The Path Toward Heaven
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5 Nine Days
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The Path Toward Heaven
Author :Mao Ni
© Wuxiaworld

5 Nine Days

Forty five minutes later, the young man opened his eyes again and retrieved his dry clothing from the tree. He looked at the peaks in the distance, which had once again disappeared into the mist, and turned to walk downstream along the stream.

Compared to when he was walking out of the lake, his steps had become more stable, as if he had learned how to walk and he had gotten used to this body.

There was fog on the banks of the stream, and it seemed there were no stones, so walking was not difficult and did not take much time. He strolled out of the mountain along stream, and came before a village.

The farmers plowing the soil in the fields, the old men pulling their carts across the dry grass, the women sending food to the mountain, and the children playing beneath the trees by the village entrance all gradually stopped what they were doing and stood still.

The youth in white clothing walked into the village.

The hoe in the farmer's hand fell to the floor, almost landing on his feet.

The old man's pipe fell from his mouth, and the scalded donkey pulling the cart cried out in pain.

The old woman clutched the jar full of food to her chest, her mouth opened wider than the opening of the jar itself.

The children suddenly scattered, crying out as they ran into the village, among them a little girl who bawled loudly.

The youth in white clothing stopped walking, not understanding what was going on.

There was a sound of crowded footsteps as the people of the mountain village gathered at the entrance. Awe and nervousness were written all over their faces.

Led by an old man, the dumbstruck villagers kneeled on the ground, and speaking over each other, they cried out, "Immortal Master, it is a great honor."

The youth in white clothing's expression didn’t change. Many years ago, he would sometimes walk around in the mortal world, and had come across this kind of village many times before.

But he quickly discovered something was amiss. How could these ordinary villagers have recognized his true identity?

There was no answer to this question because he did not ask, and the villagers naturally would not have responded.

The villagers looked at him warmly, but also had a hint of fear in their eyes, as if they were looking at the plaque on the county magistrate’s office.

The youth was not flustered by the dozens of eyes fixed on him, and after thinking for a moment, he spoke.

"Hello everyone."

"Praise the immortal master!"

With the old still leading them, the villagers all answered at once, talking over each other.

It seemed like some kind of ceremony.

The villagers saluted again, and a handful of children who had not responded in time were smacked on the buttocks by their parents.

The other young children did not even cry, simply staring at the young man's face, their eyes wide, as if they were beholding the rarest candy in the world.


Silence fell, and the trees shook and made a rustling

None of the villagers dared say a word, remaining reverential as they stood up while still bowing slightly.

Some time later, the youth in the white clothing suddenly spoke: "I would like to live here for a year."

The old man was surprised and could not believe his own ears. The villagers were also taken aback, and wondered what the immortal master could mean by this.

Seeing the crowd's response, the youth in white clothing searched his memories, and remembered a few things. It seemed that silver money was a most important thing in the mortal world.

He extended a hand toward the old man, and in his palm were a large handful of gold leaves.

In most cases, the villagers would perhaps be wildly excited to see these gold leaves, but this time, they simply looked at them, then returned their gazes to the youth in white clothing.

In their eyes, the young man was much more beautiful than these gold leaves, and besides, how could they take them?

"We are truly fortunate that an immortal master is wanting to stay here.."

The old man spoke uneasily: "But here in the village, it is cold, and we are poor. In truth, we wouldn’t be able to find a suitable place that could allow the immortal master to practice his self-cultivation."

The youth in white clothing did not know how the old man could think of so much in a short time, nor did he know what the villagers were thinking.

He didn’t mind, of course; he knew that the man would heed his request. His gaze swept across the villagers before finally falling onto a young boy.

The young boy was somewhat dark and very sturdy with a sincere expression on his face, and he gave the impression of being simple and honest.

"Where do you live," the youth in white clothing said as he looked at the boy.

The youth in white clothing said as he looked at the boy.

The boy was dumbstruck, and did not reply until his father gave him a slap.

"Gen, quickly! Show the immortal master around!"

The old man shouted nervously.

... ...

In a courtyard on the west side of the village, the room was somewhat dark.

The young boy, heeding his father's admonishment on the road, respectfully saluted the youth in white clothing and then prepared to depart.

The youth in white clothing suddenly asked, "What is your name?"

The young boy stopped walking and said: "Guo Baogen."

The youth in white clothing was silent for a moment, then asked, "Your age?"

"I’m ten years old," the boy replied.

"Baogen is not a nice-sounding name."

