Twenty-seventh year of the Tianqi Dynasty, Cheng Village about a hundred kilometres away from Cheng'an City.
“Oh my… From what I see here, I’m afraid the Fengshui of this village… is terrible!”
The old village head of Cheng Village stood in the ancestral halls, eyeing the two priests suspiciously. The priest on the left was tall but thin, with a long beard down to his chest that covered half his face. Three orange stripes were embroidered on the sleeve of his grey robes. This man half-squinted his eyes as if he was a very wise master. The other had an average physique with a short stubble that almost covered his whole face too. He had one red stripe on his grey robe and was standing arms akimbo with his belly jutting out.
These two weren’t anyone else-- one was the Cleansing Moon Sect’s master, Li Chengfeng, and his servant, Zhao Xiaobao.
Zhao Xiaobao lifted a finger and added, “My brother disciple…”
Li Chengfeng immediately coughed drily and kicked Zhao Xiaobao secretly. Zhao Xiaobao quickly changed his sentence, “My master is from the Spiritual Mountain Sect, he was just passing by the area when he realised the Fengshui in this area is terrible. He is doing you a favour out of kindness, going out of his way to tell you this!”
The old village head and several elders from the village looked at the two incredulously. He greeted them and said, “Are you two masters really from the Spiritual Mountain Sect?”
Li Chengfeng glared at him as Zhao Xiaobao immediately stepped forward to reprimand the village head, “How dare you question my young… Cough cough, my master! You’re in the presence of a respected master here, you should bend the knee!”
The old village master stared at Li Chengfeng suspiciously, “If you’re a master, could you prove it to us ignorant peasants so we can believe you?”
Zhao Xiaobao raged, “Idiots! My master came visiting out of the kindness in his heart, and you lot are being very ungrateful about it! Let’s go, master!”
Li Chengfeng let out a guffaw, caressing his beard. “Sigh, we, as cultivators, must have compassion and kindness in us! It is fine, it is fine!” He raised a hand and a ball of green flames appeared in his palm. It burned brightly at the size of a fist. Li Chengfeng laughed loudly as the village head and the rest stared in astonishment.
Li Chengfeng smiled. “This is just a small trick, it’s not worth mentioning!” He clenched his fist and the flames died with a poof. But then… the fire started burning in his fist again.
Li Chengfeng’s eye twitched as he silently placed his hand behind his back. Clenching his teeth, he gave Zhao Xiaobao a pointed glance.
Zhao Xiaobao quickly pointed at the village head and yelled urgently, “The master has proven himself already, why aren’t you kneeling yet?!”
The old village head and the few clan leaders quickly backed away and kowtowed fervently, “We did not know that you were a true master, a thousand apologies for not providing you with the welcome you deserved!”
Li Chenfeng’s hand was in too much pain behind his back from the hot flames. His fingers curled like hooks as the veins on his forehead bulged but he tried his best to maintain his facial expression. With his other hand stroking his beard, he spoke like a wise old man, “It’s fine, it’s fine!”
Zhao Xiaobao quickly stepped behind Li Chengfeng to pat away the flames but it only made it worse. The fire started to spread and suddenly, the robes on Li Chengfeng’s back started to burn.
Zhao Xiaobao’s jaw dropped.
Li Chengfeng could not see the flames on his back but he felt his back heating up. His lips twitched as he forced through clenched teeth, “What are you doing?!”
Zhao Xiaobao shuddered. He had grown up with this young master, serving this little young master of the Li family since he was very young himself. He knew the young master very well- perhaps he had to live in fear every moment from now!
Zhao Xiaobao wanted to take off his own robes to smother it on Li Chengfeng but just as he lifted his robe, the village elders started to look up.
The old village head looked up only to see green flames flickering on Li Chengfeng’s back, yet Li Chengfeng was still standing as tall as a mountain, not moving even a muscle. At this point, all doubts were cleared. He completely believed Li Chengfeng.
Zhao Xiaobao quickly yelled, “How dare you peek when the master is wielding his supernatural powers! The mighty light will blind your prying eyes!”
