributed the remaining snacks to the three people in the office. The last bag was reserved for Jiang Lan and Suan Ni. He had already got along well with Suan Ni. Picking up the furball, ruffling the fur head gently, he put a packet of dried Wen Ray fish in his paws.
The Wen Ray fish meat is very tender with a sweet and sour taste, making it the cubs’ favorite snack. But because of its remote habitat, it was very hard to catch. So this fish commands an exorbitant price. Only well-off and indulgent parents would consider buying this snack for their cubs.
The four or five packets of dried Wen Ray fish were bought only for Suan Ni.
As a qualified parent, raising the Little Monster was not enough. His care and love should also extend to the Little monster’s little brother.
Because the Little Monster was already his family in his heart, by extension, the Little Monster’s little brother was also included in this family.
Now with three family members, including two cubs, Ying Qiao got quite a load to bear.
Smelling the dried fish, Suan Ni impatiently ripped open the packet. Grabbing the snack with his paws, he munched on it while purring happily.
Jiang Lan poked his round ears.” You greedy little eater.”
Preoccupied with his food, Suan Ni purred in response.
Watching these two brothers, Ying Qiao’s face softened. He gathered up the empty packing boxes, put them in the garbage bag, and said to Jiang Lan.” I will take these out, and I also need to use the toilet.”
“I will wait here.”
Ying Qiao nodded and turned to walk out of the office.
At the corner of the office, Zhou Shu was waiting as expected.
Without the Little Monster around, Ying Qiao’s face grew cold. Frowning, he walked towards the bathroom.
Without a word uttered from both of them, Zhou Shu followed him voluntarily.
There was no one in the toilet after the end of office hours. Zhou Shu put up a sign indicating cleaning in progress, shut the toilet door, and cast a spell insulating the toilet from the outside disturbance. After these were done, he bowed respectfully.” Mr. Ying.”
Ying Qiao looked at him coldly.
“I didn’t expect to find honorable Deputy Director Zhou hiding in a tiny street administration office. How could the Capital City afford to let you go?”
Zhou Shu smiled with a deepened wrinkle on his face, like a real elder.” As you have seen, I am an old man now. It’s about time to let the younger generation take over while I rest my old bones.”
He kept bowing slightly with eyes downcast, averting his eyes.
This demonstrated the unbridgeable gaps between the monster clans. He had already lived more than two thousand years. But when compared with an ancient high monster like Ying Dragon, he was like a sand particle lying beside a mountain.
With the ignorant Jiang Lan in mind, he tried to hold in his fear and probed.” Jiang Lan was just an ordinary little monster. How come Mr. Ying takes an interest…..”
High monsters rarely step down to mingle with ordinary little monsters. He asked this question because he was worried that there was a hidden agenda in Ying Qiao’s close association with Jiang Lan.
He thought his question might displease Ying Qiao. But It turned out that Ying Qiao was glad to answer this question. With pride in his voice, he said.” Jiang Lan was my cub. He is very young, so it may trouble Director Zhou to take care of him.”
Zhou Shu repeatedly said.” No trouble, no trouble.” and he was greatly relieved.
Judging by the pride he displayed, he thought he must have taken a liking to Jiang Lan.
No need to worry anymore.
Sensing his relief, Ying Qiao snorted slightly and said in a casual tone.” I didn’t want to scare off Jiang Lan, so I didn’t reveal my real identity to him. Now I am just an ordinary snake monster in his eyes. Please bear that in mind, don’t blurt it out.”
Zhou Shu immediately agreed while being puzzled about the last point.
Satisfied with his attitude, he gave a gemstone to him, said.” This will help you to break the bottleneck in your cultivation.”
Then he left.
In the office, Jiang Lan had packed his stuff and waited for Ying Qiao to leave together.
With only Jiang Lan in the office, Ying Qiao took out another candy from his pocket.” This is for you. There were too many people around a while ago, so I didn’t give you this.”
Jiang Lan smiled. Peeling off the candy coat, he put it into his mouth. With a bulging cheek, he squinted at Ying Qiao’s pocket.” Only one?”
There was a can of these in the picture!
“I have another.” As if performing a magic show, he took out another candy and put it into Suan Ni’s mouth.
Suan Ni purred in satisfaction, rubbed his face against Ying Qiao’s finger, then he withdrew into the bag.
He saw the disappointment in Jiang Lan’s face, so he explained.” Too much candy will corrupt your teeth. I saved the rest of them at home and will bring them to you next time.”
Jiang Lan was happy again. With candy in his mouth, he “mmm” his agreement.
|↑1||The founder of the Taoist tradition, also known as Laozi|
|↑2||A cauldron-like vessel used in ancient religious service to hold material offerings. Only religious services performed by emperors could use nine Dings, later nine Dings were regarded as the symbol of the Emperor’s power|
|↑3||How they were lost will forever remain a mystery. Most of the written records indicated they went missing after the collapse of the Zhou Dynasty. Some historians believed they were melted during the war to cast weapons|
|↑4||A Deity in Daoist tradition, a mythical Chinese Sovereign|
|↑5||A mythical tribal leader, also honored among Hmong people|