To her great annoyance, An Fei had not managed to distance herself from the flagrant Eight Immortals Pavilion when an engaged shout rang from behind.
“Esteemed Young Lady, please wait!”
With a twitch of her lips, the young girl took a deep breath to steady her boiling mood.
Turning around with the intention of slaughtering any profiteering, ugly man that dared to take advantage, An Fei found before herself a scrawny youth with his hands on his knees, gasping for breath.
Unexpectedly, perhaps expectedly, it was the Third Young Master of the Tang Clan, Tang Shiqi.
“Esteemed… Y-Young… Young Lady,” the youth wheezed, his sorely pummeled consciousness threatening to give at any moment.
“May… may I as-ask… ask… whether the Esteemed Young Lady… Lady… r-really has a seven tailed fox?”
“Why, you wish to give it to that Young Master Fang and obtain penance?”
An Fei curled her lips in disgust, her mind itching to draw the qama hidden against her bosom and teach the rowdy youth before her a severe lesson.
Reminding herself that she no longer roamed through the underworld of the Wu Ji Forest where violence ruled as the overlord, the young girl’s mood deflated for another time.
The youth of the Tang Clan wobbled on his feet, his countenance clearly drained of energy and vitality.
Nonetheless, Tang Shiqi rose to a stable position, his eyes blazing with a tinge of admiration and worship.
“Esteemed Young Lady, I do not seek your spirit beast to give it to that Fang Man,” the youth coughed once to regain his breath.
“I only ask – cough – simply because my cultivation method requires a special ingredient.”
“Unique cultivation technique?”
An Fei raised her eyebrows in interest, though her vigilance similarly soared to the sky. The young girl crossed her arms before her chest, the small fox curled around her arms in comfort.
“I… I…” Tang Shiqi stammered, his complexion ashen.
The youth of the Tang Clan bit his lower lip in determination, his eyes reflecting his deepened resolve.
“Esteemed Young Lady, my cultivation technique is clearly unique compared to the norms of this world. Whereas others simply need to continually absorb spiritual qi and refine it to spiritual essence to advance throughout the realms, my cultivation… requires a catalyst to breakthrough into the next realm…”
“So please, Esteemed Young Lady!” the youth dropped his already exhausted body into a respectful kowtow.
“I only need a single drop, a single drop of blood! Please give me your grace, and Tang Shiqi will never forget this favor after I’ve achieved the heightened realms of cultivation!”
For a few promulgated moments of silence, Tang Shiqi held his breath in complete panic and anticipation as he eagerly awaited the young girl’s response.
The youth’s consciousness was swamped by the memories of his experiences at the Tang Clan, his sufferings and his future expectations.
If he were to reveal the secret of the Heavenly Stone hidden besides his heart in order to obtain the blood of a seven-tailed fox, the ultimate catalyst for his current cultivation, he didn’t dare hesitat-
“I’ve known many people say the same thing, that they would never forget my favor,” the cold reply plunged the ardent heart of the youth into the subzero depths of the artic void.
“And yet, I’ve never seen a single person uphold that debt. I don’t see any benefit towards me donating the blood of my spirit beast, thus I won’t partake in this useless exchange. Besides, what even that Fang Man couldn’t afford, how could you?”
Throughout the overwhelming roar of the flowing persons of the Harmony Road, the shattering of the youth’s heart could be heard even from the other end of the street.
Tang Shiqi sat in his kowtow in shock and silence, his consciousness struggling to stride to its feet.
The young girl refused to give even a single drop of blood…
“…never seen a single person uphold that debt…”
Suddenly a fierce burst of heart-wrenching determination and resolve flared into existence in the youth’s eyes, and Tang Shiqi struggled to his feet, calling from an unknown but bottomless storage of strength to hobble home.
Even amidst the unusual stares he received, the youth’s mind was only filled with the fleeting image of the young girl’s back with the little raven on her shoulder…
“Xiao Hei, why did that Fang Man call my fox a spirit beast?”
An Fei abruptly toppled the little raven onto its back with the sudden question, nearly causing the pitiful creature to roll down the roof and splatter into a meaty paste of scarlet and black.
The little raven shot to the skies in startled panic, a fierce cry striking the busy atmosphere of the Bone Spirit Town.
The young girl ignored her conversation partner’s baleful glare as she leaned against the clay tiled roof and stared towards the afternoon sky of azure and white, her lips moving without a sound.
An Fei glared at the brilliant rays of sunlight, only to retreat with a painful hiss.
“…in the end, trouble found its way towards me…”
The young girl was cognizant of the fact that her experience of the Bone Spirit Town had fallen to rock bottom. It would, perhaps, become even worse, especially following the aftermath of Fang Man’s impassioned words at the Eight Immortals Pavilion.
In such few words and a simple leverage of a prominent clan’s influence and prestige, An Fei had become a target by many.
After all, who wouldn’t want to obtain an eternal favor from the Fang Clan whose influence resounded throughout numerous towns that were equal to, if not more influential than the Bone Spirit Town?
They would only need to steal An Fei’s fox, and effectively soar to the heavens in a single move.
But to think that the small fox in her arms was a spirit beast…
“It’s even weaker than the clarions I fought in the Wu Ji Forest… oh,” the young girl knocked herself on the head.
“It has seven tails – no ordinary fox would posses seven tails… that by itself would probably qualify as a spirit beast…”
The small fox nuzzled against An Fei’s chest, offering its fur as tribute towards the young girl’s protection.
The young girl eagerly ran her fingers through the eternally soft and comfortable silken fur, her eyes blissfully closed in comfort.
…she would never get bored of such an experience…
“That’s right, I haven’t named you yet, even after following me thus far,” the young girl murmured to herself in a quiet breath.
“Xiao Fen… Xiao Su… Xiao Bai. Xiao Bai!”
The small fox quivered in surprise, the seven tails swinging around in the air at the unexpected naming.
Observing from a distance, the little raven stabbed into a gingko nut with his beak, desperately wishing to have never met An Fei.
Stinky lass and her unconventional naming! Xiao Su would have fit for a female fox, but she settled with Xiao Bai!
The little creature seemed to have ignored the critical fact that outside of realizing its general appearance, An Fei had little knowledge regarding the differentiation between an animal’s gender. Thus…
The young girl stretched her limbs before rising into a relaxed sitting position.
An Fei threw another glare at the bright sky, looking down at the throng of the passerby of the Harmony Road for a brief moment.
“The news would probably have spread to the entirety of the Bone Spirit Town by now… I have to find a map fast, and be unnoticed about it as well, ah.”
The young girl prepared her belongings once more, before jumping down from the roof and onto a dark, obscured alleyway that extended from the Harmony Road.
“I saw quite the interesting aspect in the second range of techniques within the <Steps of Underlying Shadows>; maybe I should practice it now…”
An Fei had not given much thought about the Third Young Master of the Tang Clan’s desperate plea, or his conflicts with Fang Man and Xiao Yue.
People with a similar aura to that of Tang Shiqi were bound to invite monstrous seas of calamity, and she wished no part in such a chaotic spiral of events.
Thus, the young girl had regarded the youth as a mere flicker from the streets of a bare town, and had not desired to intertwine herself into an undesirable net of trouble.
Thus, she had strayed away from accepting the youth’s pleas, even if a single drop of blood wasn’t of any harm to the small fox.
An Fei didn’t know that she had already glimpsed at the youth prior to the incident at the Eight Immortals Pavilion, or that she would encounter him again so soon.
But then, who could glimpse at the sadistic, whimsical turns of the wheel of fate?