The village elders were not insulted at all because the aristocrats were divided into three classes: the priests in the first class, the scholars in the second class and the warriors in the third. These were mere peasants, hence the first-class priests could very well determine their life and death!
The old village head immediately closed his eyes. Zhao Xiaobao roared, “Head on the ground, do not look up!”
The village head and the rest closed their eyes and lied face down on the ground, terrified. It was a hilarious sight.
Li Chengfeng glared at Zhao Xiaobao, clenching his teeth as Zhao Xiaobao frantically took off his own robe. In a low whisper, Li Chengfeng said, “What stupid phosphorous did you buy? Do you want to kill me? You idiot, don’t take all your robes off, there’s no time!”
Zhao Xiaobao stopped. His gaze fell on the ends of Chengfeng’s robes, which reached the ground. He immediately lifted the skirt portion over Li Chengfeng’s head.
This action successfully smothered the flames. With a sigh of relief, Zhao Xiaobao let go and let Li Chengfeng’s long robes billow and fall naturally to the ground. From the back, all he could see was green smoke and Li Chengfeng’s messy hair. It was a pathetic sight. Li Chengfeng glared murderously at him out the corner of his eyes.
He shuddered but managed to say, “The master’s work is done! You may rise!”
Li Chengfeng immediately swallowed his anger to put on a high and mighty expression. The village elders saw that although Li Chengfeng’s hair was a mess, the green smoke on his back made him look like a very powerful priest. They felt a sense of reverence.
It had been nineteen years since he arrived in this foreign world. Li Chengfeng gradually acclimatised to the present conditions from his initial confusion over ten years, then completely assimilated into being a human of this world for the past nine years.
One’s environment was enough to change a person but Li Chengfeng still had the same personality from his previous lifetime - a reckless cynic.
Basically, he never bothered to learn the gentlemanly virtues passed down the Li family, such as discipline, mild manners and patience. He had gained notoriety for himself ever since he came to Cheng'an ten years ago, his name was enough to change anyone’s mood.
His mother worked hard to regain the Li family’s past glory but their lives remained tough. Li Changfeng could only keep himself alive through lying, cheating and taking whatever available.
His spendings had been huge recently. After causing trouble wherever he went, Li Chengfeng realised the people who used to work with him all started running away the moment they saw him. No one wanted to speak to him.
Out of desperation, he targeted some people he shouldn’t have targeted, as well as thought of an excuse for him to go over.
The old village head looked at Li Chengfeng expectantly, “Master, what’s wrong with the Fengshui of Cheng village?”
Li Chengfeng pretended to count on his fingers and smiled. “Your village hasn’t had a son in twenty years, right?”
All the village elders gasped and yelled, “That’s amazing!”
Zhao Xiaobao also stood aside haughtily, though he thought to himself, ‘Nonsense, we’ve already known this, how could he be wrong?’
Li Chengfeng chuckled. “Take two coins and tie a string to them respectively. Go measure the tombstones of your ancestors. They’ve moved an inch, right?”
The village head was stunned. He turned to give an elder a look, who then scrambled up and rushed out of the ancestral hall. He waved his arms, gathered a few young villagers to sprint off into the mountains.
Li Chengfeng smiled confidently with two hands behind his back.
The village head quickly said, “Please have a seat, master!”
Li Chengfeng did not hesitate to amble forward. Zhao Xiaobao realised there was an ugly hole on the back of his robes (as if it had been bitten by a dog) so he quickly stepped forward to block the elder’s view with his body. He dramatically helped Li Chengfeng to his seat.
Li Chengfeng’s upbringing had made him different from regular folk. When he decided to put on an act, no one would know if he was a true cultivator or not.
When he sat, someone immediately served him tea. This person did not even dare look him in the eye.
However, Zhao Xiaobao was slightly worried as he occasionally glanced out of the hall.
After a few moments, the village elder sprinted back. Before he arrived, they heard his yells, “Master is right, Master is right!”
The elder was very emotional as he rushed into the ancestral hall and kowtowed.
In an instant, everyone knelt and said, “Please Master, you must save us!”