The youth in white clothing said: "From now on, I’ll call you Shisui [1]."

The young boy scratched his head.

From then on, he was Liu Shisui.

...

...

Leaving the courtyard, Liu Shisui was suddenly surrounded by villagers.

The old man, deeply concerned, asked, "What are the immortal master's orders?"

Liu Shisui said, somewhat innocently, "He asked my age...and he gave me a name."

Hearing this, the old man was somewhat surprised. The young boy's father, however, was overjoyed, and couldn’t stop rubbing his hands.

Yet Liu Shisui did not much like his new name, and he spoke, feeling wronged. "What kind of name is that?"

His father raised his hand to hit him, but he suddenly remembered that the immortal master was in the house and restrained himself.

The old man chided him: ""The immortal master has given you a name, and that is a great gift. People ask for such a thing and never receive it. Do not speak so blindly."

Liu Shisui suddenly thought of the last words they had had in the house, and suddenly said: "But he said he wasn't the immortal master."

The villagers were puzzled. If he was not the immortal master, then who was he?

"He seems like an idiot to me."

Liu Shisui spoke honestly. "He wanted me to teach him."

The old man hesitated, then asked: "What...did the immortal master want you to teach him?"

Liu Shisui answered, "How to make a bed, wash clothing and make food, chop firewood and sow the fields...ummm, yeah... that’s it; I haven't forgotten anything."

The villagers were surprised, not thinking that he would do such things Could it be that the person in the house was not the immortal master, and really was just some idiot?

The old man laughed and said: "In the great Green Mountains, the immortal master has sword- boys to wait upon him. He drinks a broth of dew and eats the fruit of the immortals. Why would he do such a thing?"

...

...

Over the coming days, the immortal master lived in the Chen house and became the center of all the town's attention and discussion.

The villagers naturally accepted the old man's words, and did not doubt the immortal master's identity for even a second.

The only thing they did not understand was why the immortal master did not return to the great Green Mountains, instead wishing to stay in their small mountain village with that lucky young boy teaching him things.

Liu Shisui was envied, even hated by the villagers. They did not understand how anyone would be unable to do such simple tasks as these.

That night, Liu Shisui began to teach him how to make a bed, since his guest needed to sleep.

The next morning, he still had to teach him how to fold a quilt.

Then he discovered that he had truly never done such a thing before!

When he discovered the other things that he had never done, he was truly stumped.

"When you pour the water out, don't pour the rice out!"

"Don't cut the firewood too thin, or it won't burn!"

"You don't want the fish scales, you don't want the fish cheeks, or those black bits...you don't want them either."

"Cut on the left, then cut on the right, but don't cut it off, and the woven coat will appear… There you go.

"That isn't a yam, it's a bitter melon...put it down quick; Mama doesn't like those."

"Don't stick it in too deep!"

...

...

Liu Shisui had no idea such an oblivious person existed in the world until he actually met one.

Until he met the youth in the white clothing.

But nine days later, he began to doubt his own opinion…

… because the youth had used those nine days to learn everything from him.

The first day, the youth in white clothing learned how to make a bed, fold a quilt, chop firewood and boil water.

On the second day, the youth in white clothing learnt how to do some more complicated household chores, sweeping the Chen household from top to bottom until it looked brand new.

On the third day, the youth in white clothing began to cook, first learning how to kill chickens, chop scallions and peel garlic by observing.

On fourth day, the fifth day, the sixth day...

On the ninth day, the sun rose, and the youth in white clothing cut some bamboo, making a couch with greater craftsmanship than any master artisan of bamboo.

...

...

Now, the youth in white clothing could make a cucumber salad in a spiral that stretched two feet long, with each slice completely uniform in thickness. As for the firewood he had chopped, it was indescribably beautiful.

It was clearly the same stream water and the same rice, and he had pulled up the same yams, and used the same stove and pans, but food cooked by the youth in white clothing was more fragrant than anything Liu Shisui had ever eaten.

The youth in white clothing even rebuilt the wall in the courtyard. The eaves, which had long fallen into disrepair, had been fully restored and evened out as if they were brand new.

Liu Shisui found it hard to question his identity.

Other than the immortal master, who could do such things?

And he had never seen the youth in white clothing wash his clothes.

He did not understand why, after he had done such things, his clothing remained so white, like the finest of rice.

...

...

(I just recalled our young garlic-peeling girl wearing a white ferret coat in the northeast...)

[1] Shisui is Chinese for "ten years old," the age of the boy, hence his (rather simple) name.


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