CH 1

Name:Two Old Monsters Author:
Fu Wangzhi was a snake. His body was black as ink, his eyes dark and slit, his mouth wide and crude. Having lived in the Evergreen Mountain for more than a hundred years, he had long become a spirit. He had always been alone, free like a wild crane. At night he would count the stars in the vast sky; in the afternoon he would watch falling petals and fishes playing in the water. He was extremely free and unfettered, never transforming into his human form, never questioning anything about the world, never knowing what year it was. Fu Wangzhi was not actually born in the Evergreen Mountain. When asked where he was from, how many people were in his family, which clan he belonged to, he would shake his head and reply, “I don’t know.” He only vaguely remembered that when he was injured, he was rescued by a kind old monk who brought him to a small temple up the Evergreen Mountain. The name ‘Wangzhi’ was also given to him by the Old Monk. The Old Monk had once said that Wangzhi, a snake, was surprisingly good-tempered. He did not bite the hand that fed him, he was not violent, did not tend to bite others, was not picky with food. He was a snake with a gentle temperament and was easy to take care of. If you asked the Old Monk, the only weird habit Wangzhi had was coiling next to the firewood storeroom and stretching his head to look inside. Wangzhi would refuse to enter the room even when the Old Monk tried to coax him in. Instead, Wangzhi would only take a peek when he had nothing to do. The Old Monk had tried searching the storeroom many times, but there was nothing there besides firewood. He could not figure out what the snake was looking at even until his death. However, he vaguely understood that the thread of fate existed in the unseen world, and thus named the snake Wangzhi*. (T/N*: Loosely translated to hope, or gazing into the distance.) When it was about time for the Old Monk to leave the world, he sat, seemingly senile and doddering, in meditation in front of the Buddha statue. He glanced at the Buddha statue, thinking about how he had isolated himself from the rest of the world: he had spent more than half of his peaceful life on the Evergreen Mountain, abstaining from meat and praying to Buddha. He felt that he did not have many worries left, that his life had been satisfactory. At last, he turned his head, only to see the snake at the entrance. He bent down and caressed the snake gently as he spoke, unhurried. “Every living human and creature has their own fate and destiny, it seems like our intertwined fate ends here…” The Old Monk was too old, he spoke very slowly, his words unclear, but he knew the snake would understand him. The Old Monk continued to speak slowly, “Wangzhi, I never knew what you were gazing at. You’ll one day become bored of the mountains and rivers on the Evergreen Mountain, but the land is vast, and opportunities are hidden everywhere. If you have the mind to, you should leave the mountain and test your fate.” The Old Monk passed away. He had performed charitable deeds throughout his life, he had achieved perfect virtues and merits. Fu Wangzhi stayed close to him for a long time. The Fu Wangzhi then was not yet a spirit. He only had the spirituality he had self-cultivated between heaven and earth. When he finally became a full spirit and had his own thinking, he never once looked into that storeroom anymore. Even he himself had no idea what he had been looking for those few years. He continued to stay on the Evergreen Mountain after the Old Monk’s death, becoming a leisurely spirit. He would only transform into his human form occasionally to sweep the soil and dust in the temple for the Old Monk. In May of Hong Le* Year 16—an unusual May, a dark red May—the snake’s heat came, overwhelming and unstoppable. (T/N*: Just a title/name for that year.)