Before Li Chengfeng spoke, Zhao Xiaobao immediately said, “My master has already gone out of his way to point out the problems in your fengshui, yet you’re still greedy for more? Do you know how much energy he uses up every time he makes a calculation?”
The village head cried, “We haven’t had a male heir in the village for twenty years, our village has weakened tremendously! If you can help us, we still pay you however much money you want!”
Li Chengfeng smiled kindly, “How can you say that? I’m here out of kindness, to accumulate merits, plus I am also here to collect offerings for the Spiritual Mountain Sect. I’ll treat the fengshui payment as offerings.”
The village head paused. “But… But… Every year, the ones collecting offerings are…”
Li Chengfeng glared at him out of the corner of his eyes. “Hmm?”
The village head quickly kowtowed. “Alright, everything you say goes! Hurry, take out the offerings!”
Li Chengfeng let out a guffaw. “Remember to move your tombstones back to their original positions, then you shall have sons!”
The village head urged, “Hurry, hurry, go! Mrs Cheng is in labour now, we must go check on her soon!”
Zhao Xiaobao was shocked. “There’s a baby coming now? This is such a coincidence?!”
Li Chengfeng’s eye twitched but he laughed calmly, “That’s great, then we shall see what happens!”
The village was divided into two crowds -- one group in charge of collecting money as offering and the other rushing into the mountains with shovels.
When Li Chengfeng’s carriage was filled with money, there was a yell from the mountains, “The tombstone has been moved!”
As if to prove his statement, they suddenly heard a baby crying and waves of emotional celebration, “It’s a boy! It’s a boy!”
The few hundred villagers of Cheng Village cried with tears of joy. Men and women, old and young, rushed out into the ancestral hall to kneel before him. “Thank you Master for blessing us with a boy!”
Zhao Xiaobao’s eyeballs almost fell out of his head. He stared at Li Chengfeng, shocked.
Li Chengfeng merely stroked his beard and laughed, “That’s good, that’s good! Let’s go!”
When everyone heard this, they crowded over but dared not look up. They said at the same time, “Farewell, Master!’
Li Chengfeng and Zhao Xiaobao got on the carriage. When Zhao Xiaobao grabbed the reins, he said, “Young Master, did that… really happen?”
He stuck out a thumb and made a gesture. “Our Li family of the Cleansing Moon Sect has been doing this for centuries! We’re experienced in military strategy and the supernatural, we’re the best at everything! That was nothing but child’s play!”
Zhao Xiaobao giggled, though he was worried. “But… The Spiritual Mountain Sect is the third-largest cultivation sect, we’ve just robbed them of their offerings… Won’t this cause more trouble?”
Li Chengfeng laughed as he tugged the beard off to reveal a handsome, yet slightly evil grin. “This place is a hundred kilometres away from Cheng'an. Our disguise did not reveal our physique, accents and faces. Even the gods don’t know who stole their offerings! Also, those stupid worms only drain the people of the money and call it donations. I am the one who solved their problem so they can get a son. Don’t you think I deserve the offerings anyway? Plus the last time Cheng Village came to trade, they cheated me! They must’ve had a death wish that day!”
Zhao Xiaobao cocked his head as he thought, then smiled, “Yeah, I guess you could say they’ve paid their debts with some interest.” When he spoke, he ripped the stubble on his face to reveal a smooth, gorgeous face.
Li Chengfeng extended a leg to kick the horse. It neighed and the carriage sped up.
Zhao Xiaobao steered as he asked, “But master, what if the people from the Spiritual Mountain Sect also sent someone to collect their offerings?”
Li Chengfeng chuckled. “It won’t be such a coincidence! Don’t worry!”
Zhao Xiaobao smiled. “Yeah! Right, I think the money’s enough, right?”
Li Chengfeng stroked his chin and calculated. “After paying my debts and giving a portion to Mom, we should have three hundred left.”
Zhao Xiaobao’s eyes gleamed, “So let’s look for a spot to stop and… divide the cash?”
Li Chengfeng’s face fell, “All you think about is money!”
Zhao Xiaobao smiled timidly, “You were the one who taught me about paying myself first!”
