# 8. Sis, Why Are You Sneaking Looks at Me? Everything was silent. Auntie was the first to react, mournfully shrieking “Nian’er…” The husband and wife worked together to save their dear son, though the latter had not a shred of will left to live. Auntie hugged her son, tears dropping from her face like rain, Uncle stood to one side, sighing sadly. Xu Qi’an looked at his younger cousin, whose heart could find no place to rest, and deeply understood him. A young man has three situations where he’s most awkward: when making certain rhythmic movements with his left or right hand, only to be barged in on by his parents; commenting that a female teacher had a big arse, only to be heard by her; writing down adolescent fantasies, to then be shown to everyone. Every one of these could have one rolling around on the floor with embarrassment. Though he never achieved biological death, a social death, that he did. *I’ve had training on this, however funny it may be, I will not laugh…* Xu Qi’an stood to one side, trying to stifle laughter. Xu Lingyue turned her head, angrily giving her brother a complaining look, wordlessly controlling his schadenfreude. Xu Lingyin wanted to get sweets from his brother, but after seeing this scene, she silently changed her mind. Xu Xinnian, living up to his name as a scholar with a sharp and nimble mind, quickly thought up of an escape: his eyes rolled up and legs kicked, and he had fainted. … Returning to the side room of Xu Qi’an’s small courtyard house, he threw off his clothes, and sank into the bath. The ice-cold water rushed into his pores, his whole body relaxed. The body of a person at the peak of Refining Body, could tolerate cold with ease. The best aspect of a martial artist was that they had thick skin, and could take a beating. Finally escaping from that life or death situation, he finally relaxed, and began to question philosophical questions on life and existence. “Why do I not have any memories just before the original host’s death?” For Xu Qi’an was very clear on how he himself kicked the bucket: most likely, alcohol poisoning. However, the previous Xu Qi’an didn’t have any such sort of memories. The current Xu Qi’an had died of alcohol poisoning. Having just got a promotion and a raise, he managed to drink himself to death. After resigning from the police force, he chose to start a business, but only two years later suffered a backhand from society. Suffering through this pain, he decided to start again from the ground up; to be a diligent worker. With a talent for perseverance and grinding, and the enlightenment of “sitting alone, with an empty house, a hand for a wife”, he finally received the recognition of his boss. Receiving a promotion and a raise, he finally leapt into the middle class. Xu Qi’an had raised his head and laughed to the heavens, and invited several friends to the pub to celebrate. After all, his future was looking set; he could manage a mortgage, pay for the bride gifts, marry and have children… as long as the neighbours weren’t surnamed Wang, happy days, happy days. Smack! He struck the surface of the water, spraying up small droplets, angrily muttering “I worked so hard to get that middle class status, to immediately get knocked off again, sent to a feudal society, how unlucky am I? “There’s still 600,000[^1] for a house deposit in my card… all the sorrows, griefs of human existence are still there, if the money’s gone – no, its the people who are gone, the money’s still there… “Ah whatever, let that be inheritance for mum and dad. I wonder how high the inheritance tax is… give me another go and I can definitely come out on top. “I never managed to see the last season of *Attack on Titan*… the monarchy hasn’t yet been overthrown… ah, whatever. “Fuck, there’s still 120 GB of ‘material’ that I never deleted…” *If that gets found by my parents, my whole image will be shattered!* Unknowingly, he drifted off to sleep. When he awoke, the sky was turning dark. His whole body was soaked white, skin wrinkling up. Xu Qi’an put on clean clothes, and tied his hair up in front of the copper mirror. The mirror reflected a young man’s face, with thick eyebrows and sharp eyes. Because of his many years of practice, his features were hardy and well-defined. “Not quite the handsomeness that would take people’s breaths away, but it’ll do…” Xu Qi’an silently nodded. Plus, his body was several times stronger now, than in his past life. At least he was a martial artist. “But that may not be a good thing, I’d rather have transmigrated to a normal ancient era. At least then everyone would be as weak as everyone else. Not like here, where there are too many skilled people, so much so that your head could be falling off before you even had time to react.” Not only are there yaoguai in this world, but all manners of cultivation systems. Apart from the powerful yet looked down upon martials, there are the Arcanists, the Confucianists, the Buddhists, the Daoists, the warlocks, and the shamans. Six hundred years ago, the Feng Dynasty was founded, the first