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Bi De felt as if he had been trampled by Brother Chun Ke. Even after the Great Master’s ministrations, his body was protesting at every movement. He could not even perform his daily tasks, but the Great Master’s benevolence was limitless. He was bid to rest and recover, and praised for his defence of Fa Ram.

Even though it was his fault that it was in danger in the first place. He had been taken in by Chow Ji’s lies, and he was now shamed.

He sat upon the Great Pillars, but today it was not to cultivate strength. Today, it was to rid himself of it. The qi added to his soul was tainted, and there were impurities throughout his body. So he expelled his qi. He carefully released it into the air, as to not infect the land with his own folly. He carefully examined his qi, each and every portion, and stripped out the parts that he could not be fully sure were pure.

It would be the work of weeks, at least, or months. Until that time, he could not bear to look upon his cracked and scarred blades of moonlight.

The impurities were another problem, but one that he needed assistance with. Sister Ri Zu, his master’s smallest disciple, used her qi to coat them, and working together, they broke them down.

He knew his Great Master was righteous beyond compare, and able to sense good in the hearts of others. Even though her kin were wicked, Ri Zu’s spirit was just, and she had been given a name of power, and a place upon Great Fa Ram.

Sister Ri Zu spent her time with his humble self, or with Brother Chun Ke, tending to his wounds. He reciminated himself in his mind for his ill thoughts on both of his master’s disciples. They proved themselves far better judges of character than he, and he feared that Brother Chun Ke had paid a terrible price for it. While Sister Pi Pa retained her spark, Chun Ke’s eyes had been dulled by the mighty blow to his head, and now he was crippled.

The bitter taste in the back of his beak intensified. Truly, in this world, there was no medicine for regret. He would clean the pens in penance, and kowtow a hundred times before the Land’s spirit.

He winced, as his qi could take no more reduction for the day, and nodded his thanks to Sister Ri Zu.

She bowed her head to him, and clambered up to her usual spot upon his back. Sister Ri Zu made sure she was accompanied by one of the other disciples, for the Great Master had brought along one to add to their number.

Bi De greeted Tigu respectfully as she ambled past, and she turned her nose up at him. No anger swelled within his breast, for her derision and contempt was well earned.

He knew not what to make of Tigu. She had a wicked form, with sharp teeth and claws, almost as Basi Bu Shi, but if the Great Master trusted her so she had to have a noble heart. Still, she was aloof, and arrogant, ignoring the other disciples of the Great Master, and going alone about her business. She slept in the Great Master’s bed often, and he was very affectionate towards her, but she was of a carnivorous bent, and eyed Sister Ri Zu most disagreeably.

But she was powerful. For reasons unknown to him, the Great Master had left the taint that Chow Ji embedded in the soil. Though he had a thought as to why. The Curse called wicked members of Chow Ji’s kin.

Tigu slew them mercilessly. She stalked them with grace that Basi Bu Shi would have envied, and her claws were the death of all that stood before her.

Her arrogance was off-putting, but she contributed to Great Fa Ram while he was weak.

The Great Master likely intended training and food for Tigu. Perhaps, when she was mighty enough, he would remove the taint. But the previous week had clarified the need for multiple defenders of this Blessed land.

Bi De returned to the coops, and rested his body. He would need all his strength for tomorrow, and continue to strip the taint from his body.

/////

I seemed to be getting into the habit of giving female animals male names. First Tigger, and now Rizzo.

Though the little one was probably significantly braver than my favourite muppet, considering she went against evil Splinter. That little bastard had done a number on both my seasonings, and on my animals. Big D was no longer as energetic these days, which was a shame, I liked him hopping all over my fence. When I asked him if he was okay, he just bowed his head, and after a while, nodded.

Man, its so weird that they’re people. It was something I was still getting used to.

Peppa was constantly around Chunky, and was trying to goad him to play, but my poor little boy was still hurting.

Rizzo was helping too, and the pigs seemed to like her, so I let it happen. Everyone seemed to be getting along well… except Tigger, who was most certainly a cat. I had some suspicions about her too, seeing as she had limited herself to staring hungrily at Rizzo, while brutalizing the rest of the rat population. She lined the ones she didn’t eat up for inspection outside my wall, which was kind of gross, but she was doing her job. The rats went into the fire. Jin’s memories related some people eating rats to me, and in some cases it was considered a delicacy… But “Rats are gross” (with the exception of Rizzo, shes a good girl) is entirely too ingrained into my psyche. Only if I’m starving.

Still, even with the near complete destruction of my Spirit Herbs, life goes on. Fish are salted and smoked, vegetables pickled, and the house is coming along nicely, If I do say so myself. Right now, I’ve based it a bit off a japanese design, the Satoyama. Basically, The house had part of the river inside it, and you used the running water to wash dishes, and had carp to eat some of your scraps.

Only problem was I’d never done anything like this before, so there was a lot of trial and error going into this.

Still, nice wood interior, and I was planning to have some windows. I would need to sell some more rice, but glass here was cheaper than I was expecting it to be. Some lacquer for the floorboards would be needed as well, but I had the frame up how I wanted it right now.

It also would need some nice fireplaces. Sure, the winter wasn’t as bad as I was used to, but there was no excuse to slack, and not have the creature comforts I desired. Jin Rou had some experience on the streets, and I respected him for surviving it, and I had pretty much been roughing it for a while as well.

That, and you could cheat a little, as it was xianxia land. Light crystals were a little pricey, but probably worth it in the long run, and If I could find a fire crystal, I could get a self-heating bath.

Or a sauna. Hell, yeah, a sauna sounds awesome.

I’d been bathing in the river every day, but that would be pretty hard in the winter. Cold as hell, man.

I yawned as I continued my wandering. I had been a bit lax in exploring my property. I had followed the river, and found the boundaries, but for the most part I had been too busy working to have a real, in depth exploration.

So I had started going on longer walks, and actually wandering through the more heavily forested areas. I hadn’t really found anything too special yet. Nice trees, turning into their fall colours. It was such a nice view, and it almost reminded me of Algonquin.

I should invite some people to have a nice lunch and do a Fall Colours viewing. I always loved doing that in the Before.

Smiling, I reached up to grab a falling leaf out of the air. It was a lovely red colour, and perfectly formed.

I froze.

It was also a very familiar shape.

Spiky, with five lobes, the bane of every child trying to draw the flag. Little key-shaped seed pods littered the ground around it.

I thought Xianxia land was supposed to be China.

A massive grin formed on my face, as I walked into a brilliant red grove.

A single tear rolled down my cheek as I remembered. Laughter, the voices of my mother and father, and the simple joy of a walk with family.

I just stayed there for a while, soaking in the smell of leaves, and the crisp air.

To roam the woods, to fish and hunt, and always to be free~

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