Li Chengfeng stared at him long and hard until he chuckled nervously. “I guess good emperors don’t send out hungry soldiers! We’ll find a spot to stop and divide the money!”
Zhao Xiaobao gleefully lashed his whip and they sped away in the carriage.
Two hours later…
“This bag of money’s yours. You’ve been with me for so many years, I know you’ve suffered! Hey, why are you looking at me like that?”
At an obscure spot ten kilometeres away among the hills from Cheng Village, Zhao Xiaobao stared longingly at the bags and bags of money behind Li Chengfeng glumly. He looked down at the small bag of money handed to him.
Almost crying, he said, “Master, this wasn’t what we agreed on! Wasn’t it supposed to be split seventy-thirty?
Li Chengfeng glared at him. “Do you know you almost burned me to death just now?”
He whined, “Didn’t you tell me to spend the money frugally?”
Li Chengfeng roared, “Frugal doesn’t mean you have to buy the cheapest phosphorous! Why not you stop eating entirely if you want to be this frugal?!”
Zhao Xiaobao looked at him glumly, “What about the last time? You owe me ten silver taels from last time! When are you paying up?”
Li Chengfeng’s face changed when he looked at him painfully. He lectured him patiently, “Xiaobao, O Xiaobao, look at you! You can’t be so greedy! You’ll embarrass our Li family! I’ve told you before, I’ll help keep your money safe. Look at you, you’re not even a full adult yet, you don’t have anything good to spend your money on anyway, it’s either food, gambling or brothels! Looks at your master, me, I have done all of these and look how much money I had to spend!”
Zhao Xiaobao was in tears. “Master, I’m already eighteen this year!”
“Yeah, you’re eighteen! You’ll have to get a wife in two years, this will be the dowry…”
“Ptui!” Zhao Xiaobao turned red with anger.
Li Chengfeng was very used to the antics of his servant so he chuckled, “Alright, alright, alright. As your master, I’ll help keep your dowry safe!”
Zhao Xiaobao was about to speak when Li Chengfeng’s face changed as he glared, “Any more nonsense and I won’t even give you this bag of money!”
Zhao Xiaobao quickly hugged the bag and shook his head.
He pointed at Zhao Xiaobao with contempt, “Look at your attitude towards money! You’ve been with me for years, you need to learn from me, I am not that selfish with my money like you!”
As he spoke, a copper coin fell from Zhao Xiaobao’s money bag onto the ground. It slowly rolled in Li Chengfeng’s direction.
Both of their gazes fell on the rolling copper, which fell on its side once it hit the tip of Li Chengfeng’s shoe.
Li Chengfeng immediately stepped on it, though he acted as if nothing happened. Zhao Xiaobao stuttered, “Master… don’t step on the coin, I dropped it.”
Li Chengfeng was quite embarrassed as he bent over to pick it up. “You dropped it? It’s just a copper! Why are you so selfish? It’s mine now!” When he finished, he put it in his pocket.
Zhao Xiaobao had been with Li Chengfeng for many years but he was still shocked by the shamelessness of his young master. After a pause, he looked down and muttered as he turned around, “Hmmph! I hope you meet the real Spiritual Mountain Sect later!”
As they spoke, a flash of green light appeared not far from their path.
Li Chengfeng and Zhao Xiaobao paused, looked at each other, then hid behind some trees carefully. They peeked out from behind.
All they saw was a priest in black robes with three yellow stripes embroidered on his sleeve. The priest stopped a carriage for instructions, “Hey, do you know how to get to Cheng Village?”
The coachman looked terrified to see the priest, immediately pointing in a direction.
The priest nodded but did not thank him. He was about to leave when he sensed something. He turned to look in Li Chengfeng and Zhao Xiaobao’s direction.
They immediately retracted their heads, their hearts racing as they hid behind the tree. They looked at each other to find that they were both ghostly pale!
Zhao Xiaobao cursed in his heart, “Why the heck did my wish come true?!!”
Li Chengfeng glared at Zhao Xiaobao: Be careful what you wish for! Idiot!