I'm really excited to share Chapter 3 because after setting up the story, we are finally starting the wheel rolling. Xi Yang's story has a stronger fantasy bent than Little Moon since the two main characters are either a god or an immortal. This gives me a lot of room to play with and I hope you will enjoy where the story is heading!
Chapter 3: Prey
At the Town of Zui, Wang Huan was surprised to see that a stage had been set up outside Zui Town’s most famous drunken chicken restaurant. The stage was surrounded with people and it was hard to see what was happening.
Wang Huan turned to Ri, “We need to squeeze into the crowd!”
Ri’s face immediately darkened but Wang Huan didn’t wait for Ri to agree before plunging into the crowd. She knew that Ri was unlikely to agree, and her best chance was that Ri would reluctantly follow her since he wanted a promise from her.
Wang Huan with her strong sense of curiosity and lack of shame, happily squeezed through the crowd to make it to the first row. She turned to an old man standing next to her and asked, “Why is there a stage outside the drunken chicken restaurant today?”
The old man’s eyes twinkled with laughter, “You must be a foreigner. Today is the twentieth anniversary of the famous drunken chicken restaurant. They are having a special competition to celebrate.”
“A competition?” Wang Huan’s ears pricked up in eagerness.
The old man nodded as he stroke his long beard, “The owner of the famous drunken chicken restaurant was a student of the famous drunken pugilist known for his ‘Drunken Fists’. His shi fu (master) always thought he had more talent for cooking dishes with alcohol than practising his martial arts skill, which is why he decided to set up this shop instead but he has never lost his love for martial arts. The competition today is to celebrate the owner’s love for martial arts.”
Wang Huan’s heart fell slightly in disappointment, this was not a competition she could take part in. She felt a flick on her forehead and turned to her right in annoyance, only to realize that it was Ri.
“I agreed to protect you from harm these three months, but I warn you that I may just lose patience and abandon you somewhere,” Ri gave her a slight glare.
Wang Huan hid her annoyance and smiled at Ri. This was the highest maintenance bodyguard ever!
The raucous crowd started to settle down as a dark blue robed man sauntered up the stage. Wang Huan could tell that this man had a certain degree of martial arts skills from the way he evenly walked onto the stage. The dark blue robed man look about in his mid forties, with strong brows and clear eyes.
He gave a wave and the crowd turned silent, “Gentlemen and Ladies, to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of my restaurant, I am having a drunken fists martial arts tournament!”
The crowd gave a cheer.
“The rules are simple – before they are able to fight, each contestant has to drink 3 jugs of my restaurant’s top grade strong alcohol. They will then each go on stage to have a one on one bout. They are only allowed to use their fists. We will have these fights until the three strongest opponents are decided!” The dark robed man gestured to an attendant down the stage.
Four attendants carried up a huge vat onto the stage, “The champion of the tournament will get this huge vat of my best wine! This wine is as old as my restaurant! Second place will receive a smaller vat of this same wine, and the third place will receive a cooking manual of the famous small dishes of my restaurant.”
Wang Huan’s heart immediately leaped. She needed to win that prize!
Wang Huan turned to Ri and gave the sweetest smile she could muster, though in her heart she secretly despaired in her looks. Just as she expected, Ri remained unmoved.
Ri arched one of his brows, “You want me to enter the competition?”
Wang Huan nodded eagerly, “With your great skills, I’m sure you can easily win the prize.”
Ri laughed, “I don’t even want the prize.”
Wang Huan bit her lip, “If you win the prize for me, I will give you another promise?!”
Ri paused and stared at Wang Huan for a moment. Wang Huan looked directly into Ri’s eyes as if to show her sincere determination.
“I will agree if you tell me about why you are a medicinal pig and show me that brown notebook of yours that you always look at but refuse to let me see,” Ri finally said.
Wang Huan huffed, “I am not a medicinal pig!”
Ri shrugged, “I wasn’t that interested anyway.”
Wang Huan grabbed Ri’s hand, “It’s a deal! I will tell you everything you want to know about the notebook and my er, blood, if you will just win the prize.”
Ri nodded and was about to go towards the contestant stands when Wang Huan added, “Remember I want the third prize.”
Ri momentarily froze then turned his head back, “What did you say?”
“I want the third prize,” Wang Huan smiled.
All along Ri thought the greedy medicinal pig, Wang Huan, wanted the huge vat of top grade wine… who knew she wanted the cook book?!
Ri scowled, “You want me to lose to two guys and take third place?”
Since Wang Huan had always been physically weak, she was largely immune to the differences between first to third place. After all, to her, weren’t they all winners? It was only then that Wang Huan realized that there were a secret few in life who had never experienced defeat and could not even fathom anything lower than first place.
Wang Huan was afraid Ri would back out so she challenged Ri, “Are you not even good enough to win third place?”
Ri said nothing and walked off to the contestant stands.
After Ri left, Wang Huan heard the old man chuckled next to her, “Your man has a fiery temper.”
Wang Huan immediately felt shivers run down her spine as she shook her head furiously, “Mister, you better not say such a thing out loud. He is not my man.”
Wang Huan could not guarantee that Ri would not harm the old man if he heard him say such a thing. Even though Ri was technically her bodyguard, she would never dare to command him to do anything. There was something about Ri that always led Wang Huan to think that this is a man you should never cross.
