A Wild Fox Bowing in the Monastery
It started to drizzle not long after.
When he arrived at the front hall, Li Chu accidentally discovered that a pilgrim was already there, bowing in homage.
It was long and slender, with white fur, lying prone there like a fluffy snowball. A pair of front paws clapping together under its head, eyes closed, as if it was praying for something.
This was a wild fox bowing down in the hall to worship the Three Pure Ones.
Li Chu did not disturb it.
Animals had spirit too, so they should be treated equally.
The white fox opened its eyes after a long while. It looked at Li Chu with a hint of gratitude in its warm and shiny big eyes.
Li Chu nodded at it.
The white fox, as if knowing that Li Chu did not bother about it, felt relieved. It got up, spread its paws religiously, then leaned over and kowtowed religiously.
It kneeled three times and kowtowed nine times.
After paying its respect, it took a deep look at Li Chu. Only then it turned and left. Its thick tail lolled behind it, but its movement was agile. Before long, it went out of sight like a beam of white light.
It had rained, and the courtyard was a little muddy. Yet the white fox had gently and skillfully walked across the courtyard, getting no mud on its body.
This thing was novel to Li Chu. But it was not much of a surprise to him, as he had seen many strange things in the past.
He mentioned this to Yu Qian over lunch.
“The wild fox came to pay its homage. It seems that it is about to transform. So it came to seek The Three Pure Ones blessing. So we may see it every day in the future,” said Yu Qian.
The transformation was the first big hurdle in the path of self-cultivation for a spiritual creature. If it did not transform successfully, it would always remain as a monster in the wild—with a body of a beast—and not get the blessing from Heaven.
So a spiritual creature had to go through the baptism of the tribulation and successfully transform into a human body before it could damp down its spiritual aura.
Human beings were apex species. Therefore, there were many benefits of practicing self-cultivation in the human body.
“You think it is okay”
“By coming to worship The Three Pure Ones, it shows that it is a spirit of uprightness. It has done none evil to harm people. Let it go. It will be successful in its transformation and be friendly to people in the future. It will also be a merit of ours,” said Yu Qian
“It is difficult for spiritual creatures to transform.” Yu Qian sighed.
Some spiritual creatures were born with lack of spirituality. Such things as plants, trees, mountains, and rocks may only have one opportunity to transform themselves in thousands of years.
The fox species were born with the ability to receive spirituality. They could transform in about 100 years.
But likewise, the risk of facing tribulation would increase.
At least half of the spiritual creatures would die in tribulations during transformation.
So in the mountains, there had always been spiritual creatures that were old but still kept their own form. They just did not dare to experience the tribulations. But if they did not transform, they were stuck in a realm and could not increase their lifespan.
Those who accepted the tribulations would usually find some ways to increase their chances of success.
For example, worshiping Buddha in temples and Gods in a monastery were common ways, which might add a touch of blessing to them, but did not play a decisive role.
Some spiritual creatures would join immortal sects or follow the great sages with higher knowledge to secede in their transformation.
A spiritual creature with the backing of a sect or a powerful blessing would get a lot of support when going through the tribulation, and the chance of success would be higher.
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As the saying goes,
“A big tree makes a wonderful shade.”
Among the Twelve Immortal Sects, the Fengzheng Sect recruited spiritual creatures based on the method of promulgation inherited from ancient times.
The probability of surviving the tribulation could be as high as 80 percent for a spiritual creature endorsed by the Qi cultivators.
But the conditions set by the Fengzheng Sect were harsh. All spiritual creatures that wanted to get endorsement must sign a blood covenant, by which they had to serve as slaves in the sect for a hundred years after transformation. Only after a hundred years could they be free.
Most spiritual creatures were born and raised naturally. They liked to live freely. Yet, there were still many of them willingly serve as slaves in Fengzheng Sect to survive the tribulation. This just showed how attractive the transformation was to spiritual creatures.
The rain had not stopped. Few people came to the monastery during this time. In fact, few people had come even on sunny days.
So Yu Qian told Li Chu more.
Li Chu listened and immersed himself in his masters talk with the pitter-patter of rain in the background.
“Fengzheng Sect will send spiritual creatures to Chaoge City every year as tribute to the imperial powers for privileges that other immortals do not enjoy. So in recent years, their power has grown stronger, and so the number of their disciples and spiritual creatures turning to the sect. It is getting more and more prosperous.” Yu Qian looked into the distance and stroked his beard. “I am not sure about their cultivation base, but I have got to say that they are business savvy.”
“Sending spiritual creatures” Li Chu tilted his head, wondering.
Yu Qian let out a smile. “Those VIPs in Chaoge City have seen enough of exotic stuff. But, even so, they cant resist it.”
A gust of wind sent rain into the kitchen. It felt chilly, yet quite comfortable.
“Cat cuties, vixen, mermaid—you name it.” Yu Qian muttered, “Who is not tempted”
“Cat, fox, and fish” Li Chu blinked.
“There are also rabbit cuties and butterfly fairies. They come as a wave of popularity. Recently, things with wings seem to be popular. I traveled when I was young. At that time, snake and scorpion beauties were the in thing. Every nobleman of Chaoge kept at least one snake spirit, without which they would feel embarrassed.”
“Eww!” Li Chu shook the rain off his body.
He had always felt that it was perverted to keep a snake as a pet.
Yu Qian seemed to have read his mind. He mimed a wave motion with his arm in the air.
“Not a snake, but a snake in human form. Its body is soft and slippery, without bones, and its tongue is eight inches long,” he explained, “and it is a forked tongue.”
Li Chu heard footsteps in the front courtyard through the wind and rain in the backyard at this time. So he got to his feet.
Yu Qian did not hear the footsteps. When he saw his disciple get up, only then he knew someone was coming.
But he heard Li Chu still muttering something in his mouth when he went. “All snakes have a forked tongue, right”
He probably meant that there was nothing unusual about it.
“It is not uncommon for a snake to have a forked tongue. But still having a forked tongue after it has transformed into a human being would be like…”
Yu Qian sighed softly as he looked at Li Chu from behind.
This disciple of his was good at everything: respectful, filial, polite, and looked like him.
Just that he was eccentric.
It was not so serious when he was still small. Yu Qian thought his condition would become better as he grew up. Little did he expect things to worsen in the past two years.
“Is it time to find him a wife” Daoist Yu wondered.
Li Chu did not bother to use an umbrella since he was just crossing a courtyard. The Daoist robe was made with high thread count tough fabric. So when Li Chu reached the front hall, the water droplets slid off his robe with just a shake.
The only thing was, the mud in the backyard was sticking to his shoes.
He glanced down. The visitor saw it and smiled. “I will pay for laying black bricks in your backyard.”
Li Chu looked at him and nodded.
The visitor was sitting on the futon, wearing a black brocade robe, a belt with flowers inlaid with jade, and gold thread embroidered on the neckline. His appearance was okay, with thick eyebrows and big eyes, a fair complexion, and a smart-looking face.
This person was the seventh son of the Wang Family in Yuhang Town—Wang Longqi. He was also an old acquaintance of Li Chu.
Wang Longqi was a relatively kind person among the rich second generation in town. He was not an ambitious person, but he was not bad either. With a good family background and good looks, he was popular among girls.
He got to know Li Chu also because of girls.