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Chapter 13

Yuan Zhong couldn’t sleep well that night. He kept fiddling with the wooden puppet that could sing and dance, occasionally pouring some tea into it. Watching it dance and sing in a comical manner made him laugh.

The next day, when he saw Ji Tanyin again, he inexplicably found her more pleasing to the eye.

He remembered how Tang Hua often boasted about having two beautiful maidservants by his side. What did that matter? He had a master craftsman of unparalleled skill with him.

Yuan Zhong was in an unusually good mood, eagerly anticipating her next creation. Early in the morning, he found her in her room, engrossed in chiseling and polishing. Curiously, he approached her and saw she was working on grinding a glass lens, with a dozen finished ones beside her.

“You’re still making those annoying things,” he said, his teeth grinding in frustration at the thought of the fraud-detecting mirror, wishing he could smash them all.

“This isn’t a fraud-detecting mirror.”

Tanyin’s face was glowing with the pride and satisfaction of a master craftsman. She handed a small lens to the high priest and instructed, “Look at me through this.”

Following her instructions, Yuan Zhong peered through the glass lens. Her appearance became hilariously distorted, with a big, round head and silly blinking eyes.

“Nothing appeared?” He tossed the lens back and forth in his hands.

“What’s this thing?”

“It’s called a Lucky Mirror.”

Tanyin named it with a serious expression.

“Look at the people on the street.”

Looking through the lens at the bustling street, he noticed that some people had a small red cloud above their heads, while others had a small black cloud, varying in intensity. He saw a man with a cloud as black as ink get his purse stolen without realizing it and then happily walk into a gambling den—he’d likely soon end up beaten to a pulp.

“This is interesting!”

Yuan Zhong watched with great interest and pointed the lens at Tanyin, but there was nothing above her head.

“Why is there nothing?” he asked, curious.

“It means that in the next hour or two, there is neither good luck nor bad luck. But the Lucky Mirror only works on mortals; it can’t see the fortunes of immortals or demons.”

Yuan Zhong played with the Lucky Mirror for half a day until he suddenly saw several celestial cranes descending from the sky, carrying several ethereal immortals. Looking at them through the Lucky Mirror, he saw they emitted a brilliant golden light, with the large character “仙” (immortal) on their forehead.

It could even identify immortals and demons!

Yuan Zhong looked at himself in a bronze mirror and indeed saw a large “仙” on his forehead, looking quite silly.

He wanted to suggest that Tanyin change the silly character, but she eagerly asked, “Your Highness the High Priest, do you think the Lucky Mirror could sell for a good price?”

Meeting her expectant gaze, he couldn’t refuse and casually said, “A hundred taels of silver each, perhaps.”

Tanyin, burdened with the responsibility of supporting the High Priest, didn’t even take a sip of water before running out with the mirrors to sell them.

….Is it possible that she is thinking about the beautiful woman he mentioned yesterday? This child is genuine and sincere.

Yuan Zhong felt a rare twinge of guilt. He lightly jumped out of the window, landing right in front of Tanyin as she left the inn.

“Little Ji…” he cleared his throat, speaking in an unusually gentle tone, “I’ll buy them for a hundred taels of silver each.”

He was almost moved by his own kindness and compassion.

Was he really the good person Ji Tanyin claimed him to be?

Tanyin looked at him with skeptical, shiny black eyes and suddenly said, “Do you have the money? I don’t do credit.”

With a loud crash, his good mood and pretense of being a good person shattered completely. He adopted a stern, harsh expression and scolded, “Hurry up and sell them! If you don’t sell them all today, you won’t be allowed to eat!”

His malicious and cutting demeanor caused passersby to shake their heads, feeling sorry for the delicate girl beside him. What a tragedy, they thought; even immortals can force the good into wrongdoing these days. The world has truly lost its sense of morality!

Yuan Zhong was fuming, watching as Tanyin slowly walked away. Suddenly, she turned back and ran up to him, hesitating for a moment before quietly asking, “Will you…will you wait for me?”

Her head was slightly lowered, her long eyelashes fluttering, and she looked worried that he might sneak away and leave her behind.

Yuan Zhong’s anger suddenly dissipated, replaced by an overwhelming sense of pride and a soft, indescribable feeling.

No one had ever treated him this way, especially not a woman. Her persistence and vulnerability satisfied any man’s dreams, making him feel elated. Yet, he clearly understood that Ji Tanyin approached him with a purpose, though he didn’t know what it was or her true identity.

His feelings for her were complicated: disgust, curiosity, admiration, fear, and even a vague sense of disappointment.