“Drink! Drink! Drink!” The crowd started to cheer as the contestants started to drink the jugs of wine.
Wang Huan could tell that the strength of the wine was incredibly strong because some contestants started to falter or fall on the ground after the first jug. But, she did not have time to worry about those fallen contestants, for Ri had quickly finished the three jugs and walked onto the stage.
“Mister, for us to fight one by one is too slow,” Ri grandly announced.
The dark blue robed man smiled and looked at Ri, “Then what do you suggest?”
Ri smiled at the dark blue robed man, he took out one big gold ingot from his robes and placed it on the floor. He turned to one of the attendants down the stage, “Throw me three more jugs.”
He smoothly caught the three jugs quickly and placed them down on the floor. “I will drink three more jugs of wine so that it will be fairer to everyone. Whoever beats me can also take this gold ingot.”
He arrogantly looked down at the contestants, “Try to defeat me.”
Wang Huan knew that if there was anything Ri was good at – it was in getting people riled up and wanting to punch his proud face.
Very quickly, men who had finished the three jugs of wine ran up the stage towards Ri. However, Ri swiftly punched each one of them off the stage in swift succession. But what was amazing was that Ri did not simply punch these men off the stage, he was really executing the Drunken Fists, he would swerve and dodge naturally as if he was lounging around the stage and he would ask the attendants down the stage to send up more wine jugs. He sipped the jug and dispatched the men off the stage as if he was merely swatting flies away that were ruining his mood to drink.
The dark blue robed man clapped his hands and cried, “Great fist!”
In less than the time taken to sip three cups of tea, Ri had finished dealing with all the contestants. Only Ri remained standing on the stage with a jug of wine in his hand. The crowd that wanted to jeer at Ri for his audacious claims at the start was by now giving rapturous cheers for his display of martial art prowess.
Wang Huan was still in slight surprise and awe when she realized, hey! Ri, you are supposed to win third prize.
The dark blue robed man came up the stage and gave Ri a proud pat on the back, “That was a display of the Drunken Fists as good as my Shi Fu!”
The owner of the drunken chicken restaurant took Ri’s hand and raised it up, “I present to you the winner!”
The owner of the drunken chicken restaurant then started gesturing for his attendants to bring up the huge vat of wine, when Ri asked, “Am I only the winner?”
The owner was slightly startled as Ri continued, “There is supposed to be a second and third place as well right?”
The owner nodded in slight confusion. Ri smiled, “Since I beat everyone, won’t I be in second and third place too?”
The owner laughed and nodded, “I admire you, take it! Take all the wine and the cooking book!”
At this, Ri finally looked at Wang Huan. Although Wang Huan was thinking you arrogant bastard, she couldn’t help smiling and clapped along with the crowd.
By the time Wang Huan had finished feasting on the drunken chicken and the top grade wine in the restaurant, the sun had already fallen.
Throughout the meal, I did not prod and merely sipped the wine along with Wang Huan. I had to admit that her tolerance for alcohol was one of the highest among the goddesses and female immortals that I knew… but even Wang Huan seemed to be getting tipsy.
Her cheeks were flushed pink from the alcohol and her eyes were slightly intoxicated when she finally took out the brown tattered notebook from her robes and placed it in front of me.
“Be careful with it,” She said, her eyes had a slight shimmer – at first glance, it appeared to only be the alcohol, but I saw that her eyes were actually slightly wet with tears. Tears?
I turned the brown tattered notebook open and I realized it was actually… a cook book. A diary of food with notes on the tastes and directions on how to make the dishes. It was a diary of food eaten in the mortal realms.
“That was my mother’s,” Wang Huan said simply as she sipped a cup of wine. “When I was young, she always told me about the wonderful dishes in the mortal realms… and how she would bring me to try them all one day.”
“My mother used to be a kitchen maid in the Dark Lord’s kitchen,” Wang Huan continued, “And the Dark Lord brought my mother around the mortal realms to try all the famous dishes… but, she passed away before she could bring me here.”
I carefully closed the book and passed it back to Wang Huan. For the few times in my life, I did not know what to say.
“If you drink any more, you won’t be able to walk,” I said.
Wang Huan laughed, “There is a famous saying in the mortal realms that I like, ‘醉翁之意不在酒，在乎山水之间也。The intentions of the person drinking is not in the wine but somewhere else…”
“Although I really hate Prince Sun, perhaps I should thank him as well since I was able to fulfill one of my wishes because of him…”
My brows rose, hate Prince Sun? Hate me? I was about to ask Wang Huan what she meant when her head fell onto the table.
I lightly touched her shoulder but Wang Huan had already fell unconscious.
I sighed and looked around the restaurant. It was dark and we were the last customers. The restaurant had actually already closed but the owner had given us special permission to enjoy the dishes and the wine.
“Xiao er!” I tried to call for the shop attendant but there was no answer.
I got up and walked towards the kitchen of the restaurant to find the shop attendant so that we could settle the bill and leave. However, when I reached the kitchen, there was no one around.
I frowned and immediately headed back to the table.
But, Wang Huan was no longer there.
I sniffed the air and smelt a very faint but discernible scent of… demon.
I scowled, who dares to take my prey?