“So? Why do I have to travel with you, of all people?”
An Fei grumbled as she walked throughout the Purity Road, a large leather bag slung over her shoulders.
The young girl pursed her lips in dislike as she gazed at the street of extravagance and lavish influence, her heart itching to tear apart the arrogant signboards that displayed no respect for the viewer’s eyes.
“Why do you have to say it like you’re the only one suffering a grievance?” Shen Haoren rolled his eyes.
“I have to depart from my wife’s side for a prolonged period of time that I can’t even be certain about, with only my son as company. You think I can remain without grievances?”
“Old potbellied man, keep pretending, ah.”
The young girl gave him an eyeroll, her countenance suffused with disdain.
“Your Second Elder Sister was the one who tole me that you volunteered on this trip to proliferate your popularity – and who said that your family wasn’t coming along?”
An Fei sighed, before tossing the overfilled bag into Shen Haoren’s arms.
The middle-aged man stumbled backwards at the unexpected projectile colliding against his chest, and glared towards An Fei once he had regained his balance.
Shen Haoren shook the leather bag that was almost the same dimensions as his stomach, his brows furrowed in confusion.
“What do you mean by this?”
“What else do you think I mean by this?” the young girl waved towards the Young Master of the Shen Family, before racing off into an accessory store next door.
“Your Second Elder Sister said that you’ll have to comply with my requests, so carry that bag for a while, old potbellied man!”
An Fei snickered as she entered the exquisite store, her countenance beaming with the relief of having removed herself of a burdensome weight.
To make it so that she would appear to be a traveling person, the young girl had purchased a large leather bag at the Harmony Road, before stuffing it to the brim with a wide variety of tools, clothes, and ointments.
The majority of which she already possessed in the Sanctum; the bag she had tossed to Shen Haoren was merely the disguise to present to the Shen Family.
“Xiao Hei, what else do you think I would need?” the young girl didn’t bother to glance around the gleaming store’s interior, instead leaning against the corner of a wall and conversing slightly to the freeloader perched on her shoulder.
The little raven waved its wings around in an energetic manner, the pair of crimson eyes flashing with an abstruse glint as it gazed at An Fei’s exposed nape from the side.
The young girl released a heavy sigh, her fingers reaching into the mouth of a smaller bag of leather slung over her shoulder.
“What to do with you…”
With a single statement from the Shen Family’s Second Elder, An Fei had been successfully roped into the conflict that spanned the entirety of the Hundred Clan Coalition that oversaw the lower echelons of Great Yong.
Not only that, her presence was the central reason for the conflict to even plague the lands, one that foreshadowed a massive spillage of vitality and blood.
…all because of the seven-tailed fox in her possession, and the jianghu’s annoying martial arts techniques capable of divination.
Before the Second Elder, An Fei had maintained the position of not being aware of the presence of a seven-tailed fox to the final resolution.
Thus, the young girl had managed to obtain a compromise with the Shen Family without much difficulty, though An Fei failed to discover much benefit for her anyways.
The Shen Family was to escort her out of the Du Zhou Province into a neighboring territory, and was tasked with the additional responsibility of ensuring her safety from the interference from the other clans that were privy to the unsettling information.
On the other hand, once An Fei encountered a seven-tailed fox, she was to present a drop of its blood to the Shen Family.
After which, the two had agreed to a simple pledge of peace and avoidance of a conflict between interests.
“Xiao Bai, I need you to do me a favor, ah?”
The young girl tickled the small fox’s soft fur within the leather bag, her eyes instinctively closing at the indescribably pleasant sensation of the small creature trembling from her touch.
An Fei toyed with the small fox for a while, her eyes expectantly awaiting its response.
The small fox grudgingly acknowledged the young girl’s presence after a few weeks of darkness in the soundproof, waterproof, and nearly airtight leather bag that had tormented its senses without end.
The small creature leapt forth to gnaw on An Fei’s extended fingers to vent its grievances, smacking the back of her palm with its seven tails.
“Aih, I said I was sorry, ah?”
An Fei hissed at the sore sensation that tingled at her fingertips and the back of her palm; the young girl was certain that the small fox left no small amount of bruises on her skin.
The young girl pouted as her fingers continued to appease the small creature, her soft whispers and croons drilling into the small fox’s consciousness to calm its anger.
“I really didn’t have a choice back then, nor do I have one now – calm down!” the young girl murmured, her eyes carefully scanning the vicinity for any eavesdroppers.
“However, if you can… change the number of tails on your appearance to maybe one or two… then I would be able to bring you out of the bag, alright?”
The small fox yelped in excitement and resentment, and soon after, An Fei spotted a snow white creature no bigger than her palm snuggle its way out of the drawstring of the leather bag.
To her astonishment, the small fox had reduced its size to seven-tenths of its appearance, but the texture of its fur remained the same.
The most notable change was that the seven fluffy tails of white had transformed into three; the tips of the tails were of a dull scarlet, presenting a mischievous demeanor that was rather striking and different compared to its usual timid and languid aura.
“Xiao Bai?” the young girl asked with a soft voice.
The small fox leapt onto An Fei’s unoccupied shoulder, its tails curling around her neck as an additional means of support.
The young girl fought to keep a blissful expression from shattering her cold countenance as the heavenly sensation rushed throughout her neck upon contact with the soft fur, though her body trembled for a brief moment.
“Xiao Hei… this should be sufficient for those fogeys?”
Towards An Fei’s question, the little raven peered at the small fox from the corner of its eye, the crimson sea flashing with a violet hue in surprise. The little creature hemmed and hawed for a breath, before spreading its wings to their maximum height in acknowledgement.
“Then that’s good,” An Fei released a relieved sigh, her fingers reaching up to play with the snoozing fox’s fur.
The accessories that had captured the attention of countless young maidens failed to receive even a conciliatory gaze or even one filled with contempt as the young girl left the accessory store.
Due to An Fei having minimized her presence as she entered, nobody noticed her departure save for the attentive shopkeeper that frowned at the door oddly closing shut, though none of his customers had departed.
“Young lass… that’s… that’s your fox?”
Shen Haoren gaped in shock at the anomaly curled on An Fei’s shoulder, his fatigue from hoisting a large leather bag for a few minutes eradicated in his disbelief.
The potbellied, middle-aged man dropped the bag onto the smoothly paved road and rubbed at his eyes, his mouth failing to close.
“Old potbellied man, why did you drop my bag?”
The slightly cold and exasperated voice aroused Shen Haoren to his senses, and his lips twitched into a rueful smile.
The next moment, the middle-aged man that had shocked the jianghu as one of the elusive and prideful refiners of spiritual accessories properly enacted his duties as a laborer, hauling the large leather bag on his back without a single complaint.
Instead, he took upon the opportunity to wheedle out as much information from An Fei as he could, his chubby countenance displaying a perpetual smile.
“Young lass, so that was the fox that Fang brat tried to swindle from you!”
Shen Haoren exclaimed, his experienced eyes unable to pierce through the deception presented by the small fox.
“A three-tailed Spirit Fire Fox; even if it isn’t as rare or powerful as a seven-tailed Celestial Spirit Fox, the spirit beast still has a high chance of attaining the late stages of the Core Formation Realm or even break into the Nascent Soul Realm – if it’s supremely lucky, of course. Where did you even find such a creature in this region?”
An Fei blinked at the naming of the small fox’s current appearance, though her countenance quickly retained its cold demeanor.
The young girl’s fingers quivered as she glanced at the vestiges of the Peaceful Road, her mind quickly extricating itself from an unanticipated trip down memory lane.
“Where I found it… I think it was in the forest on the other side of the plains?”