But at this moment, he couldn’t bear to see that expression on her face. Before he realized it, he had already said, “Let’s go; I’ll go with you.”

Ji Tanyin wasn’t the type of enthusiastic and cheerful girl; despite her refined appearance, she wasn’t particularly gentle or capable.

Her method of selling was primitive and clumsy. She went from shop to shop, holding the Lucky Mirrors.

Initially, the shop owners were very polite, recognizing her as the creator of the fraud-detecting mirrors. But as soon as they heard the Lucky Mirrors were priced at a hundred taels each, their faces darkened.

She spent the entire morning running around in the scorching sun, her face turning red and her nose covered in sweat, yet she didn’t sell a single Lucky Mirror.

Yuan Zhong led the bird of paradise and followed her from a distance, watching her earnestly introduce the Lucky Mirror to shop owners, gesticulating awkwardly. She actually believed his nonsense that the Lucky Mirrors were worth a hundred taels each; at this rate, she wouldn’t sell one even in a lifetime.

By noon, the sun was so intense that even the bird of paradise wilted, hiding in the shade. Yuan Zhong sighed, ready to stop her foolish efforts, when he saw her walking towards him, her pale face drenched in sweat but smiling—she had smiled noticeably more in the past two days.

“I sold one,” she said, sweat dripping from her face down to her neck, her white teeth gleaming. “We can have a good meal. Do you want to eat?”

Yuan Zhong narrowed his eyes and suddenly waved to her: “Come, come here.”

Tanyin walked over feeling puzzled, and he snatched the package of Lucky Mirrors from her arms, stuffing them into his own sleeve without a word.

“I’ll buy them for a hundred taels each,” he said with a smile. “I won’t haggle.”

Tanyin sighed, “But…I don’t do credit…”

Before she could finish, he interrupted, “It’s not credit. Your money will end up with me anyway; think about it.”

Tan Yin stared at him; he still had a plain fake face, his brows were furrowed impatiently, and the corners of his mouth were curled up. He looked like a street thugs, but there was a deep smile hidden in his eyes.

Perhaps because he was not used to being stared at like this, he frowned unnaturally and coughed twice.

“Let’s eat, my treat,” she said briskly before turning and walking away.

Yuan Zhong quickly caught up with her, leading the bird of paradise, and asked eagerly, “What are we eating? I don’t want flatbreads; I want fine wine and dishes.”

“Beef noodles.”

“I don’t eat beef.”

“Then chicken noodles.”

“I don’t eat chicken.”

“Lamb noodles.”

“I don’t eat lamb.”

“…Fox meat noodles.”

“…You wicked woman.”

In the end, it’s unclear what kind of meat noodles the owner served. Tanyin had just taken a sip of the noodle soup when she heard a commotion outside, followed by a procession of magnificent carriages pulled by extraordinary beasts, with a qilin leading the way.

Customers in the noodle shop exclaimed, “What grandeur! Only the Lord of Xiang Mountain can have such grandeur!”

Xiang Mountain? The name sounded familiar. Tanyin pondered as she ate her noodles.

She had barely taken a few bites when another procession of carriages, pulled by aquatic beasts, flew past. Customers continued to marvel, “These are the aquatic beasts of the Dragon King Baihe from the west! the event of ‘Heavenly Light opens and closes’, even the Dragon King wants to join in?”

‘Heavenly Light Opens and Closes’? Tanyin couldn’t help but pause her eating.

In the span of just one meal, countless immortals and spirits passed by. Tanyin had never seen so many gathered in one place. What did they mean by “Heavenly Light Opens and Closes”? She had never heard of it.

“Eat your noodles.” Yuan Zhong gently nudged her head.

Startled by his sudden push, Tanyin dropped her chopsticks, not bothering to pick them up as she asked, “What does ‘Heavenly Light Opens and Closes’ mean?”

Yuan Zhong instructed the waiter to bring a fresh pair of chopsticks before answering, “It’s an auspicious sign. Legend has it that seeing the ‘Heavenly Light Opens and Closes’ brings good luck and ensures success in one’s endeavors. This time, the  ‘Heavenly Light Opens and Closes’ was predicted by Immortal Yuqing from Mount Shaluo to occur in Yan city, Chen Shang State. That’s why all the immortals and spirits have gathered here.”

Good luck? Success in endeavors? Why had she never heard of it?

However, it wasn’t surprising that this peculiar high priest had stayed in Yan city. Presumably, he also wanted to witness the  ‘Heavenly Light Opens and Closes’.

“Do you have any wishes?” Tanyin asked earnestly, preparing herself for his nonsensical response.

But Yuan Zhong just smiled and said nothing.

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