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Chapter 2 Poems and Lyrics
"Why?" asked Linlin with a confused frown.
Shishi said with melancholy, "Have you actually seen this Heavenly King yet?"
Linlin shook her head.
"Me neither." Shishi sighed. "This Heavenly King started his term of service recently, and only a few important figures have met him; few others have. Even those who have seen him saw him just once—the day he ascended to the throne—which is to say that he has worked for a while, but has never left the house."
Linlin thought back to earlier, which was two or three years in mortal time, or two or three months in heavenly time. It had indeed been a frenetic period in the realm. The Flower Fairy was so busy that she had to help out daily, and she was so focused on the task that nothing else caught her attention. She had heard Flower Fairy mention it, knew that there was a new Heavenly King who had been invited by the gods of the Nine-Level Heavens, so it came as a surprise appointment. Some fairies were opposed to the appointment, but the gods insisted. That was all that Linlin knew.
"It has been . . . ? How long now? He's never left the house?" Linlin was shocked, and her mouth hung open.
"The way I see it, the gods are probably so worried he's too much of a homebody that they gave you this job." Shishi shook her head. "It's hard to tell if your mission is doable. If you can't do it, your cultivation credits would be deducted."
Linlin's eyes showed a trace of fear.
The fear lasted only a second, however, and the next moment her eyes lit up with a fiery determination. She looked toward Shishi. "Those who are determined will succeed. I know that as long as I don't give up, I'll get the Heavenly King to go out and like it!"
Linlin looked at her confidently.
"Well, I should remind you that you should always call him Heavenly King and not his actual name." Shishi frowned and pursed her lips. "Though we don't know what will happen if we do. I just heard some fairies who've met him say don't do it."
Linlin licked her lips, her eyes looking embarrassed. "What is his actual name?"
Shishi was stunned. "Are you really so obsessed with that crush of yours that you don't even know the Heavenly King's name?"
Linlin lowered her head and didn't speak.
"Shh . . ." Shishi lowered her voice and whispered in Linlin's ear, "Youqun."
"Youqun?" Linlin repeated. This wasn't such an odd name. Why couldn't they say it? Would he get mad if they did?
Whatever . . . Now that there was finally a work opportunity, she had to take advantage of it. Linlin nodded. "Shishi, wait for my triumphant return!"
Shishi watched her go with a sad gaze.
Ever since Linlin had parachuted into Youqun's life, he had not had a single peaceful day.
He used to sleep until he woke up naturally, then he'd read, review files delivered by fairy maids and eat delicious things, and then sleep again. Now that Linlin was here, he'd had to change his rhythm.
When Linlin asked him to go to bed early, he would toss and turn like a pancake on a griddle, and finally pass out at his usual sleep time, and then after just a few hours, Linlin would annoy him and wake him again.
At first, Linlin didn't know how to get him to stop sleeping in, but she soon figured out various remedies. First, chili pepper water, then smelly gas flower. After a few days, Youqun realized she wasn't such a goody-two-shoes, and that she would actually play tricks on him.
Another crazy day had begun.
Linlin had used all her efforts to carry the itchy water to the Heavenly King's sleep pavilion. Heaven was enormous, so the transport took a while. The sleep pavilion was in Linxiao Palace, the biggest palace among all of the structures.
The golden palace resembled a giant dragon perched on top of a huge, plush cloud, and red pillars propped up the place, with murals decorating every part of the palace. Linlin had been stunned by the intricate design the first time she had seen inside it.
Inside the palace yard was a giant locust tree. Linlin adored the bumpy and uneven shape of the tree. Shishi told her that the tree had been around since ancient times. It had survived all these years, and supported half of Heaven.
The tree had witnessed the rise and fall of Heaven, happiness and sorrow, partings and reunions, love and hate . . . Every time Linlin stood in front of it, she felt herself become merely a tiny being and full of things she wanted to tell the tree.
As if telling herself those distant memories that she had forgotten in history.
When Linlin arrived at the sleep palace, she squirted the itchy water on the Heavenly King's nose.
Screams rang out, waking up nearby neighbors, the sound as on-time as a rooster's crowing.
Linlin's itchy water made Youqun miserable. He started sneezing the minute he woke up and then didn't stop all morning. When he was about to get angry, Linlin would kneel and apologize, saying, "Please forgive me, Heavenly King! I had no choice!"
. . . What was he supposed to do?
Heavenly King had to be the bigger person here, and since she already apologized, he would only suffer a little.
Youqun wanted to know, however, which of the Nine-Level gods assigned the job to Linlin.
There were few gods around who were older than him, from the ancient times. They mostly just drank tea and played cards these days. Even though he was new as the Heavenly King, he knew they wouldn't interfere in his affairs, so why send someone to him now?
Was there something going on?
"Oh, by the way, Do you know how amazing the outside world is?"
Linlin's sudden statement pulled Youqun back from his inner musing.
Youqun's ink brush pen shook and the ink soaked through the paper, making a big blob of ink. He couldn't even focus on the ruined paper as he looked up at Linlin.
Linlin stood straight, with one hand behind her back, holding an old book as she read aloud. "The flowers, the trees, the grass, the birds chirping, rolling clouds . . . Oh! How marvelous is the outside world!"
"If you only stayed inside your own world, how would you see the pleasurable things outside?"
Youqun stared at Linlin as she flipped the pages and read through the whole book; every word was on how amazing the outside world was, so if he didn't venture outside, his life would be wasted . . .
Youqun still didn't want to go out.
"So, Heavenly King, do you now feel like a frog at the bottom of a well? Do you want to see what's out there?" Linlin looked at him expectantly, her fingers tightly clutching the book.
Youqun was sympathetic to Linlin for having taken on this job . . .
But he still shook his head. "You forgot I had a window above my bed. I could see anything that happened outside. Why would I waste my time walking around outside? It'll be tiring and I'd have to greet people. Why bother?"
Youqun paused, seemingly trying to hold back before finally blurting, "Did you write this book? What is all this nonsense?"
Linlin would have denied, but she resisted. There was no purpose in arguing with him who had written the book. She continued the conversation.
"Unless . . ." Linlin squinted her eyes, examining Youqun. ". . . Unless Heavenly King has a social anxiety disorder?"
He could use the excuse.
He was about to start ranting and fire Linlin for disrespecting the Heavenly King when she kneeled and kowtowed. "Forgive me, I know not what I speak!"
How could I mind if you act like this?! Youqun gritted his teeth.
How would this fairy know to use these tricks? Who taught her?
How did this homebody fairy even end up in Heaven? He had never heard of this kind of fairy before. Had the Nine-Level gods created her just to mess with him?
Youqun felt uneasy as he considered, but he couldn't tell exactly what was wrong. He put down his brush pen and looked at the still-kneeling Linlin.
Hair on the back of Linlin's neck stood up.
Being stared at by the Heavenly King made her feel as if she would be kicked out of Heaven soon, after being stripped of her fairy status and banished to be a mortal.
Just as Linlin was about to collapse under Youqun's gaze, he coughed and said, "You can get up now."
Linlin took a deep breath and got up.
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