Grandmaster of the Sitianjian split the many cultivation bodies into their various ranks. Xu Qi’an was a martial cultivator of the ninth (lowest) rank, Refining Body. His uncle was of eighth rank, Refining Qi, seventh rank was Refining Spirit. After that, he didn’t know. Rather as to the Arcanist cultivation path of the Sitianjian, he knew somewhat more about. The Sitianjian were a cultivation body that came about with the Feng, and are unique to the Feng, and were very widely known. The inventions of their sixth rank Masters of Alchemy had filtered down into everybody’s homes. The Arcanist path: ninth rank Physician, eighth rank Qi-Watcher, seventh rank Master of Feng-Shui, sixth rank Master of Alchemy. After that, he didn’t know any more. As to all the other paths, having lived in the capital for all his live, Xu Qi’an’s knowledge was limited. At this time, a young woman wearing a green skirt entered the courtyard. She was Auntie’s personal maid, with the nickname Lü’e. “*Dalang*[^2], your father is calling you for dinner.” In the corner of Lü’e’s eye there was a hint of happiness, but her expression carried within it tiredness and anxiety. She was sold into the Xu family at the age of ten, to serve Auntie. After the Xu family faced disaster, their servants were let go, and she had to worry about how to make a living in the future. She didn’t expect that only after five days, they managed to escape from their fate. According to what the elder sister said, it was all Xu Qi’an’s hard work. Standing in front of Xu Qi’an now, the slim and beautiful eighteen year old maid seemed somewhat embarrassed and a little frightened. “Ah, you needn’t call me that.” Xu Qi’an felt uncomfortable. “But dalang is dalang…” she replied, confused. *… whatever, at least my surname is not Wu*[^3] The two of them walked side by side out of the small courtyard house, and entered the main Xu compound. Lü’e hesitated, “Just then, the Master and Wife were arguing.” “Why so?” he asked. “It seems like, Madam Xu wanted to know exactly how the silver was stolen, who did it, but the Master couldn’t answer, and so after a back and forth they started arguing.” Lü’e said quietly, “You know, right?” On the way back, Xu Qi’an had told his uncle that the silver wasn’t robbed, it was diverted ages ago. At that time Auntie didn’t say anything, but it seems had remembered every word he’d said. … The main hall! Xu Qi’an had just stepped over the doorsill, when a howling wail reached his ears. Xu Lingyin, like a little pea, had her hands behind her back, body leaning forward, head raised, sending aural attacks towards her parents. Uncle calmly drank his wine, Xu Lingyue had her head down, eating dinner, Xu Xinnian hadn’t quite recovered from his image being ruined, and was quietly poking at his rice. Auntie hand her head in her hands, as if she had a strong headache. Seeing Lü’e come over, she immediately ordered “take her away!” Xu Qi’an looked over to his wailing baby sister, kindly asking “What’s the matter?” “Mummy is a liar! She said that when we get home, she’d take me to Guiyuelou,” she cried, “Daddy just then said Guiyuelou…” *Guiyuelou* was one of the most elite restaurants in the capital. Its customers were all high officials and aristocracy, it did not cater to commoners or merchants. As a dumb child who couldn’t even remember her brothers’ and sister’s names, the fact that she could remember Guiyuelou was due to the fact that she ate there once. For this child wasn’t dumb, rather her talents were applied in wrong areas. *Old Xu, not bad, knowing where to shift the trouble to, even using your own young daughter.* Xu Qi’an gave his steadfast looking uncle a glance, then at his frustrated yet helpless aunt. Little Pea was the one person Auntie was helpless about. “It was just a joke, now look at her…” Auntie sighed. “To deceive a child, Auntie your words carry no weight.” Xu Qi’an instinctively retorted, making her breaths heavy and sharp with anger. “Big brother, big brother can take me!” Seeing Xu Qi’an’s kindly appearance, and even speaking for her, Little Pea happily ran over to him, pulling at his trousers and climbing up his body. *Guiyuelou… one meal on average costs a tael of silver a head…* Xu Qi’an ordered, “Lü’e, take her away!” Little Pea was carried off. Auntie kicked her husband under the table, subtly using the corner of her mouth to scold Xu Qi’an. Uncle Xu felt as if he was losing face, and glanced over at his always seeking for knowledge son. However Xu Xinnian had already died socially; a dead man couldn’t talk, only eat. The meal’s flavour was average, especially owing to the fact that they didn’t have stock, having only returned home. Xu Qi’an ate as if he was chewing candles, and frustratedly asked his beautiful younger sister: “Lingyue, what are you doing sneaking looks at me like that?” --- [^1]: Chinese Yuan [^2]: “Elder young man” / “Elder brother”, because of the unique culture around names in China there’s a lot of these cases of avoiding names directly. [^3]: This is a Chinese pop culture reference.